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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 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 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 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 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 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 Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-10-15 16:53 [p.22353]
Madam Speaker, they say that to every new song we can find an old tune. It is a Yiddish proverb, because I am big fan of them. However, in this case, the proposed legislation has many members of the opposition on this side of the House who will support it to move to the committee stage. It is so similar to legislation in the previous Parliament, which was supported by the government at the time, that would have enshrined great protections for victims. At the time, it was Bill C-71, and now we are finding a lot of the same types of provisions in Bill C-77.
I will, as little as possible, go over the same ground that others have already gone over and steer my remarks to the 2018 spring report of the Auditor General of Canada. This was an independent report on the delays and the flawed process within the military justice system. It was a review done of cases from 2016-17, entirely within the time of the current government.
Bill C-77 would change three major things: enshrine the previous government's Victims Bill of Rights in the National Defence Act; put a statute of limitations of six months on summary hearing cases; and clarify what cases should be handled by summary hearing. These are good measures.
My experience with the military is limited, but I did work for a previous minister of national defence. He had served as a one-star brigadier general in the armed forces. Specifically on cases of sexual misconduct in the forces, he would always remind us that it was an issue of discipline and command. He reminded us sternly that if a person was accused and convicted of sexual misconduct, he believed that person did not belong in the forces anymore as there were obvious problems with discipline and the ability to follow orders. I am glad to see that we will be paying greater attention to that.
The bill proposes that special considerations be given to indigenous peoples, which match those in the Criminal Code of Canada already. Some of the differences that will be introduced regard absolute discharges for court martial. Also, there is the simple change of name from “summary trials” to “summary hearings”.
The Auditor General's report was tabled just this year. It is quite detailed and uses a pool of cases, looking at the military justice system, and it offers a list of recommendations. I will go through some of the content of that report prepared on the military justice system.
The Auditor General's report found delays, and in some cases unbelievable delays, in the adjudication of cases. The solution in many of these situations that the Department of National Defence offered was simply a new tracking system, which was some type of electronic, online, tracking database called the justice administration and information management system. However, the Auditor General found in several cases that delays had been leading to dismissal or not proceeding with a court martial in cases where it was warranted.
In the report's analysis, for some charges, and I have a list of charges, it took an average of 2.3 months to refer the charges for prosecution, an average of 3.2 months to decide to proceed to court martial and then an average of 12.2 months for the pretrial preparations and a court martial. The average time the Auditor General found it took to complete 20 cases was 17.7 months, which goes very close to what the Supreme Court of Canada ruled would be a fair amount of time between the moment when one was charged with an offence to the moment when one's trial was completed, which is at 18 months.
What we see proposed in Bill C-77 are efforts at streamlining some of those procedures to ensure that members of the forces who are accused of different alleged actions will face justice in a reasonable amount of time so it matches up to what is available to civilians in the Criminal Code.
The Auditor General looked at 117 summary trial cases and 20 court martial cases. Under the headline “Delays in summary trials”, it details the problems with investigations and delaying of charges. It details how some of those delays really raise major concerns about the way the National Defence Department deals with cases of disciplinary actions against its members and deals with the more serious cases where a court martial is necessary.
We know that what should be top of mind in all of these cases, which the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed, is discipline; discipline of the members who wear the uniform in defence of Canada. It is of vital importance that they know justice will be served upon them. It serves as a deterrent for those who abuse not only their position, but also the particular situations in which they find themselves, doing so for either personal gain or some type of financial reward.
The analysis also showed that there was lack of time standards, inadequate communication between military police investigators and other parties, late communication with defence counsel services and a risk that sufficient military litigation expertise was not developed. All of these failings noted in the 2018 Auditor General's report give the committee an opportunity, when considering this legislation, to also consider whether Bill C-77 goes far enough in certain cases or does enough in light of the Auditor General's report.
Members on this side of the House, as all members have heard, support that it be sent to committee to give it that secondary review so we can go in-depth on the opportunities to improve military justice for members in uniform and ensure that their rights are upheld and that the rights of victims are upheld as well.
Too often the government forgets about the victim in these situations. Other members have mentioned it, including the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, with respect to the case of McClintic. I have had members of the RCMP and the military come to my office who have been victims of the system or actions of others. They feel that justice has not been served. They do not feel that the system has protected their interests. The system has not helped them get through and the trial system has not given them satisfaction.
It would ensure that those who commit criminal acts or participate in actions or behaviours that are not conducive to ensuring the proper discipline in the armed forces are actually punished. As I mentioned, I really believe that for those convicted of sexual misconduct in the forces, we should think about whether they should be serving in the forces in the first place. That type of behaviour has no place in the forces, something that has been reiterated by the chief of defence staff and the minister. Previous ministers have said it as well. Part of this legislation gets us to the point where we can do a great service to victims of those types of crimes and of other crimes to ensure the military justice system looks after them.
One of the recommendations in the Auditor General's report was “The Canadian Armed Forces should define and communicate time standards for every phase of the military justice process and ensure there is a process for tracking and enforcing them.” As I said, there is a new online digital tracking system called the JAIMS system, which is supposed to be part of what the Liberals are calling for here. However, there should be time standards as well. It is very reasonable to have, at the very onset of the process, a certain amount of expectation regarding how long the process will last.
The speed at which a trial happens in the military, just like in the civilian court system, is vitally important to ensuring that justice is done. Justice deferred is judicial failure. It is justice not delivered. In cases where men and women in uniform are serving overseas in combat roles, we owe it to them to ensure that they have faith in the military justice system and that it will look after their interests. We will be fair and just, but we will also be efficient.
Some of the proposals in Bill C-77 go toward achieving that goal, which is why I will support sending the legislation to committee to give it a further review in light of the Auditor General's report on the military justice system.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-10-15 17:05 [p.22354]
Madam Speaker, the member is correct that the provisions included in Bill C-77 would bring the military justice system more in conformity with what the Criminal Code provides for with indigenous and aboriginal offenders. Therefore, I cannot see any reason to disagree with it at all.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2018-10-01 13:23 [p.22027]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. I will be sharing my time with the member for Simcoe—Grey.
Canada and its justice system are renowned around the world. The previous Conservative government continually showed its resolve to support victims of crime by steadfastly taking actions that ensured that those victims had a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. How did we do that?
I think the important point is that the previous Conservative government enacted the Victims Bill of Rights. It did so to assure victims of crime that they would be assured that their government had their backs. As Conservatives we chose to listen to our constituents when it came to keeping our streets safe, because the public's safety then and always will be our number one concern.
During that time we also recognized the importance of enshrining victims' rights in the military justice system, which is why we introduced Bill C-71 in the previous Parliament. I assume that as Conservatives we should be flattered that the Liberals are copying many of our initiatives with Bill C-77. After all, it is the right thing to do.
When it comes to military justice reform, the 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 mirrored the Victims Bill of Rights and put it into military law. It was the result of several years of work, and took into account hundreds of submissions and consultations held with victims and groups concerned about victims' rights.
Standing up for victims means helping to ensure that they have a more effective voice in the justice system and are treated with the courtesy, compassion and respect they deserve at every stage of the criminal process. Conservative are committed to keeping our streets and communities safe for Canadians and their families. We took decisive, concrete steps to hold offenders accountable for their actions, which are sadly being slowly eroded by the actions of these Liberals. However, it also means that we need to have a fair system for the accused.
The intention of this bill is to make changes to the Canadian military justice system. This bill is similar in many respects to our previous Conservative government's military justice reform Bill C-71. The purpose of Bill C-71 was to align the military justice system of Canada with the Criminal Code of Canada. It would have enshrined victims' rights into the National Defence Act, as well as put a statute of limitations on summary trial cases and clarified what cases should be handled by summary trial. Bill C-77 will institute these changes as well.
However, there are other differences between Bill C-71 and Bill C-77. The first difference is the addition of the Gladue decision in relation to paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada, putting it into the National Defence Act. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces should not be discriminated against based on their race, gender, creed or culture. However, special consideration for indigenous members in the Gladue decision that would result in sentences that are less harsh for them than other Canadian Armed Forces members could undermine operational discipline, morale and anti-racism policies. It is important that we reflect on this issue by considering the global context of the engagement of our men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Most countries with effective armed forces use some kind of court martial or other military court system. These court or military court systems can vary significantly from one country to another. However, they all tend to have one thing in common: They provide for trials of charges where there are allegations that military personnel have committed offences.
The Canadian military justice system was essentially identical to the British military justice system until the end of World War II. In 1950, new Canadian legislation known as the National Defence Act, or the NDA, was enacted, which provided for a single Code of Service Discipline. The NDA also provided for trials by two different types of service tribunals: court martials and summary trials.
Since the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, the courts martial system has evolved and now offers more protections for the charter rights of accused persons, particularly at court martials. However, court martials are distinctly military. The judge is a legally trained officer in the Canadian Armed Forces who is appointed by the Governor in Council. The prosecutor is a uniformed legal officer who acts on behalf of the DMP. The trial involves customary military formalities, such as saluting the military judge when he or she enters the court.
Court martials have jurisdiction to deal with military personnel for any offence under the Code of Service Discipline, including uniquely military offences such as desertion and insubordination, as well as other underlying federal offences such as theft under the Criminal Code and possession of a drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Even though members of the Canadian Armed Forces are held to the highest standards of conduct, they do not give up the rights afforded to them under Canadian law, including under the Constitution. Nonetheless, an individual's rights can be limited where they are inconsistent with the basic obligations of military service.
The charter recognizes the existence of a separate system of military justice within the Canadian legal system. Section 11of the charter states:
Any person charged with an offence has the right
...(f) Except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment.
Our Canadian Armed Forces, as they work shoulder to shoulder with our allies, must be consistent. Special consideration for indigenous members that could result in sentences that are less harsh versus for them versus for Canadian Armed Forces members could undermine operational discipline, morale, and anti-racism policies.
As we think of potential amendments, I hope there will be an opportunity at during committee stage to amend the language regarding the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act.
It should be stated that the Supreme Court of Canada has directly addressed the validity of a separate, distinct military justice system in three decisions wherein the requirement for a separate justice system for the Canadian Armed Forces has been upheld.
We support our Canadian justice system as defined by our charter and Constitution, and do not support a parallel justice system that would contravene our existing rights and freedoms and would have the potential of creating issues among our own Canadian Forces members and our allies.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2018-10-01 13:33 [p.22029]
Mr. Speaker, I too have enjoyed working with my colleague on various committees.
A key point of this is that we are dealing with culture. I understand and respect the position that the Gladue decision has made in the general public, but we are talking about a military culture. That was the point I was stressing.
Our men and women work shoulder to shoulder with armed forces around the world when they are on operational duties, and it is critical that everyone that is with them is subject to the same set of rules. That means that we have to make sure that we have cohesion. That is the respect that we need to consider.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2018-10-01 13:51 [p.22031]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak about Bill C-77, to enact military justice reforms. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. The government of the day has taken into account many of the proposals that were in Bill C-71 from the previous government, with the exception of adding a couple of things. It has simply copied and pasted that legislation into Bill C-77.
I want to spend a couple of moments on some issues that have come up lately in the House. Throughout the debate this morning, we heard the government side talk about victims and victims' rights. On this side of the House, and in the previous government, I have strongly advocated for the rights of victims, as we did the previous government with the introduction of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. It is paramount that governments ensure that they put the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, we have seen some highly publicized situations come up that have gained the attention of Canadians, in large part because of the issues brought up in the House. I will note two cases in particular as examples.
There is the Christopher Garnier case in Nova Scotia. Christopher Garnier murdered police officer and volunteer firefighter Christine Campbell. It was a highly publicized case. Ahead of veterans, Mr. Garnier was receiving PTSD benefits from Veterans Affairs.
Of course over the last week, we have also seen the issue around Tori Stafford come up. Her murderer is now sitting in an aboriginal healing centre in northern Saskatchewan when she should be behind bars and razor wire, which is exactly where she was before.
On the issues of victims' rights, we have to ensure we put them ahead of the rights of criminals. We have not seen that, as an example in the case of the government, over the course of the last couple of weeks. Many of us heard the father of Tori Stafford over the weekend, pleading with the Prime Minister of our country to correct that situation.
Fortunately, tomorrow on opposition day, members of the government side will have the opportunity to stand and do what is right with respect to an opposition day motion we will be put forward. It calls on the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Public Safety to reverse the decision of Correctional Service Canada and ensure Tori Stafford's killer is put back behind bars and razor wire where she belongs, not surrounded by trees at a healing centre. The government and its members will have the opportunity tomorrow to do the right thing by standing in support of the opposition day motion.
On the issue of Bill C-71, as I said earlier, the Conservatives will always stand for victims and not criminals. Over the weekend, I had a robust discussion about this very issue as it related to criminals. It was more so about the current legislation, Bill C-71 and Bill C-75, as it relates to the new Liberal gun registry and changes to criminal justice acts, and in particular about the list of many otherwise serious criminal activities being reduced to summary convictions.
In some of the discussions I had around my riding this weekend, people were quite concerned not only with the gun registry and that it did little to tackle the real issue of gangs, gang violence and illegal gun activity, but also with the fact that many of these more heinous and serious crimes would be potentially reduced to summary convictions. The reason for that is the government's inability to fill judicial appointments on the bench and cases are getting backlogged. The government would simply rather slap criminals on the wrist with this potential summary conviction rather than looking after victims' rights and victims instead of criminals.
Part of this legislation, one of the important pieces of it, is the Gladue decision. For the most part, this is a copy and paste of the previous bill, Bill C-71, from the previous Conservative government. However, the main difference between the two would be the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act.
In effect, this addition would mean that aboriginal members of the CAF, who face charges under the National Defence Act, would face lighter punishments if convicted. That causes problems with respect to the fact that the special considerations for indigenous members could result in sentences that would be less harsh than those of other CAF members. In fact, it could undermine the operational discipline, morale and some of the anti-racism policies of the CAF. It is a concern.
We will support this legislation and get it to committee to ensure we hear from those various stakeholders, such as first nations communities and advocates.
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