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View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:27 [p.25890]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to continue where I left off last Friday.
Just to recap, Bill C-77, which is before us today, aims to protect victims of military offences by providing needed updates to the current military justice system. Updating the judicial system of the Canadian Armed Forces can be a daunting task, but those in the service commit their lives to defending Canadian values and beliefs, and it is very worthwhile.
Whether on foreign soil or right here at home, they must regularly deal with the high-tension situations they are faced with. Therefore, their decisions and reactions can often be the difference between life and death, or war and peace. The importance of their work cannot be overstated. As such, they hold themselves to a higher standard. The armed forces judicial system is in place to maintain discipline and structure.
I am very proud to say that I represent Canadian Forces Base Shilo, our military base in Brandon—Souris, which is a very important part of our community. Many of us have family, friends and neighbours who serve on the base. They house the First Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and the Second Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. It is worth repeating that the base is the home station of the Royal Canadian Artillery, as well as to a component of the Western Area Training Centre, 742 Signals Squadron Detachment Shilo and 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre. Other supported units include 26 Field Regiment and RCA Brandon's reserve unit.
Westman is awfully proud to be the home of our brave men and women in uniform. They are an essential and prominent part of our community, and have been for many years. Many develop strong ties and settle here when they complete their service and return to civilian life and retirement.
Bill C-77 seeks to align the military's justice system with the Criminal Code of Canada. I am pleased to see that it has built upon Bill C-71, which was presented by our former Conservative government, and seeks to enshrine the rights of victims in the National Defence Act.
The main premise here is common sense, which is that victims of any alleged crime should have the right to feel safe when navigating the judicial system. Therefore, I believe it is our obligation to treat them with compassion and respect, and to provide a secure environment so that they may tell their story. Their testimony is essential in better understanding what has occurred, and it is paramount they be able to provide it without fear of consequences and reprisals.
Victims are often overlooked in criminal proceedings, with most of the emphasis being on the offender. It is important they be given their opportunity to be heard. The system is there to provide justice, not only for the accused but also for the victim.
In this regard, a key feature of the bill is that it strives to provide better protection for both victims and witnesses in military trials. Military communities are often smaller and more tightly knit. This serves to foster a strong sense of solidarity among those in the service. While they can be an exceptional advantage in the field, those strong ties sometimes make it very difficult for victims to speak out against their wrongdoer. Ensuring that due consideration is given to the safety and security of victims would help give them the courage to stand up and speak out against the injustice they have faced. They should be given every opportunity to be involved in the proceedings. At the conclusion of the proceedings, they should emerge fully satisfied that justice has been properly served.
An important part outlined in this bill is that victims have the right to rely on the assistance of others when dealing with the justice system. If victims are incapable of acting on their own behalf, they may depend on their relatives to exercise their rights. Victims can now look to their spouses, parents or dependents to be their representatives during these proceedings, to help them through the difficult times.
The justice system can be intimidating. It encompasses many procedures, rules and regulations. Victims may not always be fully aware of their rights and can easily feel overwhelmed. Giving individuals the opportunity to request a liaison officer to help them navigate the workings of the case should encourage more people to come forward.
We should ensure that these liaison officers are properly trained in order to guarantee that they can provide the most assistance possible. A lack of awareness of their rights or of standard procedure should not prevent people from seeking justice. It is important not only to provide safety to those who have suffered at the hands of others, but we must be able to reinforce their belief in the justice system in order to offer them better peace of mind.
This would be best accomplished by making the process as transparent as possible. I firmly believe that all victims have the right to request information about the military justice system. They have been directly affected by a crime. They deserve to be assured of the fair proceedings of the case. These are people who have been wronged, hurt and betrayed. They need reassurance and evidence that their belief in the justice system is not misplaced. They need to see justice served.
I understand that under certain circumstances there is a need for discretion. The military conducts many sensitive operations, and often information will be classified to ensure the safety of our troops and our civilians. Those cases notwithstanding, I believe, whenever possible, victims should be provided with information concerning their cases. They should feel completely included in those proceedings and not have to plead for the most basic facts. Victims should not have to rely on outside media or gossip to scrounge incomplete information on a case that may have deeply affected them.
The bill would achieve a good balance between aligning with the current military justice system and still supporting victims within that system. The bill is very conscious of the importance of the chain of command within the military, and it makes sure not to impact the system in a manner that would hinder it.
The declaration of victims rights contained in this piece of legislation is careful to describe the specific rights afforded to victims in this situation without creating any barriers that might impede the system. I am aware that circumstances in the military may differ widely from those encountered in civilian life, as I have said before. The bill would ensure that the victim's rights are properly represented within the important confines of the current system. It does not interfere with the more unique aspects of the justice system, such as the court martial process or the code of discipline.
With the bill, we are taking a step in the right direction when it comes to defending the rights of victims of military offences. However, there is one area of concern with the current legislation that I would like to speak to. It involves the long-term consequences that minor military offences may have on individuals when they retire from service.
Presently, there are uniquely military offences that do not have a counterpart in the civilian code. Among them are the five minor offences of insubordinate behaviour, quarrels and disturbances, absence without leave, drunkenness and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. These are infractions that can only be committed by members of the military, yet they can result in a criminal record in the civilian world.
People found guilty of insubordinate behaviour could retire from the military only to have this offence follow them into civilian life. As Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron said in his testimony to the Standing Committee on National Defence on this topic:
The consequences of having a criminal record are significant. Applying for employment or attempting to cross the Canadian border are but two of the everyday consequences that can have an important impact on a veteran's life. Do we truly wish to burden a veteran with a criminal record, when he or she has committed a service offence, which may have no equivalent in our criminal justice system or in Canadian society?
Imagine trying to look for work after leaving the military, only to be flagged with a criminal record due to being absent without leave. A large portion of veterans seek employment in the security sector, which requires security checks. When it is seen there is a criminal record, getting a job is all but impossible.
It is important to remember that we have a separate justice system in the military for a reason. There are unique circumstances that apply to our forces that require a separate process to properly address it. It would not be fair to our Canadian Forces members that minor offences that occurred in a very unique setting, a setting known to be high stress at times, remain with them and affect their lives long into the future.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron went on to provide a recommendation to the committee that stated, “The Criminal Records Act and the [National Defence Act] should be amended to only include service offences that truly warrant the creation of a criminal record.”
Based on his testimony, there was an amendment to Bill C-77 proposed by my fellow Conservative members who sit on the defence committee to address this issue. The amendment put forth would have ensured that those five minor offences I listed would not be given a civil criminal record, no matter the severity of the sentence received. The amendment was flagged to be potentially outside of the scope of the current bill. As such, the committee on national defence did get the opportunity to briefly study the matter, but I would like a more in-depth analysis on the topic.
I mention this because I firmly believe that it is an important issue that should be addressed, and that it would greatly benefit the present members of the House to examine. I wholly encourage members to study this subject, because it is a topic that should be reviewed in the near future so that we can do right by those who dedicate themselves to protecting us.
There is still much that can be done when it comes to providing proper justice to our brave men and women in uniform. The bill before us today would do much to help protect victims of military offences, but we must always strive to do more to help those in our armed forces.
Justice may be blind, but it should not be deaf. By better defining victims rights, we give a voice to those who seek justice. We give them a better platform to stand on and tell their story.
I will be voting in favour of the legislation, as I believe this is a non-partisan issue, and we should all unite to support victims of crimes. It is important we review Bill C-77 and we move it forward, as there are many good things in it, but there are still some things that need to be reviewed.
I hope that there has not been any undue pressure put forward on any of the persons involved in the formation of Bill C-77, considering that the former attorney general was there. We have already seen that undue pressure was put on her in many other areas. This is one situation where I believe that it is not appropriate either.
We need to make sure that we look at the Gladue decision. We are reminded that when sentencing is coming forward in those areas, the Supreme Court requires continuing to look at the situations facing our indigenous persons. We also must remember that there was a resignation that took place by the former attorney general when she was the veterans affairs minister, and also we are reminded that she was the associate minister of national defence at that time.
With that I look forward to questions.
View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:44 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank my hon. colleague for enlightening us on that whole situation. I was not aware personally that Mr. Munroe was the first person to set foot on soil in those times. However, I appreciate my hon. colleague for bringing that forward.
Second, the battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry has been an integral part of our Canadian military throughout its existence. We are extremely proud to have it as part of our Canadian Armed Forces base in Shilo, which, as mentioned, is extremely integral to residents' lives and the community in Brandon and Shilo, which is about 20 miles east of Brandon, as well as the whole rural area around that community.
View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:46 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague for Winnipeg North's question is allowing me to comment on the bill again. As he heard in my speech, I will be voting for Bill C-77. I believe it is a bill that is following the former Conservative Bill C-71. We will be moving it forward and I certainly will be supporting it.
However, there are still situations that need to be looked at, as I outlined. We need to make sure that we are looking at exactly which areas of military law are carried forward into civilian law, as I pointed out earlier. I will be looking forward to seeing some of those changes, if possible, as well.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, toward the end of my hon. colleague's speech he mentioned that the recently resigned minister of veterans affairs and former attorney general would have had some knowledge of different cases.
Given that there is another trial related to military justice going on at the same time and considering what we heard last night in that the former attorney general was being pressured to have a deferred prosecution agreement with a Liberal-connected company, do you think she was also pressured to ensure that Vice- Admiral Norman was prosecuted?
View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:48 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. I do believe there was interference, according to the testimony of the former attorney general and former veterans affairs minister last evening with respect to the prosecutorial area of the SNC-Lavalin situation.
However, what I am referring to is what the member was talking about with those other cases before us. The former attorney general was not allowed to speak to those areas, so that is still something we need to have answers to as well. We need her to come and testify in regards to some of those areas. Perhaps the government could answer those questions, but the Liberals were trying to withhold information in that case as well. Even though the government released some information, there may be other parts to it that we do not know about yet and the former attorney general has been told she is not allowed to speak to those areas either.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, further to the comment and question that just transpired, I am wondering what the hon. member across the way would say to the current state of Operation HONOUR, given that the Prime Minister himself has not acted appropriately and in the way our soldiers are expected to act. The Prime Minister of Canada was accused of groping and then said that the person experienced it differently than he did. How are our soldiers to react and know to behave in the manner we have outlined, when the very head of the government is guilty of the same thing?
View Mark Warawa Profile
View Mark Warawa Profile
2019-02-28 11:19 [p.25896]
Mr. Speaker, I support Bill C-77 and look forward to it going to the Senate, but I am shocked at the comments the member just made, saying that if it is last minute in the dying hours of a Parliament, then it really was not important. We have seen that with the seniors file, where in the dying days the Liberals have appointed a Minister of Seniors and now consultation with seniors has begun.
Would the member apologize on behalf of the government for ignoring seniors and making a last-minute, dying days gasp to deal with seniors' issues?
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Garrison Petawawa, the training ground of the warriors, located in the beautiful riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill C-77.
The legislation would amend provisions of the National Defence Act governing the military justice system. As a veteran member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I thank the women and men in uniform for placing their trust in me as a member of that committee.
Before I get to my remarks, I join my leader and observe it is time for someone to take a walk in the snow. Unlike the current federal government that has gone rogue with the criminal justice system, the Conservatives are committed to standing up for victims of crime and ensuring that victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.
I am proud to confirm that it was as a member of the previous Conservative government that I supported the enactment of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Just as I supported victims rights on behalf of the women and men serving in uniform, I support enshrining a parallel victims rights regime in the military justice system. Bill C-77, to a significant degree, replicates what the Conservatives brought forward in Bill C-71 in the 41st Parliament. So far as the current government follows our example, those elements of the legislation can be supported.
Unlike the current ethically challenged government, the Conservatives believe victims of crime should not be forgotten in the criminal justice system. Our previous Conservative government focused on restoring victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system. That is why we introduced legislation that would mirror the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and put it into military law. This was the result of several years of work and takes into account hundreds of submissions and consultations held with victims and groups concerned about victims and their rights for the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
The proposed legislation would give victims enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victim liaison officer, and enhanced protection through new safety, security and privacy provisions, and the like. In addition to being the home of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group and the 4th Canadian Division Support Group, which is made up of 2 RCHA, 1 RCR, 3 RCR, RCDs and 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, as well as 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron, and 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Garrison Petawawa is also home to the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, CSOR.
The Canadian Special Operations Regiment, CSOR, which was stood up during the Conservative watch of the defence of our nation, is the first new regiment to have been set up in over 50 years. I am proud of the role I played in supporting that decision and the subsequent decision to locate 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron to Garrison Petawawa to train with the troops. The Chinook helicopters serve as strategic lifts, and helicopters save lives.
As Garrison Petawawa was the last home of the Canadian Airborne Regiment before it was disbanded for partisan reasons by the Chrétien government, military justice is a volatile topic at Garrison Petawawa. The words “military” and “justice” do not need to be mutually exclusive. What we need to keep in mind, as parliamentarians debate legislation such as Bill C-77, is the effect that it has on the lives of individuals and service morale.
Earlier, the parliamentary secretary to the House leader raised the issue of veterans and how they are now treated. I am going to expand on his comments.
I am now going to give voice to an individual who cannot speak in this chamber, by sharing the letter I received from that soldier. It states, “Good day, I am about to be released from the Forces after 28 years of service. I have sacrificed my mind and my body in the service of Canada. Having suffered physical injuries and PTSD, I have no complaints about anything that I did for the military and would do it all over again. I have received excellent medical care for all my injuries, as well as my treatment by VAC for almost everything. They have covered me for my physical injuries and my PTSD. I expect to be on long-term disability upon my medical release.
“My issue is this. VAC went through the process to add detainee to the POW policy for compensation. I was at first happy with this change. I was detained by Serbian forces for 18 days while serving with the UN in Yugoslavia back in 1994, with 54 others, only to find out the federal government won't consider a claim until you've been a detainee for greater than 30 days.
“I feel insulted by this policy. Apparently, fearing for your life for that time period is just not enough, and we did fear for our lives. We saw the atrocities the Serbs were capable first-hand. Then, to find out that the Prime Minister paid $10.5 million to an ISIS fighter because according to him we as Canadians did not protect his rights....
“We were ordered to submit to being detained by our chain of command. Ordered not to escape, only to find out later that the order was an unlawful order. After all that, I have sacrifices, both professional and personal, and this is the only thing that still haunts me. I believe a change in policy is in order, even just to recognize what we did for our country.”
First, let me thank this solider for his service to our country. He is a credit to his uniform, and I understand how hard it was for him to step forward and write that letter.
I also understand that the Minister of Veterans Affairs for this government, whoever it was, as there have been so many it is hard to keep track, was made aware of the situation by the New Brunswick member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, or so the solider was told. Judging by the lack of government response, the Minister of Health could not be bothered to be concerned about the health of our soldiers. She is too busy staging photo ops with the Prime Minister, using soldiers as props, to be concerned about something as mundane as military justice. Justice in this case is for the sacrifice of 55 Canadian soldiers who were held prisoner as UN peacekeepers during the conflict in the Balkans.
I was also shocked, but not surprised, to learn that the Chrétien government refused to recognize the heroism of all but one member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons battle group who were held hostage, who participated in Operation Cavalier, CANBAT 2.
Where is the justice in the Liberal government coming up with the arbitrary number of 30 as the cut-off for the detention benefit that was announced in the new veterans charter? It would appear this is another example, like the critical injury benefit, where the Liberal government announces a benefit that excludes soldiers and veterans who should qualify. This is another fake promise to soldiers and veterans.
I am honoured and privileged to put on the official record of the proceedings of the House of Commons during debate on military justice, the names of those soldiers who were held hostage, who their country refuses to recognize today. Many are still serving their country in uniform today. The rank mentioned reflects the rank at the time the incident occurred in 1994. While the listing includes the declared hometowns, 44 of the 55 were based out of Garrison Petawawa, which is located in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. The names of those soldiers are:
Major Dean Milner, 33, armor officer, Kingston, Ontario; Corporal Troy Cleveland, 24, crewman, Windson, Nova Scotia; Corporal Robert Carter, 26, crewman, Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia; Master Corporal Chris Maher, 31, crewman, Burlington, Ontario; Corporal Steve Tasnadi, 27, crewman, Toronto, Ontario; Corporal Richard Sheppard, 23, crewman, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland; Sergeant Daniel Berrigan, 31, crewman, Ajax, Ontario; Master Corporal Martin Nickerson, 34, crewman, Pembroke, Ontario; Corporal Sean Dunstan, 25, crewman, Petawawa, Ontario; Corporal Chris Neilson, 21, crewman, St. Catharines, Ontario; Corporal Brian Lecuyer, 28, crewman, Elliot Lake, Ontario; Corporal David Calissi, 33, crewman, Kelowna, British Columbia; 2nd Lieutenant Chris Renahan, 23, armor officer, Toronto, Ontario; Master Corporal Marc Tremblay, 31, crewman, Bagotville, Quebec; Master Warrant Officer Thomas Skelding, 39, crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Corporal Gordon Vanwesten, 25, vehicle technician, Ennismore, Ontario; Corporal Alex Vizino, 27, crewman, Port Colborne, Ontario; Lieutenant Chris Henderson, 30, public affairs officer, Ottawa, Ontario; Corporal Marc Bergeron, 33, photo technician, Alma, Quebec; Lieutenant Mark Poland, 23, reserve armor officer, Sarnia, Ontario; 2nd Lieutenant Greg Nette, 23, armor officer, Edmonton, Alberta; Master Corporal Stanley Potocnik, 27, crewman, Rawdon, Quebec; Corporal Paul Turmel, 28, crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Master Corporal Richard Biddiscombe, 27, crewman, St. John's, Newfoundland; Warrant Officer Richard Ritchie, 34, crewman, Cold Lake, Alberta; Corporal James Morgan, 23, crewman, Cormack, Newfoundland; Corporal Mark Jones, 24, crewman, Belleville, Ontario; Corporal Michael Meade, 24, crewman, Huntsville, Ontario; Corporal Mario Desrochers, 26, crewman, Petawawa, Ontario; Corporal Sean Donaldson, 23, reserve crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Corporal William Byrne, 29, crewman, Conch, Newfoundland; Corporal Sean Murphy, 25, reserve crewman, Brampton, Ontario; Master Seaman Kevin Kendall, 27, medical assistant, Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; Leading Seaman Daniel Williams, 23, medical assistant, St. John's, Newfoundland; Private Kristopher Boyd, 20, medical assistant, Forest/Sarnia, Ontario; Sergeant William Richards, 32, crewman, St. Stephen, New Brunswick; Master Corporal Michael Smith, 30, crewman, Kitchener, Ontario; Corporal Dana Crue, 30, crewman, Summerside, Prince Edward Island; Corporal David Walker, 30, crewman, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Corporal Marc Kemp, 23, crewman, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Master Corporal Dean Smith, 24, reserve crewman, Gooderham, Ontario; Master Corporal William Thomas, 32, infantryman, Canning, Nova Scotia; Corporal James Predo, 27, infantryman, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia; Sergeant Tom Moran, 30, crewman; Master Corporal Richard Allinson, 31, crewman, Port Hope, Ontario; Corporal Michael Bolger, 27, crewman, St. John's, Newfoundland; Corporal Sheldon Clarke, 24, crewman, Grand Falls, Newfoundland; Corporal Scott Cairns, 27, crewman, Lachine, Quebec; Corporal Davis Balser, 22, crewman, Weymouth, Digby County, Nova Scotia; Sergeant Gordon Campbell, 31, crewman, Kensington, Prince Edward Island; Corporal David Clark, 30, crewman, Toronto, Ontario; Corporal Darren Burgess, 26, crewman, Windsor, Ontario; Corporal Russell Robertson, 23, Squamish, British Columbia; Corporal Bruce Rose, 27, crewman, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Trooper Paul Smith, 23, crewman, Oil Springs/Petrolia, Ontario.
Military justice is about more than adding pages of rules and regulations filled with confusing words. Military justice should also be about recognizing the sacrifices soldiers and their families have made in representing their country.
Does Bill C-77 contribute to or diminish camaraderie among soldiers? Does Bill C-77 hurt operational efficiency? We need to keep on asking these questions with real life experiences in mind, such as those of the people who were detained.
That was my purpose when I put on the record the names of the 55 soldiers who were held hostage during the United Nations mission in Bosnia, Operation Cavalier, during the conflict in the Balkans. The government has forgotten these soldiers. The Prime Minister may state that veterans are asking for too much, as he did before. Veterans are only asking for what they are promised.
Psychological experiments and troop cohesion will end up getting soldiers killed, the same way that political expediency led to the loss of soldiers' lives in Afghanistan with the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter contract by the Chrétien Liberal government. When Chrétien cancelled that contract, he also got rid of the Chinook helicopters in the military fleet.
Just like the sponsorship scandal and the Lavalin scandal of today, the Liberals have not learned a thing with the decision to buy secondhand, cast-off jets from the Australians rather than equip our troops with what they really need. When Chrétien cancelled the sale of the new badly needed helicopters, he should have halted the sale of the Chinook helicopters to the Dutch government. A lot of good women and men died in Afghanistan as a consequence.
Justice in the military should also provide the right equipment to do the job we ask our soldiers to do on our behalf. It should be about recognizing our soldiers, like the 55 forgotten soldiers.
We need enhanced participation through impact statements at sentencing and enhanced restitution with the court martial required to consider making restitution for losses.
The Auditor General's fall 2018 report on inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces shows that there is a great need for victims' rights, which Bill C-77 is introducing.
Again, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of our late auditor general, Michael Ferguson.
Operation Honour is a plan to reduce inappropriate sexual behaviour toward women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Auditor General's report found that Operation Honour was severely lacking in providing proper support for the victims of inappropriate sexual behaviour, which includes crimes like sexual assault, rape and harassment. In fact, the report found that Operation Honour was not even designed with victim support in mind and that the services it did offer were poorly coordinated. Even worse, the victims were often not even told that there were support services available to them, despite the legal requirement to do so.
Disregard for legal requirements appears to be a theme with the government. Victims did not even have a say if their case was investigated, as the vast majority of reports were done via third party from a duty to report, which Operation Honour created. Investigations were undertaken inside the chain of command, whether the victim was ready or even willing to pursue justice for the crime against them. All reports were acted upon. Victims had no recourse to stop the investigation if they did not want to proceed with a complaint.
The Auditor General's report also found issues with the training and briefings given to Canadian Armed Forces members regarding the inappropriate sexual behaviour. He found that the briefings were fragmented and led to confusion, frustration, fear and less comradery among soldiers. Briefings raised awareness of inappropriate sexual behaviour, but did little to nothing to address or bring awareness to changing habits or understanding the root causes of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The report also highlighted a lack of awareness of support services for victims, insufficient training to support the victims and a lack of availability to support those services. People providing services had a lack of subject matter expertise and there was little coordination between the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which handles the support services, and the Strategic Response Team, which has the actual investigative responsibilities.
Operation Honour was inspired by an investigation and report by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps. We had Justice Deschamps appear before the Standing Committee on National Defence earlier this month and she gave us her insights as to whether Operation Honour aligned with her original 10 recommendations.
It is important to remind the government that for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, when they put on a uniform, they are soldiers first, and that is an important distinction. In an operational setting, they need to be able to rely on their fellow soldiers.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, as members know, the Conservatives introduced the original form of this bill. It is still lacking in a number of places. In fact, the Liberals made some amendments to the original Bill C-71 and shifted the burden of proof from beyond reasonable doubt to a balance of probabilities.
What kind of precedent is this going to set? How is this changing the burden of proof from reasonable doubt to a balance of possibilities going to be applied in other areas, especially given the situation of constitutional crisis we find ourselves in this morning?
View Alice Wong Profile
View Alice Wong Profile
2019-02-28 11:43 [p.25899]
Mr. Speaker, I really echo all the things my colleague just mentioned.
I was a proud member of the Conservative government when we brought in the Victims Bill of Rights. The then attorney general was very clear that the purpose of the law was to protect victims, not criminals, and that justice needed to be done. That is why I supported the Victims Bill of Rights, because seniors were mentally, physically or financially abused.
I want to correct the parliamentary secretary. He said that the Liberal government created the ministry of seniors. For the record, it was a Conservative government that created the ministry, had the first minister of seniors and also the longest-serving minister of seniors.
I will go back to my question. I would like my hon. friend to tell the House how important it is that we value the contribution of the soldiers and veterans who have done so much, and yet they are still suffering because they were not well treated while serving in the forces.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, part of the treatment of our soldiers involves fairness before the courts.
Right now, certain punishments resulting from summary hearings can be penal in nature, however, there is no avenue to appeal to a higher or different authority. We put forth an amendment that would allow an appeal to a judge at the courts martial proceedings in the case of sentencing arising from a summary hearing that was penal in nature.
However, further to that, there is still a glaring hole in the legislation, in how fairness is applied across the ranks, for example, the right of a soldiers, seamen or airmen to defend themselves. As we saw in the case of Vice-Admiral Norman, there was no clarity on why the Chief of the Defence Staff denied him the funds to defend himself.
This legislation is still lacking, taking away the right of an individual, somebody who has served our military for so many years and with such honour, to be denied that, denying the individual the ability to defend him or herself based on the whim of the Chief of the Defence Staff who takes his orders from the Prime Minister.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, we had a very copious legislative agenda. We put forth many laws and we see that they are either being undone or just disregarded because the Prime Minister does not like them. We heard that in testimony from the former attorney general yesterday. We have a situation of the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet, his key advisers, just disobeying and disregarding the laws altogether.
At the end of the day we are going to have to look at all of the legislation that the current Liberal government has brought through, because if we have a situation in which the Prime Minister himself has been obstructing justice, then we have to call into question everything that he has done. The only reasonable thing for the Prime Minister to do, as our leader stated, is resign.
View James Bezan Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have to take exception with the comments by the member for Kingston and the Islands that we did not introduce our bill until the dying days.
It is a fact that we brought forward two bills on military justice before Bill C-71 that passed.
It is a fact that one thing that Bill C-71 in the old Parliament did and that Bill C-77 does is enshrine the victims bill of rights into the military justice system. That did not pass until the third year we were government.
It is a fact that we moved that bill through as fast as we could at the end of the session.
It is a fact that the Liberals sat on it for three years before they brought in Bill C-77, which is a complete replica of our Bill C-71.
We did all the heavy lifting and we did all the hard work, but the Liberals sat on their hands.
I want to ask the member, who has served so well on the national defence committee for the past 20 years, if she would comment on why the previous minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence would have resigned when she has such a passion for indigenous issues which are now enshrined in Bill C-77 through the incorporation of the Gladue decision. Why would she have stepped back when she was the former justice minister who believed in having a strong law in our Canadian society, especially in the Canadian Armed Forces?
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, like the people of Canada who need to hear more about what really went on behind the scenes with our former attorney general and associate minister of Defence, once I have heard all of the evidence—and we are still on third reading—I will make up my mind as to how I will vote. Canadians deserve a full investigation, a public judicial inquiry, so that they too can make up their minds about the legitimacy of the Liberal government to continue.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be able to speak to this issue.
As a former member of the Canadian Forces, I am deeply concerned by the state of our military justice system in Canada. We are finding that military members do not have access to legal representation to the same extent that they had formerly. We are finding that operational commanders are recommending to proceed with disciplinary charges and only 50% of cases are actually going through, which undermines the good order and discipline of the military. We have also found that there is a lack of experience among the judges within the military justice system.
Bill C-77 does nothing to address any of those systemic challenges within the military justice system. I wonder if my hon. colleague could speak to that point. When will the government do something, and what, if anything, will it do to actually address the changes in the National Defence Act?
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-02-28 12:38 [p.25907]
Madam Speaker, it is the Liberal way. They have to study something that is just common sense. It is unbelievable. It is not that studying further is not common sense, but just getting it done, just action, is common sense.
I thank my hon. colleague for bringing up two points that I feel are very important. Everybody in the House knows that I am passionate about doing everything in our power to provide those whom we trust to serve our country and community with the tools to both complete their mission and to come home and remain healthy.
My hon. colleague brought up two valid points. They were on the unreported sexual assault that is taking place or could be taking place within our military, as well as the point on death by suicide, self-harm and post-traumatic stress disorder.
We now know more about post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health injury and the mental illness that can be caused by the sights and sounds experienced by those who have served.
There is so much that we can do, that our forces can do, by building trust at the very beginning, by building and creating more resources so that our new recruits know what they are getting themselves into on all sides. I agree with my hon. colleague that the first step would be removing paragraph 98(c), and the other part is Bill C-211—
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, we had a good, vigorous debate and study of Bill C-77, and a number of shortfalls were identified by some of the witnesses: retired Lieutenant-Colonel Perron in particular, as well as the Barreau du Québec.
One thing that came up that we did not get positive feedback from JAG on was the issue of changing the burden of proof from beyond a reasonable doubt to the balance of probabilities. The argument from National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces' legal advisers is that we do not need to have such regimented tests within a summary hearing process, unlike in the old-fashioned court martial and summary conviction process.
I would ask the member if he feels we got to the bottom of it to protect those who are wrongfully accused in view of the potential punishments that will be laid down, such as confinement to quarters and being sent to the brig for a period of time, as well as a reduction in rank and pay.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, the member talked about some of the challenges that occur in the Canadian Armed Forces, and that Bill C-77 incorporates the Gladue decision from the Supreme Court, ensuring that indigenous members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have a chance, at the time of sentencing, to make sure that any cultural sensitivities are taken into consideration.
We just witnessed an unfortunate event over the last few weeks, where the former associate minister of defence who is also the former attorney general, a very proud indigenous leader, was forced to resign. I would like to know, from the member, why the former associate minister of defence left her office.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, there is a very important conversation that we need to have today regarding the amendments to Bill C-77, which seeks to amend the National Defence Act.
The most important thing we have to talk about is why we have a National Defence Act and why people in uniform have a separate judicial system than those in the civilian world. The reason for that is very important. It is that people in uniform are the only people who are entrusted with the right to take a life in aggression, not in self-defence. They are entrusted with the responsibility and sacred reliability of taking a life.
Therefore, as elected officials in a liberal democracy, we must ensure that would never happen without the authority of the citizens, who have entrusted the people in uniform with that responsibility. That is why we have a National Defence Act that separates them from regular citizens, because they have a responsibility and authority that the average citizen does not have.
When we talk about amending the National Defence Act, we have to understand why we have it in the first place. A military is foreign policy by other means. Therefore, when, where, how and for what purpose would we use people in uniform to fight acts of aggression and take lives on behalf of the country? Our alliance in NATO and the Washington treaty, signed on April 4, 1949, after the Second World War, clearly outlines exactly why. It says:
The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
Therefore, why do we have a military? We have a military to ensure we can safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of our peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. That is incredibly important to remember, particularly in light of the conversations that have gone on over the last couple of months and the testimony of the former attorney general yesterday.
Our foundation of democracy is based on the separation of the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judicial branch and the military under the National Defence Act. Those pillars are the checks and balances to ensure that individuals are not in a position to undermine the value of these institutions.
Individuals take responsibilities in each of those institutions, just like I did when I swore an oath to serve in the Canadian Forces. The oath I swore was not to a person but to the position of Queen and country. I swore an oath to serve and defend the values of the nation for which it stands. The Prime Minister, members of Parliament and cabinet ministers are also not individuals but people who have also been entrusted with the roles and responsibilities associated with their positions. If and when we forget that these are positions, not individuals, and that the role is bigger than the individuals themselves, the very nature of our democracy is under threat, because, as we can see, those individuals think they have the authority to wield the system in their favour.
We heard from the former attorney general that the Prime Minister had an unrelenting and coordinated attempt at influencing her decision as the Attorney General, the top prosecutor in the land, to do something that was actually illegal so that he could achieve political gain.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, the relevance is that we have a military to defend the very nature of our institutions, both at home and abroad, because we send them to save the world for democracy. If we do not understand what that democracy is and what they are defending, we risk undermining the nature and value of democracy. We certainly cannot be in a position to amend the National Defence Act if we do not uphold the values and the principles the National Defence Act was put in place to defend.
Let us go to the chief of the defence staff. We have also heard in papers that the chief of the defence staff went directly to unelected officials to discuss an ongoing court case when Vice-Admiral Norman was actually undergoing a trial. For those who do not know, the chief of the defence staff does not report to unelected officials. The chief of the defence staff reports to the Minister of National Defence, under the National Defence Act, and through the minister, to the Governor General and the Queen. That is how we ensure that our ability to use the military is only exercised within its sovereign ranks. Therefore, we need to understand exactly what the chief of the defence staff was doing, potentially breaching the chain of command, going to dinner with unelected officials to discuss things that are within the purview of his responsibilities as chief of the defence staff.
Furthermore, we need to look at whether there was political interference in Admiral Norman's ability to get a fair trial, because Admiral Norman was conducting military operations when he allegedly committed whatever offence he is being charged with, yet the Minister of National Defence has decided not to indemnify him. That means that he does not have the ability to have the military pay for his trial and his defence to ensure that he gets a fair trial. One could argue that this in itself is political interference, because trials can cost a significant amount of money, and this could potentially prevent him from getting that fair trial. Is that a good use of exercising the defence budget, and, under the National Defence Act, access to justice? Those are significant, serious concerns.
Now we are talking about amending the National Defence Act, yet these amendments do not remotely address the effectiveness of the act. We found, through evidence, that we have issues with timeliness. People cannot get charges, courts martial and summary hearings in a timely manner. Because we are finding that charges are not being laid, it is undermining the confidence of the military in the justice system.
We have judges in the military system who are not getting effective training or experience and who no longer have the extensive qualifications they need to execute on the National Defence Act.
We are talking about fairness. We actually have people within the military justice system who have been charged and found guilty and have been given a punishment. However, other people have been given a different punishment within the military justice system for that same crime. There is no balance and equity among members within the military justice system or compared to their civilian counterparts or even compared to our allies and their militaries.
All those things undermine the code of service discipline and the military justice system we are attempting to put in place, yet none of the amendments to the National Defence Act being put forward today address any of those things.
Even more disconcerting, we have a justice system that is not delivering and executing on that justice, as we have seen in the fact that we can have members of the military who are not being held accountable when they have perhaps breached the chain of command or have acted in a partisan and political way.
Defence is not a luxury. Defence is the foundation of our society. It allows us to have the principles of democracy, individual liberties and the rule of law. We cannot have anything that undermines any of those clear checks and balances and the structures of our democracy, as we heard from the former attorney general, who was also the former associate minister of national defence. Thank goodness she recognized that she had two hats: one as the attorney general and one as the minister of justice. She could understand the rules and responsibilities that came with each of those hats. She knew that she was the last line of defence, the check and balance, that upheld the very structure and nature of our system. She did what needed to be done. She stood up and was counted.
We need a military justice system that reinforces the ability to maintain our democracy and the principles for which it stands, and that is at risk right now.
Defence is not a luxury. Defence allows us to have the freedoms and liberties we have. The more the Liberal government undermines its commitment to defence by not funding it, by giving the military terrible equipment, by not ensuring that the CDS is accountable to the Minister of National Defence and by politically interfering in the trial of a senior admiral, possibly preventing him from getting a fair trial, the more it calls into question not only the individuals and their roles but the very nature of what we are asking people to put on a uniform, swear an oath, serve and defend and give their lives for.
Members of Parliament, cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister are more than just individuals. As we say in the military, I was an officer first, I was air force logistics second, and I was an individual far after that. The same is true of the people who sit in this place.
There are partisan issues we are going to talk about. We are going to disagree on perhaps how and what and when we should prioritize, but at no time should any of us ever disagree or risk the actual structure and sanctity of the institutions and everything they stand for. If we do, we are no better than all those countries we are so quick to criticize that are not as fortunate as Canada in having democracy.
It is a slippery slope. We have seen over the last 20 or 30 years the lack of independence and separation between the legislative branch and the executive branch. Now we are seeing the slippery slope moving into the judicial branch. With the lack of material in the National Defence Act and the inability of the justice system to execute military justice, it is also slipping there.
It is very disconcerting. We have now come to a point when Canadians are giving up. They are looking at government, not only the individuals in government but government as an institution, and saying that we do not know what we are doing, that we cannot be trusted and that we are all the same. If we do not have our democracy, what do we have?
We owe a great deal to the former attorney general for having the courage and fortitude to stand and be counted and stand for democracy. She can recognize that she has a responsibility and has been entrusted with something that is bigger than she is, as the former attorney general and the former minister of justice. While they may be the same person, they are two separate roles and responsibilities.
Members of Parliament, cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council and all of us also need to remember our roles and responsibilities and the separation of the executive branch, the judicial branch and the legislative branch. Our system does not work when those things are intermingled.
There is still much work to be done to amend the National Defence Act to ensure that we have a vibrant, modern military justice system that compares with our allies' justice systems. At the same time, we can never forget that defence provides the safeguards for our freedom, our individual liberty and the preservation of the rule of law. The minute we start to erode that, we have absolutely nothing left. It is very worrying, because we have arrived at a place in our history where I am concerned that our country is at stake.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a flawed argument to say that because people who came before us did not do it, we should not be held accountable for not doing it ourselves. That is like saying that we do not need stoplights for horses and buggies because we did not have cars. It does not make any sense.
The current government put this legislation forward. The government is trying to amend the NDA. The amendments to the NDA far fall short. The Liberals need to be held accountable for the things that are missing.
Would I say that modernizing the National Defence Act to make it more similar to civilian law is a good thing? Not necessarily, because as I said in my speech, there is a significant difference between the rights and privileges of someone in uniform and the rights and privileges of civilian society. That is why we have a National Defence Act, and that is why it—
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-02-28 13:33 [p.25914]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her service. I know she is committed to the institutions we all hold so dear. Her comment that defence is not a luxury is important for people to realize.
The member brought up the importance of avoiding political interference. We have seen the current government make extremely bad decisions. She mentioned the Norman affair, which many people are interested in, and the debacle of the jets. With the testimony yesterday on the SNC-Lavalin affair, I think Canadians are rightly concerned.
What does the member think needs to be done to make sure that our military justice system is there for the people who are in the military and to attract the wonderful Canadians who will put on uniforms in the future?
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, ultimately, we in the House, cabinet ministers and the Chief of the Defence Staff set the example. If we do not lead by example by fulfilling our roles and responsibilities free from political interference and recognize the independence of the judiciary and the responsibilities of the military, then there is no way we will have a national defence act that does so.
The second thing for us to remember is the difference between the military and why it is subject to a National Defence Act and what their roles and responsibilities are. By ensuring that we have a military justice system that takes into account training, access to justice and all those kinds of things, we will ensure that members in uniform feel as though there is a code of service discipline and that it is fairly applied.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, that is a very simple question. The simple answer is that the military has a structure to indemnify members in uniform when they find themselves in legal difficulty. Mark Norman requested that, but was denied it by the government. Therefore, it is very easy. The government could indemnify him and could do it now. It could ensure that there is no political interference and that he has access to a fair trial.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. friend a very simple question based on her experience in the military.
She talked about how poorly equipped the military had become under the present government. Could she provide her views on how the present government is treating the military?
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, I said that defence was not a luxury. The government said that it would invest, but it has not invested by over 50%. It has not even delivered the money it said it would. Of course, worse than that, the government is equipping our military with 40-year-old, used Australian F-18s.
The Australians are smart. They would not be getting rid of fighter aircraft if they were still operationally capable. They are older than the ones we currently own, because they bought them before us.
Therefore, it is not only embarrassing and not contributing to the security and safety of our nation, but it is humiliating. Our allies know we are not serious about defence, and that is because of the actions the government has taken.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, there is that argument again. Because someone else did not do it, we do not need to do it and we do not need to be responsible or accountable for the actions we have taken, we can blame it on somebody else. When it comes to our military that is just highly unacceptable.
Ultimately, though, the Liberals said that they would spend some money on defence and they have not done that. They campaigned on advanced fighter jets. There is no way that 40-year old, used F-18s from Australia are advanced capability fighter jets. Yes, it is about flying hours. The Australians flew them a lot and over oceans, so they have corrosion charges as well.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I believe the member for St. Catharines has a legal background. Bill C-77 is a bill we are supportive of, and it is based on the Conservatives' original bill, Bill C-71, from the last Parliament.
The one change that was made that I struggle a bit with, which is something we discussed at committee for quite some time, is the question of the burden of proof when it comes to summary hearings, rather than summary convictions, which are carried out in the military and are penal in nature, often resulting in confinement to barracks, yet it does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was guilty. Now it is a balance of probabilities.
Does the member think that would violate the charter rights of the Canadian Armed Forces members?
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, one thing that was very disappointing in the committee study of Bill C-77 was around the issue of self-harm. It was proposed by the defence critic for the NDP, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, that we eliminate paragraph 98(c) from the National Defence Act, where those who hurt themselves or try to commit suicide could be charged and imprisoned for violating the National Defence Act. That action stigmatizes those dealing with PTSD and other operational stress injuries.
I would ask the member if he would support striking down that part of the National Defence Act so that we would end stigmatization and help those who would seek help.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-02-28 13:57 [p.25917]
Madam Speaker, I want to preface my intervention by letting you know that I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. As they say, “I get by with a little help from my friends”.
It is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-77.
We have such a short time to try to get in all these points. However, the bill really is a carbon copy of the bill from our previous parliament that the strong team of Conservatives put forth, which was Bill C-71.
Having listened to the debate today, I want to congratulate our hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke on his very measured approach. As we have learned, every day we sit in the House there is so much we can learn from all sides. His was an interesting intervention and I want to thank him for it.
I want to focus my intervention on a couple of different areas. However, I imagine I will have to continue after question period, because I would not want to pre-empt that, as we must give question period its full allotted time.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-02-28 15:25 [p.25934]
Mr. Speaker, I will remind the House that I am splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
Before question period, I was talking about the intervention by our hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke on Bill C-77. The beauty of the House is that when one pays attention to debate, we can learn things. So many of our colleagues bring expertise and knowledge to the debate. One only has to just pay attention and listen.
My hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke brought up two areas of Bill C-77 that were missing. I want to bring them up as well and address them.
One is the issue of mental illness and injury of those who serve in our Armed Forces and their death by suicide, self-harm, and the fact that section 98(c) is still in military law. The simple act of removing that could do so much to break down the stigma for those who still suffer in the shadows.
I worked tirelessly in getting my Bill C-211 through the House and to royal assent, which took place on June 21 of last year. I am proud to say that the round tables for Bill C-211 are taking place within a month in Ottawa. Stakeholders, representatives from the provinces and territories, ministerial colleagues from across the way as well as military from Veterans Affairs and National Defence are coming together to have that overall discussion on mental health and how we can stem the tide of the epidemic of suicide due to mental illness and mental injury. This is so important.
It is very important that at all times we build trust not only for those who suffer from mental illness and mental injury, but fort hose who suffer from sexual assault as well so they know they will be believed and they can get the services they require. It is very important we build that environment of trust so they feel they can come forward and there will not be that stigma attached to them. Throughout this debate, we have heard that this still remains, because Bill C-77 does not address that.
My hon. colleague talked about his Bill C-426, which could address the removal of section 98(c). Again, it is a simple thing. I do not accept the argument that we need to study it. The wheels of bureaucracy move slowly. We tend to study things to death and then we are victims of our own inaction. We refuse to act when simple things could be done that would have such a major impact. Section 98(c) is one that my hon. colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman mentioned it as well.
This is not my file, but I read some of the amendments put forward by the my colleagues in the official opposition, and this was brought up by a number of colleagues. I did not know that in military law there is no provision for reporting the proceedings of a summary hearing. There is also no provision compelling an officer presiding over a summary hearing to give reasons for his or her findings. I had no knowledge that no notes were taken or recordings of proceedings. I am shocked that there would be not requirements in military legal procedure to take copious notes. That makes it very difficult for the appeal process.
As Conservatives, we always believe that the rights of victims should come before those of the criminal. We will always stand tall to ensure the rights of victims and their families are considered first and foremost.
Over the course of the last week, and indeed leading up to Christmas, we had a lot of opportunity to talk about victims' rights and ensuring that those who we trusted to protect us and serve our country were armed with the tools to complete their mission. We must ensure they are safe and secure and remain healthy when they come back to their families.
Earlier this week, we were talking about the rights of victims. I brought up Cody Legebokoff, Canada's youngest serial killer and how the families of his victims had been re-victimized time and again. We recently found out that he was transferred from a maximum-security to a medium-security facility.
Our hon. colleague, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, has committed to reviewing that case. It is my hope that he will take swift action to reverse the decision, similar to what he did with Terri-Lynne McClintic. I am not sure why things always have to get to this point.
Going back to my earlier comment about subsection 98(c), I note there are simple things we can do as leaders and elected officials within the House. The 338 members of Parliament have been elected to be the voice of Canadians. There are simple things we could do to make the lives of Canadians better. Rather than overthink things, we should use a little common sense.
Sometimes in this place we get mired under the bubble in which we work. If common sense could prevail, we would be far better off.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-02-28 15:34 [p.25935]
Madam Speaker, I took a very non-partisan approach to my intervention. My hon. colleagues across the way, as the Liberals do, always has to place blame. I was merely offering that when the committee was studying Bill C-77, our hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, with the best intentions, put forward a motion for us to consider the removal of subsection 98(c). That would have been an opportune time to get Bill C-77 right.
I also have offered that Bill C-77 is being supported by all opposition members on this side of the House. It is almost a carbon copy of Bill C-71, which was put forward by our strong Conservative team in the previous Parliament.
It is unfortunate that our hon. colleague has taken the opportunity to turn things partisan when we are having a reasoned debate and discussion on the merits of Bill C-77 and the opportunities to amend it.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-02-28 15:36 [p.25935]
Madam Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to see Bill C-426 in its entirety. I only just heard about it an hour ago from our colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. It seems well-intended. I imagine that our national defence critic will provide a reasoned approach to it.
I believe our colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman also referenced Bill C-426 in his intervention. While I have not seen the full text of the bill, I look forward to seeing it. I am sure it will have support from all sides of the House.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2019-02-28 15:37 [p.25935]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to again speak to Bill C-77. This is important legislation that I believe has a good amount of support from all sides of the House.
Before I get into the heart of my remarks today, I want to take a few moments to applaud the hon. member for Vancouver Granville, the former attorney general, for the courage she showed yesterday at the justice committee. All Canadians have been watching this story very closely. The hon. member laid out a very clear picture of what has happened.
It is now crystal clear that the Prime Minister and his office carried out a coordinated effort to try to obstruct the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. It is shameful, and it needs to be looked into further.
The Criminal Code defines the charge of obstructing justice as anyone who “wilfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding.” Applying sustained pressure to the former attorney general once she had already made the decision to proceed to trial would 100% constitute a wilful attempt to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice.
The RCMP needs to look into this and needs to hold all of those responsible accountable for their actions, including the Prime Minister. The buck stops with him. It was his office and people in his government who carried out this pressure, and he needs to own up to it, something he is not very good at.
Further, the Prime Minister has to agree to call for a public inquiry so all Canadians can once again have faith in an independent judiciary.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2019-02-28 15:40 [p.25935]
Madam Speaker, if my partisan colleague across the way had just given me another 10 seconds, that is where my next paragraph was going. The issue of carrying the course of justice is, in fact, not out of place within the context of the debate here today on Bill C-77, so there is relevancy.
Bill C-77 is all about carrying out the course of justice within our military in a way that protects victims. The legislation would bring forward changes to our military justice system that would give some protection to victims. That is something the Conservative government was working on, and as we heard earlier today from my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George, the bill is almost a duplicate of what we had proposed in the last Parliament.
As I said, the legislation would bring forward changes to our military justice system that would give some protection to victims, which is vitally important. Our previous government recognized this. It is why we brought in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and worked to enshrine those rights within our military justice system.
Former Bill C-71, which did not pass before the last election, looked very much like the legislation before us today. Our proposed legislation would have given victims the following: first, enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victim liaison officer; second, enhanced protection through new safety, security and privacy provisions; third, enhanced participation through impact statements at sentencing; and four, enhanced restitution, meaning a court martial would be required to consider making a restitution order for losses.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and that is on full display here. The Liberal government knows that what the Conservative government tried to do in the previous Parliament was the right thing to do, and that is why it is copying it with this legislation. However, there are a few differences that I would like to highlight.
Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two bills would be the addition of the Gladue decision, in relation to paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada, into the National Defence Act. This addition would mean aboriginal members of the Canadian Armed Forces who face charges under the National Defence Act may face lighter punishment if convicted.
There is absolutely no place in the Canadian Armed Forces and in Canadian society, for that matter, for discrimination of any kind. No one should ever be discriminated against based upon race, gender, religion, culture or any other factor. That being said, the insertion of this principle has the potential to result in different consideration of offences committed by aboriginal forces members than for those committed by non-aboriginal forces members. This could lead to sentences that are less harsh, could undermine operational discipline and morale in the forces and could even undermine anti-racism policies.
I truly believe, and I think all of us in this place do, that judicial systems, military or otherwise, operate most effectively when the defining principle is equality before the law. By definition, equality applies to all. If we want true equality before the law, we cannot have separate levels of standards or sentences for some segments of the population. It must be applied uniformly.
Furthermore, while I am pleased the government is moving forward with legislation to help the men and women who are currently serving our country, it must be reminded that our veterans need our support as well.
A recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed our veterans are paying for the mistakes of the government. The PBO's report, titled “The cost differential between three regimes of Veterans Benefits”, is clear proof that the pensions for life scheme by the government is falling well short of the mark when it comes to supporting the men and women who have served our country. The report confirms veterans with severe and permanent injuries will be worse off by an average of $300,000 under this scheme. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed.
That said, it is my hope that Bill C-77 moves on to consideration in the Senate and that those in the other place will conduct a fulsome review of the bill to ensure that military justice reform works for all those who serve our country.
We cannot ever do enough for our veterans. A lot of veterans from the Second World War and many from the Korean War have left us and there will be more as time moves on. It is times like this, in their later years, when they need veterans services more than ever. I remind the government to change its attitude, change its ways and change Veterans Affairs so that the main goal is to serve these veterans instead of keeping the strings on the bank book unreasonably.
When Conservatives were in government, the same type of thing happened and it is happening now.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2019-02-28 15:48 [p.25936]
Madam Speaker, the member is obviously trying to distort what I said. I simply pointed out that there is a difference. We should not start applying laws based on race, gender or whatever. In the military, if there are four soldiers, and two of them are aboriginal and two of them are not, and they make a mistake, two of them would have the potential of being treated differently than the other two. That is all I was trying to point out. I do not think that is right. I do not have a clear answer on it, but doing anything race-based is not acceptable, even less so in this day and age. That is all I was trying to point out.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2019-02-28 15:50 [p.25937]
Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about the conditions under which somebody would make a ruling. I would point out that the conditions in the military for all members, male, female, native, non-native, whatever one's race or background, are the same. They are treated the same way, except for what is coming in the bill. That is all I am pointing out.
Again, I do not have the complete answer, but when we start treating people differently because of the colour of their skin, it is unacceptable in today's society, no matter how good one's intentions are.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2019-02-28 15:51 [p.25937]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for a great question. It is one I can relate to because that has happened to constituents in my riding.
Also, I want to officially, albeit belatedly, congratulate her on her new-found love later in life and wish her the best.
Coming back to the issue, I remember talking to my good friend Jim Flaherty, who was working on this at the time. Unfortunately, it did not get fixed, but it needs to be.
View Alice Wong Profile
View Alice Wong Profile
2019-02-28 16:03 [p.25938]
Madam Speaker, I support the leader of the Green Party, because as the former minister for seniors, I definitely will support anything that helps seniors. As the hon. member opposite has just said, we all live longer. The age of 80 is now considered by WHO to be the real start of being a senior, so there is still a lot of life before 80. I definitely want the government to look very carefully and support those who get married at the age of 60.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2019-02-28 16:21 [p.25940]
Madam Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform the House I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Red Deer—Mountain View.
It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to discuss an issue of great importance to members of the Canadian Armed Forces, their loved ones and all those who support both victims of crime and our Canadian Armed Forces. As a member of Parliament from northeast Edmonton, I have the great pleasure of representing many members of the Canadian Armed Forces who live off base while deployed at Edmonton Garrison.
When I meet with these men and women, their conviction, dedication and love for our country never ceases to amaze me. I am very pleased to be able to lend my voice to them this afternoon as we continue to discuss Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
In the last Parliament, the former Conservative government worked hard to develop and entrench the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights in law. It was a very proud day when the legislation was enacted, as it rebalanced our justice system to put more of an emphasis on protecting and empowering victims and standing up for their rights during criminal proceedings.
Over the years, there was an emphasis on ensuring accused people were treated properly, and everyone here understands how important that is as well. However, Canada's Conservatives believe victims rights need to be at the heart of our justice system. We understand victims deserve the right to information, protection, participation and, where possible, restitution.
Bill C-77 is an important piece of legislation. It continues the good work of our former Conservative government of enshrining the rights of victims of a crime in law, this time for our military justice system. The bill is largely based on legislation our former government put forward, which was Bill C-71 from the last Parliament.
Bill C-71 was introduced to ensure victims going through the military justice system had many of the same protections provided to civilians by the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. I am very pleased the Liberal government did the right thing and used our previous legislation as the basis for Bill C-77 .
Canada has a long history of having a parallel justice system for our military. There are those who rail against this idea and believe military justice issues should be handled in civilian courts. Perhaps they do not understand why we have two systems, or maybe they do and simply disagree. Having these parallel systems has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada a number of times, and is even protected in the charter under section 11.
The sad reality is that we often must ask much of the members of the Canadian Armed Forces. We ask them to risk life, limb and mental health for the protection of our great country and the promotion of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, often in far off and hostile environments. This operational reality of the military means Canadian Armed Forces members must be held to a higher standard than what would be expected of a civilian.
This reality is recognized in the Supreme Court's 1992 ruling of R. v. Généreux, which acknowledges the armed forces must be able to deal with discipline issues quickly, effectively and efficiently for the sake of the operational readiness of our armed forces so that they may defend against threats to Canada's security. For this important reason, the armed forces has its own code of service discipline, as well as military justice tribunals to enforce it and ensure the military can accommodate its particular disciplinary needs.
That decision is from 1992. However, it has been upheld a number of times since then, most recently in 2015.
While out of necessity there is an imperative for the armed forces to be able to administer justice in its unique way, there is no reason why victims rights should not be also featured prominently in the military justice system. I believe that Bill C-77 is a good step forward in accomplishing this goal while building on the established code of service and Operation Honour to effectively combat sexual misconduct, harassment and deal with issues of intolerance in the Canadian Armed Forces.
While this is good legislation, which I am looking forward to supporting once again, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to highlight some concerns I have with the bill as well.
Under the military justice system currently, charges can be dealt with through a summary trial or a court martial. Bill C-77 introduces a new category of service infractions consisting of minor infractions that can be dealt with through a new method of summary hearings, replacing summary trials. In proposed subsections 163.1(1), (2) and (3), Bill C-77 shifts the burden of proof. In a summary hearing it goes from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “on a balance of probabilities”.
Currently, proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt, the same as in the civilian legal systems. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is one of the pillars of the Canadian justice system, and I believe that it should remain the case for our military justice system, particularly when we consider that through a summary hearing, a service member's commanding officer is able to confine them to barracks or ship for up to 21 days. In light of that realization, I believe the burden of proof should remain higher than “on a balance of probabilities”.
Unfortunately, our colleague for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman's amendment to make this sensible change was voted down at committee, though I hope it will receive further consideration at the other place. Failing that, I hope this will be able to be reconciled through regulation to both avoid a charter challenge and ensure that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces can be treated justly if they find themselves being called to a summary hearing.
The last issue I want to briefly touch on is the issue initially raised by our NDP colleague for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke that Bill C-77 does not repeal parts of paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act, which lists self-harm as an offence that can result in a fine and/or imprisonment.
I take heart in the fact that the committee heard that this is rarely used and it is my understanding that the intention is to provide recourse against individuals who may maim or injure themselves in order to be excused from duty or to be discharged. I do appreciate that rationale, but we also cannot overlook that we ask members of the Canadian Armed Forces to do and bear witness to extraordinary things and that, as a result, not only their bodies can be damaged and scarred but their minds as well.
I do not believe anyone with the privilege to sit in this chamber supports prosecuting people who make a desperate act like self-harm because they are suffering from a mental health issue. Even if it is rarely used, I do not think it should even be an option. It is my understanding that when this issue came up in relation to Bill C-77, it was ruled out of scope of the legislation.
With that in mind I would like to echo our colleague for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman in calling for the Minister of National Defence to take this issue and come back to the House with a separate piece of legislation to address this oversight at the earliest opportunity.
The Canadian Armed Forces is a source of great pride to our country. Its members conduct themselves with honour as they serve, both in our communities and abroad. Due to their sacrifices and the sacrifices of those who came before them, we can afford the privilege to live in relative peace and security—
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2019-02-28 16:32 [p.25942]
Madam Speaker, in the spirit of agreement today about Bill C-77, this is a very important piece of legislation. I did touch a bit on this in my speech, but on such very important areas more discussion takes more time. Definitely, we are supportive of strengthening the bill as much as possible to make sure it emphasizes the importance of the bill, what it can do and its purpose.
As I said in my speech, it was a very good start. It is built on a previous bill by our former government, Bill C-71 in the past. I hope the government can enhance it further to make it strong and to make it meaningful.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2019-02-28 16:34 [p.25942]
Madam Speaker, I touched on this topic in my speech. The government should answer the question of why it did not go for the amendment that was presented by the NDP member at the time, when we believe it was a very important element.
Again, in the spirit of agreement, I was hoping the Liberals would have taken into consideration this important element. If we are going to introduce such a law or regulation or legislation, I believe it to be in the best interests of all, and specifically our armed forces, to make the bill as perfect as possible. I was hoping that the government would have taken into consideration the amendment proposed by the NDP member, and I will encourage the Liberals to do so if it is not too late.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2019-02-28 16:35 [p.25942]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this bill.
In talking about military justice reform and justice reform, I want to thank the former attorney general. The difference between a justice system and the potential for injustice, integrity versus undue pressure, and of course, rule of law versus political manipulation is certainly an issue that many of us were seized with last night as we heard the testimony. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for everyone to get to the bottom of that, because Canadians are extremely concerned about that type of action.
I want to talk specifically about the military, keeping in mind that for those in the military, there are certain rules and responsibilities they have to deal with. Mistakes made can well result in death, whether it is operational or in training. These are very important issues and why there has to be a system of rules and laws that make sure that everyone follows the same set of rules. That is critical.
Some of the discussion here today has included the mental health aspect, PTSD and making sure that there is help along those lines. That is extremely important. I come from an area where I know many military members and their families in the community. I listen and find out what their stories are. It is not the things veterans tell me; it is the things those engaged in the field now have to say. It is very important that we keep that in mind and respect it, because that is what is involved with the different laws we are talking about today.
The intention of the bill is to make changes to Canada's military justice system, and it does it in a number of ways. As was mentioned by one of the members opposite, it would enshrine victims rights in the National Defence Act, which is certainly important. It would also put a statute of limitations of six months on summary trial cases and clarify what cases would be handled by summary trial.
Victims rights would include enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victims liaison officer; enhanced protection through new safety, security and privacy provisions; enhanced participation through impact statements at sentencing and enhanced restitution. A court martial would require considering making a restitution order for the losses someone might have endured. Those issues are certainly critical.
In the discussions, a number of amendments were introduced, some of which were accepted and some of which were not. I know from many committees that this is a normal situation. The first was civilian criminal records for uniquely military offences. The issue was that if a soldier were found guilty and sentenced, it would result in a criminal record in the civilian world. The committee looked at five uniquely military offences that would be considered minor offences: insubordinate behaviour, quarrels and disturbances, absence without leave, drunkenness and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. The committee tried to fit those activities into what the general public would have. Consequential amendments were made to ensure that a soldier convicted one of those minor offences would not be given a civilian criminal record, no matter what the severity of the sentence would be if served in the military. The legislative counsel flagged that and said that it was outside the scope of Bill C-77. Nevertheless, it is perhaps something that could be addressed later.
The other issue was burden of proof. When we considered what we had in BillC-77, the burden of proof was shifted from beyond a reasonable doubt to a “balance of probabilities”. The burden of proof does not provide the same level of protection for service members undergoing a summary hearing. As a result, there is a concern. The change to “balance of probabilities” from beyond a reasonable doubt is certainly something everyone should be aware of.
One of the other amendments was on recording of proceedings and reasons for findings. This is just making sure that the information would be available for the accused and for others associated with the trial.
Appeals was another issue. Certain punishments resulting from the summary hearings could be penal in nature. However, there was no avenue to an appeal this to a higher or different authority. The amendment would allow an appeal to a judge at the Court Martial Appeal Court in the case of sentencing arising from a summary hearing that was penal in nature.
The issue of rank was a concern because of the way the military is set up. In some cases, a non-commissioned member could be one rank below an officer and making decisions. It was important that this language be dealt with.
Those are some of the key things that were involved in the discussion. It made me feel good that under those circumstances, there was certainly ample time taken to deal with those items that are unique to the system.
As has been mentioned many times, Bill C-77 is similar to the legislation we presented a few years ago. It is important that we continue to look at and flag some of the important things that were done by our Conservative government and recognize the system that is in place right now and the problems we see in this country. Perhaps it will not be too long before we will be able to have a Conservative government back and doing something that will be good for everyone.
The purpose of Bill C-77 is to align the military justice system with the Criminal Code of Canada. Enshrining a victims bill of rights in the National Defence Act, putting a statute of limitations on summary hearing cases and clarifying what cases should be handled by a summary hearing are significant points.
The legislation before us today would enact in the Code of Service Discipline a declaration of victims rights. It would give victims the right to information, protection, participation and restitution. These rights mirror those in our previous government's Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which received royal assent on April 23, 2015.
When we consider the severe offences that have diverse victims, including military members and their families and members of the broader civilian community, to many of these individuals the military justice system can be unfamiliar and potentially intimidating. Therefore, to help ensure that victims were properly informed and positioned to access their rights, the legislation would provide for the appointment of a victims' liaison officer when a victim required this appointment.
The bill would ensure that victims of service offences within the military justice system would be able to exercise their rights, as detailed in the proposed legislation, such as the right to protection and participation. The legislation also proposes complementary changes to many court martial processes. For example, the proposed legislation would enhance a victim's ability to participate in court martial proceedings by broadening the way victim impact statements could be presented at the court martial.
There are many similarities between the legislation before us today and the legislation our Conservative government introduced. It has enough worthwhile similarities to our government's legislation that it deserves the support of the House at this point.
My Conservative colleagues and I are committed to standing up for victims of crime and ensuring that victims have a more efficient and effective voice in the criminal justice system.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2019-02-28 16:45 [p.25943]
Madam Speaker, that is certainly something that was critical for us as Conservatives. Whether it be in the military or in the general public, we need to make sure that we recognize the damage done when criminal activities affect an individual. Therefore, it was important that we set up a structure for the general public, but it is also important to bring that into the military justice system as well.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2019-02-28 16:47 [p.25944]
Madam Speaker, when Peter MacKay was minister of defence, we were looking at making sure that we had a lot more people available to deal with the mental health aspect. I appreciate the fact that the Liberals have continued on that same trajectory.
It is important, because often there is not the same type of skill set for those dealing with PTSD in the general public and in the military. With the types of things they see, whether operationally or even in training, they know that they are the ones responsible for some of the carnage there. Therefore, it is very important for them to have people who understand their circumstances. To have professionals who are directly related to the military when it comes to PTSD is certainly an important aspect. Hopefully, we will always be able to maintain that as one of the critical components of any type of military justice system and support for our military.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I have always appreciated the minister's service to this country in his role as a veteran, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Army and a police officer. He has always stood up for the rule of law and has made sure that the bill we have before us today reflects his own personal commitment.
It has come to light in recent days that a crime may have been committed within the Liberal cabinet under subsection 139(2) of the Criminal Code, which notes that no one should bring any undue pressure upon someone to change the outcome of a criminal case. It has been said, as reported in the media this week, that cabinet members witnessed this undue pressure. As the minister is a former police officer, would he want to report that crime?
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand to speak at third reading of Bill C-77, the amendments to the National Defence Act to add some new guidelines and strengths within the military justice system. The Conservatives have been calling for this for some time.
The Conservatives are committed to standing up for the rights of victims and ensuring that victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. It was our previous Conservative government that enacted the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. We support enshrining those rights for victims in our military justice system. That is why, in the last Parliament, we introduced Bill C-71. That really is the foundation that Bill C-77, which we are debating today, is based upon.
The Conservative Party will always stand up for the rights of victims, and that is why are supportive of seeing Bill C-77 passed and enacted.
We have to ensure we restore the rights of victims and ensure they are at the heart of our justice system. That is why the Victims Bill of Rights would now be mirrored in military law, once it is passed through Senate.
I hope that some of the questions I still have about the bill, as well some of the questions we just heard about self-harm, may be addressed when the bill goes for further study and debate over in the other place.
I am the vice-chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence. At committee we heard from numerous witnesses. Those who support victims were very loud in their support of the legislation. It would give the victims: enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victim liaison officer, which is welcomed by victims in the Canadian Armed Forces; enhanced protection for those victims through new safety, security and privacy provisions, so victims do not have to be concerned about their information being used inappropriately through a violation of their privacy; enhanced participation by allowing victims to read impact statements at the time of sentencing of those who committed a crime against them; and, when possible, enhanced restitution through the court martial process consideration to provide restitution for the order of the losses to those who were victimized.
Our previous Conservative government took significant steps to protect Canadians and to stand up for victims of crime. We understand that the highest priority for any government must be to ensure the safety of its citizens, including those who are serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is a responsibility of government. As a Conservative government, we took that seriously. I am glad to see the minister has taken it seriously with the amendments in Bill C-77.
Putting the rights of victims back at the heart of the justice system is important and it is crucial to ensure fairness, to ensure that our justice system is compassionate and that it provides a balance, both to the rights of the victims and the rights of those convicted. It is about courtesy, compassion and respect, and that has to be included at every stage of the justice process, whether it is in civilian courts or military courts.
Our previous Conservative government was committed to reversing that trend and keeping our streets and communities safe for Canadians and their families. We had taken concrete steps to see that offenders accounted for their actions.
All of us on this side of the House were proud of our previous government's record, a record that includes the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the reform of not criminally responsible legislation, laws against sexual exploitation and, of course, cyber intimidation and bullying.
We, as Conservatives, believe that for far too long the criminal justice system was about the rights of criminals. We believe the victims have to be placed at the very heart of the justice system. They deserve, and should have, the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation and, where possible, the right to restitution. That is encompassed in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which is landmark legislation that will be reflected now in the National Defence Act as it applies to our military.
Many people wonder why we have a dual system, one for civilians and one for our military members. I would like to use a quote that came from Maurice de Saxe, who used to be the marshal general of France in 1732. In writing about the science of warfare, he said:
...military discipline...is the soul of armies. If it is not established with wisdom and maintained with unshakeable resolution you will have no soldiers. Regiments and armies will only be contemptible, armed mobs, more dangerous to their own country than to the enemy...
We have witnessed that in modern times in other countries around the world. That is why in 1950 the National Defence Act was enacted to established a military justice system.
We already have what I consider the best of the best who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. Because they are the best of the best and because they are given the order to use lethal force when necessary in defending Canada and Canadians and those who cannot defend themselves around the world, they have to be held to a higher standard. We need to have a military justice system in place that reflects the law of the land in Canada, but still hold to that same standard, values and principles when they are deployed abroad.
As the minister already pointed out, some of the changes in Bill C-77 build upon the code of service conduct and Operation Honour in particular. We want to ensure we have effective ways to stomp out sexual misconduct, to eliminate harassment within the Canadian Armed Forces and to deal with intolerance.
The Gladue decision of the Supreme Court a number of years ago has been put into the decision-making process through the court martial system as well as through the summary hearings that have been put in place. We want to ensure that the ongoing defence of parallel military justice systems that has been supported by the Supreme Court of Canada continues.
In the Généreux case in 1992, the MacKay case and more recently in the Moriarity case of 2015, they have consistently held up that the National Defence Act and the criminal justice system is for the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale of the Canadian Armed Forces. It stands by section 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is that there is an exemption given to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and to the chain of command to carry out military justice on a parallel track.
I raised concerns at committee and when the bill was at second reading about the recent Court Martial Appeals Court decision in the Beaudry case, in which the judge advocate general requested to have that stand at this point in time so they could take that case to the Supreme Court and have it pass a decision on it. Again, we continue to see some people who do not believe the military should have its own justice system and that cases should be tried in civilian court except when they are deployed.
Overall, we need to continue to have that chain of command, the enforcement of the Queen's rules and orders and that those regulations are reflective of some of the concerns that were brought up at committee.
A number of very powerful witnesses appeared at committee. One person was Jean-Guy Perron, a retired colonel, He was a JAG officer and also sat as a justice on the court martial court. We also had compelling testimony given by the Barreau du Québec. It raised a number of concerns where there could be charter challenges down the road if we did not get this right.
One thing that was very evident was that the change of summary trial to summary hearing may reduce the burden of proof. Right now, the burden of proof is the same as it is in civil court, which is that it has to be beyond a reasonable doubt. That has been modified somewhat and the accused could fact even more difficulty going forward.
I will quote retired Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron. He said:
Although a summary infraction is not an offence under the NDA and a summary hearing is not a court martial or a service tribunal; the failure “without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on the person, to appear” as ordered, or to remain in attendance before an officer conducting a summary hearing, as a person charged with having committed a service infraction can lead to an accusation under s. 118.1 (Failure to appear or to attend), a trial by court martial and possibly a criminal conviction.
This is all in relationship to the summary hearings process. He went on to say:
Would “minor sanctions” be identical or quite similar to “minor punishments”? Most probably and, if so, the punishments of confinement to ship or barracks and extra work and drill raise concerns....COs can confine to ship or barracks for up to 21 days....This deprivation of liberty can be very strict and would be similar to conditional sentence of imprisonment (“house arrest”).
Since that would now be considered imprisonment through a summary hearing without actually having a court martial process, would the rights of that individual be violated by not having the right to a fair trial because it has been dealt with through the chain of command at a summary hearing?
Essentially, he is saying that house arrest or confinement to barracks is full incarceration as put by the Supreme Court of Canada.
I mentioned burden of proof earlier. Bill C-77 keeps the same sentencing objectives and principles as found in a criminal proceeding, most probably the same procedure for summary hearings as presently exists for summary trials in chapter 108 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders, and increases the punishment power, such as higher finds, of an officer conducting the hearing, while reducing the threshold of conviction from beyond a reasonable doubt to a balance of probabilities.
We had a lot of debate on the difference between “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “a balance of probabilities”. I feel somewhat confident that the JAG officers who were present did a good job of explaining the difference and that through the regulations of Bill C-77, when we get to enacting those, coming through the gazetting process, we should be able to mitigate the charter challenge risk and ensure that the rights of those who have been charged will be considered appropriately.
Perron goes on to say:
Under C-77, the accused is liable to be sentenced to a more severe punishment...based on a lower threshold of conviction. The summary hearing under C-77 offers less protections to the accused than what was present in C-71 and what is actually present in the summary trial process.
Therefore, I stress for the minister that now that we heard a very similar concern raised by the Barreau du Québec along with Mr. Perron, we need to incorporate those concerns in the regulation process. We had assurances at committee that this would be done. We brought forward amendments that were not accepted at that stage on how we dealt with it. However, I was glad to see at least one of our amendments that would to clarify the rank structure on who could do a summary hearing and who would review which officers, or NCOs or other enlisted members.
The one thing, which we have already discussed, is that we never did get to fully debate paragraph 98(c), which deals with self-harm. It was ruled out of order by the chair, but I want to thank the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for bringing it forward. We had Sheila Fynes and her family at committee. They lost their son Corporal Stuart Langridge to suicide in 2008. He served in Bosnia and in Afghanistan. They feel very passionate that paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act, which deals with self-harm, adds to the stigmatization, such that those who want to hurt themselves will not come forward for help because they could be charged under the National Defence Act and at the very least be put in front of a summary hearing or could get a full court martial.
We were assured by all the witnesses that this section of the National Defence Act is rarely ever used.
For those who are concerned about those who malign themselves, those who literally go out and shoot themselves in the foot so they do not have to be deployed or who purposely sprain an ankle so they do not have to go on an exercise and carry an 80-pound rucksack and march for 40 miles over the next day, those who try to avoid service, avoid exercises, who do not want to go into theatre, there are plenty of other avenues under the National Defence Act to hold those people to account and bring them to justice for not following orders.
However, when it comes down to the mental health of our servicemen and women who are suffering with PTSD, who are dealing with anxiety and have been in theatre and have witnessed some horrific abuses and atrocities and violations against humanity, those individuals need help, and the last thing we want to do is stigmatize it and send the message that they will be charged under paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act for self-harm.
I hope the minister will take this forward and consider it and find a way to bring it quickly back to the House in a different bill, if that is possible. I am sure he would get unanimous consent at all three stages to delete that section of the act. Since it was found to be outside the scope of Bill C-77, I would suggest that we find a different avenue to do it and that we do it as quickly as possible and as compassionately as possible and in a way that will more than help those who struggle with the thought of suicide to step forward.
We have an incredible Canadian Armed Forces. One thing that we recommended through the defence policy review a few years ago, which is reflected in the Liberal defence policy now, is that the number one source of pride within the Canadian Armed Forces is their personnel, and we want to ensure that we give them the tools to do their job. Whether they serve in the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy or the Royal Canadian Air Force, these brave men and women do incredible work to keep us safe here at home. They stand on guard 24/7. Written on the wall in NORAD, whether down in Colorado Springs or at its Canadian operations in Winnipeg, is a motto that says, “We Have The Watch”, and they are on the watch 24/7.
We often forget that there are all sorts of threats coming at us, whether airborne, seaborne or even potentially on the ground, and because we have troops deployed across this country and around the world, we are safer here at home because they are standing on the wall in places like Latvia, Mali and Ukraine, along with many other locations. They are ensuring that we can continue on with our business, oblivious to what is going on in the world and to potential threats such as cyber-hacking, knocking down our financial systems or our energy sector and blocking off our naval routes to ship our goods back and forth over the sea. Our economy, our safety and our prosperity are built upon us as Canadians, but more importantly, they are defended by those who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.
On behalf of all Conservative members and all members of the House, I thank them for serving, because they keep us, the true north, strong and free.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, as I said in my speech, I appreciate the hard work the NDP defence critic, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, has done on this issue. I have talked to Sheila Fynes and to other family members and members of the Canadian Armed Forces who believe that paragraph 98(c) needs to be removed.
I know there is some concern to ensure that we balance those who would potentially harm themselves to stay out of service, whether on exercise or going into theatre—those who literally shoot themselves in the foot—versus those who are stigmatized because they need the help because of their mental health issues, such as PTSD and other operational stress injuries.
I will look at the member's private member's bill. I will work alongside any member in the House on how we can strengthen the military justice system while we destigmatize those who are dealing with the problem of self-harm.
What it comes down to is that we should work quickly and perhaps even task the Standing Committee on National Defence on how we could balance the concern of making sure those who are trying to avoid service are held to account versus those who are trying to hurt themselves and would commit suicide because they are dealing with operational stress injuries. I am here to work with anyone who wants to carry that forward.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I would draw the member's attention to the PBO report this week, which showed that the Liberals failed and broke their promise to bring back pensions for life. They missed it by about $20 billion. They are not even close.
Those who are the most injured as veterans will receive $300,000 less under the Liberals. The people who need the most help are getting less. That is not a record the member should be standing up and bragging about. Veterans across the country are incredibly upset with the broken promises from the Prime Minister and the government. It reflects that all we saw was electioneering. We did not see any compassion when it actually came to services for our veterans.
View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, I am going to bounce off what the member for Guelph just asked.
When I sat on the finance committee, we actually saw changes to the pensions for life program come through the omnibus bill. It went to the finance committee. We had a very limited number of witnesses to question about this issue. There were questions about the proposal for pensions for life. For example, a female service member would receive an amount substantially different from what a male would receive, based on how long they would live, so I am very concerned that the government is treating people differently.
Does the member have any concerns that this piece of legislation would treat members differently within our armed forces when they are facing the justice system?
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Kelowna for his input, his hard work on the finance committee and for standing up for veterans. It is something we have always done and will continue to do.
This legislation balances off the rights of the victim along with the rights of those who have been accused of conducting criminal activity, violating the code of service conduct or violating the Queen's Regulations and Orders. They would have the chance to appeal some of these decisions. They would always be treated fairly and with respect by the chain of command and by the Judge Advocate General.
Some of the concerns I raised were about making sure the burden of proof is dealt with through regulation. That issue has to be taken into consideration because it was raised by expert witnesses on the legal system. As well, we have to ensure things are put in place to protect those who are accused, just as we already now have the rights of the victims embedded into the National Defence Act.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my friend for that question. To be very clear, paragraph 98(c) should be eliminated. We need to make sure that those who malign themselves or malign others to avoid service—that is, not necessarily to self-harm but to harm themselves in order to stop being deployed, as an example—need to be dealt with in another part of the legislation. Maybe it could be through strengthening paragraphs 98(a) and 98(b).
It could be a two-tiered system. Paragraph 98(c), which is part of the problem with self-harm and the stigmatization that we see around mental health and suicide within the Canadian Armed Forces, needs to be eliminated. We had the chance to delete that clause, and unfortunately it was ruled out of order.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, the member did not listen very closely to my speech then, because I said in my speech that changes within Bill C-77 would increase the standards under the code of service conduct. Operation Honour would be better able to stomp out sexual misconduct and intolerance, whether it is racism, whether it is homophobia, whether it is violations against people based upon their sexual orientation, and it will also stomp out harassment. Bill C-77 would work all of that into the National Defence Act. It would provide greater power to the military justice system to take action in that area and support those in the chain of command as they execute Operation Honour.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-02-22 12:28 [p.25692]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his work and awareness on veterans' issues. He touched upon much of that in his remarks.
I would break it down even further, beyond legislation, beyond debate, and ask the member whether the most important thing we need to restore with our veterans is trust. We can have debates in the House, but the government is not living up to promises it made to our veterans, whether on wait times, pensions, military or a range of issues.
The government is not meeting what was promised, even when the defence minister, now acting also acting as veterans minister, makes that promise beside the Prime Minister, wearing his military medals. That erosion of trust is the biggest crisis facing our veterans right now, confirmed once again by the Parliamentary Budget Officer this week.
Does the member have any suggestions on how the government, and now this double-hatted minister, could start restoring the trust they have eroded?
View James Bezan Profile
I am not going to do that, Madam Speaker.
I realize that the Liberal member spent a lot of time talking about indigenous members and the way the Canadian Armed Forces is trying to be more inclusive in bringing members of the Canadian Armed Forces through the recruitment process. I would like to get the member's ideas on how the Canadian Armed Forces can improve recruitment measures. I know that the programs we are running, such as bold eagle and black bear, have been very well received and well participated in out on the Prairies. Recruitment from those who have participated in those programs has been about 30%.
Could the member talk about how we could actually increase recruitment? Could the member also comment on how the Gladue decision of the Supreme Court has been incorporated into Bill C-77 to ensure that indigenous members of the Canadian Armed Forces are treated fairly?
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments on standing up for those in the Canadian Armed Forces who are dealing with operational stress injuries, like PTSD. One of the things we have to do is destigmatize issues of mental health, especially for those who serve as our first responders.
We brought forward an amendment at committee that was unfortunately ruled out of order. It would have deleted paragraph 98(c) from the National Defence Act, which deals with self-harm. Under it, those who attempt suicide could actually be charged with a criminal offence and be court-martialled in the military justice system.
Would the member support finding an expeditious way to remove 98(c) on self-harm and make sure those who right now are too afraid to step forward with mental health issues because they are concerned they might be charged under the National Defence Act with malingering or self-harm get help? They are crying for help and we should do everything to make sure the rules, regulations and legislation get this right.
View Richard Martel Profile
View Richard Martel Profile
2019-02-22 13:08 [p.25697]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House as the official opposition's national defence critic to once again speak to Bill C-77. I sit on the Standing Committee on National Defence with the members for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, who have a great deal of experience. Members will no doubt recall that I addressed them on the same subject on October 1, 2018.
Bill C-77 seeks to make changes to Canada's military justice system, which was created in 1950 and has undergone a number of legislative amendments over the years, more specifically in 1998, 2001, 2008 and 2013.
While the court martial system is similar to Canada's criminal justice system in terms of its independence and the burden of proof, courts martial are distinctly military. However, as my colleagues know, decisions at a court martial may be appealed before Canada's civilian courts, if necessary.
The existence of Canada's military justice system has been recognized over the years, particularly in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which makes reference to it. In a recent decision of the Supreme Court, in 2015, the judiciary upheld the requirement for the separate system by indicating that the existence of a parallel system of military law is deeply entrenched in our history and supported by compelling principles. The court martial system should help make the armed forces better at conducting operations and contributing to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale. I examined Bill C-77 with that in mind.
As I pointed out last October, this bill is very similar to Bill C-71 that had been introduced by our Conservative government. The purpose of our bill was to bring our military justice system in line with the Criminal Code of Canada. Some of our proposed changes included writing the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights into the National Defence Act, limiting summary trials to six months and clarifying which cases would be eligible for a summary trial. Bill C-77, which is before us today, proposes the same changes.
Before I venture into a certain part of the bill that we see as problematic, I would like to strongly reiterate that the Conservatives will always protect victims of crime and make sure that they are treated fairly in the Canadian criminal justice system. In fact, it was our Conservative government that created the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Of course we will support integrating it into Canada's military justice system. That was precisely our main reason for introducing Bill C-71.
The Liberal government does not want to admit now that it copied us with Bill C-77, but the Liberals know perfectly well what they are doing. I do not blame them, for this is the right thing to do. However, it would be nice if my colleagues on the government side would act in good faith and recognize the excellent work we did on victims' rights under the previous Conservative government.
Honestly, that is the least they could do. The government should be non-partisan about this.
Overall, Bill C-77 is not a bad bill. However, there is something that bothers me about this bill and that is clause 25, dealing with division 5, which amends sections 162.1 to 164.2 of the National Defence Act.
This part is very different from what we had proposed in our Bill C-71. In Bill C-77, the burden of proof shifts from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “on a balance of probabilities”.
This obviously does not afford the same level of protection to our men and women in uniform who are going into a summary hearing. Imposing criminal penalties by making decisions on a balance of probabilities rather than according to the principle of reasonable doubt opens the door to challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, the parallel system of military justice is supported by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unfortunately, the Liberal government did not support the amendment moved by my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. This amendment could have easily resolved the problem by changing “on a balance of probabilities” to “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Now that Bill C-77 is expected to move to the next stage, I hope that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence will propose amendments to that effect.
In committee, retired Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron and the Quebec bar expressed doubts that the balance of probabilities could violate the rights enshrined in the charter.
The Conservatives support our Canadian justice system as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution. However, we do not support a parallel justice system that violates our rights and freedoms.
This is one of the reasons why the report of the Standing Committee on National Defence approved on division some amendments to the bill.
In conclusion, I think members should remember that Bill C-77 is largely a copy of the Conservatives' Bill C-71. I would be happy to see the Liberals simply acknowledge the excellent work we did for victims rights and for them to acknowledge that they are just picking up where we left off by seeking to add a victims bill of rights to the military justice system.
View Richard Martel Profile
View Richard Martel Profile
2019-02-22 13:19 [p.25699]
Madam Speaker, of course we support that.
I want to come back to something. The Liberal government does not want to admit that it is simply copying Bill C-77. They know full well that is what they are doing. I cannot blame them because that was the thing to do.
However, it would be nice if my colleagues in the government showed some good faith and acknowledged the excellent work we did on victims' rights under the previous government. Honestly, it is the least they could do and would be a good show of non-partisanship on their side of the House. The bill is almost a carbon copy of Bill C-77 introduced by the Conservative government.
I might ask why it took so long to introduce it in the House.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my friend, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, for his great work on this bill. He is the associate shadow minister for national defence, and he sits on the national defence committee.
He heard a lot of testimony. In his speech, he raised the concern that no amendments were accepted by the government on the proposed new burden of proof and the balance of probabilities in the summary hearing process, which may be a charter right violation. We received some assurances from the JAG that it would work to put in place the right regulations to ensure that the balance of probabilities would be fair and charter compliant.
At committee, we heard from the Quebec bar and from retired court martial judge Lieutenant-Colonel Perron. Could my colleague speak to the testimony they brought to committee concerning how the proposed new burden of proof may violate the charter rights of those who have been convicted?
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