Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd - Operation HONOUR Briefing

Speeches / August 31, 2016

Good afternoon everyone.

I’m Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. With me today in the front row is Chief Petty Officer First Class Michel Vigneault, the RCN Command Chief.

Today we will update you and take your questions on what we are doing to address misconduct issues across in the RCN, and more specifically, in relation to Operation Honour as we move to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

I want it clearly understood today that we stand firmly with the Chief of the Defence Staff and the senior Defence Team leadership as we collectively work to create a workspace for our people that is free from any form of abuse, discrimination, and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Together we will identify inappropriate conduct, provide care to those who have been wronged, and we will hold perpetrators to account.

Last April, we implemented an Operation Honour-focused incident tracking system. Since that time, we have been tracking a number of conduct cases involving some form of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

These cases include:

  • inappropriate sexualized social behaviour (i.e jokes, expressions, images);
  • sexual harassment (i.e. unwanted invitations, leering, unnecessary touching); and
  • sexual misconduct (as defined in the Criminal Code).

One of these incidents is “closed”, with the perpetrator having been released administratively from the Canadian Armed Forces; while in many of the remaining cases initial investigations led to remedial measures being taken against the perpetrator. Several of these cases have been referred to the National Investigation Services; and civilian authorities have laid charges in one case. 

The RCN has always dealt with misconduct issues directly, particularly when it comes to those holding positions of leadership or command. Trust is a key component of leadership and discipline, and it must not be placed in doubt. When we lose confidence or trust in those holding positions of responsibility, they are removed from those positions, and the issues surrounding the removal are examined.

In order to ensure the principles of Operation Honour were foundational and enduring within the RCN, we incorporated them into the RCN Code of Conduct.

The RCN Code of Conduct was officially released in February of 2016 and it is central to defining what right looks like. It formally promotes a respectful professional environment, free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, and it formalizes our stance that everyone in the RCN has a leadership role to play when it comes upholding good conduct and the elimination of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

In addition, the RCN has also developed a training strategy whose new training modules were developed by Naval training staff in concert with the CAF Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct.

The RCN Code of Conduct institutionalizes and operationalizes Operation Honour and it is thoroughly entrenched in every level of this new training system - from the most basic occupation training, through to that of our most senior Command Teams.

Furthermore, the RCN Code of Conduct is core to our mentorship and leadership within all levels of our chain of command.

Our goal is to apply the principles of Operation Honour through what we call “deck-plate leadership” – the immediate and visible interaction between leaders and junior personnel at all levels.

Our next steps are to continue to build our sailors’ confidence in their chain of command and in our reporting mechanisms so that victims will not fear reprisal in coming forward.

Everyone also has to clearly understand there are no bystanders in the RCN when it comes to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

There are perpetrators, victims and witnesses  –  victims need to tell us when something has happened; witnesses have a responsibility to stop or report incidents; and perpetrators need to know we will find and deal with them to the fullest extent of our abilities.

We all have a responsibility to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

At the end of the day, this is all about people. It’s about making sure they have a safe and respectful workplace, free from abuse or discrimination – one in which they can focus on, and carry out their duties in the service of Canada.

If anyone in the RCN does not live up to our Code of Conduct they can be assured there will be very real consequences directly tied to poor judgement and inappropriate behaviour.

In summary, we are unwavering in our commitment to show our sailors and our country “what right looks like”. We are making headway; and while some higher regulatory changes will take more time, change for the better is happening at every level throughout your Navy.

Implementing Operation Honour and our Code of Conduct to their fullest will take time, and I can tell you without hesitation or reservation the leadership of the RCN is committed to accomplishing this very important and enduring operation.

Thank you.