Defence Minister Anita Anand will offer an apology on behalf of the federal government, while Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre will offer one on behalf of the military and deputy minister Jody Thomas will offer one on behalf of the Department of National Defence.
“We know that our collective failure to build an inclusive workplace culture free from these unacceptable behaviours has hurt our people,” the trio said on Monday evening in a joint press release.
“As part of our efforts to restore relationships with those harmed, we will offer a public apology to all current and former members of the defence team who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual misconduct, including harassment, and discrimination.”
Anand’s office had confirmed last week the apology would come before the end of the year but had not said whether she would officially take part and offer one on behalf of the government.
That’s something advocates have said would be a powerful symbol for survivors and victims, but some had also called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be among those apologizing given the government’s failures to implement key recommendations from the 2015 Deschamps report.
That landmark report documented the extent of the longstanding issue of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces, describing the problem as “endemic” and the culture of the military as “toxic.”
In 2019, the government reached a $900-million settlement over a class-action lawsuit from survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct. So far, more than 18,000 survivors and victims have come forward to submit claims.
Experts have said the Canadian military is facing an existential “crisis” over sexual misconduct within its ranks — a decades-old problem that came under renewed national scrutiny following exclusive, ongoing reporting by Global News about allegations facing its senior leaders.