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Canadian News Jul 17, 2021 7:04 PM EST

UPDATE: Jonathan Vance charged with obstruction of justice, witness testimony released publicly

Military police Thursday charged Vance with obstruction of justice under the Criminal Code, an offence that carries a maximum ten-year prison term.

UPDATE: Jonathan Vance charged with obstruction of justice, witness testimony released publicly
Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary, AB

More information on the obstruction of justice charge against General (Ret'd) Jonathan Vance has been released, including a witness testimony that recorded Vance instructing the witness to lie about the pair's sexual relationship, according to Blacklock's.

The former commander of the Canadian Armed Forces appeared Thursday before the Commons committee testimony that alleged he attempted to persuade Major Kellie Brennan to falsify statements about their past workplace relationship to military investigators, according to court documents accessed by CTV News. The documents indicate the alleged obstruction occurred between Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, before the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service began its investigation.

On April 22, Brennan testified at the Commons committee on the Status of Women, stating "the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service has all of the recordings of him directing me in what to say, what not to say, what to exclude, to perjure myself and to lie." She spoke on her sexual relationship with Vance, saying that she fathered two children with him.

MP Alleslev: "Did he ever threaten you?"

Major Brennan: "Was there a threat meaning bodily harm? No."

MP Alleslev: "I mean whatever you perceived as a threat: reprisals, consequences."

Major Brennan: "Definitely. He gave me very many consequences if I did not follow his orders."

MP Alleslev: "Can you give us an example?"

Major Brennan: "One of the things I especially couldn’t figure out was that I was going to be questioned by his spouse, who’s a lawyer, and questioned over and over and over again if I didn’t say the right thing, that somehow she was going to come and see me and question me. He said I was not to mention certain things about our relationship, our personal lives. The consequences were always the same, that I had to stay silent."

He also allegedly told her that he was "untouchable," as "He owned the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service." Vance denied any wrongdoing.

General Vance was charged under section 139 of the Criminal Code that prohibits any attempt to "obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding." The charge has yet to be proven in court. No other chief of defence staff has faced similar charges.

MPs Thursday avoided comment on the charge. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to take reporters' questions on the case because of the "ongoing legal proceedings." New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement, "Canadians deserve so much better," and that Vance's case is just the "tip of the iceberg." He added: "We've known for years that this is a problem."

"We stand with the women in the Canadian Armed Forces who continue to wait for a real culture change in the face of sexual misconduct and assault in the military," said Singh.

Conservative MP and defence critic James Bezan repeated his calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to resign in a statement over his mishandling of sexual misconduct in the military. "Accountability goes straight to the top," he said.

The federal government, which heard of the allegations dating back to March 2018, faced criticism for its handling of the allegations. However, there was an investigation into his behaviour following "rumours" of an inappropriate relationship when he became the defence chief. The "rumours" suggest the workplace relationship began in 2015 when he became defence chief.

During testimonies presented to the Status of Women and National Defence Committees, they discussed the difficulties with members reporting sexual misconduct and what reforms to military oversight and accountability should look like. Vance retired July 23, 2020, and is currently under military investigation over allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct.

Military police Thursday charged Vance with obstruction of justice under the Criminal Code, an offence that carries a maximum ten-year prison term. The allegations against him have not been independently verified. Vance will contend the obstruction charge at an Ottawa Courthouse on Sept. 17.

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