2021 Annual Report | Together in a New Reality
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2022 - Ottawa - Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada
The Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada’s (MPCC or the Commission) 2021 Annual Report, tabled in Parliament today by the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, outlines how the Commission has overcome multiple challenges to usher in a “New Reality” for the organization.
Despite a 30% increase in its caseload, the Commission has continued to meet the significant challenges posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition, the MPCC is working with the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) and the Office of the Judge Advocate General and other stakeholders to establish a plan to implement changes to Part IV of the National Defence Act (NDA) which will improve the effectiveness and fairness of the military police complaints process proposed by the Independent Review Authority.
The Commission was an active participant in the Independent Review process of the NDA, led by former Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish. In his April 2021 report, Justice Fish endorsed many of the MPCC’s key proposals for strengthening its capacity to provide effective and credible oversight of military policing.
The MPCC also had a very productive year in its treatment of complaints, its primary responsibility.
In 2021, the Commission completed Interim Reports in three of four ongoing Public Interest Investigations and issued Final Reports in two of these cases. In one of the cases, the MPCC felt that the military police investigation was so flawed, and the issues raised by the incident so serious, that, for the first time in its 22-year history, it initiated a conduct complaint itself. The complaint was subsequently converted into a Public Interest investigation, which is ongoing.
In the past few years, but especially in 2021, the military justice system has been under considerable scrutiny and criticism for its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. Concerns raised about military police performance regarding sexual misconduct have tended to focus on questions about military police competence and independence: the very attributes which the MPCC’s oversight mandate is meant to strengthen and support. The MPCC’s role, and its capacity to fulfill it, has never been more vital to Canadian military policing.
The 2021 Annual Report, Together in a New Reality, also summarizes selected conduct cases completed by the MPCC in 2021 and includes updates on financial management and the digital transformation underway to better support employees in a virtual environment.
The Annual Report also highlights the many mental health and wellness activities conducted by the Commission in 2021, and its commitment to an inclusive work environment where everyone feels supported and respected. The MPCC was recognized in the media in 2021 as one of the top two organizations in the Federal Public Service for engagement and employee happiness indicators.
In 2021, Hilary C. McCormack retired after six years as Chairperson. Commission Member Bonita Thornton has taken over as Chairperson on an interim basis. Michel Seguin also retired as a member of the Commission after seven years of service, which included a period as Interim Chairperson. The MPCC has welcomed two new Commission Members, Leslie-Anne Wood and Mark Ferdinand, to the team.
“Once the important changes from Justice Fish’s Report are adopted, and in particular those which promise greater access to relevant information for the MPCC, this will usher in a new reality for military police oversight.”
Bonita Thornton, B.A., LL.B., CD
Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada
“2021 featured many challenges, opportunities, changes and renewal – perhaps more so than in any other year of the Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada (MPCC)’s history - all of which have the potential to transform the military justice and policing system and usher in a ‘New Reality’.”
Hilary C. McCormack, LL.B.
Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada
- The MPCC was created in 1999 as independent civilian oversight of the Canadian Forces Military Police.
- During 2021, the MPCC opened 188 new files, an increase of over 30% from 2020 (141). The Commission handled a total of 242 complaints during the year and issued 25 reports, decisions, or rulings.
- The MPCC released its final report into a public interest investigation (PII) into an anonymous complaint (Treatment of Detainees) in 2021. The Commission made 13 recommendations following an investigation into allegations of abuse of Afghan detainees at the Kandahar Airfield during a training exercise in 2011.
- The MPCC made five recommendations it its final report in 2021 in a PII into allegations of torture and abuse of former Canadian Armed Forces members during their training in 1983-84.
- The MPCC completed an interim report in 2021 into a complaint concerning the actions of military police investigations involving officer cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston. The final report in the PII will be released on the Commission website.
- The MPCC also launched a new PII in 2021 into a Military Police Unit’s handling of an investigation involving one of its own members.
- The MPCC employees attended two half-day training sessions and received coaching support in the use and leveraging of Microsoft 365 collaboration tools as Information Technology (IT) staff accelerated the digital transformation of the Commission’s workplace.
- The MPCC prides itself on the level of diversity among its workforce, with 35% of employees having self-identified as members of an employment equity group.
- The MPCC has an active mental health program to support its employees and is committed to maintaining an inclusive work environment where everyone feels supported and respected. The MPCC was recognized in the media in 2021 as one of the top two organizations in the Public Service for engagement and employee happiness indicators.
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