Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

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OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as chief of the defence staff as he is investigated on unspecific allegations.

Sajjan said in a release late Wednesday that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is doing the investigation.

Sajjan said he takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and continues to take strong action on any allegation of misconduct that is brought forward "no matter the rank, no matter the position."

Sajjan said as of Wednesday he has appointed Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre as acting chief of the defence staff.

He said he will have no further comment at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

Military investigators are probing allegations of sexual misconduct against McDonald's and Eyre's predecessor, Gen. Jonathan Vance.

Global News has reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked, and that he made a sexual comment to a second, much younger soldier in 2012, before he was appointed chief of the defence staff.

Vance has denied the allegations raised by Global and The Canadian Press has not verified them independently.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press