Main Container

Prime Minister Crest

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mandate Letter

Main Content

December 16, 2021

Office of the Prime Minister

Dear Minister Joly:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From the beginning of this pandemic, Canadians have faced a once-in-a-century challenge. And through it all, from coast to coast to coast, people have met the moment. When it mattered most, Canadians adapted, helped one another, and stayed true to our values of compassion, courage and determination. That is what has defined our path through this pandemic so far. And that is what will pave our way forward.

During a difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice. They entrusted us to finish the fight against COVID-19 and support the recovery of a strong middle class. At the same time, they also gave us clear direction: to take bold, concrete action to build a healthier, more resilient future. That is what Canadians have asked us to do and it is exactly what our Government is ready to deliver. We will work to build that brighter future through continued collaboration, engagement, and the use of science and evidence-based decision-making. With an unwavering focus on delivering results, we will work constructively with Parliamentarians and maintain our strong partnerships with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners. This decade has had an incredibly difficult start, but this is the moment to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive and stronger country for everyone.

The science is clear. Canadians have been clear. We must not only continue taking real climate action, we must also move faster and go further. As Canadians are increasingly experiencing across the country, climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us. As Minister, I expect you to seek opportunities within your portfolio to support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.

This year, Canadians were horrified by the discovery of unmarked graves and burial sites near former residential schools. These discoveries underscore that we must move faster on the path of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. We know that reconciliation cannot come without truth and our Government will continue to invest in that truth. As Ministers, each of us has a duty to further this work, both collectively and as individuals. Consequently, I am directing every Minister to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights.

We must continue to address the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in the core fabric of our society, including our core institutions. To this effect, it is essential that Canadians in every region of the country see themselves reflected in our Government’s priorities and our work. As Minister, I expect you to include and collaborate with various communities, and actively seek out and incorporate in your work, the diverse views of Canadians. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, faith-based communities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 Canadians, and, in both official languages.

Across our work, we remain committed to ensuring that public policies are informed and developed through an intersectional lens, including applying frameworks such as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and the quality of life indicators in decision-making.

Canadians continue to rely on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news. I expect you to maintain professional and respectful relationships with journalists to ensure that Canadians are well informed and have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, Canadians and their governments have adapted to new realities. Governments must draw on lessons learned from the pandemic to further adapt and develop more agile and effective ways to serve Canadians. To this end, I expect all Ministers to evaluate ways we can update our practices to ensure our Government continues to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The success of this Parliament will require Parliamentarians, both in the House of Commons and the Senate, to work together across all parties to get big things done for Canadians. I expect you to maintain constructive relationships with your Opposition Critics and coordinate any legislation with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. As Minister, you are accountable to Parliament both individually, for your style of leadership and the performance of your responsibilities, and collectively, in support of our Ministry and decisions taken by Cabinet. Open and Accountable Government sets out these core principles and the standards of conduct expected of you and your office. I expect you to familiarize yourself with this document, which outlines my expectations for each member of the Ministry.

Our platform lays out an ambitious agenda. While finishing the fight against the pandemic must remain our central focus, we must continue building a strong middle class and work toward a better future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success and no one is left behind.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs, you will advance Canada’s interests and values in a world facing increasingly complex threats and issues. You will lead Canada’s contribution to addressing global challenges, including by deepening our partnerships in regions of strategic importance, such as the Indo-Pacific and Arctic regions, and strengthening Canada’s diplomatic capacity. Throughout your work, you will place the promotion of democracy, human rights, gender equality and the rule of law, as well as combatting climate change, at the core of Canada’s foreign policy. You will work to promote peace and security, combat authoritarianism and counter foreign interference through collective international responses, including by expanding our cooperation with likeminded partners and Canadian, international and multilateral organizations.

To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.

  • Work with me, and in close collaboration with other ministers, to further strengthen our partnership with our closest ally, the United States.
  • Support the Minister of International Development and Minister of Health to continue to reinforce international efforts to ensure that people around the world have access to health interventions to fight COVID-19, including vaccines, therapeutics and strengthened health systems.
  • Continue to support the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to facilitate the safe passage and resettlement of vulnerable people from Afghanistan, with an emphasis on individuals who supported Canada and our allies over the past two decades, women, LGBTQ2 people, human rights defenders, journalists and members of religious and ethnic minorities.
  • Develop and launch a comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy to deepen diplomatic, economic and defence partnerships and international assistance in the region, with the support of the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, the Minister of International Development and the Minister of National Defence.
  • Work with G7, NATO and likeminded partners to develop and expand collective responses to arbitrary detention, economic coercion, cyber threats, foreign interference in democratic processes and egregious violations of human rights, including through the use of sanctions, support for international institutions and coordinated action to reinforce the rules of international trade.
  • Advance support for democracy and human rights as a core priority in Canada’s international engagement, including by:
    • Working with the Minister of International Development, establish a Canadian centre to expand the availability of Canadian expertise and assistance to those seeking to build peace, advance justice, promote human rights, inclusion and democracy, and deliver good governance;
    • Expanding fast and flexible support for fragile and emerging democracies, increasing Canada’s diplomatic presence in regions of strategic importance, and working closely with democratic partners to promote open, transparent and inclusive governance around the world;
    • Defending the right to freedom of expression and opposing the mistreatment or arbitrary detention of journalists, including by building on the work of the Media Freedom Coalition;
    • Continuing to expand the broad coalition of states supporting Canada’s initiative to condemn and eradicate the practice of arbitrary detention and advancing an action plan to coordinate collective international responses to specific incidents of arbitrary detention;
    • Working with international partners to help establish an International Anti-Corruption Court, to prevent corrupt officials and authoritarian governments from impeding development that should benefit their citizens; and
    • Continuing to support and implement Canada’s Magnitsky Law, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, and promote the adoption of similar legislation and practices globally.
  • With the support of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and working with the Minister of International Development, expand Canada’s efforts to advance gender equality and LGBTQ2 rights abroad. This will include support for the work of global feminist initiatives, relevant international institutions and civil society partners, including the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.
  • Continue to develop and implement Canada’s feminist foreign policy with the support of partner organizations, and continue to be a global leader in championing the rights of women and girls in all their diversity, LGBTQ2 people and other marginalized communities. In doing so, with support from the Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, continue to advance Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, including by launching Canada’s 3rd National Action Plan, and build on Canada’s leadership to further this agenda on the global stage, including our support for the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations and for the full and meaningful participation of women peacebuilders in peace and security matters.
  • With the Minister of International Development, work to strengthen Canada’s engagement and presence in the United Nations (UN) system in order to ensure a more effective, efficient, relevant and accountable UN that supports a rules-based international system, particularly so that it can better address those who are seeking to undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
  • Work with the Minister of Transport to continue to advance Canada’s ongoing response to the tragic downing of flight PS752, notably working with international partners to hold Iran accountable and to provide support to the families and loved ones of the victims as they fight for justice and reparations.
  • Work with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of International Development to expand Canada’s engagement with allies, partners and international organizations in order to promote peace and security, provide humanitarian assistance and support international emergency responses.
  • Work with the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Northern Affairs and partners to defend Arctic sovereignty and implement the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to create a future where Canada’s Northern and Arctic residents, especially Indigenous Peoples, are thriving, strong and safe. You will ensure that Indigenous and Northern communities are meaningfully consulted on its development and benefit from this work.
  • Work with the Minister of National Defence and NATO partners to establish a new NATO Centre of Excellence on Climate and Security based in Canada to ensure Canada and its allies are prepared to respond to climate-related threats and emergencies.
  • In collaboration with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, continue Canadian leadership on international efforts to combat climate change.
  • Work with cabinet colleagues and with the support of the digital policy task force to position Canada as a global leader in the digital domain.
  • Work with the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and in collaboration with implicated ministers, to develop and implement a renewed National Cyber Security Strategy, which will articulate Canada's long-term strategy to protect our national security and economy, deter cyber threat actors, and promote norms-based international behavior in cyberspace.
  • Support the Minister of Public Safety, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Minister of National Defence and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in their work to continue to advance the National Cyber Security Action Plan, ensuring Canada is well positioned to adapt to and combat cyber risks, and ensure the security and integrity of Canada’s critical systems.
  • Work with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to launch a new cultural diplomacy strategy to leverage the work of Canadian artists and cultural industries to support Canada’s diplomatic goals.
  • Working with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, take steps to build an international coalition to develop a new UNESCO convention on the diversity of content online.
  • Work with the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion to support the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism in advancing their mandate.
  • Celebrate Canada’s unique francophone cultures through the promotion of the French language across our diplomatic missions and in our work to transform the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

As Minister, you are also responsible for actively engaging with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. As we deliver on our platform commitments, it will be important that members of the Ministry continue to collaborate and work constructively to support rigorous and productive Cabinet decision-making. I expect you to support your colleagues in delivering their commitments, leveraging the expertise of your department and your own lived experiences.

To best achieve results for Canadians, Ministers must be rigorous and coordinated in our approach to implementation. I would therefore ask that you return to me with a proposed approach for the delivery of your mandate commitments, including priorities for early implementation. Furthermore, to ensure we are accountable for our work, I will be asking you to publicly report to me, and all Canadians, on your progress toward these commitments on a regular basis.

As we have been reminded throughout the pandemic, adapting to change is not only something government should do, it is something government must do. As you work to fulfil our commitments, I expect you to actively consider new ideas and issues as they emerge, whether through public engagement, your work with Parliamentarians or advice from the public service. I also expect you to work with your Deputy Minister to assess priorities on a continual basis as we build a better future for all Canadians. In addition to achieving results, you are responsible for overseeing the work of your department and ensuring the effective operation of your portfolio.

As you staff your office and implement outreach and recruitment strategies for federally appointed leadership positions and boards, I ask that you uphold the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. This helps ensure that federal workplaces are dynamic and reflective of the Canadians we serve. You will also ensure your Minister’s office and portfolio are reflective of our commitment to healthy and safe workplaces.

Canadians expect us to work hard, speak truthfully and be committed to advancing their interests and aspirations. When we make mistakes – as we all will – Canadians expect us to acknowledge them, and most importantly, to learn from them.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you, and to turn to me, and the Deputy Prime Minister, early and often to support you in your role as Minister.


Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

*This Ministerial Mandate Letter was signed by the Prime Minister in the Minister’s first official language.