Ottawa launches another external review into sexual misconduct in the military

Former supreme court justice Louise Arbour will lead an external review into sexual harassment and misconduct in the Canadian military, the federal government announced today.

The review will provide “concrete recommendations” on how an independent, external reporting system — one which allows victims to report violence and misconduct without fear of reprisal — can be put in place, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said.

It was also confirmed Thursday that the Department of National Defence (DND) will establish a new in-house position — a chief of conduct and professionalism.

CBC News reported last week on the creation of the new position. It will be filled by newly promoted Lt.-Gen. Jennie Carignan, who recently returned from commanding the NATO training mission in Iraq.

WATCH: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announces another military misconduct probe

Harjti Sajjan announces that retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour will lead an external review to examine the culture of harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces. 3:50

Six years ago, the former Conservative government conducted its own external review of sexual misconduct in the military, led by another former supreme court justice — Marie Deschamps. She recommended the government establish an independent agency for reporting misconduct.

That recommendation was largely ignored. Instead, DND created a sexual misconduct response centre — which, while independent of the military chain of command, only provides advice to victims.

An external reporting agency has been one of the key demands from the survivors of sexual assault and misconduct in the ranks who have testified before recent parliamentary committees. Those committees launched hearings after the country’s two most senior military commanders — retired general Jonathan Vance and Admiral Art McDonald — were accused separately of inappropriate behaviour.

Sajjan said Thursday that the aim of the new external review is to build on what was learned from the Deschamps report.

Deputy Defence Minister Jody Thomas was more direct, noting that not everything recommended six years ago was implemented — and the findings of this new review will be carried out.