Friday, March 6, 2015

Minister of National Defence (Canada) steps in to right a wrong

 Ottawa, Canada. March 6, 2015. Following a firestorm in Canada's national media over the past 48 hours, the Minister of National Defence stepped in to reverse a decision made earlier by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (Chief of Military Police) on the advice of the Judge Advocate General, Major-General Blaise Bernard Cathcart, to classify its Notice of Action so that it may not be incorporated in the Final Report of the independent civilian oversight body known as the Military Police Complaints Commission. The report is scheduled to be released at a national Press Conference in Ottawa  on Tuesday March 10, 2015.

 In announcing that decision, the Minister was careful to note that the original decision to prevent disclosure of the Notice of Action was the result of a legal not a political decision:  “These are legal matters dealt with by the Judge Advocate General” -- the senior legal officer in the Canadian Armed Forces -- and these are not political decisions,” he said.

The Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into Corporal Stuart Langridge’s suicide was completed in early 2013 after hearing from 90 witnesses over 60 days of hearings.  Its purpose was to find out what works in the Military Police investigation process, what doesn’t, and determine what fixes must be made. The Notice of Action is Defence Department action plan to respond to the findings and recommendations made by the Commission.

Corporal Langridge, a veteran of both the Bosnia and Afghanistan missions, took his own life at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton on March 15, 2008 after struggling for years with drug and alcohol abuse. His struggles were later thought to be related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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