The Arbour Report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces was tabled this week and considering the author, the report held few if any surprises. Justice Arbour is an unrepentant social justice warrior and good for her, but what the learned Justice seems unwilling (for she is certainly capable) of understanding is that the world is not a classroom in a law school or a courtroom where the various players can be incarcerated for not paying appropriate deference to the one person sitting on the high bench. In spite of millennia of advancements in human society, the world at large remains, as Alfred Lord Tennyson first put it “red in tooth and claw.” The famous poet told us that “Nature is a world of strife and conflict and violence.” Until that situation changes, nations require militaries that can FIGHT and KILL. The world is populated by tyrants and bullies who at any moment and for no good reason can change the course of human advancement: Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-Un, Recep Erdogan …
We can all share Madame Arbour’s disgust at the crimes against freedom and dignity being committed by men and women in the Canadian Forces. Yes, most of the sexual harassment has been disgustingly perpetrated by men (overwhelmingly so). The CF unquestionably has a continuing problem in this respect but there is a direct route to fixing this disgraceful conduct: Force the chain of command to do its duty. We have ample regulations to cover the full spectrum of crimes. What we do not have and what we have NEVER had is senior leadership in the Department of National Defence (I am talking about BOTH ministers and generals) who have been willing to use the full powers that they have been given to solve this issue.
I was a commanding officer three times and conducted numerous courts to enforce the law. The tools are at hand. The leaders need only have the backbone (or in the case of political interference, be permitted) to use those laws. Hold them accountable.
As for closing the military colleges, it is clear that Justice Arbour has a personal agenda. I do not know what it is but, she is cherry picking statistics to suit her argument. Give her credit, she is a highly educated advocate. For instance, she reports that almost 70% of cadets at the military colleges have witnessed or experience sexual harassment. What she fails to mention is that Stats Can tells us that in Canadian universities at large, the number is OVER 70%. Shall we shut down all our universities? She claims that generally in universities the ratio of men to women is 50% but at the military colleges it is somewhere between 20% and 25%. But she fails to note that attending a military college is a distinctly DIFFERENT experience than attending Trent University or Humber College and furthermore, the federal goal for the military colleges is 25% women and we are nearly there.
Yes, there is a problem. Yes, it needs to be fixed and the issue has festered FAR TOO LONG. But can we PLEASE find someone with a basic notion of what the Canadian Forces is supposed to do (fight wars) and put them in charge and leave the social engineering to the Department of Unicorns and Rainbows?