TIMELINE: The Canadian Forces sexual misconduct crisis

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (right) and Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance attend a news conference on fighter jets in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.

In the seven months since Global News first reported on allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian military, multiple other victims and survivors have come forward to share their stories and demand change.

Experts have described the reckoning facing the military as an institutional crisis and it has sparked a national conversation about the culture and values of the Canadian Forces, exposing longstanding problems in how the military handles sexual misconduct cases and treats women within its ranks.

There have been multiple military police investigations and two parliamentary probes launched into the matter, as well as an independent, external review led by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, which remains underway.

Here is everything you need to know to understand what has happened so far.

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Jan. 14, 2021: Adm. Art McDonald takes over as chief of the defence staff from Gen. Jonathan Vance. McDonald emphasizes the need to fight sexual misconduct and apologizes for past actions, though gave no details at the time of what this was about.

Feb. 2, 2021: Global News reports Vance is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour from two female subordinates. He denies any inappropriate behaviour.

Feb. 3, 2021: McDonald sends an internal message to military staff vowing there will be an investigation into the allegations reported by Global News.

Feb. 4, 2021: Military police announce they are opening an investigation into the Vance allegations. Global News also reports that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office knew of an allegation against Vance in March 2018.

Feb. 5, 2021: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his office knew nothing about the allegations until they were reported on by Global News.

Feb. 9, 2021: Members of the House of Commons defence committee vote to open a study into the allegations and into military sexual misconduct more broadly.

Feb. 11, 2021: Global News reports that military police probed Vance’s conduct in 2015 related to allegations about his time in Naples but laid no charges.

Feb. 21, 2021: Maj. Kellie Brennan gives her first interview with Global News sharing her story as one of the women at the heart of the Vance allegations.

Feb. 25, 2021: McDonald steps aside as chief of the defence staff as military police open a probe into an allegation against him. Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre steps in on an acting basis. Experts tell Global News the military is now facing a “crisis.”

Feb. 26, 2021: Sajjan’s office says he was unaware of an allegation against McDonald prior to his appointment as chief of the defence staff.

Feb. 28, 2021: Brennan says she has been flooded with support since coming forward and urges women to “roar and be heard.”

March 3, 2021: Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne testifies before the defence committee that he brought an allegation against Vance to Sajjan in March 2018 and tries to show Sajjan evidence, but the minister refuses to look.

March 6, 2021: Global News reports on records that reveal the Privy Council Office was warned to “put some things in writing” regarding the allegation against Vance in 2018.

March 7, 2021: Global News reports that a senior naval officer, Lt.-Col. Raymond Trotter, who tried to report an allegation shared with him by a female subordinate against McDonald to Sajjan’s office was told to go elsewhere, and has received threats since reporting the allegation.

March 8, 2021: The House of Commons defence committee expands its probe on military sexual misconduct.

March 10, 2021: Trudeau says his office did know in 2018 that Sajjan’s office had passed an allegation against Vance to the Privy Council Office, which abandoned a probe. He says his office and he only learned the details from Global News reporting.

March 12, 2021: Sajjan doubles down over his handling of the 2018 allegation in testimony before the defence committee, insisting it was Walbourne who failed to investigate.

March 12, 2021: Trotter testifies at the defence committee.

March 14, 2021: Alexandra Auclair, a civil servant with the Department of National Defence and a former military member, comes forward to share allegations of being forced into co-ed showers.

March 16, 2021: Global News reports that Lt.-Col. Eleanor Taylor, one of the most senior women in the military, quits in disgust over the military’s handling of sexual misconduct.

March 17, 2021: Taylor sits down with Global News to share her reasons for resigning, saying there is a “seething undercurrent of rage” among women in the military who feel leaders are not taking the problem of sexual misconduct seriously. Global News also reports that records show the military ombudsman’s limited role in sexual misconduct complaints had been flagged repeatedly since 2014.

March 18, 2021: Status of women committee votes to open a parallel probe into military sexual misconduct.

March 22, 2021: Ray Novak, former chief of staff to Stephen Harper, says Vance was “not truthful” with the former government when questioned about his conduct prior to being appointed as chief of the defence staff in 2015.

March 23, 2021: The navy shuts down a probe into alleged sexual comments about a “red room” without speaking to all involved.

March 24, 2021: Daniel Jean, former national security adviser to Trudeau, says he was never informed of an allegation against Vance in 2018. On this date, Sajjan orders a review into the decision to shut down the navy “red room” probe.

March 25, 2021: Current military ombudsman Gregory Lick rebukes Sajjan’s claims that it was within Walbourne’s authority to investigate the 2018 allegation, saying he would have handled the matter exactly as his predecessor did and brought the complaint to the minister. The commander of the military police also confirms at this time that had Sajjan asked for an investigation, it would not have amounted to political interference as he claimed.

March 28, 2021: Navy Lt. Heather Macdonald comes forward as the woman behind the allegation against McDonald and says details of her case had been previously leaked to other media without her consent.

March 30, 2021: Trudeau says he did not personally know of an allegation against Vance in 2018.

March 31, 2021: Vice-Adm. Haydn Edmundson, who serves as the military’s head of personnel, is placed on indefinite leave as military police probe allegations of sexual misconduct.

April 6, 2021: Former clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick testifies at committee that the request to probe the 2018 allegation against Vance came directly from the PMO.

April 21, 2021: The woman behind the 2018 allegation shares her reason for bringing it to Walbourne and for wanting to remain anonymous in an interview with Global News.

April 23, 2021: Elder Marques, former senior adviser to Trudeau, testifies at committee that Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff, knew of the 2018 Vance allegation.

April 22, 2021: Brennan testifies before the status of women committee that Vance fathered two of her children, which he denies, and says he told her he was “untouchable.”

April 25, 2021: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland apologizes to women in the Canadian military.

April 27, 2021: Trudeau says no one knew the 2018 Vance allegation was a “Me Too” complaint. Records obtained by Global News, however, raised questions given they showed officials referring to the matter as “sexual harassment” at the time.

April 28, 2021: Global News reports on records that show military police recommended an end to a 2015 probe of Vance’s conduct within hours of his swearing-in.

April 29, 2021: Sajjan announces an independent, external review into military sexual misconduct to establish plans for creating an independent reporting system.

May 2, 2021: Sajjan refuses to say whether he knew if the 2018 allegation against Vance was sexual in nature. On this date, Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre says Maj.-Gen. Peter Dawe will leave his position as commander of Canada’s special forces following an allegation that he wrote a character reference for a military member convicted of sexual assault.

May 6, 2021: A Global News investigation reveals that less than one quarter of military police investigators handling sexual misconduct cases are female — a sharp contrast with civilian forces.

May 7, 2021: Telford, chief of staff to Trudeau, testifies at the defence committee but dodges questions on when she first learned of the 2018 allegation against Vance and whether she made the decision not to tell Trudeau.

May 14, 2021: Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin steps aside as head of Canada’s vaccine rollout as the military announced an investigation into him.

May 17, 2021: Fortin’s lawyer says his client “vigorously” denies the allegation. Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie is named as Fortin’s replacement.

May 19, 2021: The military wraps the investigation into Fortin and refers the case to the Quebec prosecution service, which is responsible for the decision on whether to lay charges.

May 26, 2021: Lt-Gen. Wayne Eyre tells Global News Radio’s J’lyn Nye that the review of the military is an “opportunity” for change and that he has witnessed the kinds of activities under scrutiny during his career.

May 30, 2021: A former head of cadet training at the Royal Military College tells Global News that two successive leaders at the school did not take sexual misconduct as seriously as they should have.

June 1, 2021: Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Morris Fish releases his report into the military justice system which found that sexual misconduct remains as “rampant” and “destructive” in the Canadian Forces in 2021 as it was in 2015.

June 12, 2021: Global News and The Globe and Mail first report that Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, the vice chief of the defence staff, and Vice-Adm. Craig Baines, the head of the navy, went golfing with Vance earlier in the month despite him remaining under military police investigation.

June 14, 2021: Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau resigns from his role as vice chief of the defence staff following an outcry over his decision to go golfing with Vance. He asks that Baines not be punished. Earlier in the day, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the decision to go golfing raised questions about “the possibility of real fairness” in the military justice system. On this date, Fortin also files a legal challenge.

June 17, 2021: The House of Commons status of women committee releases its report urging “sweeping change” to address the problems in the military and the creation of an independent reporting system. On this date, the House of Commons also votes to censure Sajjan over his handling of the crisis.

June 22, 2021: Military ombudsman Gregory Lick releases a blistering paper condemning “vested political interests” impeding change on military sexual misconduct, and blasts Sajjan for a lack of accountability over his handling of the crisis.

June 28, 2021: Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen takes over as the country’s first female vice chief of the defence staff.

June 29, 2021: Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre issues a statement that says Baines will keep his job as head of the navy after going golfing with Vance.

June 30, 2021: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says she was “surprised and disturbed” that Baines will keep his job after going golfing with Vance.

July 2, 2021: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin orders a roadmap on solutions to address sexual misconduct in the U.S. military. When asked about this by reporters, Trudeau declined to offer a timeline for when his government will create an independent reporting system for military sexual misconduct.

July 14, 2021: Global News reports that the number of claims in the military sexual misconduct class action lawsuit have spiked 170 per cent since December 2020.

July 15, 2021: The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service charges now-retired Gen. Jonathan Vance with one count of obstruction of justice related to their probe into the allegations against him. The case was handed over to civilian authorities. Vance is due in court on Sept. 17.

July 20, 2021: Trudeau says he is “not angry” that no one told him in 2018 there was an allegation against Vance. He then argued that the media “latches on” to Sajjan’s handling of the allegation.

Aug. 6, 2021: Canadian Forces military police say they have decided not to charge Adm. Art McDonald with any offences under either the military code of service or the Criminal Code, citing a lack of evidence.

Aug. 11, 2021: Adm. Art McDonald’s lawyers say he intends to seek a return to his position as chief of the defence staff. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responds by saying he expects McDonald to remain on leave.

Aug. 12, 2021: Sajjan confirms in a statement that McDonald has been placed on leave effective immediately and lasting “until further notice.”

Aug. 13, 2021: The acting chief of the defence staff, Wayne Eyre, is promoted from the rank of lieutenant-general to general — the highest rank in the military and equivalent to that of McDonald.

Aug. 13, 2021: Global News reports that Vance had contacted one of the women at the heart of allegations against him multiple times before Global News reported them on Feb. 2, and advised her of the need to be “clear on our story, and that you stick to it.” He also contacted her multiple times after publication, and said repeatedly through the calls that what he was describing was the truth.

Aug. 17, 2021: Lawyers for Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin say he is expected to be charged the following day with one count of sexual assault.

Aug. 18, 2021: Fortin is formally charged with one count of sexual assault that his legal team says pertains to a decades-old allegation that formed the basis for the military police probe into him. Fortin alleges the case against him is based on “political calculus.”

Aug. 19, 2021: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says if elected prime minister, he would order the military on his first day in office to hand over all sexual assault allegations to civilian investigators.

Sept. 3, 2021: A review ordered into an internal probe of alleged sexual misconduct by senior officers finds that there is a “sexualized culture” in the Royal Canadian Navy that must be confronted, but determines that nothing about the incident warrants disciplining those involved.

Sept. 15, 2021: Global News reports that Gen. Jonathan Vance will not face military code of service charges, which sources confirmed was a direct result of his top rank. Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Morris Fish had warned in June it was “legally impossible” for individuals in the position of chief of the defence staff to be prosecuted by courts martial.

Sept. 16, 2021: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is “absolutely unacceptable” that some people could be above the law because of their rank, following the news that Vance won’t face any charges as military police ended investigation into his sexual misconduct allegations

Sept. 16, 2021: The results of a paternity test shared with Global News indicate the probability that retired Gen. Jonathan Vance fathered one child with Maj. Kellie Brennan — years after he said their sexual relationship ended — is more than 99 per cent.

Sept. 24, 2021: The Military Police Complaints Commission announces an investigation into whether military police altered information and threatened subordinates during a probe into a “misconduct” incident involving one of their own.

Oct. 12, 2021: The Federal Court rules Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin must use the military’s internal grievance process to challenge the grounds for his removal as the head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution campaign.

Oct. 15, 2021: Adm. Art McDonald sends a letter to top Canadian military officers claiming he has been exonerated of allegations of sexual assault, and argues for his “immediate” return to the top post. In his own letter to senior staff a short while later, Gen. Wayne Eyre described McDonald’s move as “shocking,” while Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan billed it as “inappropriate and unacceptable.”

Oct. 17, 2021: The woman at the centre of the sexual misconduct allegation against Adm. Art McDonald says that there were “several” eyewitnesses that corroborated her story to military police, including at least one senior Navy officer that Global News was able to verify.

Oct. 18, 2021: The Canadian Forces provost marshal offers a direct rebuttal to McDonald’s claim that he has been exonerated and the allegation against him deemed “unsubstantiated.” In a statement, the provost marshal said that was not the case and the allegation was not deemed “unfounded.”

Oct. 21, 2021: Trudeau says Adm. Art McDonald’s letter will be “taken into account” on deciding whether to allow him to return to his duties as chief of the defence staff.

Oct. 22, 2021: Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin appeals the Federal Court ruling that directed him to take concerns to the military grievance system over his removal as head of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Oct. 26, 2021: After months of criticism over his handling of the military sexual misconduct crisis, Harjit Sajjan is removed as the minister of national defence – Anita Anand takes over the role.

Oct. 29, 2021: The obstruction of justice trial for retired Gen. Jonathan Vance is scheduled for May 2023.

Nov. 4, 2021: Defence Minister Anita Anand announces she has accepted an interim recommendation from former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour that all military sexual misconduct cases should be transferred to civilian authorities to review whether to lay a criminal charge.

Nov. 5, 2021: The two most senior military justice system officials defend the skills of military police in handling sexual misconduct cases, but say it is now “appropriate and necessary” to transfer the cases to civilians as the military police grapple with a “crisis” in public confidence.

Nov. 6, 2021: Defence Minister Anita Anand says as part of the process of moving military sexual misconduct offences to the civilian justice system, officials will also have to look at whether past probes by the military police should be moved to civilians for a second look.

Nov. 8, 2021: The number of claims in the military sexual misconduct class action lawsuit nearly doubles over the last four months, soaring to more than 13,500 as the deadline for new claimants nears.

Nov. 24, 2021: Defence Minister Anita Anand’s office confirms the apology required under the terms of the class action settlement will come before the end of 2021. The deadline for claims under that process comes with a total of 18,797 submitted.

Nov. 25, 2021: Gen. Wayne Eyre is officially appointed as chief of the defence staff.

Dec. 7, 2021: Former military personnel head Vice-Adm. Haydn Edmundson is charged with sexual assault and indecent acts. The Department of National Defence said the case is being referred to the civilian court system.

Dec. 13, 2021: Defence Minister Anita Anand, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, and Jody Thomas, deputy minister of the Department of National Defence, offer an unprecedented apology on behalf of the government, the military, and the department to survivors and victims of sexual misconduct.

March 30, 2022: Retired Gen. Jonathan Vance pleads guilty to one count of obstruction of justice. He gets a conditional discharge and 80 hours of community service.

April 25, 2022: A major report finds that widespread racism, discrimination and sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces are “repulsing” new recruits, emphasizing the ongoing issues as major national security challenges for the country given the impact on the ability to find future military members.

May 20, 2022: Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour delivers her review of the Canadian Forces and sexual misconduct to Defence Minister Anita Anand.

May 30, 2022: Anand makes Arbour’s report public. In it, Arbour determined that the Canadian military is a “broken” system that poses a “liability” to the country, and warned that senior leaders were “incapable” of recognizing the “deficient” parts of a culture that keep sexual misconduct and abuse of power entrenched. She also took aim at Canada’s military colleges, and said the pace of change in the military culture will be too slow unless there are major and fundamental changes to the colleges.

June 3, 2022: Military police confirm concerns raised by Arbour that some civilian police agencies were saying they are “not ready” to take on military sexual misconduct cases.

June 5, 2022: Defence Minister Anita Anand says she has “hit the ground running” on implementing Arbour’s dozens of recommendations to finally root out sexual misconduct from the military.

June 15, 2022: Military police charge recently retired Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu with two counts of sexual assault allegedly related to incidents at RMC Kingston in 1994.

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