Jonathan Vance


General Jonathan Holbert Vance MSC CD (born January 3, 1964) is a retired Canadian Forces officer who served as a general in the Canadian Army. Vance was the chief of the Defence Staff from 2015 to 2021.

Jonathan Vance
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, and Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance (cropped).jpg
Vance in 2018
Birth nameJonathan Holbert Vance
Born (1964-01-03) January 3, 1964 (age 58)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Service/branchCanadian Army
Years of service1982–2021
Commands held
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
Military intervention against ISIL
AwardsMeritorious Service Cross
Canadian Forces Decoration
Alma materRoyal Roads Military College (BA)
Royal Military College of Canada (MA)
Spouse(s)Kerry Vance

In July 2021, Vance was charged with one count of obstruction of justice, in relation to investigations of sexual misconduct. Prior to this charge, he boasted that he was "untouchable" by military police due to his high rank. On March 30, 2022, Vance pleaded guilty to the charge of obstruction of justice, and subsequently received a conditional discharge.

Early life, education and familyEdit

Vance (left) and meets with General Joseph Dunford of the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan

Vance was born on January 3, 1964, in Kingston, Ontario.[1] At the age of 13, while his father Jack Vance—a Canadian Forces officer—was posted in Lahr, Germany, he joined the Army Cadets.[2]

His father Jack Vance went on to the rank of lieutenant-general, and served as the vice chief of Defence Staff in 1985.[3]

Vance himself went on to join the Canadian Forces in 1982, attending the Royal Roads Military College where he obtained a bachelor of arts (BA) in military and strategic studies in 1986.[2] He also holds a master of arts (MA) degree in war studies from the Royal Military College of Canada.[2]

Vance is married to Kerry Vance (née Wheelehan), a now-retired United States Army colonel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. The couple met when they were both serving in a NATO posting in Naples, Italy.[4][5][6]

Military careerEdit

Upon graduation in 1986, Vance was commissioned in Force Mobile Command as an infantry officer with The Royal Canadian Regiment.[7] His father, Jack, was serving as the vice chief of the Defence Staff when he was commissioned.[8]

He served as deputy commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, and commander of the Canadian Task Force in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.[9][10] He went on to be commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command in September 2014.[1]

Chief of the Defence StaffEdit

On April 27, 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Vance had been selected as the new chief of the Defence Staff.[9][8][11] He formally succeeded General Thomas J. Lawson in the role following a transfer of command ceremony held on July 17, 2015.[12]


On July 23, 2020, Vance announced his intention to retire as chief of Defence Staff after five years in office, serving until his replacement would be named. Despite being a potential candidate for an upcoming vacancy as chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the federal government announced its intention not to pursue the competition.[13]

On December 23, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Vance would be succeeded by Vice Admiral Art McDonald as Chief of the Defence Staff, with the change of command held on January 14, 2021.[14]

Misconduct allegations and guilty pleaEdit

Shortly following his retirement, a report emerged detailing inappropriate behaviour from Vance towards two female subordinates,[15] possibly violating "directives that govern personal relationships and such actions might contravene provisions in the National Defence Act (NDA) that relate to good order and discipline."[16]

Following the allegations, an investigation into Vance's conduct was launched by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, a unit of the Military Police.[17] Additionally, the House of Commons defence committee voted to study the matter,[18] and the Department of National Defence committed to an external probe into Vance, which has since expanded to "also deal with rising concerns that the issue of sexual misconduct by the senior ranks could be a systemic issue in the Canadian Armed Forces".[19]

On July 15, 2021, Vance was formally charged with obstruction of justice under Section 139 of the Criminal Code.[20][21] The indictment focuses on allegations made by Major Kellie Brennan that he instructed her to lie when being interviewed by military police investigating charges against him. Vance was reportedly engaged in a 20-year relationship with Brennan, concurrent with his seniority over her in the military chain of command, and fathered two of her eight children. Brennan says that Vance told her that he was "untouchable" and that he "owned" the military police.[22][23]

No charges were laid against Vance under the military justice system, following a review of the law by Morris Fish, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Fish concluded that given Vance's high rank, it would not be possible to empanel a military jury, which must be composed of officers of equal or higher rank.[24]

On March 30, 2022, Vance pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa.[25] As a result of the guilty plea, he was given a conditional discharge with 80 hours of community service and 12 months of probation.[26][27][28] Vance's criminal defence lawyer, Rodney Sellar, also confirmed that due to the turn of events, Vance started to pay child support to Major Kellie Brennan.[25] Furthermore, Sellar emphasized that Vance's reputation and finances have suffered immensely as a consequence of the criminal charge and subsequent guilty plea.[29][25] Nevertheless, due to the conditional discharge, although a finding of guilt was made, Vance was not convicted and he will not have a criminal record 3 years after the completion of his 12 month probationary period.[30]

At his request, Vance's appointment to the Order of Military Merit in the grade of Commander was terminated effective April 20, 2022.[31]

In May 2022, Vance was expelled from the alumni association of the Royal Military College of Canada over his guilty plea.[32]

Awards and decorationsEdit

Vance has received the following orders and decorations during his military career:


Honours and decorations
Ribbon Description Notes
  Meritorious Service Cross (MSC)
  • With Bar
  • December 13, 2011[33]
  General Campaign Star
  • Southwest Asia
  • With two rotation bars
  Special Service Medal
  • With "NATO" Bar
  Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal
  • With MID Oakleaf March 10, 1995[34]
  Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • Canadian Version of this Medal[35]
  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • Canadian Version of this Medal[36]
  Canadian Forces Decoration (CD)
  • With 2 Clasps
  Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour
  • Foreign honour from the French Republic
  • Filed with the Canada Gazette on September 30, 2017[37]
  Order of Viesturs, First Class
  • Foreign honour from the Republic of Latvia
  • Filed with the Canada Gazette on September 29, 2018[38]
  Commander of the National Order of the Star of Romania
  • Foreign honour from the Republic of Romania
  • Filed with the Canada Gazette on June 29, 2019[39]


  1. ^ a b "General Jonathan Vance". NATO. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Bussière, Michael (November 2, 2020). "General Jonathan Vance — Canada's transformative general says adieu". Ottawa Life.
  3. ^ "Jonathan Vance: 6 Facts About Canada's Next Defence Chief". Huffington Post. April 27, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  4. ^ Hopper, Tristin (May 7, 2021). "What you need to know about the military sexual misconduct scandal involving Gen. Vance".
  5. ^ "Kerry Vance, wife of defence staff chief, featured gala speaker",, April 6, 2017.
  6. ^ On Target: The General Vance Saga: So many not-so-secret-secrets Esprit de Corps, April 26, 2021
  7. ^ Lee Berthiaume. "All eyes on new commander as military faces significant challenges". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Lt.-Gen. Jonathan Vance appointed next chief of defence staff". CBC News. April 27, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Afghan vet Jonathan Vance eyed for top general post". April 2, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "Gen. Jonathan Vance becomes chief of defence staff, vows to tackle harassment". July 17, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  11. ^ Canada, Service (April 27, 2015). "Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces the upcoming appointment of the new Chief of the Defence Staff". gcnws. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  12. ^ Brewster, Murray (July 17, 2015). "'It must stop now': New top soldier vows to end sexual misconduct". CTVNews. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  13. ^ Brewester, Murray (July 23, 2020). "Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, announces retirement". CBC News. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "Top military job for New Waterford man". Chronicle Herald. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  15. ^ "Former top soldier Gen. Jonathan Vance facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour with female subordinates: sources". Global News. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  16. ^ Brewster, Murray (February 3, 2021). "Former top military commander to be investigated over allegations of inappropriate conduct".
  17. ^ "Military police say they are opening an investigation into Vance allegations". Global News. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  18. ^ "IN HER WORDS: One of the women behind Vance allegations tells her story". Global News. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  19. ^ "Military probe into Vance allegations expands to 'unprecedented' levels". Global News. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  20. ^ "Former chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance charged with obstruction of justice". July 15, 2021. Archived from the original on July 16, 2021.
  21. ^ "Former defence chief Gen. Jon Vance charged with obstruction of justice".
  22. ^ "Gen. Vance boasted he was "untouchable" by military police, Commons committee told". ottawacitizen. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  23. ^ "Maj. Kellie Brennan tells MPs Vance said he was 'untouchable,' fathered 2 of her kids - National |". Global News. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  24. ^ "Vance will not face military service charges; source cites his four-star rank - National |". Global News.
  25. ^ a b c "Former defence chief Vance sentenced to 80 hours community service after guilty plea". CTVNews. March 30, 2022. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  26. ^ "Gen. Vance pleads guilty to obstruction of justice, receives conditional discharge". ottawacitizen. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  27. ^ "Gen. Jonathan Vance pleads guilty to obstruction of justice, gets conditional discharge - National |". Global News. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  28. ^ Austen, Ian (March 30, 2022). "Ex-Chief of Canada's Military Pleads Guilty to Obstruction in Sex Misconduct Case". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Austen, Ian (March 30, 2022). "Ex-Chief of Canada's Military Pleads Guilty to Obstruction in Sex Misconduct Case". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  30. ^ "Conditional discharge". Legal Aid Ontario. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  31. ^ Government of Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada (May 7, 2022). "Canada Gazette, Part 1, Volume 156, Number 19: GOVERNMENT HOUSE".
  32. ^ "Gen. Jonathan Vance expelled from Royal Military College alumni group over guilty plea - National |". Global News. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  33. ^ "The Governor General of Canada > Find a Recipient". Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  34. ^ "Mention in Dispatches". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  35. ^ "The Governor General of Canada > Find a Recipient". Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  36. ^ "The Governor General of Canada > Find a Recipient". Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  37. ^ "Awards to Canadians". September 30, 2017. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  38. ^ Government of Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada (September 29, 2018). "Canada Gazette, Part 1, Volume 152, Number 39: Government House".
  39. ^ "Awards to Canadians". June 29, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
Military offices
Preceded by Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Stuart Beare
Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command
Succeeded by
Stephen Bowes