OTTAWA—Fight between the federal Liberal government and Admiral Art McDonald heated up Thursday as cabinet ministers ordered a naval officer to be on leave instead of returning as commander of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The surprise move, just days before an expected election call, represented the latest twist in a drama that had already taken several turns as McDonald’s lawyers issued a defiant statement Wednesday saying their client has planned to return as Chief of Defense Staff.
The claim follows the end of a military police investigation into misconduct allegations, which resulted in a decision last week of no charges, which McDonald’s team said acquitted the admiral and paved the way for his return. Did.
But Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, responding to McDonald’s lawyers a few hours later, said he expected the admiral to be on leave until the government decided what to do with him.
On 24 February McDonald voluntarily stepped down as chief of defense with the lieutenant general because of a military police investigation. Wayne Eyre takes over as Acting Chief of Defense Staff.
Sajjan announced on Thursday that McDonald’s was being placed on administrative leave until further notice. Speaking on the background, a senior government official said that the announcement came after an order-in-council of the cabinet.
“Appointments such as the Chief of Defense Staff must meet the highest possible standards and we aim to create a better workplace for the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces,” Sajjan said in a statement.
“A workplace that ensures that complainants and survivors are treated with the utmost respect and that allegations are taken seriously in every case.”
Sajjan indicated that Eyre would continue to serve as acting chief of defense.
McDonald’s attorney Rory Fowler declined to comment Thursday.
The nature of the charge against McDonald has not been publicly confirmed, but the CBC has reported that it is related to a sexual misconduct allegation that took place in 2010 while commanding a Canadian warship.
Global News has reported that Navy Lieutenant Heather McDonald, a Navy combat systems engineer, came forward with a charge against McDonald. Global quoted Macdonald as saying on Friday that he was upset with the military police’s decision.
The Liberal government faced calls not to reinstate McDonald’s, with some experts and victims’ advocates questioning the decision of the military police, rather than civilian officials, to lead the investigation.
These experts and advocates have suggested that this casts doubt on the veracity of the investigation, and that McDonald’s no longer has the moral authority to lead the military in changing its culture.
They also note that chiefs of defense staff are appointed by – and serve – at the pleasure of the government in power.
McDonald’s legal team said the former Royal Canadian Navy commander, who took over as chief of defense only five weeks before stepping down and had not previously commented publicly on the matter, maintains his complete innocence. .
He said McDonald’s passed a polygraph test about past incidents of misconduct before taking over as chief of defense in January and fully cooperated during the investigation.
Lawyers also cited the need to respect due process in Canada.
by Lee Barthium
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times