Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

May 31, 2012 15:00 ET

Statement by Minister MacKay on the 100th Anniversary of the First Judge Advocate General

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 31, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today issued the following statement on the occasion of a memorial event held in honour of Canada's first Judge Advocate General:

"On this day, we commemorate Canada's first Judge Advocate General (JAG), Major-General Henry Smith by marking his grave with a headstone honouring his place in Canadian military and legal history. The final resting place of MGen Smith was only recently identified - next to his wife, Charlotte Honey, in Cobourg, Ontario.

How fitting it is for the Office of the JAG to hold an unveiling ceremony in this, the 100th anniversary year of MGen Smith's appointment as the first JAG and of the first delivery of legal services to the Canadian military by Canadian officers.

The appointment of the first JAG a century ago marked a pivotal moment in Canadian military and legal history, the first step in the establishment of today's Office of the Judge Advocate General, which ensures that the work of the Canadian men and women in uniform is performed in an environment that reflects the core values and beliefs of Canadians, and is consistent with Canadian and international law.

Before his appointment as JAG, MGen Smith was a long-serving member of the militia and a founding member of the unit that eventually became The Royal Canadian Regiment. He served during the Fenian Raids from 1866 to 1871 and later commanded Toronto's C Company in Saskatchewan during the 1885 North-West Rebellion, during which he was decorated for his leadership. MGen Smith held the position of JAG from October 1st, 1911, throughout most of the First World War. He retired from the position of JAG in January 1918, but remained as a senior staff advisor until the end of hostilities. He died in March 1923.

For 100 years, the Canadian military chain of command, the Governor-General, the Government of Canada, and the people of Canada have benefitted from JAG advice and legal services across the full spectrum of military law. The role of JAG has directly contributed to operational success and been instrumental in establishing the Canadian Forces as a disciplined, professional, and effective force that fully respects the rule of law and in which all Canadians can be proud."

For more information about the JAG branch, please visit

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