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

COVID019 cases number have dropped dramatically according to the BC CDC epidemiology mapping for the week of April 11 to 17 . Nurse Angie Z. gets a thumbs up from Delores Campbell, one of the first of 9,008 residents to be vaccinated in the Prince Rupert community vaccination clinics in March. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View.
COVID-19 Case number plummet in Prince Rupert

BCCDC mapping shows a dramatic decrease in pandemic case number in the Prince Rupert region

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Registered Nurse, Teresa Friesen immunizes Dunrovin resident, Richard Brophy. Resident’s at the home were the first in Quesnel to receive COVID-19 vaccines. (Submitted Photo)
COLUMN: Vaccine floodgates should be opened

This editor’s column first appeared in the April 14 edition of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read