The Judge Advocate General is statutorily responsible to the Minister of National Defence (MND) for a mélange of functions.
This includes: 1. the provision of legal advice to the Governor General, the MND, the Associate MND, the Department of National Defence (DND), and the Canadian Forces (CF) in matters relating to military law; 2. the defence and prosecution functions of the military justice system; as well as, pursuant to Section 9.2 of the National Defence Act,; 3. the superintendence of the administration of the military justice system, and 4. the conduct of regular reviews of the administration of military justice.
Superintendence of the military justice system. What’s that?
The role of superintending the military justice system requires the JAG to: 1. Control the provision of legal advice and services to the military justice system; 2. Ensure the efficient planning, organization, staffing, directing, and administering of the courts martial and summary trial processes; 3. Provide qualified legal officers to act as prosecutors and defending officers at courts martials. 4. The JAG also has the responsibility of selecting who, when and how periodic reviews of the administration of military justice will be conducted. This provides him with a measure of authority and control over the evolution of the military justice system and a certain influence.
However, at present, it appears that the JAG lacks the requisite ‘independence’ from other branches of governments to perform these functions. Consider: he reports to a political minister; and, his advisory function requires him to be loyal and partisan to the interests of both DND and the CFs as an institution as well as the chain of command.