File photo of Canadian flag on military uniform. (Photo: The Canadian Press)"One of the constant parts of discussion, particularly in the context of things like sexual offences, is why does the military have to have jurisdiction over sexual offences in courts martial?" Holman said in an interview. "Why can't it go downtown? We'll take a look at that." Holman is leading the year-long review, which was ordered in the summer by the judge advocate general, Maj.-Gen. Blaise Cathcart. While the military justice system has been regularly updated over the years, particularly in 1998 after the Somalia Inquiry, Holman said this is the first real top-to-bottom examination since the 1950s. Holman acknowledged there are concerns about the system, particularly as it relates to sexual offences. And he said those complaints as well as defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance's pledge to stamp out such misconduct "had some impact" on the decision to open the review.
Canada's Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance takes part in a news conference upon the release of a progress report on addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces on Aug. 30. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
The review will also look at other areas, such as how evidence is used in courts martial and whether the military has the right offences and punishments. And in the end, Holman said, it could find the current system is the best for the Canadian military. "If we end up with the same scheme that we've got now, we will know darn well why we ended up with the same scheme." Lawyer Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel who now represents many military clients, described Canada's military justice system as "so out of date it's not funny." He said there are many concerns, starting with a desperate need for stronger victims' rights. But he said he had "no confidence" that the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) could fix the system themselves. He noted that many changes approved by Parliament in 2013, some of which would help victims of military crimes, still haven't been implemented, which he blamed on the JAG. The military's top prosecutor and the deputy commander of military police recently called for those changes to be implemented, saying they would help victims of military sexual offences. Holman would only say the JAG is working on implementing the changes. Rather than having military officials conduct the review, Drapeau said parliamentarians should be in the lead. He said that is what happens in the U.S., where congressional committees are responsible. - Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter
“If we end up with the same scheme that we've got now, we will know darn well why we ended up with the same scheme.”
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