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Political Science Security (national & International)

The Ones We Let Down

Toxic Leadership Culture and Gender Integration in the Canadian Forces

by (author) Charlotte Duval-Lantoine

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2022
Security (National & International), Canada, Gender Studies
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    Publish Date
    May 2022
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In 2021, a sexual misconduct scandal struck the Canadian military, leading to a profound crisis in leadership. While some more recent allegations came to light before the #MeToo movement, these latest revelations have historical roots in the 1990s, an era known to service members as the “decade of darkness.”
Due to drastic budget cuts and allegations of serious crimes perpetrated by its members, the last decade of the twentieth century was a tumultuous time for the Canadian Armed Forces. Amid this period, a human rights tribunal ordered the military to open its combat positions to women and reach full gender integration by 1999. Yet by 2021, women made up only 16.3 per cent of personnel; women and LGBTQ+ service members continue to face sexual harassment and abuse at all levels. In The Ones We Let Down Charlotte Duval-Lantoine looks at failed efforts to achieve gender parity during the 1990s. She reveals an organization unwilling and unable to change, and attitudes held by military leaders that fed a destructive dynamic and cost lives.
As the military grapples with its failure to address cultural misconduct and change its culture, The Ones We Let Down reflects on whether the right lessons were learned from the decade of darkness.

About the author

Charlotte Duval-Lantoine is a fellow and Ottawa operations manager at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Charlotte Duval-Lantoine's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Clearly written, Duval-Lantoine offers a detailed history and close reading of the failure of Canada's military gender integration during the 1990s, filling an important gap as the first book-length publication on the topic.” Stéphanie A.H. Bélanger, Royal Military College of Canada and co-editor of Transhumanizing War: Performance Enhancement and the Implications for Policy, Society, and the Soldier

“Duval-Lantoine deftly unpacks the period of institutional challenges and trauma for the Canadian Armed Forces between 1989 and 1999. Her rich analysis exposes the depth of toxic leadership behaviours within the CF during this time, and its impact on the recruitment and retention of servicewomen. She offers a stark reminder of the importance of effective leaders, and the consequences that befall those around them when leadership fails.” International Affairs

“In The Ones We Let Down, Charlotte Duval-Lantoine guides the reader through gender integration initiatives of the CAF with a focus on the 1990s, which were characterized by an organizational culture that failed to develop leadership accountability—a ‘toxic culture of leadership.’ Duval-Lantoine argues that toxic leadership culture is what has limited culture change in support of gender integration.” Canadian Military Journal

“This accessible, readable book should be required for all who seek to make change within a respectful, diverse, and fully effective military. The book provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what has occurred and for leaders at all levels to consider useful lessons as to why change initiatives fail and why people are let down.” Grounded Curiosity Online Journal