Military Judicial Process
Hon. Colin Kenny: Thank you, Your Honour. Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
My question is about the Canadian military summary trial process and the denial of Charter rights to members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Under the summary trial process, the commanding officer of the accused individual presides over the tribunal. The summary trial process, such as it is, has no rules of evidence. It also allows the presiding officer to infer guilt should the accused refuse to answer questions that may incriminate him or her. It totally lacks the right to protection from self-incrimination. It does not require a transcript or proceedings, which makes an appeal impossible.
Finally, the assisting officer — a person assigned to be helpful to the accused — is not a lawyer and does not have the benefits of solicitor-client privilege. And the most egregious is the ability of the presiding officer to sentence the accused to confinement for up to 30 days in a ship or a barracks with the possibility of a criminal record.
What plans does the government have to bring this military legal process of the Canadian Forces into line with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and those afforded to other Canadians?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will endeavour to seek an answer from the appropriate authorities and raise it personally with the ministers.