I talked to Amanda Connolly of Global News about the speculation regarding the next Defence Minister, and she asked what would keeping Sajjan around signal. She only used part of my quote, so here's the longer version.
It would signal:
- The so-called Feminist government does not care about the situation of women in the CAF since Sajjan didn't pay attention to how the Deschamps Report was or was not implemented.
- The abuse of power crisis in the CAF (this whole thing has been as much about abusing power as it has been about sexual misconduct and, yes, the two are inextricably linked) would be exacerbated since the message would be that the MND not only tolerated the abuse of power but abused power himself (by not using his authorities).
- The Liberal government doesn't care about defence as it would be keeping a person in that position who does not know what the job entails and does not seem to be that interested in doing it.
Who should the next MND be? I don't know. Here are my guidelines:
- Not a former senior military officer. I used to say not general/admiral, but Sajjan indicates perhaps that Lieutenant Colonel may be too high up--too connected, too long in the service so the mindset is pretty fixed.
- Someone who has some experience running a department. Defence is one of the toughest departments to run. Learning on the job may mean getting played by folks in the building.
Does it need to be a woman? Not absolutely, but it would be a good idea. It has been a very long time (nearly 30 years) since there was a woman in that spot--Kim Campbell--and she was the only. It would have substantial as well as symbolic impact. [Update: see this article featuring smart women who know gender and the military stuff on the challenges of appointing a woman to clean up a man's mess] However, there are other groups that have been historically excluded, and the CAF has problems with recruiting and retaining not just women but Indigeous people, visible minorities, and LGBTQ2S+.
I don't know the Liberal bench well enough to say who would be best. I just know who would be worst--keeping the status quo.