I know we're debating an amendment that.... I'll be honest. I appreciate very much that Mr. Barsalou-Duval has put forward this particular amendment. I know we had some conversations about perhaps being able to go through that very long draft report—over 60 pages, I believe—and choose the things we know we all agree on. As I've said before, I believe firmly that every member of this committee wants what's best for the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces. I have no doubt about that.
I think we have some differences in terms of how best to do that, and that's legitimate. I think the idea of being able to pull out the recommendations that we agree on, to put out an interim report, to have that conversation, and then to continue with the ones that perhaps there isn't agreement for, is a really good idea. The problem is that it's in a motion, the main motion, which has a time limit on when that can happen. If you look at the calendar right now, by my calculation, it leaves about an hour and 45 minutes to actually debate that 60-plus page report, to go through it and to find consensus on each one. I'm a bit concerned about that. Perhaps that's something the committee might be capable of doing. I hope very much that we are.
What I'd really appreciate would be if Mr. Bezan could withdraw this motion. I know that our next meeting is planned to study the draft report. If there seems to be a willingness of members of the committee to pull those things that really matter to finding solutions to this, those areas where we can find consensus, I think that's a good idea.
My problem is that it's amending a motion that doesn't allow any time for us to be able to have that discussion to reach that consensus. I would not want members of the committee to just vote—boom, boom, boom—without any debate on these, and not have the kind of thoughtful report that we would need.
I'm still not entirely certain. What I do agree on 100% with Mr. Barsalou-Duval is the part of the amendment that says we need to end the culture that has persisted for too long in the Canadian Armed Forces. I absolutely agree with him. I know that's something all members of this committee believe in and want to do.
We have now spent four months hearing from witnesses, and each time we think we're at the point where we can actually start looking at the draft of the report so we can put recommendations forward, there are emergency meetings and motions to bring new witnesses. Each time, with thoughtfulness, the committee has said, “Okay, let's call those witnesses.” We called Mr. Marques and we called Ms. Telford, but as soon as we're ready to start, there's always another motion.
I'll be honest. I don't believe that if we pass this motion or even the amendment, there wouldn't be yet another. Honestly, I think the best solution would be to withdraw the motion and allow the chair to call the meeting on Friday, at our next planned sitting, to be able to actually start going through these draft reports.
Having said that, I want to discuss some of the pieces of this amendment that talk about the culture. I would take exception to members of this committee who suggest that anybody's speaking for survivors because, throughout this process, I have been reading recommendations that came from survivors. They were either written by survivors, or spoken in testimony, whether it's testimony in our committee or testimony in the status of women committee. This is not necessarily what I think should happen. These are recommendations that have been presented by survivors.
We know that survivors are not a homogeneous group. We know there are many different views. In fact, there are many different views about what the solutions are. I have heard people suggest that Madame Arbour's review is not necessary because there's already a review from six years ago. We saw, with the Deschamps report that there was, I believe, a goodwill intent to try to implement those recommendations.
We created the SMRCs, the sexual misconduct response centres, and gave them specialized ability, external support and additional resources to be a point of contact and to assist survivors.
The SMRCs are doing a wonderful job. What we didn't realize at the time, and what is becoming very apparent now, is that taking it out of the Canadian Armed Forces but still putting it under the Department of National Defence, the civilian side, was not what survivors consider to be complete independence. What we're realizing now is that we need to go beyond that, but it's very intertwined.
We have as many solutions being proposed as there are problems.
Madame Deschamps made it clear that there needs to be an external independent body, but did not say how or what it's going to look like. The details of it were not there. For those who are saying, well, just do it, we've already seen a number of different people—different survivors, advocates, academics—who have come up with very different perceptions of what the how is. For many, the how is, as we've even heard, that perhaps it would be the ombudsperson reporting to Parliament. We've heard people say it has to be the SMRC, because they're the ones with specialized knowledge about sexual misconduct and we need to have something that's not about all issues where you might call an ombudsperson, but about sexual misconduct.
Then you have some who say no, if it's within the SMRC, then you have perpetrators and the people who are impacted in the same institution, and you need a firewall between them. Many have called for something like an inspector general, completely outside the chain of command. Then what would that be? What would that role be?
We know that the military justice system is something many survivors have asked us to take a look at. We know there have been many survivors whose experience with that system and experience with the military police system and with their chain of command has been very harmful to them. We need to look at that as well.
When those people are saying that Madame Deschamps had all of the road map, identified the problem, identified what the general solutions had to be.... By the way, we've implemented many of those solutions. We had a piece of legislation, Bill C-77, that was specifically about a victim's declaration of rights.
Looking at the military justice system, we know right now that former Justice Morris Fish is finalizing a report about that system. This is a result of a mandatory review of the National Defence Act. I would hope this committee would be interested in that report when it is tabled with this committee, and will take the time to call Justice Fish and talk about that.
In fact, our next study after this is about military justice. We know that military justice is core to making sure there is support for survivors to be able to get the just outcome they're looking for.
There are so many proposals around this, even in our committee. We heard many different solutions, and we're having Madame Arbour look at all of this and be able to give the road map and give the how—how are we going to achieve this, taking all the different viewpoints about what it should look like and putting them together and actually creating a system based on the lived experience of survivors and on preventing that there be more survivors, which by the way, this amendment says? I'm very appreciative to my colleague from the Bloc for putting that in this amendment, because that's precisely what we have to do when we're looking at the solutions.
If the committee were to find consensus around some of these points and present that as an interim report, I think those points of consensus would carry a lot of weight because, instead of a committee report where you have four parties saying completely different things and different supplemental or dissenting reports, you would have a report that has the thoughtfulness of all parties together focused on the women and men.
That would be a wonderful idea. To be honest, I'm a little concerned. Given the discussions that have happened, I don't know if we'll get there, but I hope we do. I appreciate that Mr. Barsalou-Duval is trying, at least. He's putting forward something that might actually give us a path to where we could find that consensus.
However, regardless of that, we know that right now we have General Carignan, who is assigned to take all the different pieces of this across CAF, across the Department of National Defence, and pull it all together and not wait a year for a report.
I think this is also a little cynical when people say, well, we're taking Madame Arbour and just doing another review so we can wait. We've said very clearly—and at some point I would like to read the speech I gave when we announced Madame Arbour and General Carignan—that we're going to be implementing....
First of all, the minister has said that Madame Arbour's recommendations will be binding, that we are going to act on them, but also that we will be implementing them as the interim measures come forward.
That means that as General Carignan is set up, when Madame Arbour suggests we need to act quickly on this particular piece, she's already in place and she'll already be able to start implementing those measures right now. We're talking within weeks. For those survivors who are listening, I know that time is urgent and that we have to do something now.
I have heard you and I've had conversations, and I know this is a really difficult time for survivors. It's a difficult time for those people in the Canadian Armed Forces who have experienced this horrendous and intolerable behaviour, who haven't yet come forward. I want to say to you that I don't blame you. I know we talk about courage with people who come forward. There is no lack of courage if you're at a point where you're not ready to come forward. However, our job, our accountability as legislators, is to make sure we create a system where you can, where you feel safe, where you feel comfortable, where you know that if you come forward you will be able to have empowerment over how that process unfolds, and that you yourself will be able to control how you can advance that.
If what you want is that the person who perpetrated comes to justice, we have a system in place that will make sure that happens. If what you need is peer support, if what you need is counselling, if what you need is just to put forward ideas, solutions or proposals to fix the system so the next person doesn't go through what you went through, that has to be an avenue for you as well.
It isn't one thing. We know that for survivors there are many steps and often it's difficult being the first. What we're seeing in the Canadian Armed Forces, and I can speak from personal experience, is that often you don't want to be the first one to speak up. You want to see if somebody else has gone through the same thing and then speak up. I think that is what's happening. When people feel that they see consequences, that there is no impunity, at that point we will start seeing more people feel comfortable and safe coming forward.
Our goal and our objective right now is to create a process that makes it safe, where you do not have to fear reprisal, where you have control over how the process unfolds, where you have advocates, where you have information about what your options are and what each of them looks like, that if you decide to do this, it's not going to lead to a process over which you no longer feel you have control; it also needs to be a process that makes sure this doesn't happen again. Doing that means that in regard to the people who are doing this behaviour—and we've seen it, criminal behaviour—but also the behaviours that minimize and diminish and make people feel small and unwelcome, everything along that spectrum has a process where it can be dealt with and people at a certain point can see a just outcome.
What we're seeing in the Canadian Armed Forces right now is very hard, but it's something we have to go through. Once the high profile cases came forward, once people started to speak their truth and once you had people saying, “This happened to me,” and doing so in a public forum, which is incredibly difficult and frankly shouldn't have to be the way to do it....
There have been ways to do this both confidentially and also through a military justice process, and publicly if that's what the person wishes to do, but once people started to do that, we started to see consequences. We have actual military police investigations happening right now. We have an entire Canadian Armed Forces that is looking at this issue of changing the culture. We have a number of people who have had to step aside because of these investigations, and seeing that is going to make others feel empowered that they too can speak out.
I believe we are going to see more of this, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, because it's something we have to go through in order to get to the other side of this, which is having a culture within the Canadian Armed Forces that allows people to thrive. It is not enough to stop this behaviour. It is not enough to stop the harm. It's not enough to stop the diminishing remarks.
We heard Professor Okros talk about how power is defined, with this idea of a normative masculine warrior culture that is really based in a World War I, in-the-trenches kind of concept of what a military is.
The Canadian Armed Forces is going through a tremendous shift, as are armed forces around the world. There are so many occupations, and so much of it is based on intelligence. So much of it is different from the toxic masculinity that there is currently in the Canadian Armed Forces. This is not to say that all members or that individual members in the Canadian Armed Forces are somehow not good. This is about a systemic culture that frankly hurts women, but it also hurts men because it creates this kind of normative.
As soon as you don't fit into that, as soon as you're a bit different—and we see this with all kinds of identity factors—you feel unwelcome. I've heard it. I've heard it from so many people who feel that it isn't even the really overt criminal activities; it's every step along the way that escalates until it gets to that point.
That's what we need to focus on. I'm so glad this amendment talks specifically about the culture. I have a lot more to say about the culture. I know that some of my colleagues have their hands up, so I'll make sure they get a chance to speak.
Mr. Barsalou-Duval, by focusing on the culture but also focusing on the survivors, is doing a great service here. I'm still not convinced that it gets us beyond the impasse, but I hope that the members of the committee can think about what he has said here so that perhaps we find a way forward. We can still have a report that is going to provide recommendations and that perhaps we can say has the support of all members of this committee from all parties, because this is not a partisan issue. This is something I think all Canadians share. We are in a very difficult time right now in the Canadian Armed Forces. We need to get through this time in such a way that we can come out of it stronger, with better processes and better procedures, so that this doesn't happen again.
At the end of the day, as I said, it's not enough to stop harm; we need to create a Canadian Armed Forces in which people thrive, in which everybody is appreciated for what they bring, and in which diversity brings strength. This is where we want to get.
This is only the first step. I very much look forward to the work of Ms. Arbour and General Carignan on this. I really hope members of the committee can set aside politics and really try to have some recommendations on which we can build constructively so we can find a way forward to build a better institution at the end of this.
Thank you, Madam Chair.