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National Defence Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. N-5)

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Act current to 2022-01-12 and last amended on 2019-08-01. Previous Versions

PART IDepartment of National Defence

Establishment of the Department

Marginal note:Formation of department

 There is hereby established a department of the Government of Canada called the Department of National Defence over which the Minister of National Defence appointed by commission under the Great Seal shall preside.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 3

Minister

Marginal note:Duties

 The Minister holds office during pleasure, has the management and direction of the Canadian Forces and of all matters relating to national defence and is responsible for

  • (a) the construction and maintenance of all defence establishments and works for the defence of Canada; and

  • (b) research relating to the defence of Canada and to the development of and improvements in materiel.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 4
  • R.S., 1985, c. 6 (4th Supp.), s. 10

Marginal note:Designation of person to execute Minister’s functions

 The Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister, may designate any other person in addition to the Minister to exercise any power or perform any duty or function that is vested in or that may be exercised or performed by the Minister under this Act.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 5

Marginal note:Associate Minister

 The Governor General may, by commission under the Great Seal, appoint an Associate Minister of National Defence to hold office during pleasure and to exercise and perform such powers, duties and functions of the Minister as may be assigned to the Associate Minister by the Governor in Council.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 6

Deputy Minister

Marginal note:Appointment

 There shall be a Deputy Minister of National Defence who shall be appointed by the Governor in Council to hold office during pleasure.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 7

Marginal note:Associate Deputy Ministers

 The Governor in Council may appoint not more than three Associate Deputy Ministers of National Defence, each of whom shall have the rank and status of a deputy head of a department and as such shall, under the Minister and the Deputy Minister, exercise and perform such powers, duties and functions as deputy of the Minister and otherwise as the Minister may specify.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 8

Judge Advocate General

Marginal note:Appointment

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may appoint an officer who is a barrister or advocate with at least ten years standing at the bar of a province to be the Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Forces.

  • Marginal note:Tenure of office

    (2) The Judge Advocate General holds office during pleasure for a term not exceeding four years.

  • Marginal note:Re-appointment

    (3) The Judge Advocate General is eligible to be re-appointed on the expiry of a first or subsequent term of office.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 9
  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Marginal note:Legal adviser

 The Judge Advocate General acts as legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister, the Department and the Canadian Forces in matters relating to military law.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Marginal note:Superintendence of military justice

  •  (1) The Judge Advocate General has the superintendence of the administration of military justice in the Canadian Forces.

  • Marginal note:Regular reviews

    (2) The Judge Advocate General shall conduct, or cause to be conducted, regular reviews of the administration of military justice.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Marginal note:Responsible to Minister

  •  (1) The Judge Advocate General is responsible to the Minister in the performance of the Judge Advocate General’s duties and functions.

  • Marginal note:Annual report

    (2) The Judge Advocate General shall report annually to the Minister on the administration of military justice in the Canadian Forces.

  • Marginal note:Tabling in Parliament

    (3) The Minister shall have a copy of the report laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives it.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Marginal note:Rank

 The Judge Advocate General holds a rank that is not less than brigadier-general.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Marginal note:Authority to act for Judge Advocate General

 The powers of the Judge Advocate General may be exercised, and the duties and functions of the Judge Advocate General may be performed, by any other officer who has the qualifications set out in subsection 9(1) that the Minister may authorize to act for the Judge Advocate General for that purpose.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 10
  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Marginal note:Non-derogation

 For greater certainty, section 9.1 is not in derogation of the authority of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada under the Department of Justice Act.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 2

Materiel

Marginal note:Delivery of materiel for sale or disposal

 The Governor in Council may authorize the Minister to deliver to any department or agency of the Government of Canada, for sale or disposal to any countries or international welfare organizations and on any terms that the Governor in Council may determine, any materiel that has not been declared surplus and is not immediately required for the use of the Canadian Forces or for any other purpose under this Act.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 11
  • 1998, c. 35, s. 3

Regulations

Marginal note:Power of Governor in Council to make regulations

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations for the organization, training, discipline, efficiency, administration and good government of the Canadian Forces and generally for carrying the purposes and provisions of this Act into effect.

  • Marginal note:Minister’s power to make regulations

    (2) Subject to section 13 and any regulations made by the Governor in Council, the Minister may make regulations for the organization, training, discipline, efficiency, administration and good government of the Canadian Forces and generally for carrying the purposes and provisions of this Act into effect.

  • Marginal note:Treasury Board’s power to make regulations

    (3) The Treasury Board may make regulations

    • (a) prescribing the rates and conditions of issue of pay of military judges, the Director of Military Prosecutions and the Director of Defence Counsel Services;

    • (b) prescribing the forfeitures and deductions to which the pay and allowances of officers and non-commissioned members are subject; and

    • (c) providing for any matter concerning the pay, allowances and reimbursement of expenses of officers and non-commissioned members for which the Treasury Board considers regulations are necessary or desirable to carry out the purposes or provisions of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Retroactive effect

    (4) Regulations made under paragraph (3)(a) may, if they so provide, have retroactive effect. However, regulations that prescribe the rates and conditions of issue of pay of military judges may not have effect

    • (a) in the case of an inquiry under section 165.34, before the day referred to in subsection 165.34(3) on which the inquiry that leads to the making of the regulations is to commence; or

    • (b) in the case of an inquiry under section 165.35, before the day on which the inquiry that leads to the making of the regulations commences.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 12
  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 60
  • 1998, c. 35, s. 4
  • 2013, c. 24, s. 3

Marginal note:Limitation on Minister’s power

 Where in any section of this Act, other than section 12, there is express reference to regulations made or prescribed by the Governor in Council or the Treasury Board in respect of any matter, the Minister does not have power to make regulations pertaining to that matter.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 13

Marginal note:Military Police Professional Code of Conduct

 The Governor in Council may make regulations, to be known as the Military Police Professional Code of Conduct, to govern the conduct of members of the military police.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 5

PART IIThe Canadian Forces

Constitution

Marginal note:Canadian Forces

 The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 14

Marginal note:Regular force

  •  (1) There shall be a component of the Canadian Forces, called the regular force, that consists of officers and non-commissioned members who are enrolled for continuing, full-time military service.

  • Marginal note:Composition of regular force

    (2) The maximum numbers of officers and non-commissioned members in the regular force shall be as authorized by the Governor in Council, and the regular force shall include such units and other elements as are embodied therein.

  • Marginal note:Reserve force

    (3) There shall be a component of the Canadian Forces, called the reserve force, that consists of officers and non-commissioned members who are enrolled for other than continuing, full-time military service when not on active service.

  • Marginal note:Composition of reserve force

    (4) The maximum numbers of officers and non-commissioned members in the reserve force shall be as authorized by the Governor in Council, and the reserve force shall include such units and other elements as are embodied therein.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 15
  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 60

Marginal note:Special force

  •  (1) In an emergency, or if considered desirable in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the United Nations Charter or the North Atlantic Treaty, the North American Aerospace Defence Command Agreement or any other similar instrument to which Canada is a party, the Governor in Council may establish and authorize the maintenance of a component of the Canadian Forces, called the special force, consisting of

    • (a) officers and non-commissioned members of the regular force who are placed in the special force under conditions prescribed in regulations;

    • (b) officers and non-commissioned members of the reserve force who, being on active service or having applied and been accepted for continuing, full-time military service, are placed in the special force under conditions prescribed in regulations; and

    • (c) officers and non-commissioned members not of the regular force or the reserve force who are enrolled in the special force for continuing, full-time military service.

  • Marginal note:Composition of special force

    (2) The maximum numbers of officers and non-commissioned members in the special force shall be as authorized by the Governor in Council, and the special force shall include such units and other elements as are embodied therein.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 16
  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 60
  • 2004, c. 15, s. 75

Units and Other Elements

Marginal note:Organization

  •  (1) The Canadian Forces shall consist of those of the following elements that are from time to time organized by or under the authority of the Minister:

    • (a) commands, including the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force;

    • (b) formations;

    • (c) units; and

    • (d) other elements.

  • Marginal note:Components

    (2) A unit or other element organized under subsection (1), other than a command or a formation, shall from time to time be embodied in a component of the Canadian Forces as directed by or under the authority of the Minister.

  • R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 17
  • 2014, c. 20, s. 168

Chief of the Defence Staff

Marginal note:Appointment, rank and duties of Chief of Defence Staff

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may appoint an officer to be the Chief of the Defence Staff, who shall hold such rank as the Governor in Council may prescribe and who shall, subject to the regulations and under the direction of the Minister, be charged with the control and administration of the Canadian Forces.

  • Marginal note:Responsibility and channels of communication

    (2) Unless the Governor in Council otherwise directs, all orders and instructions to the Canadian Forces that are required to give effect to the decisions and to carry out the directions of the Government of Canada or the Minister shall be issued by or through the Chief of the Defence Staff.

  • R.S., c. N-4, s. 18

Marginal note:Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

 There shall be an officer appointed by the Chief of the Defence Staff to be the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 6

Marginal note:Absence or incapacity of Chief of the Defence Staff

 In the event of the absence or incapacity of the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, or any other officer that is specified by the Minister or the Chief of the Defence Staff, has the control and administration of the Canadian Forces.

  • 1998, c. 35, s. 6

Canadian Forces Provost Marshal

Marginal note:Appointment

  •  (1) The Chief of the Defence Staff may appoint an officer who has been a member of the military police for at least 10 years to be the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (in this Act referred to as the “Provost Marshal”).

  • Marginal note:Rank

    (2) The Provost Marshal holds a rank that is not less than colonel.

  • Marginal note:Tenure of office and removal

    (3) The Provost Marshal holds office during good behaviour for a term not exceeding four years. The Chief of the Defence Staff may remove the Provost Marshal from office for cause on the recommendation of an inquiry committee established under regulations made by the Governor in Council.

  • Marginal note:Powers of inquiry committee

    (4) An inquiry committee has the same powers, rights and privileges — other than the power to punish for contempt — as are vested in a superior court of criminal jurisdiction with respect to

    • (a) the attendance, swearing and examination of witnesses;

    • (b) the production and inspection of documents;

    • (c) the enforcement of its orders; and

    • (d) all other matters necessary or proper for the due exercise of its jurisdiction.

  • Marginal note:Reappointment

    (5) The Provost Marshal is eligible to be reappointed on the expiry of a first or subsequent term of office.

  • 2013, c. 24, s. 4
 
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