Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hurry up and wait: Military Justice Bill could die on order paper

Bill C-77 is currently being reviewed clause-by-clause by the Senate Committee on National Defence and Security.

Should the Senate recommend changes be made to the Bill, these will have to be agreed to by the House of Commons before the Bill can receive Royal Assent. The problem is that Parliament will cease operations at end of June 2019 when it will prorogue in preparation for a General Election scheduled to take place this coming October 2019.

Bill C-77 was tabled in the House of Common in 2018 by the current Liberal government. It creates a victim's Bill of Rights in the military justice system and eliminates Summary Trials (replacing those with non-judicial disciplinary hearings).

Bill C-77 is, for all intents and purposes a carbon copy of Bill C-71 tabled by the previous government on June 16, 2015, which were the dying days of the former Parliament.

Among the many changes recommended by Bill C-177 are those dealing with the Bill of Rights for Victims. See detailed report published in 45e Nord (en Francais) which indicates that several witnesses, including former victims, who testified during the Senate hearings are asking that fundamental amendments be made to the Bill before it receives Royal Assent.

Appearing before the Senate Committee yesterday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, accompanied by a bus load of advisors, urged the Senators "to not consider the bill as a fix to all of the military justice system’s issues and to hurry through the remaining process necessary to make it law." See article published by iPolitics.

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