Sunday, February 11, 2024

The State of Canadian Civil-Military Relations in Early 2024

 One of the things that I had claimed since 2021's general crisis--Vance, McDonald, and other senior officers being outed for sexual misconduct and abuse of power--is that efforts to change the military would not face as much resistance as in normal times.  These folks had so thoroughly disgraced the military that any resistors would have weak arguments and few allies--who would stand up for rapists and abuses of power?  It took a few years, but we now have an answer: the far right and the Conservative Party of Canada.

Aping the far right in the US, the right wing folks in Canada started accusing the military of being too woke.  It is not just one random retired general with poor reading comprehension.  This weekend, a different person, Jamie Sarkonak, wrote a piece at the same outlet--the National Post--arguing that the military is hostile to white men (providing no evidence), that the military should not change (although it is better than the retired general's by recognizing past abuses), and that women who join should just embrace being in a male-dominated/male-defined organization, and Indigenous recruits/officers and people of colour should just accept the military has it has always been.

What this person gets wrong and what those who want to keep the military the same is basic math: she wants the military to rely on the traditional pool of recruits: "fit, aged 17 to 20, high-school educated, rural or small-city in origin and Caucasian in background."  The problem is that this pool is shrinking.  So, we need to expand the pool of recruits beyond this group--folks living in cities, non-Caucasians, and women. If you think you can do that while keeping the old culture that was/is hostile to these folks, then you not only suck at math but sociology.

The piece is on target when focusing on the consequences of budget cuts--resolving the personnel crisis requires more money, not less.  But culture change is also required.

This Tuesday, I am presenting along with several sharp scholars--JC Boucher, Lynne Gouliquer, and Charlotte Duval-Lantoine--some data that shows that scandals about discrimination in the military cause people to lose trust in the CAF and become less supportive of their friends and family joining the CAF.  So, the numbers cited in the op-ed piece about the decline in recruiting and the problem of retention may be more related to the abuses of general and flag officers than to the effort to change the culture.

Of course, correlation is not causation.  But the antiwoke forces don't really have much data, and they have weak arguments based on bad math and bad sociology.  On the bright side, I am getting cited, which is what academics want, and I keep getting alerted to these publications by the hate email I get. 


Anonymous said...

Yes, you have been a part of a wildly exaggerated response to what has turned out to be false accusations and difficult aspects of people’s private lives. You keep labeling people with what the zeitgeist labelled them - but the zeitgeist has been wrong. As have you. You should be more careful professor. Your libellous language will disqualify you to run your DND funded program.

Steve Saideman said...

so, Jon Vance did not plead guilty to obstruction of justice?

McDonald didn't send an email to the entire set of generals and admirals telling them he would be back in command?

Oh and sexual assault is a "difficult aspect of people's private lives"?


Anonymous said...

Yes Vance did. Pleaded guilty to summary obstruction (misdemeanour) for which he was not convicted. Art - a nothing burger. Your commentary here and elsewhere paints them and the others (Fortin, Whelen, Cadieau) as being accused and found guilty of sexual misconduct (not a charge under NDA btw) or worse you pull out the old ‘rapist’ tripe. Yes indeed, you and many others jumped on the zeitgeist bandwagon because you found a niche that fit you politically and helped your career. Nothing about this over reaction to the wild accusations against senior people has helped any real victims, nor has it in any way contributed in a positive way to improved culture, recruiting or retention. But hey…you got cited a few times. Bully for you.

Steve Saideman said...

I like how you diminish the fact that the former head of the entire Canadian Armed Forces pled guilty to obstruction of justice, and the justice he was obstructing was an investigation into a career long abuse of power and misconduct.

Edmundson was credibly accused of rape--the case is now in court, although it is hard to try things after so many years. That Vance put Edmundson as head of personnel after having a reputation for having narrowly escaped prosecution for rape says even more about Vance and the culture of impunity and abuse of power.

Yes, I tend to believe the accusers after multiple former supreme court justices have found plenty of fault with the military justice system. The idea that women just gin up false accusations for shits and giggles is pretty offensive.

My career? You don't really know anything about academia as I have reached the my final position, none of this stuff gets me more money or promotion or whatever.

It does remind me of a Natyncyzk lecture about how careerism was hurting the military, so maybe you are projecting?

Anonymous said...

I get how you and the faux outrage crowd want to exaggerate and that it’s fashionable to beat on the senior guys these days. But seriously, if there was such an investigation into Vance, especially abuse of power, it would have resulted in a case of non-consensual sex, and a civil charge for assault. You also know that his accuser mislead people. I and many others see his case as a long term relationship gone sideways. You have used the phrase abuse of power often, but no such abuse seemed to have occurred and it was everybody but the accuser who applied that accusation to the case. I don’t think you know enough to condemn for accusations neither competently levelled nor resulting in a competent investigative conclusion. You’re just acting like a member of a mob. Not a good look.

Anonymous said...

I should add, to remind you, he wasn’t convicted. So, a competent judge, a competent prosecutor and the accuser herself were satisfied with a non-conviction. Maybe when competent people look at the facts and evidence there is more to the case than what you and your fellow exaggerators actually know. Why not a shred of circumspection on your part as a learned man?

Steve Saideman said...

My outrage is quite real. That the guy in charge of addressing sexual misconduct in the military had been engaged in it for decades and skated until retirement? That was outraging. That this same guy put a guy with a nickname for escaping a rape charge (until now) is outraging. I really liked Vance, and then I learned about his behavior, his entitlement. His abuse of power came in several forms: preying on any subordinate that caught his fancy, his perpetuation of his own reign by helping to select out viable candidates, his telling his former lover to lie about their relationship to obstruct justice (the conviction thing you keep citing is a clever dodge, but he did plead guilty--that he did get more than a slap on the wrist says more about the judicial system than about Vance's "innocence"), and so on.

Again, I will believe the women who have been abused, rather than trying to interpret the dudes as being maligned. Power matters in all of this, and, yes, the dudes had the power, not the women.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you equate consensual sex between adults as misconduct. Such is the trope these days. There are not now nor were there ever regulations prohibiting consensual relations between adults regardless of rank. I’ve never heard of Vance preying on people, but I have heard he was an incredible leader throughout his career. You liked him until you didn’t like the (rumoured) details of his personal life and now you are an evangelist. And yes, after years of a consensual intimate relationship one has to wonder why his accuser went public over the fact they had sex. I grant you he reacted poorly to that whole thing. Shitty thing to happen after so many years of service. I believe the complainants in the main, but please, the woman scorned routine made out to be (military) misconduct I just don’t buy. Now, poor husband, yes. That’s something he has to work out with his spouse.
And just one more thing…you seem innocent to the ways of women. They too can manipulate and prey and covet. Regret after the fact does not equate to misconduct in the first place. Sex is not misconduct. Would have hated to be LGBTQ with you in charge in the bad old days.