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Sajjan returning Friday to defence committee on military misconduct probe

Click to play video: 'Defence committee expands military misconduct investigation' Defence committee expands military misconduct investigation
The House of Commons defence committee is expanding its investigation into former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance to include his successor, Adm. Art McDonald. As Mike Le Couteur reports, this comes as threats have been allegedly made against the man who, according to sources, reported a claim against McDonald – Mar 8, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will return on Friday before the House of Commons defence committee, which is probing allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces.

The notice of the meeting lists that Sajjan is one of several witnesses scheduled to appear before the committee. The minister is expected to face questions over his response to an allegation shared with him in 2018 about Gen. Jonathan Vance.

First up will be Lt.-Cmdr. Raymond Trotter, who sources tell Global News is the senior naval officer who reported an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chief of the Defence Staff Adm. Art McDonald last month, and has received anonymous threats since.

Trotter is scheduled to testify from 1 to 3 p.m. ET.

After that, Sajjan is scheduled to appear, along with Jody Thomas, deputy minister of the Department of National Defence, and Geneviève Bernatchez, judge advocate general for the Canadian Armed Forces.

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READ MORE: Former military ombudsman confirms he raised concerns about Vance with Sajjan in 2018

Sajjan was called back to the committee on Monday following explosive testimony last week by ex-military ombudsman Gary Walbourne, who says he told Sajjan on March 1, 2018, about an allegation against Vance, who was chief of the defence staff at the time.

“I did tell the minister what the allegation was. I reached into my pocket to show him the evidence I was holding. He pushed back from the table and said, ‘No,’” Walbourne said.

“The minister didn’t want to see the evidence.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says his office knew in 2018 a Vance allegation was passed to officials

Sajjan has said he disagrees with Walbourne’s testimony but has not provided any evidence to disprove the allegations raised in the ex-military ombudsman’s testimony.

He had initially maintained during his first appearance before the defence committee three weeks ago that he was “surprised” to learn of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Vance that were detailed in exclusive Global News reporting on Feb. 2.

Click to play video: 'Ex-military ombudsman says he didn’t have the authority to launch formal probe into 2018 Vance allegation' Ex-military ombudsman says he didn’t have the authority to launch formal probe into 2018 Vance allegation
Ex-military ombudsman says he didn’t have the authority to launch formal probe into 2018 Vance allegation – Mar 3, 2021

Sajjan has said allegations brought to his office have always been handled appropriately. But documents obtained by Global News showing someone told the Privy Council Office to “put some things in writing” about the matter, along with Walbourne’s testimony, have raised questions about that.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted on Wednesday that his office knew in 2018 that Sajjan has referred an allegation about Vance to the Privy Council Office, but maintained that he only learned the specifics of the allegations against Vance through recent media reports.

However, Trudeau had previously said: “I first learned of allegations against Gen. Vance in Global News reporting.”

The Prime Minister’s Office had repeatedly told Global News prior to that Wednesday statement that both Trudeau and the office learned of the allegations through Global News’ reporting.

Trudeau said on Thursday that it was not his or the defence minister’s role to investigate allegations.

“It is for us to ensure they are appropriately followed up on by the independent authorities,” he said.

Click to play video: 'It’s not the job of the PM, Minister of Defence to personally investigate allegations: Trudeau' It’s not the job of the PM, Minister of Defence to personally investigate allegations: Trudeau
It’s not the job of the PM, Minister of Defence to personally investigate allegations: Trudeau – Mar 11, 2021

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