The military says it has referred 93 cases of criminal sexual offences to civilian police since December 2021, and 64 of the cases are under investigation.
An independent report released a year ago recommended the government remove jurisdiction over such cases from military police after a series of sexual misconduct scandals involving high-ranking officers.
Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau, the Canadian Forces provost marshal, says in a written update that 29 cases the military tried to pass along were declined by federal, provincial or municipal police forces.
Trudeau has not given reasons for those rejections, but there have been complaints from some police forces and from the province of Ontario about the strain the additional cases puts on their resources.
Another 97 cases reported to the military police were never passed along to another force.
Trudeau says in 20 of those cases, the victim asked for military police to oversee the case and in others, victims chose not to proceed with an investigation at all.
On Thursday, officials from the Defence Department and the Canadian Armed Forces released an update on their efforts to implement the 48 recommendations made in former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour’s report last May.
Defence Minister Anita Anand laid out a plan last December to implement the changes.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Anand said that a federal-provincial-territorial committee has been set up to facilitate conversations between deputy ministers about the transfer of cases of criminal sexual offences.
In the meantime, the Armed Forces has agreements in place with the RCMP, Sûreté du Québec and now the Ontario Provincial Police to refer cases to police for investigation, officials said.
In her report, Arbour warned that Ottawa and the provinces could end up engaged in “interminable discussions” about the matter if the federal government did not formally make the change.
Charlotte Duval-Lantoine of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, who has written a book on military sexual misconduct, said the military’s justice system is not designed to handle these cases.
“The military justice system is not made for that,” she said in an interview Thursday.
“It’s not to get justice. It’s for good order and discipline in the organization.”
The NDP has called on the Liberals to introduce legislation to permanently remove such cases from the military’s jurisdiction.
The Canadian Press