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Canada Liberals shut down probe into sexual misconduct in Canadian military

21:31  12 april  2021
21:31  12 april  2021 Source:   globalnews.ca

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The federal Liberals have voted to shut down a defence committee probe into allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces.

a sign on a pole: Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh © THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

That decision comes as the Conservatives and NDP members of the committee argue no one has yet taken responsibility and the probe should continue.

Read more: Woman alleges forced co-ed showers, says Canadian military’s ‘toxic’ culture must change

 

Liberal and Bloc Quebecois MPs voted together in favour of the Liberal motion that was leaked to Global News over the weekend, which shuts down the probe that has heard damning testimony into the government’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations in the military

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Conservative and NDP MPs voted against the motion.

“No one has taken responsibility and no one has apologized,” said NDP MP Randall Garrison.

“Until we get to the bottom of who knew what when, we have not concluded this study.”

IN HER WORDS: One of the women behind Vance allegations tells her story

Global News first reported on Feb. 2 that Gen. Jonathan Vance is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour with two female subordinates. Military police announced they were opening an investigation shortly after that report and later that same month, military police also announced an investigation into Vance's successor as chief of the defence staff, Adm. Art McDonald.

Vance denies the allegations. McDonald has stepped aside pending the investigation.

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IN HER WORDS: The woman behind McDonald allegation tells her story

The military is facing an institutional crisis that has put the spotlight squarely on how its culture and power dynamics created an environment where sexual misconduct has become “endemic.”

That was the word used by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps in her landmark 2015 report into the problem, and which called for urgent change to military culture.

Video: I don’t think that the military can solve this problem: Major Kellie Brennan

In addition to the twin military police probes, the allegations also sparked the House of Commons status of women committee and defence committee to open probes of their own.

While the status of women committee probe has largely focused on what should be done to fix the problem, the defence committee has focused largely on political accountability: determining who knew what when, and why nothing was done.

IN HER WORDS: The woman behind 2018 Vance allegation tells her story

  IN HER WORDS: The woman behind 2018 Vance allegation tells her story The woman who shared an allegation of inappropriate behaviour by Gen. Jonathan Vance with the military ombudsman in 2018 says she did so hoping it would be handled discreetly.And she says she brought it forward hoping Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan would be made aware and weigh the allegation as he considered both the future of Operation Honour – the military’s effort to root out sexual misconduct – and Vance himself.

READ MORE: Military ombudsman’s limited role in misconduct complaints flagged repeatedly since 2014

Much of their attention has focused on the fact that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was informed in 2018 by the then-military ombudsman of an allegation against Vance, but took no action other than instructing his chief of staff to pass the matter to bureaucrats at the Privy Council Office.

That office abandoned a probe within weeks, and Sajjan says he never pressed for any further action. He told the committee doing so would amount to "political interference"—  a claim rejected by the commander of the military police.

He has also repeatedly suggested it was the then-military ombudsman who failed to open an investigation or share the details of the complaint with other authorities, despite the fact the ombudsman did not have the permission of the complainant to do so.

READ MORE: Military ombudsman rebukes Sajjan’s claim his predecessor failed to probe Vance complaint

The current ombudsman, Gregory Lick, also refuted Sajjan's claims that his predecessor failed to act, and said repeatedly that he would have acted the same way if in the same circumstances now.

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Sajjan has also said he never informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the allegation.

But he says his chief of staff did tell Elder Marques, a senior advisor in Trudeau's office.

The committee had been set to try to call Marques as a witness to question whether he told anybody else within the Prime Minister's Office about the allegation.

READ MORE: Trudeau says he did not personally know of 2018 Vance allegation

Trudeau has said his office knew about the allegation against Vance in 2018, but that he did not know of it personally until Global News reported on the matter.

Conservative MP Leona Alleslev said there remains a "significant" amount of work to be done about why Vance was allowed to continue in the role for three years after the 2018 allegation, and why no other avenue of investigation appears to have been explored by a government that brands itself as "feminist."

“We still have no answer on why a CDS with outstanding, unresolved allegations of sexual misconduct was allowed to continue in his position for another three years," she said.

"We still have no accountability from the minister or anyone else that it was in fact their responsibility to ensure a chief of defence staff or anyone else was allowed to continue with unresolved allegations.”

“I was a women in the military and I did not feel that I was able to serve equally in some circumstances, and that was some 30 years ago … this is our time to do something about it.”

More to come …

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