Conduct Case MPCC‑2002‑037 Summary
Facts and complaints
The complainant filed a complaint with the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal concerning the investigation his military superiors conducted into the harassment complaints he had filed. When informed by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal that no further investigation would take place, the complainant filed a conduct complaint with the Complaints Commission against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal. The complaint was immediately forwarded to the Chief of the Defence Staff in accordance with subsection 250.26(2) of the National Defence Act.
The complainant's allegations focused on the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's failure to properly investigate his complaint regarding the alleged conflict of interest and collusion amongst his superiors who were conjointly involved in a privately owned company. The complainant alleged that, in order to protect their private interests, his superiors interfered with the investigation of his initial harassment complaints. The complainant claimed that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal unjustly ignored his complaint saying that the issues had already been dealt with by various agencies within the department. With the help of the Access to Information Act, he found that although two investigations had looked into the matter, neither one specifically dealt with the allegations that a conflict of interest existed within his chain of command.
Decision by the Chief of the Defence Staff
The Chief of the Defence Staff delegated the investigation of the conduct complaint against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, who in turn, decided to hire an independent investigator. In accordance with his mandate, the investigator made a comprehensive list of the complainant's allegations. Due to the number and the variety of the allegations, the investigation was given a broad scope. No evidence was found to support the complainant's claims that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal misled him or that anyone had interfered with her policing duties. In a Letter of Disposition, the Chief of the Defence Staff concluded that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal had made the appropriate decision under the circumstances.
The complainant was not satisfied with the decision of the Chief of the Defence Staff and, in accordance with subsection 250.31(1) of the National Defence Act, he requested that the Complaints Commission review his complaint against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal.
Findings and recommendations of the Member of the Complaints Commission
- Allegations regarding a conflict of interest
The Complaints Commission member found no evidence that the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff or the independent investigator had addressed the allegations regarding the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's failure to investigate a conflict of interest within the complainant's chain of command. However, due to the extensive nature of the complainant's allegations, the Complaints Commission member states that it is conceivable that the investigators and the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff had unintentionally omitted this particular aspect of the complaint from their investigation and, consequently, from their report. The Complaints Commission member is of the opinion that any results regarding the investigation of a complaint should be documented and conveyed to the complainant. Therefore, the Complaints Commission member recommends that the file be reviewed and a written assessment be transmitted to the complainant to address his complaint and clarify this issue.
- Allegations that informing the local police was a form of retaliatory action
Following an interview with the independent investigator, the complainant made a comment that prompted the investigator to report the incident to the local police. The complainant claims that the investigator contacted the local police pursuant to a discussion with the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. The complainant alleges that this was done as a form of retaliation aimed at encouraging him to drop his complaint and resulted in the independent investigator allegedly being compensated for having contacted the police by having his contract extended. The Complaints Commission member found no evidence to substantiate these claims. The Complaints Commission member considers that the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff had no previous knowledge of the complaint history and legitimately wanted the case to be resolved. However, it is the Complaints Commission member's opinion that the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and all other staff involved in this matter should have monitored the investigation more closely and assured that it was conducted exhaustively.
- Procedural concerns: processing complaints
In the spirit of part IV of the National Defence Act, the Complaints Commission member reiterates the importance of assisting complainants in the formulation of their complaints. In the member's view, the independent investigator or the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff's office should have contacted the complainant in order to accurately identify the nature of his allegations. Since the independent investigator was given a broad mandate, that included the conducting of interviews, the Complaints Commission member considers that the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff acted in good faith when he hired the investigator. However, the Complaints Commission member agrees with the complainant's view that the interviews conducted by the independent investigator did not allow the complainant to clearly express all of his allegations. Furthermore, the Complaints Commission member is concerned with the fact that, even though the conduct complaint was against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, she was never formally interviewed regarding the question of the alleged conflict of interest of the complainant's superiors. In other words, there are no available transcripts or recordings of any interview involving the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal. The Complaints Commission member recommends that private contractors be required to conduct investigations in a manner that would allow a thorough and autonomous review by the Complaints Commission.
Complaints Commission Member's Reply following the Notice of Action of the Chief of the Defence Staff
The Chief of the Defence Staff, in his Notice of Action, has generally accepted the recommendations of the Complaints Commission member, who is satisfied with this response.
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