Ottawa: Canada's defense minister and chief of defense staff on Monday apologized for widespread sexual misconduct in the military, saying Ottawa had failed to protect soldiers.
Streamed online from National Defence Headquarters, the apology followed the federal government's $600-million settlement with tens of thousands of current and former Armed Forces members who experienced such behaviour while serving.
Canadian Defence Minister, Anita Anand on Monday said that successive governments have failed to stamp out sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation in the military, Xinhua news agency reported.
Countless lives have been harmed by that inaction and systemic failure over the years, she added, a legacy the Canadian Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry and the Canadian government will carry for a long time.
The apology came as the Canadian government and military leadership face questions and criticism over their perceived failure to address allegations of inappropriate -- and criminal -- sexual misconduct among some of the military's top leaders.
Anand took over as defence minister in October from Harjit Sajjan, who was criticized for not doing more to address offensive behaviour among the top brass. She promised real action, saying: "Things can change, they must change, and they will change."
While the minister went on to praise the dedication of Canada's current military and Defence Department leadership to addressing the issue, she stopped short of providing any specific details on how real change will come.