Godspeed, Sir! Three for the Curb: “I cannot think of a better person than you, Admiral Art McDonald, to succeed to the functions of General Jonathan Vance.”

Remarks of Governor General Julie Payette (rt’d, hail of bullets) on the Change of Command from General Jon Vance (ditto) to Vice-Admiral Art McDonald (er, pending), Jan 14, 2021:
It is my honour and privilege to be a part of this time-honoured ceremony, the passing of the command in the Canadian Armed Forces. I am delighted to share this very special day with you, and with two remarkable men and their families…

As Commander-in-Chief, I have the pleasure of meeting members of the Canadian Forces and honouring their dedication to our country. I have seen firsthand how hard our servicemen and servicewomen work, both abroad and at home, to defend the principles of peace, freedom and democracy.

I am particularly proud of the work that was done in this regard by the longest serving Chief of the Defence Staff in the history of our country, General Jonathan Vance. He is the son of the late Lieutenant General Jack Vance, and a proud soldier of the Royals, the Royal Canadian Regiment whose battle honours date back to the war of 1812…

With poise and humility, General Vance provided judicious advice, tackled tough issues – including needed changes within the military to move past beyond unacceptable attitudes – and led the Canadian Forces to face the new demands of today’s warfare environment, a world in which invisible enemies, whether domestic, foreign or planetary, whether human, biological or binary, must be taken seriously.

General Vance, like so many others, accomplished all of his duties while balancing military and family life. He was blessed with the support of his wife, Ms. Kerry Vance, and their children Olivia, Nora, Max, Julia and Mara.

Kerry: while you were taking care of a professional career, young adults and a soldier, you also shared your deep concerns and compassion for our military veterans and families at every assignment … at every occasion. Military life can be incredibly hard on people, but you are a living example of how it can be done efficiently, with grace and flair. Thank you, Madam.

Just so you know, General Vance has not yet shared with me where he will be moving next – I hope he does, as I hope we stay in touch – but I am absolutely convinced that any institution or body he will associate with will be immeasurably fortunate to count him in.

General Vance, a grateful nation wishes you the best wherever your next endeavours take you. All the best to you and to your family.

And so now, the torch is being passed onto the 20th Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Art McDonald.
Before I sing your praises, Sir, I would like to point out that you are not the first extraordinary son of Nova Scotia called Art McDonald. There is in fact another Bluenoser called Art McDonald, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for solving the solar neutrino mass question…

As the command passes on this special day, I cannot think of a better person than you, Admiral Art McDonald, to succeed to the functions of General Jonathan Vance, to lead our Forces forward and to accomplish Canada’s mission at home and around the world.

I put my trust in you and I know you will do an outstanding job.

Fair winds and following seas.

And, if you allow me some RCAF parlance – Godspeed, Sir! (that’s enough brass balls!!—ed.)


  1. I never knew the GG is/was the Commander in Chief of Canada’s armed forces. Frank, the best history teacher ever.

    • The GG is the Head of State (technically, the representative of the Head of State, who happens to be Queen Elizabeth II). In our system the Head of State symbolises/represents/embodies “the People”. Parliament is responsible to the People, it does not represent them. This is a concept that is badly taught in our schools, which is one reason most Canadians believe that our parliamentarians represent us in the American manner. They don’t.

      Canadians have been confused by the system south of our border, where the Head of State and the Head of Government are the same person (the President). Until these two roles were separated, the British Monarch governed. See Henry VIII for the most extreme version of this polity in British history. Now British monarchs merely rule. The Head of Government is our Prime Minister, a term that means “first servant”, which raises the question, just whose Servant are they? Which opens a can of worms, or raises the lid on a suitcase of lobbyist’s cash….

      Footnote: POTUS has royal powers that modern constitutional monarchs no longer have. Such as issuing pardons, or promulgating edicts, or declaring war, or selecting the Cabinet, etc.


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