|Col. (ret) Michel W. Drapeau|
Yet, pursuant to subsection 9.3(2) of the National Defence Act, the JAG is required to report annually to the Minister to Minister of National Defence who, in turn, is required to lay a copy of the said report before each House of Parliament within fifteen days after the Minister receives it.
The failure by the JAG to publish legally required annual reports in a timely manner to the Minister of National Defence, the House of Commons, the Senate of Canada as well as the Canadian public shows disrespect for the law as well as a neglect of his responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the civil authorities.
This is particularly worrying because the military justice system is currently in the news spotlight about its incapacity to deal with increased incidence of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military. Indeed, only last month, in a scathing 17-page special report titled “Our military’s Disgrace”, Canada’s national weekly, MacLean’s Magazine, reported disturbing levels of sexual assaults in the Canadian Armed Forces. It also commented on the inability of the military justice system to deal with the sexual violence that plagues the Canadian military.
Civilian control of the military through the medium of elected representatives is one of the cornerstones of a working democracy. However, to maintain accountability of the military to the “people’, there is a fundamental and essential requirement for the armed forces to respect the law to its fullest extent. In our system of government, parliamentary control also cannot be effected unless the military meets their post-facto reporting obligations to the fullest extent possible. At present, it does not and this is one more element which fuels the growing dissent as to the structure, administration and operation of the Canadian military justice system.