If you had asked me back in March of 2011 if I had any idea of what I was about to uncover and discover, I would have said no.
I’ve learnt that the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence are very well insulated from any external review that they don’t agree with.
As per “An overview of Canada’s Military Justice System”, “Canada’s military justice system is a unique, self-contained system that is an integral part of the Canadian legal mosaic.”, and “As the SCC implicitly recognized in this passage, and as former Chief Justice of Canada, Brian Dickson, recognized in the separate context of an independent report on the military justice system that he completed for the Canadian Forces in 1997, the chain of command is at the heart of this system.”
In the Canadian Forces military justice system, up can be whatever the chain of command decides, and down can be whatever the chain of command decides.
What the rules are shift on a daily basis.
Does the military have jurisdiction to investigate child sexual abuse on the bases? Well, the military often points out that domestic assaults are handed off to the civilian police to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to allow the abused spouse to obtain victim services that the military can’t offer to civilians.
But when it comes to child sexual abuse on base that may implicate officers of the Canadian Forces, then it’s best that these investigations are kept in house as the military police are the only police agency capable of conducting these types of investigations.
Yeah, sure, the CFNIS gave me victims services. Basically a list of phone numbers that I could call to set up counselling services that I’d have to pay out of pocket for. Again, DND and the CAF are not responsible for civilians of any age.
In the civilian world, when one wants to complain about a police investigation, or lack thereof, they can get a civilian lawyer. And this opens up all sorts of opportunities to obtain the entire and complete investigation paperwork prior to a complaint being made.
In the military justice system this avenue does not exist, especially not for civilians. Even if I had hired a lawyer to initiate my complaint against the CFNIS, it’s still the purview of the Provost Marshal to determine what will and what won’t be released to my lawyer.
The Military Police Complaints Commission? No where near as powerful as it should be. But then again, the MPCC was created with the input of the very agency that it was supposed to oversee and nothing from the civilian world to temper the iron fist that the DND and the CAF wanted to rule over the MPCC with.
But Bobbie, civilian police oversight agencies are the same.
Not by a long shot.
The Canadian Forces Military Police and the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service do not report to the provincial Attorneys General. The CFMP and the CFNIS report to the Attorney General of Canada.
With the exception of the RCMP, the various civilian oversight agencies across Canada are created by the various provincial Attorneys General. Even though the RCMP are a federal police force and report to the Attorney General of Canada, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP does not report to the RCMP nor is it a part of the RCMP.
What is unique about the Military Police Complaints Commission is that it operates under and reports to the Minister of National Defence. As has been illustrated previously by the Military Police Complaints Commission itself, the Minister of National Defence by way of the CAF Chain of Command, is the defacto head of the Canadian Forces Military Police Group and has command authority over the Chief of Defence Staff and the Vice Chief of Defence Staff. The Vice Chief of Defence Staff is authorized under the National Defence Act to give directions or instructions to any CFNIS investigation.
When a complaint is made against a civilian police department, there are very few legal avenues available for the civilian police department to outright not comply with the investigation of a civilian complaint.
In the military world, it is the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal who will determine how much cooperation will be extended to the MPCC. It is also the Provost Marshal that will decide which documents will be released and which documents will be withheld from the MPCC.
During a “review” the MPCC cannot subpoena documents or witnesses, nor can the MPCC administer oaths. These are important issues as any statement that the members of the CFNIS give to the MPCC don’t have to be truthful as their are no consequences whatsoever for lying to the MPCC or refusing to participate with the MPCC review.
And for a person like me on the outside? Well, I’ll never have access to all of the documents from the CFNIS GO 2011-5754. I could have a team of high priced lawyers throwing lawsuit after lawsuit against the DND and the CAF and neither my lawyers or I will ever be given access to those documents. DND and the CAF are just too well insulated from the civilian world.
That’s the problem with “separate but parallel” systems. The Canadian public believe that the CFNIS work just the same as officer friendly at the Vancouver Police Department.
Officer Friendly at the VPD doesn’t face a sentence of “life in prison” for disobeying the “lawful” commands of their superior.
Officer Soldier of the CFNIS does however face a sentence of “life in prison” for disobeying the “lawful” commands of their superior. There are no exceptions in the National Defence Act that protect members of the military police and the CFNIS from vexatious prosecution by an angry superior.
Civilian police are often members of police brotherhoods. And these brotherhoods can reign terror over any civilian police department.
Members of the Canadian Forces are not members of any type of union and have very little in the way of protection from an angry chain of command.
How much faith would the citizens of Canada have in the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP if it reportedly directly to the RCMP Commissioner?
In the civilian world, police agencies do not investigate their own members for serious matters. For example when an allegation of wrongdoing is brought against a member of the VPD, an outside police agency is brought in to investigate.
Guess who investigates the military police when a member of the military police is suspected of wrong doing? That’s right, the military.
Basically what we have is a toothless Parliament that refuses to bring the DND and the CAF to heel because after almost 70 years of hyping the “heroes of Canada”, Parliament inadvertently created a spoilt child. A spoilt child that will throw temper tantrums and bawl and cry to get what it wants.
And what does the DND and the CAF want? They want to be left alone and not meddled with by the civilian authorities. The DND and the CAF want to be left alone in their own little world where the laws of common decency and common sense don’t apply.
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence are very happy to be left alone in their filthy little sandbox where victims of child sexual abuse are just as guilty, if not more guilty, than their abusers.