he Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) give his views on the Military Justice System to journalist Noemi Mercier of Actualité and MacLean’s on February 1, 2015 in a most candid interview. [See: Interview by General Jon Vance,] On the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment, he muses: “I am not satisfied at all with where we are at!“. Neither are we for that matter.
Some of General Vance’s admissions are worthy of being repeated here:
I largely agree with you that we can be accused of having complaint mechanisms that sometimes don’t work. I admit we need to do better.
So Madame [Marie] Deschamps [the retired Supreme Court Justice who conducted the External Review] was right. People that had something to genuinely complain about could find themselves getting brushed off.
I agree that the military justice system needs to evolve, we need to ensure that people are adequately trained. . . .
We want to make certain that we have improvements in the way we manage sexual crime. . . The military justice system and the application of it, th
ere are many cases where it appeared and perhaps did wrong. . . .
Are you open to direct sexual crimes to be handled by civil society? The CDS responded:
Yes, I am! So if an individual calls 911 and gets the city police to show up and it goes in a civilian court, I’ve got no issues with that whatsoever.
If the Minister of National Defence or Parliament decided to go ahead and push for some type of reforms, either to civilianize parts of the military justice system or strip it of some of its jurisdiction, how would you react?
The CDS said:
Well if the Minister of Defence or Parliament decides something, I’m there. . .
The military justice system as it sits in Canada is not immune to change. So if there is a concern and we need to change either the National Defence Act or some part of the military justice system to make it better, I want that, . .
Because I am the chain of command . . . I will side with the victims.