Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

September 30, 2011 17:06 ET

A Century of Service: Canada's Judge Advocate General

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 30, 2011) - The Canadian Forces are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the appointment of the first Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the delivery of legal services to the Canadian military by Canadian officers.

On October 1, 1911, Colonel Henry Smith was appointed Canada's first JAG. One hundred years later, more than 200 Regular and Reserve Force military lawyers provide legal services at Canadian bases and headquarters across the country and in operational theatres around the world.

"The appointment of the first Judge Advocate General a century ago marked a pivotal moment in Canadian military and legal history," said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. "Throughout their proud history, JAG military and civilian personnel have helped ensure Canadian Forces members serve in an environment that reflects the core values and beliefs of Canadians, and is consistent with domestic and international law."

As set out in the National Defence Act, the JAG is legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces in matters relating to military law. The JAG also has the specific role of superintending the administration of military justice in the Canadian Forces.

"This is a very special moment in the history of our office," said Brigadier-General Blaise Cathcart, the current JAG. "For 100 years, Canadian legal officers have provided independent, operationally focused legal advice and services across the spectrum of military law and have supported the administration of military justice. I applaud the skill, dedication and professionalism of all military lawyers, past and present."

For more information about the JAG branch, visit

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