Canadian defense officials repeatedly delayed disclosure of wrongdoing: watchdog – National

Officials at Canada’s Department of National Defense (DND) have repeatedly delayed disclosing wrongdoing within DND and the Canadian Armed Forces, according to a government watchdog.

In a report tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Canada’s Public Sector Integrity Commissioner said DND committed “serious mismanagement” by failing to provide the public with timely access to information. on a substantiated case of wrongdoing in the Canadian Forces and failing to inform the disclosers of this information. the results of investigations into wrongdoing in DND and the CAF.

DND also violated the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, Commissioner Joe Friday said in his report.

This comes after his office, which investigates serious abuses in the federal government, was alerted in 2020 by whistleblowers who alleged that senior leaders failed to allow the public timely access to a case of wrongdoing within the CAF.

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An investigation was opened after a second disclosure of wrongdoing in 2021.

“The results of our investigation are troubling,” he said in a video statement Friday.

“The evidence uncovered and reviewed during my office’s investigation clearly indicates that there was a failure in the management of the internal disclosure process at DND and the Forces, suggesting a systemic problem and a lack of accountability.

“As such, I conclude that the Department of National Defense committed wrongdoing and that its inaction amounts to a violation of the law, as well as serious mismanagement.

The report identifies three substantiated cases of wrongdoing at DND and the CAF between 2015 and 2020 whose release was delayed by at least 18 months.

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Information about a substantiated case of wrongdoing following an internal disclosure should normally be made public within 60 days of confirmation, according to Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat policy.

In one such case from 2018, the delay in publishing survey results on the DND website was extended by more than 43 months.

“Throughout our investigation, evidence demonstrated a pattern in the internal disclosure process at DND and the CAF,” the report states.

“Instances of substantiated wrongdoing were not publicized, and in some cases, disclosers were not informed in a timely manner about the results of internal investigations. »

The Commissioner made three recommendations, all of which were accepted by DND.

These included training all employees to be aware of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, an audit of DND’s internal disclosure program and an annual evaluation of the disclosure process. internal to the DND and the CAF, for at least three years.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are in the midst of a recruiting crisis, with officials admitting the number of candidates coming forward each month is about half of what the military needs to meet its goals.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces have also been rocked in recent years by what experts have called a s****l misconduct “crisis.”

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