Commander-in-Chief of Canada
The governor general is commander-in-chief of Canada. This role has been expressly conferred on the governor general as per the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada (1947). As such, the Governor General plays a significant role in encouraging excellence and recognizing the important role of Canada’s military at home and abroad.
- Encouraging excellence and dedication in the Forces;
- Visiting military bases across Canada;
- Participating in memorial services for fallen military;
- Welcoming troops home;
- Keeping up morale among those performing peacekeeping missions around the world.
Governor General Michaëlle Jean, in her role as Commander-in-Chief of Canada, exercised strong, assertive leadership amongst military personnel deployed as part of the challenging, high-risk missions Canadian missions in Afghanistan. In over 150 heartbreaking repatriation ceremonies, she also assisted the families and loved ones of fallen soldiers, who remember her sincere and warm presence and deeply-felt words of support.
The Commander-in-Chief advocated for the delivery of better psychological support services for soldiers who were physically and psychologically wounded. She insisted that military spouses and families also have access to specialized services.
The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean toured on Afghan soil to support the troops, and to meet with local Afghan women and men. She listened intently to their perspective and could see the tremendous challenges and many hardships of a people living under the constant threat of terrorism and widespread insecurity.
Among her responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief, the Governor General:
- Appoints the Chief of the Defence Staff on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;
- Acts on recommendations from the Minister of National Defence regarding the appointment of Royal Colonels-in-Chief of Canadian Regiments;
- Approves new military badges and insignia;
- Visits Canadian Forces personnel, at home and abroad;
- Presents new colours to the Canadian Forces;
- Awards military Honours, such as the Order of Military Merit; Meritorious Service and Military Valour Decorations; Peacekeeping and Special Service Medals;
- Signs Commission Scrolls, etc.
Upon appointment, the Commander-in-Chief receives the Canadian Forces decoration and becomes:
- an Honorary Colonel of the Governor General’s Foot Guards, the Governor General’s Horse Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards;
- the Chancellor and a Commander of the Order of Military Merit.
For more on the history of the role of Commander-in-Chief of Canada →