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Publicly, the head of Canada’s military police said he’d investigate any officer. Privately, he said that didn’t include his boss – Toronto Star

CAF Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau speaks during a ceremony in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on March 20, 2019

By Jacques GallantPolitical Reporter

Fri., Dec. 3, 20214 min. read

The head of Canada’s military police said it wasn’t possible for him to investigate his own supervisor, despite having previously assured members of Parliament that his force would investigate any officer “regardless of rank,” documents obtained by the Star reveal.

Last spring, provost marshal Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau told the House of Commons standing committee on the status of women that his officers will investigate any Canadian Armed Forces member “regardless of rank or status,” when he testified about the handling of sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces.

But just two months later, when Trudeau was asked by the acting chief of the defence staff to look into an allegation about his direct supervisor, Trudeau turned down the request, according to documents received by the Star following an access to information request.

That apparent contradiction has critics charging that the military police are not as independent as Trudeau has publicly claimed, at a time when the CAF continues to grapple with allegations it has mishandled or ignored allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.

In an email obtained by the Star, Gen. Wayne Eyre asked Trudeau to have the military police investigate the circumstances under which vice-chief of the defence staff Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau had reportedly played a game of golf in June with retired general Jonathan Vance, the former chief of the defence staff.

At the time, Vance was the subject of a probe by military police, who were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. The police, who ultimately report to Rouleau, subsequently charged Vance with obstruction of justice.

Rouleau resigned following media reports about the golf game.

In his email to Trudeau, Eyre requested an investigation into “the facts and circumstances” of the golf game, “including allegations that the course was cleared of any other golfers to ensure privacy and that there were discussions of ongoing investigations.”

Trudeau wrote back, “Will do,” in a reply sent the same day.

However, he sent a followup email to Eyre the next day in which he said he would not go ahead with the investigation.

“I am concerned of the potential conflict of interest (real or perceived) in looking in the below matter for two principal reasons: my ‘general supervision’ relationship with (Rouleau) and, more importantly, that the matter/circumstances would not amount to the level of service/criminal offense(s),” Trudeau wrote.

“For those reasons, and to preserve the independence of my office in relation to policing matters, I will not be investigating the matter …”

Now, despite Trudeau’s claims that the military police will investigate any military member, experts say the emails prove that his office is not as independent as he has portrayed it.

“This confirms what many have been claiming for decades: the military police are not independent and there are conflict of interests when it comes to investigating high-ranking service members,” said Megan MacKenzie, a military sexual misconduct expert at Simon Fraser University.

“There’s no ambiguity here,” MacKenzie said. “The provost marshal reports to the vice-chief of the defence staff — so I remain baffled that anyone could say the military police is independent.”

In an email to the Star, a spokesperson for the military police denied that Trudeau told Eyre that the vice-chief of the defence staff could not be investigated.

“His main consideration, which he states in the email, was that the matter did not amount to the level of service/criminal offense(s) and therefore did not meet the threshold for military police to investigate,” Lt.-Cdr. Jamie Bresolin wrote in an email.

Bresolin added that Trudeau “has stated that any member of the CAF, regardless of rank or status, can be investigated by the military police.”

An expert on sexual misconduct in the military says it might be better to have the military police report directly to the minister of national defence.

By citing his reporting relationship to the vice chief of the defence staff in declining to investigate, Trudeau also raises questions about the ability of military police to investigate the chief of the defence staff, said Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, “because that superior has power over the (vice chief), so it makes things very complicated and very cloudy.”

The correspondence between Trudeau and Eyre highlights an “urgent requirement” for an external oversight body, said retired colonel Michel Drapeau, a lawyer specializing in military issues.

That issue is currently being studied by retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour in an independent review of sexual misconduct in the military.

“It would … ensure that all are accountable and responsible, regardless of their stations within the defence structure,” Drapeau said.

After turning down Eyre’s request, Trudeau recommended that “the facts you are seeking surrounding the golf game would be best determined” the Department of National Defence’s assistant deputy minister of review services

A DND spokesperson confirmed that the assistant deputy minister’s office provided Eyre with an analysis of the golf game, which was not included in the package of documents received by the Star.


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