On Sunday, the 77-year anniversary of D-Day and Canadian Armed Forces Day, a statement issued by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to mention the historic reasoning behind the day, instead taking the opportunity to talk about the military's COVID-19 response and "gender-based violence" within the military.
"Today, we thank the brave members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present, for their tremendous courage, service, and sacrifice. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid," wrote Trudeau, vaguely hinting at the reason why the nation marks this day.
"Canadian Armed Forces members serve our country in many capacities at home and throughout the world, representing our most cherished values of peace, freedom and democracy. Every day, our military personnel contribute to international peace and security and defend our country, including by responding to natural disasters," he continued.
Trudeau goes on to talk about the military's response in helping to combat COVID-19 in the country through Operation VECTOR and Operation LASER.
"Through Operation VECTOR, they are providing support to the federal, provincial, and territorial governments for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, while helping fight the global pandemic across Canada through Operation LASER. Given the challenges of working in a pandemic, the Canadian Armed Forces have worked hard to mitigate health risks to their members, while ensuring their ability to continue to serve around the world, with approximately 2,000 personnel deployed in more than 20 different operations," said Trudeau.
Trudeau then pivots, addressing what he calls a "long-overdue culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces" in regards to eliminating "unacceptable conduct, toxic culture, discrimination, violence, and harassment."
"Since 2015, we've taken important steps to do this, including introducing clear policies around hateful conduct, as well as the establishment of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, but there's still much work to do," wrote Trudeau. "That's why we recently appointed former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour to lead an external review into the causes of sexual harassment and misconduct within the Forces, and why Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan will serve as the military’s Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture."
"We are also taking concrete steps to address sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military, and to better support survivors, through new investments in Budget 2021. Together, we will build a Defense Team that reflects the best of Canada, and ensures a safe and inclusive working environment for all," he continued.
Trudeau thanked the armed forces for assistance during the current crisis, as well as "to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families, past and present, for their service to Canada," once again only vaguely hinting at the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers during D-Day storming of the beaches in France.
"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite all Canadians to join me in extending our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families, past and present, for their service to Canada. Our brave soldiers, sailors, and aviators have stepped up to help Canadians and vulnerable populations around the world get through this crisis, and we owe them our sincere thanks," Trudeau concluded.
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