New chief of defence staff keeping eye on Ukraine, Ethiopia: 'No shortage of hotspots'
OTTAWA -- Canada’s new chief of defence staff says that he is keeping his eyes on a handful of dangerous international situations that could require Canadian Armed Forces participation or intervention, and is promising a series of new initiatives aimed at improving military culture in the weeks ahead.
“We're watching closely what's happening in Ukraine with the Russian buildup, we're watching very closely what's happening in Ethiopia. We're watching very closely what's happening in Lebanon. We're watching closely what's happening in the South China Sea and Asia Pacific,” he said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period airing on Sunday.
Over the last week, the federal government has voiced concerns over Russian forces gathering at the border, and has called for Canadians in Ethiopia to “leave immediately” amid a “rapidly deteriorating security situation.”
“There is no shortage of hotspots in the world… It’s increasingly dangerous,” said Gen. Eyre.
Eyre officially took on his current role on Thursday after holding the position of “acting” defence chief for almost a year.
MORE CULTURE CHANGE INITIATIVES COMING
One of the key assignments he’s been given is to oversee the needed culture change within the Canadian Armed Forces, following a year that saw a series of sexual misconduct investigations opened into some of the highest ranking members.
The revolving door of senior officers stepping down or stepping aside has stirred up criticism not only of the leadership of the Forces but also of the federal government for not taking action to protect victims.
“I will be the first to admit that over the course of the last nine months, I've had some missteps. And, I've been on a tremendous learning curve. But I tell you, one of the things that I have learned is transparency and talking about measures that we're going to take and consultation, and using that as a vehicle to dispel the perception of an old boys club. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Eyre said.
Eyre prepositioned that in “the next few weeks” a series of new initiatives aimed at culture change, justice and accountability, and support for survivors will be announced.
Examples he cited were changes to leadership selection and training, “climate intervention teams,” streamlining the complaint reporting system and implementing the already passed Victims Bill of Rights.
Eyre said that “action, not words,” will be what shows how serious he is about reform, and building off of that he wants to prioritize “inclusion” in recruiting new members.
“The face of Canada is changing, talent is residing in different parts of Canadian society than it has been traditionally in the past. It's a paradox that as our national population is growing, our traditional recruiting pool is shrinking. So if we want to be able to attract and retain the best talent from all segments of Canadian society, we have to embrace that value of inclusion,” he said.
With files from CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull