Should he stay or should he go? Speculation intensifies over Sajjan’s future in defense – National
At some point in the weeks or months to come, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will appoint his new cabinet after winning a minority government in the Canadian election.
But already, speculation is intensifying among those working on the defense dossier over rumors of a female defense minister to replace Harjit Sajjan.
Global News spoke to five people with in-depth knowledge of how the military and defense industry works today. All five have been active in public or private works related to how best to respond to the military sexual misconduct crisis, and have agreed to speak in the background to share their views based on conversations with colleagues. industry and with members of the military.
All raised questions about the message he would send if Sajjan stayed in his role, especially how seriously the government is taking the implementation of the changes requested to overhaul military culture.
Three names came up repeatedly as potential candidates for the post.
Anita Vandenbeld – although her name has also raised concerns from some as to whether she would be able to maintain the trust of survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct given her public defense of Sajjan during the The parliamentary committee’s passionate study of the misconduct crisis earlier this year.
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As it stands, the problem is what one defense expert billed as an “aspiring chest injury” for Trudeau.
Sajjan, said this person, has become a “responsibility”.
Another source from the defense industry was blunt: “Many just want Sajjan out.”
This person said she heard the focus was on trying to hire a woman as the military grapples with what experts have repeatedly described as an institutional “crisis” of sexual misconduct.
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Vandenbeld served as Sajjan’s parliamentary secretary and has often championed the government’s handling of the case and was part of a group of liberal members of this committee who obstructed opposition attempts to call more witnesses for the study of the matter.
The defense industry source said Vandenbeld was simply doing his job of defending the minister, while a second defense expert noted that there was a perception that Vandenbeld was indeed doing the tender de Sajjan and would not have the credibility to implement real change.
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The second defense expert said that in their opinion the selection of Anand for this role would send a signal that the government intends to take seriously the creation of systemic and institutional change in the military. .
Anand was elected a rookie MP in 2019, but quickly became a central player in the government’s response to the pandemic as minister responsible for procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines, personal protective equipment and stationery.
She has extensive experience as a corporate lawyer and has worked extensively on corporate governance, which specifically refers to the laws and rules in place to manage the operations of companies.
His name has been mentioned more than once in conversations with Global News as a potential candidate for the job.
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Qualtrough also previously served as Minister of Procurement, but most recently served as Minister of Employment and Inclusion, overseeing major programs, including the rollout of COVID-19 government benefits.
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The Canadian military faces intense public and political pressure to change its culture and create better systems to prevent and deal with allegations of sexual misconduct, including an independent reporting system to ensure allegations are addressed outside the chain of command.
Following an exclusive Global News report in February on high-level allegations of inappropriate behavior, Sajjan in April announced an external review of the military’s handling of sexual misconduct, but the government has failed until now no proposed timeline for key change requested since 2015.
It was at this point that former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps released her landmark report documenting what she described as the military’s “toxic” culture towards women and LGBTQ2 members. , and called for the creation of an independent reporting system outside the chain of command.
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The Liberals came to power just months after the review was released, but never heeded its main recommendation. Trudeau and Sajjan said they supported an independent system, but said they waited for recommendations from the current review before commenting further.
This review, led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor, is not expected to end until next spring.
Meanwhile, the number of plaintiffs seeking to join the military class action settlement for victims of sexual misconduct continues to rise, and pressure on the government to act continues to mount.
Steve Saideman, Paterson Chair in International Affairs and Director of the Canadian Defense and Security Network, sharply criticized Sajjan’s handling of the crisis and said that if the government chooses to keep him in his role now, the message to survivors and victims will be clear.
“If this government kept Sajjan, it would send a strong message that it does not care about women in the military,” he said.
“It was a total disaster. “
There is still no date for the resumption of Parliament or when Trudeau plans to appoint a new cabinet.
When it does, however, it will face the challenge of what a third defense expert has described as both “impatience” and scrutiny of the current pace of change.
“Anyone who comes again will feel it,” the person said.
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