Letter to MND: Concerns with the IC2M Project

22 April 2016

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP
Minister of National Defence
National Defence Headquarters
Major-General George R. Pearkes Building
13th Floor, North Tower
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2


Dear Minister Sajjan,

It has recently come to my attention that the Integrated Complaint/Conflict Management (IC2M) project is in the final stages of its definition phase and will be followed by the development of an implementation plan due in the summer of 2016. Contrary to previous feasibility studies conducted by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) regarding an integrated approach to conflict management, I understand that this iteration will necessitate substantial changes to the governance framework including amendments to the National Defence Act, the QR&Os, and DAODs.

Based on the documentation available to me, the IC2M initiative promises a system trusted by both the CAF members and the chain of command, timely and informal conflict resolution with quasi-automatic escalation to “grievance” under certain parameters, and a construct that gives the chain of command greater situational awareness on the conflict portfolio.  IC2M proposes a centrally controlled conflict resolution service.  The system would have a single point of entry and be operated locally at the base level by CAF members who are trained in conflict management.   This would be supported by education, support, referral, and a registration process.  The local staff would be responsible to the local commanding officer and responsive to a functional authority (the Agency) accountable to the chain of command.  The investigations and apportionment of investigators would be centrally controlled. 

IC2M raises a number of important issues including, true independence of investigations if the system is within the chain of command, how increased situational awareness of the chain of command will be balanced with the confidentiality of CAF members, how CAF members seeking assistance will be protected from reprisal, and whether there will be sufficient transparency to warrant the continued confidence of the Canadian public.

The IC2M initiative (as well as the recent sexual misconduct response strategy) appears to bring into the military fold many of the functions that the DND/CF Ombudsman, an entity outside of the chain of command, is currently performing. Understandably, the design concept for IC2M, which is reportedly 80% complete and has gone to the Armed Forces Council for endorsement, raises some concerns from an organizational and governance perspective.  As a critical stakeholder in the complaint and conflict management for the CAF and larger defence community, an overhaul of the CAF complaint and conflict management system will necessarily have implications on my Office.

Operational efficiencies and early conflict resolution are laudable goals; goals, in fact that my Office has recommended in a number of reports.  However, I am concerned that that re-engineering a conflict/complaints management system for the CAF, particularly one that requires policy and legislative reform, cannot be successful without taking into account the full spectrum of conflict and redress options already available to CAF members.

I request that these points be shared with the Armed Forces Council prior to final endorsement of IC2M assumptions and the development of an implementation plan.  I also request that my Office be consulted on any proposed changes to policy and legislation that could fundamentally affect the manner in which this Office is positioned to serve its constituents.

I am available at your convenience to discuss this matter.


Gary Walbourne

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