Gen. Wayne Eyre officially taking over as new chief of the defence staff – National

Gen. Wayne Eyre is officially taking over as the chief of the defence staff for the Canadian Forces as the military grapples with an ongoing crisis of sexual misconduct allegations against multiple senior leaders.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced the appointment in a press release Thursday afternoon.

Eyre has been serving in the role in an acting capacity since late February, when Adm. Art McDonald temporarily stepped aside – six weeks into his own appointment to the position – amid a military police investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct made against him.

READ MORE: Military sexual misconduct apology coming before end of year, Anand’s office confirms

That investigation ended in the summer with no charges against McDonald. Military police cited a lack of evidence for the decision, and shortly afterwards McDonald began waging an increasingly public fight to regain the role, claiming he had been exonerated and the allegation was deemed “unsubstantiated.”

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However, military police issued a statement emphasizing that was not the case, and that the allegation against him had not been deemed “unfounded.”

McDonald has denied the allegation against him.

Eyre was promoted to the rank of general in August in what was widely viewed as a signal that the government did not intend to allow McDonald to resume the duties of the role.

TIMELINE: The Canadian Forces sexual misconduct crisis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed to a controversial letter sent by McDonald to senior military officers arguing for his reinstatement as a factor that would be weighed in whether or not to let him return.

Military experts warned the letter raised serious concerns about McDonald’s suitability for the role.

Since then, Trudeau has shuffled the former defence minister out of the role following months of mounting criticism of Harjit Sajjan’s handling of the sexual misconduct crisis. Anita Anand is now defence minister, and she congratulated Eyre in a tweet shortly after the announcement of his appointment.

“General Eyre and I will continue to work together to build a military where all members feel safe, protected, and respected, wherever they are, whatever they are doing,” Anand wrote.

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In a message sent to Canadian Forces members, Anand described the current moment as a “critical time” for the country and its military.

“Canada has always striven to be a force of stability around the globe, and our armed forces have consistently played a key role in this mission,” she said in the message.

“We know that there is currently a crisis of culture, and of confidence, in our Canadian Armed Forces, which has resulted in broken trust. Rebuilding that trust is crucial.”

READ MORE: Military sexual misconduct survivors were promised an apology in 2019. Why the delay?

Her office confirmed to Global News on Wednesday that an apology will come for survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct before the end of the year, which is two years after the government agreed to do so as part of a $900-million class-action settlement.

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The deadline for claims to be submitted under the process was midnight — a total of 18,796 survivors and victims came forward to submit claims through that.

Advocates for survivors and victims have said they believe that apology should come from the defence minister and the prime minister as well, given the extent of the military sexual misconduct crisis and the government’s failures to implement key recommendations from the 2015 Deschamps report.

That landmark report documented the extent of the longstanding issue of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces, describing the problem as “endemic” and the culture of the military as “toxic.”

More to come.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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