WASHINGTON — It looks like the Canadian military will have a new vice chief of the Defence Staff, following the resignation of the second-highest ranking officer and a leaked resignation letter.
Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk turned in his resignation letter July 9 to Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the Defence Staff. Global News, which obtained the letter, reported that Wynnyk made the decision following rumors that Vance planned to replacing him with Vice-Adm. Mark Norman.
Wynnyk was made vice chief after Norman was suspended following allegations that he leaked government secrets about acquisition plans for a supply ship. The charges against Norman were stayed, as prosecution was discontinued, explained Guy Thibualt, a former vice chief.
Norman reached an agreement with the government in June. Not much is known about the agreement, but he resigned shortly after.
Thibualt explained that Wynnyk was appointed on the condition that Wynnyk would assume the vice chief position in full capacity, not as an interim vice chief. This would guarantee that Norman could not displace Wynnyk.
According to Global News reports of the letter, Wynnyk claims Vance said his service was “no longer in the best interest of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)." Wynnyk also wrote that Vance planned to make Norman vice chief.
Thibualt said Canadian military officials usually serve no longer than 35 years or after they reach 55 years of age. Wynnyk and Norman are 55 years old.
The letter also reportedly said Wynnyk was told he could stay in the position following Norman’s disqualification. “While I appreciate the change of heart, I respectfully decline and intend to take my release from the Canadian Armed Forces as expeditiously as possible,” Wynnyk’s letter read, according to Global News.
On July 10, Wynnyk denied his resignation was tied to Norman. “I categorically would like to say that that is not the case,” he said in an interview with Global News.
Thibualt described what happened to Wynnyk as “collateral damage.” When the charges against Norman were stayed, there was a “change of heart” in relation to Norman’s and Wynnyk’s respective status, Thibualt added..
“It turns out to be ... a train wreck that started a couple of years ago ,and we are seeing it played out in a way that politicians are making it into a failure of the government," Thibualt said. "Some people are very critical of our chief of Defence Staff, but to be honest where I sit, as somebody who knows all of these players as a former vice chief, when things get rolling in a certain direction, you just have to let them play out. It’s not that people were making poor decisions. I think people were making the very best decisions they could with the information they had at the time. In this particular case, there’s no one to blame.”
On July 12, Global News reported that Lt.-Gen. Jean Marc Lanthier is expected to take on the vice chief job, becoming the fifth since 2016. Lanthier is the current commander of the Army.
“This has been a period of great upheaval for our Canadian forces and hopefully things will settle down now,” Thibualt said.
Kelsey Reichmann is a general assignment editorial fellow supporting Defense News, Fifth Domain, C4ISRNET and Federal Times. She attended California State University.