Time for Defence Minister Sajjan to resign after sex scandal coverup

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jerrym
Time for Defence Minister Sajjan to resign after sex scandal coverup

ETA: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that Admiral Art McDonald has stepped aside voluntarily as Canada's chief of defence staff (CDS), without giving any expalanation of why or when he learned of the alleged problem that triggered this, only saying that the situation is under investigation. McDonald only became CDS two months ago after the previous CDS, Gen. Jonathan Vance, resigned over an alleged sex scandal. CBC News is reporting that "the investigation concerns McDonald's interactions with a female subordinate in the Arctic in 2010 when he held the rank of captain". Sajjan should now resign as he allegedly did nothing to deal with the sex allegations that were presented to him on March 1st 2018 by Military Ombudsman Gary Walbourne, and instead allowed the Defence Department to harass Walbourne until he retired. For more details on what happened with Walbourne see posts #3 and 4. 

This raises further questions about the vetting processes and transparency issues facing the Trudeau government. Many feel that there was not sufficient vetting or else an ignoring of existing warning signs in the selection of  'star' candidates for Governor General, who had a long record of verbal and emotional abuse of employees in previous posts, before she became Governor General, and in the selection of the two most recent chiefs of defence staff. 

The refusal of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to provide one iota of information, not even when he learned of the problem which would obviously not obstruct any investigation of McDonald, raises questions of transparency that have been seen in scandal after scandal after scandal involving the Trudeau government: the resignation of Judy Wilson Raybould and Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau, over the SNC Lavalin scandal; the failure of the government to provide documents regarding the We charity scandal to a parliamentary committee that related to payments to Trudeau family members and other issues; the lack of details provided about the resignation of CDS Jonathan Vance; the settlement of a lawsuit by Vice Admiral Mark Norman, who was accused by the government of leaking government documents over which company would get a shipbuilding contract, in order to avoid having information about why this happened become public; etc. 

Last night, Harjit Sajjan disclosed that Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped aside as Canada's chief of defence staff.  It came as the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service conducts a probe into his actions. Sajjan's statement did not reveal the nature of any allegation against McDonald.

CBC News, however, reported this morning that the investigation concerns McDonald's interactions with a female subordinate in the Arctic in 2010 when he held the rank of captain. ...

McDonald was sworn into his position in mid-January following the resignation of his predecessor, Gen. Jonathan Vance. Global News has reported that Vance is being investigated by military police in connection with allegations of inappropriate behaviour by two female members of the Canadian Armed Forces. One of them, Maj. Kellie Brennan, went public with her claim of a long-term sexual relationship with Vance during an interview with The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson. Vance has denied the allegations against him. ...

The controversy has raised questions when Sajjan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first heard allegations against Vance—and if so, what did they do in response. According to Global News, Sajjan said he always forwards allegations to "appropriate authorities".

As chief of the defence staff, Vance vigorously promoted "Operation HONOUR", which encourages victims of sexual misconduct to file reports and obtain health care and counselling services.

https://www.straight.com/news/defence-minister-harjit-sajjan-announces-i...

jerrym

Reports of the resignation of  Canada's chief of defence staff (CDS), Art McDonald, over alleged sexual misconduct, the second CDS to do so in a few months has rocked military morale and led to demands that these types of investigations be moved to an independent agency, as well as creating demands for greater transparency of military and government actions and vetting of personnel for these and other posts. 

The new allegations have added to the chorus of calls for external oversight of the military, which self-polices allegations of sexual misconduct in the ranks.

Lawyer and retired colonel Michel Drapeau said the government needs to appoint a permanent and independent inspector general similar to that of other militaries.

That person would have the investigative powers to look into allegations of wrongdoing within the Canadian Armed Forces.

“If, during his investigation, he came across any evidence of a criminal nature, he would be duty bound to stop his investigations and turns the matter to the criminal police,” Drapeau said in an email.

Barring that, Drapeau said Sajjan should immediately convene a board of inquiry — perhaps headed by a military judge — to investigate the allegations against McDonald, with police only involved if the allegations are of a criminal nature.

Should police become involved, Drapeau added, it should be the RCMP (not the military police). ...

“I do not have confidence in terms of training, experience and independence,” Drapeau said of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the NIS. “Additionally, (the military police) and NIS report to the vice-chief of the defence staff, which makes any claim of ‘independence’ illusory.”

In addition to criminal offences, Canadian military personnel can also be charged with what are known as service offences, which usually relate to inappropriate conduct such as drunkenness and having a relationship with a subordinate.

Former naval reservist Marie-Claude Gagnon, who founded a group for survivors of military sexual misconduct called It’s Just 700, has been raising concerns for years about gaps in the system. She said the time for external oversight of the Armed Forces is now. “External oversight, it’s essential,” Gagnon said. “Self-policing itself has never worked. … It’s not a recipe for success. I’m hoping that there’s no doubt that there needs to be oversight.”

https://torontosun.com/news/national/admiral-art-mcdonald-steps-aside-as...

jerrym

The former military ombudsman, Gary Walbourne, says he warned Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan about allegations of misconduct against General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of Defence Staff, responsible for making the Trudeau government's Honour program, aimed at eliminating sexual misconduct in the military, during a "hostile" meeting three years ago on March 1st 2018. However, instead of dealing with the problem when Walbourne went to present the evidence, Sajjan pushed away from the table with his hands in the air and refused to look at it. Instead Walbourne alleges that he faced workplace harrassment until he resigned in frustration. This once again seems to fit the pattern of the way the Trudeau government deals with all scandals.  Sajjan has refused to discuss what happened in detail. 

Canada's former military ombudsman said today he warned Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan about possible sexual misconduct involving Gen. Jonathan Vance in his final meeting with the minister three years ago.

Gary Walbourne appeared before a Parliamentary committee today to deliver a blistering indictment of Sajjan's handling of the allegation against Vance — chief of the defence staff at the time — during a private meeting on March 1, 2018.

"I did tell the minister what the allegation was. I reached into my pocket to show him the evidence I was holding. He pushed back from the table and said, 'No,' and I don't think we exchanged another word," Walbourne said.

The meeting ended, Walbourne said, when he asked Sajjan for direction on what to do about the allegation.

"I wanted the minister to do his job," he said. "There was no book. There was no manual about what to do with an allegation against the chief of the defence staff."

Walbourne refused to get into the substance of the allegation against Vance, saying the complainant had told him she was not filing a formal complaint.

"I had explained to minister Sajjan that the complainant has approached me only after the assurance of confidentiality," he said. "I will not reveal the name of the complainant or the details of the complaint, for this is their story to tell, not mine."

Much of what Walbourne had to tell the committee was first reported by CBC News, quoting confidential sources, in a series of stories over the past month....

The meeting represented the nadir of a poisoned relationship between Walbourne and Sajjan that led to the watchdog's resignation and early departure from the post later that year.

Walbourne walked the committee through a separate workplace harassment investigation of his office, suggesting it was a political vendetta that only accelerated after the acrimonious meeting with Sajjan. ...

Walbourne said that, the day after he told Sajjan about the complaint, he was called to the Privy Council Office, where he was asked about the allegation.

"I was shocked they knew about it. I was completely floored when they asked about the allegation involving the chief of the defence staff," he said, noting that he had asked Sajjan to keep the matter confidential.

The Privy Council Office review, however, was stymied by Walbourne's refusal to separately turn over potentially incriminating emails and the name of the female military member who had complained informally to him about Vance.

Without those leads, senior officials appeared unable to pursue concerns he had raised, both in writing and in the meeting with Sajjan.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/vance-sajjan-walbourne-misconduct-1.593...

 

jerrym

In 2019,  former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne stated that a Defence Department vendetta drove him from his job. At the time Walbourne refused to say what led to the vendetta. Because of testimony at a parliamentary committee this week, we now know that it occurred after he brought allegations of sexual misconduct against General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of Defence Staff, responsible for making the Trudeau government's Honour program, aimed at eliminating sexual misconduct in the military, operational to the attention of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. 

The Department of National Defence conducted a closed-door, wide-ranging review of complaints of mismanagement, nepotism and misuse of public funds in the Office of the Canadian Forces ombudsman last year, CBC News has learned.

The review was instrumental in the early retirement of former watchdog Gary Walbourne, according to recently released Federal Court documents.

In an interview with CBC News, Walbourne said the internal review was a flawed, politically-motivated inquiry intended to isolate and silence him. He also said the process gained significant traction only after a major, private falling out between him and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Walbourne refused to disclose the substance of his disagreement with the minister in the late winter of 2018, but said it was serious enough that Sajjan refused to speak or even meet with him for the remainder of his tenure.

"It was a stiff conversation between adults that got a little heated," he said. "Going into detail may breach some of the oaths I've taken as Order in Council appointee."

Walbourne said that after his clash with Sajjan — which took place in a private meeting on March 1, 2018 in the minister's Parliament Hill office — he quickly found himself out of the loop.

"Every meeting from that meeting forward was cancelled. There were dozens of them that were set and cancelled over a period of time," he said. "The authorities granted to the ombudsman by the deputy minister's office were altered, changed, truncated, and it just went on and on."

The conflict, he confirmed, led to him asking for early retirement.

"For about the last eight or 10 months I was in office, I sat there without financial or human resource authorities signed off by the deputy minister," Walbourne said.

"So when you take away the tools that allow you to do the job, you can't get an audience with the minister to talk about subjects that are of importance ... So there comes a point in time when you have to consider whether I could do any further good." ...

Documents, obtained by CBC News through both the Federal Court and independent sources, corroborate Walbourne's statements about the meeting date and the limits placed on his powers. ...

Sajjan refused to answer questions about Walbourne's allegations and the revelations in the Federal Court records.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-ombudsman-vendetta-1.5288519

NDPP

Yet, as this ex-Afghan counter-insurgency fighter who specialized in working with US 'special ops' teams, refuses to resign or answer questions about sex scandals, nobody even bothers to ask the Defence Minister about some of  his other repugnant activities supposedly on our behalf...

Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence

https://cdainstitute.ca/ottawa-conference-2021/

Mighty Middle

I'm not sure a person (former military ombudsman, Gary Walbourne) who calls Jagmeet Singh an "Ambulance Chaser" is really that credible

NDPP

It's somewhat more serious than that. These are war preparations. Expect the xenophobic pro-war propaganda offensive to grow even louder and more vicious. Expect more Canadian tax dollars to go towards militarism. Expect also for the usual 'progressives' to spread the word about the Russia/China 'threat' and urge your support for  warmongering and imperialism styled as 'humanitarian intervention.' Remember Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria etc. And remember Joe Biden backed every one.

'The primary duty of every leftist in the imperial core is to oppose the imperialist maneuverings of their home country, regardless of what you may think of the targeted countries."

https://twitter.com/Karl_Was_Right/status/1352392876546609154

 

jerrym

Mighty Middle wrote:

I'm not sure a person (former military ombudsman, Gary Walbourne) who calls Jagmeet Singh an "Ambulance Chaser" is really that credible

Rather than deal with the issue of the whether there was a coverup by Liberal Defence Minister Sajjan and the Privy Council of sexual misconduct by General Vance, you engage in another of your distractions and attacks on an individual to avoid discussing the problem, which goes beyond well beyond Vance, because as chief of staff he was responsible for the government's Honour program, that was supposed to root out the extensive sexual abuse that has occurred in the military, when he himself allegedly was engaged in such abuse himself.

When the Liberal chair, Karen McCrimmon, of the Standing Committee on National Defence  was interviewed on Power and Politics, her defence of Sajjan's and the Trudeau's government actions was not that the Military Ombudsman, Gary Walbourne, had lied or that what he said was untrue, but that because he was unwilling to identify the woman who told him about the sexual misconduct because she feared retaliation and therefore did not want to make a formal complaint. Therefore, McCrimmon said Sajjan and the Privy Council could do nothing, which is nonsense. In other words, the Liberal committee chair did not dispute anything that Walbourne said in the committee meeting. Instead, the Liberal government in 2018 could have used the information from Walbourne to trigger a broadscale investigation of the systemic sexual abuse in the military, especially among senior officers  who have the most power to intimidate others.

Instead Sajjan and the Privy Council used the lack of a formal complaint to do nothing when they had already recgonized the widespread prevalence of sexual abuse that has occurred for decades and decades by creating Operation Honour, which was "about sexual misconduct and how the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is addressing it". As Conservative MP James Bezan noted the complainant was looking for some reassurance that her abuse by Chief of Staff Vance would be dealt with, but nothing was done for three years. Instead Walbourne was driven out of his job which sends a message that if they can do that to the Military Ombudsperson, what would they do to any military member who complained about sexual misconduct. As NDP MP Randall Garrison said, the complainant came forward because she wanted action on her complaint and it makes no sense for the Liberals to say that nothing could be done because she didn't launch a formal complaint out of fear of retaliation. The failure to take any action has perpetuated widespread sexual abuse in the military and now led to a second Chief of Staff, Art McDonald, having to resign in disgrace, because he saw nothing happening to the previous Chief and no doubt  felt the military could continue to ignore sexual misconduct as has been going on for decades and decades without any personal consequences. 

Below is a clip, titled "MPs debate former ombudsman's explosive testimony before committee", from Power and Politics with the Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs commenting on the problem.

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1868459587517

 

kropotkin1951

Liberals in Canada are just like Democrats south of the border.

 

Mighty Middle

jerrym wrote:

Rather than deal with the issue of the whether there was a coverup by Liberal Defence Minister Sajjan and the Privy Council of sexual misconduct by General Vance, you engage in another of your distractions and attacks on an individual to avoid discussing the problem.

I'm not sure how NDP MPs and supporters can rally around Gary Walbourne and give him the benefit of the doubt, when Mr. Walbourne despises Jagmeet Singh - and says the most horrible things about Jagmeet on twitter

Because I have worse things Mr. Walbourne has said about Jagmeet on Social Media - what I posted was quite tame!

But if you feel the need to continue to support Jagmeet Singh hater Gary Walbourne, go for it.

cco

The problem with Sajjan is simple, and yet it's one that nobody's brought up since he was problematically appointed in the first place. Active-duty military officers should under no circumstances be allowed to get "promoted" to defence minister. Justin Trudeau effectively gave the military autonomy from civilian control five and a half years ago, and only now is it coming to light what a spectacularly bad idea that was in practice as well as in theory. Sajjan was a soldier for 26 years, and a regimental commander. Is it a surprise that once given command of the entire armed forces, his first instinct was still to protect his fellow soldiers, not to hold them accountable?

kropotkin1951

Mighty Middle as usual your logic sucks given it implies only people who have perfect track records of civility, to all politicians, can be trusted. The idea that a report on sexual abuse should be ignored is disgusting. Liberal troll begone!!

jerrym

cco wrote:
The problem with Sajjan is simple, and yet it's one that nobody's brought up since he was problematically appointed in the first place. Active-duty military officers should under no circumstances be allowed to get "promoted" to defence minister.

I agree that having active-duty military officers become defence minister should not happen. However the problem is much deeper than that because the accusations against General Vance went to the Privy Council Office, which co-ordinates the activities of Cabinet and Cabinet committees and acts as a liaison with government agencies and departments on Cabinet matters and it also went to the Prime Minister's Office, the latter being confirmed today by the Globe and Mail. Trudeau claims he did not not any of the "specific" allegations involving Vance in response to this article by the Globe and Mail (PMO was alerted to Sajjan's concerns about Vance in 2018 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-pmo-senior-adviser-aler...). This sounds like weasel words to give Trudeau plausable deniability. It follows a typical pattern for this government of not admitting there is a problem, doing nothing about until evidence about the problem is brought by the media or opposition, and then trying to shut down any attempt to find out fully what happened: this can be seen previously in Trudeau's initial reaction to questions about his Blackface episodes where he on the first day hesitated to admit they were true; the coverup of the Governor General's abuse of workers until they could hide it no longer; the resignation of Judy Wilson Raybould and Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau, over the SNC Lavalin scandal; the failure of the government to provide documents regarding the We charity scandal to a parliamentary committee that related to payments to Trudeau family members and other issues; the lack of details provided about the resignation of CDS Jonathan Vance; the settlement of a lawsuit by Vice Admiral Mark Norman, who was accused by the government of leaking government documents over which company would get a shipbuilding contract.

The Trudeau Liberals rather than deal with problems tend to sweep them under the rug until they blow up in their face. The tragedy for women and men in the military in this case is that the sexual abuse they face continues to go on under this approach to governing.

kropotkin1951

jerrym wrote:

The Trudeau Liberals rather than deal with problems tend to sweep them under the rug until they blow up in their face. The tragedy for women and men in the military in this case is that the sexual abuse they face continues to go on under this approach to governing.

Rideau Hall proved that the Liberals have sunk into the worst kind of ad hoc governance when it comes to dealing with complaints of ongoing abuse in Canada's institutions. They hired someone who had already been run out of two jobs for bullying because she was a shiny bauble. It leads me to believe that the whole party and leadership uses the exact same bullying style so they paid it no mind.

Mighty Middle

Jagmeet Singh appeared on the Sunday AM Talk Shows and said Gen. Jonathan Vance situation is another example of Justin Trudeau having a poor vetting process.

jerrym

Women who were in the military are speaking out about the failure of Defence Minister Sajjan to pursue sexual misconduct claims involving former Chief of Staff General Vance. As a result of this, they have no confidence in Sajjan's leadership.  The Liberals answer is we couldn't do more. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. 

A military law expert makes it clear that Sajjan could have taken action to rectify the problem. 

Women who experienced sexual assault in the military say they're disappointed and dismayed by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's alleged refusal to look at evidence of possible misconduct involving the former chief of the defence staff.

Retired master corporal Stéphanie Raymond — who alleged she was raped by a superior and then drummed out of the army in 2013 for reporting it — is calling for Sajjan's resignation.

Marie-Claude Gagnon — a former naval reservist and founder of It's Just 700, the group that fronted the class action lawsuit against the federal government over sexual misconduct in the military — said Sajjan needs to provide a clear, coherent explanation for his actions.

If he can't, Gagnon said, he should resign or be fired.

In his testimony Wednesday before the House of Commons defence committee, former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne said he warned Sajjan in a March 1, 2018 meeting that he had received an informal complaint of sexual misconduct involving Gen. Jonathan Vance. ...

He said he brought along evidence but the minister refused to look at it.

"I'm just trying to think, why would a person do that?" said Gagnon. "You can redirect it to another authority ... I don't see why a person wouldn't look at an anonymous email. You know? If it was provided to him with no names." The minister, she said, had a "duty to inform" himself "to ensure the safety" of others. "So if you're made aware of something, there is a minimum that needs to be done."

Speaking to Radio-Canada on Thursday, Raymond said she has no "confidence" in Sajjan's leadership. "The minister, basically, I think he should perhaps leave his functions," she said in French. "He has missed too many opportunities to act. Unfortunately, he too is part of the problem [if] he continues to camouflage, or to be complicit by omission."

Raymond said she has no faith in Sajjan's ability to manage "the problem of sexual misconduct, which [has been] a scandal for several years." ...

The minister has said that he has notified the proper authorities of cases of potential misconduct and "any suggestion that I have done otherwise is wrong." Gagnon said that such non-specific statements from the minister are simply not acceptable.

The Conservative opposition also was not reassured; late Thursday, it proposed to expand parliamentary hearings into military sexual misconduct to examine recent allegations made against Vance's successor, Admiral Art McDonald. ...

McDonald is also under investigation by the military's National Investigative Service (NIS) for possible violations of the Code of Service Discipline.

Liberal government officials, speaking on background, defended Sajjan's refusal to look at Walbourne's documents, saying "that would have meant he was part of the chain of evidence." ...

One military law expert said the minister had the authority and the tools at his disposal to look into the allegations himself. Retired colonel Michel Drapeau scoffed at the notion the minister would have inserted himself into the "chain of evidence" by looking at Walbourne's material. "Give me a break," he said. "It's not a criminal matter, as far as I know. It's obfuscation. He had a duty to be informed. He had a duty to take action."

Under Section 45 of the National Defence Act, the minister has the power to order a board of inquiry investigation. Separately, the Queen's Regulations and Orders, which govern military conduct, allow the minister to appoint a military judge to head an investigation.

Even if Sajjan didn't want to go that far, Drapeau said, he could have taken the anonymous complaint to Vance and taken a statement.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/vance-sajjan-walbourne-department-of-de...

jerrym

A third senior officer was allegedly involved in inappropriate sexual behaviour, some of which dates as far back as the 1990s. Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, who was promoted to the commander in charge of human resources for the Canadian Forces in 2019 when the Trudeau Liberals were in power, has power "over career consequences for military members found to have engaged in sexual misconduct". On Power and Politics today, it was reported that he had a widely nickname, "Mulligan",  in the military, because he had been given so many no consequences do-overs despite his actions. This shows how widespread and deep the acceptance of sexual abuse in the military is. Furthermore, allowing such a person to be in charge of human resources, means he has enormous influence over who gets promoted and who gets disciplined, an enormous power that could be used to  disrupt any investigation of sexual abuse. With such an officer in charge of human resources, it is no wonder fear of reprisal kept so many abuse cases hidden. After being investigated, a rear admiral apologized to Edmundson, showing how systemic sexual abuse was. 

Defence Minister Sajjan claims that he only learned of this situation yesterday. There are only to two possibilities: he is telling the truth or he is lying. If he is telling the truth, this points to the utter failure of vetting of senior officers, governor generals etc. to identify problem candidates despite widespread knowledge of their problematic behaviour. The alternative is that he knew of the sexual misconduct and chose to ignore it. Either way there is little evidence that this government is going to carry out meaningful change in this area, with lower levels of the military and government workers, mostly women, facing ongoing sexual and workplace abuse. 

A gay female former warrant officer's, who is involved in a class-action lawsuit over the widespread abuse, sad comment was "I'm not surprised. ... the military is an old boys club apt to protect each other." Others question how deeply the Trudeau government's Operation Honour, aimed at rooting out sexual abuse in the military, involved meaningful investigation of the problem. 

The commander in charge of human resources for the Canadian Forces was himself investigated over allegations of inappropriate behaviour with female subordinates in the late 1990s, CBC News has learned.

Despite that, former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance promoted Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson in 2019 to manage military personnel command, which gives him authority over career consequences for military members found to have engaged in sexual misconduct, multiple sources said.

The claims against Edmundson date back more than two decades to when he was a lieutenant-commander overseeing training at the naval officer training centre in Esquimalt, B.C.

The Department of National Defence said Edmundson was never charged or subjected to any type of administrative discipline. The department said it investigates all such claims and responds with penalties or charges where warranted.

But four sources with knowledge of the allegations describe an alleged pattern of behaviour by Edmundson aimed at female instructors and students under his command at the time. The allegations include claims of suggestive or unwelcome comments, sexual advances, predatory behaviour and inappropriate relationships with female subordinates, the sources said. ...

Multiple sources said Edmundson's behaviour wasn't taken seriously back then and said his track record of avoiding consequences earned him a nickname — "Mulligan man" — suggesting he got a do-over. Sources with direct knowledge of the alleged incidents say the investigation of the allegations against Edmundson was flawed and claim that not all witnesses and complainants were interviewed. 

A source with knowledge of the military police probe said that after military police looked into the matter, a rear admiral apologized to Edmundson for how he was treated by his chain of command during the investigation.

CBC News spoke to four other sources with knowledge of the allegations involving Edmundson. Fearing career reprisals, they asked not to be named. ...

The sources said it was "ironic" and "cringeworthy" that someone accused of inappropriate behaviour was put in charge of the directorate that provides advice on administering career consequences for those accused of sexual misconduct.

CBC News has asked Edmundson to comment multiple times since Sunday; he has not responded. ...

Former warrant officer Krista Ley left the military in 2016. She said she was harassed for being gay, beaten and sexually assaulted at CFB Gagetown, where she was the only woman on a sergeant's course at the time. She claims the complaint process is "full of conflicts of interest" that can come with threats, loss of promotions and "terrible" treatment.

Ley, who is taking part in a class action lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct in CAF, said it "looks terrible" that Edmundson is in charge of human resources after being investigated in the past. "I'm not surprised," said Ley. "It makes me angry for sure. We're only at stage one of where we're supposed to be ... The military is an old boys club apt to protect each other." ...

Dawn McIlmoyle formally left the Canadian Forces in September 1993 after she said a male colleague raped her. She said she questions how thoroughly the military investigated misconduct claims before Operation Honour — the Canadian Forces campaign against sexual misconduct in the ranks — was launched in 2015. She said Edmundson's continued service in his current role is disheartening. ...

The sources claim Edmundson made comments about female subordinates' appearances and made sexual advances that in some instances were unwanted. There are also claims that Edmundson dated subordinates in his chain of command in possible violation of good order and discipline under the National Defence Act.

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, an expert in military law, said these latest allegations will deal another blow to serving members' confidence in senior leadership. "It is catastrophic," said Drapeau. "My reaction is just shock. It's devastating news for all those serving members ... It's a crisis of leadership. It's a crisis of credibility in high command. The successive allegations made against the highest ranking members of the military — there is a dark cloud over the entire military profession." ...

The Department of National Defence said in a statement that commenting further "on cases for which no charges were laid would be both inappropriate and irresponsible, as it would impact an individuals' right to dignity and equality."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-commander-haydn-edmundson-past...

jerrym

There has been a long history of sexual misconduct and abuse within the military has not been addressed by Liberal or Conservative governments, so it is not surprising to see that Sajjan is once again failing in this regard. 

It has been more than a quarter of a century, but to this day the word "Somalia" sends a shiver down the backs of soldiers old enough to remember it.

And there are going to be those in uniform who absolutely hate any comparison between the torture, murder and coverup scandal of the 1990s and the unfolding social reckoning that is taking place over sexual misconduct, and to a lesser extent racism, within the ranks. 

What they have in common, however, is that they are at their very core both crises of leadership and the perception of leaders, says retired lieutenant-general Guy Thibault.

"It is clearly a crisis," he said. "I think it's a crisis of confidence in the senior Canadian Forces leadership and that's seen from both sides."  ...

"If we are comparing back to the period of Somalia, when you look at the Airborne Regiment and you look at the actions of a few that really cast a very negative shadow on the institution, you've got to draw the parallels."

In its time, the Somalia scandal was known as a national shame. 

The grisly photos of the beating death of a Somali teenager at the hands of two members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment drew outrage from the public .

It left an indelible mark on the 1990s generation of troops. Many of those who were serving at the time can tell you where they were and what they were doing the day the airborne, which was shown to have leadership failings, was disbanded by the Liberal government of the day. Others talk about how they couldn't wear the uniforms in public for years afterwards.

Military leadership was also called into question after a CBC reporter received altered documents under access to information legislation, leading to allegations of a coverup and eventually a public inquiry. ...

The steady stream of explosive revelations over the last month of alleged misconduct — involving Gen. Jonathan Vance, the former chief of the defence staff and his successor, Admiral Art McDonald, as well as fresh concerns about the possible inappropriate behaviour of Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson two decades ago — has sent the military reeling. 

There has been a revolving door among some of the key leadership positions, in a manner that has not been seen in a generation.

Speaking to the allegations involving Edmundson, revealed by CBC News on Tuesday, military law expert and retired colonel Michel Drapeau described the effect on the military as "catastrophic" and shocking for those who are serving. "It's a crisis of leadership, it's a crisis of credibility in high command," he said.  "The successive allegations made against the highest ranking members of the military — there is a dark cloud over the entire military profession." ...

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's evasive performance before the House of Commons defence committee last month and continued vague rebuttals to the testimony of former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne, who says he warned the minister about Vance three years ago, are only feeding the political storm.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-misconduct-somalia-1.5943425?c...

 

jerrym

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Friday argued with members of the Standing Committee on National Defence over the minister’s handling of the inappropriate behaviour allegations against former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance. Today Sajjan was forced to acknowledge that an allegation of sexual misconduct against the country's former top military commander was raised with him three years ago by the Canadian Forces ombudsman and was also forced to "confirm  he did not look at the evidence" presented by military Ombudsman Gary Walbourne of sexual misconduct by Chief of Staff General Vance. Nevertheless, he tried to imply it was Walbourne's fault that nothing further was done rather than dealing with his own failure or that of the Privy Council or the Prime Minister's Office. Trudeau continues to dance around how much he knew about the problem, saying he knew there was a problem but didn't know the specifics, which, even if true, simply sounds like he didn't want to know because he didn't want to deal with it. 

Lt.-Cmdr. Raymond Trotter, the naval officer who helped bring sexual misconduct allegations against the current Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Art McDonald, also testified before the committee today, describing how he had togo through a maddening maze of bureaucracy, institutional and political, to report the allegation against McDonald, thereby further suggesting that both military and political leadership have designed this system to fail because of its byzantine bureauracy that ensures few if any complaints of sexual misconduct go anywhere. Trotter also told the committee that he faced threats from a more senior person because of his reporting on sexual misconduct, further illustrating how warped this whole system is. If this is what happens to a Lt.-Commander who was not abused, think about how many more problems and less faith a lower rank would have in reporting sexual misconduct that they had faced personally. 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan acknowledged today that an allegation of sexual misconduct against the country's former top military commander was raised with him three years ago by the Canadian Forces ombudsman.

He confirmed he did not look at the evidence but insisted, however, that he instructed ombudsman Gary Walbourne to use the powers of his office, which would have allowed him to hand over information about the allegation to military police investigators.

Today's dramatic testimony before the House of Commons defence committee marks the first time Sajjan has revealed what took place in a private meeting on March 1, 2018 with the former watchdog. It's also the first substantive account the minister has provided since allegations of sexual misconduct involving Gen. Jonathan Vance first surfaced over a month ago.

Sajjan defended his decision to not look at the information Walbourne presented, saying he was trying to "protect the integrity of the investigation." ...

The Commons defence committee is trying to find out who in the Liberal government knew about the allegations and when. Global News first reported in early February on the claim that the former chief of the defence staff had a long-standing, inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate and that he allegedly had sent a racy email to another woman, a junior member of the military.

Military police are now investigating whether a violation of the Code of Service Discipline or anything criminal has taken place. ...

Meanwhile, the naval officer who helped bring sexual misconduct allegations against the current chief of the defence staff also testified before the defence committee today.

Lt.-Cmdr. Raymond Trotter said he became aware of misconduct claims against Admiral Art McDonald through the alleged victim.

Under the military's campaign to stamp out misconduct in the ranks, Trotter was required to report what he had been told, even though the woman had asked for confidentiality.

He described going through a maddening maze of bureaucracy, institutional and political, to report the allegation against McDonald.

At one point, Trotter said, he was contacted by the chief of staff to the defence minister — a woman who initially thought he was trying to report about Gen. Vance.

"That senior person raised his voice and spoke to me in a very demeaning manner, indicating, and pardon my language, that I had f--ked up and that I ruined the respondent's career over nothing," he said.

Trotter told the committee he is worried about reprisals when he returns to duty, but added his superiors have assured him he has their support.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/sajjan-sexual-miscondut-military-walbou...

jerrym

Canada's current military ombudsman, Greg Lick, says he has come to the same conclusion as all previous military ombudsman - that for true independence the ombudsman should report to Parliament, not to the defence minister, so that all parties get reports on what is happening on an ongoing basis. So without mentioning Sajjan by name, Lick has both pointed out Sajjan's failure to deal effectively with sexual misconduct in the military and the systemic nature of the problem. He also says that the previous military ombudsman, Gary Walbourne, was unfairly treated when he brought a case to the defence minister. 

Canada’s military ombudsman is calling on the federal Liberal government to make his office truly independent, saying the current structure is undercutting confidence in its ability to fight for aggrieved Canadian Armed Forces members and others.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Greg Lick also voiced his belief that his predecessor Gary Walbourne was “unfairly treated,” and defended his own appointment as ombudsman given his past ties to the head of the Department of National Defence. ...

Lick says he initially believed when he took over the job from Walbourne in November 2018 that he could work within the current structure, which involves the deputy minister of the Defence Department having to approve his budget and staffing.

But Lick says he has since changed his mind and now fully endorses Walbourne’s calls to have the ombudsman’s office completely independent from the Defence Department and the defence minister by making it report to Parliament.

“I’ve really come to realize that there’s not really any independence, or maybe more importantly, any perceived independence when the office is in anyway connected administratively to the department that it oversees,” Lick said. ...

Lick’s comments come amid a sharp debate within military and political circles around the need for true independent oversight of the Armed Forces following allegations of misconduct against several top officers, including the two most recent chiefs of defence staff.

They also follow Walbourne’s suggestions during explosive testimony in front of the House of Commons’ defence committee last month that the ombudsman’s office faced obstacles and unfair treatment from senior defence officials during his time on the job.

Those allegations largely surrounded how the Defence Department handled a whistleblower complaint against Walbourne and members of his staff, one of whom challenged the process in Federal Court where a judge found she was “denied procedural fairness.”

Numerous documents obtained by The Canadian Press also show Walbourne and the Defence Department at odds over his requests for funding and staffing approvals, including for what is described as routine travel to meet with service members and clients.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan also cancelled all meetings with Walbourne after the ombudsman raised an allegation of sexual misconduct against then-defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance during a closed-door session on March 1, 2018. ...

Global News has reported the allegation relates to a lewd email that Vance purportedly sent to a much younger soldier in 2012, before he became commander of the Armed Forces. Vance has denied any wrongdoing, and the allegation has not been independently verified.

While Lick said he did not know the specifics of what happened to Walbourne, he’s come to the conclusion that his predecessor was “unfairly treated” based on what he has seen himself and heard from other staff in the watchdog’s office.

And while Lick said he has not faced any real impediments from the Defence Department, he nonetheless has heard questions about the office’s independence from military personnel, which he worries will stop people from coming forward with complaints.

“I visit various bases, and in various audiences, I still get asked questions about: ‘Are you really independent?”‘ he said. “Ultimately, that’s going to prevent some from coming forward, because they don’t have the confidence that we’ll deal with it objectively.”

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/military-ombudsman...

jerrym

In another sign of the deep problems created by the Canadian military culture and unaddressed under Liberal and Conservative governments, Lt.-Col. Eleanor Taylor, "One of the most prominent women in the Canadian military has resigned, saying she is "disgusted" by ongoing reports of sexual misconduct in the Armed Forces and dismayed that it has taken this long for the problem to come to the fore." She has the guts that she herself has been too silent on the issue in the past while Sajjan and the Liberals admit nothing. 

Taylor, the deputy commander of the 36th Brigade Group and a distinguished veteran of combat in Afghanistan, delivered a scathing resignation letter to senior military leaders — a letter that has been circulating around army headquarters in Ottawa.

"I am sickened by ongoing investigations of sexual misconduct among our key leaders," Taylor wrote in the letter, which was posted to Facebook on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, I am not surprised. I am also certain that the scope of the problem has yet to be exposed. Throughout my career, I have observed insidious and inappropriate use of power for sexual exploitation." ...

The fact that two high-ranking officers are both facing claims of inappropriate behaviour involving female subordinates has rocked the Department of National Defence to its foundations.

Taylor, who is from Antigonish, N.S., is retired from the regular force but serves in the reserves. She is considered an important role model for young women in uniform.

"Some senior leaders are unwilling or (perhaps unable) to recognize that their behaviour is harmful both to the victim and to the team," Taylor wrote in her letter. "Some recognize the harm but believe they can keep their behaviour secret. Perhaps worst of all are those in authority, who should know better, but lack the courage and tools to confront the systemic issue." ...

The scourge of sexual misconduct, Taylor wrote, has been accepted for far too long by everyone — including Taylor herself — as an unchanging aspect of military life. "I have been both a victim of, and participant in, this damaging cycle of silence, and I am proud of neither," she wrote.

"I am not encouraged that we are 'investigating our top officers.' I am disgusted that it has taken us so long to do so."

"I have spent the past decade speaking publicly and passionately about the gains women have made in the CAF," Taylor wrote. ...

"While I remain fiercely proud of parts of our organization, on the issue of addressing harmful sexual behaviour, we have lost all credibility." ...

In her letter, Taylor suggested the military drop the name "Operation Honour" from its campaign to stamp out sexual misconduct in the ranks. The effort should continue, she said, but the name has lost all meaning.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/eleanor-taylor-canadian-forces-sexual-m...

 

 

jerrym

Both the Liberals and Conservatives have been all too willing to let questions of sexual misconduct slide by without any serious investigation as Harper's former chief of staff, Ray Novak, admitted in testimony to the House of Commons defence committee on Monday, further demonstrating how deep the systemic discrimination against women, especially but certainly not exclusively, in the military was and is.

One of the top staffers in the previous Conservative government suggested on Monday that Gen. Jonathan Vance “was not truthful” when questioned in 2015 by the former prime minister about his conduct prior to being appointed as chief of the defence staff.

Ray Novak, former chief of staff to Stephen Harper from 2013 until the government was defeated in fall 2015, testified to the House of Commons defence committee on Monday that Harper met directly with Vance in March 2015 to ask him about an allegation of inappropriate conduct.

That meeting focused on an allegation against Vance regarding his time as deputy commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, but Novak saidHarper also asked Vance if there was anything else he should know about. ...

However, Maj. Kellie Brennan described an alleged longstanding sexual relationship with Vance in an interview with Global News last month, alleging that this began while the two were stationed at CFB Gagetown and resumed while Vance was superior to her within the chain of command in Toronto in 2006.

Vance denies any sexual relationship while Brennan was under his command.

“I watched the interview that Maj. Brennan gave some weeks ago which is obviously deeply, deeply disturbing,” Novak said. “I think it’s clear she made extremely serious allegations, and if they are true – and I have no reason to doubt her – that means the general was not truthful with the prime minister in their meeting of March of 2015.”

https://globalnews.ca/news/7710976/canadian-forces-sexual-misconduct-ray...

jerrym

Global News is now reporting that an investigation into sexual misconduct among senior members in the Canadian navy was shut down before all witnesses and complainants were talked to, revealing the hear no evil, see no evil approach taken by  the military and the government. When the recommendation is that subordinate female officers should confront their superiors directly, you know what the chances of anything being done about the issue are.

An internal probe into sexual misconduct allegations against senior naval officers has been closed before all witnesses or complainants were spoken to, Global News has learned, with investigators concluding no wrongdoing occurred.

Yet the investigation into alleged inappropriate comments — where the senior officers allegedly joked that a female member wanted to show off her “red room” while on a Zoom call — did not look into the alleged comments that followed, which sources say involved BDSM and “kinky sex.”

Internal emails obtained by Global News show at least one woman naval officer took issue with the limited nature of the Unit Disciplinary Investigation, saying its conclusion “only serves to reduce faith in the system even further, and at a time when faith is already at an all-time low.”

“I think this is an issue that’s counteracting our ability to maintain cohesion in our forces,” the officer wrote. ...

The investigation also didn’t address whether senior officers on the call should have intervened. Instead, it concluded with military leadership suggesting subordinate women officers should confront their superiors directly over such issues, according to the emails.

That suggestion is not sitting well among women in the military, according to a military source. The source, who requested anonymity to discuss the issue, also told Global News they were “outraged” that the investigator did not contact or interview everyone involved. ...

The complaint involved senior naval officers who allegedly said during a Zoom meeting in January that a female member in attendance, whose background had a wall with red paint, wanted to show off her “red room.”  “Red room” is the reference given by a character in the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to the red room where he engages in BDSM sexual activities with partners. The comment is alleged to have quickly led other senior naval officers on the call to make comments about BDSM and sexual activities.

Yet an email sent Tuesday to naval members by Capt. Chris Peschke, the chief of staff to the Commander of the West Coast Navy, announcing the closing of the investigation made no mention of those alleged further comments. Instead, it says the investigation focused entirely on the initial alleged “red room” comment and whether it alone could be considered sexual or inappropriate. It also suggests the term “red room” itself has multiple meanings, including murder or “simply … the colour of a room.” ...

“As a result, this investigation did not reveal that a service offence was committed based on the evidence obtained by the investigator and is now closed,” the email reads. ...

In a reply to that email obtained by Global News, a woman naval officer says the conclusion of the investigation “minimizes the issue at hand” by focusing entirely on the phrase “red room,” and not acknowledging what allegedly followed. The officer also says the explanation provided in the initial email reinforces a feeling that troops must follow the rules established by Operation Honour — the military-wide initiative meant to combat sexual misconduct — while senior officers are not held to the same standard. “What I get from the below explanation is that it’s okay for the older cadre to make inappropriate comments because they don’t know any better,” the response reads. ...

Military members have also voiced frustration with the process complainants have to go through to bring allegations forward, which they described as “running in circles” to find the proper investigative office. ...

A top officer who quit the military in protest over the growing crisis, Lt.-Col. Eleanor Taylor, told Global News that the tight-knit team environment of the military makes it difficult for individuals to come forward with experiences of sexual misconduct because they risk being alienated. “I’ve told my story many times, but I have never shared the fact that I too have struggled with this behaviour,” she said. “Because in so doing, I feel that I risk the reputation of the team and risk alienating myself from the team.” ...

Anger over the crisis has also been directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who have both been accused of not acting immediately when first learning of allegations against Vance in 2018. The pair have defended their actions and insisted that they followed the processes in place for forwarding allegations to the proper authorities. 

https://globalnews.ca/news/7715206/military-misconduct-red-room-probe/

jerrym

Once again, only after the media releases more evidence of sexual misconduct and its coverup, as revealed by Global News (see last two posts), among senior Navy officers, Sajjan expresses 'concern' over the shutting down of an investigation into sexual misconduct before all complainants and witnesses had spoken without Sajjan doing anything about it. 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says he is concerned after the navy shut down an internal probe into alleged sexual misconduct by senior officers, with investigators concluding no wrongdoing occurred.

As Global News reported on Tuesday night, the internal probe was closed before all witnesses or complainants were spoken to, according to sources.

The investigation into alleged inappropriate comments — where the senior officers allegedly joked that a female member wanted to show off her “red room” (Red room” is the reference given by a character in the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to the red room where he engages in BDSM sexual activities with partners. ) while on a Zoom call also did not look into the alleged comments that followed, which sources say involved BDSM and “kinky sex.” ...

[A]cting chief of the defence staff Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre said he issued direction on how that review should unfold shortly before attending the press conference, but would not provide specifics about how that will take place. He said out of 132 people who were on the Zoom video call where the alleged misconduct occurred, only 52 responded when contacted by investigators. ...

Sajjan faces criticism and continued questions over his refusal to hear an allegation against former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance in 2018, which he said would have amounted to “political interference” in an investigation.

No formal investigation had been opened at that time. Sajjan was asked several times by journalists to explain why he felt he could order a review into this matter but has argued he could have no involvement in hearing or following up on the Vance allegation. He did not give a clear answer. 

Internal emails obtained by Global News show at least one woman naval officer took issue with the limited nature of the Unit Disciplinary Investigation, saying its conclusion “only serves to reduce faith in the system even further, and at a time when faith is already at an all-time low.” “I think this is an issue that’s counteracting our ability to maintain cohesion in our forces,” the officer wrote. ...

The investigation also didn’t address whether senior officers on the call should have intervened. Instead, it concluded with military leadership suggesting subordinate women officers should confront their superiors directly over such issues, according to the emails. That suggestion is not sitting well among women in the military, according to a military source. The source, who requested anonymity to discuss the issue, also told Global News they were “outraged” that the investigator did not contact or interview everyone involved.

https://globalnews.ca/news/7716185/military-misconduct-red-room-review/

jerrym

Another of Canada's senior military officers has stepped aside because of a sex scandal, Vice Admiral Haydn Edmundson, who a female sailor said raped her, according to CBC's Power and Politics. This further demonstrates the systemic nature of sexual misconduct in the senior military. Furthermore, Edmundson was in charge of military personnel, giving him the power to discipline anyone who brought a sexual complaint forward.

Although the woman wants an independent police investigation because she doesn't trust military investigations, there will be a military investigation despite the failure of the military to deal with other major sex scandals in 1998 and 2014. Edmundson, himself, had already been investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct with female sailors in the late 1990s without facing any discipline.

Liberal Defence Minister Sajjan has not shown any willingness to deal with the situation effectively. 

Another top Canadian military officer is under police investigation after a former member of the navy alleged she was sexually assaulted on board a supply ship. Vice Admiral Haydn Edmundson has temporarily left his job as commander of Military Personnel Command in Ottawa. He is under investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the Department of National Defence confirmed Wednesday.

The CFNIS began the investigation into Edmundson after CBC News notified the DND that it was about to release a story featuring on-the-record remarks by the woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by Edmunston onboard HMCS Provider in November 1991. At the time the woman was a 19-year-old member of the Canadian navy. She told CBC she didn’t originally report the assault because she was afraid to speak up against the third-highest ranking officer on the ship. She described to the CBC a pervasive culture of silence surrounding sexual misconduct, a lack of support from the military’s chain of command and fear of career reprisals. ...

Edmundson has denied the allegations. ...

Over the last several months, the Canadian Forces has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by its top leaders. Chief of the Defence Staff Adm. Art McDonald voluntary stepped down Feb. 24 from that job after being put under military police investigation. The admiral had only been in the job since Jan. 14. McDonald has declined to comment. Former Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance is also under military police investigation over allegations of sexual misconduct. He has said he did nothing wrong.

Two House of Commons committees are looking into the issue of sexual misconduct in the military, and the Liberal government have promised changes.

The Canadian Forces has faced previous sex scandals in 1998 and 2014, but its leadership successfully fought against attempts to impose independent oversight on the military justice and police system, which critics say punishes the victims and protects sexual predators.

Military police, and not a civilian police force, will investigate the alleged sexual assault involving Edmundson. “As the allegations are reported to have taken place onboard a Royal Canadian Navy ship outside of Canada, the Acting Chief of the Defence Staff Wayne Eyre has referred the matter to the CFNIS,” the Canadian Forces statement noted. ...

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service looks into serious allegations involving military personnel, but there has been criticism of its past performance and concerns that it is not independent. The CFNIS ultimately reports to the chief of the defence staff. ...

Some military members have been reluctant to report sexual misconduct and assaults to the CFNIS because of the perception it is not independent of senior leadership.

The alleged victim has told CBC she wants an independent investigation because she doesn’t trust the military to properly investigate and prosecute her case.

The CBC reported on March 9 that Edmundson was investigated over allegations of inappropriate behaviour with female subordinates in the late 1990s. The claims against him dated back to when he was a lieutenant-commander overseeing training at the naval officer training centre in Esquimalt, B.C.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/another-top-milita...