Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/12/2010 (4227 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The members of Joint Task Force 2 are called Canada's secret soldiers for a reason. Their work as commandos, bodyguards and elite anti-terrorism specialists involves the most sensitive and dangerous work in the Armed Forces. They don't wear name tags or rank insignia, and sometimes they don't even wear conventional uniforms.
The military says ruthless secrecy over JTF2's operations is necessary, but at some point, under some circumstances, even secret soldiers have to know they are members of a democratic society and liable to scrutiny and oversight.
The issue of accountability has surfaced following an allegation involving the execution of an insurgent in Afghanistan by a member of JTF2, and another report that claims a JTF commando witnessed an American special forces operative kill an insurgent during a joint operation.
The first case was investigated in secret and dismissed, while the second is still under review. The problem is twofold. First, the general public would never have known of the investigation of these incidents, which occurred between 2005 and 2008, if it hadn't been for a probe by CBC. Second, there is no mechanism to ensure serious issues involving JTF2 are dealt with appropriately.
Retired colonel Michel Drapeau says it's unfair to expect the military to investigate itself. Instead, he argues, the position of inspector general, who would report to Parliament, should be created to fulfil that task. Several opposition MPs have made similar demands for greater accountability.
Canadians have slowly demanded more civilian oversight for police agencies, but the military has largely been immune from such expectations. The Americans have robust congressional oversight for all aspects of government, but Parliament has been unable, or unwilling, to develop a similar role for MPs.
A new investigative body could still preserve JTF2's necessary secrets, while ensuring Canadian principles and values are being upheld. It's not a repudiation of the military, but an opportunity to ensure the trust of Canadians is never lost.