Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Gen. Jonathan Vance, then chief of the defence staff, speaks to reporters after a change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Aug. 22, 2019.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The federal government needs to appoint an independent inspector-general of the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence who is empowered to confront sexual misconduct in the military, the House of Commons Status of Women committee says in a new report released Thursday.

The committee’s recommendation follows long-standing calls from experts for this type of mechanism to be implemented in Canada. Other countries, such as the United States, Australia and France, have created such offices.

The report recommends the appointment of an inspector-general to exercise oversight over the military and act as the head of an independent reporting structure that would manage reports of sexual misconduct in the CAF. The aim would be to make it so that survivors feel protected and supported when they come forward with their complaints.

Story continues below advertisement

The committee, which began studying sexual misconduct within the CAF in March, released its findings at a critical juncture for the military. In recent months there has been considerable political pressure on the CAF and Ottawa to address concerns about the issue.

In its report, the committee notes recent allegations of sexual misconduct made against high-ranking officials in the military, including former chief of the defence staff General Jonathan Vance and his successor, Admiral Art McDonald.

Among the 20 other action items contained in the report is a call to implement the recommendations in an earlier report on sexual misconduct and harassment in the CAF, completed in 2015 by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps. One of the central gaps identified in Ms. Deschamps’s report was the lack of a reporting mechanism outside of the chain of command.

The new report also recommends that the government impose a freeze on promotions and salary increases of military brass until an independent investigation is conducted to ensure their conduct is “beyond reproach.”

A clubby outing that says the generals still don’t get the problem

Canadian military must change how it handles sexual misconduct allegations, retired judge’s report says

On the same day as the report’s release, the Conservatives used an opposition day motion to call for the censure of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. Meanwhile, Conservatives on the Status of Women Committee released a statement saying that, despite formal reports on sexual misconduct in previous years, including the 2015 report by Ms. Deschamps, there has been a “serious lack of action” by Mr. Sajjan.

Mr. Sajjan said Thursday that he welcomed the committee’s report, and that he is committed to reviewing its recommendations to “help guide our actions to stamp out sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Mr. Sajjan added that former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, whom Ottawa appointed in April to lead a new independent review of sexual harassment and misconduct in the CAF, will “thoroughly examine the CAF’s institutional culture and make both interim and final recommendations about actions we must take to establish a respectful and inclusive work environment and build better institutions that our personnel can trust.” He also noted the appointment of Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan to lead a new internal organization overseeing professional conduct and culture.

Story continues below advertisement

The committee’s report also said witnesses described a working environment in the CAF that was hierarchical, male-dominated and toxic, where incidents of sexual misconduct can occur and go unchecked.

“Patriarchal gender norms have created a sexualized and masculine culture in the CAF, sometimes referred to as an ‘old boys’ club,’” the report said. “There is denial among many CAF members that this culture and boys’ club exists.”

The report also said survivors of sexual misconduct in the CAF spoke about the treatment they have endured.

“Witnesses described feeling mistreated and disrespected, as well as experiences of sexual harassment and assault in their work environment,” it said.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies