Message from CRCN: Command-Level Review and Administrative Review Process for the Mihajlovic case concludes

Navy News / February 2, 2021

The Director Military Careers and Administration’s second Administrative Review (AR) concerning Sailor 1st Class Boris Mihajlovic has concluded, observing the principle of procedural fairness as well as all relevant policies and practices, with the determination that he be released from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and those release proceedings are now complete.

This decision is the result of a process that began just over a year ago, when we were alerted to the admitted involvement with hate groups of Mr. Mihajlovic, who was a member of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Tecumseh. In response to this, the member’s unit initiated an AR which, in June 2020, rendered the decision to retain the member in service.

In July 2020, my predecessor ordered a Command-Level Review be conducted in order to address this case, and deliberately and comprehensively ensure that it had been handled appropriately, and in alignment with our policies.

During the conduct of this review, deficiencies were identified with respect to precision in the exchange of information between the member’s unit, HMCS Tecumseh, and the Directorate of Military Careers Administration, which is the authority responsible for conducting Administrative Reviews, independent of a member’s chain of command.

Tecumseh consequently initiated a second AR, while taking care to overcome the information exchange inconsistencies and lack of precision that impacted the initial AR, and with the recommendation that the member be released.

I want to assure you all that concrete measures are being implemented to ensure that the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has the ability to appropriately handle cases pertaining to hateful conduct in the future.

We are also cognizant that we need to do a better job of addressing issues of systemic racism more holistically as an institution, and we are committed to doing so.  

As this case has proceeded, the Canadian Forces Military Personnel Instruction 01/20 on Hateful Conduct was promulgated and clear statements were issued acknowledging and lamenting that racism exists in our ranks, our organization, and in our biases.

Throughout the summer, we moved to adopt more inclusive and gender-neutral English rank designations for our junior ranks – now Sailor 3rd Class, Sailor 2nd Class, Sailor 1st Class, and Master Sailor being the common usage titles, while we complete the months of work to have these designations formally endorsed and codified in orders and regulations.

And this necessarily unrelenting line of activity continued with the release of our Naval Order on Hateful Conduct response, NAVORD 1020-1, as well as with my recent CRCN37 Flag Hoist Signal, which was my personal signal directing all of our members to embrace the keystone virtue of respect. Respect for the RCN, respect for yourself, and most importantly, respect for your fellow shipmates. Our strength is in our diversity, and that strength hinges on greater inclusion. 

In the past year, we also launched a series of engagements with mid-level leaders in our Navy – from Master Sailor to Chief and all Lieutenants(N) through Commanders – to prompt culture change in our organization. These engagements are intended to help us recognize that racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and discrimination exist within our ranks and organization – despite the efforts of many to combat it and as much as it hurts to admit it.

We all need to acknowledge this and commit to fixing it. We must eliminate racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and discrimination. We must be inclusive and diverse and create a sense of belonging for all who join and serve in our Navy.

I cannot state clearly enough that the Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Navy have zero tolerance for racist and discriminatory behaviour in our ranks. Canada is an inclusive and diverse country, and we must strive to ensure that the Forces respect and reflect our nation and its values.

Respect for the dignity and worth of each individual and the equality of all people are profound principles that are critical requirements for the operational effectiveness of the Royal Canadian Navy, and Canadian Armed Forces. These principles are enshrined in Canadian Law and are a fundamental part of what constitutes our modern Canadian society.

Any member who doesn’t feel safe or has encountered any form of harassment is highly encouraged to report it to the chain of command. If that member is uncomfortable going to his or her chain of command, the CAF has a number of alternate systems to address the concerns of its members.

These include:

  • The CAF Helpline 1-833-328-3351,
  • The National Investigation Service, or
  • The Ombudsman’s Office.

Shipmates, in the RCN and in the CAF, we all have each other’s backs. If you espouse hatred, racist or misogynistic views, then you have no place in our ranks.

We are dedicated to being a modern and forward-looking organization where people are welcomed, feel safe in their workplace, and are judged solely on their competence and contribution to Canada’s defence goals. We will not tolerate any member of the RCN having membership in any group or organization connected with hateful criminal activities, or participating in any activity that promotes racism, violence, discrimination or harassment.

           

Yours aye,

Vice-Admiral Craig Baines
Commander Royal Canadian Navy