Section 4: Canadian Military Values

Canadian military values—which are essential for conducting the full range of military operations, up to and including warfighting—come from what history and experience teach about the importance of moral factors in operations, especially the personal qualities that military professionals must possess to prevail. But military values must always be in harmony and never in conflict with Canadian values.

These military values are understood and expressed within the Canadian military ethos as follows.

  • Duty: First and foremost, duty entails service to Canada and compliance with the law. It obliges members to adhere to the law of armed conflict while displaying dedication, initiative and discipline in the execution of tasks. Duty further demands that Canadian Forces members accept the principle of the primacy of operations and that military leaders act in accordance with the professional precept of “Mission, own troops, self,” as mentioned previously.

    Performing one’s duty embraces the full scope of military professional excellence. It calls for individuals to train hard, pursue professional self-development, and carry out their tasks in a manner that reflects pride in themselves, their unit and their profession. Overall, this concept of duty motivates personnel both individually and collectively to strive for the highest standards of performance while providing them with purpose and direction throughout the course of their service.

  • Loyalty: Loyalty is closely related to duty and entails personal allegiance to Canada and faithfulness to comrades across the chain of command. For loyalty to endure, it must be reciprocal and based on mutual trust. It requires that all Canadian Forces members support the intentions of superiors and readily obey lawful orders and directions. However, it also imposes special obligations on all leaders and commanders.

    Leaders must ensure their subordinates are treated fairly, and prepare and train them spiritually, mentally and physically for whatever tasks they are assigned. Subordinates must be given opportunities for professional development and career advancement. Downward loyalty further demands that Canadian Forces members be properly cared for, that their desires and concerns be heard, and that their personal needs be tended to, both during the time of their service and after it. This is especially so if they have been wounded or injured in the course of their duties. And this concept of loyalty extends to the immediate families of Canadian Forces members, who are entitled to official recognition and consideration for the important contribution they make to the morale and dedication of loved ones in uniform.

  • Integrity: To have integrity is to have unconditional and steadfast commitment to a principled approach to meeting your obligations while being responsible and accountable for your actions. Accordingly, being a person of integrity calls for honesty, the avoidance of deception and adherence to high ethical standards.

    Integrity insists that your actions be consistent with established codes of conduct and institutional values. It specifically requires transparency in actions, speaking and acting with honesty and candour, the pursuit of truth regardless of personal consequences, and a dedication to fairness and justice. Integrity must especially be manifested in leaders and commanders because of the powerful effect of their personal example on peers and subordinates.

  • Courage: Courage is a distinctly personal quality that allows a person to disregard the cost of an action in terms of physical difficulty, risk, advancement or popularity. Courage entails willpower and the resolve not to quit. It enables making the right choice among difficult alternatives. Frequently, it is a renunciation of fear that must be made not once but many times. Hence, courage is both physical and moral. Both types of courage are required because of their essential complementarity and to meet the serious demands the profession of arms makes on individuals. Courage requires constant nurturing and is not suddenly developed during operations. Ultimately, “Courageous actions are dictated by conscience, of which war is the final test”.Footnote 7 
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