In the coming weeks or months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will name his new cabinet after winning a minority government in Canada’s election.
But, the rumor of a woman Defense Minister replacing Harjit Sajjan is already fueling speculation among those working around the defense file.
Granthshala News spoke in the background with five people with deep knowledge of the current workings of the military and defense industry. All five have been active in public or private actions to best respond to the military sexual misconduct crisis, and have agreed to speak on background to share their views based on conversations with industry colleagues and members of the military .
Remaining in the role of gentleman all raised questions about the message, particularly about how seriously the government implements changes called for in a change in military culture.
Three names came up time and again as potential contenders for the job.
Anita Vandenbeld — though her name also sparked some people’s concerns about whether she would be able to maintain the trust of military sexual misconduct survivors and victims, who earlier this year heated up the misconduct crisis’s heated parliamentary committee Public defense of the gentleman during his studies.
As it stands now, the issue is what a defense expert billed a “sucking chest wound” for Trudeau.
The gentleman, the man said, has become an “obligation”.
Another source in the defense industry was blunt: “Many want the gentleman out.”
The man said they’ve been hearing that meditation is trying to bring a woman to office as the military faces what experts have repeatedly described as an institutional “crisis” over sexual misconduct.
Timeline: Canadian Forces Sexual Misconduct Crisis
Vandenbeld served as Sajjan’s parliamentary secretary and often defended the government’s handling of the case and was part of a group of Liberal members of that committee, who criticized the opposition’s efforts to call more witnesses to study the case. failed.
A defense industry source said that Vandenbeld was only doing her job of defending the minister, while a second defense expert said there was an assumption that Vandenbeld was effectively doing the gentleman’s bidding and trying to implement real change. would not have the required credibility.
Another defense expert said that in his view, choosing Anand for the role would indicate that the government intends to be serious about making systemic, institutional changes in the military.
Anand was elected as a rookie MP in 2019 but quickly became a central player in the government’s pandemic response, as he was the minister in charge of contracts and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, personal protective equipment and supplies.
He has a keen background as a corporate lawyer and has worked extensively on Corporate Governance, which specifically refers to the laws and regulations governing the operations of businesses.
His name was raised more than once in a conversation with Granthshala News as potentially best suited for the role.
Qualtro previously held the role of minister of procurement, but has most recently been serving as minister of employment and inclusion, overseeing key programs including the rollout of government COVID-19 benefits.
The Canadian military is facing intense public and political pressure to change its culture and create better systems to prevent and handle sexual misconduct allegations, including an independent reporting system to ensure that allegations are addressed. is controlled outside the chain of command.
Following special reporting by Granthshala News in February of high-level allegations of inappropriate behavior, Sajjan announced an external review in April on the military’s handling of sexual misconduct, but the government has yet to make any major changes since 2015. Timeline is not offered.
That was when former Supreme Court Justice Mary Deschamps released her landmark report documenting what she described as the military’s “toxic” culture toward women and LGBTQ2 members, and urging the creation of an independent reporting system outside the chain of command. did.
The Liberals came to power a few months after that review was issued, yet never heeded its original recommendation. Trudeau and Gentleman have said they support an independent system, but have said they are awaiting the recommendations of the ongoing review before commenting further.
The review, led by former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Arbor, is not set to wrap up until next spring.
Meanwhile, the number of complainants seeking to join the military’s class-action pact for victims of sexual misconduct continues to rise, and continues to pressure the government to act.
Steve Seidman, who holds the Paterson Chair in International Affairs and director of the Canadian Defense and Security Network, has been an outspoken critic of Sajjan’s handling of the crisis and said that if the government chooses to keep him in the role now, the message will be saved and The victim will become clear.
“If this government retains Sajjan, it will send a strong message that they don’t care about women in the army,” he said.
“He’s been a complete disaster.”
There is still no date for when parliament will resume, or when Trudeau plans to name a new cabinet.
When it does, it will face a challenge that a third defense expert has described as both “impatience” and a thorough check on the current pace of change.
“Anyone coming in new will feel that way,” said the person.