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.

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