Change of command: Rear Admiral John Newton moving to new post – Nova Scotia

After four years in the top military job in Atlantic Canada, Rear Admiral John Newton is preparing to give up the reins of command on Friday at HMC Dockyard in Halifax to assume a new post.

He leaves his job in Halifax with reluctance.

“I wouldn’t have volunteered to go. I don’t find the stress is getting to me,” said Newton from the deck of HMCS Montreal, one of the go-to warships in the fleet. 

“I still feel like a 25-year-old,” said Newton, 58, who has 34 years with the navy under his belt. 

An extended term

Since 2013, he’s served as commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic. He has also served as search and rescue commander for the region and maritime commander for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Joint Operations Command. 

Typically, the commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic is at the helm for two or three years. Newton’s term was extended, and during that time he says he’s tried to prove to Canadians that the navy is worth investing in.

Captain (Navy) Chris Sutherland (left), assumes Command from Captain (Navy) Angus Topshee (right), presiding officer Rear Admiral (RAdm) John Newton (centre) during the Change of Command ceremony at Porteus Field, Canadian Force Base (CFB) Halifax, on July 10, 2015. (Corporal Anthony Chand/Formation Imaging Services)

He won’t see the end of the giant shipbuilding project currently underway in Halifax. The project includes six arctic offshore patrol ships. 

“My big regret would be that I don’t get the chance to work in the North. I don’t get a chance to work with this government capability,” he said. 

A geologist by training, his passion is Canada’s Far North.

Moving to Charlottetown

“You’re going to have a hard time getting the North out of me, and you’ll see me working on the northern project no matter where I go,” he said.

He’s moving on to the highest-ranking military job at Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown, where he will work as a liaison officer.

He says he’ll be relying on the listening skills he gained with the troops to help him in Veterans Affairs “to listen with empathy and understanding, to give the benefit of the doubt to people’s complex stories,” he said.

His job will involve understanding which cases are unique, and which are systemic, and working between the two departments to “create better bridging.”

Challenges on the job

Newton said turning sailors into great ambassadors and “leading sailors to be better Canadians”…

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