ARCHIVED - Military Judges selection process

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Backgrounder / January 24, 2001 / Project number: BG-01.003

Military judges are appointed by the Governor in Council, pursuant to the National Defence Act and are independent from the military chain of command, the executive, Departmental authorities and the Judge Advocate General. In order to ensure that competent and deserving officers are recommended for military judicial appointments, the Minister has implemented a military judges evaluation and selection process.

Subsection 165.21(1) of the National Defence Act provides that the Governor in Council may appoint officers who are barristers or advocates of at least ten years standing at the bar of a province to be military judges. To ensure that competent and deserving officers are recommended for military judicial appointments the Minister, in consultation with the Office of the Commissioner of Federal Judicial Affairs and the Minister of Justice, developed and implemented an evaluation and selection process that is consistent with the Federal Judicial Appointment process. The Office of the Commissioner of Federal Judicial Affairs administers and supports the process.

Military Judges Selection Committee

The military judges selection process provides for the assessment of candidates by an advisory committee, known as the Military Judges Selection Committee (MJSC). The MJSC, appointed by the Minister of National Defence is representative of the bench, the civilian bar and the military community. It is composed of:

  • a lawyer or judge nominated by the Judge Advocate General (JAG);
  • a civilian lawyer nominated by the Canadian Bar Association;
  • a civilian judge nominated by the Chief Military Judge;
  • an officer of the Canadian Forces, holding the rank of Major-General or higher, nominated by the Chief of the Defence Staff; and;
  • a non-commissioned member of the rank of Chief Warrant Officer or equivalent nominated by the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Candidate Assessments
Those interested in being considered for a military judicial appointment place their names before the MJSC. The MJSC assesses all candidates based upon a list of identified criteria relating to:

  • professional competence and experience;
  • personal characteristics such as honesty and integrity;
  • social awareness; and
  • potential impediments to appointment such as an inability to meet Canadian Forces medical and physical fitness requirements.

    All Committee proceedings and consultations take place on a confidential basis.

    Upon the completion of a candidate's assessment, the MJSC is asked to place the candidate into one of three possible assessment categories:

  • recommended;
  • highly recommended; or
  • unable to recommend.


    Once the MJSC has completed its assessment of a candidate, the assessment is forwarded to the Minister of National Defence. The Minister of National Defence is ultimately responsible for recommending candidates to the Governor in Council.


    The Government of Canada and the Minister of National Defence are committed to ensuring the appointment of qualified and deserving candidates to the military judiciary. The evaluation and selection process implemented by the Minister ensures this occurs and contributes to the strengthening of the Canadian Forces as a national institution.

    * The full text of the Military Judges Selection Process is available on request

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