Members of military should still put ‘sacred trust’ in leaders: chief of defence
CFB TRENTON, Ont. — The men and women of the Canadian Forces may feel like the “sacred trust” they put in their leadership was violated as a prominent commander faces murder charges, but the allegations must not dampen their pride in wearing the uniform, Canada’s chief of defence staff said Wednesday.
Gen. Walter Natynczyk said he felt winded, as if from a “ body blow” when he was told that Col. Russell Williams, the respected commander of CFB Trenton — Canada’s largest air force base — was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Cpl. MarieFrance Comeau, based at CFB Trenton, and Jessica Lloyd, a 27year-old resident of nearby Belleville.
Williams is also charged in two area sex assaults.
Being in a position of leadership in the military is a “sacred trust,” Natynczyk said at a press conference Wednesday.
“(Members of the military) need to have confidence in their leadership,” he said. “So any time you have that kind of perceived violation of leadership that’s where you know you’ve had a body blow.”
Soldiers are no stranger to tragedy, especially those who work at CFB Trenton, which hosts alltoo-regular repatriation ceremonies. But the shocking crimes and charges against a commander described as a bright star quickly rising through the ranks have rattled the military to its core.
Canadian Forces members must remember this is one individ- ual “alleged to have done something terrible,” and it should not make them question the institution itself, Natynczyk said.
“Indeed we had a concern from the airmen saying ’Should we even go out with our uniforms on?”’ he said. “I said: ’Stop that. We can’t go back. We go forward and we are proud. Proud to wear a uniform.’ ”
To illustrate his point the chief of defence staff went to Tim Hortons in uniform right before the press conference.
“And sure enough, someone from Trenton came up and said ’I put this into perspective. You guys are great.’ And I just said ’Thanks,”’ Natynczyk said.
Speaking to hundreds of people over the past few days Natynczyk has told them to do the same, to put the situation in perspective and move on.