Sajjan set to make an announcement on military sexual misconduct

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is holding a press conference on Thursday billed as one where he will be “addressing sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.”

He will be doing so alongside senior officials from both the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, as well as his parliamentary secretary, Anita Vandenbeld.

It comes three months after the government first promised an independent review into allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian military that were first reported on by Global News.

READ MORE: Military police recommended end to 2015 Vance probe within hours of his swearing-in

Both the current and former chiefs of the defence staff are among those facing military police investigations over allegations against them. Gen. Jonathan Vance denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour, while Adm. Art McDonald has declined to comment, citing legal advice.

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In response, the government promised an independent external review to look at the matter of military sexual misconduct and the allegations, which have sparked two separate parliamentary committee probes as well over recent months.

READ MORE: Posts in private military police Facebook group mock woman at heart of Vance allegation

Those committees have heard damning testimony about the government’s handling of a 2018 allegation made against Vance and which the then-military ombudsman says he shared with Sajjan.

Throughout, the committees have heard repeated testimony raising questions about whether military police can be trusted to conduct the probes into allegations against individuals at the very top of the military chain of command.

Global News reported on Wednesday that members of a private Facebook group for military police have been mocking Maj. Kellie Brennan, one of the women at the heart of allegations against Vance.

Military police say they are looking into the posts.

Global News also reported on Wednesday that documents obtained through access to information laws and verified with the Department of National Defence show the recommendation to conclude a military police investigation into Vance was made on the day he was sworn in as chief of the defence staff.

The investigation was not formally concluded until four days after Vance took over command.

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READ MORE: Vance ‘not truthful’ when pressed by Harper on conduct in 2015: former top staffer

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was minister of veterans affairs in the former Conservative government that appointed Vance while that military police investigation was still technically open.

He has repeatedly said the Liberals failed women in the military by not fully investigating the 2018 allegation against Vance, but faced questions during a press conference on Thursday morning about whether the Conservatives share responsibility in failing women in light of the timing of the probe end.

“No,” said O’Toole.

“When I heard a rumour, I made sure that that was investigated immediately. When Mr. Trudeau’s minister and chief of staff were made aware of direct allegations from a victim, they covered it up.”

O’Toole did not address the fact that the records show the investigation was not formally closed until after Vance was sworn in on July 17, 2015.

Click to play video: 'Online comments mock Maj. Kellie Brennan’s testimony on military misconduct'

Online comments mock Maj. Kellie Brennan’s testimony on military misconduct

Online comments mock Maj. Kellie Brennan’s testimony on military misconduct

More to come.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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