Under Canada’s system of responsible government, Ministers exercise the powers of the Crown and are answerable to Parliament. Ministers are individually and collectively responsible to the House of Commons for the policies, programmes, and activities of the Government. They are in turn supported by the public service.
Ministers are responsible for providing information to Parliament and its Committees. Officials have no constitutional responsibility to Parliament. They do, however, support Ministers in their relationship with Parliament and to this extent they may be said to assist in the answerability of Parliament. The Privy Council Office has prepared a document entitled “Notes on the Responsibilities of Public Servants in Relation to Parliamentary Committees.” This document outlines the relationship of Departments to Parliament, the powers of Committees, and provides guidance to officials who are to appear before a Parliamentary Committee.
Ministers are assigned a range of responsibilities by the Prime Minister, including departmental powers, duties, and functions, as well as other special assignments or roles. They are responsible to Parliament for carrying out these responsibilities and for ensuring that their Departments are managed soundly and with integrity. The Privy Council Office has prepared a document entitled “Accountable Government – A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State 2008” to offer practical guidance for Ministers and Ministers of State in the conduct of their duties.
The National Defence Act authorizes the Minister of National Defence to manage and direct all matters relating to national defence and the Canadian Forces. The National Defence Act is available on the Department of Justice’s website.
The information for the National Defence Act ( R.S. 1985, c. N-5 ) can be found in the online resource of Laws from the Department of Justice's Internet site.