Courts martial deny soldiers the very rights they defend (part five of the Canadian Military Justice series)

Canada’s military courts martial are unfair, unjust and un-Canadian. They deny Canadian soldiers the basic rights that other Canadians are guaranteed and that military personnel are called upon to defend:

Canada’s Broken Military Justice (part four of the Canadian Military Justice series)

Canadian military law has a patchwork history. Nova Scotia passed its first Militia Act in 1758; New Brunswick followed in 1787; Lower Canada in 1803; Upper Canada in 1808 and, eventually, Canada enacted its first federal Militia Act in 1868. During the Boer War and both World Wars Canadian military personnel were subject to British military justice, the same system that executed 25 Canadians during the First World War. Canada’s National Defence Act (NDA) came into force in 1950:

Military Justice in Need of Reform (part three of the Canadian Military Justice series)

Dawn Thomson was the subject of a cover story, Rape in the Military, in the May 25, 1998, issue of Maclean’s magazine, in which she recounted being sexually assaulted while assigned to the Royal Canadian Navy’s West Coast installation. The article also told of 13 other women who were sexually assaulted, suggesting a pattern of sexual abuse of servicewomen:

Charter Rights Ignored in the Military Justice System (part two of the Canadian Military Justice series)

THE CHARTER makes no exceptions for Canada’s armed forces and our military personnel do not lose their rights as they take the Oath of Allegiance. But military personnel tried by summary trials are subjected to a modern version of medieval justice. They are denied the most basic and important rights the Charter guarantees to all Canadians. Summary trials assess Canadian Armed Forces members accused of minor wrongdoing more informally and expeditiously than the alternative, the court martial, which deals with more serious infractions. The summary trial is the principal method through which Canadian military personnel are tried:

Order in the Court Martial (part one of the Canadian Military Justice series)

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian law and Canadian values are not a tide that lifts all boats equally. On their enrolment, personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) forfeit many of their Charter rights and freedoms. Penalties for “infractions” are much more severe in the military context:

I think I made a mistake

In my last column published Sept. 30, I wrote that “I could be forgiven for concluding that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are ambivalent about Canada’s military.” With Harjit Sajjan’s appointment as minister of National Defence, I might have to eat my own words:

Trudeau flies by night on F-35 replacement

I could be forgiven for concluding that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are ambivalent about Canada’s military and simply hate the Royal Canadian Air Force:

Selecting MacKay as NATO head would reward Canada’s heavy lifting

It’s time for a change in Canada’s role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Recognition for our contributions and participation over the past 66 years is overdue. We have been punching above our weight pretty much since the beginning, when Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent first proposed a “single mutual defence system”:

Canada’s been traffic cop in the Indian Ocean

For more than four months, the Royal Canadian Navy’s Commodore Brian Santarpia was the chief traffic cop of the Indian Ocean. He assumed command of the multinational counter-terrorism task force, Combined Task Force 150, from Commodore Sajid Mahmood of the Pakistan navy at Bahrain on Dec. 4, 2014:

Suicide probe further proof military police not up to task

The dust is settling too quickly on the battle between Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Rob Delaney and Military Police Complaints Commissioner Glenn Stannard. The Military Police Complaints Commission issued its report on the investigations into the suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge on March 10:

Tackling youth unemployment should be Job 1

The plot to launch a Valentine’s Day homicidal attack on patrons of the Halifax Shopping Centre had me retrieve your article, “Lives of Nova Scotia’s youth much worse than decade ago” from last October’s Chronicle Herald:

HMCS Toronto a foreign-policy workhorse

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea on March 18 and the subsequent turmoil in eastern Ukraine impelled the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to implement military measures to reinforce the Alliance’s collective defence on April 16:

The cyber economy’s soft underbelly

The Internet is critical to Canadian commerce and to federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments. The federal government alone offers more than 130 commonly used services online, including tax returns, Employment Insurance applications and student loan applications:

Out at sea, navy crews can’t dial 911

Following the Feb. 27 fire on HMCS Protecteur, one of the crew told a television reporter, “When you’re at sea, there’s no 911 to call.” The ship, with a crew of 279 sailors, was 600 kilometres from Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, when the engine room erupted in flames:

Here’s what you’d miss if Forces were neutered

“The government is misspending,” Canadian Voice of Women for Peace spokeswoman told Chronicle Herald reporter Emma Davie at the group’s April 14 demonstration. “They spend twice as much on military as they do on education and health care combined.”

While I commend the group for its idealism, its spokespersons should take greater pains to ensure the accuracy of the information upon which they base their idealism:

A rescue mission for troubled vets

Their demons were born in the various Canadian missions in far-away places like Bosnia Herzegovina, Rwanda, Somalia and Afghanistan. Military and RCMP members return from these deployments haunted by the events they witnessed in places where our nation has sent them:

Security forum provides perspective and retrospective

Three hundred of the world’s foremost thinkers, influencers and decision-makers converge on Halifax this weekend to discuss global security issues, including America’s global involvement, Syria, the rise of China and Canada’s Arctic:

First in service, last in honours

November 7, 2013 On a per capita basis, more members of the Canadian Forces come from Nova Scotia than from any other province. An estimated 12 per cent of the military is made up of Bluenosers:

Military trials passé

My Sept. 18 column, “Courts martial far less fair than jury trial” seems to have struck a nerve with selected members of the legal profession:

Courts martial far less fair than jury trials

“Canada has one of the best military justice systems in the world,” Col. Michael Gibson, the Canadian Armed Forces’ Deputy Judge Advocate of Military Justice, wrote in the Spring 2012 edition of the Canadian Military Journal:

Soldiers can now march to the ballot box

Overseas military personnel now free to march to ballot box. Members of Canada’s military have always recognized that there were some inequities between the members of the military community and the rest of the Canadian population. These were frequently met with the quip, “We are here to defend democracy, not practise it”:

HMCS Toronto’s mission misunderstood

There are some columnists, correspondents and commentators I call RAVEs — reporters against virtually everything — who believe that Canada’s engagement in international operations is a waste of tax dollars. Operations such as the RCN’s participation in the 28-nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), they say, are unnecessary and expensive:

SAR centre’s reach spans vast territory

With more than 2,700 search and rescue missions last year, the Halifax-based Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) is Canada’s busiest. Some incidents were minor, resolved with a minimum of effort while others involved significant risks for the victims of maritime mishaps, accidents and catastrophes:

Canadian military’s ‘eye in the sky’

The 10,000-tonne meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelabinsk on Feb. 15 released 500 kilotonnes of energy, shattering windows and injuring more than 1,000 people. But it was not the first projectile from space that has caused havoc:

Tinker, Tailor, Sailor, Spy

Military spy Jeffrey Delisle’s arrest, conviction and sentencing opened the door for politicos and pundits to predict that this caper would seriously damage Canada’s relationship with our closest allies. But if our allies are pointing the proverbial accusing finger at Canada, then three are pointing back at themselves. Each has had its turn through the espionage turnstile:

Small but resilient: Canadian Forces meet international challenges

When the Iron Curtain between Eastern and Western Europe drew back, Canadians hopefully believed we were entering a time when “peace is breaking out all over.” But these are unrealized hopes, and Canada has been engaged in military operations virtually non-stop since the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Today, of Canada’s 22 operations, three in particular stand out:

International security forum establishes Halifax as world-class city

Some say that the recent annual Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) is a waste of funds, a waste of time and a waste of a weekend. They are wrong:

Respect for Corvette: Nation’s naval memorial needs permanent home

The German submarine U-30 torpedoed the British ship SS Athenia the previous day as she carried more than 1,000 passengers and several hundred crew from Glasgow to Montreal. Sinking stern first into the waters of the North Atlantic, her demise began the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest battle of the Second World War:

Joining forces good for N.S. health care

The Canadian Forces Surgeon General has embedded medical specialists and nurses in the provincial health-care system. The Halifax Infirmary and Dartmouth General have military physicians who
specialize in orthopedics, anesthesia and internal medicine, and Amherst has a military anesthesiologist, all at no cost to the Nova Scotia taxpayer:

Military model might help cure what ails N.S. health-care system

A Canadian medical technician radioed for advice to physician assistant Chief Petty Officer Peter Jardine at his forward operating base in Afghanistan. A military policeman had lost both legs and an arm to an IED and was bleeding out. He wanted to make sure he was doing everything right until the helicopter arrived:

HRM joins Forces to prepare for crises

Halifax is no stranger to emergency and crisis in recent years: hurricane Juan in September 2003, the blizzard of February 2004; and even the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon caused airliners to be rerouted to Canadian airports, including Halifax International:

 Peacekeeping passé

Why isn’t Canada a peacekeeper any longer?

Lester Pearson’s model for the first peacekeeping mission, sparked by the 1956 Suez Crisis, resulted in three decades of deployments for Canadian troops under United Nations auspices. Peacekeeping was, we believed, in our national DNA, and commentators, journalists and politicians boasted that this was the Canadian Forces’ default setting:é.pdf

 The Oceans: Our New “Wild West — 02 June 2012:

Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, retired commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, once described the world’s oceans as anything but peaceful and placid — more like “the wild west.” He spoke of maritime piracy, human trafficking and the global drug trade, and how these threats to Canadian security are carried out on the world’s oceans:

Our other Remembrance Day: Battle of Atlantic Sunday — 05 May 2012:

She turned 70 years old on Dec. 30 last year, and she is the last remaining of her family of 123 sister ships. HMCS Sackville is the last Canadian-built corvette, Canada’s oldest warship and our official Naval Memorial since 1985:

The costing challenge of flying Forces’ executive Challenger jets — 31 March 2012

DND’s financial analysts are affectionately called “bean counters” in recognition of their unique abilities to determine the exact cost of just about anything that is done within the Defence Department and the Canadian Forces:

Journalists sub-par on sub debate — 03 March 2012

When New York Times writer Paul Krugman observed, “the people who talk the most understand the least,” he could easily have been thinking about some Canadian television reporters and commentators as they breathlessly told of the damage to the submarine HMCS Corner Brook:

Is lasting peace possible in post‐2014 Afghanistan? — 04 February 2012

NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan ends in two years, amid questions about the country’s ability to manage its own security when the alliance, Canada included, departs:

Canadian Forces preparing defence for uncertain future — 07 January 2012

There are Canadians who delight in accusing our military leaders of only being able to fight the last war. Our generals and admirals, they tell us, have no foresight and vision and cannot look ahead at the challenges that Canada faces in our uncertain future:

Military on Guard during Christmas — 21 December 2011

The song I’ll Be Home For Christmas has become hugely significant for anyone away from home during the holiday season, but there are many who won’t be joining their families for gift‐opening around the tree and the family Christmas dinner:

Guardians of the world’s gateways — 03 December 2011

Eight of Canada’s provinces and all our Northern territories have oceanic shorelines. The 1,287‐kilometre St. Lawrence Seaway and the navigable passages through the Great Lakes extend from the Atlantic to Thunder Bay on the Canadian side and Duluth, Minn., on the U.S. side — about 3,800 km — almost halfway through the country. While no surprise to Nova Scotians, many Canadians do not understand that we are a maritime nation, and that this can bring ship‐borne threats:

Let’s remember all our fallen — November 5, 2011

Since Canada began military operations in Afghanistan in 2002, Remembrance Day has become far more than the “November holiday” and has gained more poignancy among Canadians, boosting attendance at war memorials and cenotaphs throughout the nation:

Lt.‐Gen Leslie’s Military Transformation: out of step with military’s needs — 01 October 2011

Lieutenant‐General (Lt.‐Gen.) Andrew Leslie, DND’s outgoing Chief of Transformation, submitted his “Report on Transformation 2011” at an interesting nexus: there are recurring fiscal crises in the U.S. since the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; several European nations are embroiled in their own financial maelstroms arising from sovereign debt crises; Canada’s wisdom in averting previous financial problems may not save us from looming difficulties brought on by the troubled nations on both sides of the Atlantic; and the Canadian Forces have finished their combat mission in Kandahar to undertake a training assignment in Kabul:

F‐35: a case for the defence — 03 September 2011

Replacing Canada’s aging CF-188 Hornet with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning joint strike fighter (JSF) has sparked accusations that there was no competitive process, the F-35 is too expensive, and Canada does not need a fifth-generation combat aircraft:

HMCS Charlottetown and the Battle of Misrata — 06 August 2011

Canada’s Navy may be small in comparison with other nations’ maritime forces, but the work of HMCS Charlottetown off the coast of Libya is an indication of how much our allies respect our maritime forces and how valuable our Navy is to Canada and to international stabilization operations:

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