The commander of the Royal Canadian Navy apologized Sunday night for playing golf with Gen. Jonathan Vance while he remains under investigation by military police, in a statement that also described his decision to do so as a “public show of support.”
Vice Admiral. CA Baines’ statement came after it was revealed on Saturday that he and the second-in-command of the Canadian forces, Lt. General. Mike Rouleau, went golfing last week with the former defense chief of staff.
Senior military leaders went golfing with General Jonathan Vance amid a military police investigation
Vance is currently under investigation by military police following the allegations of inappropriate behavior, which were first reported by Global News in February. Deny all accusations of inappropriate behavior.
“I fully accept responsibility and accountability for failing to understand how a public display of support sends the wrong signal regarding my commitment to lead in solving our systemic misconduct and cultural issues. For this, I sincerely apologize, ”Baines’s statement reads.
Sources who spoke to Global News about the golf outing cited deep concern over whether senior military leaders are truly committed to stamping out sexual misconduct. They also expressed concern that the decision to go golfing with Vance contradicts messages made in recent months by senior leaders encouraging members who experience sexual misconduct to come forward.
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Baines’ statement comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier in the day that senior military leaders who played golf with Vance must “answer for themselves.”
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The vice admiral said he would take a few days of personal leave and that Rear Admiral Chris Sutherland would act in his place in the meantime.
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Rouleau has yet to issue an apology, but will soon be replaced by Lt. Gen. Frances Allen, who will be the first female deputy director of the defense staff. His role as deputy chief of defense staff includes oversight of the military police, who are now investigating Vance.
The military police are also investigating an accusation against the admiral. Art McDonald, the former chief of the navy and current chief of defense staff, who temporarily stepped aside in late February following an indictment against him. The woman behind that accusation serves in the navy and is within the Baines chain of command.
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McDonald has declined to comment on the allegation.
A spokesman for Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told Global News on Saturday night that the minister learned of the situation that afternoon, after questions from the media.
“The decision by LGen Rouleau and VAdm Baines to go golfing with Gen Vance is worrying and unacceptable. The Minister will discuss the next steps with the Acting Chief of Defense Staff, ”the spokesman said.
– With files from Amanda Connolly and Mercedes Stephenson
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