Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

October 20, 2010 18:37 ET

Clarification Regarding the Military Justice System and Military Pension

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2010) - The judicial process surrounding Colonel Williams has generated a great deal of public interest on a number of issues related to the management of military personnel and the military justice system. Unfortunately, some defence analysts have provided the media with incorrect interpretations of the law. This note is intended to offer news editors and reporters clarification on the following two points:

  • Colonel Russell Williams cannot be tried by court martial. Some analysts on National Defence matters suggest that Colonel Williams should also be tried through a military court martial in addition to the ongoing civilian justice proceedings. To suggest this possibility is simply wrong in law. This is because Section 66 of the National Defence Act specifically prevents an individual from being tried by court martial where the offense, or any other substantially similar offense arising out of the same underlying facts, have been previously dealt with by a civilian court. This basic principle, often referred to as "Double jeopardy", is fundamental within our civilian and military justice systems. Editors and reporters are invited to consult Section 66 of the National Defence Act at: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/N-5/page-3.html#codese:66

  • The Canadian Forces cannot remove Colonel Williams' pension. The Canadian Forces Superannuation Act determines a member's pension entitlement upon release. Entitlements are calculated based on years of service and earnings, and are not affected by the type of release from the military, whether he is convicted by a civilian court or a military court martial or the sentence. Editors and reporters are invited to consult the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act at: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-17/index.html

Additionally, with Colonel Williams' conviction now confirmed by the court, the CF are in a position move ahead with the following actions:

  • the prompt release of Colonel Williams from the armed forces;

  • the termination and recovery of his pay from the date of arrest;

  • the removal of his medals;

  • and other measures to be determined.

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