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

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to go to another portion of section 18 that we have not discussed yet in relation to my amendments. It is one of the ones that disturbs me.

We heard from the parliamentary secretary that there are safeguards because these instructions will eventually be made public from the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, who in my view should not be interfering in military police investigations.

However, when we look at section 18.5(5), we find that there are instances where the legislation contemplates never making it public at all. The Vice Chief of Defence Staff has given instructions and interfered with an investigation if the Provost Marshal considers “that it would not be in the best interests of the administration of justice for that instruction or guideline to be made available to the public”.

We know military justice is different. How far from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms do we move if there are also provisions that these instructions are never made public?


Malcolm Allen: Mr. Speaker, the thing about justice is it must always be seen to be transparent, being done as well as accomplishing a fair trial and process. The justice system is not just about charge and conviction, or charge and acquittal. It is about a process that starts from an investigation, to a charge, to a process trial of some description and an outcome. It has to be seen as being open, fair and transparent. That means we need to be inside that piece.

There is special legislation around certain aspects where that is not the case. However, inside the military in these aspects it is very much necessary for it to be open. It cannot be any other way if we are to truly have a fair justice system that folks respect. That is really what it is about, respecting the system. It is not about the outcome of individual cases. It truly needs to be seen as being transparent. It needs to be seen as being done in a fair and honest way and cannot be done in any other fashion.

To have pieces where we can say “This can go, but this cannot” then starts to impugn the system in the minds of folks looking at it. It is not necessarily the way to have a system that would actually, at the end of the day, deem itself to be fair or seem to be fair. That is a major problem.