Committee Reverses Itself on Wrapping up Investigation Into Military Misconduct

April 16, 2021 Updated: April 16, 2021

OTTAWA—A House of Commons committee is reversing a decision to wrap up its investigation into sexual misconduct in Canada’s military.

Earlier this week, the Bloc Quebecois had joined Liberal members of the defence committee in voting to conclude their investigation and begin preparing their report on the matter.

But Conservative MP James Bezan moved Friday that Elder Marques, a former senior adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office, be summoned to testify within seven days.

Liberal committee chair Karen McCrimmon ruled Bezan’s motion out of order, saying it was inconsistent with the earlier decision to conclude the committee’s investigation.

However, Conservatives challenged her ruling, arguing that the decision to begin preparing the committee report didn’t preclude hearing from more witnesses.

All opposition members, including the Bloc’s Andreanne Larouche, voted to overturn McCrimmon’s ruling.

McCrimmon suspended the meeting before the committee could deal with Bezan’s motion.

The committee has been investigating allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.

Global News has reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked. He is also accused of having made a sexual comment to a second, much younger, soldier in 2012, before he became commander of the Armed Forces. The outlet has reported Vance denies any wrongdoing.

Vance, who turned over command of the military in January after more than five years in the job, has not responded to requests for comment by The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified.

Opposition members of the defence committee have been trying to determine who in the Liberal government knew about the allegations against Vance and when they learned of them.

Their investigation has been frustrated by the government’s refusal to allow staffers in the PMO or minister’s offices testify at committees, despite a House of Commons order. The Liberals maintain that ministers, not their staffers, are the ones who should be held accountable.