Military Gets New Commander in Virtual, Low Key Ceremony Due to COVID 19

January 14, 2021 Updated: January 14, 2021

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.