Ex-soldier chided for betrayal of trust

The dramatic fall from grace of a once-rising star in Canada’s military culminated Thursday in a $7,000 fine and a symbolic reprimand.

Retired Brigadier-General Daniel Menard arrives at a military court on Thursday in Montreal. Menard is facing court martial after being accused of having an  illicit sexual affair with a subordinate while he was base commander in Afghanistan.

Retired Brigadier-General Daniel Menard arrives at a military court on Thursday in Montreal. Menard is facing court martial after being accused of having an illicit sexual affair with a subordinate while he was base commander in Afghanistan.

MONTREAL — The dramatic fall from grace of a once-rising star in Canada’s military culminated Thursday in a $7,000 fine and a symbolic reprimand.

This was after retired brigadier-general Daniel Menard had already gone from being a prominent military commander, to an unemployed civilian fighting to keep his family and rebuild his tattered reputation.

It unravelled following an affair with a subordinate, a fling that began in Canada and continued in the makeshift military living quarters in the dusty confines of Kandahar.

Menard pleaded guilty Thursday before a military court martial to having illicit relations while leading Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, and then urging her to cover it up.

His punishment included a fine and a demotion to the rank of colonel — but that latter penalty is largely symbolic because he is retired from the military and will retain his previous rank and pension benefits.

Prosecutors cast the case in purely military terms: regulations bar soldiers from having intimate relations while on deployment, plain and simple.

The rule is so strictly observed that it even applies to married couples — which Menard and his subordinate were not. And when someone at such a senior rank is seen flouting the rules, the military says, it undermines morale and weakens the chain of command.

“The rules are the essence of military work,” said Canadian Forces prosecutor, Cmdr. Martin Pelletier.

“It’s rules that give people like General Menard the power to order someone to their death, potentially, in combat.”

The 45-year-old Menard had enjoyed a stellar military career as an officer with a spotless service record, who rose though the ranks to become Canada’s No. 1 military man in Afghanistan before his career unravelled last year.

Earlier in the day, Menard pleaded guilty to two charges: having improper relations with a corporal under his command, and trying to impede an investigation into their affair.

He publicly apologized to his wife and children Thursday after admitting to the sexual liaison. He also lambasted the media coverage of his downfall.

Menard had faced a maximum of two years in prison or a dishonourable discharge from the military.

Lt.-Col. Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil, a military judge, cited principles of integrity, honesty and leadership as he read out his verdict.

“You know better than me — given all the experience you have — what the principles of leadership are,” d’Auteuil said.

“This happened in the worst place, at the worst time — in a theatre of operation.”

He said soldiers were risking their lives in Afghanistan and trusted him. He said Menard betrayed their trust.

“You have the highest level of responsibility in a theatre of operation,” the judge said. “It was up to you to set an example.”

It was the kind of transgression, the judge said, that could undermine the chain of command.

He said Menard had an admirable career to that point, which is why he was made a general at such a young age. He said that positive track record was also taken into account in the verdict.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that you did a lot of good things as an officer in the Canadian Forces,” d’Auteuil said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The future of Westerner Park continues to be plagued by many unknowns, including when city council will make a decision about financing its operations. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Red Deer city council delays making decision on Westerner Park financing

It will mean missing the next opportunity to apply for a provincial loan

Nineteen-year-old Amanda enjoys a ride during a visit to Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. photo submitted
Busy days at Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler

The ranch, which launched operations last summer, provides support through animal interaction

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the announcement that the city will be getting a drug treatment court Thursday. Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, looks on.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Veer concerned about rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer is reminding citizens to protect themselves against… Continue reading

Rode
Volunteering played major role in RDC awards

Under normal circumstances, the RDC Red Deer Bottling Athlete of the Year… Continue reading

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

Toronto Maple Leafs' Nick Foligno (71) and Mitchell Marner (16) celebrate Marner's goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Taylor Pendrith from Richmond Hill, Ont. salutes the crowd after sinking a birdie on the 18th hole to come in at five under par during first round of play at the Canadian Open golf championship Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Toronto Blue Jays center fielder George Springer (4) walks on the field during a team workout, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Blue Jays face the New York Yankees on opening day Thursday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Injured Jays OF Springer to play in intrasquad game Friday

Injured Jays OF Springer to play in intrasquad game Friday

Toronto Raptors' Khem Birch (24) defends against Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Raptors ride strong 3rd quarter to 114-103 win over Nets

Raptors ride strong 3rd quarter to 114-103 win over Nets

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Stunned Canadian players head home after women’s world hockey cancellation

Stunned Canadian players head home after women’s world hockey cancellation

Health Minister Patty Hajdu is shown at a COVID-19 press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Lawmakers are debating legislation to legalize single-event betting as a bill reaches final reading in the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey
Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Most Read