The federal government is ordering a review of Canada’s military colleges that could result in sweeping changes at the two schools, a new report says.
The report — tabled in Parliament by Defence Minister Anita Anand on Tuesday — is the government’s reply to former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour’s report calling for major changes to Canada’s military in response to a series of sexual misconduct scandals in recent years.
The government has accepted all 48 of Arbour’s recommendations and has ordered the military to move forward on their implementation, the government’s report said.
One of those recommendations called for a review of the military colleges in Kingston, Ont., and in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
In her report, released in May, Arbour called for widespread cultural change at the colleges. The “continued prevalence of sexual misconduct at the military colleges is well documented,” she said at a press conference after releasing the report.
While she didn’t call for the colleges to be scrapped altogether, Arbour did suggest that the schools be assessed to determine whether they should carry on in their current form.
“The military colleges appear as institutions from a different era, with an outdated and problematic leadership model,” Arbour wrote in her report.
The report released by Anand says that by ordering a review of the colleges, the federal government “strongly affirms that the culture in these institutions must change significantly.”
Canada’s military police identified 257 substantiated incidents of unwanted sexual activity at the military colleges between 2016 and 2019, according to a 2020 report.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Anand said she is confident the colleges’ culture can be reformed.
“I believe very sincerely in the ability of these colleges to meet this challenge head on,” she said.
A review board led by an education specialist will be established to evaluate the colleges in 2023, the report says. It does not mention a timeline for completing the work.
Anand said her report also will serve as a roadmap for cultural change in the armed forces as a whole.
“My goal is to put in place the institutional reforms necessary so that cultural change can last,” she said.
Tuesday’s report says the government will continue moving toward having the civilian justice system investigate and prosecute all cases of sexual offences in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The military was granted jurisdiction over its own sexual assault cases in 1988. Acting on Arbour’s interim report, Anand started transferring such cases to the civilian system last year.
Tuesday’s report says Anand has asked the Armed Forces to present her with options to permanently transfer jurisdiction over such cases to the civilian criminal justice system.
The military has had trouble transferring sexual misconduct investigations to civilian police bodies over the past year.
The Canadian Armed Forces has transferred 57 investigations to civilian police services since last December, Col. Vanessa Hanrahan, deputy commander of Canada’s military police, said Monday.
But another 40 cases have been declined by civilian police for a variety of reasons, including jurisdictional and resource concerns, she said.
Military police are trying to address these concerns by working with civilian police investigators and giving them access to military police records, Hanrahan said.
Source : CBC