Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces
Commandant en chef des Forces armées canadiennes
Canadian Forces emblem.svg
Badge of the Canadian Armed Forces
Charles, Prince of Wales at COP21.jpg
Incumbent
Charles III
King of Canada

since 8 September 2022
Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.jpg

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

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, the command-in-chief is vested in the Canadian monarch, 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.

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
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 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 her 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
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 King hisself), approves new military badges and insignia (except for those bearing St. Edward's Crown, which may only be sanctioned by the monarch), visits Canadian Forces personnel within Canada and abroad, bestows honours, 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
Navy
Canadian RCN CIC-collected.svg
Army
Canadian Army CIC-collected.svg
Air force
Canadian AF CIC-collected.svg

Commanders-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces

Year Sovereign Year Represented by Governor General
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Land and Naval Militia
1867 – 1901
Victoria-sm.jpg
Queen Victoria
1898-1904
Fourth Earl of Minto.jpg
The Earl of Minto
1901 – 1910
Edward VII in coronation robes.jpg
King Edward VII
1904 – 1910
GG-Albert Grey.jpg
The Earl Grey
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Militia and Naval Forces
1910 – 1919
King George 1923 LCCN2014715558 (cropped).jpg
King George V
1910 – 1911
GG-Albert Grey.jpg
The Earl Grey
1911 – 1916
GG-Prince Arthur.jpg
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
1916 – 1919
GG-Victor Cavendish.jpg
The Duke of Devonshire
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Militia and Naval and Air Forces
1919 – 1936
King George 1923 LCCN2014715558 (cropped).jpg
King George V
1919 – 1921
GG-Victor Cavendish.jpg
The Duke of Devonshire
1921 – 1926
GG-Julian Byng.jpg
The Viscount Byng of Vimy
1926 – 1931
GG-Freeman Freeman-Thomas.jpg
The Marquess of Willingdon
1931 – 1935
GG-Vere Ponsonby.jpg
The Earl of Bessborough
1935 – 1936
GG-John Buchan.jpg
The Lord Tweedsmuir
1936
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13538, Edward Herzog von Windsor.jpg
King Edward VIII
1936
1936 – 1952
King George VI of England, formal photo portrait, circa 1940-1946.jpg
King George VI
1936 – 1940
1940 – 1946
GG-Alexander Cambridge.jpg
The Earl of Athlone
1946 – 1952
GG-Harold Alexander.jpg
The Viscount Alexander of Tunis
1952 – 1968
Queen Elizabeth II 1963.jpg
Queen Elizabeth II
1952
1952 – 1959
Vincent Massey 1927.jpg
Vincent Massey
1959 – 1967
Georges P. Vanier .jpg
Georges Vanier
1967 – 1968
Governor General Roland Michener at Alma College graduation ceremonies 1972 (crop).jpg
Roland Michener
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces
1968 – 2022
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg
Queen Elizabeth II
1968 – 1974
Governor General Roland Michener at Alma College graduation ceremonies 1972 (crop).jpg
Roland Michener
1974 – 1979 Jules Léger
1979 – 1984
Ed Schreyer (3).jpg
Edward Schreyer
1984 – 1990
Jeanne Sauvé 1984 Ottawa Canada (crop).jpg
Jeanne Sauvé
1990 – 1995 Ramon John Hnatyshyn
1995 – 1999 Roméo LeBlanc
1999 – 2005
GG-Adrienne Clarkson.jpg
Adrienne Clarkson
2005 – 2010
GG-Michaëlle Jean.jpg
Michaëlle Jean
2010 – 2017
GG-Johnston.jpg
David Lloyd Johnston
2017 – 2021 Julie Payette 2017.jpg Julie Payette
2021 – 2022
Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.jpg
Mary Simon
2022 – present
Charles, Prince of Wales at COP21.jpg
King Charles III
2022 – present

See also

References

  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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b 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