Military probe into Vance allegations expands to ‘unprecedented’ levels

Click to play video: 'What did the government know about allegations against Vance?'
What did the government know about allegations against Vance?
WATCH: The House of Commons defence committee has met to look into what the government did and did not know about the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance. Mercedes Stephenson reports. – Feb 22, 2021

A promised external probe into Gen. Jonathan Vance is being expanded to what sources described as “unprecedented” levels to investigate the allegations of inappropriate behaviour from the former military chief, as well as to root out those who were complicit.

According to the sources, the terms of the probe will also deal with rising concerns that the issue of sexual misconduct by the senior ranks could be a systemic issue in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and that such an investigation can now only be handled by a large, independent human resources firm or prominent Canadian, such as a former Supreme Court judge.

Click to play video: 'Gen. Vance allegations: House committee questions witness on defence minister’s actions in 2018'
Gen. Vance allegations: House committee questions witness on defence minister’s actions in 2018

Though the terms of reference are still being determined, the probe’s expansion comes as a result of Global News’ reporting on Sunday, in which Maj. Kellie Brennan, one of the women behind the allegations, shared her story in an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

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According to Brennan, sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour continued to pervade the CAF, despite the launch of Operation Honour by Vance himself in 2015.

During the interview, Brennan had also made allegations about a serious and violent sexual assault, and that one of her bosses who had asked her for sex was promoted instead of being reprimanded.

Click to play video: 'The West Block: Feb. 21'
The West Block: Feb. 21

A separate investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) has since been launched against Vance. New investigations from the military police, separate from the one looking into Vance, are also set to be opened following the allegations from Brennan in Global News’ reporting.

New developments also came from the House of Commons committee investigating the allegations, who unanimously agreed on Monday to call for a former military ombudsman who sources said had initially shared concerns about the then chief of defence staff’s alleged behaviour.

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According to the sources, former ombudsman Gary Walbourne had brought concerns of alleged inappropriate behaviour by Vance to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan‘s office in 2018.

The sources said that the minister was left feeling “concerned” and that Sajjan referred the concerns to the Privy Council Office, though nothing appears to have happened with the allegations after that.

According to a spokesperson for the Privy Council Office, nothing was shared with them had enabled them to look further into the matter. Questioning by the committee, where Sajjan was present Friday, focused primarily on the circumstances of his offices’ reporting to the Privy Council.

Click to play video: 'Accountability questions for Sajjan on Gen. Vance allegations'
Accountability questions for Sajjan on Gen. Vance allegations

The military police probe was started shortly after Global News’ reporting of the allegations against Vance in early February, who had spent five years as Canada’s top military commander.

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Two female subordinates had alleged inappropriate behaviour from Vance, though the former military chief has since denied all allegations of such behaviour.

With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and Marc-André Cossette

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