Prime Minister Announces Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan next Chief of the Defence Staff

For the first time in its history, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be led by a woman. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan as the next Chief of the Defence Staff of the CAF on Wednesday, July 3, 2024.

“I congratulate Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan on her upcoming appointment. Over the course of her career, her exceptional leadership qualities, commitment to excellence, and dedication to service have been a tremendous asset to our Armed Forces. I am confident that, as Canada’s new Chief of the Defence Staff, she will help Canada be stronger, more secure, and ready to tackle global security challenges,” said Trudeau.

The Change of Command ceremony will take place on July 18, allowing current CDS Gen. Wayne Eyre to pass the baton onto LGen. Carignan, as she takes up the mantle as the first female CDS.

“As we prepare for a new chapter in the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan on her appointment to succeed me as the incoming Chief of the Defence Staff,” said Gen. Wayne Eyre, current CDS, in a statement congratulating LGen. Carignan.

Currently the Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture, steps into the role with over 35 years of experience. Above image: From 2019 Commander 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force (East), then a Brigadier-General, Carignan receives a briefing on the current situation surrounding Operation LENTUS in Gatineau, Quebec on April 24, 2019. Photo: Corporal Brandon James Liddy, Image courtesy Canadian Forces Combat Camera.

A Trailblazer

LGen. Carignan, currently the Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture, steps into the role with over 35 years of trailblazing experience.

“LGen Carignan’s distinguished career and unwavering commitment to our nation make her an excellent choice to lead the Canadian Armed Forces. Her leadership at every level has been marked by integrity, dedication, compassion, and a profound understanding of our mission,” noted the current CDS.

According to the Department of National Defence, over the course of her career, she has commanded two combat engineer regiments and the 2nd Canadian Division. During her charge of the 2nd Canadian Division, she led upwards of  10,000 soldiers and spearheaded crisis operations during flood relief efforts in Quebec.

Being the first female is familiar to Carignan. In 2008, she became the first woman in CAF to command a combat arms unit. Her deployments have taken her to Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Syria.

Additionally, she led NATO Mission Iraq from 2019-2020.

In 2021, she was promoted to her current rank and has served as the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture, National Defence since. In this role, she is in charge of leading the systemic culture change within the military.

“Having served alongside LGen Carignan, I can attest to her exceptional leadership qualities, intellectual curiosity, and strategic vision. Her deep operational experience around the world and at home, and institutional experience handling some of the most difficult challenges will be invaluable as we continue to navigate the complexities of our increasingly dangerous security environment,” added Gen. Eyre.

LGen. Carignan is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Cross.

The CAF will also bid farewell to the current CDS General Eyre and his 40 years of military service as he retires from the military. Above image: the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) General Wayne Eyre, CMM, MSC, CD addresses Ukrainian recruits during Operation UNIFIER-UK on 28 October 2022 in the United Kingdom. Photo by: Corporal Eric Greico, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

Saying Goodbye to Gen. Eyre

This July, the CAF will also bid farewell to the current CDS and his 40 years of military service as he retires from the military.

In his statement, Prime Minister Trudeau thanked Gen. Eyre for his service as the CDS since 2021.

Gen. Eyre stepped onto the path towards Canada’s military at age 13 as an Army Cadet. After attending RMC, he was commissioned to the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He has since served with distinction, climbing the ranks until his current position as the military’s only general and CDS.

In his statement, the CDS ensured he will be working with LGen. Carignan to ensure “a seamless and deliberate transition of responsibilities.”

He also took the opportunity to reflect on his time as CDS.

“I am immensely proud of the accomplishments of all of you. I continue to be heartened by the quality of people we have in the CAF. We have been through a challenging period together, and much more urgent work remains, but I am confident that our institution is on a road to greater readiness and continued operational excellence. As I prepare to pass the torch to LGen Carignan, I know she will successfully lead the Canadian Armed Forces through this period of significant change.”

Role of CDS

When LGen. Carignan takes on her new role this month she will be promoted to general and will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the CAF. This includes overseeing the military’s ongoing operations at home and around the world, planning for the future of the CAF, and continuing work on institutional cultural change.

Traditionally, the CDS is responsible for military strategy, plans, and requirements, according to DND, with the release of the new DND strategy: Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence.

LGen.Carignan will have her work cut out for her to embark on the vision outlined in the strategy. The strategy calls for an investment of $8.1 billion over five years and $73 billion over 20 years to boost CAF capabilities.

The Governor in Council (GIC) appoints a CDS. The Governor General, also the Commander-in-Chief of Canada, makes the GIC appointments on the advice of the Cabinet. Above image: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, presided over the Change of Guidon ceremony for The Royal Canadian Dragoons regiment at Garrison Petawawa. The Governor General presented the guidon to the Commanding Officer of the regiment, and addressed Canadian Armed Forces members and families in attendance. The Afghanistan Battle Honour is emblazoned on the new guidon, in honour of the unit’s service in Afghanistan. Photo by: MCpl Anis Assari, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG. Image courtesy of Rideau Hall.

How is a Chief of the Defence Staff Selected

According to Stéphane Shank, Privy Council Office, “The selection process for the Chief of the Defence Staff is being led by the Privy Council Office. It is open to senior ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

He noted that the National Defence Act, subsection 18(1), states that the Governor in Council (GIC) appoints a CDS. The Governor General, also the Commander-in-Chief of Canada, makes the GIC appointments on the advice of the Cabinet.

“Candidates for the position will undergo a rigorous assessment and vetting process. The Selection Committee includes the Minister of National Defence as well as senior officials from (the) Privy Council Office and the Department of National Defence,” said Shank in an email.


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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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