However, when the most senior legal official within the Canadian Forces does not seem to follow the rules, not sending reports to the Minister of Defence, then perhaps the culture is broken. Major General Blaise Cathcart, the Judge Advocate General, apparently has not been meeting the requirements to file reports to the defence minister for three years running. Given that most senior officers only serve in a particular job for about three years max, this means that the JAG has been shirking a key part of his job for most, if not all, of his time in office. And this is the guy whose job it is at the top of the military justice system! If anyone should be following the rules, it is this guy. And if this guy is not following the rules, think about what this means for the culture.
What is a culture? A system of shared understandings of what is appropriate behavior, of conventions, values, and such. Well, having the JAG violate the rules, especially rules for reporting to the civilians--the Defence Minister and ultimately Parliament and the public--then that speaks quite loudly. And it is not just this guy being an exception. Two colonels--one heading military prosecutions and the other heading defence council services--also are not filing their annual reports. Not since 2010! I guess it is ok since the violations are on both sides--prosecution and defence?
The JAG's excuse:
"So with the resources and the priorities that I have at my disposal, I made those decisions and I made them knowing full well the gravity of those decisions," he said.
In other words, too busy to follow the rules. I wonder if he would ever accept that excuse from a private, a non-commissioned officer, or a junior officer. "Sir, I didn't do what you ordered me to do because I had a bunch of stuff to do, and I felt your orders to me were not as important."
"The most senior legal official in the military is now flagrantly in breach of the National Defence Act, that’s very troubling. I'm stunned.”Indeed, but I am sure there is nothing wrong with the CF's culture. I mean, it is just a few senior officers for several years running....
My next project is on the role of legislatures in monitoring militaries. It turns out that we will need to focus on this part of the process--do the senior military officers file the reports that are required of them? Seemed like a non-issue, but I guess not.