Minister of National Defence appoints the Independent Review Authority to conduct the Third Independent Review of the National Defence Act
November 16, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, has appointed the Honourable Morris J. Fish, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, as the Independent Review Authority, to conduct an independent review of specified provisions of the National Defence Act (NDA) and their operation.
The NDA requires the Minister of National Defence (MND) to initiate an independent review of specified provisions of the Act and their operation, and to table a report of the review before Parliament.
The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are committed to supporting this process in the interests of ensuring that the military justice system continues to be fair and effective. As the Third Independent Review Authority, the Honourable Morris J. Fish will have complete access to DND employees and CAF personnel, as well as the members and staff of the Military Grievances External Review Committee, the Military Police Complaints Commission, and the DND/CAF Ombudsman.
The Honourable Morris J. Fish served on the Québec Court of Appeal and on the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Fish practiced law in Montreal and was called to the bars of Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Alberta and appointed Queen’s Counsel. An adjunct professor in the Faculty of Law at McGill University, he also taught in the University of Ottawa and at the Université de Montréal. Justice Fish served as a consultant to the federal Department of Justice, to Revenue Canada and to the Law Reform Commission of Canada. He was special counsel to the Inquiry Commission into the Exercise of Trade-Union Freedom in Quebec’s Construction Industry (Cliche Commission), as well as to the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Justice Fish received honorary Doctorates of Law from McGill University in 2001 and from Yeshiva University in 2009. He has also received numerous awards and medals and was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 2017. Justice Fish is now jurist in residence with a Canadian law firm.
“Efforts have been underway for some time to prepare for the next independent review. I am pleased to announce the Honourable Morris J. Fish as the Third Independent Review Authority. He will examine the military justice system and provide recommendations on how we can continue to evolve the system so it reflects current Canadian values.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
The specified provisions under review include those relating to military justice (including the Code of Service Discipline), military grievances, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, and the Military Police Complaints Commission. In addition, the MND is required to table the report in Parliament within a specified timeline. The statutory deadline to table the next report is June 2021.
Previous Independent Review Authorities have been the late Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, retired Chief Justice of Canada (report tabled in 2003), and the Honourable Patrick LeSage, retired Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (report tabled in 2012).
The role of independent reviews in the ongoing development of the military justice system was recently recognized by the Supreme Court as an important requirement to ensuring the system is rigorously scrutinized, analyzed, and refined at regular intervals.
As with the past two reviews, the Third Independent Review is expected to provide thoughtful analysis that may contribute to legislative, regulatory, and/or policy changes.
Persons who have an interest in the military justice system (including the Code of Service Discipline), military grievances, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, and the Military Police Complaints Commission are encouraged to provide comments to the Third Independent Review Authority. Inquiries and submissions should be addressed to Mr. Jean-Philippe Groleau at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, by mail to 1501 McGill College Suite 2600, Montréal, Quebec, H3A 3N9, by telephone at 514-841-6583, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All submissions must be received by January 8, 2021. Persons making submissions should expect that their submissions will be made public, however the Independent Review Authority maintains discretion in this regard and may receive certain submissions in confidence.
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Department of National Defence
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