Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Honourable Morris J. Fish, was recently appointed by the Minister of National Defence, Harjit S. Sajjan to conduct an independent review of specified provisions of the National Defence Act (NDA)and its operation. 

Independent reviews play an important part in the ongoing development of the military justice system as was recognized by the Supreme Court to ensure it is rigorously scrutinized, analyzed, and refined at regular intervals. 

“Efforts have been underway for some time to prepare for the next independent review,” said Minister Sajjan. “I am pleased to announce the Honourable Morris J. Fish as the Third Independent Review Authority. He will examine the military justice system and provide recommendations on how we can continue to evolve the system, so it reflects current Canadian values.”

This is the third independent review which will provide thoughtful analysis that may contribute to legislative, regulatory, and or policy changes. The two previous reviews were tabled in 2003 and 2012 by the late Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, retired Chief Justice of Canada, and the Honourable Patrick LeSage, retired Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, respectively. 

The National Defence Act requires the Minister of National Defence to initiate an independent review of specified provisions of the Act and its operation and to table a report of the review before Parliament. The statutory deadline to table the third review is June 2021.

Both the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) support the review process in ensuring that the military justice system continues to be fair and effective. Justice Fish will have complete access to DND employees, CAF personnel, the Military Grievances External Review Committee, the Military Police Complaints Commission, and the DND/CAF Ombudsman during his review. 

Justice Fish practiced law in Montreal and was called to the bars of Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Alberta and appointed Queen’s Counsel. He served on the Québec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. He’s an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Law at McGill University and has also taught at the University of Ottawa and the Université de Montréal. Justice Fish served as a consultant to the federal Department of Justice, Revenue Canada, and the Law Reform Commission of Canada. He was special counsel to the Inquiry Commission into the Exercise of Trade-Union Freedom in Quebec’s Construction Industry (Cliche Commission), as well as to the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Justice Fish received honorary Doctorates of Law from McGill University in 2001 and Yeshiva University in 2009. He has also received numerous awards and medals and was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 2017. Justice Fish is now a jurist in residence with a Canadian law firm.

Those who have an interest in the military justice system (including the Code of Service Discipline), military grievances, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, and the Military Police Complaints Commission are encouraged to provide comments to the Third Independent Review Authority. Inquiries and submissions should be addressed to Mr. Jean-Philippe Groleau at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, by mail to 1501 McGill College Suite 2600, Montréal, Quebec, H3A 3N9, by telephone at 514-841-6583, or by email at

All submissions must be received by January 8, 2021. Persons making submissions should expect that their submissions will be made public, however, the Independent Review Authority maintains discretion in this regard and may receive certain submissions in confidence.