Defence minister asks military watchdog to investigate racism in the ranks


OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is asking Canada’s military ombudsman to investigate racism in the Armed Forces.

The unprecedented request follows several troubling incidents and reports linking some service members to right-wing extremism and hate groups, including white-supremacist organizations.

Sajjan’s request comes on the eve of a fall federal election in which racism and identity politics are expected to figure prominently.

Sajjan says his request is “absolutely not” motivated by politics.

He also says it does not mean he lacks confidence in the military’s ability to deal with racism in the ranks.

Sajjan says commanders have done a good job responding to incidents on a case-by-case basis but an independent investigation is needed to get a handle on the scope of the problem and identify ways to prevent it.