Minister of National Defence (Canada)

The minister of national defence (MND; French: ministre de la défense nationale) is a minister of the Crown in the Cabinet of Canada responsible for the management and direction of all matters relating to the national defence of Canada.[6]

The Department of National Defence is headed by the deputy minister of national defence (the department's senior civil servant), while the Canadian Armed Forces are headed by the chief of the defence staff (the senior serving military officer).[7] Both are responsible to the minister of national defence. The Queen (represented by the governor general of Canada) is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces and has final authority on all orders and laws for the "defence of the realm".[8][9]

The minister is responsible, through the tenets of responsible government, to Parliament for "the management and direction of the Canadian Forces". Any orders and instructions for the Canadian Armed Forces are issued by or through the chief of the defence staff.[10] The Department of National Defence exists to aid the minister in carrying out his responsibilities, and acts as the civilian support system for the Canadian Forces.[11][12]

The current minister of national defence is Harjit Sajjan. The parliamentary secretary, who represents the minister when he is away from the House of Commons, is Anita Vandenbeld.

On 1 January 1923, the National Defence Act, 1922 came into effect, merging the Department of Militia and Defence, the Department of the Naval Service, and the Air Board to form the Department of National Defence. The ministerial heads of the former departments, the minister of militia and defence, the minister of the naval service, and the minister of aviation were merged to form a new position, the minister of national defence.

During the Second World War, the minister of national defence was assisted by two subordinate ministers. The minister of national defence for air was an additional minister in the Department of National Defence responsible for the Royal Canadian Air Force; while the minister of national defence for naval services was another minister in the Department of National Defence responsible for the Royal Canadian Navy. The air and naval post was reincorporated into the portfolio of the minister of national defence following the Second World War.

The Defence Portfolio is a collection of organizations and agencies that report to the minister of national defence. Although deputy heads for individual agencies direct and oversee the activities of their agency, the minister is accountable to Parliament its activities.[13] The Defence Portfolio includes:[14]

The minister of national defence is also the designated lead minister for search and rescue (LMSAR) within the federal government.

Bill Graham was enrolled under the University Naval Training Division of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and received commission as Sub Lieutenant in 1960. Graham did not serve in the Navy following his commission and thus does not have military experience.