February 23, 2021

Nothing is more important to the Canadian Armed Forces than the confidence of Canadians and the trust of the rank and file in their leadership. The institution’s leaders owe their sailors, soldiers, aviators, and the Canadian public the highest standard of professional conduct and a work environment that is inclusive, respectful, and safe for all who serve. It is therefore with deep concern that we have read serious allegations of sexual misconduct by named and unnamed members of the CAF in positions of authority.

Allegations of this nature erode public trust in the Canadian Armed Forces, and ultimately negatively affect morale and harm efforts to recruit the future protectors of our nation.

It is more important than ever that victims have the confidence to come forward and have their complaints addressed with respect, fairness and the greatest of transparency.

The CDA Council and CDA Institute Board of Directors believe these allegations must be investigated thoroughly and independently, and those found to have breached the law or the Code of Service Discipline must be held to account promptly. We also believe that victims of sexual misconduct must feel safe, secure, and supported in reporting incidents. This means eliminating any potential risk of reprisal. Furthermore, we recognize that the onus of responsibility for reporting should not lie entirely on the shoulders of the victim, but rather that all have a role in creating an atmosphere for timely reporting that neither frightens nor isolates.

We stand in solidarity with the victims of sexual assault and misconduct. We salute their courage when speaking out and in speaking truth to power. We condemn all acts of sexual assault and misconduct, all forms of enabling through action or inaction, as well as any victim blaming. We encourage those who can speak to do so, and all members of the CAF to proactively take action against any form of predatory behaviour and thereby help sustain confidence and trust in the institution.

After almost six years of work on Operation Honour, aimed at eliminating harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the CAF, the persistence of this insidious problem is disheartening. Having said this, we believe that OP HONOUR is a good operation that must be sustained. It has been copied in whole and in part by many of our Allies. It is not perfect, but it is unique in its vast reach, in everything from how the CAF trains its recruits and leaders, conducts investigations, provides outside the chain of command reporting systems, supports victims, welcomes outside organizations (i.e. Statscan) to provide independent progress reports, and counts on numerous outside advisors and advisory boards to help it become more comprehensive. The annual reports indicate that these efforts are yielding positive effects, but there clearly remains much work to be done.

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