The Canadian military has delayed the appointment of its next army commander after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the man chosen for the role – the latest in a string of senior officers to be investigated for misconduct.
Lt Gen Trevor Cadieu was to be sworn in as the head of Canada’s army at a ceremony in early September. But that event was cancelled after the military learned of “historical allegations” against Cadieu.
In a joint statement, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces said acting chief of defence staff general Wayne Eyre was told about the investigation two days before Cadieu was scheduled to take command of the army.
On Wednesday, military police confirmed they were investigating Cadieu, but said no further details would be provided.
Cadieu has denied the allegations.
“The allegations are false, but they must be investigated thoroughly to expose the truth,” he said in a statement. “I believe that all complaints should be investigated professionally, regardless of the rank of the accused.”
Cadieu said that on learning of the investigation, he asked the country’s interim top soldier to “consider selecting another leader” for the army.
In recent months, a number of senior brass in the military have been embroiled in sexual misconduct investigations.
In February, military police opened an inquiry into former chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance over allegations of sexual misconduct. Vance was charged with obstruction of justice in connection with the misconduct investigation.
Admiral Art McDonald, Vance’s replacement, was also the subject of an investigation over allegations of sexual misconduct. Military police say they have not found evidence to support charging McDonald, who is on administrative leave.
Maj Gen Dany Fortin, head of the country’s vaccine rollout, was formally charged with sexual assault in August.
Maj Gen Peter Dawe, who once provided a character reference for a soldier convicted of sexual assault, was recently appointed to help the military’s response to sexual misconduct. He was pulled from the job after public outrage.
In May, Lt Col Eleanor Taylor, one of the country’s most senior female soldiers, resigned, saying she was “sickened” by the military’s repeated failures to tackle the abuse within its ranks.
The controversy over Cadieu only serves to highlight the failure of the Liberal government to stamp out sexual harassment in the military, said opposition leaders, who renewed calls for defence minister Harjit Sajjan to step down.
New Democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement that Sajjan and prime minister Justin Trudeau have “consistently failed service women – and Canadians – by appointing and protecting men who are not equipped or not interested in changing the status quo”.