Friday, December 4, 2020

Waiting for Godot?

On May 18, 2018 the Minister of National Defence,the Honourable Harjit Sajjan. introduced Bill C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act in the House of Commons. The Bill received third reading on 28 February 2019. It passed the Senate without amendment and received Royal Assent on 21 June 2019.  An important purpose of the bill is to give victims of service offences the rights already enshrined in the civilian criminal justice system by the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights in 2015.  Of note, Bill C-77 contains many of the changes which had already been proposed in a previous Bill C-71 which died on the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved in August 2015. Hence, DND would have have no less than five full years notice of this enactement.  It certainly was not a surprise.
Despite a five years wait, Bill C-77 is still not in force as it awaits the production of supporting regulations. As a result, DND has yet to enact a statutory “Declaration of Victims Rights” (DVR) within the National Defence Act which would give victims of service offences, access to information, protection, participation and restitution that substantially mirror the rights afforded to victims in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. In a recent press report, the Minister noted that he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the Bill be put into force, "we are working [on it]". 

Meanwhile, victims of service offences continue to be treated as 'second-class citizens' who are denied of rights which have been part of the Canadian legal landscape since 2015.  Too bad, sorry as the saying goes! C'est la guerre!

1 comment:

  1. Colonel Drapeau is absolutely correct in his assessment of the state of Bill C-77. This piece of legislation is being implemented incrementally as the government decides which provisions to bring into force by Order-in-Council, and when they will do so. In addition to a Victim's Bill of Rights for infractions perpetrated by members of the military, Bill C-77 also disposes of detention as a punishment for summary offenses, but that provision has not been implemented (see:

    Individual liberty has been a sacred right since the Magna Carta was signed by King John in 1215, and we still have not granted that right to our military personnel for offenses that are so frequently trivial and inconsequential.


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