|Ex-colonel Russell Williams is seen in this photo, which appears in a promotional booklet produced by the Department of National Defence.
BELLEVILLE, Ont. — Canada’s defence department has recalled an internal booklet after discovering it contained a photo of convicted sex killer and ex-colonel Russell Williams.
“This is a terrible mistake for which the Canadian Forces are truly sorry,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a written statement.
“As soon as I became aware of this booklet, I immediately ordered the military to destroy all copies of the collected booklets,” MacKay said.
He promised a personal apology to the families of two local women killed by the disgraced airman.
“I have also instructed my officials to immediately begin an investigation to ensure it does not happen again,” MacKay said in the statement.
Williams, now 49, was imprisoned for life after pleading guilty in October 2010 to killing two women, attacking two more and committing a years-long series of break-ins and fetish thefts between Ottawa and Belleville.
His most severe crimes were committed while Williams commanded CFB Trenton, Canada’s largest air force base.
Yet he appears in the background in the first edition of a new professional development booklet produced last week by the Canadian Defence Academy, a branch of the federal Department of National Defence. A copy of the booklet was obtained by QMI Agency.
A military spokesman said the booklet was never released fully — and never will be.
“We’ve recalled the booklet because of an editorial oversight,” Lt.-Cmdr. John Williston, the academy’s public affairs officer, told QMI Agency.
“It has been completely recalled. It was only distributed within the headquarters and to a few others and we are in the process of redoing it,” Williston said.
Williams is one of more than a dozen recognizable people in the photo, which was shot Jan. 15, 2010, by a corporal at CFB Trenton.
By then, the base commander had killed Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37, his former squadronmate, and had amassed a collection of undergarments and photos from his break-ins.
Williams killed 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd of Belleville less than three weeks after the Trenton photo was taken.
Andy Lloyd, her elder brother, said he was unaware of the issue until contacted by QMI Agency.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Lloyd said.
“I was kind of hoping they would have destroyed all the images they had of him in uniform, just like they destroyed his uniform,” he said.
Lloyd has in the past voiced support for the military but said the image’s publication was a further insult to his family.
“Accidents do happen ... but that’s a pretty big boo-boo,” he said. “We’re not very impressed with it.”
The Canadian Defence Academy is an umbrella agency overseeing a variety of training and professional development programs, including Royal Military Colleges in Ontario and Quebec and language training.
The glossy, thin booklet is titled, “I am a member of the profession of arms.”
Williston said it was intended to support professional development programs in a post-Afghanistan military and help explain what it means to be a member of the Canadian Forces.
Defence spokeswoman Amber Bineau said the booklet may have been printed by a civilian firm, but defence staff designed it.
“It was a publication that was done in-house,” Bineau said.
The colourful pages show images of military life and list tenets of leadership, such as “every member becomes a leader” and “every member is a mentor.”
Williams’ face is tiny, appearing in a photo measuring 6.5 cm by 3 cm, one of several on a page opposite a page entitled “Lead and serve.”
He’s neither mentioned in the caption nor the focus of the photo — but he’s clearly recognizable in it. Dressed in a blue air force uniform, he’s seated and looking with a neutral expression at Lt-Gen. Andre Deschamps, head of Canada’s air force.
Williston said the gaffe “was noticed right away” after the first box arrived at academy headquarters. The recall was immediate, he said.
“There were only a couple of hundred actual ones that were released and we’re trying to retrieve those for obvious reasons.”
Keyword searches of the military’s Combat Camera photo archive haven’t yielded any images of Williams since soon after his arrest in February 2010. It was not known if any other pictures of Williams exist among the thousands of archived files.
In November 2010, military officials retrieved Williams’ military possessions— including uniforms, certificates and even manuals — and destroyed them.
One month later, Williams was ejected from the military. He’s now serving his time at the Kingston Penitentiary.