Trudeau taps military outsider to fix Canadian Armed Forces

Anand, a former law professor and expert on corporate governance, was elected to parliament for the first time almost two years ago with a long résumé but no military experience.

However, the lack of political background did not prevent her from overseeing Canada’s efforts to secure tens of millions of doses of Covid vaccines as Minister of Procurement von Trudeau.

She is credited with helping a country that has no production capacity of its own to amass one of the world’s largest stocks of shot. Canada also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

At the start of the pandemic, Anand’s efforts helped Canada clear piles of masks, syringes and gowns amidst intense international competition. As one of the faces of Canada’s pandemic response, she appeared to be one of Trudeau’s most capable ministers at public briefings about the crisis.

“As you saw with vaccines, I am determined,” Anand told reporters late Tuesday in French. “I work very hard and I am results-oriented. So these are the qualities that I will bring to these files.”

She later said she would “look into everything” including previous reports of misconduct in the armed forces and the recent independent review of the military justice system.

“I will ask the department to analyze the recommendations that have already been implemented and those that have not been implemented,” she said. “There is no switch that we can flip overnight. It will take time and even if this frustrates some, I want to assure everyone that I will put in the necessary work for as long as necessary to get this done.”

A senior government official who worked with Anand told POLITICO that “it is not too far to say that she is the Department of Defense’s attorney general”.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the change, said Anand was detail-oriented and would ask many questions.

She’ll push people to explain her approach, ask about alternatives, and give directions, the insider said.

“She has grappled with Big Pharma executives on an equal footing over the past few months and won,” said the official. “That set them up well to do that with generals and the like.”

Anand, the second woman to serve as defense minister, replaces Harjit Sajjan, who has been Trudeau’s defense minister since the Liberals came to power six years ago.

Sajjan, a former soldier who was transferred to international development on Tuesday in what was viewed as a demotion, is the target of criticism of the Trudeau administration’s handling of the military crisis.

Anand’s lack of a military background is seen by some as an asset.

“I don’t see it as an obstacle or in any way detrimental,” Leah West, a national security expert at Carleton University, told POLITICO on Tuesday. “We have seen that military experience is not necessarily a recipe for success. … that actually doesn’t interest me at all. What the military responds to is strong leadership, and it doesn’t necessarily take military experience to gain that kind of respect. “

West, who had served in the Canadian armed forces for a decade, said Anand had shown himself to be a strong communicator. She argued that it was lacking at the Minister of Defense level.

Trudeau credited on Tuesday Sajjan with the takeover of the “Old Boys Network” of the military. With this, the Prime Minister also hinted at the challenge that awaits Anand.

“I don’t think anyone can be surprised what kind of push back they’ve seen trying to make change over the past few years,” said Trudeau.

Trudeau also mentioned an upcoming report from former Supreme Court Justice of Canada Louise Arbor. Her review, released earlier this year, will look into the causes of harassment and sexual misconduct in the military despite efforts to get rid of them. The work, due to be completed in 2022, will also seek to identify barriers to reporting inappropriate behavior and issues with responding to it.

The following is Arbor’s review a 2015 military sexual misconduct and harassment review. The report, produced by retired Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, called for policy changes to address “the issue of sexual harassment and assault”.

The Deschamps report found “an underlying sexualized culture in the CAF that is hostile to women and LGTBQ members and conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault”. The report then says: “Culture change is therefore the key.”

Aside from the problems of sexual misconduct, Anand faces other important decisions.

Stephanie Carvin, a national security expert from Carleton University, said in an interview that modernizing the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is very important to Canada.

For example, Carvin said the U.S. military had warned that many of the NORAD systems in the Arctic will be out of date by 2023.

She said NORAD modernization would be difficult conversation for Canada as it requires funding and will reopen a potentially controversial debate on ballistic missile defense.

“I’m not sure this is the debate the Trudeau administration wants to have now – but it will be up to them,” Carvin said of Anand.

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