Waiting for It

Sigh. The acronym I most wanted to learn this year was not CFNIS, which stands for Canadian Forces National Investigation Services, the investigative arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police.

The CFNIS was established in 1997 with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters related to Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. It performs a function similar to that of a Major Crime unit of the RCMP or large municipal/provincial police agency.- Wikipedia

It’s early days in the investigation into sexual misconduct by Canada’s top soldier — this one, a sailor just two months into the job of Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) — but it’s a bad look for the military, coming hard on the heels of an investigation into sexual misconduct by Canada’s former top soldier.

Open up a can of CDS, Martha.
We’re gonna need another one.

There are so many places to stand to look at this. The (real?) anguish of the (alleged?) victim. The (apparent?) 10-year delay in reporting/complaining. The (stereotypical?) (prevailing?) military culture, then and now. The (possible?) abuse of organizational power. The (acknowledged?) extent of sexual misconduct in our society at large. The (unsettling?) power of cancel culture. The (possible?) violation of the military’s own R-O-E and the (possible?) breakdown of organizational mechanisms established explicitly to address such violations. The (apparent?) disconnect between the military and its civilian oversight in the person of the Minister of Defence.

Depending on my experience — my expectations/biases/loyalties — and the exigencies of my day, I choose both my perspective and my degree of certainty on all those question marks. It’s easy to choose only one perspective and believe that it is beyond righteous and just: To believe that it is the best place to stand, nay, the only justifiable place to stand. It’s easy — because more comfortable — to dismiss the uncertainties.

Yet there is one perspective that I must hang onto for dear life: a perspective that is also an uncertainty. No matter how it grates against my expectations/biases/loyalties and my (understandable?) desire for a solid place to stand, I must hang onto presumption of innocence.

I must not rush to judgement. Of anyone.

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4 Responses to Waiting for It

  1. Lorna says:


    Vic’s been reading about the war in the Pacific and, getting deep into multiple books written by people who were there, is being reminded about how often the public surface-level descriptions of people and events miss (or misrepresent) so much important detail and nuance. It reminds us to avoid believing we are hearing the relevant facts of any situation from any particular report.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Lorna – It’s super easy these days to have a view of the world that’s about an inch thick. The real world is, as you say, a little deeper than that.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    I’m reminded of two quotations.
    1. Jesus (apparently?) said, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”
    2. Bishop Fulton Sheen (apparently?) said: “Listening to nuns’ confessions is like getting stoned to death with popcorn.”
    My own motto (I think) is to refrain from judgement unless it’s a really horrendous crime, and then judge cautiously.
    Jim T

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