Canadian military colleges review ‘about to be launched,’ new report says

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Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Center mandate expanded and improved: Blair
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A highly anticipated review into Canada’s military college system is “about to be launched,” the external monitor overseeing culture change within the Canadian Armed Forces says.

In her second report released Monday, Jocelyne Therrien said the evaluation of the Royal Military College will take one year to complete.

“The review is about to be launched and the panel will have 12 months to provide its report,” she said.

“In my opinion, the process has been objective, including the involvement of a reputable executive search firm to provide an initial list of qualified candidates. The review board will consist of five external members, whose names will be released once the contracts have been awarded. Two members internal to DND/CAF will be part of the review board.”

Canada’s military colleges were called “institutions from a different era” that need overhauling by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, in her blistering report into sexual misconduct in May 2022.

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Click to play video: 'Incoming commandant lays out plans for Royal Military College'
Incoming commandant lays out plans for Royal Military College

Therrien’s job is to track progress on culture change in the Department of National Defence (DND) and in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), with a focus on implementing Arbour’s 48 recommendations.

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On Monday, Therrien said all recommendations have been acted on “to some extent.” DND and CAF have developed a multi-year plan to achieve culture change, she said.

“Of critical importance, the plan states that it will measure and report on outcomes as opposed to the completion of activities,” Therrien said.

“The next year will show the impact of this plan and potentially move this organization towards its goal of culture change.”

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Anand unveils military sexual misconduct reforms

Arbour’s report described the military as a “broken system” that is out of sync with the values of Canadian society, and which poses a “liability” to the country.

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When it comes to RMC Kingston and RMC Saint-Jean, Arbour said they were “outdated” and had a “problematic leadership model.”

“There are legitimate reasons to question the wisdom of maintaining the existence of these military colleges, as they currently exist,” Arbour said in her 403-page report.

“There is a real risk that the perpetuation of a discriminatory culture at the colleges will slow the momentum for culture change the CAF has embarked upon. There is enough evidence that military colleges are not delivering on their mandate that I believe alternatives must be explored with an open mind.”

Click to play video: 'External monitor appointed to oversee culture change within Canada’s military'
External monitor appointed to oversee culture change within Canada’s military

Therrien said Monday that pending the results of an external review, the military should undertake interim steps, such as using an exit survey to capture graduating cadets’ experiences with sexual misconduct.

That survey was conducted a few months ago and the findings are currently being analyzed. A scientific publication will follow, she said.

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“The response rate for the 2023 survey was 40 per cent at the Royal Military College of Canada (377 respondents out of 947) and 25 per cent at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean (76 respondents out of 300). The CAF will conduct this survey annually for all cadets in each of their four or five years at the colleges,” Therrien added.

Arbour’s review was formally launched a year before that — in May 2021 — in response to exclusive reporting by Global News into allegations of sexual misconduct among the highest ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Global News first brought to light in February 2021 allegations of sexual misconduct against senior leaders — the first of dozens of exclusive reports into such allegations and the military’s handling of them over the 18 months after that initial report.

Therrien’s appointment met one of Arbour’s recommendations for an external monitor who will report every six months on the military’s progress toward rooting out sexual misconduct.

— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton

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