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Canadian military law.

The Canadian Forces is a vast organization with the onerous task of protecting Canada, contributing to peace in the world and protecting Canadian interests abroad. They also have a collection of GREAT websites which provide information to military personnel, their families and the public.

Our Canadian Military also has its own legal system. Just like television, the Canadian Forces has an office of the Judge Advocate General. The JAG website ( reports on the duties of this office: The key duties and functions of the office of the JAG are defined by Canadian law. A key responsibility of the JAG, as defined by Canadian law, is the supervision of the offices of the prosecution and defence. Canadian military law, including the military system of justice, is a component of Canadian law and subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Recent amendments to the National Defence Act modernize and strengthen the military justice system by enhancing its transparency, fairness and effectiveness.

JAG contributes to the effectiveness of the Canadian Forces by advising on the legal issues during the training, planning, and conduct of domestic and international operations.

Another important component to military legal structure is the Office of the Chief Military Judge. This office also has its own website at The website describes the role of the military judge as follows:

* provide military judges to preside at courts martial and perform other judicial duties under the National Defence Act

* administer the convening of courts martial, the appointment of members of General and Disciplinary Courts Martial, and the provision of court reporting services and transcription of the proceedings of courts martial and other judicial hearings

* appoint military judges as boards of inquiry (with the concurrence of the Chief Military Judge)

A recent example of a Board of Inquiry appointed by the Office of the Chief Military Judge is Tarnak Farm 2002. This board was gathered to investigate the injury and death of Canadian Forces personnel during live fire training at or near Kandahar, Afghanistan on 17/18 of April, 2002.

Thanks to the wide availability of information available through Internet technology, the public can see exactly what steps were taken during the investigation, what the findings of the Board of Inquiry were, news releases about the events, what was said by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, and biographies of the soldiers who lost their lives. The Tarnak Farm 2002 Board of Inquiry website is at

The organizational chart from the Chief of the Defence Staff website shows where JAG fits in the structure of government.

The Office of the Chief Military Judge is independent of the military chain of command as was set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992 in its decision in R v. Genereux. Because Boards of Inquiry are appointed by this office, they too are independent of government.

More online information about military law is available from the main Department of National Defence Internet site located at The D-NET site has an abundance of information about the Canadian military including the following:

Army -- -- This site links you to information about Canada's army, including information about its command structure, organization, military equipment, uniforms, and decorations.

Navy -- -- Sail with Maritime Forces Atlantic, or get your feet wet with Maritime Forces Pacific. Read about the naval reserve, maritime peacekeeping, and much more in one of the command newsletters.

Air force -- -- This comprehensive site provides information on the history and evolution of Canada's air force, as well as its current missions, future direction, air-force leaders, groups, wings and squadrons. And there's lots more for flight buffs.

Recruiting -- -- Now hiring! A direct link to information on recruiting and career opportunities with the Canadian Forces.

Current operations -- -- This should be your first stop for information about Canada's participation in UN and NATO missions and operations abroad.

Defence policy -- -- This is the spot for serious students of Canadian defence and security issues. The directory provides information on Canadian defence policy, the activities of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, and the Security and Defence Forum. You can download the 1994 White Paper on Defence Policy, or browse selected speeches by senior departmental officials.

I Want to Know -- -- Need information on how to join the Canadian Forces? Need to know what NATO stands for? "I Want to Know" gives you a chance to get answers to questions you may have been afraid to ask.

The News Room -- -- At this site, you'll find daily updates on what's happening from across the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. What's the news of the day? What's the Minister doing? "The News Room" will provide you with late-breaking news on important activities, meetings, and events. You can also get background on current issues. Check out upcoming events so you don't miss any exciting occasions in your community. Journalists -- you may want to bookmark this page, because it's your one-stop news shop!

Where can you find decisions of the military courts?

The Canadian answer is Quicklaw! Subscribers to Quicklaw can access decisions reported in the Court Martial Appeal Reports from 1978 to 1994, plus decisions reported by Quicklaw since 1975. Summaries of recent Court Martial Appeals and Court Martial decisions can be accessed through the JAG website above.

The Canadian Military has a long and proud history. It has been very interesting to take an online look at military law in Canada. I would encourage you to check out some of the websites.
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Author:Mireau, Shaunna
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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