MND Message: Legislation to modernize the military justice system

MND Message: Legislation to modernize the military justice system

March 21, 2024


Today, I introduced legislation to amend the National Defence Act. This legislation includes a suite of targeted amendments to modernize the military justice system, addressing a key recommendation from former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour’s report, and eight recommendations from former Supreme Court Justice Morris J. Fish’s Independent Review.

As your Minister, I’d like to provide you with some more information about the changes that we are proposing.

Importantly, our proposed legislation would address Recommendation 5, made by former Supreme Court Justice Arbour. In response to this recommendation, our legislation would remove jurisdiction from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to investigate and prosecute Criminal Code sexual offences committed in Canada. With this change, civilian authorities would have exclusive jurisdiction for investigating and prosecuting these offences in Canada.

The other amendments in this legislation seek to, among other things, modify the process for the appointment of key military justice authorities, build on supports to victims, and ensure that the military justice system remains aligned with the Criminal Code and the civilian justice system.

It is my hope that our efforts to enhance and modernize the military justice system will rebuild trust and confidence and advance our work to transform the culture of this institution. As we proceed with this legislation, our work to implement all 48 of Madame Arbour’s recommendations will continue.

We have made considerable progress over the last several years to enact meaningful culture change, but legislative and policy changes alone are not enough to achieve the durable and lasting institutional reform that DND/CAF requires. I am also counting on all of you to help build a more inclusive, respectful, and professional workplace.

Today’s proposed amendments to the National Defence Act are an important step forward to bolster confidence and, ultimately, to build a more diverse and supportive institution that can attract and retain people from across our society.

I encourage everyone to learn more about the legislation introduced today and look forward to its implementation.

The Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of National Defence