All posts tagged accountability

Surveys on accountability and mental health in the Canadian Armed Forces

Canadians for Accountability is conducting surveys (see below) to examine accountability in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), specifically dealing with two issues: the handling of offences perpetrated by military personnel and the treatment of military personnel with physical or psychological injuries.

The first of the came to national attention in April 2014 with a Maclean’s magazine’s exposé on sexual assault in the CAF. This was widely reported by other sources. It was estimated that five sexual assaults occur each day, and that the vast majority aren’t reported. Of those, many victims reported reprisals for making allegations, and investigations were either cursory – resulting in no charges – or aborted by senior officers. Victims also appear to be penalized when they suffer ill effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, with many being released. The perpetrators typically, with very few exceptions, face no consequences. Canadians for Accountability is concerned that many of the perpetrators leave the service and enter the civilian workforce without their new employers having any idea of their past.

Of particular concern is the fact that this story is a reprise of the same revelations in the May 1998 edition of Maclean’s magazine.… Read the rest

There’s a failure of leadership in the public service

Ian Bron and Allan Cutler

Three years ago, we attended a conference of government administrators in Victoria, B.C. Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council and the most powerful bureaucrat in Canada, was a keynote speaker. Someone asked him what he considered the qualities of the ideal public servant. We expected an answer that included things like integrity, devotion to the public interest, competence, and non-partisanship. Instead, we were treated to his reminiscences of the flag debate in the 1960s.

This says much about the current state of leadership in the public service, how distant it is currently from golden age ideals and out of touch with modern public expectations. The latest federal government re-visioning exercise, Blueprint 2020, reinforces this reality. During Wouters’ recent testimony before a Parliamentary Committee, he patted himself on the back for doing such a fine job, arguing that there was no evidence of a morale problem in the public service. “I want to do a good job. I think I’m doing a good job,” he said.

Wouters is hardly neutral on the subject. However, is he really doing a good job? More broadly, are senior bureaucrats leading the public service well, and, by extension, the working in the public interest?… Read the rest

Canadian Forces can’t sweep sexual assaults under the carpet, again

National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, right, and General Tom Lawson, Chief of Defence Staff

Two weeks ago, L’actualité, and its sister magazine, Maclean’s, broke a major story on sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces. The numbers were stunning: it estimated an average of five assaults every day. What was worse, the victims reported being intimidated into not making or dropping complaints, being harassed if they persisted, and assailants getting off scot-free. The Minister of National Defense immediately ordered an investigation. Senior officers claimed to be shocked by the report.

Even I was surprised. The figures must be too high, I thought. They mean that a little over 2.6% of members would be assaulted in any given year – a rate about two times higher than that estimated for the general public, depending what figures are used. But a review of statistics from the U.S. and a lengthy conversation with a journalist convinced me that it was accurate. I also recalled a conversation with a colleague who said that he believed every woman in the Forces deals with either serious sexual harassment or assault at some point.

The military brass cannot have been surprised – or, if they were, they were negligent.… Read the rest