Sunday, December 11, 2022

The coming week in Canadian military law ...

Last week witnessed the acquittal of Major General (MGen) Dany Fortin, by the provincial court in the province of Québec, on a charge of sexual assault, contrary to s 271 of the Criminal Code.  The allegations dated to 1988, when both MGen Fortin and the complainant attended Royal Military College at St-Jean, QC as officer cadets.  In addition to the policy shift announced last year by the Minister of National Defence (MND), Anita Anand, to have criminal offences of a sexual nature tried before civil courts, due to the date of the allegation, the matter could only be tried before a civil court of criminal jurisdiction.  (See R v MacPherson, 2022 CMAC 8).

Following the acquittal, there were growing calls from some sectors of the Canadian military and veteran communities, and the public generally, for MGen Fortin to be assigned meaningful duties commensurate with his rank, experience, and abilities.

For further elaboration:

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin is acquitted of sexual assault charges, will he be reinstated?, A Little More Conversation with Ben O'Hara Byrne, 5 December 2022

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin acquitted on 1988 sexual assault charge, CTV News (Canadian Press), 6 December 2022

MGen Fortin was acquitted.  Now what?, Law Office of Rory G Fowler, 6 December 2022

This weekend, the Department of National Defence social media account tweeted an announcement that the MND will "... hold media availability, and DND/CAF officials to hold technical briefing, regarding Defence Minister’s Report to Parliament on Arbour recommendations. ..." from 1330 to 1430 hrs EST on Monday 12 December 2022. [Referring to the Report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review completed by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour.]

It will be interesting to see what the MND claims has been done, and what has actually been done.  It will also be interesting to see if what has been done (either claimed or actual) has had any positive impact.  The principles upon which decision- and policy-making has been based - if, indeed, they have been based upon reasonable and articulable principles of public policy and law - will be of significant importance.

This is not the last that such issues will be discussed in the near future, and there is an air about this announcement of 'dumping the announcement on the run' shortly before Parliament breaks for the Christmas (year end) recess.

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