STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL
DEFENCE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA DÉFENSE
NATIONALE ET DES ANCIENS COMBATTANTS
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, May 12, 1998
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood (Nipissing,
Lib.)): Welcome to this
morning's hearings on Bill C-25. We have a pretty
ambitious schedule this morning, so we'd like to get
going right away. I think we may be called in to vote
this morning at about 10.30, so we should get going.
We'd like to welcome Dr. Bland. Doctor, it's great that
you're here. As you know, we're studying Bill C-25 and
we were asked to submit a number of names of people
we would like to have appear before our committee.
You are one of those people who were selected by the
committee, and we're glad you are here.
Because of our time restraint, I would ask you to
keep your remarks to around 10 minutes, because I
know a number of people have some important questions
for you. Is that all right?
Dr. Doug Bland (Chair, Defence Management Studies
Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University):
That's fine by me.
The Chairman: The floor is yours, Doctor.
Dr. Doug Bland: Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to
speak with you this morning. I hope I can be of some
help to you. You may or may not know that besides
working in the academic world at the present time,
before that I spent 30 years as an officer in the
Canadian Armed Forces, in the army in particular, in
both command and staff positions.
I want to talk to you this morning a little bit about
the amendments to the National Defence Act, both from a
military point of view and an academic point of view.
On the academic side, for the last 10 or 15 years or
so I've been most interested in the organization and
functioning of National Defence Headquarters, and
particularly in the relationship between members of
Parliament, ministers of defence, deputy ministers and
chiefs of the defence staff. I've written two books in
that field; the latest one is a book on the chiefs of
defence—all the officers who have held that position
in the last 30 years.
When I was researching that
book, I was privileged to spend time speaking with
everyone who has ever been Chief of the Defence Staff, some
of them now deceased, and everyone who has since 1960
been a deputy minister in the department. So I have
some background in that relationship, and sometimes it's
been a troubled relationship. We might want to speak
about that for a few minutes.
As far as the bill before you is concerned, I think it's important
for a couple of reasons. First, as you are well aware,
I believe the last time Parliament addressed in
detail the National Defence Act was in 1950-51. And if
you have time to read, there's a very thick and
interesting document, which is the committee meetings
from 1950-51 when the parliamentarians first looked at
this new, then unified, National Defence Act. The
discussions in those minutes set out some of the tone
and intentions of the parliamentarians at that time,
some of which I think have been lost over the years.
In my view the national defence of Canada is not the
responsibility of the Canadian Armed Forces, or of the
Department of National Defence or directly of
Parliament. In effect, the defence of Canada is the
responsibility of the people; and the members of
Parliament, as representatives of the people, are
therefore accountable to the people of Canada for the
national defence of the country and for the operation
of all the instruments, organizations, units and
individuals who give effect to that defence.
The National Defence Act, in my view, therefore is an
instrument of delegation. Its purpose is to explain to
individuals who daily manage and direct the defence of
Canada their responsibilities, their terms of
reference and the degree of authority that Parliament
allows these individuals to have in all circumstances.
When I speak to officers, often I ask them what is the
basis for military operations in Canada. Naturally they
will say that getting the mission done, taking
care of the job, tactical necessity and so on is the
basis for military operations. But I try to
explain to them that in my view the basis for military operations
really is the law. The commanding concept here is what
we refer to as lawful command. So the National Defence
Act sets out lawful command. It dictates who has
authority for whom, who can decide what and how the
defence department and the armed forces will be
organized and commanded.
I think the second main theme that interests me here
is the notion that officers of the armed forces in
operations especially are responsible for two main
things. One is to complete an operation; second is
for the safety of their troops and the troops under
The law in the National Defence Act and in the code of
service discipline provides for a certain trust and a
large delegation of authority to officers and it
restricts in some respects the activities of citizens,
citizen soldiers. As Canadians we
allow that to happen because we trust the people at the
front end, the pointy end, of the system to take
reasonable decisions in the circumstances to get the
mission done within the law and to protect their
Over the last number of years there have been, for
other reasons than warfare, and operations and defence,
attempts to restrict what is a lawful command. In some
cases that's a good thing. In other cases it is
beginning, or has already, shifted responsibility and
accountability from the officers in the field to those
who have taken away these delegated responsibilities.
As a simple example, we recall that a few weeks ago a
sergeant in the forces refused to be inoculated for
anthrax. He then, by that act, committed an offence
under the National Defence Act because he refused a
lawful command. People then criticized the action of
the forces in that regard, saying that it was
unreasonable to expect a person to take an inoculation
and so on.
That argument is fine, but the consequence
of the argument is that if you take away officers'
responsibilities to have people inoculated in a field,
then you take away accountability from them for the
consequences of not having people inoculated. So if
that person gets sick, an officer can quite easily say,
it's not my fault; somebody else is responsible for
that man's condition. If the entire force gets sick,
then officers can simply turn around and point to
someone else who has changed the law and taken away
this lawful command from them.
So in that sense
there have been a number of changes that have changed the
balance of accountability and responsibility in the
forces, and some of them are built into this act.
I'd just like to look at a couple of clauses here before
On page 7
of the document that I have—I assume you have this one
that was prepared by the research branch—you refer to
the office of the Judge Advocate General. The intent of
that clause and the amendment, as I read them, is to
make the Judge Advocate General independent of the
Chief of the Defence Staff. The law as it now stands,
in my view, already makes the Judge Advocate General
independent of the Chief of the Defence Staff.
The intent of the legislation in the 1950s was to make
the Judge Advocate General one of three people
responsible together for managing and commanding the
Canadian Armed Forces: the then service chief, the
Judge Advocate General, and the deputy minister. So I
think it would be useful, in this amendment, to clarify
the independence of the Judge Advocate General by
saying it, whereas it's only implied in the act
I think you need to add to that amendment a statement
that the Judge Advocate General is also independent of
the deputy minister. The difficulties that have arisen
in the Department of National Defence over the last
number of years can be partly attributed to the fact
that the deputy minister and the Chief of
the Defence Staff have take the Judge Advocate General
under their organization where he ought to have always
been as an independent third leg on the stool, if you
will. So it's important in this legislation to say that
he's independent of both the deputy minister and the
Chief of the Defence Staff.
The other clause that interests me is the one dealing
with the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff under sections
18(1) and 18(2) of the National Defence Act. Not to
be too academic, but the amendment here says that it
formalizes the position of the Vice Chief of the Defence
Staff relative to the Canadian Forces. It says that he
will act in place of the CDS for the control and
administration of the Canadian Forces during the absence
or incapacity of the CDS.
There is some history here and some literature about
that relationship. The Judge Advocate General has it
in the files, I know, but if they can't find it, I can
in my own files. The argument about the relationship
of the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to the CDS and
when he would act in place of the CDS has been argued
before. The particular point to make here is that the
vice chief would act in the absence of the CDS.
It's not a helpful phrase. It's not clear. It's at
least ambiguous. What does “absent” mean? Does that
mean when the CDS is absent from National Defence
Headquarters, or Ottawa, or Ontario or Canada? In our
modern world of communications, is the Chief of the Defence
Staff ever absent? He can be in Bosnia and be speaking
quite easily by phone, fax, or whatever to Parliament,
ministers and so on.
I think it would be more helpful if the amendment was
reworded to say words to the effect that the vice chief
will act for the CDS when the CDS is incapacitated or
it could be temporarily on directions from the CDS. In
other words, Parliament wouldn't want to hand over to
the CDS the power to delegate his duties to someone
else permanently. Some temporary arrangement is
That same section 18 deals with the appointment
by order in council of a CDS. The act reads now, if
I'm still up to date, that in effect the Governor in
Council may appoint a Chief of the Defence Staff. This is
a good opportunity to change that section and have it
read that the Governor in Council shall appoint a CDS.
Right now, there is confusion in the act as to whether
there actually may or may not be a CDS, and it has from
time to time historically caused problems in the
I think in that same regard, in the first section of
the act, you might want to look at the section that
deals with the duties of the deputy minister. The only
thing it says in the act at the moment is one sentence
that says there “shall” be, not “may” be, a Deputy
Minister of the Department of National Defence, but
it's silent as to his duties, responsibilities and
I think it's important to clarify that the deputy
minister is not a member of the armed forces, he's not
responsible—he's not allowed—to give orders and
directions to the armed forces. He or she has only
responsibilities as the department head for the
Department of National Defence.
At the same time, it might be useful to use this
opportunity to clarify what most people assume the act
says—this is an idea that got lost especially in the
1970s and the early 1980s—and that is the point that
the Department of National Defence and the Canadian
Armed Forces are two separate entities.
It's implicit in the act, in the way the act is set up
in two parts, and in the way it refers to people
enrolled in the armed forces and so on. But over the
years, there have been occasions when deputy ministers
have assumed that the Department of National Defence
and the Canadian Forces were the same thing, so that
they could act—they have acted—to give direction to
control and administer the armed forces in ways that I
don't think were intended by the people who originally
wrote this act.
So those are my main comments from reviewing the act
and having worked with the Somalia inquiry as a
technical adviser for two years. I'll tell you that we
went through very interesting and deep discussions
about the relationship of Parliament to the armed
forces and to questions of command and control of the
With respect, I would direct your attention to the
final section of the report of the Somalia inquiry.
This deals with—I believe this is the title—what's
called “The Need for a Vigilant Parliament”.
This comes back to my original point: I believe the
defence of Canada, the operation of the armed forces,
the delegation of responsibility, and every act and
aspect of national defence policy in this country is
the responsibility of members of Parliament.
One thing Senator Rompkey made plain in his report,
the report of the joint committee on defence—I know
that some of you were members—in 1994 was that if
there was one thing that all members of that committee
agreed on, it was that Parliament hadn't been paying
attention to its duties in relation to the armed forces
and defence policy.
Finally, I know you have lots to read, but I would
recommend two short books to you. These studies were
done by the Somalia inquiry. These were independent
studies. One was called The Laws Applicable to the
Canadian Forces in Somalia, by Mr. Jim Simpson.
General Simpson was a Judge Advocate General in
the 1970s. He's an international authority on armed
forces and the law and on the law of armed conflict.
He works for the United Nations for European bodies.
He wrote this short text explaining the relationship of
the law to Canadian Forces deployed in Somalia.
The other one, with all modesty, is a study that I did
for the inquiry. It's called National Defence
Headquarters: centre for decision. The main
theme here is to try to explain in law and custom the
relationship between the minister, the CDS, and the
deputy minister in the Department of National Defence.
It looks at where it has gone off the rails and how it
might be put back on the rails.
So on your next
airplane ride, you might take those with you to keep
you awake, I hope, during your travels.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you very
We'll begin our questioning with Madame Venne.
You have the floor for 10 minutes Madam Venne.
Ms. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, BQ): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that you won't take away from my time the
minutes the witness took to untangle his wires.
I beg your pardon?
Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough, Lib.): The clock's not
The Vice-Chairman (Bob Wood): I haven't
hit it yet.
Ms. Pierrette Venne: No, I hope not.
I must say that it felt quite strange this morning to get back
into the Official Opposition role that we played for a few years.
That being said, let's be serious.
My first question has to do with the inspector general who, as
you know, is not a civilian according to this bill as was
recommended by the Létourneau Commission. I would like to know what
you think of the fact that we won't have a civilian inspector
general who could also have acted as an ombudsperson, a role much
larger than that of the oversight committee to be made up of eight
First, I would like to have your views on the recommendations
of the Létourneau Commission about the inspector general, then I
would like you to tell me if according to you it could have been
included in this bill.
Dr. Doug Bland: During our discussions at the
inquiry, there was considerable debate about the value
of the inspector general concept. What I needed to
know before I talked with the commissioners and they
made recommendations was what function this inspector
general was to have, because many people from outside
the establishment seemed to believe just the idea was
enough to solve all the problems. But, actually, when
you add another wheel on the wagon, so to speak, you
need to know what that wheel is supposed to do. We
needed to have some conversations about what the
inspector general was supposed to do.
In my view, the purpose of the inspector general is
not to serve the interests of the Chief of the Defence
Staff or the deputy minister, but to serve the
interests of ministers.
If there has been one
complaint over the last, I would say, probably 50 years
from ministers, it's that they are not expert when they
become ministers of defence. They are then more or
less trapped into a situation where they have to take
advice from their technical experts, who may then be in
a conflict of interest. It's not unique to defence
departments, but ministers, whether it was Paul Hellyer
or Allan McKinnon and others, have all said—and
some to me—that they always felt restricted in making
decisions because their advice was coming from people
who had an interest in the decision that was being
For the most part, the chiefs of defence staff
and deputy ministers have honestly and carefully tried
to solve that problem for ministers by giving them
various options. Yet ministers have always and still
complain that they would like to have someone else to
Paul Hellyer, for instance, tried to
establish a board of governors, if you will, outside
experts to speak to him. Other ministers have
established committees to speak with them. Others, like
Minister Collenette, have gone out to the academic
community and the broader community to ask for
information, to test the opinions they're getting from
inside the department.
A formal way to do
that is to establish an inspector general branch. The
individual would be responsible and accountable
directly to the minister and would act as an auditor
and as an adviser to the minister.
The argument against that concept from the defence
department in the last number of months—over the last
18 months or so since the report was out—was that in a
force of Canada's size, it's redundant and not
necessary, and besides, it would interfere with the
command or the chain of command.
I don't buy either of those
arguments necessarily, but I think we can find a
compromise if we can depend on two things. One is, if
the Office of the Auditor General and his defence audit
team were strengthened with more staff and more
resources, you would have a fine audit responsibility.
The second thing, which is perhaps more important, is that
if the Standing Committee on National Defence and
Veterans Affairs and
Parliament had a broader mandate, more opportunities to
select topics for investigation and a permanent
research staff to work with the committee, you would
accomplish what people were trying to do when they
proposed this idea of an inspector general.
The idea of a more vigorous committee of the House, a
committee on national defence, is not new. It has been
recommended many times, but for various reasons that you
ladies and gentlemen will understand perhaps better
than I, ministers have not been very keen on having a
committee of national defence that has a great deal of
Ms. Pierrette Venne: The role you are defining is not the one
I had in mind for the inspector general. I thought that the
inspector general could have dealt with the problems of the
military as well as acting as an ombudsperson. Therefore, that
inspector general would not have served the interests of the
minister. It's not what I had in mind.
I could give you an example. Right now, in Longue-Pointe, in
the eastern part of Montreal, there is a privatization process at
National Defence that could lead to the loss of 250 military jobs
and 150 civilian jobs. The inspector general could, in this case,
be the right authority to shed light on this privatization. He
could have the power to initiate an inquiry and to act as a
conciliator once in a while. I was really not thinking of an
inspector general serving the interests of the minister of National
Defence. I wanted to know if according to you the inspector general
I was thinking of could have played a worthwhile role.
Dr. Doug Bland: To mention for a moment the
ombudsman, the concept of an ombudsman, as I am sure
we all understand, is someone dealing with human rights,
personnel problems, and so on, and is quite a restricted
concept. I would not see an ombudsman for examining
the type of problem you're talking about. The proposal
put forward by the Somalia inquiry was to bring the
concept of an inspector general who is an auditor and
an ombudsman into one office.
In answer to this specific question or this type of
question of the effect of policy on communities, and so
on, whether it's moving aircraft contracts from Bristol
Aerospace in Winnipeg to Montreal, or shutting
down bases, and so on, I think the most appropriate
inspector and commentator on those kinds of policies is
Parliament. I think a vigorous committee of
national defence in Parliament must have the capability
to investigate in detail, to call for witnesses, to
call for documents, and then to have expert examination
of those policies and to make them public.
I may be cynical here, but I don't think it is entirely
helpful to hand that responsibility to another group of
Ms. Pierrette Venne: Thank you. I have the feeling that I will
have to walk out with my seat as well because we very well know
that members of Parliament don't have the clout that you are
talking about, even here within the Standing Committee on National
Defence. Thank you anyway.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Madam
Venne. Mr. Richardson.
Mr. John Richardson (Perth—Middlesex, Lib.): Thank
you very much, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, Dr. Bland.
In your presentation you mentioned the inspector
general, as it flowed directly from your work in the
Somalia inquiry and other areas. There has been a
perceptional problem and a real problem in the
double-headed arrangement at National Defence
Headquarters and Canadian Forces headquarters. Two
of them stem from equality, but one is more equal than
the other for a number of reasons.
The longevity of a deputy minister far exceeds that of
a Chief of the Defence Staff, thereby he is the holder
of the institutional knowledge and the institutional
history that developed many of the programs that may be
on the table or going forward. A new chief would come
in and inherit a direction he may have had some input
into during his career, but not to the intensity the
deputy minister would have had with his section of
people directing policy—mainly the secondments from
foreign affairs to defence over the years has been a
feed-in to defence policy.
I don't know how this relates to this bill and I don't
want to get us side-tracked too much on this, but
nobody wants to open the can of worms on this one. It's
been discussed in the periphery of Ottawa for at least
25 years. First, I'd like to have some of your
insights into why it is such a touchy question to not
review that relationship.
Two, just the powers the deputy minister has
over the financial resources and accountability in that
area give him some power. I'm not talking about any
one person, just the position here. The Chief of
the Defence Staff is the only person who has direct access
to the Prime Minister in the whole of the civil
service, to the degree that the Chief of the Defence Staff
has the right to meet with him at any time.
been close to this scene. We would like to have some
of your opinions on this.
How do you see us ever balancing this out or righting
some areas of decision-making? Am I wrong in saying
the institutional history resides in the deputy
minister because of longevity on the job, and the staff
has a longer lifespan in there because of the dynamic
posting system we have in the Canadian forces? We move
people in and out of their chairs every two to three
years and they're on to something else. I'd appreciate
your giving us some of your insights, if you don't mind,
with such a broad question as that.
Dr. Doug Bland: I'm one of the guys, as you know,
who likes to open this can of worms. I think it is
absolutely relevant to the work you're doing here today
and the work of this committee. There can be, in my
view, no more important clauses in the National Defence
Act than those that relate to the delegation of
authority from Parliament to the armed forces and the
civil service. The clauses that deal with that
delegation must be crystal clear.
In my view, and looking over the shoulders of
who wrote the National Defence Act in the early 1950s,
there is no ambiguity in the relationship among the
minister, the CDS and the deputy
Each has clear
responsibilities in law.
The problem for most of us is that the law is
written with too many nuances in it. As I mentioned in
my opening remarks, all it says in the National Defence
Act about the deputy minister is that there shall be a
Deputy Minister of the Department of National Defence,
and the act is silent as to the deputy's duties in
relation to the armed forces and so on. The necessity
for the Department of National Defence and the armed
forces to work together has at times allowed a strong
personality to overcome a weaker personality, and it
works both ways.
You will recall when General Jacques Dextraze
took over as Chief of the Defence Staff, and was in office
for more than five years, my research indicates there
was no ambiguity about who was in charge. General
Dextraze was in charge of the department. However,
after 1972 there was a certain reorganization to create
the structure they have now. I talked with Allan
McKinnon, who was then Minister of National Defence, and
asked him if the CDS was superior to, equal to, or
subordinate to the deputy minister. The minister said
“I don't know, and I can't find out”. He wasn't an
inexperienced individual, and I thought that was a
danger sign for Parliament, when ministers couldn't
understand who was accountable for serious business.
One of the key themes I believe in the Somalia Inquiry
was to try to find out who was accountable in
responsibility for the actions and decisions taken
within the defence establishment. Unfortunately, the
inquiry was cut off before they got to the final answer
of that, but part of the difficulty in arriving at an
answer was to find out who was actually responsible for
actions and decisions.
A number of changes have been made since that time.
Louise Fréchette, as deputy minister, changed the
process by which she and the CDS offered information to
the minister, and that was an important change.
But I would say two things contributed to the
ambiguity we suffered for a number of years past.
Again, with respect, I return to Parliament. In many
regards, in the early seventies when the relationship
was changed, the structure of National Defence
Headquarters was put in place as it is now, and ministers
passed their responsibilities for civil control of the
armed forces from Parliament to the bureaucracy. In a
sense, they said to the deputy minister “You control
the armed forces for us”. That upset the relationship
If you go to the testimony of Mr. Bob Fowler before
the Somalia inquiry in his first sitting and read it
carefully, you will see statements in that testimony
where he alleges he is responsible for the decisions
taken by the military. He says words to the effect
that “You know you can't leave the military to make
these decisions about how many people to take to
Somalia, for instance, or they'd want to take
everything”. He had to control those kinds of
decisions. I think that is not within the province of
the deputy minister.
The second thing that's important, after the
abandonment of civil control of the armed forces by
Parliament, is the abandonment by the
officer corps of the military of their professional
confidence. As you said, many people will state that a deputy
minister has a long time in the office, becomes the
all-seeing, all-knowing individual, knows the history and
background of the issues, and officers float in and
But if you
look at the actual evidence of the time officers have
spent in National Defence Headquarters over the last
few years—people such as General John de Chastelain,
Paul Manson, and others—these people have a long
residence in Ottawa; they do understand the system.
When you look at deputy ministers, on the other hand,
Louise Fréchette is a fine lady and I have a lot of
time for the
work she did in the department, but she had next to no
experience in defence matters. Yet she had a
commanding presence in the building.
That occurs in many respects because the military
simply let people step into their shoes.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Richardson and Dr. Bland.
We now go to David Price, then to George Proud, and
then to Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, PC): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Dr. Bland. I'm very happy you could be here
One of the main things you brought up—I was happy to
hear you bring it up, actually—is chapter 44, that is,
“The Need for a Vigilant Parliament”. I wanted a little
more comment on that. In particular, if the military
is going to be more accountable to the public, it has
to do it through Parliament. So could we be looking
maybe at a permanent joint committee including the
Senate, or that type of direction? Could you give us
some comments on that and your feelings on that?
Dr. Doug Bland: That is exactly what is required.
I was heartened by the recommendation of the special
joint committee on defence in Senator De Bané's and
Senator Rompkey's report, where they suggested a
permanent joint committee be established. But again,
that committee would need the support of an expert
staff. You need people who can read the documents and
who understand the history and can work through it and
Once such a committee is in place, I think you will
find that many military officers are eager to make
their views known, to escape perhaps a little from the
strictures of government policy and to speak
professionally about the problems they face in the
field, in procurement policies, and so on.
So yes, a permanent committee of the type you
suggested would be very important and would probably
eliminate the idea of the need for an inspector
Mr. David Price: That's what I was going to lead
into next, the inspector general part exactly.
You mentioned earlier that you thought the
inspector general would be somebody the minister
would be in need of, but the current minister, when
asked about the inspector general—we brought
it up, naturally, when the report came out—said,
“Well, the generals can't function with somebody
looking over their shoulders”.
You're going in a completely different direction here.
On the other hand, we're looking at an inspector
general really as looking over their shoulders, but for
Parliament, not directly for the minister. Granted, he
could report to the minister, but he's really reporting
Maybe you could comment further on that, because your
direction seemed to be a little different from that.
Dr. Doug Bland: The theoretical start point for
this is that the term “civil control of the military”
means the control of the armed forces by civilians
elected to Parliament. That's what we say here, that's
what some of us try to teach in eastern Europe these
days, and people are trying to reform their own
systems. It doesn't mean control of the armed forces
by people wearing civilian clothes, whether they're
public servants or others.
I think I understand what the minister was saying when
he made that comment, but the armed forces must
function with someone looking over their shoulder.
Otherwise you don't have a democratic civil control of
the armed forces.
The question then is who's looking over their
shoulder? Are members of Parliament actively engaged
in looking over their shoulder, or do they hire someone
to do it for them? The Auditor General of Canada has a
long history of looking over the armed forces'
shoulder, and that's been painful at times, but a
benefit to Canada.
I think over our long history Canadians have always
thought that someone else was forming our defence policy
for us, giving us our strategy, and commanding our
generals, in effect. Whether it was the Imperial Defense
of Queen Victoria or the British Armed Forces
in the two world wars or the United Nations
or the United States or someone else,
we've often in our history thought we ought
not to be involved in these detailed matters.
In many cases, you can point out in Canadian defence
history where members of Parliament and others have
allowed foreign generals or foreign politicians
to set the trend for us. But now, in this
new world of ours, we're like the kid
in the movie: We're home alone. We actually
have to start deciding some of these
basic issues for ourselves. Where will we be deployed?
What kind of forces will we have? How will they be
controlled? What kind of civil control will we have?
If one thing has come clear to me from the Somalia affair
it's that this was a typical example, as a Canadian
historian said, of Canada lending troops to other people
and then forgetting about them. When they were
called to account, when Parliament was called to
account for the actions of the troops, we had
difficulty explaining who did what to whom.
I'm sorry for the long answer, but I think it
comes back to, yes, there's a need for someone
to look over the shoulder of the armed forces.
It's absolutely necessary in a democracy.
The people who are accountable to Canada,
to Canadians, ought to be doing that.
Mr. David Price: We had an interesting comment
yesterday from Justice Dickson, who said, when I
asked him the same question, at present, but maybe
five years down the road there would be a need.
He seemed to allude more to the fact that it was because
our military had been downsized so much, that maybe
if it was larger, then we'd be going in that direction.
Dr. Doug Bland: I think principles stand no matter
the scope of the organization. The size of the
armed forces doesn't change the concept of civil
control of the armed forces. However, as the armed
forces shrink, and perhaps shrink even more, there is a
need for economy in the system.
Yes, you will always, in my view, need a parliamentary
committee to look at the armed forces. The staff
you have working for you might not need to number
in the hundreds, as it does in the American system,
but four or five real experts working in the area
with the committee would certainly be of some benefit.
Mr. David Price: The other thing was that this bill
tends to be going in a direction of bringing our
military law a lot closer to our civil law, and as the
judge said yesterday, tying it closer to our Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. Maybe you'd care to comment on what your
feelings are, if this is something that you see as
being feasible, particularly in the case of how we're
handling things in, let's say, our domestic areas
and how this law handles things in the war zones
that we happen to be working in at certain times,
doing our peacekeeping.
Dr. Doug Bland: I think the debate and the various
recommendations and so on have all been very healthy.
In my conversations with military officers who are in
and out of the service these days I find a great deal
of support for the changes that have been recommended
by the Somalia inquiry, by Dickson and by Parliament,
by the minister.
So people are keen to bring this system into the present century.
However, when you change the code of service discipline
and the degree of authority officers have over the
armed forces, you don't necessarily change the problems.
In other words, if there is indiscipline in
the armed forces—up to now—theoretically,
the military takes care of that. Parliament has entrusted
the officer corps to discipline the armed forces.
As people take away degrees of that power from the
military, the problem of indiscipline in the armed
forces doesn't go away. It may occur in various guises
and in various situations. So the question now is, if
the officer corps is not responsible for disciplining
the armed forces, for keeping them in “good order and
discipline”, then who is?
If you say the armed forces officer corps is not
responsible for discipline in the barracks and can't
search the barracks because that infringes on a
person's right to have a room of his or her own and so
on, who is going to maintain discipline in the barracks
and keep weapons and drugs and criminal activity out of
the barracks? The Commissioner of Human Rights? Will
he go up to Petawawa and do these things?
Mr. David Price: I agree with you there. What I
was looking at is— The example you brought up was
an excellent one, about the sergeant not taking the
anthrax shot. Do you feel that in theatre there should
be another set of rules, because the situation changes
so drastically? Right now we're tending to make our
military laws right across the board very
Dr. Doug Bland: Even in the amended suggestions,
there is still sufficient power to discipline units.
Some of the comments by people who said they didn't
have enough power to do things were self-serving. But
Parliament needs to go through, as you are, this
difficult act of trying to balance two imperatives:
protecting the citizen soldier from arbitrary
punishment, arrest, and so on whilst maintaining
sufficient power to maintain discipline and order in
Mr. David Price: So you're fairly comfortable that
this is handling it?
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): This will be your
last question, Mr. Price.
Mr. David Price: Yes.
Dr. Doug Bland: I'm fairly comfortable that we can
work this new system, but it will take some time and
perhaps even further amendments to the act as we gain
If I could return just for a second to the anthrax
inoculation, let's reverse the situation. Let's assume
that the members on board that ship or the force in the
Gulf had not been inoculated and the ship's company got
anthrax. Someone would have that officer and the CDS
in here saying, “What the hell were you doing? Why
didn't you give all these people inoculations?” And he
would say, “Well, it's not my responsibility. I can't
A British general was asked once, after some— No,
I'll use another story. You'll remember when a
Canadian Forces soldier went to Quebec City and shot up
the legislature. He took a weapon from Carp, I
believe, and he went to Quebec City and opened up on
everybody in the building. A parliamentarian—no names
here—asked a general officer, “What are you people
doing hiring those kinds of soldiers?” And the
general's response was, “We don't know whether these
guys are nutcases, because we're not allowed to ask
then any more on recruitment: `What is your medical
history? What is your psychological history?' These
are all protected things. So don't come to me if we
get the wrong kinds of people in the forces.”
So that's the kind of dilemma you get when you remove
responsibility and accountability from someone for
recurring problems. You have to pass it to somebody
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Dr.
We'll go to five-minute rounds for the second round,
starting with Mr. Proud.
Mr. George Proud: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Bland, most of my questions have been answered
this morning, but I am interested in a couple of areas.
One, you talk about the oversight by Parliament, and I
think you know where I'm coming from on this. You said
the joint committee recommended a permanent joint
committee that would do these things. My philosophy on
this is if we had the joint committee or a committee,
whether this one or another one, the Somalia inquiry
would have been done by this committee. I believe that
But you run into the problem
of course that we all all run into, and this is of
government not wanting to give that power up, and it
doesn't matter whether I'm sitting on this side of the
table or that side of the table. I believe that someday
we will get the best of both worlds, somewhere between
the American system and the British system, so we can
have a committee that will have this power, that will
have the expertise to do this.
Having said that, I believe we have a pretty good
oversight in place— lacking that right now, by the new
proposals that are there. And my question to
you would be if you would expand for a moment
on your view of what you think Parliament should
do that it's not doing now.
The final question I have is do you feel, and I think
you've already said it, that this bill does a pretty
fair job in getting us to where we should be going with
Dr. Doug Bland: I would say that the bill is a
good start. Just the fact that Parliament is paying
attention to the National Defence Act in detail is a
good start. I would be really encouraged if you began
at clause 1 and took a lot of time and worked your way
right through to clause— whatever is the end. That
would be helpful.
As regards the role of Parliament in particular, the
important consideration for me is that I would rather
see Parliament investigate the deployment of the
Canadian Forces to wherever before they deploy, not
after they come back. So in this respect, when Canada
is going to send a significant force somewhere, I would
like to see a parliamentary committee call in the
commander who has been named for that operation and
ask: “Do you know where you're going? Do you know what
your mission is? Do you have all the stuff you need?
What else can we get you? Do you need some more
troops? Tell us what you need. Are you confident that
you can carry out this mission under the law?” The
commander will say, “Sure, I'm happy with everything”,
and then he goes away. And if he can't, then you can
hold him to account for that. But to send the force
overseas and then come back and say, “We didn't know you
didn't have enough guys, and how come this happened,
and who did what to whom?”—that's not the way to go.
Even in a routine situation I think Parliament
should inquire of the armed forces often about how it's
going, get a performance evaluation report. And
particularly, I think that every officer who is promoted
to general or flag rank, or is nominated by the CDS for
promotion, at least once in his career ought to sit
before a committee of Parliament before promotion so
that Parliament can just talk to the individual about
his views or her views of the world.
The same of course should happen when the government
nominates someone to be the Vice Chief of the Defence
Staff or the Chief of the Defence Staff. I think it
would simply be helpful and a stimulant to the
departments and to the armed forces to have those sorts
of interviews before the fact, not after the fact.
Mr. George Proud: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. John O'Reilly (Victoria—Haliburton, Lib.):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Dr. Bland.
Of course in Bill C-25 we're looking for specific
improvements, your opinion of whether it will work and
how it can be improved.
We've had, with the appointment of Minister Eggleton,
seven ministers of defence in eight years, and I've
gone through the white paper on the Somalia inquiry on
this committee and the reserve restructuring in the last
Parliament. Committee members on the government side
take direction from the parliamentary
secretaries—there are two here—who take direction
from the minister, and committees reflect the House of
Commons. The make-up of the committee is similar to
the make-up of the House of Commons, except today the
official opposition, the Reform Party, don't take much
interest in this. They haven't shown up.
I don't see how you can structure a parliamentary
committee on defence with the instability of the
Minister of Defence taking direction from his deputy
minister, and then giving direction to his parliamentary
secretaries, who then come to the committee and give
direction to the government side on the committee. So
I find your theory is one that is flawed, because I
don't see how it's going to change anything that
So perhaps you could give me some direction on just
how this committee would work.
Dr. Doug Bland: I guess it's the privilege of the
academy to make theoretical suggestions and to allow
people such as you to work out the practicalities
of it. I realize fully that committees are more or
less captive of the ministers of the day and the
government and its political process. But I think—I
hope—that reasonable people would find ways to serve
the national interest in this particular issue.
My view, I suppose, is that the notion of a joint
committee is more helpful. To involve the Senate, to
involve the House, in overseeing the armed forces might
offer some escape from the problems you're speaking
about. These are essentially political problems, but
the consequences of the politics of the thing show up
in the field. They show up in problems with
procurement, with problems in the conditions in service
of the people in the armed forces. They show up in
operations. I hope that Parliament will find some way
to solve those problems.
You can't escape the fact that ministers rotate in and
out of these offices often. In 1970-72,
when Donald Macdonald first came in under Trudeau's
government, there were seven ministers of
defence in two years. We're still living with the
consequences of that. The stability in defence policy
and understanding in Parliament I think rests with the
larger body of parliamentarians—people like you
and others who, because they're interested or for
whatever reason, become interested in the topic. They
become the advisers to government, to ministers and so
I joke sometimes that there are no Sam Nunns in Canada.
If you know Senator Nunn from the United States, he's a true
expert in international affairs and national defence.
This fellow knows a great deal and he can debate with anyone on any
subject because he spent a lifetime working in the
area. We have some parliamentarians who can match
that, but it's not seen often to be an important trade for
parliamentarians to become involved in the details of
Mr. John O'Reilly: The specifics of the
improvements of Bill C-25?
Dr. Doug Bland: The main points I see are to make
a statement in the act that specifies that the Department of
National Defence and the Canadian Forces are two
separate entities. It should clarify the duties of the
deputy minister in relation to the CDS. It should also
clarify the position of the vice chief, as I said, not
to give this carte blanche that he will be acting
whenever the CDS is absent—I think that's too
I think it's important, as you're doing here, to
reinforce the independance of the Judge Advocate
General, who's the minister's officer, not the CDS's
officer or the deputy minister's officer, by saying as
the amendment states, that the Judge Advocate General
is independant of the CDS but to add that he or
she is independant of the deputy
Mr. John O'Reilly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you. Mr.
Price, the second round.
Mr. David Price: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In November of last year I put forward a motion in this
committee to have the Somalia commissioners come before
us to speak actually of chapter 44, on “The Need for a
Vigilant Parliament”. Unfortunately, the other side
didn't want to hear about it. I don't know why.
I'm wondering in your opinion if we were to
get this committee set up, what budget would it come
out of? In terms of the experts you referred to, where could
we get that type of person?
Dr. Doug Bland: You can contract all kinds of
guys. Seriously, I think that the more information from
more sources that the committee has, the better off
they are. There are of course the commissioners from
the Somalia inquiry, who have a great deal to say. They
were very active in writing every line in the report, in
my experience. But if that's not possible, then I
suggest the committee speak with General Jim
Simpson, who was the technical adviser on the legal
parts of the inquiry. You'll find a great deal of
useful information from him, I'm sure.
How much would it cost? I think the budgeting
question is important. It probably should come out
of the House or out of Parliament somewhere.
You can find the experts you need from
retired military people who have proper
experience and academic qualifications
from the academic world and from a growing body
of young Canadians who have taken an interest
in international affairs, in defence management
and so on.
Assuming you're not hiring hundreds,
I don't think Parliament would have
any problem whatsoever developing a competent
research staff in these areas.
Mr. David Price: A lot of our expertise could come
directly out of the Senate, which we're not using a lot
Dr. Doug Bland: Absolutely.
Mr. David Price: I asked Judge Dickson yesterday
about recommendation 23 in his report, which states:
We recommend that an increased training and education
be introduced for all commanding and delegated officers
to ensure that they are knowledgeable about
their roles in the military justice system
and competent to perform them. But for
exceptional circumstances, those officers
should not be permitted to preside at a summary trial
unless certified to do so by the Judge Advocate General.
There's some feeling that this should not be
in legislation but in the regulations.
What would be your feelings on that?
Dr. Doug Bland: I think that's a matter of training
and experience. It's something that commanding
officers and general officers ought to be doing
in the normal course of things, and they do that.
I know basic officer training people are exposed
to the National Defence Act, to the rules of summary
trials and so on. If you serve in a regimental
situation, you soon get used to the procedure.
I think it is helpful to remind the Chief of the
Defence Staff every once in awhile and to have him
report in his annual report on the status of discipline
in the armed forces—how many charges have been laid,
how many people have been tried, and so on—and to at that
time talk to the Chief of the Defence Staff,
who Parliament has delegated to run the military justice
system, in a sense, and to have him report on
training and so on.
I think that's the proper way to go.
Mr. David Price: But you're still not saying
whether you feel it should be legislation or regulation.
Dr. Doug Bland: I think it should be regulation.
Mr. David Price: Just regulation?
Dr. Doug Bland: Yes.
Mr. David Price: Okay. As it is now, the Chief
of the Defence Staff reports back to Parliament.
Would you feel that he should be listing, say, details
of the summary trials in his report to Parliament?
Dr. Doug Bland: Yes. I think it used to be
routine in the “old” army, if I can call it that.
The CDS should, in his annual report, report how many
offences have been committed, how they've been
handled and so on—without naming people, obviously—to
give an idea to Parliament of the state of discipline
within the armed forces. I don't think any CDS
would mind doing that.
Mr. David Price: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr. Price.
Any other questions of our witness?
Dr. Bland, thank you for being with us this morning
and sharing your views on Bill C-25. We appreciate
very much your taking the time to be here.
Dr. Doug Bland: Glad to be here. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): I don't believe
Mr. Desbarats is here, but I do think Mr. Grainger is ready
to go. If it's fine with the committee, we'll change
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Are you ready,
Mr. Brian Grainger (Individual Presentation):
Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): I'd like to
welcome our second witness this morning, Brian
Mr. Grainger, thank you for coming on maybe a little
bit before you were ready to, but we certainly
appreciate it. I believe your brief has been passed
around, and we're certainly looking forward to your
comments—in fact, you were involved in the development
of the Military Police Complaints Committee provision
in Bill C-25—and the questions that will follow.
floor is yours, sir.
Mr. Brian Grainger: Thank you, and good morning,
Mr. Chair. I am grateful to you, sir, and members of
the House of Commons committee on defence, as well as
the committee's branch staff, for helping in adjusting
the schedule to allow me to appear a little later this
I believe there are four significant initiatives
connected to the complaints initiative, so that
proposed section 250 should not be viewed in
isolation. In fact, I would hearken back to the
comments made earlier by Dr. Bland and members of this
committee when you spoke of such things as an
ombudsperson, grievance mechanisms, eminent persons
committee, code of service discipline changes, and even
the discussion around the notion of the inspector
general. Much is happening, and Bill C-25 represents a
Specifically, however, the complaints commission
should be viewed in terms of its
connection to the professionalization, the professional
development, if you will, of the Canadian Forces
military police, and that aspect, that initiative, if
you like, caught in part in the act but caught also in
decisions and activities and events taking place within
National Defence, include such things as a military
police professional code of conduct, military police
credentials review board, military professional
standards, and of course, the National Investigation
Service or, as it's called, the NIS of the military
Any presentation before members of this committee must
take note of the appearances earlier of, as I
mentioned, Dr. Bland, and of course, Chief Justice
Dickson, the report by the Somalia inquiry, and the
special advisory group led by Chief Justice Dickson. And
the very efforts in the last 18 to 24 months by
Canadian Forces personnel themselves, from the very top
to all the ranks, has led to some important
improvements as we speak.
Today I'd like to concentrate on the military police.
That's proposed section 250 of the bill, which addresses
the so-called Military Police Complaints
In this regard,
members here and in the whole House would be interested
in how this section, among a number of related
initiatives I just mentioned, supports the enhanced
accountability and widens and deepens the
professionalization of the Canadian Forces military
Allow me to go over to the overhead. You may have
this before you, at any rate, and I'm not sure that the
overhead is now necessary.
The development of the Military Police Complaints
Commission has been done in the context of other
initiatives, as I mentioned earlier: a credentials
review board, which sanctions and disciplines the
military police; military police professional standards
in and around section 156, the appointments; and a
code of conduct, which is actually mentioned, as you
know, in Bill C-25, proposed section 13.1, a very
I, of course, was only one of a group of individuals
who worked on this issue. These very fine people,
including defence staff, looked at three elements of
this issue: one was the oversight requirements, as
built into proposed section 250, for a public complaints
commission; the accountabilities, much discussed earlier
today in respect to the military police and its
relationship to other elements of the Canadian Forces;
and of course, the necessary professional development,
identified in part from previous reports, including, of
course, Chief Justice Dickson's advice.
There is no perfect system in Canada. All the work in
civilian and military police environments can attest to
this. These initiatives, and in particular, the
Military Police Complaints Commission, are based on
several key policing lessons, as well as related case
law on police jurisprudence—that is, the
independence of the police; the oversight mechanism
over the police; accountability to command and control,
and in that regard, audits, annual reports; an
accountability framework, which now exists between the
Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the Canadian Forces
provost marshal; as well as the unique piece of
legislation in this document, called interference
complaints, or proposed section 250.19, which
is quite unique in Canada or anywhere.
Allow me to briefly speak to several critical
questions that Canadians, including the rank and file
of the Canadian Forces, have the right to ask about
this particular initiative and perhaps some of the
Do the Bill C-25 amendments improve military police
professionalism? Yes. Existing Canadian police
service acts and account of those are built into the
operational oversight mechanics.
Do we need a Military Police Complaints Commission?
Yes, several other countries have them. We believe it
would help. It addresses concerns raised in the Somali
commission's report, as well as Chief Justice Dickson's
Would it be similar to the RCMP complaints commission?
Yes, it's highly modelled on that particular piece of
legislation, and to a degree, on several
others—Ontario and B.C. in particular.
After the reforms are implemented, how will military
police accountability compare with civilian police? A
close comparison on an item-by-item basis across all
major Canadian police service statutes—and if the
committee is interested and its staff wishes, I can
provide that—shows that the accountabilities are
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me a
few opening comments. I'm delighted to have the
opportunity to be here, and I thank all members for the
opportunity to spend some time with them. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Grainger. As you know, the bells are ringing here. I
think we'll be okay until about 10.30 a.m., but then
we're going to have to take a quick recess and then
come back. Hopefully you can weather the
We'll start with Madame Venne.
Ms. Pierrette Venne: I would like to ask you a short question.
Does the fact that the Complaints Commission has no enforceable
powers bother you? As we all know, the conclusions and
recommendations of the commission won't be binding. Don't you think
that the fact that the commission won't have any decision-making
authority will reduce greatly the impact of the creation of such a
Mr. Brian Grainger: This is an excellent
question. It's the same question that we must ask of
all civilian police forces and their oversight.
Always, the chief or the command and control, civilian
or otherwise, is allowed to listen to the advice and
recommendation of such boards, wherever they exist—and
this is the norm—and then to take decisions
accordingly. This allows that command and control
system to be accountable and responsible for the
problems and the discipline as they occur.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, in the current
environment of the 1990s, most such police protocols
and arrangements and commissions around complaints
operate on the basis of some form of mediation or early
intervention, so that my complaint, whatever it may
be—and indeed it may be serious, so it goes longer and
takes longer—is dealt with as early as possible. The
management of the discipline of the problem is handled
at the front end as quickly as possible.
This is the typical approach in all policing
environments throughout North America and outside of
Canada. In this case, we would suggest it will also be
useful because we believe it should be solved quickly,
early, inside the organization and then in the
reporting to, because this calls for an annual report
from the commission, as does the RCMP approach, and as
does every other in this country. Then it's public.
If the chief of a particular police service or the
Canadian Forces provost marshal doesn't handle a
particular problem, that problem will be a matter of
Ms. Pierrette Venne: Thank you. It was my only question.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you.
Mr. David Price: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and
thanks for being here, Mr. Grainger.
This will also be a short question. Certain of our
military police services are going to have to be farmed
out because of a lack of people, and actually one of
the nice things to say is that it's also because of the
low crime rate in the military, which is very pleasant
We have heard that outside police forces don't
understand the military way of life, the military
culture, and so on. I'd like your comments on that,
and how you feel this bill is addressing this.
Mr. Brian Grainger: Well, Mr. Price, I'm obviously
more comfortable with the second part of your question
than the first part.
On the first part, however, I will say that it is my
understanding that it may not be necessary, if I may
use that word, to farm out military police. What the
military police have done—and have done, may I say,
effectively over the years, and I think are
increasingly good at—is to note those things they
don't do or perhaps can do as well as others, some
types of offences, and they have shared that
responsibility with other police services. They have
asked them to help them, and sometimes turn the matter
over to them fairly early in the process.
That's a little different from the notion of farming
out that you've raised. Again, that's a term used in
today's jargon, and I'm not sure I want to go there.
However, I appreciate your question, and I think you
have a valid concern that perhaps of the 1,200 or 1,300
military police officers, just how many of them can
handle how many tasks at any given time? That's always
a valid question.
Mr. David Price: —
[Editor's Note: Inaudible] —numbers
in certain areas.
Mr. Brian Grainger: That's true of just about
every downsized police service in this country and the
United States today. They're all struggling to deal
with that reality.
Your second question is really quite interesting. The
Canadian military police have, over the last little
while, brought more and more members of other police
services at various ranks into their service, and have
had an very excellent exchange going. I think that is
not only good to have professionalization benefits, but
firmly believe that we'll see some case management
benefits right at the front end in terms of work,
including perhaps bringing them closer to many of our
major civilian police services.
It may not be known to this committee that the
Canadian Forces provost marshal is a very vital member
of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and
plays a very active part in that whole community. I
think the community gains, and I think the Canadian
Forces provost marshal believes that she gains as
Mr. David Price: Could we see it going the other
way also—the military police being more involved in
the communities surrounding our bases? As we know,
they tend to have been isolated from that. If we don't
talk of farming out, if we talk instead of sharing of
services, would you see the possibility of going more
in that direction so we'd make better use of our
Mr. Brian Grainger: I think you've raised a very
excellent point. There is going on right now inside
the Canadian Forces provost marshal's work in this
area, dealing with the whole act and everything, some
very excellent definition work around: what is police
service? What do we do? In regard to your reference
to community, I think you will see more of that. Again,
I'm speaking out of turn if I go much further because
I'm not in the middle of that discussion, but I am
aware of it.
Mr. David Price: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Are there any questions from my colleagues from
the government? Yes, Mr. Richardson.
Mr. John Richardson: I'd like to ask a couple of
short ones, Mr. Chairman.
We're looking at some kind of way to show some
openness and transparency throughout the system. If
the police—I forget the proper word—is modelled on
the Mounties' system of policing and the grievance
procedure that's set up, I don't know many other police
arrangements that have those kinds of escapes or
opportunities to seek redress of a grievance or to seek
advice to professional organizations as is proposed in
this legislation. Am I wrong in that assumption?
Mr. Brian Grainger: No, you're both right
and— perhaps I can steer you in the direction that it
In any organization, paramilitary or military, there
is a stream of activity related to grievance matters,
as in any private or public organization or agency.
There is also one dealing with, if you like, complaints
and discipline and so forth.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has a body, the
complaints commission, that looks at the public
complaint side and addresses to a degree small-D
disciplinary issues, and then also has a review of the
grievances as well.
There are bodies in our national police service, if
you will, that are similar but different because of the
needs of that organization. If I were to take you on a
quick tour across our country from Halifax to Vancouver
in regard to any civilian service, you too would spot
the things you just mentioned. There would be these
streams of activity. How they're set up is quite
unique to the needs of that community or that
particular police service, but they're there in some
form or another.
Ontario, for example, just revamped its whole police
act under Bill 105, which was enacted several
months ago. If you were to take a look at that
document, you'd see all of these pieces come together
and how the chief of police and others are accountable
to the civilian oversight and so forth. They're all
there. There's just a slightly different model in each
Mr. John Richardson: I'll follow up with one last
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Very quickly,
Mr. Richardson, because we're going to have to get out
Mr. John Richardson: All right.
The situation—it's all set up for peacetime. In
wartime, they become traffic controllers. They mark
the routes, they see that there's no mix-up on the flow
of military personnel, and they also look after
prisoners of war and their movement to the back. I
didn't notice anything like that in Bill C-25.
Mr. Brian Grainger: Bill C-25 doesn't address that
specific operational environment, referenced in part in
your own questions earlier to Doug Bland.
Mr. John Richardson: Yes.
Mr. Brian Grainger: It does come into the
regulation and the management of that operation, and
that's where it will take place, within the command of
the general, she or he who's in charge of that
particular operation. It's an interesting question,
though, to pursue.
Mr. John Richardson: Thank you. We're on our way.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Grainger, for being here. We appreciate your time.
We have to suspend the committee until roughly 11
o'clock, when Mr. Desbarats will join us.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): We're ready to
reconvene, after a quick vote, and welcome Mr.
Desbarats to the committee.
Mr. Desbarats, it's great of you to join us this
morning. Thanks for waiting while we went about our
parliamentary duties. We ask you to keep your comments
to roughly 10 minutes, and then I know lots of my
colleagues have many questions for you. We're looking
forward to your testimony. The floor is yours, sir.
Mr. Peter Desbarats (Individual Presentation):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I have prepared a brief opening statement, which I
will read. I apologize for the fact that it's only in
English. During the Somalia inquiry I did ask my
questions of francophone witnesses in French, but
anybody who heard that would probably be glad I'm
sticking to English.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I'd like to start out by
commending members of this committee for the work
all of you have done to bring before Canadians the
plight of what Maclean's magazine has called
Canada's fighting poor. I welcome the opportunity
to associate myself with that work by appearing here
During the course of the Somalia inquiry, we
encountered much of the same evidence as you have
received, particularly during our visits to army bases
in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta. Like you, we were
impressed by the dedication, the hard work, the
integrity, and the courage of the men and women who
spoke to us, especially members of the lower ranks and
junior officers, just as we were appalled by the
failures of many of our senior military officers to
provide not just inspiring leadership but even adequate
leadership to these soldiers, both at home and on
overseas missions such as the one in Somalia.
As we progressed with our inquiry, I came to the
unavoidable conclusion that the higher the rank in the
armed forces, the lower the quality. There were some
individual exceptions to this rule, of course, but in
general it held true. The reason was that inferior
leaders over the years tended to select and promote
junior officers who most closely resembled them,
resulting in a gradual erosion of quality at the top of
the system, regardless of the quality of men and women
entering the system at the lower levels. This
“dumbing down” of the armed forces was encouraged by a
closed system accountable only to itself.
This lack of accountability was one of the main themes
of the report we issued last July and one of the
main issues in relation to Bill C-25 that I'm here to
discuss. One result of this closed system was the
series of easily preventable disasters in Somalia, made
infinitely worse by subsequent attempts of senior
leaders to avoid being accountable for them—attempts
that are continuing to this day.
Another result is the one you have encountered, a
poorly paid and poorly equipped military that has
continued to lose respect for its own leaders since our
inquiry ended, even as it has regained the respect of
many Canadians for its work in the aftermath of natural
disasters in Manitoba, Quebec, and Ontario.
The scandalous plight of many of our soldiers is not
something for which they are responsible, just as the
terrible events in Somalia would not have happened if
our men and women there had been adequately led. They
are the result of lack of leadership by successive
governments and generations of senior officers.
It was some of these senior officers who, in a
desperate effort to deflect criticism from themselves,
tried to create the impression that the Somalia inquiry
was anti-military and we were the ones who were
damaging the morale of the armed forces by persisting
in our investigations. I don't think they fooled
Canadians for a moment, certainly not the Canadians who
viewed our hearings on television and had a chance to
judge the generals for themselves. I know they
didn't fool the soldiers who turned out in large
numbers voluntarily to talk to me and my fellow
commissioners, even as they talked publicly to members
of your own committee, at times risking the disapproval
of their officers and endangering their own careers to
I have many stories to illustrate this, as I'm sure you
have. One that sticks in my mind occurred after the
inquiry, just before last Christmas, when a woman showed
up unannounced at my front door in London, Ontario with
a copy of my book for me to sign. She wanted me to
address it to her son, who, she happened to mention, was
in the army, and then she said he had served in
Somalia. “Are you sure he wants this for
Christmas?” I asked. “He agrees with everything you
said”, she replied. Then she went on to tell me that the
first letter she received from her son in Somalia
asked her to send immediately an artist's brush
to clean the fine desert sand from his gun and his old
hiking boots. He had written to her that the military
had sent boots to Somalia in whole sizes only, no half sizes,
and as a result many of our soldiers were
getting blisters aggravated by heat, dust, and dirt.
I could write another book about the military's
failure to look after our soldiers properly in Somalia,
elsewhere overseas, and here at home, but now I can just
wait for the book you're going to write yourselves.
I have already used the term “accountability” several
times, and this will be the theme of my brief analysis
and critique of Bill C-25. I don't have the time and I
certainly don't have the expertise to provide you with
a detailed legal study of the bill, although my two
years on the inquiry represented a kind of crash course
in law, not to mention the wiles and whims of lawyers.
I'm happy to leave many aspects of this complex bill to
more competent authorities.
As a general comment, I can say the bill on the
whole responds in many respects to many of the concerns
we had about the system of military justice.
These proposed improvements in our military justice
system, if adopted, will make it more contemporary by
reflecting the new roles and character of the armed
forces, as opposed to an army preparing or involved in
They will reflect the effect of our Charter of Rights
and Freedoms on this specialized sector of our justice
system, and in general tend to bring it into the 1990s.
But there are sections of this legislation that go
beyond proposing changes in existing structures to
create new structures, specifically the Canadian Forces
Military Police Complaints Commission and the Canadian
Forces Grievance Board. The complaints commission, as
you know, of course, would be a body of up to six
civilians appointed by the Governor in Council to
receive and investigate complaints about the military
police. It would report to the provost marshal and
would be within the chain of command within the
The grievance board would be outside the chain of
command, in contrast to the current grievance system in
which members of the armed forces can take a grievance
only to successively superior levels within their own
chain of command.
Both these new structures are designed to increase
accountability within the armed forces and represent
improvements on the current system as far as they go.
In my view, that's not far enough.
During our inquiry we spent a great deal of time, in
public hearings and in discussions among ourselves,
establishing clear and coherent principles and systems
of accountability and workable definitions of
responsibility, supervision and delegation, sanction,
and knowledge. This reflected our growing awareness of
efforts made by senior officers in Somalia and Canada
and officials at National Defence Headquarters to avoid
accountability and avoid taking responsibility; efforts
that started in Somalia as soon as things went wrong
and that persisted in Ottawa throughout the inquiry and
continue up to this day.
Let me quickly summarize some of the problems as we
saw them. We found that official reporting and
record-keeping requirements, policies, and practices
throughout the armed forces and the department were
ineffective and open to abuse. We had trouble getting
documentation and even discovering, in some cases,
whether documentation had been lost, deliberately
destroyed, or never recorded. Sloppy record keeping
invites evasion of accountability.
We discovered blatant attempts to avoid disclosure of
information required by access to information
legislation, an integral part of public accountability.
We found that current mechanisms of internal audit and
program review, the responsibility of the chief of
review services, are, in the words of the report
“shrouded in secrecy”.
CRS reports need not be publicized and their fate can
be determined by the Chief of the Defence Staff or the
deputy minister, to whom the CRS reports. The CRS has
no ability to initiate investigations, and no mechanism
exists for follow-up or independent assessment of CRS
reports or their recommendations for change. We stated
that mechanisms for parliamentary oversight of the
department and the military high command are
These and other findings and concerns led us to
propose the creation of a new office, the
Inspector General of Canadian Forces, incorporating the roles of
military inspector and ombudsperson. The important
things to note about this position are it would be
appointed by the Governor in Council; it would be
filled by a civilian; it would stand outside the chain
of command; and it would have the power to initiate
investigations, not merely to respond to allegations of
injustice or misconduct. It's not a very radical
idea. The armed forces of the U.S. have benefited for
some years from just such a position.
It seemed to us that by adopting this recommendation,
Canada's senior military leaders could have signified a
real change of heart. Instead of appearing to be
reluctantly dragged into modern systems of
accountability, they could have appeared to welcome
reform by stating unequivocally that the era of hiding
information and avoiding accountability had ended.
Unfortunately, the opposite message was sent out when
this was one of the first recommendations to be
rejected by the military.
Their response was that they could not function
effectively with someone constantly looking over their
shoulders, although I'm sure many Canadians like myself
wondered why not. Most of us are accountable in our
jobs to some kind of inspection and independent
assessment. Why should the military be different?
I think an opportunity was lost when the military and
the government drew back from a full system of
accountability and opted for a more limited forum.
Some would argue this was better than nothing, but I
said publicly at the time that perhaps it was more
dangerous in the sense that it tried to create the
illusion of full accountability, when what was being
proposed in fact was quite different.
Finally, let me say in closing—and perhaps to
anticipate questions some of you might have about
the recent ruling by Madam Justice Reed in the
challenge to our report by Lieutenant Colonel Morneault—this
issue of accountability is still very much
alive as far as the Somalia inquiry is concerned.
It was left hanging in
the air to some extent when our inquiry had the
disgraceful distinction—not our disgrace—of being the
first major inquiry or royal commission in Canadian
history that was not allowed to complete its mandate.
This unprecedented decision continues to affect actions
being taken in the courts by former and serving senior
officers to discredit the inquiry, its findings, and
the reputations of the commissioners.
One result of the government's decision to close us
down is that the government now finds itself in a
serious conflict of interest when it comes to defending
our report against these challenges. In effect, my
work and the work of the other commissioners is now
being defended in court by a government that has
previously proclaimed itself to be dissatisfied with
that work, so dissatisfied that it cut it short.
Under these circumstances, I have serious doubts that
I am being defended adequately as my work is challenged
in the courts. I can't speak for the other
commissioners. And those doubts certainly haven't been
dispelled by the manner in which the Morneault
challenge has been handled so far.
At the very least and as a matter of fairness, not to
say common courtesy, I would expect that I would be
kept personally informed of the progress of these cases
and that I would be given an opportunity to provide
some input into my own defence. This has not happened.
I have been left to learn after the fact from the
media about judgments affecting my reputation.
I have not been asked personally to suggest
experienced former counsel for the inquiry who could
represent my interests adequately. In fact I have
learned that counsel whom I would have designated have
been deliberately excluded from the process. And I
continue to be excluded from any discussion of an
appeal of Madam Justice Reed's decision, a matter, as I
said, in which I have an obvious stake.
I would appeal to members of this committee, not just
as a former commissioner but as a citizen whose basic
rights are now being violated, to assist me by
protesting a clear miscarriage of justice. As far as
I'm concerned, this mess is the direct result of
persistent attempts to avoid accountability before our
inquiry by senior officers and officials at National
Defence Headquarters. It's all part of the same sad
story, and unfortunately it's still far from over.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Desbarats, for your comments and thoughts. We will
open the questioning.
Madam Venne, you have 10 minutes.
Ms. Pierrette Venne: Good morning, Mr. Desbarats. Here is my
question. Do you think that enough attention was paid to the
recommendations of the Inquiry Commission on Somalia about military
justice? I am thinking, among other things, about the general
inspector that you alluded to. As for judges, you recommended that
they be civilians and you took position on the duration of their
mandate. You recommended that their term instead of being of five
years, last until they retire. I'm also thinking about turning to
counsel in the case of summary proceedings. These are a few
examples of recommendations that the government did not incorporate
in the bill.
Excluding the elements I have just mentioned and that were set
aside, do you think that the government still paid enough attention
to the recommendations of the Inquiry Commission on Somalia?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I suppose there is a simple
answer to that, which is we worked long and hard and
thought a great deal about the recommendations we were
making in the report. We felt the recommendations
contained in the report represented our view of how the
system of military justice, including military police,
military courts, and so forth, could be reformed.
Over the last couple of weeks, since I knew I was
appearing before this committee, I read back over some
of those sections in the report, because it's amazing
how quickly you tend to forget. It's almost a year now
since we worked on the report, and I've moved on to
I also read the excellent summary of the bill prepared
by the parliamentary research branch, which, as you
know, points out what parts of the new bill follow
recommendations in our report, what parts are taken
from the Dickson report, and so forth.
As I said in my own comments, I didn't really feel at
this point, without spending a great deal of time
studying the bill, that I could go over it and make the
same kind of detailed analysis myself. I would be
hesitant to do that without the kind of legal
background the other two commissioners and some of the
excellent lawyers we had working with us had. I think
I served a useful role on the inquiry, but not in the
area of legal expertise.
So the short answer to that is I would of course
support the recommendations as they were made in our
report, and the bill does not follow those
recommendations in every detail. I'm quite prepared
this morning, if you want—but I don't think it would
serve any great purpose—to review with you those
sections of the report. But as I said, in the usual
fashion of these things, the government has moved some
distance towards implementing in some cases the exact
recommendation and in some cases the principle behind
the recommendation. So there definitely has been an
I've worked on other inquiries and royal commissions,
not in the same capacity as a commissioner, but as a
researcher and a staff member in one case, most of
them dealing with the media. I'm a veteran of
commissions and inquiries where none of the
recommendations are adopted by the government. That
was certainly true of the newspaper commission I worked
on in the early 1980s.
I think the minister himself said, shortly after the
report came out, that by his own calculation, the
government had adopted 80% of the recommendations. I
said at that time that must be some sort of record
for royal commissions in this country.
We don't live in a perfect world. I'm not completely
happy with the fact that they didn't move fully to
implement our recommendations in those areas, but of
course it represents progress, yes.
Ms. Pierrette Venne: Thank you. That's all, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Mr. Proud and
then Mr. Price.
Mr. George Proud: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Desbarats, for appearing here this
morning. You said, as I understood it, that you have
gone through the bill. You have a pretty good idea of
everything in it, I suspect, from your review of it.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I wasn't supplied, Mr. Proud,
with a copy of the legislation itself, so I relied on
the summary that was prepared, which seems to be fairly
Mr. George Proud: They're the most extensive
amendments to the national act since 1950.
You stated that the government's desire for reform
within the Canadian Forces, as has been talked about,
will be measured in part by the response to the
commission's recommendations to remove the military
police from the direct military chain of command.
As recommended by Chief Justice Dickson and his
special advisory group, the NIS, the National
Investigation Service, has now been set up to
investigate serious and sensitive charges, and it is
not responsible to the operational chain of command.
The NIS has independent authority to lay charges and
gets independent legal advice from the director of
military prosecutions. Bill C-25 provides for a
professional code of conduct for military police and
will establish an independent and external Military
Police Complaints Commission.
Would you agree that these changes provide sufficient
assurance of the integrity and professionalism of
military police investigations?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Which clause of the bill
deals with the NIS? I'd like to, if I could, be
referred to the section of the summary I have that
deals with that.
Mr. George Proud: It's up and running now. It's
not in the bill. It's been since September of last
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Right. I'm not familiar
enough with that particular development to comment on
it with any kind of authority.
Mr. George Proud: If I might, I'll go on to talk
about the oversight and review, which was talked about
earlier here today.
The minister has set up three ways to do this: first,
by striving to strengthen cooperation with existing
oversight bodies; second, by establishing new and
specialized bodies; and third, by substantially
increasing annual and public reporting. In short,
there will be more specialized review mechanisms
tailored to these areas.
Would you agree the government has covered all bases
in this? I guess my question would be, what would be
left to an inspector general with this oversight in
view, including this Parliament itself?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: This oversight body is a
civilian body that the minister announced some time
ago. I can't remember the composition of that body.
Is that the one Laurier LaPierre was appointed to?
Mr. George Proud: Yes.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Right.
Frankly I wasn't particularly impressed by the
appointment of that oversight body. These people are
appointed, I would assume, by the minister. I'm not
familiar exactly with the kind of tenure they have in
My superficial impression, just from reading the media
reports about the appointment of that body and from my
own experience, would be that bodies like that tend to
be only as good as the information they receive, and the
information they receive reflects their ability to
ask for the right kind of information and to know what
is going on.
So it seems to me that body in fact would be
dependent to a great extent on the information
they actually receive from the military and would not
function as an independent oversight body that in
effect would initiate its own investigations. I don't
know what kind of staff that body has; I suspect it's
going to be very little.
I suspect that what that body may end up being is a
kind of advisory committee in a sense. In the
university milieu, I have had experience with advisory
committees that don't do anything very much. I had my
own advisory committees over the years at the Graduate
School of Journalism at Western, and it would have been
very easy to dominate those advisory committees,
because as dean I controlled the information they
So I suspect there's a real danger that that committee
could end up like that, and that is not at all what we
had envisioned when we recommended the appointment of
an inspector general. The key element, or one of the
key elements, in that position was that the person who
filled the role of inspector general would have
adequate staff but would also be able to initiate
investigations and would have complete access to all
information or records that office required. That's
significantly different from the kind of committee the
minister has appointed. I didn't regard that as a
substitute at all for the inspector general's office.
Mr. George Proud: You seemed kind of dismayed when
you said you assume it was appointed by the minister.
Who would it have been appointed by if it hadn't been
appointed by the minister?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Well, I suppose if you wanted
to make it even less effective, perhaps you could have
it appointed by the Chief of the Defence Staff.
Mr. George Proud: Why would it not be effective if
appointed by the minister? Ultimately he's the one who
takes the full responsibility.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Yes, that's probably where
the appointment has to come from. I followed up that
comment by saying I was also unfamiliar with what kind
of tenure or security of appointment this body would
But I'm not focusing primarily on the appointment
procedure. I'm focusing primarily on what kind of
staff and what kind of power and authority that body
Mr. George Proud: I'm assuming they're going to
have the authority and the people to back them up. It
would be rather artificial to set an organization up
like this. Hopefully that isn't the case and it would
be— I would think that group, and the many groups
there are, would give a pretty good overview and review
of what is needed. But I suppose we could argue that
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Well, I think, Mr. Proud,
you're a little more optimistic than I am.
First of all, I haven't read anything in the media
that indicates to me what kind of staff, if any, that
body is going to have. In the worst case, that body
would have an executive assistant of some kind attached
to it, that body would meet perhaps three or four times
a year in Ottawa, they would get together and read a
bundle of reports presented to them by the military,
they would put some kind of rubber stamp of approval on
them, and then go home. I certainly hope it doesn't end
up as that kind of body, but there's a distinct risk
that it might, and I haven't read anything to the
Mr. George Proud: The bill itself addresses this.
There are several pages on the authority
and on the investigative powers it does have.
So I think, although I don't know what others think,
there's pretty broad coverage of that. It will be
reported to Parliament, as these things are.
Personally, I think it does a pretty good job of that.
Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Okay.
Mr. Price, followed by Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. David Price: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, welcome to the committee, Mr. Desbarats.
We're very happy to have you here.
I'll start off by following up a little bit on Madam
Venne's questions. Most of this bill, it seems,
has come out of the Dickson advisory group
studying military justice. They did the report
in the period of January to March, which means
we're talking only a couple of months, whereas
the Somalia commission sat for two years,
and many of your recommendations, of course,
are not in this bill. As Madam Venne mentioned,
the two rather important ones are the
inspector general and the civilian JAG.
It's my understanding—in fact, more than my
understanding—that the commissioners
continue to be fearful that the military
is not, and feels that it need not, be responsible
to civilian authority. One of your confrères,
Justice Rutherford, spoke about two months ago
to the Royal Canadian Military Institute.
It was a closed session, but he did allude
very strongly to the fact that he had, I think,
the same feelings you have.
When we talked to the minister about an
inspector general, his comment was that generals
can't function with someone looking over their
shoulders. I have here a response that you made
Why not? Isn't the whole principle of civilian control
in the military in a democratic society based on the idea
of someone looking over the generals' shoulders?
That someone, I would imagine, would be Parliament.
Can you comment on that?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I did comment on it in
the opening statement.
Mr. David Price: Yes, but—
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I have a rather jaundiced
view—understandably, I think—of the Dickson report
and some of the other reports the minister
commissioned at that time. If my recollection is
correct, these reports were commissioned at
or around the time the minister had already either
announced, or had clearly indicated, that he was going
to cut short our inquiry. They were designed
to cover the same ground our inquiry was covering.
They did it in a much shorter time period, in a much
more superficial fashion, in my view, and in some cases,
the first thing they did was come to us to try to get hold
of the research we had done and that was going into
our own report.
So I regarded the creation of those other studies
as highly political in motivation. As I said,
I have a rather jaundiced view of those. That
doesn't mean I don't think the findings in some cases
were useful. In many cases, they paralleled ours.
But the principle that runs all through our report
is this one of accountability—accountability to
society, accountability to society through Parliament.
Our clear finding during the inquiry was that one of
the major problems that led to Somalia was lack of
accountability in many areas, and that the system
was very much a closed system, in fact. The fact
that it was a closed system was clearly evident
in many ways by the demeanour of some of the
senior officers who appeared before us
and who seemed to resent the fact that we, representing
the people of Canada, dared to inquire about
what they were doing and dared to ask them
to explain and to justify.
In that sense, we were very responsive, I think,
to suggestions as they emerged that civilian control
of the military should be strengthened. We saw
the creation of the inspector general's office as a
key sign that this would be happening. Unfortunately,
that's been watered down in the bill.
Mr. David Price: One of the parts of it
that I think I looked at the closest was chapter 44,
the need for a vigilant Parliament. I think that was a
very important part, and in fact I asked the committee
here to have the three commissioners come before us.
Unfortunately they voted the idea down.
The military does have to be more accountable to the
public, and as far as I'm concerned Parliament is
the way to do that, and I think that's exactly what you
were aiming at in 44.
Could you maybe comment on Parliament's role, what
it could be and should be and whether it should include a
permanent joint committee that includes the Senate? What
would your feelings be on that?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think anything that
strengthens civilian oversight of the military is
productive. As you indicated, and as I indicated, I
have a hard time not necessarily understanding but
sympathizing with the military's suspicion of that kind
of oversight. I think it can add credibility to
the military, in fact. Obviously, the military,
particularly in wartime, has certain secrets
that can't be divulged, but that's not true for most
of the military activities in our case. I think the
creation of a permanent joint committee such as the one
you suggested would be a very effective mechanism
of ensuring regular and close civilian scrutiny of the
armed forces. That's certainly been a great lack in
Mr. David Price: I read an interesting comment
yesterday from Justice Dickson regarding the
inspector general. After the study, they found
that the inspector general wasn't needed. But he did
say that maybe five years from now,
maybe down the road, it's something that could be
changed. He went in the direction that
it probably wasn't needed at this point because of
numbers, because we've downsized so much. But I'm not
totally comfortable with that argument. I'm wondering
if you'd like to comment on that.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I'm not aware, apart from what
you say, of what Judge Dickson said, but if it's a
good idea four or five years down the road, why isn't
it a good idea today? I think the principle is either
valid today or it's not valid. I don't think it has
anything to do with the downsizing. The military is
still a very significant organization, a large
organization, and the principle of civilian oversight
isn't affected by taking 10,000 or 15,000 men out of
the army or adding 10,000 or 15,000 in at some point.
I don't think that's a relevant issue.
Mr. David Price: Maybe we can talk about the JAG
and military judges. Your recommendation was for a
civilian JAG, and I asked Justice Dickson yesterday if
he thought your conclusion had been totally ignored.
I'm wondering how you feel it is being addressed in
this bill. Is it just being totally ignored, or is there a
way that they're working around it that you might be a
little bit comfortable with? Or do you feel it's going in
the right direction at all?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think it's being
essentially ignored. The recommendation in our report
was that the JAG office itself should be eliminated, as
I recall, and replaced with other structures, and that
obviously hasn't been followed. We would certainly
have been in favour of at least the possibility of a
civilian appointee to that position and no requirement
that the JAG would hold military rank. That hasn't
been followed. I of course feel that our initial
suggestion is a good suggestion in principle, and I'm
not particularly happy that it hasn't been adopted.
Mr. David Price: Your feeling was, I imagine, that
the JAGs couldn't be military because the military will
tend to protect themselves.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: It's related to this general
principle of openness and independence in the
structures from the high command.
We saw a number of instances at the inquiry where the
fact that the military police and the JAG are part of
the command structure, and the JAG in particular is part
of policy discussions sometimes, meant there are obvious
possibilities for conflict of interest.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Desbarats. Thank you, Mr. Price.
We move to Mr. O'Reilly,
followed by Mr. Richardson.
Mr. John O'Reilly: Thank you very much, Mr.
Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Desbarats, for appearing
before us. You indicated that you didn't have a copy
of the bill, so I was trying to do some analysis as to
how you could compare this bill to the Somalia inquiry
and whether it in fact mirrors the Somalia inquiry
In the summary, there is some
commentary at the back that says the Somalia inquiry
and the Dickson panel recommended certain things and
that this bill mirrors it.
In that part of it I find it a little tough to have
your analysis as to whether it actually does or
doesn't mirror in certain areas. I've been told that
some of the reasons for not adopting parts of the
Somalia recommendations were legal in context. I would
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Mr. O'Reilly, if I could
comment on that, I did read the summary quite
carefully. The summary itself runs to 47 pages, and
there is the comparison between the Dickson panel and our
inquiry at the very end, dealing with just one section
of the bill. But throughout the summary there are
constant references to the inquiry and to the Dickson
report and constant indications as to what sections of
the bill follow the recommendations of the inquiry or
Dickson report and what sections don't follow
recommendations of the inquiry or Dickson report, and in
some cases both. It seemed to me that the summary in
fact was a fairly good guide to the way the people who
drafted Bill C-25 were guided or not guided by our own
Mr. John O'Reilly: In the Somalia inquiry it
became an extremely hostile attack on the top people in
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I don't accept that, Mr.
Mr. John O'Reilly: That was my
Mr. Peter Desbarats: We were handed very detailed
terms of reference by the government. We had to cover
the ground that was listed in those terms of reference.
Like any inquiry, in doing that, we had to examine senior
officers. That's what we did.
Mr. John O'Reilly: It appeared in my estimation,
and from the letters I received from constituents of
mine, that it was hostile, but that is an
You started out your presentation by
saying that most of the people at the top in the
military were incompetent and that they
bred incompetence by hiring people who were stupid.
Rot at the top, I think you called it.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think that's a fair
characterization of what I said.
Mr. John O'Reilly: We had many people appear
before this commission, and it appears that everyone
who retires from the military in a high post or a
senior command develops a conscience at the first
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think the first pension
cheque actually waits for a little while or sometimes
arrives in conjunction with the first cheque from a
Mr. John O'Reilly: However, in analysing and
trying to get information from senior retired military
people, some of them would actually say they should
have done certain things when they were in that
position but they didn't, and that if they had to do it
over again they would have done it differently. As I
said, that conscience at the first cheque coming in
seemed to be evident in what we have heard. So I
appreciate your remarks.
In some of the operational changes, do you feel
the structure would actually have two systems, one when
you're at home and one when you're in an operational
Have you analysed
that as to how the military can operate in a place like
Somalia differently from how they would operate when
they're not in an operational theatre? Was there any
thought given to that?
I read your Somalia inquiry report. I didn't agree
with it being cut off. That's a strange thing for
someone on the government side to say, but I felt that
it should have had a longer time and covered some of
I find that there seem to be two sets of rules in the
military, one for peacetime at home and others for
when you're in an operation.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Of course, one of the things
that was wrong was the fact that quite often there
weren't clearly defined rules for operating in the
field. We were surprised to find that when the Somalia
mission was being prepared, people were scrambling
around looking for reference material on basic things
like the rules of engagement.
We thought that after all these years of peacekeeping
there would be some sort of manual and procedure that
you would follow, and yet every mission seemed to be
put together almost from scratch. I think that in
fact is starting to change.
I don't think there's a clear division between
problems that occurred in Canada and problems that
occurred in Somalia. In our report, we saw one
contributing to the other. We spent a great deal of
time, as you know, looking at problems within the
airborne regiment during training and recruiting,
when the regiment was being put together and selected.
We looked at problems of command and supervision
during the training period. We related those directly
to what happened in Somalia.
One of my overall conclusions, of course, from the
Somalia affair is that it should have been, as I said,
so easily preventable with almost a minimum of good
I won't go into great detail on this, but after all,
the Canadian Forces in Somalia were posted to a very
peaceful sector. It was a sector in which
international aid was being distributed before the
soldiers arrived. Not one Canadian soldier was killed
or even wounded by hostile fire in Somalia. There were
very unpleasant conditions, admittedly, as it was hot
and dusty and so forth, but all they had to do was
establish themselves on the ground in Somalia, look
after themselves, look after their own property, and
patrol a relatively peaceful sector. There was always
the possibility that it might not be peaceful sometime
in the future, but that in fact didn't happen.
But our army wasn't able to do that. They weren't able
to look after themselves.
In any third world country you're going to have
problems with pilfering and thievery. It's one of the
standard problems, and there are standard ways of
combating that. You lay out the camp, put up
watchtowers, put up lights, build barriers, and
surround the camp with protective devices and so forth,
but they weren't able to do that.
So what should have been an easily controllable
problem—petty thievery—because of a lack of
leadership became a major problem and led to
unjustified killings. You have to trace that back to
problems in the command structure, with the way leaders
are trained, and with logistics, which are all problems
that initiated back here in NDHQ in Ottawa, which was
primarily responsible for this.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you.
We'll go to Mr. Richardson, followed by Mr. Clouthier, and
then back to Mr. Price.
Mr. John Richardson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Desbarats, I listened carefully to your comments
about your commission. It was a long, drawn-out
commission. It took them many hours longer than we
ever expected it to take.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: It was of about an average
length and cost for a commission of that nature.
Mr. John Richardson: You're loaded with opinions.
You're entitled to them, like any other citizen in
this country, but that's all you're entitled to.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think it's important. I
would refer to an article that the Globe and Mail
wrote at the time—
Mr. John Richardson: Wait a minute now. You just
said that another commission led by an honourable man,
Justice Dickson, as well as General Belzile— You made
a comment that was loaded, jaundiced.
What kind of—
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I made no reflection on Judge
Mr. John Richardson: Oh, wait a minute. Well,
that was his report.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I reflected on the process of
Mr. John Richardson: Well, I'll tell you that you
certainly didn't leave a very good taste in my mouth
from a person who is supposed to be level-headed and
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I'm very fair-minded.
Mr. John Richardson: Well, that's your opinion, I
Steps have already been taken
to enhance the independence of the military justice
system by, one, organizing the Office of the Chief
Military Trial Judge as an independent unit of the
Canadian Forces effective 27 September 1997, and
establishing the National Investigation Service
effective September 1, 1997, an internal
police agency that reports through the provost
marshal to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, which
is independent of the chain of command and, as of
November 30, 1997, will have the ability to lay
charges. These are all flowing from some of the
recommendations from the Somalia inquiry.
Bill C-25 will provide further independence by
providing a clear institutional separation between
judicial, prosecutorial, defence, and investigative
functions of the military justice system. It will set
out the responsibility of the chief military judge in
the National Defence Act and establish, one, a director
of military prosecutions, as appointed by the
minister, who will act independently of the chain of
command and who will make the final decision on what
charges are to be tried by court martial and determine
the type of court martial to try the charges under; and
two, a director of defence counsel services, as
appointed by the minister, who will be solely
responsible for providing legal services to persons to
be charged and tried under the code of service
Furthermore, the oversight and review of the military
justice system will be provided by amendments to the
National Defence Act to establish a Military Police
Complaints Commission, which will receive and
investigate complaints by any person concerning the
conduct of the military police as well as allegations
of improper interference by members of the Canadian
Forces and senior officials at the Department of
National Defence and in military police investigations,
provide for a superintendent of administration of
military justice in the Canadian Forces by the JAG,
provide for an annual public reporting to the House of
Commons, the Senate, and the JAG, and establish the
Military Police Complaints Commission and the
Canadian Forces Grievance Board.
Most of these things flow directly from the
suggestions by the Somalia committee. On top of that,
there's the Dickson report on the revision of the
Queen's Regulations and Orders and the
National Defence Act, which streamlines and amends,
where possible, the justice system within the military.
That was another thing that was recommended by your
Don't you believe that this bill is incorporating a
large number—I have more and more to read out here—of
things that flow directly from the Somali inquiry? Do
you think this Bill C-25 still has some inherent
weakness because an inspector general wasn't in it?
Certainly there are inspector generals in the armies of
the world, but they're not in every army, so the
argument is one or the other. So you can't base it on
the fact that because the Americans have it, it's
perfect. Take any other country. I think the
Germans were the first ones to have one back in the
1950s. So I think that a lot of due deference was
given to the Somali inquiry recommendations, and these
were incorporated in this bill.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: You're absolutely right, Mr.
Richardson. I tried to indicate that. I'm happy,
in fact, that much of the work that we did on the Somali
inquiry is reflected in the bill. Some of the
various elements you mentioned in the bill
either are identical with or certainly were influenced
by structures that we recommended in the inquiry. In
that sense, I'm quite proud of the fact that I served
on a commission that was so useful to the government.
In fact, I think that was perhaps another reason why we
should have been allowed to be even more useful by
being able to complete what we had done.
But that doesn't make me feel completely satisfied
with the bill, obviously, because I think there are
some important omissions. I said from the beginning,
when the government first indicated what its response
to the bill was and rejected the idea of an inspector
general, that I felt that was an important omission
from the bill.
I think there are other areas where the bill
certainly does not follow exactly the kind of
structures we laid out. I think in our own
recommendations—I'd have to refer to the report to
verify this—we had recommended, for instance, that the
director of military police should report to the
Solicitor General rather than to the Chief of the
There were other areas like that where we were intent
on opening the door a little bit more and providing
accountability outside the system, but the government
has drawn back, to some extent, from following those
So, no, I'm not completely
happy with the bill, but I'm not saying it doesn't
represent substantial improvement over the present
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you.
Mr. Hec Clouthier (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke,
Lib.): Mr. Desbarats, in your opening statement you
made a rather damning assessment of, I guess, the chain
of command in the Canadian military. I believe the
words were “the higher the rank, the poorer the
We as a committee have interviewed and have
spoken to everyone from generals to privates. Far
be it from me to defend the upper echelons of the
Canadian military, but for you to indicate that there
seems to be cronyism at play and that the better people
are not promoted because they're not so-called pals with
their superiors— I'd be a
little upset if I were some of the upper echelons of the
Granted that some of them have had a veritable
epiphany after they retired, but I guess it's a lot
easier in most instances, not just in this particular
instance but in life, to look back and say, well,
perhaps we should have done things differently. But when
you're in the venue or you're doing something, perhaps
it doesn't occur to you.
I disagree with you in that regard. It's kind of
a broad brush with which to be painting the upper
echelons of the Canadian military. If they were that
bad, I don't know how we would be accepted worldwide as
one of the best military-led countries throughout
Mr. Peter Desbarats: This is a bit of an illusion
sometimes. I was surprised, in fact, during the course
of the inquiry when I came across a report on
peacekeeping in Central America. I'm
afraid I can't recall the name of the former
senior Canadian military officer who had done this
report, and I can't remember the exact country in which
the peacekeeping operations had taken place, but this
was a report that was in fact very critical of the
record of Canadian peacekeepers in that particular
operation. It ranked us down near the bottom of
nations that had been involved in that particular
I could give you the reference if I had time to look
for it, but—
Mr. Hec Clouthier: Anybody can bring up a singular
report and say— I can probably find some on the
other side of the coin, probably more, that say,
listen, the Canadian military is very highly respected
and well thought of throughout the world.
I just want to make that point, that I believe it was
kind of a broad-brush statement, a generalized
Mr. Peter Desbarats: It comes out of
the two years I spent with senior military officers on
the stand in front of us, in many cases uncooperative,
playing around with the truth in some
cases, resenting the fact that they were being called
to account. I contrasted that with the men and the
junior officers that we met in the camps, the same
kinds of people you've been talking with over the
months, who I found extremely impressive in many cases
and dedicated to a kind of military ideal that didn't
seem to exist, or certainly existed in a very weak
form at the top.
We heard continually that the traditional military
officer, the traditional ideal of a military officer,
was someone who put himself or herself ahead of the men
or women serving under them. The officer ate last,
after the men had been fed—I think that was said to
us dozens of times.
Yet what was actually happening in Somalia was
exactly the reverse. The senior officers in Ottawa
were intent on—“careerism” is the word that has been
used—promotion, pensions, salaries,
ranking, and so forth, and tended to forget about the
interests of the men and women who served under them.
From the media reports I've read, in fact your
committee, travelling across the country, has seen the
results of that. Don't you think that is a commentary
on the leadership of the people who've been appearing
Mr. Hec Clouthier: Mr. Desbarats, I come more from
the field of business than politics, and one thing that
has continuously irked me in the public realm is that
when things don't go according to your perspective
of the way things should go, people in general
want to lay the responsibility on someone else.
I move ahead to where you did say if they had
been adequately led, the Somalia incident would not
have happened. But I have difficulty with that,
because again, you're painting with a broad brush.
You're saying, listen, it's
the generals' fault or the colonels' fault that
somebody did something untoward to another human being.
You're the dean of journalism, I believe you said,
or a past dean, for the University of Western Ontario.
If one of your students happened to make
a mistake or do something wrong, is that then
looked upon as Peter Desbarats lacking leadership?
I think not. I believe people have to be personally
Mr. Peter Desbarats: If you're talking about
those who were my students at the time
that something happened, and that something
happened in the course of their role as students,
yes, I would certainly be responsible.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: So you would resign and walk
away, and take full responsibility. If one of your
students went out and robbed a bank, say, it would be
Mr. Peter Desbarats: No, that's not in the course
of being a student. If a soldier on leave goes out
and robs a bank, it's not the problem of the senior
officers. But if a soldier in the camp is pilfering
property, and the senior officer becomes aware of it
and doesn't take proper action, that is a responsibility.
So I would have a certain responsibility to students
acting as students under my deanship.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: So the student then can just
pass off the responsibility for whatever he or she does
and say, “It's all Peter Desbarats's fault”.
Even if you didn't know that particular student
at the University of Western Ontario, if they
wrote some kind of scandalous article
in some local paper, it would be all your fault.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: If the rules weren't clear,
if they hadn't been explained to the student, and if the
rules weren't correct, yes, it might be partly my fault.
That was exactly the situation in Somalia. The
rules weren't clear.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: Well, I believe the rules were
clear in Somalia.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: No, they weren't.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: I believe the rules were clear.
They just said you don't go and kill someone. Right?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: The soldiers were told
at one point in Somalia that it was okay to kill people
who were suspected of being thieves even if they
weren't caught in the act and even if they weren't
caught with stolen goods.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: They were definitely told—
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Yes, absolutely.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: I'm not done.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): You're out
Mr. Price and then Ms. Longfield.
Mr. David Price: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You mentioned the case of Lieutenant Colonel Morneault,
who sought an order to quash the findings made against
him in the commission. The courts found that your
comments against him were invalid.
In your opinion, would you say this is the government
again trying to quash things as far as the findings
in Somalia, trying to bottom things out?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think there's no doubt
that the government in this instance is in a
direct conflict-of-interest position. The government
that publicly criticized the inquiry, and had so little
faith in the inquiry that it cut it short, is now
placed in the position of defending the inquiry.
The evidence so far, as far as I'm concerned, is that
this defence is not being handled properly,
and in fact is being handled ineptly.
My understanding in, for instance, the Morneault
case, is that Colonel Morneault submitted an affidavit
running to something like 87 pages. The government
didn't respond to that with an affidavit at all
but relied simply on a presentation made during the hearing
in court, a presentation made by a lawyer for the
Department of Justice who was not as intimately
acquainted with the file as he might have been.
My understanding is that there had been an agreement,
in fact, that one of the commission lawyers who understood
the file in detail would play a vital role in that
case, when in fact that lawyer only read in the media
about the fact that the case had been heard
and the decision rendered, and was not called on.
I'm also concerned about the fact— I think
there should have been some consultation with me
as these things progressed. It's not just the
commission report that's at stake; my reputation,
in a sense, is also being assailed in these actions.
There now is no entity as the commission, as such,
but simply three former commissioners. In fact,
there's no legal entity as the commission at all.
As I discovered during the course of the inquiry,
there are three commissioners appointed independently
and in their own right. One happens to be named the
chair. In fact, it's not even adequate, in dealing with
this, for the government to consult with the former
chair. I think the government has to consult with all
the commissioners who were intimately involved.
I've had absolutely no consultation. I read about the
results of the trial in the media. I think that's outrageous.
Now the government is trying to decide whether to
appeal that particular ruling. I haven't received a
copy of the judgment from the government. I've
received no communication from the government, and that
decision whether or not to appeal is being made in
complete isolation from me, while I am intimately
involved and affected by that process. It's not right.
Mr. David Price: It looks like it's going to be
ignored, basically. If that happens, though, I guess
we'll see Colonel Labbé end in up in a general's
uniform pretty soon?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I don't know. I don't think
we've seen the end of the controversy that I'm opening
up today, in that sense. I'm just speaking for myself,
but I think the other commissioners are also extremely
upset about this.
Mr. David Price: Just to follow up on what Mr.
O'Reilly was talking about, the Dickson commission
concluded that the military justice system must work in
both peacetime and war. Could you comment on whether
you feel the bill does address this?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think it recognizes the
fact that since the Second World War, we haven't been
caught up in a massive global war situation. A
symbolic recognition of that fact in the bill, I
suppose, is the abolition of the death penalty, which
is long overdue.
Mr. David Price: We're getting closer to a civil
law system, and also getting closer, of course, to
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Reorganizing the whole
process, yes. That's right.
Mr. David Price: Do you agree with that in the
sense of how we see ourselves, as Mr. O'Reilly
mentioned, where we have one situation dealing with
activities in Canada, let's say, and another situation
where they are dealing with situations in-theatre? Do
you agree that the rules should be the same?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Largely yes, I think, in
principle. I think the progress that has been
made in the current bill reflects the reality of
today's military, yes, and not yesterday's.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you, Mr.
Price. We'll go to Ms. Longfield, and then one last
question to Mr. Clouthier.
Mrs. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Ajax, Lib.): Thank
Thank you, Mr. Desbarats. I certainly appreciate your
coming here today, and a number of the questions that I
had have already been put to you. But I want to get
back to—and I don't want to put words in your mouth,
but is it fair to suggest that you're measuring
government's acting on reform to be separating military
justice from the chain of command? Is that a fair
assessment—that you would judge how well we were
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Yes; as much as possible, yes.
Mrs. Judi Longfield: Okay. I want to then ask you
about some of the things we've done that we feel have
tried to address it, albeit not exactly in the way in
which you had recommended.
My understanding is that one of your
greatest—irritants is probably not the right word,
but disappointments, is that there wasn't the
appointment of the inspector general, specifically
because you had envisioned that the inspector general
would have the ability to initiate.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Yes.
Mrs. Judi Longfield: Okay.
The NIS, which is already up and operating as a
result of suggestions made by Dickson and the other
advisory group, has been given independent authority.
It doesn't report directly to the chain of command, and
it does have the ability to initiate and lay charges.
Does that in, your opinion, go somewhat towards your
view that there should be the ability to initiate
charges outside the chain of command?
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I'm afraid I'm really not
familiar enough with all the details about the NIS
to give an informed answer to that question. Who does
it report to?
Mrs. Judi Longfield: It's independent. To my
understanding, it reports right to the minister, but
I'd have to get more information. I guess I'm not
familiar enough with the NIS. I hoped that you were.
Perhaps if we both find out some information, if you
find out what it is supposed to be doing and whether it
in some way addresses the concerns— because I'm led to
believe that it does, so I would like—
It responds to the VCDS,
I am told.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Well, then it's within the
chain of command.
Mrs. Judi Longfield: But that would be above the
operational chain of command.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: It doesn't resemble the
proposed office of inspector general in that very
Mrs. Judi Longfield: All right. Thanks for that.
Now we come to the JAG. Currently the JAG answers to
the Chief of the Defence Staff, and under the proposed
amendments he would answer to the Minister of National
Defence. In that in your opinion—
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think that's an
Mrs. Judi Longfield: Okay. A previous witness
thought we should spell out even more clearly that the
JAG did not— I think now it just says it reports to
the Minister of National Defence, but they wanted it to
say that in no way was he reporting to the CDS or the
deputy minister. Would you like to see it spelled out
in those terms or is it sufficient under the current—
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Well, I haven't thought a
great deal about that particular aspect. It sounds to
me like the principle of reinforcing reporting to the
minister, rather than within the chain of command, is a
good principle for them to follow, yes.
Mrs. Judi Longfield: Dr. Bland also suggested that
we should spell out very clearly in perhaps the bill
the duties of the deputy minister.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: Yes. We discussed that a lot
in the inquiry, particularly with Doug Bland, who as
you know is one of our advisers—and a very valuable
one. We discussed a great deal the confusion in roles
and responsibility between the Chief of the Defence
Staff and the deputy minister. I think there's been
some progress made since our report came out in trying
to disentangle those. For instance, I think that when
they now sign orders they don't necessarily sign
jointly but they sign individually. It certainly
appeared to us that there was an overlap and confusion
of responsibility right at the top of the system, and
this spread confusion throughout.
So I would probably agree
very much with what Doug Bland said. He made a lot of
sense to us.
Mrs. Judi Longfield: But do you think it needs to
be spelled out in the bill, or could it be spelled out
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think it would probably be
more effective to spell it out in the bill. I think,
dealing with positions at that level, it wouldn't be
inappropriate to cover it in legislation.
Mrs. Judi Longfield: Do you also believe, then,
as Dr. Bland indicated, that we should spell out very
clearly what the vice chief's role would be if the CDS
is absent? I think he suggested when the CDS is
incapacitated or under temporary direction.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think the whole concept of
accurate job descriptions in that sense at those levels
is important, and when we were looking at some of these
positions we felt there was certainly confusion about
that. Now, how far down the line you want to go in
putting exact job descriptions inside the bill I'm not
too sure. Once you start dropping down from the very
top positions, you may want to put it in regulations
someplace. So I really can't say where the cut-off
Mrs. Judi Longfield: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Mr. Clouthier,
one last question.
Mr. Hec Clouthier: Mr. Desbarats, the question I
was going to ask you I'm not going to ask you now,
because Judi brought up Doug Bland's name. This
morning Doug said that ultimately the responsibility
should rest with the parliamentarians—we, the elected
members of Parliament. You also brought into the
conversation this morning— you said you thought the
most important thing was the accountability. Now, do you
agree with me that this committee, made up of
parliamentarians from all parties, ultimately will have
the accountability when we submit this Bill C-25
because we have to answer to the electors?
Take yourself, for instance, Mr. Desbarats, and the
other two Somalia commissioners. There's a dichotomy
between your thought and my thought on this. I may be
a little biased, but my preference would have been for
this committee to host the Somalia inquiry because
ultimately we are accountable to the Canadian people,
whereas ultimately Peter Desbarats is accountable to
Peter Desbarats because you don't have to fight another
So I don't know if you agree with me that perhaps at
the end of the day a committee such as this should have
been conducting the Somalia inquiry or other inquiries.
For all intents and purposes, I guess, that is
basically— In one way, what we're doing is going around
the country, getting depositions from all levels
of the military. We're going to submit the report, and
there's certainly going to be a differentiation of opinion
perhaps again between ourselves and the members
opposite. But ultimately Bill C-25 will be submitted,
and we'll be accountable, because if the Canadian
public judge that we have made a mistake, well, next
election—as we say in the Ottawa Valley
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I'm in favour of as strong
a role for Parliament as possible, yes. But I think
there will always be situations that arise that
are very hot, difficult—
Mr. Hec Clouthier: We're used to that.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: —for
parliamentarians to handle sometimes, and where the only
device that seems to satisfy both the public and the
political process is an independent public inquiry.
There are going to be other public inquiries appointed
in similar circumstances in future. The appointment of
those inquiries is going to be made much more difficult
by our experience, but that's a whole other
Mr. Hec Clouthier: Mr Desbarats, you can't get
much more independent of thought than sitting around
this table, let me tell you, because we have five
political parties involved here. So you certainly get
the odd differentiation of opinion.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: I think that if a
parliamentary committee can function with sufficient
unity and can be supplied with the resources—and they're
substantial—to do a thorough inquiry, then that's not
an inappropriate forum. But I think those are big
Mr. Hec Clouthier: Good. So you endorse this
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): Thank you very
much, Mr. Clouthier.
Thank you, Mr. Desbarats, for
being with us this morning. We certainly appreciate
your candour and your forthright thoughts. We
appreciate your being with us.
Mr. Peter Desbarats: The longer I covered
politics, the less I wanted to do it.
The Vice-Chairman (Mr. Bob Wood): We'll adjourn. We'll
this afternoon in room 536 of the Wellington Building.