Vance is alleged to have engaged in inappropriate behaviour with two female subordinates. One is a relationship he had with a woman he significantly outranked. The other is a sexual comment made to a much younger woman in 2012 before he was appointed defence chief, according to a report by Global News on Feb. 2.
The report said Vance acknowledged dating the first woman nearly 20 years ago, but their relationship was never sexual. He said he had no recollection of making the sexual comment to the woman in the second instance, but if he had done so it would have been intended as a joke and he was willing to apologize.
The allegations against Vance come less than a month after he turned over command of the Canadian Armed Forces to Admiral Art McDonald following more than five years in the position.
The former chief could not be reached for comment, and so the allegations against him could not be independently verified.
“We can confirm the CFNIS [Canadian Forces National Investigation Service] is investigating this matter,” Daniel Le Bouthillier, spokesman of Department of National Defence, said in a statement.
CFNIS is the investigative arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police Group.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the investigative process, no additional information can be provided at this time,” he added.
Le Bouthillier also said CFNIS’s investigation is separate from an independent examination that has been ordered by top military officials.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was asked during question period on Feb. 4 if he was aware of the allegations against Vance, who took over as Canada’s defence chief in July 2015.
“I have always ensured that any allegations that were brought to my attention were reported to the appropriate authorities to begin an investigation, regardless of rank or position,” Sajjan said.
“I have always followed all of the appropriate processes in pursuing issues related to workplace harassment whenever allegations have arisen.”
“We will ensure that a full, thorough and independent investigation is conducted,” he added.
With files from The Canadian Press