Canadian news media have reason to again
turn their attentions to the Canadian military justice system. Global
Stephenson, Marc-André Cossette and Amanda Connolly addressed
"whether retired Gen[eral]
Jonathan Vance broke code of service rules with an allegedly inappropriate
relationship has officially ended with no charges, despite him currently facing
a separate criminal charge of obstruction of justice in connection with the
The Global news team asked the Defence
Department "why the probe into any possible military service violations
ended on Aug. 6 with no charges," and a military police spokesperson spoke
from the report of the Third Independent
Review of the military justice system by former Supreme Court justice Morris Fish.
Justice Fish warned it was "legally impossible" under the
current rules to try someone of Vance's rank in the military system.
Military Judge Colonel Mario Dutil was alleged to have had an
inappropriate relationship and was charged. What followed was a
series of circumstances that made the Canadian military's Judge Advocate
General organization appear to be hopelessly chaotic and incompetent as they
unsuccessfully tried to subject the Colonel to a court martial. He was charged on 25 January
2018; in February 2018, Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Poland was appointed Special
Prosecutor, and four months later, in June 2018, Lt-Col Poland advanced
additional charges against Dutil. The Deputy
Chief Military Judge, Lieutenant-Colonel Louis Vincent d'Auteuil recused
himself as the presiding judge in the court martial and refused to assign the
matter to another judge.
Now-retired Colonel Bruce
MacGregor, formerly Director of Military Prosecution, applied to the Federal Court
of Canada for a judicial review of the Deputy Chief Military Judge's refusal
to reassign the court martial to another military judge, but the Federal
Court determined that Lt-Col d'Auteuil's position was reasonable and
declined to accede to the application of the Director of Military Prosecution.
The case collapsed.
MacGregor later said "All members of the Canadian Armed Forces,
regardless of rank or appointment, are held to the same, highest standard
of conduct. In this specific case, alleged wrongdoing was reported and
investigated by proper authorities, charges were laid and moved forward in
accordance with the law."
But they were moved forward
On 21 July 2011, Lt-Col d'Auteuil
presided over previous court martial in which Brigadier-General
J.B.D. Ménard was charged with an offence under section 129 of the National
Defence Act, conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, for an
inappropriate relationship while the Canadian commander in Afghanistan. He was
fined $7,000 and reduced in rank to colonel.
Launching a court martial against Brig-Gen
Ménard and the subsequent inability to address the conduct of two other senior officers
does not conform to Colonel MacGregor's statement that "All members of the
Canadian Armed Forces, regardless of rank or appointment, are held to the
same, highest standard of conduct."
This suggests that it may be time to quickly
relegate the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, Military Police's
investigatory arm, and the Canadian military justice system to the dustbin of
history and take a different approach to military justice. Those in charge are simply
unable to meet their taxpayer-financed responsibilities for which they are
staffed, funded and equipped to manage.