Canadian military's second-in-command resigns

2021-06-15 00:05:52 GMT2021-06-15 08:05:52(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

OTTAWA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Canada's Vice-Chief of Defence Staff Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau announced his resignation on Monday following media-reported playing golf with former Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, who is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.

"As a result of this incident, I am stepping aside immediately as [vice-chief of the defence staff] and will transition to the CAF Transition Group. Major-General Frawley will serve as [acting vice-chief of the defence staff] until Lieutenant-General Allen assumes command. I am acutely aware of the tumultuous times we are navigating together," Rouleau said in a statement.

Rouleau reportedly golfed with Vance at the Hylands Golf and Country Club in Ottawa on June 2, along with Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Craig Baines.

Rouleau said he invited Vance to play golf "to ensure his wellness." He insisted he and Vance did not discuss anything related to ongoing investigations during their outing.

"I understand how such an activity could lead some to perceive a potential conflict of interest and controversy, given the current context, but nothing can be further from the truth," Rouleau said in his statement.

As vice-chief of the defence staff, Rouleau has authority over the military's provost marshal. The provost marshal is in charge of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), which is investigating Vance over allegations of inappropriate behaviour, which Vance denied.

Rouleau said CFNIS investigations are "completely independent" from his office and that he has never interfered with an investigation, including those into allegations of sexual misconduct. "I have no power over any military police probe whatsoever."

Military police launched an investigation into Vance in early February following his retirement. Shortly thereafter, his successor Admiral Art McDonald stepped aside voluntarily as an investigation was underway into his behaviour. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the public face of Canada's vaccine rollout since last November, is also facing a sexual misconduct claim against him that dates back more than 30 years.

Earlier Monday, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was "disappointed" upon hearing of the event and that the three men showed "very poor judgment."

"I absolutely understand and sympathize with the sentiment that men and women, but maybe especially women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), have having seen this, and the concern that it causes them to have about the possibility of real fairness for them," Freeland said. Enditem