In some months to come, Jonathan Vance, the top official in the Canadian Armed Forces and Canada’s longest-serving Chief of Defence Staff Gen. will be retiring as soon as the government names his predecessor. According to Vance, “it’s time” for him to go. This comes after he made it clear that he was interested in being nominated for the role as the next chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. He added that he’d be leaving if he had been elected, and he will be retiring if he wasn’t tapped to the international position.
Though he did not call it retirement in his letter to the Forces, Vance indicated that he had spoken with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, and Governor General Julie Payette about his resolution to leave. Vance, who is 56, has been in service for 39 years in the Forces as he first joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1982. He also indicated in a tweet that he will continue to serve with “the same energy and effort I always have,” in the interim. Trudeau noted that Vance is one of the longest-serving military commanders in Canadian history and thanked him for his service to the country.
In naming the next top solider to command the Canadian Armed Forces and be in charge of military strategy, plans, and administration, Trudeau has started the recruitment process. Trudeau said in a statement that General Vance had devoted his life to this country, and he thanked him for his dedication and leadership. Vance added that the most important factor is to look for a person who will be able to do the job well. Former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, appointed Vance in 2015, and it is now his sixth year at the helm.
He has faced a series of challenges over his tenure in the Forces ranging from the push to recruit more women, involved in the since-stayed breach of trust case against then-Vice Admiral Mark Norman, sexual misconduct within the ranks, and the ongoing push to procure new military jets. Vance suspended Norman from his duties when he was charged in March 2018. Vance also indicated that he worked to stamp out discrimination and harassment in the military continues. He added that they have to keep the culture alive and well, and having an institution that Canadians can see themselves in and be proud of.
Six forces personnel died in recent months after in a Cyclone helicopter crash during a NATO mission in Europe, and Vance had to deal with the deaths. During a flight, as part of a cross-country tour designed to boost the spirits of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, one member of the Snowbirds died. Another was seriously injured after their plane crashed in B.C. Vance in a letter said that its members “had been the inspiration for my life.” He also indicated that he is “excited at the prospect of a new CDS being appointed to lead the profession of arms in Canada and take you even further.” He concluded that he is “genuinely excited” to pass the torch.