Report of the Military Judges Compensation Committee 2024

Executive Summary

The Military Judges Compensation Committee (MJCC) is established as a matter of constitutional imperative relating to the independence of the judiciary. Sections 165.33 and 165.34 of the National Defence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-5 (NDA), which establish the composition of the MJCC and its mandate, were enacted to comply with the constitutional requirement for an independent advisory body to “inquire into the adequacy of remuneration of military judges” (s-s. 165.34(1) NDA) and advise the Government of its findings and conclusions. Pursuant to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada, the purpose of this process is to take judicial compensation out of the political sphere and avoid unseemly conflict between Parliament and the judges. While the Supreme Court’s vision was that this process would be effective, the Committee observes that this vision has unfortunately not been realized. The Government of Canada (the Government) has rejected the compensation recommendations of the last two Committees, and this raises legitimate concerns about the effectiveness of the process.

Under section 165.34 of the NDA, we are required to consider four statutory factors in our inquiry into the adequacy of judicial compensation: economic conditions, financial security securing judicial independence, attracting outstanding candidates, and other objective criteria the Committee considers relevant. We have done so, as we will explain in detail in the pages that follow.

For reasons that we will set out at length, our consideration of all the relevant factors leads us to share the views of two previous Committees that the military judges should receive the same remuneration as all other federally appointed judges.

The economics of remunerating four federally appointed judges around 15% more to gain parity with the other approximately 1200 federally appointed judges do not, we conclude, impair the overall economic and current financial position of the Government, and takes account of the prevailing economic conditions in Canada. The role of financial security in ensuring judicial independence favours parity, given the risk of perception that the military judges are not of the same quality or value as other federally appointed judges. The necessity of attracting the best candidates also favours parity lest some of the best candidates for an appointment as a military judge opt instead for appointments to other branches of the federally appointed judiciary on the basis of the higher remuneration of those other posts. In short, we conclude that the same remuneration that has been considered adequate for all other federally appointed judges is also the adequate remuneration for the military judges.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction  
    1. The Constitutional Basis for the Committee’s Work
    2. The Statutory Scheme
  2. Committee's Composition, Appointment and Consideration Process  
    1. The Purpose and Object of the Report
    2. Composition of Committee, Members and Administrative Support
    3. Military Judges: Who They Are, How Many, Where Do They Sit, and Nature of Their Work
    4. Counsel for Military Judges and Counsel for the Government
    5. Written Submissions Received by the Committee and Expert Testimony
    6. In-Person Hearing
    7. Acknowledgment of Contributions and Assistance to the Committee
    8. Effectiveness of the Committee Process
      1. 2012 MJCC Report Majority Recommend Remuneration Parity with Other Federally Appointed Judges
      2. 2019 Report Unanimous in Recommending Remuneration Parity with Other Federally Appointed Judges
      3. Government’s Consistent Acceptance of JCBC Reports Recommendations
  3. Statutory Construction of Governing Legislation
  4. Overview of 2023 Parties' Positions
    1. The Military Judges
    2. The Government
  5. Analysis of the Statutory Factors
    1. The Statutory Framework for the Committee's Work
      1. The Prevailing Economic Conditions in Canada
        1. The position and argument of the Government on economics
        2. The position and argument of the military judges on economics
        3. Analysis of the economic factor
      2. The Role of Financial Security
        1. The position and argument of the government on financial security
        2. The position and argument of the military judges on financial security 
        3. Analysis of the financial security factor
      3. The Need to Attract Outstanding Candidates to the Military Judiciary
        1. The position and argument of the Governmetn on outstanding candidates
        2. The position and argument of the military judges on outstanding candidates
        3. Analysis of the outstanding candidates factor
      4. Other Relevant Factors
        1. Pension scheme comparisons
        2. Comparisons with other federally appointed judges
        3. Comparisons with provincial court judges and federally appointed associate judges
  6. The Incidental Allowance
  7. Conclusions and Recommendations

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