Commander RCN issues Naval General Message on Hateful Conduct

Navy News / October 1, 2020

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are proudly known for who we are and how we conduct ourselves. To be a member of our team you must champion and abide by our military ethos. The Naval General Message (NAVGEN) below by Commander RCN Vice-Admiral Art McDonald makes it clear that hateful conduct has no place within our ranks. We aspire to be a Service in which all are treated with dignity and respect, and that cultivates an inclusive and respectful work environment for all. In choosing to serve, you accept these aspirations as your own. Simply put, in the RCN and the CAF, we must all have each other’s back.


Unclassified C Navy

Bilingual message/message bilingue

RCN 025/20 NAVGEN 15/20

Subject: RCN Hateful Conduct Policy Update

References: A. Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) 5019-0 Conduct and Performance Deficiencies

B. Canadian Forces Military Personnel Instruction 01/20 – Hateful Conduct

C. DAOD 2008-3, Issue and Crisis Management

D. DAOD 5019-2 – Administrative Review

E. DAOD 5019-4 – Remedial Measures

F. Commander RCN s Critical Information Requirements (CCIR) Directive

G. NAVGEN 011/20: Admiral’s Statement – Racism and discrimination have no place in the RCN

H. Naval Order (NAVORD) 1001-0: RCN Code of Conduct

1. Hateful conduct in our ranks erodes human rights, the Canadian military ethos, operational effectiveness, and the trust of Canadians in the CAF as representatives of Canada at home and abroad. It brings discredit to the CAF and undermines CAF security, morale, discipline, and cohesion. For these reasons the CAF is committed to eliminating racism, discrimination, and hateful conduct where we live, work and play – on premises and online.  2. As a CAF service chief and as your commander, I therefore reaffirm, on your behalf, that - individually and collectively – we, Canada’s sailors and proud CAF members, remain unwavering in our commitment to growing an inclusive and diverse workplace and to identifying and eliminating racism, discrimination, and hateful conduct in the RCN. We do not tolerate it anywhere in the ranks of our Defence Team.

3. To these ends, this NAVGEN provides an update on the RCN’s ongoing efforts to eliminate racism, discrimination, and hateful conduct pursuant to CAF direction and guidance at references A through E as well as amplifies naval instruction at references F through H. I direct each of you to read and follow these orders and instructions as a foundation to your personal efforts to end racism, discrimination and hateful conduct in DND/CAF.    

4. Your reading list will also soon grow. As our hateful conduct response requires an enduring and persistent effort, the RCN is working in consort with military personnel command, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Airforce as well as the directorate of professional military conduct and other DND/CAF groups to further develop and refine hateful conduct policy, response, and prevention measures – ensuring CAF-wide alignment and that we are tackling these issues uniformly. As part of this effort, the RCN – like the other services – will shortly release a NAVORD providing RCN-specific direction on hateful conduct prevention and response, in conjunction with an update to the RCN code of conduct, NAVORD 1001-0.

5. I also encourage you to visit the following intranet site to familiarize yourself with CAF hateful conduct response and support resources: 

6. Obviously we expect even more of our executive leadership and command team members. Naval leadership, including all commanding officers, executive officers, coxswains and unit chiefs, need be acutely aware of their responsibilities in regard to creating the right command climate on our deck plates as it pertains to supporting growth in inclusion and diversity as well as eliminating racism, discrimination, and hateful conduct. You need to be especially mindful and current regarding the management tools and mechanisms in place to address misconduct and to support members who are impacted. And as the complete naval leadership team works together to these ends, pursuant to reference B, any hate incident shall be registered in the hateful conduct incident tracking system (HCITS) within 48 hours and, where applicable, reported through significant incident reports (SIRs) as dictated in references C and F.

7. From amongst today’s naval leadership, I have appointed “conduct champions” who, as senior leaders within their formations, will facilitate our hateful conduct response dialogue while lending advice and support to units and individuals navigating their way to a better future. Our conduct champions are:

A.   Maritime Forces Atlantic: Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (CPO1) Derek Godin

B.    Maritime Forces Pactific: CPO1 Line Laurendeau

C.    Naval Reserve: CPO1 Éric Dufour

D.   National Capital Region: CPO1 Carlos Esquivel

Additional support is also available from the RCN conduct policy advisor, Lieutenant-Commander Michelle Muir

8. Shipmates and colleagues, if you have experienced hateful conduct, whether targeted at you or toward someone else, whether it be in the workplace or externally or online, report the incident to your Chain of Command (CoC) or manager/supervisor immediately. Please also note that beyond your CoC, support and counsel is available from a trusted shipmate or colleague, or by leveraging one of the anonymous supporting-resources made available to CAF/DND members and families.

9. And if I may speak directly to you, my shipmates, who have experienced racism, discriminatory behaviour, and/or hateful conduct, I am sorry. We now hear you. We believe you and we are committed to supporting you and addressing the occurrence(s) you share with us.

10. Making my promise above a reality will involve much more than addressing behaviour alone: it will require a positive culture change across our institution, it will demand members become actively engaged in these issues, and it will involve an open, honest and respectful dialogue across all rank levels of our formations.

11. Admirals council, naval board, and the complete naval leadership cohort is seized with this. Amongst our immediate responses are: we have begun engaging our underrepresented communities in an effort to ensure our policies and practices are shaped, while in development, by perspectives and considerations regarding both episodic and systemic racism and discrimination; further, to inspire an active dialogue and proactive culture change with respect to racism, discrimination, and hateful conduct, town hall engagements will soon be conducted for leaders at all levels to provide a forum for dialogue to promote understanding (including unconscious bias) and response. Pandemic response notwithstanding, we will ensure this crucial discourse is achieved.

12. Shipmates, stopping the cycle of racism requires deliberate, sustained action. Our words and actions, including what we allow to happen as bystanders, need demonstrate that we will not tolerate racism, discrimination nor hateful conduct. Quite simply:

A.  We need to listen. One of the most impactful contributions we can initially make is to accept and acknowledge that racism exists within the RCN, and to do so we need to listen;

B.  We need to learn. All of us have the responsibility to broaden our knowledge and routinely conduct introspection to actively recognize and identify unconscious biases within ourselves; and 

C.  We need to act. We must encourage our shipmates – military and civilian - to come forward if they have been subject to racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or discriminatory behaviours of any kind. Then, when they do, recognizing the trust they will have shown in us, we must believe them as a jumping-off point to offering them the support, resources and follow-up that they, our shipmates, deserve.

13. Simply put, in the CAF/RCN, we must all have each other’s back. So, if you espouse hatred, racism, or misogynistic views, or if you commit like actions – big or small – to divide us, then you have no place within our organization. Period.

14. We aspire to be a CAF/RCN in which all are always treated with dignity and respect, free from discrimination and hateful conduct. We aspire to be in an institution that cultivates an inclusive, diverse, and respectful work environment for all. In choosing to serve, you accept these as your aspirations too. Make this so – listen, learn and act.

15. VAdm Art McDonald, Comd RCN, sends.