Minister of National Defence (Canada)
|Minister of National Defence|
|Ministre de la Défense nationale|
|Department of National Defence|
Canadian Armed Forces
|Appointer||Monarch (represented by the governor general);|
on the advice of the prime minister
|Term length||At Her Majesty's pleasure|
|Inaugural holder||George Perry Graham|
|Formation||1 January 1923|
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.
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). 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".
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. The Department of National Defence exists to aid the minister in carrying out her responsibilities, and acts as the civilian support system for the Canadian Forces.
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
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. The Defence Portfolio includes:
- Canadian Armed Forces
- Communications Security Establishment
- Defence Research and Development Canada
- Department of National Defence
- Cadets Canada and Junior Canadian Rangers
- Military Grievances External Review Committee
- Canadian Forces Housing Agency
- Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency
- Judge Advocate General
- Military Police Complaints Commission
- National Search and Rescue Secretariat
- Office of the Chief Military Judge
- Office of the Legal Advisor to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces (DND/CF LA)
- Office of the National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman
The minister of national defence is also the designated lead minister for search and rescue (LMSAR) within the federal government.
List of ministers
|No.||Portrait||Name||Term of office||Political party||Ministry|
|1||George Perry Graham||January 1, 1923||April 27, 1923||Liberal||12 (King)|
|2||Edward Mortimer Macdonald||April 28, 1923
(Acting until Aug.17)
|June 28, 1926||Liberal|
|3||Hugh Guthrie||June 29, 1926
(Acting until Jul.13)
|September 25, 1926||Conservative (historical)||13 (Meighen)|
|–||VACANT||September 25, 1926||September 30, 1926||—||14 (King)|
|October 1, 1926||October 7, 1926||Liberal|
|October 8, 1926||August 7, 1930||Liberal|
|5||Donald Matheson Sutherland||August 7, 1930||November 16, 1934||Conservative (historical)||15 (Bennett)|
|6||Grote Stirling||November 17, 1934||October 23, 1935||Conservative (historical)|
|7||Ian Alistair Mackenzie||October 24, 1935||September 18, 1939||Liberal||16 (King)|
|8||Norman McLeod Rogers||September 19, 1939||June 10, 1940||Liberal|
|June 11, 1940||July 4, 1940||Liberal|
|July 5, 1940||November 1, 1944||Liberal|
|9||Andrew McNaughton||November 2, 1944||August 20, 1945||Military|
|10||Douglas Abbott||August 21, 1945||December 9, 1946||Liberal|
|11||Brooke Claxton||December 10, 1946||November 15, 1948||Liberal|
|November 15, 1948||June 30, 1954||17 (St. Laurent)|
|12||Ralph Campney||July 1, 1954||June 20, 1957||Liberal|
|13||George Pearkes||June 21, 1957||October 10, 1960||Progressive Conservative||18 (Diefenbaker)|
|14||Douglas Harkness||October 11, 1960||February 3, 1963||Progressive Conservative|
|–||VACANT||February 4, 1963||February 11, 1963||—|
|15||Gordon Churchill||February 12, 1963||April 21, 1963||Progressive Conservative|
|16||Paul Hellyer||April 22, 1963||September 18, 1967||Liberal||19 (Pearson)|
|17||Léo Cadieux||September 18, 1967||April 19, 1968||Liberal|
|April 20, 1968||September 16, 1970||20 (P. E. Trudeau)|
(1st time; Acting)
|September 17, 1970||September 23, 1970||Liberal|
|18||Donald Macdonald||September 24, 1970||January 27, 1972||Liberal|
|19||Edgar Benson||January 28, 1972||August 31, 1972||Liberal|
|September 1, 1972||September 6, 1972||Liberal|
(2nd time; Acting)
|September 7, 1972||November 26, 1972||Liberal|
|20||James Richardson||November 27, 1972||October 12, 1976||Liberal|
|21||Barney Danson||October 13, 1976
(Acting until Nov.3)
|June 3, 1979||Liberal|
|22||Allan McKinnon||June 4, 1979||March 2, 1980||Progressive Conservative||21 (Clark)|
|23||Gilles Lamontagne||March 3, 1980||August 11, 1983||Liberal||22 (P. E. Trudeau)|
|24||Jean–Jacques Blais||August 12, 1983||June 29, 1984||Liberal|
|June 30, 1984||September 16, 1984||23 (Turner)|
|25||Robert Coates||September 17, 1984||February 11, 1985||Progressive Conservative||24 (Mulroney)|
|26||Erik Nielsen||February 12, 1985
(Acting until Feb.26)
|June 29, 1986||Progressive Conservative|
|27||Perrin Beatty||June 30, 1986||January 29, 1989||Progressive Conservative|
|28||Bill McKnight||January 30, 1989||April 20, 1991||Progressive Conservative|
|29||Marcel Masse||April 21, 1991||January 3, 1993||Progressive Conservative|
|30||Kim Campbell||January 4, 1993||June 24, 1993||Progressive Conservative|
|31||Tom Siddon||June 25, 1993||November 3, 1993||Progressive Conservative||25 (Campbell)|
|32||David Collenette||November 4, 1993||October 4, 1996||Liberal||26 (Chrétien)|
|33||Doug Young||October 5, 1996||June 10, 1997||Liberal|
|34||Art Eggleton||June 11, 1997||June 25, 2002||Liberal|
|35||John McCallum||June 26, 2002||December 11, 2003||Liberal|
|36||David Pratt||December 12, 2003||July 19, 2004||Liberal||27 (Martin)|
|37||Bill Graham||July 20, 2004||February 5, 2006||Liberal|
|38||Gordon O'Connor||February 6, 2006||August 14, 2007||Conservative||28 (Harper)|
|39||Peter MacKay||August 14, 2007||July 15, 2013||Conservative|
|40||Rob Nicholson||July 15, 2013||February 9, 2015||Conservative|
|41||Jason Kenney||February 9, 2015||November 4, 2015||Conservative|
|42||Harjit Sajjan||November 4, 2015||October 26, 2021||Liberal||29 (J. Trudeau)|
|43||Anita Anand||October 26, 2021||Incumbent||Liberal|
Ministers with military experience
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.
- Minister of Overseas Military Forces - communications channel for the MMD and British War Office in matters relating to Canadian military units from 1916 to 1920
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