EXCLUSIVE: Canadian Military Says Critical Race Theory Being Used for Culture Change

EXCLUSIVE: Canadian Military Says Critical Race Theory Being Used for Culture Change
Royal Canadian Air Force personnel load non-lethal and lethal aid at CFB Trenton, Ontario on March 7, 2022. The cargo was bound for Ukraine via Poland. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Noé Chartier

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is attempting to overhaul its organizational culture to address discrimination and what it calls “systemic racism,” and to do so it’s in part relying on critical race theory, a quasi-Marxist ideology once confined to U.S. academia.

“Since April 2021, DND/CAF has continued to conduct research, seek expert opinions and input, and consult with Defence team members to inform and enhance our approach to conduct and culture change,” Department of National Defence (DND) spokesperson Jessica Lamirande told The Epoch Times.

“As part of this work we have been looking at a range of academic theories, such as Critical Race Theory (CRT), to determine how best to effect meaningful systemic and institutional change.”

The Epoch Times obtained an internal CAF briefing titled “Getting to Where We Need to Be,” which was provided to military personnel in April 2021, and assessed that it is steeped in CRT language and concepts.

When asked if DND made a conscious decision to use CRT, Lamirande confirmed that this was the case.

“CRT acknowledges lived experiences, multidisciplinary approaches, accurate analysis, and challenges standard terms. These are tenets we will be taking into consideration as we continue with our cultural evolution efforts,” she said.

CRT was once an academic concept confined to discussion among U.S. legal scholars, but its principles and outlook have increasingly made their way into institutions and workplaces across Canada, from federal departments to big banks.

The ideology considers history as a struggle between the “oppressive” white people and the “oppressed” non-whites, similar to the Marxist view, which sees history as the struggle between the “bourgeoisie” and the “proletariat.”

It asserts that race is a construct meant to maintain “white supremacy” and that “systemic racism” is pervasive throughout society. Even in instances where no overt racism is shown, CRT will argue about the presence of “unconscious bias” and warn against “microaggressions.”

‘Institutionalized Practices and Habits’

Although CAF has been seeking to address the issue of sexual misconduct in the ranks for several years, the focus on “systemic racism” seems to have appeared in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing Floyd in April 2021.

In July 2020, CAF announced it was releasing a new policy framework to address “hateful conduct.”

“Racism and discrimination exist and they continue to surface in violent and very tragic ways as has been witnessed with the violence experienced by Black and Indigenous persons recently in the news,” the announcement said.

“This has prompted a discussion about where Canada is as a society in terms of respecting the dignity of every person, without prejudice based on race, colour, national or ethnic origin, or other prohibited grounds.”

How CAF has chosen to address the issue is exemplified in the 66-page briefing “Getting to Where We Need to Be,” which was first obtained by Veterans for Freedom, a national organization of CAF veterans, and then provided to The Epoch Times.

The briefing opens by saying that discrimination is not just the product of “a few bad apples” but also stems from “a larger barrel of bad institutionalized practices and habits that are entrenched in the CAF systems and culture.”

It links the “unprofessional conduct” in the forces to the “historical struggles” to “end discrimination and to adequately represent and support all of its people, but particularly women, Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two Spirit, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQ2SIA+) people.”

As examples of “structural racism” in the military, the briefing says that “cockpits and consoles” are meant to “fit the average male with white settler heritage.”

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, described by the Association of American Law Schools as the “architect of critical race theory,” features in the CAF briefing to advance the idea that “gender and race are social constructions.”
 Screenshot of a slide from the Canadian Armed Forces briefing "Getting to Where We Need to Be" featuring critical race theory proponent Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Screenshot of a slide from the Canadian Armed Forces briefing "Getting to Where We Need to Be" featuring critical race theory proponent Kimberlé Crenshaw.

The briefing also features more social justice concepts broader than CRT, such as the idea that “equality” is considered conducive to discrimination.

“Equal treatment” doesn’t equate “fair treatment,” says the briefing, suggesting that CAF’s typical unified military standards need to be modified to accommodate individuals.

Working toward inclusion is “THE STRUGGLE,” it says, reinforcing the promotion of social activism in the Armed Forces.

The presentation also takes a jab at masculinity and the traditional model of leadership in the military.

“More directive and competitive masculine behaviour is the generally accepted model for CAF leadership, though such behaviour may not be appropriate for the daily work of most CAF members,” says the briefing.

Lamirande told The Epoch Times that the briefing was produced by a team of military and civilian members from CAF and DND.

“Since that time, DND/CAF has taken significant steps to broaden and strengthen its approach to institutional culture change,” she said, noting that DND announced a new approach to that end in late April 2021.
 Screenshot of a slide from Canadian Armed Forces briefing "Getting to Where We Need to Be."
Screenshot of a slide from Canadian Armed Forces briefing "Getting to Where We Need to Be."


CAF is currently undergoing a “workforce crisis,” Chief of the Defence Staff Wayne Eyre wrote in a briefing note recently leaked to the Ottawa Citizen. The military is losing soldiers at the fastest pace in 15 years and is struggling to recruit to fill the void.
In his “Directive for CAF Reconstitution” issued on Oct. 6, Eyre suggested that he believes the current CAF culture could be responsible for the depletion of the ranks.

“If the CAF does not create an institutional climate that is more welcoming and inclusive to all Canadians, then attraction and retention problems will persist,” the directive says under the “Assumptions” header.

Another possibility is that people who would typically be interested in serving are displeased with the current CAF trajectory on social issues.

The Epoch Times obtained an internal email from a military officer who challenged senior leadership on the ongoing culture change, saying that it is detrimental to unit cohesion. The individual’s name can’t be revealed as he could face retribution for disclosing internal information.

Writing to the second-in-command of a CAF element, the officer said that soldiers are not indoctrinated to be different but to be the same in order to work as one team.

He also warned against using the works of CRT proponent Ibram X. Kendi to guide military policy, as the second-in-command had quoted Kendi saying: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination.”

The officer pleaded the case that the few bad apples in the Armed Forces should be weeded out, but that no group of people should be blamed based on their inherent characteristics.

These concerns were also raised recently in a private military event that turned public after it was reported in the media.

Retired Lt.-Gen. Michel Maisonneuve, who was honoured with the Vimy Award at a Nov. 9 gala event for his contribution to the defence of Canada, in his acceptance speech took swipes at political leadership and general woke ideology while also raising specific concerns about concepts found within CRT.

“Today’s world is also where taking personal responsibility for our own actions has disappeared from the landscape while the phenomenon of collective apologies flourishes in our country,” he said.

“Individuals and groups fight over who gets to wear the coveted victim’s cloak. But any role they may have played in their own fate or in injuring others is dismissed as learned behaviour, inherited flaws or generational oppression.”

The National Post reported that Maisonneuve’s speech was received by a standing ovation from senior military personnel in attendance.

South of the Border

While there has been relatively little public backlash regarding the transformation of Canada’s military along the principles of CRT and other similar theories, the same can’t be said for the United States.
The issue was put directly to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in June 2021.

“I’ve read Mao Tse-Tung; I’ve read Karl Marx; I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,” he said in defence of the reading of CRT texts in the U.S. military.

“On the issue of critical race theory … I do think it is important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and to be widely read. And, the United States military academy is a university and it is important that we train and we understand, and I want to understand white rage—and I’m white,” he said.

Florida Republican Congressman Mike Waltz spoke on the issue of CRT at the committee meeting before Milley’s testimony. He said cadets and soldiers are sounding the alarm, saying how “divisive this type of teaching is, that is rooted in Marxism, that classifies people along class lines—an entire race of people—as ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed.’”

“I cannot think of anything more divisive and more destructive to unit morale,” said Waltz, a former special forces officer, adding that the military needs to be open to everybody, but once in, “we bleed green, and our skin colour is camouflage.”