Canada Matt Gurney: Desperate Liberals hire judge to shield Trudeau from Vance allegations
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Weeks into a sexual misconduct scandal that has come as far as the innermost circle of the prime minister’s office, National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan came out on Thursday, apologized to the women of the Canadian Armed Forces — or, well, any that were upset, at any rate, as Sajjan limited his apology to women “who feel we were not there for them” — and announced that the government would launch an investigation into … something else entirely. It was a remarkable performance, mostly for how utterly shameless it was.
The Liberals have spent weeks trying to distance themselves from the allegations that they were told in 2018 that now-retired general Jonathan Vance, then the commanding officer of the entire military, had been accused of sexual misconduct by a subordinate female officer. None of their excuses and explanations have long withstood even the flimsiest scrutiny. A senior member of Trudeau’s staff, helplessly skewered by opposition questions last week, offered up Katie Telford, the PM’s chief of staff, for sacrificing, saying that he had told her about the allegations. The PM himself claimed that nothing was known about the specific nature of the allegations — heavens no, he didn’t know it was a MeToo! — but even that talking point blew up at liftoff, because documents already reported on by Global News show that government officials were openly discussing the “sexual harassment” allegations against Vance during the period in question.
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.
So, out of excuses, and with the only remaining options being between the PM having personally chosen to ignore this, or the PM’s chief of staff deciding to bury it without telling the boss, the Liberals tried one last desperate move — dragoon a former Supreme Court justice to investigate something that has nothing to do with Sajjan, the PM or his chief of staff. To that end, Sajjan announced that Louise Arbour, the well-respected jurist, will review the military’s handling of sexual assault and misconduct.
It’s a great idea. Bringing in a high-ranking woman with impeccable professional credentials to review the military’s handling of such matters is such a great idea, in fact, that we already did that. And recently! In 2015, former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps did exactly what Sajjan is asking Arbour to do. A few of Deschamps recommendations have been acted upon, but the report, generally, has gone to that same dust-collecting shelf in the sky that all Canadian government reports go to after dying of neglect. It’s not clear what Sajjan hopes to accomplish by having a different retired judge come in to write another report. Why doesn’t he show a bit of pluck and can-do spirit by just having an aide Google “Deschamps report” and run a few copies of the PDF off the officer printer?
Freeland apologizes to women harassed in military, says she never knew of Vance allegation
An investigation is currently underway into the allegations of misconduct levied against Vance.An investigation is currently underway into the allegations of misconduct levied against Vance, as well as into a separate allegation against his successor, Adm. Art McDonald.
Oh, right. There’s actually a really easy answer to why Sajjan isn’t doing that: Arbour isn’t being appointed because the government thinks that Deschamps just didn’t quite dig deep enough. She’s being appointed so that Sajjan looks like he’s taking the problem seriously. But here’s the thing: this time, the military’s culture and misconduct reporting mechanisms weren’t the problems. They are problems, to be clear, but they’re not the problem at hand. The problem at hand was that the Trudeau government, self-styled feminists all, were given a credible allegation about sexual misconduct at the very top of Canada’s military and ignored it. For years. The allegations were obviously reported to people within the government, obviously discussed internally among them, and obviously disclosed to all the right people around the prime minister, and almost certainly the prime minister himself. The failure was in their collective decision to avert their eyes while plugging their ears and humming loudly.
PM says his office didn't know Vance allegations were about sexual misconduct
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vigorously defended his top aide on Tuesday, saying that while his office knew there was a complaint against then-defence chief general Jonathan Vance three years ago, no one knew it was about sexual misconduct. The comments came in response to fresh questions about what the prime minister and his chief of staff, Katie Telford, knew about the allegation against Vance in March 2018 following testimony last week from one of Trudeau's former advisers.
“Hey, prime minister, why are your fingers in your ears while you chant ‘la-la-la’?” “Because it’s 2018, citizen. That’s why. Would you like to join the middle class?”
Gee, why might any woman in the armed forces possibly be annoyed with any of this?
If Arbour was being appointed to investigate the failure of action inside the PMO, that would actually represent some progress. She’s not. She’s being asked to reboot the Deschamp report before it would be losing its baby teeth. Bringing in another former supreme is one hundred per cent a way of appearing to take decisive action but without actually doing anything for years. It’s a distraction. A diversion. A bright, hot flare luring a heat-seeking political missile away from the PMO. And it’s transparently so, which is what makes it so galling.
Announcing that an eminent person will write a report a few hundred people may read years later is a time-honoured way for Canadian politicians to make unpleasant issues go away (and if you’re wondering why our hospitals are overcrowded and many of us still living under various forms of mobility restrictions, dear readers, it’s in large part because this is exactly what happened after SARS). But trying to have an eminent person write a report to make an issue go away just a few short years after another eminent person wrote precisely that report is next-level bonkers. It’s surprising that Sajjan didn’t also announce the next Supreme Court justice who’ll redo Arbour’s redo of the Deschamps report in 2026. Why not? Maybe if we start booking former justices to write reports on the exact same topic early and in bulk, we can get a discount. After 10 reports, we might get the 2066 version for free.
Posts in private military police Facebook group mock woman at heart of Vance allegation
The aspersions targeting Maj. Kellie Brennan come after she appeared before a parliamentary committee probing high-level sexual misconduct in the military.The aspersions targeting Maj. Kellie Brennan come after she appeared before a parliamentary committee probing high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces and said she does not believe military police will take the investigation into her allegations seriously.
There are problems in our military, particularly its senior leadership. No reasonable person denies this. What’s needed is not yet another investigation to confirm what we already know. What’s needed, and what the women of the Canadian Armed Forces so desperately deserve, is a government that actually takes meaningful action, now, using the ample information it already has at hand. This isn’t complicated, and Canadians should not allow the government to pretend that it is just to give the PMO political cover for having epically screwed this up.
And they did epically screw this up. They did everything they could to deny that they’d known anything, then, when that failed, tried to pretend they didn’t know what the issue at hand actually was. But the facts, alas, have outrun their attempts at evasion. Our feminist prime minister, our minister of national defence and their staffs knew that the women of the Forces were calling for help. They discussed it internally. Wrote openly about it in their emails. And then they very deliberately and carefully turned their attention elsewhere.
It would be fascinating to see what Louise Arbour could learn about that. No wonder Sajjan seems to so badly need her services elsewhere.
What you need to know about the military sexual misconduct scandal involving Gen. Vance .
Senior members of the Liberal government have become ensnared by allegations that they hushed up or ignored 2018 revelations that Canada’s top soldier was facing a sexual misconduct accusation. It’s just the latest development in a scandal centring on Gen. Jonathan Vance, the former chief of defence staff who once vowed to root out sexual misconduct in the Canadian military — but was allegedly simultaneously carrying on a clandestine affair with a subordinate. Below, what you need to know about the sexual misconduct scandal that has rocked the Canadian military and is now spurring calls from Parliament Hill for a top-down scouring of the armed forces.