January 23rd, 2021

Military gets new commander in virtual, low-key ceremony due to COVID-19

By The Canadian Press on January 14, 2021.

Art McDonald, then the new head of the navy, addressed the audience at the Royal Canadian Navy change of command ceremony in Halifax on June 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

OTTAWA – Admiral Art McDonald is taking over as commander of Canada’s military in a low-key ceremony devoid of the normal pomp and circumstance due to COVID-19.

As the new chief of the defence staff McDonald succeeds Gen. Jonathan Vance, who kicked off the change-of-command ceremony by using his final speech in uniform to bid an emotional farewell to the troops.

Vance also encouraged them to face all challenges foreign and domestic, including rooting out hatred and intolerance in the ranks, which Vance painted as critical for future military success.

It will fall to McDonald to carry that and all other missions forward as defence chief.

Change-of-command ceremonies for the military’s top officer are normally high-profile affairs, with cannons and honour guards and thousands of people in attendance.

Instead, only a few people are at National Defence Headquarters because of COVID-19, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette among those participating virtually.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

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