The End of the Affair is a novel by Graham Greene written in 1951 about an affair and like all affairs, ends badly; a fitting title to Daniel Ménard’s story.
Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard, Canada’s former top solder in Afghanistan will face a court-martial over an affair he had with a subordinate in the field. The charges of inappropriate conduct represent serious breaches of military law. He was relieved of his duties in May following allegations he was involved in an improper personal relationship while in a theatre of operations.
There are strict rules in the military forbidding its personnel from engaging in personal relationships while in theatre which include relationships of an emotional, romantic or sexual nature. Ménard faces two charges of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, as well as four counts of obstructing justice. For obstructing justice and violating the Canadian Forces Personal Relationships and Fraternization directives, Ménard could face 10 years in prison and disgraceful dismissal from the military. A date and location for the court martial have not yet been set.
Ménard had taken over as top officer for Task Force Kandahar in November 2009.
As an aside, Ménard was fined $3,500 earlier this year when his rifle discharged accidentally. According to accounts, that incident occurred as Ménard and chief of defence staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk were about to board a Blackhawk helicopter at Kandahar Airfield. Ménard said he was loading his C8 carbine, something he has done thousands of times, when it discharged. Reports state that no one was injured and nothing was damaged, but the National Defence Act makes it an offence to accidentally discharge a weapon.
Other military people seem to be split on how this situation and others like it have been handled. Former Canadian Forces colonel Michel Drapeau was reported as thinking the reaction has been over the top. The Montréal Gazette quotes him as saying, "It’s one thing having an affair, it’s one thing being relieved of your command, but it’s another having the whole nation knowing. I can only imagine the pain in the eyes of the in-laws and the parents and the brothers and the sisters and the children and, frankly, I don’t see a need for that."
Retired major general Lewis MacKenzie is less sympathetic. MacKenzie was involved in the first personal relationship/fraternization policies when women were introduced into combat roles in the mid-1980s and he argues that senior officers responsible for enforcing the rules should know better. He was quoted as saying about the recent high-profile allegations, "They should be charged with stupidity as much as fraternization. I’m not quite sure how they look themselves in the mirror."
Other officers sanctioned recently for impropriety include Col. Bernard Ouellette, chief of staff to the United Nations Haiti Mission, who was relieved from his post in June; and just last week, the removal of Lt.-Cmdr. Tina Hanratty, the executive officer of HMCS Moncton, was made public.
Capt. Michael Gough, second in command of B Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse in Edmonton, was also reprimanded and fined $2,000 during a summary trial in June. This married man’s career advancement will be severely limited due to his decision to have an affair with a subordinate.
The directives of Canada’s military clearly state the rules and why those rules exist. In the document DAOD 5019-1, Personal Relationships and Fraternization, the objectives listed are in part:
- prevention of erosion of lawful authority
- maintenance of operational effectiveness
The directive goes on to state:
CF members in a personal relationship shall refrain from conduct that may be considered unprofessional in a military context. For example, a CF member while in uniform in public with another person shall not:
- hold hands;
- kiss, except in greeting and farewell; or
- caress or embrace in a romantic manner.
The rules are clearly laid out. If you don’t follow them, you pay the price.
Click HERE to read more from William Belle
National Defence and the Canadian Forces
DAOD 5019-1, Personal Relationships and Fraternization