Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act (Bill C-15)

Chris Alexander: Mr. Speaker, is the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands aware that one of the purposes of Bill C-15, as reported back unamended to this place from committee, is to make the accountability framework, which to date has been an administrative document only, a statutory component of the framework governing military justice, to give it the status of a statute and to make the role, mandate and mission of the Provost Marshal of the Canadian Forces much more explicit than it has ever been before? Under Bill C-15, unamended, the Provost Marshal would have the absolute ability to make public any instruction he or she receives from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff on any occasion.

Elizabeth May: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of that, of course, but just as I am aware of it, so too were other witnesses before the committee. I draw attention to the following statement from Kent Roach, law professor at the University of Toronto:

I think it’s always a problem in a democracy when police independence to commence an investigation or conduct an investigation is interfered with.

Michel Drapeau, who is a lawyer with over 34 years of experience with the Canadian military, said:

Would the mayor be able to issue a direction to the chief of the Ottawa police, even if it’s in writing, about a particular investigation? The answer is “no.” Would the Prime Minister be able to do that with the RCMP? The answer is “absolutely not.” So why would it be here?

Those witnesses and experts in military justice knew, just as the Military Police Complaints Commission knew, that the instructions would later be made public. The question is how much damage would be done by demands or instructions from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in the course of an investigation, even when the Provost Marshal might make them public later on. There is a very large window for abuse, and we should close it now.