Thursday, September 5, 2019

Calling the House of Commons to order

A new text on Canadian military criminal justice titled "Calling the House to Order" was presented to the 30th International Conference on Criminal Justice hosted by the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law which took place at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, California, USA, between July 9 and 13, 2017.

The text written by Michel W. Drapeau and Joshua Juneau opens by noting that despite its oversight duty, Canada's legislature has arguably NOT made a meaningful contribution to the development of military law since 1967 resulting from the unification of Canada's navy, army and air force. In this way - save for legislative reform in 1997 as result of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment to Somalia, the current Parliament is a sort of absentee landlord in failing to reform an ancient justice system which so often fails our men and women  in uniform and whose compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is, at best, questionable.

The text goes on to state that Canada's Minister of Justice is also "Absent in Office" on the military justice file despite the fact that section 5 (b) of the Department of Justice Act gives the Minister responsibility for the "superintendence of all matters connected with the administration of justice in Canada. It also names the Minister of Justice as the official adviser of the Governor General = Canada's Commander-in-Chief - as the legal adviser of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

Yet, the authors note further, the Minister of Justice's attitude is one of passiveness and non-involvement in military affairs, her legislation goes out of its way to exclude application over the military.
It is almost as if there were a line of demarcation between laws intended for civil society and laws enacted for the military.  The corollary to this is that the military is being granted a sort of independence of decision and action within a widening sphere of competence. To the informed observer, the line between civil society and military affairs is sharp and clear as if both sides must abstain from trespassing." 

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