Commodore Josee Kurtz could also be bringing an outsider’s perspective as the primary lady to command the Royal Navy Faculty of Canada, however she says she has no instant plans for radical adjustments to the establishment.
Kurtz was formally sworn into her new position final week, turning into each the primary lady to steer the 145-year-old RMC and one of many few commandants who didn’t research on the school, which is accountable for producing the vast majority of the army’s officers.
Her arrival coincides with the Canadian Armed Forces’ newest reckoning with sexual misconduct within the ranks, notably its dealing with of allegations that some prime officers engaged in inappropriate — and in some instances felony — behaviour.
A lot of these officers are RMC grads, which has prompted recent questions concerning the position the faculty has performed in contributing to what quite a few consultants and opinions have described as a extremely sexualized tradition by which leaders shield one another.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Kurtz expressed her hope that her appointment would present others that they’ll have a profitable army profession and rise by means of the ranks regardless of their backgrounds.
From Joliette, Que., Kurtz was the primary lady to command a serious Canadian warship when she was named captain of HMCS Halifax in 2009. She later grew to become the primary lady to steer a NATO fleet in 2019.
As for what her appointment means for RMC, “my expertise in all probability brings a special lens, a special approach of taking a look at points and issues that could possibly be a constructive asset to the faculty,” she stated.
Kurtz acknowledged the faculty might want to play its half in altering the army’s tradition, and stated she is going to little doubt order some adjustments as soon as she will get a greater deal with on the establishment.
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“We’re participating in a rescope or change of our tradition that’s going to take time and sustained effort, and RMC goes to must be a part of that,” she stated. “We’re going to must implement some adjustments which are crucial.”
The brand new commandant can even be working with the army’s new officer accountable for main tradition change, Lt.-Gen. Jennie Carignan, and watching to see what suggestions come out of retired Supreme Courtroom justice Louise Arbour’s ongoing overview.
However Kurtz additionally stated the faculty has efficiently produced generations of officers for Canada, lots of whom have moved on to profitable careers after the army, and that she has no plans to make sweeping adjustments proper off the bat.
“RMC is doing a terrific job of delivering on its mission,” she stated.
And for anybody who thought she would carry “sweeping adjustments” as a result of she is a girl and never an RMC graduate, “I don’t suppose that’s the purpose. I used to be appointed to RMC as a result of my chain of command trusted in my background, my expertise and in my management.”
Navy leaders have prior to now performed down the necessity for vital reforms to the army school, significantly on the subject of sexual misconduct. The newest instance was in 2016-17, when then-defence chief Jonathan Vance ordered a overview of the establishment.
Vance, who stepped down as chief of the defence workers in January and retired from the Armed Forces in April, is at present beneath army investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The overview by a panel of retired senior officers was targeted totally on college students’ psychological well being following a collection of suicides on the school. The panel stated it didn’t discover proof of rampant sexual misconduct.
Vance on the time advised The Canadian Press the findings mirrored his personal evaluation given a scarcity of police stories and different indicators, saying: “I might know if there was a pattern. If there was a significant issue there, we’d know.”
These findings contradicted retired Supreme Courtroom justice Marie Deschamps’s report in 2015 that sexual harassment was thought-about a ceremony of passage on the establishment, and sexual assault was an “ever-present danger.”
A Statistics Canada survey launched final yr additionally undercut solutions all was nicely at RMC and its French-language counterpart in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., with 68 per cent of scholars saying they’d witnessed or skilled undesirable sexualized behaviour.
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Fifteen per cent of feminine officer cadets reported having been sexually assaulted within the earlier 12 months.
Carleton College professor Leah West described RMC as a “breeding floor” for such behaviour as she testified to a parliamentary committee in Might about her personal traumatic experiences as a army officer.
Some school have quietly questioned whether or not Kurtz, as an outsider, will have the ability to carry actual change.
Requested about such considerations, Kurtz spoke about each her collaborative method and skill to make powerful choices, including: “Give me an opportunity to indicate you my expertise, my background, how I have a look at issues. And let’s have a dialog about that.”
As for what she would inform potential college students and their dad and mom: “RMC is a robust establishment that delivers sturdy management and youngsters who’ve a need to hitch could be welcome and be a part of the tradition, the brand new tradition that we’re attempting to implement.”
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