The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is declining to talk about when he first became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against the former chief of the defence staff, but the minister assured MPs today he has always promptly informed the appropriate authorities of such accusations.
Appearing before the House of Commons defence committee, Sajjan indicated that any discussions he might have had with the military ombudsman about Gen. Jonathan Vance are confidential.
The committee hearing follows a Global News report that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked.
The report also alleged the former chief of the defence staff made a sexual comment to a second, much younger, soldier in 2012, before he was appointed commander of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Vance, who turned over command of the military last month after more than five years in the job, has not responded to requests for comment by The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified.
Global says Vance, whose tenure as defence chief included a substantial focus on eliminating sexual misconduct from the ranks, has acknowledged that he dated the first woman nearly 20 years ago, but said the relationship had evolved over the years and was not sexual.
Global also reported that Vance said he had no recollection of making a sexual comment to the other junior member, adding if he did make the comment it would have been intended as a joke and that he was prepared to apologize.
Military police have launched their own investigation while Sajjan has promised a separate, independent review outside the chain of command.
The Department of National Defence said recently that military police opened an investigation in 2015 into Vance's conduct while he was serving in Italy the previous year, but that no charges were laid.
The Defence Department said the investigation was launched before Vance's appointment as defence chief in July 2015, but did not reveal the specific allegations that were investigated.