Minister of National Defence Portfolio Organizations

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Summary

  • To provide an overview of Defence Portfolio organizations. Detailed briefing material will be provided by each independent organization.

Context

  • In addition to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF), the Defence Portfolio includes a number of separate but related organizations:
    • Communications Security Establishment (CSE);
    • The Military Grievances External Review Committee (MGERC);
    • The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC);
    • The Office of the Chief Military Judge (CMJ); and
    • The Office of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman.

Communications Security Establishment

  • CSE is the national signals intelligence agency for foreign intelligence and the technical authority for cybersecurity and information assurance. 
  • As outlined in the Communications Security Establishment Act (2019) CSE’s mandate has five aspects:
    • Acquire information from or through the global information infrastructure, and to analyze, use, and disseminate such information for the purposes of providing foreign intelligence, in accordance with the Government of Canada’s intelligence priorities;
    • Provide cyber security and information assurance advice, guidance, and services to help ensure the protection of federal government electronic information and information infrastructures, and for the protection of such information and infrastructure designated by the Minister as being of importance to the Government of Canada (e.g. critical infrastructure);
    • Undertake defensive cyber actions on the global information infrastructure to help protect electronic information and information infrastructures of the federal government, and of systems designated by the Minister as of importance to the Government of Canada;
    • Carry out active cyber operations on the global information infrastructure to degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities, intentions, or activities of a foreign target as they relate to Canada’s defence, security, or international affairs; and,
    • Provide technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence.
  • The Chief of CSE is Deputy Head and Accounting Officer and reports directly to the Minister of National Defence. The position is currently held by Shelly Bruce.

Military Grievances External Review Committee

  • The Military Grievances External Review Committee is an independent administrative tribunal reporting to Parliament through the Minister of National Defence. The Committee reviews military grievances referred to it pursuant to section 29 of the National Defence Act (NDA) and provides findings and recommendations to the Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the final authority in the grievance process.
  • Christine Guérette has been the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Committee since 2018. Members of the Military Grievances External Review Committee, including the Chairperson, are Governor-in-Council appointments, each being appointed to a renewable term not exceeding four years. The Committee currently includes five members: a full-time Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, a part-time Vice-Chairperson, a full-time Committee Member, and a part-time Committee Member.

Military Police Complaints Commission

  • The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) is an independent administrative tribunal reporting to Parliament through the Minister of National Defence. The Commission is responsible for reviewing and investigating complaints about military police conduct for which they have jurisdiction under Part IV of the NDA. It also investigates allegations of interference in military police investigations. Additionally, the MPCC conducts public interest investigations and hearings when deemed in the public interest.
  • The Commission Chairperson is appointed by the Governor-in-Council. Hilary McCormack, the current Chairperson, assumed her duties as Commission Chairperson on October 5, 2015. The Commission currently has four part-time Commission Members.

The Office of the Chief Military Judge

  • The Office of the Chief Military Judge (CMJ) is a unit of the Canadian Armed Forces first established in 1997.The judicial independence of military judges is protected in part by provisions of the NDA, beginning at section 165.21.
  • The Office of the CMJ appoints military judges to preside at courts martial and perform other judicial duties. The Court Martial Administrator, under the general supervision of the CMJ, administers the convening of courts martial, the appointment of members of General Courts Martial, and other aspects of courts martial proceedings.
  • The CMJ is appointed by the Governor-in-Council. Lieutenant-Colonel Louis-Vincent D’Auteuil is currently Acting CMJ due to the retirement of the previous CMJ in 2020.

The Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman

  • The Office of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman (Office of the Ombudsman) was established by Ministerial Directive in 2001, and is directly accountable to the Minister for several functions, including investigations and reports, information, education, as well as referrals for members of DND and the CAF.
  • The Ombudsman is appointed by the Governor-in-Council in accordance with NDAsection 5, and, in accordance with the 2001 Ministerial Directive establishing the Office of the Ombudsman, reports to and is directly accountable to the Minister of National Defence. The Ombudsman is independent of senior civilian management and the military chain of command. On 1 November 2018, Gregory Lick assumed the role of Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • With respect to its investigation and reporting function, the Office of the Ombudsman may investigate and report where ordered by the Minister, in accordance with the Ministerial Directive, or upon receiving a complaint from a DND employee or CAF member. Reports generated by the Office of the Ombudsman are provided to the Minister of National Defence.
  • When deciding whether to investigate complaints, the Office of the Ombudsman must not investigate where it would interfere with existing statutory actors or mechanisms that might otherwise address the complaint, and further is precluded from investigating certain areas, including issues relating to the military justice system, certain CSE activities, as well as legal advice or professional service standards.
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