Vice-Admiral Art McDonald to become new Chief of the Defence Staff

Arthur MacDonald, an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, will replace Jonathan Vance as Chief of the Defence Staff in 2021.

After the commander-in-chief of Canada's armed forces (the Queen, but represented by the Governor-General), the CDS is the second-most senior member of the Canadian Armed Forces, which encompasses the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. As chair of the Armed Forces Council, the CDS also has responsibility for the command, control, and administration of Canada's military.


Previously in his career, McDonald served as a Pacific fleet commander and took a large role in renewing the combat fleet. He will be the first navy officer in more than two decades (since Larry Murray, under Chrétien) to hold the position.


"In his new role as Chief, Vice-Admiral McDonald will oversee the work of the Canadian Armed Forces, including on vaccine rollout through Operation Vector," Prime Minister Trudeau said. "McDonald's leadership and expertise will be invaluable as the Armed Forces continue to work around the clock to keep Canadians safe."


According to defence experts, the unusual pick of a navy officer as CDS is purposeful, in order to counter concerns about the high costs of new frigates which, per CBC, will "cost over $60 billion to build and perhaps as much as another $150 billion to operate and maintain in the coming decades."


"The navy doesn't usually make CDS," said Christian Leuprecht, who teaches at the Royal Military College of Canada. "This was a very strategic choice. It also signals the government's commitment to the navy and the [Canadian Surface Combatant]."

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