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Former military ombudsman to face defence committee probing Vance allegations

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Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne is set to face questions from the House of Commons defence committee probing allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Gen. Jonathan Vance.

According to the meeting notice, which was posted on Monday, Walbourne will be the sole witness appearing at the committee for roughly two hours as part of its study into allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces.

That meeting was launched in the wake of an exclusive report by Global News on Feb. 2 that Vance, who handed over command as chief of defence staff in January, is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour with two female subordinates, including while he was in the top role.

Vance denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

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The allegations quickly sparked questions about whether any such allegations had been known by the government or any officials in positions of power prior to the reporting by Global News.

Sources told Global News that Walbourne raised concerns with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office about Vance in 2018, which sources say left Sajjan “concerned.”

Sajjan’s office sent an email to the Privy Council Office, according to sources. Officials at the Privy Council Office say none of the information they received let them move forward with an examination.

Sajjan has repeatedly dodged questions when asked to clarify why he appears not to have used his power under the National Defence Act to launch a board of inquiry into any allegations shared with him.

Sources allege to Global News that Vance made a sexual comment toward a much younger junior soldier prior to becoming chief of defence, which a source described as unwanted.

That comment, contained in documents obtained by Global News, appeared to have been sent from Vance’s military email account to a female corporal in 2012, when Vance was a major general and leading the Strategic Joint Staff.

A source with direct knowledge said that the woman had met Vance at a professional event, and he had invited her to reach out for career advice.

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The comment that appeared to have been sent from Vance’s email account raised the prospect of going to a clothing optional vacation destination with her.

Vance has told Global News that he has no recollection of the exchange and suggested that if it did occur, he would have intended it as a joke rather than a solicitation.

He also said he would be willing to “apologize” if he did make the comment.

A source with direct knowledge said that the woman shared the incident with the Canadian Forces Ombudsman but said that she did not file an official complaint.

Walbourne has told Global News he could not confirm any details of the alleged incident.

IN HER WORDS: One of the women behind Vance allegations tells her story

Vance is also alleged to have had a longstanding intimate relationship with Maj. Kellie Brennan, who shared her story in an exclusive interview with Global News last month.

He denies the relationship was ever sexual and says he has been a “champion” for Brennan.

Brennan has said she wants to sound the alarm on the extent to which she says sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour continues to permeate the ranks of the Canadian Forces, despite the launch of Operation Honour in 2015 to root out harmful conduct.

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New chief of the defence staff steps aside amid investigation

New chief of the defence staff steps aside amid investigation

Vance’s successor, Adm. Art McDonald, stepped aside from the role as chief of defence staff last week after military police opened an investigation into him on unspecified allegations.

Military police are also investigating the allegations against Vance.

Experts say the twin military police probes into both the current and former chief of defence staff pose an institutional “crisis” for the Canadian Forces.

“This is really, I think, a crisis for our military, no matter how the current investigations play out,” said David Perry, vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, last week.

“I think it’s tough to understate just how significant these types of allegations against two successive leaders of our military are.”

Trudeau says government takes misconduct allegations against former top military officials ‘extremely seriously’

Trudeau says government takes misconduct allegations against former top military officials ‘extremely seriously’

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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