Dear Mr. Sajjan:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of National Defence.
On Election Day, Canadians chose to continue moving forward. From coast to coast to coast, people chose to invest in their families and communities, create good middle class jobs and fight climate change while keeping our economy strong and growing. Canadians sent the message that they want us to work together to make progress on the issues that matter most, from making their lives more affordable and strengthening the healthcare system, to protecting the environment, keeping our communities safe and moving forward on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. People expect Parliamentarians to work together to deliver these results, and that’s exactly what this team will do.
It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country. The Government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.
That starts with a commitment to govern in a positive, open and collaborative way. Our platform, Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class, is the starting point for our Government. I expect us to work with Parliament to deliver on our commitments. Other issues and ideas will arise or will come from Canadians, Parliament, stakeholders and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to the Government’s agenda when appropriate. Where legislation is required, you will need to work with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Cabinet Committee on Operations to prioritize within the minority Parliament.
We will continue to deliver real results and effective government to Canadians. This includes: tracking and publicly reporting on the progress of our commitments; assessing the effectiveness of our work; aligning our resources with priorities; and adapting to events as they unfold, in order to get the results Canadians rightly demand of us.
Many of our most important commitments require partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Even where disagreements may occur, we will remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government and it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.
There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation. I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
I also expect us to continue to raise the bar on openness, effectiveness and transparency in government. This means a government that is open by default. It means better digital capacity and services for Canadians. It means a strong and resilient public service. It also means humility and continuing to acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect; they expect us to be diligent, honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
As Minister, you are accountable for your style of leadership and your ability to work constructively in Parliament. I expect that you will collaborate closely with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. You will also meaningfully engage with the Government Caucus and Opposition Members of Parliament, the increasingly non-partisan Senate, and Parliamentary Committees.
It is also your responsibility to substantively engage with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. You must be proactive in ensuring that a broad array of voices provides you with advice, in both official languages, from every region of the country.
We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.
Canada’s media and your engagement with them in a professional and timely manner are essential. The Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, ask necessary questions and contribute in an important way to the democratic process.
You will do your part to continue our Government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure that people of all gender identities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and minority groups are reflected in positions of leadership.
As Minister of National Defence, you will continue to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces are an agile, multi-purpose and combat-ready military, operated by highly trained, well-equipped women and men, supported by their Government and by fellow Canadians. This responsibility is rooted in the continued implementation of Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy.
I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:
- Ensure the Canadian Armed Forces have the capabilities and equipment required to uphold their responsibilities through continued implementation of Strong, Secure, Engaged, including new procurements and planned funding increases.
- Reinforce Canada’s commitment to our bilateral and multilateral defence partnerships in order to defend Canadian sovereignty, protect North America and enhance international security:
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to ensure that any deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces aligns with Canada’s national interest, our multilateral commitments and the Government’s policy objectives;
- Continue Canada’s strong contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and work with the United States to ensure that the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) is modernized to meet existing and future challenges, as outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged;
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to expand Canada’s support for United Nations peace operations, including with respect to new investments in the women, peace and security agenda, conflict prevention and peacebuilding;
- Ensure the continued effectiveness of Canadian Armed Forces deployments, including Operation IMPACT in the Middle East, Operation NEON in the Asia-Pacific, NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, the NATO Mission in Iraq and Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine; and
- Expand Canadian defence cooperation and training assistance, in particular by drawing on the expertise of the Canadian Armed Forces to help other countries at greater risk of disasters due to climate change.
- Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to manage the competitive process to select a supplier and enter into a contract to construct Canada’s fighter aircraft fleet.
- Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement on the renewal of the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet, continuing the revitalization of the shipbuilding industry, creating middle class jobs and ensuring Canada’s Navy has the modern ships that it needs.
- Support the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to bring forward analyses and options for the creation of Defence Procurement Canada, to ensure that Canada’s biggest and most complex National Defence and Canadian Coast Guard procurement projects are delivered on time and with greater transparency to Parliament. This priority is to be developed concurrently with ongoing procurement projects and existing timelines.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Northern Affairs and partners through the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to develop better surveillance (including by renewing the North Warning System), defence and rapid-response capabilities in the North and in the maritime and air approaches to Canada, to strengthen continental defence, protect Canada’s rights and sovereignty and demonstrate international leadership with respect to the navigation of Arctic waters.
- Continue to improve support for the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces and to ensure a workplace characterized by professionalism, inclusion and valuing diversity:
- Work with senior leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces to establish and maintain a workplace free from harassment and discrimination;
- Create a new $2,500 tax-free benefit every time a military family relocates, to help with retraining, recertification and other costs of finding new work; and
- Achieve the goal of 25 per cent of Canadian Armed Forces members being women by 2026.
- With the support of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, introduce a new framework governing how Canada gathers, manages and uses defence intelligence, as recommended by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
- Work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence to strengthen partnerships between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada to overhaul service delivery and reduce complexity.
These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. As mentioned, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work across Parliament in the fulfillment of these commitments and to identify additional priorities.
I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and their senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on the many daily decisions necessary to ensure the achievement of your priorities, the effective running of the government and better services for Canadians. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions so that they are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our Government.
Our ability, as a government, to implement our priorities depends on consideration of the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.
As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it, including elements that have been added to strengthen it, and ensure that your staff does so as well. I expect that in staffing your offices you will hire people who reflect the diversity of Canada, and that you will uphold principles of gender equality, disability equality, pay equity and inclusion.
Give particular attention to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.
I will note that you are responsible for ensuring that your Minister’s Office meets the highest standards of professionalism and that it is a safe, respectful, rewarding and welcoming place for your staff to work.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. It is incumbent on you 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