DND Introduces Amendments To The National Defence Act

June 16, 2010

OTTAWA – The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, tabled a bill in Parliament today that introduces significant amendments to the National Defence Act . The amendments contained in Bill C-41, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act, reflect recommendations made in the 2003 report by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the late Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, as well as by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in their May 2009 report, Equal Justice: Reforming Canada’s System of Courts Martial .

This bill is the Government’s legislative response to the Lamer Report recommendations. Two similar bills, C-7 in 2006 and C-45 in 2008, were introduced by the Government but did not advance beyond First Reading.

“In acting upon the recommendations in the Lamer Report and the Senate Committee’s Report, we are continuing to ensure that the military justice system is effective, fair and transparent. This bill is part of an ongoing process to ensure that the military justice system remains one in which Canadians can have trust and confidence,” said Minister MacKay. “The amendments will also improve the efficiency of the grievance system and the military police complaints process.”

“This legislation further enhances the effectiveness of the military justice system in serving the operational needs of the Canadian Forces,” said Brigadier-General Blaise Cathcart, Judge Advocate General.

The amendments tabled today will:

* further enhance the independence of military judges;
* enhance the flexibility of the court martial system by establishing a reserve military judges panel;
* expand the pool of Canadian Forces members eligible to serve on a court martial panel;
* provide for additional sentencing options, including absolute discharges, intermittent
* entences and restitution orders;
* improve the efficiency of the grievance and military police complaints processes; and
* establish the position of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal in legislation and specify the Provost Marshal’s responsibilities.

The Lamer Report was the first independent review of the provisions and operation of Bill C-25, which amended the National Defence Act in 1998. The Senate Committee’s report made a number of recommendations relating to the military justice system.

For links to the bill and explanatory materials, see http://www.forces.gc.ca/jag/publications/Pubpages/li-ml-eng.asp.