Independent Reviews of the National Defence Act
Background of the Independent Review process
National Defence Act (NDA) section 273.601 requires the Minister of National Defence (MND) to generate an Independent Review of specified provisions of the Act and its operation, and to present a report of the review to Parliament.
The requirement for Independent Reviews comes from recommendations in two independent reports released in 1997. The first is the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia. The second is the report of the Special Advisory Group of the Military Justice and Military Police Investigation Services on the Quasi-Judicial Role of the Minister of National Defence. Each report provides a range of recommendations related to the military justice system, including periodic, mandatory reviews of the rules that the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) must follow. The review requirement became mandatory by the enactment of Bill C-25 in 1999. The legislative requirement was slightly modified and incorporated into the current NDA in 2014 through Bill C-15.
Third Independent Review background
On November 5, 2020, Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan appointed the Honourable Morris J. Fish, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, as the Independent Review Authority (IRA) to conduct an Independent Review of specified provisions of the NDA. In this Independent Review, the specified provisions of the NDA that were reviewed include those relating to military justice, military policing and police oversight, military grievances and external review of grievances.
As the Third Independent Review Authority, the Honourable Morris J. Fish was provided complete access to Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Department of National Defence employees, as well as the members and staff of the Military Grievances External Review Committee, the Military Police Complaints Commission, and the DND/CAF Ombudsman.
On June 1, 2021, the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, presented to Parliament the report on the Third Independent Review of specified provisions of the NDA and its operation.
The report contains 107 recommendations with a majority of them dealing with the military justice system, including how issues of sexual misconduct are addressed, military policing and police oversight. The remainder of the recommendations concern military grievances and the external review of grievances.
The 3rd Independent Review Report is available online.
Second Independent Review background
The Second Independent Review was completed and submitted to the Minister of National Defence in December 2011 by the Honourable Patrick LeSage, retired Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. It was presented to Parliament in June 2012. His report contained 55 recommendations. The departmental response to the recommendations from this review is significantly reflected in Bill C-15 regulations.
To get a copy of the 2nd Independent Review Report, please email email@example.com.
First Independent Review background
The First Independent Review was completed by the late Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, retired Chief Justice of Canada, in 2003. His report contained 88 recommendations. The departmental response to the recommendations from this review is reflected in Bills C-60, C-16 and C-15, which amended the NDA.
To get a copy of the 1st Independent Review Report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- The Third Independent Review of the National Defence Act – Backgrounder
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