Thank you, Madam Chair.
It is unfortunate we couldn't get a webcast, but at least we are public with this debate.
I will move my motion, as amended, back on the floor. It reads:
That the Standing Committee on National Defence, concerning its study on addressing sexual misconduct issues in the Canadian Armed Forces, including the allegations against former Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance and Admiral Art McDonald, summon Elder Marques to testify as a witness; that the witness appear individually for no less than two hours; that the meeting be held in public and be televised; and that the witness testify within seven days of this motion passing; and that the date of the report be not changed.
Madam Chair, I'll speak to that motion.
As we were unable to conclude our debate on Friday, I have to say that I was very disappointed by the antics that were used by the Liberal opposition members. I'm very disappointed, Madam Chair, that you abused your authority by adjourning a meeting without consent. The rules are very clear that you require consent to adjourn a meeting. We've had this discussion in the past. This is the second time that you have adjourned without consent. I would request, Madam Chair, that today you respect the wishes of the committee.
I have sat in your chair as a committee chair for this committee, as well as others. I believe that it is inherent upon committee chairs to, first and foremost, be there to respect the freedom of speech of all members of Parliament, including those who sit at the committee table. Chapter 3 in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, is very clear that we get to enjoy such special privileges as freedom of speech.
I would just say that when it comes down to suspensions—and I realize that you used suspensions very freely during our debate on Friday—they should only be done to return the committee back to order, not be used to help with the stifling of debate. I will buy into the fact that you will have to suspend for votes in the House, which is common practice. We'd be permissive of having suspensions for health concerns, but that should only extend to our interpreters and House of Commons support staff, if they so require.
We know that in the meeting we held on Friday, the House of Commons deputy clerk notified all of our respective whips' offices that they would require a one-hour suspension on Friday evening, but then would be able to return to work. I would request, Madam Chair, that when we are getting those directives from House of Commons clerks, especially from the deputy clerk, we would then be making sure we try to encourage debate, rather than shut down debate in our parliamentary processes.
I would also say that these lengthy filibusters undertaken by Liberal members on Friday were incredibly discouraging, especially for the women who serve in uniform. Over the weekend, I received numerous emails—I know that many of you did, as well, since I was copied on some of those emails—from current serving members who were equally disgusted by the spectacle that we witnessed by the Liberal members on Friday.
Madam Chair, I would encourage each and every member here to keep the women in uniform, as well as all those who serve—because we know that there are also men who have also been subjected to sexual misconduct—in the foremost parts of our minds during this debate. Instead of trying to block witnesses from appearing who could shed light on exactly what happened and who knew what and when, we should maybe think about those women and try to get the answers they so rightly deserve, so that we can get back to the report of this study.
We don't want to slow down how this report is put together. Any exclamations by other members that the opposition parties are trying to slow down the report.... It's not that at all. We have one witness on the table right now who we want to have before committee. The analysts have heard all the other testimony and debates that have taken place and can easily draft the report as we wait to hear from this one witness. His testimony could be easily added into the report going forward.
Even though we're seeing this plethora of recommendations coming from Liberal members, we know that when we get to the report it takes some time to go through it and get to a consensus. I'm hoping that at the end of this study we will have consensus, or are we witnessing here that the Liberals already wrote their dissenting report and have the recommendations ready to go?
Madam Chair, I just ask that you respect each and every one of us as members, and that we are not put into the time outs that we experienced on Friday when your decision was overruled. I ask that the parliamentary processes and procedures that are well respected and founded on history are enforced and not allowed to be abused and to deny our ability to speak on behalf of our constituents, speak as individual members of Parliament and stand up for freedom of speech.
Thanks very much, Madam Chair.
I wanted to speak to Mr. Bezan's motion.
I'm of the view that we don't need more testimony on this study because we've heard from many witnesses with recommendations that I think are very valuable to the study. Mr. Bezan made reference to that in his remarks, which preceded me. I think many of the witnesses referred to the Deschamps report. I think it's important that we take into account what witnesses have told us as part of this study, but I also think a lot of work that was done before this committee undertook this study should be taken into consideration.
I want to let members know and remind members of what is in that report. One of the things we heard about a lot during the committee testimony was the issue of culture. One of the sections of the Deschamps report was on that very topic.
I'd like to read from that section, because it's important that we remind ourselves of what's already been studied and what's already been recommended. This, to me, underlines why we don't need to hear from more witnesses.
That section, which is section 4 of the report, says:
...this Report does not aim at capturing all aspects of the culture of the CAF, or its many subcultures, the ERA found that certain cultural behaviours and expectations are directly related to the prevalence of inappropriate sexual conduct in the organization. Any discussion, therefore, of the causes and consequences of sexual harassment and assault in the armed forces—including the effectiveness of current policies and practices—must begin with an examination of the underlying cultural norms that inform the ways in which CAF members interact with each other, and what they perceive to be acceptable conduct.
We heard that quite a bit from many of the witnesses who came forward to present to us and who spoke so often about culture. It continues:
According to Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms in Canada, first published by the CDS in 2003 and reviewed in 2009, “(t)he military ethos...is the foundation upon which the legitimacy, effectiveness and honour of the Canadian Forces depend.” Amongst other goals, military ethos is “is intended to establish the trust that must exist between the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian society; guide the development of military leaders who must exemplify the military ethos in their everyday actions; [and] enable professional self-regulation within the Canadian forces.” Military ethos is therefore essential to creating and maintaining a high degree of professionalism within the organization, and underpins the right of the CAF to self-regulate through an independent system of military justice. It is “the foundation upon which the legitimacy, effectiveness and honour of the Canadian Forces depend.”
The concept of military ethos is founded upon respect for the values protected by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights (the Charter), including the right to dignity and security of the person. More precisely, DAOD 7023-0 on “Defence Ethics” emphasizes that the Canadian public expects the highest standards from [Canadian Forces] members:
“The DND and the [Canadian Armed Forces] are integral parts of our democratic society and must reflect and practice the values of that society. Fundamental to the effectiveness of the DND and the [Canadian Forces] is the strength and vitality of its ethical culture. The Canadian public expects the highest level of adherence to ethical standards by DND employees and [Canadian Forces] members.”
Reflecting on what I've just read to you there, I think it's one of the things that we were discussing on Friday, certainly during the debate and in previous committee hearings during this study—the importance of the fact that the Canadian Forces reflect the values—and that's what I've just read to you from the Deschamps report.
It's also important, in my view, that the Canadian Forces reflect Canadian society, both in terms of values but also in terms of its makeup. One of the things that we heard a lot about, I think, is the importance of that and the importance of making sure that, in particular in the context of this study, women are welcomed into the forces and that they are treated with the respect they deserve.
We discussed a whole series.... Fellow members will recall a number of discussions we had and witnesses who spoke to how we can ensure that women are treated equally, because many of them, in most cases—perhaps not all, but most—are integrating into roles that have been traditionally reserved for men, so the Canadian Forces need to do a better job of adapting and making sure that women are properly integrated.
I think this highlights nicely some of the things that we've heard from some of the witnesses. I'll go on:
Leaders are taught that respect for the dignity of others takes precedence over other ethical principles:
There are a few items here:
“The Statement of Defence Ethics contains three ethical principles that are hierarchal in nature; that is, normally, the first one takes precedence over the second one, which takes precedence over the third:
Respect the dignity of all persons;
Serve Canada before self; and
Obey and support lawful authority.”
Further, [Canadian Armed Forces] members belong to the “Profession of Arms”. Professionalism and military ethos are interconnecting concepts:
“Understanding the nature of professionalism, its relation with the military ethos, and the vital institutional role of the [Canadian Forces] is crucial to combat effectiveness and to meeting Canadians' expectations that their military professionals will defend the nation with honour. This entails meeting the highest standards of professionalism and having a full understanding of the obligation inherent in military services.”
To meet the Canadian public's high expectations, [Canadian Forces] members:
“have a special responsibility to fulfill their functions competently and objectively for the benefit of society. [They] are governed by a code of ethics that establishes standards of conduct while defining and regulating their work. This code of ethics is enforced by the members themselves and contains values that are widely accepted as legitimate by society at large.”
The Canadian public has granted the [Canadian Armed Forces] the right to self-govern.
I think we heard about this issue of self-governance in a number of different contexts throughout this study, so I think this is an important point to highlight, as was made by some of the witnesses. It continues:
In some respects, this is related to the fact that Canadians hold members of the [Canadian Armed Forces] to a higher standard of conduct than ordinary Canadians. This is because of the unique role played by the [Canadian Armed Forces] in Canadian society and abroad. Thus, one of the reasons for establishing an independent military justice system, separate and apart from the justice system that regulates the conduct of ordinary Canadians, is to be able to uphold these higher standards. As Justice Lamer stated in R. v. Généreux:
“Breaches of miliary discipline must be dealt with speedily and, frequently, punished more severely than would be the case if a civilian engaged in such conduct.”
I think this is very relevant to our study. I think this is something that we heard from some of the witnesses. I think it's something interesting that we need to reflect on: the role of this and how to make sure that victims get justice. As is indicated here in the Deschamps report, there's a separate independent military justice system. I know that's something that Mr. Bezan is particularly interested in, and that we're to do a study on. I believe it's next, if I'm not mistaken. This ties in nicely with the work we've been doing here, I hope, but this part of the report speaks to some of the reasons why it exists. I think it's important to underline that:
The National Defence Act includes the [Canadian Armed Forces'] Code of Service Discipline...and is the legal foundation upon which the military justice system is based. In addition, policies on administrative and remedial measures give to CAF leaders specific tools to intervene to ensure compliance with those higher standards. Again, as leaders are instructed:
I would remind the committee that this chair, as the commissioned officer and an elected member of Parliament, along with all members must put their country above their own personal gain or position.
That is not what has happened. What we have seen, Madam Chair, from the actions last Friday, is that a motion was brought to entertain another witness, and you ruled it out of order. In fact, there was no question that it was not out of order, because the motion simply said what we're going to study. The recommendations would be submitted by Friday and the report for this study would be done by a further date. It did not in any way say that no new witnesses could be brought forward, and this is not a new witness. This is someone we have been trying to get to committee since March 8.
We challenged your decision, and we were able to overrule your decision. Madam Chair. In return, you suspended the committee meeting for 80 minutes as a punishment for bringing this motion forward without giving 48 hours' notice, when in fact it is protocol and generally accepted that we bring motions, and absolutely nothing prevents us from bringing motions from the floor. Your rule, Madam Chair, as I understand it, is to facilitate the process fairly and honourably, not to punish members of Parliament on the committee.
You then failed to monitor the debate to ensure there was relevance around the topic we were discussing, as well as that points were not being made repeatedly over and over again.
If the motion on the table was to bring a specific witness, Elder Marques, forward, then the debate should be around that, not about whether or not we have enough recommendations so that we don't need to review this anymore. We don't know what testimony a witness is going to bring until we actually hear from that witness. It is unconscionable we would debate that, because we have so much other information, which may or may not be relevant to what this witness is going to say, that we don't need to hear anymore.
We are counting on you, Madam Chair, to ensure the will of the committee is maintained—not just the will of a few Liberal members but that the will of the committee is maintained. It was clear on Friday that the will of the committee was not to adjourn, and Madam Chair, you did not have the will of the committee to adjourn. It was clearly the will of the committee to get to a vote on this critical motion before adjourning.
This motion is not some frivolous procedural motion. This is a critically important motion. This committee is essentially the last line of defence in all of the things we're doing to get to the bottom of sexual misconduct, abuse of authority, harassment and discrimination in one of the most important institutions of our country, the Canadian Armed Forces.
We have heard of the repeated failures in the process. We still do not have answers as to not only how a chief of the defence staff could remain in his position for three years with unresolved allegations of sexual misconduct but why no security review was conducted. He also received his performance at-risk pay, a salary increase, and was allowed to become the longest serving chief of the defence staff ever.
This motion is to hear from an individual who was in the 's Office. Ministerial accountability only comes if we know who knew what when. We can't just take the 's word for it, and the Minister of National Defence clearly said he didn't. He told his chief of staff who, he believes, told Elder Marques.
Who Elder Marques told, we don't know, yet that's very important because we heard from the Clerk of the Privy Council that a plan was put forward to the to remove the CDS, change the CDS, before the last election.
However, for whatever reason, that didn't happen, and as I said, he received his performance at-risk pay and a salary increase and was extended as the longest-serving CDS ever. How? How could that have occurred while there were unresolved allegations of sexual misconduct against the highest officer in the land?
We have not done our job. We are the last line of defence until we know exactly what Elder Marques in the 's Office knew, who he told and how this occurred.
Yes, it is our job to fix the processes, and we've heard lots of recommendations around processes, but this is not only about processes. This is about the individuals in critical positions and whether they followed those processes. When people fail to do what they've been entrusted to do, we need to understand how we can fix the system or how we can hold those people accountable so that it doesn't happen again. Therefore, for the government to say we don't need to hear more testimony is unconscionable.
Again, the committee decides, and the will of the committee is to hear from this critical witness. No change will occur if those who have the authority and responsibility do nothing or allow the process to be frustrated and critical information not provided.
You, Madam Chair, from your actions on Friday, are complicit in preventing this committee from doing the will of the committee. Therefore, we implore you to use the powers vested in you, with loyalty to country, integrity and the courage to do what is right, not what is easy, to put the best interests of the country, the rule of law, our democracy and the sacred responsibility to our fellow men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces first, to honour them and fight for their desire to be treated fairly and serve free from harassment and discrimination.
We can only do that—our job as a committee, as the last line of defence—if we hear this critical testimony from Elder Marques and if you facilitate fairly, procedurally, openly and honestly the will of the committee and the best interests of the country first.
Thank you very much.
I'm sorry. I think I have the floor, Ms. Alleslev. Thank you for your comments earlier.
My point is that members are free to express their disagreement not necessarily because of one particular aspect or angle that they've taken on the motion but certainly to illustrate in debate what the alternative would be or should be to the committee if it were to follow the motion that's been put on the floor. The motion is to bring a certain witness. The alternative to that might be a more fulsome discussion of the recommendations from other evidence that's already before the committee.
I think any of those arguments, Madam Chair, and I would implore you to take that view, would be as legitimate as the arguments that Ms. Alleslev has just put forward.
Colleagues, I would take you back to the opening comments from my colleague Mr. Bezan. He was very emphatic in his opening remarks that we should have freedom of speech and that we should encourage debate rather than shut down debate. This also applies to the discussion we're having today.
Madam Chair, I want to take the committee back, and other colleagues will want to make comments too, to the Deschamps report. It's one of the cornerstone reports that's out there. It's been around for a number of years now. The external review authority, as it's also known, is from 2015. The most dangerous thing that could happen with the report is that it goes into a physical or virtual drawer at its conclusion, that it is acknowledged at the time it was released but then not discussed, deliberated or applied again. I think that's why it's important that the committee make itself aware of or refresh itself on the recommendations and opinions enunciated in that report and, in fact, in a number of other reports in Canada and around the world.
I want to just take the opportunity, Madam Chair, early on in our discussion this afternoon to bring forward the 10 recommendations in the Deschamps report that really capture what the ERA most wanted to say to Canadians, and then invite colleagues on all sides to reflect on them and to see how we can incorporate them in our way forward.
This is the first recommendation of the Deschamps report:
Acknowledge that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the [Canadian Armed Forces] and undertake to address it.
For this committee, it would simply be a point of accepting, acknowledging and applying this first recommendation. There still is, in 2021, very much a serious problem in the Canadian Forces that we have seen, particularly in the instance involving the former chief of the defence staff.
Madam Chair, Madam Deschamps' second recommendation is as follows:
Establish a strategy to effect cultural change to eliminate the sexualized environment and to better integrate women, including by conducting a gender-based analysis of CAF policies.
Gender-based analyses and GBA+, as it's known across the civil service, are cornerstones of the Canadian commitment to gender equality. She is basically calling on this committee to turn its mind to how we implement this kind of approach as a structural change within the Canadian Forces that will allow us to change the culture.
I would like to draw members' attention again to the openness by our current to doing that work. He said that we need “complete and total cultural change” and that the “time for patience” is over. We have a door to walk through. We have an ability to apply this recommendation and to recommend the granularity of change that's required to take the Canadian Forces forward. I think members of this committee should and need to do this work in addition to the discussion we had on the appearance of witnesses.
Recommendation three is as follows:
Create an independent center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment outside of the CAF with the responsibility for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual conduct, as well as prevention, coordination and monitoring of training, victim support, monitoring of accountability, and research, and to act as a central authority for the collection of data.
Again, we've heard testimony from witnesses. We have the SMRC, the sexual misconduct response centre, that's been stood up as an organization. Our work as a group of parliamentarians across party lines is now to take these recommendations, apply them to the context of 2021 and take the minister up on his invitation to do whatever it takes to change the culture in the Canadian Forces.
Madam Justice Deschamps' fourth recommendation is as follows:
Allow members to report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, or simply to request support services without the obligation to trigger a formal complaint process.
Sensitivity to the will of the victims and survivors has been front and centre in our deliberations. Again, here is a recommendation that goes into exactly that line of argument.
The report recommends, in recommendation five, the following:
With the participation of the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment:
There are a number of sub-bullets.
Develop a simple, broad definition of sexual harassment that effectively captures all dimensions of the member's relationship with the CAF.
Develop a definition of adverse personal relationship that specifically addresses relationships between members of different rank—
We've heard a lot about the differential in authority and its importance.
—and creates a presumption of an adverse personal relationship where the individuals involved are of different rank, unless the relationship is properly disclosed.
It's extremely relevant, extremely poignant and worthy of the committee's consideration as it's formulating its draft report. It continues:
Define sexual assault in the policy as intentional, non-consensual touching of a sexual nature.
This is a very clear recommendation on the definition that this committee may decide to adopt, moderate or alter as it sees fit. It again continues:
Give guidance on the requirement for consent, including by addressing the impact on genuine consent of a number of factors, including intoxication, differences in rank, and [very importantly] the chain of command.
Recommendation six of the report reads as follows:
With the participation of the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, develop a unified policy approach to address inappropriate sexual conduct and include as many aspects as possible of inappropriate sexual conduct in a single policy using plain language.
The latter is going through accessibility of the policy to members of the Canadian Forces of all experience levels and all ranks.
Recommendation seven is to:
Simplify the harassment process by:
Directing formal complaints to COs acting as adjudicators in a grievance.
Reducing emphasis on ADR.
Recommendation eight reads:
Allow victims of sexual assault to request, with the support of the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, transfer of the complaint to civilian authorities; provide information explaining the reasons when transfer is not effected.
The provision of reasons is one of the greatest accountability tools. When a certain decision is made that may be questioned or even receive objection, the reasons keep us within the administration of justice, because it'll be clear, through the reasons, why and how that decision has been taken, just like any judge would do in her or his deliberations.
I'll finish up in a second. Recommendation nine reads:
Assign responsibility for providing, coordinating and monitoring victim support to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, including the responsibility for advocating on behalf of victims in the complaint and investigation processes.
Lastly, recommendation 10 reads:
Assign to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, in coordination with other CAF subject matter experts, responsibility for the development of the training curriculum, and the primary responsibility for monitoring training on matters related to inappropriate sexual misconduct.
These are the 10 recommendations that underpin the Deschamps report, or the ERA, the external review authority. Again, colleagues are going to have comments and elaborations at their discretion on parts of that report as elaborated by Madam Justice Deschamps.
I just wanted to put to the committee, again, that heavy lifting has been done here in Canada, elsewhere in the world, and I'm going to, in future interventions, maybe have a chance to draw the committee's attention to some of those.
That work takes us in part to where we need to go, certainly with respect to the granularity of recommendations, the kinds of institutional changes that are being recommended by institutions like NATO, DCAF—the centre for the democratic control of armed forces—and other institutions that have already put significant amounts of energy into these kinds of questions.
The committee's attention needs to be drawn to them fairly expeditiously because we are in the process now of developing a report. This is, all again, with respect to the original motion and my assessment of what the committee could and should do as an alternative to going fishing for additional witnesses.
There really are other things that may fall by the wayside, if we indulge too far the arguments that are being made by colleagues on the Conservative side.
Thank you so much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have carefully listened to my colleagues' remarks. To be perfectly transparent, I must admit that I was less interested by those that went on and on and brought nothing new. A lot of comments, in my opinion, were made more with the purpose of taking up the committee's time than with the purpose of fuelling debate and reaching a decision.
I wanted to have the opportunity to speak to the motion on the floor today. I feel that what we are debating at the moment is still very important.
More than a week ago, the governing party asked for our cooperation. They told us that it is important to produce a report so that there can be some follow-up to the committee's work. Basically, they wanted the victims to recognize that everything would not end up on the shelf and there would be some follow-up. They also wanted the government to have some options for action; they wanted us to tell it what it should do and which direction it should take.
We were very sympathetic to that idea. We felt that it was important for the committee to prepare a report. That is why we voted for the motion at that time. We wanted the committee to produce a report.
However, the intention behind it was never to prevent witnesses from appearing before the committee, particularly important witnesses like Elder Marques. I should also emphasize that, when we passed that motion so that the committee could prepare a report, it was still possible for Mr. Marques to appear on Friday.
Unfortunately, as we saw, he did not appear and I feel that the motion by my Conservative colleague Mr. Bezan became even more important at that time, meaning last Friday.
I am very pleased that our wishes were considered by accepting the amendment to not delay work on the report as we waited for Mr. Marques to appear. We are still hoping that he will, because we feel that it is required.
That gives us the best of both worlds, I feel. We have an appearance by a very important, long awaited witness who certainly has important things to tell us. If he did not, I have a hard time figuring out why the governing party would be so opposed to his appearance.
Actually, I was a little surprised that there would be so much opposition to Mr. Marques appearing before this committee, because the government tells us that it wants to get to the bottom of the matter, that it wants to solve the problem, and it wants to work for the victims. We would be inclined to believe them, but it is surprising when we see that they have tried to prevent key witnesses from appearing before the committee. We end up wondering whether, instead of protecting the victims, it may actually be looking to protect itself.
I hope that is not the case because, first, it would be irresponsible on the part of the government and second, it would be dishonourable. The government has the responsibility to see that justice is done and that its work is done transparently. It must also be accountable to the electorate. It must not put obstacles in the way of the committee's work.
The government itself says that committees are independent of the government. I assume that, putting their partisan interests aside, the Liberal representatives who are part of the government have all the independence they need to complete the committee's work. I hope that they too want us to have all the information, so that we are not always wasting time, but are able to get to the bottom of things.
Instead of wasting precious time, as we are doing at the moment, because of the systematic obstruction by the governing party, the committee could already have heard from Mr. Marques. We could perhaps have already started work on other matters that are important for the public.
I am convinced that not all members of the committee like the manoeuvres that are underway at the moment. So I invite everyone to take a deep breath and ask themselves what the best thing to do would be at this time. I don't feel that it would be bad to agree to an appearance by a witness. On the contrary, I feel that, if the government has nothing to hide, it would let us hear from him.
Let's hear from the witness; the topic will be settled and everyone will be reassured. We will then be able to hear Mr. Marques' version of the facts.
Personally, the more I see the Liberals persisting with all kinds of ways to prevent Mr. Marques from testifying, the more convinced I am that the witness should be here at the committee.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much.
I appreciate the last intervention.
I want to remind the committee though that politicians in committees do not do investigations. That has to be independent. The appropriate investigations are going on, they will run their course and the information will be public.
To add to what Mr. Spengemann said in relation to Ms. Alleslev's comment about limiting people's input, as Mr. Bezan said, people should be allowed to speak. This motion extends the debate for reasons I'm not sure of.
Any comments that members have about things that would be more useful in extending a debate or why it doesn't need to be extended or other input.... If we're going to extend it like we are today, there's some valuable information getting on the record. If one member agrees and says that, there's nothing to stop another member from saying that and repeating it.
There was an email and the person refused to allow an investigation. As Mr. Wernick said, there was nowhere to go. People know that in this particular instance. I'm not sure what more information there would be on that. There is a lot of information from the thousands of members in the military who have, as I explained in a previous meeting, been affected by this, plus the serious and sometimes terrible information we have from serving members, victims.
As Mr. Bezan said, we should respect them. I would suggest we respect them and get on with it. If Mr. Bezan would withdraw his motion instead of prolonging this, we could move forward on this.
The second concern is that Mr. Bezan was prejudging the recommendations. This is very concerning to me because we haven't even discussed those yet from what I have heard. The things that Liberals are bringing up, we'll continue to get on the record.
As Xavier said, important input from members and victims is related to the changing culture, the independence of the processes and the repercussions. People are terrified of reporting because of the repercussions on their careers.
I'm not sure which of those things Mr. Bezan is calling into question in terms of recommendations when we haven't even discussed those. Anything that I've heard the Liberals put forward is related to what the victims and the experts have said needs to be done, so why would we be questioning those recommendations?
I have more to add to the debate. I could repeat someone else just so I could agree with them and read in excess of what they have said. What I am going to add now has not been said by anyone. It's something I've wanted to get in at previous meetings but I didn't have a chance yet.
It's related to the change in administrative directives, which is very important information and is much more than what the motion suggests. It's the change in directive to the DAOD 9005-1, which replaced the DAOD 5019-5.
I read these about a month ago because I was interested in what changes had been made. I read these directives dealing with the situation. It appears on the surface to be very comprehensive with very good changes. The question that the committee should be looking at, which would be a much more valuable witness than the motion before us, is why these things aren't changing.
The new 9005—for the record it's DAOD 9005-1, which I'll refer to as 9005—has a fundamentally different approach in how it frames sexual misconduct in addressing allegations of sexual misconduct in a preventive and reactionary methodology compared to 5019.
DAOD 9005's language and approach is very intentional, clearly designed to give direction and not be left up to the reader's discretion. I thought this was an excellent change, but the victims have explained that this isn't working. The DAOD expands to include specific definitions, frameworks and perspectives, which include supporting the respondent, not simply dealing with the incident.
The case can be made for this interpretation based on numerous items in the 30-page document. I won't read them all, but I'll read some of the sections that support this claim and then make the case for our witness—instead of the one proposed, which are dealing with something we've already dealt with—on why this 9005 isn't being effective.
As I said at the beginning, we have important work to do. There's a report on COVID. We're in a pandemic and it's affecting the military as it is the rest of us. There's a report on mental health. There's this serious report that affects thousands of members of the military that we could make some meaningful change on. That's what I think we should be debating today. That's the summary of what I was saying.
Carrying on where I was, sexual misconduct is elaborated and identified using specific language and definitions in section 2 of 9005, compared with 5019. DAOD 9005 also establishes the various means of conducting sexual misconduct as well as specifically highlighting the Canadian Criminal Code and using it as a framework for definition within the DAOD. DAOD 5019 is broad and only addresses sexual disorder as it is a part of the APA and defines sexual misconduct as acts that are “sexual in nature”. DAOD 5019 does not address harassment, use of technology to cause harm or evaluation as a form of sexual misconduct, whether that's based on sex, sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity, etc. DAOD 9005 also identifies the workplace and work environment and leaves no room for guesswork as to where SM can occur. DAOD 5019 does not even go near these items or topics.
The general principles for both of the DAODs—section 3 for 5019 and section 4 for 9005—are framed differently. DAOD 5019's language is simple and straightforward and aims to protect the institution, whereas 9005's first point of concern is the claimant and victim. DAOD 5019 states that CAF is committed to investigating and dealing with misconduct as soon as practicable. DAOD 9005 states that CAF is committed to three things, which are preventing sexual misconduct, addressing sexual misconduct “as soon as practical”—I found this language a little off-putting, but that's just an aside—and supporting victims of sexual misconduct.
The language used in section 4 explicitly delves into consent and the potential harm and trauma a victim can face via SM. DAOD 5019's language frames it more so as harming the institution of CAF and how it undermines the institution's values. While that can be true, 5019's objectivity fails to address the needs of the claimant or the victim.
I think all these things should be and are improvements. Why aren't they effective? In 5019, 3.7 and section 4, “Process”, and 9005 section 5, “Reporting”.... DAOD 9005 states “all CAF members have a duty to report”, which is not explicitly stated in 5019. We heard from the witnesses that this has led to some problems and this needs to be certainly part of our debate on the recommendations on what should happen there.
DAOD 9005 breaks down potential conflicts, considerations and duties that the officer has when deciding if they can adequately address the misconduct, and if and how it should be reported. DAOD 5019, in contrast, is very procedural and almost like a flow chart. There is no mention of factors to consider and not consider, which 9005 does in great detail.
Section 5.5, “Reporting Considerations”, to 5.16, which is reprisal and harmful behaviour, is one of the fundamental differences between the two DAODs. I've brought this up. Where's the defence in the code of ethics and in the code of service? Are there strong enough penalties related to reprisals? Because with the hundreds of people who were aware or involved and only a few reports, obviously there's a problem. I think that's what this new directive is trying to focus on.
DAOD 5019 uses language that focuses more on the respondent in section 6, “Treatment and Rehabilitation”. While 9005 does not discourage treatment and help for those who need it, the language focuses on the claimant, the victim, in section 7, “Support”.
The chain of command can help by keeping open lines of communication or providing CAF and non-CAF-related resources as support. The support has to be.... From what we heard from members, victims have to be independent of the chain of command. Mental health and well-being is also stressed, along with discussing the potential workplace difficulties a claimant may face.
The DAOD 5019 makes no mention of what the CO's responsibility toward the victims is, where 9005 does. All members of the committee would agree that this is a very important change, that there be support for the victims, which we've heard is necessary in the testimony provided.
We found that the legislative requirement of members of the CAF to report all incidents of misconduct, including inappropriate sexual behaviour, was reinforced through the Operation Honour order, known as the duty to report. This requirement meant the commanding officer and members with knowledge of an incident feared significant consequences if they did not report. Victims were therefore required to report inappropriate sexual behaviour, whether or not they wanted to or were ready. This discouraged some victims from disclosing for fear of being forced into a formal complaint process, which contributed to under-reporting. Finally, it placed a heavy administrative burden on the chain of command and the military police to manage the complaints.
As I mentioned previously, I tried to do some research on this, as to why this duty to report was causing a problem for victims who did not want, for instance, to have an investigation, and could cause even more grief for the victim. That's something we have to look at in the report.
One of the recommendations is that the Canadian Armed Forces should establish clear guidance for members, in the regulations, to report to the proper authority in the context of inappropriate sexual behaviour. The guidance should clarify who's considered the proper authority and under which circumstances. The goal should be to balance the need to protect the organization's safety with the need to support victims by allowing them to disclose and seek support without the obligation to trigger a formal report and complaint process. We have to look at that very carefully.
I will leave it there. There's more information I can bring back later, but the point is, and no one's raised this, that we have DAOD 9005 that replaced the existing order. As I said, I read it about a month ago, because I was interested in what improvements had been made. A number of improvements have been made in the last few years, but some of them, obviously, aren't working to the extent they should. There are some very good changes in this change of orders, but why isn't it working? The recommendations that we come forward with would have to deal with that.
I'll leave it at that for now, but I could add more later.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
We take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously and we want to provide survivors with the support they need. As former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Marie Deschamps recommended in her 2015 report, we have established the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, the SMRC. This centre will feature prominently in our discussions, which is why I feel the need to explain how it operates.
The centre is in fact the designated authority investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The operation of the service has never been explained and I believe that it is important to do so today.
The SMRC provides expert guidance and confidential support, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been or who are victims of sexual misconduct. Centre counsellors are ready and able to help and advise victims on the various options available to them.
The goal of the centre is to support victims of sexual misconduct and inappropriate sexual behaviour. At the victims' request, counsellors can facilitate access to military or civilian resources, including services for mental health, physical health, counselling, spiritual support or even administrative assistance.
Since August 2019, members of the Canadian Armed Forces have also had access to the response and support coordination program, which now provides the services of designated coordinators, specifically for members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been affected by sexual misconduct. This new program will therefore provide personalized support in better navigating survivors through the system and the process. This is a very important feature because, as we all know, the Minister of National Defence has stated that all options are on the table and we can really contribute to improving the situation.
The dealings between the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre and members of the Canadian Armed Forces are confidential and can also be anonymous. [Technical difficulties] can also provide information to leaders or to other members in order to assist members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
I see that other members have their hands up, so I will continue to talk about this important matter later on.
Madam Chair, thank you very much.
Colleagues, you'll recall that during his most recent testimony, Michael Wernick made reference to a report that came out of the United Kingdom, which I believe he referenced as the Wigston report. The actual title is “Report on Inappropriate Behaviours”, and it's dated July 15, 2019, issued by the Ministry of Defence of the U.K.
As colleagues will know, we have a very strong relationship with the United Kingdom, not only on matters of defence but in a number of other respects as well, parliamentary relationships, trade and commercial relationships and cultural connections, the United Kingdom being the mother Parliament, as we occasionally refer to it as, and also the Westminster system. I believe this report is relevant in terms of the tenor and the nature of the recommendations it makes.
If you'll indulge me, I'd like to use the occasion to very briefly extend my condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the royal family and the people of the United Kingdom on the passing of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who as many of us will know has been deeply involved in questions of military strategy and management across the Commonwealth.
I would like to put the executive summary of that report to the consideration of colleagues. It's less than two pages in length. I will simply put it forward in its entirety and colleagues will see that this really has some granularity and very direct relevance to what we're discussing today.
The summary states the following:
On 10 April 2019 in response to repeated instances of inappropriate and allegedly unlawful behaviour by serving members of the U.K. Armed Forces, the Secretary of State for Defence commissioned an urgent report into inappropriate behaviours in the Armed Forces. The report, [then] due in mid-May 2019, was expected to: understand the current evidence regarding inappropriate behaviour across the Services; make recommendations on what can be done to ensure and reassure the Armed Forces are an inclusive and modern employer; and identify areas for further action, including potential improvements to controls, processes or policy.
There are nearly 250,000 people in Defence, military and civil service, and the overwhelming majority serve with great pride collectively protecting the U.K. 24/7. The U.K. Armed Forces are a formidable fighting force and the commitment of all military and the civilians that support them is rightly celebrated. In bleak contrast, however, inappropriate behaviour persists which harms people, the teams they serve in and, ultimately, operational output. There is no single comprehensive picture of inappropriate behaviours in Defence, however the data that does exist points to an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour and a sub-optimal system for dealing with it when it does occur. Such behaviour—and its consequences for the people affected by it—damages—
Thanks very much, Chair.
I wanted to weigh in on this. When I spoke the last time, I was speaking about culture and some of the points that were being made in the Deschamps report around culture and its impact. One of the things I was trying to highlight was that, through some of the witnesses we've heard from, they've referenced some of the topics that were highlighted in the Deschamps report. The combination of the witnesses that we've heard from and the Deschamps report, I think, provides an adequate, strong basis for us to write a report on this study. Therefore, I don't believe there's a need to call further witnesses.
I wanted to highlight some of what the Deschamps report highlighted and that I hadn't yet spoken to in my previous intervention.
In the Deschamps report, under the section on culture, there's a subsection, if you will, around organizational culture. It's interesting because the report actually speaks to how they define culture, or at least the way they thought about culture in writing their report, and I think that's important for us to keep in mind as we move forward. It states:
By “culture”, the ERA refers to the ways in which, over time, people who work or live within a particular organizational and institutional setting develop a shared set of understandings, which allow them to interpret and act upon the world around them. As one expert in organizational behaviour has defined it:
“Organizational culture is the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel, in relation to those problems.”
I think this is incredibly relevant to our study and to what we're discussing, because when we think about the problem of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, this explanation of what organizational culture is helps to highlight how important a role culture plays in not only potentially—as we certainly heard from witnesses—contributing to that problem but also resolving it. This ties in, I think really nicely, with what we heard from many of the witnesses who came and spoke at committee about the need for cultural change.
I'll go on:
Organizational cultures are defined both by the values they espouse (for example in public statements of identity such as Duty With Honour and the DAOD policies), and deeper, tacit assumptions that are embedded, taken-for-granted behaviours. These assumptions are usually unconscious, and so well integrated in the organizational dynamic that members of the organizational culture may not even be able to recognize or identify them.
I think that just shows and underlines how influential culture can be and how it would evidently require a tremendous amount of work to change. That's why I think our report is so important in helping to make recommendations as to how to do that. To go on:
The ways in which these shared assumptions are passed on to new members entering the organization, and in which the organization is able to develop a recognizable identity, are through processes of socialization. For example, training practices, social events, and rites of initiation are all means of bringing new members into an established group. Multiple sub-cultures will, of course, exist in any organization, particularly one as large and diverse as the [Canadian Armed Forces]. These sub-cultures co-exist in overlapping, and sometimes conflicting, ways. At the same time, military organizations generally have particularly strong internal cultures because of their nature as “total institutions”; members of the military live, work, train and socialize together within a closely regulated environment, largely set apart from the rest of society. The particular intensity of experience associated with training, combat, and the overall mission of the organization, also lends to the growth of a strong organizational culture.
I think this is incredibly relevant to our study as well, because there are a few points here that are worthy of underlining. One is the element that the Canadian Armed Forces operates to a great extent distinctly from civilian society, so the culture that it develops is unique. That's one of the points that's been made here, but another one is that because of that intensity of those interaction—“socialization” is the word that I think was used by the Deschamps report—that culture is even more strongly ingrained and entrenched in the organization.
Again, this underlines, I think, the degree to which culture, when it needs to be changed, requires a tremendous amount of effort, especially in the case of the Canadian Armed Forces, because, as I think what the Deschamps report is arguing here, the culture is more ingrained than it would be in most other organizations and it's more distinct than the cultures of most organizations from the rest of Canadian society.
Going on, it says:
The development of group culture can be a very positive phenomenon. Indeed, it is through shared assumptions and understandings that groups develop organizational cohesion, loyalty, and camaraderie, and are able to act together in efficient and effective ways to achieve their objectives. Throughout its consultations, the ERA observed many powerful and positive manifestations of the organizational culture of the CAF. Participants expressed their deep commitment to, and engagement in, the broader mission of the Canadian Armed Forces. Sparkling eyes, engaged voices and active participation in the interviews conveyed the sense of fulfillment these members experience both in their day-to-day work, and in their participation in the broader community of the armed forces. The ERA met with participants, both men and women, who appeared genuinely happy with their experiences in their unit. Participants indicated that military life allows them not only to contribute to society, but also to exercise their chosen trade or profession and to have an opportunity to move up the social ladder. The CAF provides them with the comfort of a family and the benefits of a rewarding work environment.
At the same time, however, the consultations revealed that there is a sexualized culture in the CAF, particularly among members of lower rank. This sexualized culture is manifested through the pervasive use of language that is demeaning to women, sexual jokes and innuendos, and low-level harassment. While the ERA heard fewer reports of sexual assault, it was clear that the occurrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault are integrally related, and that to some extent both are rooted in cultural norms that permit a degree of discriminatory and harassing conduct within the organization.
I wanted to pause there. I wanted to highlight this for members of the committee, because I think this is really echoing and reinforcing and perhaps going into some detail that we couldn't get into in our hearings with witnesses about the pervasiveness of culture, how the Canadian Armed Forces has a distinct culture and that it is deeply entrenched.
This last part was speaking to the fact, to what we've heard from victims, from people who've studied this issue, that there's this—and I'm quoting from the Deschamps report—“sexualized culture” in the Canadian Armed Forces. Here the Deschamps report talks about how it manifests itself in some of those cases, and I think what's striking as well about this is that this particular paragraph to me was a good reminder of how pervasive sexual harassment and sexual misconduct can be because it can appear in everyday interactions as “language that is demeaning to women, sexual jokes and innuendos”, etc.
I thought this was an important element to highlight, especially around organizational culture and how it's defined, and how it both manifests itself in the Canadian Armed Forces and how that ties in with what we've heard from witnesses.
One of the things that the Deschamps report also looked at was the differences between naval, land and air forces, colleges and reserve units, and that's something I don't know that we had a lot of time to hear from witnesses on in our study. I just want to highlight a few of the findings there.
I'm reading from the report:
Interviewees consistently described cultural differences between the Air Force, the Navy and the Army, and it is clear that different subcultures exist within the three different service areas. For example, participants described members of the Air Forces as more “mature and educated” and the Air Force environment as one in which “skills are more valued”. However, ultimately there were no substantive differences between the three subcultures with respect to the nature, frequency or severity of sexual harassment and assault reported to the ERA. Neither was there any evidence that the responses of the CAF to such conduct were better or more effective in any one particular service. As such, the ERA’s findings and recommendations apply equally to all three branches of the CAF.
That's an important insight to add to what we've heard about culture, but this element of the Deschamps report talks about the fact that when it comes to sexual misconduct, there aren't differences between the different units, or between the air force, the navy and the army.
In the colleges the ERA visited—the Collège militaire royal du Canada and the Royal Military College of Canada—participants reported that sexual harassment is considered a “passage obligé”, and sexual assault an ever-present risk. One officer cadet joked that they do not report sexual harassment because it happens all the time.
When I read this, this to me was absolutely striking. We've heard a lot of horrific things about some of the behaviour, but this really struck me. It basically said that sexual harassment is essentially a rite of passage, and harassment is so commonplace that nobody reports it. That's important to highlight.
Experiences in reserve units appear to be more mixed; while members in several units reported a highly respectful environment, other units appear to have adopted a sexualized culture similar to the regular forces. Because of the constraints of the Review, the ERA did not have the opportunity to delve into the causes of the differences between various units. Therefore, no distinction is made in the Report between reserve units or between reserve and regular members.
In general, the ERA found that the locations where incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct occur are diverse. Although a number of interviewees mentioned that sexual assaults are more likely to occur in barracks, incidents of sexual harassment do not appear to be limited to particular locations or hours. As such, the ERA could not conclude that simple changes to physical facilities were likely to reduce the occurrence of inappropriate sexual conduct.
This is an important insight that ties in nicely with what we heard from many of our witnesses. We've heard about organizational culture, and we talked about the need to change culture. We've heard many people and many witnesses speak to some of the steps that need to be taken, and the challenges that are involved in that.
The report spoke to that, as I alluded to earlier in my intervention. This is underlining that further, because it's basically showing that simple changes like the ones to physical facilities didn't appear, according to Deschamps, to be the sorts of things that were likely to reduce the occurrence of inappropriate sexual conduct. That's important to think about as we build our report and recommendations.
The other thing we didn't have a chance to delve into as much as we would like, or at least I would like, but are useful to highlight here is the difference between ranks. The Deschamps report took a look at that. It said:
During the consultations—more particularly during focus group discussions with junior and senior non-commissioned members (NCMs)—the ERA found that there is a prevailing sexualized environment characterized by the frequent use of sexualized language, sexual jokes, innuendos, discriminatory comments with respect to the abilities of female members of the military, and less serious but unwelcome sexual touching, such as touching an individual’s shoulder or back without her consent. While the degree to which this sexualized culture is evident may vary across regular and reserve, Naval, Land and Air Forces, and as between individual units and different ranks, the ERA found that it is widespread, and frequently condoned. Specifically, the ERA found that this sexualized culture creates a climate conducive to more serious incidents of sexual misconduct.
This is also an important insight that I want to highlight. Because this behaviour, according to the Deschamps report, is frequently condoned, it enables more serious incidents of sexual misconduct. Not only are those “less serious”—to use the language in the report—incidents not being dealt with and not being stopped, and people aren't being punished for that. On top of that, that permissiveness allows for more serious incidents of sexual misconduct.
I'll go on.
More specifically, a significant majority of lower rank women who participated in the Review reported being exposed to frequent and demeaning sexualized language. As one interviewee put it, “all women have experienced to a certain extent how men do not want them in the military”.
I think there are so many reasons we need to address this issue of sexual misconduct in the military, but this is one of the.... I think the testimony from this particular woman highlights one of the reasons it's so important. She's basically saying that all women who are in the forces have experienced, to some extent, men not wanting them in the military. It must be incredibly demeaning. It must be incredibly difficult to serve under those circumstances. I think it's another good reminder, which ties in with what we've heard from our witnesses about the importance of addressing this problem.
I'm reading from the report:
Another participant put it more bluntly, referring to the frequency with which women experience inappropriate sexual conduct in the CAF: “There is not a female who has not had a problem”.
That just shows how pervasive it is.
Experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault begin as early as basic training, where inappropriate language used by trainers appears to go unpunished. The consultations revealed that more serious conduct, such as dubious sexual encounters between trainers and trainees and date rape, is also prevalent.
It's really difficult to read that. It's just difficult.
At the same time, interviewees commented that trainees are reluctant to call the behaviour of their trainers into question for fear of negative repercussions. As a result, many women trainees learn to keep their concerns to themselves early on.
Amongst the NCMs, the use of language that belittles women is commonplace. Interviewees reported regularly being told of orders to “stop being pussies” and to “leave your purses at home”. Swear words and highly degrading expressions that reference women’s bodies are endemic.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
At the last meeting, I had gone through a number of recommendations that we heard through the course of the study. I didn't quite complete all those recommendations on Friday, so I would like to do that in order to demonstrate that we don't need any more witnesses and that we have actually had quite a bit of study on this already.
Madam Chair, I would like to continue with a number of recommendations.
First of all, we have the recommendation that we need a strategic review to look at processes from beginning to end with a trauma-informed and survivor-centred and -informed lens. The reason this is so vitally important, and that it has to be trauma-informed and survivor-centred, is that we know that very often there are solutions proposed that are not trauma-informed and they can actually be more harmful. They can actually revictimize and can put the people who have survived and have gone on with their lives in a very bad position, but with good intentions. This is making sure that there is a strategic review and that everything will be looked at with a trauma-informed lens.
The next one is that we need a comprehensive plan for systemic culture change. I know that the “Path to Dignity and Respect” was something that we put out several months ago, because we have been working diligently on this topic, well before the committee's study began. We heard from witnesses who said that it wasn't enough, that the path needs to be broadened and that it needs to refer specifically to the toxic masculinity. We heard this from multiple witnesses. I think that making sure when we talk about culture change.... We heard from witnesses that we have to really make that comprehensive and we have to make it systemic.
We also had recommendations from witnesses about creating options and opportunities for restorative justice when it's wanted by survivors. This is a very important point, because not everybody.... By the way, we are talking about men and women and non-binary and transgender persons. This is something that all genders can suffer from.
Not everybody who suffers sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or sexual violence wants to immediately go the punitive route and say that they want to go through the court system or the military justice system. Sometimes it is a matter—and this is more when it's at the level of sexual harassment, where it isn't something that was clearly criminal—where you have somebody you'd really rather be able to work things out with and be able to have restorative justice. This is also important because there are people who may have said some off-colour jokes many decades ago and are reflecting back now and thinking that they didn't realize it then, but they were being disrespectful. They may want to have a process by which they can actually make amends for some of the attitudes and some of the things that may have happened.
When we talk about restorative justice, it is not the only solution, of course. Accountability is vitally important. I think we have seen that people need to be held to account for their behaviours, but it has to be a decision of the person who has experienced the behaviours and is coming forward to have options, to have choices and to be able to direct that process and have control over that process themselves. I think that's something that is probably a core thing in what our study was. We've heard from many witnesses. I don't think we need more and more witnesses.
The other thing that has come up through our witnesses is that the abuse of authority and power needs to be core to the increased education and awareness of this issue. We have seen on occasion that people talk about this as if it is about a sexualized environment. What it is, plain and simple, is abuse of power. We heard from many witnesses that this is clearly about abuse of power and that we need to stop saying that this is somehow about sex or about flirting. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with power.
I know that we have enhanced the education and training. We heard from many witnesses that we need to enhance that even more. The fact is that, when we do that education, we need to do it so it's not about gender relationships, but about power. We need to make sure that people are aware of that as the core issue.
The other recommendation we heard is that respect for the dignity of the individual needs to be reinforced. It says here “individual”. I think this is very important because what we're talking about is something that can poison an entire unit, an entire team, the camaraderie and, in fact, the operational effectiveness of a unit. When you're not treating people who are subordinate or people around you with respect and dignity, these are things that can impact everything that the Canadian Armed Forces do. At the core of this, Madam Chair, we need to make sure we reinforce the respect and dignity of the individual.
I am glad, Madam Chair, that it says “individual” because as I mentioned.... I have had some survivors contact me since Friday, who heard me speaking. I actually want to apologize that I kept saying “women”. While it is very much a majority of women who experience this, we know—we've heard from witnesses—that men experience it, too. Men have an even harder time coming forward. It's difficult for women to come forward, but it's even more difficult for men, non-binary and transgender members of our military. We have to make sure that it is the individual who is respected.
We have also heard a recommendation that the values and attributes of an ideal soldier—or an ideal aviator or sailor—must be updated for the 21st century. No longer do we have a Canadian Armed Forces like in World War I, where it was the trenches and you saw a very masculine vision of what a member of the Canadian Armed Forces was. We have so many occupations in the Canadian Armed Forces and we heard from witnesses that the culture....
As we heard from Mr. Spengemann, it's not just the Canadian Armed Forces that are undergoing a tremendous culture shift. It is all militaries. All of our allies are facing the same thing because we really are moving toward a world where it's not brute strength. It is intelligence, skills, adaptability, the ability to reflect the population, the diversity of our Canadian Armed Forces and the ideas that people with different lived experiences can bring to a mission. That is what gives our Canadian Armed Forces strength.
When we look at the ideal soldier, unfortunately—maybe because of pop culture, history or socialization—we often still think about that brute strength. That is a very masculine kind of concept. While we are going through this change, we really need to understand that it is a culture shift that is happening. There are people who need to be brought along to adapt to the idea that strength is sometimes compromise. Strength and bravery can sometimes mean that you are doing something much more intelligently. That is something we have heard many times from witnesses. Also, when we talk about gender, there is this idea that if you show emotion, you're somehow weak—that you're somehow not strong.
We have all of these things in our psyche. A lot of this comes from war movies that we watch or the socialization when we are little boys and girls.
Madam Chair, I would like to add a small story about what happened to me when I was 12 years old. When I was 12, we went on a field trip. I grew up in Calgary and the Currie Barracks were next to Heritage Park, where we used to go on field trips. After our field trip, my mom was driving and we had three or four other 12-year-old girls in the car. We ended up stopping at the ice cream shop. We saw some military personnel go by. I remember one of the girls saying that if she were a boy, she would join the navy. Another girl said that if she were a boy, she would for sure join the air force. Somebody else said that if she were a boy, she thought she'd join the army. I'm not going to say what I said, because of course as parliamentary secretary, I don't want any of the forces to think I have a preference for one over the other.
At 12 years old, in Calgary, as young girls growing up in the eighties, it never occurred to us that little girls could join the navy, the army or the air force. It never occurred to us because we'd never seen a woman in uniform. I, for one, had never seen one, either on TV or in reality. There were no role models.
I think what our study has shown through all the witness testimony we've heard is that this is the kind of thing that still exists, these subliminal ideas that we internalize that we are not even aware of. We need to make sure that, when we look at the ideal soldier, the ideal aviator, the ideal sailor, every little girl, every transgender person, every non-binary person, every racialized person or anyone can look at their Canadian Armed Forces and see themselves and see it as a place where they can contribute and where they are welcome, and not just a place that tolerates or accepts.
We heard many witnesses talk about the little indignities that happen day to day that say you don't really belong here, the things that say we need to accommodate you. It's not about accommodating. It is about making sure that the Canadian Armed Forces are a place where the wide diversity of people in this country can contribute absolutely, fully and be welcome, and where little girls who are 12 years old who see the military driving by can say, “When I grow up, I want to be one of them.” That is what we're looking for. That's why I think that recommendation, which I have here as number 82, is probably one of the most important recommendations.
We also have a recommendation here, and this is something that isn't always looked at, for the health care needs of women to be fulfilled, including research and development and gaps in occupational and operational military medicine for women that need to be identified and addressed. The example here is pregnancy, and we actually had this discussion in the status of women committee the other day with our witnesses. I think this recommendation is very important because, again, it goes back to what I said. Rather than feeling as though they're being accommodated, we need to make sure that people feel they're fully and absolutely participating.
We know that there are gaps. We know that when it comes particularly to women on deployment, in terms of health care needs, the military medical system is primarily focused on trauma medicine, of course, and it's focused on people who are fairly in the prime of their lives. They're fairly fit, they're fairly active, they're younger and they're mostly men. What you have, then, is a military system where.... I've spoken to some veterans who said that when they were on deployment it was very hard to look at things like birth control, to look at anything that had to do with gynecological needs.
There are things that we know are different occupational and environmental hazards that can impact on fertility, and that's not just for women but for men as well. However, it has not been researched. It has not been studied enough to see exactly how those impacts affect women. That's why I think this is a very important recommendation that has come up: the research and development and looking at the gaps in operational military medicine.
We also heard from witnesses that we need money for the full integration of women in traditional male environments and it must be dedicated funding. Today is a very hopeful day because in a few hours we have our budget coming. I know we heard from many women, many veterans and many survivors, that it is very difficult if the money to do the so-called “accommodation”, if you need a special uniform....
I know very well that there is actually a lot of movement to make sure that things like uniforms are coming from a central budget so that it doesn't come out of the unit budget. To make sure that there is funding, very specific funding that would allow for the needs of women and other diverse members of the Canadian Armed Forces, to be able to have that dedicated fund that then doesn't get used for something else, or worse yet, get taken from somewhere else and then the unit says, the reason we can't go on our welfare trip or some other thing is that we had to use the money on somebody's uniform....
We've heard this. I believe that many advancements are being made right now. I've had those conversations, but I do think we have to pay attention to that recommendation that came from our witnesses. Again, this indicates that we don't really need to hear from many more witnesses, because in fact we have heard really, really good recommendations.
I will leave it there, Madam Chair. I see there are some more hands up. I will let my colleagues speak. I just want to indicate that I have many, many more that I still haven't gotten to. I would like to come back later and talk about those.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I would now like to continue on the subject of the SMRC, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre. It operates within the Department of National Defence and reports directly to the Deputy Minister of National Defence, outside and independently from the chain of command.
The services of the SMRC are available all across Canada and in all operational theatres around the world, through internal and external partnerships and organizations. Those services include support, such as referrals for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members. Those services are provided by the Directorate Professional Military Conduct (DPMC). This is the strategic level planning and coordination organization leading the CAF's institutional change efforts to address sexual misconduct and promote a focus on the dignity and respect of the individual.
The Director General of the SMRC reports directly to the Deputy Minister of National Defence, with the goal of ensuring the independence of the services provided to members of the Canadian Armed Forces affected by sexual misconduct.
The SMRC provides services primarily, but not exclusively, to regular forces, to members of the Reserve, to cadets, to the Rangers, and to the chain of command.
As part of its mandate, the SMRC also provides advice and guidance to the Directorate Professional Military Conduct, DPMC, on all matters related to sexual misconduct.
In addition, in order to change the current culture in the CAF, the SMRC provides counselling services to members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The counsellors listen without judgment to the victims and try to understand each situation. They work together with the victims and with other counsellors so that the victims can make informed decisions. They recognize, respect and try to understand the needs of the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who consult them.
They are also sensitive to the members' feelings, their hurts, their needs, their concerns and their fears. The calls have no time limit, so that as much time as possible can be spent with each member, in the victim's language of choice. That is very important for French-speaking victims so that they do not feel even more disadvantaged.
The counsellors also inform the victims about what the SMRC can and cannot do, in order to refer them to other competent services as required.
Moreover, because of the topic our committee is studying at the moment, it is our responsibility to focus on the victims and the survivors. Their health and well-being are and must be our priority. That is why we must concentrate on our recommendations, in order to honour our commitment to the Canadian Armed Forces.
I will now leave the floor to my colleagues, but I will be coming back to this critical topic later.
Madam Chair, thank you very much.
I'd like to thank my colleagues for their fulsome interventions as well. We have a lot of good substance on the floor this afternoon.
Madam Chair, I want to circle back to the Wigston report, which I had introduced earlier with respect to its executive summary. I want to circle back briefly to a comment by Air Chief Marshal Wigston in the introduction in which he refers to two components of the work to change the culture. The first of which, of course, is that it's “the right thing to do”. It is morally wrong what is happening in the Canadian Forces and, as we saw, in so many other forces, including the British armed forces.
The second argument he makes is that it is not only morally the right thing to do to achieve culture, but all of us who do this across jurisdictions will achieve a better armed forces system in the process. He calls it “performance enhancing”, the conclusion being that anybody who engages in sexual misconduct, harassment or worse actually weakens the defence forces, weakens every member currently serving, and then by reputation, also past serving in the forces. I think that was a point very much worth highlighting.
Following up on Mr. Wernick's testimony, colleagues have also referred to the fact that there are a number of other countries that are dealing with this. It's by far not Canada alone. Any country, basically, that has armed forces that are subject to democratic control are facing similar issues. That's not for a moment to say that as Canadians we have to worry about this less because other countries are equally handling this unsuccessfully or incompletely so far. It's the opposite. It's acknowledging that this is a systemic problem that has to do with the culture of masculinity that's been described by many of our witnesses across jurisdictions and across allies.
In some brief research this morning, Madam Chair—I think I spent 15 or 20 minutes looking at this issue—I discovered that there were questions, and in many cases initiatives, in Sweden, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and in the United States in addition to the work that I described earlier with respect to DCAF, the centre for the democratic control of the armed forces in Geneva, and also NATO, which had looked at this issue.
For the benefit of our analysts, who I am very happy to see online—and I'd like to thank them, through you, Madam Chair, for their tremendous work in preparing our draft report—I think it's important to flag that this is a pan-jurisdictional issue with comparative elements and comparative opportunities.
I'd like to get back into the Wigston report in a bit more detail. The introduction actually highlights the fact that the Wigston report itself refers to Canada and the Canadian experience. What we say and do will not only achieve change here, but will also very potentially and very tangibly influence the policy opportunities and opportunities for progress on the part of our allies, especially the ones we work with most closely, including the Five Eyes.
Madam Chair, the Wigston report makes the following identifying statement with respect to the issue we're studying. It says:
For the purpose of this report we defined inappropriate behaviours as those which: breach laws, norms of behaviour or core values and standards, including sexual offences and bullying, harassment and discrimination, that harm or risk harming individuals, teams and operational effectiveness, and that bring or risk bringing the reputation of individuals, units, the Service or Defence into disrepute.
That is the definition that they have adopted. I put it to colleagues for their consideration.
The report continues to say that:
The Armed Forces and Civil Service operate to different terms and conditions of service, however Defence people exist within a shared culture and environment. The report focuses on the Armed Forces, regular and reserve, however it identifies opportunities to work better as a whole force, including the MOD Civil Service, wherever we can. The need to adopt a whole force approach is reinforced by the lessons of others, in particular the Canadian Armed Forces who went through an extensive process of review in 2015.
Madam Chair, that's just to underscore the point I made a minute ago with respect to the Canadian experience actually being looked at by other forces as well. The review that's being referenced there is the ERA that my colleague, Mr. Bagnell, just took a detailed look at in his previous intervention.
The Wigston report itself then comprises three separate sections. Part 1 is an assessment of the current situation in the United Kingdom. Part 2 considers what more could be done to stop inappropriate behaviours from occurring, and part 3 makes recommendations on what more could be done to deal with inappropriate behaviours when they have happened.
The report states:
A key recommendation of Part 3 is the establishment of a new Defence Authority responsible for cultures and inappropriate behaviours, external to the single Services' chain of command and responsible to a Defence Senior Responsible [officer], emulating the successful models of the Canadian Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force and United States military.
For context, Madam Chair, this report of course was put out in 2019, some two years ago and prior to the specific incidents that this committee is also studying.
Mr. Bagnell, in his previous intervention, made reference to a very important component of the external review authority, or the ERA, which is the question of data. Here, I think, the British experience is also helpful to this committee in its deliberations as we go forward in the coming weeks.
Under the subheading “Management information”, the chief air marshal says the following:
To build a comprehensive picture of the behaviours and culture of any organisation, it is necessary to have a single repository where all key data is collated, monitored, tracked and analysed. The resulting intelligence can then be used to inform the chain of command to address issues at the earliest opportunity by enabling resources to be directed to specific hot-spots—situations with a high risk of victimisation for example—or to specific types of behaviour.
Annual statistical data and courts martial outcomes from cases in the Service Justice System, the Service Complaints system and surveys, as well as reports from the single Services, demonstrate a significant effort to capture available information. We observe that the convergence of data and information within each Service lacks depth and [that] there is no coherent analysis at MOD-level. Serious cases within the Service Justice System and the Service Complaints system capture broad headline data sets, such as gender, age, type of offence [and] complaint, but this is superficial and at present there is insufficient metadata captured to provide an appropriate level of insight, nor is there a consistent approach across minority groups. Furthermore, we do not automatically receive comprehensive data or information on cases dealt with in the Civil Courts, so [we] cannot describe the full scale of the issue within Defence at the most serious level; this would require a change to primary legislation. We judge that better and more coherent data would provide actionable information for the chain of command at all levels—and centrally for Defence—to identify where additional training, support and intervention is most needed.
Madam Chair, I'm going to get into some of the recommendations that are being made, but I would preface the fact that mentioning the recommendations does not necessarily mean that we should accept them. In fact, in some cases we may legislatively—by virtue of our customs, procedures and constitutional structure—not be able to adopt them as easily, but they are here for us to consider because, in my submission, they have the right level of granularity. They have the right level of specificity. They will move us forward.
With that in mind, I would like to mention three recommendations that the chief air marshal has put forward under “Management information”.
The first is:
Defence must improve the level of detail and metadata captured on serious unacceptable behaviour as well as instances of lower severity, to provide a single comprehensive picture of inappropriate behaviours across the organisation.
The second is:
Defence should consider amending primary legislation to require the sharing of information from the civilian Criminal Justice System.
The third under this rubric is:
Defence should develop performance measures relating to inappropriate behaviours for use at Defence Board, Executive Committee and Performance and Risk Reviews.
Madam Chair, with this recommendation, you'll recall a brief exchange I had with Rear-Admiral Patterson. I asked her if there was an option to include gender equality championships—I think that's the way I put it at the time—in performance evaluations within the the Canadian Forces. Her initial reaction was “Absolutely”, so there may be some ground here, based on this very specific British recommendation, for us to make a recommendation in parallel in our system that would achieve culture change and progress.
The report also makes recommendations with respect to the use of surveys. Again, this is not for us to accept. It's for us to debate and potentially to accept what we find appropriate and constructive. The report reads as follows:
Defence should conduct a harassment survey in 2021 building on the Army Sexual Harassment Survey 2018, informed by an independent advisory group. In line with recommendation 3.1, Defence should consider a “call for evidence” on inappropriate behaviours in conjunction with this survey, in order to provide supporting detail to the survey.
In parallel with that, it states:
Defence should better coordinate and focus the bullying, harassment and discrimination elements of continuous attitude surveys to improve understanding, reduce duplication and streamline data analysis. Use of contemporary, on-line survey formats should also be considered.
This is a set of very tangible, very specific recommendations that go to the issue of data management. A first step is to call the problem what it is and I think in many respects this committee has done that. Getting the data that speaks to the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the problem is equally important, and then having the opportunity to actually analyze the data at the right level, with the right specificity and granularity, is crucial to taking us forward.
The report makes a recommendation under “Climate assessments”. “Climate” in this context is not in the context of climate change but with respect to the work atmosphere and climate.
The report says:
A proactive process for assessing the Command climate and behaviours is now well-established across all three Services. The Army has developed and matured a tiered process, including the completion of focus-group based analysis within units, led by trained facilitators. The Naval Service conduct a similar advisory process as do the Royal Air Force. This approach, utilising focus groups, by trained facilitators, is seen as leading practice and is utilised by other nations and organisations including the United States military. Such data, although confidential, can be analysed centrally and utilised as a tool to understand behavioural themes.
There you can see that the reference in this report, just in the few brief sections that I outlined, to both Canada and the United States really puts us onto, in some ways, a common denominator with our allies with respect to the nature of the problem, not only acknowledging that we have the problem but also finding potential solutions. These two suggestions here vis-à-vis Canada and the U.S., adopted by the British report, indicate that collaboration and joint problem-solving may well be worth our while. At a minimum, taking account of and reviewing the reports by leading countries in our group of allies and friends would be extremely worthwhile for this committee.
The recommendation that follows from this is that “Climate assessments and advisory visits should be sustained and exploited across Defence.”
I'll finish with the recommendation on “Values and standards” and I'll come back in subsequent interventions.
Each Service has established and operates a core set of values and standards. These values and standards, developed over time and from extensive operational testing, reflect the unique culture, ethos and operating environments of the respective Armed Forces and Civil [defence]. Values and standards for the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force are well established, comprehensively communicated and understood. The governance surrounding the Civil Service Code is less well recognised, as noted in the Sue Owen Review, which observed that in some workplaces, “staff are looking for a more explicit articulation of the behaviours they should expect to see.” Communication of the Civil Service Code must therefore be amplified and include military line managers of civilians.
The recommendation that follows is that:
Single Service values and standards should be sustained but communication of the Civil Service Code should be amplified.
This is also relevant.
Again, page by page, I'm surprised at how poignant these recommendations are, specifically with respect to the issue in Canada also potentially or actually involving civilian employees of the Canadian Forces.
There really is some substance here, some fodder for deliberation and some opportunities to achieve real and tangible progress. As we go through these experiences in other countries, I would encourage all my colleagues to take note, and also our analysts, and I look forward to reactions from members of the committee.
I'll leave it there for the moment.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I want to begin by thanking you and the committee for the invitation to appear before you today. I'm happy to help support the committee's study into these issues, because they are of the utmost importance, not only to the Canadian Armed Forces but, frankly, to all Canadians.
My hope is that the committee will use this study in a non-partisan way to identify and recommend the changes needed to improve both the structure and the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces. Canadians deserve to be confident that all of our institutions are well equipped to identify and root out all forms of harassment, and that includes ensuring that the survivors of harassment are supported and protected and that there are no systemic barriers to their ability to access justice.
I will try to be as helpful as I can be to the committee today, but I should note at the outset that I am almost exclusively relying on my independent recollection of events that occurred more than three years ago.
As the committee is aware, I am no longer a public office-holder. I left the Prime Minister's Office in December, 2019, and I left the government last year.
I am here today voluntarily. To be clear, I never refused to be here and have only been co-operative in my dealings with the clerk of the committee.
With that said, I'm pleased to share the recollection that I have of these events and to take your questions today.
Either late on March 1 or early on March 2, 2018, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister or her assistant asked me to get back to the chief of staff to the Minister of National Defence on an issue relating to the CDS. At that time, I was senior adviser to the Prime Minister, working in the Prime Minister's Office.
I spoke with the chief of staff to the Minister of National Defence that same day. She advised me that the ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, who was then Gary Walbourne, had initiated an unscheduled discussion alone with her . In that meeting, she told me, Mr. Walbourne had raised an allegation of personal misconduct against the CDS, and there were no other details provided.
The important, sensitive and unusual nature of this matter was immediately obvious to me, even in the absence of any details regarding the allegation. I immediately brought this issue directly to the Clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to the cabinet, who was then Michael Wernick. I advised the chief of staff to the Prime Minister that I was taking this step, and I then kept her apprised as matters developed.
I met with Mr. Wernick at least twice that morning. He advised me, I believe after having sought legal advice, that the matter would be dealt with by Janine Sherman, deputy secretary to the cabinet, who was responsible for senior personnel.
My discussions with Ms. Sherman were about the PCO's taking carriage of the matter, including providing assistance and advice to Mr. Walbourne and taking steps to move any investigation forward in an appropriate manner. I wanted to ensure that Mr. Walbourne received this advice in writing so as to limit any risk of a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, and I also wanted to ensure that he received that advice promptly.
At no point did I offer any opinions on the nature of what the appropriate procedural next steps were, as it was not my place to do so.
My understanding is that the Privy Council Office engaged quickly with the public service lawyers to determine the best way forward. They provided me with draft language that the or his team could use to send to Mr. Walbourne. That draft language suggested that Mr. Walbourne should speak directly with the Privy Council Office, noting that the matter concerned a Governor in Council appointment.
As of that point, the Privy Council Office had the matter in its hands, and my involvement effectively ended. While I was hopeful that this potentially serious issue could be investigated effectively, I did not have a further role in that process, nor do I believe it would have been appropriate for me to have one. At no time, for example, did I ever attempt to contact or speak with Mr. Walbourne.
Later on, though I cannot recall the date, I was made aware that the Privy Council Office had, in fact, spoken with Mr. Walbourne, but that he had indicated the Canadian Armed Forces member in question did not want her information shared. I understood at that time that Mr. Walbourne was going to continue to seek that consent so that the matter could be investigated, but it was not clear whether or not he would obtain it.
At no point did anyone advise me that the file was in some way closed.
My understanding was that the PCO would leave the file open in case there was further information that would allow an investigation to proceed. Essentially, my involvement in this matter was limited to promptly bringing the issue to the PCO, sharing the entirety of the limited information I had, and asking PCO to take whatever steps it could to ensure that matters were investigated and that Mr. Walbourne was provided with advice.
It was apparent to me at that time—and absolutely remains so in hindsight—that an allegation of this sort about a Governor in Council appointee should not be investigated in some kind of ad hoc way by members of cabinet, including the or the , or by political staff members. The best way in those circumstances is to ask the non-partisan public service, with its institutional and legal resources, to identify the path forward and work with whoever possessed the information—in this case, Mr. Walbourne—to permit the allegation to be investigated. That is what took place here.
The Privy Council is uniquely placed in the machinery of government. The Clerk of the Privy Council is also head of the public service. PCO has expertise in all issues dealing with the appointment, tenure, and performance of Governor in Council appointees. The Privy Council also has immediate access to the best legal advice on matters of public administration and public policy, and in my experience of nearly five years in the Government of Canada, the leadership of the Privy Council Office works in ways that are responsible, professional and non-partisan.
I had every confidence that the Privy Council Office would take the steps that it could to have matters investigated, and if gaps needed to be filled, that it would propose new procedures to fill those gaps. In this specific case, at no point did anyone in the public service or among political staff ever suggest anything other than ensuring that the matters in issue were investigated appropriately, and I believe everyone acted in good faith trying to ensure that happened.
Indeed, my recollection is that despite a lack of detail surrounding the nature of the allegation, everyone appreciated the potential gravity of the issue. Once I informed the PCO of an allegation and I received their confirmation that they would be taking further steps, I had no further involvement in this matter. In my view, the proper entities were managing the issue and would follow appropriate procedures. That could include briefing staff and the PMO, or the himself, but at an appropriate time. I have no recollection of personally briefing the Prime Minister on these issues, nor was I ever made aware of any such briefing.
I would now be pleased to take questions that the committee may have for me.
There's a lot to unpack in what you said, so let me try to do my best.
First of all, let me say I am not here to say that I am in any way an expert in these issues, and I don't want anything I say to be taken to be claiming that I am qualified to opine on what the next steps should be in terms of how we fix these problems.
I can say as an observer, in the way that Canadians are observers, that it is very obvious that very serious reforms, not just institutional or structural but cultural, need to take place. That's not going to be easy. That's going to take time. I think you are hearing the evidence you need to shape those recommendations, and you're hearing it from survivors. You're hearing it from experts. I think, for those reasons, the work of the committee is very important.
In terms of responsibility, taking it back to this case, I certainly was not aware of any other information that was relevant. I've shared what I was told. I was told there was a complaint. I was not told what that complaint was. I was not aware of any previous complaints. I did not at any other time learn about that and would not in the normal course of my work, frankly. That's not surprising. This is not a sort of a file that I was dealing with in the sense of dealing with issues around military leadership. However, I think those issues are real. I think the responsibility of someone who has the information, the responsibility of somebody who has learned something, is to make sure that information, to the extent they're able to share it, goes to the right place.
In this case, I think that's what we were certainly trying to do, and again, I don't want to speak for the or his staff, but my understanding is that, possessing limited information, the instinct there, and I think the right judgment, was to say, “Let's make sure we put this in a process.” How do you do that in the best way? How do you make sure you're doing it in the best possible way? Well, you probably want to rely on the Privy Council Office. They're better placed than anyone else, and they're not going to have some specific agenda or angle. They are there to try to solve the problem.
These are really serious problems. That's why I hope—and I'm confident, frankly—that the members get that just from listening to what we all in the public realm are listening to about the situation. That's why this study is so important. I hope you use that opportunity. There are experts and there are people who have lived experience who can hopefully help to suggest a better way forward so that these things don't happen again and so that, when they happen, there is a process that everyone feels confident in and feels able to participate in without worrying about reprisal, embarrassment or anything else.
Those are complicated issues, but they are issues that everyone is grappling with and has to grapple with. I think the committee has an opportunity here to really help shape that for the Canadian context. I hope you seize that opportunity.
There was probably nothing standard about this situation, either in the manner in which the information came up or then how to respond to it.
The Privy Council itself plays a very active role, and I think sometimes that doesn't get a lot of attention in relation to all Governor in Council appointees.
There's a team of people who are expert at dealing with all issues around appointments, reappointments, issues of tenure and issues that you might think of as HR issues in that space. Certainly there, more than anywhere else in the Government of Canada, there is actually expertise with how to deal with issues around executive performance, but also conduct.
If there are problems, PCO is the best place to go to, not just because they're in the centre and play that coordinating role, but they actually have expertise on that senior personnel team because that's part of what they do. They make sure that Governor in Council appointees have gone through a rigorous process to be chosen. Once they are there, if there are any concerns—if there are institutional issues or governance issues relating to executive leaders dealing with boards of directors, for example, or anything like that—they are the people who are best equipped to provide that support.
This is not an area I dealt with a lot, but my understanding is that it does happen, because the number of such Governor in Council appointees is quite significant. In that sense, to the extent there is that expertise, it is located there.
In addition to that, to the extent that there is not a procedure that exists that is a clear answer to what to do next, PCO is also the expert in machinery of government questions and machinery of all types of institutional and organizational questions that you'd want to be mindful of if you are needing to create some kind of process or some kind of system to now investigate something.