The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) is opening a probe into the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against former chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.
Global News can also confirm the female subordinate who says she had an intimate relationship with Vance while he was chief of defence staff had asked to meet with military police earlier in the day.
“We can confirm the CFNIS is investigating this matter,” said a spokesperson for the military.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the investigative process, no additional information can be provided at this time.”
The move comes after Global News reported that Vance — who was appointed by the former Conservative government — is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour and that the Canadian Forces Ombudsman shared concerns about Vance with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan‘s office in 2018.
Government sources told Global News on Thursday that Sajjan’s office shared those concerns with the Privy Council Office at the time. A spokesperson for the Privy Council Office told Global News in an email that nothing that was shared with them prompted further review.
“Everyone deserves a safe workplace and we take these matters very seriously,” said Pierre-Alain Bujold, spokesperson for the office.
“Throughout the Government of Canada, including the Canadian Armed Forces, we ensure all processes for complaints are properly followed. With respect to your question, no information was provided to PCO which would have enabled further action to have been taken.”
Conservative MPs also called on Thursday for an emergency meeting of the national defence committee to examine the allegations.
The motion calls for the committee to be reconvened within five days and for two meetings of at least two hours’ length to be held in a public session to examine what the four Conservative MPs on the committee described as “troubling allegations” in their request for the meeting.
Chief of Defence Staff Adm. Art McDonald said on Wednesday in an internal message to military staff that there will be an investigation into the allegations reported by Global News on Tuesday night.
Vance is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour with two female subordinates.
One regards an alleged relationship with a woman he significantly outranked while he was chief of defence staff. The other is in relation to a 2012 email in which Vance appeared to suggest to a much younger female corporal that the two go to a clothing-optional vacation destination.
Vance denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
He says the relationship with the female subordinate while he was chief of defence staff was never sexual, describing himself as a “supporter” and “friend” as she considered joining a class action lawsuit for military victims of sexual misconduct.
He says he has no recollection of the 2012 email. He says if he ever did send it, it was intended as a joke and not as a solicitation.
He says he is willing to “apologize.”
David Perry, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a defence policy expert, said the allegations and the promise of an investigation carry a heavy impact for both the military and Operation Honour, the mission launched by Vance in 2015 to eradicate sexual misconduct.
“We have to wait and see what bears out,” said Perry.
“More broadly, though, I think it’s difficult to underestimate the very significant impact that this would have on national defence … You could liken it to a tidal wave going through the national defence establishment, and this is massively consequential.”
The allegations come a little over two weeks after Vance formally handed over command after announcing his decision to resign last summer, which Global News confirmed came after the Prime Minister’s Office did not recommend him as a candidate for the top post of Military Advisor to NATO.
A senior government source said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister’s Office were not aware of any allegations regarding Vance prior to the report from Global News.
Vance’s tenure as chief of defence staff was marked by a cultural and legal reckoning over rampant sexual misconduct in the military’s ranks.
He became chief of defence staff in July 2015, just three months after former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marie Deschamps issued a damning report outlining the extent of the “hostile” and “sexualized” culture in the military, with a particular focus on the chain of command not taking misconduct seriously.