Operation HONOUR – Progress Report 4

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On February 26, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) released its fourth progress report on addressing sexual misconduct within our ranks.

The goal of these progress reports is to be transparent and to provide an honest and critical assessment of what we have achieved and where we need to go from here.

Over the past three years, we have completed some essential foundational work in order to address sexual misconduct and effectively support those affected by it. We have also learned a great deal—through our own experience and analysis; the assessment of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada; and from feedback of external experts and stakeholders, including those who have been affected by sexual misconduct.

We know that we haven’t always got it right. Some of the measures we implemented have resulted in unintended consequences, and some initiatives and changes have not resulted in the desired outcomes. In addition, we have determined that in some areas where we thought we had done enough, we are going to have to go deeper and do better—specifically with respect to the 10 recommendations from the External Review Authority.

In this fourth progress report, you will see that we are going to course correct, taking into account this external information and advice, and we will push harder in those areas where we are not as far along as we should be.

Support for victims has been, and will continue to be, the CAF’s main effort for Operation HONOUR. Going forward, we will also be shifting more of our attention to developing a fully coordinated and resourced long-term response focussed on enhancing victim support and achieving culture change.

The CAF is an institution rich in history and traditions, both of which have a substantial and positive impact on the culture. Nonetheless, the CAF will re-orient and focus on the purposeful, deliberate redefinition of institutional values, attitudes, and beliefs to ensure that every member of the CAF shares a common understanding of our duties and responsibilities, including the obligation to look after each other.

Expanding the mandate of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC), which is independent from the military chain of command, is central to refocussing and enhancing our efforts. The Centre will ensure coordination of all victim support efforts, and it will lead the development of an integrated, national victim support strategy to ensure victims have access to the most effective and appropriate support possible.

The Centre will also lead the CAF’s overall approach on sexual misconduct, as recommended by former justice Marie Deschamps. The Centre will drive institutional culture change by providing expert opinion, subject matter authority and lead in the development of policy, training, strategy and evaluation of programs related to sexual misconduct. The CAF will support the expansion of SMRC’s mandate, assign resources as needed, and implement as directed. The CAF’s military leadership will always have the overall responsibility for the operational success of the CAF and for the welfare of all its members—as every professional fighting force must.

Sexual misconduct is a difficult and complex issue, and it demands an expert and informed approach. Now that we have a solid foundation in place, it is time to take this next step towards building a workplace that offers respect and dignity for all.

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