June 1, 2021 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Today, the Minister of National Defence, Harjit S. Sajjan, tabled in Parliament the report on the Third Independent Review of specified provisions of the National Defence Act (NDA) and their operation. This review began in November 2020 and provides recommendations on one of the largest overhauls of the National Defence Act and Canadian military justice system in recent memory. Minister Sajjan thanks the Honourable Morris J. Fish, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, for his report.
The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) accept in principle the 107 recommendations made. In the short term, implementation will begin on 36 of Justice Fish’s recommendations. While this work is underway we will consult with stakeholders and survivors to make sure that we get the implementation of these recommendations right.
DND and CAF will finalize the analysis and implementation plan of all the remaining recommendations and will provide an update to the Standing Committee on National Defence by the fall. We also commit to providing twice yearly a report to the Standing Committee on National Defence on the progress on implementing recommendations.
The majority of the recommendations deal with the military justice system, including the independence of military justice actors and how issues of sexual misconduct are addressed, as well as military policing and police oversight. The remainder of the recommendations concern military grievances and the external review of grievances.
As part of the review, Justice Fish was provided access to CAF personnel and DND employees, as well as the members and staff of the Military Grievances External Review Committee, the Military Police Complaints Commission, and the DND/CAF Ombudsman.
This report follows Minister Sajjan’s recent announcement that Justice Louise Arbour is leading an Independent External Comprehensive Review into harassment and sexual misconduct in the DND/CAF. Justice Fish’s Independent Review report will enable Justice Arbour to build on the breadth and depth of research done to date related to sexual misconduct. We are committed to working with Justice Arbour to implement these recommendations as well as any recommendations that she provides as they come in to ensure that CAF members and employees at DND have a safe workplace environment.