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

LETTER: Langley man oblivious walkers, runners and cyclists need to tune out

People with ear buds or headphones often unaware of the dangers around them, letter writer says

Previously, Aldergrove Sea Monkeys swimmers trained while passing one another in the same lane at the ACUCC pool. (Aldergrove Star files)
Aldergrove ‘micromonkeys’ ready to hit the pool

Sea Monkey’s swim club has opened registration for age four and up for lessons May 3 to June 2

Bike events like the 2018 Valley Granfondo in Fort Langley drew thousands of cyclists. (Langley Advance Times files)
Our View: Cycling boom will have long-term implications for Canada

All the people who took to two wheels in the last year will change our politics

Twilight Drive-In in Aldergrove (Aldergrove Star files)
Godzilla, King Kong, and the Virgin Mary take over Twilight Drive-In

Horror movie, The Unholy, will play all next week after final showing of Godzilla VS. Kong

The Langley School District issues COVID-19 notifications when cases are discovered at local public school. Fraser Health handles contact tracing and all medical aspects for all local schools. (Langley Schools)
Positive COVID test at RE Mountain Secondary

10 schools in the Langley District have had exposures

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

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

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read