Communiqué

Commodore Geneviève Bernatchez, CD, Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces

I am pleased to deliver my first annual report to the Minister of National Defence on the administration of military justice since my appointment as Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces on 27 June 2017. This report covers the period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 and is made pursuant to section 9.3 of the National Defence Act.

In my role as the Judge Advocate General, I have two primary functions mandated by the National Defence Act. First, the Judge Advocate General is the legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence in matters relating to military law. Second, the Judge Advocate General is responsible for the superintendence of the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces.

I began fulfilling my duties as the Judge Advocate General during this reporting period and was also entrusted with the responsibility of leading the team of dedicated professionals that forms the Office of the Judge Advocate General.

 

The 2018-2021 Office of the JAG Strategic Direction — "Excellence Through Service"

One of my first priorities was to develop and issue a strategic direction early in my mandate in order to guide our efforts and clearly state the priorities and main tasks of the Office of the Judge Advocate General. The position of Deputy Judge Advocate General Strategic was created to develop and facilitate strategic initiatives that ensure the provision of legal services by the Office of the Judge Advocate General which fully integrates and supports the Government of Canada, Departmental and Canadian Armed Forces objectives and priorities.

The first stage of our strategic review and analysis culminated in February 2018 when I issued the 2018-2021 Office of the JAG Strategic Direction which provides our mission statement:1

Mission
To deliver client-focused, timely, options-oriented and operationally-driven military legal services in support of Government of Canada, Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces priorities and objectives; and, to superintend the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces while respecting the independent roles of each statutory actor within the military justice system.

The overarching theme my senior leadership team and I have chosen for the Office of the JAG Strategic Direction is "Excellence Through Service." This Direction will shape the activities of the Office of the Judge Advocate General for the next three years. It clearly articulates our Mission, Priorities, Relevance Proposition and what the Office of the Judge Advocate General will do to deliver concrete results in priority areas. It is a roadmap that will ensure we remain focused on our clients, team and values as we fulfill our mission.

 

Strong, Secure, Engaged

Included in the Office of the JAG Strategic Direction is a commitment to plan and deliver all our activities and processes in a manner that fully integrates and supports Governmental, Departmental and Canadian Armed Forces objectives and priorities found in the Strong, Secure, Engaged: Defence Policy; Defence Plan (2018-2023); Force Posture and Readiness; Defence Results Framework; and Defence Program Analytics.

Based on current assessments, the Office of the Judge Advocate General is directly supporting 84 of 133 Initiatives and Initiative Activities set out in Strong, Secure, Engaged. Within the Defence Results Framework, "Military Law Services/Military Justice Superintendence" has been identified as a specific program. This is a significant recognition of the importance of the services delivered by the Office of the Judge Advocate General on a daily basis, activities which are conducted in support of a statutory framework and responsibilities.

 

Canada’s Military Justice System in Motion

Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada have both long recognized the requirement for a Code of Service Discipline supported by a military justice system which forms an integral part of the Canadian legal mosaic and that is designed to promote the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces by contributing to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale, as well as to a heightened respect for the rule of law.2

Canada’s military justice system continues to evolve in order to ensure that it meets the needs of those who use it and who are impacted by it, while meeting all applicable Canadian legal requirements. It is my role as superintendent of the administration of military justice to ensure that the Canadian military justice system operates efficiently, effectively and in accordance with the rule of law, while continuing to be responsive to the unique needs of the Canadian Armed Forces.

One example of how the military justice system evolves to meet the unique needs of the Canadian Armed Forces is through the Canadian Armed Forces Discipline Advisory Council. This Council is mandated to discuss and provide input on matters pertaining to the maintenance of discipline and policies related to the continued effective functioning of the Code of Service Discipline. It is co-chaired by the Canadian Armed Forces Chief Warrant Officer and the Judge Advocate General Chief Warrant Officer and its membership includes the most senior non-commissioned members from each command and from other key organizations within the Canadian Armed Forces. The Council met four times during this reporting period and addressed a number of topics including proposed legislative, regulatory and policy changes impacting the military justice system, as well as current initiatives in development aimed at now improving the administration of military justice.

The military justice system supports the commitment made within Strong, Secure, Engaged to provide a workplace within the Canadian Armed Forces free from harassment and discrimination. It furthers the direction of the Chief of the Defence Staff given in Operation HONOUR by providing a critical resource for the chain of command to ensure that harmful and inappropriate sexual misconduct is appropriately dealt with. Strong, Secure, Engaged commits to enhancing the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences and identifies several initiatives to further this commitment, including new directives for military prosecutors and additional training.

In support of this commitment, the Director of Military Prosecutions has issued new directives to ensure offences of a sexual nature are prosecuted in the appropriate justice system, civilian or military, and that the views of complainants are solicited, considered and addressed in all phases of the court martial process. Also of note is the creation within the Canadian Military Prosecution Service of the Sexual Misconduct Action Response Team, which identifies and facilitates regular training to ensure military prosecutors are well trained to deal with the unique aspects of sexual misconduct cases; works to ensure continuity of expertise within the Canadian Military Prosecution Service; provides mentorship and support for military prosecutors in dealing with sexual misconduct cases at all stages of the process; liaises with other prosecution services in Canada to ensure best practices are identified and followed for sexual misconduct cases; and participates in the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials Working Group on Access to Justice for Adult Victims of Sexual Assault – which explores, analyzes and provides recommendations to Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety.

Continuing to build on the Office of the Judge Advocate General tradition of excellence through service, there are a number of important initiatives currently being developed to address key chal-lenges within the military justice system. These include working towards the implementation of victims’ rights within the military justice system; supporting the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal’s review of historic sexual misconduct files; ensuring that the consideration of indigenous circumstances in sentencing at court martial and summary trial are adequately implemented; and working towards the development of processes to measure the performance of the system, to include well thought out metrics and analytics that will support evidence-based decision making in future modernization efforts.

An important initiative was launched this year to improve the collection of information on the military justice system and the management of cases progressing through the system. This initiative will assist greatly in addressing delay and inefficiencies within the military justice system. The design and development of an electronic workflow management system, named the Justice Administration and Information Management System (JAIMS), which will track military justice cases from the time an allegation is made that an offence was committed to the disposition of a matter, is expected to significantly reduce delays and address some of the inefficiencies within the system by providing military justice stakeholders with real-time access to military justice cases as they progress through the system and by prompting them when they need to take action in support of the timely and efficient administration of military justice. JAIMS’ trial phase is scheduled to begin in early 2019 and a Canadian Armed Forces-wide launch is planned for September 2019.

JAIMS will be integrated to a military justice performance measurement system that is expected to be developed during the next reporting period. These two initiatives combined together will assist greatly in implementing necessary time standards, in collecting the measureable data essential to superintend the administration of military justice and in assessing the performance of the military justice system. They will assist in identifying emerging challenges and trends, including the sources of delay, while informing the measures needed to address them.

Finally, there was significant progress made towards the completion of the regulatory amendments necessary for the coming into force of the military justice provisions of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act3, which are expected to be approved and to take effect during the next reporting period.

These are, amongst others, important developments and initiatives of this reporting period which contributed to the continued progress made to further strengthen a military justice system which is part of the broader Canadian legal system and in which Canadians, including members of the Canadian Armed Forces, can have confidence. The military justice system is robust and designed to evolve with the times in order to meet the needs and expectations of the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadians. The conclusions and recommendations of the audit of the military justice system that was conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada during this reporting period will guide our actions in the next reporting period. The Office of the Judge Advocate General will continue to do the important work required to improve and modernize the military justice system.

 

The Legal Branch Centennial

This past year was historically important for the Office of the Judge Advocate General as we celebrated on February 28th the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the Legal Branch and the first Canadian organization dedicated to the delivery of military legal services by Canadian officers to the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

From two world conflicts, the Cold War, various United Nations Missions, including peace-keeping missions, to asymmetrical conflicts to the emerging operating environments of space and cyber, over the last 100 years, the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have relied on the Legal Branch to provide client-focused, timely, options-oriented and operationally-driven legal services.

Our centennial motto is "Honouring our Past; Embracing the Present; and, Shaping our Future." Recognizing that we stand on the shoulders of giants, this rich history of service has enhanced democratic institutions and traditions in Canada and abroad, and in doing so has significantly contributed to the rule of law. Members of the Office of the Judge Advocate General continue this tradition of excellence through service in the delivery of military legal services.

On March 1st, 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. 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.

We, in the Office of the Judge Advocate General, support democracy, the rule of law and the belief that Canada makes a difference in world affairs. Our service is centered on the confidence that we can help Canadian Armed Forces sailors, soldiers as well as air women and men to do what they do best: protect freedom and justice. This is what I believe - and this is what drives the entire Office of the Judge Advocate General. I look forward to more achievements and to the continuation of the important work we are doing during the next reporting period.

Fiat Justitia

Geneviève Bernatchez, CD
Commodore

 


Footnotes

1 Please refer to Annex A for the complete 2018-2021 Office of the JAG Strategic Direction – "Excellence Through Service" accessible online at: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/organizational-structure/judge-advocate-general/2018-2021-office-of-the-jag-strategic-direction.html

2 R v Moriarity [2015] 3 SCR 485

3 http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/41-1/bill/C-15/royal-assent

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