Allowing navy commander to keep job after Vance golf game is disturbing: Freeland

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OTTAWA — Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says she is "disturbed" by the military's decision to let the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy keep his job after golfing with the former chief of the defence staff under military police investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct.

Vice-Admiral Craig Baines caused outrage earlier this month when it was revealed he and then-defence vice-chief Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau golfed with retired general Jonathan Vance.

Both Baines and Rouleau apologized, with Rouleau also resigning from his position.

Acting chief of the defence staff Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre said he would consider the next steps for the naval commander and decided to give Baines a chance to redeem himself.

Freeland says she was "surprised" and "disturbed" by the decision, which follows months of military officials and the Liberal government being under scrutiny for systemic misconduct among the ranks of the Armed Forces.

She says her immediate thought was: How would I feel if I were a Canadian woman in the Armed Forces?

"What would that decision tell me about how seriously my bosses were taking the essential work of transforming the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces? And I don't think if I were wearing a uniform today, I would be reassured by that decision," she said.

Eyre said in a statement Tuesday that while he knew not everyone would agree with the decision, he has to believe that people can learn and grow from their mistakes.

"Knowing his moral authority has diminished, (Baines) is determined to regain the trust and confidence of all through humility and showing us how to learn, reconcile error, and become a better leader," Eyre said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2021

The Canadian Press

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