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Canada’s defence chief steps aside amid investigation just 2 months after getting the job

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Canada’s new top military commander, Admiral Art McDonald, has voluntarily stepped aside as he is investigated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service on unspecified allegations.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan posted a statement just after 11 p.m. Wednesday stating he was informed of the situation and takes allegations of misconduct seriously.

Sajjan said he continues to take strong action on any allegation of misconduct that is brought forward “no matter the rank, no matter the position.”

The minister did not reveal the nature of the allegations against McDonald and said he will not comment further because the investigation is ongoing.

Sajjan has appointed Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre as acting chief of the defence staff. Eyre is currently the commander of the army. 

This latest development comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the former defence chief general Jonathan Vance, who retired.

Vance is also under investigation by the military’s National Investigation Service after allegations — first reported by Global News — that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate. 

McDonald appointed in December 

That investigation is looking into whether the former top military commander violated the code of service discipline, or if any laws were broken. 

McDonald was appointed to the role on Dec. 23, and he assumed command on Jan. 14, marking the official transfer of command of the Canadian Armed Forces from Vance to McDonald.

McDonald apologized earlier this month after a public backlash erupted when he posted a photo online about the importance of diversity. However, the photo depicted eight white, male colleagues sitting around a conference table with one woman on a screen in the background. 

“It’s true: the leadership of the CAF is, and historically has been, predominantly male and white. That needs to change,” McDonald tweeted.

“We need to reflect Canada’s diversity at all levels. We must work to eliminate systemic racism and dismantle the barriers to career advancement that exist. We are there in mindset but know there is still a lot of work to do, and we are committed to doing it.”

McDonald commanded the Royal Canadian Navy from 2019 to 2021.

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