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Defence Minister Bill Blair speaks with reporters in Nov. 2023. Image: CPAC video capture

Ottawa proposes changes to military justice system

By Brad Perry Mar 21, 2024 | 4:00 PM

Sexual offences involving Canadian military members may soon be handled exclusively by civilian authorities.

National Defence Minister Bill Blair introduced legislation on Thursday to amend the National Defence Act.

Among the changes, the proposed legislation would permanently remove the military’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute sexual offences committed in Canada.

That was one of the recommendations made in two independent reviews examining sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Blair’s legislation would also change how three key military justice authorities — the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, the Director of Military Prosecutions, and the Director of Defence Counsel Services — are appointed.

The positions would become Governor-in-Council appointments to remove any “real or perceived influence” from the chain of command.

This legislation also seeks to expand the eligibility criteria for military judges to include non-commissioned members in order to help diversify the pool of potential candidates.