Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen is currently Canada’s military representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. (Facebook/Canadian Armed Forces)

Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen is currently Canada’s military representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. (Facebook/Canadian Armed Forces)

Canadian military gets first female vice-chief of defence staff

Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen has become the first woman appointed as the military’s second-in-command

Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen has become the first woman appointed as the military’s second-in-command.

Her appointment as vice-chief of defence staff comes as the military undergoes a fresh round of soul-searching following explosive misconduct allegations against top brass.

Former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and his successor Admiral Art McDonald, who temporarily stepped aside just six weeks into the job, face accusations of inappropriate behaviour.

Allen had been seen as a possible contender to take over from Vance as Canada’s first female defence chief, before McDonald was selected for the job.

She most recently served as Canada’s military representative to NATO headquarters in Brussels and is the second woman to have attained the rank of lieutenant-general in the Armed Forces.

She’s taking over as vice-chief from Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, who had been in the running for the acting chief of defence staff position, a job ultimately given to Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre.

The senior leadership shuffle was announced by Eyre Tuesday morning.

“Each leader will go on to represent Canada, whether at home or abroad, in key decision making positions,” he said in a statement.

“The responsibilities of shaping the CAF of the future are great.”

Eyre’s optimism, however, comes at a time when numerous investigations are underway into the conduct of former military officials.

A political battle is also brewing over how much the Liberal government knew or didn’t about allegations concerning Vance and McDonald.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, while welcoming Allen’s appointment, said overall, trust in the military is eroding and press releases about appointments aren’t going to save it.

“We have to show swift and serious action for the men and women wearing uniform, particularly the women wearing uniform need to see that their voices will be heard,” O’Toole said.

“And so far, I’ve seen the Liberals more worried about avoiding responsibility than showing that our Canadian Armed Forces needs to be an institution that is that is preserved and respected.”

O’Toole was a cabinet minister in the Conservative government that appointed Vance as chief of defence staff in 2015, but said Tuesday he wasn’t involved in that decision.

But who was is part of the probe by the House of Commons defence committee looking into how the government handled allegations levelled against both Vance and McDonald.

That study was launched after a report by Global News alleging Vance had an ongoing relationship with a subordinate that continued after he was named chief of the defence staff, at which time he promised to root out sexual misconduct from the Armed Forces.

Global has also reported on allegations about Vance sending an email to a much younger female soldier in 2012, suggesting they go to a clothing-optional resort.

Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global News has reported that Vance has denied any wrongdoing.

The McDonald allegations surfaced after those reports. The Liberals have said they did not know about them when he was tapped to succeed Vance.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stressed the Allen announcement’s symbolic importance for the institution and women and men in the service.

“It has an incredible impact in terms of inspiring people and inspiring future generations, making people feel like they belong,” he said.

“But the toxic culture won’t be fixed by one appointment. And the problem is that what happened recently cannot be ignored, the impact that has had on women in the military.”

Singh lauded the courage of whistleblowers and complainants, but criticized the government’s response to recent accusations against top brass.

“It says that even if your complaint makes it to the desk of the defence minister, nothing’s going to happen.”

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet echoed Singh’s sentiments.

“The appointment of a woman as the No. 2 commander — and why not No. 1 — it seems to me it could involve greater confidence in the army when it comes to its staff,” he said.

Military

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cheryl Dill visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Talking jobs, tourism and business with Cheryl Dill in Parksville

Podcast: COVID-19 has far-reaching impacts on Vancouver Island

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Vandals strike in Parksville, prowler lurks in Nanoose Bay

Oceanside RCMP receive 276 complaints in one-week period

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to target people ages 40+ in ‘high risk communities’ with AstraZeneca vaccine

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read