High navy lawyer tries to dam report on alleged wrongdoing

High navy lawyer tries to dam report on alleged wrongdoing

The CAF’s Decide Advocate Basic was discovered to have made an ‘adversarial impression’ on the profession of a subordinate who made a grievance towards her

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OTTAWA – An investigation into the top of Canada’s navy justice system discovered she had an “adversarial impression” on a subordinate’s profession when she inquired if a grievance that they had made towards her made them unsuitable for a promotion, Nationwide Submit has realized.

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However Decide Advocate Basic (JAG) Rear-Admiral Geneviève Bernatchez goes to court docket to cease the federal authorities — her employer — from publishing the investigative report into her conduct.

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Bernatchez alleges the interior investigation by the Division of Nationwide Defence (DND) into her actions was “procedurally and judicially flawed” and “tainted with severe irregularities,” and its resolution is “utterly unreasonable.”

In an software for judicial evaluate filed Wednesday, she asks a federal court docket choose to dam DND from publishing the investigation report, affirm that DND’s investigators weren’t “neutral,” and reject their “unlawful” resolution.

The JAG is the highest-ranking navy lawyer within the Canadian Armed Forces. The JAG serves as authorized adviser to the minister of nationwide defence, governor common, DND and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), all of the whereas overseeing and administering Canada’s navy justice system.

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In line with Bernatchez’s court docket software, she was first knowledgeable on Dec. 19, 2022 that investigators deemed a whistleblower who claimed she had interfered within the promotion of a subordinate who had complained towards her to be “based.” The subordinate’s title isn’t included within the court docket software.

“Following (the complainant’s) disclosure of wrongdoing … you made inquiries to find out whether or not the steps (they) took in submitting that disclosure ought to have an effect on (their) suitability for promotion,” reads an excerpt of a conclusion letter despatched to Bernatchez on Dec. 19, which is contained in her court docket software.

The letter notes the investigation concluded that Bernatchez’s inquiries had an “adversarial impression” on the subordinate’s profession as a result of it created “uncertainty” round their promotion and “prevented” them from acquiring a brand new posting within the particular location they wished. Bernatchez ultimately later authorised one other promotion for the complainant.

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In line with Bernatchez’s lawsuit, the outcomes of the investigation into her conduct led to Chief of Defence Workers (CDS) Gen. Wayne Eyre taking an unspecified resolution on Bernatchez’s “employability” and her job being posted through a Canadian Forces Basic Message (CANFORGEN) on Dec. 5.

That CANFORGEN, consulted by Nationwide Submit Thursday, is a solicitation of curiosity for the place of choose advocate common and signifies that the federal government is launching the method to pick the “subsequent” JAG when Bernatchez’s present appointment expires in June. The Nationwide Defence Act says a JAG might be reappointed for a number of phrases.

Bernatchez was named JAG in 2017 and is serving a second, two-year appointment. She is at the moment on medical go away. Each her attorneys and a DND spokesperson declined to remark, citing the continued authorized proceedings.

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Neither the investigation report into Bernatchez nor DND’s response to the court docket motion have been filed with the courts.

In line with Bernatchez’s court docket software, complaints towards her from a number of of her workers started in August 2017, when she was barely two months into the job. On the time, the JAG workplace was within the midst of drafting a complete evaluate of the navy court docket system and, when Bernatchez learn a draft report, she thought-about it unpublishable due to “a number of shortcomings.”

She claims some authors “refused to transform the report” in accordance with her directions and have been “very sad” with “important modifications” she ordered made to it.

It is a mess. It reveals me a really, very disturbing office

The complainants then made an entry to data (ATI) request to acquire a replica of the unique draft report. The Ottawa Citizen reported in 2019 that, on the time, Bernatchez’s workplace instructed the entry to data directorate that the unique draft report didn’t exist. Nevertheless, two officers on Bernatchez’s workers wrote a memo to then CDS Gen. Jonathan Vance warning him that “the data that have been requested clearly exist, and have existed since no less than 21 July 2017.”

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In her court docket software, Bernatchez says she didn’t know on the time that the doc requesters have been a part of the workforce that had written the unique draft of the report and that that they had subsequently filed complaints towards her dealing with of the ATI request to the CDS.

Then in October 2017, she says the subordinates filed one other 16 complaints towards her to DND alleging she had dedicated “reprehensible acts” towards them. Her court docket software says she solely came upon about these complaints in 2019.

“The investigation … was carried out towards the plaintiff, from starting to finish, in an incompetent method and in disregard of the ideas of pure justice and equity,” reads her court docket software.

She says she came upon three years later, in December 2022, that one of many 16 complaints was thought-about based.

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Bernatchez claims the investigation into her was “poor” and have to be discarded for plenty of causes, particularly that it took two years for DND to inform her in regards to the complaints, that, regardless of being francophone, she was by no means assigned a French-speaking investigator and that the investigation relied on translations of her written and oral submissions that have been “riddled with errors” or “incomplete.”

She additionally argues that the complaints by no means ought to have been investigated within the first place as a result of they weren’t made in good religion, and that different organizations that had acquired related complaints (together with the Bar of Quebec and the Workplace of the Data Commissioner of Canada) had rejected them.

She additionally argued that inside investigators couldn’t ship an neutral report as a result of they acquired authorized recommendation from the JAG’s workplace.

In line with veteran navy legislation professional Michel Drapeau, no matter who is correct on this affair, the lawsuit reveals a JAG workplace in “full turmoil.”

“It’s a large number,” he mentioned. “It reveals me a really, very disturbing office and you recognize, the armed forces are in worse place than I believed when one among their most senior officers has to go to (civilian) court docket to get a way of justice.”


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