Supreme Court Asked to Rule on Protracted Battle Over Military Judges’ Independence

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
October 4, 2021 Updated: October 4, 2021

OTTAWA—The Supreme Court is being asked to determine whether Canada’s military judges are truly independent.

The request represents the latest—and possibly last—twist in a landmark legal battle whose genesis dates back to 2018, when Canada’s top military judge was himself court martialed.

While the case against Col. Mario Dutil was eventually dropped last year, it nonetheless set off a series of events that included a standoff between the rest of the military’s judges and then-defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance.

That included the four military judges ruling in several cases that they were not independent—a position that was rejected by the military’s appeal court in June. Those cases are now on hold.

The military’s top defence lawyer, Cmdr. Mark Letourneau, in asking the Supreme Court to hear the matter, argues the appeal court erred on several counts.

Letourneau says the top court’s involvement is required as the legitimacy of the military’s justice system is facing a “crisis,” as evidenced by sexual misconduct allegations against several senior officers.