Canadian Military Panels Should Have Gender Parity, Advocate Says

July 1, 2018

July 1, 2018:  An advocate for sexual assault survivors, Marie-Claude Gagnon, is calling on the military to incorporate gender parity on court martial panels, after a five-men panel found a Halifax-based military policeman not guilty of sexually assaulting a female superior officer.

According to an Armed Forces web site, court martial panels “are selected randomly by the court martial administrator.” It says panels serve a similar function as juries in a civilian trial, and must reach a unanimous decision to convict.

Gagnon, a former naval reservist and survivor of sexual violence, noted men outnumber women in the military, so it’s almost inevitable that a strong majority of men would be randomly selected for a panel. She suggested the process could remain random but be refined to ensure a more balanced representation, perhaps by having different groups to randomly select from.

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