My colleague, present at the ceremony today, sends this dispatch:
Update 2, 11:49 a.m. - The band wasn't even playing the national anthem when a young clarinet player in the back row took a knee, becoming the ninth member of Canada's military to give way under the 1-hour, 45-minute change of command ceremony. Alas, it is now finished and the good men and women of the Canadian military can go have a long drink of water and a comfy seat.
Update 1, 11:41 a.m. - Natynczyk's first order as CDS. Was to place the honour guard at ease, for which he received a round of applause. He's indeed a "Gentleman Soldier" as the government insisted upon his nomination.
So what shape are the Canadian Forces in as Gen. Walter Natynczyk takes over as Chief of Defence Staff from Gen. Rick Hillier?
Two hours into an elaborate military ceremony with speeches, music, flybys and a 21-gun salute, no fewer than eight CF members standing at attention on the tarmac of an Ottawa airbase have collapsed.
The first two - male and female respectively - were from the air force. But the fallen have spanned the armed services. Army and Navy have also succumbed to the conditions.
It's not the heat - there's clouds and a cool breeze - but the length of the ceremony. Several journalists have remarked that the last CDS handover took place in a drill hall in downtown Ottawa with so little pomp that most didn't bother to attend.
But Gen. Hillier has made it his duty to promote the Canadian Forces brand and one suspects this was his last effort in a three-and-a-half year campaign.