The Canadian Military is in the midst of a full blown sexual misconduct crisis. It has been going on for years. Now, you might think “crisis” is a little journalistic hyperbole, a little “click bait” to keep y’all listening? Oh, no, check this out… in 2016 and 2017, seven former members of the CAF brought a class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada alleging sexual misconduct, sexual assault, discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and the list goes on… and on.
You know how many CAF members signed on to the class action suit? 19, 000! Nineteen thousand, not a typo, nineteen thousand. The government has agreed to a 900 million dollar settlement and has already paid out 2379 claims.
On today's pod we look at the his-story and you'll be introduced to the two women who have said; that's it, that's all...
You will laugh and then you will cry.
With contributions from Mio Adilman, Lisa Evans, Lyne Tremblay, Chris Leon and Doug Wilde.
YES WE CANADA EP 4 SEASON 2 -Transcript
There’s no Strife Like It and The Bang Bang is bangin’
Lisa: Canada Curious? This is the Yes, We Canada podcast. This episode? The Canadian Armed Forces … There’s no strife Like It and The Bang Bang is bangin’
MZ. I’m Matt Zimbel in Toronto. At-tention!
Mio: And I’m Mio Adilman…tenchhut what the fuck is that?
MZ: This is our podcast on the Canadian Military and I’m trying to keep it crisp.
Mio: Ok everyone- At ease!
MZ: Mio, welcome to season two, it’s great to have you back.
Mio: Well, it’s great to be back in the Yes, We Canada toxic workplace.
MZ: I blame it all on HR.
Mio: I didn’t know we had HR.
MZ: Today we’re talking about a huge organization in Canada with huge HR problem, no, not Yes, We Canada… The Canadian Military or as they like to call themselves: The “CAF”… Canadian Armed Forces.
Mio: Now you guys might remember, from last season, that we talked about something called “The Canadian Solution” – which you have to admit sounds pretty impressive – no?
It’s a term used in international diplomatic circles; imagine a bunch of worldly diplomats, in an elegant, darkly panelled manor somewhere, drinking claret, charged with solving the world’s problems, “Bloody right old boy, I’d say this is job for the Canadian Solution”.
MZ: Blimey, mate, what could possibly be better than the Canadian Solution, Cherio!
Well, in fact, the Canadian Solution, is to “study” a situation in the hopes that it will go away and nothing need be done. Which I fink is effing brilliant that, what!
Mio: Well – we have a problem no… actually problem is too passive a word, we have a full blown fucking catastrophe in our military – a sexual misconduct crisis, with a side order of sexism, rape, racism and well, it would be fair to characterize it as a platoon of generals all white of course so deeply resistant to cultural change that they are employing the Canadian Solution hard! That’s basically all you need to know – tenchhut!
Mio: Podcast out!
Mio: Your orders dear listener DO NOT TOUCH THAT DIAL! or you will face a dishonourable discharge from the Yes, We Canada podcast.
MZ: Now, you might think “crisis” is a little journalistic hyperbole, a little “click bait” to keep y’all listening? Oh, no, check this out… in 2016 and 2017, seven former members of the CAF brought a class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada alleging sexual misconduct, sexual assault, discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and the list goes on… and on.
You know how many CAF members signed the class action suit? 19, 000! Thousand, not a typo, nineteen thousand. The government has agreed to a 900 million dollar settlement and has already paid out 2379 claims.
Women make up only 16 % of the military but on a percentage basis they make up most of the sexual misconduct cases with 650 reported just in 2018. But the problem is not exclusive to our women warriors – according to Toronto Star reporting, in 2018, 800 men in the regular service and reserves reported at least one type of sexual assault.
Mio: 900 million dollars. Jesus Murphy, heavens to Murgatroid, have you noticed lately that old white males are costing us a shit ton of money. The RCMP are currently going through exactly the same crisis…The old boys are draining the national treasury because they refuse to woke up and realize we are living in 2022. Their behaviour in the CAF has been so repugnant that they have unintentionally created a brand new literary genre - Dystopian/Chick lit /horror…but for the purposes of this podcast we’ll just call this literary genre: The CALF in Crisis White paper
MZ: Or Military Science Fiction….
Mio: Let’s see, in 2003 we had Justice Lamer’s Report on military injustice, I mean justice, then in 2009 we were treated to Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada and in 2011 the LeSage report on justice and grievance process in the Canadian Armed Forces and then in 2015 Justice Marie Deschamps dropped her barn burner, “A Sexualized Culture in the CAF” and 6 years! later in, 2021, former Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish treated us to the Fish Report … a deep dive into whether any progress had been made on the Deschamps report…
MZ: Spoiler alert?
Mio: Nope, I’m afraid to report that the report on the previous report, reported no reportable progress. So…………… the Trudeau government commissioned the 420 page Abour Report from former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour which was released in May of this year and came with the ever so sexy title “Independent External Comprehensive Review”.
MZ: Mio, I’m pretty sure Justice Arbour was not looking for a “sexy” title”.
MZ: I’m starting to think that the government has created a new kind of employment program for retired Supreme Court Justices…Also, you didn’t mention the best-selling Auditor General’s report: The Path to Dignity and of course who can forget the internal CAF study “Dignity and Respect: The Canadian Armed Forces Strategy to Address Sexual Misconduct published in 2020.
Mio: Basically a lot of trees died to tell us that the Canadian military was a misogynistic, highly sexualized culture utterly incapable of policing itself ….“ the chain of command is too slow, not transparent enough” ….blah, blah, blah – in fact Justice Arbour actually said, that her study is not just another quote: “blah blah blah” report.
MZ: She also said… and this is truly shocking, quote:
“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.” End quote.
There are two things happening now. One, the military leadership has known about this crisis for decades and has tried and utterly failed to fix it internally.
Arbour :“The handling of sexual offences by military court in the past 20 years has done very little to improve efficiency discipline and morale, if anything it has served to erode it”.
MZ: So now, the government has lost faith in the command and the rank and file have lost confidence in their commanders. Arbour’s report said the military was great at setting up systems, writing reports and creating what she called “death by PowerPoint”. One CAF system to combat sexual abuse was a tracking system the military brass called: “Operation Honour”, the rank and file women warriors quickly renamed it. Instead of “Operation Honour” they called it: “Operation, Hop On Her”.
Mio: Oh, my God, that would be funny if it wasn’t so incredibly sad. Yep, CAF leadership had become masters at creating the department of redundancies department. Problem? Let’s form a committee with a cool name to deal with it: check this out - they had:
SMITS - Sexual Misconduct Incident Tracking System
SARP - Sexual Assault Review Program
HIS-B –Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
MZ: sounds like the name of a b boy break dancer…
Mio: SORT - Sexual Offence Response Team and of course,
SHARP - Standards for Harassment and Racism Program.
MZ: Arbour’s report said, quote: “This is the collective failure of an organization that has preserved such a high degree of self-regulation and resistance to external influence and progress” end quote.
To put it into laypersons terms: A bloody fucking institutional shit show. CAF has tried to fix these problems internally but because of their “command and control” culture…they have failed. Justice Arbour says enough internal - they need the Canadian Criminal courts, they need the Canadian Human Right Tribunal and nothing less will do – fail!
The Justice tabled 48 recommendations, many of which were seismic –like moving sexual misconduct cases out of military jurisdiction and into the civilian courts and closing the military collages…
At the press con the journalists kept asking one question over and over again – “are these recommendations going to be acted upon or are they going to sit on a shelf at DND and gather dust?”
Mio: Well, I think that is a fair question, to ask, like, 20 to 30 times in an one hour government press conference… on the tabling of another inquiry slash commission report…
MZ: The Minister of Defence Anita Anan (who is the first Hindu Canadian to hold a cabinet post), and Justice Arbour became quite frustrated by this line of questioning – I thought at one point they were going to start saying; “ok, CTV your turn, you want to ask if the report is going to gather dust – CBC over to you - take your best dust shot. Dust, anyone? Sitting on a shelf? Le dépoussière mes amis? Canadian Press? Anyone?
Minister: I have responded to this question already
Minister 2: I think you mischaracterized what I am saying
Arbour: Let me say at the outset, that in my previous professional life, I spoke in court orders, not recommendations….
MZ: Now if you will permit me, I can translate that legalise into English for our listeners…. “Yo, I’m a fuckin’ ex supreme court judge… dude, I issue rulings, I don’t, recommend”.
Mio: So where is the military leadership on all of this, generally speaking?
MZ: Generally speaking? They’re resigning in disgrace.
Mio: Who is?
MZ: The generals. Which brings me to number two…my conclusion that generals have a hard time keeping it in their pants.
MZ: Yes Mio, I’m afraid the chain of command has become the chain of fools.
MZ: Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance - retired and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a case of sexual misconduct case about him having a clandestine relationship and a child for 19 years with a Major.
Ok everyone you might want to make some notes.
Vance is then replaced by Admiral Art MacDonald – who rocks the role, for a whole two months before he steps aside for yep, you guessed it, accusations of sexual misconduct that supposedly took place 10 years earlier on HMSC Montreal, during operation Nanook.
MZ: Yep, the case was dropped without charges, after the military investigated itself.
Mio: Oh, yeah one more question - Operation Nanook…what the hell is that?
MZ: You know, take some firepower to the arctic ...to MAGA… Make the Arctic Great Again.
Mio: Ok, I’m starting to get this Chain of Command fail thing - take me to your leader.
MZ: Not as easy as it sounds. Next Lt. General Micheal Rouleau who is head of the Special Forces and the vice chief of the defence staff, resigns because he’s caught playing golf with General Vance while Vance was under investigation for sexual misconduct. You see, Lt. General Rouleau is the boss of Provost Marshall who is the military dude investigating Vance.
MZ; Now, there’s a game of wack-fuck that certainly didn’t enhance a career.
Mio: FORE! Excuse me, mind if we play through?
MZ: please be my guest, man, those judge’s robes look so good with tasselled golf shoes.
Ok, then, a few months later, the guy who replaced Lt. General Rouleau as the commander of the Special Forces, Major General Peter Dawe resigns when CBC reports that he had given a positive character reference to a sentencing judge for a soldier who had been convicted of sexual assault. Notes people!
MZ: Then four months later, the military brass, quietly reinstates Major General Dawes
to his previous position working on – get this - the military’s response to sexual misconduct. Now, there’s no internal posting acknowledging Dawes return to this highly sensitive position and CAF members who are stakeholders in the issues of sexual misconduct in the military find out about the posting through the media and go ape shit on the socials and Dawe is put on immediate leave.
Mio: Meanwhile former Supreme Court Justice Arbour is probably thinking: “fuck, this I should forget about writing this stupid report and just sell the movie rights to this clown show”.
MZ: You think I’m done? It would be nice, wouldn’t it? Nope.
Then major general Dany Fortin who is leading Canada’s Covid 19 Vaccine roll out, is removed from his post when the military announces he’s under investigation for an undisclosed allegation, which turns out to be exposing himself to a woman when he was a student at the Royal Military College in St. Jean in 1989. He is currently suing the government for a lack of “procedural fairness”.
Mio: I’ve got this insane image of a police line-up of generals…
MZ: Look I think we’ve got to start to shut this podcast down.
Mio: So, you have been face first in the reports, the press conferences etc – what’s your take away from all your research.?
MZ : Well, the company of brothers, has had a really hard time, over decades and decades of becoming the company of brothers and sisters. They paid the sisters less, they humiliated them and abused them. The command and control culture of the armed forces is a toxic work environment by its very nature and that in itself is out of step with current culture. What are we asking these young men and women to do? When they enter the forces, they are hormonal young people who we are training to maim and kill. They are ruled by white men -71% of the force is white and male, most of its leaders were educated in the 70’s and 80’s and I’m not making excuses for tragically bad behaviour but you have to acknowledge the seeds of the disfunction.
Mio: Recruitment is way down – even fathers and mothers in families that have been military families for generations are counselling their daughters not to enlist, because they feel it is not safe and they would be exposed to Lt. Generals, I mean exposed to a level of sexism that is not career enhancing even if they do escape this blatant sexual misconduct.
MZ: Well, I think the warriors have reached the end of the road. Minister of Defence is Anita Anan. Before she was the Liberal member for Oakville, she was a corporate compliance lawyer She strikes me as both compassionate and tough as nails. Her last cabinet posting was Procurement – she’s the one that got us all that cool PPE during the pandemic. You know what they say? If you’re a good cabinet minister, you get promoted to a worse job. Welcome to the Minister of Defence portfolio for your dining and dancing pleasure.
Justice Arbour is a tough cookie too – not sure you’re allowed to refer to an ex Supreme Court judge as a “cookie” but you know what I mean.
Mio: But we have to say, thank you for your service.
MZ: hear, hear.
Mio: You join CAF and you are going to serve our country – fighting floods, pandemics, forest fires, fighting that dumbass in the Donbas. Hard work, this is not glamour. But it’s long past the time to get it right.
So, with Anita Anan and Justice Arbour, the women are now running the joint and we’re going to end this episode by premiering what we hope will become the new recruitment ad for the Canadian military….
Mio: Thanks for listening – at ease.
MZ: Yep, thanks for listening… see you in 30 days.
Fight…with the Canadian Forces
It’s time for some feminine protection you can count on
Lyne Announcer Tag: The Canadian Armed Forces… we’re not dicking around, anymore.