As the Canadian military looks to overhaul a culture that has contributed to a logjam of sexual assault and sexual misconduct cases, a survivor of sexual misconduct and Kingston local believes five years is an unrealistic timeline.
Justin Hudson is attempting to rejoin the Canadian Armed Forces, ten years after leaving due to repeated sexual misconduct at the hands of two peers at CFB Borden.
Hudson says that Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, the military’s new pick to spearhead culture change, seems committed to the task at hand but her five year timeline for “irreversible change” is completely unrealistic.
Hudson says he doesn’t trust the Canadian military alone to recognize and implement the changes necessary, and that oversight from outside the ranks should be a requirement to Lt-Gen Carignan’s role.
“This position needs to have civilian oversight on a permanent nonstop basis. The only thing that I fear with this position is the opposite occurring,” Hudson said.
“The last thing that I would want is to have somebody in this position with the title of Chief Professional Conduct and Culture Officer who’s a Lieutenant-General saying that things are okay and everything is fine and nothing’s wrong.”
Hudson says the person responsible for this position should permanently subordinate themselves to civilian oversight, and should be there to implement recommendations from that oversight.
In his experience, the culture issues can be blamed equally on the chain of command as they can the actual perpetrators of sexual assault and misconduct.
Hudson says when alerted of potential sexual misconduct, the chain of command closes ranks, attempts to quiet the issue, and puts more emphasis on protecting perpetrators than victims.
He added that the chain of command operates similarly when it comes to complaints of discrimination.
Hudson said it was clear in listening to Lt-Gen Carignan speak that she is not a survivor herself, and that her work should be done in consultation with field experts outside of the military.
Despite being dubious of Carignan’s early goals for culture change, Hudson has been encouraged by some of the progress he’s seen with the Canadian Armed Forces, and feels they’re taking the issue of sexual misconduct seriously enough for him to seek re-enlisting here in Kingston.
Hudson applauded the planned expansion of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC), which he credits for helping to build the confidence he needed to speak out.
SMRC provides counselling to survivors and helps them to access resources, and is set to expand to five regions throughout the country.
The military is currently set to begin consultations with thousands of sexual misconduct survivors as a step in its’ restorative engagement.