Defense Committee launches parliamentary inquiry into Vance’s allegations of misconduct

Defense Committee launches parliamentary inquiry into Vance’s allegations of misconduct

Federal Conservatives led the charge on Tuesday for a House of Commons committee inquiry into what the Liberal government did – and failed to do – after facing allegations nearly three years ago informal inappropriate behavior of the country’s former military commander.

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and other senior government officials will be called before the defense committee for three scheduled hearings on the growing controversy involving Gen. Jonathan Vance, the former chief of defense staff.

The Army’s National Investigation Service is examining the allegations raised last week in a Global News article. This story claimed that Vance had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate while he was Chief of Defense and that he sent an inappropriate email to a second junior female in 2012, before taking the top job. of the Army.

‘Worrisome specters’

Last week, CBC News reported that informal allegations and “specters of concern” about possible inappropriate conduct by Vance had been brought before the current Liberal government and the former Conservative government.

Several sources familiar with the 2015 chief of defense selection process said that a possible inappropriate relationship between Vance and a junior officer serving with NATO in Naples was investigated prior to his appointment to the post of Commander-in-Chief of Canada. The relationship with the woman, who is now his wife, has been settled by Canadian military investigators.

CBC News also reported that former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne filed a separate informal misconduct complaint involving Vance with the Minister of Defense in March 2018. A disagreement over what to do about the complaint has leads Walbourne to leave his watchdog position prematurely.

Sajjan said he directed the information to the “proper authorities” – that is, the Privy Council Office (PCO), which is responsible for important appointments like that of the chief of defense.

Neither Sajjan nor the PCO will say what happened with the informal complaint.

Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan attends an end-of-year interview with the Canadian Press at National Defense Headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, December 17, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)

PCO spokesman Paul Duchesne said last week that “no information has been provided to the PCO which would have allowed further action to be taken.”

Conservative defense spokesman James Bezan said what happened or not with the complaint should be investigated.

He offered to call a shortlist of senior defense and privy council officials, both serving and retired, to testify in addition to Sajjan.

NDP defense spokesperson Randall Garrison has said he is keen to hear former Conservative Defense Minister Jason Kenney speak about concerns raised before Vance’s appointment.

Liberal Parliamentary Defense Secretary Anita Vandenbeld said she believed it was “appropriate to look into the vetting process” that led to the general’s appointment.

A significant portion of Tuesday’s committee meeting was devoted to arguments over whether the names of witnesses other than Sajjan should be included in the motion.

In the end, MPs chose to keep it vague and draw up wish lists of possible witnesses.

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