Thursday, May 14, 2015

Firestorm of protest in Canadian parliament over military mishandling of sexual misconduct issue



At long last the political class is demonstrating leadership
rebuffing the military's obstinacy to not share jurisdiction
with civil authorities to properly address sexual misconduct
Ottawa, May 14, 2015. Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney promised the creation of an independent external to the military body to deal with rampant sexual misconduct after serious questions were raised by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) [CBC News - May 13, 2015] with the armed forces senior leadership's very lukewarm commitment to address the issue. Minister Kenney made the pledge in the House of Commons during Question Period, almost two weeks after retired Supreme Court Judge Marie Deschamps urged government to set up such an external centre which she considered as essential for addressing what she identified as an "hostile" environment to females in the Canadian Forces.

Also yesterday, CBC revealed that in February 2015,two full months prior tot he release of Deschamps' Final Report,  the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Thomas Lawson, had issued a Directive to all senior military leaders and staff agencies ito the effect that they were to ignore any recommendations made by the retired justice which would in any way affect the existing jurisdiction of the military justice system and the military police. See [See CBC report about the Minister's overruling the CDS.]

The Minister of Justice, Peter Mackay [a former Defence Minister], also weighed in by suggesting that the Judge Advocate General should consider having the military justice system share jurisdiction with civilian authorities encouraging him to develop a "protocol with Crown prosecutors" He added:
I just think there's an opportunity there for greater collaboration in some cases between our military justice system [and civil society] when the [sexual] behavior crosses the lines.
This is clear parliamentary direction to the Judge Advocate General to adopt a more conciliatory attitude towards having the military sharing jurisdiction with civil authorities in order to better address the sexual misconduct problem in the military.

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