Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces provide update on culture change efforts and military justice system reform

National Defence

On March 30, 2022, the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Frances Allen, and Acting Judge Advocate General, Colonel Robin Holman, provided an update on military justice reform efforts underway at the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

This builds on the culture change briefing that Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC), Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, and the Acting Chief of Military Personnel (CMP), Major-General Lise Bourgon provided last week, and the supports to survivors briefing that was provided in December by Lt.-Gen. Carignan and Dr. Denise Preston, Executive Director of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre.

These briefings are in line with the Government’s ongoing commitment to providing regular updates to Canadians on the efforts underway to address conduct and culture change. The Pathways to Progress web tracker outlines key efforts planned or underway in the near term to effect conduct and culture change.

During the update, the DND and the CAF confirmed that the approvals necessary to begin the implementation roll-out of critical Bill C-77 components, which will be known as Victims’ Rights and Summary Hearing Implementation, were received last week. Steps towards implementation in June 2022 were outlined. The regulations and policies developed to support the implementation and operationalization of the Declaration of Victims’ Rights were heavily informed by the many consultations undertaken with members of It’s Not Just 20K (previously known as It’s Not Just 700), the Ontario Office for Victims of Crimes, and current and former individual Defence Team members.

Also highlighted was the stand-up of the External Comprehensive Reviews Implementation Committee (ECRIC) to effectively coordinate and oversee the complex work required to implement many varied and often overlapping recommendations received from independent reviews, studies and reports.

Col. Holman provided an update on the work underway to implement the interim recommendations made in October 2021 by the former Justice Louise Arbour. The final report of the independent review led by Madame Arbour is expected this spring. Col. Holman also highlighted work on a number of other initiatives in progress to support military justice reform.

At last week’s update, Lt.-Gen. Carignan highlighted the conclusion of the Conduct and Culture Consultation, which included 279 sessions, totalling over 435 hours, and attracted nearly 9,000 participants. These consultations have helped to define the culture needed as a healthy and respectful workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Lt.-Gen. Carignan also confirmed that a report will be shared in the coming months on what was heard during the consultation process and it will be key in how DND and the CAF develop a culture change strategy.

Lt.-Gen. Carignan also spoke to initiatives underway to promote diversity and inclusion in the Defence Team, particularly inclusive leadership and performance measurement. She confirmed that work is underway to incorporate inclusiveness into performance-management processes for all military members and public service employees in 2022-2023.

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