Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan called on the military to create a post possibly occupied by a reserve officer from his former unit who had been suspended from Vancouver Police for an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, according to notes from recently published information.
Sajjan also wanted the military to upgrade the post less than two months after Major Greg McCullough was hired, as the minister wanted even more support in his Vancouver constituency, the notes say, although that request has not come true. .
The briefing note comes amid lingering questions about how and why McCullough found himself in the unique position before his dismissal last month following revelations about the complaint and the disciplinary action taken against him while he was sergeant in the Vancouver Police Department.
McCullough was hired to support Sajjan in March 2020 despite an external investigation that found him guilty in 2018 of two counts of misconduct for his relationship with Const. Nicole Chan, who later committed suicide in January 2019.
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It also follows opposition calls for Sajjan’s resignation for his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct involving senior military commanders. Global News first reported allegations against retired General Jonathan Vance in February – which he denies – and since then concerns about an “Old Boys Network” protecting top brass have sparked a military sexual misconduct record.
Defense experts have described the case as an institutional crisis for the military.
Vance was charged earlier in July with one count of obstructing justice. Military police brought the charge but turned the matter over to civilian court, citing the “limitations” of the military justice system.
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Sajjan’s office acknowledged that the Minister and McCullough knew each other as officers of the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) and that they both served concurrently with the Vancouver Police Department.
But he says the military was responsible for the process that led to McCullough’s hiring, and neither the minister nor his staff were aware of the complaint and disciplinary action taken against him while he was a sergeant. in the Vancouver Police Department.
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READ MORE: Officer suspended for inappropriate relationship no longer working as Sajjan’s assistant
The Department of National Defense announced last month that McCullough was no longer working as Sajjan’s assistant, although he remains a member of the Canadian Army Reserve.
Prepared for Jonathan Vance, then Chief of the Defense Staff, dated May 6, 2020, the briefing note obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information does not mention McCullough’s name, but shows the minister personally led the charge for a new assistant in Vancouver.
While Sajjan at the time already had four military assistants in Ottawa, and the Defense Ministry says he has no record of such a post being created outside the capital, the memo reads: âThe Minister has determined that additional full-time support is needed while in Vancouver.
He goes on to say that a “suitable candidate” was selected in March 2020 and was currently working with the minister, but that “based on the recent direction of the minister” Sajjan would need even more support and therefore the position should be reclassified from part-time to full-time role.
Such an upgrade would have represented a significant pay rise for whoever held the post.
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The briefing note recommends that the post be reclassified and filled through an “open, fair and equitable” competition, although Defense Ministry spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said the reclassification no. had not taken place because such full-time positions only concern exceptional circumstances.
Sajjan spokesman Daniel Minden defended the creation of the post of military assistant in Vancouver, saying in an email: âIn order to avoid the high costs of moving military personnel based in Ottawa to Vancouver, a post of military assistant Vancouver-based military assistant was created.
âDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Sajjan spent part of the last year working remotely from his constituency of Vancouver, where this support was even greater. “
The pandemic is not mentioned in the briefing note.
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Le Bouthillier said the post remains vacant.
âMilitary assistants from Ottawa travel to Vancouver as needed to perform these tasks,â he added in an email.
“The function is still required, but an updated feasibility and effectiveness analysis (after several months of COVID-19 restrictions) is underway by the Canadian Armed Forces to make a decision on how best to structure the office of the military assistant. “
Reached by phone Thursday, McCullough declined to comment, saying he had gotten into trouble for previously speaking to The Canadian Press and was not allowed to speak further.
âMinister Sajjan had nothing to do with my hiring process,â he said last month. âHe needed a military assistant on the west coast because of the time he’s spending here, and that’s it. I have not spoken with Minister Sajjan about this process, and I serve the Canadian Armed Forces.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted that Sajjan, who has been Canada’s only defense minister since the Liberals took office in late 2015, is the right person to lead the charge when it comes to change military culture and eradicate sexual misconduct and hatred.
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