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?
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.