Interview: Col. Michel Drapeau
Colonel Drapeau served in the Canadian Forces between 1959 and 1993. He graduated cum laude from the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law and now specializes in military issues. He has followed the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service since it was formed in 1997.
Interviewer: Linden MacIntyre
WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE FOR THE NATIONAL INVESTIGATION SERVICE?
National Investigation Service, its former name was Special Investigative Service and that service was – tended to be assigned to conduct special investigation, more particularly sensitive investigation. And part of it also was to conduct investigation dealing with security certificates – not certificates but security clearances. So a constabulatory service within DND that operated mainly in civilian clothes and dealing with police issues, investigating crime, a whole range of crime, of special nature, special sensitive nature.
WHAT CRYSTALLIZED, WHAT IN PARTICULAR CRYSTALLIZED THE DECISION TO SET UP AN OUTFIT LIKE THAT?
I believe, and I don’t know, but I believe the events of Somalia when the Somalia Inquiry criticized the very function, the very organization of the military police, its reporting channels, its jurisdiction, whether or not we ought to have within the Canadian Forces a services that could investigate crimes that are not of a military nature but belong more to the Criminal Code variety and whether or not this organization was apart – separate and apart from the chain of command and not under its influence.
WHERE DID THEY GET THE PERSONNEL FOR THIS FUNCTION?
Members of the military police are first and foremost soldiers, sailors or air person so they’re recruited like any other person wearing the Canadian Forces uniform. After – soon after the recruit training they are directed to a specific trade – military police trade.
I’M STRUCK BY THE FACT THAT APPARENTLY WHEN, ONCE YOU’RE SELECTED YOU DO A FOUR WEEK INTENSIVE TRAINING PROGRAM. GIVEN THE FACT THAT THEY’VE COME INTO THE RANKS MAYBE WITH SOME MILITARY POLICE TRAINING IS FOUR WEEKS REALLY ENOUGH TO, TO GIVE THEM A COMPETENCE IN SUCH A SENSITIVE LINE OF INVESTIGATIVE WORK?
Now if you’re speaking about what makes a person posted or assigned to the National Investigative Service to allow him or her to make the grade from being a military police officer to now become part of this elite National Investigative Service, I mean he or she would have accumulated experience and would have had from the force’s authority some training in military police.
But there’s nothing special in terms of training or in terms of additional qualification or in terms even of experience. How the selection process works this you’d have to ask the ah Human Resources specialists at Canadian Forces.
BUT IT IS A VERY SPECIAL LINE OF WORK. ISN’T IT FAIR TO ASK SHOULDN’T THE PEOPLE GOING INTO IT BE VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE AND SPECIALLY TRAINED?
Well I think a better question would be does the National Investigative Service is he – is it equipped in fact to conduct those sensitive investigations, particularly when you’re dealing with criminal crimes such as murder, for instance, or sexual assault or whatever.
Does it have – the training is one thing, to be trained in Investigative Services, in being able to provide a competent report to ah a judicial court or to liaise with other police body and to use forensic evidence, all of what makes presumably an effective criminal investigator, one.
But I think the major ingredient that make you a good investigative service is the experience that you gain from applying your skill on a day to day basis, in a range of infraction going from the most serious one to the most banal one.
And in this sense the National Investigative Service just simply does not have that kind of exposure. Why? Because the Canadian Force is first and foremost a disciplined body, an hierarchical body and we don’t have the type of crime, at least the frequency of this crime that you would expect in a civil society.
SO TRY AND ANSWER. I MEAN DISTINGUISHED MILITARY HISTORY AND NOW IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION, DO WE REALLY NEED IT?
My short answer to that is no. My short answer to that is we have across Canada competent provincial and municipal police forces. Not only are they competent because of their training, because of their selection and because of their collaboration on an ongoing basis, on a day to day basis they have … various communications and various skills and various information and so on, which presumably the National Investigative Service can do the same.
When you are relying upon a very small and very closed in National Investigative Service we don’t have the civilian oversight first of all that the civilian police has. We don’t also have the ability to see this National Investigative Service to be able to present its evidence in a court of law and to be challenged through cross examination and in the process learn from its mistake, learn as to what adjustment it needs to make to its investigative methods in what is required, what is not required to bring about a conviction, that sort of a thing.