Tackling racism in armed forces urgent, will wait for next Commander: Sajjan

The next commander of the Canadian Armed Forces must address racists and extremists in the ranks, says Defence Minister Sajjan. There is still no timeline for the retirement of Gen. Jonathan Vance.

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the Canadian Armed Forces can't function properly if there is hate and discrimination in the ranks, which is why tackling such misconduct will be a top priority for the military's next commander.

Sajjan made the comments in an interview today as he launched a special panel of former military personnel who will recommend ways to eliminate racism, discrimination and hate in the Forces.

The move follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assertion to The Canadian Press this week that he expects Canada’s next chief of the defence staff to make the fight against extremism a key priority.

Sajjan has previously spoken about his experiences with racism while serving as a reservist, but he believes the number of hate-motivated incidents have increased since he wore a uniform.

He says eliminating such behaviour is essential so all personnel feel safe and can do their jobs, while also ensuring the military can attract recruits who reflect the entirety of Canada.

Sajjan adds that military leaders will be held to account if the problem isn't addressed.

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