Crisis in Canada’s military could make recruitment even harder

Crisis in Canada’s military could make recruitment even harder

By Shachi Kurl, President

If it’s a crisis within Canada’s military you’re looking for, take your pick from an abundant smorgasbord. Removal of top general placed in charge of this country’s vaccine rollout? Check. First-in-decades laying of a mutiny charge against a service member for allegedly encouraging other soldiers not to distribute doses of vaccine? That too.

There is so much to choose from regarding allegations of sexual misconduct, or how they were handled. At present, we know of military police investigations into the conduct of former chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance; Admiral Art McDonald, who succeeded Vance; and Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson. Former commander of special forces Maj.-Gen. Peter Dawe is also on leave following revelations he wrote a letter of support for a soldier convicted of sexually assaulting a female forces member.

Add to this the most recent comments from Canada’s deputy minister of National Defence, Jody Thomas, that the military’s operation to end sexual misconduct “lost its way” when it failed to implement recommendations from a 2015 report that identified, among other things, a culture in the CAF that is “hostile to women … and conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault.”

Taking this in its entirety, Canadians have come away with two broad impressions. The first, unequivocal, is the view that their military is steeped in a culture of disrespect towards women. The second is that many of those in a position to encourage women to seek a career in Canada’s forces would discourage them instead.

Both findings come from public opinion data released by the Angus Reid Institute, reveal ing that three-quarters of Canadians identify a culture problem, including a significant majority of those with a personal connection to the military. Two-thirds of these latter respondents, who either served or are currently serving, or who have someone close in their lives who is serving, have a close view of what’s happening among the rank-and-file.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on  the Ottawa Citizen’s site where it was initially published.

Image – SABAH ARAR / AFP


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