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  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Chief of the Defence Staff Change of Command Ceremony

Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, July 17, 2015


This is an important day for our Canadian Armed Forces.

The change of command ceremony is a key moment in our military’s history. It signals a passing of the torch from one leader to another.

Today, we bid a grateful farewell to outgoing Chief of the Defence Staff, General Thomas Lawson.

And we welcome General Jonathan Vance, Canada’s 19th Chief of the Defence Staff.

Since taking command in October 2012, General Lawson has shown leadership and dedication in a period of high operational tempo.

At a time of transition with a large number of personnel returning from Afghanistan, he has skillfully managed the command, control and administration of the Canadian Armed Forces.

He has positioned the Forces for success in the years to come.

General Lawson, I was there in 2012 when you took up this appointment, and I want to personally thank you for your service to Canada.

I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

General Vance, I also want to thank you for your distinguished service to Canada, and for accepting this responsibility.

You have more than demonstrated your readiness for the job.

You have served our country with distinction for more than three decades, most recently as commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

As you prepare to take on this new appointment, know that you are leading one of the most professional militaries in the world.

As we witness the formal transfer of authority between these two individuals, I want all of you to think about leadership.

About what it means to lead.

I know that General Lawson and General Vance have both given a lot of thought to the matter of leadership.

They understand that while leadership demands qualities such as strength, vision and integrity, it also calls for much more than that.

They know it calls for great humility, and for recognition of your utter dependence upon the people who surround you.

They understand the secret to the Canadian Armed Forces’ success: leadership at every level, with every single person in uniform.

A leader has a deep understanding of the role each person plays in an organization’s success, and unlocks the same understanding within those who surround him or her.

And what is your mission, as members of the Canadian Armed Forces?

The defence of our way of life, which was founded on freedom and the rule of law—by which I mean the constant, relentless pursuit of justice.

No matter what specific role you play, that’s what you do. That’s why we’re all here today.

General Lawson, General Vance, I thank you both for answering the call to service.