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Department of National Defence

The activities of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence, like those of every other federal government organization, are carried out within a framework of legislation that is approved and overseen by Parliament. In most respects, the Department of National Defence is an organization like other departments of government. It is established by a statute - the National Defence Act - which sets out the Minister's responsibilities, including the Minister's responsibility for the Department and the Canadian Forces.

Under the law, the Canadian Forces are an entity separate and distinct from the Department. As stated in the Act, the Department is headed by a Deputy Minister of National Defence, the Department's senior civil servant, while the Canadian Forces are headed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Canada's senior serving officer. Both are responsible to the Minister.

The Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence have complementary roles to play in providing advice and support to the Minister of National Defence and in implementing the decisions of the Government on the defence of Canada and of Canadian interests at home and abroad. The separate authorities of the Deputy Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff give rise to different responsibilities. The Deputy Minister has responsibility for policy, resources, interdepartmental coordination and international defence relations; and The Chief of the Defence Staff has responsibility for command, control and administration of the Canadian Forces and military strategy, plans and requirements.

The Deputy Minister of National Defence is appointed under the National Defence Act by the Governor-in-Council (the Cabinet), on the advice of the Prime Minister. It is the role of the Deputy Minister to articulate a corporate vision for the Department. Deputy Ministers ensure they have the right people, work environment and capacity to ensure the Department's success and are uniquely responsible to exemplify, in their actions and behaviours, the best values of the public service, and to infuse those values into all aspects of the work of their department.

They are also required to manage a complex set of multiple accountabilities which arise out of various powers, authorities and responsibilities attached to the position. The Deputy serves as the senior civilian advisor to the Minister of National Defence and provides him or her with the broadest possible expert support in all of the Minister's responsibilities, except for partisan political activities. This includes supporting the Minister in consulting and informing Parliament and the Canadian public on defence issues. As a result of their role in the collective management of the government, Deputy Ministers are also accountable to the Prime Minister for responding to the policies of the Ministry as a whole and to the requirements of the Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2016 20:13:20 ZULU