Admiral Art McDonald, who at that time was commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Admiral Art McDonald, who at that time was commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Defence chief’s leave shows how seriously misconduct allegations are taken, PM says

Trudeau says more must be done to ensure workplaces are free of harassment and intimidation

The fact Admiral Art McDonald stepped aside as Canada’s defence chief while misconduct allegations are investigated demonstrates how seriously such cases are taken, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

But Trudeau said Friday that more must be done to ensure workplaces are free of harassment and intimidation.

“This is something that is extremely important. And it’s something we’ve taken strides on, both in our government and in the military. But there’s always more to do,” Trudeau said during a news briefing.

“Because there is an ongoing review into this situation, and we’re ensuring that all the steps are properly taken, I won’t be commenting specifically on this process at this time.”

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said late Wednesday that McDonald had “voluntarily stepped aside” as chief of the defence staff while military police investigate unspecified allegations. He is on paid leave.

McDonald took over as chief last month from Gen. Jonathan Vance, who is being investigated over allegations of inappropriate behaviour that became public following his retirement.

Vance has denied any wrongdoing and McDonald has not commented.

Canadian Army commander Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre has been appointed acting chief of the defence staff.

In a message to members Friday, Eyre said that in the face of uncertainty the Canadian Armed Forces must remain resilient and ready to answer the call of duty.

“At the same time, we must strive to ensure we look after our people — all of them — and ensure we are an institution in which Canadians can see themselves. How we do things is as important as what we do.”

READ MORE: Military police launch investigation after former Canadian defence chief accused of misconduct

Trudeau said he wants anyone who has experienced sexual assault or other such abuse to know that “we will be there, to listen, to hear them, to work with them and to move forward through processes that will get to the right answers.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Friday that a Tory government would launch a service-wide independent investigation of sexual misconduct in the military.

General officer promotions would be suspended during the probe, along with salary increases, O’Toole said.

He also pledged that future complaints would be made to an independent body outside of the chain of command.

Sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces is an “ongoing and serious problem that must be addressed,” O’Toole added.

“This unsafe culture must change.”

Political studies professor Stefanie von Hlatky told MPs on the House of Commons defence committee Friday that if a Forces member does not engage in sexual misconduct, it does not mean they perform their duty with honour.

“The standard of performance is much higher than that if you want to get to zero tolerance,” said Von Hlatky, Canada Research Chair on gender security in the Armed Forces at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“The challenge moving forward is not simply about how to eradicate sexual misconduct within the military, but entails identifying positive steps to create a culture of equality for women in the CAF and a culture centred around respect for all.”

READ MORE: Military IDs B.C. reservist as soldier killed in Alberta training accident

defence intelligence

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

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
Kootenay-Columbia MP pans federal budget

Conservative Rob Morrison says budget doesn’t have a plan for long-term spending priorities

A view of the Jordan River from the trail in the area, during the summer. There are two new gravel pits up for consideration by the province. The area is deemed to be ecologically sensitive. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
LETTER: When did Revelstoke become gravel pit central?

Two new gravel pits are being proposed near the Jordan River

Photo: pixabay.com
Morning Start: Why do dogs like squeaky toys?

Your morning start for Tuesday, April 20, 2021

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Lumby resident Dan Hill was at Vernon’s Polson Park to celebrate 4-20 by giving away free marijuana joints to people of age April 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
North Okanagan man back with free joints, cupcakes on 4-20

Dan Hill is trying to help people of age relax during a stressful April with marijuana giveaway

A lit cigarette tossed from a passing car is believed to be the cause of a grass fire which was only held to a ditch by the quick action of passersby in Salmon Arm on April 19. (Pixabay image)
Passersby fight Salmon Arm roadside grass fire believed started by flicked cigarette

Dry conditions prompt warning from resident, fire department

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Police are seeking the public’s assistance identifying a man who allegedly robbed a Vernon business the evening of Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (RCMP photo)
Police search for man who allegedly robbed Vernon business with weapon

The suspect is said to have threatened an employee before running off with two bottles of liquor

Canada Post has moved up parcel delivery deadlines within Canada in response to unprecedented holiday demand during COVID-19 but is still telling Canadians to expect delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mail suspended at Kelowna condo after mask-less residents spotted in lobby

Residents were asked to pick up their mail at Canada Post’s office on Baillie Avenue

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read