Liberals Block Removal of Self-Harm as a Disciplinary Offence from Military Justice Reform Bill
November 28th, 2018 - 11:58am
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2018
LIBERALS BLOCK REMOVAL OF SELF-HARM AS A DISCIPLINARY OFFENCE FROM MILITARY JUSTICE REFORM BILL
OTTAWA – With an ongoing suicide epidemic within the Canadian Armed Forces, New Democrats are disappointed with the Liberal government’s decision to block an amendment to Bill C-77 that would remove an archaic provision of the Defence Act that makes self-harm a disciplinary offence. A letter from the Minister of National Defence was circulated to the Standing Committee on National Defence moments before the meeting was to begin instructing Liberal members to use procedural tactics to avoid voting on it. The mental health of our Canadian Armed Forces is too important to get wrong and self-harm should not be a disciplinary offence in Bill C-77.
“The Canadian Armed Forces lose more than one serving member per month to self-harm. This was the best opportunity to ensure that those considering self-harm get the help they need while serving their country with honour, but the Liberal government shut it down,” said NDP Defence Critic, Randall Garrison. “The brave men and women that serve our country don’t need another study – they need the Liberal government to remove this provision now. If passing this amendment and helping to destigmatize self-harm encourages even one person to seek help, and saves a life, then it will have been worth it.”
Once again, the Liberal government has ignored an urgent call for action from military personnel, experts, and the NDP. While the Minister has suggested undertaking yet another study, it is clear that action is needed now. Accepting this amendment as part of the reforms that Bill C-77 already proposes would be the quickest way of bringing change that would remove one of the barriers to military personal getting the help they need.
“The fact that the Minister is dictating how the Standing Committee on National Defence conducts its own business is a clear overstep,” added Garrison. “I would like to thank my Conservative colleagues who supported this amendment at Committee and I look forward to bringing this amendment to the House of Commons during Report Stage. Our Canadian Armed Forces need action on this now.”
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