Communiqué - Judge Advocate General Annual Report 2013-14

I am very pleased to present the report on the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for the period from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.

The reporting period marked the conclusion of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan where, for more than 12 years, CAF personnel were involved in combat, security, development, support and training operations. From the outset, legal officers from the Office of the JAG were involved in the mission delivering responsive, force enabling legal advice and services in all areas of military law. Over 100 legal officers deployed to Afghanistan while others supported the mission from Canada. I am extremely proud of the Office of the JAG’s contributions to this historic mission. Those contributions are further detailed in Chapter 2.

As the superintendent of the administration of military justice, I am committed to leading proactive oversight, responsible development of, and positive change to, Canada’s military justice system. In this regard, this reporting period marked the passage of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act. Bill C-15 comprises the most significant amendments to the National Defence Act since 1988. The amendments in the bill ensure that Canada’s military justice system remains one in which Canadians can have trust and confidence. Legislative initiatives such as Bill C-15 further serve to align the military justice system within the larger Canadian legal mosaic while taking into account the unique requirements of that system. Bill C-15 and noteworthy jurisprudence during the reporting period are highlighted in Chapter 4.

This separate system of military justice is designed to deal expeditiously and fairly with service offences, while remaining consistent with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As stated by the Supreme Court of Canada, “the safety and well being of Canadians depends considerably on the willingness and readiness of a force of men and women to defend against threats to the nation’s security….As a result, the military has its own Code of Service Discipline to allow it to meet its particular disciplinary needs.1

Reflecting on the conclusion of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan supports the continued need for a separate, deployable Canadian military justice system. Whether in a remote Forward Operating Base or within the confines of a larger military camp, the military justice system proved to be essential in promoting the operational effectiveness of the CAF by contributing to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale while fully respecting Canadian law.

It is with this in mind that I remain confident that Canada’s military justice system remains responsive to the needs of the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence and the CAF. Canadians can be proud of a military justice system that is second to none in the world.

Fiat Justitia!


Footnotes

1 R. v. Généreux, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 259 at 293.

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