Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 100 of 134
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, here we are on one of the last sitting days of this Parliament, and it is passing strange that the Liberals appear to be going for a very strange record.
In the last Parliament, I took a photo of myself standing next to a pile of bills on which the Conservative government had introduced time allocation. It was nearly half a metre tall. If we stacked up the bills that the Liberal government has used time allocation on, the pile would be of similar size. Even though the Liberals have not quite reached the 100 record for time allocation that the Conservatives established, they have used some kind of time allocation or closure on a greater percentage of their bills than the Harper government ever did.
Lately, we have had closure motions like this one. One of those motions restricted debate to a government speaker only, with no questions allowed. One of them occurred after four minutes of debate. This one occurs after less than two hours of debate.
Could the Minister of Justice tell us if the Liberals are going for a new record? I always like it when Conservatives and Liberals compete to be the worst.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-19 18:59 [p.29430]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful that the minister is here today to answer questions, because New Democrats have a lot of concerns. The government is again breaking another promise. The Liberals said that they would not use closure if they were in government and condemned it when they were sitting on this side of the House. Here we go again with another omnibus bill. They said they would not put forward omnibus bills. The broken promises continue, whether it be electoral reform or environmental protection. They are ramming through legislation without proper debate.
In terms of this piece of legislation, we have not heard from enough witnesses, and the Liberals have not produced this legislation in an evidence-based way. We are concerned that this legislation might even lead to more backlogs. We have concerns that we would like to debate here in the House, and we have not had the opportunity to do so.
Here we go again with another broken promise by the government. I would like to hear the minister speak about some of the concerns New Democrats have and about why the Liberals are breaking another promise.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-19 20:00 [p.29434]
Mr. Speaker, Cody Legebokoff is Canada's youngest serial killer. He heinously killed four young women in my riding. He just started serving his time, but recently he was transferred to medium security. I want to ask our hon. colleague what she feels about the current government's lack of priority for victims' rights. Cody Legebokoff should be behind bars—
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 22:21 [p.29247]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister on his speech. I agree, on behalf of the NDP, with the thrust of his remarks with respect to the Senate amendments made to Bill C-75, certainly with respect to intimate partner violence and the bail reform provisions and, in particular, the section 802.1 where law students and agents will again be able to represent people fully in summary conviction matters. I think these are all really important matters and I agree with him.
However, surely, if the issue is about the Askov and Jordan delay principles, the elephant in the room would be the fact that the government has failed to follow up on the Prime Minister's commitment to address to the minister, in the mandate letter, the minimum mandatory sentences provisions. I agree with him that we have a crisis in the over-incarceration of indigenous people, eight times as many indigenous men per capita, 12 times as many women.
Jonathan Rudin and others who work with Aboriginal Legal Services, say that there has to be a change in the mandatory minimum provisions if we are going to change that. Why does the government not get that?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-06-17 22:26 [p.29247]
Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns of the hon. member for Victoria. We are still hampered in our criminal justice system by a series of mandatory minimums that we know have been found, by any criminology or empirical evidence, to absolutely not be effective and are a burden on the justice system. In this reform, we had hoped to see that.
I have a private member's bill, should the Minister of Justice want to look at it, which enumerates all of the mandatory minimums brought in in the 41st Parliament so that, in one piece of legislation, we could remove them all. Since the Minister of Justice has undertaken to study the matter, I wanted to draw to his attention the existence of my private member's bill and I hope that we can do more.
Also, I put forward about 46 or 47 amendments at committee around certain aspects of vulnerable populations. I know the Senate has made a number of helpful amendments. I think the bill could still be much improved, although some of the Senate amendments go some distance toward what I was trying to do in clause-by-clause. Therefore, I would appreciate any comments from the Minister of Justice.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:06 [p.29253]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise, albeit at this hour, to discuss Bill C-75 and the Senate amendments that have been brought to this place from there.
I agree with the thrust of the Senate amendments on behalf of the New Democratic Party, which supports the thrust of those amendments, but reluctantly have to say that, as amended, we must oppose this bill for the reasons I will describe.
I agree with the Minister of Justice, who spoke earlier, about some of the positive changes in this initiative. The bail reform provisions are exemplary. The intimate partner violence provisions are also very good. I am pleased that the Senate had the opportunity to deal with some of the recommendations by Judge Marion Buller, who, of course, chaired the inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. She had the benefit of testifying before the Senate committee and, in turn, it had the ability to reflect her wisdom. That finds its way into the amendments before us tonight.
This improves the bill quite significantly, as I will describe, but there are some very significant issues that remain. I want to commend our colleagues in the other place for the work they have done to improve this flawed bill. We need to thank them for some of the work they had the opportunity to do.
We too, on the NDP side, have done an enormous amount of research and consultation, with people from the criminal defence bar, academics, prosecutors, former deputy attorneys general and others. We have done our homework on Bill C-75. After all, it is a mammoth initiative, the most significant criminal justice reform bill in a very long time. Regrettably, as a result of those consultations, we concluded that we must continue to oppose the bill, for reasons I will describe in a moment.
To be clear, we are in support of the amendments made by the Senate, yet decry the government's inadequate response to those amendments and ultimately have to therefore oppose the final bill as amended.
To begin with, why was Bill C-75 initiated? The Minister of Justice was clear about that in his remarks earlier. He alluded to the Askov case in the Supreme Court of Canada, and then, of course, the Jordan decision. The court said that there has to be a trial within a timely period, and it set down very specific limits for both indictable and summary conviction cases.
The objective was one of efficiency. It was to try to make our courts more efficient to deal with the enormous and, quite frankly, embarrassing backlog we have with our court cases, and to deal with the consequence of the Jordan case. As we know, often people who are guilty of offences walk free because the courts are not able to give them a trial within a reasonable period. That has to be an embarrassment to all Canadians.
Efficiency was the goal of this bill. However, after the consultation I just described, the debate in the House, and the work I was part of on the justice committee, where we heard a great variety of presentations, we concluded it is simply not an adequate response to the Jordan problem.
As I alluded to earlier, there are some good things in this bill, which I will also refer to later. However, sadly some of the deeply problematic things continue in the bill. I want to talk, by way of giving illustrations, of the general concerns that the criminal justice bar has had with this bill. I will start Ms. Sayeh Hassan, who is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer. By way of summary, she said, “While there are parts of Bill C-75 that have the potential for improving the criminal justice system, many other parts will not only be unhelpful when it comes to reducing delay but will also wipe out numerous rights currently afforded to an accused person.”
The big ugly elephant in the room is the fact that the government chose to completely ignore what so many people have talked about, which is the need to get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing. We had a reasonable hope that it would do so. After all, the Prime Minister told the former minister of justice that it was part of her mandate. Nothing happened.
Sean Fine, of The Globe and Mail, wrote:
As far back as October, 2016, the [former attorney general] told the Criminal Lawyers' Association in a speech that she would change the minimum sentencing laws “in the near future.” Days later, she told The Globe that new legislation would be coming soon, “certainly in the early part of next year.”
It never happened.
Our colleagues in the other place made a similar observation. It is the fourth item on their list of formal observations. I think it is worth repeating what they summarized. Under “Mandatory Minimum Sentences”, it says:
In its Delaying Justice is Denying Justice report, the Committee recommended that the Minister of Justice undertake a thorough review of existing mandatory minimum sentences in order to: ensure a reasonable, evidence-based approach to when they are appropriate; and consider whether persons with mental health issues should be considered for alternative sentencing options or treatment when faced with mandatory minimum sentences.
During its study of Bill C-75, some witnesses expressed significant disappointment that it does not include any reforms to the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code. In the Mandate Letter to the Minister of Justice...of 12 November 2015, [the Prime Minister] stated that the Minister...was to “conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade.” In the Minister’s letter to the Chair of the committee, he stated that the Government “is committed to advancing sentencing reform” and that it is “committed to reviewing the mandatory minimum penalties in the Criminal Code with an eye to eliminating many of them and restoring judicial discretion.”
The committee [of the Senate] observes that the Government of Canada has had four years to bring forward amendments to these provisions in the Criminal Code and that, to date, no legislative action has been taken.
I join with my colleagues in the other place in noting that the government's failure to address the often unconstitutional mandatory minimums cannot be understated. It is a serious problem.
This led the Criminal Lawyers' Association to write in its position paper that “[m]andatory minimum sentences frustrate the process of resolving cases by limiting the Crown’s discretion to offer a penalty that will limit the Crown's ability”—
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:14 [p.29254]
Mr. Speaker, I was just making the point that the Criminal Lawyers' Association has made, about why mandatory minimum sentences are important. It is because if a criminal lawyer has the possibility, a zero-sum game, that his or her client will get the minimum sentence that is there with no discretion of the judges to forge a penalty that is appropriate in the circumstances, the lawyer is not going to cut any deals. There will be no plea bargaining. There will be no efficiency. Therefore, the greatest single efficiency gain would have been what the Prime Minister promised us would happen, which is that mandatory minimum sentences, the way the Conservatives did it, would be eliminated. That was the promise that Canadians received over and over again, only to be completely thrown out in this bill.
It is a gigantic reform initiative. To be fair, it is all pertaining to criminal law but is a gigantic effort with this gigantic problem completely ignored. It is not a problem that I alone identify as an obstacle to efficiency gains and to addressing the crisis that Jordan represents, of people walking free from very serious crimes because we cannot get a trial in a reasonable amount of time. For reasons that escape me, the Liberals completely ignored that and did a number of other things, some of which are commendable but do not do what the objective of the bill was to be, which was to address the issue of inefficiency. That is the problem that the Criminal Lawyers' Association pointed out.
The courts have been reduced to simply being, as some people call them, slot machines of justice. They have no discretion at all. If the facts are made out, the penalty is there. It is push a button. Some judges have complained to me privately that they feel like they are simply automatons. That is not what judges historically have done. The Conservatives rendered them in this position that is invidious and, frankly, embarrassing to many judges. What they thought they had the power to do, which was to render an appropriate sentence to fit the crime, was thrown out the window when mandatory minimums were imposed on so many of the sentences in the Criminal Code.
We also have a crisis in Canada with the overrepresentation of indigenous women in particular. To his credit, the Minister of Justice referred to this problem. We all are aware of it. It is another national disgrace. Jonathan Rudin testified to the justice committee. He is a very memorable witness. He is a lawyer with the Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. He highlighted the government's inaction with regard to abolishing mandatory minimum sentences and its particular effect on indigenous women. Here is what he said:
[w]e have to look at the fact that there are still mandatory minimum sentences that take away from judges the ability to sentence indigenous women the way [judges] would like [them] to be sentenced. There are still provisions that restrict judges from using conditional sentences, which can keep women out of prison.
The first thing he urged the committee to recommend was to bring into legislation that judges have sentencing discretion, which the Liberals promised to do and did not.
I suspect the problem is much worse now, but in 2015 the proportion of indigenous adults in custody relative to their percentage of the population was eight times higher for indigenous men and a staggering 12 times higher for indigenous women. Any measure that could address this problem head-on has to be looked at seriously. The government's failure to address what the mandate letter from the Prime Minister told us it would do is a serious missed opportunity.
I would like to turn to preliminary inquiries, which the minister also referred to and was the subject of some of the reform proposals that the Senate brought forward. The Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee passed an amendment to Bill C-75 that would bring back the option for preliminary inquiries for hundreds of criminal offences. Since Bill C-75 was first introduced in the House, the NDP has been advocating that preliminary hearings be retained in criminal proceedings. The Senate is attempting to reverse the government's move to eliminate preliminary inquiries for all offences, except for offences carrying a sentence of life imprisonment.
Senator Pierre Dalphond, a former judge, passed an amendment to bring back the option of preliminary inquiries for most indictable offences, as long as the judge ensures that the impact on complainants is mitigated.
The Liberals argue that this will cost court time, but we heard at the justice committee over and over again testimony that, if we got rid of preliminary inquiries, time saving would actually be marginal and the potential for miscarriage of justice would be great.
While the government has accepted many of the Senate amendments, it is using its motion to continue to severely limit the use of preliminary hearings. We have opposed this measure since Bill C-75 was brought to the House, and our stance, I am confident, remains the correct one.
The Liberals at the House justice committee voted to allow preliminary inquiries only when the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. The other place amended this provision to allow far more judicial discretion, increasing the number of offences that could have a preliminary inquiry from 70 to 463. The minister pointed out that they tried to find some middle ground on this issue.
Overwhelmingly, we heard from witnesses at the justice committee that restricting the use of preliminary inquiries will not address court delays sufficiently and will sacrifice or could sacrifice the rights of the accused. For example, Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt said at the committee that preliminary inquiries occupy a very small percentage of court time but “deliver huge savings to the system. Preliminary inquiries deliver these efficiencies in a number of different ways.” They focus issues for trial, reducing trial length; they identify evidentiary or legal problems in a case at an early stage so the parties can ensure that these problems don't arise during the trial; and they can facilitate the resolution of charges.
He was not alone. Time does not allow me to list all the people who agreed with Mr. Spratt, but they include the Canadian Bar Association; the Criminal Lawyers' Association; the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association, the prosecution side; various defence lawyers, such as Sarah Leamon, a criminal lawyer; Professor Lisa Silver of the University of Calgary, and on and on, yet the government did not want to go there. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why.
There is also a huge possibility that with taking preliminary inquiries away, there could be a risk that people will be wrongfully convicted. That is what Bill Trudell, the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, said. The government says we do not need them because we now have what are called Stinchcombe disclosure provisions, Stinchcombe being a famous case requiring the Crown to provide all the evidence available to the defence witnesses. The government says that, as a result, we do not need preliminary inquiries. That certainly is not what these people have said, and on a risk-benefit analysis they think it is just not right. The possibility of a wrongful conviction seems to be something we should all be worried about.
I know that time is running out quickly, but I said I would comment on some of the positive things in the bill, and I would like to do so.
First, there is the elimination of what are called “zombie” provisions of the Criminal Code, which criminalize things that are no longer illegal. These provisions have been found to be unconstitutional and have no place in the Criminal Code.
The bill would restore the discretion of judges to impose fewer victim fine surcharges or not impose them at all. I commend the government for that step as well.
I said in my question for the Minister of Justice earlier that I commend the government for broadening the definition of intimate partner violence. That is a good step. Creating an alternative process for dealing with breaches of bail is another good step. Codifying the so-called ladder principle, which requires that the least onerous form of release be imposed, is a good thing as well.
I agree with the government, and I confess not everybody does, that abolishing peremptory challenges is a positive step. Also, the routine police evidence provision has been amended for the good.
For the LGBTQ2+ community, the vagrancy and bawdy house provisions that were often used in the past to criminalize gay men have been rightly repealed. I am proud of the role that I played at the justice committee in moving those amendments, and I commend the government for finally repealing these discriminatory provisions.
I wish to be on record as saying that there is much in this bill that is commendable. It is the fact of the missed opportunity that is so disturbing.
I still have concerns about the many hybrid offences created in Bill C-75, because contrary to what the hon. Conservative member for Sarnia—Lambton said earlier, all this does is to push them down to the already overburdened criminal courts at the provincial level. The more hybrid offences, which proceed by way of summary rather than indictment, go to the provincial courts, where 95% of all criminal matters already take place. I have talked to people in my province of British Columbia who are very concerned about the impact of this on the administration of justice in that province. Jordan is perhaps not as much of a problem in the superior courts, but is a bigger problem in the provincial courts. Surely, that was not the intent.
I know that I have little time left, but I want to complete the point I made earlier about Madam Justice Marion Buller, the chief commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She had the opportunity to go to the Senate committee with her report. A number of suggestions were made for reform in the other place and are now in the amendments before this House. I am very happy that that has happened. However, there are still serious problems with some of the legacies of residential schools and the sixties scoop that still need to be addressed.
I believe my time is almost at an end, so let me just say this. I wish we could support this bill. There is much in it that is worthwhile, but the failure to do what the Prime Minister told us they would do, deal with the mandatory minimums, and the inability to address the preliminary inquiries in a more manageable way, are the reasons we must respectfully oppose this bill.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:28 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his thoughtful question.
I agree with him that we have to find a better way to get more discretion to judges. Again, that was the thrust of my comments about mandatory minimums. It is sad that we do not have the opportunity for judges to look at aboriginal offenders as people rather than simply checking a box, saying that this is the penalty for that offence and that is the end of the story.
However, I do agree with the parliamentary secretary that it is refreshing and positive that Judge Buller was able to talk to the Senate. We did not have that opportunity at the justice committee. To have the Senate instantly put into this bill some of the insights that the commissioner generated, I think is very positive. Whether they will go as far as we would like in dealing with the outrageous overrepresentation of indigenous women in our prisons, I do not think so, but it certainly is a positive step.
View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
View Alice Wong Profile
2019-06-17 23:29 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his input and for analyzing the bill that is under debate right now into the late evening, and pretty soon to be early morning.
Elder abuse is on the rise. Seniors are being physically, mentally and sexually abused. Could the member comment on how this bill could help to deter those criminals, as well as how it could protect our vulnerable seniors?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:30 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the member for Richmond Centre's advocacy on behalf of seniors and the elder abuse issue. I am very familiar with it in my riding of Victoria, as members might imagine.
The possibilities of fitting the punishment to the crime have to be taken seriously. It was the Conservatives, sadly, who visited upon Canadians the mandatory minimums, which took away the discretion courts would have to do just that. However, the possibilities in this bill, through better administration of justice reforms, better bail provisions and, interestingly, contrary to the Conservatives' analysis, allowing more hybrid offences to go to the provincial court on summary conviction would encourage more prosecutors to go forward with cases. They might have been hesitant in the past to do that because they were serious indictable assaults and the like and now perhaps they would be more willing to do so when they are preceded by a summary conviction. That can be a positive step in the right direction as well.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:33 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, when the government speaks to this, it claims it has had conversations at federal, provincial and territorial meetings with their counterparts in the provinces and territories. The people I talked to were very worried about the downloading. The claim is that is not an issue, but I cannot see why it would not be when so many of these offences are being hybridized and then, of course, will be dealt with in provincial courts.
The problem is that not only are 95% of criminal cases in provincial courts, but the people are often unrepresented, whom the courts bend over backward to help. They have mental health issues frequently and are involved in the drug world and that is what clogs the courts. We are not doing much about that and there is a crisis in legal aid. Everyone knows we do not fund legal aid enough, the federal or provincial governments, so there are unrepresented litigants who are themselves taking a great deal of time.
Thankfully, there are some reforms in places like British Columbia drug courts and the like that deal with these things in a much more focused way, which hopefully will make a difference, but the problem of downloading has to be taken seriously. I just hope at the next federal-provincial-territorial meetings we can address this issue more specifically.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:35 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend for West Nova, who has been an excellent member of the justice committee and with whom I have enjoyed working a great deal.
I have been told more than once that hybridization was sought by the provinces. That might be the old adage of be careful what you wish for, because while I completely agree that the reforms to administration of justice matters and bail will help a great deal, I think we need to do root and branch work if we are ever going to address the burden the Jordan case will impose on provincial governments. I mentioned, for example, drug courts. I mentioned some of the more positive reforms that are taking place in some jurisdictions, British Columbia and Quebec among them. However, unless we do that, it is just impossible for me to understand, when we add all the additional offences that will be dealt with at the provincial court level, how this additional burden will not clog the system.
I would be interested to know what the provincial ministers with whom the member has been speaking have to say, because those with whom I have spoken are very concerned.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have received the correspondence from my hon. colleague across the way and I will take great care in reviewing that correspondence. The letter is speaking with respect to a bill that we introduced, Bill C-75, which seeks to reform the Criminal Code and improve efficiencies and effectiveness.
We are making changes to bail reform. We are looking at administration of justice offences to address delays, with the underlying emphasis on public safety, ensuring we respect victims and ensuring we have an efficient and effective criminal justice system. I look forward to having further conversations with the hon. member.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-11-28 16:20 [p.24109]
Madam Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. We know that at committee many witnesses came forward and testified that mandatory minimums in fact contributed to the backlog. I know that the parliamentary secretary discussed this in his speech. If he knows that this is a problem and it is helping contribute to the backlog in our court system, here is a 302-page bill. The Liberals have had an opportunity to fix it right here today.
Maybe the member can explain to this House why the Liberals have not amended and fixed this problem right now, when we have heard at committee, in testimony from witnesses, that this is something that needs to be fixed, that mandatory minimums actually doubled under the previous Harper government, and that is contributing to the backlog in our court system.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2018-11-28 16:24 [p.24110]
Madam Speaker, we heard just a few moments ago that the priority for the government was eliminating mandatory minimums. I remind the member that Liberals have now been in power for well over three years. With the idea that they get around to things or that something is a priority, they obviously need to understand that they are in government now and need to take action.
I am deeply concerned by certain provisions that the Liberals seemed to ram through committee. On the reverse onus positions, the considerations have been flagged by some witnesses, including Jonathan Rudin of Aboriginal Legal Services, that the provisions could actually perpetuate the overrepresentation of indigenous women in incarceration. Michael Spratt pointed out the concerns around restricting of preliminary inquiries. There are witnesses who brought forward concerns. The Liberals did not seem willing to address those concerns in any way.
Finally, the Liberals have now been in power for three years. Crime prevention programs that were gutted under the former Conservative government have not been restored in any way by Liberals. We know that $1 of crime prevention funding saves us $6 in policing, justice, court and prison costs. Why is the government not willing to get things right, and why is it so slow to meet the commitments it made back in 2015?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton and I sat on the justice committee last year. I certainly appreciated the subject matter we dealt with. It is a committee that demands a lot of responsibility from its members. It requires a lot of maturity, because the subject matter is always very weighty. When we are deliberating on legislation affecting the Criminal Code, there is a real sense that the actions we take when we amend that statute will have real-life consequences for people.
He is right when he talks about the government's slow legislative agenda. I will just correct him, however. Bill C-28 was actually the victim surcharge bill, but it was residing at first reading. Bill C-32 was also residing at first reading. We also had Bill C-38 and Bill C-39. The Canadian public got the feeling that the Minister of Justice, despite coming to power with a bold agenda to reform our criminal laws, was just kind of stringing the public along and giving us little crumbs, saying “Yes we're going to fix this”. Now, we finally have Bill C-75, which I liken to a giant amoeba that has swallowed all of those previous bills, but also added a whole bunch more. We are finally getting to the stage, three years later, where we get to debate this.
I agree with him that some of these bills could have been passed really quickly, like the zombie provisions of the Criminal Code. Scholars and professors have been calling for decades for the Criminal Code to be cleaned up, and we could have passed that bill very quickly, but we are only dealing with it now.
Would the hon. member agree that when we are looking at sections, like section 287, which deals with abortion, and section 159, that they could have been dealt with very quickly by the House and that it is a real shame that we are only doing that now?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, the member was talking a lot about the hybridizations contained in Bill C-75. I was wondering if he is willing to look at that from a different perspective.
One of the concerns we had in particular is regarding the problems we have with access to legal aid right across Canada. The member would be aware of this if he is knowledgeable of the work of the Standing Committee on Justice with respect to access to justice. It is very much a patchwork quilt, because different provinces have different abilities to fund their systems. Often we have cases where paralegals and students of law are coming in to help represent clients who are being charged with offences that could result in a sentence of six months or less. The hybridization of some offences in Bill C-75 is going to bring the maximum penalties to some of these summary offences to two years less a day. One of the consequences of that is that in many provinces, paralegals and students in law school will be unable to represent these clients. Therefore, we are going to have a lot more backlog.
I am wondering if the member can comment on that and why the government was not aware of that particular consequence.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-11-28 17:28 [p.24117]
Madam Speaker, when I made my speech on Bill C-75 at second reading, I mentioned that we were eager to work with the government to improve the bill. I am disappointed to report not enough was done to enable us to support this legislation. The government's stated goal was to reduce court delays in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in Jordan and to continue with trial fairness imperatives. I am afraid the bill comes up short on both counts.
This was a 302-page bill so I will not be able to address in my short time the questions I wanted to. However, I would like to speak on four themes very briefly. First, the failure to address mandatory minimum penalties; second, the hybridization issues we have heard about; third, restrictions on preliminary inquiries; and fourth, the patchwork approach to agent representation. These are among the many issues we heard testimony on at the justice committee.
We heard testimony that the measures proposed would, in fact, make matters worse in many cases. I will elaborate. Most of the action in criminal justice in Canada takes place in the provincial courts, and hybridizing offences and pushing more cases onto to those courts is hardly a solution that is going to make things better.
However, I commend the government for a number of things. I commend it for deleting the routine police evidence provision that was agreed to be problematic at the committee. I am pleased we, at the committee, persuaded the government to change that odious provision. I am also pleased to have moved, along with my colleague, the hon. member for Edmonton Centre, a provision that would repeal the bawdy house provisions and vagrancy sections of the Criminal Code that have been used so often to criminalize consensual sexual activities, particularly among the LGBTQ2 community.
However, there were hundreds of amendments brought to the committee and a number of them were not accepted. For example, the New Democratic Party brought 17 amendments to committee designed to help vulnerable people impacted by our justice system. None of them were accepted by the government.
Every day there are real people who are self-represented. They cannot afford lawyers and there is not enough legal aid in this world to represent them. Who are these people? They are primarily indigenous, poor and marginalized. It is our submission that this bill simply does not do enough to address their realities.
Many of the stakeholders we consulted have told us that the key reforms in Bill C-75 are not evidenced-based at all. The stated objective of this bill is to respond to the Jordan judgment, with its mandatory time limits, yet there is considerable doubt the changes proposed would speed up the criminal justice system. Arguably, they would have the opposite effect.
The Liberals claim that this is somehow bold criminal justice reform, yet the elephant in the room is that they failed entirely to address former prime minister Harper's regime of mandatory minimum sentences, despite their political promises and public commitments to do so. Defence lawyers and legal academics agree the reversal of this practice would have been a huge step to unclogging the delays in the system, yet the Liberals failed utterly to even address the topic at all. We believe we need to deal with the root causes of the delays, things like addiction and poverty issues, which are really the root of the crime we are dealing with.
Let me start with mandatory minimums. This is one thing that would have increased compliance with Jordan and alleviated court burden from multiple charter challenges, and it is unfathomable why the Liberals ducked this issue. So many people came to our committee and talked about it. I do not have time to list them all but they included, from Barreau du Québec, Dr. Marie-Eve Sylvestre, who is a professor at the University of Ottawa, and Jonathan Rudin of Aboriginal Legal Services. I could go on and on. All of these people have spoken out about the failure to address mandatory minimums.
There are so many quotes I do not have time to address, but Jonathan Rudin, who is the program director for Aboriginal Legal Services reminded us that even the justice minister herself acknowledged the issues with mandatory minimum sentencing, saying, “This government knows that mandatory minimum sentences do not work.” She spoke eloquently on this issue on September 29, 2017, almost a year ago.
The justice minister said:
There is absolutely no doubt that MMPs have a disproportionate effect on Indigenous people, as well as other vulnerable populations. The data are clear. The increased use of MMPs over the past decade has contributed to the overrepresentation in our prison system of Indigenous people, racialized communities and female offenders. Judges are well-equipped to assess the offender before them and ensure that the punishment fits the crime.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in this bill to address that issue.
I am pleased that Senator Kim Pate has introduced Bill S-251, sponsored by my colleague, the member for Saskatoon West, which provides for judicial discretion to depart from the mandatory sentence when it would be just to do so. Then the opportunities for plea bargaining when judges have the discretion that they used to have, as all the experts have said, would go a great deal of distance to solve the issue of delays.
I do not have time to do much with the issue of hybridization. I think there has been enough said about that, and in the interests of time I will skip that.
I will say that Emilie Taman, one of the witnesses, a prominent lawyer in Ottawa, said this:
Indeed, of the 136 indictable offences that are to be reclassified as hybrid by virtue of Bill C-75, 95 are offences punishable by five or ten years. Consequently, this Bill now gives the Crown, rather than the accused, control over whether trial by jury is on the table for these 95 offences. This is problematic because the Crown’s exercise of discretion is done without transparency and is only reviewable on the very high standard of abuse of process.
In other words, we are giving the Crown counsel of the land the ability to make up their minds about which way to go in the privacy of their offices. Contrast that with judicial discretion, where in open court judges decide whether the penalty fits the crime. How different. How far we have come and how far away we are from justice. The potential for bias is real.
I believe that time will not allow me to do much more, but I am so enticed by what the hon. parliamentary secretary said about preliminary inquires that, in the interest of time, I want to address that issue head-on.
The government appears to believe that restricting preliminaries will save court time and protect vulnerable witnesses. The Canadian Bar Association, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association are among the witnesses that utterly disagree with the parliamentary secretary.
We heard considerable testimony about preliminaries actually reducing court delay. We heard extensive, compelling testimony that preliminary inquiries are a necessary tool to preserve trial fairness.
The Criminal Lawyers' Association of Ontario said:
Eliminating preliminary inquiries for all cases other than those for which a maximum period of imprisonment of life is available will not further the interests of justice or assist with the orderly and efficient administration of criminal justice. The Committee should recommend that these changes not be made.
I had a dozen quotes to give on this, but I think my favourite witness was Professor Lisa Silver of the University of Calgary's faculty of law. She said that we have to protect people from having a trial where none is necessary and that the “preliminary inquiry, at its core, exists as the legislative 'shield' between the accused and the Crown.”
She gave an example, a story which members may well remember, that of Susan Nelles, a nurse at the cardiac ward at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, who was accused of murdering children. During the preliminary inquiry, they found a complete lack of evidence. The result was the charges were dropped. The result, in Professor Silver's view, was that preliminary inquiries are a vital step in ensuring due process and fair trials.
The other issue I want to talk about involves restricting agent representation. Upping the penalty for summary offences to two years less a day is going to have an adverse effect for agent representation across our country. I am talking about law students, paralegals and other agents that currently represent a large “gap population”, as they are called, in our country. There are many individuals who simply do not qualify for legal aid and are too poor to afford a lawyer.
The government has decided it is up to the provinces and territories to regulate what type of agent can represent what crime. This is not co-operative federalism; this is creating a patchwork effect to justice across Canada. Access to appropriate counsel should not depend on where people live, but now it will. We have student legal aid services, people such as Lisa Cirillo, Suzanne Johnson and Doug Ferguson, who asked the government to reverse the measure that would limit agent representation, and yet nothing appears to have been done on that point.
Let me be clear. An unrepresented accused will absolutely increase court delay and deprive that person of his or her right to a proper trial. It often forces the Crown and judges into an uncomfortable position where they must occasionally advise, assist and support the self-represented accused when this is contrary to their official role in the process.
We proposed a number of changes to increase jury representativeness. They were rejected. Professor Kent Roach talked about the shameful situation of juries, such as the failure to have any indigenous jurors on the Gerald Stanley case, and suggested, as did the Criminal Lawyers' Association that we have the ability to look at the jury and the judge given the discretion to decide whether it was representative or indeed embarrassing. That was rejected by my colleagues.
I am sorry I do not have time to say much more, but I will say this. There is a real opportunity lost. We do not do comprehensive criminal justice reform very often in our country. The Liberals brought in a 302-page bill. Some of the key issues I have addressed will only exacerbate the problem before us, making less justice and further delays. There are some things in this bill we like, but on balance we have to say, sadly, we cannot support it.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate being able to rise to talk about Bill C-75, the importance of the bill and the intent behind the bill.
There is absolutely nothing that our government is trying to hide with respect to the major bold reforms we are seeking in Bill C-75 to the criminal justice system to answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan and other decisions to create efficiencies and promote the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. That is precisely what we are doing in Bill C-75. Since we formed government, this has been considered through very robust consultations.
I appreciate the discussions, the considerations and listening to 95 witnesses at the House of Commons committee on justice and human rights, who provided very substantial feedback.
With respect to the member opposite's question with respect to the hybridization of offences, serious offences will continue to be treated seriously. The hybridization of offences does nothing to change the fundamental principles of sentencing.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I agree that this is a large and significant bill. The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to answer the call of the Prime Minister to me in my mandate letter and our government's commitment to transform the criminal justice system and create efficiencies and effectiveness in that system.
The member opposite stated that this bill would solve some problems but create others. I disagree with that statement. This legislation and the lead-up to the introduction of this legislation in March of this year was the result of significant consultation right across the country through round tables. I have personally engaged in three federal, provincial and territorial meetings with my counterparts in the provinces and territories, all of whom are supportive of the robust and bold changes in Bill C-75.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, our government is committed to working co-operatively with all members of the House.
With respect to Bill C-75, I would point out that there has been a total of seven hours and 45 minutes of debate in the House. The bill went to committee, where there was major discussion among committee members, and I thank them for that discussion. The committee heard from 95 witnesses. Twenty-seven hours of discussion and debate happened at committee. I thank members for the suggested amendments, many of which were accepted by the government.
Bill C-75 is a robust bill which proposes to amend the Criminal Code. It is not an omnibus piece of legislation. It seeks to address Criminal Code changes.
To comments by the member opposite around serious offences, under this legislation serious offences would still be prosecuted in a serious manner.
I am glad the member raised impaired driving. I am very pleased that our government was able to pass Bill C-46, major legislation to create in Canada among the toughest impaired driving laws in the world. I appreciate the member's bringing that up.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of time allocation, but more important to ensure that Bill C-75 proceeds, we are committed to working with all members of this House. We appreciate the discussion and debate that came from the justice committee and look forward to the discussion that will happen in the other place.
Bill C-75 is about addressing delays in the criminal justice system and creating efficiencies and effectiveness. It is our responsibility to address the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address the delays that exist in the criminal justice system. Bill C-75 is in response to that.
Yes, this is a large piece of legislation. It has benefited from 27-plus hours of debate at committee. I look forward to continued discussions in this regard.
In terms of the member's question around mandatory minimum penalties, we are continuing to work on sentencing reform. This is a commitment that our government has made and we will continue that discussion and bring forward changes in due course.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to stand up to acknowledge and appreciate the work that was done by all members of the justice and human rights committee in bringing forward many amendments. In fact, 50 motions to amend Bill C-75 were adopted.
The amendment brought forward to remove routine police evidence by way of affidavit was something our government recognized, along with the testimony of many people who came before the committee. We were able to accept that amendment.
In terms of agent representation, some of the changes that are contained within Bill C-75 raised concerns among many stakeholders who came before the justice committee about the inability to have agent representation because of the increase of offence penalties. We have accepted amendments from committee to provide for that to give provinces and territories the ability to determine agents in terms of representation of various offences.
Again, I appreciate the input on other amendments as well from the committee.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-20 10:26 [p.23584]
Madam Speaker, as this debate is on the issue of time allocation as opposed to the substance of the bill itself, I want to address my comments to the Minister of Justice, but of course it is pertinent to the government House leader and all House leaders.
The use of time allocation used to be exceptional. In the 41st Parliament, those Liberals, who were then in opposition, joined everyone in the opposition to oppose the routine use of time allocation. However, it has remained routine. This is not healthy in a democracy and I put the blame squarely on poor relationships and lack of trust between the House leaders of the recognized parties in this place in being able to work together to properly assess which bills need more time and which bills could be dealt with more quickly.
I believe it would be a tonic and help solve the problem if this place returned to the rules we currently have that are in disuse which say that no member of Parliament can read a speech. Those are our rules but we no longer pay attention to them. If we did not have the ability to read a speech, then political parties in this place would not be able to line up their MPs, those who have no background on a bill, hand them a speech and tell them to read it in order to use up time.
I would encourage the Minister of Justice to speak with the government House leader and all people in this place to consider if we could not make Parliament work better by returning to our actual rules that members cannot just stand up and read a speech and that they must know the subject.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will say that it is the commitment of our government to work co-operatively with all members in this House to ensure that we have robust debate on bills we are putting forward. There has been substantial discussion on Bill C-75 in this House and at committee.
I recognize and acknowledge the member's comments and concerns. I will follow up and speak to the government House leader.
View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
View Alice Wong Profile
2018-11-20 10:28 [p.23585]
Madam Speaker, it would be a good way to celebrate National Child Day if a human trafficking bill had no time allocation. The minister wants to rush the bill through without discussing details as to how to protect seniors and children. It is shameful.
Time allocation should not be used because we, as members of Parliament representing our own ridings, have the right to speak and represent our constituents and rushing this bill through would only endanger all communities. I really question the intentions of the minister and the government House leader in limiting members' privilege to debate a very complex and important bill in the House.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's appreciation of the importance of this legislation and having Bill C-75 move through the parliamentary process and be passed in order to address the delays in the criminal justice system and to answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a priority for this government and I would hope it is a priority for all members in the House.
There has been a lot of debate and discussion. As I have said, at committee there were some 27 hours of debate and discussion. I very much appreciate, as does the government, the feedback and amendments that came from committee, the additional amendments requested by stakeholders and voted on by committee members, that would repeal vagrancy and bawdy house offences.
I thank the committee once again for all of its input and the amendments put forward that improve this legislation.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2018-11-20 10:30 [p.23585]
Madam Speaker, this is another sad day in Parliament. We remember back in 2015 the Prime Minister made a commitment to change Parliament from the incredibly stubborn actions of the former government of Stephen Harper and put into place provisions that allowed for democratic debate.
Close to 40 closure motions have now been brought forward in this Parliament by the Liberal government. It is called time allocation, but that is splitting hairs. It is closure. It is shutting down the right to debate in the House of Commons. At the same time as closure is being enacted in the House of Commons, at the finance committee, Liberal representatives are systematically defeating all of the opposition amendments designed to improve the major flaws in the budget implementation bill, huge omnibus legislation that has been given scant hours of treatment and where Liberal MPs are simply voting down any improvements to the legislation. This means it will have to be tested by the courts, as we saw under the Stephen Harper government. The Liberals are going right back to the kinds of practices that Canadians deplore. They are doubling down.
We have this piece of legislation, and the minister admits that the vast majority of amendments to it were refused. Yes, there were witnesses, but the Liberals were not listening to the witnesses.
My question is very simple. Why have the Liberals enacted all of the worst practices of the Stephen Harper government to ram legislation through without due consideration in this Parliament?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am happy to stand to address the comments made by the member opposite, and I dispute his comments completely.
In terms of not listening to witnesses, that is absolutely not true. My parliamentary secretary and all members of the justice committee had the benefit of hearing from 95 witnesses at the justice and human rights committee, all of whom spoke about their passion for criminal justice reform and made very concrete suggestions about how the bill could be improved. We accepted many of those recommendations that I believe have very significantly improved Bill C-75. I look forward to continued debate and discussion as this bill goes to the other place.
On top of all of the discussion that happened in this House and at committee, we engaged in discussions and consultations right across the country with criminal justice stakeholders. I engaged on an ongoing basis with my counterparts in the provinces and territories, all of whom are supportive of the bold reforms that we are proposing in Bill C-75.
View Mel Arnold Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mel Arnold Profile
2018-11-20 10:33 [p.23586]
Madam Speaker, I rise today to strongly oppose this time allocation, this time limit on this bill. The minister is boasting about how there has been so much consultation and time allowed already. She talked about seven hours of debate. With over 300 members in this chamber, that breaks down to about a minute and 20 seconds per member. We know that the time for debate cannot be broken down that finely, so it will mean that many members will not even have an opportunity to speak on this bill.
I would have liked to have had a chance to speak on this bill because I lost a brother to a drunk driver. Yes, I lost a brother to a drunk driver, and this bill would cut back on the penalties for drunk driving. I will not have a chance to speak in this House because of her time allocation today. How can one minute and 20 seconds be considered fair debate for a bill of over 300 pages?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again, I will stand to speak to the nature of Bill C-75 and the substantial discussion and consultations we have had for the last three years on the very elements of Bill C-75. I understand and recognize the desire of members to speak to this important piece of legislation. Many members from the party opposite have risen in this House to speak to this legislation and during the many hours of debate and discussion that occurred at the justice and human rights committee.
As members in this House, we have an obligation to move forward and answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address delays in the criminal justice system. Bill C-75 would do just that, in a comprehensive way. I look to all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation moving forward.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments on the importance of answering the call of Canadians, the call of the Supreme Court, to move forward with criminal justice reform that would address delays in the criminal justice system. To speak to the member's specific questions about what has gone into Bill C-75, in the lead-up to the introduction in March of this year I conducted, and my parliamentary secretary participated in, round tables across the country. We conducted online surveys and had requests for feedback. We received thousands of responses and we produced a report of what we heard. We benefited from ongoing discussions, as well as reports from years ago by the Senate committee, on what we can do to improve delays in the criminal justice system. We have incorporated many of the recommendations from the other place into Bill C-75. Again, I want to highlight the discussions and debate that occurred in this House, the robust discussion that happened at committee with the 95 witnesses heard, the 27 hours of debate and discussion we benefited from, and improving the bill through various amendments that came from the committee.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2018-11-20 10:37 [p.23586]
Madam Speaker, as a new member in this House of Commons, I remember campaigning at some of the campaign stops where the minister was also present. We all talked about how we needed to see a government that was different from the Harper government and that would do things differently. The minister advocated for and campaigned on real change. The Prime Minister of today made a commitment, and part of that commitment is that we will no longer engage in the practice the Harper administration embarked on, which is to shut down debate.
Surely, the minister understands how fundamentally important that is to our democracy. It was something she campaigned on and advocated for in public. However, here we are having seen bill after bill where debate was shut down, this bill being another one of them. The minister talked about consultation before the bill was introduced. However, now that the bill is here, as a member, I have not had a chance to engage in this debate. I would very much like to. I am not part of the committee that engaged in the discussion around that. As the minister knows, only one member from the NDP is allowed on that committee so many of us have been excluded from that process. How is that a new way of business? How is it good for democracy when the government consistently shuts down debate, including on this bill?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I do remember going on campaign stops before the election, talking about doing things differently. In fact, our government is doing things differently.
We have engaged in consultation for the past three years. There was a lot of discussion at committee. There was a lot of discussion in this House. I would be very happy to sit down with the member opposite to talk more about Bill C-75 and the provisions that are contained therein.
Again, we are doing things differently. We have fundamentally changed the way that we engage with Canadians. I look forward to the discussion and debate in the other place. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our legislation moves through the parliamentary process so we address the desires and the needs of Canadians, and we address the delays in the criminal justice system. We made a commitment as a government to heed the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address delays.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again, I appreciate the comments and the opportunity to respond to the comments.
The member opposite asked what this is achieving. What is Bill C-75 achieving? It is achieving the necessity of addressing delays in the criminal justice system, achieving efficiencies and effectiveness.
Again, I disagree with the characterization that Canadians are not supportive of this. We have done substantial consultation right across the country. In terms of the member opposite's comments about downloading to the provinces, I would like to inform the member opposite that I have been working with the provinces and territories on an ongoing basis for three years, and they are supportive of this. This is not a download on the provinces and territories. This is co-operative federalism at its best, around the administration of justice, to ensure that we do everything we can as actors in the criminal justice system to heed the call of the Supreme Court of Canada.
This has robust support right across the country.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of the hybridization of offences, the reclassification of offences, again, this was supported by my counterparts in the provinces and territories. This does nothing to change the fundamental principles of sentencing.
Serious offences will be treated by the courts and prosecutors as serious. What this does is give the necessary discretion to prosecutors to proceed based on the circumstances of the individual case in the most effective way possible. This does not change how serious offences will be approached, and any characterization otherwise is a mischaracterization.
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
2018-11-20 12:52 [p.23601]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the third reading debate on 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. I intend to focus my remarks on sentencing-related issues.
At the outset, it is important to address the continuing criticism by the opposition that hybridizing all straight indictable offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or less—to allow the Crown to proceed by summary conviction in appropriate cases—would minimize the seriousness of these offences. These concerns reflect a lack of trust of the judiciary and Crown prosecutors, who already make these decisions every day. They also represent a profound misunderstanding of what Bill C-75 aims to achieve by reclassifying certain offences.
The proposal to hybridize offences is procedural in nature and is intended to allow prosecution by summary conviction of conduct that currently does not result in a sentence of more than two years. For instance, it is a mischaracterization of the reclassification amendments to assert that by hybridizing section 467.11 of the Criminal Code, i.e., participation in activities of a criminal organization, Bill C-75 is sending a message not to take organized crime offences seriously.
The proposed amendment simply recognizes that this offence can, by virtue of the range of conduct captured, include circumstances where an appropriate sentence falls within the summary conviction range. Proceeding summarily in these circumstances allows for more expeditious proceedings without undermining public safety or impacting the sentence ranges for this offence.
In fact, in 2011-2012 there were 49 guilty verdicts entered pursuant to section 467.11 of the Criminal Code. Of these 49 cases, only 34 were given a custodial sentence. Of those, one received one month or less, six received between one month and three months, 10 received between three months and six months, nine received from six months to 12 months, four received from 12 months to 24 months and the four remaining received a custodial sentence of 24 months or more.
At the time these sentences were imposed, section 467.11 of the Criminal Code was a straight indictable offence, and yet the overwhelming majority of sentences imposed were in the summary conviction range, including 15 non-custodial sentences. It is clear that keeping section 467.11 of the Criminal Code as a straight indictable offence would not in any way prevent the Crown, in appropriate cases, from seeking a non-custodial sentence or a sentence of imprisonment that is in the summary conviction range.
Let me be clear. There is absolutely nothing in Bill C-75 that would suggest to prosecutors and courts that hybridizing offences should result in their seeking or awarding lower sentences than what is currently sought or awarded under the law. Prosecutors would continue to assess the facts of each case and the circumstances relating to the offender and previously decided cases in order to determine which type of sentence they should seek. Sentencing judges would continue to impose sentences proportionate to the severity of the crime and the degree of responsibility of the offender, as mandated by the fundamental principle of sentencing in section 718.1 of the Criminal Code.
The misapprehensions about the proposed reclassification amendments also unnecessarily detract from other notable reforms. For example, the bill proposes to toughen criminal laws in the context of intimate partner violence, IPV, thereby increasing public safety and enhancing victim safety.
Bill C-75 includes a proposal that would impose a reverse onus at bail for an accused charged with an intimate violence offence if the accused has a prior conviction for violence against an intimate partner, regardless of whether it is the same partner, a former partner or a dating partner. In this context, to enhance the safety of victims of this type of violence, the accused, not the prosecutor, would have to justify their release to the court and the public. What this means is that the presumption that the accused should be released pending trial no longer applies
This proposal is targeted and reflects what we know about the heightened risk of safety that victims of intimate partner violence face. Victims of intimate partner violence tend to experience multiple victimizations before reporting it to the authorities or police. Based on Statistics Canada data from 2014, 17% of victims of spousal violence indicated that they had been abused by their current or former partner on more than 10 occasions.
I understand that one of the criticisms raised at committee was that the reverse onus could be problematic in jurisdictions where dual charging occurs, a practice whereby both partners are criminally charged, sometimes because self-defence on the part of the victim is confused with assault. I also understand that it is often not the law that is the problem in this context, but how it is applied.
Dual charging is an operational issue that provinces and territories have been addressing through the development and implementation of training and policies. For example, in March 2016, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police released the document “National Framework for Collaborative Police Action on Intimate Partner Violence”, which addresses dual charging and provides guidance for cases where charges against a victim are being contemplated.
Knowing that the research shows that victims are at an increased risk of violence in the aftermath of reporting to police, especially in cases where there is an ongoing history of violence in the relationship, I am confident that the reverse onus proposed here is carefully tailored to address the concerns raised.
Bill C-75 would also require courts to consider whether an accused is charged with an IPV offence prior to making a decision to release or detain the accused during a bail hearing. In addition, Bill C-75 would clarify that strangulation, choking and suffocation are elevated forms of assault and would also define "intimate partner" for all Criminal Code purposes, clarifying that it includes a current or former spouse, a common-law partner, as well as dating partners.
Moreover, Bill C-75 proposes a sentencing amendment to clarify 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. What is more, Bill C-75 would also allow prosecutors the possibility of seeking a higher maximum penalty in cases involving a repeat intimate partner violence offender.
I think we can all agree that allowing for the imposition of higher than the applicable maximum penalty in cases of repeat intimate partner violence offenders is a concrete example of Parliament sending a clear message to prosecutors and the courts that repeat intimate partner violence offenders should receive strong denunciatory sentences.
In these cases, where the Crown serves notice under section 727 of the Criminal Code that a higher maximum penalty is sought, a sentencing court would be given additional discretion to impose a sentence that exceeds the otherwise applicable maximum penalty. This will better reflect the severity of the conduct in question and assist courts in imposing sentences that better protect victims.
I urge all members to support this very comprehensive legislation which will reduce delays and make the criminal justice system more efficient and effective on the basis of evidence and not ideology.
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
2018-11-20 13:03 [p.23602]
Mr. Speaker, the data is evident. It is clear that 92% of indictable offences under this new legislation or even under the previous act get sentences of under two years in the summary conviction range. These would be the appropriate sentences that the Crown and judge found at the time. It clearly shows that even where the offence was considered indictable, the sentencing was in the summary conviction range in the past. This is where we actually trust our prosecutors and judiciary to sentence and make the appropriate choice of offence and methodology that they wish to charge. If they feel they can take it to a summary conviction and the offence is not as severe or in the range they expect, they can expedite that conviction as opposed to taking it into an indictable trial.
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
2018-11-20 13:05 [p.23602]
Mr. Speaker, I think that is an assumption or statement by one stakeholder or one witness. There have been more federal appointments to judicial vacancies than there have been in the past. Those vacancies were left by a Conservative government under Harper who really stalled and delayed the judicial process.
The Minister of Justice has been actively, profoundly and in a very diverse manner filling those vacancies. I am very proud that in British Columbia we have had numerous vacancies filled. I trust that those delays will not be there going forward. This bill will actually make the judicial system much more efficient, contrary to the concerns of my colleague.
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
2018-11-20 13:06 [p.23603]
Mr. Speaker, absolutely, the 230 appointments are probably some of the most progressive appointments that Parliament has seen in decades. More women have been appointed than ever before. More diverse members have been appointed to the bench than before. People who appear before the judiciary will now see themselves more as opposed to the days of the past.
I am very confident that the record number of new judicial appointments will create a robust system, which will reduce delays in our judicial system and make our criminal justice system more efficient.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-20 13:07 [p.23603]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise today at report stage of 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. This is an omnibus bill that addresses matters related to the Criminal Code of Canada.
At first, everyone in our society who deals with major justice issues were quite pleased with what the Minister of Justice had to say. There is a clear need for reform. Unfortunately, many in the legal community and elsewhere who are calling for real reform are disappointed.
There is a great sense of disappointment. The longer we work with Bill C-75, the more the disappointment deepens. Michael Spratt, the former chair of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers' Association, has been quoted in this debate before. As he put it, “It all sounded so good. But it has all gone so wrong.”
I did attempt to make improvements to the legislation. Members of this place will know that while my status as leader of the Green Party of Canada does not allow me to sit on any committees, through the work of the PMO, first under former primer minister Stephen Harper and now under our current Prime Minister, I have what some might think of as an opportunity but I have to say it is an enormous burden that increases my workload. It is rather unfair because if it were not for what the committees have done, I could have been presenting substantive amendments here at report stage. That is my right as a member of Parliament and not of one of the three big parties. I have very few rights as a member of Parliament with one seat for the Green Party, but one of those rights was to be able to make substantive amendments at report stage. My rights have been subsumed into what, as I said, was done first by the Conservative government and now by the Liberals, to say that I have an opportunity to present amendments during clause-by-clause study at committee, although I am not a member of the committee. I do not have a right to vote, but I get a chance to speak to my amendments.
It was under that committee motion I was able to present 46 amendments. I participated vigorously in the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-75. It was a very discouraging process as very few amendments from opposition parties were accepted. Most of my amendments went directly to testimony from many witnesses who wanted to see the bill improved and I am disappointed that none of my 46 amendments made it through.
I should say that some of the worst parts of Bill C-75 were changed on the basis of government-proposed amendments. One of the ones that had worried me a great deal was the idea that in a criminal trial, evidence from the police could come in the form of a written statement without proffering the police officer in question for cross-examination. That was amended so that the prosecutors cannot use what is called routine police evidence without having someone put forward to be cross-examined. There was also the repeal of the vagrancy law and repeal of the law about keeping a common bawdy house.
However, many other sections of this bill cry out for further amendment, so at this point I want to highlight those sections that really need to be amended. We are at report stage, and third reading will come in short order. We are already under time allocation. I hope that when this bill gets to the other place, as it inevitably will, the other place will pass amendments that are needed.
It is quite clear that this bill, in some key areas, would do the opposite of what the government has promised, particularly in relation to disadvantaged people, particularly in relation to the status of indigenous peoples in our prisons, and particularly in relation to access to justice and fairness which have actually been worsened in this bill. That is not something I expected to be standing up and saying at report stage, but there it is. It is massively disappointing, and I hope that the Senate will improve it.
One of the things that was done, and I am not sure it was the best solution, but it was clearly a response to the Stanley case where it was a massive sense of a miscarriage of justice. When there is a jury, it is supposed to be a jury of the accused person's peers. If the person is an indigenous youth and his or her jury is entirely Caucasian, it is not exactly a jury of his or her peers. One of the reasons this happens is the use of peremptory challenges. Therefore, I do appreciate the effort in Bill C-75 to eliminate peremptory challenges. However, I want to go over the way in which this bill actually takes this backward.
The effort here of course, as many other hon. members have pointed out, is that this bill is in direct response to the Jordan decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016. In the Jordan case, the delays were so profound that the case could not proceed. Therefore, I think it is very clear that all Canadians feel the same sense of concern with the new trial timelines of 18 months for provincial courts and 30 months for superior court. No one wants people to be freed, who at this point still have the presumption of innocence, because they have not gone through their court case. If the evidence is good enough, the prosecutors bring those people forward. The idea that they are just let out of jail because the trial times and the processing of that person took too long offends our sense of justice. The Government of Canada and the Parliament of Canada were given a very quick jab toward justice by the Supreme Court of Canada. However, have we got it right?
In an effort to speed up trials, I will mention one thing first, which is the issue of eliminating preliminary inquiries. There was a great deal of evidence before our committee that the Government of Canada and the justice department did not have good data to tell us that preliminary inquiries were a source of great delay.
I want to quote from one of the legal experts. Bill Trudell is the current chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers. He described preliminary inquiries like this, “They're like X-rays before an operation”. That is a very useful thing to have. They do not happen all the time, but when we remove them without good evidence as to why we are removing them, we could end up having innocent people convicted. In fact, Bill Trudell said that as difficult as it was for him to say, he thinks more innocent people will be convicted because we have taken out preliminary inquiries without quite having the evidence that that was a good thing to do to speed up trials.
We have heard a lot from my friends in the Conservative caucus about the question of hybridization. We have the problem that, having changed the range of sentencing, the effect of Bill C-75 is to also increase the sentencing for a summary conviction from six months to two years.
The Liberals have also added in Bill C-75 provisions about the use of agents that I do not think were thoroughly thought through. To give a better sense of agents, and this goes to the question of access to justice, suppose people are not quite poor enough to get a legal aid lawyer but are trying to navigate the legal system and they cannot afford a lawyer. In many of those cases, for a very long time, criminal defendants have had the benefit, particularly if they are low income, of law school clinics, which are young lawyers in training. They are student lawyers working as a clinic to provide legal services to people charged with lesser offences. It is too late to amend as here we are at report stage. I hope the other place will amend this to ensure access to legal aid clinics out of law schools in order to help marginalized groups navigating the legal system. I think this is an unintended consequence. I am certain that people in the Department of Justice did not ponder this and say that one of the problems is too many poor people are getting help from law students. That was not a problem that wanted solving, that was a very good and ongoing process that has been recklessly compromised in this bill. I have to hope that when it gets to the other place, we can fix this and make sure that in the definition of “agents” we exclude law students and law schools running clinics.
There are other aspects of this bill where the Liberals have just failed altogether to deal with the issue of the disproportionate number of indigenous people behind bars. They have taken in some aspects, in taking things into account. However, one of my amendments, that I really regret was not accepted, was we have no definition of “vulnerable populations”, and a lot of the evidence that came before the justice committee suggested we need such a definition. I tried one and it failed. Maybe the other place can try again. I hope that Bill C-75 will see more improvement in the other place before it becomes law.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-20 13:19 [p.23604]
Mr. Speaker, I do recognize the amendment, but it kicks it to the provinces to act and the question is whether they will act to deal with the question of making sure law students can participate in hearings.
The bail issues and not recriminalizing people for things over which they really do not have control go directly back to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Morales. I think we have done a partial job in Bill C-75, but I think we could have done more.
As my hon. colleague will remember, a number of my amendments went to that question of making sure that we really thought through the levels of conditions of addictions or poverty that would make it virtually impossible to meet certain bail provisions. We could have done more, but I agree there are steps in the right direction in Bill C-75 to respond to R. v. Morales.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-20 13:20 [p.23604]
Mr. Speaker, I am so grateful to my friend from Sarnia—Lambton for those generous comments.
I will go back to the amendment about defining a vulnerable population. That would be very helpful. There was a series of amendments, and I will not quote them all, that leave a lot of discretion to police officers to decide which track a potential accused is going to go to. The question is whether police officers, who are wonderful professionals, have the training to assess the socio-economic conditions and the issues of trauma. It is putting too much on police. There should have been a provision to ensure that was left to prosecutors and the justice system, with the advice of people in what we might think of as the caring fields.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-20 13:22 [p.23605]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my friend from St. Albert—Edmonton bringing it back to the question of preliminary inquiries. There is that question around whether that is a proper sentencing threshold. However, it allows me to raise another point about how the bill discriminates against marginalized people. Someone who has a lot of money, without a preliminary inquiry, can hire a private detective and try to figure out what facts they would have been able to discern had there been a preliminary inquiry. They can go out and get a private detective and find out a lot about the other facts of the case. However, someone without income, who is not going to be able to hire a private detective, would have unequal access to justice as a result of eliminating the preliminary inquiry, when they are not sentenced to an offence that has a sentence up to life.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, in the work I have done in my riding, I have heard both from the RCMP and from legal representatives. They are frustrated with dealing with issues that are really better served by people who provide support and deal with social issues.
When we look at the bill, again, we see the absolute neglect of dealing with the social issues and understanding that not all of these issues need to be in the legal system. We know the system is already overflowing. There are so many challenges. In fact, multiple experts have said that this will not deal with that at all and that it will not actually do what it says, which is to ensure the system has fewer people going through it.
I would appreciate it if the member could talk about how he or his government would justify not addressing the social issues that are clogging our system every day.
View Mark Warawa Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Warawa Profile
2018-11-20 15:39 [p.23627]
Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to be in the House to speak to this important justice bill.
Bill C-75, sadly, is a deeply flawed, 302-page omnibus bill introduced by the government. Are there some positive aspects? Yes. However, the way it has been done, rammed through, not properly dialogued, not properly considered and ignoring the opposition members at committee, is a very serious and concerning process.
The previous speaker, when asked about the bill, said that the Conservative comments were regrettable rhetoric. It is that attitude, where the Liberals have a majority in the House, they can ram things through and get their way every time. It appears to be an arrogant attitude with the government dismissing any critique.
The Prime Minister continues to show that he does not take the safety and security of Canadians seriously. He is not listening to positive critique. He is watering down serious offences, such as impaired driving causing bodily harm, using date rape drugs and human trafficking. These are all serious crimes.
There are 136 offences included in Bill C-75, offences like participating in the activities of a terrorist group. One of two amendments, coming from the Conservative Party, were made at the justice committee. The government then permitted its members in committee to accept an amendment on that one, and that was withdrawn. Another is advocating genocide.
How did the Liberals come up with this list of 136 offences? Why did it only accept to remove two, advocating genocide and participating in a terrorist group? What about the other 134 offences?
The Liberals have taken any offence that is a serious indictable offence, with a maximum sentence of 10 years, and they have grouped them into one group, and we have Bill C-75 in front of us. It is offences like prison breach, municipal corruption, influencing municipal official, influencing or negotiating appointments or deals in offices, violence against a clergy person, keeping a common bawdy house, punishment for infanticide and concealing body of child.
There are 134 offences. Do some of them need to be updated? Yes, but it needs to be done in a constructive, proper way.
The Criminal Code of Canada did not come into play a year ago. It has come through the judicial system, through the legal system, through the legislative system for years and years. Last year, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. Over the years, we have learned from other countries what the laws should be and what is the appropriate sentencing. We have also learned about respecting the courts and giving the courts discretion.
Over the years, we have come up with appropriate sentencing. To review this is a good practice. It should be done. One of the things I am quite concerned about is that in the last Parliament we had a major focus on victims in Canada. The Victims Bill of Rights came out of that, and that was a huge accomplishment. Part of that was a system where there would be a victim surcharge, where an offender would pay into a victims fund to take care of victims. This is being repealed in Bill C-75. It will be gone, again taking away opportunities to take care of victims.
In the little time I have to speak, I would like to focus on impaired driving. Impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing death, is the number one criminal offence in Canada. It is a very serious offence. I have received tens of thousands of petitions. There is not usually a week that goes by where I am not honoured to present a petition on behalf of Families For Justice. Every member of Families For Justice has lost a loved one.
Markita Kaulius lives in my riding. She is the president of Families For Justice. She and Victor lost their beautiful daughter to a drunk driver. She was 22 years old when she was killed.
In these petitions, the petitioners are asking that the charge of impaired driving causing death be called “vehicular homicide”, and that if a person is arrested and convicted of impaired driving, there should be an automatic one-year driving prohibition. It sounds reasonable. Also, if a person is convicted of causing bodily harm while impaired, by being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, there should be a minimum mandatory sentence of two years imprisonment. If a person is convicted of causing a collision while being impaired and a person is killed, they are asking for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.
In the last Parliament, the government introduced a bill to toughen up laws on mandatory minimum sentences, which is what Families For Justice is asking for. It did not include calling it vehicular homicide. It was dealing with the mandatory minimums, getting tough on crime.
At the end of the last Parliament, Families For Justice contacted each of the leaders. The current Prime Minister wrote a letter to Families For Justice and said that he would support getting tough on crime. Sadly, Bill C-75 would remove impaired driving causing bodily harm, failing to provide a bodily sample and blood alcohol over the limit from indictable offences and make them hybrid offences. In actuality, this would take these offences, at the choice of the prosecution, out of federal court. Because they could be summary convictions, they would be put into provincial court. The federal government would be downloading onto provincial courts.
In British Columbia, I have been regularly shocked to see cases being thrown out of court by judges because they have gone on too long. We then end up with the federal government downloading all these indictable cases onto the provincial court. The Criminal Code being enforced will exasperate provincial justice, by making serious offences like kidnapping, abducting a person under the age of 14 summary convictions. Why should people who would abduct a child, who could be charged with a serious indictable offence, with a 10-year maximum, now have a summary conviction available to them? This would be two years less a day and put into the provincial courts.
The government says one thing and does something totally different. It promised Markita Kaulius, Families For Justice and other Canadians that it was going to get tough on crime. We hear regularly that it is getting tough on impaired driving, but in fact it does nothing like that. What it says and what it does are two totally different things.
It brings to mind the proverb, “A tree is known by its fruit”. If there are apples on the branches of that tree, it is an apple tree. If there are pears on it, it is a pear tree. If it is a tree of deceit, the country groans. Canadians want justice. They want a government that spends the time to do it right when it makes legislative changes, not ram it through because it has the ability to do it.
Therefore, I hope the government will ask some good questions, some important questions. With the way it is handling Bill C-75, I have received a lot of phone calls, emails and regular input from my constituents. I am sure every one of us is getting the same kinds of phone calls with respect to Bill C-75, saying to vote against Bill C-75. Therefore, that is what I plan to do.
View Mark Warawa Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Warawa Profile
2018-11-20 15:51 [p.23629]
Mr. Speaker, consultation is listening, taking into consideration, and learning from one another. Just having meetings with people within our provincial directorate is not proper consultation.
I was not part of those consultations. However, I strongly believe that the provinces in this great country of Canada did not ask to make softer impaired driving laws. Just like they have told Canadians and told us, I believe they told the provincial bodies that they were going to toughen up impaired driving laws. However, with Bill C-75 they are making them weaker. Those provincial consultations did not say it was okay to bypass abducting a child or to participate in criminal organizations. Therefore, the government has blown it on Bill C-75.
View Mark Warawa Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Warawa Profile
2018-11-20 15:53 [p.23629]
Mr. Speaker, I would acknowledge that there is a big difference. That is why the courts need to have discretion. However, what we are hearing from the government is that participation in the activities of a terrorist group or advocating genocide is also within that same grouping of legislation, Bill C-75. It accepted amendments to remove those two, but everything else had to stay because it is close-minded and would not accept consultation from Canadians.
Bill C-75 has a lot of problems with it. That is why Canadians do not want us to vote for it.
View Mark Warawa Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Warawa Profile
2018-11-20 15:54 [p.23629]
Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a very good point. When the justice minister had the responsibility of appointing judges, six months went by before there were any appointments, and this created a backlog. Now with Bill C-75 and offences being downloaded onto the provincial government, there will be an additional backlog. The Liberals are creating a judicial and legislative mess. They have accomplished very little in the House and now they want to ram Bill C-75 through because they have the most bodies in the House.
These important issues need to be handled properly and they are not being handled properly by the current government.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, there is a quote from an article by Elizabeth Sheehy and Isabel Grant, in the Toronto Star, entitled “Bill C-75 reforms too little, too late....” It says:
A woman is killed by her current or former partner every six days in Canada. Indigenous women are killed by their intimate partners at a rate eight times higher. Domestic violence is a national crisis.
The federal government’s Bill C-75, introduced last month, proposes changes to the criminal law response to domestic violence. But the bill will do too little, too late. What we need is a comprehensive, integrated strategy to prevent and respond to domestic violence, and resources to support women extricating themselves from violent relationships.
We know that women's organizations that address issues of domestic violence have been coming again and again begging for money they desperately need to help these women prevent these kinds of situations. We know that the government is absolutely not providing the support they desperately need.
If this bill is so great, I want to know what the follow-up will be to make sure that these women are supported so that they can begin to have trust in the justice system of Canada.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 11:07 [p.23432]
Madam Speaker, I am vice-chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, and we heard very disturbing testimony about the impact of mandatory minimums, particularly on single mothers and indigenous women. In the past, judges had the discretion to say mothers could serve their sentences on weekends and look after their kids during the week. It has broken families, and kids have been forced into foster care because that flexibility no longer exists.
I heard the parliamentary secretary say we need more consultation on this. I would like to hear my colleague's view of whether there is any clearer direction than the several court rulings that have asked the government to move away from this practice. Does my colleague really think we need more consultation, or should the government have acted in this legislation to carry out the instructions in the Prime Minister's mandate letter to end the practice of mandatory minimums?
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 11:19 [p.23434]
Madam Speaker, the status of women committee did a study last year about the experience of indigenous women in the justice system and in incarceration. We really hoped that Bill C-75 would bring in some of that advice. The government calls it a bold bill. I am afraid it is not.
I want to read something for my colleague. At committee, in December of last year, Jonathan Rudin, program director for Aboriginal Legal Services, said:
...mandatory minimum sentence prevents a conditional sentence from being put in....What happens then is that the person goes to jail, and if they don't have someone to look after their kids....they will lose their kids.... Even if the person gets their children back, they will have been removed from their families....that experience of being taken from your family and put into foster care....is incredibly damaging.
He also said:
The first thing we urge the committee to recommend and to at least try to do is to have the current government bring in the legislation they have promised to bring in to restore to judges their discretion to sentence people without the burden of mandatory minimum sentences and the restrictions on conditional sentences.
Why is that not in this bold bill?
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 12:02 [p.23440]
Mr. Speaker, from the NDP side, we had hoped that this proposed legislation would repair the mandatory minimum policy change that the Conservatives brought in during the previous government.
We have heard testimony at the status of women committee about judges no longer having judicial discretion to impose sentences on an offender serving time on weekends, when the offender could get their family to look after their kids and keep the family together, and could still keep their regular job during the week. Often, in the case of women, particularly indigenous women, they may well have been an accessory to a crime and plead guilty just to get the charge over and under way, but they do not have access to good representation. There is a lot of evidence that mandatory minimums have been harder on indigenous women than anyone else and have broken up families. In fact, 68% of court challenges are related to mandatory minimums.
Have the Conservatives had any second thoughts or regrets about the decision they made in the previous Parliament? Do they wish the government had kept its promise, followed its mandate letter and included a repeal of mandatory minimums in this proposed legislation?
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 12:16 [p.23442]
Mr. Speaker, status of women committee heard testimony from Jonathan Rudin from Aboriginal Legal Services, who I note my colleague quoted as a defender of the legislation. Almost a year ago, having described the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing as being particularly hard on indigenous women and on having removed judicial discretion, the pattern observed was that there were more indigenous women in prison, that their families were taken away and that their children were incredibly damaged on their return, maybe even creating intergenerational impacts.
Mr. Rudin said
The first thing we urge the committee to recommend and to try at least to do is to have the current government bring in the legislation they have promised to bring in to restore to judges their discretion to sentence people without the burden of mandatory minimum sentences and the restrictions on conditional sentences.
Does my colleague agree with Jonathan Rudin's advice in this case?
Although the government campaigned to make this change three years ago, it has done nothing. It has not fulfilled its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action to repeal the Conservative's mandatory minimum legislation. The government had an opportunity in the bill and it has failed to meet it.
View Wayne Stetski Profile
NDP (BC)
View Wayne Stetski Profile
2018-11-08 12:49 [p.23446]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to briefly address preliminary inquiries.
Preliminary inquiries are, in essence, dress rehearsals for subsequent trials, and they are only used in 3% of cases. Therefore, eliminating these is not really going to save a lot of time. Sometimes, during these preliminary inquiries, the Crown's case can collapse entirely and one does not end up having to hold a much longer trial.
Critics also claim that their elimination can limit the rights of the accused to fully comprehend the case against them, and may increase wrongful convictions. In fact, the Canadian Bar Association said:
Bill C-75 would restrict preliminary inquiries to offences with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This would not reduce court delays and would negatively impact the criminal justice system as a whole. As lawyers who practice in Canada’s criminal courts every day, we know the practical value of preliminary inquiries to the criminal justice system.
I am interested in what the member would have to say to the Canadian Bar Association on preliminary inquiries.
View Gordie Hogg Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Gordie Hogg Profile
2018-11-08 13:38 [p.23453]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to get up and speak to 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.
My particular interest is the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I spent 25 years working with the Criminal Justice Act in British Columbia, starting out as a youth probation officer working on the streets of Surrey, riding with RCMP officers and responding to calls, particularly on youth violence and domestic violence. I was also a foster parent for a number of youths who had been in conflict with the law. Most importantly, I was the warden of our largest youth jail in British Columbia for 10 years where I worked with youth who were on overnight arrest, remand and longer-term sentences, including a number of very serious offenders. While having that experience, I also went back to university to get a Ph.D. and was appointed an adjunct professor in criminology at Simon Fraser University. It is a position I hold today, and it has allowed me to look at these concerns and issues facing us from a conceptual framework as well as from a practical experiential model.
On the Youth Criminal Justice Act, we have been very good in Canada in being able to reduce the number of youth coming into custody. Our numbers 25 years ago were substantially higher on a per capita basis, but the development of a number of alternative measures has made our system much more responsive to the nuances and needs of young children and youth in particular.
Some good research has been in place over the past 15 to 20 years, particularly the Cracow study, which was originally funded by NATO and has been standardized in Germany as well as British Columbia. It is a longitudinal study looking at the issues that become prevalent when youth come into conflict with the law and the challenges responding to that. As a result of this longitudinal study that has been tracking youths for up to 15 years now, we are much better informed in terms of the actions we should be taking in dealing with them.
There are five profiles or pathways that have become evident in this research that inform the way we should be responding to the needs and nuances of youth. In some instances, we are able to look at and make some relatively accurate predictions with respect to the propensity of a youth to come in conflict with the law, even pre-conception.
There are environmental influences, such as the presence of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, which are overwhelming in terms of the number of youth who come into conflict with the law.
There are a number of neurological and developmental disorders which are precursors, such as ADHD/ADD and fetal alcohol syndrome, and in certain communities these conditions are epidemic. They have been particularly evident within a number of our indigenous communities.
Certainly domestic violence has a strong link as well, and there is alcohol and drug addiction. There are a number of samples in the jail that I was responsible for, but up to 90% of youths coming into custody had been using hard drugs.
There are personality disorders, aggressive disorders, dependency disorders, anti-social personalities, psychopathy. These types of disorders are also very prevalent. In fact, where we were finding youths getting into conflict with the law in their early teens, it is becoming younger and younger. We are finding now that some parents are taking their two-year-old children to children's hospitals saying they cannot control them anymore. When that happens, because of the medical model, we tend to mask it with the utilization of drugs and manage it in that fashion, but later on in life it manifests itself as they come away from the drugs in all kinds of deleterious and negative behaviours.
Also, many youth come from high needs, such as single-parent homes, high economic need, domestic violence, family and child abuse, and 60% to 70% come out of foster care.
Therefore, the proposed legislation we are talking about in terms of addressing the needs through the Youth Criminal Justice Act looks at how we can provide more community-based responses. We can look at alternative measures so that there are more choices provided to the courts and the Crown counsel when youth come before the courts. Certainly, every bit of the modern research being done tells us that we can have a far more profound impact by ensuring that we create alternatives that are responsive to the diagnosis and the needs. However, we have not reached the level we need to in order to ensure that we respond to that.
I think that probably a hundred years from now, people will look back and say that everything was a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. People will look at us the way we now look at the fact that in the past people were burned at the stake or stoned to death and they thought that that was a good response to things.
I think that as we become more responsive to changing our legislation, we will have more creative responses, instead of just saying that we are going to lock people up or put them in solitary confinement and those types of initiatives, which obviously are not working terribly well. I am delighted that we are providing more options within that framework, that we are giving the courts other options and that we are giving communities the chance to respond to the nuances and needs of youth as they come before the court system.
Obviously, we have to maintain safety and ensure that our communities are safe. There are some youths who are identified as being psychopathic and have behavioural issues that we cannot manage adequately without having some type of confinement. That is an important element of the approach that we take. We want to reduce incarceration for those people who are not representing risk to the well-being of our citizens.
That is an important part of the way that these modifications to the Youth Criminal Justice Act are leading us. They are leading us in a very progressive way. In many ways, Canada has been a leader in looking at different models. There was a suggestion and a movement in the 1980s toward total de-incarceration and total community-based response. Massachusetts led that.
There were a number of de-institutionalized models that happened in different pockets of Canada and they were not successful. They were not successful because they were not recognizing and identifying those youths who did constitute a risk to the community at large. Fortunately, this act allows us to hold onto that while developing the other parts of our system that have been shown to be so positive and that research is now supporting in a positive and meaningful way.
Having the public more actively engaged in alternative measures has been an important part of that type of resolution. We have seen the development of a myriad of community-based models for responding to the types of needs that these youths present. Certainly, this act provides again the opportunity for both the Crown counsel and police to screen out at different points those who are at lower risk and do not constitute a need to be put into state custody to do that.
By modernizing and streamlining our system, we are responding more adequately and appropriately to the nuances and needs of our communities at large and, importantly, to the nuances and needs of those youth who are in conflict with the law. We are finding ways to respond to the research, allowing us to provide the services that they need to become actively and positively engaged in our system and in our society.
We have seen many successes of youths who were dramatically at risk committing horrendous offences who are now very positive role models who have changed dramatically. Talking to those youths about their experiences and what they have been through, it is very revealing in terms of supporting what has happened and in terms of the research we are seeing. Their experiences are saying when they made those connections with people who are meaningful and had that relationship with them, structured it for them and held them in a place of support, that they then started to see and become connected with people in a meaningful way.
This legislation allows us a great capacity to do that. It allows us the opportunity to ensure that we provide that support while maintaining the security and safety that we need for our communities, while at the same time providing an empathetic, caring community and society that does respond to those needs.
Therefore, I am delighted to support Bill C-75 with the actions that it takes to ensure that we do have a safe, more compassionate and caring society, which I think is something that we all espouse.
View Gordie Hogg Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Gordie Hogg Profile
2018-11-08 13:49 [p.23454]
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry the I missed the beginning of the member's remarks, but I think I caught the end of them and the concern about the downloading onto provincial courts and the potential for their not meeting the timelines, and cases being thrown out of court. Certainly, this legislation would not contribute to that problem in any meaningful way.
Provincial courts have some responsibilities to appoint enough judges to respond to these needs. We looked at a number of alternative measures. As the alternative measures evident in and supported by this legislation are developed, we can take a number of cases out of the court system and ensure that those who pose the greatest risk to our society are held within the court system. We clearly need to have enough judges in place to respond to those cases.
We would reduce the impact on them by ensuring that alternative measures are developed in an active and positive way, and in a community-based fashion.
View Gordie Hogg Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Gordie Hogg Profile
2018-11-08 13:51 [p.23455]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that observation. Clearly, indigenous youth are overrepresented within our system, both in our youth justice system and child welfare system. Over 50% of them are indigenous youth, and we are certainly seeing them within youth gangs in the Surrey area and the challenges there. About 40% of gang members are from South Asian families. We have been actively working with them in responding.
The issue of administrative response to that is crucial to ensure that we are intervening at the right level. We should not intervene with radical, dramatic action when we are dealing with people who are starting to show some of the precursors to negative behaviour and activities.
Having an administrative response would ensure that we are able to move those individuals out of the system and respond to them adequately and appropriately. That is one way of ensuring some reduction in the burden on the court system.
The other thing is to ensure that we do respond—
View Gordie Hogg Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Gordie Hogg Profile
2018-11-08 13:53 [p.23455]
Mr. Speaker, I have had an active dialogue with a number of communities, and certainly with first nations and the south Asian community. I have met with the leaders of five gurdwaras in Surrey who are very concerned about the activity of south Asian youth and how they are overrepresented in some of the youth gang activities. They will be delighted with my support for this legislation, because it gives an appropriate intervention point for both indigenous youth and south Asian youth, who are overrepresented.
The bill gives us a point where we can administratively respond to them in a positive, active fashion. This legislation provides us with a good opportunity to ensure that their lifestyle becomes much more positive. They could fit more actively into the lifestyle their communities want and are so active to support. We are giving them that option.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-11-08 16:22 [p.23479]
Madam Speaker, during this debate today we heard words such as hybridization, tough on crime and speeding up the judicial system. I will remind the House and Canadians who are listening and are tuned into this debate that it was probably on day 10 of the 2015 campaign that the member for Papineau said that, under his government, he would let debate reign and would not resort to such parliamentary tricks as closure and limiting debate. He also said his government would not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny, such as omnibus bills. Here we have a bill that is well over 350 pages long, legislation that encompasses three bills. I think that probably speaks more to the current government's legislative failure than a lot of other things.
One of the things the Liberals always say is that they are protecting Canadians. I do not feel that Bill C-75 does that. That said, I will preface my speech by saying that I am not a lawyer, nor do I profess to be one, but we have seen instances over the course of the last three years where the Liberals and the government like to say they are tough on crime and that they are standing up for victims' rights, and yet we have seen recently a convicted murderer being transferred to a healing lodge. She had a key to her room and could come and go as she pleased. This murderer had lured an eight year old away from her school and then she and her partner murdered young Tori Stafford. For weeks the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety said that it was not in their power to change that. However, it was done. They probably blame the Conservatives for that, because they blamed us for politicizing this event. Then last week, Tori's father and family came to the Hill and protested on the steps of Parliament. They not only begged the Prime Minister and the minister to change that, but they also shamed them into changing the rules, and today, as a result of that public shaming, we saw the Liberals change the rules, and that murderer is now behind bars.
Why am I bringing this up? It is because we are talking about Bill C-75, which hybridizes certain offences that were previously dealt with by indictment only. Why were they classified by indictment? It is because they include some of the most serious offences. I know our hon. colleague from Calgary Shepard brought this up. Actually, his speech was bang on.
Let us talk about some of these offences that have now been hybridized. There is the punishment for infanticide, concealing the body of a child, abduction of a person under 16 or abduction of a person under 14, administering a noxious substance, and enslaving a male or female into prostitution. Those are some of the crimes that will be hybridized and take away the discretion of a judge to be able to levy serious punishment for some of these serious crimes.
I sat at committee during some of the testimony relating to Bill C-75. I had the opportunity to sit through two sessions of that. Criminal defence lawyers who witnessed at committee offered that, while there were some good changes in Bill C-75, one of the key points that was missing from the bill was the filling of judicial vacancies and how that would help.
I heard the arguments of those across the way who are blaming the previous government. The Liberals want to put their record up against the record of the Conservatives. As our hon. colleague from Calgary Shepard so aptly put it, why are they always doing that?
The Liberals have been in government now for three years, yet they always say we should have seen it when the Conservatives had it or could we imagine if the NDP had it. However, their failures are their own. At times, the Minister of Justice has held records for the most judicial vacancies.
I will offer this for our hon. colleagues across the way who are going to point their fingers at us. The Jordan decision came about in July of 2016. We would think the Jordan decision would have spurred the minister on to fill those judicial vacancies. Why is that such a key issue? In rural communities such as mine and other areas right across Canada, it is tough to get a judge at times. What happens is that those cases get thrown out. Prolific offenders in some of our communities are the ones who are getting out and 90% of the crimes are committed by them.
The Liberals talk about being tough on crime. The Minister of Public Safety could not say the word “murder”. Now it is a bad practice. The people who are crossing our borders illegally are now crossing the border irregularly.
Also, that brings me to another point. With Bill C-75, I cannot call my wife a spouse anymore. The term is “intimate partner”. I have never introduced my wife that way. I think I would probably get slapped. That goes along the lines of the Prime Minister's comments about “peoplekind”. We cannot say “mankind” anymore. It is “peoplekind” He said he was joking. I doubt it.
Service Canada is changing the vocabulary on its forms. It is removing “father, mother, Mr. Miss, Mrs.” I do not know whether my colleagues have ever introduced their partners or spouses as their intimate partners. It is ridiculous. How far we have fallen? It is crazy.
The Liberals said they were going to do away with omnibus bills. Here we have a 350-page document that does not give opposition members an opportunity to fully engage. It does not give the electors who elect opposition members an opportunity to fully have a say.
The government has shown contempt for the House time and again by closure and by continuing to table these omnibus bills. It is quite shameful.
The Liberals like to say that they are consulting with Canadians. By that, they mean they will invite somebody to speak for seven minutes at committee, and that is consultation. They also like to say they work collaboratively across the floor with the opposition and that all parties have a say. However, we know that it is their way or the highway, that they know best. It really is quite shameful. What the Liberals are doing and saying behind closed doors is completely different than what they want their public image to be. I should probably watch what I am saying. Maybe the Prime Minister will not agree to take a picture with me now.
Bill C-75 is flawed legislation. We have heard it is rushed legislation.
I want to go back to some of the hybridized offences, such as polygamy, forced marriage and marriage under the age of 16. If Canadians are listening, that is right. Their government wants to make forced marriage and marriage under the age of 16 a hybridized offence. That is shameful. Canadians should be afraid of that and alarmed at what the government is doing. It is not standing up for victims and it is making it harder for police agencies to do their job. This legislation is flawed.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-11-08 16:34 [p.23481]
Madam Speaker, I was not referring to that part of legislation. I was referring to the fact that we cannot talk about our spouse anymore as a spouse and we have to use the term “intimate partner”. Violence against intimate partners, spouses or loved ones is shameful and wrong. I stand here unequivocally in support of what our colleague across the way has said. I question the terminology, not the law behind it.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-11-08 16:35 [p.23481]
Madam Speaker, I was not elected at the time so cannot comment on that. However, I can comment on the current Prime Minister and the current Minister of Public Safety's inability to get the job done and act when it matters the most. Instead, it took the family of Tori Stafford to come to Ottawa to publicly shame and beg the Prime Minister and minister to act, and that is shameful.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-11-08 16:37 [p.23481]
Madam Speaker, I was not going to touch on that because, as most in the House know, my brother Fabian was killed by a drunk driver on March 17, 1990. It is shameful what the government is doing. To hybridize bodily harm by impaired driving is shameful. It begs the question as to what the thoughts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving are on this, because it just revictimizes us and brings up the old wounds of those we have lost.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-11-02 12:17 [p.23209]
Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights concerning 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.
The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House, with amendments.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I completely reject the characterization by members opposite on Bill C-75, which is a comprehensive bill that seeks to address delays in the criminal justice system.
There is nothing in this legislation that would reduce sentences. There is nothing that would change the principles around sentencing, which take into account the gravity of the offence and the proportion responsibility of an offender.
We are not lowering sentences. We are providing prosecutors with the necessary discretion they need to move forward in the appropriate way given the circumstances of the particular case.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, without question, our hearts go out to the family of Constable Beckett in this tragedy.
I will say that our government is incredibly proud to have introduced and passed legislation that is among the toughest impaired driving laws in the world. I will say, with respect to Bill C-75, that it does not in any way, shape or form change the principles of sentencing, which are proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the grave responsibility of the offender.
What Bill C-75 does is that it gives prosecutors the necessary discretion to determine—
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 20:21 [p.20496]
Mr. Speaker, one of the parliamentary rights we have as members of Parliament is that we not need to yield to our whips. The member need not yield to his whip. He could continue to speak for 20 minutes. The Speaker recognized the member and there was no need for the member to yield when he had a 20-minute speech, and I am sure all 20 minutes are important. I regret that the power of whips over individual members in this place is so uniformly accepted. The member for Kitchener—Conestoga has graciously and without any particular reason yielded his spot to someone else.
I agree with him about the elimination of preliminary hearings. We may find that will create more delays. That has certainly been an early critique of this bill, that preliminary inquiries can speed up matters by allowing early decision-making about whether there is enough evidence and whether a case should proceed to trial.
I wonder if the member wants to expand on whether he thinks the government has gone too far in Bill C-75 by proposing to completely do away with preliminary inquiries.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 20:53 [p.20501]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak to Bill C-75 briefly.
I welcome the introduction of the end of peremptory challenges in jury trials. I am worried about removing the opportunity to cross-examine police officers during preliminary inquiries. I wonder if the member has any comments on that.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague and what I heard was a terrific amount of concern for people who have committed crimes. I know there have been many cases, and there has been one recently in my riding, where victims simply feel that justice has not been done.
I would like the member to explain how she can talk about some of the sentence reductions that would happen for very serious crimes and how she can face people in her riding who might be victims of these crimes and say that it is more important we deal with compassion for the people who commit the offences than those who are the victims.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-06-07 22:20 [p.20513]
Mr. Speaker, it is ironic that the Liberals put the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook up on a justice bill when, as we know in this House, I have been talking about the injustice of the minister's surf clam decision, where the minister arbitrarily took 25% of a quota and awarded it to none other than this member's brother. Therefore, my question is very short and sweet. I have asked the Prime Minister and the minister this question time and again. Where is the justice for the town of Grand Bank, and the hard-working families of Grand Bank, whose lives and jobs have potentially been put into question because this member's brother has been awarded a very lucrative quota by a very questionable decision?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-06-07 22:23 [p.20513]
Mr. Speaker, the complaints from the opposition are, once again, that the government, in its open and transparent way, has shuttered debate for the 41st time. It is all about the Prime Minister's broken promises, and so forth. There is relevance here.
The hon. colleague just mentioned that all the opposition members want to talk about is something that is not important. I would say on behalf of the hard-working people of the town of Grand Bank that the Arctic surf clam decision is important.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-06-07 22:25 [p.20513]
Mr. Speaker, I do. Prior to the point of order, I was getting to the point. All I was going to offer is that the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook had mentioned that all the opposition wants to do is talk about things that are not important. I just wanted to offer an opportunity for the member of Parliament to retract those comments, because I would offer that the comment that I made earlier is very important to the town of Grand Bank.
View Pam Goldsmith-Jones Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on the serious matter of judicial appointments. Since elected, our government has taken significant steps to ensure that the process for appointing judges is transparent and accountable to Canadians and promotes greater diversity on the bench. At the same time, we recognize the challenges courts face with respect to court delays, which have come under heightened scrutiny since the Supreme Court of Canada's Jordan decision.
We have demonstrated that we are committed to responding to these challenges by introducing Bill C-75. This bill promises substantive reform that will fundamentally address delays, and modernize our justice system.
Let me assure the member opposite that the minister is very mindful of the effect judicial vacancies can have on the effective operation of a court. The minister is absolutely committed to ensuring that the most meritorious candidates are appointed to the bench to meet the needs of all Canadians.
Since elected, our government has appointed or elevated 183 judges to superior courts across the country, including five in Saskatchewan, and today, the diversity of our appointments is unprecedented. Under our government, 57% of appointed or elevated judges are women, compared to just 32% under the previous government.
Our government is committed to continuing to strengthen our judiciary. Budget 2017 created funding for 28 new federally appointed judges. Using this funding, the minister has appointed judges to new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, with more such appointments to come.
Through budget 2018, we are creating 46 new judicial positions, including a judge for the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. This new position would respond directly and positively to a request from Saskatchewan. This additional judge would assist that court, the highest court in the province, to address a growing number of civil and criminal appeals as well as increasingly complex matters. The amendment to add this position to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal is currently before Parliament in Bill C-74.
Fundamental to the judicial appointments process are the judicial advisory committees. They evaluate the applications of those who have put their names forward for judicial appointment and provide lists of highly recommended candidates to the Minister of Justice. As a result of the changes we introduced, the JACs are now more balanced and inclusive. We also made changes to help achieve a more representative bench, with a broader diversity of backgrounds and experience, allowing candidates to speak to their own understanding and experience of Canada's diverse makeup. We also increased our ability to validate candidates' bilingual capacity.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a question about mandatory minimums. A lot of this bill's intent is to clear up court backlogs. Mandatory minimums are the cause of 68% of court challenges in the country. Despite the Liberals having promised to do this for years, they have not addressed mandatory minimums in the legislation. Therefore, when will the government finally address this issue?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 21:41 [p.20319]
Mr. Speaker, while there is much in Bill C-75 that I support, particularly getting rid of peremptory challenges in choosing juries, I am very disturbed by the changes being proposed to section 657 of the Criminal Code. I cannot imagine how this came so far. I hope the hon. member knows I am referring to changes that will mean police officers need not be on the witness stand, available to a defence attorney who sent word to cross-examine those police officers. They could submit an affidavit or previously submitted evidence.
The credibility of a police officer on the stand very often is the difference between an innocent person going to jail or not. This has been universally condemned by the criminal laws. Was there any consultation on this? Is it a mistake? Could it be changed at committee? I hope the answer is that this was a mistake.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 22:07 [p.20323]
Mr. Speaker, I have concerns about parts of this bill, but I see much in it that is welcome and important.
Does my hon. friend from Bow River not agree that doing away with peremptory challenges would help create fairer juries for the accused? I do not know if he has any thoughts on the Colten Boushie case, but we do need to do better in this country in having juries that are able to fairly assess a criminally accused.
I do not want to comment on a particular case, but clearly this is an important reform.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 22:22 [p.20325]
Mr. Speaker, I have touched on a few other aspects of Bill C-75, and I certainly agree with my hon. colleague that doing more to deal with intimate partner violence is critical.
I am troubled that the bill would eliminate preliminary inquiries. A preliminary inquiry is typically a time when the defence gets to test the evidence. It is something of a dry run or dress rehearsal for what is going to come at trial, and it allows the defence to properly prepare and may even lead to deciding not to proceed to trial because the evidence is too weak.
I do not understand the rationale for eliminating preliminary inquiries, all for efficiency. It is trampling the rights of the accused, who may be innocent, in the interest of efficiency. At least that is how I see it right now, standing here tonight.
I would love to know what the defence and rationale is for getting rid of preliminary inquiries.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 22:26 [p.20326]
Mr. Speaker, it is a rare opportunity that I get to follow up with a question for the hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville.
I understand that the benefit of going to trial faster is that it may make things easier on victims of crime. I care deeply about victims of crime and wish the previous government had followed all the recommendations of the ombudsman for victims of crime. However, there is nothing more important in the criminal justice system than the presumption of innocence and the right of the accused to a fair trial. If we eliminate preliminary inquiries, and innocent people go to jail, is that not a factor that should weigh in the consideration of the benefits of eliminating preliminary inquiries?
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2018-06-05 22:27 [p.20326]
Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville for sharing his time with me and for his eloquent speech, particularly on the topic of intimate partner violence, which is a reality in the part of the country I come from. He covered it very well.
I am very proud to rise today to speak on Bill C-75. This legislation builds on our commitment to build safer and stronger neighbourhoods by making necessary investments in our police forces, reforming our criminal justice system, and supporting victims of addiction. As the member of Parliament for Surrey—Newton, I have listened to the priorities of my constituents about being tough on guns and gangs and making sure those deserving of full weight of the justice system receive it, and those needing our support and assistance receive it as well.
We have taken many great steps to accomplish this. For instance, in budget 2018, we announced over $300 million to be spent in the next five years and $100 million per year after that to support the RCMP, the CBSA, and other public safety agencies in cracking down on illegal trafficking of guns and drugs. We have invested over $180 million to help the RCMP recruit and train more cadets that it can continue to keep our growing cities safe. We have also taken action to support victims of substance abuse with the development of supervised injection sites across Canada, a model that began in Vancouver and that shows that with a compassionate and pragmatic approach, we can make a real difference in people's lives and keep our streets safe.
With this bill, we recognize that action must be taken to ensure that our court system moves quickly to hold offenders to account and to protect victims. In the past decade, Canada's court system has been burdened with administrative offences, as well as longer and more complex cases. These delays were cited by the Supreme Court as unacceptable and, therefore, it has established strict timelines that cases have to adhere to or risk being stayed. This is unacceptable to victims, and that is why our government, the Prime Minister, and the minister responsible have brought this bill forward.
This bill would make several key changes to the culture in our court system, beginning with limiting the use of of preliminary inquiries to more serious offences to ensure that criminal cases can proceed more quickly to trial; strengthening our response to intimate partner violence; streamlining the bail process to ensure swift access to justice; providing judges with the more robust tools they need to manage the cases before them; improving the jury selection process to ensure that juries are more representative of the Canadian population; providing more discretion on administration of justice offences; and reclassifying offences to allow courts to deal more efficiently with less serious matters, freeing up limited resources for more serious offences.
I want to touch on some of the key reforms in this bill, beginning with the changes to the administration of justice offences. These are acts such as failing to comply with bail conditions or failing to appear in court. These offences are unrelated to public safety, but, nevertheless, burden individuals with unnecessary and significant delays.
Nearly 40% of all adult cases involve at least one of these administrative charges. Therefore, this bill proposes a new approach. Police would retain the option to lay a new charge for the breach or failure to appear where appropriate. However, if the offence did not involve physical or emotional harm to a victim, property damage, or economic loss, the police would have an additional option of referring the accused to a judicial referral hearing.
We are also making changes to protect victims of domestic violence by ensuring that more offenders are brought to justice. Bill C-75 proposes a higher sentencing range for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence. It would broaden the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating partners and former partners, and clearly specifies that evidence of intimate partner abuse is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
The last area of reform I want to speak about is selection. The defining value of our country is our respect for equality and commitment to promoting multiculturalism, but we continually need to do more to make sure that this value remains in place, and one of those areas that has long gone unchanged is our justice system.
It is a fact that we have lower levels of representation of indigenous and minority communities in juries, and that needs to change to ensure the integrity of the justice system. That is why we are bringing in this reform. Abolishing challenges and reinforcing the power of judges to “stand aside” certain jurors in order to increase diversity and giving judges the power to decide challenges for cause will bring more fairness and transparency to the system and encourage juries that are more representative of our communities.
In closing, there are few things more important than making sure that our neighbourhoods are safe for families and our children. Whether it is making sure that we have more police officers on the ground, laws that target guns on our streets, or supporting victims of addiction, we need to keep finding new solutions for the safety of our nation. I believe this bill does that.
With a court system that is more efficient, transparent, and fair, we will uphold its integrity, hold offenders to account, and protect victims. For these reasons, I look forward to seeing all members support this bill.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 22:36 [p.20327]
Madam Speaker, the bill is very disappointing for those of us on the opposition benches who sat through the 41st Parliament. We saw a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system by the previous government in ways that undermined our criminal justice system, overloaded our jails, and passed the cost on to the provinces, and here I speak of the mandatory minimums.
Mandatory minimums were added to many things. I opposed them at the time, and I really did expect that the current Minister of Justice would take on this issue of mandatory minimums head-on. Now we have Bill C-75, which is fairly voluminous, but it ignores this substantial issue that is crying out for reform.
I wonder if my hon. colleague has any idea why we do not see the removal of the mandatory minimum sentences that are sprinkled throughout our criminal system. Many of them have now been struck down by the Supreme Court. Surely we should be acting to remove them.
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2018-06-05 22:37 [p.20327]
Madam Speaker, when the leader of the Green Party was talking about the previous Harper Conservative government, I remembered that their focus was on building jails. On the other hand, when we look at our government, it is using a balanced approach. On one side we want to make sure that we have a justice system that deals with criminals, but on the other hand we want to make sure that we have the programs in place that can rehabilitate offenders, that can educate, and that we have enough police forces on the ground to deal with this situation.
When it comes to minimum mandatory sentencing, I believe there should be strong sentences. Victims deserve that justice. In fact, this is the bill that helps those victims get justice by bringing it—
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2018-06-05 22:40 [p.20327]
Madam Speaker, when it comes to the hon. member's question about hybridization, we are putting this system in place to speed up the justice system. The crown has a tendency of picking up the more serious cases, and to pick up the stream. It has to have a triage system. That is how this will become a faster system. Instead, the more serious crimes are waiting in line and are taking longer.
This is what the Supreme Court wants and it is why we are bringing in this system. This system will be more efficient and bring justice to the victims.
View Wayne Stetski Profile
NDP (BC)
View Wayne Stetski Profile
2018-06-05 22:49 [p.20329]
Madam Speaker, I have a question, and I really do not know whether you will have an answer or not.
View Wayne Stetski Profile
NDP (BC)
View Wayne Stetski Profile
2018-06-05 22:49 [p.20329]
I will do it sideways. As a question for you, I was in court with a constituent recently—
Some hon. members: It is question for the member.
Mr. Wayne Stetski: The question is for the member, absolutely.
I was in a court with a constituent recently, and the woman ahead of us was standing before the judge. She was charged with two counts of shoplifting. The judge said to her, “I haven't seen you for a while. You've lost a lot of weight.” She said, “Yes, Your Honour, I've lost about 80 pounds. I'm starving. I'm trying to live on disability of about $900 a month.”
She had shoplifted in a food store in Cranbrook and she had shoplifted some clothing from a Walmart store. The judge said, “I understand your taking the food, but I don't understand why you stole the clothes.” She said, “My other clothes wouldn't fit, Your Honour. I lost 80 pounds.” The judge looked at her and said, “I don't know what to do with you.”
Could the member tell us if there is anything in this legislation that would help the judge decide what to do in situations like that?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 23:04 [p.20331]
Madam Speaker, I wonder if there is any sign from the government that the bill will receive due consideration and will not be rushed through committee. I heard the hon. member for Mount Royal say a moment ago that there was an invitation to encourage people to be witnesses.
Recently, and particularly on the omnibus bill, Bill C-69, we went through rushed hearings during which we could not hear from many witnesses and we could not debate all the amendments during clause-by-clause consideration.
I will not go through the many examples of that, but could the member assure the House that the bill will be thoroughly studied? We are at second reading. I think we can all agree that it does some good things, but it needs a lot of work. Is that possible at this point? I thank the member for any light he can shine on that process question.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-05 23:47 [p.20337]
Madam Speaker, my question is in relation to the kind of consultation that went into this bill. I have raised a number of concerns. Primarily the concerns I have had in reading the bill myself have been echoed when I have looked at the commentary from members of the criminal bar, particularly the Criminal Lawyers' Association, which said that the association was not consulted at all. In bringing forward fundamental reforms to the criminal justice system, I would have thought that the members of the practising bar would have been part of a consultation process.
I wonder if the hon. member can tell me what will be done in committee to ensure that, rather belatedly, we hear from people who are doing this work day to day.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand to speak about Bill C-75, which will address delays and efficiencies in the criminal justice system.
The member opposite spoke about the reclassification provisions in terms of the reforms that were proposed. It is simply untrue that we are changing the sentencing regime. We are hybridizing offences, but providing prosecutors with additional tools.
I would like to ask my friend across the way what he feels about the provisions in terms of intimate partner violence, where we are supporting those victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in this bill. Does he not support that?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raised a number of issues.
It is clear that there is a challenge with delays in the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court of Canada has challenged all of the actors in the criminal justice system to make substantive changes, to effect a culture shift. That is what we are doing with Bill C-75. Members on this side of the House have spoken. Members of the NDP have spoken. It is clear that members of the official opposition are trying to delay if not prevent second reading debate on this most important piece of legislation. It is my suggestion that we get this piece of legislation to committee, and that is what we are doing, so we can ensure that we have continued debate on this important piece of legislation to answer the Supreme Court of Canada's call.
With respect to my hon. colleague's discussions, I would be very cautious of the hon. member across the way raising impaired driving when the Conservatives have proposed removing mandatory alcohol screening from this most important piece of legislation and that would actually gut Bill C-46. We are trying to ensure there is safety on the roads. I am more than happy to talk about why we are reclassifying offences.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, when private members' bills are put forward, we consider them closely. I recognize the challenges posed by gambling and the need to address this issue. We considered that private member's bill closely.
We are now talking about Bill C-75, which would address significant delays in the criminal justice system. I am hopeful that we will have the support of all members of the House to move forward with this most important piece of legislation.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-05-29 21:07 [p.19858]
Mr. Speaker, this is the third time today that we have been dealing with a motion before the House to cut off debate. The Liberal Party spent the entire last Parliament crying every single time the government of the day moved forward with time allocation. Now the Liberals have done the same thing three times in the same day, cutting off debate of the opposition after only three speakers were heard on this particular legislation.
The minister is a new member of Parliament. I wonder if she is proud of the fact that her government has implemented closure, cutting off debate three times in a single day.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, new member or not, I am incredibly proud of the work our government has done. I am incredibly proud to introduce Bill C-75, which answers the Supreme Court of Canada's call to address delays in the criminal justice system. We are making every effort.
Members across the way continue to ask me questions about delays and why we have not done anything about delays. I would assume that they will not cut off second reading debate and actually support this legislation and get it to committee so we can have the necessary discussions and debate and proposed amendments.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would hope that all members of the House take delays in the criminal justice system seriously.
We have put forward Bill C-75 with a huge amount of consideration and consultation to ensure that we have the provinces and territories on board with the bold reforms we have proposed. We have had consultation across the country via round tables. The Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs has submitted a substantive report, and many of their recommendations are contained in Bill C-75. These bold reforms are necessary.
I look to the members across the way to ensure that we do everything we can to answer the Supreme Courts of Canada's call and to make these necessary changes. If we get this bill to committee, we can have the necessary conversations and debate to ensure that we put the best piece of legislation forward.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand up to speak to the measures we propose putting into place via Bill C-75. This is a very comprehensive piece of legislation that deserves the necessary discussion and debate, including from defence counsel, when it arrives in committee. I look forward to that dialogue and discussion.
I certainly recognize that this is a very large bill, but it deals with measures to amend the Criminal Code. Amending the Criminal Code is its theme. I would reference my hon. colleague across the way when he was talking about section 159 in what was then Bill C-32. This has been amalgamated into Bill C-75, and it is a necessary provision that needs to be repealed.
We are entirely supportive of all the provisions in Bill C-75 and we look forward—
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, one gets the sense that someone in the government House leader's office looked at the parliamentary calendar and suddenly started panicking when they saw how much time they had left.
That aside, Bill C-75 is like a giant amoeba: it has swallowed three previous justice bills, one of which had swallowed another bill. We now have four previous justice bills in Bill C-75.
The Minister of Justice came to power with a very strong mandate to reform our criminal justice system. If that is the case, why did she let those four previous justice bills languish at first reading for so long, and only now, in the third year of her mandate, move ahead with Bill C-75 and cutting off Parliament's ability to properly debate this bill?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, members on this side of the House have had the opportunity to speak to Bill C-75. It is my understanding that the members from the New Democratic Party have had the opportunity to speak to this legislation. The members of the official opposition have refused to speak to the bill, and they want to cut off second reading debate.
The member opposite is correct in that we amalgamated a number of justice bills, which represent very important pieces of potential legislation around the victim fine surcharge, around human trafficking, and around phase one of the charter cleanup, which includes section 159. These are incredibly important pieces of legislation that would amend the Criminal Code. We have put them into Bill C-75, which speaks to efficiencies and effectiveness.
This is an important piece of legislation that deserves a debate in committee.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, so far I have been completely unimpressed with this minister's justification for pushing this bill forward so quickly.
I have a great respect for the legal community. When New Zealand had a major reform of its criminal justice system, it took five years for it to go through a process in which the legal community was able to sort out what things should go forward. It was actually a very good process for that country.
On the contrary, this minister has not given the legal community that kind of consultation. Worse than that, the Parliament of Canada deserves to have input and a say in these kinds of matters before the bill goes to committee. Why is she shutting out members of Parliament? Does she not think that members on this side or on that side have something to say about justice reforms that she is carrying out without proper consultation with this place?
Results: 1 - 100 of 134 | Page: 1 of 2

1
2
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data