ARCHIVED - Canadian Forces Policy on Racist Conduct

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Backgrounder / August 1, 1998 / Project number: BG-98.039

Racism, or any form of discrimination or harassment, is not tolerated in the Canadian Forces (CF). The CF is committed to the principle of equality of all people and the dignity and worth of every human being. CF members must always be guided by this principle in dealings with each other, the public, and all those with whom they come in contact.

The CF defines racist conduct as conduct that promotes, encourages or constitutes discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religion. Racist conduct also includes belonging to or participating in the activities of a group or organization that a CF member knows, or ought to know, promotes such discrimination or harassment. Racist attitudes are not compatible with military ethos and with effective military service. Any conduct that reflects such attitudes will not be tolerated. Racist conduct impairs military effectiveness by:

  • eroding cohesion and esprit de corps
  • impairing the ability of members to treat each other fairly and impartially, and
  • creating an impression with the public of Canada and other nations, that the Canadian Forces cannot be relied upon to perform peacekeeping and other international commitments, or to provide assistance to Canadian authorities in handling internal disputes fairly and impartially, without regard to the race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religion of the parties involved.

The CF policy clearly promotes the prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religion as stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act. There are also related prohibitions within the Criminal Code.

Canadian Forces applicants reflect diverse cultural backgrounds and the diversity of these applicants is valued throughout the CF. Recruiters inform each applicant of the CF policy on racist conduct. Applicants who are unable or unwilling to comply with this policy will not be enrolled. The Department of National Defence has also implemented SHARP training. The Standard for Harassment and Racism Prevention is a seminar every member of DND/CF must attend that sensitizes DND employees and CF members to the issues surrounding workplace harassment and racism, how to avoid inappropriate behaviours, and what options an individual has for reporting harassment.

Incidents or evidence of racist conduct of serving members are immediately reported to the Commanding Officer (CO) who must assess the requirement for further investigation by the appropriate police or security authorities. If the CO is convinced that there is reliable evidence that a member has participated in racist conduct, the CO is then obligated to take appropriate administrative measures depending upon the seriousness of the circumstances. These measures can include, but are not limited to:

  • informal counseling
  • recorded warning
  • counseling and probation, or
  • a recommendation of release.

In addition to the administrative measures outlined above, the Commanding Officer may consider that a member’s conduct warrants disciplinary action and even suspension from duty.

The Canadian Forces considers this matter very serious, and as such, has taken a number of steps to eliminate racist conduct from its ranks. Any member who is a victim of any form of harassment (including racial harassment) is encouraged to report it to the chain of command. If that member is uncomfortable going to the chain of command, the CF has initiated a number of alternate systems to address the concerns of its members. These could include the Harassment "1-800" number, the National Investigation Service, or the Ombudsman’s Office.

In order to monitor the effectiveness of programs designed to eliminate racist attitudes and prevent racist conduct, NDHQ is notified of all incidents involving racist conduct. This assists the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources - Military) in ensuring that education and training are as effective as possible to help eliminate racism in the Canadian Forces.

Respect for the dignity and worth of each individual and the equality of all people are profound principles enshrined in Canadian Law and are also critical requirements for the operational effectiveness of the CF.

Date modified: