Authors Dr Bryan Brulotte KGCJ, CD, and
Col Telah Morrison OMM, CD, MA (ret’d)
Both are graduates of the Royal Military Colleges.
Bryan can be reached at 613.850.6287 or email@example.com
We are exceptionally proud to have served with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in the Defence of Canada, and especially having graduated from one of the Royal Military Colleges (RMC). The Royal Military Colleges are national universities that go beyond academics by developing leaders who have made an oath to serving and defending Canada.
Our RMC cadet brothers and sisters are strong, highly intelligent, motivated, and disciplined. We believe in Truth, Duty, and Valour. Values instilled by the college. We shared experiences, exhilaration, tests, and trials and formed life-long friendships that could never be matched anywhere else.
In addition to our baccalaureate degrees, we had mandatory courses in leadership and management, psychology, sociology, philosophy, ethics, bilingualism, and law. As officer-cadets, we were given pragmatic leadership experiences for four years, before graduating and taking command positions in the CAF, leading soldiers in war-torn countries as newly minted lieutenants.
Furthermore, there was a heavy emphasis on sports and teamwork. RMC was meant to be the gold standard for leadership. Only a portion of our entry-year class ended up graduating, and taking leadership roles in the CAF --- standards were high.
It wasn’t all fun and games. It was tough and serious business. All of us had classmates killed or injured in operations. But it was what we signed up for. Were there shenanigans – absolutely. Mostly harmless practical jokes or ‘skylarks’, not unlike many universities.
Notwithstanding, RMC was predominately a young male culture when we arrived. Not toxic, but certainly testosterone-fuelled. We remember our recruit class, on the very first day being told in no uncertain terms, that there would be zero tolerance for any harassment, intimidation, discrimination, or hazing of any kind. We attended multiple lectures on the subject. RMC was not the type of place at which one generally breaks the rules.
That being said, both male and female cadets did experience sexual harassment and even sexual assaults. These were unwelcome and unacceptable. Cadets tended to rally around victims. When complaints were made, Cadets were charged or even released from service and behaviours were modified. No doubt, some slipped through the cracks.
Hearing about some incidents, both historic and recent, is heart-wrenching.
According to the Arbour Report, RMC has a lower incidence of misconduct than what Statistics Canada reports for Canadian Universities. Regrettably, the report’s terms of reference, research design, and conclusions appear to only emphasize the negative. For example, the report fails to indicate that on a per capita basis, RMC has produced more national leaders than any other Canadian University.
This last point is critical since it concretely demonstrates that RMC produces exceptional Canadian leaders from all walks of life. These include generals, politicians, public servants, astronauts, captains of industry, and Olympic athletes. Calls for tearing down the institution are narrow-sighted and ill-conceived.
We need to put matters into perspective. Every Canadian university (including Ms. Arbour’s own alma mater) is struggling with young students involved in sexual assault, harassment issues, drinking, drugs, and out-of-control partying. Should we shut down these universities? This notion is absurd. These institutions have problems, but it does not mean they should be abolished.
Potentially throwing the next generation of leaders into a civilian university and hoping for the best is risky. There is a reason why over 60% of the most senior officers in the CAF are RMC graduates, despite representing only 30% of all CAF entry-level officers. Officer-cadets that attend RMC are well prepared and vetted over years for their future role of leading soldiers, sailors and aviators into harm’s way.
We would like to present the following suggestions to strengthen RMC:
(i) strive for greater diversity in the recruitment of college positions;
(ii) improve training emphasizing ethics and code of conduct;
(iii) facilitate the rapid dismissal of cadets and staff engaged in misconduct; and
(iv) reinforce a process where victims can raise concerns while ensuring privacy.
Since 1874, RMC has aspired to the ideals of Truth – Duty – Valour. With an ethos of selfless leadership, many of its officers have paid the ultimate price in war and peace. We owe it to them, and to our future, to preserve and improve this national institution.
Truth Duty Valour