Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces

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Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces
Royal Standard of Canada.svg
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg
Incumbent
Queen Elizabeth II

since 6 February 1952
Represented by
GG-Johnston.jpg
Governor General David Johnston
since 1 October 2010
Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces
Type Hereditary
Status Currently constituted
Abbreviation C-in-C
Constituting instrument Constitution Act, 1867, Letters Patent, 1947
Formation 1 July 1867
First holder Queen Victoria
Succession Reigning monarch of Canada, represented by the Governor General of Canada
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff

The Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces (French: Commandant en chef des Forces canadiennes) is the supreme commander of Canada's armed forces. Constitutionally, command-in-chief is vested in the Canadian sovereign, presently Queen Elizabeth II. As the representative of the Queen, the Governor General of Canada, presently David Johnston, has been authorized to exercise the powers and responsibilities belonging to the sovereign and has consequently been bestowed with the title Commander-in-Chief. By viceregal protocol, the title used with Canadian audiences is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces and, in international contexts, Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

Constitutional provisions, title, and delegation[edit]

The Constitution Act, 1867, states that "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."[1] However, beginning in 1904, the exercise of the duties of the commander-in-chief was transferred 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 the 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 establishment of the Canadian Department of the Naval Service 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 issued in 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.

Though all executive power is legally reposed in the Crown, the role of commander-in-chief is primarily symbolic in practice; 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—holds de facto decision making power over the deployment and disposition of Canadian forces.[6] 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 10 September 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."[7]

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 Queen herself), 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, bestowes 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.[8][9]

Rank insignia[edit]

Unique commander-in-chief rank insignia is displayed on the applicable Canadian 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 wears a general officer uniform for any of the three environments with, as appropriate or desirable; a flag or general officer hat 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 boards, the badges facing forward.[10]

As a naval officer
As an army officer
As an air force officer

Commanders-in-chief of the Canadian forces[edit]

Year Sovereign Year Represented by Governor General
Commanders-in-Chief of the Canadian Land and Naval Militia
1867 – 1901 Victoria-sm.jpg Queen Victoria
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 Kinggeorgev1923.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 Kinggeorgev1923.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 Earl Alexander of Tunis
1952 – 1968 Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg Queen Elizabeth II 1952
1952 – 1959 Vincent Massey 1927.jpg Vincent Massey
1959 – 1967 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 Forces
1968 – present 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 Can GG NoPic.svg Jules Léger
1979 – 1984 Can GG NoPic.svg Edward Schreyer
1984 – 1990 Jeanne Sauvé 1984 Ottawa Canada (crop).jpg Jeanne Sauvé
1990 – 1995 Can GG NoPic.svg Ramon John Hnatyshyn
1995 – 1999 Can GG NoPic.svg Roméo LeBlanc
1999 – 2005 GG-Adrienne Clarkson.jpg Adrienne Clarkson
2005 – 2010 GG-Michaelle Jean.jpg Michaëlle Jean
2010 – GG-Johnston.jpg David Lloyd Johnston

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Victoria (29 March 1867), Constitution Act, 1867, III.15, Westminster: Queen's Printer, 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, 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. ^ Department of National Defence (27 July 2013). "FAQ". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  7. ^ 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 
  8. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Other > Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Dress Instructions, Queen's Printer for Canada, pp. 3–7–3, retrieved 15 November 2010