Defence Minister Anita Anand is standing by defence chief Gen. Wayne Eyre’s decision to keep Canada’s top military police officer in his job for another two years.
The extension was announced late Tuesday, the same day that a complaints commission asked Provost Marshal Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau to apologize to two military cadets.
The apologies related to serious problems with the handling of a case of alleged sexual misconduct and an attempted suicide at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.
While the Military Police Complaints Commission says Trudeau did issue apology letters to the two cadets, the incident follows numerous questions about the conduct and standards of military police.
Anand told reporters at a defence conference on Wednesday that she nonetheless has confidence in Eyre’s decision to extend Trudeau in his position for another two years.
“I have confidence in General Eyre and his appointments, and we will continue to work very hard to ensure the highest standards of integrity in the Canadian Armed Forces,” Anand said when asked if she has confidence in Trudeau.
The military on Tuesday announced Trudeau was being extended to oversee reforms of the military police and justice system in response to several recent reviews and reports, including one this week from retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour.
Arbour’s scathing report included dozens of recommendations to address sexual misconduct in the ranks, including permanently transferring the investigation and prosecution of sexual cases of a criminal nature from military to civilian authorities.
“It is important to continue to ensure the transfer of cases from the military justice system to the civilian justice system,” Anand said about Trudeau’s extension.
“It is important for us to remember to work hard on the values that are so important, and that’s what we will do every day with that (Trudeau) and everyone in the Canadian Armed Forces in leadership positions.”
One of Arbour’s other recommendations is to rethink the need for dedicated military colleges such as RMC and its French equivalent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., which some see as a breeding ground for sexualized attitudes in the Forces.
The Military Police Complaints Commission on Tuesday revealed that it had asked Trudeau to apologize to two cadets after an investigation found military police had severely botched a case in 2019.
The investigation in particular found that military police did not conduct a proper investigation after a female officer cadet at the Royal Military College reported a fellow student was harassing her and had committed sexual offences against her.
Military police were also found to have done little to respond to the female cadet’s safety concerns, or her concerns that the other student was suffering from mental health issues.
The male student also attempted to kill himself on two separate occasions after military police told him he would “probably” face criminal charges, the commission said. Ultimately, no charges were laid in the case.
Trudeau found himself defending the independence and professionalism of his investigators on several occasions last year as members of a parliamentary committee grilled him over how they deal with cases of sexual misconduct.
Those questions coincided with allegations of sexual misconduct against several senior military officers, including the former chief of the defence staff, general Jonathan Vance, and his successor, admiral Art McDonald.
Vance eventually pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service. McDonald was not charged.
Trudeau’s extension was one of dozens of new appointments announced Tuesday along with the retirement of nearly 30 senior military officers.
Among those retiring are Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, who was charged with sexual assault and indecent acts last year. He will retire ahead of a trial scheduled for August 2023.
Tuesday’s announcement also confirmed the retirement of Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, who hung up his uniform in April while being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct before heading to Ukraine.
Anand would not comment on whether she was briefed about Cadieu’s retirement and travel to Ukraine to assist the country’s defence against Russia’s invasion.
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