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Rouleau stepping aside as vice-defence chief following golf game with Vance

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OTTAWA —
The second-in-command at the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is stepping away from his post following a golf outing with Gen. Jonathan Vance, who remains under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct.

In a resignation letter to CAF members, Lt.-Gen. Michael Rouleau said that he accepts how his decision to golf with Vance and Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, head of the Royal Canadian Navy, earlier this month contributed to “further erosion of trust” in the investigative process.

“As a result of this incident, I am stepping aside immediately as [vice-chief of the defence staff] and will transition to the CAF Transition Group. Major-General Frawley will serve as [acting vice-chief of the defence staff ] until Lieutenant-General Allen assumes command. I am acutely aware of the tumultuous times we are navigating together,” the letter reads.

This is a breaking news update…a previous version follows.

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Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said top military leaders who went golfing with former defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance as he remains under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct showed “very poor judgment.”

Freeland said she was “disappointed” upon hearing that Lt.-Gen. Michael Rouleau, Vice-Admiral Craig Baines and Vance met for a round of golf in early June at an exclusive Ottawa club for military members and their families.

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“I absolutely understand and sympathize with the sentiment that men and women, but maybe especially women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), have having seen this, and the concern that it causes them to have about the possibility of real fairness for them,” Freeland said, speaking to reporters on Monday.

Rouleau has oversight authority for the military police who launched an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Vance in early February following his retirement. He is able to issue orders to the CAF’s top police officer, Provost Marshal Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau, and since changes made to the National Defence Act in 2013, those orders have included the ability to “issue instructions or guidelines in writing in respect of a particular investigation.”

In a statement to CTV News, the CAF said they understand the “seriousness” of the matter and will gather the facts to “determine next steps.”

A spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan also issued a statement to CTV News saying the minister was made aware of the situation Saturday afternoon following media inquires.

“The decision by the Lt.-Gen. Rouleau and Vice-Admiral Baines to go golfing with Gen. Vance is troubling and unacceptable,” the statement reads. “The Minister will discuss next steps with Acting Chief of the Defence Staff.”

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole weighed in on the matter on Monday, stating that it reflects the “broken culture” within the senior ranks of the CAF and the department of national defence at large before pointing the blame squarely at the Liberal government.

“There is no leadership from Minister Sajjan. Not a single person I know that served in the military or is there now has respect for the minister when he’s been part of a cover-up of sexual harassment allegations for three years and so without leadership at the top, an important institution is withering before our eyes,” he said.

“As a veteran, I’m very concerned by that.”

With files from CTV News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver & Brooklyn Neustaeter

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