Thursday, March 5, 2015

Public interest disclosure by civilian oversight body trumped by Canadian military authorities' penchant for secrecy

Ottawa, Canada. March 15, 2015. On the eve of the release of the Final Report by the Military Police Complaints Commission [MPCC], Press Release the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (Chief of Police) adopted a policy presenting the Commission to append its submission (titled Notice of Action) to the Final Report. In response, the MPCC filed an Application for Judicial Review before the Federal Court of Canada seeking a declaration to the effect that the Provost Marshal has no jurisdiction to prohibit the publication of its Notice of Action as part of the MPCC Final Report.

The unexpected and unprecedented Provost Marshal's policy NOT to allow public disclosure of its Notice of Action has been the subject of a strong public rebuke in the Canadian media. See:  Article in Canada's national Newspaper: The Ottawa Citizen

The MPCC is a body created in 1999 by Part IV of the National Defence Act. It is tasked with providing independent civilian oversight with respect to conduct and interference complaints filed  against the Military Police.

In the case at hand, the MPCC has been investigating no less than  32 conduct complaints filed by Mr. and Mrs. Fynes, the parents of the late Corporal Stuart Langridge (a veteran of the Bosnia and Afghanistan missions) who committed suicide on March 15, 2008 while serving with Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) [LDSH (RC)] Regiment in Edmonton, Alberta. The complaints were filed by the Fyneses in January 2011.

The MPCC public interest hearing took place in 2012 and 2013, It heard 90 witnesses over 60 days of hearings. As required by law, an MPCC Interim Report was issued last May.  Also as required by law, the Provost Marshal gave notice to the MPCC of any action taken or that will be taken with respect to the the complaints and the MPCC findings and recommendations. Upon receipt of the Notice of Action late last Fall, the MPCC prepared its Final Report setting out its findings and recommendations.

Publication of the Final Report, including the Notice of Action, ensures that the parties and the public are aware whether the Provost Marshal accepts the MPCC's findings and recommendations and what actions, if any, the Provost Marshal proposes to take to implement the recommendations.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).