Defence Minister Sajjan announced the appointment of Navy Captain Geneviève Bernatchez as the 15th Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Canadian Armed Forces – the first woman to hold this position. Capt(N) Bernatchez will be promoted to the rank of Commodore and succeed Major-General Blaise Cathcart who will retire later this year. A formal Change of Appointment ceremony will take place on 27 June 2017 in Ottawa.
The JAG is the legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, DND and the CAF in matters relating to military law. The JAG also has the superintendence of the administration of the military justice in the CAF.
According to a DND press release, Capt(N) Bernatchez’s career with the Office of the JAG reflects diverse appointments and responsibilities involving the provision of legal advice and services in the areas of operational, military justice and administrative law.
She holds a Masters of International Legal Studies degree with a specialization in National Security Law from Georgetown University (Washington D.C.), a Bachelor of Laws from the Université de Montréal and a Diplôme d'Études Collégiales in Administration from the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (Montréal). She has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1993.
“Captain (Navy) Bernatchez has demonstrated the leadership and commitment to service before self that exemplifies the character and spirit of Canada’s women and men in uniform,” noted Minister Sajjan.
Captain (Navy) Bernatchez is the first woman to be appointed as Judge Advocate General.
Captain (Navy) Bernatchez enrolled in the Canadian Naval Reserve in 1987 and transferred to Regular Force in 1997 where she joined the Office of the JAG.
She was promoted to the rank of Captain (Navy) in 2010, serving as Deputy Judge Advocate General for Operations.
Captain (Navy) Bernatchez served subsequently as the Chief of Staff to the Judge Advocate General and most recently held the position of Deputy Judge Advocate General/Regional Services.
She has deployed in support of CF operations during the Kosovo conflict and, as the Deputy Judge Advocate General/Operations, was the senior legal officer responsible for the provision of operational and international legal advice to the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces for all missions including Afghanistan and Libya.
She is a co-author of the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare (the “Tallinn Manual”, Cambridge University Press, 2013), the first published manual on the legal framework supporting cyber conflict.