External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces

Marie Deschamps, C.C. Ad.E.

External Review Authority

March 27, 2015

3. Background to the Review

 

The 2014 media articles on sexual assault in the military were not the first time such issues were reported. Indeed, one of the same media outlets published a previous exposé on sexual assault in the CAF in 1998.11 Concerns about inappropriate sexual conduct in the Canadian Forces have also been the subject of intense internal examination by the DND and CAF for the last 20 years. For example, the 2012 Harassment survey was carried out contemporaneously with a Diversity and Employment Equity survey, and was preceded by no less than five studies bearing on harassment.12 While “sexual misconduct”, as defined by the DAOD policies, may not have been covered directly by these studies, they did address underlying concerns with respect to the integration and treatment of women in the military. In addition, numerous other internal and independent reviews related to the broader topics of diversity and discrimination have attempted to capture the environment in which CAF members train, work, live and socialize.13

Following the release in 2013 of the results of the 2012 Harassment and Diversity and Employment Equity surveys, the CDS circulated a message highlighting what he viewed as positive trends in the prevalence of harassment, including sexual harassment, in the organization:

The surveys present a number of positive results and trends: a large majority of our members reported having knowledge of harassment policies and had received training; a large majority of our members stated that they had not experienced any of the four forms of harassment in the CAF in the past 12 months; the majority of our members do not perceive the CAF as a whole, as well as the leadership, to be tolerant of harassment; and the majority of Regular Force members believe that the CAF climate is positive and accepting of diversity.14

What this message fails to acknowledge, however, is the possibility that respondents to the survey may have been under-reporting incidents of harassment, in particular, and inappropriate

sexual conduct, in general. Indeed, as set out in this Report, one of the most significant findings made by the ERA is that CAF members, in overwhelming numbers, do not report incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct.

The CAF has undertaken the unification of a number of its policies with those of the DND, including its policies on sexual harassment.15 Given the terms of its mandate, however, the ERA did not engage in any consultations aimed at determining whether or to what extent the DND should be affected by its recommendations. As such, the recommendations in this Report are focused exclusively on the CAF.

 


11 J. O'Hara with B. Branswell, J. Geddes, S. Deziel, S. Doyle Driedger and S. Nolen, Rape in the Military, Maclean’s, 25 May, 1998

12 1993, Personal Harassment in the Canadian Forces Survey; 1995, B. R. Thompson, Harassment in Air

Command; 1998, J. E. Adams-Roy, Regular Forces; 1998, J. E. Adams-Roy, Reserve Forces; 2006, D. A. Jenkins, Harassment and Policy Program Evaluation

13 1999, The Technical Cooperation Panel (TTCP), Sexual Harassment Policies and Programs in the TTCP Countries; 2001, TCP, A comparative Analysis of Harassment Surveys in TTCP Nations; 2004, Ajlon Consulting, Canadian Forces Employment System; 2006, I. Goldenberg, Diversity and Employment

Equity in the Canadian Forces; 2008, N. Otis and M. Straver, Review of Attrition and Retention Research in the Canadian Forces; 2011, K. Koundakjian and K. Michaud, Retention in the Canadian Forces; 2012,

K. Watkins, Deployment Stressors Experienced by Members of the Canadian Forces Deployed in the Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2006-2009; 2012, K. Michaud and I. Goldenberg, Canadian Forces Exit Survey; 2013, Z. Wang, Diversity and Employment Equity in the Canadian Forces

14 Harassment and Discrimination Prevention – Chief of Defence Staff Guidance, 508501 DGMP, March 11, 2014

15 A brief historical background or the CAF policies on sexual harassment is found in the Military Administrative Law Manual, DND, Chapter 22