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

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to fill the parliamentary secretary in on the rules of parliamentary procedure. If he is shocked that I have produced amendments at report stage, I would like to ask him when he thought I could have done it sooner? As the member well knows, as a member of Parliament for the Green Party and as leader of the Green Party, in terms of parliamentary procedure, I have the same rights and privileges as an independent, which means I am not allowed to sit on committees. I do monitor committees. I have wonderful volunteers from universities who attend every committee meeting. I have all the evidence that goes before committees and I use it to produce amendments. My earliest opportunity to present amendments is right now at report stage.

I would remind the hon. parliamentary secretary that the principle of police independence is paramount. Probably the leading authority is Lord Denning in Ex Parte Blackburn in 1968. This bill, according to serious experts, and not just one or two witnesses, is casting aside as if it were an irrelevant witness the Military Police Complaints Commission. My friend the parliamentary secretary should give serious regard to these amendments and change his position.

Chris Alexander: Mr. Speaker, once again, the Military Police Complaints Commission is actually relevant to this debate. If there is a problem that the Provost Marshal sees with the instructions he or she has receives or with any of the procedures as exercised under the legislation now proposed as unamended, that person has the right to go to the Military Police Complaints Commission. This is another one of the safeguards embodied in the bill as unamended.

What the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands fails to note is that we have heard proposals for amendments very similar to hers at committee already. She has not addressed the question of operational effectiveness, operational exigencies, the unique role of the Canadian Forces, that means that the independence of police investigations needs to be balanced with other rights, such as the right to life of the Canadian Forces.

Is the member prepared to deny them the information about a threat to their lives in order to protect one principle of a police investigation, which is important but which is clearly trumped by the special circumstances of the battlefield?