Evidence of meeting #146 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was military.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alan Okros  As an Individual
Kristine St-Pierre  Director, The WPS Group
Virginia Tattersal  Deputy Commander, Military Personnel Generation, Department of National Defence
Lise Bourgon  Defence Champion, Women, Peace and Security, Department of National Defence
Sean Cantelon  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, Department of National Defence
Lisa Vandehei  Director of Gender, Diversity and Inclusion, Department of National Defence

10:35 a.m.

BGen Lise Bourgon

I think too, when you look at it, it's to educate. Educate about the values and what we expect. Monitor throughout. Take action when required because some people will make mistakes. You need to put them back on the right path. You also need to have leaders in position as examples.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you very much.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Now we will turn to Mr. Bratina for the last five-minute round.

May 28th, 2019 / 10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Thank you.

I want to ask about something that Ms. Harder touched on. I'll just put it in a different way.

I appreciate the testimony you've given. It's positive and inspirational for the future of the armed forces. We've heard other witnesses give sort of the opposite. They say, “Yeah, those people are just telling you what you want to hear, but here's the real story.” How would you explain the very upset and critical people? You've seen their stories in the paper and so on.

I'll ask General Tattersal and General Bourgon to comment on those people who aren't being accommodated and are outspoken in a very negative way, versus what we hope is the case.

10:40 a.m.

BGen Virginia Tattersal

It is unfortunate that anyone would have an experience other than something positive in the Canadian Armed Forces.

I can only speak to my experience instead of generalizing it across everyone in the Canadian Armed Forces. My experience has been positive, and I would like to think that there are others like me, but I certainly recognize that there are many who have had a terrible experience. I feel exceptionally demoralized by that because it should never happen. That's not what leaders do. You don't allow that to happen.

Again, that's no different than what I think you would experience in the broader civilian context as well. You will find those who have had positive experiences, and they can be countered by those who have had horrible experiences. It shouldn't detract from what they have had, nor should it detract from what I have experienced.

10:40 a.m.

BGen Lise Bourgon

I agree with Virginia. It's sad. I think we can't look back, we need to look forward and educate, and make sure it doesn't happen again.

Again, just because I've never lived it, it doesn't mean it hasn't happened, so I can't comment. However, we need to accept that we are not perfect, and we need to look forward and make sure we close the gap, so that as we go forward this stuff doesn't happen again.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Is there something in recruiting that...? Perhaps some people aren't qualified to be in the military. I'm sure that's the case.

I remember hearing, in the veterans committee, testimony from an Australian soldier who said, “You have to do more than just fog a mirror to get into our military,” which I found interesting.

How do you speak to recruits about whether or not this is the life for them? It's your life, and you love it. For other people, it just may not be good for them.

10:40 a.m.

BGen Virginia Tattersal

I would say that in the recruiting process there are a number of steps we go through, including an interview where we have a discussion with individuals about what it means to serve, what is potentially the career for which they are applying, and why they would want to join. In fact, on our new website you will actually find a letter that is designed for parents, mentors or guidance counsellors that allows them to have discussions about why you would want to join and why you would want to do this for your life.

Certainly with recruits, once we get them to the school, we realize that some of them are going to discover that this is not for them, and that's fine. We're not trying to force them.

We don't conscript you; we recruit you. You voluntarily want to do this, and you can change your mind.

There may be individuals who, down the road, find that they no longer want to serve. Subject to them not being on an obligatory contract—i.e. we've been paying for education—they can leave.

10:40 a.m.

BGen Lise Bourgon

If people do not respect our values, we will force them to leave because they don't belong in the CAF.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

My sister had a long career in the military, retiring at 42. There were bumps along the way. She's very proud to have served the country. I think that probably speaks for both sides, whether you're in the military or not. Life doesn't always have a smooth path, and there are issues that you have to confront, whether it's in the military or not. Would you agree with that, General Tattersal?

10:40 a.m.

BGen Virginia Tattersal

Absolutely. My own history is an example of that. I started out to be an engineer. At Christmas the first year, a 37% average in five of seven courses meant that I wasn't going to make it as an engineer. But do you know what? It was a great learning point for me that I have grown from in my career.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

You have 10 seconds. Is there anything you want to add?

10:40 a.m.

BGen Virginia Tattersal

No, you don't need to hear the rest about my career and its bumps.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

On behalf of all the committee members, I would like to thank all of the witnesses for appearing before the committee today and providing important insight to this study. Thank you.

I just want to let the committee members know that at the next meeting on Thursday, May 30, the committee will start consideration of the draft report of the senior women study.

With that, the meeting is adjourned.