Major military sexual misconduct report will be public ‘in the coming days’

Defence Minister Anita Anand has officially received the final report from former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour on how best to address the military sexual misconduct crisis, Global News has confirmed.

She plans to make it public “in the coming days,” said a spokesperson for the minister.

Anand had previously said she expected to receive the report on May 20. Daniel Minden, press secretary for the minister, confirmed she did receive the report on Friday.

The delivery of the report comes one year after the review formally began in the wake of reporting by Global News on allegations of sexual misconduct against senior military leaders.

Those allegations sparked a national reckoning over the culture in the Canadian Forces, along with what experts described as an existential “crisis” for the military as it came under intense public and political scrutiny.

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The deadline for Anand to make the report public is May 30, according to the terms of reference laid out for the Arbour review.

It is not the first report to probe the culture of the Canadian Forces — a landmark 2015 report by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps described a “toxic” environment that was hostile to women and LGBTQ members, and where sexual harassment and misconduct were routinely swept under the rug.

Arbour was tasked specifically with providing recommendations on how best to set up an independent system for reporting military sexual misconduct. She issued an interim recommendation in the fall that sexual misconduct cases should be handled by civilian authorities until a new system is in place.

Anand implemented that recommendation, but there remain dozens of cases that are not being transferred because they are close to completion within the military system.

Fixing the culture of sexual misconduct and abuse of power is Anand’s top priority, she has said.

It is also a major security challenge for Canada after a recent report from the defence ministry determined that the culture of widespread racism, misconduct and discrimination in the military is “repulsing” new recruits.

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“Unless it is rapidly reined in and addressed, the impact of this toxicity will linger for years, affecting the reputation of the Defence Team to the point of repulsing Canadians from joining its workforce,” the report warned last month.

“Recruitment data suggest that this is already happening.”

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