Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Then chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance watches a news conference from the front row of seats, in Ottawa, May 7, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides to testify on when they first learned of sexual misconduct allegations surrounding the military’s former top soldier – and account for what they did about the accusations.

The Tories said they will ask the House of Commons’ defence committee on Monday to have Zita Astravas and Elder Marques appear in the coming days, as opposition parties continue digging into the government’s handling of the allegations against General Jonathan Vance.

Ms. Astravas was Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s chief of staff and Mr. Marques was a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March, 2018, when former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne says he first raised an allegation against Gen. Vance to the Defence Minister.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Walbourne did not reveal the nature of the allegation, citing a promise of confidentiality to the complainant. But Global News has reported it was a lewd e-mail that Gen. Vance allegedly sent to a much more junior soldier in 2012, before he became chief of the defence staff.

An e-mail obtained by The Canadian Press showed Ms. Astravas writing to Mr. Walbourne on March 5, 2018, four days after the former ombudsman says he met with the Minister, asking if Mr. Walbourne had talked to the Privy Council Office about an unspecified allegation.

The Privy Council Office is the department that supports the Prime Minister’s Office.

Ms. Astravas, who is now chief of staff to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and Mr. Marques, who left the Liberal government in late September, also discussed concerns related to the Canadian Armed Forces’ commander, according to a Globe and Mail report.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he wasn’t aware of any specific allegation against Gen. Vance, telling reporters on Friday that “The ombudsman did not provide sufficient information … to be able to follow up on these allegations.”

Mr. Sajjan, for his part, has refused to confirm Mr. Walbourne notified him of any allegations against Gen. Vance, and told the committee he was surprised when Global News reported two allegations of inappropriate conduct against the former defence chief last month.

The Defence Minister has also said he always followed proper procedures whenever an allegation of sexual misconduct was brought to his attention. Opposition parties have disputed that assertion, alleging the Liberals are trying to sweep the affair under the carpet.

Story continues below advertisement

“Canadians need to get answers from those directly involved in this Liberal cover-up,” Conservative defence critic James Bezan said in a statement on Sunday.

“That’s why we will be moving a motion to have Minister Sajjan’s former chief of staff, Zita Astravas, and senior Trudeau adviser Elder Marques testify at defence committee.”

The Conservatives have indicated that they also plan to call Mr. Sajjan back for a second round of questioning.

The Global report alleges Gen. Vance had an ongoing relationship with a subordinate that started more than a decade ago.

The report alleged the relationship continued after he was named chief of the defence staff in 2015, at which time he promised to root sexual misconduct from the Armed Forces.

Global has also reported on the allegations concerning Gen. Vance’s e-mail to a much younger female officer in 2012, allegedly suggesting they go to a clothing-optional vacation resort.

Story continues below advertisement

Gen. Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Canadian Press, and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global has reported that Gen. Vance has denied any wrongdoing.

Military police have launched an investigation. Mr. Sajjan has also promised a separate, independent probe, but it has yet to begin.

Mr. Walbourne testified to the House of Commons’ defence committee last week about his closed-door meeting with Mr. Sajjan on March 1, 2018, saying he told the Defence Minister that an allegation had been made against Gen. Vance.

The former ombudsman told the committee that Mr. Sajjan declined to look at supporting evidence and instead referred the matter to the Privy Council Office. Mr. Walbourne said that was despite his having asked the Minister to keep the matter confidential.

Mr. Sajjan’s office has said the Minister “disagrees with parts of [Mr. Walbourne’s] testimony that occurred in committee.”

The Conservatives have also said they want to expand the committee’s study to include the government’s handling of allegations of misconduct against Gen. Vance’s successor, Admiral Art McDonald.

Story continues below advertisement

Adm. McDonald temporarily stepped aside as chief of the defence staff late last month, only weeks after succeeding Gen. Vance in the role.

Acting defence chief Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre sent a letter to Canadian Armed Forces personnel on Friday praising their commitment and professionalism while acknowledging the presence of “elements of our military culture that need, must and will change.”

“Certain behaviours and attitudes exhibited toward our personnel are beyond troubling,” he added.

“None of us should ever tolerate, or condone, behaviour or attitudes that threaten the well-being of our people. The road will not be easy, but we will emerge a stronger, better and more effective Force.”

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies