Chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance announces impending retirement

Chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance announces impending retirement

OTTAWA — Gen. Jonathan Vance, who led the military through a major pivot after the war in Afghanistan, announced Wednesday he is stepping down as chief of the defence staff.

The country’s top soldier said his retirement will be official “in the months to come” after the government has found a successor.

The surprise announcement was made in a letter posted to social media, in which Vance told the members of the Armed Forces that they remain an inspiration to him and says he has given them his all.

“Until I relinquish command I will continue to serve you and Canadians with the same energy and effort I always have,” he wrote.

Vance, 56, is among the longest-serving chiefs of defence staff in Canadian history.

There had been persistent reports the Liberals were going to recommend him to become NATO’s top military official in the fall.

Defence sources, not authorized to speak publicly, told The Canadian Press the government informed Vance recently that wouldn’t be the case.

He was first appointed to the job by the previous Conservative government in July 2015.

Over the next five years, he oversaw the Forces as it struggled to find a new focus after years of combat in Afghanistan sapped its mental and physical strength.

His first act as chief of the defence staff was to launch Operation Honour, the military’s effort to stamp out sexual misconduct and one of many steps taken in an effort to modernize the Forces’ demographics.

Vance’s tenure also saw more involvement for the military in domestic affairs, including an increased role assisting in floods and wildfires, and most recently as support to long-term care homes dealing with COVID-19.

Under his watch, Canadians also took command of a NATO battle group in Latvia and a NATO training mission in Iraq, as well as making a year-long contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts in Mali.

“With almost 40 years of service, Gen. Vance has devoted his life to this country and we thank him for his dedication and leadership,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

Trudeau said he has initiated the search for Vance’s successor.

There has been ongoing turmoil in the top ranks of the military for close to three years.

In March, Lt.-Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier announced his surprise retirement after less than a year as vice-chief of the defence staff.

He was the sixth vice-chief under Vance, and had been seen as someone who could replace him.

Lanthier had replaced former lieutenant-general Paul Wynnyk, who resigned abruptly following a dispute with Vance.

Wynnyk had been one of the top officers tapped to fill the post while the Mark Norman affair played out.

Vance suspended vice-admiral Mark Norman in January 2017 due to an RCMP investigation into whether Norman had leaked cabinet secrets about a shipbuilding project.

The vice-admiral was charged, but the charges were later dropped. Vance tried to reinstate Norman, but the admiral retired instead.

Vance had been heavily criticized for how he handled the case, with the suggestion at the time he was acting under political pressure to suspend Norman. He denied that allegation.

The scandal around Norman was one of several blemishes on Vance’s reputation.

Last year, he issued a lengthy apology to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan after making the decision to exclude them from a rededication ceremony for the Kandahar war memorial.

The military had given them no notice of the ceremony, nor were they invited to attend.

A new, public, ceremony was subsequently arranged.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Jay “Chef” Scotian poses for a photo in his new location in Sylvan Lake. Eat Coast Market and Grill will be holding a “Donations for Donairs” fundraiser for Haley Wile on Oct. 24. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake business fundraising for local woman paralyzed in car accident

Haley Wile was in a serious car accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down

Brady Durkin. Photo Submitted
Young Sylvan Lake golfer places in the Top 10 in the country

Brady Durkin finished the National Championship tournament in 8th place recently

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

(The Canadian Press)
Alberta-raised Cree actor lands role in Disney’s live-action ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’

Tiger Lily is featured in Disney’s 1953 animated “Peter Pan” film

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

Pipeline division owned by Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. will now be required to restore 3,840 hectares of caribou habitat,

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and government house leader Jason Nixon chat before the speech from the throne delivered in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Alberta politicians are to return to the legislature Tuesday with a plan to discuss up to 20 new bills — many of which are focused on the province’s economic recovery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature to resume Tuesday; focus to be on economic recovery

Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will focus on holding Premier Jason Kenney

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Most Read