My Interview with the CDS
By: 27832 OCdt (I) Pablo Cardona, 12 Sqn
On Monday, May 9, I had the opportunity to travel to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa to interview Gen Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff. Upon arriving at 101 Colonel By Drive, I was greeted by Major Paul Doucette, the Public Affairs Officer to the CDS. Even before arriving at the elevator, I was already surrounded by high-ranking members of the Canadian Armed Forces. I was surprised to run into CWO Kevin West, the Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer, just 10 feet from the entrance.
We took the elevator to the “Executive” floor of NDHQ and waited just outside of the CDS’ office. After a short wait, Gen Vance walked out and we greeted him with a sharp salute. I then got to shake hands with the CDS and had pictures taken by Corporal Chase Miller, an image technician. Harkening back to his days as a Royal Roads cadet, Gen Vance asked me if my order of dress was still called “4s.”
Before we began the interview, the CDS took a moment to address the recent tragedies at RMC. He offered his condolences to the cadet wing and to the families of OCdt Kelertas and OCdt Cameron and expressed his sympathy during these challenging times. Gen Vance remarked that some of his peers passed away while he was at Royal Roads and stated that the Canadian Armed Forces always has help available for those who need it. He then said that he’s working with the Commandant, BGen Friday, to try and prevent future tragedies from occurring.
Having the chance to interview the CDS for a little over half an hour truly was a rewarding experience. I was incredibly nervous upon entering his office, but Gen Vance’s relaxed demeanor and insightful answers to my questions ensured that the interview went smoothly. As an aspiring CAF officer, having the chance to interact with an accomplished career officer was a unique learning experience. Looking back on the experience, what strikes me most is how down-to-earth Canada’s highest ranking military officer was, despite his important position and constant media attention.
The full details of my interview with Gen Vance will be published in the RMC Club’s “Veritas” magazine later this summer.
After the interview concluded Gen Vance gave me a CDS coin and we left his office. Maj Doucette then took me on a short tour of the General George R Pearkes building. This short tour was enjoyable and gave me a glimpse into what a CAF/DND work environment is like.
There are several people who I have to thank for making this interview possible. First and foremost, I would like to thank Gen Vance for making time in his hectic schedule to meet me in person. As I learned upon arriving at NDHQ, saying that the CDS is a busy man is a severe understatement. Secondly, I’d like to thank Maj Paul Doucette for arranging the interview, coordinating between the CDS office and e-Veritas and for facilitating my visit to NDHQ. This interview would not have been possible without Maj Doucette’s hard work. Also deserving thanks is Mr. William Oliver, the editor of e-Veritas. Mr. Oliver, a veteran of the CAF, helped liaise between the CDS’ public affairs office, the Training Wing and was always my go to when questions/concerns emerged. Finally, I would like to thank the members of the Training Wing who helped coordinate the interview, notably the Director of Cadets, LCol Renahan and my Squadron Commander, Capt Eric Robison. The DCdts, a good friend of e-Veritas, was vital to planning the interview and making sure that the College was well represented. Capt Robison ensured that I had the logistics sorted out and kept me informed of the Training Wing’s requests.