Canada’s new top military commander Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped aside as he is investigated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service on unspecified misconduct charges.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan posted a statement online at just after 11 p.m. Wednesday stating he was informed of the situation and takes allegations of misconduct seriously.
“As I have stated, I take all allegations of misconduct seriously and continue to take strong action on any allegation of misconduct that is brought forward,” wrote Sajjan in a statement. “No matter the rank, no matter the position.”
Sajjan did not reveal the details of the allegations and said he will not comment further because the investigation is ongoing.
He has appointed Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre to act in McDonald’s place. Lt-Gen. Eyre is currently the commander of the Army.
This latest development comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the recently retired Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance, who is also under investigation by the military’s National Investigation Service after allegations — first reported by Global News — that Vance had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate.
McDonald appointed in December
The investigation is looking into whether the former top military commander violated the code of service discipline or 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 & 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.”