Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces

The commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces (French: Commandant en chef des Forces armées canadiennes) exercises supreme command and control over Canada's military, the Canadian Armed Forces. Constitutionally, command-in-chief is vested in the Canadian monarch, presently King Charles III. Since the Letters Patent, 1947, were signed by King George VI, the governor general of Canada—presently Mary Simon—executes most of the duties of the sovereign, including in his role as commander-in-chief. Consequently, the governor general also uses the title Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces. By protocol, the title used within international contexts is Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces
Commandant en chef des Forces armées canadiennes
Badge of the Canadian Armed Forces
Charles III
King of Canada
since 8 September 2022

Represented by
Mary Simon
Governor General of Canada
since 26 July 2021
Canadian Armed Forces
Constituting instrumentConstitution Act, 1867
Letters Patent, 1947
Formation1 July 1867
First holderQueen Victoria
DeputyChief of the Defence Staff

Constitutional provisions, title, and delegation

The Constitution Act, 1867, states that:[1]

"The Command-in-Chief of the Land and Naval Militia, and of all Naval and Military Forces, of and in Canada, is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen."

However, beginning in 1904, the exercise of the duties of the commander-in-chief were delegated to the governor general of Canada, the monarch's representative in the country. The Militia Act from that year stated that:

"the Command-in-Chief of the Militia is declared to continue and be vested in the King, and shall be administered by His Majesty or by the Governor General as his representative."

Following this, in 1905, the letters patent constituting the Office of the Governor General were amended to read the "Letters Patent constituting the Office of the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief."

Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, in her role as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Militia and Naval and Air Forces, pictured with the crew of HMCS St. Laurent in Stockholm, Sweden, 11 June 1956

Throughout the development of the armed forces, the monarch has remained vested with command-in-chief,[2][3] while the governor general's title altered to suit the changes in the militia's structure. Following the passage of the Naval Service Act establishing the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910, the viceroy was styled Commander-in-Chief of the Militia and Naval Forces and, after the creation of the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1918, as Commander-in-Chief of the Militia and Naval and Air Forces. Following this, the Letters Patent, 1947, issued by King George VI, referred to the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada.[4][5] In 1968, following the unification of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, the commander-in-chief became the most senior officer of the Canadian Armed Forces.

As all executive power is legally reposed in the Crown, the role of commander-in-chief is the only constitutional means by which decisions are made over the deployment and disposition of the Canadian Armed Forces.[6] Under the Westminster system's conventions of responsible government, the cabinet—which advises the sovereign or his viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers—generally exercises the Crown prerogative powers relating to the Canadian forces.[6][7] Still, all declarations of war are issued with the approval, and in the name, of the monarch and must be signed by either the sovereign or the governor general, as was done with the proclamation that declared Canada at war with Nazi Germany, issued on September 10, 1939; it stated: "Whereas by and with the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada, We have signified Our Approval for the issue of a Proclamation in the Canada Gazette declaring that a State of War with the German Reich exists and has existed in Our Dominion of Canada as and from the tenth day of September, 1939."[8]

The banner of the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation

In exercising the duties of commander-in-chief, the governor general appoints the chief of the Defence Staff, as well as royal colonels-in-chief of Canadian regiments (save for the monarch himself); approves new military badges and insignia (except for those bearing St Edward's Crown, which may only be sanctioned by the sovereign); visits Canadian forces personnel within Canada and abroad; bestows honours, decorations, and medals; and signs commission scrolls.[4] Since 2000, the governor general also awards the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation to units in the Canadian Forces and allied militias that have performed extraordinary deeds or activities in highly hazardous circumstances in active combat. An insignia pin is presented to members and the unit receives a scroll and may fly a special banner.[9][10]

Rank insignia

Unique commander-in-chief rank insignia is displayed on the applicable Canadian Armed Forces uniforms which the commander-in-chief may choose to wear on occasion. In accordance with the Canadian Forces Dress Instructions, the commander-in-chief may wear a flag officer's navy uniform or a general officer's army or air force uniform with, as appropriate or desirable, a flag or general officer cap badge, a special flag or general officer sleeve braid embellished with the commander-in-chief's badge (the crest of the royal arms of Canada), and a large embroidered commander-in-chief's badge on the shoulder straps or shoulder boards with the badges facing forward.[11]

Uniform Insignia
Air force

Commanders-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces

YearSovereignYearRepresented by Governor General
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Land and Naval Militia
1867  1901 Queen Victoria 1898-1904 The Earl of Minto
1901  1910 King Edward VII 1904  1910 The Earl Grey
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Militia and Naval Forces
1910  1919 King George V 1910  1911 The Earl Grey
1911  1916 Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
1916  1919 The Duke of Devonshire
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Militia and Naval and Air Forces
1919  1936 King George V 1919  1921 The Duke of Devonshire
1921  1926 The Viscount Byng of Vimy
1926  1931 The Marquess of Willingdon
1931  1935 The Earl of Bessborough
1935  1936 The Lord Tweedsmuir
1936 King Edward VIII 1936
1936  1952 King George VI 1936  1940
1940  1946 The Earl of Athlone
1946  1952 The Viscount Alexander of Tunis
1952  1968 Queen Elizabeth II 1952
1952  1959 Vincent Massey
1959  1967 Georges Vanier
1967  1968 Roland Michener
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces
1968  2022 Queen Elizabeth II 1968  1974 Roland Michener
1974  1979 Jules Léger
1979  1984 Edward Schreyer
1984  1990 Jeanne Sauvé
1990  1995 Ramon John Hnatyshyn
1995  1999 Roméo LeBlanc
1999  2005 Adrienne Clarkson
2005  2010 Michaëlle Jean
2010  2017 David Lloyd Johnston
2017  2021 Julie Payette
2021  2022 Mary Simon
2022  present King Charles III 2022  present

See also


  1. Victoria (29 March 1867), Constitution Act, 1867, III.15, Westminster: Queen's Printer, archived from the original on 28 May 2013, retrieved 1 June 2013
  2. Canadian Forces Grievance Board (28 August 2006), Canadian Forces Grievance Board, HAR-7088-3119, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, archived from the original on 7 April 2008, retrieved 7 February 2008
  3. Federal Court of Canada (21 January 2008), In the Matter of Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh v. the Attorney-General of Canada (PDF), T-1809-06; 38, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 5, 2008 FC 69, retrieved 7 February 2008
  4. Office of the Governor General of Canada, Role and Responsibilities > Commander-in-Chief, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved 1 October 2010
  5. George VI (1 October 1947), Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada, X., Ottawa: King's Printer for Canada, retrieved 7 June 2006
  6. Lagassé, Philippe (December 2013). "The Crown's Powers of Command-in Chief: Interpreting Section 15 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867" (PDF). Review of Constitutional Studies. 18 (2): 189–220. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  7. Department of National Defence (27 July 2013). "FAQ". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  8. George VI (10 September 1939), "Proclamation of a State of War between Canada and Germany", Canada Gazette, Ottawa: King's Printer for Canada (Extra), retrieved 16 January 2009
  9. Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Other > Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  10. Canadian Heraldic Authority. "The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada > Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  11. Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Dress Instructions (PDF), Queen's Printer for Canada, pp. 3–7-3, archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011, retrieved 15 November 2010
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.