An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts


Harjit S. Sajjan  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of Sept. 21, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-77.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends provisions of the National Defence Act governing the military justice system.

It adds a new Division, entitled “Declaration of Victims Rights”, to the Code of Service Discipline, that specifies that victims of service offences have a right to information, protection, participation and restitution in respect of service offences. It adds or amends several definitions, including “victim” and “military justice system participant”, and specifies who may act on a victim’s behalf for the purposes of that Division.

It amends Part III of that Act to, among other things,

(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings;

(b) protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences;

(c) specify factors that a military judge is to take into consideration when determining whether to make an exclusion order;

(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;

(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;

(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory;

(g) in certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor;

(h) provide that the acknowledgment of the harm done to the victims and to the community is a sentencing objective;

(i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements;

(j) allow for military impact statements and community impact statements to be considered for all service offences;

(k) provide, as a principle of sentencing, that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;

(l) provide for the creation, in regulations, of service infractions that can be dealt with by summary hearing;

(m) provide for a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions;

(n) provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings; and

(o) provide superior commanders, commanding officers and delegated officers with jurisdiction to conduct a summary hearing in respect of a person charged with having committed a service infraction if the person is at least one rank below the officer conducting the summary hearing.

Finally, the enactment makes related and consequential amendments to certain Acts. Most notably, it amends the Criminal Code to include military justice system participants in the class of persons against whom offences relating to intimidation of a justice system participant can be committed.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 10 a.m.
See context

Serge Cormier Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be addressing the House today on the subject of this important bill. This is my first time speaking as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

Before I begin, I want to thank all the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces for the outstanding service they give every day to this country and to all Canadians. We are deeply grateful to them.

I also want to thank the staff of the Department of National Defence. I am very much looking forward to working with them. They work hard every day to make sure we get solid policy and strong legislation, and we greatly appreciate their efforts.

Lastly, I want to thank all our veterans. We owe them a tremendous debt. They fought tirelessly so that we could live in this big, beautiful country.

I am also really looking forward to working with the Minister of National Defence. I think we are going to get some amazing things done this year.

The Prime Minister asked our colleague, the Minister of Justice, to do a comprehensive review of the justice system. In the same spirit, our government is committed to reviewing, modernizing and improving our civil and military justice systems.

Bill C-77 will bring our military justice system in line with the kind of justice system the Canadian Armed Forces are entitled to and the kind Canadians expect.

Canada's military justice system is rooted in centuries of practice around the world. Monarchs, army generals and political leaders have long recognized the importance of having a disciplined military.

A series of studies and public inquiries were conducted following the legislative changes made between 1998 and 2013. Those changes resulted in the system we have in place today.

Today, we are proposing a number of changes to the National Defence Act. Some are minor changes, while others are more significant. Central to those changes are the members of our military forces. The women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces make extraordinary sacrifices for their country every day.

Bill C-77 provides for changes that will improve the military justice system by ensuring that the system provides proper support for the Canadian Armed Forces in its efforts to maintain discipline, efficiency and morale within its ranks.

These changes will also reflect our government's promise to promote reconciliation and renew our relationship with indigenous peoples.

These changes will discourage prejudice- or hate-motivated behaviour toward the LGBTQ community based on gender identity or expression. They will also ensure that the rights of victims will be protected throughout the judicial process and that both people and support for military families are our top priorities.

Before I continue, I would like to come back to the Auditor General's report on the administration of justice in the Canadian Armed Forces, which was released last spring, shortly after Bill C-77 was introduced.

We thank the Auditor General for his important work, and we accept his recommendations. Unfortunately, this report shows how the previous government neglected not only our troops but also the military justice system, which is an important part of military discipline and morale within the Canadian Armed Forces.

These recommendations were very timely, since the government had just introduced a bill to improve the military justice system.

Unlike the previous government, we are determined to ensure that we have an effective military justice system. What is more, I can assure the House that the judge advocate general is already engaged in the implementation phase of her action plan to respond to each of the auditor's nine recommendations.

These measures include a new case management system that makes it possible for cases to be monitored in real time, as well as a new performance evaluation tool to help us assess how well the military justice system is working.

This will help significantly reduce delays by improving the way military justice cases are managed. However, this is not just about speeding up the process. We also want to ensure that the system works well for everyone.

Now I would like to talk about some of the changes we are proposing in the bill. I hope I can count on all my colleagues to support this important initiative for all our women and men in uniform.

The proposed summary hearings will help improve the flexibility and effectiveness of the military justice system by allowing the chain of command to address minor service infractions quickly and fairly at the unit level.

Naturally, the most serious cases will be referred to the courts martial. There will be no summary process and military commanders who preside over a summary hearing will only be able to impose non-criminal penalties for service offences.

Since launching our “Strong, Secure, Engaged” defence policy last year, we have worked very hard to strengthen the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces and improve support for our members. Accordingly, another important change set out in the bill being debated in the House today concerns the sentencing process for indigenous offenders.

The Prime Minister has stated that there is no relationship more important to our government and to Canada than the one with indigenous peoples. We are all greatly concerned by the fact that indigenous people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. I would like to point out that this is not the case in the military justice system. Thanks to real measures such as this one, we will strengthen our nation-to-nation relationship and continue our journey of healing.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-77 are in line with what we are doing with Operation HONOUR, and they will help us create a positive, respectful environment within our armed forces. I must digress a little bit to say that, regardless of this bill, all forms of inappropriate sexual conduct are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated within the Canadian Armed Forces or within our society. This is why we are taking decisive action as part of Operation HONOUR to combat and eliminate this type of behaviour. We will continue working until all of our members are able to carry out their duties in an environment free from harassment and discrimination.

The biggest change this bill will bring about is that it will enshrine the rights of victims in the military justice system. This is a victim-based approach that protects victims' rights.

We will make sure that military justice aligns with the civil system with respect to LGBTQ2 rights. In 2017, our government added gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act. At the same time, we have been working hard to change the culture, through Operation HONOUR and other initiatives, to make our forces more diverse and inclusive. This bill is another step in that direction.

It calls for harsher sanctions and penalties for service infractions or offences motivated by prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression. The biggest change proposed in Bill C-77 is clearly aimed at establishing rights for all victims within the military justice system. A new division entitled “Declaration of Victims Rights” will be added to the Code of Service Discipline to specify that victims have a right to information, protection and participation throughout the military justice process.

The new provisions of this act will have a clear, perceptible and real impact on the military justice system. The declaration will give victims a voice and support. It will protect four new rights for service offence victims.

The first new right is the right to information, which will ensure that victims understand the process and the services and programs at their disposal, including the process for filing a complaint if they believe that their rights under the declaration have been infringed or denied. The military justice system can be intimidating and hard to understand. That is why we are adding this provision.

The bill provides for the appointment of liaison officers to guide the victim through the process and explain how the system works. Victims also have the right to be informed about the investigation and prosecution of the offence and the sentence handed down to the person who caused them harm.

Then, there is the right to protection, which guarantees that the safety and privacy of victims will be taken into account at every step of the military justice process. That includes protection of victims' identity, when necessary, and measures to protect them from intimidation or retaliation.

The right to participation guarantees victims the right to share their views with military justice system authorities and ensures that those views are taken into account when authorities make their decision. Victims can also present a victim impact statement before the court martial so that the military judge fully understands the harm done to the victim when determining the offender's sentence.

However, victims are not always just people, which is why Bill C-77 also allows military and community impact statements to be considered so that judges are aware of the extent of the damage that an offence caused to the Canadian Armed Forces or to the community.

Finally, the right to restitution means that victims have the right to seek compensation for any financial losses or damages incurred as a result of an offence.

Bill C-77 proposes much-needed changes to the military justice system so that it can continue to meet Canadians' expectations and the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Lastly, the bill introduces a more victim-centred approach that protects victims' rights. Clearly, the bill deserves our support so that we can implement a better military justice system for Canadians. I believe it is the right thing to do, and I hope that all my colleagues in this House will support this bill so that it can move forward.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.

Serge Cormier

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and his co-operation on this bill.

As I said earlier, Bill C-77 puts victims first. The purpose of the bill is to strengthen victims' rights within the military justice system by establishing a victims bill of rights in the Code of Service Discipline. That is very important to our government. Respect for victims' rights will be guaranteed through the creation of a victim liaison officer who will support them during the judicial process and help them navigate the justice system.

I know my colleague's question pertains more to a separate issue, but we want to work with our colleagues. I can assure my colleague that we are prepared to look at any number of ways we can further improve our system, which is already fair and effective. This bill will strengthen victims' rights. It is a robust bill that will be fair with respect to victims' rights.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.

Serge Cormier

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

As I mentioned, we want to include indigenous peoples and the LGBTQ community in this bill. Our government is very determined to strengthen victims' rights in the military justice system.

In addition to guaranteeing victims' rights are respected, Bill C-77 includes a provision to ensure that the military justice system considers the situation of indigenous offenders when determining the sentence. Additionally, it sets out harsher sentences for military offences motivated by prejudice towards the LGBTQ community.

I know that this bill is very important for all members of Parliament. These provisions were not in the bill that the Conservatives introduced just before the last election. We wanted to ensure that these communities were included in the bill. For that reason our bill is very different from the Conservatives' bill.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this morning, on behalf of my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, who could not be here today, to speak to Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act.

As members know, I served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 22 years, as have many of my colleagues on both sides of the House.

The national defence world is a very complicated one. To the average person, to civilians, this is a closed-off world. What happens in the forces stays in the forces. Civilians have no idea. We have our own Code of Service Discipline and we do things our own way.

Fortunately, things have changed. As society evolves, everyone must adapt. The function of the military remains the same; what we ask of our armed forces will not change. The purpose of the military is to prepare for a potential conflict. We cannot act in the same way as civilians.

It is not the norm for someone to learn to shoot because he or she may one day be called upon to use a weapon against an enemy; that is very specific and requires a whole different approach, which is why it is so important to have a strict and regulated military justice system.

When I was a unit commander, I was required to judge summary trials. I judged different cases at different levels during my command. There were some very trivial cases, involving someone who did not shave in the morning for example. That person might be subject to a trial and be fined. There were also much more serious cases, like the one involving a violent fight between soldiers in a military bar. The assaults and injuries made that a serious case.

Over the years, we realized that discipline was important and that people who were caught committing such offences were severely punished through fines and demotions. Sometimes they were even kicked out of the Canadian Armed Forces.

However, the victims were not the focus of these trials. Often military or civilian victims were not taken into consideration because the Canadian Forces were focused on punishing the people who committed the reprehensible acts. However, there was no concern for the surrounding situation. Luckily things have changed.

I want to point out that the Conservatives have always had the interests of victims at heart. The Conservative Party has always cared about victims. The previous Conservative government took major steps to protect Canadians and defend victims of crime. We know that the number one priority of any government is to keep citizens safe, and that is a responsibility that the previous Conservative government took very seriously.

We believe that our laws and discussions should always put victims' rights first. We want victims to have a strong voice, to be heard, to know that they are not just victims and that they are not alone. We want them to be able to speak up and be present throughout the judicial process.

The previous Conservative government made a commitment to make a change and ensure that our streets and communities are safe for Canadians and their families. We took concrete measures to hold criminals responsible for their actions.

The Conservatives are proud of their track record, which includes passing the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, and laws against sexual exploitation and cyberbullying.

The Conservatives feel that the criminal justice system has prioritized criminals' rights for too long. We believe that victims should be the central focus of our criminal justice system. We believe that they have a right to information, protection, participation and, if possible, compensation.

That is why we introduced the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, a historic act that received royal assent on April 23, 2015.

Former prime minister Harper, former minister Peter MacKay, Senator Boisvenu, who became an ardent victims' advocate after his daughter was murdered, and the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis were involved in the development and implementation of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

This charter is now the centrepiece of what we are doing to protect victims of crime in Canada. We commend the Canadian Forces for wanting to have a law for victims so that their rights are given the same recognition as the rights of alleged criminals. That is very important.

In addition to the four pillars that are the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation and the right to restitution, it is vital that the future law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims endeavour to recognize the right of victims of crime. The future law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims must require a military tribunal with gender parity for cases involving sexual assault. This right must be officially recognized in the law.

To protect the rights enshrined in the law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims, the position of ombudsman for victims must first be created to ensure victims that they will be heard and protected and that their rights will be duly respected. A permanent position at a rank higher than liaison officer, which could be abolished at any time, is vital to the enforcement and creation of the law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims.

Canada currently has a federal ombudsman for victims of crime, a position that was created in 2007, but this position is not protected. The ombudsman is not an officer of Parliament and operates at arm's length from the Department of Justice. The ombudsman position has been vacant since November 15, 2017, and the Minister of Justice refuses to fill it. She refuses to give victims of crime a voice and refuses to protect their rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and ensure that they are represented and protected, the way criminals' rights are.

By contrast, the position of correctional investigator, who looks after prisoners, was filled on January 2, 2018, two weeks after the last ombudsman left. That is totally unacceptable. It is an affront to victims.

I also want to point out that Bill C-343, introduced by my colleague from Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, which would have made the ombudsman for victims of crime equal to the ombudsman for criminals, was shut down by the Liberals. The Liberals are being disingenuous when they claim to want to protect victims of crime, yet refuse to give them the same kind of official voice in Parliament that criminals have.

Creating a victims bill of rights to ease one's conscience is one thing, but failing to enforce that bill of rights because there is no voice to fight for victims, whether in the civilian or military courts, is quite another.

The Liberal government needs to have its two victims bills of rights and its two victims' ombudsman positions in order to properly enforce victims' rights. Otherwise, victims will be revictimized at our hands.

I have already told the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence that Bill C-77, which we support, I might add, is largely based on a previous bill that the Conservative government introduced in 2015. I am referring to Bill C-71, which is not to be confused with the current Bill C-71. The bil I am referring to is from the previous Parliament.

When we introduced Bill C-71 to amend the National Defence Act, those reforms were important because we were focusing on restoring victims to their rightful place at the heart of the justice system. That is why we introduced a bill that reflected the Canadian Victims Bills of Rights and made it part of military law.

It was the result of many years of work and took into account hundreds of submissions and consultations. My colleague said that he held consultations all across Canada. Perhaps the Liberals consulted with regard to the part that they added, but I can safely say that most of the bill had already been developed by our former government. We held hundreds of consultations across the country. The bill proposes to give victims better access to information, greater protection, more opportunities to participate, and improved restitution.

Bill C-77 will be complicated to implement. The three parties support it, and we want to send it directly to committee so that it can be passed quickly.

I would hope that, in 2018, the Department of National Defence has a clear understanding of what victims go through. Victims in the civilian world still have a hard time being heard. As I mentioned, the government still has not appointed a successor for the ombudsman, and there is no protection system in place to help victims. I am worried that this is all just talk. If the government is having difficulty helping civilian victims, I do not see how it will be able to help those in the military world, which is very closed and discipline-oriented. This will be a challenge for the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces and for the government. The government needs bring back the ombudsman position, give the new ombudsman a clear mandate, and ensure that the new law is enforced. Changes must be made to many mechanisms and to the culture within the armed forces, but I think people are ready.

When I joined the Canadian Forces 30 years ago, the mentality was quite different. I see my colleague opposite, who reached the senior ranks of the Canadian Forces. He is very familiar with that reality. People who join the Canadian Forces today do so to serve in the profession of arms, of course. They want to serve their country to the best of their physical and intellectual capabilities. However, they have a better understanding of the reality facing victims today. I therefore expect the chain of command to accept this legislation at every level and ensure that it is enforced effectively.

In closing, the Conservatives are committed to defending victims of crime and ensuring that they have a stronger voice in the criminal justice system. It was our Conservative government that passed the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. We support enshrining in law victims' rights in the military justice system. That is why we introduced Bill C-71 in the previous Parliament. The Conservative Party will always stand up for victims of crime. The Conservatives support referring Bill C-77 to the Standing Committee on National Defence as soon as possible.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated from the outset in response to the parliamentary secretary's speech, the NDP is very proud to support the bill. In response to another question for the Conservative member, our position is that we want to get the bill to committee as soon as possible.

No bill is perfect and we have some suggestions of a constructive nature that would deal with strengthening the rights of indigenous people who serve our country in the military.

As I indicated in a question for the parliamentary secretary that we believe the code of service, the service offences and the discipline changes ought to occur to address those who attempt to take their own lives, a far too common occurrence in the military. We do not think that should be the subject of discipline as it currently is now. We think a more compassionate approach is required. Therefore, we will work, I hope arm in arm with the government and the Conservatives, to see if we can effect those changes at committee when we get there.

As a little background, the bill before us enacts reforms to the military justice system that were left out of Bill C-15 from the previous Conservative government, which received assent five years ago, in 2013. It is not clear why the Liberals did not introduce changes earlier to complete the system, but better late than never would be how I would summarize the position in which we find ourselves.

This is a good legislation. We are not alone in taking that position. It was said by Lindsay Rodman, a fellow of the Global Affairs Institute, in the Globe and Mail earlier this year. By establishing a victims bill of rights in the military, as this bill would do, it would mirror protections that already exist for Canadian civilians with one additional provision. That provision in the bill. It calls for the creation of a “victim liaison officer” to help shepherd the victim through the justice system. This is a very laudable step for the armed forces to take and it will go some distance to deal with the pernicious issue of sexual assault in the military. I commend the government for realizing that. This step, although not sufficient in and of itself, will be very valuable in getting more justice for those kinds of victims. I salute the government for such a creative position.

What happens until Bill C-77 is enacted? That commanding and designated officers, with often no legal training, preside at summary trials in the military justice system.

Summary trials are where most of the action is, where most of the offences are dealt with in a summary fashion for the vast majority. These people are not legally trained. They are not required to prepare a transcript of the proceedings. There is no ability to effectively appeal. There is no requirement to apply rules of evidence to assure a fair trial. An accused person can be compelled to testify against herself or himself. Therefore, there is no constitutional right to protection against self-incrimination. Adverse inferences can be drawn from the silence of the accused and the accused cannot be assisted by legal representation.

Those are serious drawbacks in our system of military justice. It did not need to be this way. Other countries have given criminal justice over to the civilian courts in the context of military discipline. In other words, there is no similar provision in the National Defence Act of the kind before us today.

The need to overhaul rights for the accused is as important as dealing, as the government so laudably has, with victims in the military justice system.

Perhaps I can be forgiven if I try to put this debate in a slightly broader context. Why do we have a separate system of military justice in the first place? People watching this debate may wonder that because other countries have not chosen to do so at all. For example, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Belgium and France have removed criminal offences from the jurisdiction of military courts. Their military personnel have the same rights in the same courts as civilians.

Therefore, Canadians may wonder, why is it that we do have this separate system of military justice, and why is it so important that in this bill we move to modernize it and bring it into compliance and conformity with the rights that Canadians have elsewhere? That is a fair question. The answer to that is that the courts of Canada have long accepted that there needs to be a separate military justice system for people in the military. Chief Justice Lamer, in 1992 in the Supreme Court of Canada, said that “The purpose of a separate system of military tribunals is to allow the Armed Forces to deal with matters that pertain directly to the discipline, efficiency and morale of the military.”

Those words are now found in the amendments before us today in recognition and confirmation by Parliament of what the Supreme Court has said. Those words were also repeated in a subsequent case in 2015 by Justice Cromwell in the Moriarity case. However, the difference is that the court now has said we do not need to have things pertain directly to the military; there does not have to be what Justice Cromwell called a “nexus” to the military. There was just a broad understanding that we need to have this separate code as a consequence. Therefore, people might ask, why do we need to have a separate code of military justice? Indeed, the charter acknowledges that it will be separate. For example, there is no trial by jury, per section 11 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The charter acknowledges that there will be military tribunals and military law, so even in our Constitution we accept that this would be necessary.

These offences can occur, I remind members, abroad or in Canada. If our military men and women are serving in Mali, they will be subject to the same sort of code in that country, not the country in question where they are serving but under Canadian military law and there is the special Code of Service Discipline, which is at issue. Part III of the National Defence Act before us adds this declaration of victims' rights to that code, but that code contemplates that we need, for purposes of discipline in the field, to have a separate disciplinary jurisdiction for service offences that may be, as my Conservative colleague acknowledged, not offences in the normal course of criminal law but pertain particularly to the need for military discipline no matter where people are serving, such as arms misconduct in the presence of the enemy, mutiny, disobedience of a lawful command, desertion, absence without leave, negligent performance of duty and conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. That is a pretty big waterfront of things that can go wrong if one is serving in the military, and that is why there need to be broader rights granted to the accused individuals so they can face their accuser with the same kind of rights that Canadians have come to expect under our Constitution and under our criminal law system. That is why this bill is so important and so long overdue.

What would this bill do? Among other things, we have talked about the victims' rights aspect of this bill, but it also deals with a number of important principles that would dramatically change the military justice system. I would just like to make sure I get the wording right in describing that. Among other things, in addition to this declaration of victims' rights in the Code of Service Discipline, there are other things that are added or amended in that code. First, it confirms that the purpose of the code and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions is to protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences; specifying factors that a military judge can take into consideration when determining whether to make an exclusion order; and a lot of additional changes to the way in which witnesses can testify, even allowing them to do so with a pseudonym in appropriate cases.

These are things that would never be permitted in normal courts but are recognized as important in the context of the unique requirements of discipline in the military. There is the ability on application to make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 and so forth.

It seems to me that there are some really positive changes in the bill that need to be supported by members on all sides of the House.

For several years we have had the concept of victim impact statements. Why would that not be applicable in the context of military justice? There is no reason why not, and I proud to see that the bill would allow that to occur in the circumstances of military justice as well.

As I said, we have two types of military justice, two parallel tracks as the courts have said: regular civilian criminal law and the Code of Service Discipline in part III of the National Defence Act. The goal of this legislation, as I understand it, is to bring those in closer harmony so that the accused will increasingly have the rights that we have discussed and take for granted in the criminal justice system, while taking into account the needs of miliary discipline as well.

It is going to be a balancing judgment. When the bill gets to committee there will be some things that we may want to address to ensure that we have that balance right. By everyone's acknowledgement in the House, the bill is an enormous improvement over the status quo, but we still have quite a considerable distance to go if we are going to get that balance right.

I will speak to two things that need to be addressed when we get to committee and have the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and deal with this in trying to achieve the best balance.

We need to have greater protection for those suffering from mental illness. In my riding, and I am sure in the ridings of all members in this place, we have seen people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. We used to call it “shell shock” in the First World War. It is now manifesting itself in so many different ways. People are coming home crippled and wounded, not just in a physical sense but wounded mentally. In the 21st century, we have to do better at providing justice for those people who put their lives on the line for us but come home and often find they do not have the services they need.

What about when they are serving in the forces, however? Will they be stigmatized if they attempt suicide? Will they face disciplinary sanctions because it is a problem in terms of the line of command and discipline? We cannot have that. In a civilized country like ours, while acknowledging as I do the need for discipline, we cannot have people penalized for crying out for help because of a mental disorder, probably exacerbated if not caused by their service to their country. That has to be fixed and we are going to work with the government to fix it when we get to committee.

As has been acknowledged, there have been some things to improve the lot of indigenous people who served in the military. These are long overdue. When we work constructively in committee, we can make some positive changes to this aspect in the bill as well. In the proposed bill, judges are allowed to take into account the circumstances of aboriginal offenders when determining sentencing. That has been the law in the rest of the land since the Gladue principle in 1999, but it needs to find its way into the code of military justice, and it will, thanks to Bill C-77. Is that sufficient? We will suggest some improvements when the bill gets to committee.

This legislation should be understood as completing the reforms to the military justice system that were proposed under the previous Conservative government but left out when Bill C-15 was adopted in the 41st Parliament. It has taken over two years for the Liberals to finish the job and get the bill before us. We are getting there. We have improvements before us.

I am very happy this morning to note the goodwill on all sides to get this right, but we need to be treating our military personnel with the same kinds of rights, largely, as they are entitled to under the charter. The charter does apply to military justice. I did not want to leave anyone with the impression that because there is reference in the charter to military justice and military tribunals, with the charter saying that no juries will be part of that system, that somehow the section 7 legal rights of the accused, etc., are not fully there.

The problem, as we know, is that there are limitations on the charter. The government has the ability to say that the charter rights of an individual civilian may be larger than those in the military because it can say it can demonstrably demonstrate that those limits are justified in a free and democratic society. That is how the military justice system gets to kind of erode the rights that would otherwise be available to members of the Canadian Armed Forces. It says these limits are required because of the nature of being in the military. I understand that, but as much as possible, of course, our goal should be to ensure that those rights are as close to those available in civilian courts as possible.

Mr. Justice Gilles Létourneau, formerly of the Federal Court, and Professor Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel in the military, have written a book called Military Justice in Action. It is a gigantic tome that demonstrates there is a huge body of law that the JAG and people who defend military personnel before court martial, appeal tribunals and so forth, have had to learn. It is now well entrenched, ever since we have had a military in this country, that there are these parallel tracks.

The goal of Bill C-77, in short, should be to demonstrate why the limits that are there, the legitimate limits for morale and discipline, cannot approach those in civilian courts. If other countries have seen fit to eliminate military justice in the criminal context and give it entirely over to civilian courts, it is up to the government to demonstrate why the rights of the accused are somehow lesser simply because service members had joined the military. One might say that the rights should be broader because they are the patriots, putting their lives on the line for the rest of us. However, I do acknowledge continually that the courts have made clear that legitimate discipline and morale issues in Canada have been affirmed to require a separate track.

Our job, in short, as we address Bill C-77, is twofold. It is to make sure that the rights of the victims, the declaration that this bill contains, is not simply an empty declaration, but that we can make sure that those words mean something to those who have suffered as victims and, equally important, that the rights of accused are as broad as those enjoyed by other Canadians, unless the military can justify and demonstrate clearly that they need those restrictions on charter rights for purposes of discipline. This bill goes a great distance to achieving that goal. New Democrats will work with the government to make sure that we get it right, and we look forward to the opportunity to do so.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, as our government made clear when we tabled Bill C-77, Canada's military justice system is both unique and necessary. It contributes significantly to the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to achieve its missions in Canada and around the world. However, it must also continue to evolve in order to represent Canadian values.

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect for a moment on the many different facets of our Canadian Armed Forces, including the facets that are manifest in our communities.

I would like to give particular thanks to two organizations in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans Branch 262 and the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 82. I have watched them both work tirelessly to cultivate an environment where current and past members of the Canadian Armed Forces receive the support they need and deserve, while at the same time promoting a culture of leadership, respect and honour for all members of the Canadian Armed Forces. This is exactly who we are putting first with this new bill.

Today, many of my colleagues spoke of the benefits of the set of amendments being made to strengthen the legislation. Allow me to take this important opportunity to provide context to this discussion by giving an overview of the current military justice system, some of its elements and how they actually work in practice.

The first thing parliamentarians, and indeed all Canadians, should appreciate is that Canada's military justice system, while unique, forms part of a larger Canadian justice system, sharing many of the same underlying principles. It is subject to the same constitutional framework, including Canada's Constitution and of course our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Exactly like the civilian system, its overall role is to ensure that justice is administered fairly and with respect for the rule of law.

Military members are liable for their conduct under both the code of conduct service discipline and provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. However, the military justice system has a second purpose. It is also designed to promote the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces. It does so by supporting the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale among military members.

The operational realities of military life mean that service members are often held to a higher standard of conduct than what would be expected of a civilian. That is because military personnel are often required to risk injury or even death in the performance of their duties, both inside and outside Canada. This necessitates discipline within and cohesion of military units.

The chain of command must have a legal mechanism it can employ to investigate and sanction disciplinary breaches. These breaches require a formal, fair and prompt response, one that ensures the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces reflects Canadian social values. Even though members of the Canadian Armed Forces are held to the highest standards of conduct, they do not give up the rights that are afforded to them under Canadian law, including under the Constitution. However, an individual's rights coexist with the basic obligations of military service.

The Canadian Armed Forces' capacity to operate effectively depends on the ability of its leadership to instill and maintain that discipline. This is a balancing of rights against the need to maintain a disciplined and effective armed force. It is important to understand this when considering the Canadian military justice system. The challenges of the armed forces are profound and are not shrinking in magnitude, both domestically and overseas.

These realities of military life and service have been acknowledged by the Supreme Court of Canada. On multiple occasions, the court has directly addressed the importance of a distinct military justice system to meet the specific needs of the Canadian Armed Forces and its serving members.

In 1997, former chief justice of Canada, the Right Hon. Brian Dickson, conducted an independent inquiry of the military justice system. In his report, he concluded that “the need for a separate and distinct military justice system is inescapable” and that the chain of command is central to this justice system.

The military justice system also enables Canada to respect its international obligation to hold members of the military accountable for their actions during naval, ground, and air operations, including those that fall under the law of armed conflict.

Two other independent inquiries of the military justice system have been carried out: one, by another former chief justice of Canada, the Right Hon. Antonio Lamer, in 2003; and the other, by the Hon. Patrick LeSage, former chief justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, in 2011.

Justice Lamer concluded, and Justice LeSage agreed, that “...Canada has developed a very sound and fair military justice framework in which Canadians can have trust and confidence.”

I want to assure my hon. colleagues that leadership and training are central to maintaining discipline, and furthermore that disciplinary action involving the military justice system is not to be taken lightly.

The military justice system ensures that military decision-makers act appropriately and within their authority when making decisions affecting a service member's rights. Such decisions must conform to the law and be just. A lack of fairness can seriously undermine cohesion, morale and discipline and it can adversely impact unit effectiveness.

While these disciplinary actions are not to be taken lightly, each year hundreds of service members find themselves before the military justice system. It is a system that is used and it is a system that must be effective and efficient.

When there are reasons to believe there has been an offence, an investigation is conducted to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to lay a charge. If the complaint is of a serious or sensitive nature, the Canadian Armed Forces National Investigation Service examines the complaint and then investigates as appropriate. Otherwise, investigations are conducted by military police or at the unit level. With the exception of certain service offences of a minor nature, legal advice is required before a charge may be laid.

The military justice system employs a two-tiered tribunal structure. More serious matters are addressed at court martial where a military judge presides, whereas minor matters maybe dealt with at summary trial, where there are qualified officers who preside. Both tribunals can be held wherever the Canadian Armed Forces are deployed and this is an operational necessity.

Courts martial are formal military courts and they are presided over by independent military judges. These tribunals are designed to deal with more serious offences and they are similar to Canadian civilian criminal courts.

The accused person is entitled always to be represented at a court martial by defence counsel from the director of defence counsel services at no cost or by a civilian counsel at his or her own expense. There are two types of courts martial. A standing court martial is conducted by a military judge who sits alone and who is responsible for the finding on the charges and imposing a sentence if the accused person is found guilty. For the most serious offences, or if chosen by the accused person, a general court martial will be convened where the case is presided over by a military judge and the verdict is decided by a panel of five other members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Summary trials are designed to deal with relatively minor offences. That is important for the maintenance of military discipline and efficiency at the unit level. These trials are presided over by officers from within the accused person's chain of command, including commanding officers, delegated officers to whom a commanding officer has delegated his or her powers and superior commanders. All presiding officers are trained in a curriculum established by the judge advocate general and are certified to perform their duties. Summary trials allow military commanders to administer discipline, enabling members to return to duty as soon as possible.

An offender may request a review of the findings of a summary trial by a review authority. If he or she remains unsatisfied, the offender may then appeal for judicial review by the Federal Court of Canada.

In each and every case, an accused has the right to be tried in the official language of her or his choice and, in each and every case, an offender convicted at a court martial has the right to appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, a civilian court comprised of three judges selected from the Federal Court of Canada. These decisions can in turn be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The military justice system remains a vital facet of the Canadian Armed Forces. It must also continue to evolve to meet the expectations of Canadians and the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces. This is precisely what Bill C-77 sets out to do.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with our hon. colleague from Edmonton West.

It is an honour to stand and speak to Bill C-77.

Today we are talking about Bill C-77 and the military justice reforms from the government. Essentially in the eleventh hour and pre-writ for the most part, the government has chosen to table a bill which it has said is going to be absolutely transformative and is so important. The Liberals believe very strongly in it, yet there are so many other pieces of legislation that came before this bill, such as changing the words to our national anthem and the cannabis piece of legislation, and now we have Bill C-77 which talks about enshrining victims' rights into our military justice system.

I will say right at the outset that the Conservatives always err on the side of victims and believe that victims' rights should always be there. As a matter of fact, it was our previous Conservative government that enacted the Victims Bill of Rights Act. We support enshrining victims' rights into the military justice system. It is why we introduced Bill C-71.

People who are listening to this debate should not get that bill confused with the backdoor registry Bill C-71 that has been talked about in the last couple of weeks, which the Liberal government is trying to bring through this House and unfairly punish law-abiding gun owners. I am talking about Bill C-71 which was brought forward by the previous Conservative government. The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour actually thanked us. It will go down in Hansard that we actually had a Liberal thanking us for all the hard work that we did. We actually did the hard work on this file.

Bill C-71 and Bill C-77 are almost identical, with the exception of a couple of minor things. All the Liberals did was take the cover page off and change the name, which is what we see them do very often with a lot of the good pieces of legislation they have brought forward. They did change C-71 to C-77. They have to put their Liberal spin on it, and we will get into that in a bit.

Also, prior to getting into the depth of this, I will say that this is not my file. I do not profess to be proficient in all the legal terms and all the benefits that Bill C-77 would bring, but I will talk about victims' rights.

It is interesting that earlier during question period and throughout the week, we were talking about a gentleman who committed a heinous crime and through the course of committing that crime gave himself PTSD. He committed murder. He actually murdered an off-duty police officer, put her into a garbage bin and then rolled it out and like trash tossed her aside. Now he has actually stepped in line with veterans, stepped in line before the veterans, and is receiving mental health services.

I receive messages from veterans and first responders every day about mental health challenges. I also receive messages every day from victims of crime who felt that when the Liberal government came in and started its hug-a-thug programs, the process was rigged against them. I actually get calls and messages from law enforcement officers who say that the system is now rigged against them, that it is harder for them to do their job. We should be doing everything in our power to give those whom we trust to protect us, our silent sentinels, every tool to be able to do their job, to be able to do their mission and come home and remain healthy and productive.

We should be giving the victims every opportunity to be protected and to know that when their day in court comes, the focus will be on them and their rights and not on the person who committed the crime.

I sat through the debate on Bill C-75. This is a piece of legislation where the government is looking to speed up our judicial process. We should not be speeding up the process. We should be making it effective, making sure that those who come before the courts get the appropriate rights and freedoms that we all enjoy, but those who are found guilty, if they do the crime, they better do the time.

I will not get into that. I am not a lawyer, but there is a lawyer sitting in front of me. There are far too many lawyer jokes that I could insert here, but I will not do that.

It was interesting to sit through the debate on Bill C-75. I listened to the witnesses who came before committee. They were very articulate and they all said the same thing. They all had the same concerns. They said we should not weaken our system, that we should make sure that victims are not revictimized through the court process. They want to know that they will get their day in court, that every tool available will be there to make sure that the perpetrator of a crime, if found guilty, will serve the time.

Bill C-77 is almost a carbon copy of Bill C-71. There are a couple of changes which I will talk to right now.

The main difference between the two bills is the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act in Bill C-77. This addition would mean that aboriginal members of the Canadian Armed Forces who face charges under the National Defence Act may face lighter punishment if convicted. I will not say “will”. This document says “will”, but I would say “may”. I still believe in our judicial system. They may face lighter punishment if convicted.

It also would mean special consideration for indigenous members, taking in their background and perhaps what they went through. We have heard horrific stories over the years.

We need to make sure that there is a parallel system and the addition of special consideration for indigenous members that results in sentences that are perhaps less harsh versus their other CAF colleagues and comrades. The concern would be that perhaps that could undermine operational discipline, morale, and anti-racism policies. It may be well intended but it could have unintended negative consequences.

We support getting the bill to committee where we can study it further and hear from groups that come before us and offer their opinions. I look forward to that.

I want to go back to the couple of hours of discussions I sat through on Bill C-75. I am conscious of the short amount of time I have to speak, but I want to comment on this. My hon. colleague down the way mentioned this as well. First, we should do everything in our power to give those who are enforcing our laws every tool possible for them to complete their mission and to remain healthy. Second, we should be doing whatever we can to make sure that we institute mental health components within our legislation to make sure that they come home healthy. We should not be trying to speed up our judicial system. We should be finding ways to make it effective.

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September 21st, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I decided to join my colleagues today in speaking to Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. Throughout the day we have heard some wonderful speeches explaining a lot of the great good that the bill would eventually do. We are very honoured to have a lot of veterans from our Armed Forces serving as MPs who have given some wonderful insight. I want to thank them for that and also for the general nonpartisan discourse we have heard today.

I call the bill the “freaky Friday bill” because the government has basically swapped titles with a bill by the previous Conservative government. For those who are not followers of pop culture, Freaky Friday was a movie in which Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis played daughter-mom characters who switched bodies. It is quite interesting that the Liberal government has consistently labelled the opposition as Harper Conservatives, yet it does not hesitate to try to pass off Harper Conservative legislation as its own, as it is doing with Bill C-77. There is barely a sentence muttered by that side of the House that does not blame every problem under the sun on Harper Conservatives. It is kind of funny to be debating the Liberals' copy of the Harper Conservatives' legislation. It is too bad that the government does not copy the Harper Conservatives' commitment to victims of crime.

We are debating a bill that is almost a direct clone of a previous military justice reform bill, Bill C-71. It was introduced by the Harper government because it was simply the right thing to do. We believe that someone needed to stand up for victims of sexual misconduct and other forms of discrimination in the armed forces. It is the ultimate irony that we are debating victims' rights in this legislation on the day when question period was focused on the government giving military benefits to a murderer who never served a second in our military, but I digress.

The bill introduced today shows that the Liberals are following the good examples that our party set by keeping the items that we had in our bill, including enshrining the victims bill of rights into the National Defence Act, putting a statute of limitations of six months on summary hearing cases, and clarifying what cases should be handled by a summary hearing.

The fact that it took the Liberals three years to introduce the bill is disgraceful. It confirms the Liberals' position that victims' rights are secondary to basically everything else. It should come as no surprise, considering how long the government is taking to appoint judges to ensure that those arrested for horrific crimes are not set free due to judicial delays.

We had a a gang member suspected of committing mass murder released in Calgary as a result of the government's refusal to appoint judges. This gang member, who is suspected by the Calgary police of murdering up to 20 people in Calgary, has been set free. Moreover, another accused murderer was set free in Edmonton due to the government's inability to appoint judges. A man in Nova Scotia who broke both of his infant child's legs with a baseball bat was set free due to delays because the government will not prioritize justice.

Here we have waited three years for this legislation to be brought to the House, legislation that is almost identical to Bill C-71 by the previous government. It is not as if the Liberals had to start from scratch, yet it took them three years to bring it to the floor.

I want to look at some of the legislation brought in by the Liberals that is apparently of higher priority than victims' rights. Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing), was brought in to address their own unethical fundraising scams. They were caught selling access to ministers, so they brought in legislation to curtail their own unethical fundraising. Of course, they probably continue to allow lobbyists to pay for direct access to the ministers. Here is a thought: Why not just act ethically and not require legislation to address their cash for access scandals, and instead prioritize this legislation for victims?

Bill C-58 would amend the Access to Information Act, but the Liberals have still have not done anything with it. Access to information is very important, but the legislation introduced by the Liberal Party watered down access and transparency. The Liberals took the time to introduce legislation that would weaken Canadians' access to information and put it as a higher priority than legislation for victims.

Earlier, the government House leader, who introduced Bill C-24, was heckling me about government priorities. Bill C-24 aimed to pay ministers of state at the same rate as ministers and changed the official title of the public works department act. That ridiculous bill basically just changed the salary of certain ministers of state to match cabinet ministers' salaries.

Legislation already existed to allow the Liberals to do that, but they had to bring in new legislation for certain unnecessary reasons. They also spent time changing the official name of Public Works to Public Services and Procurement Canada. They spent days in the House debating that bill, days in committee studying it. How is this possibly more important or a greater priority than victims' rights? It is another example of poor leadership by the Prime Minister and how he is constantly failing our troops. It is just like the used jets, taking away tax relief for troops fighting ISIS, saying that veterans are asking for too much, and doing absolutely nothing to get our troops the equipment they need in the numbers they need. The government is failing our troops.

Our previous Conservative government focused on restoring victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system. It is why we introduced Bill C-71, which mirrored the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights that was adopted by Parliament, to ensure that those same rights were incorporated into military law. It was the result of several years of work and took into account the hundreds of submissions and consultations held with victims and groups concerned with victims' rights.

We have seen what the Liberal government has done for our troops and veterans over the last three years, so we are not going to hold our breath that it is will actually move forward with the legislation here.

This can be seen from the Liberals' consistent commitment to progress on a variety of items. For example, they set-up studies and ignore the findings, introduce legislation and then wash their hands of the issue.

I would like to talk about the government's beloved wordplay exercise “what I say and what I mean”. The government specifically says “investment” rather than “spend”, so it can completely sidestep any responsibility for action because, technically, introducing a bill on an issue is an investment, an investment in time and news releases.

We note there are very few instances of the government actually putting spending in place for any given investment opportunity. In cases where legislation is introduced, we see few instances of achieved results. The government's “Strong, Secure, Engaged” plan for our troops is a prime example. It touts its record investments, but experts agree that the likelihood of its being executed is slim to none.

According to a report published by Dave Perry at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, there is a significant gap between spending allocations and capital spending. Perry writes:

As a percentage increase relative to 2016/2017, the capital projections in SSE would see spending increase by 98 per cent in the policy’s first year, 106 per cent in its second, 172 per cent in its sixth and by 315 per cent by 2024/2025.

These increases in spending are not comparable to any other time in Canadian history except the Korean War. We have pie in the sky ideas from the government on what it is going to do, but when it comes to actually doing it, our troops are left empty-handed. Suffice it to say, while the intentions behind this bill are sound, the likelihood of the government's actioning them is slim.

I would like to go through a couple of other things the government has on the go, things like “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, as I mentioned; Phoenix, and of course we know where that is; Trans Mountain, with billions of dollars being spend on a pipeline that is not getting built; and the veterans hiring act. We actually met in committee yesterday and discussed why the government was not moving on that. We just received a shrug from the Liberal members and witnesses. Other items include infrastructure and electoral reform. Again and again, we see the government making commitments it does not follow through on. There is also the issue of fighter jets, buying old jets from Australia so it does not have to take the political hit for buying the F-35 in an election year. It is going to take the government longer to procure sleeping bags for our troops than it takes our NATO allies to run open competitions for their new fighter jets.

While being similar in a number of ways with the Conservative government's previous bill, Bill C-77 is different in some key ways. That is why this side of the House would like to see it further discussed and debated at committee. As with any legislation, especially as it pertains to our troops, we should ensure that due diligence is done, that our concerns about certain areas are discussed, and that the bill is discussed with experts and officials at committee. Conservatives very much support enshrining victims' rights in the military justice system. It is why we introduced Bill C-71 in the previous Parliament.

Victims' rights are important. This legislation is important. Here is to hoping it does not get added to the government's long list of items on its mandate tracker as “under way with challenges”.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate and to follow my friend from Edmonton on Bill C-77. It is about military justice and some consequential amendments to other acts.

I want to say that the previous speaker from Edmonton is a huge supporter of our troops and we will be talking a lot about the Canadian Armed Forces one on one in the coming days because of that support within his family for our armed services. He answered a very simple question at the end in a way which certainly the Liberals would not recognize in the House that, yes, Bill C-77 is very similar to the Harper government's Bill C-71.

The Liberals only use the name “Harper” when they have to hide from their failures. They are trying to project that everything going wrong now with the pipelines, with their own abysmal record of putting a murderer ahead of veterans at veterans affairs, is somehow Harper's fault. They say that everything is Harper's fault. There is never accountability on that side of the House. I hope they go back to their ridings this weekend and reflect on that. They have been in government for three years pretty much and they should start taking ownership for their failures.

This bill is so similar to Bill C-71 that we certainly want to see it go forward. We want to see the impacts. There really are only a few small differences between Bill C-71 from the Conservative government and Bill C-77. I should explain to people who are following this debate why Bill C-71 did not pass. It was introduced late in the fourth year of the term and did not receive royal assent.

Essentially, there are only three changes. There are some changes with respect to the impact of the Gladue decision in respect to the sentencing of indigenous peoples. We will have to see how that application goes with military justice because certainly all Canadians, regardless of background, choose to join the Canadian Armed Forces and therefore adopt their ethos and code, the code of conduct expected in the military justice system and the National Defence Act.

I would like to also compliment the Canadian Armed Forces, which in the last 10 years through the aboriginal learning opportunity year, the ALOY, at the Royal Military College and a number of recruiting initiatives, are trying to make sure that first nations see themselves more in the Canadian Armed Forces and important institutions like that.

I am very proud of the fact that when I spoke in the U.S. Capitol building on the recognition of the First Special Service Force, the Devil's Brigade, the first special operations unit where Canadians and Americans served alongside each other, the only veteran I mentioned individually by name was aboriginal veteran Tommy Prince, the “prince of the regiment”, as he was known for unbelievable bravery and cunning while he was part of the Devil's Brigade.

While I am on that note, this is how we should approach the modern age. Rather than stripping names off buildings like the Langevin Block, let us put people up today. Let us highlight people like Tommy Prince. Our most accomplished sniper of the last war was an aboriginal Canadian from the Muskoka area in Ontario. The member from that area has talked about him quite a bit. We should highlight people that were overlooked in history rather than remove or erase people who are here from our history. However, that is a diversion.

The other two differences are some changes to absolute discharge provisions between the last bill and this bill and some terminology changes. Instead of a “summary trial” it will be a “summary hearing” and those sorts of things. That is why, as my friend from Edmonton said, of course we want to see this bill go through. This was one of the bills to really bring the military justice system and the National Defence Act in line with modern Criminal Code amendments. That was a huge accomplishment from the Conservative government. Once again, we will not hear the Liberals talking about this, but when it comes to putting victims at the front of our justice system and modernizing our Criminal Code to make sure that it addresses cyberbullying and changes in technology, we were always trying to do that to make sure that the victim was not forgotten in the criminal justice system.

While I am speaking on national defence, which everyone in this House knows is very personal for me, I think the most formative years of my life were the 12 years I served in the Canadian Armed Forces. I left it having taken more from that experience than I had to give for my country. I left without any serious injury. I left before the Afghanistan war. I know people who were injured and killed in that conflict.

Therefore, I feel a sense of responsibility as a Canadian and as a parliamentarian to make sure that our Canadian Armed Forces and our veterans are supported. That is why we are talking justice and we are talking the military.

It is an affront to the military, to veterans and to our justice system that the Prime Minister of Canada stood in the House and defended a convicted murderer receiving treatment.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
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Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member would have heard, before I got sidelined with the heckling from his benches, that we would like to see this go to committee. I mentioned the three slight differences between Bill C-71 and Bill C-77.

I find this most interesting, and I hope Canadians who are watching do as well. The Prime Minister stood in the House and said that this was a treatment that should be available for Mr. Garnier. Whenever we hold the Liberals to account for that, they attack. I am sorry, but I am here as an opposition member to hold them to account. That is what Canadians want us to do. If they take that as an attack, it is a sign that they are failing.

In the case of Garnier, which I got into because of heckling from the Liberal benches, nothing shows a disconnect with what Canadians expect of their government more than allowing a murderer to jump ahead of veterans.