General Wayne Eyre to Retire From Role as Canada’s Top Military Commander

General Wayne Eyre to Retire From Role as Canada’s Top Military Commander
Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the Defence Staff, speaks during a military announcement at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ont., on June 20, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Lars Hagberg)
Matthew Horwood

General Wayne Eyre will be retiring from his role as chief of the Defence Staff in the summer, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said.

“I thank General Eyre for his unwavering service to Canada as Chief of the Defence Staff and throughout his remarkable military career,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press release on Jan. 12.

“His contributions to upholding the highest standards of professionalism within our Armed Forces and his leadership in disaster relief operations and critical missions, both here at home and abroad, have been invaluable. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

Early in his military career, Gen. Eyre was deployed to Croatia in 1993 as part of peacekeeping operations, and to Afghanistan in 2012. As he rose through the ranks, Gen. Eyre also oversaw a series of disaster relief operations, including the military response to both the 2015 Saskatchewan wildfires and the evacuation of Fort McMurray in 2016. He was appointed commander of the Canadian Army in 2019.

In February 2021, Gen. Eyre took over the role of chief of the Defence Staff after Art McDonald was relieved from the position following allegations of sexual misconduct, which military police decided not to pursue.

While in his position as chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Eyre led the military’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and various severe weather events across Canada. According to the press release, Gen. Eyre focused on modernizing the CAF’s capabilities, rebuilding its readiness, and making it an “inclusive and respectful organization that attracts and retains talent from all segments of Canadian society while continuing to deliver operational excellence.”

Gen. Eyre also oversaw the imposition of the CAF’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in October 2021, which resulted in hundreds of members leaving the force through either voluntary release or expulsion. Since, 458 current and former CAF members have launched lawsuits against Gen. Eyre and other top officials in the CAF and Department of National Defence, alleging abuse of power in the administration of COVID-19 policies.

Diminishing Military Capabilities

While in his role, Gen. Eyre was often candid about the CAF’s diminishing capabilities abroad. In March 2023, Mr. Eyre said he was concerned Canada’s military did not have the capacity to lead a possible security mission to Haiti. In November, he also warned that the world was facing unprecedented security threats in multiple regions, and that Canada had “much work to do” to increase its military capacity in response.
The general’s comments came as the Liberal government plans to cut around $1 billion from the Department of National Defence’s annual budget, which Gen. Eyre said would have an impact on the force’s capabilities. In September 2023, Gen. Eyre told lawmakers he had a “very difficult session” with commanders of the various services following the announcement of budget cuts.

The PMO said a selection process will be initiated to determine who will be appointed as the next chief of the Defence Staff, and Gen. Eyre will continue to serve in his role until the successor is chosen.

In the press release, Gen. Eyre said it had been “an honour” to serve in the role at a time when Canada faces “persistent crises and challenges, and an unrelenting demand for CAF support.”

“In all, the members of the CAF have delivered magnificently, and their commitment to serve our nation is a continued source of inspiration. I continue to be extremely proud of them,” he added.

Additionally, the PMO announced that Jody Thomas, national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister, would also be retiring and will be replaced by Nathalie G. Drouin, currently deputy clerk of the Privy Council and associate secretary to the cabinet, on Jan. 27.