Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Injustice or Entitlement Syndrome: A Little Self-Awareness Is Required

 I got some push back yesterday after tweeting this:

 MG Danny Fortin has had a tough couple of years.  He was the senior military officer helping the government with the vaccine rollout when he lost his job and was put on ice while an accusation of sexual misconduct was investigated.  It was ultimately sent through two procedures--civilian courts and military administration.  He was found not guilty in the first and essentially the same in the second.  And now he wants his job back.

This is where entitlement comes in.  It may have been unfair for him to lose his job due to an unproven accusation, but fairness at this stage has little to do with it.  He will always be tainted by the accusation, especially when the CAF itself has had so many general and flag officer (GOFOs) credibly accused of abuse of power and sexual misconduct and when the various justice systems have tended not to handle this stuff well.  What job could he have in the CAF now where there would not be significant concern?  Could he be chief?  Before all of this, maybe. Now?  No.  Could he be chief of the army?  Ditto.  And on and on.

This is where the entitlement syndrome that is a key part of the abuse of power problem resides--no one is owed a GOFO position.  No one is entitled to such a lofty spot.  To serve now one has to have avoided all appearance of impropriety.  When Admiral Art McDonald was suspended due to an accusation of sexual assault, once the investigators chose not to pursue the matter further, McDonald sent a letter to all of the GOFOs saying he was coming back.  That was a far clearer case of entitlement syndrome and poor judgment. 

So, Fortin's situation is not as clear.  Still, if Fortin truly believes in service before self, then he should realize that he is doing the CAF a disservice by insisting on returning to a significant position.  He is not indispensable--no one is.  He served a long career and is going to get his pension.  But another general officer billet?  No, that is not going to happen.  He doesn't have to like it, he can consider it all an injustice (his accuser continues to consider this a case of injustice), but that is just where things are now.  

What is best for the CAF?  This is difficult stuff as there needs to be a road back for those who have been accused and for those whose transgressions were relatively minor (the accusation here is not minor, to be clear).  But it also needs to be led at the highest levels by those who are above reproach.  None of this is easy, but if we combine self-awareness with a focus on service before self, we might have a shot at eroding the entitlement syndrome that has plagued Canada's armed forces.


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