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Results: 1 - 100 of 158
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-21 12:06
Thank you.
I'll be very brief. I have a lot to say, but on the main motion. As Mr. Serré said, it's unfortunate they're tied together so closely. It's too bad that wasn't set aside...the various problems with the main motion. I won't discuss those right now.
I did want to comment at the moment, though, on a couple of things that were said today.
One is that we want to unearth the truth, which is why the main motion is still there. I think Mr. Serré has outlined very seriously where the truth, if people want to go that way.... Personally, I want to stay with where I think the amendment is heading and where many members want to head in coming up with solutions to the problems, the systemic culture and reprisals, etc. For those on the committee who think the best answer is to go back, then obviously the serious complaints are the ones that were just outlined by Mr. Marc Serré.
It was said near the beginning of the meeting again, by different parties, that nothing happened or there was a failure to act. That was true back in 2015, apparently. I'll go into great detail later about when General Vance was appointed. In this particular case, they're reminding people of the situation. When people say that nothing happened, that's further from the truth. There was an email. No one knows what's in it, because the CAF member had every right to want confidentiality and to not provide the information. It was turned in within 24 hours for investigation. It was investigated as far as it could have been. That was done.
Numerous times, people in this committee have suggested that wasn't done. The one email—the one situation we're talking about—was handled as far as it could have been. It respected the CAF member's confidentiality.
As Mr. Garrison said, there are still many ongoing instances, very frequently. For the people who are here for the first time today, you'll see many times in the evidence that the Liberal members have said exactly that: In spite of the many steps taken by the minister, there's still much more to do. Because the minister took those various steps.... I won't repeat them. They've been outlined in great detail in this committee. No one has mentioned any minister before who has done more.
I think the way to move forward is to give a minister, who's totally onside with acting and has acted in a number of instances, the recommendations on the survivors, as the Bloc says, so we can actually make a difference. As Ms. Damoff said, we can help the survivors and keep that the focus of this.
I'll leave it at that for now. I really want to discuss the main motion.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-21 12:41
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to make a few comments on the comments that have been made in this debate so far.
Following up on the most recent, in relation to Madam Arbour, I don't think anyone on the committee doubts her tremendous ability. The Deschamps report identified the type of process—the need, for instance, for independence, etc.—but the mechanism for doing it, of the various things that need to be done, was not outlined. Madam Arbour, I agree, will be great at providing a detailed road map on how to get to the places Madam Deschamps suggested.
The discussion a few minutes ago related to training is also a good example of how the solutions to this aren't easy, being that it's been endemic for decades in our military, and in other militaries. Simple solutions will not do the trick. A good example was the emphasis put on appropriate training. Training sessions were put up, but I heard one witness—and I can't remember if it was at committee or at another event—talk about how she, as the trainer, was laughed at. They made fun of her, and that's all part of the culture.
That's what's important about the Bloc amendment. As I said before, unfortunately, it's tied to an untenable main motion, but on the culture, it is a huge item. We're all part of a culture. We're social, and to a large extent we work within and follow a culture that we're in.
Dr. Okros made a good comment on that:
The...comment I would make with this is that there does need to be a unique military culture. Canadians require very specific things from the women and men who are providing security for them. That requires some very specific things. There is no other employer that has the concept of unlimited liability, that expects and requires people to put themselves in harm's way.
To do that, to generate those capabilities and the capacity to endure...what can be really arduous circumstances, does require something unique that most private sector employers don't need.
The issue is, what should that culture be? I think that's the issue that is really up for debate and discussion. Again, what the comments we're providing here...[this] is a tension in the military as well around evolving over time. One thing that is baked into the military philosophy is that there are really important lessons that have been learned, that were paid for in blood over the centuries, that we will never forget.
That is of importance, but that can hold the military back from trying to envision the future military culture that they need to be building within a 21st-century security context, and with young Canadians who are seeking to serve their country in uniform.
It needs to be a unique culture. The debate, really, is about what should that culture be, what should be retained and what needs to fundamentally change.
It just emphasizes my previous point that nothing is simple, and that's why our debate should be revolving around these critical issues that we've heard. We've had many, many meetings. We've heard from the survivors and from the experts who can give us a way forward, and now we need to debate and come up with those recommendations. They're not simple, and that's why they need discussion. If they were simple, they would have been done already.
That's why we need the discussion on these critically important things that will help the survivors. That's why it's disappointing that the main motion, the way it's written, would allow recommendations to go through without any debate on them.
I'd be interested in hearing more from Madam Vandenbeld on culture, because I haven't studied that in any great depth.
There are two last things I want to say. One is that I like the idea of modifying Mr. Barsalou-Duval's motion that we do a report based on what we could come to a consensus on. As Mr. Garrison said, we all agree we want to help, and I am sure there are a number of recommendations that we could come to a consensus on and that would make a difference for the survivors.
The other thing from the amendment that I want to come in on is that there's been a lot of talk—the word “victims” is in there—about improved support for survivors and victims. I will discuss that at length when we get to the main motion, but the point is—and I said this earlier in debate—that hopefully we don't have to have a huge network of supports. Hopefully, by making the appropriate changes, we'll drastically reduce the incidents that Mr. Garrison said are so common at the moment.
Only we as a committee—well, not only we; they can go ahead without us—could add support and strength to consensus recommendations. They would go a lot further and would really make a difference for survivors and give the minister the moral authority to move quickly on the things we are recommending.
I'll leave it at that for right now.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-26 16:33
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would agree. I would implore that we stop this waste of time by debating motion after motion and witness after witness, which is unnecessary and is delaying the study. I implore Mr. Bezan to remove the motion, which, as he probably knows, has a number of problems with it. It doesn't bring forward the witnesses we need if we want to go further into the who, how, where and when, which I'll go into in great depth when we get to the main motion.
For the exact reason that people expect a report to come out, stop doing motions that recall witnesses who have been here for hours and who have nothing to add to the debate. Stop calling a witness whose potential testimony has already been dealt with and then a motion that wouldn't allow us to put a stop to looking at each recommendation, debating them and coming out with a serious report.
We had an anonymous email and no one knew what was in it because the person wanted their privacy, and they were allowed their privacy. It's incredible that, instead of dealing with the major problems to help the people in the military, Mr. Bezan would keep calling witnesses related to that email and not all the great testimony we've had from experts and victims.
If you want to go back.... I don't. I want to get on to dealing with those serious issues, but if you want to go back to the who, why and where, and then, as Mr. Garrison said, the serious issues related to the appointment of General Vance, as Mr. Garrison said, when people should have acted and failed to act.... There were potential investigations, one, apparently, there was pressure to stop on the day General Vance was appointed, and another one, a quote from someone.... The vice-chief of the defence staff said it was a mystery who investigated, seeing as it didn't occur.
Those are the serious questions that people want to go back to. I don't want to go back to that. I want to get on to the issues of helping the people in the military. As Mr. Barsalou-Duval said, why are members acting the way they are by bringing witness after witness, trying to recall witnesses and extending on this one email that's already been fully investigated as far as it could go, because the person didn't want to let any of the details forward.
We only have so much time in government. As everyone knows who's been in government, there are a huge number of federal departments, agencies and things that have to be dealt with, so there are rare points in time when you can get to the item that you want to make progress on. I think this is one of those points in time when we have a minister who's supportive of dealing with this, and all the committee members are supportive of dealing with sexual misconduct in the military. That's what we should be dealing with.
I could, in the future, if need be, explain or outline all the times and the quotes from the minister over the last several months as to how he says over and over again that much more needs to be done and that there's no tolerance.
Unfortunately, it's also been said in this debate that nothing has been done, or that nothing of consequence has been done. In fairness to the members of CAF and DND, they have been working hard to try to address this serious issue.
I think we have to dispose of that misinformation because some things have been done. There has to be a lot more, obviously, as Mr. Garrison outlined, and I've outlined in a number of committees the hundreds of complaints that have occurred. Much more needs to be done, but it's also not fair to suggest that nothing's been done. I'm going to go through some of those things, to give credit where credit's due.
The government has announced an external review, the creation of the chief of professional conduct and culture position, as well as initiatives around peer support, the extension of the SMRCs' reach across Canada and work on implementation of Bill C-77.
DND and CAF also released a joint CDS-DM initiating directive, which has provided our defence team members, veterans, observers and all Canadians much-needed clarity on DND and CAF's vision for Lieutenant-General Carignan's position and what she'll be empowered to do. Going forward, one of General Carignan's first areas of focus is developing a plan for engagement and consultation, including targeted focus groups in coordination with our colleagues in public affairs, to ensure that we keep up the momentum on listening.
In the budget that we're now debating in the House, $232.2 million over five years has been set aside, plus $33.5 million per year ongoing to address sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and to support survivors. These funds will be used for gender-based violence prevention, fully funded at $33.9 million over two years; internal support to victims, including access to legal advice; expanding the contribution program to support community-based sexual assault service providers; and a peer support pilot, online and in-person. I'll speak to that a bit later.
There are additional conduct items that are fully funded at $33 million over two years to support $15 million for increased investment in the SMRC—which I'll talk about later as well—$15 million for external oversight and $3 million for external assistance with training.
Then there are investments from existing reference levels of $158.5 million, and this includes the implementation of Bill C-65 and the workplace harassment and violence prevention regulations, which I'll talk a bit about later; support for development of character assessment and training; additional support to enhance the military justice system; personnel support to base commanders; development of the departmental litigation oversight capability, which we've talked about a lot in this committee; and upgrading data management and tracking into a single system, which we've talked about having as a recommendation.
Additionally, DND and CAF are going to respond to the government with suggestions related to the CAF child care program and the clinical occupation and deployment health needs of women in uniform.
I also said I was going to get back to the work, and the deputy minister mentioned that a lot had to be done, but she also mentioned that there were good things being done. She mentioned the advancing initiatives related to the SMRC; the gender-based violence national action plan initiatives; the regional expansion of SMRC services, including a response and support coordination program; the expansion of support services to include service to DND public service employees and veterans; and the increasing need for virtual training options and targeted prevention training. The staffing of positions for that is also under way. I'll get back SMRC a little bit later and also the next time that I get to speak.
C-65's implementation is under way, which is another item of progress, so it's not fair to say that nothing has been done or accomplished.
In the departmental approach, there's work on the implementation of the workplace harassment and violence prevention, WHVP, legislation, which continues to progress. Direction and guidance on the WHVP workplace assessment is to be released by August 2021. A service-level agreement to provide access to WHVP training for CAF members is being finalized. Training will be available online by June 2021.
Mandatory training for public service employees is progressing well. As of March 31 this year, 40% of employees and 13% of members—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-26 16:44
Madam Chair, I think it was actually that member who said that nothing's been done. Also, that member in his preamble veered totally away from the amendment, so I will just carry on. If he didn't want to know what's being done then he shouldn't have said in previous comments that nothing is being done by CAF and DND—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-26 16:45
—related to this motion.
To give credit where credit is due on the things we've done, to supplement the employee assistance program, the WHVP centre of expertise is establishing additional assistance for employees affected by harassment or workplace violence.
While CAF is not subject to the Canada Labour Code, CAF is working on a harassment prevention modernization initiative to further align and integrate accountability and prevention components of the WHVP with the CAF system.
Stage one of the CAF harassment prevention modernization initiative is nearing completion, including through the issuance by the VCDS of an initiating directive, development of tools and supporting documents for the relevant DAOD on harassment prevention and the establishment of a governance structure and working group.
In stage two, the focus is on a CAF harassment prevention, a vision statement and the development of additional tools, guides, consultation and options. Analysis is being finalized. This work will take into consideration and align with the work of Bill C‑65, Bill C‑77, negotiations on policy measures and class actions [Technical difficulty—Editor] and the evolution of the chief of the professional conduct and culture organization.
I will now go on to military sexual trauma. Also, in relation to Mr. Bezan's last comment, I wonder why he won't change his motion to bring forward the real witnesses to the serious problems that have now arisen since the motion was designed, which have been brought forward by the press along with this serious potential cover-up related to the investigations during the time of the appointment of General Vance.
On military sexual trauma, MST, we've constantly heard from stakeholders and those affected by sexual misconduct that they want sexual trauma connected with military service to be acknowledged and recognized as such, and that they want to be supported accordingly. Along with Veterans Affairs Canada, the SMRC and external stakeholders, we're working on developing a definition of sexual trauma connected with military service. This work is being done in full consultation with survivor groups as well as with members of the SMRC external advisory council and others. While it is not a critical term, we acknowledge that the injury is associated with sexual trauma connected to military service. We are working with VAC to ensure that there continues to be policy alignment between the two departments particularly in the delivery of supports and benefits to those affected.
I want to talk about peer support now. This committee has heard from witnesses that our focus should be on the survivors and on helping them. They've asked for peer support. Work is under way. I hope we have recommendations. When we get to the main motion, I will go a lot into the recommendations, because the motion allows for a cut-off on debate on those recommendations.
As announced, DND, CAF and Veterans Affairs Canada are working on developing a professionally co-facilitated peer support program. This is another initiative that is a high priority for stakeholders, as we heard from witnesses. This is funded through budget 2021.
Because of our present situation and the direction of the world, we need to do more things online. SMRC, the CAF transition group and VAC are working to adapt an existing online peer support mobile application that was developed for Canadian Public Safety personnel. The process of adaptation, modification and implementation of the app is expected to take several months. Of course, this is very important because our military are stationed around the world.
There's also support for individual people, which CAF and DND have worked so hard on. Our government, as I've said, is not done. We have a lot more to do. As I've said at every meeting, that's what we should be working on, recommendations on those procedures. Some progress has been made. As we know, we need a lot more.
We're going to continue to consult with the experts, some of whom we had before our committee, and those who have been affected by sexual misconduct.
I want to highlight some of the measures that are already in place and accessible to the DND and CAF members. The SMRC, as I mentioned earlier, offers members confidential support 24-7 and anywhere in the world. I'm happy to say that budget 2021 has increased support for that. We heard from a number of witnesses how that wasn't the be-all and end-all, but it was certainly providing helpful services. It operates outside the military chain of command. Reporting directly to the deputy minister, it allows affected persons to access support in a confidential manner.
SMRC offers many programs and services to help affected members. One of them is the response and support coordination program, which helps CAF members navigate systems from the moment they make contact with SMRC until they decide they no longer require support. At every step of the way, SMRC personnel accompany those affected by sexual violence, providing whatever support may be necessary.
CAF members seeking information about the reporting process can contact the SMRC to explore their options while remaining anonymous. Civilian members of the defence team can also access support through SMRC, as well as the employee assistance program. Though SMRC is an important tool, we haven't got this right yet. That's why the defence team is in the midst of a top-to-bottom change of its institutional culture.
This is the right thing to do. It is not just a moral imperative. It is also vital to the success of the Canadian Armed Forces now and into the future. We've heard that time and time again. I think every committee member knows this a critical problem that we have to deal with to come up with solutions. A number of things are being done already, but obviously much needs to be done.
It was great to hear the acting chief of defence staff—I think it was yesterday or the day before—so open to hearing outside expertise to make sure this is done right. The culture change that's been so hard to do.... I mean, this isn't new. It's been there for decades upon decades. It's not easy to change quickly. Just making paper changes is not enough. That's why we have all these initiatives and why we should be discussing the complexity of that culture change and how we do it.
That's why the Madam Arbour announcement will be helpful. Culture change is mentioned right in the amendment to this motion, which is why this is an important discussion as well.
The initial independent external comprehensive review led by the former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour is very important. Obviously, all the recommendations from the previous Deschamps report haven't been implemented. Much more needs to be done, but Madam Arbour will provide the road map and a suggested way to actually achieve the things that Madam Deschamps said needed to be done. It will look into harassment and sexual misconduct in both DND and CAF and will examine the policies, procedures, programs, practices and culture within National Defence and make recommendations for improvement. From that, we'll learn what did not work from all these things that I'm talking about today of the processes that are in place. We can build on what did work, see what did not work and why it did not work.
It's been noted and, as I said in previous meetings, a number of things are very puzzling. There were a number of good things in place. Why were they not working? Why did they still lead to the hundreds of cases that Mr. Garrison and I referred to in previous meetings.
It's noted in the terms of reference that Madam Arbour will be delivering a “work plan within 30 days to the effective date of” her contract.
I just wanted to mention that one other thing about the peer support program is that budget 2021 also includes funding to enhance other support services including access to free independent legal advice that will help enable CAF members to access support without making a formal complaint.
Another step forward, once again to give credit where credit is due for things that are being done and have to be acknowledged, it has been announced that Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan will begin a new role as the chief of professional conduct and culture, which will unify, integrate and coordinate all policies, programs and activities that currently address systemic misconduct across culture change.
She's moved quickly in her new role and is actively working on building a core team around her. She's already begun to turn her attention to key issues including developing an outreach and consultation plan to continue hearing from defence team members, veterans and stakeholders, and mapping resources and reporting processes to get a clearer sense of what currently exists to inform future efforts to streamline.
Another step is that in addition to these steps, our government is following through on its commitment to consult with victims of service offences, which will inform the development of the regulations needed to implement the declaration of victim rights from Bill C‑77.
The Department of National Defence has engaged directly with victims groups and will soon be launching an online questionnaire to collect anonymous feedback from DND employees and CAF members. Certainly we've heard from victims from both of those groups, and it will be really good to get that anonymous feedback for which they will have no fear of retribution or reprisal. That, we have heard, is one of the top three things on which this committee should be coming up with recommendations to help the minister, a minister who is open to making major changes at this critical time when we could actually make improvements.
Our government has heard from the victims groups who have generously devoted their time and energy to sharing lived experiences and feedback with us and also with committees. We have heard them and we are taking action. This is what the survivors and experts who have testified at this committee and the committee on the status of women have been advocating for.
There are some other sources available to CAF members to access counselling, advice and other support services, and this may be one of the things that the report of Madam Arbour comes up with. Members aren't aware of all of these supports and maybe that's one reason they haven't been as effective as they should be. There are the CAF medical centres, military chaplains, the CF members assistance program, military family resource centres and family information centre.
There are also complaint management centres. These are another avenue for members to bring forward concerns or incidents through one of the 16 complaint management centres located across the country under the integrated conflict and complaint management program. This service combines harassment, grievance and alternative dispute resolution approaches in a streamlined fashion, and they report tracking and resolved complaints of inappropriate behaviour like sexual harassment. If the nature of the sexual misconduct requires involvement of the military police and justice system, there are supports for CAF members during this process as well.
Another support is the sexual offence response teams. The military police have established six sexual offence response teams trained to handle sexual misconduct cases appropriately and with empathy. These teams are sensitive to survivors and help them connect with other resources and support systems they need. I'm certainly looking forward to survivors and complainants getting much better treatment than some of the witnesses we heard from did and hopefully these new centres and the training will have far more appropriate support and training for survivors.
In addition, the director of military prosecutions has established a sexual misconduct action response team made up of specially trained prosecutors. Their role again is to make sure survivors are treated with compassion and understanding and that they receive information and the support they need through the military justice proceedings.
Supporting survivors of sexual misconduct is essential, and that's why steps have been taken to ensure support is available and is provided from the moment a person seeks advice or counsel through to investigation and prosecution. Along with the future changes, these steps will help to build a safe and inclusive workplace where all people are supported and treated with respect.
We're creating a defence workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and we hope all our colleagues will join us in this effort. We'll build the right system, so that when an incident occurs, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence have access to a process that is sensitive, fair and compassionate.
CAF and DND are listening. They're learning. They're taking action to create an environment where sexual misconduct is never minimized, excused or ignored. We owe it to the men and women in uniform—as I think all committee members have said—to all members of the defence team and to Canadians to get this right, and we'll continue working hard to do just that on top of all these initiatives.
There has also been Bill C‑65, with new regulations on preventing harassment and violence in the workplace. Harassment and violence in the workplace in any form, of course, will not be tolerated. Amendments to the Canada Labour Code contained in the workplace harassment and violence prevention regulations came into effect on January 1, 2021, and will expand the existing prevention-of-violence framework known as Bill C‑65.
These amendments will strengthen the provisions of the Canada Labour Code by putting in place one comprehensive approach that takes all forms of harassment and violence into consideration. This will help departments to better prevent this and to respond to and provide support to those affected by harassment and violence in the federal public service. This new regulation will affect all DND public service employees and the Canadian Armed Forces members who supervise them. The coordination and implementation of this new regulation is assigned to the ADM of civilian human resources as the functional authority for the health and well-being of the public service employees within the department. Committee members have heard about harassment or sexual misconduct related to those employees—not just CAF members.
In short, this means that, along with all Government of Canada departments and agencies, our obligations with respect to harassment and violence in the workplace will increase. While we'll see more details in the coming weeks, some examples of what we will do under this new legislation include ensuring that a resolution process is in place and that issues are resolved in a timely and transparent manner; identifying the risk factors that contribute to harassment and violence in the workplace and developing and implementing preventive measures to mitigate these risks; and developing harassment and violence training and ensuring that all parties in the workplace, including employers, participate in this training.
In parallel, the VCDS has been tasked with addressing potential changes to the CAF policies and programs. For now, DAOD 5012‑0, “Harassment Prevention and Resolution”, and the harassment prevention and resolution instructions, accessible only on the National Defence network, will continue to apply to the CAF. Early in the new year, a working group will be be stood up to conduct—that's this year—a holistic review of the CAF harassment framework in order to modernize and align it, where possible, with the Canadian Labour Code. The working group will also be tasked with looking at opportunities to streamline and align existing interrelated mechanisms and programs, so that, as much as possible, the employees at DND and the CAF members will have very similar treatment and help.
Existing programs, preventive measures and support will remain in place to keep our defence team free as much as possible from physical and psychological harm. However, when harassment or violence does occur, we must work together to identify it, root it out and take action to prevent reoccurence. With this new legislation, Bill C‑65 will help to strengthen all our efforts on all fronts.
The other bill that we brought in—again, to be fair, things have been done and have been moving forward—is Bill C‑77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act—the declaration of victims rights.
The summary of the bill states:
This enactment amends provisions of the National Defence Act governing the military justice system.
It adds a new Division, entitled “Declaration of Victims Rights”, to the Code of Service Discipline, that specifies that victims of service offences have a right to information, protection, participation and restitution in respect of service offences. It adds or amends several definitions, including “victim” and “military justice system participant”, and specifies who may act on a victim's behalf for the purposes of that Division.
I know that the Conservatives are very sensitive and supportive of victims rights.
It continues:
It amends Part III of that Act to, among other things:
(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings;
(b) protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings [which involve] certain sexual offences;
(c) specify factors that a military judge is to take into consideration when determining whether to make an exclusion order;
(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to [the] vulnerable witnesses;
(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;
We've all heard about potential retribution.
It continues:
(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory; (g) in certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor; (h) provide that the acknowledgement of the harm done to the victims and to the community is a sentencing objective; (i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements; (j) allow for military impact statements and community impact [assessments] to be considered for all service offences; (k) provide, as a principle of sentencing, that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;
As you know, there are provisions in the Criminal Code for that as well.
It continues:
(l) provide for the creation, in regulations, of service infractions that can be dealt with by summary hearing;
That's so more cases can go forward—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-26 17:08
Madam Chair, as I said earlier, I wouldn't have to be doing this if the member had not suggested, on probably more than one occasion, that nothing has been done.
The terms of our committee—in fact, the terms of the motion—start out to address sexual misconduct. To say that nothing's been done is not accurate and not fair. This is what we need to build on. This is why we should not be debating a motion that doesn't really add anything. I think all members can see the motion before us really does nothing in relation to the serious advances forward.
I'm almost finished them. I'm definitely not reading from the report by Mr. Fish, but I should have actually included the fact that we've done that. I've not included that in my remarks, but I've not seen that report. I have no idea what's in it, so I'm definitely not reading from it. I'm almost finished here, so I'll just continue to give credit where credit's due and stop members from suggesting nothing's been done by the government, by CAF and by DND and a supportive minister.
It's also provided in regulations of service infractions that they can be dealt with by summary hearing, as I said, to get more cases forward. This can provide a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions, provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings, and to provide superior commanders, commanding officers and delegated officers with jurisdiction to conduct a summary hearing in respect of a person charged with having committed a service infraction if the person is at least one rank below the officer conducting the summary hearing.
Finally, the enactment makes related and consequential amendments to certain acts. Most notably, it amends the Criminal Code to include military justice system participants in the class of persons against whom offences relating to intimidation of a justice system participant can be committed.
Madam Chair, I think all this suggests strong, serious steps forward, and in some cases it's helping and will help. A lot of this work is under way right now and people should know that. I think members of the committee will be appreciative of that, but that's why, to be serious, our discussions, instead of dealing with the motion.... Although I appreciate the amendment, it still keeps the inappropriate parts of the motion, the constant recalling of witnesses to deal with an anonymous email where no one knew what was in it because the person wanted it to be confidential, which they have every right to.
Instead of dealing with the motion, we need to get on with what the committee heard, and they heard about the three areas. I think Yvan and other committee members have a great understanding that it's the culture change that is referred to in this motion, in the amendment. It's unfortunately tied to a bad motion, but the the good amendment by Mr. Barsalou-Duval talks about culture, which is the important thing that, if we're serious, we should be talking about instead of recalling witnesses who we've already had.
We should be talking about the reprisals. I'm not sure we've had enough discussion or recommendations. I may want to make some related to reprisals because I don't think it's hidden from anyone that one of the reasons that the reporting levels are so low is the fear of reprisals and the fear of the effects on a career that your family's sustenance depends on and that you entered with great honour and you want to serve with great honour. To then, for doing the right thing in reporting, have a fear of reprisal.... Are those serious discussions that this committee is undertaking?
The third of the three major items, I think, is how these fit in the chain of command, which was also referred to in the Deschamps report and for which Madam Arbour will hopefully be providing a road map of how we deal with.
However, we could be making serious progress on these issues for the survivors, which is where our focus should always be, instead of recalling witnesses, calling a witness who has already spoken or suggesting that the debate end at a certain time so that some recommendations could not be debated. Who's going to take a report seriously where we could not debate or discuss recommendations?
I will leave it at that for now. When we get to the main motion, I have a lot more detail to go into on some of these areas. I will pass that on for now.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-31 12:11
Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this motion.
When the motion was first presented, I thought it was an improvement. I thought it was a step forward, and I was hoping, as Mr. Spengemann just said, that it would leave room so we could amend it in such a way that all the parties would agree that we could move forward in a co-operative way.
I have a number of things to say on the motion, at least four, but before that, as Mr. Bezan at times presents inappropriate preambles to the motions, I have to set the record straight on the comments he made in the preamble to the motion.
First of all, remember where we came from. There was an email. The person was anonymous. They didn't want their name put forward and they didn't give permission for the information to be put forward. So we had an email, and no one knew what was in it. It was anonymous. It was reported immediately to the investigative officials, who investigated as far as they could, case done.
Then, the Conservatives started presenting motions to bring in all sorts of witnesses about those emails. The Liberals agreed for a time, even though it wasn't studying the major things that witnesses, experts and survivors had told us we should be studying: the culture, the reprisals for reporting, the chain of command. There was nothing on that. It was on an email that no one knew anything about and that had already been investigated.
Finally, the Liberals said, enough, stop wasting the time of the committee on bringing forward motions to either bring back the same witnesses on that email, which no one knew what was in, or to bring other emails that were not necessarily appropriate. Let's get back to what we should be discussing, which has some possibility in the new motion.
I appreciate the things that Mr. Bezan mentioned in his preamble we should move on with, but going back to what the facts were, remember that the situation was investigated fully, as far as it could go, because there was no permission or information to do anything else.
What came out subsequent to that motion was that, at the time of General Vance's appointment, there were actually two serious allegations that the dogged research of the media found out—I think it was Global News and the Toronto Star—and General Vance was still appointed.
As I said, this isn't where I wanted to go on any of these past witnesses. I wanted to get on with the things the survivors wanted us to get on with, but those who were seriously thinking of calling more witnesses—Mr. Barsalou-Duval talked about more witnesses in his preamble—would really have to change the witness list to those who found out at the time about those two investigations, and why General Vance was still appointed.
One investigation, the military police ended it, or announced they were ending it, the day he was made commander-in-chief, and four days later it was ended. They said, under access to information, and I have no idea who filed it, that they were under pressure. That could be a serious allegation. If you're talking about witnesses, those would have been the types of witnesses.
The other investigation into General Vance at the time was referred to Mr. Novak. It was very similar to what happened with the email in 2018. In 2018, it was investigated as far as it could go. In the case of Mr. Novak, he said he went to Mr. Fadden—the very same process—but Mr. Fadden said there was no record of complaint or current investigation, so if there wasn't, then there needed to be one. But the national security adviser says he never did that investigation. If that investigation wasn't done, why was Mr. Vance appointed?
If you really wanted to go back and do witnesses, then, unlike in Mr. Bezan's preamble, those are the witnesses you would call on what recently came to light, which was more serious. As I said, that's not my area of interest—it's getting on with the future.
Since that story came out, there was even more. The outgoing chief of the defence staff, General Tom Lawson, said he was crystal clear: No allegation related to misconduct by Vance in Gagetown was brought over to him at any time, including while he was helping find his replacement, the chief of staff. He said he wasn't fuzzy at all. He would have looked into it. Subsequently, more people have come forward, such as former vice-chief of the defence staff Guy Thibault, saying they were never told either.
Those are the types of things that the people who thought that other motion was appropriate.... If they were serious, then they would have changed the witnesses to discuss the serious allegations that were actually found later. As the Liberals have been saying all along, the important thing is to get on with what the experts and the survivors have been telling us needs to be done, and have a serious debate, not a two-minute debate, on the very complex things that need to be done and need to be recommended.
Good examples are that, for instance, the administrative changes that were made in some cases were very good. But obviously, as Mr. Garrison has pointed out in the past, and I have pointed out, there were many hundreds of incidents still going on related to sexual misconduct. It's not working. It may be working to some extent. We listed at the last meeting for over an hour the things that the government has done, but still obviously a lot more needs to be done. It's very complex, obviously, when that many things have been done that may have made progress forward in some areas. If it's too simplistic an answer, then obviously it's not going to make progress on that.
That's why I think—and I've said this at almost every meeting—that's where we need to be having serious debate. They are not easy issues. There's a saying that for every complex problem there's a simple answer and it's wrong. That's why we need to have more than a two-minute input on each item. Whether it's two minutes on a paragraph.... Does that paragraph do justice to the witnesses? If not, do you just get to speak for two minutes, and that's it?
Obviously, these are very serious changes of direction for an organization, the military. For some of these recommendations, is two minutes serious? As both Yvan and I have said, either in this or in previous meetings, how seriously is anyone going to take a report where you've had two minutes each to discuss a paragraph or a recommendation?
It has been said many times that the purpose of this study is to hold the government to account. On this motion, how could you hold the government to account if the government doesn't get to do a response? Why would we not want to have the government respond to the various recommendations? The government has already taken a lot of steps but is in the middle of taking some more, with Louise Arbour, etc. We need to make sure that what the survivors and the experts said is included in the report and the recommendations, in the things they are doing. If that's not included in the report....
Then, with a major report like this, with so many recommendations, I was hoping, similar to what Ms. Vandenbeld said, that we could in some way initially come to a way of agreeing on all the ones we all agree on, to get that part done. If not, when you have only two minutes and you don't know what's going to go through, is 48 hours really a reasonable time for a consenting report, with all the paragraphs that may be inaccurate or recommendations that may need further input?
Also, on the limiting of debate, I'm just wondering how the NDP or the Bloc would feel if this precedent passes and if in the future there's either a Liberal or a Conservative majority and they'll get two minutes per person input on major recommendations that could totally go against their party philosophy, against their principles. In fact, think of the things we're debating at length right now, for instance the Broadcasting Act; if you only had two minutes to deal with a recommendation there, would people think that was appropriate?
The last thing I would say at this time is that on this particular part of the procedure, which is where I think we could come to some agreement and have some discussion, because it's a very serious change in procedure, when I was chair of PROC the Conservatives and the NDP spent several months debating a change of procedure because they didn't feel it was appropriate. They made it pretty apparent, time and again, how important it is not to change procedures without all-party consent.
I'll leave it at that for now.
The last thing I would say, because it is related to my next comments, is that on the serious recommendations and serious paragraphs, if we have more than two minutes' input, we're going to have to make it now, during this debate. I assume all committee members who have some serious input on either paragraphs or recommendations, unless that has changed over the discussion of this motion, will put all their input into the recommendations or paragraphs for which they have more than two minutes' input to make their point, because this is the only time they're going to be able to make it.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-31 13:00
I have a few points.
One is that I was actually really buoyed this morning when I saw this motion, although it took a while to read it and everything. It's too bad that, as usual, it came in late, but Mr. Bezan has apologized for it, and I accept that.
I wasn't as much of an objectionist as some others. I thought there was a way forward here. I still think there is a way forward here, and I don't think Mr. Bezan withdrew the motion on more witnesses just because it became obvious that the next witnesses should be Mr. O'Toole, Mr. Fadden, General Lawson, Guy Thibault and the head of military justice who closed the report on Mr. Vance. It was to get a way forward.
He made an interesting point about closure in the House, and I wanted to comment on that a bit.
As you know, the Conservatives used closure a lot of the time when they were in Parliament, but I don't blame them for that, actually, because I think there's a structural problem. This has been brought up at PROC and was never resolved. There's a structural problem in the way the House of Commons works that leads to closure no matter who's in government. This has been solved by other parliaments. I think the Scottish Parliament is one.
The fact is that when you have over 50 departments and agencies, important work that needs to be done in all those areas and a huge agenda, no matter who is in government you need to have a plan that makes sense. Some things are very minor additions and some things are major additions. End of life is a very serious type of debate and discussion, but some minor things—because there's no programming and there's no schedule—take up excessive time. No matter who's in government, if you want to move on for the people of Canada and the many topics that need to be moved forward on, you will need closure.
How other parliaments have dealt with this is that the parties get together and do programming. They decide in advance what is serious and what needs more time, and they come up with a schedule that makes a lot of sense. It reduced, and I think in some sittings actually totally eliminated, the need for closure, because they came up with something that made a lot more sense. The serious issues got the serious time, and the minor amendments got the time they needed. I recommend that to everyone.
As I said before, I think there are things in the report, in either the clauses or the recommendations, where there are members from every party who wouldn't necessarily agree with them right now and would not want to end their debate on them at two minutes. My gut reaction is that not that many are controversial, although one member did suggest earlier in this debate that most of them were. I think all members of all parties who have an objection and want to speak for more than two minutes on a clause or a recommendation should do that during this debate, because if this motion passes, they're not going to have any other time. I look forward to hearing from all the members on what's important to them.
I'll give you an example from my perspective of something that I don't think there's enough attention given to, in either the report or the recommendations, and that is reprisals. As we heard from a lot of the witnesses, either they reported and there were reprisals to their careers, or they didn't report because they feared reprisals by reporting.
In the administrative directive or the code of conduct, I'm not sure if there are strong enough condemnations of inappropriate reprisals, particularly in sexual misconduct, but it could be for anything. That is an example of what I think should be looked at more and should have a lot more than a two-minute discussion, because obviously it is one of the major flaws in the system and we should take more time on recommendations and the paragraphs of the report.
The last thing I would like to do is just throw this out. I just thought about this five minutes ago, but having seen the motion and having thought of a way forward that people might think about, I'm not looking for a quick answer or anything. I'm just thinking as I go and letting people think about this: What if we were to go through the paragraphs and recommendations quickly and agree by unanimous consent which ones could be dealt with in the way Mr. Bezan is proposing, with two minutes per member for discussing them? I think that would deal with....
It's hard to say, but my thought is that a lot of the report could be dealt with really quickly that way, in the way Mr. Bezan says, on particular paragraphs and recommendations that we all agree will be dealt with in that two-minute debate per paragraph and per recommendation. Because obviously the recommendations and paragraphs have evolved from what the witnesses said, they can't be so inaccurate that we wouldn't come to an agreement on a lot of them. Then, for those few where we couldn't agree unanimously that they be dealt with in that process, we would go back to them and deal with them in the regular process for clauses and recommendations.
I'm just throwing that out as an idea for people to think about. I'll turn it over to the next speaker.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-04 14:12
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I, too, was quite moved by Ms. Vandenbeld's stories. It reminds me of what an honourable career the military is for Canadians—what they have done and what they aspire to do. We should be working to make sure that it remains an honourable career, but safe at the same time.
As I've often done at these meetings, I have to compliment Mr. Baker for bringing us back to the central focus that we should be discussing.
I know all members of the committee want to improve the armed forces. As we're debating bringing in new material that's important for the report, including information from survivors and experts, I'm sure all committee members are thinking about what recommendations should deal with these complex problems.
As I've said—and Mr. Baker said at the beginning of most meetings—the three fundamental problems are: culture change; fear of reporting, partly because of the role of the chain of command; and fear of reprisals for reporting. I talked about the latter at the last meeting. If you've picked such an honourable career, why would you want a reprisal to affect you in that career?
I compliment everyone who his going to speak today. There have been very courageous women in Quebec and the rest of Canada who brought forward these stories. Mr. Baker mentioned one of them. I compliment every committee member today who will speak about how we can deal with these complex issues, the problems that have resulted in thousands of misappropriate actions in the military, and dealing with the three items that I just mentioned.
Later on, I will go through my position on those recommendations that I believe would help with these very complex and serious problems, As I mentioned, obviously, the present members and potential future members of the military, and sometimes DND, really want these issues addressed, as well as solutions that will deal with the thousands of people involved in the military and DND.
I will talk about those recommendations later. My intervention will be short, and I'll save my other information for later.
We've had many experts and editions to help us formulate those recommendations. I'm only going to read a paragraph here, but it's from a report entitled “Unmaking militarized masculinity”. It's a long report, well over 10 fine print pages, which I'm not going to read at this time. I'm going to read the abstract, so that people at least have a reference to it as they think about what recommendations we should make.
It's written by Sarah Bulmer of the University of Exeter at Penryn, UK., and Maya Eichler from the Department of Politics and the Canada research chair in social innovation and community engagement at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The abstract begins:
Feminist scholarship on war and militarization has typically focussed on the making of militarized masculinity. However, in this article, we shed light on the process of ‘unmaking’ militarized masculinity through the experiences of veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. We argue that in the twenty-first century, veterans’ successful reintegration into civilian society is integral to the legitimacy of armed force in Western polities and is therefore a central concern of policymakers, third-sector service providers, and the media. But militarized masculinity is not easily unmade. We argue that in the twenty-first century, veterans' successful reintegration into civilian society is integral to the legitimacy of armed force in Western polities and is therefore a central concern of policymakers, third-sector service providers, and the media. But the militarized masculinity is not easily unmade.
I think everyone on the committee would agree with that.
The abstract continues:
They may have an ambivalent relationship with the state and the military. Furthermore, militarized masculinity is embodied and experienced, and has a long and contradictory afterlife in veterans themselves. Attempts to unmake militarized masculinity in the figure of the veteran challenge some of the key concepts currently employed by feminist scholars of war and militarization. In practice, embodied veteran identities refuse a totalizing conception of what militarized masculinity might be, and demonstrate the limits of efforts to exceptionalize the military, as opposed to the civilian, aspects of veteran identity. In turn, the very liminality of this 'unmaking' troubles and undoes neat categorizations of military/civilian and their implied masculine/feminine gendering. We suggest that an excessive focus on the making of militarized masculinity has limited our capacity to engage with dynamic, co-constitutive, and contradictory processes which shape veterans' post-military lives.
I won't get into the rest of that report at this time.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-04 14:20
What I want to do before going into a lengthy paper or, as I said, going into all the recommendations I would have is to talk about a way in which we might be able to get some things forward fairly quickly. I'm just thinking off the top of my head.
From the experts and from the victims we've heard from—and I'm looking forward to hearing more from Mr. Baker—obviously the facts are the facts, and the situation is the situation. There are certain things that come up over and over again that obviously should be done, or that have been suggested by the experts and survivors that should be done.
I think that because of our common cause and the common facts that have come up in this way at great length, there should be a number of things that we can all agree on. What reports reflect is what the witnesses said. It's pretty hard to disagree with that in the reports.
Recommendations evolve from what the witnesses and the experts have told us. We should be able to come to an agreement on a lot of that.
I'm just thinking off the top of my head, and I'm looking forward to hearing what other people think of this idea. I'm not sure exactly how to word it yet. If we were to go through recommendations very quickly, one at a time, and just have a vote as to whether they could be dealt with in the way Mr. Bezan has proposed, if there was unanimous consent on each particular motion, on those motions—and I personally think there should be a lot of them that we could all agree on—then we would deal with them in the way that Mr. Bezan has outlined in his motion.
Then we would get through all of those things relatively quickly and have things to show, and then on the difficult ones that we can't all agree to have a quick decision on, we could go into debate.
My assumption—and I might be wrong—is that there are a lot of things we can agree on, but there are obviously, as there always are in committees, a number of items that need some more detailed debate.
I will just leave that idea, that proposal, to go quickly through all of the recommendations, find out what we could unanimously agree on, go through Mr. Bezan's proposal of a couple of minutes per committee member, and take care of those recommendations. Then for what's left, what we couldn't agree on and deal with quickly, we would debate at length.
In that way, we would have some production, some answers for the victims, relatively quickly, and then we would have other things that we would be debating at length.
I'll just leave that suggestion. That's one of the reasons I didn't want to go into all of my suggestions and recommendations or a lengthy report right now. I want to make possible that way for everyone to move forward together to help the victims. I'll leave it at that.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-04 15:10
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just want to thank some of the members, now that these meetings have been extended, for the tremendous amount of additional information they've provided. Mr. Spengemann, for instance, provided information from other cases where these studies have been done.
In response to Mr. Baker's question as to what we will have achieved, we now have a tremendous record of data and information that those working on this, including Madam Arbour in the future, can use to come up with actions and recommendations that still need to be done at that time. Certainly if this committee can't come up with some recommendations, I will be inputting my recommendations, and we certainly have a lot of backup from experts and survivors to make those from.
Before I get on to my input on what I think the recommendations should be, if this is the only chance I get to do that, I did want to say that Mr. Garrison made a good point. I think it would be fair for committee members to know how long the opposition is going to debate this inappropriate motion, when they could adjourn the debate or the meeting so that we could either get on with the report or get on with other important business. It would be good for committee members to know when the opposition plans to bringing back unreasonable motions related to, for instance....
We had one email that was reported within 24 hours. No one knows what's in it because the member didn't want that, and the report and the investigation was done and completed very quickly. Why would we have motions to bring back witnesses whom we've already heard from for up to six hours, etc.? It would be fair for the committee to know when the opposition members are going to stop bringing forward these things and causing these delays and stopping us from getting to the report.
Also, the committee members, before they move on, would obviously have to know why the opposition members are suggesting no response from the government. My understanding of what committees do is that they investigate with expert witnesses and study a topic and make recommendations for the government to act on. Why do the three opposition parties not want the government to act? Why do they not want a response to the report? It would be good to hear that. Obviously, we have to hear that before we can go on to Mr. Garrison's request.
Also, the response, as Mr. Baker said, to my idea, if I didn't make it clear enough, is a compromise from this apparent stalemate that's stopping us from getting to the report. The compromise would be that we could start right away on the items we agree on or go through every recommendation to see which ones we can agree to go through the Bezan procedure on, with a couple of minutes on each, so we would have some things we could tell the victims. As Yvan said, we could be proud we had items to move forward on. Then we would go back, and the things we couldn't agree on the committee could have the normal debate on those.
Of course, as Ms. Vandenbeld mentioned, we also have this whole Fish report, with a lot of valuable information we can get into. If we can't get into it through a reasonable route through the committee, then we would have to bring that into this debate.
Just to give time for the opposition parties to think about my compromise and to make some comments on that and on why there's no response from the government, I will, as I said earlier today, go on with some of the things that I think should be in the report if this is the only time I get to say them.
First, I would assume that all members from all parties would really want to have their input into the recommendations, but not necessarily under the conditions of this motion. One of the items would be, because there are suggestions that the effects, the results, of investigations depend on.... Before I get into that, I just wanted to say, also related to some of the points Mr. Garrison made, that he seems to have a slightly different view from the views of other committee members on the emphasis on a particular part of our report being on political accountability. If that's true.... That's fine. That's his view. But if that's true, then, of course, as we all know, since we started our reports, there have been at least three detailed inputs—and one was very recent—of evidence suggesting that the political accountability is at the time of the appointment of General Vance.... There is a recent one of, let's say, June 1. I'm not sure if Mr. Garrison has seen that, but I could read it into the record. I won't right now because I want to stay on the important things of culture change, the fear of reporting and the chain of command.
Really, if anyone wants to deal with the political accountability, that's obviously, from the facts that have come out very recently, where it would be at, but I want to stay on the things that would help the survivors. As I said, there has been input suggesting that the effect of investigations or reprisals or sexual misconduct is different between genders and ranks—junior and senior—so I think that data should be disaggregated, collected and analyzed as much as possible to help our decision-making or our recommendations or Madam Arbour's recommendations. I will certainly pass that on if I can't do it through the committee.
Another item would be that we want to make sure that the recommendations or the procedures we come up with are really ensuring that the wants and needs of those impacted by sexual misconduct and other forms of non-inclusion—the minister has been very strong on those other forms of non-inclusion—should be the guiding principle for research, policy and program services and benefits. There have been some suggestions.... I can't remember which report it was in now, but the administrative directives, I think it was suggested, were not centred around the survivors and around those victims. They were more centred around protecting the system. That's why I think a recommendation along those lines would be valuable.
I also think, of course, that to help Madam Arbour the CAF needs to do a strategic review of the existing processes, including oversight from the beginning to the end, with a trauma-informed, survivor-centric-informed lens, similar to the first item I talked about.
Also, I think there needs to be, in our recommendations or in our report, the trauma awareness. Some of that has come out through what Mr. Baker said today, but also from the many other victims who we've heard and who have come to us either individually or through the committee, or who you've heard even in the media and, from that, we have to respect that trauma affects the dignity of the impacted individual and that trauma is not short term.
It's not dealing with something where there's a penalty to the perpetrator and it's all over. This type of trauma will be in a person's mind quite often for the rest of their lives. Somehow that needs to be reflected in the report, as the witnesses have said, and the seriousness of the recommendations we make need to deal with that point.
I also think we need to recognize that, although the majority of times it affects women, as we heard from at least one witness, it's not just women who have been victims of this type of trauma.
I also want to talk about the support systems. As I said before, I'm a little hesitant to talk at length about support. I think we should concentrate more on eliminating the problem so that we don't have to have the support. Obviously when you have—as Mr. Garrison and I outlined in detail—hundreds of cases, we'll still need support, and we'll need support for situations that went on long before we studied this situation, because they can be long lasting.
Part of that support that the victims have asked for is a peer support network, which exists in other places. It should be tailor-made for the military under the special circumstances—and I know that military members of the committee would understand this—so that there can be a support network for a victim to discuss with other victims how to move forward.
Also, I think the seriousness of these types of injuries should really be defined as a full operational stress injury and identified as such within the scope of the federal framework on PTSD. I think that would give it more.... It would put it in a more serious light, where it should be.
Another area where I think we need a recommendation is on the attributes of an ideal soldier. It should be modernized to reflect the realities of the 21st century military needs, including an examination of the CAF's presently dominant heteronormative, white European background, assumed masculine culture. The values and attributes of the ideal soldier and the impact this norm has on sexual misconduct reporting must be critically examined.
Another area that we heard numerous times was related to the requirements or the things that help lead to promotions: what's considered, what would be considered, how that should be updated, the rewards of taking the appropriate actions and not taking inappropriate actions. All of these need to be discussed. I don't think any member of the committee thinks there shouldn't be a serious discussion on this type of issue.
I have a whole bunch more, but I think I will save them...except for one that I mentioned before.
I think it will take a more lengthy debate by committee members, because it hasn't been really talked about by members other than me. How do reprisals fit into the system, in either the code of conduct or in offences, even?
Obviously, reprisals—whether overt or not overt—have occurred in the past, but where is it listed that that's inappropriate, that it's an offence, that there's a result of having that offence on your record? I think if that were prohibited, it would certainly help many more victims come forward with the reports, as the recent report—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-07 11:05
Thank you.
Just to recap where we are, we've been about 58 hours and 49 minutes on this very important topic. We found out about systemic, inappropriate sexual conduct in the Canadian military. We've had many, many witnesses and heard sad testimony from survivors. This has been going on for decades upon decades, and we certainly need very complex and important action to try to turn the tide of this.
The major items we heard from the experts and from survivors were on culture change, which I'm sure we'll be hearing more about today, and the fear of reporting, partly because of the order of the chain of command and the fear of reprisals in that, if you do report, it could affect the honourable career that you've chosen.
That's why I hope we can get to the report as soon as possible to deal with all these very serious issues in the military and do what we can as part of helping the survivors.
The department and the minister have already taken action by appointing Madam Louise Arbour, and a number of steps are being taken. In the previous meeting, I went over almost an hour on things that have been done already, but obviously, more needs to be done, and we could certainly be part of that if we could get to a report right away.
I think the purpose of the report would be for the department and the minister to make the changes we're talking about. I don't imagine there's any member of the committee who does not want those changes that we recommend to be made or to be taken seriously, and the government should respond to them.
Somehow that isn't the case in the present motion, so I'm going to propose an amendment that the government has to respond to the things we're suggesting, the things the survivors have suggested and the things the experts have suggested, which could be a very productive report.
We want to make sure—and I'm sure all committee members do—that the government takes action and that the minister takes action on the items that survivors and experts have recommended could help the department move forward so it would be a safe working environment for members of both the CAF and the department.
The amendment I propose is to remove the first part of (b)(iv), which says, “the committee declines to request, pursuant to Standing Order 109, that the government table a comprehensive response...”
I would add “that pursuant to Standing Order 109, the government table a comprehensive response to the report”.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-07 11:17
Just so people know, I'm amending subparagraph (b)(ii) of Mr. Bezan's motion to ask that the government provide a response to our report.
Just before I do that, I want to remind people that at the last meeting I threw out a suggestion of how we could proceed with the things we agreed on and leave the difficult things and then do them after. I haven't heard any objections to that from the opposition, but I'll leave that out there.
Related to my amendment, we want to make change. We're serious about making change. This is really a good point at which the committee could actually have influence and we could make that change.
We have a minister who, time and time again, has said that everything is on the table, that he wants to make the changes, that he wants to hear from us what those changes should be. We have an acting chief of the defence staff who has said he's very willing and eager to make changes and even agrees to take “outside” advice and do things outside the military chain of command.
These are dramatic, huge types of changes that will be required if we're really going to have an effect on what's been a sticking problem, not only in our military but in other militaries, as Mr. Spengemann has outlined in good detail.
Any problem like this requires complex and very thoughtful recommendations, which I hope we can get to soon, but change is major and, as everyone who has been around here long enough knows, change is difficult. It's not in human nature or organizational nature to make changes.
We would want the department and the government to offer a response to any recommendations we make. The whole purpose of our doing a report is that there would be changes. I don't think any members of the committee would not want changes or would want the minister and the government not to respond to our suggestions for these changes in terms of what they are going to incorporate out of what we're recommending.
It's sort of standard procedure when committees do reports to ask the government to respond to show that it is taking our recommendations seriously and is making changes that can really make life better for members of the military and make it a better option for people to choose. They should be able to choose that honourable career without fear of inappropriate sexual conduct, and all members should be able to carry on equally in one of the most honoured professions available to Canadians, one that is so essential to preserving our security.
I will leave it at that.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-07 12:41
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I think we're still waiting for the opposition to respond on a couple of items. It would be only fair to hear from them before we were to vote on them.
One is the proposal I made last week, to get to the report. As Mr. Spengemann just said, it's so important to get to the report and stop this stalling with inappropriate motions by Mr. Bezan.
The proposal I had made was that we use Mr. Bezan's process to go through all the recommendations and see which ones we could unanimously agree to, which we will use Mr. Bezan's process on and get those done. They would be done relatively quickly. We would have a substantive report that would help the survivors, that would give the defence department and the minister direction, and, if my amendment passes, they would have to respond to that.
Then, we would continue and deal with those items that, as in any committee, we're not fully in agreement on and have those hard discussions. I haven't heard any negative feedback from the opposition on that proposal, but we'll wait to see what their thoughts are on getting to the report right away.
The other item that we're waiting to hear from the NDP and the Bloc on is this amendment. It's as if they think that the government shouldn't respond. We don't know that, and I think it would be unfair to go to a vote.
I have to apologize for making this motion without their knowing in advance. If we have to wait until the next meeting for them to think it out, that's fine. I understand that.
A government agenda is tremendously complicated. No matter who's in government, there are all sorts of things lined up to get on the order table, to get done by committees. I think Madam Vandenbeld earlier today explained all the things related to the defence of Canada that are waiting in line on our committee. This is the one time when we have the leadership at CAF and the leadership in the minister's office.... We have a slot in time where we could actually make a difference.
Through my previous suggestion, or another way, and through this amendment, hopefully we could get to a report right away. The opposition could stop making that not possible. We could go to the report right away and come up with some substantive things to help survivors and make the department a much better place to work.
I, too, have to respond to what Mr. Bezan said. First of all, the purpose of Standing Order 109 is to give the government time. As many members have mentioned, and I've certainly mentioned, these are serious, very in-depth, complicated recommendations in which any government that's thoughtful would take the time to go over, analyze and come up with a response—not in a few minutes after a surprise concurrence motion is called.
I think it's very important to ask the government to think out and make a response so that we know, and that the survivors know that what they've said, and what the government is responding, shows they're being taken seriously.
I agree with Mr. Spengemann. I thought it was shameful that Mr. Bezan suggested that hearing the witness statements was not the most important item, that it was not critical. Obviously, we have a difference of philosophies here. What's to be emphasized in this report, or what's the most important part, from my perspective, and I think from some of my colleagues', is the survivors and the experts providing suggestions as to how we deal with the systemic problem that's affecting thousands of members of the CAF.
Mr. Bezan seems to think the emphasis should be on the problem with General Vance. The problem with Mr. Bezan's.... That's his right. He wants to concentrate on General Vance's problems, but what he hasn't done is admitted that what the evidence has shown is that the most serious problem with Mr. Vance was at his appointment.
We found out that there were two serious.... First of all, before that, in 2018, there was an anonymous email. The person didn't want to be identified, so nothing could come out of it. It was investigated within 24 hours as much as it could have been. The information was kept confidential, as the member of the CAF wanted, so that was totally taken care of.
There were many witnesses called about that anonymous email, which they couldn't say anything about or didn't know what was in it. We spent all that time on that in many meetings. I believe the survivors would really not think we were taking the survivors' situations and the situation in the military seriously if—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-11 13:08
Thank you, Madam Chair.
At the last meeting we heard a shocking revelation that had just come in that committee meeting, and it was that a member of our committee, during this study that we're doing on sexual misconduct in the military, did not think the committee should be hearing testimony that had been given by victims.
To not hear testimony given by victims, that's incomprehensible.
I'm sure there are other committee members who were just as shocked as I was about not reviewing testimony given by witnesses. What could be more important on this study? I could just imagine what some victims might be feeling when their testimony was being read at committee, and a committee member said, that's not what we should be discussing. It was just not any committee member; it was a senior member.
I think that really provides a stark divide between committee members.
As I have said so many times, and I believe there are other members who feel the same way, we should be taking the testimony of victims and experts and recommending solutions. Not reviewing and using the testimony of victims in designing a report is incomprehensible.
I wonder what brave victims who came forward think when they are told we shouldn't be using their testimony and we should spend weeks upon weeks of our time on an anonymous email that no one was allowed to see, while actually we have real victims—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-11 13:11
Thank you.
The member's just emphasizing the point of our not using that testimony—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-11 13:11
We actually have real live victims who had the courage to tell their stories.
Regarding the email we're talking about, its existence was referred to investigators in 24 hours and dealt with, but no, we have to call witness after witness to discuss this anonymous email, which no one knew what was in it, and hear the testimony of witnesses, and we must call back witnesses who have already appeared for three to six hours to talk about that email. What are we doing as a committee?
There was a debate in the House on Wednesday night on GBA+. Frankly, I was proud of a number of the members from different parties who spoke constructively. Fortunately, the member from our committee who just spoke, who does not think evidence put on the record by victims should be considered, was not supported by speeches of the members in the House.
The Conservative member for Calgary Skyview talked about survivors. I'll just quote some of the things she said.
She said, “When that individual made an appearance before the committee, she mentioned how”, and went on to talk about what she heard. She also said, “We heard from another witness who had reported an incident”, and she went on to describe it.
She said:
So many witnesses, women in particular, came forward to our committee to express this lack of confidence.... We even had a witness who gave a very interesting perspective on the double standards that the military justice system has towards women and men.
The Conservative member went on:
This witness discussed how, when she was deployed in Afghanistan, an investigation had been conducted into a consensual relationship she had had with a U.S. officer, who was not in her unit but of the same rank. She admitted that the relationship was against the regulations, and she pleaded guilty to the charges. She was fined, repatriated from the theatre and posted out of her unit. She accepted this as her punishment.
However, as a result, she was called demeaning names and was told that she was not worthy of leading soldiers. She said that she was also threatened with violence by a commanding officer and was repeatedly chastised by other officers. She was sent to work alone in an office managing a single Excel spreadsheet, and it quickly became very clear...that her career in the Canadian Armed Forces was over. When she left the military, she had originally been given an offer to go into the reserves, but that was revoked when the commanding officer told her that she was not the type of leader he wanted in his unit.
She said the biggest failure in her life were the actions for which she was pushed out of the armoured corps, and for that she continues to carry immense shame.
Obviously that Conservative member thinks testimony of witnesses is very important.
Two days ago Wednesday night, the NDP member Ms. Mathyssen referred to the testimony at the status of women committee.
She said Lieutenant-Colonel Eleanor Taylor said, “Throughout my career, I have observed insidious and inappropriate use of power for sexual exploitation.”
She said Christine Wood said, “I feel like women have never had a level playing field in the [armed] forces”.
Ms. Mathyssen also talked about the culture as what we need to address with recommendations. That's exactly what the Liberals for the last few weeks have been saying at this committee, giving evidence and information related to the culture.
The Conservative member from Calgary Midnapore also referred to evidence from the victims, witnesses at the status of women committee.
Therefore, there was much reference to witnesses, and as I said, some very constructive discussion.
In fairness to Mr. Bezan, there is a part of our study on sexual misconduct in the military that refers to General Vance. Given that there are thousands of incidents, victims and perpetrators, my emphasis would not be on that one anonymous email that no one knows what was in, but that's Mr. Bezan's choice, which he's entitled to.
If he wants to concentrate on General Vance, and as I've said, I don't want to, then he has to be honest about the facts and evidence that have been revealed recently, where it is shown that the major issue related to General Vance was his appointment in 2015. I can understand how that would be difficult for him, but the facts are facts. I won't go into the details on all those facts right now, but just give a summary.
At the time of the appointment, Mr. O'Toole passed on, through his staff, I believe, a rumour to PM Harper's chief of staff related to General Vance's alleged conduct at NATO in Naples.
In tribute to Mr. Garrison, actually, I think he asked some of the best questions of Mr. Novak. I'm not sure if he got all the answers he wanted, but that was just the tip of the iceberg as seen from the information that's come out since.
There was a hurried investigation, which was concluded the day General Vance took over command. Apparently, an access to information request, which I assume came from the press, said they felt under pressure to complete the investigation. I'm not sure what led to that pressure, but depending on what it was, it might have been a very serious offence.
Then there was a second rumour about inappropriate action at Gagetown. Apparently, the request was put forward to the national security adviser to investigate. I think it was that one. He neither remembers the request nor certainly did he do an investigation. There's obviously a lot more to be seen here in 2015 than an anonymous email in 2018 that no one could see, and its existence was reported within 24 hours and acted on as far as possible.
If any committee member, rather than listening to the testimony that had been recorded by victims and experts in efforts to come up with solutions for them to help the victims improve the military, would rather deal with General Vance, then the facts show that the most serious questions about who, where, why and when are at the Conservative appointment of General Vance. With these rumours and unaccomplished, incomplete investigations, why was he appointed?
Two nights ago, on Wednesday night, during the debate in the House, the Bloc member raised this issue of the Conservative appointment. I will read from Hansard:
Members should recall that the Conservatives had already caught wind of allegations against General Vance. However, they still appointed him as chief of the defence staff even though the Canadian Armed Forces had just been roundly criticized for their management of sexual misconduct cases and pervasive sexist culture.
Certainly, there is enough evidence that I've already outlined that any further discussions regarding General Vance should be concentrated on his appointment in 2015 in spite of uninvestigated rumours at the time. For any committee member who still wishes to concentrate on General Vance, on June 1, the Ottawa Citizen reported on their uncovering even more related to General Vance's appointment. Let me quote some of that:
Military police investigating allegations of an inappropriate relationship by Gen. Jon Vance in 2015 never interviewed the senior officer, but did consult the satirical Frank magazine for information.
The police investigation was hurriedly done just weeks before Vance was to take on the top military job as chief of the defence staff.
It was hurriedly done. Is that a good way to start an appointment?
The article continues:
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service probe took just four weeks to wrap up, concluding there was no “physical evidence” Vance had a relationship contrary to military regulations, according to documents obtained by this newspaper.
Vance was never interviewed for the investigation and police relied on a statement he provided a year earlier on the same allegation. In addition, a formal investigation plan was never created by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service for the 2015 probe, according to the records.
A formal investigation plan was never created, although a member of this committee has said that the appropriate investigation was done.
The article continues:
The investigation service, also known as the CFNIS, was called in after Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross received an anonymous email on June 10, 2015, claiming Vance was involved in sexual misconduct while he was posted to NATO as deputy commander allied joint force command in Naples. The claim centred around Vance’s 2014 relationship with a subordinate U.S. female officer, whom he eventually married.
The CFNIS was to determine if Vance followed military directives governing personal and romantic relationships between personnel.
“No direct witnesses were found by any of our sources of information relating to a physical act,” stated the CFNIS investigation, although it did conclude Vance indeed had a personal relationship at the time with the U.S. officer.
The CFNIS tried to contact the anonymous source who claimed they could provide names of military staff who knew about Vance's relationship in Naples, but the police received no response.
There are still lots unanswered questions.
Vance in his previous statement denied any wrongdoing.
Investigators also reviewed an April 2015 article in the satirical magazine, Frank, which outlined allegations about Vance during his time in NATO. The article was titled, “Humour in Uniform”....
But police later determined—
Although it didn't have an affect at the time on the Naples headquarters police....
—that, “Given time, this personal relationship would likely have had a detrimental effect.”
Why would you appoint someone under those conditions?
In addition, the investigation examined concerns about Vance's statement to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Lt.Gen. Guy Thibault. Vance had claimed he had no command relationship with the U.S. officer. “Though the statement by LGen Vance was technically correct, there would also likely have been times that LGen Vance was in Comd of (the U.S. officer)....
Several months before the CFNIS probe, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised the issue of the relationship in Naples when he met with Vance. At the time, Harper was considering the general for the...job.
Later, the Conservative government raised concerns about a rumour circulating that Vance, while at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate....
In early 2001, the CFNIS launched a new investigation after Maj. Kellie Brennan told Global News she had a long-term relationship with Vance that started at CFB Gagetown and continued in Toronto in 2006—
This was nine years before the Conservatives appointed him.
—when the general was her superior officer. Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from this newspaper....
It's obvious that, for anyone who wants to study anything more about General Vance, it is about his appointment in 2015. We can continue to debate the totally unreasonable and inappropriate motion before us, or we can withdraw the motion to simply get on to learning from victims and witnesses and discussing, without unreasonable time limits, recommendations that we can all agree on to improve the lives of the brave men and women in the Canadian military.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-11 14:10
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Obviously, we're at an impasse that stops us getting forward with recommendations that can help the military and help the survivors, because at the moment, the opposition refuses to withdraw a motion that would lead to an unreasonable report.
I proposed a possible way forward. I haven't put in an amendment yet, but it was a compromise where we could get some recommendations to help the military and to help the future men and women who want to go into the military and so that the survivors have been heard. My solution was roughly that we go through all recommendations from all parties, see which ones we could unanimously agree to use Mr. Bezan's process on, get those recommendations forward and then deal with the more difficult ones at the end.
I haven't heard any objections from the opposition parties, so I assume they're still discussing it. The committee will have to wait until we see a response before we can go forward.
What I really want to do today, because the particular motion doesn't allow us to debate recommendations—other than the two minutes which, as the previous speaker mentioned, is totally inappropriate for a number of very serious recommendations—I want to propose some major recommendations today, and then those members who are interested can help me word them, reword them or object to them, and we could have a debate on each of those, but that will have to wait.
Before doing that, I want to, as I've said earlier today and before, time and time again, and the previous speaker just mentioned it as well.... The serious recommendations we make should be based upon what the witnesses told us and what the experts have told us. The recommendations I will come up with for our discussions at subsequent meetings are based on the testimony of those experts and witnesses, which is what all committees do. They hear witnesses, and then that's what's in the report, what the witnesses said and what is recommended.
I just want to go into some of that expert witness testimony from elsewhere, because it leads to some of the recommendations that I am going to make later on.
Ms. Lalonde said:
I can tell you that the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder worldwide is among victims of rape and sexual violence. The second-highest rate is in the military. We urgently need to take this seriously.Trauma shouldn't be organized into a hierarchy. When their trauma isn't considered equivalent to the trauma caused by war, victims of sexual violence don't receive the support that they deserve. That's unacceptable.
Later on I'll be making a recommendation related to our report, related exactly to that, that this type of trauma has to be treated equally with other types of trauma.
There was another question: “How important is it that this is a constantly evolving way of finding solutions? ... How important is it that this is a constantly evolving process? ”
Dr. Okros said:
First of all, I definitely agree that it is important, and I definitely agree on the evolving. One of the challenges of Operation Honour was that there was an end state. There is no end state to the way in which Canadian society has continued to evolve and, therefore, to how the Canadian Armed Forces has to continually evolve. I think these will be valuable and required processes going forward.
The other comment I would make is that, while there are efforts to reach out, again, we need to understand the consequences of military sexual trauma. We need to understand that there are still individuals who are not able or willing or in a position to come forward and speak. I think part of this needs to be reaching out to the organizations and to the colleagues they are willing to talk to, in order to have individuals bring their voices forward.
We've heard before in some other testimony from high-ranking military members that there are more stories to come, and that they just haven't been able under the circumstances to bring them forward. That's the type of recommendation we should be looking at, how it can be appropriate and easy for them to bring it forward and not have reprisals.
I'm just going on with the quote.
The last quick comment I will make is that we need to be very careful about people speaking for others. I cannot speak for members of the armed forces, and I definitely cannot speak for women. I think we have concerns when people choose to speak for other groups.
That's why it's very important that we hear the direct testimony of victims and people who are involved on the ground who can outline the horrific situations they've been in. I still think over and over again that if that happened to me, I have no idea how I would handle that. People cannot denigrate the gravity of those instances over a lifetime.
Then it went on to talk about power imbalance. The question was, “In what way do we need to address [that]...in order to be able to get to the point where we're preventing all of this kind of behaviour in the first place?” To the quote I gave earlier from the debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday night, I mentioned a quote related to that earlier in this meeting. I mentioned a quote related to power imbalance. Dr. Okros said:
This is part of self-insight and self-understanding. I think the more we can do to facilitate people.... I will say that I'm the best representative on the screen. Old white men like me in particular need to really open up our eyes and start learning. We also need to look at customs and practices that reinforce these things. A simple example is visible in this committee.
That was the committee he was speaking to.
The speaking order and length of time for questions signal a power hierarchy. We need to be thinking about what message is sent. Who is the least important person on this screen right now? What are the ways in which we can level or address those or make sure that those who perceive they're the least important are still empowered to speak up and speak out?
It's complex. All organizations, all institutions, practice it. It requires open communications. The most critical thing I would go back to is that it needs those who have the weakest voice to be able to be heard the most.
I'm sure, as you know from testimony we've heard, that it's simply not the case at the moment. She gave us all food for thought and no easy solutions. I don't know what all of the solutions are. That's why we need to debate more than two minutes very serious recommendations and try to come to the best conclusions on those recommendations.
On the urgency of taking action now, Dr. Okros said:
This is urgent. We have people who are still hurting. We have members internally within the military. It's been stated. They have lost trust. That needs to be rebuilt with urgency. Canadians need to have confidence in their military. They need to have confidence that when particularly young women, young men and people of diverse identities choose to serve Canada in uniform, they will be treated with respect and have good, full, meaningful careers. That needs to be something that is communicated effectively.
Christine Wood went on after that, on getting to action:
I can tell you things that you have heard before. Victims need supports. There are more and more coming forward and there is still no safety net there to catch them. These individuals are not coming forward to report a simple discrepancy that they saw in paperwork. They are coming forward with their experiences of terror, debilitating anxiety and shredded self-confidence. They are broken. It is simply unethical to continue to ask them to come forward without having a plan in place to support them.
To be clear, we are asking for the same supports that we were asking for four years ago: a national platform for online peer support, group therapy, outpatient therapy and in-patient psychiatric care when necessary that is MST-specific in its focus. It needs to be trauma informed and needs to be able to address the moral injury of betrayal by your brothers and sisters in uniform.
That's why in my recommendation I said I will be bringing it forward later for extensive debate. We have to talk about that peer support that has been recommended there.
If the committee brings forward some recommendations, it will help survivors. If the opposition lets us get by this impasse, if we can bring forward recommendations, people will want to have confidence that they will be implemented. That's why my amendment to the motion is that we should have a reply that the government is going to be implementing them.
There was a suggestion that there's a loss of trust and that it needs to be overcome. Obviously, there are certain senior leaders in the military presently under investigation and we'll let that run its course.
In reference to the minister, I know Mr. Bezan has been criticized a lot today, but this is not something he brought up; it was another committee member. If the committee members are interested in progress, when has there been a minister who is so open to the progress? As I mentioned, if there are media watching who weren't at all the previous committee meetings, I spoke for close to an hour about the things that have been done by this government and under this minister. That's a good record that people can go to in case someone says that things have not been done.
Obviously, the minister is the first to admit, as the committee and the number of incidents that Mr. Garrison and I have outlined show, there's a lot more that needs to be done. These are the things that we should be discussing.
To assure you that the government is open to respond, if there are some suggestions that there's no response because they won't, as Mr. Baker said earlier today, out of the three big items that really need recommendations, the first is culture change.
To show you that the minister is open to culture change, as he said, anything is on the table. He's just waiting for us to move ahead as a committee and make recommendations. He's not actually waiting. Because we're stalled, he has gone ahead and made some major appointments, including Madam Arbour. With or without us, he's moving ahead, and we will certainly get our recommendations to him. I will, one way or another.
However, just to show you that he's open, I'm going to quote him for anyone who suggests that there's a lack of openness from the minister to listening to our recommendations for change. As everyone knows, change is often difficult.
We could spend a whole committee on the quotes of how he's willing to look at what we're proposing, what victims are proposing and what experts are proposing to try to deal with a difficult situation that plagues not only our military, but militaries around the world. Of course, culture is important, because you can't blame individual members totally if they're in a culture where that's acceptable. We're social animals, so we have to improve that culture.
To show that the minister is open to change, I'll just go through some comments he made. He said in the other committee:
Culture change is something we're all committed to. I believe that in the committee here, there are some wonderful recommendations that can be provided, but also a need to look at changes that need to be made. We need to make sure we just don't look at a report, look at a recommendation, sign off, and think it's done.
That's very insightful by the minister. I've mentioned at earlier meetings that not only was there roughly an hour of things I outlined that have been done, including an update of an administrative procedure that I thought was much better than the previous one, but obviously, as the minister has just said in what I quoted, they're not all working. You can't just make the recommendation. You must have the appropriate follow-up.
He went on:
For example, I can list off a whole bunch of things, but ultimately I'm always looking at what results we are creating on the ground.When somebody is joining, are they in basic training and having a safe environment?
Again, that's very perceptive, because as was mentioned before, there was an incident in basic training. A recommendation was that this needed to be incorporated, related to sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour, yet the trainer was besieged by laughs and ridicule by the people taking the training because that was the particular culture. Therefore, it can't just be the recommendation. As the minister says, there has to be the follow-up.
On creating a safe environment, I'm quoting the minister again:
If something comes up, whether it's a religious conversation, a gender issue, LGBTQ rights, or anything, we should immediately address it, because the Employment Equity Act states that we must. Do we have the right action groups? Do they have the right governance structure? This is what the independent panel on systemic racism, gender bias and LGBTQ rights is currently doing: looking at where those issues are, digging deep inside the Canadian Armed Forces and looking at what changes are needed.
Again, as you can see, the minister is open to change and already has taken significant action. That's the type of champion we need to bring our recommendations forward.
The minister went on:
I talked about the numbers, and right now, those aren't the metrics we want to judge ourselves by, but you know what? That's progress. It's not success. Going from six to 14 general officers is important, but the pipeline—when you look below that and when you create a greater pipeline—can never be stopped. Why was it, with regard to the representation of women, that the percentages were obviously nothing to be proud of? If it was 15% women in the past, why didn't we have 15% women before? One of my goals was to immediately start making those changes, so when somebody had a complaint, they could come forward, regardless of retribution. When I sign off on any general officers, I don't look at what their ability to command is; I trust they can do that. The question I ask is, “Are these persons leaders who can bring in cultural change?” If they are not, we don't want them being promoted, but if they are, we want to give them proper resources to do so.
Again, the minister is almost ahead of us here in making these suggested changes, because that would be one of the recommendations that I've referred to as needed and that I think the parliamentary secretary has referred to: what is taken into consideration during promotion. Obviously it has to be looked at in our recommendations and in our systems.
The minister went on:
We also need to make sure we have senior women at the table, so that we have proper representation. This is not the be-all and end-all, but it does make sure that we have the right people to put the right structures in place. We need to look at how the independent investigations are conducted.
Of course, I mentioned a potential question about that earlier, related to General Vance's appointment; and survivors have brought up the second big issue, which I'm not going to address right now, but that's the chain of command involvement related to investigations.
The minister went on:
We need to take a look at whether we have the right resources in place, so that people are supported.
In the testimony of the experts that I just read a few minutes ago, that was one of the points they raised as well, and the minister is right on that:
The one question I have...is, if somebody has done something in the past, would it be acceptable for them to join the Canadian Armed Forces? If somebody does something inside the Canadian Armed Forces, why can't we get them out sooner?
The minister is already looking at all these questions and he is obviously moving forward and looking at very important considerations. However, we could add to that. We've spent a lot of time studying and hearing experts and witnesses, and we could actually add to that if people would co-operate and come together on the things that we can at least agree on. Obviously, there are some things we won't agree on.
The minister went on:
Those also have to go through proper legal checks and balances, because ultimately I can't make a decision on that. That's the law. We have to follow the law, and if changes need to be made, we go through the parliamentary process to get those laws changed, so that we can create the proper changes. Ultimately, all of us—including this committee, and I look forward to your recommendations—need to be able to do the ripple effect of any recommendation to see how it can actually have that impact.Too often in the past, what we have done and where we made some changes, they actually didn't achieve the outcomes we wanted. When I became minister, that was the last thing I wanted, giving out these speeches. I wanted to be focused on the metrics themselves and the changes we're making.
That, from my perspective, is insightful from the minister. We don't hear often enough that it's the measurement of the outcomes that is important. Certainly we can consider that if we're allowed to have a serious discussion on recommendations.
The minister went on:
We have made progress, and we're proud of that progress, but obviously, this is not enough
As I said earlier, the minister has said that many times.
He continued:
I'm deeply hurt that we couldn't move forward, and I wish we had a magic wand to make all this go away, but we don't. At the same time, I didn't quit before, when I was serving to support the people, and I'm not going to quit now. I'm committed to our Canadian Armed Forces and to ensuring we create an inclusive environment—
You heard earlier in his statement about ways he's already working on that.
—because there are people in Canada right now who want to serve their country. They deserve to have a harassment-free workplace so they can reach their true potential. We're not going to stop until we achieve that, regardless of how long it takes.
You can see that there's no question that the minister and government are not ready to respond; they're ready to take our recommendations seriously. He said previously that everything is on the table.
That's why I have said over and over that we should get to these serious recommendations that would help survivors, based on the testimony we've heard from survivors and the experts. I hope to hear some more of it so that I can refine the recommendations. I want to have a lengthy discussion at this meeting or at subsequent meetings about that.
I will leave it at that for now. Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-14 12:16
I thought Mr. Garrison was before me.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-14 12:16
I want to first of all compliment Mr. Spengemann on his intervention, on the brilliant idea of the suggestions from other militaries that have solved these problems. The fact that the committees and the reports came up with recommendations that were actually implemented makes it much better information for us, to look at recommendations in the time we have available and on a very complex issue. It's always better when someone has tested the water first. I would like to thank Mr. Spengemann for really adding to this committee.
I would also like to thank Mr. Baker for his continued emphasis on the survivors. I think the military can best be improved by listening to their input and showing that we take it seriously. I can't think that any member of the committee would not want us to do that.
Thanks to Mr. Robillard for his motion in the House, and discussion of the history and importance of women in the military, which is fundamental to coming up with recommendations.
I was quite disappointed in Mr. Barsalou-Duval's intervention. I thought that after weeks, as he said, that the Bloc would finally put their attention on the survivors, on the cultural issue, which I'm going to speak to at length later today, on the cultural issues related to the military, and on the fear of reprisals that survivors have.
He raised an important point about the golf game, which is under investigation now. However, he talked about bitter disappointment, weeks and months of filibustering, basically by the opposition presenting motions that were counterproductive, first of all, for going week after week, month after month, since February, calling witnesses on an email that was anonymous. We didn't even know what was in it. We weren't allowed to know what was in it. This is when we have all these major problems and courageous, real-life victims from the military from Quebec and the rest of Canada whose situations we should be discussing, and the major, very complicated problems that we have brought up a number of times.
Then there was a motion that caused the opposition to continue to have effective filibustering, a motion that any member of Parliament who has served on committees would think unreasonable: that you only have two minutes. I mean, a serious issue that a survivor from Quebec brought up and whether it would or wouldn't be included as a recommendation, that a person would only have two minutes for input for or against, or to improve a recommendation on something that would have such a devastating effect on someone's life, is very disappointing.
I was of the hope that the Bloc would be the first party that would come on side to ask for the removal of the unproductive recommendations, so that we could get on with the major issues related to culture, to reprisals, to the issue of the chain of command.
It is really perplexing that the Bloc, the NDP and the Conservatives would not want a government response to help the men and women in the military through the recommendations that we, as a committee, came up with after so long looking at and identifying the major problems.
I don't think anyone in the opposition would disagree that the major problems are the culture, the fear of reprisals, the chain of command. Why have we gone to all this work if the Conservatives, the Bloc and the NDP do not want a response from the government to show the victims that they were actually listened to and to put some moral persuasion on the government to take action on the recommendations we come up with?
I have more to say on that, but I see Mr. Garrison wants to speak, and I don't want to prevent him from having that opportunity. I'm not sure where he is on the list, but I have a lot more to say on the culture and also the lack of ability to move forward because of unproductive motions on the table.
I will stop now so that hopefully Mr. Garrison gets a chance to speak, and then I'll come back with the other much longer interventions that I have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-18 13:20
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to welcome Mr. Kelly, if he's still here. I hope he finds some interesting information today. My comments aren't related to him on my first intervention today because he hasn't been at the committee.
It really perplexes me as to why the NDP, Conservatives and Bloc would not want to help—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-18 13:21
Okay. Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-18 13:21
Thank you.
It's really perplexing to me as to why the NDP, Conservatives and Bloc would not want to help the men and women in the military by having the government respond to the recommendations that we come up with. Why would we have gone to all this work over months if the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc do not want the government to respond to our recommendations and improve the lives of the men and women in the forces and to show the victims that they were listened to? That is the purpose of my amendment.
Yvan Baker and I agree on an item: We came to Parliament to accomplish positive change, to improve Canada. MP Baker asked a very good question in a previous meeting: When we have all retired and we look back at this winter-spring session of Parliament of the defence committee, what then can we say we've accomplished?
Did we agree on many recommendations to help the thousands of victims existing or women existing in the military? No.
Did we do a thoughtful, lengthy debate and give recommendations on the complicated challenges of changing the culture? No.
Did we do a thoughtful, lengthy debate and give recommendations on a second major problem involved, the chain of command? No.
Did we do a lengthy debate and agree on recommendations on the third major problem, the fear of reprisals? No.
Did we help our soldiers around the world survive the terrible COVID pandemic that killed so many? Not yet.
Did we help so many of them afflicted with some...internally tortured with mental health afflictions? Not yet.
Did we help the navy procure needed warships? No.
Did our committee help the air force procure the next generation of needed warplanes? No.
Did we help keep our troops around the world safe? Did we help in Lithuania and Ukraine? No.
Did we address the Russian or Chinese military aggression? No.
Did our committee help make the world safer with our recommendations on peacekeeping? No.
Did we take into serious consideration the hundreds of emails and complaints and the hours of witness testimony or potential testimony to come up with the recommendations? No.
Did we modernize NORAD? No.
I'll tell you what the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc have accomplished. We've had week after week of witness after witness to fully investigate one anonymous email that the person didn't want public, so that no one knows what was in it. At one point, they even suggested recalling witnesses on that email. Since they have caused this endless stalling by refusing to co-operate for the good of the troops and by trying to force a motion through that would only allow two minutes of debate—the motion that we're talking about—on the serious topics related to improvement for our military.... In a subsequent submission, I'll go into how that just doesn't make sense.
In answer to Mr. Baker's question on what did we accomplish, the fact that the opposition parties are stalling week after week with their unreasonable motion doesn't mean that every member of the committee has accomplished nothing. In fact, a good researcher could do a chart on each member in the past few weeks, outlining how many times a member brought up valuable input from victims to the committee and got it on the record so that it could lead to improvements in the military, how many times a member brought on record input from experts that would help us design recommendations to help men and women in the military, how many times a member brought valuable input from other militaries that have found some solutions to the problems we are wrestling with, and how many times each member has raised constructive input on perhaps the biggest problem we are wrestling with: culture. How many times over the last few weeks has a member discussed the key major problems related to chain of command? How many times has a member discussed the threat of reprisals if a CAF member actually reports sexual misconduct?
In fact, that researcher could also rate the parties on how many times in the last few weeks they each made a positive contribution to those three major problems leading to sexual misconduct in the military: chain of command, fear of reprisals and culture.
I would be curious about the results of that research, but my gut reaction is that Mr. Spengemann and Mr. Baker have made the greatest number of positive contributions to the study by bringing most of the evidence related to those major issues to our committee.
It's not too late for all committee members to contribute. If the opposition parties would stop stalling the retraction of their unreasonable motion and have the government respond to the committee's work, which is what my amendment today deals with we could use various ways to move forward.
One was my suggestion that we quickly go through the recommendations that we can all agree on. I'm sure there would be a number of them. Then we could go into the more difficult ones that we couldn't agree on.
I'll leave it at that, Madam Chair. In my next intervention, I'll get more into the item of culture.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-18 14:23
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to address Mr. Garrison, but before I do, I want to first of all say thank you to Mr. Baker. He always has such moving testimony on the people who were really affected and why we're all here. I think it brings us back to thinking about how serious it is and how we should be trying to find solutions. There are people who, through no fault of their own, have had such terrible situations when they've entered to protect our country in such an honourable profession.
I'd like to thank Mr. Spengemann. Who would have thought that our study could have so much added intellectual wealth from other militaries, which had the same issues and came up with suggestions that we can think about? Because it's all in the testimony, Madam Arbour certainly will be able to look at, in great detail, all of the things we've put on record in our committee as she goes through her important work.
Also to his point, which I hadn't thought about, how powerful it would be.... I mean, we're the first committee doing this. We're going to try to continue but how powerful it would be to have two sets of similar recommendations go to the government, to Madam Arbour, to really try to get action to an intractable problem.
I want to talk to Mr. Garrison. Sincerely, he moved me. His personal story...that took some courage, so a huge commendation for that.
I think he made a very good point about not impugning motives. I think that's the way Parliament should operate. I've thought about that throughout this committee. It's very hard sometimes in a partisan environment...and I've tried not to.
Mr. Garrison, if I have at any particular time done it, I certainly apologize for that. I've certainly tried not to do that. I'm sure he would support that right across the board.
I'm sure that our members have been impugned at certain times in these committees. Mr. Garrison, Elizabeth May and I should maybe do an analysis of question period for a few days, to see if we can see, both in questions and answers, impugned motives. Elizabeth May has made some great input on trying to improve the decorum and what happens in Parliament. Certainly what Mr. Garrison said, I think is not confined to this committee, but should be a widespread concept that's spread more often.
I just think that we have a bit of a different opinion, Mr. Garrison. I'm going to go into something later to show you my sincerity. I wrote it a week ago, actually, to say that I believe in your sincerity. On the lack of progress, which he said is very important, both of us have mentioned numerous times the many instances, the hundreds of instances, that continue to occur and have been for decades.
In the committee in the last couple of weeks, I've mentioned a couple of times how complex this is. I've explained, and I will explain—not in this intervention but in my next one, on culture, which is fairly lengthy, which I worked on at home—how, just because you make rules, for instance, a training rule, or this and that, it doesn't necessarily solve the problem. It doesn't stop the problem. That's why this is so complex.
I think where we differ is on the aspect that nothing has been done. It would be a lot worse, actually, if nothing had been done. The point that he and I have made about the ongoing cases shows the complexity of the problem and why we have to.... As I've said several times in committee: To a complex problem, there's no simple solution.
However, since this minister has come in, we have made efforts to ensure that victims feel supported through the process. There's a case management system to ensure cases are investigated and resolved in a timely manner. There's increased training from experts that is victim-centric and accessible to all CAF members no matter where they work. There's ongoing work on a review of unfounded cases.
As all members know, there was the passing of Bill C‑77, with a declaration of victims' rights that puts victims at the core of the military justice system. There's the launching of “The Path to Dignity and Respect”, a strategy for long-term culture change. On Bill C‑77, for victims, we're going to consult the victims. We're working on consulting the victims to draft regulations for this bill. We've consulted federal partners, including the SMRC, which we've talked about at length in previous meetings, and are developing an online survey to consult as many victims as possible.
I'm sure everyone on this committee and the minister, numerous times, have said any type of inappropriate sexual behaviour is totally unacceptable.
I went through close to an hour of things that have been done. I think it's disingenuous not to acknowledge those facts. Obviously, as Mr. Garrison and I have said, there are numerous things still to be done. That's why we should be dealing with these serious types of issues that we've been talking about for the last couple of weeks.
Mr. Garrison, are you able to hear me? Okay. It's just to show you that the words I'm saying now are not in response to what you just said but I wrote them, I think, a week ago Sunday night or something last week on this.
I was saying at the last meeting that Mr. Garrison convinced me more of his sincerity by acknowledging the questions around General Vance's appointment. Our study is about sexual misconduct in the Canadian military, including issues related to General Vance. Mr. Garrison is the only member of the committee who has made it clear that General Vance's related issues are most important for him, and he has every right to do so. I think he sincerely believes that. As I mentioned in a previous meeting, he did some of the best questioning of one of the witnesses related to that.
I have some lengthy input, but for the moment, rather than giving my lengthy input on culture, which I'll do in another intervention, I'll just talk about Mr. Garrison's choice. We each have our priority of what's most important in our study, so in respect to Mr. Garrison's sincerity, I would like to make my case, too, while respecting him.
I'm not the least bit expert in this major problem in the CAF, which is why I base my views on the testimony of victims and the experts. When I get to my lengthy input on culture, I'll actually refer to the experts again—to an expert referring to experts.
From what I understand from the experts and victims we've heard from, this problem goes back decades, far into the previous century. The culture in this and other militaries is one of the biggest, if not the biggest issue, but it's probably the biggest. In another intervention I'll explain how it supports what I've been saying earlier, that you can make technical changes, but that doesn't, in itself, solve the problem. One of the experts will say that.
A tiny fraction of all incidents are actually reported, and the two major causes of hesitancy to report are the location in the chain of command of reporting and dealing with an incident, and the fear of reprisals, both emotional and to someone's career, in which they've invested their life.
From my perspective, if these are the major issues, why would they not be what we're coming to grips with and designing recommendations about—to restore the military to a safe workplace and to honour the courage of the victims who have come forward?
Now I'll turn to my views on Mr. Garrison's view, which he has every right to have, as I said. I think he sincerely believes, and I appreciate his thoughtfulness, that the issues related to General Vance are the most important part of the study. In response, I would suggest the following.
There are hundreds of perpetrators, a number at the senior level. Why would we base our entire study and weeks and weeks of testimony from witness after witness on an anonymous email related to General Vance that no one was allowed to know what was in? When we know of or suspect an offence, it is turned over to investigative authorities. That was done within about 24 hours. General Vance is retired so he's not going to have any role in solving the pressing issues we're trying to solve. He's already under investigation. We don't have to do that and we shouldn't be doing that.
I've tried to put myself into those shoes. If I were told there was an anonymous complaint about any member of this committee and I wasn't allowed to know what it was about, and it had been immediately turned over to the investigators, who went as far as they could because they were refused the evidence, what would I do? Would I ask that they be kicked out of caucus or some other type of penalty? I definitely could not have mounted a campaign. I'd have to give credit to months of meetings with witnesses to such an email, which I didn't know what was in it.
I've heard Mr. Garrison's view. I appreciate it, but for all the reasons we have heard from the experts and the survivors, they have outlined the major causes of this sexual misconduct in the military. For the sake of the men and women in the military and to honour the survivors, I think we should return to thoughtful discussion of their solutions to the complex problems.
I just want to comment on the other reports. The draft reports on mental health in the Canadian Armed Forces and the impact of COVID‑19 on the armed forces are sitting unreviewed, because we have had all these emergency meetings and motions to expand our particular report. As you know, we had a meeting on April 26 to start considering the report on COVID‑19 in the CAF, and I believe we made some good progress. Despite this, there was a 106(4) request that forced us to further delay this report. We haven't gone back to the review since. There's nothing that requires us to finish this report we're working on now before we could proceed to those reports. I know Mr. Garrison is particularly passionate about one of them.
I think our committee's priority should be the report on sexual misconduct. Opposition members know that they could move to proceed to any of our three outstanding reports and they would have our support to do it. We can't do that while they're pursuing a motion to limit our ability to properly debate and amend this crucial report. That is their choice. We're not blocking them if they want to take that step and go to those important reports.
I hope Mr. Garrison knows that I'm sincere in my thoughts on where he's coming from and my technical disagreement on some of the points.
I'm happy to put that forward, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-21 12:01
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Welcome to all my colleagues on the committee.
First of all, I want to thank Mr. Spengemann for his continuing great research on other militaries. With the courageous survivors we've had who have come forward, with the experts and with this information from other militaries, this committee may now have the best information on file of any military in the world, which the CAF can use, the government can use and Madam Arbour can use to come up with a positive step forward.
I want to thank Mr. Robillard, too, for the tremendous work he's doing on women in the military, because that's obviously a key aspect of preventing misconduct in the military.
I have several issues with the motion before us. My amendment is to deal with one of those issues.
I believe there should be a government response to the motion, to the recommendations. These are very complicated changes, which I will go on shortly about. Change is never easy, as everyone knows. Even small change can lead to resistance, let alone the major changes that are needed here and in a number of militaries. I believe there's a far better chance of these changes occurring if the government, with its response, is part of the solution. I don't imagine there's any committee member here who feels there would be less chance of success on some of the recommendations we would make if the government were not part of the solution for that.
What I want to do is address one item in my first intervention today, and that is related to culture, to show how complicated it is and why we need a government response, because the solution is so complicated. As I said before in the last meeting, I really need the experts' input, because I have no expertise in this area. I'm going to talk about what the experts have said about culture, to show why it's complex and why we need the government to be part of the solution with its response.
The first input I'll talk about is from Dr. English. He said:
The culture that exists now in the Canadian Armed Forces is sometimes referred to as a warrior culture. Now, this warrior culture came into the Canadian Armed Forces in the early 2000s when we started co-operating very closely with the United States in Afghanistan, and after 2005 when General Rick Hillier became chief of the defence staff and wanted a warrior culture to replace what he called a bureaucratic culture that existed in the Canadian Forces at the time.
The warrior culture that was chosen because of our close association with the United States was a particular culture that had been created in the U.S. in the eighties and nineties, which was based on a hypermasculine, sexualized military culture that had actually been created to keep LGBTQ people out of the military, and later this was deployed against women.
This was an artificial, foreign, hypersexualized culture that, according to American researchers who have researched this culture, contributed to “creating or sustaining a cultural environment where sexual assaults can occur and thrive.”
By importing this American hypermasculine culture, we've really created a lot of our own problems. I think one of the first things any culture change would have to do would be to go back to what we put into “Duty with Honour”, our profession of arms manual in 2003, which was something called the “warrior's honour”.
This new Canadian warrior culture in response to the Somalia crisis was to be based on the warrior's honour that they would use the minimal amount of force possible to achieve their objectives, and that the warriors had a responsibility both to carry out their mission and also to respect the laws of war. This is quite different from what we have now. I would think that's the first thing that has to change.
Dr. Okros then went on to explain that it's true that we have to change, for the reasons I just quoted, but also that the Canadian military and in fact all militaries are in a very unique situation. They have to have a unique culture. The question is, what would that culture look like, given the constraints, the conditions or the unique environment of a military?
He said:
The other comment I would make with this is that there does need to be a unique military culture. Canadians require very specific things from the women and men who are providing security for them. That requires some very specific things. There is no other employer that has the concept of unlimited liability, that expects and requires people to put themselves in harm's way.
To do that, to generate those capabilities and the capacity to endure under what can be really arduous circumstances, does require something unique that most private sector employers don't need.
The issue is, what should that culture be? I think that's the issue that is really up for debate and discussion. Again, what the comments we're providing here...there is a tension in the military as well around evolving over time. One thing that is baked into the military philosophy is that there are really important lessons that have been learned, that were paid for in blood over the centuries, that we will never forget.
That is of importance, but that can hold the military back from trying to envision the future military culture that they need to be building within a 21st-century security context, and with young Canadians who are seeking to serve their country in uniform.
It needs to be a unique culture. The debate, really, is about what [that culture should be], what should be retained and what needs to fundamentally change.
Going on to show how complex it is and why we need a government response because of the complexity, Dr. von Hlatky talks about women. There are some comments about certain situations that women are in. She goes on to explain how women face differences throughout the entire spectrum of their military career. There could be different aspects at different times in their career, but certainly, right from recruitment to retirement, it's a totally different situation for women. That's obviously very critical in improving the military in the discussions that we're having.
Dr. von Hlatky said:
I would certainly welcome this opportunity to review how we can better focus on the unique needs and experiences of women in the Canadian Armed Forces. If it takes a crisis to precipitate more attention to this issue, then so be it.
In general, I think it's been the big push behind integrating a gender-based analysis plus tool—
Again, I compliment Mr. Robillard for his discussion on that in the House a couple of weeks ago, his motion on gender-based analysis in the military. Congratulations, Mr. Robillard.
—into the way that the Government of Canada develops its policies, and here, this certainly applies to the Canadian Armed Forces. Because the experiences of women are different from men—and we pointed to some cultural factors for why that is—there are other reasons, as well, for why they may have different needs and different experiences.
At every career stage, once again, whether it's at the moment of recruitment or at the moment of release and the transition from being in the military to reintegrating in civilian life, women face unique challenges. If we can use this opportunity as a way to further study what these unique challenges and needs are, then I definitely think this would be a good step in that direction.
At the same time, I don't think we should assume that what's going on right now—what's playing out in the media—is a central decision-making factor for a woman, either in terms of considering her career options in the military or whether she's considering joining the Canadian Armed Forces. There are a host of motives and reasons for why women make decisions about their careers, and that may have an impact or it may not. Certainly, it's just one consideration among many.
To show the complexity of this one topic, that being culture, and why we need the government involved in a very thoughtful response to what we come up with, I'll go to Dr. Okros. He said that one of the ways to improve this culture is to make sure that everyone, all the groups, maybe under-represented groups, etc., have voices and are heard.
Dr. Okros said the following:
I'll start by saying that I'm probably the last person to speak on behalf of women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and it's the point I'd like to make. Inclusion strategies, when we are looking at diverse peoples, use the phrase “nothing about us without us”. If we apply the women, peace and security agenda principles, one of the things it should lead to is the recognition that women need to be empowered to represent themselves, and that includes with agency, with voice.
I would offer...in terms of what the CAF does internally...that it is important to ensure that the voices and perspectives of those we wish to speak for are being heard and being considered. In the long run, creating mechanisms of voice so that individuals and subgroups within the military can be heard effectively would be a good strategy.
Dr. Okros goes on to say this:
The extension beyond this is the issue of creating social hierarchies. Every workplace, every group, has social hierarchies of who is the most important down to who is the least important. These are the things that are being policed commonly using sexualized or racialized language and references.
...when people put in these snide comments, when women make an observation and are ignored and then their male colleagues say exactly the same thing and are applauded, these are the day-to-day practices that send signals about who's important and valued and who's not.
When people seek to create these hierarchies and police them by rewarding certain individuals based on characteristics and attacking others, that's what starts damaging identity and belonging.
It is important for us to be recognizing it. It isn't unique to the military. What I tried to identify are some facets of the military such as the importance given to normative conformity, obedience to authority, the differentiations of rank and the power differences. These things can accentuate those and make it more difficult.
As I reported earlier, Dr. English made the same type of reference to the specific environment of the military.
Dr. Okros continued:
As I said, these things are essential for operational effectiveness, but they're double-edged swords because they get used against people as well.
The environment and the needs of operations have these different requirements because it's such a difficult situation, but then these different requirements, if used improperly, are part of the problem. That's why this committee needs to have very considered discussion of this one complicated topic of culture. It's not simple. It will take some time.
I'd like to go back to Dr. von Hlatky now with regard to training. She came up with a very important point that I had never thought of before, but it makes obvious sense when you think about it at length. She talks about how the training related to sexual misconduct is totally different from operational training. It's treated far less seriously. Operational training, as anyone who's been in operational training knows, is done over and over again until it's just a gut reaction. It's instinct. That's what saves your life in different situations.
Dr. von Hlatky states:
I think we can recognize the opacity of the current culture. I want us to switch the framing from operational effectiveness to organizational effectiveness. Operation Honour framed misconduct as a problem that undermines operational effectiveness; and I think moving forward, it would be prudent to talk about organizational health. Organizational effectiveness is a prerequisite for operational effectiveness, and the way that the forces get ready for operations is through training...and certification. You plan and practice until your instincts are right, and even in difficult, complex environments with high stress and sleep deprivation, you will perform in a way that is consistent with your training.
On the other hand, we have Operation Honour training, which consists of passing on information about sexual misconduct. It's ticking the box, and we don't worry so much about how the information is retained or applied beyond monitoring who's up to date on their training and who's not.
While I fully agree with my colleagues that it's important to look at culture, I think it's important to look at culture through different phases of the career and at how military identity is developed throughout these stages. I also really believe in the importance of some more bureaucratic fixes, and training is one of them. We need to give this kind of training as much importance as the other types of training that happen in the military.
Later on in this intervention, I'll explain how Dr. English repeats the same point.
Once again, just to show a need for a government response to this, Dr. von Hlatky goes on:
There has been a lot of defensiveness in the past as well in terms of reacting to problems as they arise, and of course, five years ago, that's where we were as well. However, despite these doubts, I don't think we should wait until the next CDS is appointed to take decisive action.... [T]here needs to be an immediate call to action and stress on the importance of this crisis-like situation for the people. There are a lot of people in the Canadian Armed Forces, and right now they need to hear from their leaders. The well-being of the Canadian Armed Forces members, victims and survivors...is paramount.
As you have heard, our members have been saying this in recent committee meetings.
Dr. von Hlatky continues:
People need leadership in times of crisis. General Eyre is it right now. This is obviously needed from the PM and the defence minister too, but Canadian Armed Forces members will look to their service commanders and CDS to set the tone.
We spoke to deeper change and cultural change, and that's certainly necessary immediately. Sexual misconduct cannot always be put away as a problem to solve on its own. We've tried...to really emphasize the connection between military culture and the prevalence of sexual misconduct. Then there are the more immediate questions that have been raised in the last few weeks, and we need to reverse-engineer this problem. The question that needs to be answered immediately is how officers get to the top of the hierarchy while abusing power. How can the incentive structure within the CAF change so that abuses of power are not explained away or covered up by subordinates, peers and senior leaders alike?
You can see that is a huge issue that will take more than a couple of minutes of discussion to come up with a rational, thoughtful solution as to how we deal with it. I'll talk about that in my next intervention—not in this one, but later on in the meeting. I'll talk about that promotion situation as well, but it shows that we need thoughtful discussion by committee members on that and then a response from the government on this very complicated issue.
Dr. von Hlatky goes on:
...in my opinion, abuses of power have not been adequately addressed as part of the Operation Honour journey, and this circumstance should motivate a series of adjustments across the board—from training approaches to communications to leadership to data collection—
When we go on to discuss recommendations, probably not until my third intervention today, one will be related to data collection, which, for obvious reasons, will be important as to what levels the effects are at and how they are different.
Then again, to show the complexity of this issue and why we need thoughtful discussion in committee and a government response, Dr. Okros says:
I would just offer that it's important to make a differentiation between commitment and understanding. I would state that I believe leaders at all levels are committed to addressing the issues.
And all people on this committee are, I'm sure. He continues:
As...has been observed by women's organizations externally, the gap is in the understanding. As I tried to say, it is at one level easy to see or easier to understand why it's difficult to understand it. Again, one of the phrases people use is that it's hard for fish to discover water. It's difficult for people who are completely immersed in a very strong, dominant culture to really understand what that culture is.
Again, I think this is the reason for some of the calls for the assistance of those who have external academic and professional perspectives to bear, to assist senior leaders in understanding the culture and then helping them to figure out what the culture change initiatives can be.
That is exactly the reason why I said at the beginning of this intervention that I and perhaps other committee members without experience need this expert input. But Dr. English put sort of a caveat on that. He said:
To follow on from that, one of the issues is exactly about what leaders believe. General Thibault made a very perceptive comment, that his lack of belief in Justice Deschamps' conclusions was based in his own personal experience. He didn't see it, and we know from research that this is true, that we form biases and we tend to favour our own personal experience over, for example, academic studies.
However, it goes back to this key point, which is power. Many of the behaviours that go on—and they're not all related to sexual misconduct, as has been pointed out by a number of speakers—are related to maintaining and keeping power. One of the main things you have to do when you want to make comprehensive culture change is to make significant changes in the leadership, and the Canadian Forces has rarely, if ever, been willing to do that. That comes down to oversight.
Mr. Baker mentioned oversight already today. Dr. English continued:
I'll make the last point very briefly, because it was brought up, about demographics. Until you change the demographics of the forces, get more women in, get more diversity, the experiences are going to remain within this homogeneous group that doesn't really believe in change. I think the leaders have said that.
You know, it's not just a few. There's a certain level that it has to be before it will be effective.
I'm just going to make one more input on this culture, again to show how complicated it is. It's from Dr. English, and this is a good conclusion to my first intervention today. I've referenced this a number of times actually in these committee meetings:
I've read the latest DAOD 9005-1 on sexual misconduct.... I find parts of it contradicts itself. I was discussing with a colleague the other day about duty to report. On one hand, it would say that you report here, disclose here, and it doesn't get reported. You disclose here, and it does get reported. You disclose here, and it doesn't get reported at first, but maybe it will get reported later on, because someone or a profession has a duty to report.
For your average person, it would be quite complex to figure out exactly what's going on. I know why the DAODs are written the way they are. They're written by lawyers and bureaucrats to cover all the bases. For the average member, it would be quite difficult to decipher that.
Going back to the culture question, that really is the substance of my arguments. In the end, it doesn't really matter how good your rules and regulations are or how open to reporting you are. If people know, within the culture, that anybody who reports will be ostracized, bullied, harassed, have their career ended, then it doesn't really matter how good and clear your regulations are, or how open you say you are. Many times, many organizations, including the CAF, have said this. That's why it goes back to the fundamental problem of changing the culture.
I have to re-emphasize that my colleagues are a little more optimistic than I am about “The Path to Dignity and Respect”. If it calls for cultural realignment, it's assuming that everything is not so bad. I'm afraid most people have said it is pretty bad. It needs more than realignment. It needs comprehensive change. Until that change happens, it doesn't really matter how many rules and regulations are made about reporting, people aren't going to do it. We've had many reports done on that, and have explained why.
Over and above everything that's been said about culture at previous meetings, I've just spent 24 minutes on an intervention on this one complex issue that our committee is struggling with, so how reasonable would it be that this motion would only allow me two minutes? These issues are very complex. We have to come out with a thoughtful discussion of these issues—and that's only me. It just shows how unreasonable the motion is. It would limit me to two minutes when I've used 24 minutes right now, plus things, as people have mentioned, that I've said in previous meetings.
Think for a minute if we were allowed only two minutes on the motion and then made our recommendations to the Government of Canada. The way the motion is right now, the government wouldn't have to respond to it. Given that the recommendation was provided without serious debate, the government would have two options. First of all, it could not take it seriously, because of this unreasonable motion we're discussing, because it wasn't a serious debate on the issue, or it would be forced to do a detailed evaluation and analysis of the recommendation to ensure that it was an appropriate recommendation. I'm glad that all committee members, especially the opposition, have the belief that the government has the ability and the expertise to do that. That would take a long time.
I don't think it would really help the survivors if we caused them to take all sorts of extra time by not giving them well-thought-out, well-debated recommendations. That's why I believe that the motion before us is not the most effective way of proceeding, and I would hope that we could have thoughtful debate and a government response to these very critical and important issues.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-18 16:17
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'll just speak to the amendment. As I think Mr. Baker said, there is a lot to speak about on the other parts of the motion. In fact, as people have said, there are a lot of substantive parts. It doesn't deal with the main, big issue—the elephant in the room in the military—but there are a lot of parts. I think we each ought to figure out whether each one should be discussed with an amendment. They're totally different and have different ramifications. I'll just deal with this particular amendment first.
I agree with Mr. Barsalou-Duval on the amendment. The surveys that have been done recently showed that there are hundreds of allegations continuing to go and that people are aware of situations that are going on. Every few days there is a new one. We've studied these allegations every time there is one. In fact, we've spent so many meetings on one email that we'll never really get, as some members have said, to the substantive items about misconduct in the military, the chain of command link, the fact that people are worried about reporting because of repercussions, and the whole culture item. Those are the things.
Rather than going complaint after complaint, witness after witness on one individual situation, on one email, as I've said in all the meetings, it would be much better to get on with recommendations to help members of the military feel safe and deal with the substantive issues.
I'll leave it at that for now. I have a lot to say on the other parts of the motion, including the more serious allegations that were brought up about General Vance's appointment.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-18 16:38
Thank you, Madam Chair.
As Mr. Baker said, we've heard all sorts of testimony about the big problem—sexual misconduct in the military—and three overriding themes that aren't addressed in this motion, number one being the culture, number two being the fear of reporting and number three being provisions to deal with those so that people feel safe outside the chain of command.
As Mr. Baker said very passionately, which is why I won't use all my time right now, and as we've both said since we started, this is what we should be focusing on to get the answers to those major problems so that people can again, or for the first time, feel safe, especially women in the military. Many have said in reports that they were aware of those problems or have been affected by them directly.
I sympathize with Mr. Garrison's comments that we should get on with the three reports, and I pass that on to anyone who keeps moving motions to bring more witnesses to deal with the one email. We had one email that had details that the person had every right not to want to be provided, so it was investigated right away, yet we're dealing, meeting after meeting, with that one email when we should be dealing with the major issues in the military. It would be easy to do if we just got on to the report.
On the elements of the motion, the first one related to a witness we've already dealt with. The minister replaced that witness, so obviously we need an amendment related to that and a discussion on that. On a second item, as the chair said, this is a very complicated motion, so I still have to have more study on it. Obviously we have to have more discussion and debate down the road on an amendment related to the scheduling of the report.
I don't see that it leaves very many meetings to discuss the substantive recommendations in the report on the schedule that's proposed in the study, and it seems that the motion suggests that a whole bunch of clauses.... There are many clauses and recommendations. As Ms. Vandenbeld said, all the Liberal recommendations except perhaps one deal with the survivors and these problems that we're talking about, but it sounds like the motion is suggesting that all those that aren't dealt with in the short period of time are just are voted on without any discussion, without any politicians who have been elected by their party being able to comment and give their provisions. They just have a vote.
I think we have to have an amendment on that at some time in the future. When we get to that, I would really like to know—and research can be done between now and when that happens—what kind of precedent there is for just approving a report clause by clause with no discussion or recommendation by recommendation with no discussion. I would find that people wouldn't take such a report seriously if we weren't even allowed to debate it and weren't even allowed to debate the recommendations and put comments related—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-18 16:43
I'm sorry. My understanding was that there wouldn't be any discussion on each clause after a particular....
That's why, when you drop a complicated motion that we haven't had time to analyze—I wonder what Mr. Garrison thinks about getting a motion a few minutes before a meeting—with regard to the ramifications of these details about the way in which the report would go when we meet the deadline, I am asking these questions. I don't understand the process that is in the motion. That's why we need to at least debate it. As I said, I'd like to know the precedent on that and what the actual ramifications of that part are.
Finally, I want to go into great detail later. As was mentioned earlier in the meeting, if we can't get down to the serious recommendations that we should be making to help the Canadian military related to chain of command and fear of reporting and culture and we have to keep studying these.... As was mentioned before, recently—probably after the motion was written, which is why it's not as relevant—much more serious allegations have come forward related to the appointment of General Vance and investigations that were or were not done, but I'll go into all that later. I'm assuming that's still a work in progress too and that more information is coming out on those serious allegations that have been raised by the Toronto Star, Global News and whoever else did those investigations.
I'll leave it at that for now. I'll go into that in great detail probably the next time I'm up.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-18 17:01
It's always hard to go after Mr. Baker because I think he's saying what many committee members are thinking but can't say as well, and I think all the committee members want to help the members of the CAF with the three main problems that Christine had outlined, the chain of command, the reporting and the culture, and as I said before, that's what we should get on to.
In reply to what Mrs. Gallant said, I agree with her that there were a lot of things in the Deschamps report. The many steps that were taken by the present minister have been outlined in this committee, but there are things that were not done, and so the form that they should take is exactly what we should be discussing now to deal with those particular issues.
As I said, I'd rather we just stopped all this and got on to dealing with those three major issues to help the members in the military, but if there are committee members who still want to do the “who knew what, why and where”, as was said earlier in this meeting, there have been much more serious allegations raised, probably since this motion was written and certainly since the last meetings, related to the appointment of General Vance in the beginning.
Mr. O'Toole, when he was Minister of Veterans Affairs, passed on a potential rumour, a complaint, to Ray Novak, who very nicely came before committee and provided his thoughts on that. He mentioned that he had asked the national security adviser, Richard Fadden, about the Gagetown incident and to look into it, but the media have suggested that Mr. Fadden has said he does not remember investigating that particular complaint or actually receiving it, although he doesn't disagree with Mr. Novak's memory that he may have mentioned it to Mr. Fadden, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of that investigation or that it was acted upon.
If there was a complaint and it wasn't investigated or it wasn't acted upon, then why was General Vance appointed? On all these things, I think we need more details.
I've just heard from the media. I haven't had time to sort it out. Some of it I just saw this morning and the others I was just reading about on the weekend, but the outgoing chief of staff at the time said he was crystal clear that there was no allegation related to misconduct by Vance at Gagetown that was ever brought to him, and he was helping with the appointment of a new chief of staff. He said he was crystal clear about that in the article, including that when he was helping to find a replacement, he would have remembered any allegation, he said, and he said his mind was not fuzzy at all about that.
There was another investigation related to NATO, and Richard Fadden and I think the outgoing chief of staff mentioned it, but not the Gagetown one, and as I said, I don't want to go into any of this, but I will say to those members of the committee who honestly want to go into this, who want to know “who, what and where”, that this is a much more serious allegation.
Megan Mackenzie, an expert on sexual misconduct in the military at Simon Fraser University, said that no one handled it well, but if the investigation was still open or any investigation was still open, then why did cabinet appoint General Vance? Then the military police recommended an end to an investigation, apparently on July 17, the day that General Vance was sworn in, and then four days later it was closed. How did that process evolve on those dates?
I'm sure that things are still evolving as people are researching this. As I said, if we have to go into how, when, why, and where, these are much more serious allegations and would have to be dealt with. That's not my interest. My interest is in helping the women in the military, going back to recommendations that would change the culture and the fear of reporting.
There are so many incidents. Rather than spending time on these one or two instances and one or two individuals, we should get on with the major, substantial structural problem. Even though there are hundreds and probably thousands of incidents, an incident affects people for the rest of their lives. It's not just a momentary incident.
That's why we have to put all this aside and get down to recommendations to solve those three problems so that people never again fear to choose a great career in the military with the great honour of protecting us as citizens. If they make a report of something inappropriate, they should not worry that it's going to affect the career they've invested their lives in. We should not allow that to occur because of a culture that is accepted and has occurred not only in our military but, as Mr. Spengemann has pointed out, in militaries around the world.
I think there are people on the committee who have the ability to deal with those problems and get on with them and come up with some very good recommendations. That would be my preference at this time, but I'll leave that up to the committee.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-30 13:47
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I really appreciate Ms. Romanado's being here. She comes from a military family and could have a lot more input than I would have knowledge of. I really appreciate that. She said passionately that we should get on with doing the recommendations. Mr. Baker and I said that at the beginning. That's what I'm going to spend most of my comments on today.
As we know, there was a complaint. An investigation was done as far as any information was available. That was carried out. As several members have mentioned already, information came out this week that's changed the whole focus of the General Vance situation, if you want to follow that. The victims want us to get on with and do the report and make the changes, so that's what I'm going to mostly concentrate on.
There are hundreds of victims and hundreds of perpetrators. We've already spent more than enough time on Mr. Vance, on one of those hundreds, and that is being investigated in the proper channels anyway, and the investigation of the one complaint was completed at the time as far as it could be done. As the member said, the focus has changed. If we were going to pursue that, which I'm not suggesting at this time, the much more serious news that's come out is that Mr. Vance was appointed while he was still under investigation. That could lead to all sorts of witnesses regarding that situation, but, as I've said before, that's not my focus right now. I want to carry on like I did before, talking about things that will help the witnesses.
The minister has made some very major steps this week, and Mr. Baker touched on those. There's a lot more to be done. I will go into those at great depth, but not right now. I want to get back to the second part of what I was doing the last time when we were making the case that there's enough information available, both from victims and reports, to do a really good job of helping the victims now, who must be thinking of a pox on all our houses if we don't move forward and suggest to the minister.... He's already taking steps, but we could give him more authority to take more steps if we had our recommendations done.
Before I get on to that, what I want to do is what I did in the second half of the last meeting, and comment on what has been done so far. There were suggestions about trust and confidence at the top. I think that's important. I think the minister has done so much. With parliamentary timelines, you have to act quickly to get things done. I think, with the present minister, the number of things he has done gives that confidence and trust. If we're going to get something done, he's going to do as much as he can.
I'll just remind some of the people who may not be too familiar with this subject, including some of the great national media, who I really appreciate.... They do some excellent research. I haven't noticed as much on the steps to date and, obviously, we have to do more, which has always been the focus of my discussion— some of the steps.
The present minister, long before any of this came up, said he was ensuring that our support and approach was victim-centric. It meant that victims are to be supported throughout the process. It meant the establishment of a case management system to ensure that cases are investigated and resolved in a timely manner.
He also said it involves increased training that is both victim-centric and accessible to all CAF members no matter where they work. It builds on some of the important work already under way, including a review of the unfounded cases, which is important both inside and outside the military, and the passing of C-77 that includes a declaration of victim rights that puts the victims at the core of the military justice system. He made it clear long ago that we owe it to our women and men in uniform to get this right on the sexual misconduct.
I appreciate Mr. Garrison's comments on the wording. The government took the allegations seriously and the minister said that no one should feel unsafe at work. He also said there's a lot of work to do, as I think all committee members agree today. That's why he launched the path to dignity and respect, a strategy for long-term cultural change to eliminate sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. He made a very strong statement that the mission here is nothing less than cultural change and that we should not stop until our members are able to perform their duties in an environment free from harassment and discrimination.
On C-77, he said that that the government takes the allegations very seriously and that “No one should feel unsafe at work.” That's why Bill C-77 was passed. It's a declaration of victim rights that puts the victim at the core of the military justice system. The minister said that the government had also promised to consult victims as it drafted the regulations for the bill, and that's exactly what is being done.
So far, he has consulted federal partners, including the sexual misconduct response centre—the SMRC—and is developing an online survey to consult as many victims as possible. As you know, some of the feedback has shown—as I said at the beginning—there are hundreds of perpetrators and victims.
We owe it to our men and women to get it right. The minister has said time and time again before this started that inappropriate sexual behaviour of any kind is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. For every person who willingly serves their country, despite the many dangers and sacrifices, the military service deserves a professional environment in which they are treated with respect and dignity.
The Canadian Forces continues to take definitive action to address and eliminate sexual misconduct, but obviously we need to do more work. We heard from the victims at great length. I think they said that we've gotten the information from them and the steps we can take. Frankly, that's what we should be discussing now. Some of them have expressed their appreciation for us getting some more of that on the record.
The last time I was speaking, I talked about the Deschamps report. There are two parts on sexual misconduct. First there was a section on sexual harassment, which I covered the last time I spoke. The second part is on sexual assault.
To continue on our position that we have enough information, there's a lot we could be working on right now that's very important to the victims. I'm going to continue with that information to make sure it's on the record and to make sure that victims know that we're thinking about them and about the things that have been found out so far and the actions that need to be taken forward.
The report says:
As a preliminary matter, the ERA note[s] that as part of its mandate, it has been requested to consider and make recommendations concerning the following:
“the adequacy of the definition of sexual misconduct as provided for in DAOD 5019-5...;
I discussed at length at a previous meeting how the directives have made some very good, very comprehensive changes, but I'm not sure why those aren't working. That's what we have to be discussing.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-30 13:58
On the point of order, we've already made this case. It has already been deemed relevant at the previous meeting when people where trying to extend the meeting way beyond the time to discuss things other than the recommendations, so I'll just continue with that rationale and that—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-30 13:58
I'm sorry, but just to correct the member, this is totally new. I've never read this. I've never made these important points about the victims to show that we have the information that we need to move forward, that we need to be discussing, instead of constantly calling more victims on one particular case, that of General Vance.
As I've said, there are a lot more witnesses who are more important now that we've found critical new information this week about his appointment, but that's not what the people, the victims who have been so sadly hurt, have expressed and that's what I'm continuing.
As I said, I correct the member. I haven't said any of this before.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-30 14:03
Thank you. I think that is consistent with what happens at most committees. There's certainly leeway for members to express themselves on matters in the context, and the context is that we're discussing something that would extend the meeting to an area where I think it's less productive than dealing with the information that victims have provided on the serious situations they've been through. That is what we should really be discussing for those.... As Mr. Bezan and Madame Romanado said, this is where our focus should be right now.
So I'll just continue where I left off:
...the adequacy of CAF policies, procedures and programs relating to sexual misconduct; the training of CAF members in relation to sexual misconduct; the resources dedicated to the implementation of the policies, procedures and programs in relation to sexual misconduct; the extent to which CAF members report alleged incidents of sexual misconduct or any reasons why reporting may not occur, including the role of military culture and the chain of command;
As I mentioned earlier, some of the huge numbers of incidents have been mentioned in surveys, but there were not challenges or charges put forward. People were afraid to come forward, so that's why it's so important that we should be discussing that.
It continues:
...and any other matter that the ERA considers relevant in assisting the CAF to strengthen the prevention of incidents of sexual misconduct.
As discussed above, sexual assault is included within the definition of misconduct.
Consistent with this mandate, throughout its six-month fact-finding process the ERA conducted interviews with members and civilian employees responsible for the implementation of the CAF policies on sexual misconduct, including members of the JAG office, the CFNIS branch of the military police, the regular military police service, and the military prosecution service. In addition, the CAF shared with the ERA relevant policies, protocols and other documents related to sexual misconduct. With the efficient support of the DMP, representatives of the JAG, and CAF bases and DND coordinators, as much information as possible was gathered in order for the ERA to fulfill the terms of the mandate.
This said, the ERA's mandate contains an express limitation which requires some comment. The mandate states that the ERA shall not review 'any matter related to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) in respect of his or her superintendence of the administration of military justice in the Canadian Forces'. A question arises as to what is captured by the JAG's 'superintendence of the administration of military justice' and therefore falls outside of the scope of this Review. Two interpretations may be offered.
And this is something that could be pursued by this committee.
Under a broad interpretation of the limitation, merely discussing sexual misconduct, the investigation of which falls under both military and civilian jurisdiction, would be excluded by this limitation. The consequence would be that most of the references to 'sexual misconduct' in the mandate would be moot. Such a broad interpretation of the limitation would therefore result in the exclusion of a large and explicit part of the mandate. Not only is such an interpretation at odds with a plain language reading of the mandate, but it also contradicts the way in which the CAF itself interpreted the mandate during the course of the Review. In fact, most of the interviewees involved in the implementation of the policies, procedures and programs on sexual misconduct would not have been made available to the ERA if their role was not relevant to the gist of its mandate.
A narrower interpretation of the limitation is more respectful of the text of the mandate, the respective responsibilities of the JAG and of the Provost Marshal, and the way in which the CAF interpreted the mandate in the course of the Review.
The JAG is a commissioned officer appointed by the Governor in Council to superintend the administration of military justice. To ensure the independence of the military justice system, the JAG reports to the Minister of Defence and not to the CAF. Among the JAG's responsibilities relevant to this Review in relation to the administration of military justice, the JAG is responsible for court martial and summary trials. The effect of the limitation in the ERA's mandate is therefore to exclude from review the JAG's oversight of court martial proceedings and summary trial.
By contrast, responsibility for the military police rests with the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, who serves as the Commander of the Canadian Forces Military Police Group. Whereas the JAG is independent of the CAF, the Provost Marshal reports to the Vice-Chief of Defense Staff.
As we've heard and as Ms. Arbour will address, hopefully, in her recommendations on the restructuring, it is a huge job and one that I hope to comment on later, but change is very difficult when making major changes such as this, so her expertise will be excellent in proceeding on that.
It continues:
As such, the ERA's mandate encompasses a review of the conduct of military police, including the CFNIS, vis a vis incidents of sexual misconduct. This includes the policies and procedures by which the military police receive complaints of sexual misconduct, communicate with and provide support to victims, and exercise their discretion as to which organization—the [military police], the CFNIS, or civilian police—should or will investigate such allegations.
Given that the CDS did in fact direct that the policies, procedures and programs related to sexual misconduct are to be the subject of meaningful review, the narrower interpretation of the limitation must be favoured. As such, the ERA makes no comment with respect to court martials or summary trials. However, the ERA's mandate clearly encompasses a review of the policies, procedures and programs that have been adopted by the CAF with respect to the investigation of, and laying charges for, sexual misconduct by the military police.
That limitation is something else that the committee and Ms. Arbour, if the committee does not raise it, could look into.
Until recently, complaints related to CAF members that involved sexual assaults, and which occurred in Canada, were normally investigated by civilian police, and all charges for such allegations were prosecuted before the civilian courts. This changed in 1998, however, when Parliament amended the National Defence Act to also allow the military justice system to handle charges of sexual assault. Under the shared jurisdiction, approximately half of the cases investigated by CFNIS are referred to the civilian justice system for a number of reasons, such as they involve cadets who are not subject to the CDS, civilian victims, or incidents of family violence, etc. As a consequence, even if, as a matter of military police policy, the military justice system takes priority over the civilian system, the sharing of jurisdiction is a reality.
Military Police (MP) operate on CAF property and “outside Canada during contingency and expeditionary” circumstances. When the [military police] is informed of an incident involving a sexual assault they notify the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), which has jurisdiction over all sexual assaults. The CFNIS consists of members of the [military police] who are organized as an independent unit; it has jurisdiction over serious and sensitive offenses, including sexual assault. When CFNIS receives a report of a sexual assault, it determines whether it will exercise its investigative mandate, or whether it will refer jurisdiction back to the reporting [military police] unit. In practice, the CFNIS generally turns sexual assault incidents over to the [military police] where no penetration has occurred.
If the CFNIS determines that it will turn jurisdiction over to the local [military police], the [military police] can exercise their discretion as to whether or not the case will be pursued, following the same procedures as exist for other...charges.
As we heard in some of the victim testimony, there was not confidence in a number of cases that it was or would be pursued.
Notably, in determining whether or not charges should proceed, the [military police] consult with the chain of command.
That is another problem that we should be discussing in great depth right now.
By contrast, if CFNIS has carriage over the matter, it may lay charges without having to consult the chain of command.
According to comments made by Brigadier-General Pitzul several years after the CAF assumed jurisdiction over sexual assaults, the justification for allowing the military to deal with sexual assault is that such offences can have a detrimental impact on cohesion within a unit, and therefore should be treated in a similar manner to other offenses that may have the same effect.
I think all those offences will be looked at in our upcoming study on military justice, which hopefully we will get to soon.
It continues:
General Pitzul's comment is consistent with the purpose of creating a separate system of military justice, as described by Justice Lamer in R. v. Généreux:
The purpose of a separate system of military tribunals is to allow the Armed Forces to deal with matters that pertain directly to the discipline, efficiency and morale of the military.... [T]he military must be in a position to enforce internal discipline effectively and efficiently. Breaches of military discipline must be dealt with speedily and, frequently, punished more severely than would be the case if a civilian is engaged in such conduct.
Again, there has been testimony that it is not necessarily what always happens.
Unfortunately, victims of sexual assault have not reaped the benefits hoped for under the new jurisdiction. Victims criticize the lack of training of the [military police], poor support by the chain of command, and inconsistency with which charges of sexual assault are ultimately sanctioned.
These are the serious types of things on which we should be moving forward quickly and doing a report right now, making recommendations on these serious items that affect hundreds of present members in the military, and of course, the past members who are victims.
While civilian law enforcement, prosecutorial authorities, and courts have also been criticized for their conduct of sexual assault cases, there is a strong perception among members of the CAF that the way in which the military handles such cases is the cause of added prejudice to the victim.
They then go on to discuss the treatment of victims.
Many participants complained about problems in the reporting and investigation process. Criticisms by contributors and interviewees touched on many aspects of the process, starting with failure to call the military police in a timely way when a report of sexual assault was made, to not having been offered immediate medical support, being made to feel, even before providing a statement, at fault for what had occurred, the case held in abeyance because of confusion over jurisdiction, failure to follow up with key witnesses, and poor training with respect to investigating incidents of sexual assault. Participants criticized delays in the investigation process and having to repeatedly provide statements, which required them to relive the events each time.
Is that really fair?
The ERA heard many examples of failings in the investigation of sexual assaults, including concerns about the contamination of evidence, and a frequent perception that the [military police] lack in their understanding of the legal concept of consent. One interviewee, referring to procedural problems in the investigation which could potentially be relied upon to undermine a prosecution and secure an acquittal, commented: “Defence attorneys love [CFNIS investigations] because there are always issues”. Such problems have resulted in a serious lack of trust in the ability of the [military police] to properly handle reports of sexual assault.
These problems are particularly unfortunate, given that [military police] are specifically warned about the consequences of sexual assault on victims. For example, [military police] orders state that:
Sexual assault is one of the most traumatic types of criminal victimization.
Further:
Sexual assault is an act of aggression using power and control to dominate and violate an individual. It is not an act of intimacy.
That's why I was saying earlier, when I talked about the directives, that some of the appropriate directives are in place, but why is it not working?
The applicable policies therefore make it clear that, in the context of military life, sexual assault requires heightened attention, particularly when the aggressor is a member of the CAF “family”. As the Sexual Assault [military policy] protocol states:
Sexual assault frequently includes a violation of trust by those who are in a position of perceived or real power or authority.
If the sentiments behind these statements were put into action and the relevant policies were fully implemented, many of the misgivings of the contributors would be resolved. Indeed, the ERA finds that the problem lies not in the policies themselves, but with inadequate training, poor implementation, and members' lack of faith in the ability or interest of the military justice system to respond appropriately to instances of sexual assault. While the ERA met with a number of dedicated and knowledgeable members of the [military police], it also found that others were confused about the process, insensitive to the problem of sexual assault, lacking training on the basic elements of the offence, and unaware of the available resources.
One of the problems appears to be that, although policies and protocols are in place, [as I've mentioned a couple of times] the number of incidents the military police system handles is far fewer than those in the civilian justice system. The various parties in the system are therefore caught in a deteriorating cycle: the way victims feel about their treatment by the military police system feeds underreporting, and underreporting leaves the military police unable to develop and maintain appropriate skills to manage these sensitive and important cases.
The ERA is further concerned that less serious incidents of sexual assault are given inadequate attention and consideration. Participants in the Review commented that when victims have reported less severe assaults, including unwelcome touching of breasts, buttocks, etc., they have been told by MPs that these incidents would not be prosecuted in the civilian justice system. The clear message is that the matter is not serious enough to be pursued. Whether or not such comments about the likelihood of prosecution before a civilian court are accurate, members of the CAF deserve fuller protection by the military justice system. Unless the incident reported is an isolated and benign one where the principle of proportionality dictates restraint, sexual assaults, even those that leave no physical injury, must be taken seriously. If criminal sanctions are inappropriate, the chain of command can resort to administrative or disciplinary action to send a clear signal that the dignity of all members will be protected. Only strong sanctions, through military justice, disciplinary and administrative action, will deter further assaults. Both individual and general deterrence are important.
The ERA further notes that while not all assaults are of the same gravity, different victims will react differently to an assault, depending on their own particular experiences and psychological make-up. While an incident of unwelcome touching may leave no psychological impact on one person, this same conduct may cause serious psychological injury to another. The thin skull principle in Canadian law makes clear that an aggressor does not get to choose his victim; regardless of how severe an assault, the conduct constitutes an offence under the Criminal Code. Discounting incidents of sexual assault where there has been no physical injury is inconsistent with Canadian law, which views psychological harm as seriously as physical harm.
I'm sure all members of the committee are totally on side and understand that and want to do something about it.
Overall, the ERA found that the difficulties met by victims of sexual assault have a damaging effect not only on the individual victims—who do not achieve resolution to serious and traumatic incidents—but on the CAF as a whole. When incidents of sexual assault go unresolved, this negatively impacts the CAF both because individual members have been harmed, and because it perpetuates the perception that the CAF does not take such incidents seriously.
With regard to data collection, as I mentioned earlier, the data is showing very many cases but not very many complaints.
As with sexual harassment, there is very poor collection of data regarding incidents of sexual assault in the CAF. Since sexual assaults go widely unreported, the data does not in any way reflect the actual rate of occurrence. Even where complaints are laid, the fact of a sexual assault will often be buried in the court record. For example, if the accused pleads guilty to an alcohol-related charge, or to conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, only a careful review of the sentence will, in some cases, indicate that the conduct or underlying issue involved acts of a sexual nature.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-30 14:23
I don't have too much more, but I don't think any committee member who seriously wants to help the victims thinks that this is inappropriate information or thinks that we should be discussing things as opposed to the witnesses. As I said, there are a whole bunch of witnesses related to the appointment of General Vance and the serious situation while an investigation was under way who could be called, but this doesn't help the victims.
I appreciate Mr. Bezan's comment. Yes, hopefully we can have this testimony put forward to our next study so that it doesn't have to be repeated, because some of it would be very helpful. The information that I'm providing is related to feedback and study on sexual assault, which is related to sexual misconduct in the military, which is the exact subject of our study.
As I said, I don't have too much more to go on this section.
Tracking the occurrence—
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-30 14:25
No, sorry.
Tracking the occurrence and outcome of incidents of sexual assault is essential to determine if the CAF's policies are functioning to improve the conduct of its members, both on an individual and systemic basis.
I'll just quickly finish off the last bit here:
In any event, even where a case of sexual assault is referred to civilian authorities, the CAF should carry out its own parallel assessment as to whether any administrative sanctions should be imposed (for example, suspension, demotion, release from the CAF, etc.). The ERA was informed that the [military police] maintains a shadow file for all incidents involving CAF members that are processed by civilian authorities. The CAF is therefore in a position to impose administrative measures on a perpetrator. The imposition of administrative sanctions is important in demonstrating to members the seriousness with which the CAF....
To achieve consistency in administrative measures, the CAF should establish guidelines to help guide COs. Factors to be taken into account in determining the appropriate sanction should include not only the personal circumstances of the offender and the nature of the incident, but the organization's over-arching goal of creating a more inclusive organizational culture that is less hostile to women and LGBTQ [2—I added the “2”] members.
As was the motivation for this input and the part A of this that I put at the previous meeting, I don't think there are any members on the committee who do not think these are the serious issues we should be trying to get to the bottom of and make the most effective recommendations on that we can to help the minister, to give him moral authority. He can and will go ahead without us. He's heard this stuff, the various input from the victims, from the Deschamps report.
Ms. Arbour will make the very important recommendations on some of the important things we've heard during the course of this study, particularly on the independent process, but also I think that would have an effect on the repercussions related to reporting, which is one of the three major items, and of course the culture.
As I said, there could be.... We wanted to stay on the investigation of the one General Vance investigation, one of hundreds of potential perpetrators. The seriousness of it has been investigated since 2015, because of his appointment while there were charges. All those witnesses could be called, but the point I've been making since the beginning, and Mr. Baker's point, is that we should get on with solving the serious input we've had from the victims and dealing with structural change.
As I think Ms. Romanado said, this didn't just occur recently. This is a long-time, systemic change both in our military, and as Mr. Spengemann said, in many militaries.
This committee actually could be part of leading the way on solving this systemic problem from decades back if we get on with that right away and give the minister some more moral authority for the direction he has been moving in since he was appointed. I listed at the beginning of my input a number of things he's done, unparalleled things he's done, to address sexual misconduct.
I'll continue to be very happy if we can make the structural changes necessary to deal with the culture and the reporting and the independence. If I can be part of that, I will be very happy. If we don't get it done....
I think all of the committee members I've heard from have mentioned it in their input at some time and really want to do that too.
That's the basis of my input.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-07 14:18
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just want to make a couple of comments before I go to my questions.
First of all, there were some things said from other members that don't really jibe with the evidence we've had today . One thing was the words “dropped the ball”. When you turn something over for an investigation in almost record speed, you've hardly dropped the ball or covered up. The words “covered up” were used once. What could be covered up when it was turned over to investigators and investigators did everything they could with actually no information?
Also, the word “serious” has been mentioned at various times. It certainly was a serious allegation, but we didn't find that out until this year. At the time, as numerous witnesses said, they had no idea what the allegation was or if it was serious or not, so just to make sure....
There has also been discussion about all the things that have been done since the Deschamps report. Both today and previously there's been some discussion on a number of things and actions that have been taken. Of course, everyone admits that it's not enough.
I just want to add to that list a very strong administrative directive, DAOD 9005-1, which I read in detail about a month ago. It really does make serious changes to the directives, the whole direction to the members of the military, to try to address this serious systemic problem.
Going on from all those moves that have been made, those improvements that have been made, which certainly haven't solved the problem yet, budget 2021 included a substantial investment to address the very issues we are discussing at committee today. I can imagine the very active discussions on this matter when the government was working on the budget, and that questions around how the budget could be tooled to support much-needed cultural change were no doubt top of mind.
Obviously funding alone is not enough, nor is it a silver bullet, but the budgets reflect the government's values, and it was clear in this budget that the government was taking this matter seriously. This is a $236-million investment to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the Canadian Forces.
Ms. Telford, I know you cannot divulge the cabinet process or those deliberations that led to supporting this funding in the budget, but I'm wondering if you have any reflections from that process about the value of this investment and what you think you can do, and any other thoughts that might be relevant on this subject.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 12:26
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.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 12:33
Thank you.
If Ms. Gallant wants to add to the stalling by continuously bringing points of order, this is a motion about a witness. As I said at the beginning, there could be more effective ones if the committee insists on stalling this further.
The framework of 9005 on sexual misconduct is elaborated and identified using specific languages and definitions—
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 12:36
Thank you, Madam Chair.
All I was saying was that, if the opposition member would withdraw the motion, they wouldn't continue prolonging this when members of the military really need the action we know is necessary at this time.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 12:37
Thank you.
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.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 13:19
On that point of order, Ms. Gallant keeps making the same point of order, and it's not a point of order. I suggest we carry on.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 13:57
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm going to pick up where Mr. Baker left off.
As you know, the three major areas for improvement or for recommendations that victims have given, which are of primacy, are the culture—
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 13:57
The three major areas for improvement were the culture, the independence of the processes and the repercussions on reporting.
Mr. Baker did a good outline from Deschamps on the culture, information on culture. I'm going to follow up on another major area, which is the independence of processes.
Except where sexual harassment rises to the level of criminal conduct, sexual harassment and sexual assault are treated as distinct and unrelated conduct. In the ERA's review, this strict dichotomy is misplaced and risks allowing some improper sexual conduct to go unpunished, particularly low-level sexual assaults. Moreover, the consultations raised a number of serious concerns with respect to whether the procedures currently in place are appropriate and effective.
Because sexual assault and sexual harassment are treated separately, I will start with how sexual harassment is dealt with and then in my next intervention, I will go on to the processes for sexual assault, although as it was said earlier, they shouldn't necessarily be treated separately, but at the moment they are.
Under the “Current Practices” related to sexual harassment:
The practices and procedures for receiving, investigating and adjudicating a complaint of sexual harassment are set out in a number of different policy documents within the CAF. As noted, DAOD 5012-0 regulates four different types of harassment: personal harassment, abuse of power, sexual harassment, and racism. While the DAOD establishes the broad parameters of the policy—including the delegation of authority to certain individuals to receive, investigate and adjudicate complaints of harassment—more detailed instructions are provided in the Harassment Prevention and Resolution Guidelines.
They then refer to them as the “Guidelines”.
These Guidelines are intended to provide procedural guidance in support of the Harassment Prevention and Resolution Policy. They are issued under the authority of the CDS and have the same compulsory force as the DAOD 5012-0. Both DAOD 5012-0 and the Guidelines flow “directly from and are consistent with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace”.
As set out in DAOD 5012-0 and in the Guidelines, COs and other more senior officers may be assigned the responsibility to adjudicate harassment complaints and, in such circumstances, are referred to as ROs. ROs have decision-making authority under the DAOD and the Guidelines. They receive specific instructions from the CDS to discharge their duties. Guidance is also provided to Harassment Advisors—
I'll refer to them as HAs.
—whose role includes advising ROs with respect to processing a complaint of harassment. HAs are designated by COs and will generally be members of a unit who have either volunteered, or been requested, to serve in this role.
The Harassment Advisor Reference Manual identifies two broad approaches to resolving harassment complaints: (1) alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which is “encouraged”; and (2) administrative investigation. Generally speaking, complainants are strongly encouraged to pursue ADR (either through informal ADR techniques used by those in the chain [of] command, or with the assistance of a third party mediator) before laying a formal complaint and requesting an administrative investigation. In either case, the Harassment Advisor Manual establishes that one of the guiding principles for the RO is to attempt to resolve the problem at the lowest possible level utilizing ADR techniques:
“When harassment has occurred and/or a harassment complaint has been submitted, DND employees and CAF members are encouraged to resolve harassment issues at the most appropriate, lowest possible level, through alternative dispute resolution techniques.”
In either case, the harassment adviser manual establishes that one of the guiding principles for the RO is to attempt to resolve the problem at the lowest level.
The report continues as follows:
This focus on low-level resolution and ADR is also reiterated in the RO Guide.
Given these procedural requirements, before a harassment complaint is fully resolved, a harassment victim may be required to go through three separate stages. The first stage (ADR) takes place after the victim reports the improper conduct but before a formal complaint is lodged, the second stage (the Administrative Investigation) is initiated once a complaint is filed, and the third stage (a grievance) occurs if a party seeks to challenge the RO’s decision on the complaint.
With respect to the first stage, although it is not mandatory, the CAF strongly encourages its members to start by using so-called “self-help” techniques whereby the concerned individual should first speak directly to the instigator of the unwelcome conduct....If the immediate supervisor cannot help, or if the supervisor is a party to the incident, the victim may turn to a higher-level supervisor to seek his or her intervention. This approach is part of the CAF’s “open door” policy. If recourse to the chain of command does not produce adequate results, or if it is not appropriate, the member may be offered formal ADR with the help of a third party mediator.
If none of these techniques is successful or appropriate, the victim may lay a formal complaint, which leads to the second stage: an administrative investigation. This is generally initiated by a written complaint and triggers certain procedural obligations, such as that the complainant has the right to receive information about the complaint. A workplace relation advisor (WRA) can also be assigned to the complainant. The WRA provides information about the investigation process, but cannot provide advice on the merits of the complaint. For moral and additional administrative support, both the complainant and the respondent can also receive the help of an “Assistant”. As with Has and WRAs, Assistants are members who have volunteered, or who have been requested, to take on [that] role.
Once a written complaint is received, a situational assessment is conducted. The Guidelines foresee that the investigation process is seldom terminated at this stage, however:
“There may be exceptional circumstances where the RO is completely satisfied that he/she has all the facts.”
In such rare circumstances, the RO will decide, based on the situational assessment, whether the criteria provided in DAOD 5012-0 are met or not. If he or she is not so satisfied, a harassment investigation will be conducted by a harassment investigator (HI). An HI is either a member who has been certified as an investigator through CAF training, or a civilian certified to conduct investigations. Also, if it is found that the facts warrant the continuation of the investigation process, the complainant will again be invited to use ADR. If it is determined that an HI must be appointed, terms of reference (TOR) circumscribing the mandate of the HI are drafted, and the file will be assigned to an HI.
After completing the investigation, the HI must first...draft [a] report, which does not contain any recommendations. The RO reviews the draft report for conformity with the TOR. Once the RO is satisfied that the draft report is consistent with the TOR, the RO forwards it both to the complainant and to the respondent. The RO must ensure that procedural fairness is respected. The RO is then in a position to make a decision as to whether or not administrative action will be taken, and of what kind. In the case of a harassment complaint that is found to be substantiated, the RO can impose remedial measures, which range from counselling to a written warning on the perpetrator’s record or, in the most severe cases, counselling and probation and release from the CAF.
The Guidelines provide that if either party is not satisfied with the decision of the RO, he or she can grieve the decision. Although the grievance process is not used exclusively for harassment complaints, for a harassment [complaint], it is the third and final stage. The grievance is submitted to an Initial Authority, who is usually the CO of the complainant. Upon receipt of the grievance, the CO must first determine if he or she is in a position to offer redress. If the CO has this authority and has no conflict of interest, he or she will make the initial decision on the grievance. If he or she is not in a position to adjudicate, the grievance will be forwarded to an officer who has the appropriate authority. Principles of procedural fairness must be followed, including disclosure to the respondent. If the grievor or the respondent remains unsatisfied with the decision of the Initial Authority, he or she can ask the Final Authority—the CDS—to review the grievance decision. The CDS may ask the Military Grievance External Review Committee (MGERC) to review the matter and present recommendations. The MGERC is an independent body, and it does not have authority to issue a final and binding decision, but only to make recommendations to the CDS.
In addition to the multiplicity of policy documents that apply across the CAF, more explicit or specific orders may also be issued by the COs of the Naval, Land and Air Forces, which apply to the members in the unit. Within each formation or unit, additional orders may be made which may reiterate, or in some cases expand upon, the words of the policy. As a consequence, just as a subordinate member must obey the order of his or her superior unless it is manifestly illegal, in practice members must abide by the lowest level instrument, the CO’s standing orders, which he or she is asked to recognize in writing upon joining the unit—
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 14:11
Thank you. I'll continue:
For example, unless it is illegal, a seaman must follow the standing orders issued by the vessel’s CO, without questioning whether these are consistent with the upper level policy statements in the DAOD or Guidelines.
The ERA notes that this normative order is significantly different than in the civilian world. In civilian law, there is a clear hierarchy of law, which is vertical and works top down. The most fundamental law, the Constitution, takes precedence over statutes, which take precedence over regulations, which take precedence over policies. Every citizen may question the authority of a government policy, regulation or law if it appears to be contrary to the Constitution. In the military, by contrast, a number of different policy instruments all have the same—horizontal—normative force. This can result in the inconsistent interpretation and application of CAF policies and, in practice, may lead to practices that do not conform to the policies.
Given this difference in the operation of rules, it is all the more important that CAF leadership is appropriately trained in the content and importance of policies on inappropriate sexual conduct, in order to ensure a more consistent implementation of the policies across the organization.
Not surprisingly, given the number of different stages involved in a harassment complaint and the number of steps within each stage, interviewees described the harassment complaint process as confusing and overly complex. In addition, participants raised a number of concerns which highlighted substantive problems with the processes in place to investigate sexual harassment.
7.1.2 Lowest-level Resolution
The ERA heard numerous serious criticisms about the CAF’s policy of attempting to resolve sexual harassment complaints at the lowest level. The purpose of this policy appears to be to allow for the resolution of minor disputes without unnecessarily escalating a complaint, which can be damaging both for the respondent and for the complainant. While this goal is laudable, the ERA found that in fact the policy acted as a major disincentive for complainants to come forward or pursue a complaint. In particular, the policy fails to recognize the anxiety many complainants may feel about having to face their aggressor, and the fact that the imbalance of power that may have given rise to inappropriate sexual conduct may still be at play in the context of “low-level resolution” or mediation. For example, while several resolute female interviewees said that they had been able to speak up about sexually harassing conduct and to confront the perpetrator, many more interviewees indicated that ADR techniques were not appropriate for sexual harassment cases because victims were not comfortable taking a confrontational position, particularly when the harasser was of a higher rank.
Further, the vast majority of interviewees who did take the step of discussing their complaint with supervisors reported that the complaint was not taken seriously. Responses from supervisors ranged from warning the complainant about the negative consequences to their careers if they continued with the complaint, to openly disbelieving the victim. Regardless of the basis upon which the supervisor discouraged the complainant from pursuing a complaint, it is clear that the policy of “lowest-level resolution” is a major impediment to the resolution of sexual harassment complaints and to a change in the overall culture of the CAF.
Furthermore, the ERA heard that the process of attempting to resolve complaints at the lowest level tends to undermine confidentiality—a key concern for most complainants. Lowest-level resolution requires sharing the information with the supervisor, or potentially escalating the complaint through numerous individuals up to the RO. Further, witnesses may need to be interviewed if an investigation is launched. All of which will result in a serious loss of confidentiality as a number of members will necessarily learn both about the details of the incident, and the fact that the victim has made a complaint. As a result, interviewees indicated that they preferred not to report out of fear that their reputations would be damaged, and the stigma that would likely attach. Many victims were also concerned about being labelled as someone who would complain about a teammate, which could result in becoming socially ostracized. Interviewees further reported that harassment incidents are “swept under the carpet” by those higher up in the chain of command. The easy answer from supervisors when learning of a complaint seems to be to just “get over it”.
Ultimately, the ERA found that, despite the good intentions [from] the policy, the pressure to settle a complaint at the lowest level functions to stifle complaints at an early stage and to intimidate complainants so that they will not pursue legitimate concerns. As a result, [the] actual or perceived roadblocks prevent victims from obtaining satisfactory resolution where sexual harassment has occurred, and feeds distrust in the system.
Furthermore, the policy of resolving complaints at the lowest level is inconsistent with the CAF’s zero tolerance policy. This policy is embodied in DAOD 5012-0:
“Harassment in any form constitutes unacceptable conduct and will not be tolerated.”
Because the practical effect of the low-level resolution policy is that complainants are strongly discouraged from pursuing their complaints and incidents of sexual harassment are swept under the carpet, this directly undermines the credibility of the CAF’s zero tolerance policy. Most participants viewed the zero tolerance policy as purely rhetorical, with little connection to the reality on the ground.
In respect to the “Open-Door Policy”, it states:
At the same time that many interviewees reported facing difficulties resolving complaints at the lowest level, the ERA found that attempts to escalate complaints to a higher level were also largely unsuccessful. Although several COs advised the ERA that the CAF has an open door policy, many interviewees described this as an unrealistic option. Too many NCOs are seen as part of the boys’ club and concerned more with protecting the reputation of their unit than supporting [the] victim. Interviewees further reported that, groomed by NCOs, junior officers often turn a blind eye to inappropriate sexual conduct. Moreover, not only is it seriously frowned upon to skip a level in the chain of command, but there also appears to be only a small number of exceptionally open COs who would be prepared to act on a complaint of sexual harassment in a meaningful way when a complainant skips one or more levels of the chain of command.
As a result, the practical reality is that when a member attempts to meet with a CO about a...harassment complaint, the “open door” is in fact guarded by a number of persons who insist on knowing why the CO is being approached. In such circumstances, the possibility of filing a formal complaint with an HA is not a realistic option, nor is the purported right of the complainant to convey his or her concerns directly to the CO or to someone at a higher level. Again, this creates serious impediments to reporting and to the effective investigation and resolution of complaints. It only takes one person in the chain of command to make a complaint disappear. Indeed, an individual who can make a complaint disappear is generally seen as a problem-solver and as appropriately protecting his superior.
Now I want to talk about “Challenges with Using ADR”. It states:
The heavy reliance on ADR techniques in the complaint procedures also raises concerns. The RO Guide suggests that ROs should consider ADR at two different points. First, ROs should consider utilizing ADR techniques early in the complaint process, before the administrative investigation is formally set in motion. Second, if this early attempt at resolution is unsuccessful and a formal complaint is filed, ADR should be utilized after the harassment investigation is concluded. While, theoretically, alternative dispute resolution has certain advantages, a number of critics have suggested that this approach is generally not appropriate when addressing incidents of sexual harassment. As one researcher notes, “(p)lacing the responsibility to confront the harasser on the person being harassed does not work well within the rigid power relations and hierarchy of the military.” Moreover, as a participant commented, the CAF’s ADR service is designed to help restore harmony to the workplace, not to address the broad cultural aspects of inappropriate sexual conduct. This comment was substantiated by many comments the ERA heard from participants in the Review. Indeed, it is not insignificant that although almost 15 years have passed since the adoption of the DAOD 5012-0, the ERA was not provided with any examples in which ADR techniques had been successfully used for sexual harassment cases.
Nonetheless, even if ADR techniques are generally inappropriate in addressing sexual harassment complaints, there may be a limited number of circumstances in which a complainant prefers to address the complaint with the help of a third party mediator—
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Lib. (YT)
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-19 14:22
I had to get water to clear my throat.
The essence of ADR is to offer an empowering approach to conflict resolution. In the context of sexual harassment, this principle is key because of the importance to victims of being able to exercise a degree of autonomy in the complaint process. For this reason, victims need to retain some control over the process and should, without pressure to settle, be offered ADR only as one possible course of action.
There are a few other problems related to this process:
Even where sexual harassment complaints were ultimately held to be well-founded and remedial measures were imposed, the sanctions were often perceived by interviewees as a “slap on the wrist” and meaningless—for example being required to complete an on-line training course—and inconsistent. At the same time, as previously discussed, complainants may experience a number of negative repercussions as the result of pursuing a complaint, including impediments to career progression, stigma, and becoming socially ostracized. The dichotomy of outcomes for the victim and harasser reinforces the view of many members, discussed above, that CAF does not take sexual harassment complaints seriously.
The ERA also heard frequently from interviewees that an unintended consequence of the posting system is that harassment complaints are not dealt with in a timely fashion by the departing CO, and are left for the incoming CO to deal with when he or she is new to a unit, and least capable of effectively resolving the matter. The fact that the cost of the harassment investigation is borne by the unit also appears to be a disincentive to ordering an investigation.
Overall, the ERA found that the complexity of policies and procedures related to sexual harassment diminishes the relative value of each one. In addition, the policies are, at times, inconsistent and inefficient. Reporting is not encouraged and the higher leadership is protected from information about what is occurring on the ground. In fact, the CDS’s instructions to COs indicate that ROs are unlikely to even hear about a harassment incident unless and until a written complaint is filed. Ultimately, many of those who used the formal complaint process were left scarred. One interviewee described the experience as “atrocious”, and a number stated that they would not do it again.
Just to sum up here, I'll add one more point on the collection of data:
Finally, the ERA found that data with respect to harassment complaints, investigations, and outcomes are not recorded in a systematic way. Although several members indicated that it would be possible to simply enter data with respect to sexual harassment complaints in logs already in use, this is not currently taking place. The Harassment Complaint Tracking System appears unreliable for many reasons, including the lack of clear instructions as to how and when to file reports, confusion over coding systems, and the absence of any sanction where members simply fail to use the tracking system. The Significant Incident Report (SIR) system appears to be more widely used but, as its name indicates, only tracks the most serious incidents. Further, the ERA was warned about the unreliability of the Canadian Forces Health Information System (CFHIS).
The end result is a general absence of any means of assessing the frequency of reported incidents or how these incidents were dealt with—including whether investigations were carried out, the length of time between when a complaint was lodged and any resolution achieved, and the nature of the ultimate sanction, if any. This makes it impossible for the CAF to measure the overall accountability of the chain of command in responding to harassment complaints. This lack of accountability allows those in command to minimize or ignore complaints if they choose, and those who breach the policies on sexual harassment to do so with impunity.
There are a number of serious problems with the investigation process, so what are the avenues for improvement to those? Some of them are:
Overall, the ERA found that the harassment complaint process is overly complex, emphasizes informal resolution to the detriment of victims, and impedes the CAF from fully confronting and resolving incidents of sexual harassment. As such, three important steps should be taken to improve the harassment complaint process.
First, as previously discussed, complainants should be able to report complaints of sexual harassment to the CASAH, acting as an independent authority outside of the CAF, and should have control over whether the complaint triggers a formal complaint process, including a possible investigation. If a victim chooses not to initiate an investigation, he or she should still have access to support and advice. If the complainant decides to commence a formal complaint process, the complaint would trigger the administrative investigation process.
Second, the process should be simplified and streamlined. Formal complaints should be channelled directly to a grievance procedure before a CO acting as an adjudicator, rather than emphasizing the use of self-help techniques, or requiring the [complainant] to pass through numerous members in the chain of command and then through the formal investigation process. This would have the advantage of making sure that incidents of sexual harassment would come to the attention of the CO as quickly as possible. The griever and the respondent would both be offered assistance to advise and support them with respect to the grievance procedures. Similar to the current practice for harassment complaints, the CO could have the option of requesting an HI to conduct a more in-depth investigation. Both parties would also have the right to submit a written statement to the CO. The respondent would be entitled to procedural fairness, including disclosure of the relevant information.
Finally, the third recommendation reads:
...the policy should significantly reduce the emphasis on ADR and low-level resolution of complaints. Requiring the victim to confront his or her harasser, particularly where there is an imbalance of power, will be inappropriate in most instances. While the CO should give the grievor the option of utilizing the most appropriate ADR mechanism, it should be made clear to her [or him] that this is only one option, and is entirely voluntary.
The proposed model allows the member to have access to a simplified process—one that is reduced from three stages to just one. In addition, under this model, the CO retains better control of his or her unit and is able to intervene at a much earlier stage.
To summarize that recommendation, it reads:
Simplify the harassment process by:
Directing formal complaints to COs acting as adjudicators in a grievance. [and]
Reducing emphasis on ADR.
As I said, sexual assault is dealt with differently, and I'll go over the processes and recommendations related to it in my next intervention.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:26
Thank you very much for being here, Mr. Marques. You're really providing the best you can, which is great. We really appreciate it at the committee.
I want to ask you a couple of questions. You may have covered them already, but I want to make sure we have the information on the record. We know that the Minister of National Defence's then chief of staff reached out to your office to bring the situation to your attention.
Can you confirm when you were first contacted on the issue, what steps you followed and when they occurred?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:28
Mr. Bezan covered this a bit. We also know that this was raised to the Clerk of the Privy Council Office within hours of the allegations being brought forward. Were you the one who brought the allegations to the Clerk of the Privy Council Office?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:29
Would it be fair to say that the minister's chief of staff, and consequently you yourself, moved pretty quickly to try to establish an independent process to investigate these allegations?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:30
Okay. This has been very helpful.
Did you ever refuse to come to this committee?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:30
We established that you took action immediately upon receipt of the information. I'd like to move on and ask why you thought it was appropriate to bring these allegations directly to the Clerk of the Privy Council Office.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:32
Thank you very much.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 14:53
Thank you very much, Mr. Marques.
I just wanted to make sure this was on the record. There was a suggestion that the allegation that people were dealing with was serious, and I'm very glad that you took it seriously, as if it could be serious, although there was no evidence as to whether it was serious.
There was another suggestion that the ball was dropped. However, given that a complaint—you didn't even know how serious it was—was immediately forwarded to the people who should investigate it, and given the fact that you needed some amount of information to investigate that wasn't yet available, the file was left open so that an investigation could occur as soon as the information became available. I'm not sure who would have dropped the ball. It just seems everything was done appropriately.
We've heard in your remarks and answers that you had limited knowledge of what the complaint was about, but you still tried to get the allegations looked into. Is that correct? We appreciate that you did that.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 14:56
Would you say that every independent option you had at the time was taken to ensure the allegations were looked at by the appropriate authorities, which was the Privy Council Office in this case?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 14:58
I assume you agree that it's time to move on with the recommendations to improve this serious situation.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 14:41
I'm sorry; did you call me?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 14:41
I would like to know from Ms. Gallant how summoning gives more protection. I didn't understand that comment and what evidence she had that someone was preventing him from appearing.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 14:45
I just want to say, as I have from the beginning, as has Mr. Baker, that we know the problems. We should be getting on with them, whether they're the chain of command, independence, fear of reporting or the culture. I really think we should get on with that.
I'm still waiting to hear from Ms. Gallant. She suggested that a summons provides more protection, so if she could explain that to me.... I just don't understand. The committee protection is here for any witness, whether they're invited or summoned.
The second point is that she suggested someone was preventing the witness from coming, so perhaps she could provide the evidence of that too. I can't really go forward to a vote until I hear the rationale for those two items.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 15:03
Thank you.
I agree with everything Mr. Baker said, except that he took my questions.
I did want to say that I was very disappointed that.... I had important questions for Commander Patterson on reprisals and on the lack of reporting that was shown in recent reports. Before I could proceed on this, I was still waiting for answers to the questions that I asked. It was suggested someone's preventing the witness from appearing. Who is that? As well, it was suggested the witness would have more protection with a summons than if he just accepted the invitation, which he has not refused, so I need clarification on those items before we could go to this very strong process of a summons.
If committees don't use their powers judiciously, I would worry it could incite a movement to reduce committee powers, so I think we have to be very careful. We have very important abilities and powers and we should use them as required, but only as required.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 15:08
Thank you.
I think almost everyone who has spoken so far has said how critical this procedure is, how serious this is, and how it needs to be respected, but I haven't heard from a lot of the members. I'd like to hear, as I said, the answers to my two questions that were put in this debate. Most members haven't weighed in on whether they agree on this strong process. We haven't even had a rejection yet.
I note that the Library of Parliament has suggested to us that there are over 30,000 people in the military who we're aware of who are affected by this, and we really have to get on to the strong recommendations related to culture, related to the chain of command and related to having no fear of reprisals for reporting.
I, for one, will be very disappointed if we don't move on quickly with those recommendations, get them done and make this change. Change is never easy, but I'm sure that all members of the committee agree that we have to change those items, and we should do it while it's possible.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 15:47
Thank you very much, and thank you for the health break. I needed it.
I had a longer intervention, but I—
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 15:48
Sorry.
I'll be brief this time. I had a longer intervention. One of the things I asked about the last time was to hear the opinion of some others on making this serious change and precedent. I'm not sure how many times a witness has been co-operative in these calls with the clerk and did not refuse to attend, and when that's ever occurred, if they've actually dropped the hammer and summoned such a person.
I appreciate that Ms. Alleslev and Mr. Garrison are going to give their views on that, so I'll save the rest of my intervention until I've heard those.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 16:09
Thank you.
As per my last request, I appreciate that Mr. Garrison and Ms. Alleslev made some comments, but I don't think they commented on my question, which was about breaking the precedent when someone has not refused and going to a summons, which is a very serious invocation of one of our powers. I never thought of what Mr. Spengemann said about having the subcommittee hash this out, but I certainly would be supportive of that. You can always achieve more in a small group. I think it's easier, and that might work.
There was a suggestion by one of the committee members that the witness would provide some important new information. I'm not sure we should be prejudging what a witness will provide. If we knew what they were providing, we wouldn't have to call them, so I can't agree with that.
I appreciate Mr. Garrison's intent. Particularly, he emphasized what I said. He said it would be a long and hard road, so we agree. I think that's why we have to start right away working on the recommendations. I think a witness in FEWO said that it had been asking for these for years. We know what they are, and they want us to get on with it.
I'm not sure why there would be lack of confidence in the leadership. Do you know this leadership has put in more changes to try to work on this in recent years than ever before? There was particularly the change of the administrative DAOD 5019-5, which was updated and superseded by DAOD 9005-1. You can see with what the Library of Parliament sent that it has some very important suggested changes.
When there was a rumour, it was given within, I think, 24 hours to the PCO. That's not ignoring a possibility. It actually went to investigation, and as all the witnesses that I remember said, there wasn't more that could have been done with the information they had to investigate.
I think we have far extended the number of meetings and witnesses and time from the first motion on this, so I'll just keep up my quest to get, as Mr. Garrison said, onto a hard road and get to some very important recommendations.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 16:43
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I agree with Ms. Larouche that it would be great to hear from Commander Patterson. I certainly had a number of questions for her.
As you know, there are several senior members under investigation. Those are independent investigations, and they will be taken care of. As the Library of Parliament said, though, there was a survey in 2018 of 55,300 active members, and more than 30,000 had experienced or witnessed inappropriate behaviour. Those are the ones we have to deal with, not the few.
Trust is important—that has been brought up—and I think that if we have a trust to get these changes made, it will be under a minister who has already made a number of changes to try to deal with this. Obviously, more needs to be done. We've heard it. I look forward to hearing from Ms. Vandenbeld later concerning more of those recommendations.
I don't think, however, that any of the serving members would be against the fact that we have to.... The main things we've heard of in these recommendations that we should be discussing are related to the independence of the processes; the role of the chain of command in the process; the culture change, which the witnesses have said will not be done all at once—there's a lot that needs to be done that we could be working on now—and the fear of reporting.
One thing I wanted to ask Commander Patterson is whether there's a reprisal in the code of service discipline related to providing a negative reaction to someone who's reporting, or whether there's an offence in the code of service discipline or the code of values and ethics.
There should certainly be disciplinary measures, when there are more than 30,000 people who are affected or aware. The reporting was only done the next year. Out of 30,000, there were only 84 reports of sexual assault, 34 of harassment and 80 of inappropriate behaviour. Obviously, then, there are things that are inhibiting the reporting. We've heard that from witnesses.
That's the recommendation. It's what we should be talking about at this time. That's what we should be getting on with quickly, so that we can get these changes made while there's time.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 17:10
I know a number of the recommendations are related to better support for the victims, and certainly that support has to be outside the chain of command. How would anyone feel about reporting inside the chain of command? You would obviously be very hesitant. It adds to my earlier point that it should be a serious offence to have any repercussions from reporting.
More important than support for the victims, for me, is that we shouldn't have victims. We should really take the recommendations seriously to reduce or eliminate the number of victims from, as I said earlier, the 30,000 people who were either aware or actually were victims. That wasn't in their lifetime or in their service in the military, that was in a 12-month period. It's absolutely shocking, and a reason all efforts should be made to make sure that we make changes.
There are suggestions that the evidence from the witness we're talking about is important, but that's a bit of prejudging, because we don't know what the person is going to say. We have had a number of witnesses say there was not enough evidence to proceed with an investigation or the willingness of the person involved. Any independent investigative body needs sufficient evidence, sufficient information, to undertake an investigation. If it wasn't there, I'm not sure what more evidence could be provided.
The last thing is related to recommendations. Obviously, and I don't think anyone refutes this fact, in recent years the government has made a lot of very important changes, including the directive DAOD 9005-1. The problem is that sometimes we can make recommendations and they don't work. I'm sure in the process somewhere along the way there were recommendations related to training, yet I heard input from a member that people took it as a joke and there were no repercussions for not taking it seriously.
The recommendation was followed, but obviously it didn't work. It didn't have the desired effect. I'm hoping there are recommendations on how to make sure the recommendations are taken seriously and that the previous recommendations, which may have been good, are followed up on.
There is a famous saying about complex problems that for every complex problem there's a simple solution, and it's wrong. Obviously, it's going to be complex. I think one of the complexities is to figure out why recommendations and processes that are already in place, which in theory are the right thing to do, are not having the desired effect. We have some very thoughtful people from all parties on the committee, and hopefully they will go into depth on that very intellectual point about how things that are recommended, that are there and are right and are even in place, are not working. I look forward to that part of the report.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-16 18:00
Thank you, Madam Chair.
A number of committee members have mentioned what potential evidence might come from another witness, but few have spoken yet about the process. That's about the serious ramifications of inviting someone who has not refused to come and, as a number of members have mentioned, what the serious ramifications of abusing that process could be. I look forward to hearing that from members who haven't spoken about that process.
There's a saying in government that there's not much use in doing it if you can't measure the results. I'm hoping that there are certainly ways of measuring the results of the recommendations we're talking about. As we've seen in the past, some things have been done, but they haven't necessarily worked.
First of all, I want to commend all the committee members for taking this so seriously and thinking about these many recommendations that Ms. Vandenbeld has mentioned. Know that everyone is really dedicated to doing what we can to fix this, and as soon as possible.
I've been taking the philosophy that I'm not getting into the details of recommendations but rather talking about the context. However, I'm going to break that for one small point. I heard—and I can't remember if it was in committee or it was directly—that a woman required a piece of equipment that had a different design or that was personally made because she was a woman. The commander told all the people in that division, group or base, whatever it was, that they couldn't do a lot of other things because that woman's piece of equipment took up all the money, which was obviously ridiculous. I'm hoping it's in the recommendations that we've heard so far or are going to hear that anything like that, anything that's to help gender inclusivity, be in a totally different budget. It doesn't detract from someone's budget. It can't be used as an excuse. That's an absolutely ridiculous situation.
To get back to my philosophy of talking about just the overall context, I want people to think about it. Someone chooses a career, and a very honourable career. The military is not just any career. It's very honourable. They put their life at risk for a country they really believe in. They're already investing a lot more than they would normally need to invest in some other careers. Then a situation occurs that could harm them physically or devastate them mentally or emotionally. Under normal circumstances, they would report that and have it dealt with, but if they're in a situation where reporting that could devastate that whole career and could set them back from the reason they were there in the first place and could negate all the years of dedication that they have given and their chance to move forward and make even more contributions, what an awful position to be in.
It's heartbreaking. I'm not sure how many of us could take that, psychologically. That's the thing that I think what we've been discussing this afternoon has to fix. I'm confident with the positive view of all members of the committee that we will certainly make great strides towards that.
I'll leave it at that. Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-05-13 12:36
Thank you.
I'm very disappointed, because I have to leave in a minute. It was great to be back on PROC with Mr. Nater—some good times—and I always appreciate listening to Mr. Blaikie. I have to disagree, though, or I don't understand his point about it being the only route to an election. We've been very close to an election, less than 30 votes, a number of times recently.
The point I want to make is that I've been in Parliament since the year 2000 or so. From what I understand, it's a tradition in Parliament, a procedure we follow by rote, that when bills are sent to committee, that's a priority on the committee agenda. Certainly, there are different opinions on the study and where a study's at. If there are certain motions with unreasonable clauses that could take a long time, I would think that the precedent in committee, the standard normally followed, is that the committee move on to the debate on what has been referred to them, especially in an urgent situation where Canadians are at risk.
As I said, we've been less than 30 votes away from an election a number of times. It's not inconceivable. I just wanted to make that point before I have to leave. Hopefully, I'll get back. I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to say today, back on the motion, but I don't think we should be saying them right now. We have an urgent bill before us that will affect the safety of Canadians and will affect the ability of some older people to vote.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 11:38
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you for being here, Minister, and thank you to all the other witnesses as well.
One of the members has mentioned that there are proven serious allegations against a senior member, but it's inappropriate to prejudge. Investigations are under way, and they will decide what are proven allegations.
Minister, I was delighted that you spent most of your time talking about the changes that need to be made, and my questions after this round will totally be on that. The hundreds of people who are affected, especially women who want protection, really would want committee members to be working on that. That's the biggest outcome of this committee. That's a responsibility for all of us. We really have to improve the system, and hopefully we'll be talking about that. We'll certainly be asking a lot of questions about that. We have to move forward. You've been a champion of that, and we're delighted that you outlined the flexibility to move forward and make those changes to protect people.
I just want to make sure that on this round.... Is there anything else you wanted to say about the reason you're appearing here on behalf of your former chief of staff, Zita, today?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 11:41
Thank you, Minister.
I know you're appearing today on behalf of your former chief of staff, Zita Astravas. Do you think she would have had anything more to add, other than what has already come up at the committee?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 11:41
Thank you, Minister.
There are some senior members under investigation. The investigations will run their course. Of course, there will be no political interference and those will be taken care of. The main thing is to get on with helping the members and changing the systems of the many, many other complaints that are out there.
We've heard from you, the former ombudsman, the former chief of staff to former PM Stephen Harper, PCO and numerous other witnesses. Do you think there's anything else this committee can contribute in pursuing this line of questioning and focusing on incidents that are currently being investigated by the appropriate authorities?
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Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 11:43
Thank you.
We've heard some very good testimony from experts and victims. Certainly that will be an important part of our report, but there's certainly more that we can hear. I'm looking forward to that. I'm delighted that you're open to those changes. Obviously, when there are hundreds of people, if not over a thousand, whom this has impacted in the past, we really need to make major changes. I'm glad you're open to that.
It's never easy to make changes, so it won't be easy to make these difficult changes, in my opinion, but I am certainly committed to.... I know that all the other members of the committee—you heard what they said—really want to make these changes as well. They really want to help particularly the women, but not only the women, who have been victims of this type of activity.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 13:14
Thank you very much.
Just before I get to my main question, which will be on independence, Minister, where did you do your pre-deployment training in 2006?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 13:14
Thank you.
On this very serious systemic problem we're dealing with, which is affecting hundreds of forces members and members in the department, the experts have suggested that two main items are responsible or need to be dealt with to fix the situation. One is culture and one is independence of the process. Congratulations to a couple of committee members who have asked about culture already, and you've responded. I'm going to ask about independence, and I'll ask Dr. Preston and General Eyre, too.
Minister, many in the defence community are advocating for an independent body that would report back to Parliament. What are your thoughts on this?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 13:16
Thank you.
Dr. Preston, I think there's been some suggestion there could be even increased independence of SMRC. Do you have any comments on how that could be improved?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 13:17
Thank you. I think that would be a great item for our final report.
General Eyre, to your credit I think you referred to this already, but just give your comment on changing the systems so they're more independent.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 13:18
Thank you.
I think my time is almost up, so I will cede the floor.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:49
Thank you, Mr. Lick, for being here. You hold a very important position, and I was delighted that you commented on the two major findings that other experts have brought, independence and culture change, that we need to address those quickly and we should get on with it, stop the political manoeuvring, which I think Yvan and I have been saying since the beginning. We have to get on with dealing with those issues. Hopefully, over the two hours we can get suggestions from you and Mr. Wernick on how we can deal with how independence and culture change that form a major part of our committee report.
Mr. Wernick, would you say that Ms. Sherman followed the appropriate process in handling the allegations?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:50
There seems to be some confusion about why the former national security adviser wasn't involved in the case.
Can you say anything related to that?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:51
We have heard some reproaches from members of the committee stating not enough was done and that hearing of the allegation should have been enough to warrant an investigation into General Vance.
Can you tell us more about how PCO attempted to conduct an investigation?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:52
My understanding is there was no way you could proceed any further without further information.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:53
More generally, what's the PCO's general rule in investigating allegations against a GIC appointment?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:53
Yes, that's a lot.
Finally, there's almost no time left, but do you have any comment on the independence of the members of Parliament, the political system, and the justice system? Obviously, politicians shouldn't be demanding that the justice system do investigations of people.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 14:55
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 16:12
Thank you.
Mr. Wernick, you mentioned in a couple of your other responses that you could elaborate more fully on a couple of items. Have you had a chance to do that, or could you do that?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-06 16:13
Thank you.
As Mr. Lick advised—and I agree that we should get on with dealing with the major structural problems—independence and culture change are two of the biggest ones, probably, as mentioned by other witnesses as well. I'm delighted that Mr. Lick, with that attitude, is in his position and can help and encourage us to move on and get these changes done.
You mentioned the possibility, Mr. Wernick, of making these changes in a bill, but said a bill would not be enough. Could you outline again what would be in a bill to address independence and culture change, and what other items could be included? Those are the two major problems that the victims and the experts in the field who have dealt with victims have told us.
What would be in a bill to change those two major items—culture change and independence—and what could be done outside the bill, especially from your knowledge, because you might have heard from other countries about these important changes that many women in the military would benefit greatly from?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-26 13:42
Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
I wanted to start by acknowledging that it's Purple Day to enhance the understanding of epilepsy.
Thank you to the witnesses for coming. It's very helpful to help improve our understanding and to improve the processes at DND.
Ms. Sherman, I have a couple of questions for you, but I want to make sure that in the answers you don't say anything that would jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
In a general sense, could you let us know what process the PCO follows when there are allegations of any type of misconduct that are brought against one of its GIC appointees?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-26 13:47
Yes, that's very helpful for all of us to understand the process.
I wonder if there is anything more you could share with us about the meeting you had in March with the ombudsman or the email exchange that you mentioned in your opening remarks, which you had with him on March 5 and 6.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-26 13:49
Thank you very much.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-22 12:53
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just wanted to echo what Mr. Baker said, and the witness.
This is a huge, terrible problem in the military. There are thousands of people that have been affected, not just the several that we've talked about so far.
Those people serving in the military right now would want us to get on with what Mr. Baker was saying and to deal with the structural problems, the independence of the process and the culture. This is no small task. We really have to address it and get on with it. I think everyone on the committee is committed to solving that problem, military-wide, so that men and women no longer fear serving in the Canadian military, which is a very proud career.
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-22 13:46
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just want to reiterate what I said before. I think that instead of just dealing with a few people, somehow we have to deal with over a thousand people who have been involved through the surveys that have been done on this terrible situation. I'm not sure how we get on track to that. Maybe Ms. Vandenbeld needs to add witnesses related to improving the system, related to changing the culture that the experts have said is the major part of the problem.
As Mr. Baker said, I think the people watching want us to get on with dealing with the structural changes, the procedural changes and the culture changes so that both for men and for women the culture of masculinity doesn't prevail to the extent that people are uncomfortable serving there or uncomfortable in reporting, and so that action will be taken on their reports.
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-22 13:56
I was going to say that we have a significant time to try to get a response. There's already a meeting proposed for the end of this week, and then there's the weekend, so we have some time to hear a response. We could then proceed if we don't get any response.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-22 14:06
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just wanted to speak to the precedent—considering that we have time; it's not like we don't have time to hear back—of making that draconian step that's very seldom used. It's there if we need it.
All the committee has said that we want Ms. Astravas and she hasn't said she wouldn't appear. We're not even having a meeting until Friday. There's lots of time to hear back from her and for people to get in touch with her to make sure she has the appropriate message and can get back to the committee without having to set a bad procedural precedent, which may end up being studied and used to change those powers, if they're used frivolously by throwing it in the overtime of a meeting before we even need it.
The point I've made at all the meetings is that we should really.... The people who are watching in the military want to be safe and comfortable. Over a thousand people have mentioned that the system is a problem and they have had terrible situations. We need to deal with the processes, the culture and the ability for someone to report and feel comfortable. These are major structural issues. We're really not focusing on those as much as we should, from my view.
This committee could really have a major effect on the military if we deal with the large problem at hand and come up with recommendations to deal with that.
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-12 16:08
Thank you, Madam Chair.
For the minister, there were a couple of times where I didn't think you had the chance to completely answer questions. Before I start, if you want to complete your answers to any of the questions, please go ahead. Don't take too long, though, or I won't be able to get my questions in.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-12 16:08
Thank you for your quick action on the same day or the next day. Thank you also for your sensitivity in making sure that you don't get technically involved and a perpetrator can't get off on a technicality.
The big study, the big problem we're looking at here—and I think all the committee members agree—is that we want women in the military to be comfortable, be able to come forward, be treated fairly, have the appropriate sentence for the perpetrator and not have it affect their careers.
I want you to speak to your passion about this in a minute, but I know that you've already done a lot—perhaps more than in history—with Bill C-77, the creation of the SMRC, the path to dignity and respect strategy and the response and support coordination for CAF members. All that had been done before we even started our hearings over the year, but obviously, for everyone on the committee and for yourself—and you've stated this—it's not enough.
We need new answers. I think members from all parties have brought this up. The procedures need to be clarified, and most importantly—as all the experts have said—the culture needs to be changed.
I would like you to speak about your passion. I know the members of the committee from all parties have that passion. They can't imagine a woman having something terrible happen in her career and for her not to be comfortable to come forward under our present system, as we've seen in a lot of the documentation before this committee and in this committee.
Speak to your passion about getting this problem solved or moving it forward as much as we can. It is a passion that I know committee members share.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-12 16:12
Thank you, Minister.
The independence of various processes has been brought up a number of times, so I'm happy to hear from any witnesses or from anyone on the committee about how we can improve that. It has to be looked at.
I'd just like to ask a question of Ms. Bernatchez. Can the military police look into anonymous complaints?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-08 12:28
Thank you.
I agree with Mr. Bezan and the last speaker, that the emphasis needs to be on protecting women in the military so they can feel safe. As I mentioned in the last meeting, we need to work on the systems and the problems. We had a number of academics mention the problems, and procedures were mentioned already today, which was good. People can proceed with various investigative sources and avenues, but when a call comes in to Defence, the exact direction where and how it should go is one thing.
The major thing the academics said was it's the changing of the culture, and I want to make sure we stay on that focus. I'm worried that we're.... There are a lot of witnesses. I won't mention them now. I may ask to amend some later, but I think there are a number of witnesses who could offer a lot more on how we answer the suggestions the academics made on how we could protect women better. A lot of it's related to culture, to appointing more women to senior positions in the military. I think that needs to be our focus: how we can fix these systems and make them independent enough that all members of the forces, but particularly women, feel protected.
I think there would be a better witness list or additions to the witness list that would maintain the focus on that. Some of these witnesses are related to a specific case or cases, and I don't have a problem with that, but I think it's far too narrow and we should be incorporating witnesses who can deal with the structural problems, the avenue and procedures, as well as the various legal investigative methods and routes that are available and any improvements that need to be made to them. Obviously it's not working. The culture still hasn't changed, so we need to come up with an avenue to change that. That's going to be my focus during the meetings. I want to make sure we stay on that track to protect the women in the military by working on these systems, the culture and the procedures.
I'll leave it at that for now, but hopefully people will propose some of these other witnesses. If not, I can in a later intervention.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-08 13:08
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would have preferred to have this a little in advance. As was said, this is fairly complicated. It would have been nice to have some time to look at it in more detail. Do these documents include the ones that were available during the appointment of General Vance?
My main point is that I want to go back to what I said previously today and at the last meeting. Maybe I'm the only one, but I want to make sure our study is on the things that can most help the women in our military feel protected, and that's changing the systems so the various investigative systems are open and independent and available and women feel protected. I want to make sure we have witnesses and information that will help them. The experts who have testified so far say it's a change in culture, so those witnesses will be suggesting mechanisms to change the culture. I'm going to continue to lobby for that throughout this study.
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-08 13:29
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Of course, I agree with what Mr. Spengemann just said. That's the point I've been making, that this should be the focus of our committee.
When I put my hand up, it was to make the point that Mr. Baker has now made very well. That is, there are two problems. One is the culture. We should be trying to come up with solutions to that. We haven't gotten very far on that, and that's what the experts say is the problem. The second issue is that people are afraid to come forward. They don't want it to be public, etc. A lot of protections have been put into the system now to protect anonymity, to allow people to feel comfortable to come forward, to not go into a formal investigation but to come forward and air their concerns or have consultations or have counselling. They should have the choice to be anonymous as long as it fits natural justice.
Then, all of a sudden, we have a defence committee that will override their ability to remain anonymous. As Mr. Bezan said, a lot of this is in the media. That would make it much easier to identify a person to whom a document refers in some of the ones that were being brought forward under this broad umbrella of documents. Because of what's in the media already, where the documents came from could be easily perused, even though their name is not in it.
All committee members should think about that. Are we overriding the protection that we're trying to give individuals to come forward confidentially and air their concerns?
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-08 13:35
Thank you.
Following up on my previous comment, I'd like to hear from those who are in favour of the motion on whether they're convinced that all these documents would really protect the anonymity of those who want to be anonymous. Some of them would be fine, but considering the information that's out there now, it might be pretty obvious as to what document refers to what person.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-03-08 13:42
Thank you. I appreciate Madam Alleslev and Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe's responding to my request that they are confident that this would not impinge on people who wanted the information that they submitted to be in confidence. I would just like to hear from anyone else who's in favour of the motion.
It's obvious that some of these documents are related to specific things that, as Mr. Bezan said, were already in the media, so the technical, personal details that someone may not have wanted to be public could now be made public. I just wanted to make sure that committee members don't think that this is really offering the wrong sense to people that they can come forward in confidence if they wish to.
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