Saturday, March 7, 2015

A father's lament for transparency, accountability and decency by the Canadian military law system

Shaun Fynes and Sheila Fynes  of Victoria,  B.C.
 parents of the late Corporal Stuart Langridge
a veteran of the Afghanistan mission,
 whose 2008 suicide  death was investigated
by the Military Police Complaints Investigation
Ottawa March 7, 2015.  The Ottawa Citizen has published a powerful and emotional plea from the father of a deceased veteran, a victim to PTSD, for transparency and respect from the military justice system. See article in the Ottawa Citizen.

In response to the Department of National Defence's attempt to suppress the truth and avoid public scrutiny and accountability of the facts, Mr. Shaun Fynes wrote:

"In Canada we are an open democracy not some dictatorship where that type of high handed conduct might be tolerated. Canadians have a right to expect transparency and accountability from our government institutions."

Mr. Shaun, a former police officer with two large police forces, went on to say:
"The systemic failures that resulted in our son’s death need to be explored, identified and then be seen to be corrected in order to assure better medical outcomes for those who follow. It should not be about protecting “the brand” of the Canadian Forces but about actually caring for those who have stepped up to serve."
Mr. Fynes then addressed the military justice system which he and his wife have had front row experience with since the death of their veteran son in 2008 and during the 2009  military Board of Inquiry and the public interest investigation conducted by the Military Police Complaints Investigation (MPCC) in 2011-2015.
 Absolute power apparently does corrupt and that is at the root of the problem. Soldiers are subjected to a closed military justice system which in our experience protects the chain of command and political masters and is impermeable to civilian oversight. As a result the military is not answerable or open in their actions. It is unclear if they are simply rogue or falling on their sword when their conduct has become arrogant and egregious. The non-combat death of our son should have been investigated by the police of local jurisdiction not by the military followed by a coroner’s inquest. By every best practice any real investigation requires arm’s length independence and protection from even unconscious bias. An investigation should simply be to determine the truth of the matter in review. However capable or skilled military investigators might believe themselves to be, they are not competent to investigate such deaths because they are themselves part of the military. Elsewhere we hold expectation that for the public to be trusting of the results police forces are no longer deemed competent to investigate themselves.

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