Terms of Reference Letter

Alternate Formats

Transcript of original letter: 21 December 1997


1. Fundamental to the effectiveness and public trust of the Canadian Forces (CF) and the Department of National Defence (DND), is the strength and vitality of our ethical culture. The ethical culture of the CF and DND is a complex relationship between Canadian military, Public Service and societal ethics. This includes the fact that the CF and DND are integral parts of our democratic society and must reflect its values. It also includes the reality that, by its nature, national defence involves the controlled use of military force for justifiable cause. Therefore, to best ensure ethical decision-making and integrity within these diverse requirements, the need to develop a structured and visible approach to ethics is strongly endorsed by CF and DND senior leadership.

2. The aim of defence ethics is to ensure that members of the CF and employees of DND perform their duties to the highest ethical standards.


3. The Defence Ethics Programme (DEP) will provide the focus, framework and processes necessary to guide, assess and continuously improve the ethical conduct of CF personnel and of DND employees.


4. The DEP applies to members of the CF and to employees of DND.

Programme Description:

5. The DEP is a values-based, ethics programme that considers the unique circumstances and requirements of the CF and DND. This programme endeavours to improve the internalization of ethical values by:

  1. providing objective standards upon which to base ethical expectations, and which serve as guidance for ethical decision-making, leadership and conduct;
  2. providing a comprehensive framework and processes intended to assist CF members and DND employees in maintaining these ethical standards; and
  3. applying and administering the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment codes programme as part of the DEP.

6. Framework: The DEP framework shall include:

  1. the articulation of a clearly defined ethics culture, which includes an ethics vision, values and policies. In this regard, the DEP will maintain a clear Statement of Defence Ethics" which will apply to all CF personnel and DND employees, and will assist in the development of other guidelines for unique ethical circumstances as required;
  2. a management structure consisting of a Programme Authority (CRS), and an Ethics Advisory Board (EAB), consisting of ethics co-ordinators from Environments and Groups, and others so designated by the CRS
  3. the allocation of sufficient personnel, training and funding resources from all CF and DND organizations to implement the DEP;
  4. the establishment and maintenance of an ethics process relevant to CF and DND cultural needs; and
  5. a clear set of programme goals.

7. Process: The ethics process shall include:

  1. clear communication of ethics policy, expectations and guidance;
  2. a clear requirement for leadership commitment, example and programme participation, along with a means for leaders to assess organizational ethical risk;
  3. a motivational strategy which provides for incentives, programme awareness, ethics training, individual self-learning, and opportunities for ethics discussion and open dialogue;
  4. a range of tools to assist personnel in recognizing ethical situations, risk assessment, and ethical decision-making;
  5. an effective and flexible range of options for moral protest, consistent with varying ethical situations and circumstances;
  6. an effective and flexible range of options for ethical censure to provide for prompt resolution of ethical concerns, consistent with varying ethical situations and circumstances, and consistent with the chain of command;
  7. effective measurement mechanisms, to monitor programme effectiveness and identify programme improvement opportunities. This will include the incorporation of DEP requirements and ethics performance indicators in applicable business plans; and
  8. an effective programme improvement mechanism to enact programme changes as identified and required.


8. Applicable to the implementation of the DEP, CRS has the authority to:

  1. Promulgate DEP policies, guidance and procedures; and
  2. oversee the implementation of the DEP.

Responsibility Delegations:

9. The following are the responsibilities for the implementation of the Defence Ethics Programme:

  1. Environmental Chiefs of Staff (ECS) and Group Principals are responsible for:
    • implementing the requirements of the DEP within their areas of responsibility and in their subordinate formations in a manner consistent with their organizational cultures;
    • ensuring that DEP elements and related ethics training is included in applicable training programmes; and
    • appointing Ethics Co-ordinators within their respective organizations which have direct access to their respective Environmental Chief of Staff or Group Principal for ethics issues.
  2. CRS is responsible for:
    • acting as DEP Programme Authority;
    • ongoing development, implementation and monitoring of the DEP through the EAB;
    • maintaining a network of Ethics Co-ordinators to assist implementation;
    • acting as chair of the EAB;
    • providing training and awareness support to Commanders, Group Principals and Ethics Co-ordinators;
    • providing ethics guidance and advice to executives, leaders and managers in the CF and DND;
    • providing periodic reviews and analysis of business plans and training programmes for the inclusion of DEP requirements;
    • maintaining liaison with all CF and DND collateral programmes and organizations to ensure consistency with ethics policy;
    • maintaining a centre of expertise through liaison with ethics experts in other government departments, allied countries, academia and the private sector; and
    • providing for the ongoing awareness and promotion of the DEP.
  3. Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) is responsible for:
    • co-ordinating and monitoring DEP implementation;
    • communicating programme status or issues to the DM/CDS as required;
    • drafting, staffing and updating DEP policy and guidance;
    • identifying the need for specialized ethics tools, documents or standards;
    • monitoring, reviewing, and advising training institutions and other applicable programmes on appropriate ethics training requirements;
    • reviewing and providing advice on the development of ethics performance indicators; and
    • identifying programme improvement opportunities and developing appropriate action plans.
  4. Ethics Co-ordinators are responsible, within their organizations, for:
    • providing guidance, advice and assistance with respect to DEP implementation;
    • providing referral for ethics advice, or advice on ethics issues as appropriate;
    • monitoring and reporting on the accomplishment of programme objectives within their organization;
    • working with public affairs staff to incorporate ethics material in internal communications, including the dissemination of information on ethics policies, issues, and trends;
    • advising on the incorporation of ethics requirements into business plans, training, orientation and education programmes; and
    • participating as members of the EAB.
  5. ADM (Per) is responsible for:
    • ensuring that DEP elements and related ethics training is included in applicable training programmes;
    • providing Chaplain and Social Worker representation to the EAB, in addition to an Ethics Co-ordinator; and
    • ensuring that applicable social and personnel programmes are consistent with DEP standards.
  6. CPA, ECSs and Group Principals are responsible for ensuring the development and implementation of public affairs plans in support of the DEP.
  7. All supervisory levels, within their areas of responsibility, are responsible for:
    • adherence to ethical standards;
    • providing for ethics development of subordinates; and
    • providing subordinates with opportunities for dialogue on ethics issues.

Original signed by
General Maurice Baril
Chief of the Defence Staff

Original signed by
Deputy Minister Louise Fréchette

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