Vice admiral exhibited ‘poor judgment’ while playing golf with former top brass who was under investigation, Defense Department says

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There was a lack of direction and rules for senior military leaders when the Navy chief decided to go golfing last June with ex-Private Jonathan Vance who was then the subject of a investigated for sexual misconduct, according to a departmental analysis obtained by the Star.

That said, “it is reasonable to say that other courses of action were available” for Vice Admiral Craig Baines, indicates an “ethical analysis” of the Department of National Defense completed last June and obtained this week by through an access to information request.

While the review’s final conclusion is redacted, the department told The Star this week that it found that Baines “shown poor judgment, but his actions should not be construed as a profound ethical breach.The report also concluded that his actions caused harm to the institution.

The analysis focused on a golf game last June, when former Vice Chief of the Defense Staff Mike Rouleau and Baines met with former Chief of the Defense Staff Vance while that he was under investigation by the military police. The military police report to Rouleau, who resigns a few days after the golf game was made public.

“This case and others make it clear that some senior leaders do not yet understand what is permitted when providing support to those accused of sexual misconduct,” the analysis found. “There also appears to be a lack of general direction and articulation of the limits that should be placed on such support.”

A military sexual misconduct expert says the finding remains relevant today as more senior leaders have been investigated as the Canadian Armed Forces continues to face a misconduct crisis. sexual.

“This report indicates that there are deep ethical blind spots about what their conduct should be,” said Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

The department said in a statement that “we recognize that there is a need for more guidance with respect to supporting” those accused of sexual misconduct, and is working on developing additional resources.

In a memo to staff when he resigned last June, Rouleau said he communicated with the officers under investigation to verify their well-being, with the “full knowledge and consent” of the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Wayne Eyre.

The analysis began after Eyre asked the assistant deputy minister’s office to review the services to determine whether Baines’ involvement in the game of golf constituted “a real, perceived or apparent conflict of interest and/or created other ethical risks” for the military and defence. department.

One of the findings of the analysis found that the game of golf presented an “apparent organizational conflict of interest” that “was sufficient to cause significant damage to the integrity of the CAF”.

Baines said in a statement to the Star last year that he was “devastated by the mistake I made while attending the golf game and was very saddened by the effect it had.”

He said he was committed to survivors and committed to understanding the ‘blind spot that allowed this to happen’ and pushing other leaders to provide better support to members. of the CAF. A Navy spokesman said this week that Baines had no further comment.

The analysis said it relied on public domain information and an interview with Baines, and was not a “formal investigation.”

He said Baines, who “has no personal relationship outside of work with … Vance or Rouleau,” attended the golf game at Rouleau’s invitation and said he understood the object of the game was to perform a “wellness check” on Vance.

“It is not unreasonable to assume that even in the situation described by VAdm Baines, other possible courses of action should have been given greater consideration to avoid the apparent organizational conflict of interest,” the analysis states. . (The unredacted portions of the document do not specify what these other courses of action were.)

“However, based on the information that has been leaked, a reasonable person…would concede that the situation facing VAdm Baines presented a real challenge and required courage to face it.”

The exam was prepared on June 18, and Eyre announced on June 29 that Baines would keep his job. In making his decision, Eyre said he consulted with sailors, survivors, legal and conflict of interest experts, academics and senior government officials.

As the Star reported in December, Eyre first asked the military police chief, Brigadier General. Simon Trudeau, to investigate the circumstances of the golf game. Trudeau declined, citing in part his reporting relationship with Rouleau. Instead, he recommended Eyre’s contact examination services.

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