Chapter Four — The Way Ahead

Over the last 100 years, the Office of the Judge Advocate General has demonstrated excellence through service. The Office of the Judge Advocate General will honour its past, embrace the present and shape its future by providing client-focused, timely, options-oriented and operationally-driven legal services. Building on past accomplishments, in the upcoming reporting period the Office of the Judge Advocate General will continue to advance a number of initiatives designed to enhance the superintendence, increase the efficiency, effectiveness and the legitimacy of the military justice system.

The Office of the Judge Advocate General will continue to support the Chief of the Defence Staff and the chain of command towards the elimination of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces. Such behaviour not only undermines the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to achieve its mission of defending Canadian interests at home and abroad, but it also impacts the discipline, efficiency and morale of the Canadian Armed Forces. The military justice system plays a complementary role to Operation HONOUR and provides a valuable tool for commanders at all levels in the elimination of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour which can seriously undermine discipline, efficiency and morale in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Office of the Judge Advocate General remains committed to ensuring that the military justice system plays an important role in supporting complainants and in dealing with those individuals who are alleged to have committed offences of a sexual nature in accordance with the rule of law.

The Office of the Judge Advocate General will continue to work towards the development and implementation of the Superintendence Enhancement and Assessment Project, including the Justice Administration and Information Management System and the Military Justice Stakeholder Engagement Project which will assist the Judge Advocate General in her statutory responsibility of superintending the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Justice Administration and Information Management System and the Military Justice Stakeholder Engagement Project will allow the Judge Advocate General to maintain an overall awareness of the efficiency and effectiveness of the military justice system. It will provide objective and measurable data which, when combined with stakeholder engagement through interviews and questionnaires, will lead to a significantly enhanced ability to measure, analyze, and take corrective measures to improve the performance of the military justice system. In addition, the Justice Administration and Information Management System will provide commanders at all levels with a user-friendly, responsive, effective and efficient real-time workflow tool that will facilitate the administration of military justice at the unit level.

The Office of the Judge Advocate General will continue to work with the Department of Justice towards the completion of the regulations required to bring the remaining provisions of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act, into force. Bill C-15 comprises the most significant amendments to the National Defence Act since 1998 and requires extensive regulatory amendments in relation to military justice. Bill C-15 improves various aspects of the military justice system and includes a number of provisions that, when brought into force, will provide victims of service offences with specific procedural rights such as the right to make victim impact statements during the sentencing phase of courts martial and the ability of a court martial to make an order for restitution similar to those provisions that exist in the Criminal Code. The Office of the Judge Advocate General and the Canadian Forces Military Law Centre are developing training for members of the chain of command, including presiding officers as well as for legal officers, related to the changes as a result of Bill C-15. This will ensure that all actors within the military justice system are properly prepared when the new regulations come into force.

On 1 March 2018, the Minister of National Defence approved the appointment of the former Chief Justice of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., as Honorary Colonel of the Office of the Judge Advocate General. The practice of unit honorary appointments in Canada dates back more than a century. The role of an Honorary appointee is honorary and advisory, and includes fostering esprit de corps, supporting their unit, providing expertise and guidance, representing the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as maintaining a positive link with the military and legal communities and the Canadian public in the case of the Office of the Judge Advocate General appointee. Honorary Captain (Navy) McLachlin, given her wealth of experience, will provide invaluable counsel to the Judge Advocate General and the senior leadership of the Office of the Judge Advocate General. Honorary Captain (Navy) McLachlin will succeed Honorary Colonel John Hoyles who has fulfilled those duties since 2014.

Conclusion

This past year has been a productive and positive one for the development of military justice. Members of the Office of the Judge Advocate General have worked as a team with partners and stakeholders to advance a variety of policy and legal initiatives while also responding to a number of other challenges within the military justice system. In doing so, they have proven themselves to be experts in the area of military justice and military law and have demonstrated excellence through service. However, despite the work that has been undertaken thus far, challenges remain such as the implementation of a performance measurement system and workflow management system to enable the effective and efficient delivery of military legal services and to improve the ability of the Judge Advocate General to superintend the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Canada’s military justice system is a unique and necessary part of the larger Canadian legal mosaic which contributes significantly to the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to achieve its missions in Canada and around the world. Over the last 100 years, the military justice system has continued to evolve in order to remain a fair and efficient system that promotes the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces, complies with Canadian and international law and is one in which Canadians have confidence.

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