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Top military commanders spar over fitness for job of defence chief

OTTAWA — An unprecedented tug of war is threatening to break out at the very top of Canada’s military as the two officers to have most recently served as chief of the defence staff have penned competing letters around their fitness for the job.

The initial salvo was launched by Adm. Art McDonald, who stepped down as commander of the Canadian Armed Forces in February due to a military police investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct.

In his letter, McDonald blasts the Liberal government’s refusal to reinstate him after that investigation resulted in no charges.

He adds that he has been exonerated by the investigation, but that he has received no word on what the government plans to do with him after it suspended him in August and kept acting defence chief Gen. Wayne Eyre in the job.

Eyre, in a letter to senior commanders, described McDonald’s missive as “shocking,” and reminded them that in a democracy, the military answers to the government.

The unprecedented back and forth comes as several other senior officers remain under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.