In that speech Vance condemned inappropriate sexual behaviour and warned that would not be tolerated under his command.
“Any form of harmful sexual behaviour has been and always will be absolutely contrary to good order and discipline,” Vance said in his inaugural address. “It is a threat to morale. It is a threat to operational readiness and a threat to this institution.”
Vance launched Operation Honour, a campaign to crack down on sexual misconduct.
But Brennan said Vance and the senior leadership behind Operation Honour “have no clue” about the sexual misconduct in the Canadian military.
The committee also heard Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had the power to conduct an investigation into allegations concerning Vance as well as to remove the officer temporarily from command.
There was nothing stopping Sajjan from doing either when he was told about the allegations in 2018, said retired Canadian military colonel and Ottawa lawyer Michel Drapeau, who represents military personnel who have been sexually assaulted or harassed.
“He had the duty to investigate,” Drapeau testified. “He had the tools to investigate.”
Sajjan has said he takes seriously all allegations of sexual misconduct and passed any information he received to the Privy Council Office, the main bureaucratic organization that provides support to the prime minister and cabinet. The PCO has said the information provided did not allow further action to be taken.
Liberal MPs on the committee said no evidence has been presented that would verify the defence minister heard the allegations in 2018.
Sajjan appeared before the committee last week but didn’t answer many questions, citing the need to protect the ongoing investigation into Vance.
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