Nfld. & Labrador

Williams to lose medals, pay: military

The Canadian military said Thursday it is working toward immediately expelling convicted murderer Col. Russell Williams from the Canadian Forces, recovering his pay since his arrest and removing his medals.

The Canadian military said Thursday it is working toward immediately expelling convicted murderer Col. Russell Williams from the Canadian Forces, recovering his pay since his arrest and removing his medals.

Chief of Air Staff Lt.-Gen. André Deschamps said there are no grounds, however, to revoke his pension, and there won't be a separate military court martial, because there cannot be two trials for the same crime.

Lt. Gen. Andre Deschamps said there are no grounds to revoke the pension of Col. Russell Williams, convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd. ((CBC))

"I guess we still don’t understand the why, and this is something that troubles Canadians at large as it troubles those who have known this individual," Deschamps said. "How could we have known? What could we have done differently? I’m not sure we’ll ever get answers to that."

Deschamps said he still can't reconcile the two sides of Williams — "the professional that we knew and the criminal who’s in prison now."

He said when the story broke earlier this year, Williams's file was looked at extensively to see if there was anything they could have missed that would have given clues about his criminal behaviour.


Have you been affected by the Williams story? Has your sense of security been eroded? A psychologist joins CBC News Your Voice on Friday, Oct. 22, at 12 p.m. ET to answer your questions on dealing with traumatic events.

"And the truth is, we didn't miss anything that was visible. Does that mean that our process is perfect? No," he said.

"We don’t have any test that would have allowed us to identify this individual 20 years ago. There’s no test out there that would allow us to anticipate what a person’s going to do 20 years down the line."

Deschamps said if they can improve the process for the selection and promotion of individuals they will do so, but for the time being it is a reasonable one.

"There is nothing fundamental we are going to change," he said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the actions of Williams were a betrayal of members of the Forces but do not reflect on them.

Williams — the disgraced former commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario —  pleaded guilty in a court in Belleville, Ont., on Monday to 88 charges, including first-degree murder in the deaths of Jessica Lloyd and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau.

"This is just a horrific event," Harper said while in St. John's on Thursday. "Our thoughts go out to all the members of the Canadian Forces who knew the commander and who have been very badly wounded and betrayed by all of this. Obviously, this in no way reflects on the Forces."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking in St. John's on Thursday, said convicted murderer Col. Russell Williams's crimes do not reflect on the members of the military. ((CBC))

"Defence Minister Peter MacKay has made clear the Forces will undertake all necessary actions to ensure that all sanctions possible and all benefits possible can be withdrawn from the former commander but this is a terrible and unique case," said Harper.

"The Canadian Forces are the victim here, as are the direct victims of these terrible events."

Harper was in St. John's to re-announce more than $100 million that the federal government originally promised in 2007 to refurbish Canadian Forces Station St. John's in a part of the city named Pleasantville.

Court proceedings for Williams, 47, ended Thursday.

Williams was led out of court in handcuffs after a judge sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for the first-degree murders of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd. 

He is eligible to apply for parole in 25 years, but Justice Robert F. Scott said there is no guarantee Williams will be released.