PM defends aide and Office says Vance’s allegations were unaware that it was a “complaint too”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enthusiastically defended his top aide on Tuesday, and his office knew three years ago that there was a complaint against then-defense minister Jonathan Vance. He said no one knew that it was about sexual misconduct.

The comment follows last week’s testimony from one of Trudeau’s former advisers to a fresh question about what the Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff Katie Telford knew about the allegations against Vance in March 2018. I have responded.

Trudeau, in response to a question at one of the regular COVID-19 briefings, described his Chief of Staff as a “very powerful leader” who has been instrumental in making the federal government more feminist. did.

“Thanks to Katie, I sat down with several female leaders in the military and elsewhere, discussed this for years and considered what I could do and what I should do,” he said. Stated.

He went on to say, “My office knew there was a complaint against General Vance (now retired), but no one knew it was a” me too “complaint. There was no information about the nature of the complaint against the allegation. “

Trudeau then responded to conservative questions and repeated comments at the House of Commons, saying, “No one in my office or in (Defense) Minister (Harjit) Sajjan’s office knows the nature of the complaint. I didn’t. “

Former Trudeau adviser Elder Marquez told Parliamentary Commission on Friday that Telford or his assistant had contacted him in early March 2018 to talk to Sajan’s top aide on issues related to Vance.

The request was made shortly after then-military ombudsman Gary Wolborn filed a complaint at a private meeting on March 1, 2018, against Vance of improper sexual behavior with Sajan.

Testimony from Marquez appears to be inconsistent with the sequence of events presented by Sajan earlier this month, with new questions about what Trudeau knew about the allegations before Global News reported the allegations in February. I threw it.

The nature of the complaint reported by Walbourne has not been confirmed, but Global is allegedly sent to a service member who was significantly upgraded in 2012 before Vance became commander of the Canadian Army. Reported to include email.

Trudeau denied personal knowledge of the allegations until the collapse of the global story on February 2.

Vance, who resigned from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January and retired from the army in April, did not respond to requests for comment from the Canadian press, but Global reported that he had denied any misconduct.

At the House of Commons, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole exchanged partially edited emails with Marquez’s testimony referring to “sexual harassment allegations” to undermine Trudeau’s allegations on Tuesday. Pointed out on the 2nd of March.

As the Canadian Press received an email dated March 2, 2018, Privy Council official Janine Sherman and Sherman advised on how to approach Walbourne to initiate an investigation into the allegations. It’s between someone else you can see.

Sherman testified that the email discussing sexual harassment appeared to have come from someone in Sajan’s office, but that day he exchanged emails with “people at the Prime Minister’s Office.”

“He told House when he had a piece of paper at the House of Commons that his office was unaware that they were of a’too much’ nature,” O’Toole said. It was. “The only problem is that his team used the term sexual harassment in an email about this incident in March 2018.”

“The Prime Minister is honest with this house and the women he knew bravely in the Canadian Army, and did he fail them for three years?”

Meanwhile, the Defense Commission’s conservatives have given Marquez’s testimony as evidence that more hearings are needed to find out why the Liberal government did nothing more to investigate the allegations against Vance. I used it.

The Defense Commission will meet again on Friday, where the Tories are expected to demand that Telford testify.

Walbourne testified that he had complained to Sajjan related to “inappropriate sexual behavior,” but Marques was more cautious about whether he and Telford knew the nature of the complaint.

“I think I was told that this was a matter of personal misconduct,” Marquez told the Commons Defense Commission.

“I have to say that in the context of hearing it, I’m guessing it could be of a sexual nature, but I wasn’t really given that information specifically. I do not think so.”

Former Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick was also uncertain, but told the Commission that the email exchange between Sajjan’s Chief of Staff Zita Astravas and senior civil servant Janine Sherman may have referred to sexual misconduct at the time. ..

Sherman was charged with investigating the allegations against Vance, but she told the commission that she was unable to investigate because Wolborn did not provide information on the complaint.

“I think this word was’potential sexual harassment’,” Wernick said. “Emails are being exchanged between Zita, Janine, and Elder. I think it was in the area of ​​sexual harassment and sexual harassment, but I couldn’t speak the exact words.”

By Lee Berthiaume