The Canadian Armed Forces’ former head of human resources is retiring before his sexual assault case goes to trial next year.
A newly released message from the Force’s senior leadership to members confirms that Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, one of the senior military leaders facing sexual misconduct claims, is retiring. Edmundson denies the misconduct allegations.
Edmundson was charged with sexual assault and indecent acts last year and has been on indefinite paid leave for more than a year following reporting by CBC News. His lawyer, Brian Greenspan, has said he looks forward to restoring his client’s “distinguished reputation for service to our country.”
The Tuesday message from the vice-chief of the defence staff, Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen, lists more than 50 promotions this year and almost 30 retirements. Two former senior leaders criticized for taking part in a controversial golf game will retire. A third still under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct has already left.
The Forces is in the midst of a major shakeup of its senior ranks with its army, air force and navy all getting new commanders.
The list of staffing changes is signed May 22, but was made public days later after former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour’s report into the Forces’ sexual misconduct crisis. The highly anticipated report addressed how the military should best respond to the crisis, which has pummeled the Forces’ public image for more than a year.
The Forces has already started implementing changes to its promotion and selection processes, including a new character-assessment process, as part of its response to the report, according to the new message. The new vetting process has caused delays to releasing the list of promotions, according to the message.
“The Canadian Armed Forces continues to add new rigour and science to its promotion-selection process, beginning first with general officers and flag officers,” the message to staff military members said. “This evolved process is taking longer than has traditionally been the case, and thus the delay in promotion announcements.”
The military has faced criticism for its screening as military members in senior positions face misconduct allegations. Edmundson was investigated decades ago by the Forces over other allegations of inappropriate behaviour and wasn’t charged, according to multiple sources.
3 other retirements
The military leadership’s new message also names the former senior military leader who had been poised to take over command of the army as one of those who recently retired.
Retired lieutenant-general Trevor Cadieu is still under a military police investigation into sexual misconduct claims that he denies.
Cadieu told CBC News in April he continues to co-operate with the investigation,but rather than “collect a salary for an indeterminate period of time” while the military couldn’t employ him, he opted to retire and is “exploring other opportunities to contribute to a greater good.”
The former commander of the navy, Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, and the military’s former second-in-command, Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, also plan to retire this summer, according to the message.
The pair faced intense public criticism after a controversial golf game last year amid the height of the Forces’ unrelenting sexual misconduct crisis.
Baines and Rouleau teed off with former top soldier, retired general Jonathan Vance, who was under a military police investigation at the time. Vance has since acknowledged he was in a sexual relationship with a subordinate, Maj. Kellie Brennan, while he was the chief of defence staff, after having denied the allegations.
In April, Vance pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for repeatedly contacting Brennan and attempting to persuade her to make false statements to investigators about their relationship, according to court documents.
Head of military police to stay on for 2 more years
Along with the retirements, the military appointed Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau to stay on for another two years as the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal. In that role, Trudeau is the commander of the military police and adviser to the top soldier on policing matters.
The message said Trudeau will stay in the role while recommendations from a third-party review authority are being implemented.
The announcement comes on the same day the Forces made public that Trudeau recently apologized to two Royal Military College officer cadets for the handling of their case. A review by a military police watchdog found several problems with how military police investigated a case at Canada’s officer academy.
Last month, Trudeau also rescinded the appointment of another high-ranking police officer after the officer faced sanctions three years ago for making sexual comments. Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Lacoste was appointed as chief warrant officer of the Military Police Branch through a “recently established internal military police process” that the Forces told The Fifth Estate it would now review.
Earlier this week, Arbour announced she recommended that the military be stripped of its authority granted in 1998 to investigate and prosecute sexual offences.
“The handling of sexual offences by military courts over the past 20 years has done very little to improve efficiency, discipline and morale. If anything, it has served to erode it,” Arbour said Monday as she presented her report.
“Therefore, I see no basis for the Canadian Armed Forces to retain any jurisdiction over sexual offences and that jurisdiction should be vested exclusively with civilian authorities.”