Conservatives accuse Liberals of covering up Canadian Forces Officers Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Last month Senior naval officer Lt.-Cmdr. Raymond Trotter filed allegations toward Canada’s Defense Chief, Admiral Art McDonald, accusing him of sexual misconduct. On Monday March 8, 2021, the house of commons began discussing the case which turned into a rigorous day of both the liberals and conservatives adding new allegations and other information into the file.
Trotter reported that since coming forward he had received calls from two blocked numbers that made threats against his career with the military should he choose to cooperate with the commons defense committee’s investigation into these matters. Both callers identified themselves. One claiming to be a military officer while the other labeled themselves as “a senior member of the Canadian government.”
Conservative defense critic James Bezan as well as Tori Party members Pierre Paul-Hus and Leona Allslev released a statement that accused the Canadian government of undertaking “a coordinated campaign to threaten and silence a sexual misconduct whistleblower.” Adding also, “This is more evidence that Justin Trudeau and his liberal government have gone to great lengths to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.”
They were also very quick to point out that “Threatening a member of the Canadian Armed Forces to secure their silence is a clear and concerning use of power. The lengths the liberal government will go to in order to hide the truths from Canadians is appalling.
Some time later a spokesman for Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office, Todd Lane, released this statement. “Not only was the minister's office not aware of the identity of the caller prior to media reports, any insinuation that our government made threatening comments is utterly false.”
He also added, “This baseless accusation from the Conservative Party harms confidence in the processes that exist to help those who come forward with complaints of misconduct. This reckless insinuation only serves to create doubt for those who step forward and those considering it.”
The threatening call was sent to a switchboard operator and was taken over by The Canadian Forces National Investigation service and from there the investigation was underway. Mcdonald was not aware of these proceedings at the time and was only made aware of the case on February 24, 2021, when certain information was brought forward. This caused him to temporarily step aside from his positions allowing temporary replacement, Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre to take over.
It has been decided that the committee will invite Sajjan back to further discuss any discrepancies between his testimonies and that of former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne.
Walbourne claims that in 2018 he had brought forward allegations of sexual misconduct against former chief of the defense of staff Johnathon Vance.
Also invited as witnesses will be Zita Astravas who used to be Sajjan’s chief of staff during this tumultuous time. Another witness is Elder Marques who had previously held the position of senior advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau. He has been asked to determine the time frame for when they heard about these allegations and the actions that were taken in response.
The committee is also going to be scouring back into the process of how Vance was elected into the position of Chief of Defense Staff dating back to 2015.
Global news shared that there have been serious allegations of Vance having a romantic relationship with a subordinate and still maintained that relationship after he was elected. This overlapped with the promise he made to root out and get rid of sexual misconduct from the Armed Forces.
There are other allegations against Vance such as him sending an inappropriate email to a younger female officer asking her to attend a “clothing optional resort.”
The allegations against Vance have yet to be verified yet CFIS had admitted to opening an investigation against him while he was serving in Italy in 2014. They claim that there was not enough found to lay charges against him.
Sajjan has also made a promise to conduct an individual investigation but it has yet to begin.