Newly released briefing notes indicate that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is in the midst of another controversy.
Maj. Greg McCullough was to provide more support in the minister's Vancouver home riding in Vancouver, according to the notes, though that request did not become a reality. According to CTV News, McCullough supported Sajjan in March 2020 despite an external investigation on two counts of misconduct in 2018 for his relationship with Const. Nicole Chan committed suicide in January 2019.
Sajjan told the military to fill a newly created position with a suspended Vancouver police officer who previously served alongside him. An Access to Information request indicated that the minister actively looked for a new assistant in Vancouver, though they did not mention McCullough by name. However, the request was not granted over an inappropriate relationship by the officer with a subordinate. McCullough declined to comment Thursday, citing he got in trouble for previously speaking to The Canadian Press.
Sajjan's office acknowledged the minister and McCullough knew each other as officers in the British Columbia Regiment and that they both served simultaneously with the Vancouver Police Department. However, they said the military was responsible for McCullough's hiring process. Supposedly, neither the minister nor his staff was aware of the complaint, and disciplinary action was taken against McCullough as a Vancouver police sergeant.
The Department of National Defence confirmed McCullough, who remains part of the Canadian reserve, no longer works as Sajjan's side. Sajjan had four military assistants in Ottawa at the time of the request, though the Defence Department said it had no records of another aide position outside the capital.
"The minister determined that additional full-time support is required while he is in Vancouver," said the briefing, which acknowledged that an "appropriate candidate" was selected in March 2020 to work alongside the minister. He requested the part-time position be upgraded to full-time, representing a significant pay increase.
Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said the hiring did not happen and that the role remains unfilled because such full-time positions are only for "exceptional circumstances." Sajjan's spokesman Daniel Minden defended the creation of the military assistant position in Vancouver, stating: "In order to avoid the high costs of travel by Ottawa-based military staff to Vancouver, a Vancouver-based military assistant position was created.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Sajjan has spent part of the past year working remotely from his riding in Vancouver, where this support was even more important. Military assistants from Ottawa are travelling to Vancouver as required to carry out these tasks," he added in an email."
"Minister Sajjan had nothing to do with my hiring process," said Minden last month. "He required a military assistant on the West Coast because of the amount of time that he spends here, and that's it. I didn't speak with Minister Sajjan about this process, and I serve the Canadian Armed Forces."
Sajjan currently faces opposition calls to resign over his supposed mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations involving senior military commanders. This also comes amid concerns about an "Old Boys network" that protects senior military officials from reprimand.
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