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

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood, this includes protecting one’s home by moving equipment and other assets from these areas to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-normal spring flood season

High-streamflow advisory issued for the Cariboo Region and areas including Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

RCMP cruiser, no date.
One man apprehended after high-risk situation in Ashcroft

Distraught man made threats directed at police, potentially had access to firearms

Janice Maurice, president of the South Cariboo Museum Society, and vice-president Peter Brandle, hope to see the Clinton Museum reopen its doors this spring. (Kelly Sinoski - 100 Mile Free Press).
Clinton Museum anticipated to reopen this year

Society board waiting to hear from province on health orders.

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read