Minister of National Defence Bill Blair released a statement on the third biannual status report of the External Monitor, Madame Jocelyne Therrien.

The report provides an external, independent assessment of the progress made by the Department of Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in implementing the recommendations made by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour in the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR), released in May 2022.

“We are making considerable progress to respond to these recommendations. To date, approximately 20 recommendations have been implemented, and we expect to have addressed all 48 recommendations by the end of next year. As Madame Therrien notes, in March I introduced legislation to amend the National Defence Act in response to Madame Arbour’s Recommendation 5. Bill C-66 would definitively remove the CAF’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute Criminal Code sexual offences committed in Canada, giving exclusive jurisdiction to civilian authorities to investigate and prosecute such offences committed in Canada. It would also implement key recommendations from former Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish in his review of the military justice system.”

In this latest report, Madame Therrien provides an update on the implementation of recommendations based on her regular discussions with Minister Blair and DND/CAF officials – as well as review of documents, policies, and processes.

  • introduction of legislation to modernize the military justice system (Bill C-66);
  • transformation of the complaints system, including grievances;
  • appointment of the Canadian Military College Review Board;
  • improvements to the enrollment and recruitment process; and
  • the creation of additional Captain (Navy)/Colonel positions in specified support and specialist occupations, which will provide more pathways to the General Officer and Flag Officer ranks for women.

“While Madame Therrien notes that the “recommendations stemming from the IECR regarding the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre have all been actioned,” she also notes the need for a more sufficient level of core funding for the SMSRC. I believe that the SMSRC’s work is crucial – and going forward, we will increase its core budget to provide stability for 2025-2026.”

“Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are always there to keep Canada safe – and it is also our obligation to keep them safe from harassment and misconduct. The 48 recommendations provided by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour gave us a clear path forward on culture change in our institution – and the External Monitor, Madame Jocelyne Therrien, is keeping us accountable to that path. We have made significant progress – but we must keep going.”

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“This latest External Monitor report shows how far we have come. Thanks to Mme Therrien’s dedicated feedback and to the hard work of Defence Team members committed to seeing change, we are moving closer to a more inclusive workplace. Our commitment to openness and accountability remains, and are cemented in on our efforts to implement these and other important external recommendations.”

Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister of National Defence

“We are a force united by the common goal of being there for Canadians at home and working in the interests of Canadian values abroad. The way we get there is through respecting our colleagues, treating them with dignity, and building trust with leadership, at every level. Over time, these essential human connections build a stronger work environment in which we can all thrive and operationally succeed.”

General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff

“Listening to Defence Team members when we visit bases, wings, and DND facilities, I am incredibly encouraged by the momentum our culture evolution efforts are gaining. Change takes time and continuous effort, so there is more to do, but we are making strong and steady progress in changing the systems that shape our institutional culture and impact our members at crucial points in their careers. This is critical to setting the conditions for enduring change that will ensure a more respectful work environment for all our members.”

Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture

 ADDITIONAL INFO

  • Madame Jocelyne Therrien was appointed as External Monitor in October 2022 for an initial term of one year, fulfilling recommendation 48 of the IECR report. The External Monitor’s term was renewed on October 19, 2023 for an additional year.
  • Per the External Monitor Terms of Reference, Mme Therrien’s role is to provide advice to the Minister on the oversight and implementation of the recommendations in Madame Arbour’s IECR report, while considering those of other external reviews.
  • The report released builds on the first and second status reports of the External Monitor, released May 17, 2023 and November 21, 2023 respectively.
  • The IECR (led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour) was launched in April 2021 to shed the light on the causes of harassment and sexual misconduct in the CAF, by reviewing policies, procedures, programs, practices and culture within the CAF and DND.
  • Madame Arbour’s final IECR report was made public on May 30, 2022.
  • In December 2022, Minster of National Defence presented a Report to Parliament, outlining the steps that the Government of Canada would take to respond to all 48 IECR recommendations. DND/CAF continues to work on meaningful reform and culture change in response to the recommendations.
  • On March 21, 2024, Defence Minister Bill Blair introduced Bill C-66, or the Military Justice System Modernization Act. The proposed legislation addresses key recommendations from former Supreme Court Justices Louise Arbour and Morris J. Fish.
  • To address the recommendation 5 from the Honourable Louise Arbour’s Independent External Comprehensive Review, the proposed legislation would definitively remove the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute Criminal Code sexual offences committed in Canada. The proposed legislation would provide exclusive jurisdiction to civilian authorities to investigate and prosecute such offences committed in Canada.