The military will no longer serve booze while flying celebrities and public figures overseas to meet with Canadian troops.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance announced the move in a press release Friday. It comes on the heels of intense criticism of what military insiders have characterized in recent weeks as “gong show” flights for VIPs taking part in morale tours to visit with troops deployed abroad, the latest of which saw Dave (Tiger) Williams, the former Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks hockey player, charged with sexually assaulting a steward on board the flight.
Insiders say Williams was heavily inebriated and that one of the other guests on board had brought a 40-ounce bottle of Johnny Walker Red on the flight.
The steward allegedly sexually assaulted informed the supervisor on board and military police launched an investigation which resulted in the laying of a charge of sexual assault and another of assault against Williams earlier this month.
So far the military has been mum on exactly who was on board or why such flights have gained a reputation among military sources for their no-holds-barred drunken debauchery.
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As a result of questions posed by media over recent weeks, the military had announced it would be reviewing the practice of serving alcohol on board the flights.
Shortly before giving a keynote address at a defence conference in Ottawa, Vance said in a statement published online that he has reviewed a report by the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force into the incident and that alcohol will not be served on board flights for morale tours in the future.
He also said the military is suspending morale tours until it completes a thorough review of their intent and conduct.
“The Commander of the RCAF and I are deeply concerned and disappointed about what is said to have transpired aboard this service flight, and we will sponsor the necessary changes to prevent reoccurrence and ensure the safety and morale of our members,” Vance said in the statement.
Following a report in 2015 that found there to be an endemic culture of harassment and misogyny in the Canadian Forces, the military launched Operation Honour in order to address systemic discrimination and abuse within its ranks.
News that Alain Parent, acting vice-chief of defence staff, was on board the flight in December 2017 raised questions about who knew what about what was happening and why the guests on board were allowed to bring their own booze and become so drunk that several including Williams reportedly soiled themselves.
The military says Parent was not aware of the alleged sexual assault of the steward while on board the flight.