I want my job back, Canada’s former top military officer writes after sexual misconduct probe ends without charges
|Toronto Star 15 Oct 2021 at 18:13|
Adm. Art McDonald believes he should be “immediately” returned to the job of Canada’s top military official, he wrote in a letter to senior officers, after a probe into allegations of sexual misconduct resulted in no charges being laid against him.
Canada’s acting chief of the defence staff described the letter Friday as ‘shocking,” while the defence minister said it was “inappropriate and unacceptable.”
McDonald took a voluntary leave when he became the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation by military police in February, just weeks after he was appointed chief of the defence staff.
Gen. Wayne Eyre was then appointed the acting chief, a position he continues to hold today.
The that McDonald would not face criminal or disciplinary charges, at which point McDonald said he wanted to come back to work. However, he remains on leave pending a government review.
McDonald wrote in his letter that the review the government says it is undertaking of his case “remains unknown” to him.
He wrote that he learned of the investigation’s results from the media, and says that no officials at the Department of National Defence or from the office of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan have spoken to him about any findings or follow-up.
“My own efforts to initiate a private dialogue beginning with the prime minister have been rebuffed, save for a staffer’s delaying response,” he wrote.
The letter prompted a written response from Eyre that was also obtained Friday by the Star.
“We must remember that in a democracy the military is subordinate to our duly elected civilian leadership. This fundamental is paramount to our profession,” Eyre wrote in a letter to the senior leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“I was asked to act as chief of the defence staff on Feb. 25, and I will continue in that role until told otherwise by our civilian leadership.
“To that end, this shocking letter changes nothing with respect to our vital work of defending our nation, changing our culture, and preparing for the threats ahead.”
Eyre urged Canada’s senior military leaders to “continue to do what so many of you do each day.
“Lead ethically, morally, and professionally. Lead with humility, and with an open heart and mind.”
On Friday, Sajjan described McDonald’s letter as “inappropriate and unacceptable.”
“In Canada, civilians provide necessary oversight of the military and decide who is best suited to lead the armed forces,” he said in a written statement to the Star.
“McDonald’s email does not reflect this, nor does it reflect the need to put survivors and victims of sexual misconduct first.”
In his letter, McDonald described himself as an “engine of culture change,” and tells the senior officers they can contact him if they wish to discuss these issues.
“The way ahead in bringing my situation to an appropriate conclusion seems evident: just as it was once time for me to step back and enable an investigation, it is now time for the institution to accept the results of due process,” he wrote.
“In this case, this means seeing my immediate return to duty or, at the very least, the launching of a respectful private and, when appropriate, accompanying public discourse regarding any alternative way ahead.”
The military has been rocked by a sexual misconduct and leadership crisis this year.
Retired general Jonathan Vance, McDonald’s predecessor as chief of the defence staff, was recently charged with obstruction of justice following a military police investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
This week, it was revealed that the installation of Lt.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu as commander of the army was postponed last month following the launch of a military police investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct. Cadieu denied the allegation.
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