Retired general Jonathan Vance thought he was 'untouchable,'

bob the dog

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Aug 14, 2020
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Just another day when Canada's top military "soldier" is revealed as a dirt bag sexual predator and people don't even blink. Hopefully this does not affect his pension.

Getting to be a fairly long list of these people.
 

spaminator

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Vance said he was 'untouchable,' woman at heart of sexual misconduct allegations testifies
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Joan Bryden
Publishing date:Apr 23, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 4 minute read • 6 Comments
General Jonathan Vance talks to a small crowd at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Nov. 17, 2020.
General Jonathan Vance talks to a small crowd at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Nov. 17, 2020. PHOTO BY JEAN LEVAC /Postmedia Network
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OTTAWA — The woman at the heart of sexual misconduct allegations against Canada’s former top military commander says retired Gen. Jonathan Vance believes he owns the military police that are investigating him.

Maj. Kellie Brennan told a House of Commons committee Thursday that the former chief of the defence staff believes he is “untouchable.”


During bombshell testimony to the status of women committee, Brennan revealed that Vance fathered two children with her but has taken no responsibility for them.

She also said she has provided physical evidence of Vance’s inappropriate relationship with her to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS). That includes, she said, audio recordings of Vance allegedly instructing her to lie about their relationship and threatening consequences if she didn’t.

Despite that, she said she doesn’t expect justice to be done in her case.

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“I asked bluntly the CFNIS if they had the mandate to investigate and did they have the powers to lay charges and they would not answer me,” Brennan testified.

“The answer was no because, as (Vance) told me, he was untouchable, he owned the CFNIS.”

Brennan added: “I definitely feel that there will not be justice for me and, in all honesty, that’s OK because if my speaking out can change everything for other women to come forward and change our policies, that’s OK with me.”


Brennan said she was questioned by the military police service for two days, six hours at a time, in February about her relationship with Vance.

She has told Global News that she had a sexual relationship with Vance starting in 2001 that continued after he became her superior officer, including after he was named defence chief in 2015.

Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Canadian Press. He has acknowledged to Global News that he dated Brennan some 20 years ago but has denied any intimate relationship with her while she was under his command.

He is also being investigated for allegedly sending a lewd email to a junior officer before becoming chief of the defence staff.

Military police are also investigating Admiral Art McDonald, who temporarily stepped aside in February about a month after taking over from Vance as chief of the defence staff. The specifics of that allegation have not been revealed, and McDonald has not commented publicly.

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Brennan told the committee Thursday that Vance directed her “what to say, what not to say, how to say it, what to exclude, to purge (sic) myself, to lie” to the CFNIS investigators.

Asked if he’d threatened her, she said: “A threat, meaning bodily harm? No … Definitely he gave me very many consequences if I was not following his orders.”

As an example, she said he told her she would be questioned by his wife, a lawyer, “that somehow she was going to come and see me and question me.”

“The consequences were always the same, that I had to stay silent.”

Brennan said she “didn’t have the ability to say no. They were orders.”

It was not clear why she would have taken orders from Vance after he was no longer the top military commander. He officially retired from the military in April.

Brennan said Vance has good reason to believe he’s above the law.

“In my experience, in many different areas, the law does not apply to him,” she said.

“On a personal note, he fathered two children with me. He’s not responsible to pay or to have those children under his responsibility. It’s all up to me … So, I think that it’s just become a habit with him.”

“Oh my goodness,” Conservative MP Leona Alleslev responded. “That must be very tough on you.”

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Brennan also suggested that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is under Vance’s control. She alleged that Sajjan was a special projects officer at Canadian Forces Base Downsview in Toronto, under Vance’s command, while she was there between January 2006 and the spring of 2008.

“Gen. Vance told me he always had him under control,” Brennan said of Sajjan.

However, Sajjan has testified that he was never posted in Toronto — a fact repeated by a spokesman after Brennan’s testimony.

“As the Minister stated in committee, he did not serve in Toronto,” said Todd Lane.

Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld, Sajjan’s parliamentary secretary, pointed out the discrepancy between Brennan’s testimony and Sajjan’s but did not ask her to explain it.

Sajjan has been under fire for not having done more after then-military ombudsman Gary Walbourne first told him of an allegation of sexual misconduct involving Vance in March 2018.

Sajjan has said he referred the matter to the Privy Council Office, which was stymied in launching an investigation because Walbourne would not reveal the identity of the complainant.
 

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Trudeau's chief of staff knew of allegation against Vance, ex-PMO adviser suggests
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Christopher Reynolds
Publishing date:Apr 23, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 4 minute read • Join the conversation
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. PHOTO BY SEAN KILPATRICK /THE CANADIAN PRESS
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OTTAWA — A former senior adviser to the prime minister gave testimony before a House of Commons committee Friday suggesting Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford knew about a misconduct allegation against Canada’s then-top military commander three years ago.

Elder Marques, who worked in the Prime Minister’s Office, says Telford or her assistant contacted him on March 1 or March 2, 2018, to ask him to speak with the defence minister’s top staffer “on an issue related to the CDS,” referring to chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.

“I think very quickly everyone had the same information, which was very limited, and we quickly moved to asking the Privy Council to now take carriage of that matter and do what it could with that information to have an investigation ultimately take place,” Marques told a defence committee hearing Friday.

The testimony appears to contradict the sequence of events laid out by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan earlier this month and raises new questions about what Trudeau knew about the allegations before a Global News report came out in February.

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Trudeau and his office initially said they only learned about the allegations from the Global News story, but the prime minister confirmed in the House on March 10 that his office had been aware of concerns raised by military ombudsman Gary Walbourne, who sat down with Sajjan about the topic on March 1, 2018.

But Trudeau has denied personally knowing about the allegations until the news broke on Feb. 2.

“As we have stated, after the defence ombudsman received a complaint, the minister directed him to independent officials who could investigate. Additionally, as the Privy Council Office has confirmed and stated at committee, they never received further information, so were unable to move forward with an investigation,” Trudeau spokesman Alex Wellstead said in an email Friday.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan derided Trudeau’s assertion that he was in the dark on the details until this year, calling that narrative a “cover-up” and accusing the Liberals of “misleading Canadians.”

“Justin Trudeau’s claim that he was not aware of allegations of sexual misconduct by General Vance is clearly false. It is outrageous to believe that everyone around Justin Trudeau was aware of these allegations but the prime minister didn’t know,” Bezan said in a statement.

Sajjan told the defence committee on April 6 that his then-chief of staff Zita Astravas communicated first with the Privy Council Office and then with Marques in the Prime Minister’s Office. But Marques said Telford, his former boss, asked him to contact Astravas, and only after that did he inform then-Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick.

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Wernick gave no hint during testimony earlier this month that Telford or other staffers in Trudeau’s office knew about allegation.

“The only person I know who would have been aware would be Elder. I don’t know who he would have spoken to in PMO at the time, but I think effectively both Minister Sajjan and PMO had given carriage of the file to us at PCO,” he told the committee on April 6.

Sajjan told the committee on March 12 that drawing an elected official into a probe would be “wrong and dangerous, politicizing any investigation that threatens a just outcome for those who come forward.”

Several senior civil servants and now a high-up former political adviser have testified to their knowledge of a misconduct allegation against Vance.

Marques said he departed the PMO in December 2019 and left government last year.

Allegations of misconduct against senior officers have rocked the Canadian Armed Forces in recent months, prompting a renewed examination of military culture and the degree of independence in investigatory processes as military police probe the complaints.

Earlier on Friday, Trudeau said the culture of tolerance for sexual harassment and “unacceptable actions” in the military needs to end.


He also reiterated that Sajjan properly handled the allegations against Vance, but that better support systems must be established for whistleblowers and survivors.

The prime minister also said testimony from Maj. Kellie Brennan on Thursday was “extraordinarily moving” and commended the woman at the heart of sexual misconduct allegations against Vance for her “strength and commitment” to spurring change.

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Brennan had told a House of Commons committee that the now-retired chief of defence staff fathered two children with her but has taken no responsibility for them during a relationship that allegedly began in 2001 and continued after Vance accepted the top job in 2015.

She also told MPs that Vance instructed her to lie about their relationship and threatened consequences if she didn’t.

Vance, who stepped down in January, has not responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press, but Global News has reported that he denies any wrongdoing and says the relationship with Brennan did not continue when she was under his command.

Vance is also being investigated for allegedly sending a lewd email to a junior officer before becoming defence chief.
 

bob the dog

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Accepted behaviour, only sorry when they are caught. Vance would have known Russell Williams well.
 

spaminator

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BONOKOSKI: The insensitivity of feminist talker Chrystia Freeland
Author of the article:Mark Bonokoski
Publishing date:Apr 24, 2021 • 2 hours ago • 3 minute read • 5 Comments
In a video posted on Twitter on April 18, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Je Parle Feministe."
In a video posted on Twitter on April 18, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Je Parle Feministe." PHOTO BY @CAFREELAND /Twitter
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There is good timing and then there is bad.

As she prepared to bring down the first Trudeau Liberal budget in two years — which was a flood-fest of wild spending in the billions — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland showed off a pair of Zvelle heeled shoes she would be wearing, manufactured by a woman-led business in her riding.

Wearing new shoes on budget day is male tradition, of course, so it was only fitting that Freeland, our nation’s first female finance minister, would follow suit with new shoes of her own.

That wasn’t the problem.

As shoes go, they were okay, but it was the T-shirt Freeland was wearing in that Twitter moment that was sorely inappropriate considering what was happening before the Commons’ status of women committee.

The black T-shirt had “Je Parle Feministe” inscribed in white lettering on its front, which of course, means “I speak feminist.”

This was rich.

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At the same time she was boasting of how she “spoke feminist,” former Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance, now retired, was being painted as a sexist, indulgent and domineering pig by the woman who felt she had no choice but to play a sex toy for a very superior officer.

In fact, they allegedly had sex the night before his swearing-in to the military’s top post, and he even had the cojones to have her read the speech he would deliver the next day vowing to crack down hard on any and all sexual improprieties under his command.

“Any form of harmful sexual behaviour has been and always will be absolutely contrary to good order and discipline,” Vance said in that inaugural address. “It is a threat to morale. It is a threat to operational readiness and a threat to this institution.”

Maj. Kellie Brennan, in testifying before the Commons’ committee, claimed she was subject to unfair power imbalances throughout her years with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), including those in her 20-year relationship with Vance, who she claims fathered two of her children but offered her no financial support.

Perhaps Chrystia Freeland can toss on that T-shirt again, pull up a chair for Brennan, and have a little “feminist” talk.

It will take some chutzpa.

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Canada's Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 19, 2021.
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The Canadian Armed Forces is apparently a pigsty.

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Vance’s replacement, Admiral Art McDonald, for example, stepped down shortly after assuming office when sexual allegations against him surfaced — although nothing has been proven and Vance has denied all allegations to Global News.

He has since refused any comment.

Military police launched an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Vance in early February following his retirement, the status of women committee following later.

Brennan, the first woman to come forward, testified Vance told her he was “untouchable” should she go to military police, and so he instructed her to lie to the investigation service.


While Brennan said Vance never threatened her with “bodily harm,” she claims he did tell her there would be consequences should she talk.

“Definitely, he gave me very many consequences if I was not following his orders,” she testified.

This is obviously not feminism at its best.

Now it is difficult to put context to Freeland wearing a black, tucked-in “Je Parle Feministe” T-shirt while introducing the new heels she would be wearing when delivering the Trudeau Liberals budget.

Suffice, there is no context.

But wearing it at the same time the military’s former top brass was being painted in committee as a sexual pig is not exactly the finest kettle of contextual fish.

Such inappropriateness, in fact, makes Freeland look insensitive and certainly unlike a woman who “speaks feminist.”

markbonokoski@gmail.com
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JLM

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Just another day when Canada's top military "soldier" is revealed as a dirt bag sexual predator and people don't even blink. Hopefully this does not affect his pension.

Getting to be a fairly long list of these people.
He just didn't stop to think that certain others are also "untouchable". :)
 
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spaminator

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BONOKOSKI: Former PMO aide's testimony takes heat off Trudeau
Author of the article:Mark Bonokoski
Publishing date:Apr 26, 2021 • 11 hours ago • 3 minute read • 13 Comments
In this file photo taken on December 18, 2020 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario.
In this file photo taken on December 18, 2020 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario. PHOTO BY LARS HAGBERG /AFP via Getty Images
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The Trudeau Liberals tried their collective best to keep former PMO political adviser, Elder Marques, from testifying before the House Defence Committee delving into serious sexual allegations against retired chief of defence staff, general Jonathan Vance.

Too bad they didn’t know his testimony in advance, otherwise they might have rolled out a red carpet for an Oscar-worthy performance.


He essentially cleared Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s name, and the names of many key players.

This has been lately a difficult role.

Perhaps chided by apropos contentions that the Trudeau Liberals interfered with the justice system at the heart of the SNC Lavalin scandal, Marquese made it clear that everyone on the PMO’s political circle didn’t even want a peek at alleged evidence against Vance to escape being accused again of political interference.

And this included Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who had a kryptonite reaction to even taking a look at the file when it was offered to him by the military ombudsman, Gary Walbourne.

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It gives some credence to Trudeau repeatedly statingthat he learned about the sexual misconduct allegations against Vance throughGlobal News, which first broke the story earlier this year.

Vance has since denied all allegations and has also refused any further comment.

“There’s not a thing that a prime minister is supposed to take action on,” Marques told the committee. “And, in fact, taking action on that, even well-meaning action, may be inappropriate at that stage of events.”

After refusing to look at some of the evidence against Vance, Sajjan passed the matter onto his chief of staff at the time, Zita Astravas, who, as if handling a hot potato, referred it to Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford. Feeling the heat, too, she finallygave it to Marques with instructions to get it into the hands of the Clerkof the Privy Council (PCO) and therefore safely out of the political realm.


Astravas, for the record, had been repeatedly asked to appear before the defence committee, but Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez has said Trudeau’s ministers would instruct staffers not to appear.

Marques, however, had left the PMO, and delivered testimony that didn’t throw shade on Trudeau.

He was even asked if Telford had an obligation to tell Trudeau when the Vance file temporarily landed on her desk on its way to then PCO Clerk Michael Wernick, a lead character in the SNC Lavalin cockup.

“I’m not here to pass judgment on whether and when that should have happened, and if it should have happened,” saidMarques. “All I can say is, the focus that we had at that time is, ‘We don’t know what this is, but let’s assume it’s really serious. How do we make sure we put it in the right place, so that the right people can do the right thing? Which is to investigate it.’ That was our focus the entire time.”

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So, unless there is evidence to the contrary, Marques took the heat off Trudeau, Telford, Sajjan and Astravas.

Marques’ testimony echoed that given byWernick, who said that his office had the “responsibility” to conduct a probe into the allegations because it oversees governor-in-council appointments, and it involved an appointee at the “very top” of the military.

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“The clerk wears a lot of different hats,” said Marques. “He is able to marshal whatever resources need to be marshalled within the PCO or outside the PCO, to make sure the right people are involved, and the right institutions are involved.”

SNC Lavalin, despite its taint, seems soexceptionally long ago now.

Almost as though it never happened.

markbonokoski@gmail.com
 

spaminator

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PM defends aide, says office didn't know Vance allegations were 'Me Too complaint'
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Lee Berthiaume
Publishing date:Apr 27, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 4 minute read • 25 Comments
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 23, 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 23, 2021. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS
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OTTAWA — 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.


Responding to a question during one of his regular COVID-19 briefings, Trudeau described his chief of staff as “an extraordinarily strong leader” who has been instrumental in pushing the federal government to become more feminist.

“It’s because of Katie that I have sat down with multiple women leaders within the Armed Forces and elsewhere to have conversations about this over the years to look at what more can and should be done,” the prime minister said.

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He went on to say that while “my office knew there was a complaint against (now retired) general Vance, nobody knew that it was a ‘Me Too’ complaint. We did not have information on what was the nature of that complaint of that allegation.”

Trudeau later repeated the comments in the House of Commons in response to Conservative questions, adding in French that “there was no one in my office or in (Defence) Minister (Harjit) Sajjan’s office who knew the nature of the complaint.”

Former Trudeau adviser Elder Marques told a parliamentary committee on Friday that Telford or her assistant contacted him in early March 2018 to speak with Sajjan’s top aide about an issue relating to Vance.

That request came shortly after then-military ombudsman Gary Walbourne raised a complaint against Vance of inappropriate sexual behaviour with Sajjan during a closed-door meeting on March 1, 2018.


The testimony from Marques appeared to contradict the sequence of events laid out by Sajjan earlier this month, and raised new questions about what Trudeau knew about the allegation before Global News reported on the allegations in February.

While the nature of the complaint reported by Walbourne has not been confirmed, Global has reported that it involves a lewd email Vance allegedly sent to a service member he significantly outranked in 2012, before he became commander of Canada’s military.

Trudeau has denied personally knowing about the allegations until the Global story broke on Feb. 2.

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Vance, who stepped down as chief of the defence staff in January and retired from the military in April, has not responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press, but Global has reported he denies any wrongdoing.

In the House of Commons, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole pointed to Marques’ testimony as well as partially redacted email exchanges on March 2, 2018 referencing “allegations of sexual harassment” to undermine Trudeau’s claim on Tuesday.


The emails dated March 2, 2018, obtained by The Canadian Press, are between Privy Council official Janine Sherman and someone else who appears to be offering advice on how Sherman should approach Walbourne to start investigating the allegation.

Sherman has testified that she exchanged emails on that date with “people in the Prime Minister’s Office,” though the emails discussing sexual harassment appear to have originated from someone within Sajjan’s office.

“He just told the House that his office was not aware that they were of a ‘Me Too’ nature,” O’Toole said as he held a piece of paper in the House of Commons. “The only trouble is his team used the term sexual harassment in their emails about this incident in March 2018.

“Will the prime minister be honest with this house and with the women serving bravely in our Canadian Armed Forces that he was aware and he failed them for three years?”

Conservatives on the defence committee, meanwhile, have latched onto Marques’ testimony as evidence that more hearings are needed to find out why the Liberal government didn’t do more to investigate the allegation against Vance.

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The defence committee is scheduled to meet again on Friday, where the Tories are expected to push for Telford to testify.

Walbourne has testified he told Sajjan the complaint related to “inappropriate sexual behaviour,” but Marques was more circumspect in whether he and Telford knew about the nature of the complaint.

“I believe I was told that the issue was an issue of personal misconduct,” Marques told the Commons defence committee.

“I have to say, in the context of hearing that, that I think my presumption was certainly that it could be of a sexual nature, but I don’t think I was actually given that information specifically.”

Former Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick was also uncertain, though he told the committee that email exchanges between Marques, Sajjan’s chief of staff Zita Astravas and a senior civil servant, Janine Sherman, at the time may have referred to sexual misconduct.

Sherman was charged with looking into the allegation against Vance, but has told the committee that she could not conduct an investigation because Walbourne would not provide information about the complaint.

“I think the language was ‘potential sexual harassment,”‘ Wernick said. “There is a back-and-forth of emails between Zita, Janine and Elder. I certainly would say that it was in the realm of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, but I couldn’t speak to the exact language.”
 

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Louise Arbour tapped to review military sexual misconduct
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:Apr 29, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 5 minute read • 23 Comments
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, on February 8, 2008.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, on February 8, 2008. PHOTO BY RONALDO SCHEMIDT /AFP/Getty Images
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OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is tapping former Supreme Court justice and UN high commissioner for human rights Louise Arbour to lead what it is billing as an independent review of the military’s handling of sexual assault, harassment and other misconduct.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced Arbour’s appointment Thursday, nearly three months after the government and Canadian Armed Forces were rocked by allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by the military’s very top commanders.


While one of Arbour’s primary tasks will be to help establish an independent system for victims and others to report incidents of sexual misconduct, Sajjan says she will also review other aspects of the military’s approach to preventing and punishing such behaviour.

That includes everything from how it screens recruits and trains service members to the way reports are handled, victims are supported and perpetrators are investigated and punished.

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“This system needs to be focused on those who have experienced misconduct, be responsive to their needs, and be outside of the chain of command and the Department of National Defence,” Sajjan said, according to prepared remarks.

“Any less cannot be accepted. Any less will not be accepted. Madame Arbour and her team will provide significant direction on how we must evolve to support affected people and how we can ensure that every incident is handled appropriately.”

Yet while Sajjan billed Arbour’s appointment as a major step forward in the military’s fight against sexual misconduct, reaction to Thursday’s announcement was extremely mixed from victims, advocates and experts.

Many questioned the need for yet another review more than six years after another retired Supreme Court justice, Marie Deschamps, released an explosive report on the extent of sexual misconduct in the Armed Forces.

Deschamps’s top recommendation was to create an independent centre outside the military that would receive reports of inappropriate behaviour while helping develop training, providing victims with support, and monitoring how cases are handled.

But the military resisted creating such an external body. The government instead allowed for the creation of a sexual misconduct response centre, a civilian-run body focused primarily on victim support and training but with no oversight powers.


“The last thing the CAF needs right now is another external review,” Megan MacKenzie, who studies military sexual misconduct at Simon Fraser University, said in an email.

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“Justice Deschamps has recently noted that her recommendations are ‘gathering dust’ and it would be stretch to say that they have implemented even 4 of the 10 recommendations.”

That the government said Arbour’s mandate would focus on establishing an external system for receiving reports of sexual misconduct, but did not include a similar emphasis on external accountability and oversight, was also seen as cause for some concern.

“There is no real accountability structure, we don’t know much about how it will evolve, and we don’t know who can actually push for change at a higher level,” said Charlotte Duval-Lantoine of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Opposition parties were quick to pan the review, with Conservative defence critic James Bezan accusing the Liberals of trying to ease the political pressure over their failure to act over the past few months.

For his part, NDP defence critic Randall Garrison said: “While we have the utmost respect for Justice Arbour, another review that will take months is a distraction.

“We already have the Deschamps report from 2015. The recommendations from that report were not implemented.”

Others such as Carleton University professor Leah West, who has previously spoken about having been sexually assaulted while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, were more optimistic.

While West questioned why the Liberal government waited six years to launch Thursday’s review, she said such work was necessary to start implementing Deschamps’s recommendations and begin bringing about real change in the military.

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“What I think was necessary at the time the Deschamps report came out was a meaningful engagement in: ‘Okay, how are we going to go about implementing these recommendations and then putting those recommendations into practice?”’ West said.

“That’s not what happened. That’s what should have happened. And so now we’re left, six years later, with having to engage in that exercise. And the exercise needs to take place. It should have happened five years ago. But it does need to happen.”


The former Supreme Court justice will not be looking at individual cases, a number of which are currently under active military police investigation, but will instead make recommendations on how the military can do better.

Arbour, whose appointment was one of a number of new initiatives announced by Sajjan, will send recommendations over the next year or so to the minister, who will pick which to direct the military or Department of National Defence to implement.

The 74-year-old has earned a reputation over the years of speaking truth to power, including during her four-year tenure as the United Nations’ top human rights official, and West was among those expressing optimism that her appointment would lead to real change.

Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas acknowledged that many may be “skeptical” of Thursday’s announcement, adding: “Please continue to judge us by our actions.”

Sajjan said the government is committed to acting upon Arbour’s recommendations, which will be made throughout the course of her tenure, and that her final report will be made public once it is complete.

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Responsibility for putting Arbour’s recommendations into practice will ultimately rest with a new team under a three-star general with the title “chief of professional conduct and culture,” whose responsibility will extend to weeding out racism and hateful conduct as well.


Lt.-Gen. Jennie Carignan, one of the military’s highest-ranking female officers, who recently completed a tour commanding a NATO training mission in Iraq, has been tapped to fill the position.

West suggested the military leadership in place now is better placed to deal with the issue of sexual misconduct than when Deschamps’s report came out in 2015.

“I do have a sense that the CAF’s leadership does care and wants to get it right,” said. “And I think that is the key offset here.”

Along with Arbour’s appointment, Sajjan said the Ottawa-based response centre will be expanding its footprint to different military communities across the country. The government will also be offering peer support for victims who have served in uniform.

Both measures, which were hinted at in the federal budget as the government promised $77 million in new money and said it planned to redirect another $158 million from other parts of the military to help fight sexual misconduct in the ranks.
 

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Review of military sexual misconduct a response to system-wide failures: Trudeau
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:Apr 30, 2021 • 19 hours ago • 1 minute read • Join the conversation
The Canadian Forces flag flies outside office buildings in Ottawa, Tuesday March 9, 2021.
The Canadian Forces flag flies outside office buildings in Ottawa, Tuesday March 9, 2021. PHOTO BY ADRIAN WYLD /THE CANADIAN PRESS
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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says an independent review of the military’s handling of sexual misconduct is an attempt to correct what he deems a “failure of the entire system.”

The Liberal government announced yesterday it is tapping former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour to examine sexual harassment and assault in the Canadian Armed Forces and provide recommendations on an external reporting system for victims.


Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced Arbour’s appointment nearly three months after the government and Armed Forces were rocked by allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by the military’s very top commanders.

Opposition leaders said yesterday the government largely failed to act on a 2015 report by former justice Marie Deschamps that also called for an independent reporting process and a reformed military culture, and that action rather than another review is what’s needed.

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Trudeau acknowledges that measures brought in by the Liberal government have been “inadequate” and that survivors continue to lack proper support.


He says that is why Lt.-Gen. Jennie Carignan, one of the military’s highest-ranking female officers, has been tapped to lead a new internal organization that will oversee professional conduct and culture and follow up on any allegations before the Arbour report comes out next year.

A House of Commons defence committee hearing is slated to meet this afternoon to discuss whether a study on sexual misconduct, which includes allegations against former defence chief Jonathan Vance, which he has denied, should hear from more witnesses.
 

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LILLEY: Trudeau's blind eye on military sexual misconduct
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Publishing date:May 01, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 3 minute read • 125 Comments
Then Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listen to Canada's Governor General Julie Payette delivering the throne speech in the Senate chamber in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Sept. 23, 2020.
Then Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listen to Canada's Governor General Julie Payette delivering the throne speech in the Senate chamber in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Sept. 23, 2020. PHOTO BY ADRIAN WYLD /Pool via REUTERS
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There can be no doubt that Justin Trudeau’s office knew someone was making sexual harassment allegations against former Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance in 2018.

The question that remains is whether, if Trudeau didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know.


“My office knew there was a complaint against General Vance, nobody knew that it was a ‘Me Too’ complaint,” Trudeau said during a news conference Tuesday.

That’s simply not true given what we have seen and heard at defence committee.

Emails exchanged between top political staffers on this matter in 2018 used the language of sexual harassment. At committee, Michael Wernick, the former Clerk of the Privy Council – the top civil servant in Canada – said he was aware of the discussions via email though he thought the language was “potential sexual harassment.”

“I certainly would say that it was in the realm of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, but I couldn’t speak to the exact language,” Wernick said.

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MORE ON THIS TOPIC

In this file photo taken on December 18, 2020 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario.
BONOKOSKI: Former PMO aide's testimony takes heat off Trudeau

KINSELLA: Trudeau proves he's no feminist

The PM’s former top political advisors told the committee that he knew what this was about as soon as Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, asked him to look into it in early March 2018.

“The important, sensitive and unusual nature of this matter was immediately obvious to me, even in the absence of any details regarding the allegation,” Elder Marques said on April 23. “I think my presumption was certainly that it could be of a sexual nature.”

Yet Trudeau says he didn’t know and that all appropriate steps were taken before the government extended Vance’s contract and gave him a significant pay raise.

“Is the Prime Minister going to stand in the House and tell the women of this country that he does not think sexual harassment is a #MeToo complaint?” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole asked Wednesday.

Trudeau isn’t interested in speaking to this or other questions, he’s hoping that he can dance around the issue and the majority of the media will give him a pass on it. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened. There have been many pointed questions from several media outlets but Trudeau obviously doesn’t feel the pressure.

He speaks of his government’s feminist agenda and boasts of how much the recent budget prioritized women. The PM even speaks of his own personal work and dedication on issues related to helping fight back against the sexual harassment of women.

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Yet Trudeau doesn’t like it when his own actual record is discussed. Conservative MP Candice Bergen raised the issue of Trudeau groping a young reporter in 2000. Bergen asked if Trudeau was looking the other way on Vance because he knew that news would break about the Kokanee Grope.

“Is it not true that the real reason the Prime Minister covered up for General Vance is because he knew he had skeletons he was going to have to deal with?” Bergen asked.

Trudeau’s response was to accuse the Conservatives of engaging in a personal smear of him.

There is no personal smear at all.

While Vance’s matter was dealt with in March 2018, Trudeau’s grope was made public in a tweet from Sun columnist Warren Kinsella on June 6, 2018. Trudeau’s response to being asked about a 20-year allegation of inappropriately handling a woman while she was reporting on an event he was at was to say that she “experienced it differently.”

Bergen says Trudeau is “at the top of the old boys club, just a wink and a nudge, do not worry, boys, their secret is safe with him.”

Given his track record, it’s hard to say she is wrong.

Based on both his personal track record and his record as PM, Trudeau’s claim of being a feminist can’t believed. The women of Canada, specifically those working in the military or other orders of government, deserve better.

blilley@postmedia.com
 

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Tories take aim at PM's top aide over Vance allegations as Sajjan dodges questions
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Lee Berthiaume
Publishing date:May 02, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 2 minute read • 9 Comments
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Sept. 14, 2020.
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Sept. 14, 2020. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS
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OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are taking aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s top aide as they press the government over its handling of a sexual-misconduct complaint against general Jonathan Vance.

The Tories on Friday tabled a proposed motion calling for Trudeau to dismiss his chief of staff, Katie Telford, after another of the prime minister’s advisers suggested she knew about the allegation against Vance three years ago.


Trudeau defended Telford last week even as he told reporters and parliamentarians that no one in his office or Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office knew the allegation against Vance was of a sexual nature.

That appeared to contradict the testimony of then-military ombudsman Gary Walbourne, who first flagged the allegation to Sajjan in March 2018, as well as internal government documents suggesting officials in both offices did know.

Walbourne testified two months ago that he told Sajjan the complaint related to “inappropriate sexual behaviour.”

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The Conservative motion is one of three that the party can choose to go to a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday, and comes as the Commons’ defence committee prepares to resume debate over whether to call Telford to testify.


Liberal committee members talked out the clock Friday in a bid to stall opposition attempts to have Telford appear to answer questions.

The Tories, who regularly put several motions on notice but can only choose one, could also ask MPs to condemn Iran’s election to the UN status of women commission or criticize a bill that would let the government regulate social-media content.

While opposition parties have more seats in the House than the Liberals, meaning any could pass, such motions are symbolic and are not binding on the government.

Telford has served as Trudeau’s most senior staffer since forming government in 2015.

The prime minister lost his other most trusted adviser, Gerald Butts, after the latter resigned during the SNC Lavalin affair in February 2019.

Sajjan, meanwhile, sidestepped repeated questions about whether he knew the nature of the complaint against Vance as he appeared Sunday on different political talk shows on television.

“It does not matter what the complaint actually was, a complaint was brought forward about the chief of defence staff, and at that time what we needed to do was take immediate action so that could be looked into properly, and that was done,” he told CTV’s Question Period.

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The minister also told Global News, which first reported on the allegation against Vance in February, that he “didn’t have much details on that.”

However, documents obtained by Global under access to information laws showed that on the same day his office asked civil servants to open a probe, bureaucrats were referring to “sexual harassment” in internal emails.

While the nature of the complaint reported by Walbourne has not been confirmed, Global News has reported that it involves a lewd email Vance allegedly sent to a service member he significantly outranked in 2012, before he became commander of Canada’s military.

Vance has not responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press, but Global has reported he denies any wrongdoing. He stepped down as chief of the defence staff in January and has since retired from the military.
 
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Sexual assault victims, advocates complain of 'rude' treatment by MPs at committees
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Teresa Wright
Publishing date:May 02, 2021 • 13 hours ago • 5 minute read • Join the conversation
This photo illustration shows a sexual assault survivor.
This photo illustration shows a sexual assault survivor. PHOTO BY FILE PHOTO /Getty Images photo illustration
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OTTAWA — Melissa Lukings was in the middle of sharing her expertise in cybersecurity and her lived experience as a former sex worker during a Commons committee hearing earlier this month when the meeting suddenly devolved into a confusing melee of partisan bickering.

Instead of focusing on Lukings’s testimony and asking her questions, Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan instead used her allotted time with the witnesses to table a motion.


The motion, ironically, called for the committee to “hear from further witnesses at its next scheduled meeting for a minimum of two hours.”

“What kinds of witnesses?” Lukings asked from her seat in the virtual meeting.

But she no longer had permission to speak and said her video link was muted.

After a 40-minute adjournment, during which time Lukings said MPs were shouting at each other, the meeting abruptly ended.

“You’re sitting there in front of all these people who you know are in Parliament who can mute you, who can all of a sudden say, ‘No more talking. We have to cut off the feed … No, you don’t get to ask any questions, no, you don’t get to know why,’ ” she said in an interview.

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“It was ignorant and rude and pretty offensive, honestly.”

The meeting was one of several Commons committees that have been calling witnesses — mainly women — who have been victims of sexual assault, exploitation and trauma, and inviting them to share their experiences and recommendations for change.

Members of Parliament are bound by conventions that make the process extremely regimented, including limited amounts of time to speak. But a growing number of victim advocates believe committees should develop a more trauma-informed approach to dealing with vulnerable witnesses.

The experience and the way she was treated at other points in the meeting by MPs has left Lukings so angry, she said she would discourage others from putting themselves through a similar experience.

“It’s re-victimization. That’s what they did because they’re talking over you and they’re reinterpreting your own experience and that is a very, very huge reason why I would not recommend people participate in committees now.”

The ethics committee, which invited Lukings to speak, is looking at how to protect the privacy and reputations of people who appear on pornography websites such as Pornhub. Another study also underway by the status of women committee is looking into widespread allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.


Testimony shared by women invited to relate their experiences has been far more emotionally charged and graphic than the normally dry Parliamentary hearings, which traditionally call on scholars, community leaders and bureaucrats.

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Julie Lalonde, a sexual violence prevention educator, says she was disturbed by the way women who were sharing their deeply personal stories of sexual assault were continually being cut off for time by MPs during their testimony.

This happened several times at a meeting Lalonde took part in April 8 alongside two women who experienced rape and sexual trauma during their time in the military.

“To be cutting people off because you have this parliamentary procedure that says you have a minute-and-a-half to ask a question and get an answer so everybody gets a turn, I really think they need to revisit that,” Lalonde said of the committee’s rules.

Christine Wood, a spokeswoman for the group It’s Just 700, which led a class-action lawsuit against the federal government over sexual violence in the Armed Forces, also took part in the April 8 meeting.

As she was explaining how the fallout of the trauma she endured while serving as an Air Force reservist led to a host of medical issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, she stopped suddenly and went quiet.

“I’ll stop there. This is all happening really quickly. I’m not used to this kind of quick back-and-forth. I’m sorry if I’m taking too much time.”

The committee chair, Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu, told Wood she was “doing very well,” but then jumped to the next MP in line for a question without checking in with Wood to see if she was OK to continue.

“A lot of people presenting are deeply traumatized, so their capacity to hear a question off-the-cuff and answer off-the-cuff is compromised by the state that they’re in, and there’s no recognition of that in the moment itself,” Lalonde said.

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“You’re asking folks to pour out their hearts and prove that their experiences of trauma are real, but you have to do it under these parameters that are, frankly, arbitrary… I’m baffled by the idea that this is just how it has to be. Because it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Tamara Cherry, a former crime reporter who now provides training and support to victims who want to tell their stories to the media, says many survivors can become re-traumatized by certain kinds of questions and approaches.

She noted that victims involved in criminal court cases in many provinces are provided with a support person who walks them through the court process and helps prepare them for what to expect.


If the criminal justice system, which has long come under fire for the way it treats victims of sexual assault, has developed some tools to support victims, Parliament can develop better strategies as well, she said.

“Testifying before a parliamentary committee has its own structure and time constraints, and this can be very jarring and even triggering for some survivors,” Cherry said.

Not only should MPs and senators be trained in more trauma-informed approaches to questioning and preparation, committees should also provide a support person to guide and assist vulnerable witnesses, Cherry said.

“If a witness is being called to share their trauma for the betterment of society, there should be supports in place to ensure they’re not further victimized by this process.”

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Heather Bradley, the director of communications for the Speaker’s office, said witnesses invited to speak at committees are usually “individuals who have already discussed their experiences publicly,” which is how MPs often identify them as potential witnesses.

“With that said, committees have the option of hearing testimony in camera and of redacting any personal information from its records to protect the witnesses,” Bradley said in a statement.

“This is usually done upon request by the witness, though in some cases the committee will take steps ahead of time to ensure the anonymity of its witnesses.”

Committee clerks may also ask for the assistance of “health professionals within the House of Commons administration to offer arrangements as required,” which could involve mental health professionals being present prior to and following testimony, Bradley added.


The women who spoke to The Canadian Press for this story say they were not offered any supports or referrals to professionals, before or after the meeting.

They each said the only support they were offered was technical, as witnesses currently appear virtually due to COVID-19.

Lukings says she was told she had to purchase a specific type of headset at her own cost prior to her appearance to ensure translators and MPs could hear her.

“I was really frustrated after, because I did so much work, I did so much prep, I put so much time into this and I showed up legitimately believing that I was invited, because I thought they wanted me there, and it was a lie. It was optics.”
 

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Opposition blasts Liberals after debate to call PM's top aide on Vance cancelled
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:May 03, 2021 • 20 hours ago • 1 minute read • 23 Comments
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. PHOTO BY SEAN KILPATRICK /THE CANADIAN PRESS
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OTTAWA — Opposition parties are up in arms after a parliamentary committee meeting in which members were expected to debate calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff to testify was cancelled without notice.

Members of the Commons defence committee had been preparing to continue debating this morning whether to call Katie Telford to answer questions on the government’s handling of a sexual misconduct allegation against retired general Jonathan Vance, which he denies.

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The debate first started on Friday, before Liberal committee members talked out the clock and the meeting was suspended without a resolution.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan accused Liberal MP and committee chair Karen McCrimmon of singlehandedly cancelling the meeting to protect Telford and the government as part of a cover-up.

McCrimmon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile, says his party will ask the House of Commons to support a motion calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire Telford over the Vance affair, though NDP defence critic Randall Garrison says his party will not support it.

Garrison says responsibility for how the allegation against Vance was handled ultimately lies with the prime minister and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
 

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Tories say NDP comments around call for Telford firing are ‘patronizing,’ ‘sexist’
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Stephanie Taylor
Publishing date:May 04, 2021 • 21 hours ago • 3 minute read • 12 Comments
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Sept. 14, 2020.
Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Sept. 14, 2020. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS
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OTTAWA — Conservative deputy leader Candice Bergen says comments from the NDP around its decision not to support a call for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire his chief of staff over the handling of a complaint against general Jonathan Vance are “patronizing and sexist.”

The House of Commons is debating a Conservative motion calling on Trudeau to fire Katie Telford after recent testimony from a former adviser suggesting she knew of an allegation against the retired top soldier.


Trudeau has defended Telford, saying no one in his office knew the allegation against Vance was of a sexual nature — something Tories say shouldn’t be believed.

Before the debate, NDP defence critic Randall Garrison said the party believes responsibility in the handling of the matter lies with Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, not Telford, who is an unelected staff member.

He also said in sexual misconduct cases it’s common for women to be blamed for not taking their complaint to the right place.

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Garrison said he found it “more than a little ironic that the Conservatives have decided the person who should pay the price to pay for the failure to act is one of the only women who was involved.”

Bergen said Telford is not a victim of sexual harassment and being Trudeau’s top aide likely makes her one the country’s most powerful women.

“To suggest that women in positions of power should not be held to the same account as men in positions of power, as a woman I find to be very patronizing, like somehow women can’t handle that kind of standard,” she said in an interview.

“I find it patronizing and sexist.”

At a news conference, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh dismissed Bergen’s accusation as ridiculous and said the Tories’ efforts are not helping make the military any safer for women.

“They want to find out who to blame and they want to say who’s worse: ‘Were the Conservatives worse or were the Liberals worse?’ They’re both bad. They both failed women.”

Although the opposition parties disagree on whether Trudeau’s chief of staff should keep her job, both want to hear from her.

The Conservatives have called on Telford to appear before parliamentarians to say what she knew of the allegation against Vance. A meeting of the defence committee where the Tories were set to continue to push for her testimony was abruptly cancelled on Monday.

That came after an earlier meeting where Liberal committee members talked out the clock, so no resolution on the issue was reached.

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Asked Tuesday about whether Telford will testify, Trudeau didn’t directly answer. He said his government’s focus is on supporting sexual assault survivors and those who face harassment.

He reiterated that processes in place in the military that are meant to do so are failing.

“That is a failing that we have collectively had, particularly in the armed forces and it’s something that needs to end.”

In response to the ongoing pressure his government has faced around how it handled the allegations against Vance and reports of sexual misconduct in the military, the Liberals asked a former Supreme Court justice and UN high commissioner to review the matter.

It would be the second review done by a retired Supreme Court justice on the issue in about six years.

The government says the new review by Louise Arbour will focus on how the military handles sexual assault, harassment and other forms of misconduct.

But a Conservative Quebec senator is asking Arbour, who has said she believes fresh progress can be made on the issue, to reject the mandate.

Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu says the Liberal government hasn’t acted on the earlier review’s recommendations, such as creating an independent accountability centre outside of the armed forces to deal with sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints.

The specifics of the complaint against Vance have not been publicly confirmed, but Global News has reported that it involved a lewd email he allegedly sent to a service member he significantly outranked in 2012, before he became defence chief.

Vance has not responded to requests for comment, but Global says that he has denied any inappropriate conduct. He is now being investigated by military police.