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PM’s chief of staff offers to testify on Vance sexual misconduct allegations

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff has offered to testify at a House of Commons committee investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against Canada’s former top military commander.

Katie Telford wrote members of the defence committee Thursday, offering to testify at their meeting Friday.

Opposition parties have been demanding she appear to explain an apparent discrepancy between Trudeau’s assertion that his office did not know a complaint against general Jonathan Vance involved sexual misconduct and other testimony and emails suggesting that it did know.

Telford has been in the hot seat since Elder Marques, a former senior adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office, testified two weeks ago.

Marques said he was informed in 2018 by Telford or her assistant that there had been an allegation of “personal misconduct” against Vance, then chief of the defence staff. He said he assumed it was sexual in nature.

Marques said he immediately referred the matter to the clerk of the Privy Council, advised Telford that he had done so and then “kept her apprised as matters developed.”

The allegation had first been raised a day earlier with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan by the military ombudsman at the time, Gary Walbourne. Former clerk Michael Wernick has testified that his office attempted to investigate the allegation but that Walbourne was not able to provide any information because the complainant did not want to be named.

The allegation involved an off-colour email that Vance allegedly sent a junior officer in 2012, before he became defence chief.

Military police are now investigating that complaint as well as another allegation that Vance had a sexual relationship with another officer under his command.

Vance has not responded to requests for comment, but Global News, which first reported the allegations, says that he has denied any inappropriate conduct.

Since Marques’ testimony, the Conservatives have been accusing Trudeau of lying about not knowing the allegation was sexual in nature. Alternatively, they say Telford covered it up.

Earlier this week, the Conservatives moved a motion calling for Telford to be fired. That motion was defeated.

Trudeau has maintained that no one in his office knew that the allegation was “a Me Too complaint.”

“We did not have information on what was the nature of the complaint, of that allegation,” he said last week.

Telford is expected to say much the same during her testimony Friday.

However, emails released under the Access to Information Act have shown that bureaucrats at the time were referring to the allegation as “sexual harassment.”

Privy Council bureaucrat Janine Sherman has testified that some of those emails were shared with staff in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Walbourne has testified that he told Sajjan what the allegation was about but that Sajjan stopped him when he tried to show him the evidence.

Sajjan has said he wasn’t told the details and that he didn’t want to know in order to avoid any perception of political interference in the matter. He’s said he referred the issue immediately to the Privy Council Office.

Trudeau maintains he only learned the details when Global first reported them in February.

Shortly after that report, Vance’s replacement as chief of the defence staff, Admiral Art McDonald, stepped aside due to an unspecified allegation of misconduct. He, too, is now under military police investigation.

Vance stepped down as defence chief in January. He officially retired from the military last month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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Canada's Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens capture bronze in women's pair

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TOKYO — Canada has its first rowing medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Victoria’s Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Surrey, B.C., took bronze on Thursday in the women’s pair with a time of six minutes 52.10 seconds.

The 2018 world champions finished behind the gold-medal winning duo of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand (6:50.19) and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia (6:51.45).

Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont., and Kai Langerfeld of North Vancouver, B.C., were the other Canadian rowers in a final Thursday, finishing fourth in the men’s pair on the 2,000-metre course at Sea Forest Waterway.

Canada’s women’s eight will race for a gold Friday.

The country’s rowers are looking to rebound after a disastrous showing at the 2016 Rio Games that saw the program secure just one medal.

The Canadians qualified 10 boats for Tokyo — the most since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta — and have a gender-neutral team for the first time in their history.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2021.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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ZZ Top: Bearded bassist Dusty Hill dies in his sleep at 72

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HOUSTON (AP) — ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, one of the Texas blues rock trio’s bearded figures, died at his Houston home, the band announced Wednesday. He was 72.

In their Facebook post, guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard said Hill died in his sleep. They didn’t give a cause of death, but a July 21 post on the band’s website said Hill was “on a short detour back to Texas, to address a hip issue.”

At that time, the band said its longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, would fill in on bass, slide guitar and harmonica.

Born Joe Michael Hill in Dallas, he, Gibbons and Beard formed ZZ Top in Houston in 1969. The band released its first album, titled “ZZ Top’s First Album,” in 1970. Three years later it scored its breakthrough hit, “La Grange,” which is an ode to the Chicken Ranch, a notorious brothel outside of a Texas town by that name.

The band went on to chart the hits “Tush” in 1975, “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’” in 1983, and “Rough Boy” and “Sleeping Bag” in 1985.

The band’s 1976 “Worldwide Texas Tour,” with its iconic Texas-shaped stage festooned with cactuses, snakes and longhorn cattle, was one of the decade’s most successful rock tours.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Said Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards in introducing the band to the Hall: “These cats are steeped in the blues, so am I. These cats know their blues and they know how to dress it up. When I first saw them, I thought, ‘I hope these guys are not on the run, because that disguise is not going to work.’”

That look — with all three members wearing dark sunglasses and the two frontmen sporting long, wispy beards — became so iconic as to be the subject of a New Yorker cartoon and a joke on “The Simpsons.”

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This story has been corrected to reflect that ZZ Top was formed in the late 1960s, not the late 1970s.

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