Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Military Police Complaints Commission?
  2. Why is civilian oversight of military police important?
  3. What's the difference between a conduct complaint and an interference complaint?
  4. Who can file a complaint?
  5. Is there any time limit for filing a complaint?
  6. My conduct complaint was dismissed by the Provost Marshal. Can the Commission do anything for me?
  7. How do I file a complaint?
  8. I have filed an interference complaint with the Commission. What happens next?
  9. How long does the review and investigation take?
  10. Will I have to appear at a hearing or be questioned by an investigator?
  11. Are the Commission's hearings open to the public?
  12. Do I need a lawyer?
  13. What kind of power and authority does the Commission have?
  14. Can the Commission impose disciplinary measures or award compensation?
  15. Are the Commission’s decisions subject to appeal?
  1. What is the Military Police Complaints Commission?

    The Military Police Complaints Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial, civilian agency that oversees complaints about the conduct of members of the military police in the exercise of their policing duties, and complaints from members of the military police about interference in or obstruction of their police investigations. For a more detailed description of the Commission's background and mandate, please see About Us.

    The Chair of the Commission has the power to investigate, cause the Commission to conduct an investigation, call public hearings, and make findings and recommendations based on the findings of those investigations and hearings. You can find more information about the Commission's powers and how they are exercised in the Complaints section of the site.

  2. Why is civilian oversight of military police important?

    Civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies is a vital component of the justice system. We entrust our police services with special powers, and civilian oversight helps to ensure police are accountable to the public for the way they exercise those powers.

    Civilian oversight mechanisms are a feature of many police services in Canada and other countries, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and provincial and municipal police forces.

  3. What is the difference between a conduct complaint and an interference complaint?

    Conduct complaints relate to the manner in which military police conduct themselves in the performance of policing duties and functions. What does and does not constitute “policing duties and functions” is defined in regulations attached to the National Defence Act. These definitions are listed in the conduct complaints section of this Web site, or you may wish to consult the laws and regulations.

    Interference complaints relate to allegations that a member of the Canadian Forces or an official of the Department of National Defence has interfered with or otherwise obstructed a police investigation being carried out by military police.

  4. Who can file a complaint?

    Anyone, a civilian or a member of the military, whether or not they were affected, may file a conduct complaint. Only members of the military police may file an interference complaint.

  5. Is there a time limit for filing a complaint?

    Normally, a complaint must be filed within one year of the incident in question. The Chair of the Commission, at the request of a complainant, can extend the one-year limit in exceptional cases.

    This exception does not apply to complaints about incidents that occurred before the Commission commenced operation on December 1, 1999. Complaints about incidents before that date should be directed to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, who will deal with them according to the procedures in effect prior to the existence of the Commission.

  6. My conduct complaint was dismissed by the Provost Marshal. Can the Commission do anything for me?

    If you are not satisfied with the Provost Marshal's handling of a conduct complaint, you have the right to ask the Commission to review your complaint.

  7. How do I file a complaint?

    Complaints can be filed orally or in writing, and while the use of the Military Police Complaints Form (PDF, 207 kB)* is encouraged, it is not a requirement.

    Both conduct and interference complaints can be filed with the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, the Military Police Complaints Commission, or the Judge Advocate General. In addition, any member of the military police can accept a conduct complaint.

    For more information, please see the Complaints section of the site.

  8. I have filed an interference complaint with the Commission. What happens next?

    Very soon after you have filed a complaint, you should receive written acknowledgment from the Commission to let you know it has been received, and telling you more about the process. The person about whom you have complained will also be given notice of the complaint, except in cases where the Chair feels such notice could have an adverse affect on the review or investigation of the complaint.

    The complaint will be reviewed and, as part of that review, the Chair may decide to conduct an investigation. The Chair may also decide to cause the Commission to conduct an investigation and, if warranted, to hold a hearing into your complaint. You will be informed of the decision to cause an investigation or to hold a hearing into your complaint.

    In the event of a hearing, the Commission will try to schedule it at a time and place that is most convenient for all concerned.

  9. How long does the review and investigation take?

    The Commission tries to deal with every complaint as quickly as is reasonably possible. At the same time, every case is different, and many factors can influence how long it takes to complete a review and investigation.

    If the review of your complaint is not completed within 60 days, the Chair is required to give you a report on the status of the review, and further status reports every 30 days after that until the review is complete.

  10. Will I have to appear at a hearing or be questioned by an investigator?

    As part of the Chair's initial review, it is quite likely someone from the Commission will contact you to ask for more details about the complaint you have filed.

    Whether you are questioned by an investigator or asked to appear at a hearing will depend on the outcome of the Chair's initial review of your complaint. If, after the initial review, the Chair determines an investigation is necessary, you can expect to be contacted by the investigator assigned to your case by the Chair.

    At any time, the Chair may decide to invoke her special power and to cause the Commission to conduct an investigation and, if warranted, to hold a public hearing. As these hearings are quasi-judicial proceedings, you may be required to give evidence at the hearing, and you may also be cross-examined on the statements you make at the hearing.

  11. Are the Commission's hearings open to the public?

    Except in cases where there are serious privacy concerns, or the possibility that national security could be compromised, the Commission's hearings are conducted in public.

  12. Do I need a lawyer?

    The Commission tries to resolve complaints as informally and as expeditiously as possible, and in most cases, complainants will not likely feel the need to hire a lawyer. Certainly, you do not need a lawyer to file a complaint, nor are you required to have legal counsel at any stage of the process. If your complaint is given a public hearing, you can choose to be represented by counsel at the hearing.

    Please note that the Commission does not and cannot presume to provide advice to complainants on the subject of legal representation. Individual complainants must decide for themselves to seek or not legal counsel.

  13. What kind of power and authority does the Commission have?

    The legislation grants the Chair of the Commission substantial powers to conduct investigations and hearings.

    The Chair can decide, at any time, to initiate an investigation into either a conduct or an interference complaint, or hold a public hearing of either type of complaint — even if the complainant has withdrawn his or her complaint.

    The Commission also has, among others, the power to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and compel them to give evidence under oath and produce documents. The Commission can receive evidence and information, whether admissible in a court of law or not, subject to certain restrictions in the National Defence Act.

  14. Can the Commission impose disciplinary measures or award compensation?

    The Chair cannot impose disciplinary measures or award compensation. The Chair does issue reports of the findings of the Commission's reviews, investigations, and hearings. These reports can include recommendations to rectify the situation that led to a particular complaint, or to prevent the recurrence of the situation that led to the complaint.

    The senior officials to whom the recommendations are directed are required to advise the Chair and the Minister of National Defence of the actions they have taken or plan to take in regard to the Chair's recommendations.

    While the Chair's recommendations are not binding, if any are not implemented, the responsible official must provide a written explanation to both the Chair and the Minister of National Defence.

  15. Are the Commission’s decisions subject to appeal?

    While there is no appeal from the Commission’s decisions, an affected person or the Government of Canada can apply to the Federal Court for judicial review of a Commission decision pursuant to section 18.1 of the Federal Courts Act.

    In accordance with that legislative provision, any such application must be made to the Court within 30 days of the Commission’s decision being communicated to the applicant “or within any further time that a judge of the Federal Court may fix or allow …”.

*Note: to read the PDF version you need Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system.

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