Canadian military women face greater risk from peers than enemy: Arbor report

On May 30, a 400-page report widely known as the “Arbor Report” on sexual violence in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) found that Canadian military women are at greater risk from their peers than of their enemies. The report was released by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor in the presence of Anita Anand, Minister of National Defense in Ottawa on Monday.

Arbour, in the report, mentions that the risk of harm faced by Canadian military women in the CAF is daily and that this culture must change. “In thinking about culture change in response to the sexual misconduct crisis, CAF leadership appears to have been unable to examine which aspects of its culture have been most deficient. One of the dangers of the model by which the CAF continues to operate is the high probability that some of its members are more at risk of being injured, on a daily basis, by their comrades than by the enemy,” she said. declared. cited.

The former Supreme Court justice was given the task of investigating allegations of sexual misconduct and military harassment against women in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) last year. Underscoring the seriousness of the problem, Arbor released the document recommending 48 instructions to change the culture of sexual misconduct within the military.

The document, which was submitted to Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand, also included recommendations on topics such as the military justice system, definitions of sexual misconduct, as well as military colleges. Arbor pointed to the military’s many failures over the years to address misogyny, discrimination, sexual violence and trauma experienced by female members of the military.

“The handling of sexual offenses by a service tribunal over the past 20 years has done very little to improve efficiency, discipline and morale…therefore, I see no reason for the Canadian Armed Forces to retain any jurisdiction in sexual offences,” she said. cited.

17 recommendations to be implemented immediately, the rest after analysis and planning

Meanwhile, Anand welcomed and accepted the recommendations provided by the former Supreme Court justice and ordered the immediate implementation of 17 of them. “The rest,” she said, “would be implemented after further analysis and planning.” She said it was important to review the military justice system and that she would consult with provincial and territorial authorities. While an external monitor will be appointed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations, Anand said progress on this will be reported to parliament by the government.

Importantly, the study by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor is a third such study commissioned to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military. Several of Canada’s top military officers have been accused of sexual harassment over the past two decades, including the commander of the Canadian army being the last choice. In 2021, the Canadian Army postponed the appointment of his next army commander, Lt. Gen. Trevor Cadieu after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him.

Additionally, in 1992, then-19-year-old Navy veteran Dawn McIlmoyle was brutally violated by a fellow sailor in the presence of another man who would have enjoyed the incident. “When I showed up, they charged me under the National Defense Act with being on the men’s floor, where I was taken,” McIlmoyle said. cited. The victim officially left the army in 1993.

Interestingly, a similar report authored by retired Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps was released in 2015 on behalf of the review of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces. The report pointed out that the Canadian military had an underlying sexualized culture that was hostile to women and lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and queer members. “Cultural change is therefore essential. It is not enough to simply revise policies or repeat the mantra of zero tolerance,” said the report Lily.

Reports mention that about a quarter of Canadian military women say they have been sexually assaulted during their military career. In addition, the government has set aside nearly $800 million to settle class action lawsuits brought by current and former service members for sexual misconduct.

Martin E. Berry