Vice-chief of defence staff resigns, citing plan Mark Norman was to replace him
The second in command of Canada’s military Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk is resigning after he said Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance planned to replace him as the vice-chief of the defence staff with Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
Vance then reversed that plan weeks later, according to Wynnyk, when Norman settled with the government and retired from the military.
The allegations are laid out in a letter dated Tuesday that was obtained exclusively by Global News.
Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk writes in the letter addressed to his boss, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, that he took up the job of vice-chief with a plan to retire in 2020 after he initially expected to enter post-work life this summer.
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However, matters changed for Wynnyk after Vance told him in May that he planned to restore Norman as second in command of Canada’s military shortly after a breach of trust charge against him was stayed by the Crown over lack of evidence.
Wynnyk writes Vance advised him that his “continued service as the VCDS [vice-chief of defence staff] was no longer in the best interests of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), that you [Vance] intended to restore Vice-Admiral Norman to the position, and that this decision presented you with a dilemma with regard to my future employment,” the letter said.
However, the settlement that the federal government reached with Norman last month “has made it clear that he is no longer returning to the post of VCDS,” the letter added.
That settlement followed mediation sessions that led to the announcement that Norman will be retiring from the military, despite being cleared of the allegations against him.
Wynnyk said he was advised that he could continue to serve in the job until the summer of 2020.
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“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,” he wrote.
Wynnyk was the fifth vice-chief to serve under Vance, and questions are now being raised about his leadership, senior military sources told Global News.
There are now questions about who will fill the job next. No one appears to be ready, the sources said.
Last month, Norman and the federal government announced plans for the vice-admiral to retire from the Canadian Forces over a month after Crown prosecutors stayed a breach of trust charge against him.
Norman’s charge came in connection with the 2015 leak of government secrets that revealed the newly-elected Liberals were considering freezing a $700-million interim supply ship deal inked by the former Conservatives.
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Norman was accused of the leak, which government officials told the RCMP in court documents forced their hand in formally approving the deal and prompted a frenzied hunt for who supplied the material to the media.
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In a statement issued by the Department of National Defence, Wynnyk said he is leaving the armed forces after a 38-year career that “took me farther, and challenged me more deeply, than I could ever have imagined.”
“I would like to thank the chief of the defence staff, Gen. Jon Vance, for the confidence he showed in me when he appointed me as the vice-chief and for his leadership of the CAF during what have been challenging times recently.”
Vance thanked Wynnyk for his “tireless contribution and sacrifice to our country.”
“He has been an exceptional leader and an even better friend,” he said.
—With files from Amanda Connolly and the Canadian Press
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