The governor general is commander-in-chief of Canada. This role has been expressly conferred on the governor general as per the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada (1947). As such, the governor general plays a major role in recognizing the importance of Canada’s military at home and abroad.
As commander-in-chief, the governor general performs many duties:
- Acts on the recommendation of the prime minister regarding the appointment of the chief of the Defence Staff;
- Acts on recommendations of the minister of National Defence regarding the appointment of Royal colonels of Canadian regiments;
- Approves new military badges and insignia;
- Visits Canadian Forces personnel, their families and loved ones, at home and abroad;
- Presents new colours to Canadian Forces units;
- Awards military honours, such as the Order of Military Merit, Meritorious Service and Military Valour decorations, and the Peacekeeping and Special Service medals; and
- Signs commission scrolls.
Upon appointment, the commander-in-chief receives the Canadian Forces decoration and becomes a colonel of the Governor General’s Foot Guards, the Governor General’s Horse Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards, as well as chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit.