Dispute between Ottawa and provinces over the transfer of sex crimes investigations

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A dispute over funding and other resources is slowing efforts to secure the transfer of military police investigations of alleged sex crimes to civilian authorities.

Defense Minister Anita Anand said last November that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would begin to transfer criminal sex offenses to civilian police forces and the courts on an interim basis.

The decision followed an interim recommendation from Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, who was leading an external review into sexual misconduct and harassment in the CAF.

More than 20 military investigations were transferred to civilian police departments at the end of May, but the Department of National Defense says another 23 were denied.

Several provinces, police forces and police associations say their systems are already overloaded and they need more resources before they can take on more cases.

Judge Arbor argues that the number of cases is not high enough to be a burden on police forces and the courts. She stresses that the transfer is necessary to dispel widespread mistrust and doubts about the military’s ability to properly handle such cases.

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