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

Supporter Gordy Dodd cheers on HeroWork Victoria executive director Trevor Botkin, who will be in a lift for 36 hours beside Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress on April 16 and 17 to raise funds for the organization’s next project, a makeover of the Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre on Johnson Street. (Courtesy HeroWork Victoria)
HeroWork Victoria tackles makeover of Salvation Army rehab centre

Executive director to spend 36 hours living in a lift as fundraiser

Grandmothers to Grandmothers is a campaign that connects Canadian grandmothers with grandmothers in Africa who are caring for children orphaned by AIDS. Here, they are in Kakuto, Uganda in 2018. (Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar photo)
Greater Victoria and African grandmothers celebrate solidarity with virtual concert

Grandmothers to Grandmothers supports women in Africa caring for children orphaned by AIDS

Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdoses. (Black Press Media files)
Island Health issues overdose advisory for Greater Victoria

The advisory directs bystanders to an overdose to call 911 and administer naloxone

A portion of West Coast Road in Sooke was closed for several hours as emergency services responded to a “serious incident” on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.
West Coast Road reopens after ‘serious incident’ propted Tuesday afternoon closure

The road was closed between Grant Road West and Otter Point Road as emergency services were on scene

West Shore RCMP is seeking information about a collision involving a car and a bicycle on Six Mile Road, near the Island Highway, at 11:30 a.m. on April 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP seeks information about collision between bike, car

Collision occured on Six Mile Road on April 7 and a bystander got the blue car’s plate number

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read