Thanks to all of the witnesses—so many witnesses, so little time.
I want to first, if I may, just do a shout-out to Professor Parkes, whom I won't have time to ask a question of. Congratulations on your editorial in The Globe and Mail yesterday on the impact of mandatory minimum sentences, particularly on indigenous people. It was great, and thank you for introducing the term “sentence creep” to our vocabulary.
Ms. Cirillo, I just want to say, as a proud alumnus of the Downtown Legal Services, I know first-hand the important work that you people do. Thank you for doing it and for shining a light on what, I agree with all of you, is an unintended consequence of Bill C-75, that's to say, essentially shutting you out of the provincial court where you do such great work.
In a moment, I'll come back to you with solutions I'd like to get your take on, but I want to remind people of the quote I took from your excellent submission:
The unintended consequence of Bill C-75 would further exacerbate the access to justice issues facing Ontario criminal courts. SLASS clinics have worked for decades representing individuals charged with criminal summary offences, providing effective and efficient representation for those who would otherwise find themselves unrepresented in the criminal justice system. This bill will put an abrupt end to this legacy.
I couldn't have put it better than that.
Ms. Taman, if I could, I want to ask you a few questions. Thank you for the chart you gave us. I wish we had it when we started this little odyssey a few weeks ago.
In respect of the hybridization issue, you talked about the 136 indictable offences being hybridized, and you made an argument that I don't think had ever been made to our committee before. You said that part of the bill is the potential to significantly limit the accused's existing statutory right to elect to be tried by judge and jury and the effective shifting of this choice from the accused to the Crown. I don't think we've heard that before.
Well, if I may, so what? I understand the accused would lose that choice, but isn't it arguably in his or her best interest to go to a trial with a lower maximum penalty? If the person were to be tried by a jury in a higher court, they would likely be gambling on a harsher penalty. Is that a fair comment?