Military issues new orders in effort to crackdown on ‘hateful conduct’

Military issues new orders in effort to crackdown on ‘hateful conduct’

Military issues new orders in effort to crackdown on ‘hateful conduct’

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces has issued new orders to military personnel as senior commanders seek to address allegations of having been soft on hate in the ranks.

The orders, which aim to take a harder line on “hateful conduct,” follow a rash of high-profile incidents in which the military was caught flatfooted as service members were publicly linked to hateful actions or groups.

“The year before, it was more like a reaction kind of approach,” acknowledged Maj.-Gen. Marc Gagne, who oversees strategy, plans and policy within the chief of military personnel’s office. “We were reacting to cases.”

The new direction also comes as the military is actively working to recruit more women, visible minorities and Indigenous people to ensure it reflects Canadian society and is better able to operate in diverse theatres.

The new order aims to leave no doubt about what constitutes “hateful conduct” by banning anything — words, images or symbols — that encourages, justifies or promotes violence or hatred against individuals or groups.

That includes discrimination based on nationality or ethnic background, race, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or disability.

“We were talking about different forms of misconduct: sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination,” Gagne said. “But ‘hateful conduct’ was never clearly articulated. … We broke new ground by developing this definition.”

Troops are required to report any and all incidents while military commanders are expected to take action when incidents are brought to their attention. All have been warned that they will be held to account if they do not.

A database has also been created to track such incidents, based on the system created to monitor sexual misconduct in the ranks. New training for troops and screening for recruits is being developed.

“The idea is basically as soon as you join, it’s crystal-clear and we’re going to keep reinforcing through education and training as you move through the ranks and as you assume more responsibility,” Gagne said.

Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, described the new orders and definition as a positive and long overdue step. But he said only time will tell whether the military follows through in addressing hate in the ranks.

“Right now, these are just words,” he said. “They are good words … But too often in the past, when they investigated, it has really only resulted — to the best of our knowledge — in a slap on the wrist. What we need to see from the Canadian Armed Forces is they take meaningful actions.”

The new approach follows a number of incidents in recent years in which the military has been accused of not doing enough to root out hate from the ranks.

Those incidents have ranged from sailors associated with the Proud Boys group disrupting a Mi’kmaq ceremony in Halifax in 2017 to the case of a Manitoba army reservist who was accused of being a recruiter for a neo-Nazi group.

Patrik Mathews is currently in custody in the U.S. with two other men after disappearing from his home in Beausejour. The FBI have accused them of plotting to start a race war on behalf of The Base, a white-supremacist group.

Senior commanders also faced months of questions and criticism after a military intelligence report in 2018 identified 30 service members as belonging to hate groups or having otherwise made discriminatory or racist statements.

The Armed Forces eventually reported in November that 16 of those members had been warned, disciplined or ordered to take counselling but allowed to stay in uniform. A number of other cases were described as “ongoing.”

It also comes amid concerns about systemic racism within the military, RCMP and other government institutions.

Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas last month apologized for their slow response to questions about systemic racism.

Service members have been told that more detailed policies and orders on systemic racism are coming soon.

Gagne said the new orders are just the first step in a much longer effort to change attitudes within the Armed Forces and ensure the military is leading by example when it comes to hate.

“To change culture, to change group dynamics, to change or modify perceptions and beliefs will take time,” he said “But we had to take action. Somebody may think this is a one-off. But those little one-offs could erode the institution.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Military

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

The tree decorated in red decorations is called the Buffalo Plaid Cottage Tree. Papple says this tree has more of a "taditional, cottage-y feel." (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake resident auctioning decorated Christmas trees to help local charities

Shauntel Papple is auctioning two fully decorated trees to benefit AACS and Youth Unlimited

A roundabout is proposed at the intersection of Hwy 11 and 781. (Photo Courtesy of McElhanney Engineering)
Twinning of Hwy. 11 to see roundabouts at Sylvan Lake, Benalto and Eckville intersections

Five roundabouts are planned along Hwy. 11 as part of the previously announced twinning

On Sept. 29 the First Sylvan Lake Sparks decorated the sidewalks at the Bethany Care Centre with pictures and uplifting messages. Pictured left to right are Maddie, Nora, Teagan, and Isabelle. At the time all Girl Guide meetings and activities had to be held outside. (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake Girl Guides planning cookie drive-thru this weekend

The cookie drive-thru is Nov. 29 from 12-4 in the high school parking lot

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the province surpasses one million COVID-19 tests Friday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

Most central Alberta communities under province’s enhanced measures list

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

Ilaria Rubino is shown in this undated handout image at University of Alberta. Alberta researcher Rubino has developed technology allowing mostly salt to kill pathogens in COVID-19 droplets as they land on a mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta
Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Russ and Luanne Carl are sharing about their experiences of fighting COVID-19 this past summer. (Photo submitted)
Stettler couple opens up about COVID-19 battle

Luanne and Russ Carl urge others to bolster personal safety measures amidst ongoing pandemic

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read