The Courier

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On November 20th,  the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, released the second biannual status report of the External Monitor, Jocelyne Therrien.

The report provides an update on the progress made at the Department of Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to implement the recommendations made by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour in the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR), released in May 2022.

In the report, Madame Therrien provides her independent and external observations regarding the implementation status of all 48 of Madame Arbour’s recommendations. These observations are based on Madame Therrien’s direct discussions with DND/CAF officials, and review of relevant documents, policies, and processes.

“As we take meaningful steps to change the culture of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, external oversight is essential,” said Blair. “In accordance with Madame Arbour’s recommendation, the External Monitor, Jocelyne Therrien, continues to provide an independent and impartial assessments of our progress – and input on where more work is required. We cannot fail in our mission to build a more inclusive military culture – and I am convinced that we are making tangible progress.”

Madame Therrien states that “all IECR recommendations have been actioned to some extent.” She further notes that “Some of the IECR recommendations have been completed. Others are in progress and at various stages of implementation. And still others constitute continuous improvement.” She provides a status assessment for each recommendation, including successes, challenges, and next steps to be taken by DND/CAF.

The External Monitor also notes that, unlike with previous reviews, the “’closure’ of recommendations is being done with more accountability,” and that the Canadian Armed Forces has “stipulated in its implementation plan that it will focus on outcomes rather than activities in measuring its performance.” DND/CAF are committed to this more fulsome and more transparent approach in deeming recommendations to have been implemented.

The report also notes that the organization has now developed a multi-year implementation plan, as suggested by the External Monitor in her first biannual report released in May 2023. DND/CAF is currently finalizing this plan and intends to publish more information shortly.

The External Monitor provides an invaluable, independent, and impartial perspective on the institution’s efforts to implement external recommendations, ensuring that DND/CAF is delivering on its commitments, and taking actions that truly reflect the intent of the recommendations. The External Monitor’s term was renewed on October 19, 2023 for an additional year.

In a statement, Minister Blair welcomed this independent and external oversight, and emphasized it is essential to ensuring ongoing action, transparency, and accountability on culture change.

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