Canada

Senior military leaders went golfing with Gen. Jonathan Vance amid military police probe

The second-in-command of the Canadian Forces and the head of the Royal Canadian Navy went golfing this week with Gen. Jonathan Vance, Global News has learned.

That’s despite Vance remaining under military police investigation following allegations of inappropriate behaviour first reported by Global News on Feb. 2, 2021.

Vance denies any allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau and Vice-Adm. C.A. Baines met with Vance at the Hylands Golf Course in Ottawa’s east end this past week. Their decisions come after witnesses before two parliamentary committees probing military sexual misconduct repeatedly highlighted a “double standard” for how the military treats allegations against senior leaders compared to how it treats those against junior members.

Rouleau, as vice chief of the defence staff, holds oversight authority for the military police.

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“The Minister was made aware of this situation this afternoon, following media inquiries,” said a spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Saturday evening.

“The decision by the LGen Rouleau and VAdm Baines to go golfing with Gen Vance is troubling and unacceptable. The Minister will discuss next steps with Acting Chief of the Defence Staff.”

Sources who spoke to Global News cited deep concern about whether the military’s senior leaders are truly committed to rooting out sexual misconduct. They also voiced concerns that the decision to go golfing with Vance contradicts messages made in recent months by senior leaders encouraging members experiencing sexual misconduct to come forward.

READ MORE: Sexual misconduct review of military an ‘opportunity’ for change: Canada’s top soldier

Multiple senior leaders are under military police investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct brought forward over recent months as the military faces what experts call an “institutional crisis.”

Among them is Adm. Art McDonald, the former head of the navy and current chief of the defence staff, who stepped aside in late February as military police opened an investigation into an allegation against him. McDonald has declined to comment on the allegations.

The woman behind that allegation, navy Lt. Heather Macdonald, has come forward publicly to share her experience. The senior naval officer who reported the allegation against McDonald has said he faced anonymous threats after doing so.

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Baines, as head of the navy, is at the top of both their chains of command.

READ MORE: Senior naval officer was threatened after reporting McDonald allegation: sources

Rouleau is set to be replaced as vice chief of the defence staff next week.

He’ll be replaced by Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen, who will be the first woman to serve in the role.

Rouleau’s meeting with Vance comes as the military police face questions on whether it can be impartial in investigating the former top officer of the Canadian Forces.

Maj. Kellie Brennan, one of the women at the heart of the allegations against Vance, testified in April that Vance had told her he was “untouchable” and that he “owned” the military police.

“I asked bluntly the [Canadian Forces National Investigation Service] if they had the mandate to investigate and did they have the powers to lay charges, and they would not answer me,” she said during testimony recounting how military police questioned her over the allegations.

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“The answer was no because as the CDS told me, he was untouchable. He owned the CFNIS.”

More to come.

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