Colonel-Maitre Michel W. Drapeau, OMM, CD
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Colonel Drapeau served in the Reserve and Regular Force components of the Canadian Forces for 34 years, retiring in 1993 from his position as Executive Secretary, National Defence Headquarters.  He is a graduate of both the CF Command and Staff College and the US Armed Forces College (Norfolk). Soon after retirement, he acquired two law degrees (civil and common law) and articled at the Federal Court of Appeal.

Called to the Bar in 2002, he opened up his own practice in Ottawa specializing in military and veteran law.  Appointed adjunct professor in 2006, he has written extensively on military law issues and co-authored three separate legal texts and a wide variety of articles.  He has regularly appeared before parliamentary committees including a special panel convened by the Ontario legislature and the US Congress on the issue of sexual assaults.  He is a member of the International Society of Reform of Criminal Law and the International Society of Military Law and the Law of War. 

He currently serves on the Board of Governors, Saint Paul University and the Council of the Ontario Bar Association. Colonel Drapeau is an Officer, Order Military Merit.

Articles by Colonel-Maitre Michel W. Drapeau, OMM, CD

Canadian Military Justice System: at a crossroads

Michel Drapeau describes and reviews Canada’s military justice system and the rationale for its reform. (Read more)

Legislative control is required over the military criminal justice system

Michel W. Drapeau and Joshua M. Juneau

 The cornerstone of Canada’s constitutional democracy is the separation of government powers. As the artisans of law, and with a complete oversight duty over the Executive, the Legislature arguably wields the greatest power. If there is public demand for a policy shift, it is the Legislature who exercises control over the Executive to ensure that the public interest is maintained. This includes control over all government Department’s, including the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).


Despite their oversight duty, Canada’s Legislature has arguably not made a meaningful contribution to the development of military law since 1967, resulting in the unification of Canada’s army, navy and air force. In this way – save for legislative reform in 1997 as a result of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment to Somalia – this current Parliament is an absentee landlord, currently more concerned with legalizing marijuana than in reforming an ancient justice system that so often fails our men and women in uniform. (Read more)


Military adopts reforms of critics

Michel W. Drapeau and Joshua M. Juneau

Change is afoot on the military justice file, and its not all bad news.

On Thursday May 10, 2018 the Minister of National Defence introduced a Bill entitled “An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts”. If enacted, this Bill will introduce significant changes to the military summary trial system; reforms that critics of the military justice system, including these authors, have advocated for over the past decade and more.  (Read more)

WINDS OF CHANGE? The Canadian military justice system is so far removed from the society it is supposed to represent and defend. law in Canada, with its own governance regime and penal justice system, tends to evolve slowly and quite separately from civil society. This is due in large part to two interconnected factors. First, the Judge Advocate General (JAG), who reports to the minister of National Defence, has alone the unfettered governance over all uniformed actors in the military justice system. Second, the distinctiveness of the military justice system from the mainstream of national (criminal and administrative) law is reinforced by the fact that there is only a very tiny number of judges, lawyers, law professors, legislators and public officials who concern themselves with military law. (Read more)