Chapter Four: Communication and Outreach

Communication and outreach activities play a vital role in the legitimization of Canada’s military justice system. From key players in the military justice process, as well as national and international strategic partners and organizations, communication and outreach activities form an integral part of the DMP’s strategic view to promoting Canada’s military justice system. In that regard, the DMP has made a concerted effort to engage a number of organizations to further enhance the legitimacy of Canada’s military justice system. This Chapter sets out those communications and outreach activities by the DMP over the course of the current reporting period.

CAF Chain of Command

The military justice system is designed to promote the operational effectiveness of the CAF by contributing to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency, and morale. It also ensures that justice is administered fairly and with respect for the rule of law. As the military justice system is one of several tools available to the chain of command in order to help it reach these objectives, it is imperative that the DMP, and prosecutors within the CMPS, actively and effectively engage the chain of command throughout the court martial process.

Recent amendments to the NDA have expressly recognized principles and purposes of sentencing within the military justice system distinct from the sentencing regime within the civilian criminal justice system, along with unique military factors that must be taken into consideration in sentencing, such as the effect the offence had on the conduct of a military operation. In order for CMPS to fulfil its role, it is important for prosecutors to understand the context in which CAF units and formations are operating, and their needs in relation to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency, and morale.

While protecting the prosecutorial independence of the CMPS, the DMP recognizes the importance of maintaining collaborative relationships with the chain of command of the CAF. Collaborative relationships with the chain of command ensure that both entities work together to strengthen discipline and operational efficiency through a robust military justice system. Despite the constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic, RMPs made sure to keep regular communication with senior members of the chain of command on the various military bases in Canada when required during this reporting period, in accordance with the instructions of the DMP.

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The CFNIS was established in 1997 with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters related to DND and the CAF. It performs a function similar to that of a major crimes unit of the RCMP or large municipal police agency. It is important for all prosecutors to maintain a strong relationship with investigative agencies, while at the same time respecting the independence of each organization. Good relationships with investigative agencies ensure that the prosecutor and the investigator exercise their respective roles independently but co-operatively, and help to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the CMPS as a prosecution service.

Over the course of this reporting period, the DMP, along with the CFNIS Legal Advisor, participated in the training of new CFNIS investigators during the CFNIS Indoctrination Course. Their presentations enhanced the knowledge of the military justice system for the new CFNIS investigators particularly in relation to disclosure obligations.

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Heads of Prosecutions Committee

The Federal, Provincial and Territorial Heads of Prosecutions (HoP) Committee was established in 1995. The Committee is made up of the heads of each of Canada’s 12 prosecution agencies. This includes the heads of prosecution for the ten provincial prosecution services, as well as the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and the DMP. The mandate of the HoP Committee is to serve as a national forum for the discussion of prosecutions and prosecution-related issues, and to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices on legal and managerial issues among the prosecution services of Canada. Since its inception, the Committee has helped promote assistance and cooperation among prosecution services and facilitated the coordination of national prosecution issues and the adoption of consistent prosecution positions on those issues whenever possible. The HoP Committee also serves as a national advisory body on prosecution issues in Canada, providing a venue where stakeholders can consult and seek the views of the Canadian prosecution community.Footnote 27 

During this reporting period, the DMP and the Acting DMP attended the HoP Committee general meetings during the months of April and December 2020. The HoP Committee general meetings were held virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The DMP and the Acting DMP were active participants during the discussions, ensuring that the interests of the military justice system remain at the forefront of criminal law in Canada.  Moreover, the Acting DMP also presented an update regarding the constitutional challenges relating to the independence of military judges.

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CMAC Education Seminar

The DMP and the ADMP both presented at this year’s CMAC Education Seminar, an annual legal education seminar conducted for judges assigned to the CMAC, organized by the Canadian Judicial Council. 

National Criminal Law Program

The National Criminal Law Program (NCLP)Footnote 28  is delivered by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and is the largest criminal law conference in Canada. The 47th Annual NCLP was supposed to be held in Victoria, British Columbia, in July 2020. As a full member of the NCLP faculty, the DMP has prepared articles and made presentations on a number of areas of criminal and military law topics at previous iterations of the conference. Unfortunately, the NCLP was canceled in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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