Friday, October 16, 2020

Is it time for Canada's Parliament to step in?

The current logjam in Canada's military justice system is vividly described in this article by Lee Berthiaume for the Canadian Press. Excerpt:
Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, who is now a lawyer specializing in military cases, says this latest dispute over Canada’s military justice system underscores what he believes is a desperate need for Parliament to intervene and launch an overhaul. Drapeau has long argued that military judges are not impartial because they are, first and foremost, members of the Canadian Armed Forces. He says Vance’s order simply confirmed that fact in a way that could not be ignored. "Up until then, they probably looked at themselves as being independent," Drapeau said of the military judges. "They convinced themselves they were. But now it became loud and clear. … They’re full-scale members of the military." While he supports the need for courts martial to hold military members to account, Drapeau has been pushing for years for Canada to follow allies such as Britain in making judges truly independent of the military. His ideas range from using civilian judges or former military lawyers to preside over courts martial to making a military division within the Federal Court. However, he says whatever steps are taken will need the involvement of the government and Parliament, which have tended to leave all issues involving discipline within the Armed Forces to the military. "The parliamentarians, it's up to them," Drapeau said. "They need to take this in hand, and they haven't."

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