The commander of the Royal Canadian Navy apologized Sunday night for golfing with Gen. Jonathan Vance while he remains under military police investigation, in a statement that also described his decision to do so as a “public display of support.”
Vice-Adm. C.A. Baines’ statement came after it was revealed on Saturday that he and the second-in-command of the Canadian Forces, Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, went golfing this past week with the former chief of defence staff.
Vance is currently under military police investigation following allegations of inappropriate behaviour, which were first reported by Global News in February. He denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
“I fully accept responsibility and accountability for not understanding how such a public display of support sends the wrong signal as to my commitment to lead in resolving our systemic cultural and misconduct issues. For this, I sincerely apologize,” read Baines’ statement.
Sources who spoke to Global News about the golf outing cited deep concern about whether the military’s senior leaders are truly committed to rooting out sexual misconduct. They also voiced concerns that the decision to go golfing with Vance contradicts messages made in recent months by senior leaders encouraging members experiencing sexual misconduct to come forward.
Trudeau says senior military leaders who golfed with Vance need to ‘answer for themselves’
Baines’ statement comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier in the day that senior military leaders who golfed with Vance need to ‘answer for themselves’
The vice-admiral said that he would be taking a few days of personal leave, and that Rear-Admiral Chris Sutherland would be acting in his place in the meantime.
Rouleau has not yet issued an apology but is set to be replaced soon by Lt.-Gen Frances Allen, who will be the first female vice chief of defence staff. His role as vice chief of the defence staff includes oversight of the military police, which is now investigating Vance.
Military police are also investigating an allegation against Adm. Art McDonald, the former head of the navy and current chief of the defence staff, who stepped aside temporarily in late February following an allegation against him. The woman behind that allegation serves in the navy, and is within the chain of command of Baines.
Royal Military College failed to respond to sexual misconduct: former training head
McDonald has declined to comment on the allegation.
A spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told Global News Saturday evening that the minister became aware of the situation that afternoon, after media inquiries.
“The decision by the LGen Rouleau and VAdm Baines to go golfing with Gen Vance is troubling and unacceptable. The Minister will discuss next steps with Acting Chief of the Defence Staff,” the spokesperson said.
— With files from Amanda Connolly and Mercedes Stephenson
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