Military cannot ‘lock doors’ and try to fix sexual misconduct alone: ​​Louise Arbor

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A week after making sweeping recommendations to address sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor said survivors may “have to be patient” for change to happen.

“I can’t imagine any of the fairly substantial changes I’ve recommended happening overnight,” said Arbour, who led a year-long investigation into a series of scandals. sexual misconduct, some involving leaders.

“I’m relatively confident they will happen, but not overnight,” she said. The stream Matt Galloway.

Arbor released 48 recommendations on May 30, including that the military should permanently transfer jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute sexual offenses to civilian courts. She wrote that the military‘s definition of sexual misconduct is too broad and should be brought into line with civilian definitions. And she also called for a review of the culture of misconduct in military colleges to determine whether those institutions could be reformed or should be abolished.

She wrote in her report that the military must “adapt to a new reality – women warriors are here to stay,” adding that “they will stay on their terms, seeking the substantive equality to which they are entitled.” .

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Arbor’s report is the second of its kind in seven years, following former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps’ external review in 2015.

National Defense Minister Anita Anand said the federal government welcomes and accepts all of Arbor’s recommendations. Seventeen of the 48 would be implemented in the short term, while the others required analysis that would take place in the coming months, she said.

“If we don’t take this moment for what it is and implement the recommendations…we run the risk of not being a fully effective army nationally and internationally,” she said.

The closed army challenged by diversity

Arbor said the pursuit of efficient performance was part of the Army’s problem.

“Consistency, consistency is integral to how easily they feel they can deliver operationally,” she said.

That means it’s much easier to be effective “when everyone’s the same,” and trying to integrate women and underrepresented Canadians into military culture has been a challenge, she said. .

The answer is that you have to open up, let outside oxygen into your system in order to keep pace with changing Canadian society.-Louise Arbor

As a result, “they have had more problems than other sectors of society integrating diversity ideals into their models of effectiveness”.

The military is also a “closed” system, where recruits enlist at a young age and spend their careers steeped in tradition and established rhetoric. Senior management is also drawn from this pool, with no possibility of external recruitment.

“The answer is you need to open up, let some external oxygen into your system to keep pace with the changing Canadian society more,” she said.

Arbor pointed to other parts of Canadian society that have undergone dramatic cultural shifts, including the judiciary during his career.

“There were a lot of men, judges in very senior positions, who were of the belief that women couldn’t do this job,” she told Galloway.

She said those judges thought the women didn’t have “the moral fiber or the intellectual toughness” for the court, but they were wrong.

“It’s the kind of culture change we’ve seen happening in civilian life. It can happen [in the military]but that won’t happen if they lock the doors and try to fix everything themselves.”

“A lot of backbone” needed

Speaking at the release of Arbor’s report, Chief of the National Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre said the military must accept the recommendations as a tool “to make us a better institution”.

“Change is badly needed. We need to welcome an outside view of our organization because, as we have made clear over the past year, we don’t have all the answers,” he said.

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Arbor said it would also take “a lot of courage” from civilian political leaders to help the force implement change, but ultimately the military must start “with the fundamental premise that they can’t do it.” repair themselves”.

“They’ve been there for I don’t know how long – studies, recommendations, charts, discussions, and they’re just going around in circles,” she said.

“They don’t have all the skills to do it. So if they accept that, I think we’re good.”


Written by Padraig Moran, with files from CBC News. Produced by Samira Mohyeddin.

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