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e-4185 (Justice)

Initiated by Karen Baldock from Oro-Medonte, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • More than four in 10 women and one-third of men have experienced some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime;
  • In a 2018 study, 44% of women – or about 6.2 million women aged 15 and over – reported experiencing some kind of psychological, physical, or sexual abuse in the context of an intimate relationship in their lifetime;
  • Almost a third of all police-reported violent crimes in Canada are calls involving intimate partner violence;
  • Of all partners charged with intimate partner assault, 50% violate their bail conditions with at least 25% committing further crimes;
  • In 2020, 160 women were killed by violence in Canada, which equals one woman or girl killed every 2.5 days; and
  • Of the women killed every year, 60 of them, on average, are victims of domestic or intimate partner homicide, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to:
1. Only grant bail (judicial interim release) to first time alleged IPV offenders who have not violated any previous bail conditions, have not committed a weapons-related offence, and have not demonstrated a coercive control pattern of behaviour;
2. Make it a legal duty to inform the offender’s victims immediately about the exact time, day, and location of the bail hearing and to ensure safety concerns are submitted to the bail hearing; and
3. If bail is granted, make it a legal duty to require a repeat and/or high-risk accused individual to wear a GPS tracking device to strengthen the effectiveness of a restraining order.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Parliamentary Secretary Gary Anandasangaree

Everyone should feel safe in their home and communities. We recognize the harmful and disproportionate impacts that intimate partner violence (IPV) has, particularly on women, and will work to ensure that our criminal laws, including the law of bail, effectively meet their objectives. Our laws are clear, if an accused poses a serious risk to public safety, they should be denied bail.

The Government introduced amendments to the Criminal Code that were enacted through former Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, to strengthen the criminal law’s response to IPV. In particular, these changes:

  • enacted a reverse onus at bail for accused charged with an IPV offence if they have a prior conviction for violence against an intimate partner;
  • required courts to consider whether an accused is charged with an IPV offence when determining whether to release or detain the accused;
  • clarified that strangulation, choking and suffocation is an elevated form of assault;
  • defined “intimate partner” for all Criminal Code purposes and clarified that it includes a current or former spouse, common-law partner and dating partner;
  • clarified that the current sentencing provisions, which treat abuse against a spouse or common law partner as an aggravating factor, apply to both current and former spouses/common law partners and dating partners, as well as members of the victim or offender’s family; and,
  • allowed for the possibility of seeking a higher maximum penalty in cases involving a repeat IPV offender.

The Criminal Code sets out specific grounds justifying the accused’s detention in custody before trial, including, where necessary, for the protection of the public, including victims, children and witnesses, and to maintain confidence in the administration of justice. A court takes a number of factors into consideration to determine whether detention is justified, such as the nature of the offence and whether it involves allegations of IPV, the probability that the accused will commit another offence, and the accused’s criminal record.

Furthermore, the government is committed to ensuring that victims are meaningfully engaged and that their safety and security is taken into consideration throughout the entire criminal justice process. We will continue to examine ways to make this process more accessible for victims, while also ensuring that their safety is given primary consideration.

In addition, the Government is supporting Bill C-233, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Judges Act (violence against an intimate partner). The Bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to require justices to consider whether an accused person should wear an electronic monitoring device as a condition of bail release if: (i) the accused is charged with an offence in the commission of which violence against an intimate partner was used, threatened or attempted; and, (ii) the Attorney General has requested such a condition.

At the Minister of Justice’s direction, federal officials have been working for months with their PT counterparts to develop ways to best keep Canadians safe and to further strengthen the law of bail as it relates to repeat violent offending – building on years of continued federal/provincial/territorial (FPT) cooperation and collaboration in this area. We all have a role to play in protecting our communities. The Minister of Justice also called an urgent meeting with FPT Ministers of Justice and Public Safety to discuss these issues, which was held on March 10, 2023. Ministers agreed that the bail system functions appropriately in many, but not all cases, and there are a number of ways to better address challenges facing the bail system, including both legislative and non-legislative action within federal and provincial jurisdiction. The Government has committed to taking urgent action to strengthen public safety through amendments to the Criminal Code that would target repeat violent offenders and serious offences committed with firearms and other dangerous weapons.

Open for signature
November 7, 2022, at 3:39 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
December 7, 2022, at 3:39 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Adam Chambers (Simcoe North)
February 14, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01140)
Government response tabled
March 30, 2023
Photo - Adam Chambers
Simcoe North
Conservative Caucus