Senior officer faces sexual misconduct allegations retires from Canadian Forces

The former head of human resources for the Canadian Armed Forces is retiring before his sexual assault case goes to trial next year.

A new message from the Forces’ senior leadership to members confirms that Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson is retiring after more than 30 years.

Edmundson was charged with sexual assault and indecent acts last year. He has been on indefinite paid leave for more than a year after reporting on his case by CBC News. His lawyer, Brian Greenspan, said he looked forward to restoring his client’s “distinguished reputation for service to our country”.

Tuesday’s message from the Vice Chief of the Defense Staff, Lt. Gen. Frances Allen lists more than 50 promotions this year and nearly 30 retirements. Two former top executives criticized for participating in a controversial golf game will retire. A third person still under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct has already left.

The Forces are in the midst of a major overhaul of their senior ranks, with the army, air force and navy all having new commanders.

The list of personnel changes is dated May 22, but was made public days later after former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor released her report into the Forces’ sexual misconduct crisis. The much-anticipated report addressed how best the military can respond to the crisis, which has tarnished the public image of the Forces for more than a year.

Lieutenant General. Allen’s post says the Army has, in response to the report, begun implementing changes to its promotion and selection processes, including a new character evaluation process.

The message states that this new verification process has caused delays in the publication of the list of promotions.

“The Canadian Armed Forces continues to add rigor and science to its promotion selection process, beginning first with flag officers and flag officers,” the message to military personnel reads. “This evolved process is taking longer than traditionally, and hence the delay in promotion announcements.”

Three more retreats

The post names retired Lt. Gen. Trevor Cadieu among those who recently left the military. Cadieu was set to take command of the army, but the change of command was delayed during a military police investigation into sexual misconduct. Cadieu denies the allegations.

Cadieu told CBC News in April that he was continuing to cooperate with the investigation but – instead of receiving “an indefinite salary” when the army could not employ him – he chose to take his retire and “explore other opportunities to contribute to a greater good.”

Lieutenant General. Mike Rouleau, who faced intense public criticism after a controversial round of golf, plans to retire this summer. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Lieutenant General. Allen reported that Vice Admiral Craig Baines, the former commander of the Navy, and former second in command of the Army, Lt. Gen. Mike Rouleau also plans to retire this summer.

The couple faced intense public criticism after a controversial golf match last year at the height of the Forces sexual misconduct crisis.

Baines and Rouleau had fun with Jonathan Vance, the former Chief of the Defense Staff who was then under investigation by the military police. Vance has since admitted he had a sexual relationship with a subordinate, Major Kellie Brennan, when he was Chief of the Defense Staff, after denying the allegations.

In April, Vance pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for repeatedly contacting Brennan and trying to persuade her to make false statements to investigators about their relationship, according to court documents.

Trevor Cadieu, the senior military leader who was about to take command of the Canadian Army, retired from the army earlier this month. (Phil LaPlante/CBC)

Military police chief to stay in post for 2 more years

Along with retirements, the military appointed the brigadier-general. Simon Trudeau will stay on for another two years as Provost Marshal of the Canadian Forces. In this role, Trudeau is the commander of the military police and advises the Chief of the Defense Staff on law enforcement matters.

The announcement came the same day the Forces acknowledged that Trudeau had recently apologized to two Royal Military College officer cadets for handling their cases. A review by a military police watchdog revealed several issues in the way the military police investigated a case at Canada’s officer academy.

Last month, Brigadier General. Trudeau also rescinded the appointment of another high-ranking police officer after the officer was disciplined three years ago for making sexual comments.

Arbor announced this week that she recommended the military be stripped of its authority, granted in 1998, to investigate and prosecute sex offenses.

“The treatment of sexual offenses by military tribunals over the past 20 years has done little to improve efficiency, discipline and morale. On the contrary, it has served to erode it,” said Arbor on Monday during the presentation of his report.

Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute who studies culture change in the military, questions the decision to allow Trudeau to continue in his current role in light of the botched RMC deal and the “sheer incompetence” demonstrated by the military’s handling of some sexual misconduct investigations by police.

“You have to wonder why he should stay at work,” Duval-Lantoine said.

Defense Minister Anita Anand was asked on Tuesday if she still had faith in Trudeau.

“I have confidence in General Eyre and his appointments and we continue to work very hard to ensure high standards of integrity in the Canadian Armed Forces,” Anand said after his speech at CANSEC, a global defense and of security.

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