ARCHIVED - Chapter 5: The Way Ahead - 2011-12

A legal officer deployed onboard HMCS VANCOUVER on Operation MOBILE.

As superintendent of the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Judge Advocate General (JAG) is committed to the ongoing review of the fairness and effectiveness of the military justice system and leading proactive change and responsible development. In the coming year, the Office of the JAG plans to complete many of the projects it commenced in 2010-2011 and previous years, and it will embark on many more. Of particular note for the subsequent reporting period are the following projects, which are anticipated to be the Office of the JAG’s main efforts to further improve the military justice system.

Legislative Amendments

The National Defence Act (NDA), and in particular the Code of Service Discipline (CSD), forms the legislative foundation of the military justice system. It sets out service offences and punishments, prescribes the disciplinary jurisdiction and defines the procedure for service tribunals. As discussed in Chapter IV, the important amendments contained in Bill C-15 touch upon essential aspects of military justice, such as the independence and powers of military judges and a wider range of sentencing options. The Office of the JAG is committed to assisting the Minister of National Defence and the Government of Canada in moving the legislative process of military justice reform forward, and will be prepared to provide appropriate additional policy development, instruction and advice on any regulatory amendments that may need to be made in response to new legislation.

Military Justice – Independent Review

During the reporting period, the Honourable Patrick J. LeSage, acting as the Second Independent Review Authority, visited defence establishments across the country, interviewing key stakeholders and many other individuals as well as preparing a report and recommendations for further amendments to the military justice system. The military justice system is constantly evolving, and Justice Lesage’s report will be instrumental in providing guidance and direction for that evolution. It is anticipated that some attention will be dedicated to the review and consideration of the recommendations generated within Justice LeSage’s report during the upcoming reporting period.

Legal Adviser to the Court Martial Administrator

The Court Martial Administrator (CMA) holds a central position within the military justice system. Acting under the general supervision of the Chief Military Judge (CMJ), the CMA is responsible for, among other things, convening courts martial, and, in cases of General Courts Martial, appointing the panel members. In fulfilling these functions, it has become apparent that the CMA would benefit from access to independent legal advice. Accordingly, in the scope of a pilot project, an arrangement that respects the principle of judicial independence was negotiated between the Office of the JAG and the Office of the CMJ, by which a legal officer is now working under the authority of the CMJ.

Members of the JAG carrying the JAG branch flag.

Conclusion

As the statistics, cases summaries, and initiatives outlined in this report demonstrate, the 2011-2012 reporting period was a continuation of a tradition that has been established over the past century. The legal officers in the Office of the JAG continue to prove themselves to be Canada’s experts on military justice and military law.

For 100 years now, the JAG and the Legal Branch have been dedicated to ensuring that the military justice system supports the need for fair justice, while also supporting the operational effectiveness of the CAF. The military justice system has continued to foster the interests of justice and discipline in the CAF throughout the reporting period, while the JAG professionally and objectively superintends the administration of military justice, and the Office of the JAG assists him in the performance of his duties and in leading proactive military justice change. Together, the JAG and his team of world-class military lawyers ensure that the military justice system continues to meet the objectives of military justice and discipline, now and into the future.

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