Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you, colleagues.
I want to echo what Mr. Baker and Mr. Bagnell just said, which really goes to the essence of the committee's power to summon. The committee holds the power. It is a very strong power. In fact, it is one of its strongest, if not the strongest power. We've heard in previous debate before this committee and multiple times from people the point that just because the committee possesses that power does not mean that it should exercise it. In fact, in some cases, in a number of respects, it retains the power by not exercising it.
On the evidence, that is the case here as well, because we have really no indication that Mr. Marques has indicated any kind of unwillingness to testify. It has been confined to multiple scheduling problems. It has been scheduling problems. If we were to go ahead and vote in favour of this motion and exercise the power to summon, it would set a precedent that is wide sweeping, not just with respect to this Parliament, but also potentially affecting previous governments, previous ministers and staff members of previous ministers who, in similar circumstances, may then also much more easily be subjected to a summons just to keep the precedent.
My view, as I've indicated multiple times, is that it's not a good view forward. The committee in the past—maybe the clerk can just refresh our memory on this subsequently—has not exercised its power, at least not through this committee, and just in very few cases elsewhere, if at all. That needs to be kept in mind.
Again, Madam Chair, I raised the option earlier with respect to the committee having other tools to find the availability of Mr. Marques and to update itself through the vice-chairs and members of the subcommittee on agenda and procedure as to what the latest correspondence is directly from Mr. Marques and to inquire if, within the parameters the committee set earlier today and keeping in mind the timing of the report, there would be an opportunity to bring him before the committee, even though today was not possible for him. There are options available. The committee's power to summons should be very, very judiciously exercised. In my view, this is not one of those cases.
Once again, Madam Chair, I emphatically would like to draw the committee's attention to the pending report and the importance of the points that we are hopefully going to make with respect to changing the culture in the Canadian Forces, giving serving female members of the Canadian Forces the power to come forward, but equally importantly, changing the culture within the Canadian Forces to one of inclusion and ultimately one in which there will be no further victims, not because they're disempowered to come forward but because the culture has changed. That really is the work, and the minister has indicated an openness. He has said that it's time for a total culture change. He has also said that “...the time for patience is now over.”
We are at the end of our procedure, in the sense that we're now looking for recommendations for the draft report, and that really is where the heavy lifting needs to take place. I look forward to hearing all my colleagues' recommendations and then spending time in committee business discussing the draft report and putting something forward to Canadians that's constructive and forward-looking and will contribute to changing the culture in the Canadian Forces in a very expeditious and substantive way.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
The relevance is the fact that we're going to be summoning someone, and I was just about to get to my point, which is that we have heard from all the people at the top who know. We've heard from everyone at the top, including the acting chief of the defence staff. We know what happened. We had a situation of somebody not wanting to come forward and there was not enough evidence to move forward. We've heard that. Every single witness has repeated that, yet what the opposition is doing with this particular motion.... It won't end with this, even though.... Thank you very much to our colleague who tried to say we have to maintain the timelines to make sure a real report comes forward.
What we have here is just digging further and further down to see if we can keep on calling people. You've heard from a minister, and then you start going down the line to try to hear from different staff to see if maybe you can, frankly, keep the story alive or try to find something in testimony that might not be exactly the same so you can say, “Aha. There's a cover-up.”
You know what? There is no cover-up here. We don't need to hear from more people who then name names, as I heard a member opposite say. We had a witness here, and she actually said to name names. Well, this is not McCarthy. This is not that kind of thing. We don't want to have people come before this committee and then say to them that they spoke to these 10 people, so these 10 people are going to be called, and then we call them and ask for more names. This is not what this committee is supposed to be doing.
We have our next study on military justice. Frankly, this study is incredibly timely and important. We need to hear from experts to see how we make a military justice system that provides the kind of environment that allows for justice for the people who are impacted by military sexual misconduct and also makes sure that there's accountability. This committee could be focused on that.
I just compare again to yesterday, when we had the same rear admiral. This committee could be looking at what comes next and what we do to fix it. Frankly, I think that Mr. Wernick was right when he said that everyone acted in good faith, but at the end of the day, the system wasn't set up for this. Let's fix the system. Let's make sure it's set up for this.
As for the innuendo that has happened here today, with opposition members openly suggesting that there are government members trying to prevent a witness from coming, there is zero factual basis. It is pure innuendo, and there's been a lot of innuendo in this committee. A lot of accusations have been made that have absolutely no foundation in fact. I really think, Madam Chair, that as honourable members—as people who have been elected to represent Canadians in this House of Commons—we can't just throw out accusations like that, accusations that have absolutely no basis.
We need to be focusing on what we do for the women of the Canadian Armed Forces, for veterans and for the people who are thinking about maybe signing up. Young women are thinking that maybe they want to serve their country in the military. We have to make sure that our focus is on those young women and those diverse young people, including young LGBTQ people and others who feel that there is a Canadian Armed Forces that makes them welcome and included, that creates an environment where the behaviour that we have heard described in the testimony from some of the women who have courageously come forward never happen again. First we need to find out how we make an environment where we can actually make it safe for women to come forward, and then we have to work on making sure we prevent those kinds of behaviour..
I don't think the way to do that, Madam Chair, is to continuously call witnesses when we've already heard what happened. The came and spoke on behalf of his staff member because, frankly, I think it is a very bad practice to be bringing political staff to this committee. They are not decision-makers. Political staff are not the ones who make a decision and are accountable for it. The minister makes the decisions and the minister was here for almost six hours.
They keep asking, “What do you have to hide?” The fact is that if there was anything to hide, in 30 witnesses and 29 hours of testimony, there would have been some indication of that. We haven't seen it. All we have seen in all of the testimony is the same thing that every single witness has said and has reinforced. At the point we're at now, we're hearing the same thing over and over again, which is that you had a terrible situation, and somebody had said—or maybe didn't, but had some evidence—that there was some impropriety.
The person who was impacted did not give permission for that to go forward. You had people who wanted to investigate that and were ready to do so, but at the end of the day, we have to make sure we are respecting the women. We have to give an environment in which women can come forward safely, but at the end of the day.... We could have witnesses for the next 10 years, and I don't think we'd have any information that is newer than what we already have. What we would be losing is the opportunity to really hear from people who can tell us how we can fix this. To have heard today from Rear-Admiral Patterson, to have heard from witnesses on military justice on our next study....
We could really make a difference in this committee. Frankly, there has not just been innuendo against members; there has been a leak of a motion that I put forward last week. When I, at two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, get calls from Global News and others saying, “Your motion has been leaked. Can you comment?”—
I appreciate the comment. I was just about to extend my argument into a secondary argument that, with your indulgence, Madam Chair, I'm going to make now.
It is that it's not just the historical precedent of not using the summons; it's also the potential chilling effects that such a summons could have on witnesses, especially in an area as sensitive as this, with respect to the inquiry that we are conducting into sexual misconduct, harassment and, in worst-case scenarios, assault within the Canadian Armed Forces. The exercise of a summons here would open the door to summoning, potentially, ministerial staff of other administrations, of other governments, but it may also lead to a much easier decision to summon somebody who may stand in a more proximate relationship, individually or as an organization, to victims. Victims may receive the impression that this committee is quick to fire summonses if they don't sort out their scheduling quickly enough, and that witnesses essentially would be forced to appear, rather than wanting to appear with the confidence that they can come forward on their own accord.
That, in my submission, Madam Chair, is not a constructive direction for this committee to take.
The himself has been here. The minister accountable for this issue is very open to finding solutions. He's said it many times. He's been in front of this committee for six hours and has said what there is to say on the issue. He's the person to whom staff are accountable.
The other thing I would say in this instance, Madam Chair, and I only say it because Ms. Alleslev just used the term, is that the Conservatives started with the conclusion that there was a cover-up. That of course puts you on a track of wanting to summon just about everybody to substantiate the cover-up. In the hours that have been spent in front of this committee so far, there has not been a shred of evidence put forward that there is a cover-up.
The Conservatives, then, in my submission are locked onto a track such that they have no option but to fire off summonses in order to attempt to prove the cover-up that will not exist.
Madam Chair, I suggested earlier—and I really would be interested in hearing views of colleagues on this suggestion—exploring the mechanism of using the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure to determine the actual availability of Mr. Marques. If, as Ms. Alleslev said, it is so important that he appear, let's find out whether he can appear within the parameters the committee has just agreed upon this afternoon.
Instead of talking about this, we could be spending the afternoon talking about potential recommendations, which I understand are due to our clerk this afternoon. It would have been great to hear colleagues in an exchange of constructive views on what recommendations they might consider appropriate and in fact necessary in the report we are going to put forward to the Canadian public, to the government and to members of the Canadian Forces.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Madam Chair, I'll start by saying that I respect all members of this committee and I believe they're all doing their job in the way that they see is best to do it. I do not appreciate comments from the parliamentary secretary that accuse people of playing petty politics or having some other agendas. They're not helpful when she talks about us working together.
What is the issue before us? I think my Liberal colleagues missed the point. We had the minister here. We've had tons of other witnesses here. What we know at this point is that the minister came to us and said it wasn't his job and he wasn't responsible, and he referred it to others. Therefore, the committee has to speak to those others to find out what actually happened.
We spoke to the Privy Council Office and we would very much like to hear from someone in the Prime Minister's Office. When the parliamentary secretary says that no one has blocked witnesses, she knows that's patently false. The said they would not allow political staff from the Prime Minister's Office or from the minister's office to appear before this committee, so when she asked for evidence, it's right there on the record from her government House leader.
Do I want to get to recommendations about how to solve the problem of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military? Absolutely, I do. That is the most important thing, but what I've said all along in this inquiry is that if there's no confidence that sexual misconduct is understood at the highest levels and taken seriously, there will be no confidence in any of the reforms that come forward, so we must answer these questions and we must assign responsibility.
In the testimony we heard from Mr. Wernick, he was very clear. In the Westminster system, there is always a minister responsible. If there was no investigation into serious charges of sexual misconduct against the sitting chief of the defence staff, who is the minister responsible for that failure?
If the sitting chief of the defence staff was allowed to remain in office for three years while he was under a cloud of accusations of sexual misconduct—and in hindsight, we know there are multiple allegations—who is responsible for his staying on and becoming the longest-serving chief of the defence staff? Who is responsible for giving him a positive performance evaluation that resulted in a pay raise?
We do have issues here that we still haven't grappled with in this committee, and we need to hear from Elder Marques in order to do so. When members say we don't need to summon him, I would point out that if someone has been on our witness list for six weeks and we've had nine meetings of the committee, by my count, no matter how much someone says they're co-operating, I have just a bit of doubt about that, although I don't wish to cast aspersions. The way we solve that is by issuing a summons so that he will appear during a time period that fits the one set by the majority of the members of this committee, no matter how much others of us might have believed we should finish the inquiry first.
Thus I look forward to hearing from Elder Marques. I look forward to his letting me know whether this failure on the part of the government is the responsibility of the minister, or is it the responsibility and failure of the ? Those are the issues we're getting at here, and that's how we restore confidence in those who serve in the Canadian Forces. We have to know who allowed this to happen and why they allowed it to happen—why they allowed this cloud to remain for three years over someone who was supposed to be in charge of rooting out sexual misconduct in the Canadian military.
I'm not playing petty politics here. Once again, I will have to say to the parliamentary secretary directly that I resent those kinds of allegations. What I'm doing here is trying to make sure that we can make progress on rooting sexual misconduct out of the Canadian military once and for all. It will be a long road and it will be a hard road, but that's my goal.
That actually reinforces my point, Madam Chair. I stand corrected about the text of the actual amendment, and I would note that we haven't passed the motion that the amendment was amending.
Having said that, this is exactly the point. We have recommendations, and the time to present recommendations was four o'clock this afternoon. Essentially, everything we're doing now is not going to be included in the report. It's not going to be included in the recommendations, because we've already passed the time. That was the piece we confirmed earlier in the amendment that we voted in favour of, that we are going to follow the timeline. The timeline was four o'clock today. We want to make sure these recommendations get in.
Madam Chair, let me talk a little bit about the recommendations that we have heard. I have a few of them here that we've heard during this study. The reason this is relevant is that this is the reason we're here. It's not to call witnesses after these recommendations have already been submitted.
For instance, we've heard a lot of recommendations to this committee on barriers to reporting sexual violence and sexual misconduct. The first one is a recommendation to address barriers to reporting sexual violence within the Canadian Armed Forces, including fear of retaliation and reprisal in response to reporting sexual violence.
Another recommendation was to recommend building awareness of the avenues that sexual violence survivors have at their disposal for bringing issues forward and ensuring that survivors have access to various recourse mechanisms. This is an incredibly important recommendation, because we know that, often, survivors don't know where to go, particularly if something really terrible has happened. We have the SMRCs, we have a number of places. We know that they can go to the military police. We know that there are many different mechanisms.
Often when something happens, members don't know that these resources are available. They don't know that they can get counselling. Frankly, we need to have more counselling available, more peer support for members. This is something we've all heard at this committee. I think that recommendation might be one of the most important ones.
The next one is recommending adjusting the design of existing structures and systems to adequately address barriers to reporting sexual violence, reflecting on past failures. This is also important, because we heard that the systemic barriers that survivors face are extremely difficult. There have been past failures.
The system has failed women. The system has failed the men who are victims. The system has failed the people of the Canadian Armed Forces who are experiencing sexual violence or outright assault, but also the day-to-day things that are done in order to minimize and diminish people. Reviewing and adjusting the structures and systems is very important.
The fourth recommendation that has come up through this study is the reaffirmation of sexual violence survivors' control over the reporting process to build trust and rapport in the organizational structure. We heard that the people who are impacted have to be in control of what happens. If somebody feels the minute they come forward.... What they are looking for, perhaps, at that moment is counselling, but they find that they're suddenly swept into an investigation, that everybody knows about it and that it's no longer in their control. They don't get to decide when, to whom and how they wish to report.
This is a key factor in the recommendations. I think that giving the victims, the survivors, the impacted persons, their control back within the system is going to be a key part of whatever we come out with after this.
The next one, the fifth recommendation, is relieving the obligation to report, which places a problematic strain on victims and survivors, and instead, reaffirming a survivor's right to control the reporting process.
I think I have been very clear that Mr. Bezan's motion would suggest that, after the recommendations are in, we still need to hear witnesses.
I am providing evidence that we've heard enough witnesses because I am providing what evidence those witnesses have brought and, frankly, showing that we have had enough recommendations and that we don't need to hear from more witnesses. It's directly related to the motion.
If I may, Madam Chair, I am only on number five, and I have many more, so I'd really like to continue.
Number five—before I was so rudely interrupted—is probably one of the most important ones. It is that we recommend relieving the obligation to report, which places a problematic strain on victims and survivors, and instead reaffirm a survivor's right to control the reporting process.
This obligation to report is something that we've heard from many witnesses is very problematic. We know that when we put forward different proposals—and we've put forward different solutions, like Operation Honour—there can sometimes be unintended consequences. These processes were put in place with good intent, and the obligation to report was to solve a problem that existed, which was that many times people looked the other way. They may have seen something happening, but they didn't report it. Sometimes the person impacted has to have the right to be able to decide if it gets reported.
What this did was force people to report on something that happened to a third person. As a result, that third person lost their control and their power over the process. I think that this duty to report should actually be a duty to respond. I think we heard that from the acting chief of the defence staff himself, that the duty to report needs to be looked at, needs to be changed, and that there needs to be at least a duty to respond, or something like that.
Number six is a recommendation to establish victims' agency by adapting the duty to report principles and introducing new, independent reporting mechanisms for survivors. This is really important because the new reporting mechanisms mean that when somebody goes through something.... It's very rare that they immediately want to.... Some people will decide, but not everyone will say, “I want to go to the police. I want an investigation, and my objective is to make sure that the person is punished.”
That's not always the first thing that a person goes through. Sometimes the first thing they need might be counselling. The first thing they need might be just to be walked through what the options are so that they can envision for themselves what they can do and what the consequences of different mechanisms and different avenues are, and find out what's available to them.
Often what they need is peer support, and I can assure you that the message women have delivered, the message of It's Just 700 and others who have talked to us about peer support and the need to provide that kind of service, has been heard.
Sometimes, yes, they do want a police investigation, and they want the person to be held accountable, so we need different avenues that people can enter into at different times, and when they choose to. Somebody might start with counselling and then become strong enough that they want to report, so that's a very important recommendation.
Number seven is a recommendation to take stock of all existing sexual misconduct reports and assess the timelines, compassion and effectiveness of the report's lifespan. Again, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are so many reports. There are so many things that.... We know what needs to be done, so I think what we need to do is recommend, as a committee and as we've heard, that we review all of the reports that have already been done, so that we can look at whether or not they're still relevant.
Number eight recommends reiterating the primacy of re-establishing survivors' trust and confidence in the system. Frankly, Madam Chair, I think that as hard as it is right now, women are courageously coming forward, some of them very publicly. As hard as it is for the Canadian Armed Forces to be seeing senior leaders under various allegations, I think there is a very important thing here, which is holding people accountable.
Once people see that, no matter what your rank is, if you do something wrong you will be held accountable, once people start to see that happen, that's when we'll really see the change. That's when we'll really see people feel that if they come forward, it's going to make a difference.
I have heard people say, “I don't want to come forward because, you know what, nothing is going to happen anyway. Nobody is going to be held accountable.” Putting systems in place that allow for that kind of trust is going to be vitally important.
Number nine recommends establishing professional, trained, investigative bodies to examine allegations of sexual misconduct where the corroboration of witnesses is not available.
This goes to what we were saying earlier about the investigations and making sure that the investigative process is fulsome. That was one of the key things in this study. What happens if it's one person versus another? We need to make sure that we have the ability to investigate with trained investigators when you can't have other witnesses, for instance, when there is no one else there to witness it.
Number 10 recommends analyzing the design principles of sexual violence reporting systems, including the discretion given to examining bodies as to whether they shall or may conduct investigations once a report has been received.
I'm not saying, Madam Chair, that these are things that we have to do. I'm saying that these are recommendations that came through this study. Obviously, we've had so many of them that I don't think we need more witnesses.
Number 11 recommends addressing survivors' lack of confidence in the sexual misconduct reporting system. This is very similar to the one I mentioned earlier, and it is about building trust so that the survivors and those impacted feel that they can trust the system again.
Number 12 recommends addressing and rectifying a key issue in the reporting process, which is lack of information on the reporting process or how to proceed with a sexual misconduct complaint.
Actually, we heard from the when he was here and I asked him a question about this. He said that, in fact, there is now a website where it is centralized—the deputy minister provided, actually, the beta version of that website to this committee so that we could look at it—that will say exactly what the available resources are, exactly what the system is and what the process is. Before somebody wants to start an investigation, it is very helpful if they actually know what the different steps are in the process and what to expect at each one of those steps. That, I think, is one of the key things that we have heard from the witnesses, and it is something we are already working on.
Then, Madam Chair, I think I was on number 13. I may have skipped number 12. Number 13 is a recommendation to consolidate reporting structure process information and to make such information public and easily available for access by survivors of sexual misconduct.
Madam Chair, I think I am going to leave it there for now because I see that there are other members with their hands up. I think that some of those members might have some points as well about some of the recommendations we've been hearing, so I'll let them speak on this as well.
Madam Chair, thank you very much. I really appreciate the focus on the important work the committee is going to do through its report.
I made the point earlier that there are still other options available with respect to a potential invitation to Mr. Marques. We're not at a stage where, as a last resort, we are issuing a summons. I've expressed my reservations about the mechanism of issuing a summons given historical precedence.
With respect to these recommendations, they are now what the current context would basically be confined to given that we had a deadline today for the initial set of recommendations with respect to the draft report, and any additional witnesses we may or may not hear from would be heard through the lens of these recommendations. I think the recommendations really are what will draw the interest of the Canadian public and, in particular, serving, former and aspiring members of the Canadian Forces.
With my thanks to my colleague Ms. Vandenbeld, who has outlined an initial set of recommendations, I would like to build on that and talk about a group of recommendations aimed at bolstering existing services and support structures.
Again, the word “trust” came up a lot in testimony before the committee across our study. It is vitally important to restore trust in the Canadian Forces, and I believe this set of recommendations will do that. I look forward to hearing the views of colleagues on these recommendations as we take the discussion forward.
Recommendation 14 in this respect talks about adjusting, adapting and providing relevant structures and systems that adequately and accurately support sexual violence survivors. Systemic change is really what's front and centre here.
There was talk about culture and the fact that it takes time to change a culture, but there was also a very strong statement from the that the time for patience is over. We simply cannot have a project that will extend the subsequent victimization of women in the Canadian Forces or anybody serving in the Canadian Forces. The time for change is now, and this recommendation talks about the systemic change that is required within the Canadian Forces to restore trust, but also to make it an environment that is inclusive, safe and rewarding, as it should be.
Recommendation 15 talks about setting out to improve the experiences of sexual violence survivors who utilize the existing CAF sexual violence support structures, following a user experience satisfaction-style approach. These mechanisms are crucially important on the side of reporting accountability, taking disciplinary action and empowering women and all members of the Canadian Forces to come forward.
The other component of that is recommendations that colleagues and I will talk about later on, which are forward looking with respect to policy changes in the Canadian Forces aimed not at individual incidents but at changing the culture overall.
Recommendation 16 recommends the collection and analysis of sexual misconduct reporting data, facts and figures to enable better organizational understanding, response and accountability. Knowing what the problem is, as the committee has heard extensively over the course of its study, is step number one. Crystalizing that problem into datasets that can be acted upon at the policy level is very important. This recommendation speaks to that.
Recommendation 17 is about collating sexual violence data in a consistent way by establishing communications between the several existing sexual violence information collection databases and departments. Making sure this is done in an integral, reliable and trustworthy way is again very important with respect to the collection of data and and a cogent, responsive, efficient and quick response at the policy level.
Recommendation 18 recommends improvements to Operation Honour training by pulling data from Statistics Canada surveys to tailor and personalize content to those receiving the training. Training is one of the components of the forward-looking approach to addressing the problem—training with respect to people who enter the Canadian Forces but equally importantly, as the committee has heard, the fact that there are challenges with respect to senior ranks, as has been described by some witnesses as a generational problem. Really, it is training across the board within the Canadian Forces and also for civilian employees.
Recommendation 19 is about improvements in informal reporting processes and procedures for amicable situation resolutions at low organizational levels. Not everything ends up in the context of a criminal investigation. Culture change needs to be forward looking and integrated, but there are also processes to resolve things at lower levels, again within a constructive culture that is aimed at building and raising trust.
Recommendation 20 is about addressing Operation Honour's culmination through a transition to a deliberate plan that addresses existing identified shortfalls.
There's been much discussion about Operation Honour and its shortfalls. Acknowledging the problem, again, is important, but so is drilling into the details and following the 's direction, making sure that we take action expeditiously and not let this linger over extensive periods of time. The time for change is now.
In the same vein, recommendation 21 is adjusting Operation Honour's frame of reference to address sexual misconduct in the long term as well as the short term.
Recommendation 22 is about bolstering existing medical supports for women, as well as increasing the spectrum of care provided, such as introducing bereavement leave for miscarriages. This is a comprehensive approach that looks at strengthening support for female members of the Canadian Forces along a number of different axes. Again, trust levels can erode at one front of the challenge, but they need to be acted upon across the system and across issues. Miscarriages and bereavement leave were raised by witnesses as important considerations in this respect.
Recommendation 23 is about proceeding to address this issue through all-party legislation, all-party amendments and the tabling of white papers. That is why this committee's report is so important, and that is why a cross-party discussion of these recommendations is so important. This is very much the crux, in addition to the cases involving the former chief of the defence staff. It's why it is so important for this committee to be engaged actively on these policy recommendations that really will change the culture. We're faced with both challenges. We need to move them forward in parallel.
I'm very appreciative of the attention the investigations have been given in our debate, including this afternoon. Equally important, as we now turn our attention to the report, are these recommendations and the expediency with which we have to approach them and put them forward, with a very open door from the .
Finally, recommendation 24 is about refraining from creating more independent bodies and enhancing bureaucracy. The witnesses have said that additional layers of oversight aren't necessarily the solution. Independence, in itself, is a very important consideration, as well as bureaucratic efficiency, data collection, policy response and ultimately accountability across all ranks of the Canadian Forces, irrespective of the gender by which that rank is being held.
Madam Chair, I will leave it there. I look forward to hearing comments from colleagues on these recommendations.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
What I am seeing here right now is far from uplifting. Really, I have been holding back from speaking until now, because the motion introduced today should have been voted on long ago. Instead, we are seeing all kinds of attempts to avoid the vote. Really, this is not uplifting, given the importance of this cause to women in the Canadian Armed Forces. The message we want to send is that we are concerned about their situation.
Having more witnesses will not stop us from writing the report. Today, we are trying to come to a proposed compromise between what was decided by the committee on Monday, which was to set a date for us to finally table a report with concrete proposals, and the ability to go out and get additional information so that we don't botch the report.
I repeat: hearing from additional witnesses will not prevent us from writing the report. On the contrary, perhaps it will allow us to add to it. It's not true that we will be unable to include other recommendations. We will be able to start the work by building on what has already been said. We have a very tight schedule before the summer. That's why we can start drafting the report now, but that does not prevent us from continuing to hear witnesses. I have found a compromise between the report completion date and the appearance of a key witness, obviously Mr. Marques, whose appearance was decided on before the motion was introduced earlier this week. If we are to avoid botching the report, we need to hear this key testimony.
First, the motion doesn't say that we must stop having witnesses appear before this committee after 4 p.m. today. It seems to me that committees are sovereign. We have every right to ask for and receive a witness after 4 p.m. today, especially since we have been expecting him for six weeks and he still hasn't been heard by the committee.
Second, the committee wants to hear quickly from a witness who has not made himself available, I repeat, for this important study, although he has already been invited. I had simply asked the Liberals to assure me that they would not block this witness from coming. I have received no confirmation that they will not block this witness from appearing.
That's why I simply have not spoken until now. What I would have liked is for us to vote on the motion and agree on the way forward, to send an important message to women in the Canadian Armed Forces that we are willing to see this study through.
My goal today is not to prolong the process. We have a date. I even proposed an amendment to make sure that we stick to what the committee decided at the beginning of the week. I made sure of that. Hearing from a witness who was called before the motion was introduced is the least we can do.
The motion says: “that the committee complete its consideration of the draft report and adopt the report by no later than Friday, May 28, 2021”. That was the wording of the motion on Monday, which I repeated today. I have hammered home the message that it's important to submit the report, but never have we voted in committee to limit ourselves as to what happens next.
As I think about the women in the Canadian Armed Forces, I really don't find it uplifting to see what I am seeing today. We all could have voted much more quickly for the motion to hear this additional witness. It would have allowed us to hear the witnesses who were here today. We wasted time. Fortunately, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women has already heard from Ms. Patterson, but I would have very much liked to hear from her as well, along with the other witnesses who were here today. Instead, we weren't even able to agree on this motion calling for the appearance of a witness as important as Mr. Marques.
That's why I had not spoken until now. I think it's terrible that we could not agree on the motion, that we did not move to a vote earlier, and that we did not get to hear the witnesses today.
I will stop there for now.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I am grateful for my colleague Mr. Bagnell's comments, which I echo. I would like to continue in the vein of the previous intervention by Ms. Vandenbeld and add a few more recommendations for the consideration of my colleagues. I would be grateful if we could have an exchange on these recommendations.
This is the context now, in the sense that they are the recommendations we've heard from witnesses. We leave open the question of whether additional witnesses, within the time frame that the committee has now decided, will or will not appear, and repeat the point that we still have options with respect to Elder Marques before considering a summons.
I would like to shift gears briefly to the issue of culture change. We've heard a lot about culture change from some witnesses, who have given this a lot of thought over the course of the committee's study. They are recommendations that I think the committee should consider very seriously with respect to doing the heavy lifting of what's required to change the culture within the Canadian Forces.
The numbered recommendations now take us to 25, which is a recommendation on the appointment of non-CAF members to conduct inquiries into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces and make recommendations. We've heard a lot about the internal culture, about the chain of command and the command culture that's present. We've had a lot of discussion on hypermasculinity and part of the major problem being the command, especially the command of senior members of the Canadian Forces. The recommendation is for non-CAF members to conduct inquiries and to make recommendations.
Recommendation 26 is approaching the issue of behavioural change in the Canadian Forces with a top-to-bottom approach: examining individuals, culture, values and attitudes. Culture, in this context, is not something that's independent of human beings. It's the aggregate behaviour, and in the case of our study the aggregate bad behaviour or blameworthy behaviour, and in many cases harmful behaviour is not removed from the actions of individual human beings. This recommendation talks about being inclusive of individuals, cultural values and attitudes.
Recommendation 27 is approaching the issue of behavioural change in the Canadian Forces with a beginning-to-end approach: examining new Canadian Forces members, indoctrination, course-of-career events, leadership development, incentives and career advancement. We may add to that list even prerecruitment conversations with respect to young women and young men who aspire to become serving members of the Canadian Forces. The Canadian Armed Forces remains a very interesting and, in many respects, attractive option for employment. We want to make sure that it is inclusive and that, reflexively, there are no barriers to consideration by Canadians who wish to serve in uniform.
Recommendation 28 is setting a goal of consistent, timely, compassionate and effective sexual misconduct resolution in the Canadian Forces in order to achieve culture change. There are two components: One is to eradicate still-lingering culture, or misconduct or condoned conduct. The other is to proactively prevent things from happening, at a policy level, so that in time—hopefully in a short frame of time—right through the ranks, there will be no cases because there's no misconduct, not because there's a fear of reporting.
Recommendation 29 is about the failure of Operation Honour to link sexual misconduct and military culture, notably the lack of reference to the role of gender and masculinity in the Canadian Forces. There was a lot of discussion about culture. There was a lot of discussion about about good elements of culture: the culture of service, of discipline, of looking out for one's peers within the Canadian Forces and leaving nobody behind, whether it's on the battlefield or in the halls of defence headquarters. However, there was also discussion about the bad elements, the harmful elements that need to change.
Recommendation 30 is about the unstated, but institutionally assumed white heterosexual male norm culture in the Canadian Forces. This was heard about from witnesses. This is one of those recommendations that I would invite colleagues to discuss and to tackle head-on. That's what it's about. That's where the problems are. It's not necessarily easy to call that out, but witnesses have done it for us and put it into our laps for constructive engagement and formulation in the context of our report.
Recommendation 31 reflects on CAF's history of legally sanctioned sex and gender discrimination against members who do not align with preconceived norms. I think that speaks for itself.
Recommendation 32 is addressing the generalized lack of expertise on sexual misconduct, culture change or gender issues in the CAF. Again, this could be one of those negative feedback loops or reinforcement loops, because when there is no expertise within the system, the system perpetuates itself in a negative sense. This might be one recommendation where colleagues could potentially zoom in and reach an agreement across party lines on very effective and timely change.
Finally, Madam Chair, recommendation 33 is acknowledging that the Canadian Armed Forces' current approach of self-monitoring is too reactive, inconsistent, linear and simplistic to be effective and successful against the complex problem of sexual violence. This is a powerful recommendation that's really zoomed in on some of the very precise reasons for which change has not happened, even after a substantial amount of attention has been directed to the problem from current and former members.
Madam Chair, I'll leave it there.
Again, I look forward to hearing comments and reflections on these recommendations. I'm very happy to have them on the record this afternoon for consideration by the committee, but also to assure Canadians that we are taking this issue seriously. This report will contain recommendations to the Government of Canada to achieve change within the Canadian Forces.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I think we need to respect the victims' wishes. Indeed, if this committee can't find the time to produce a report on this important subject, it seems to me that we won't be able to find solutions to this problem within the Canadian Armed Forces.
We also need to think of today's witnesses. Once before, last Monday, we could not give them the time they deserved. Despite that, they made the effort to come back today. It seems to me that we could at very least have had the courtesy to hear them and therefore make use of their experiences in connection with this important subject.
Again, I feel we need to focus on the victims and the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, because they should be our priority at this time.
Now I would like to continue in the same vein as my colleagues. Since the committee was not willing to hear from the women's champions, I will attempt to echo their words.
Rear Admiral Rebecca Patterson and Major General Jennie Carignan presented recommendations and raised important points, from which our committee could have greatly benefited. But it chose to go in a different direction instead.
I will summarize Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon's presentation to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women yesterday.
She began her military career over 33 years ago as a cadet at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean. Since then, as an officer and helicopter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, she has seen the many obstacles to women in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Nevertheless, she believes in the importance of the Canadian Armed Forces, its missions, and the institution's ability to learn and adapt.
When she joined in the late 1990s, women had to change to enter the all-male environment. As one of the first women on a Royal Canadian Navy ship, she had to force her way in. She was even thrown off a ship because she was a woman.
Attitudes are slowly changing and women are taking their rightful place. They have demonstrated that they have the skills and can make a contribution. Once, women were barely tolerated; now that the Canadian Armed Forces have evolved, they are accepted and welcomed.
Much progress has certainly been made over the past 35 years and many barriers have come down, but many challenges still lie ahead. To this day, sexual misconduct remains an issue for women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces. Any form of sexual misconduct within the ranks is unacceptable.
I will stop there for now and turn the floor over to other members of the committee.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
As I'm continuing through these recommendations, I'd also like to add some other things we have heard, including something very important that we heard in the status of women committee, and I think it behooves us to put it on the record here.
Military sexual trauma as an occupational stress injury is something that is very important, but we have to define “military sexual trauma”. We heard witnesses say that it's not currently defined. Once it's defined, it means they can get the supports they need. For instance, PTSD that comes from sexual trauma is different from PTSD that comes from combat trauma. We heard a witness say that when she went for support in a peer-support group. She was there to talk about her sexual trauma with nine men who had combat trauma. That can't happen. There needs to be very specific supports, particularly for military sexual trauma, so it's a matter of making that an occupational stress injury but also providing MST-specific group therapy treatments, outpatient programs and in-patient psychiatric care when that is needed. What we need is trauma-informed care.
The second thing is rape as a war crime. This is very important, because we use don't use the term right. We don't use the term “assault”. We don't say “violence”. If we say “misconduct”, that actually whitewashes some of the things we're talking about, and rape is a war crime. Ever since the Yugoslavia tribunal, we know that rape is a war crime. If you're raped in the military, I think that it's very important that it be treated very seriously. Frankly there should be standardized rape kits on all international operations. My understanding is that there are different rape kits, and they don't always hold up in different courts of law and different jurisdictions.
We also need to re-evaluate the code of ethics and values and the oath of service. There are a number of other things that we're hearing, and I'll continue with some of those recommendations.
I'm going to continue where Mr. Spengemann left off, on culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces.
One of the other recommendations we've heard is about addressing the use of sexually and racially coded language that supports and accentuates social hierarchies in the Canadian Armed Forces. We heard this from Professor Okros, who gave us some very tangible examples of how people learn power structures—who is the most important, who is the least important—and how that language is used. There are ways in which these things are indicated, and they really need to end. Finding ways to make sure we identify and call out this kind of coded language is going to be very important.
Number 35 recommends updating “The Path to Dignity and Respect” to identify and reflect factors that increase the risk of workplace harassment. If I may, “The Path to Dignity and Respect” was brought forward some months ago because we understood that Operation Honour and the processes in place could not function if we didn't have culture change. This is an evergreen document that has been brought forward, but I have heard from some survivors and advocates that it doesn't go far enough and it isn't necessarily in the form that we need it to be in to really address these concerns.
We're getting recommendations that, I think, will really assist in that sense, but we need to make sure that “The Path to Dignity and Respect” is evergreen and that we are constantly evolving with it. One of the problems with Operation Honour was that it had a finite period. This is not something you can say you will go on an operation for and then it will be finished. It doesn't end. “The Path to Dignity and Respect” is something that really allows for continuous work on culture change. I also think that when we look at culture, we have to look at culture as a system, because system changes will lead to culture changes. If you build it, they will come. That's very important.
Number 36 recommends addressing social factors that inhibit sexual violence reporting and challenging central tenets of the CAF, such as obedience to authority, normative conformity and group loyalty. We did hear from a number of witnesses that the culture of CAF is very important.
I think we need to make it clear. We are not attacking the culture of the military, of the Canadian Armed Forces, in the areas where there are very good aspects. There are aspects that really build team. They build loyalty. They build a sense of service. These things are very important, but we did hear from the professor that this also creates normative conformity—in other words, the thing that causes what you probably would hear in the term “brotherhood”.
The very fact that we call it “brotherhood” suggests that it is within the normative, so it's making sure that we keep the good parts of the culture—of honour, of respect—and that when we're doing the culture change we get rid of the things that sometimes people are blind to and don't even realize they are doing, because they are part of that normative culture and don't even realize that it is excluding others. I think that was, in fact, the testimony from Professor Okros, which was probably some of the most important testimony that we had.
In number 37, we're recommending providing clarity in Operation Honour on which aspects of Canadian Forces culture must change and which are allowed to remain the same. I'd like to clarify this one a bit and say that I think we know that the acting chief of the defence staff has said that Operation Honour “has culminated” and that we need to look at what comes next.
At the same time, there were good things. We need to identify what were the good aspects, continue those and not throw out the baby with the bathwater, making sure that we are identifying those things but also realizing and really assessing why it didn't work. What was it—with all the good intentions—and why is it that Operation Honour did not achieve the results that we wanted it to achieve?
It's only in reflecting on that and reflecting on the failures that we're able to look forward and say, “Here are the things we need to do in order to make it better, and you know what? We will put forward other programs, other institutional changes and process changes, and then we'll probably at some point realize that some of those aren't working. It has to continuously evolve, and we have to be self-reflective all the time and listen to the people who are speaking out, who are impacted by this.
The next thing would be number 38, which is re-engaging military leaders with the Deschamps report. We have heard the Deschamps report. We all know that these answers are there, that the solutions are there. There were many things put in place as a result of the Deschamps report, but I really think that we need to re-engage and make sure that we, at the highest levels, really implement those things, but also, are not frozen in time. I mean, we have learned a lot through this very committee study, which is exactly why it is so important that we get these recommendations, so that we can get the report and so we can table it in the House and make sure that we are in a position to provide these recommendations to government.
Number 39 is about examining how sexual misconduct interacts with consent in asymmetric professional relations. We've heard a lot about chain of command, about the hierarchy. We've heard a lot about how hard it is if you want to report that the person who perpetrated the aggression is a superior. That's something you see everywhere, but it is amplified in the Canadian Armed Forces because of the chain of command, because it's such a hierarchical structure that it becomes very difficult to talk about consent when you have this very hierarchical obedience to authority. I mean, how do you consent when you are junior to somebody who then...? We heard some of the witnesses say that when they decide when you can shower, when they can decide on minute things in your life, it is really hard, then, to even say that consent can exist in that environment.
I would continue, then, with number 41, which is emphasizing that non-reporting does not entail providing consent to sexual misconduct, a sexually unwanted interaction or a sexually asymmetric relationship. I think what the witness was trying to say in this was that just because you don't complain does not mean you are consenting. Just because you don't go to an authority and say, “My superior officer has done this and this and this,” does not mean that you're okay with it. I think that needs to be very well understood.
Number 42 is recommending through “The Path to Dignity and Respect”, that the CAF clarify, redefine and describe the problem at hand, which is sexual misconduct and how it ties to culture and climate within the Canadian Armed Forces.
Number 43 recommends encouraging representation and participation at all levels, both civilian and military, to give women in leadership positions place and visibility. I think we sometimes forget that this impacts the civilian employees of the Department of National Defence and those who work alongside our women and men in uniform. It's very important that everybody be included in this discussion.
Number 44 recommends addressing the need to change the CAF incentive structure so that abuses of power are not “explained away” or “covered up” by CAF members.
I'll reiterate something that I said yesterday in the status of women committee with regard to the concept of “the good soldier”. You can imagine that people say, “Well, you know, he might be a womanizer, but he's a good soldier” or “a good aviator” or “a good sailor”. Well, you can't be. You can't be a good soldier and be doing these kinds of behaviours. It is exclusive. You cannot be both things.
What this recommendation is getting to is that, when you are doing incentives and rewards and performance evaluations, what is considered relevant and what is not? Someone might say, “Well, you know, that's their personal life; that's not relative to whether they should be promoted.” How you lead and you interact with people—the characteristics and your own character—are not things to be seen as peripheral. These are things that have to be seen as core, particularly when you are advancing through the ranks into leadership positions. This idea that something is considered to be, in the way it says here, just sort of “explained away” has to stop.
Number 45—and I'll end it at this one—is to examine the CAF promotional structure and review career advancement incentive structures in order to create a more supportive environment. Frankly, we have been hearing that in the performance evaluations, there needs to be, as I said, this way of evaluating that is going to be inclusive of this, so that people who perpetrate these things don't get promoted up the ranks. That way you don't end up in the situation we are in now.
Madam Chair, I have more, but I'll leave it there, because I see some other hands up and I want to make sure other committee members have a chance to speak.
Madam Chair, thank you very much.
I think it was just before we took our health break that our colleague Mr. Bagnell made reference to the commitment of this committee to the issue. He made reference to the work that colleagues have done in the past and their capability as parliamentarians to really get behind this issue and make progress. We have members of the committee with whom I've had the privilege of serving in the 42nd Parliament. There are members of the committee who have served in uniform. There are members of the committee who have been in the field. There are members of the committee who have served at the executive level in the capacity of parliamentary secretary. There's a lot of passion, commitment and brain power within this group, and if we put that collectively behind the issues and recommendations, I think that we should be able to do some very important and constructive work.
My colleague Ms. Vandenbeld and I were in the process of outlining a number of recommendations that we've heard from witnesses. They're coming as a run-on set of recommendations grouped into some subcategories, but this is really the work, I think, that will help us solve the second issue that's before the committee in addition to the accountability and investigation of the conduct of the former chief of the defence staff: the issue of culture change and progress. As Mr. Garrison has said, we will not let up until this issue is solved, and I really appreciate that commitment.
Madam Chair, let me continue to outline a number of additional recommendations, and these fall under the category of new programs, training and focuses. One of the challenges with government is that when there's a problem, there's often a criticism that it's just easy to throw money at the problem and hope that it will go away.
When we talk about new programs and new training, that has to be looked at carefully to see if it adds value and how it adds value, instead of just replicating existing processes and perhaps not doing the work that needs to be done. Shifting the focus on the right formulation of the problem is equally important. That's where parliamentarians come in. That's why we invite witnesses. That's why we get the expert analyses that we get, including the reports from the Library of Parliament and other experts who have written to us and spoken to us.
With that, Madam Chair, there are a number of recommendations that I would like to put before the committee for consideration under that category of new programs and training and shifting the focus. We received a recommendation on the implementation of alternatives to reporting sexual violence that exist outside of the CAF chain of command, including through the sexual misconduct response centre. That's the recommendation that's been echoed in a number of respects because it is, in the views of many witnesses, the chain of command that is the issue. The ability to report misconduct, harassment, assaults and harmful behaviour outside of the chain of command is something that the committee should look at very seriously and develop recommendations on, in my submission.
We also heard about the importance of the development of a restorative engagement program that will provide opportunities for class members to share experiences of sexual misconduct with senior defence representatives and that will restore the relationship between class members and the Canadian Armed Forces. Again, it goes back to the fundamental issue of trust in the system, trust as an aspirant, a recruit, a junior member, an NCO, an officer, a senior officer or a senior NCO across gender and across ages and ranks.
Witnesses have said we should look at the practice of providing independent legal advice for victims. Madam Chair, this is a very important recommendation that goes back to the overall structure of supporting victims at a human level, at a personal level, but also at a process level with respect to procedures that the victims may or may not choose to follow, that they have the confidence to follow—those procedures available to them. Legal advice is one of those aspects—and that it be independent, that it not be legal advice provided by a Canadian Forces official but be outside of the structure.
There's a recommendation on the establishment of an independent oversight body to defend members' rights or support work-related concerns. That's a recommendation that taps into the broader issue of independence of oversight, and we can take it as such. In addition to that, there's a recommendation on implementing the recommendations of the external review authority, ERA, report of 2015 that we know as the Deschamps report by establishing the recommended long-term, independent, external oversight and accountability centre.
Perhaps one of the aspects to elaborate on briefly is the long-term nature of this, that this be a centre that is not there to temporarily fix a problem, but that it continues into the culture change phase of the transition to make sure that the negative aspects of the culture don't resurge, that there is predictability and certainty in the perception of victims and the practice of the Canadian Forces that will assure that those mechanisms are there in an assisting way and will be available to victims and to all members of the Canadian Forces as they are needed.
I'm going to group the last three into one bracket.
There is a recommendation on addressing the resentment of male Canadian Forces members who feel unfairly targeted by Operation Honour, as it then was, by refocusing training efforts away from the focus on the perpetrator and towards engaging with military culture, militarized masculinity, survivors' needs and bystander empowerment.
There is a recommendation that the Canadian Armed Forces host small interactive training sessions, led by authentic experts—as that witness formulated—on the prevention of sexual violence, using external experts to peer-review training materials.
There is a recommendation that the Canadian Forces host practice intervention scenarios to enable members to become effective, proactive, informed bystanders.
This last set of three recommendations, Madam Chair, goes to the importance of male allyship. This cannot and must not under any circumstances be seen as an issue that falls onto the shoulders of female Canadian Forces officers, past, present or aspirants. It is an issue that requires male allyship, in large part and the majority part, as does every other issue of gender equality.
Often there is a moral and an instrumental component to that. The moral component manifests and obviously needs little elaboration. It is wrong to condone this kind of behaviour and it is wrong to condone it as a bystander. It is a moral imperative that requires us to achieve change.
The instrumental component of that is that with change we have a better Canadian Forces. We have a healthier, more inclusive work environment. We have greater efficiencies in all the salutary aspects of Canadian Forces culture, be it training, discipline, camaraderie, excellence, reputation in the world. Not only is it the right thing to do, but through male allyship the Canadian Forces will be the better organization and a better place.
That's why it's so important, Madam Chair, that when we focus these recommendations on bystanders—and we've had military officers in uniform testify to us, and in a very courageous way—those male allies need to be supported organizationally. They need to be empowered and encouraged to continue to work in that direction.
We have some recommendations on the last three sets that have some granularity. They have some specificity to them that this committee of parliamentarians can put itself behind and can prioritize with respect to how government, in the months and years to come, can achieve the required change.
I am really grateful to the witnesses for having given us that level of precision, and it's a very useful set of recommendations.
Madam Chair, I'll leave it there for the moment. I may have some additional thoughts, but again, I'm very curious to hear colleagues' views on any of these recommendations. Normally, the committee will meet in camera to discuss the draft report, and we will, but if there are some early indications from colleagues as to whether any of these recommendations should be prioritized in the sense of now providing the setting for the remainder of the committee's work, that would probably be helpful and appreciated by all members.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much, Chair.
I want to continue along the theme that Mr. Spengemann was speaking to.
I believe the recommendations that have been made by many of the witnesses [Technical difficulty—Editor]. When we hear what those recommendations are, we have a better understanding as to why we don't need to summon Mr. Elder Marques to this committee. What I want to do is speak to some of the recommendations that I think are really important, so I'm going to talk a bit about a few that stood out for me.
One of them is that the Canadian Armed Forced should convey shared responsibility for sexual misconduct and place emphasis on collective responsibility in all sexual violence prevention training materials. They should not only convey shared responsibility, but also place an emphasis on collective responsibility. It's not just about the communications, but about taking on that responsibility. I think that's really important when we think about large organizations, whether they be in government or outside of it.
My background is in business. Prior to coming to elected office, I used to work for a consulting company that advised companies on a range of problems. Many of them were related to culture, leadership and performance management. From my personal experience, I know that when an organization needs to change its culture or change its practices, it's not enough for the leader of that organization, whether that be a CEO, a president, a board or whatever the case may be, to simply direct change. A number of steps need to be taken to make sure there's buy-in and to make sure that people within the organization know that change is a priority to leadership.
The recommendation that the Canadian Armed Forced convey shared responsibility is a big part of that. It's signalling that the forces would be, in my view, conveying that they are taking on responsibility for this problem, for the misconduct, and then placing emphasis on collective responsibility. That really helps to make sure that people on a team in an organization are all pulling in the same direction. One of the ways you can change culture and incent a change of behaviour in an organization is by signalling that everyone together is responsible for outcomes that you want to see, so I thought this recommendation was really important to highlight and underline.
Another important one is establishing a reporting line for victims of sexual violence which exists outside of the chain of command. One thing we heard a tremendous amount about during deliberations at our committee hearings for this study was the fact that victims of sexual violence don't feel comfortable reporting what has happened to them. There was a range of reasons for that. Some [Technical difficulty—Editor]. Some talked about the fear of intimidation or actual intimidation. Some said they were concerned about being penalized in some way in their career progression for doing that. Some talked about the fact that they didn't have confidence—or some victims don't have confidence, I should say—in the processes that would be followed within the chain of command to follow up on their complaint or concerns. This, I think, flows from that.
This reporting line outside of the chain of command would do two things. One is it could ensure greater objectivity. I think that helps a lot in making sure that an investigation and the processes that are followed afterwards are appropriate. What's also important about this—and I think we heard this from some of the folks who presented—is that it also helps to build confidence in the process. That confidence is important if incidents of sexual misconduct are going to be reported.
I think that recommendation is important for those two reasons.
The third recommendation I want to highlight is the recommendation to establish a mechanism for monitoring the retention and application of training around Operation Honour, which goes further than the current monitoring system does.
I think what the folks who recommended this are saying is that we need to make sure we have an ability to measure our performance when it comes to training within, in this case, Operation Honour, but within any program within the armed forces that is designed to train members of the forces on sexual misconduct and how we make sure we stop it.
Some of my colleagues have heard me say this in other contexts. I'm a big believer that you measure what you treasure. One of the things I think we have to treasure here is the appropriate training for members of the forces to prevent sexual misconduct. I think this is a recommendation that would allow us to do that.
Another recommendation is to address asymmetric professional relationships and consent. This is, I think, really important and, obviously, this will vary from situation to situation. Asymmetry is something we have heard about a lot, and it needs to be focused on and addressed.
Then there was a recommendation to adapt and diversify the demographics of the forces by adding more female service members and by adding greater diversity. I think we've heard this before. I think we all probably know that this is a meaningful recommendation, so I hope this is something that we talk about in our report.
There are two things: the armed forces members are Canadians, so we want to make sure, in my view, that it represents Canada as much as possible, but also that we're attracting the best and the brightest.
I'll go back to my time in business when some of the firms that I was working for—I'm thinking specifically of one of the consulting firms I worked for—realized that they were not attracting a representative group of people to the firm, for a range of reasons, cultural and otherwise, and so they invested a tremendous amount of effort in trying to make sure that they were doing that. Some would say that is the right thing to do. I think it was, but I think it was also important because what they were trying to do was to make sure that they were able to attract the best talent to the firm, and if you're not able to attract women, for example, then you don't have the opportunity to attract the best and the brightest, because obviously some of the best and the brightest are women.
That's one of the things. I think this recommendation is important. It would also help to shape and change the culture of the armed forces going forward.
Those are some of the recommendations, I think, that are really important. I am going to leave it there, Chair, because I know that others have things they want to add.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'd just like to say that it's really becoming evident to me how these recommendations and how much we've done in this study, how much we've actually done in this committee in these 29 hours that we've had.... It's becoming more and more evident that we really probably don't need to hear from more witnesses, because, as we're going through this, it's really very comprehensive.
I'd like to talk about 10 themes that I think are coming through the recommendations we have as the most important things.
First of all, we've heard a lot from witnesses about culture change. This is going beyond gender integration to gender inclusion, including the pre- and post-Canadian Armed Forces experience in service, acknowledging differences between the sexes as strengths versus weaknesses and working toward respectful, diverse, inclusive work environments for all, with enabled teams. Again, this is about that really core piece, which is the culture change that, as we know, has been the focus and will continue to be.
The other big theme is being survivor-centric and informed. The wants and needs of the survivors should always be paramount. We've heard from witnesses who have really expressed around these themes. “Nothing about us without us” should be the guiding principle for research, policy, programs and services. These consultations need to be respectful, meaningful and representative of the diversity of needs of military sexual trauma survivors. We heard from witnesses that it must include recent victims with experiences in the reporting process for a wide range of sexual misconduct experiences, including sexual assaults from various ranks, gender and language.
I would add here, Madam Chair, that we did hear.... It was more in the FEWO committee, but we did hear in the testimony that sometimes language can be a barrier as well, that francophone women.... By the way, I'd like to acknowledge that many of these strong, brave women who have come forward are francophone women. The services are not always there for francophones, and this is something that I really believe we need to take incredibly seriously, so I think language is another key one.
The other thing we heard from witnesses in the testimony was a theme around independent external oversight mechanisms—this is something that came up over and over, in fact, in the testimony—with responsibilities of quality assurance and accountability to complete both formal and informal complaints in an evidence-based, survivor-centric and trauma-informed way.
We also heard a lot about data from various witnesses. We need to pull data, disaggregated data by gender and rank, from Statistics Canada surveys. We need to make sure that it's intersectional—also the junior and senior ranks—and that feedback mechanisms be in place to analyze the training provided, inclusive of completing a review of the SMRC and its mandate. Further on data, because I do think this was something that we did hear witnesses talk about, is data coordination inclusive of the provision of definitions for military sexual trauma during and after service. It needs to be officially recognized as a full operational stress injury. MST needs to be consistently researched, resourced and funded to other service-related injuries.
Then, the really key thing—and by the way, this, if anything, is probably the most immediate need that we heard from the witnesses in the testimony—is a national bilingual peer support network. Those who testified, particularly the survivors, asked for this. MST survivors of all genders, during and after service, and their support persons must have access across Canada and on deployment, in person and online, to a national military sexual trauma peer support network available in both French and English. The network must be staffed with trauma-informed trained personnel knowledgeable in the unique needs of the CAF members and veterans dealing with MST and able to speak to the needs of MST survivors and their families independently. This support should also provide information about transition, care options and internal and external opportunities for CAF and veterans and their families dealing with MST.
I note that we didn't hear much about veterans, but I know that other committees might be taking that up. Certainly, we've heard for CAF members how important this is.
One thing has come up in FEWO and only really peripherally in this committee, but I'd like to draw from that testimony. Child care access doesn't sound like it's directly related to military sexual trauma, but in fact child care access is one of the key reasons women leave the Canadian Armed Forces.
A safe and bilingual child care option is an equalizer. It needs to be available to all military women and men and their spouses 24-7, including for prolonged periods of time and sudden and inconsistent schedules.
In addition, one of the things we heard in the themes is that there be a single access point for sexual misconduct information and reporting. This is something we have put out now: a single, public-facing web portal for information on all support, care, recourses, processes for sexual misconduct for CAF members, civilians and veterans impacted by sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The final theme we have pulled out of the testimony is to provide CAF the tools for military women's integration, so ensuring an even playing field for women in non-traditional roles from recruitment onward: equitable access to accommodation, equipment, policy, research, health care, health promotion, diagnosis, care and treatment, including for sexual and reproductive health.
Madam Chair, I know we've heard a tremendous amount of testimony and I think they are among the recommendations we urgently need to get the analysts working on so we can then get this tabled in the House, get these recommendations to government, because what people are looking for right now, Madam Chair, is action.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I appreciate the opportunity to join the committee. I've been following its work closely as an associate member, as I'm substituting tonight.
I want to thank colleagues for the work they've done. This is not an easy issue to address. The recommendations I'm looking at here reflect the testimony all of you have heard over the past many weeks and leave an impression on me for a number of reasons. I have many constituents who are veterans. I've had the chance to get to know their families over the years. We have a large detachment of reservists in land forces, but also with a naval focus here in London.
Madam Chair, I want to read some of these recommendations and comment on their importance. I leave that with you and the committee as context that explains part of my interest in this.
There's obviously a national focus here with this issue as well, with the national debate that's taking place in civil-military relations and how we organize our military going forward.
I see that Ms. Vandenbeld read out the key recommendations from witnesses who appeared, but others will follow.
The key thing that stands out here is a desire to produce a collaborative, all-party-supported approach. A recommendation here is to proceed on addressing this issue through all-party legislation, all-party amendments and the tabling of white papers.
On issues like this I'm really happy to see that phrase “all-party” there. I think it speaks to the need for collaboration and working together.
In terms of removing barriers to reporting sexual violence and sexual misconduct, the first recommendation under this section suggests adjusting the design of existing structures and systems to adequately address barriers to reporting sexual violence, reflecting on past failures.
Let me just break that down, if I could. Existing structures and systems are always difficult to address, because they're so deeply entrenched. Typically, when you're trying to create change...as all of you will know, and I know there are varied career backgrounds on the committee.
I think Mr. Baker talked about his career in business. Madam Chair, I've worked on previous committees with Ms. Vandenbeld, who just spoke. I know she's worked on issues relating to democratization, international development, I believe, and civil-military relations, if I'm not mistaken.
I know Mr. Spengemann has worked with the United Nations, among other international organizations. I know opposition colleagues will have their own backgrounds. Forgive me, I don't know them as well, but I have a lot of respect for what they bring to the table too.
The point I'm making is that all of us know that when we're trying to push for change, existing structures and systems that are deeply entrenched, and as I said have existed for some time, are very difficult to change. Altering them is very hard to move forward, but when change is necessary, change is necessary.
The reality is that needs to be pushed. Of course that needs to move ahead with the memory and the lessons of past failures in mind. I think we need to continue to reflect on that in Canada. This is a truism. This remains with us.
If we're going to do the right thing by future generations, if we're going to create systems and structures that encourage young men and particularly young women to serve their country in the military, then I think that reflecting on those past failures is important.
Perhaps it's not surprising that witnesses would suggest that, but I think every step forward has to be rooted in the fact that we learn from our past. I'm tempted here even to quote the historian Santayana who said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it". Certainly we have a lot to learn in Canada.
The second recommendation under this category.... Again, the recommendations I'm speaking to relate to the overall goal of removing barriers to reporting sexual violence and sexual misconduct. In this recommendation, there is a need to reaffirm the sexual violence survivors' control over the reporting process by changing the duty to report to the duty to respond, as mandatory reporting places a problematic strain on victims and survivors, with the possibility to request a case to be handled by civilian authorities and the ability to access their rights and see the failure to provide them with their rights handled in a serious and transparent manner.
The recommendations also suggest the need to create a new independent reporting mechanisms for survivors, including anonymous reporting similar to how flight safety reports can be anonymous, and, when reported, to ensure that this anonymous information is used to help fix broad systemic issues such as problematic reporting processes.
There's a lot there, Madam Chair and colleagues, as you will certainly have seen. What stands out for me is the call to create a new independent reporting mechanism, with emphasis on the word “independent” for obvious reasons. In following the committee's work I've also followed media commentary on this, and the need for independence continues to come up. I'm very interested to see that recommendation.
Furthermore, there is a call for establishing professional, highly trained external investigative bodies with legal expertise in victims' rights and sexual violence, to do two things: to examine allegations of sexual misconduct where a corroboration of witness accounts is not available; and to rereview, with inputs from the SM victims, all existing sexual misconduct reports and assess the timeliness, compassion and freedom from bias, unconscious bias included. There is also a recommendation to analyze the design principles of sexual violence reporting systems, including the discretion given to examining bodies, whether they shall or may conduct investigations once a report has been received.
Again, I suppose it makes sense that this recommendation follows from the one that I focused on earlier, because while independence was the focus there, here we have a call for a highly trained external investigative body. I see how these two recommendations, while not the same, certainly complement one another very well. The call for legal expertise on victims' rights and sexual violence offers another check and balance to the whole issue, and I'm really interested to see that. I think that's very positive.
Number four is dedicated money for full integration and inclusion of women into all traditional male roles. Number five is ensuring that military justice reform is done in collaboration with external legal experts in victims' rights and military victims with recent lived experience with the military justice system, and that includes victim-centric decision-making and supporting victim-informed choices of civil military systems.
It's really intriguing to me that “victim-centric” is given emphasis. It's very welcomed. If we're going to learn from our past, part of that must include taking into account the past experiences that victims have faced, as a way of creating better systems and structures. This is how we create meaningful reform. This is how we move forward in a positive way. This is how we mitigate, as much as possible, the chance for things to happen again that should never have happened in the first place.
Number six calls for provision of an external, independent monitoring system, which takes various forms. There's (a) through (d), if committee members are reviewing this. I think this is important, so I'll read it into the record.
Number one is to provide strategic review to look at formal and informal processes, handling of internal and external SM processes and related processes, such as abuse of power, restorative process, individual and systemic discrimination, reprisal, workplace accommodation, administrative reviews, victim and accused protection from reprisal, confidentiality, recourse and feedback mechanisms and data tracking, and priorities management from beginning to end with meaningful consultation with external legal experts in victims' rights in Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans victims and others with lived experience related with these matters.
There's a lot to this particular call in 6(a). The fact that we've heard a call here for those with lived experience to express themselves and for those experiences to therefore find expression in the overall approach that is taken, I think is truly an important thing.
In 6(b) it says, in collaboration with experts in culture change and victims and others with lived experience related to SM in the CAF, build a comprehensive plan for systemic cultural change that includes measurable standards with timelines and transparent external reporting and accountability mechanisms.
Two things stand out for me, colleagues. There is the call, certainly, for systemic cultural change, which Mr. Baker earlier spoke about very eloquently, based on his experience in something very different, business. I think he made the point that when you're pushing for systemic change, it's difficult. It's one thing to commit to it, but you also have to commit to the follow-up. Hence, it makes very good sense that there is a call here for measurable standards, external reporting and accountability. I think that is something that really acts as another—I used the phrase before—“check and balance”, and I think it's appropriate.
Finally, well not finally, but close to finally here, number 13 calls for consolidating reporting structure processing information, and then, collecting, analyzing and reporting on sexual misconduct, formal and informal, and reporting data, facts and figures to enable better organizational understanding, response and accountability. I think the point is made there, and I don't have to elaborate on that one.
There is another section, and I'll continue here with recommendations.
The section is on bolstering existing services and support structures. The recommendation here is to track, adjust, adapt and provide relevant structures and systems that adequately and accurately reflect the reality and needs of all SM victims and properly care and support sexual survivors to increase the likelihood of retention or facilitate the transition out of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Number 15 recommends setting out to improve the experience of sexual violence survivors who utilize the existing CAF sexual violence support structures, following a confidential and publicly available user experience-style satisfaction approach and to provide an anonymized public and transparent results of these feedbacks and remedial measures.
Number 19 recommends improving and documenting informal reporting processes and procedures for amicable situation resolutions at low organizational levels.
Number 20 recommends addressing Operation Honour's culmination through a transition to a deliberate plan that addresses existing identified shortfalls.
Number 21 recommends adjusting Operation Honour's frame of reference to address sexual misconduct in the long term as well as the short term.
Number 22 recommends the bolstering of existing medical supports for women, as well as an increase in the spectrum of care provided such as introducing bereavement leave for miscarriages.
That's something that stands out for me, Madam Chair. I remember having a conversation—this goes back a few years—where something along these lines was recommended to me in a meeting that I had with a constituent. I think it speaks to a compassionate approach. I wasn't obviously participating in the meeting where it was suggested by a witness or a group of witnesses—I'm not sure—but I think something like this recommendation going forward would be quite appropriate, on a purely compassionate basis.
I wonder what the experience of other countries is. I'm not sure. I'd have to go back to the blues and read what the committee heard in terms of how other countries have sought to put in place similar recommendations and what that has done to morale. Certainly you'd want to do something like this because it is, in the abstract, the morally right thing to do.
When you have these sorts of supports in place, I'm sure it adds to the overall morale in the forces. I'd be very interested to see, if something like this were to go ahead, what that would do to the issue I just mentioned.
Recommendation number 13, which I've already spoken to, is to proceed on addressing this issue through all-party legislation, all-party amendments and the tabling of white papers.
Before I turn it over to either Mr. Baker or Mr. Spengemann, number 14 recommends refraining from creating more independent bodies and enhancing bureaucracy. Certainly, there's a need for oversight. The public service has an enormous role to play. I get where this recommendation is coming from, if I understand it. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy is not the way to address problems. There is a need to make sure that there are monitoring mechanisms and the like, but sometimes that does not happen. Bureaucracy is stacked layer upon layer, and you have agencies and organizations that even work at cross-purposes.
I'm not sure what the committee found with respect to that issue, but just understanding how other countries have sought to address these sorts of problems and challenges, I think the call to have independent bodies.... Overdoing bureaucracy, which is what I take from this recommendation, if I have understood it correctly, can have an effect that is not desired.
Madam Chair, I'll turn it over to another colleague. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share thoughts on the issue. I very sincerely wish colleagues nothing but the best with respect to the issues discussed.
On a personal level, and this extends to the entire committee, including the analysts who worked on this, and you, Mr. Clerk, I hope your families are healthy and safe.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I just want to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Fragiskatos and thank him for his appearance today, his thoughtful comments to the committee, and his recognition and acknowledgement of the position that this committee is in across party lines.
There is no bigger change management challenge in Canada at the moment than the issue before the committees: sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. This parliamentary committee is in a position to achieve change.
We have outlined a large number of recommendations with varying levels of granularity and precision that came to us from witnesses, Madam Chair. These recommendations came as a list. We've grouped them loosely into some categories for digestive purposes this afternoon. However, the real work will happen when we, as a committee, get behind these recommendations, analyze them, and figure out which ones to amplify, which ones to put forward, and in what sequence and in what groupings.
I'll just briefly summarize the categories again. We have recommendations that fall into these areas: barriers to the reporting of sexual violence and misconduct; bolstering existing services and support structures; culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces; and new programs, training and focus.
I want to take just a few moments—with your indulgence, Madam Chair—to outline some recommendations that fall under support for the sexual misconduct response centre, an existing institution that we've heard from before the committee directly and that brings some important recommendations for the committee's consideration.
The first recommendation is to expand the mandate of the sexual misconduct response centre to permit the organization to formally receive reports of sexual violence. That is not the case yet, and I think this is a very important recommendation for us to contemplate and to deliberate as we begin framing and drafting our report.
There's also a recommendation to expand the mandate for the sexual misconduct response centre with respect to accountability and authority over the Canadian Armed Forces, including by facilitating the centre's access to CAF information and databases. There are important discussions there around data sets—their utility, their importance—but also with respect to ownership and privacy.
There's a recommendation to raise awareness, internally and externally, of the sexual misconduct response centre's services and to continue to conduct outreach. Madam Chair, that's very important for, obviously, existing and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, but it's equally important for aspirants and for recruits. The presence of the centre suggests that we have not reached a goal yet of eliminating sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. It's still required. It will be there as a backstop for victims, but they need to be aware of its features, its mandates, its restrictions, its opportunities and the level of trust that victims can have in it. Outreach and communication are critical.
Witnesses also recommend the review of the governance structure of the sexual misconduct response centre to improve independence, accountability and organizational effectiveness. That recommendation, in a way, speaks for itself. If we have an existing organization that can add value, let's make sure that it can actually serve the absolute best that it can.
There's a recommendation to further utilize expert advice on supports of the sexual misconduct response centre to address restricted reports. These are unreported incidents, confidential reports and confidential disclosures. The committee has received a lot of testimony on the sensitivity of confidential disclosures, the rights of victims, and the point that they are paramount and front and centre with respect to all considerations of the committee.
There is expertise in the SMRC, and it is recommended that this expertise be utilized to address restricted reports and their implications.