episode 5, season 11
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Host: Mercedes Stephenson
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff
Jagmeet Singh, NDP leader
Location: Ottawa, ON
Mercedes Stephenson: This week on The West Block. It’s official: Admiral Art McDonald is out and General Wayne Eyre as Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff.
Anita Anand, Defense Minister: “I look forward to working hard with Gen Eyre.”
Mercedes StephensonQ: With a new defense minister and a mandate to transform military culture, what does the future look like for Canada’s armed forces? We sit with the Chief of Defense Staff.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “While conservatives try to score cheap political points, we are focusing on Canadians.”
Mercedes Stephenson: The session of Parliament is back and the opposition is also back keeping in mind the priorities of the government.
Pierre Poilievre, Conservative MP: “It’s ‘Justinflation’.”
Mercedes StephensonWith rising prices for everything from groceries to housing, should Ottawa do more to tackle the cost of living?
Jagmeet Singh, NDP leader: “People are not getting houses in their budget.”
Mercedes Stephenson: We discuss the solution with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
28 November is Sundayth, and this is The West Block.
Hello and thank you for joining us today. I am Mercedes Stephenson.
For the past nine months, the Canadian Armed Forces has been grappling with a sexual misconduct scandal that has rocked the institution and called for massive cultural change. The question is who can lead that innings. And in place of the new Defense Minister, the Prime Minister has also named General Wayne Eyre as his chosen Chief of Defense Staff. General Eyre joins me now.
Welcome General Eyre. We spoke to you earlier as the acting Chief of Defense Staff. Now you are actually the Chief of Defense Staff. The last time I saw you, you told me you didn’t want this job, but here you are.
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: Well, I’m not sure anyone would want to get into situations like this, Mercedes, but I’m honored to be selected for this position and I’m going to do my best to the members and people of the Canadian Armed Forces. I can do well of Canada, because it is an incredibly important institution for our country.
Mercedes StephensonQ: What makes you the right person to lead this change?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: Well, I don’t necessarily believe that I’m the right person, and not a single person will be able to make the necessary changes, because it’s going to take a collective take. What we need to do is not one person has all the answers and we have to look for solutions where they can come from. And every day as long as I wear this uniform, I will try to make this institution better.
Mercedes Stephenson: You say you may not be the right person. I have known you in command for many years. You are a humble man. is this what you mean? Or what do you mean you may not be the right person?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: Well what I mean is that I will do everything I can to improve the Canadian Armed Forces every day so that it continues to work for the Canadian people. I don’t have all the answers for what we’re facing and I’m up for it, and look forward to finding solutions, no matter where they come from.
Mercedes Stephenson: And I know I’ve talked to many survivors of military sexual misconduct who were overjoyed to see you in the job. They believe, obviously, mistakes have been made as usual, but they think you have good intentions, really try to make a difference and I want to talk to you about some of them, How do you choose leaders? , because one of the things that was identified was toxic leadership at the top and the military and the government themselves have talked about this, suggesting a process of choosing who leads the people and the voices for the culture. sets up. How do you choose the right leaders moving forward who can drive this transformation beyond just the office of chief?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: So we have taken some initiatives. We have started this year with General Officer and Flag Officer Selection in terms of adding more science to the process: Psychometric Tests, 360 Feedback Sessions where subordinates have a voice in the selection if one is going to move forward, using this Has been used as a tool for identifying potential flags. We are projecting inclusivity as a key determinant. So how do we measure — how do we measure inclusivity at all levels too, because in my view, as we look at culture change, that’s one of the key aspects that we have to look at. We have some outstanding aspects of our culture, you know the desire to do something big, the desire to harm yourself, the desire to serve selflessly, to leave your family behind to go abroad and do great things, but this There are excluded aspects of our culture that need to be fixed. So how do we encourage it? How we measure it at the lowest levels is a very important step.
Mercedes Stephenson: There is a class action lawsuit settlement that is underway. It was closed for claims only a few days back. About 19 thousand people came forward. Not the total claim, but the person making the claim. Did that number surprise you, Scope?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: I look at it from many different perspectives. So first, the scope talks deeply into the issue that we are faced with going back historically but also in the present. The large number of people going forward also speaks of their willingness to do so, which should make us happy that they are willing to do so, feeling of course that the act of coming forward can make something happen again. can hurt. I think it’s also important to notice—note that of the latest figures I’ve seen, 42 percent of them are men and it’s not just a woman’s issue. This is an issue for all of us that has to be addressed. It is also the issue of Power Dynamics which speaks to an element that we have to fix.
Mercedes Stephenson: I have the same number and a lot of people talk about this as a women’s issue, but it really goes to the fact: 42 percent of the contenders are men. Certainly I think a lot of people have expected or talked about and that is a deeply institutional issue. One of the things you’ve talked about is that you’re losing people on this. You’ve been leading especially around the NCO ranks who’ve been there for 15, 20 years with a lot of experience deciding to say, you know what? I’m just about to get out. I don’t like how this institution looks, and it’s really affecting you, potentially, operationally. How do you persuade those people to stay inside? And how serious are the losses you’re taking right now?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: That’s why I’m always concerned about those mid-tier ranks and their retention because we’ve invested the experience. We have invested skill. We have invested training in them. So yes, I am concerned because they are the heart of our organization. The ability to make the necessary changes stays at that level, so we need targeted retention. We need to encourage the people we’re invested in to stay, and a lot of that is changing the aspects of our culture that are driving them out because they are the future.
Mercedes StephensonAdmiral Art McDonald was the Chief of Defense Staff. He is the one from whom you had to take charge. There was an extraordinary situation where there were actually two chiefs of defense staff and this letter that he wrote was essentially the right person and he should be in charge. The prime minister says he has lost faith in Art McDonald. You are the Chief of Defense Staff, but Admiral McDonald is actually still in the military and you have the ability to take administrative action against him, even if criminal charges were not brought. Are you seeing something like this?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: What has happened is between Admiral Macdonald and the government. I have deliberately kept myself away from that process and he has indicated that he is getting released from the army so that it comes to the fore.
Mercedes Stephenson: So does this mean that you are not considering any kind of administrative action regarding allegations of sexual misconduct?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: Not at this time.
Mercedes Stephenson: Fine. I also want to talk to you about the work that the Canadian Armed Forces are doing in flooding across Canada. it is enough. How are you doing in terms of the assets you have in terms of the number of people and capabilities to meet the demands you face with these increasing natural disasters?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff: Well it’s a matter of concern…