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Results: 1 - 60 of 132
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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)
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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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-04-23 13:32
Thank you very much.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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—
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
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?
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