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Military says Adm. Art McDonald already faced ‘significant’ action as police report released

Click to play video: 'Gen. Wayne Eyre officially becomes Canada’s chief of the defence staff' Gen. Wayne Eyre officially becomes Canada’s chief of the defence staff
After becoming acting chief of the defence staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre is officially getting the job. Mercedes Stephenson looks at what challenges lie ahead for Eyre as the Canadian Armed Forces grapples with its sexual misconduct crisis, and what happens to his predecessor, Adm. Art McDonald – Nov 25, 2021

The Canadian military says actions taken so far against Adm. Art McDonald are “significant” and there are no plans to pursue measures like stripping or lowering his rank.

That comes as the release of the military police report into the investigation of an allegation against McDonald noted that the question of whether to take such actions was being handed over to military brass.

“Admiral McDonald will be releasing from the CAF, and the prior actions taken, including his suspension from the performance of his duties, as well as the subsequent termination of his appointment are considered significant actions,” said a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence.

“Further information regarding conditions of release is protected by the Privacy Act.”

Read more: Military police will not charge Adm. Art McDonald after sexual misconduct probe

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Global News obtained a copy of the military police investigation into McDonald via access to information laws. The investigation probed an allegation of sexual misconduct – specifically, sexual assault – made against McDonald by a female subordinate.

McDonald has denied the allegation and the investigation ended without a charge.

He has said he intends to retire from the military.

In contrast, military police sources emphasized the issue of rank in September when questioned by Global News on the decision not to pursue code of service penalties against McDonald’s predecessor, retired general Jonathan Vance.

Those sources cited the findings from former Supreme Court of Canada justice Morris Fish in June that it would be “legally impossible” for the military to charge and try someone in the role of chief of the defence staff because they have no peers to sit on the military panel weighing the charges.

However, that determination was specifically in relation to courts martial.

Read more: Over 40 per cent of military sexual misconduct class action claims are from men, Eyre says

Military police have said their decision not to charge McDonald came down to “insufficient evidence.”

McDonald claimed that probe had also found the allegation was “unsubstantiated,” something the military’s provost marshal said in a subsequent statement was not the case.

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READ MORE: McDonald sexual misconduct allegation was not deemed ‘unfounded,’ military confirms

McDonald’s lawyer also said in a three-page letter issued to media last week that: “The CFNIS investigative summary stated, ‘No witness reported seeing Admiral McDonald [do what was alleged].’”

The copy of the investigative report obtained by Global News contains 278 pages, almost all of them heavily redacted. None includes that excerpt.

It’s not clear whether McDonald’s legal team has a less redacted copy, and a lawyer for him did not respond to a request from Global News to provide a page number for that quote.

The closest material appears to be a section in the case summary part of the report, which states that military police investigators spoke with 38 potential witnesses who were on board the HMCS Montreal, the navy ship where the assault is alleged to have taken place during a party.

“Due to the specific location of the events under investigation, a number of individuals were not in a position to observe the alleged interaction,” the summary states.

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The report notes investigators went on board the HMCS Montreal on March 27 to take pictures and video, but does not clearly indicate what those were.

McDonald temporarily stepped aside as chief of the defence staff in late February as a result of the investigation, and the government announced he had been permanently removed from the role via executive order on Nov. 25.

Gen. Wayne Eyre was named chief of the defence staff in his place.

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