Detailed Pedia

Minister of National Defence (Canada)

Minister of National Defence
Ministre de la Défense nationale
Government of Canada signature.svg
Anita Anand

since 26 October 2021
Department of National Defence
Canadian Armed Forces
StyleThe Honourable
Member of
Reports to
AppointerMonarch (represented by the governor general);
on the advice of the prime minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderGeorge Perry Graham
Formation1 January 1923
SalaryCA$269,800 (2019)

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.

The current minister of national defence is Anita Anand. The parliamentary secretary, who represents the minister when she is away from the House of Commons, is Bryan May.


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:

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.jpg George Perry Graham January 1, 1923 April 27, 1923 Liberal 12 (King)
2 Edward Mortimer Macdonald.jpg Edward Mortimer Macdonald April 28, 1923
(Acting until Aug.17)
June 28, 1926 Liberal
3 Hugh Guthrie.jpg 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)
James Alexander Robb.jpg James Robb
October 1, 1926 October 7, 1926 Liberal
4 James Ralston3.png James Ralston
(1st time)
October 8, 1926 August 7, 1930 Liberal
5 Donald Matheson Sutherland.jpg Donald Matheson Sutherland August 7, 1930 November 16, 1934 Conservative (historical) 15 (Bennett)
6 No image.svg Grote Stirling November 17, 1934 October 23, 1935 Conservative (historical)
7 Ian Alastair Mackenzie.jpg Ian Alistair Mackenzie October 24, 1935 September 18, 1939 Liberal 16 (King)
8 Norman McLeod Rogers.jpg Norman McLeod Rogers September 19, 1939 June 10, 1940 Liberal
Charles Gavan Chubby Power.jpg Charles Power
June 11, 1940 July 4, 1940 Liberal
(4) James Ralston3.png James Ralston
(2nd time)
July 5, 1940 November 1, 1944 Liberal
9 LGen Andrew McNaughton, 1942 cropped.jpg Andrew McNaughton November 2, 1944 August 20, 1945 Military
10 Douglas Charles Abbott.jpg Douglas Abbott August 21, 1945 December 9, 1946 Liberal
11 Brooke Claxton.jpg Brooke Claxton December 10, 1946 November 15, 1948 Liberal
November 15, 1948 June 30, 1954 17 (St. Laurent)
12 No image.svg Ralph Campney July 1, 1954 June 20, 1957 Liberal
13 George Pearkes 1917.jpg George Pearkes June 21, 1957 October 10, 1960 Progressive Conservative 18 (Diefenbaker)
14 No image.svg Douglas Harkness October 11, 1960 February 3, 1963 Progressive Conservative
VACANT February 4, 1963 February 11, 1963
15 No image.svg Gordon Churchill February 12, 1963 April 21, 1963 Progressive Conservative
16 Paul Hellyer-c1969.jpg Paul Hellyer April 22, 1963 September 18, 1967 Liberal 19 (Pearson)
17 No image.svg Léo Cadieux September 18, 1967 April 19, 1968 Liberal
April 20, 1968 September 16, 1970 20 (P. E. Trudeau)
Charles Drury
(1st time; Acting)
September 17, 1970 September 23, 1970 Liberal
18 No image.svg Donald Macdonald September 24, 1970 January 27, 1972 Liberal
19 Edgar Benson January 28, 1972 August 31, 1972 Liberal
No image.svg Jean-Eudes Dubé
September 1, 1972 September 6, 1972 Liberal
Charles Drury
(2nd time; Acting)
September 7, 1972 November 26, 1972 Liberal
20 No image.svg James Richardson November 27, 1972 October 12, 1976 Liberal
21 No image.svg Barney Danson October 13, 1976
(Acting until Nov.3)
June 3, 1979 Liberal
22 No image.svg Allan McKinnon June 4, 1979 March 2, 1980 Progressive Conservative 21 (Clark)
23 No image.svg Gilles Lamontagne March 3, 1980 August 11, 1983 Liberal 22 (P. E. Trudeau)
24 No image.svg Jean–Jacques Blais August 12, 1983 June 29, 1984 Liberal
June 30, 1984 September 16, 1984 23 (Turner)
25 No image.svg Robert Coates September 17, 1984 February 11, 1985 Progressive Conservative 24 (Mulroney)
26 No image.svg Erik Nielsen February 12, 1985
(Acting until Feb.26)
June 29, 1986 Progressive Conservative
27 No image.svg Perrin Beatty June 30, 1986 January 29, 1989 Progressive Conservative
28 Bill McKnight.jpg Bill McKnight January 30, 1989 April 20, 1991 Progressive Conservative
29 Marcel Masse 2012-04-12.jpg Marcel Masse April 21, 1991 January 3, 1993 Progressive Conservative
30 KimCampbell.jpg Kim Campbell January 4, 1993 June 24, 1993 Progressive Conservative
31 No image.svg Tom Siddon June 25, 1993 November 3, 1993 Progressive Conservative 25 (Campbell)
32 No image.svg David Collenette November 4, 1993 October 4, 1996 Liberal 26 (Chrétien)
33 No image.svg Doug Young October 5, 1996 June 10, 1997 Liberal
34 Art Eggleton June 11, 1997 June 25, 2002 Liberal
35 John McCallum.jpg John McCallum June 26, 2002 December 11, 2003 Liberal
36 David Pratt December 12, 2003 July 19, 2004 Liberal 27 (Martin)
37 Bill Graham by Rod Brito.jpg Bill Graham July 20, 2004 February 5, 2006 Liberal
38 Gordon O'Connor with Robert Gates, Jan 23, 2007, cropped.jpg Gordon O'Connor February 6, 2006 August 14, 2007 Conservative 28 (Harper)
39 Peter MacKay crop.JPG Peter MacKay August 14, 2007 July 15, 2013 Conservative
40 Rob Nicholson infobox.jpg Rob Nicholson July 15, 2013 February 9, 2015 Conservative
41 Jason Kenney in 2019 - cropped.jpg Jason Kenney February 9, 2015 November 4, 2015 Conservative
42 Canadian Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan.jpg Harjit Sajjan November 4, 2015 October 26, 2021 Liberal 29 (J. Trudeau)
43 Anita Anand October 26, 2021 Incumbent Liberal

Ministers with military experience

Name Rank Branch Position (if applicable) / Unit(s)
James Ralston Colonel Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) Commanding Officer, 85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Battalion, CEF
Donald Matheson Sutherland Lieutenant Colonel CEF Officer Commanding, 52nd Battalion (New Ontario) and A Company 1st Battalion, Major, A Squadron 24th Regiment Grey's Horse
Andrew McNaughton General CEF / Canadian Militia / Permanent Active Militia Commanding Officer, 5th Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles and Canadian Corps
Ralph Campney Lieutenant CEF / Canadian Army / Royal Flying Corps No.5 Stationary or General Hospital (Queen's), Commissioned Officer, 19th Canadian Infantry Battalion
Norman McLeod Rogers Lieutenant CEF 6th Nova Scotia Mounted Rifles
Charles Gavan Power Acting Major CEF Canadian Corps
Brooke Claxton Battery Sergeant-Major Victoria Rifles of Canada
George Pearkes Major General CEF / Canadian Militia and Canadian Army Commanding Officer, Canadian Corps
Douglas Harkness Lieutenant Colonel Canadian Army Royal Canadian Artillery
Gordon Churchill Lieutenant Colonel CEF Vickers Machine Gunner, Commanding Officer Fort Garry Horse and 1st Canadian Carrier Regiment (Canadian Corps)
Paul Hellyer Gunner Canadian Army Royal Canadian Artillery
Charles Drury Brigadier General Canadian Army Commanding Officer, 4th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery, General Staff Officer of the 2nd Canadian Division and acting commander of the Royal Artillery 4th Canadian Division
Edgar Benson Sergeant Canadian Corps (Canadian Army) 1st Survey Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery
Barney Danson Lieutenant Canadian Army The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
James Armstrong Richardson Pilot Officer RCAF Consolidated Liberator anti-submarine patrol squadron of the (No. 10 Squadron RCAF)
Allan McKinnon Major Canadian Army Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
Erik Nielsen Pilot Officer (RAF) / Adjutant (RCAF) Royal Flying Corps / RCAF 101 Squadron and 126 Squadron; RCAF Legal Officer
Gilles Lamontagne Flight Lieutenant RCAF bomber pilot No. 425 Bomber Squadron
Gordon O'Connor Brigadier General Canadian Army Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
Harjit Sajjan Lieutenant Colonel Canadian Army The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own), Royal Canadian Armoured Corps

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.

See also

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