Canadian Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne appears at a Senate veterans affairs committee in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Walbourne has dropped the gloves in what appears to have become a tense battle with National Defence, accusing officials of "insidious" attacks whenever his office releases a report critical of the department. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
OTTAWA -- Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne says he specifically told Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan about allegations of misconduct against Gen. Jonathan Vance during a "hostile" closed-door meeting three years ago.
Walbourne is testifying to a parliamentary committee this afternoon, nearly two weeks after Sajjan told the same committee that he was as surprised as anyone when Global News first reported Vance's alleged misconduct in early February.
Sajjan at that time repeatedly refused to say what he and Walbourne discussed during their meeting on March 1, 2018, citing confidentiality.
But the former ombudsman, whose testimony is protected by parliamentary privilege, says he asked Sajjan to get back to him with advice on how to handle the allegations, but was instead cut off from any further contact with the minister and that his financial and staffing authorities were frozen.
The former ombudsman, who initially declined an invitation to speak to the committee before members formally summoned him to testify, added that the Privy Council Office later called asking for information about the specific allegations despite his request to Sajjan to keep the matter confidential.
Vance has been accused of having an ongoing relationship with a service member he significantly outranked and of sending an inappropriate message to a second, much more junior, member before he became defence chief.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021.