Monday, July 25, 2016

CF Court Martial Comprehensive Review requires full transparency to gain credibility

The recently announced Court Martial Comprehensive Review (see blog dated July 22, 2016 below ) can perhaps be seen as a seismic shift of attitude by the Office of the JAG in matters of military law reforms.  This would be a most welcome change.

After all, for the past two decades, the Office of the JAG has resisted any and all suggestions for democratization and modernization of the military justice system. Such changes have been suggested via obiter dictum by the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada or by various writings produced by the extremely small number of observers, writers and practitioners in military law in Canada or the various participants of the International Military Law Conference hosted by the University of Ottawa on November 13, 2015. 

Not surprisingly, I remain very skittish about the efficacy, authenticity and rationality of such “review” or “pre-legislative public consultations” for the primary reason that such public consultations have now become a sort of credo in Canada since the election of Liberal Government in October 2016 (see below). In many ways, Canada is awash with ‘proactive comprehensive review', to name but a few: 1. Defence Policy Review, 2 Canada Post Review, 3, Consultation on the Modernizing the Public Service, 4. Consultation on the Environmental and Regulatory Processes, 5. Consultation on the Freedom of Information Act, 6. Consultation on the Transportation Act Review, 7. Fundamental Science Review, 8. Consultation on Mining Abroad, 9. Consultation on Legalization and restriction of access to marijuana etc.

Only time will tell if such a consultation on "Court Martial" is verily interested in public input or whether it would serve more or less as a ‘cosmetic consultation’ to gain some form of legitimacy for advancing reforms. This public consultation would gain in credibility if the the input received by contributors were to be made public. This is currently being done by the President of the Treasury Board, the Honorable Scott Brison, who is conducting a public consultation exercise on reforming Canada's freedom of information legislation.

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