The Canadian Military Is Facing a Sexual Misconduct Crisis

A highly-anticipated report shows that the Canadian Armed Forces are facing issues regarding sexual assault and misconduct, as well as abuses of power.

Members of the Canadian Military

Image via Getty/Instants

Members of the Canadian Military

A highly-anticipated report has shown the depths of the sexual misconduct happening within the Canadian Armed Forces.

Released on Monday after nearly a year since the review commissioned by the federal Liberal government began, the 403-page report from former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour says issues of sexual assault and abuses of power are a “liability” to the country. 

The Arbour report on military sexual misconduct is out. Arbour says the military has been insular and resistant to change - including cultural and structural changes to address the issue of sexual misconduct. The report is over 400 pages long and has nearly 50 recommendations.

— Mercedes Stephenson (@MercedesGlobal) May 30, 2022

“The exposure of sexual misconduct in the CAF has shed light on a deeply deficient culture fostered by a rigid and outdated structure that did little to modernize it,” writes Arbour according to the Toronto Star.

“For all the hardship it has caused over decades, the attention that this issue has recently attracted presents opportunities for change that might have been unimaginable without such a shock to the system.”

The report follows a 2015 review conducted by Marie Deschamps, which showed that sexual misconduct was “endemic” in the military. Citing this report, Arbour brought forward 48 recommendations to fundamentally change how sexual misconduct is handled in order to restore confidence in the armed forces. She said that in order to shape the report, she received over 4,000 documents and conducted hundreds of interviews and meetings with stakeholders. She recommended someone be appointed to implement all of her recommendations.

Arbour also said the military cannot change its culture of sexual assault on its own, and calls for external help, as well as oversight from the federal government overseeing the Canadian Armed Forces. 

“In my view, two things could derail the path to significant change. The first would be to assume that this is only attributable to a culture of misogyny, and that change will come naturally with time and more enlightened attitudes. The second would be for the CAF to think that it can fix its broken system alone,” Arbour wrote in the report.

“The long-established way of doing business in the CAF is anchored in operational imperatives that are often nothing more than assumptions. One of the dangers of the model under which the CAF continues to operate is the high likelihood that some of its members are more at risk of harm, on a day to day basis, from their comrades than from the enemy. This must change.”

Latest in Life