Letter from MND: Request for an Inquiry into Racism

29 Jul 2019


Mr. Gregory Lick
National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman
Office of the Ombudsman
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa ON K1P 5M1


Dear Mr. Lick:

I would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Ombudsman for National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The Ombudsman and the Office of the Ombudsman play an important role in ensuring openness and transparency in the CAF and DND. You help to ensure fair treatment for concerns raised by CAF members and their families, as well as working to strengthen the effectiveness and transparency of DND/CAF protocols and procedures.

As we committed in Canada’s new defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the CAF must reflect the diversity of the country we defend. We need a military that looks like Canada. This is an objective that I wholeheartedly support and want to see accomplished. I want to work to ensure that we build a strong and diverse organization that roots out racism and intolerance in the CAF. Over the past couple of years, there have been numerous stories regarding activities by CAF members, which show that racism is an issue that we must rectify. For example, there was a recent report from the Military Police Criminal Intelligence Program titled White Supremacy, Hate Groups and Racism in the Canadian Armed Forces, which outlined some of the known incidents of racism and white supremacy within the CAF. There have been other publicly reported incidents where racism is alleged to have led to members of the CAF quitting the armed forces.

I have consistently said that I am monitoring the situation and will take the appropriate action to ensure that the CAF is an institution that promotes equality and respect at all levels. This is an issue that has a corrosive effect on the CAF and must be dealt with swiftly and effectively to ensure that the CAF is an open and welcoming modern military.

Racism in any form has no place in a properly functioning Canadian military. It is important that an independent office, such as yours, does a thorough review of the current state of affairs in the CAF. We need to know the full extent to which racism is a problem; we need to understand the sources of the problem; and we need to develop recommendations that can be implemented to eliminate racism from the CAF. I encourage you to speak with the leadership of the CAF, as well as the rank and file, to develop a full understanding of the extent of the problem and the needed solutions. I look forward to hearing from you regarding actions that can be taken by the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate this issue.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes on your appointment.

Yours sincerely,


The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP

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