A military law expert is calling for an independent investigation into how the Canadian Forces trains its reservists in the wake of the Cpl. Matthew Wilcox guilty verdict handed down by a four-member military panel last week.
Col. (Ret’d) Michel Drapeau, who began his own career as a reserve member, said the Canadian military couldn’t function properly without the support of the reserves. Currently, about 10 per cent of Canadian troops in Afghanistan are reservists.
Drapeau said serious questions should be raised about leadership in the ranks of the Canadian Forces.
"Probably this was not the first time these guys were playing these kinds of games," Drapeau said. "The public needs to have a sense of confidence. To send their kids to war is a dangerous undertaking, but at the very least they shouldn't come back home in a coffin because they got shot by one of their young comrades."
Wilcox, 24, of the 2nd Battalion of the Nova Scotia Highlanders based at the Victoria Park garrison, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty in the March 2007 death of his friend and fellow soldier, Cpl. Kevin Megeney of Stellarton.
During his court martial, the prosecution put forward the theory that Wilcox and Megeney were playing a game of "quick draw" in their tent at Kandahar Airfield when Wilcox¹s loaded 9-mm pistol accidentally fired, hitting Megeney in the chest. He died about a half-hour later from major blood loss.
The military panel only deliberated for about three hours, but during that time stayed the most serious charge of manslaughter. Wilcox was released on conditions following the verdict and will be sentenced during a three-day hearing in September.