Chapter Four — The Way Ahead
The Office of the Judge Advocate General (Office of the JAG) is committed to providing “Excellence Through Service” and will continue to deliver client-focused, timely, options-oriented and operationally-driven military legal services in support of the Government of Canada, Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces priorities and objectives; and, to superintend the administration of military justice while respecting the independent roles of each statutory actor within the military justice system.
Canada’s military justice system is a unique and necessary part of the Canadian legal mosaic developing separately and in parallel with the civilian criminal justice system. It contributes significantly to the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to achieve its mission in Canada and around the world, by assisting military commanders in maintaining discipline, efficiency and morale. As a trusted partner in the Defence team, the Office of the JAG will continue to support the Government of Canada towards enhancements to the military justice system such as Bill C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts and responding to the recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. These legislative initiatives and external reviews serve to reinforce Canada’s position as a global leader in the development of a fair and effective military justice system.
The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to ensuring that it has a workplace free from sexual assault, harassment and discrimination. The military justice system plays a pivotal role in supporting Operation HONOUR and provides a valuable mechanism for commanders towards the elimination of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour which seriously undermines discipline, efficiency and morale in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Office of the JAG remains committed to supporting the Chief of the Defence Staff and the chain of command in the promotion of a culture of leadership, respect, and honour – which are the cornerstones of Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged.
The Office of the JAG awaits the release of the Supreme Court of Canada decision of R v Beaudry and Stillman v R in the next reporting period. This important decision will undoubtedly provide invaluable guidance regarding critical aspects of the military justice system.
With the valued expertise of the Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management), the Office of the JAG will continue to sup-port the development and implementation of the Superintendence Enhancement and Assessment Project, including the Justice Administration and Information Mana-gement System, the Military Justice System Performance Monitoring Framework and the Military Justice Stakeholder Engagement Project. It is anticipated that the Justice Administration and Information Management System will be rolled-out within the Canadian Armed Forces in the next reporting period. Each of these projects will significantly contribute to improving the ability of the Judge Advocate General to superintend the administration of military justice. In addition, these projects will result in the implementation of the recommendations stemming from the Office of the Auditor General’s report on the Administration of Justice in the Canadian Armed Forces and the report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts presented to the House of Commons on 6 December 2018.
Finally, section 273.601 of the National Defence Act requires the Minister of National Defence to cause periodic independent reviews of the military justice system to be conducted. The results of the next independent review of the military justice system are scheduled for tabling before Parliament in June 2021. The military justice system is constantly evolving, and the independent review process is instrumental in providing guidance and direction in ensuring the system evolves in accordance with Canadian law while promoting the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces by contributing to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale. During the next reporting period, significant focus will be centered on planning for the next independent review. This will ensure the Office of the JAG is prepared to provide dedicated support for this important statutory requirement.
This reporting period called for dedicated work towards the improvement of the military justice system. Legal officers from the Office of the JAG were instrumental towards advancing a multitude of policy and legislative initiatives while also responding to a number of internal and external challenges. They have once again demonstrated excellence through service and proven themselves to be experts in military justice and have lived the motto of the legal branch – Let Justice Prevail.
The next reporting period will include opportunities to further improve the system such as the implementation of the Justice Ad-ministration and Information Management System, as well as other projects that will enhance the ability of the Judge Advocate General to fulfill her statutory role of superintending the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces. Support to legislative and regulatory initiatives, as well as the statutorily-mandated independent review, will be a priority in the next reporting period.
The Judge Advocate General, supported by the Office of the JAG, will ensure the military justice system continues to evolve to support the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces and is responsive to the needs of operational commanders both domestically and abroad. As part of the larger Canadian legal mosaic, Canada’s military justice system will continue to be one that represents Canadian values, complies with Canadian law, and is one in which Canadians can have confidence.
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