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Canada’s military police charge retired lieutenant-general with sexual assault

Click to play video: 'Canada’s military police charge retired Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu with sexual assault' Canada’s military police charge retired Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu with sexual assault
WATCH: Canada's military police charge retired Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu with sexual assault – Jun 15, 2022

Canada’s military police have charged recently retired Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu — who had been tapped to lead the army late last year — with two counts of sexual assault.

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal announced the charges in a press release on Wednesday, saying the charges were laid by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.

“The matter relates to incidents alleged to have occurred at RMC Kingston in 1994,” the Provost Marshall said in a statement.

Read more: Canada’s military a ‘broken system’ that’s a ‘liability’ to the country, report finds

The investigation had been underway and “near completion” when former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour issued an interim recommendation in the fall that all sexual misconduct cases should be transferred to civilian authorities over ongoing outcry about abuse of power and conflict of interest.

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Military officials said the decision to keep the case under military police investigation was made with “due regard” for Arbour’s recommendations, and that “the civilian police agency of concurrent jurisdiction opted not to accept it.”

“This matter will now proceed through the civilian justice system and no further information can be released at this time,” the Provost Marshal office said.

Click to play video: 'Canada’s military needs dramatic overhaul according to new sexual misconduct report' Canada’s military needs dramatic overhaul according to new sexual misconduct report
Canada’s military needs dramatic overhaul according to new sexual misconduct report – May 30, 2022

Global News has confirmed the charges stem from an alleged rape dating back to Cadieu’s time as a cadet at the Royal Military College Kingston in 1994.

Cadieu is currently in Ukraine where he has been serving as a senior advisor to the Ukrainian military after suddenly retiring from the Canadian Forces in April. In a statement, Cadieu said he is returning and will cooperate with the judicial process.

He has previously called the allegations against him false.

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Click to play video: 'Canada’s military court has done little to act on sexual misconduct, eroding discipline: Arbour' Canada’s military court has done little to act on sexual misconduct, eroding discipline: Arbour
Canada’s military court has done little to act on sexual misconduct, eroding discipline: Arbour – May 30, 2022

Cadieu had been expected to take over command of the Canadian Army last year but the change of command ceremony was postponed as a result of the launch of an investigation into allegations against him in October 2021.

In a statement at the time, Cadieu denied the allegations — saying they must be thoroughly investigated.

Read more: Reforming Canada’s military colleges will be a ‘Herculean task,’ experts say

The Canadian Forces is in the midst of an ongoing reckoning over the crisis of sexual misconduct and abuse of power within its ranks, including the most senior levels.

While allegations of endemic sexual misconduct are not new, exclusive and ongoing reporting by Global News into specific allegations against multiple senior leaders sparked what experts have repeatedly called an existential crisis for the military since February 2021.

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Read more: A timeline of the Canadian Forces sexual misconduct crisis

Retired Gen. Jonathan Vance pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice for attempting to get a woman who had made allegations against him to make false statements to military police.

He received a conditional discharge.

Vance was chief of the defence staff until early 2021, when the command passed to now-retired Adm. Art McDonald, who faced an investigation into a sexual misconduct allegation against him within weeks of coming into the role.

McDonald stepped aside temporarily during the investigation, then was replaced permanently after intense criticism following a campaign of media interviews and a letter to military brass making the case for him to return to the job

McDonald was not charged. The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal said there was not enough evidence to do so, but also emphasized that a lack of any charge did not mean the allegation against him had been deemed “unfounded.”

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, former head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, has also been charged with sexual assault by Quebec prosecutors. He denies the allegation, and the case remains before the courts.

His trial is scheduled for September 2022.

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Arbour in her damning report late last month warned that the top ranks of the military are “incapable” of recognizing the “deficient” parts of a culture that keep sexual misconduct and abuse of power entrenched. She described an institution that is fundamentally out of sync with the values of Canadian society, and which poses a “liability” to the country.

“Firmly entrenched in its historical way of life, the military has failed to keep pace with the values and expectations of a pluralistic Canadian society, increasingly sophisticated about the imperative of the rule of law,” Arbour wrote.

“Operating as a totally self-regulated, self-administered organization, entirely reliant on deference to authority, it has failed to align with the ever-changing, progressive society we live in. This disconnect is a liability for the CAF and for Canada.”

Click to play video: 'Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head' Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head
Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head – May 30, 2021

Among the focuses of her report were Canada’s military colleges: Royal Military College Kingston and Royal Military College Saint-Jean. The schools are universities that train future military leaders but have repeatedly come under fire for how they handle sexual misconduct and discrimination.

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Arbour determined that reforming the Canadian military is not possible without also reforming the way it trains future leaders, and whether the colleges as they currently exist should remain.

“The military colleges appear as institutions from a different era, with an outdated and problematic leadership model. There are legitimate reasons to question the wisdom of maintaining the existence of these military colleges, as they currently exist,” she wrote.

“There is a real risk that the perpetuation of a discriminatory culture at the colleges will slow the momentum for culture change the CAF has embarked upon.”

Arbour added: “There is enough evidence that military colleges are not delivering on their mandate that I believe alternatives must be explored with an open mind.”

So far, Defence Minister Anita Anand has not said what those alternatives could be.

With files from Global’s Mercedes Stephenson and Marc-Andre Cossette.

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