The military’s top prosecutor has tried to prevent the publication of investigations into an alleged crime

The Chief Justice of CAF was found to have ‘adversely influenced’ the work of a subordinate who made a complaint against him.

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OTTAWA – An investigation into the head of Canada’s military court found he had a “bad influence” on the work of a subordinate when he asked if a complaint had been made against him. he is not eligible for a promotion, the National Post has learned.

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But the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Rear-Admiral Geneviève Bernatchez is going to court to stop the federal government – his boss – from publishing the investigative report on his conduct.

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Bernatchez said the Department of Homeland Security’s (DND) internal investigation into his actions was “procedurally and judicially flawed” and “tainted with serious irregularities,” and that its decision was “grossly inappropriate. “

In a petition for judicial review filed Wednesday, he asked a federal court judge to block DND from publishing the investigative report, asserting that DND investigators not “biased,” and rejected their “illegal” decision.

The JAG is the most senior military attorney in the Canadian Armed Forces. The JAG serves as legal advisor to the minister of national defence, the governor general, DND and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), at all times overseeing and managing Canada’s justice system.

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According to Bernatchez’s court filing, he was first notified on December 19, 2022 that investigators believed he was a whistleblower who said he interfered with the launch of one of the below he criticized him to be “established.” The lawmaker’s name is not included in the court’s request.

“After (the claimant) disclosed a wrongdoing … you conducted investigations to determine whether the steps (they) took in filing the disclosure should have affected (their) reasonableness for publicity,” reads part of a final letter sent to Bernatchez on Dec. 19. , which is included in his court filing.

The letter citing the investigation concluded that Bernatchez’s questions had a “bad effect” on the work of subordinates because it caused “uncertainty” in their promotion and “retention” them from receiving a new ad in the specific location they want. Bernatchez later approved another raise for the plaintiff.

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According to Bernatchez’s claim, the results of the investigation into his behavior caused the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Gen. Wayne Eyre an unconfirmed decision on the “work” of Bernatchez and his work was sent through the Canadian Forces General Message (CANFORGEN) above. December 5.

That CANFORGEN, interviewed by the National Post Thursday, is a request of interest for the position of judge advocate general and shows that the government is promoting the process to choose the JAG “next” after the appointment Bernatchez is currently in June. The National Defense Act says that a JAG can be reappointed multiple times.

Bernatchez was named JAG in 2017 and is serving a second, two-year term. He is currently on medical leave. Neither his attorneys nor the DND responded to a request for comment by deadline.

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Neither the investigation report against Bernatchez nor DND’s response to the lawsuit has been filed with the court.

According to Bernatchez’s application to the court, the lawsuits against him from many of his employees began in August 2017, after less than two months on the job. At the time, the JAG’s office was in the midst of writing a comprehensive review of the military court and, when Bernatchez read a draft, he thought it could not be published because “many faults.”

He said that some reporters “refused to reproduce the report” according to his instructions and were “very unhappy” with the “significant changes” he ordered to be made to it.

It’s a mess. This shows me a very stressful workplace

The complainants then made an access to information (ATI) request to obtain a copy of the original draft of the report. Of the Ottawa Citizen reported in 2019 at that time, Bernatchez’s office told the access to information authority that the first draft of the report was not available. However, two officers on Bernatchez’s staff wrote a memo to CDS Gen. Jonathan Vance warned him that “the records requested clearly exist, and have existed since July 21, 2017.”

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In his court filing, Bernatchez said he did not know at the time that the petitioners were part of the team that drafted the report and that they later filed lawsuits against his handling of the petition. of ATI to CDS.

And in October 2017, he said lawmakers filed another 16 complaints against him with the DND alleging that he committed “malicious acts” against them. His court application said he only learned of the complaint in 2019.

“The investigation … was conducted against the plaintiff, from the beginning to the end, in an unreasonable manner and in disregard of the principles of justice and fairness,” reads the his request of the court.

He said he found out three years later, in December 2022, that one of the 16 complaints was considered established.

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Bernatchez said that the investigation to him is “incomplete” and should be abandoned for some reasons, such as two years for the DND to tell him about the complaints, although in francophone, he was never assigned a French-speaking researcher. and the study relied on translations of his texts and oral transmissions that were “full of errors” or “incomplete.”

He also argued that the complaints should not be investigated first because they were not done in good faith, and that other organizations that received similar complaints (including the Bar of Quebec and the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada) found reject them.

He also argued that internal investigators could not give an unbiased report as they received legal advice from the JAG office.

According to military law expert Michel Drapeau, regardless of who is right in this case, the lawsuit shows a JAG officer in “extreme chaos.”

“It’s a mistake,” he said. “It shows me a very, very complicated workplace and you know, the armed forces are worse than I thought when one of their senior officers goes to court (civil ) to provide a sense of justice.”

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