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Results: 1 - 60 of 68
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning to our witnesses.
Ms. Langley, we know that your group does not release minutes of its meetings and that the conflict of interest log was last updated in October 2020.
Has your group met since October?
Joanne Langley
View Joanne Langley Profile
Joanne Langley
2021-05-05 15:58
Yes. The vaccine task force has met on an ongoing basis and has had meetings since October.
Joanne Langley
View Joanne Langley Profile
Joanne Langley
2021-05-05 15:59
Our original overarching mission is still our main task, which is safe and effective vaccines for Canadians. The way in which we execute that mission changes over time. As you know, new concerns have arisen over time. That happens with every public health immunization program. Thinking longer-term than 2021, we have been involved in that kind of planning and in recommendations to government about how we will protect Canadians as the pandemic continues, in whatever trajectory it takes.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. Sajjan, at the time, you refused to meet with Mr. Walbourne, who wanted to share information about allegations of a sexual nature.
If today, in 2021, Mr. Lick were to contact you to share information of the same nature, would you still refuse to meet with him?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
First of all, on the assertion that the member has made, I did not refuse to meet with the former ombudsman. In fact, I actually had a formal meeting with our entire staff. He asked to meet with me privately, and I met with him privately. We had a discussion, in fact, about the current investigation that was currently going on in his office. At the end, he raised those concerns. He did not ask me for advice. However, I gave the advice, and the advice was to make sure that we handled this information properly. That's why it was followed up immediately.
If anybody had provided any of this type of information, I would always follow the proper procedure. That's exactly what I did in the past, and that's exactly what I'll do in the future.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, but you refused to meet with Mr. Walbourne on at least a dozen occasions, according to what he told us.
Is that incorrect?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
What you're referring to are regular meetings. In fact, we used to have regular meetings, and we did have meetings. It's not refusing to meet. Sometimes when it comes to scheduling issues.... In fact, I took every opportunity I could to actually meet with him. We met quite regularly to discuss the work that the ombudsman’s office was doing, to talk about some of the things early on when we were developing the defence policy, looking at some of those things.
I did not ever refuse to meet with the ombudsman.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Walbourne told the committee that you refused to meet with him a dozen times after he tried to talk to you about the General Vance case. Now you're saying that this isn't true and that you meet with the ombudsman very often, whether it be Mr. Walbourne or Mr. Lick at this point.
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
After that meeting, the former ombudsman gave his letter of intent to resign. He was on leave, I believe, at that time. However, when it came to the information that the former ombudsman provided, we took many opportunities.... Well, the Privy Council did, including my former chief of staff, who actually emailed him directly to ask for the information.
No, I did not refuse to meet with the former ombudsman.
View Bob Benzen Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
Minister, after your meeting with Gary Walbourne on March 1, 2018, he made over a dozen requests to have a meeting with you and they were all rejected.
Can you explain why none of those meetings happened and why the requests were rejected?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Chair, it's important to note that I didn't reject the meetings. It's also important to note that the former ombudsman had given his letter of intent to resign and was on medical leave during that time. No, I did not refuse to meet with the ombudsman. I've met regularly with the ombudsman at any opportunity I have had to talk about a number of issues.
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
There was none directly by me; however, my former chief of staff did reach out to the former ombudsman regarding the allegations on a couple of occasions.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
First, I want to say that I've greatly appreciated the presentations of our witnesses so far. They're very informative.
Are you or have you been in a similar situation? Is it easy for you to get in touch with the minister?
Mr. Lick, the former ombudsman, Mr. Walbourne, stated that he made more than a dozen requests to meet with the minister, after his meeting on March 1, 2018, and that these requests were all denied.
Gregory Lick
View Gregory Lick Profile
Gregory Lick
2021-04-06 15:20
My experience since I first started is that I have not had any issues with meeting with the minister. Obviously, the minister is a very busy person, with a department the size of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence. That's a given. My experience is that I have not had any issues. When I've requested a meeting with the minister, I have not had any problems getting one.
Janine Sherman
View Janine Sherman Profile
Janine Sherman
2021-03-26 14:38
My exchanges with Mr. Walbourne on March 5 and 6 in particular indicate, I think, that I was clear that I did want to do the follow-up based on his conversation with the minister and that I was clearly not seeking any information that he would not be able to share, but that I was looking to understand the nature of the complaint.
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee.
I want to thank the committee for inviting me back for this two-hour session.
There are points that I hope all members in this committee agree upon. Sexual misconduct and harassment are unacceptable. They're not acceptable in Canadian society. They're not acceptable in the Parliament of Canada and they're definitely not acceptable in the Canadian Armed Forces or the Department of National Defence. We want to prevent it and we support their network. We want to ensure that those who come forward feel safe and confident when sexual misconduct and harassment are reported and investigated.
Eliminating all forms of misconduct and abuse of power and creating a safe work environment for everyone in the defence team has always been my top priority as Minister of National Defence. However, recent media reports show that still too many members of the Canadian Armed Forces do not feel safe to come forward.
I want to be clear that I had no knowledge of these allegations before they were reported. I know, we know, that we must do more to make sure that every Canadian Armed Forces member feels safe to come forward and that we will be ready to support them if they do.
I spent my lifetime serving Canadians, as a police detective, as a Canadian who served in uniform and as a member of Parliament. I know that perpetrators must be held accountable. I know that any organization, including the Canadian Armed Forces, must work hard to eliminate the toxic masculinity that creates an unacceptable culture. We have taken action to change this culture of toxic masculinity and it tackles sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, but we have more work to do and every option is on the table. We owe it to our members and to Canadians to get this right.
As I stated previously, I disagree with parts of Mr. Walbourne's testimony concerning our meeting in 2018. Last week, the former ombudsman presented his version of the facts. In my previous testimony I wanted to respect the confidential nature of my meetings with the former ombudsman, but in light of his testimony, there are issues I need to set straight.
I did meet with Mr. Walbourne on March 1. At the end of a regular meeting with staff, Mr. Walbourne asked to meet alone. The majority of this private meeting did not concern General Vance. Rather, in this private meeting, Mr. Walbourne spent the majority of his time focused on the investigation into claims of misconduct involving him and his office.
As I have said before, any investigation needs to run its course, no matter the rank, no matter the position of those involved. It must be free of political interference. That also applied to the investigation of the ombudsman's office, as I told him at that time. Politicians inserting themselves into an investigation is wrong.
At the very end of this private conversation, Mr. Walbourne brought up concerns of misconduct involving the former chief of the defence staff. He did not give me any details. I did not allow him to give me any details. I very purposely respected the investigative process to ensure that it remained independent.
Drawing an elected official, a politician, into the sequence of an investigation would have been wrong and dangerous. Politicizing any investigation threatens a just outcome for those who come forward. Given his position and experience, Mr. Walbourne should have known this. In our society, the last thing we want is for elected politicians to make decisions that investigators need to make independently.
In Mr. Walbourne's testimony, he stated that he came to me for advice on what to do. I advised him exactly what to do. I said that Mr. Walbourne should use the already existing powers and processes to address the complaint. As Mr. Walbourne stated in his testimony, he knew the powers he had as ombudsman.
According to the directives that govern his office, in matters involving a potential criminal act or breach of code of service discipline, the ombudsman can report these complaints to the judge advocate general, the provost marshal or the military police complaints commission. To my knowledge, Mr. Walbourne did not take these complaints to any of these bodies.
I provided the advice that Mr. Walbourne said he sought. Investigations into complaints like this should start with proper investigative authority, not with an elected official.
To provide Mr. Walbourne with additional support, senior officials in the Privy Council Office were informed of the complaint regarding the former chief of the defence staff. By Mr. Walbourne's own admission, he was asked to provide details regarding this complaint to those appropriate authorities the very next day. Unfortunately, he did not do so. Mr. Walbourne said he sought top cover to show the complainant that we took this allegation seriously.
Madam, Chair, it is because I took this concern so seriously, as I would with any allegations of misconduct, that I raised it to the appropriate independent authority outside of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Mr. Walbourne suggested that if he had received feedback, he would have gone back to the complainant to see if they would provide specific information. We did, in fact, provide that feedback. At no time, according to Mr. Walbourne's testimony, did he say he went back to the complainant to ask if they were willing to make a formal complaint following his meeting with these senior officials. I've learned that at no time did the appropriate authorities receive information.
Finally, Mr. Walbourne stated that there was no follow-up. That is not true. Senior officials followed up. Actionable information was asked for. Information was not shared. At the core of our democratic and justice systems, at their very heart, is the belief that any investigation into potential wrongdoing should never come under the sway of political influence. Being involved can prejudice a just outcome for those who come forward. When any concerns or allegations are brought to my attention, I have always followed the proper processes. I would never want to be the reason that somebody who came forward did not get the just outcome they deserve.
As for the suggestion that the board of inquiry or summary investigation would be the appropriate venue, that suggestion is absolutely wrong. In fact, under the defence administrative orders and directives into boards of inquiry and summary investigations, we are prohibited from using a board of inquiry or summary investigation to seek evidence related to a potential breach of the code of service discipline or assign criminal responsibility.
Madam Chair, let me quote article 2.7 from directive 7002-0:
2.7 A [board of inquiry] or [a summary investigation] must not be conducted if any purpose of the [board of inquiry] or [summary investigation] is to:
a. obtain evidence relating to a potential breach of the Code of Service Discipline; or
b. assign criminal responsibility.
As well, the board of inquiry is prohibited from recommending that a charge be laid. These are critical points.
When individuals come forward, they rightfully expect that their complaints will be acted upon while respecting their wishes and, if warranted, the appropriate charges should be laid under either the code of service discipline or criminal charges. Any interference in this process, which is what has been suggested, puts into jeopardy a just outcome. That would mean a complainant, a survivor, could be denied the just outcome they deserve.
That is why it would have been extremely inappropriate and damaging to discuss any allegation with General Vance.
A just outcome is what those who come forward deserve, an outcome that Canadians, including Canadian Armed Forces members, expect, an outcome our society needs, an outcome that I—and our entire government—want. We have processes to investigate regardless of the rank or position of the person involved.
However, despite the cries from some of the members, investigations should not be politicized, not by a minister and not by anyone in political office. Any investigation should be conducted independently by the relevant and appropriate authorities. This is a fundamental part of our justice system, a principle some of the members seem to forget.
I have always insisted that we have more work to do to ensure that any member of the Canadian Armed Forces feels safe to come forward. Though we have made meaningful progress, we need to accelerate these changes. We need a complete and total culture change. We need to improve our policies and processes to prevent misconduct and to prevent abuses of power.
That is why we are moving forward with an independent external review, to ensure we can comprehensively address the fact that members still do not feel safe to come forward. As we have said, we'll be moving forward with an independent reporting structure to look at allegations of misconduct. All options are on the table. For those who have experienced misconduct, we will do everything possible to rebuild the confidence we have lost.
We're focused on doing everything possible to prevent and eliminate sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. We will have a complete and total culture change. We will eliminate the culture of toxic masculinity that still exists. We will make sure that those who have experienced misconduct feel safe and supported if and when they come forward. We will build a more inclusive Canadian Armed Forces that better reflects and represents the Canadians that they protect each and every day.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Minister, I'm glad you're at committee. You seem to have a change in the story of exactly what happened with these allegations against General Vance. In your opening statement, you failed to acknowledge the victim's wishes, which were to keep it confidential. She was not prepared to give the ombudsman the ability to go forward with the claim until she knew there was a way to protect her.
You know, Minister, and you failed to recognize in your opening statement, that the chief of the defence staff has control over the entire armed forces and only answers to you, as the Minister of National Defence. You ignored the impact of the chain of command and how it would skew the victim's ability to come forward with her story. You were also the superior of the former ombudsman, Gary Walbourne, so he had to get direction from you—which didn't occur.
I just want to confirm the facts here because what you said on February 19 was different from what you are saying today.
Did you meet with Gary Walbourne on March 1, 2018, yes or no?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Chair, as I said in my statement, I did meet with the ombudsman. However, to address the comments the member just made, it is absolutely inappropriate for any elected official—
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
I'm sorry, but we're not buying that. You are the minister. You've sworn an oath to be the minister and to manage, under the National Defence Act, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Minister, did Gary Walbourne address the issue of sexual misconduct allegations against General Vance in the March 1, 2018, meeting?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Chair, as I stated, after a formal meeting in which staff were present, the ombudsman asked me to meet with him alone. I agreed, and the majority of the discussion was about the investigation into him and his office. At the conclusion of that—
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Instead of smearing the character of Gary Walbourne, will you please just answer the question? Did he raise the issue of sexual misconduct—
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Chair, he asked about the meeting, and I'm trying to address what the meeting was and to properly explain what has taken place. What I'm here to tell you is that at the end of that meeting, Mr. Walbourne raised concerns about the former chief of defence staff. That is when I told him that I could not be involved in an investigation. It is improper for any politician to be part of the investigation. More importantly—
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Minister, you know very well that there is an impossibility for an independent investigation to happen within the Department of National Defence when everybody reports up to the chief of the defence staff.
When he tried to raise this and present you with the evidence, what did you do with that information on March 1, 2018?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
With all due respect, Madam Chair, the member is missing a point here. When a complaint is received by the ombudsman, investigation automatically starts. Because of that, no politician, including me, should ever be put in that position. That information should have gone to the appropriate authorities, as I stated. There are many options, which are actually in his own guidance—and he stated that he does know his job—where he could have gone to the judge advocate general, the provost marshal or the independent Military Police Complaints Commission. That did not happen.
What I didn't want to do, Madam Chair, was to possibly undermine a just outcome by my getting involved in an investigation.
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 14:32
Good afternoon, Madam Chair and committee members.
I have appeared in front of 13 committees; however, this is the first time under summons.
I am joined today by my legal counsel Mr. Jordan Lester, partner of the law firm Cheadles in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
As you are aware, I am the former ombudsman of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. As ombudsman, I played a vital role for the 120,000 members of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, their families and all those who served.
Among many other things, the office of the ombudsperson helps individuals and families with complaints or concerns, and can investigate any report and publicly release such a report on any issues that affect the well-being of those who have served or who are serving.
In 2011, I joined the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman as executive director of operations and deputy ombudsman. Prior to that, I was director general to the executive secretariat at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where I was accountable for the coordination of parliamentary affairs, access to information and privacy, and ministerial correspondence. Before joining the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, I was the director of strategic initiatives at the Department of National Defence for several years.
My last day on the job as ombudsperson at DND was October 31, 2018. I left the job early on the advice of my doctors and my own realization that no reasonable person could possibly be expected to continue in the hostile circumstances created by the Department of National Defence.
The hostility from DND started around March of 2017, when I prepared and released a report called “The Case for a Permanent and Independent Ombudsman Office”, which I will call the “governance report”. The governance report concluded that the current governance structure, with its delegations and administrative arrangements, has negatively affected the operational effectiveness of the ombudsman's office.
My primary concern, as was expressed in the report, was that the ombudsman, who reports to and is accountable to the Minister of National Defence, falls under the legislative responsibilities of the deputy head. This, I concluded, affected the independence of the office.
The governance report recommended that the Minister of National Defence support the enactment of legislation aimed at giving the office permanence and independence from National Defence with respect to all functional authorities.
On March 18, 2017, Minister Sajjan rejected the report and its recommendation. In his letter informing me of the same, the minister, quite ironically, stated the following:
If you ever feel that your ability to carry out your duties is being constrained by the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces, I would encourage you to make full use of your direct reporting relationship to make the situation known to me.
I publicly spoke out against Minister Sajjan's decision to reject this recommendation, and as some of you may know, my concerns were widely reported by national media.
Several months later, on July 17, 2017, I met with then deputy minister John Forster to discuss governance issues, specifically the department's administrative order and directive number 7024-1, which sets out internal procedures for disclosure of wrongdoing in the workplace. I've been trying to address these issues with the minister and then deputy minister since 2015.
During this meeting, I directly expressed my frustration with DND's lack of interest in improving its governance structures, and threatened to make my concerns public. One week later, on or about July 24, 2017, I was advised by then deputy minister Forster that a senior officer in the Department of National Defence had made allegations of wrongdoing against me and my staff, under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, PSDPA.
The precise allegations being made were not disclosed; rather, vague and cryptic descriptions such as inappropriate contracting and discriminating hiring practices were provided. These allegations were meritless, and I knew it was a hit job.
On July 27, 2017, I wrote to then deputy minister Forster advising him that I intended to co-operate with the investigation. Further, I asked that I be consulted on the selection of a third party investigator. I was never consulted on the selection of a third party investigator.
For three months nothing happened with this investigation, until October 27, 2017, when I was advised by Deputy Minister Jody Thomas that the allegations against me would proceed to formal investigation. This was odd, because, once again, I was not provided the specifics of the allegations.
The timing of advising me of this investigation was, in my opinion, suspicious. It was conveyed to me just before I was scheduled to appear before the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, where I would be providing an update to the committee on DND's implementation, or lack thereof, of my recommendations. There is no reason why it would take three months to determine whether a formal investigation was necessary. It was obvious this process was being used as a means of intimidation to me prior to my testimony before committee.
I appeared before the committee, and wouldn't you know it, there was radio silence regarding the investigation. On January 12, 2018, I wrote directly to Minister Sajjan to express concerns about the fairness of the investigation, notably, the length of time in advancing the investigation and the secrecy surrounding the specific allegations being made against me.
Minister Sajjan responded more than one month later with no substance other than to thank me for co-operation in the matter. The investigation process inexplicably moved at a snail's pace until March 2018, which just so happened to be the time when I personally met with Minister Sajjan to address an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour within the senior ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically, against the chief of the defence staff, and to discuss my concerns about this allegation.
This meeting happened on March 1, 2018. I explained to Minister Sajjan that the complainant had approached me only after the assurance of confidentiality. As to what I will say here today, it will only be restricted by the oath I took as ombudsman, and more specifically, I will not reveal the name of the complainant or the details of the complaint, for this is their story to tell, not mine.
Minister Sajjan was told the complaint was not formal and my request of the minister was for him to get back to me with some advice on how we could potentially proceed. Now, I understand that there have been several requests to see the calendar of meetings between myself and the minister. This has now been made available to the clerk for distribution to the committee.
It will show that I met with the minister at the following pace: once in 2015, twice in 2016, three times in 2017 and once in 2018, specifically, March 1, 2018. After this meeting, there were over a dozen requests from myself to the minister to meet. All were rejected, and I never spoke to Minister Sajjan again. This meeting was very hostile and ended bitterly.
Wouldn't you know it? Suddenly, the investigation processes were being pushed forward again. Shortly after the tumultuous March 1 meeting with the minister, and without any warning consultation, my financial authority and my HR delegations were altered, changed and truncated. This decision directly impacted the independence of my organization.
On March 2, 2018, I informed Minister Sajjan of my intention to resign from my position. My letter to the minister stated, “There is absolutely no trust in the environment and more effort is focussed on isolating this Office rather than listening to evidence-based reporting. As mentioned this has become a toxic workplace and has had grave impact on my health and well-being and thus has pushed me to this decision.”
Despite delivering my resignation letter directly to Minister Sajjan, and despite the very serious allegations being made against the Department of National Defence, the minister did not acknowledge the resignation letter until August 15 of 2018, a delay of five months. In this response, he did not address the serious allegations, nor did he address my concerns regarding a toxic workplace.
Meanwhile, the investigation continued, and others were launched against members of my team who defended me. Several innocent victims were caught up in the investigation, some who still suffer in situation to this day, and those of us who left early.
One of the people vexatiously charged went to Federal Court for a judicial review. Here's a quote from that review. On July 23, 2019, the Honourable Mr. Justice Zinn said:
She was denied procedural fairness in the investigation and in the decision-making process. The decision to accept the investigator's findings that she engaged in wrongdoing must be set aside.
To add further injury, after I had met with the minister on March 1, I was contacted by the Privy Council Office the very next day for a meeting. I thought it had to do with the investigation that I was under, but I was completely floored when they asked me about the details of the complaint and the allegation against the chief of the defence staff when I had specifically told the minister that I did not have the complainant's permission to investigate, and it was to be held in confidence.
Much has been said about the independence of both the ombudsman's office and the sexual misconduct response centre. The fact is neither is independent. Even though I am no longer an ombudsperson, while I'm here I would like to use this platform of the committee to advocate.
There is no construct that allows for independence when both financial and staffing delegations are controlled by the very entity you are reporting on. I liken it to sending young adults off to university; they live independently while their parents pay the rent. That's close. I published two reports regarding independence that are as applicable today as they were when they were published.
I'll give you a little history. In 1998 the ombudsman's office was created, and, yes, dealing with sexual assault and harassment were the responsibility of the ombudsman's office. What was missing was the support and resources to fully implement a program. I suggested that the sexual misconduct response centre be rolled into the ombudsman's office and that this entity be made to report to Parliament.
It irritates me as I hear the continued rhetoric of yes, we're all here for you, but in reality not much changes.
The time has come to get these organizations out from under the boot heel of the department. You will hear opposing points of view, I'm sure, but I will ask you this: how is it working for your now? Changing the name on the door and flashing advertising is not going to fix this, as we have seen.
I'm aware of the allotted time given to me by the committee to make an opening statement, and I don't doubt there are some questions. To to conclude my statement, I will say that, yes, I did meet with on March 1, 2018, and, yes, I did directly tell him about an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour made against the chief of the defence staff.
Very shortly after that meeting, as I have said before, the autonomy and financial independence of my office were gutted yet again, and despite the fact that I was the ombudsman of the department I oversaw, that was the last time I ever spoke to the minister.
I now stand ready to take questions from the committee, but I do ask that if anyone comes to committee to refute what I have said here today, please invite me back so that I can provide evidence to support my testimony.
I stand ready for your questions, Madam Chair.
Thank you.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Walbourne, for appearing today and for setting the record straight.
When you met with Minister Sajjan at that March 1, 2018, meeting, were you accompanied by anyone or was there anyone else in the room at that time?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 14:45
The meeting was a scheduled meeting. There was an agenda for the meeting. There were several items. There were both departmental staff and ombudsman staff in the room at the time.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 14:46
Excuse me. No.
I can send the agenda over to the committee. You will see that at the end of the agenda there's a confidential item on which everyone else was asked to leave the room. The meeting was between me and the minister when the discussion about the sexual allegation was brought forward. He and I were the only ones in the room.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Okay.
You told the minister back on March 1, 2018, that there were serious allegations of sexual misconduct by General Vance. What was the minister's mood and how did he reply in response to this report that you were presenting to him?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 14:47
The meeting kind of ended right around that point in time.
I did tell the minister what the allegation was. I reached into my pocket to show him the evidence I was holding, and he pushed back from the table and said, “No.” I don't think we exchanged another word.
I did offer to shake his hand at the end of the meeting and I asked him to get back to me with some advice as to what I should do with this. That's how it ended.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you for that.
You've been very clear and straightforward about what happened in the meeting on March 1, 2018, and I thank you for that very forthright testimony.
Can you see any reason why the minister would not be able to be as forthright about what happened in that meeting as you've been? Are there any constraints on the minister's telling us about that meeting and his perception of that meeting?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 15:08
I don't think anything I've said here today is shocking. We have different renditions of our memories, but I don't think that anything I've said here is shocking. This is straight up. It is what it is.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
The minister appeared before us and said that he could not talk to us about the meeting he had with you. He wouldn't even, really, confirm that the meeting took place, let alone the content of that meeting.
Are you aware of any legal constraints on him as defence minister talking to this committee about what happened in that meeting?
View Bob Benzen Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Walbourne, for being here today.
Mr. Walbourne, after March 1, 2018, you had seven meetings cancelled with the minister. In those seven meetings, were you trying to follow up on this allegation? Were you going back to follow up and see if you could get advice as to how to proceed on this matter?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 15:42
No, that wasn't the request for the meetings. That wasn't the purpose. I knew after PCO contacted me that the minister wasn't going to do anything. I had many other hot cases that required ministerial exposure and feedback. That's the reason for the meetings. The office wasn't stagnant on just one file. I mean, we deal with 2,000 complaints a year and with the systemic review. I needed to speak to the minister on multiple issues.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I will be brief, because I really want Ms. May to be able to speak, since I am sharing my time with her.
Mr. Walbourne, at the March 2018 meeting, about how long did your closed-door discussion with the Minister last?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 15:54
I didn't share the allegations with the PCO. I was there for another reason, I thought. They asked me for the allegation against the chief and I was shocked that they knew. I didn't give them anything. I told them they shouldn't know and that I had asked the minister for confidence.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Okay. I appreciate that.
With regard to the seven meetings you requested with the minister after March 1, 2018, you said you had various issues you wanted to bring forward. Do you think he was saying no because he was afraid you would again bring up the issue of the allegations against General Vance?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 16:03
Well, that's a distinct possibility. I would suspect it would have been in the back of his mind.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. Walbourne, these will be my final comments for today. Once again, I would like to thank you for joining us today. We are very grateful to you.
I was thinking over the last question I asked you, and I would like some clarification.
When the Privy Council Office called you, did you go in person or was it done by telephone?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Did they call you about any particular topic when they asked you to go to their office?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 16:21
No, we were hot back and forth under this investigation that I was under. There had been a lot of communication. It's the only thing I ever reached out to the PCO for, so I was under the assumption—wrongly, apparently—that I was going over to talk about where we were in that investigation process.
We had called over a couple of days prior to my meeting with the minister and asked for a meeting. By the time I got back from the meeting with the minister, I had received, that morning, a response to come over to PCO, so I was under the assumption it had to do with something totally different.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
At that point, did they not tell you about the specific topic that would be discussed?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2021-03-03 16:22
No, again, I thought it was a response to a request I had made for a meeting. I was going over under the premise that we were talking about a different subject.
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