Canada’s Military Justice System: separate and apart from civilian society.

                                            POWER AND INFLUENCE – JANUARY 25, 2016


The Canadian military justice system is far removed from the society it is supposed to represent and defend, say Professor Michel Drapeau in an Opinion Piece  published  on 25 Jan 2016 in Power and Influence Ottawa magazine. In the article, the authors summarizes some of the presentations which were made at the recent International Military Law Conference which took place at the University of Ottawa on November 13, 2015.

It is  now imperative that a full-scale independent systemic review of the Canadian military justice system be undertaken to ensure that it corresponds to strict functional necessity. That is without encroaching, as it currently does, on the right of soldiers and on the jurisdiction that can and should belong to ordinary civilian courts. In the final analysis it should bring the military justice system more in line with contemporary Canadian legal doctrine and principles and prevent it from falling further behind global trends in the contemporization of this traditionally stagnant body of law

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Over the past decade or so, attempts to modernize the NDA to bring it more in line with global trends or our own civilian penal system have been serially resisted by our own military. Several reforms made as a result of pressures were initiated from outside, including the judiciary but not within DND. At present, the Canadian penal military justice system mitigates the right to equality before and under the law as well as the right to equal protection and benefit of the law guaranteed by section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. ¨The conference has confirmed the urgent need for the 42nd Parliament to embark upon a review which will lead to its revaluation and rejuvenation to ensure its harmony with the ordinary law of Canada. Such reform of the military justice system would have implications not only for those in the military, but also for the rightful place of the Canadian Forces within Canadian society.

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