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Minister of National Defence Mandate Letter

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December 16, 2021

Office of the Prime Minister

Dear Minister Anand:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of National Defence.

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 National Defence, your immediate priority is to take concrete steps to build an inclusive and diverse Defence Team, characterized by a healthy workplace free from harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct and violence. This includes bringing forward the necessary reforms on a priority basis to create the foundation for meaningful and lasting change in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), a vital national institution. You will also continue to advance our vision as set out in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy and enhance our capabilities to anticipate and respond to threats at home and abroad. As part of Canada’s engagement with allies and partners, you will maintain our strong contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), ensure continued support for United Nations peace operations, and work with the United States to modernize the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).

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

  • Ensure the CAF is a 21st century military with the capabilities, equipment and culture to implement Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, and anticipate and respond to the full range of current and emerging threats.
  • In consultation with survivors, take action to transform the culture of the CAF, rebuild trust and build a healthy, safe and inclusive workplace, free from harassment, discrimination and violence, including by:
    • Implementing interim and final recommendations of the Independent External Comprehensive Review conducted by Justice Louise Arbour on a priority basis, including to institute external oversight over the reporting, investigation and adjudication of complaints, outside the chain of command; and
    • Working to eliminate all sources of anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, LGBTQ2 prejudice, gender bias and white supremacy in the CAF, implementing recommendations from the Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination on a priority basis.
  • In consultation with survivors, and with the support of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, work to end discrimination, sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military by:
    • Modernizing the military justice system, with a focus on implementing recommendations from the Third Independent Review of the National Defence Act, and bringing into force the Declaration of Victims Rights to ensure survivors are treated with respect and have the full range of options and protections that are available in the civilian system;
    • Implementing the recommendation from Justice Louise Arbour and Justice Morris J. Fish to move the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military justice system to civilian courts;
    • Expanding the services and resources available to survivors of sexual misconduct through the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre and, in collaboration with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, ensure all members of the Defence Team, including Department of National Defence employees, Veterans and members of military families, have access;
    • Expanding health services available to women in the CAF, ensuring comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health resources, child care and mental health resources;
    • Increasing investments to understand and address the clinical, occupational and deployment health needs of CAF women; and
    • Co-designing with survivors and fully funding a permanent peer-to-peer support program for those who have experienced military sexual trauma that is available to all members of the Defence Team and their families.
  • Continue contributing to Canada’s response to COVID-19, including by responding to Requests for Federal Assistance, and protect the health and safety of CAF members at home and abroad, ensuring the continued effectiveness of CAF deployments.
  • Undertake ambitious actions to improve the diversity of the CAF, including efforts to increase the recruitment and promotion of women, LGBTQ2, Indigenous, Black and racialized Canadians and people with disabilities. 
  • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs 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. This will include expanding Canada’s long and short-range strategic airlift capability to increase Canada’s contribution to NATO coalition and allied military operations abroad, the deployment of CAF personnel to provide assistance, training or operational support to enhance international peace, security and stability and continued support for UN operations.
  • Work with the United States to expand cooperation on continental defence and Arctic security, including by modernizing NORAD through:
    • Replacing the North Warning System;
    • Deploying new technological solutions to improve surveillance and monitoring of northern and maritime approaches;
    • Modernizing CAF and NORAD command and control systems to deter and defeat aerospace threats to North America; and
    • Investing in infrastructure and capabilities to support operations in the North.
  • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 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. 
  • Ensure Canada remains a leading contributor to NATO operations, including by extending Operation REASSURANCE in Eastern Europe and maintaining regular participation in aerial and maritime patrol operations, and extending Canada’s support to Ukraine through Operation UNIFIER. 
  • Continue to work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs to simplify processes, improve service delivery and strengthen transition services by enhancing shared online tools, increasing data sharing and improving transition support.
  • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs 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.
  • Oversee the Communications Security Establishment to ensure that they are in a position to lead Canada’s response to rapidly evolving cyber risks and threats, including through adequate resources and close cooperation with our allies.
  • Work with the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 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.
  • Working with the Minister of Public Safety, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and with the support of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 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. 
  • Continue working with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, with the support of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, to renew the fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy, advance the shipbuilding industry, including the process to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner to the National Shipbuilding Strategy, create middle class jobs and ensure Canada has the modern ships needed.
  • Support the Minister of Foreign Affairs in developing and launching a comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy to deepen diplomatic and defence partnerships in the region.

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.


Prime Minister of Canada signature

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