Conservatives are asking the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to allow his chief of staff, Katie Telford, to testify at a parliamentary committee concerning sexual assault in the Armed Forces - and more specifically, if Telford had prior knowledge of Vance's misconduct. Vance, who was replaced by McDonald as Chief of the Defence Staff this year before stepping down from the military altogether in April, has faced a sexual misconduct investigation since the early spring. Figures such as Sajjan, the Minister of Defence, have also been called to testify.
It is known that figures such as ombudsman Gary Walbourne have raised complaints against Vance with Sajjan as early as March 2018. Allegedly, it involved a lewd email that Vance sent to a service member he significantly outranked in 2012.
Trudeau has defended Telford , saying that his office didn’t know or that it involved sexual misconduct. Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives dispute this claim, citing previous testimony and emails. Opposition Deputy Leader Candice Bergen also noted that evidence contradicts Trudeau’s statements he didn’t know the nature of the complaint against Vance.
"It’s outrageous to believe that everyone around Justin Trudeau was aware of these allegations, but the Prime Minister didn’t know,” reads a joint statement from Conservative MPs Leona Alleslev, Pierre Paul-Hus and defence critic James Bezan.
“If Justin Trudeau refuses to allow his chief of staff to testify or if the Liberals block her appearance at committee, it is just more evidence that the Liberals care more about their cover-up and protecting the military’s old boys club than protecting the women who serve our country in uniform.”
Trudeau announced in the Commons this week that the government will soon announce “stronger measures” to support those serving in the military.
“We will be there to support, to listen to, and to provide resources to anyone who comes forward with sexual misconduct allegations,” Trudeau said in French. “We’ve taken concrete steps as a government over the years, but it’s clear, Mr. Speaker, that we have more to do.”