New policy defines and addresses hateful conduct



The Canadian Armed Forces has released a new policy framework in the form of a Defence Administrative Order and Directive (DAOD) that addresses harassment, violence, and discrimination, including hateful conduct, within the institution.

Racism and discrimination exist and they continue to surface in violent and very tragic ways as has been witnessed with the violence experienced by Black and Indigenous persons recently in the news. This has prompted a discussion about where Canada is as a society in terms of respecting the dignity of every person, without prejudice based on race, colour, national or ethnic origin, or other prohibited grounds.

Equality is a human right; respect and dignity for all are core values of Canada. We must foster a safe and healthy workplace for all members of the Defence Team which means upholding the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is unacceptable for a Canadian Armed Forces member to participate in an activity or have membership in a group or organization that is connected with hate-related criminal activities, and/or promotes hatred, violence, discrimination, or harassment on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination as defined in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Although a Military Police report for 2013-2018 cited that some CAF members were involved in incidents related to hate/racism during that period, discrimination, including systemic racism, continues to exist in the organization, and it is completely unacceptable.

We also know from Statistics Canada research studies that incidents related to hate/racism may be underreported by victims due to fear of retaliation, or the perception no action will be taken to hold the perpetrator(s) accountable.

Racism, discrimination, bullying and micro aggression in any form damage or are harmful to an individual, and also undermine the organization’s operational effectiveness. The new DAOD addresses these behaviours and also defines what constitutes hateful conduct. The new policy framework provides a path forward to addressing unacceptable behaviour, with the goal of eliminating it from within the organization.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Jonathan Vance, has made it clear that hateful conduct will not be tolerated within the CAF. Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, Commander Military Personnel Command, is on record as stating that hateful conduct, be it through words or actions, is completely incompatible with CAF ethics and values.

“The women and men who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces are held to the highest standard for their professional and personal conduct and are expected to exemplify Canadian values, including respect for diversity, whether they are here at home or abroad,” he said. “Any instance of misconduct by a member diminishes our authority as a force for good in Canadian society, and around the world. Every member of the DND/CAF Team has a part to play here as we seek to eradicate racism and bias in all their forms, whether conscious or unconscious. We will listen, we will learn, we will act going forward; we expect measurable progress as we seek change.”

The military and civilian leadership of the Defence Team have jointly coordinated their efforts so there is a shared understanding of the new policy framework for everyone within National Defence.  National Defence remains committed to increasing the representation of visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, women and people with disabilities, both in numbers and in senior leadership roles.

Leaders are engaged and are having discussions with representatives from Employment Equity Defence Advisory Groups (DAG), which include the Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group, the Defence Indigenous Advisory Group, and the Defence Women’s Advisory Organization, Persons with Disabilities, and the Defence Team Pride Network.

In addition to substantial training and awareness campaigns, the Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM) Program assists CAF members and civilian personnel to identify, translate, and communicate the harmful effects of these behaviours between individuals and within DND workplaces. 

The CAF is also implementing a new system that will allow for systematically tracking and monitoring of any suspected incidents of hateful conduct within the organization. It will also have access to subject matter expertise through a network of researchers who specialize in radicalism and the extreme right in Canada and internationally.

Every member of the DND/CAF Team has a part to play as we seek to eradicate racism and bias in all their forms, whether conscious or unconscious. We will listen, we will learn, we will act going forward; we expect measurable progress as we seek change.

For more information on CAF policy on Hateful Conduct, visit the intranet page


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