Military to prohibit crude jokes, racy photos as part of crackdown

Canadian Forces laying down the law for senior commanders as part of crackdown against sexual misconduct

Commander of Canadian Joint Operations, Lieutenant-General Jonathan Vance, speaks during a technical briefing, Monday, January 19, 2015 (Adrian Wyld/CP)

(Adrian Wyld/CP)

OTTAWA – Inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature, racy photos and unwelcome advances are among acts specifically prohibited by the Canadian military as the country’s new chief of defence staff prepares to lay down the law for senior commanders.

Gen. Jonathan Vance has signed orders meant to stamp out sexual misconduct, an issue which has seized the defence establishment since the publication of a scathing investigation last spring.

In it, former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps wrote that sexual impropriety was “endemic” in the military, where leaders tolerated a pervasive macho culture and women were afraid to report harassment and even assaults.

Vance’s order not only prohibits obvious offences, but goes a step beyond to target behaviours that “perpetuate stereotypes and modes of thinking that devalue members on the basis of their sex, sexuality, or sexual orientation.”

During his swearing-in last month, the new defence chief made a point of saying that bullies are not welcome within the ranks and are often the least effective members in combat.

The order specifically instructs commanding officers to take “prompt and decisive” action the moment they hear of a complaint and warns that “all leaders” in the Forces are accountable for failures that permit the current culture to continue.

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