Politics

Sajjan's office drops army reservist suspended by Vancouver police over inappropriate relationship

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has parted ways with an army reservist who was suspended from the Vancouver Police Department for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

'Maj. McCullough is no longer employed as a military assistant to the minister,' spokesperson says

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a news conference in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has parted ways with an army reservist who was suspended from the Vancouver Police Department for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

Maj. Greg McCullough was hired into brigade headquarters in B.C. as a special ministerial liaison. He was let go on Thursday and returned to his unit for further assignment.

"As of 24 June 2021, Maj. McCullough is no longer employed as a military assistant to the Minister of National Defence," said Dan Le Bouthillier, head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, in a brief media statement.

"He is currently employed with the Army Reserve in Vancouver on other duties."

A spokesperson for the minister told The Canadian Press earlier this week that neither Sajjan nor his staff knew about the complaint against McCullough or the disciplinary action taken against him while he was a sergeant in the Vancouver police.

McCullough was hired into the minister's office in July 2020.

Sajjan and McCullough share a history. Before entering politics, Sajjan commanded the army reserve unit in which McCullough served — the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own). They were also both members of the Vancouver Police Department.

Asked about the relationship between the two, Sajjan's spokesperson Daniel Minden said "the minister did not work together with Maj. McCullough at the Vancouver Police Department. They had met each other while serving as reservists in the British Columbia Regiment."

Until Thursday, Sajjan had six military assistants, all of whom worked closely with the minister's office to provide a wide variety of support.

Conservatives say they're not letting go

McCullough had been tasked as a liaison officer and a signaller to help with the establishment of secure communications whenever the minister was in the region.

The Opposition Conservatives — who first raised questions about McCullough on Wednesday, the last day of the Commons spring session — promised not to let go of the issue, despite the dismissal.

"Once again, Minister Sajjan shows Canadians he only takes action after he's caught doing the wrong thing," said Conservative defence critic James Bezan.

"Not only did Minister Sajjan turn a blind eye to sexual misconduct allegations against General Vance, but he did it in his own office as well. There are still a number of questions that remain regarding the hiring of Major McCullough."

According to the defence department, McCullough was one of two candidates who applied for the liaison post and was deemed the most qualified.

Fifteen-day suspension

It was widely reported in Vancouver over the last few years that McCullough was given a 15-day suspension from the police department after an external investigation concluded that he failed to disclose a relationship with Const. Nicole Chan.

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner of British Columbia did not cite McCullough by name in its 2018-19 annual report, but did call for a five-day suspension for a police officer who was involved in a personal, intimate relationship with a police officer who was under his direct supervision and that the relationship was not disclosed to his supervisor.

The OPCC report also noted the same officer entered into a relationship with another police officer knowing that officer was in a vulnerable state; the watchdog recommended a 10-day suspension, to be served concurrently.

The commissioner noted the police officer co-operated with the investigation and had sought professional help.

According to local media reports, McCullough retired from the police force in 2018.

Chan also had a relationship with another superior officer who was later fired from the Vancouver Police Department. She took her own life in January 2019.

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