Mr. Harris, I hope my comments make it clear that I find it not only disturbing but somewhat frightening that we would take that step back. The independence of the police, to me, is the same in the civilian context, where the Supreme Court, in the Campbell decision, found it was an underpinning of the rule of law.
We've come a long way in the military police context. At one point the function of the police in the military context was often largely a matter of force of personality.
I'm going to share with you one anecdote. When, as a lieutenant, I was first made the officer in charge of the military police unit at CFB Kingston, within my first couple of days I was taken aside by a senior officer in the administration and informed that the local base custom was that if an officer was stopped, having been drinking and driving, he was to be driven home. He was not to be run for impaired driving. That was for officers, not non-commissioned officers.
I couldn't live with that. Thankfully, I had a base commander who was brand new to this base, and when I went to see him in what could have been a career-stopping move, I asked whether this was his custom. I said it wasn't mine and I couldn't work with it. It was not career-stopping, because he agreed with me.
On the Somalia cases themselves, when the death of a 16-year-old boy occurred in Somalia, there were only two military policemen in that Canadian Forces contingent, the sergeant and a very young corporal. The sergeant was out on R and R. The corporal didn't know what to do. The commanding officer started a summary investigation of a death by torture. The sergeant came back. He was older and more experienced and had a very forceful personality. He put his hand up and said, “Something's wrong here. This is a criminal offence. This is a police matter.” He had what's referred to often in the military as “the brass” to communicate directly back to NDHQ, to military police headquarters. Then what sealed the deal was that when one of the perpetrators attempted suicide the following day, there was a kerfuffle in terms of administering medical aid, and there just happened to be a contingent of visiting press on scene. The cat was out of the bag.