The government is firing Canada’s highest military officer and making the interim leader his permanent replacement
The federal government has Adm. Dismissed Art McDonald as Chief of Defense Staff and replaced him with the officer who had served as Interim Leader in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The appointment of General Wayne Eyre, who has held the top post on an interim basis since February, was announced by the Prime Minister’s office on Thursday.
The resignation of McDonald’s as boss was then confirmed by Defense Secretary Anita Anand.
McDonald stepped down from the top position in February after military police began investigating a sexual misconduct allegation against him.
In August, the military police said that McDonald would not face any criminal or disciplinary charges as a result of the investigation. However, the government put McDonald on leave pending a review.
That decision prompted McDonald to launch a public campaign to get his job back. He recently sent a letter expressing this wish to all senior military officials, a move Anand described Thursday as “shocking” and “unacceptable”.
âToday the Governor General signed an order by which Adm. McDonald will be fired in that position, “Anand told reporters in Ottawa.
“Gene. Eyre and I will continue to work hard to reform the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces. “
McDonald is on paid leave from the military, but attorney Rory Fowler said McDonald told Eyre on Thursday that he intended to initiate a withdrawal from the armed forces.
Fowler said he learned of Eyre’s appointment, and thus of McDonald’s removal, from a journalist who sent him the PMO press release. He said he then notified McDonald, who was then informed of his resignation by an official from the Privy Council Office.
“In fact, in the past nine months since he stepped down, neither the prime minister nor the national defense minister, former or current, have had the courtesy to pick up the phone and speak to Admiral McDonald,” Fowler said the star .
The council that fired McDonald said it had lost government trust. The order took into account his letter and public statements he had made on his behalf since August, as well as McDonaldâs comments that month on whether to stay in office.
The order stated that the chief “has an obligation to act in a manner that stands up to the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that cannot be fully fulfilled by simply acting under the law”.
Eyre had previously been in command of the army since 2019 and previously participated in a number of military operations both domestically and abroad.
He is now faced with the monumental task of commanding Canada’s armed forces as they respond to calls for cultural change amid an ongoing sexual misconduct crisis that investigates or charges current and former senior military officials.
Retired General Jonathan Vance, who held the top position until he retired in January, is charged with obstruction of justice under the Military Police investigation on charges of improper conduct.
Eyres’s tenure since February has not been without its missteps on the sexual misconduct file.
In June it was revealed that then-Deputy Chief of Defense Mike Rouleau and Navy Commander Craig Baines were taking Vance on a golf excursion. The trip was particularly problematic as Vance was being investigated by the military police reporting to the vice chief.
Rouleau, whose term of office was almost over, then resigned amid public outrage. He said in a note to staff that, with Eyre’s “full knowledge and consent”, he was meeting with senior officials under investigation, although Eyre said he was unaware of the golf trip until it was released .
Last month it became known that the military had quietly appointed Major General. Peter Dawe in a position of helping coordinate cultural change efforts. Dawe had been on leave from special forces chief since May after CBC News reported that he wrote a positive character reference in 2017 when convicting a soldier convicted of sexual assault.
News of his appointment prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to testify that the military “just still doesn’t understand” about sexual misconduct. Dawe has been removed from position.
Still, an expert on sexual misconduct in the military identified Eyre as one of the best contenders for the permanent position of Chief of Defense and that his appointment will bring much-needed stability.
Eyres “Error of assessment … it is more symptomatic of major problems within the general officer cohort,” said Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
“We want a chief of defense staff who is open to learning, open to changing course, and Eyre has shown a certain openness to that type of leadership,” she said.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION