Trudeau’s Chief of Staff knew of Vance’s allegations, a former PMO adviser suggests

Ottawa — Former Prime Minister’s senior adviser testified in front of Parliamentary Commission on Friday, and Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford was aware of allegations of illegal activity against then-Supreme Military Commander in Canada three years ago. Suggested that.

Elder Marquez, who worked at the Prime Minister’s residence, asks Telford or her assistant to contact him on March 1 or 2, 2018 and talk to the top defense minister staff “on issues related to CDS.” Said he asked. Chief of Defense Staff, General Jonathan Vance.

“I think everyone got the same information right away, but it was very limited. We immediately went to the Privy Council to handle the problem and finally do that to investigate. I’ve been asking them to do what they can with the information, “he told the House of Commons Defense Commission at a hearing on Friday at Marquez.

The testimony appears to be inconsistent with a series of events presented by Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan earlier this month, renewing what Trudeau knew about the allegations before the announcement of global news coverage in February. I am asking a lot of questions.

Global reported allegations that Vance had a relationship with his subordinates, which began in 2001 and continued after taking on the top job in 2015. Vance, who resigned in January, has not responded to requests for comment from the Canadian press, but Global has reported him denying cheating.

Trudeau and his office initially said they knew only about the claims from the global story, but the Prime Minister was aware of the concerns raised by the military ombudsman Gary Wolborn in the House of Representatives on March 10. It was confirmed. The topic of March 1, 2018.

But Trudeau denied personal knowledge of the allegations until the news was reported on February 2.

“As we said, after the Defense Ombudsman received the complaint, the minister instructed an independent official to investigate him. In addition, as the Privy Council Office confirmed and stated in the committee, they Could not proceed with the investigation because he did not receive any further information, “Trudeau spokesman Alex Welstead said in an email Friday.

Conservative defense critic James Bezan accuses Trudeau of being in the dark for more details until this year, calling the story “concealment” and accusing the Liberal Party of being a “misleading Canadian.” did.

“The claim that Justin Trudeau was unaware of General Vance’s allegations of sexual misconduct was clearly false. Everyone around Justin Trudeau knew these claims, but the Prime Minister did not. It’s ridiculous to believe, “Bezan said in a statement.

The nature of the allegations flagged by Walbourne has not been publicly confirmed, but Global News allegedly was sent to much younger military personnel in 2012 before Vance became Secretary of Defense in 2015. Reported that it contained an email. I didn’t remember the email, but if he sent it, he intended it as a joke and gladly apologized.

Allegations of illegal activity against senior officers have shaken the Canadian Army in recent months, prompting a new investigation into the independence of military culture and the investigation process as military police investigate complaints.

Those investigations include Admiral Arthur McDonald, who resigned as Commander-in-Chief six weeks after taking over work from Vance. The allegations have not been publicly detailed and McDonald’s has denied all misconduct. He has not responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press.

Marquez’s testimony on Friday showed that Telford may have known about the allegations in front of the Privy Council Office, and Sajan said he immediately mentioned the issue.

The revelation also added a new layer to Sajan’s account to the Defense Commission earlier this month, and his then Chief of Staff Jita Astrabas reached out to Marquez instead of vice versa. Sajan’s testimony does not mention Telford.

Marquez told the commission that his former boss, Telford, asked him to contact Astravets, after which he informed the then Privy Council clerk Michael Welnick.

Welnick said in a testimony earlier this month that Marquez had contacted him, but did not suggest that other staff in Telford or Trudeau’s office knew about the allegations.

“The only person I know is the elder (Marquez). I don’t know who he talked to at the PMO at the time, but in fact both Minister Sajan and the PMO are us at the PCO. I think I provided the transportation of the files to the committee, “he told the committee on April 6.

Mr Sajan told the commission on March 12 that pulling elected civil servants into the investigation “is erroneously dangerous and politicizes the investigation that threatens the legitimate consequences of those who come forward.” Therefore, his introduction to the issue to the Privy Council, a bureaucratic activity supporting the Prime Minister’s Office.

Several senior civil servants and now senior political advisers have testified to their knowledge of allegations of illegal activity against Vance.

Marquez said he left the PMO in December 2019 and left the government last year.

Trudeau said earlier on Friday that a culture of tolerance for sexual harassment and “unacceptable behavior” in the military needed to end.

He reiterated that Sajan had properly processed his allegations against Vance, but had to establish a better support system for whistleblowers and survivors.

The Prime Minister also said Thursday’s testimony of Major Kelly Brennan was “very moving” and a woman at the center of allegations of sexual misconduct against Vance about her “strength and commitment” to drive change. Praised.

Brennan told the House of Commons Commission that the now retired Secretary of Defense had two children, but during a relationship that began in 2001 and continued after Vance became Secretary of Defense in 2015. He said he was not responsible.

She also told MP that Vance had instructed her to lie about their relationship and otherwise threatened the outcome.

Christopher Reynolds