Mr. Chairman, the bill that will be introduced if the resolution is adopted will be a relatively short one dealing with several unrelated matters. The first matter to be dealt with in the proposed bill is an amendment to the National Defence Act to facilitate the integration or unification of certain of the operations of the Canadian forces. It is the view of the government that this integration or unification, where practical, would result in both economy and efficiency of operation. As you know, in recent months steps have been taken to integrate the medical and chaplain services. The possibility of integration of other operations is under careful study.
National Defence Act
The second subject dealt with in the bill is the question of rules of evidence at trials by court martial. A codification of the Canadian law of evidence applicable to courts martial has been prepared and authority will be sought to introduce this code.
The next subject is a proposal to introduce additional safeguards on the imposition of the penalty of death by courts martial. These safeguards wil be similar to those in effect under civil law.
Perhaps the most important provision of the bill is the proposed amendment to replace the court martial appeal board by court martial appeal courts. If the proposal is adopted members of the services will have the right to have their appeals heard by a tribunal comparable to the provincial courts of appeal which hear appeals of persons convicted under the Criminal Code. Furthermore, the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada would be enlarged so that service offenders would have the same right of appeal to that court as persons convicted in the criminal courts whose appeals have been disallowed by provincial courts appeal. The crown would be given the same right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada as it has in ordinary criminal cases.
The bill would also change the French version of the name of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
These amendments, Mr. Chairman, are designed to provide for a more equitable application of service discipline and to improve the administration of the Canadian forces. I therefore recommend the resolution to the committee for its favourable consideration.
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS RESPECTING COURT MARTIAL APPEAL BOARD, ETC.