Feds aim to close gap by unveiling victims’ bill of rights for military cases

OTTAWA — The federal government is promising to close what some consider significant and long-standing gaps within the country’s military court system with a new declaration of the rights of victims.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan unveiled proposed legislation on Thursday, which would provide victims in military cases with many of the same rights to information, protection and participation as those already available in the civilian system.

“This is the right thing to do,” Sajjan told a news conference at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. “This will ensure victims have a voice and that their voices are heard.”

The new legislation would also require military tribunals to consider the circumstances of Indigenous offenders when deciding on jail time and require formal courts martial for criminal cases rather than leaving some with unit commanders.

The measures, if adopted, would represent a dramatic change to the way victims interact with the military justice system, which a recent internal review found was perceived as being unfair and opaque.

The legislation is similar to changes proposed by the Harper government in June 2015, but which died a few weeks later with the start of the federal election campaign. It is considered long overdue by many inside and outside the military.

While Canada’s bill of rights for victims came into effect three years ago, it exempted the military court system, much to the chagrin of many, particularly given concerns about sexual misconduct in the Forces.

The military’s top prosecutor and a senior Canadian Forces military police officer both told The Canadian Press in 2016 that they wanted a victims’ bill of rights for military tribunals.

The federal victims’ ombudsman also flagged concerns about “the gap in the rights of victims of crime within the Canadian military justice system” in November 2016.

The proposed changes come only a few weeks before federal auditor general Michael Ferguson is scheduled to release a report on the military justice system.

Sajjan defended the fact it took three years for the legislation to be introduced, given its similarities to what the Harper government proposed, saying the Liberals took the time necessary to deliver for the Canadian Forces and victims.

Just Posted

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

Cannabis smoke raises health concerns

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Avid Penhold climber Catlin Hannah’s death a reminder of the dangers of scrambling

Hannah never returned from his Mount Smuts attempt on Aug. 12.

Children, elderly at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

VANCOUVER — Thick smoke blanketing British Columbia communities far from any flames… Continue reading

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the… Continue reading

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

ESCUMINAC, N.B. — Ottawa has announced $189 million for an employment insurance… Continue reading

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in next year’s election

MONTREAL — Justin Trudeau will run again in the 2019 federal election.… Continue reading

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

VANCOUVER — More smoky, hazy air is expected to blanket much of… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline protesters released days before weeklong jail sentences end

MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. — Several pipeline protesters were released from a British… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Trump says his White House counsel not a ‘RAT’ like Nixon’s

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his White House… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month