According to a CBC News analysis, taxpayers spent an estimated $ 639,000 to $ 720,900 in salaries for high-ranking military officers who were dismissed from their posts due to the sexual misconduct crisis in the military.
CBC News analyzed the salary scales for eight military commanders and the time that has elapsed since they were removed from their posts. Some of them are on paid leave, others are leaving the military and others have been assigned to other positions within the Canadian Forces.
While it is difficult to determine a figure given publicly available information, the analysis indicates that the federal government has spent approximately $ 639,000 to $ 720,000 on salaries for these individuals since they left their roles as leadership.
The Ministry of National Defense says that all military personnel have the right to due process and are entitled to their pay during military police investigations. DND says Canadian law guarantees that a workplace cannot punish employees unless they have been proven guilty.
CBC’s analysis does not include people who have retired, who have been removed from their posts and placed in other positions, or who have used their vacation to cover all of their temporary leave.
Former Chief of Defense Staff Retired General Jonathan Vance is receiving his pension and awaiting criminal trial on one count of obstructing justice. Vance’s salary before his retirement in July 2020 was $ 260,600 to $ 306,500, according to to an order in council.
The salary figures and the number of officers under investigation reflect the scale of the misconduct crisis and its effects on the Canadian military, said Megan MacKenzie of Simon Fraser University.
“This number is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the cost, both financial, emotional and reputational, to the defense forces,” said MacKenzie, Simons Chair in International Law and Rights Security. humans.
“I think that signals that we really need leadership on this issue. We need civilian leaders. We need the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense to come and help solve this problem.”
MacKenzie said the real cost of the sexual misconduct crisis goes beyond wages. She said the military are taking medical leave or leaving the military altogether, as the military grapples with the effects on recruitment and the risk of prosecution.
Eleven high-ranking military officers have been temporarily or permanently removed from their leadership roles since February due to allegations of sexual misconduct or in response to the way they have handled complaints of sexual misconduct.
CBC News has a full list of cases here.
‘Case after case’
MacKenzie said she can’t think of another defense force in the world that has seen so many top leaders face allegations of sexual misconduct or be put on leave at the same time. She has been researching military culture for a decade and is leading an international study on military sexual misconduct in Canada, the United States and Australia.
In other countries, she said, high-profile scandals erupt and then die out after official reviews or policy changes.
“But what has happened in Canada is that you have case after case, several cases at the same time,” she said. “There is no recovery. There is no moment between scandals and you have this kind of growing wave of calls for serious action.”
MacKenzie said it was not unusual to put military members on paid leave while they were under investigation. The problem, she said, is that some of the investigations take “a very long time”, with soldiers stuck in their homes waiting to hear the outcome.
She said it was a common tactic for the military to try and wait for the public’s anger by putting members on paid leave.
âThere are so many individuals under investigation, so these investigations need to be dealt with quickly,â she said.
Throughout the crisis, the military maintained that its police were conducting thorough investigations. DND said in a statement to media that as an institution founded on the rule of law, the Canadian Armed Forces “must ensure that all members are granted their basic rights to due process and to justice. procedural fairness â.
Admiral McDonald’s case unsolved after nearly 8 months
Admiral Art McDonald has been the highest paid to date while on leave for almost eight months. He was removed from his post as Chief of the Defense Staff in February in link to an allegation of sexual misconduct.
CBC News estimates that McDonald’s has been paid between $ 149,000 and $ 176,000 since his suspension.
MacKenzie said she was surprised the government was not in a more rush to solve the McDonald’s case, given that he is still being paid while his old job is done by the acting chief of staff from the Defense, General Wayne Eyre. McDonald’s annual salary is $ 232,700 to $ 273,700, according to an order in council.
The position of Chief of the Defense Staff is an appointment by the Governor in Council, which means that the Prime Minister can remove the chief at any time. Lawyers for McDonald’s revealed in August that the military police investigation ended without charging him with anything. More than two months later, the federal government has not decided whether it will reinstate McDonald’s.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday commented on McDonald’s recent public attempts to get his old job back. Trudeau said McDonald’s comments were at odds with the government’s emphasis on putting victims first and that they will “be taken into account when we make a final decision on the permanent post of chief of staff. defense staff “.
The Prime Minister’s Office said it would not comment further when asked why it had not yet made a decision on McDonald’s future, or whether it was waiting for public attention to the crisis misconduct is reduced.
major-general. Dany Fortin’s lawyers, meanwhile, say he’s stuck at home earning a salary with no work to do. Quebec prosecutors indicted Fortin in August with one count of sexual assault; his criminal case is now making its way through the civilian justice system.
Fortin denies the allegation. He has launched a battle in federal courts to regain his former post as vaccine deployment chief, arguing that the federal government had become politically involved in the decision to sideline him.
He was assigned a new job, but his lawyers say he stayed at home without any assignments. CBC estimates he has collected between $ 81,000 and $ 95,000 since leaving his post with the Public Health Agency of Canada.
In March, the military also placed Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson on indefinite paid leave from his role as commander of military personnel following a CBC News report of an alleged sexual assault. A military police investigation is underway into an allegation that he raped a 19-year-old flight attendant on a Canadian Navy ship in 1991 while docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Edmundson denies the allegation and has been posted since May as a sustained member at the Transition Center in Ottawa. Since leaving his post as head of military personnel, he has been paid between $ 137,000 and $ 148,000, according to CBC News analysis.
Edmundson’s successor, Lieutenant-General. Steven Whelan, stepped down from his role last week in response to an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. The military also postponed the lieutenant general’s appointment last week. Trevor Cadieu as the next army commander for sexual misconduct.
Whelan and Cadieu are now on leave and their individual monthly wages are estimated to be between $ 20,683 and $ 22,392, depending on the publicly disclosed military pay rates.
DND says it has full confidence in broader leadership
CBC News asked DND what it was doing in response to the number of senior executives currently on leave. The department said military leaders are being trained to replace their superiors.
âAs the justice system continues to function conscientiously, we have full confidence in our extended management team to continue to look after the defense of Canada,â said DND spokesperson Daniel Le Bouthillier.
Retired Captain Annalize Schamuhn, who was sexually assaulted by another soldier, said she viewed the number of reported sexual misconduct allegations as an encouraging sign. Schamuhn shared his story publicly, hoping that this would contribute to institutional change within the Canadian Armed Forces.
âI think the more stories and cases there are, the worse it looks like,â Schamuhn said. âBut I take it as a sign that things are improving.
“The fact that people feel comfortable coming forward, I think, is a sign of progress.”