04/20/2015 10:34 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 01:12 EDT

Watchdog says families still deemed outsiders when military investigates deaths

OTTAWA - The country's military watchdog says the families of soldiers who die in the line of duty remain on the outside looking in when it comes to Defence Department investigations.In a new report, Canadian Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne recommends a family co-ordinator position be established to work with relatives and figure out how best to involve them in the complex board of inquiry process.The inquiries are technical investigations that look at the circumstances surrounding deaths, and whether military procedures or practices contributed to the tragedy.But they are often the source of frustrations and confusion for families, who complain about being kept in the dark and even accuse the military of using the inquiries as a way to cover up misdeeds.The most high-profile example involves the recently concluded public inquiry into the 2008 suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, during which his parents were long denied a copy of the investigation report.Walbourne notes the military has instituted a series of organizational improvements and ended a backlog of dozens of investigations, but boards of inquiry remain difficult to understand for many families.