OTTAWA — Canada’s former high navy commander pleaded responsible to obstruction of justice on Wednesday in reference to a navy police investigation into allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct whereas main the nation’s navy.
Jonathan Vance, the previous chief of the protection employees, is considered one of a number of present and former Canadian navy commanders below investigation for sexual impropriety. The rising scandal has undermined public confidence in Canada’s navy.
“That is as little as it will get,” mentioned Michel Drapeau, a former Canadian navy officer who now teaches legislation on the College of Ottawa. “It raised critical apprehension as to how did this man go up to now and keep in place for 5 years given what we’ve come to know.”
Mr. Vance, 58, grew to become the primary former or present high navy commander ever to face legal fees final yr when navy police made the obstruction cost which, in an uncommon transfer, was referred to the civilian justice system for prosecution. A number of navy legislation specialists mentioned that it isn’t doable to prosecute present or former chiefs of the protection employees below the navy system.
It’s unclear when the navy police started investigating Mr. Vance. However the obstruction of justice cost concerned occasions in February, 2021, a month after the overall retired as lengthy deliberate.
In court docket paperwork, the navy police charged that Mr. Vance, a retired normal, “willfully” tried to hinder justice when he repeatedly telephoned Maj. Kellie Brennan and tried to to steer her to provide false statements to investigators. Main Brennan has recognized herself in media interviews and earlier than parliament as one of many individuals who made complaints in opposition to Mr. Vance. She testified earlier than a parliamentary committee that Mr. Vance is the daddy of two of her eight kids.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Anita Anand as protection minister late final yr, he made considered one of her high priorities coping with the increasing checklist of elite navy officers dealing with sexual misconduct allegations.
Mr. Vance’s speedy successor as chief of the protection employees, Adm. Artwork McDonald, went on go away final yr when he grew to become the topic of a separate misconduct inquiry. In August, after the navy police mentioned it was not bringing any legal or disciplinary fees in opposition to the admiral, the federal government started its personal evaluate. Ms. Anand introduced in late November that he had been fired.
Two impartial opinions have discovered that the Canadian navy is rife with sexual harassment. And in 2019 the federal government put aside about $690 million to settle claims of sexual harassment and misconduct inside its navy that had been introduced in 5 class-action lawsuits.
Many present and former senior Canadian navy leaders dealing with sexual misconduct allegations have been investigated, suspended, charged below legal legal guidelines or retired early. They embody Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, the navy’s former head of human sources, who was charged in December with sexual assault and committing indecent acts. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Drapeau, who additionally represents navy sexual assault victims, mentioned that the state of affairs is making it tough for the navy to recruit and retain members. It additionally, he added, ought to result in a evaluate of how senior officers are appointed, a course of over which at present the civilian authorities has little management.
‘We’ve allowed the system, over a long time, to provide this type of outcomes,” Mr. Drapeau mentioned. “Simply the sheer variety of normal officers who’ve been seeing it throughout right here is trigger for concern.”
He mentioned that as a result of Canada’s navy code of conduct, not like these of many different international locations together with the USA, doesn’t ban consenting relations between senior and lower-ranked officers, he doesn’t anticipate that Mr. Vance will face any fees instantly associated to sexual misconduct. However, he mentioned, it’s doable that Mr. Vance, who led Canada’s forces in Afghanistan, could also be stripped of his navy honors.
After Mr. Vance entered a responsible plea earlier than the Ontario Courtroom of Justice, he was granted a conditional discharge which can spare him a legal report on these fees. He was sentenced to 12 months probation and 80 hours of neighborhood service.
The court docket additionally ordered him to not have any contact with Main Brennan exterior of household legislation proceedings associated to one of many kids he fathered along with her.