Defence chief Gen. Tom Lawson plans to step down later this year: sources

The country’s top military commander is planning to step down.

OTTAWA — The country’s top military commander is planning to step down.

Several defence and government sources confirm Gen. Tom Lawson, who has been chief of defence staff for two-and-a-half years, has asked the government not to extend his term in the fall.

Requests for comment from Lawson’s staff went unanswered Tuesday, but defence sources say his departure has been in the works since late last year and the process kicked into a higher gear shortly after the latest list of promotions and retirements was released a few weeks ago.

Two separate sources say it is possible Lawson could be gone by the summer, depending on how the selection of replacement goes, and a such a timetable would make it easier on the government which is expected to be in full campaign mode in the fall when he reaches the three-year mark.

There is no set term for chiefs of defence staff, who serve at the pleasure of the prime minister, but the average time has been three years.

All of the sources say a replacement short list has already been compiled and it includes Lt.-Gen. Jon Vance, the country’s operations commander; Lt.-Gen. Mike Day, who represents Canada at NATO’s southern headquarters; Lt.-Gen. Marquis Hainse, the commander of the army; and Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who commands the navy.