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Results: 1 - 100 of 435
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I did stand, and if it was not registered, I am registering yea.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as a proud indigenous person from the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach people of northern Vancouver Island who has an understanding of her own language, Kwak'wala, I understand the importance of maintaining indigenous languages and ensuring that they last into the future.
I listened to the hon. member's comments, and I think about the lost opportunity that we have to create the space and create the foundation for transformative change in indigenous communities.
Many people and many members in the House have talked about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is in the preamble of the bill and which speaks to the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples, including languages, which, as an indigenous person, I know are central to our well-being.
Would the member agree that it would be more important to put the minimum standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into the body of the legislation, thereby creating the space for rights recognition and ensuring the longevity and sustainability of indigenous languages?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the record show that I abstained from voting on that matter. The reason for my abstention is that the matter, in part, has to do with me personally, and I do not think it is appropriate for me to vote on a matter that has to do with me personally.
I have said that I am seeking counsel on this matter of what I can and cannot say. I understand fully that Canadians want to know the truth and want transparency. Privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive, and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member across the way for joining me in the chamber this morning as we conducted the closing ceremonies.
To the member's question, as the member knows, our benefits are demand driven, so no matter how many veterans come forward, when eligible they will receive their benefits. These are based on estimates, and this process guarantees that whether veterans come forward this year, next year or beyond, they will receive benefits.
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 Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, three separate reports and a summary report on “State of Knowledge on Medical Assistance in Dying for Mature Minors, Advance Requests, and Where a Mental Disorder Is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition”.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the comments by my friend and colleague across the way. My favourite parliamentary procedure, one of the favourite duties I have in this place, is passing good laws that are informed by robust consultation.
I believe the member for Winnipeg North would agree with me that we have had substantial debate on Bill C-51. The bill benefited from the very direct engagement of the hon. members in the other place. We have taken serious account of their message back and have recognized that their proposed amendment is well intentioned. We are committed to continuing to work with the hon. senators and Canadians generally, as we seek to move forward and look at the law of consent and the incapacity to consent. This is something on which there will be ongoing discussion, dialogue and commitment by our government.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way sat on the justice and human rights committee, which has debated many justice bills.
As for the member's characterization of parliamentary tactics, the only parliamentary tactic I employ and that our government employs is to work as co-operatively as we can with all members in the House to have informed debate about particular bills the government puts forward, seeking feedback from hon. members in this place and the other place and valuing the work done at committee.
With respect to all the justice bills that have been advanced, we have been working expeditiously to move forward with Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75 so that we clean up the so-called zombie provisions and the unconstitutional provisions. I would look to all hon. colleagues in this place to work with us to make sure that these pieces of legislation move forward as expeditiously as possible.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the comments and questions from my colleague across the way with respect to the then Bill C-39, which is now incorporated in the broad criminal justice reforms contained within Bill C-75.
I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this place and is in the other place for debate and discussion. We look forward to its deliberations with respect to these very important and bold reforms presented in Bill C-75. I would look to all members in the House to assist in encouraging the members in the other place to proceed in an expeditious fashion so that the provisions the member opposite references will be passed as part of Bill C-75 and we can remove those provisions from the Criminal Code.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to unequivocally state that I do not agree with the member opposite's characterization of the work we are doing.
I will say, with respect to his comments about shutting down debate and discussion, that with respect to the issue at hand, Bill C-51, this House has debated Bill C-51 for a total of 10 and a half hours, including three hours of debate on the message from the other place. The Senate debated Bill C-51 for four hours. It benefited from a total of 19.5 hours of study at committee, between the House and the Senate, which heard from 63 witnesses.
We are talking about Bill C-51. I look forward to having this become law so we can ensure that we codify the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. J.A., that we further support sexual assault victims and that we ensure that we can move forward with charter statements that will be introduced with all government legislation once this bill becomes law.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, of course, I reject the characterization of the significant work our government is doing to move forward with many pieces of significant legislation and to look to this House and to Canadians for input, debate and discussion on how we can move forward with what our government has committed to in terms of law reform.
To characterize this as last-minute, reflects the lack of importance the member opposite places on engaging with Canadians, having robust discussion, and listening to committees and hearing their recommendations and incorporating them to improve government bills.
This is a commitment our government will continue to follow to ensure that our laws benefit from the vast experience, in this case, of criminal justice stakeholders and victims groups. We will not disregard that. We have been working in a consistent manner, from day one, to ensure that our legislation, the bills we introduce in this place, reflects the desires of Canadians. It is our responsibility to ensure that these bills move forward in the most expeditious manner possible.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of reintroducing the Criminal Code, I am incredibly proud to be part of a government that has taken action, which has not been taken for decades, as the member mentioned, to ensure that we have a modernized Criminal Code, that we remove the unconstitutional provisions, the zombie provisions, that we update the laws around sexual assault and intimate partner violence and that we look at the victim fine surcharge as well as section 159. All of these are issues raised in government bills the member opposite has spoken to.
We are moving forward with comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, and that starts with looking, in a substantial manner, at the Criminal Code. This is what we have sought to do and what is contained in Bill C-51 and also in Bill C-75.
I look forward these two pieces of proposed legislation becoming law so that we can do what has not been done for far too long, which is modernize the Criminal Code.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, when we formed government, we could have, as has been suggested here by members opposite, introduced legislation to do what potentially we knew needed to be done. However, we sought to engage broadly to get feedback to ensure that the commitments the Prime Minister asked me to address in terms of a robust review of the criminal justice system, including sentencing reform, were done in a manner that was reflective of what Canadians were saying and what the actors in the criminal justice system were saying.
We engaged right across the country in a series of many round tables in each jurisdiction to get feedback from not only defence counsel, prosecutors and the judiciary but from victims groups. I also engaged in three separate federal, provincial and territorial meetings with my counterparts to come up with the bold and necessary reforms we make to address delays, efficiencies, and effectiveness in the criminal justice system.
As well, we had forums where we talked about sexual assault and what we could do in terms of improving the laws around sexual assault and making them compliant with the Supreme Court of Canada decisions. We did this in consultation with actors in the criminal justice system, victims and representative groups not only here in Ottawa but across the country. We provided a report on our consultations entitled “What we heard”.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I believe I understand the member's question. With respect to section 176, he characterized it as backing down, but what we did is we listened to what the committee members sought to say around religious officiants and we recognized the recommendation in terms of the amendments that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made and acknowledged that and accepted that. We did make some amendments to ensure that this reflected all religious officiants as opposed to the confined way it was drafted in terms of the amendments that were proposed at the House committee. Basically the answer is that we listened to what the House of Commons committee said. That is the importance of committees in this place that we take incredibly seriously.
In terms of hybridization of offences, we are proposing in Bill C-75, which is not the bill at issue here today, a number of offences to be hybridized, to contribute to the broad and bold criminal justice reforms that will address delays, efficiencies and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. By hybridizing certain offences, it gives prosecutors the ability to exercise their discretion and proceed in terms of criminal charges in the most expeditious manner as appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member for Durham raising charter statements because one of the significant pieces of Bill C-51, when hopefully it becomes law, is it will be a direct responsibility of the government to introduce a charter statement with each piece of government legislation.
I would be happy to speak with the member for Durham at any time, not necessarily in the House, about the robust legislation and activities of the Department of Justice. I would extend that invitation to him.
In terms of charter statements, they are the responsibility of the Minister of Justice to look at government legislation. Charter statements are not legal opinions, but they detail where the charter is potentially engaged by a piece of legislation that the government is putting forward. It provides a window into how government decisions are made or the thought processes that government went through in terms of putting forward a piece of legislation. This is something that has not been done before. This is something that is contained within Bill C-51. With the coming into force of that bill, the charter statements will be applicable to all pieces of government legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again to the question and comments of my colleague across the way with respect to section 159 and the legislation that has now been put into Bill C-75, removing this provision in the Criminal Code is a priority of our government, as are all of the provisions contained within Bill C-75. I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this House and will be debated and discussed in the other place. I look forward to the results of the deliberations from the other place.
I would say that we are committed to ensuring that Bill C-75 moves through the parliamentary process, benefits from the parliamentary process and becomes law as soon as possible. From what I can account for from the member's comments is that there are major pieces within Bill C-75, if not the entirety of Bill C-75, that are in the interest of moving forward and amending the Criminal Code and addressing the issues that have been raised by members in this place.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again I am pleased to stand up and speak to the charter statement, which is a very substantial part of Bill C-51. I have, as the Minister of Justice, introduced charter statements with each piece of government legislation that I have introduced in this place. I will say that charter statements are meant to be informative. Charter statements are meant to make the thoughts and the thinking behind government legislation accessible to Canadians, not to provide legal advice to Canadians or legal advice to this place. As the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General and the chief law officer of the government, I provide legal advice to the government.
What I believe is incredibly useful, and I have had feedback in this regard, is to have a discussion about where the charter is engaged with respect to specific pieces of legislation and to reference case law that has considered the issues in terms of specific charter sections to give an idea or window into government legislation and where the charter may or may not be implicated. This is the idea behind this. Again, it is not legal advice.
I will not comment on comments that were made by the hon. members of the other place, but I take great pride in ensuring that our charter statements provide the information and the accessibility not only to members in Parliament but to Canadians generally. This is a practice that will continue. This is a practice that has assisted in terms of getting a window into the eyes of where the charter is implicated in terms of government legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a charter statement for Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting).
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved:
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that the House respectfully disagrees with amendments 1 and 2 made by the Senate to Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, as they are inconsistent with the Bill’s objective of codifying Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence on a narrow aspect of the law on sexual assault and instead seek to legislate a different, much more complex legal issue, without the benefit of consistent guidance from appellate courts or a broad range of stakeholder perspectives.
She said: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand to speak to Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act, and to respond to the amendments from the other place in this regard. It is a particular honour for me to stand to speak to the bill on white ribbon day, which, as we heard, commemorates the massacre that occurred in Montreal 29 years ago today.
As part of my mandate commitments I have been reviewing the criminal justice system with a view to ensuring that it is meeting its objectives and maintaining public safety. My review is also intended to ensure our criminal justice system is fair, relevant, efficient and accessible, that it meets the needs of its victims, respects an accused's right to a fair trial and is better able to respond to the causes and consequences of offending.
These are broad and important objectives, so our government has approached these tasks in phases. In Bill C-39, we removed passages and repealed provisions in the Criminal Code that had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, so that the law as written reflected the law as applied.
In Bill C-46, we significantly modernized Canada's impaired driving laws in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to provide law enforcement with the resources they need to effectively detect and prosecute impaired driving.
In Bill C-75, we seek to tackle the delays that are encumbering our courts.
Today, with Bill C-51, we continue to build on our government's commitment to reviewing the criminal justice system and to making all aspects of the criminal law fairer, clearer and more accessible to Canadians. In particular, the bill seeks to modernize the Criminal Code by repealing or amending provisions that courts have found unconstitutional or that raise unavoidable charter risk.
The bill also aims to ensure that offences in the Criminal Code continue to reflect today's society and its values. To that end the bill removes a number of obsolete or redundant criminal offences that no longer have a place in our criminal law.
Further, the bill creates amendments to the Department of Justice Act. Pursuant to these amendments, the Minister of Justice would have a statutory duty for every government bill to table in Parliament a statement that sets out the bill's potential effects on the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the charter. For every one of the bills I have tabled, I have tabled charter statements. These amendments would provide greater openness and transparency about the effects of government legislation on charter rights.
Finally, the bill seeks to clarify and strengthen the law on sexual assault in order to prevent misapplication of the law and to help make the criminal justice system fairer and more compassionate toward complainants in sexual assault matters.
The importance of these reforms cannot be overstated, and I would like to recognize and acknowledge all those who have been subject to sexual assault and gender-based violence. Sexual assault is a serious problem in Canada. It affects communities across the country and across all social and economic barriers, and it remains a significant barrier to women's equality.
Addressing violence against women is an issue of the utmost importance to me and to our government as a whole. We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our criminal justice system is responsive to the needs of sexual assault victims. To that end, we have provided significant funding for judicial education relating to sexual assault law, so that judges are better educated on this crucial area of law.
We have also made millions of dollars available through the victims fund to enhance the criminal justice system's response to sexual violence. These resources support important work such as pilot projects in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to provide four free hours of independent legal advice to victims of sexual assault.
It is through efforts like these, as well as those contained in Bill C-51, that we are working to effect a culture shift in our criminal justice system and to foster an environment where sexual assault complainants feel empowered to come forward for justice and support.
We should be proud that Canadian laws around sexual assault are robust and comprehensive, even more so with the proposed steps set out in Bill C-51. However, we must also recognize that more work lies ahead, and we must continue to strive for further improvements. In short, we must continue to work to reduce the incidence of sexual assault in Canada and to ensure more victims feel encouraged to come forward and report their experiences to police.
To that end, Bill C-51 would make important changes to strengthen the law of sexual assault. These changes include creating a new regime governing the admissibility of evidence in the hands of an accused, where the evidence is a complainant's private record.
In addition to the strengthening the law of sexual assault, Bill C-51 would also clarify the law. It would do so by making clear that consent must be affirmatively expressed by words or actively expressed through conduct. This principle codifies the Supreme Court of Canada's 1999 Ewanchuk decision, and makes it explicit that there is no consent unless the complainant said “yes” through her words or her conduct. Passivity is not consent, and “no” does not mean “yes”.
Finally, as introduced, Bill C-51 proposes to clarify one aspect of the law pertaining to consent or capacity to consent to sexual activity by codifying the Supreme Court of Canada's 2011 decision in J.A. In J.A., the Supreme Court held that an unconscious person is not capable of providing consent to sexual activity. Therefore, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to state explicitly that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting, but also to clarify that a person may be incapable of consenting for reasons other than unconsciousness.
To pause for a moment, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the other place for their very careful study of Bill C-51. While the other place supported most of the bill, it adopted amendments related to the determination of a complainant's incapacity to consent to sexual activity in the context of sexual assault.
By way of background, many stakeholders welcomed Bill C-51's proposed sexual assault reforms after its introduction. Some offered suggestions concerning the elaboration of the Criminal Code consent provisions to reflect J.A. In part, those witnesses argued that the J.A. decision stands for a broader proposition. They noted that the court held that our consent law requires ongoing conscious consent and that partners need to be capable of asking their partner to stop at any point.
In other words, they suggested that the bill should be amended to reflect an additional principle articulated by the Supreme Court in J.A. to the effect that consent must be contemporaneous with the sexual activity in question.
After hearing from a number of witnesses on the question, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights agreed, and amended to clarify that consent must be present at the time the sexual activity in question takes place. Our government agreed with that point, and we were happy to see that the justice committee amended Bill C-51 at that time so it would codify this broader principle in J.A. Doing so was in keeping with the objectives of the bill, including to ensure that the criminal law is clear and reflects the law as applied.
However, some stakeholders offered additional suggestions concerning our proposed codification of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in J.A. They suggested that the provision that would codify that no consent is obtained if a complainant is unconscious be entirely removed. While the House committee did not amend the legislation to this effect, the other place nonetheless proceeded to adopt amendments that would eliminate this provision.
In its stead, the other place proposed a list of factors to guide the court in determining when a complainant is incapable of consenting.
According to the proposed amendments, complainants are incapable of consenting if they are unable to: one, understand the nature, circumstances, risks and consequences of the sexual activity; two, understand they have the choice to engage in the sexual activity; or three, affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity in words or active conduct.
I would like to be clear. I agree that courts could benefit from guidance in making determinations on a complainant's incapacity to consent when she or he is conscious. The proposed amendments underscore some very significant issues in the area of consent. I also agree that intoxication, short of unconsciousness, represents challenges in the adjudication of sexual assault cases.
For one, as Bill C-51 specifically recognizes, incapacity applies to a broad range of cases well beyond those in which intoxication is an issue. This is an important conversation that we must continue to have. It is for this reason that I plan to consult with a variety of stakeholders on this issue moving forward to determine whether further action is helpful with respect to our common goals and if so, how this might be effectively accomplished.
In taking the time we need to get this right, we recognize just how complex the law of consent is. There is no clear guidance from the Supreme Court or other appellate courts to which we can turn for an exhaustive definition of what incapacity means. In addition, because Bill C-51 proposes to legislate on a very narrow aspect of the law of consent, more detailed guidance and specific instructions on this further issue are needed from stakeholders, as well as those who would be impacted by the further changes in this area. Without this guidance, the risk of unintended consequences is very real.
Moreover, the amendments made in the other place on this issue, though very laudable in their aim, unfortunately do not assist courts in adjudicating incapacity cases. For one, the amendments focus on concerns that arise in cases where the complainant is conscious but intoxicated. As a result, our government has concerns about the potential impact of the amendments on the law governing incapacity to consent in other types of incapacity cases, including those where incapacity is due to a more stable state, such as individuals living with cognitive impairment.
I also wish to note a couple of points concerning the way the courts currently treat these issues.
First, appellate decisions show that a complainant's ability to understand that he or she has a choice to engage in sexual activity or not is determinative of incapacity. However, it is not clear from the existing case law whether the other elements proposed in the amendments are determinative of incapacity or merely factors to be taken into consideration, supported by circumstantial evidence in assessing capacity.
For example, in overturning the Al-Rawi trial decision earlier this year, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rejected incapacity to communicate as a determinative test for incapacity to consent. As a result, courts may well have difficulty interpreting the proposed provision.
Furthermore, the amendments' proposed factors focus solely on elements that are internal to the complainant and may lead some courts to overlook relevant circumstantial evidence in the determination of incapacity. Though the complainant's subjective state is important, there is a risk that the amendments will lead courts to overlook other evidence that bears on the complainant's capacity. This was also an error of the trial court in this case, as noted by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
The amendments adopted in the other place would also prohibit drawing inferences about the complainant's capacity to consent to the sexual activity at issue from evidence of capacity to consent at the time of another sexual activity. These amendments simply restate a well-settled principle of law, which is already proposed for codification in Bill C-51. That principle is that consent must be contemporaneous with the sexual activity in question. This principle applies equally to capacity to consent. Each allegation of sexual assault must be considered on its own merits. The law is clear in this regard and the bill already proposes to codify it.
In short, the proposed changes are well-intentioned, but will not achieve their aim and, in fact, carry great risk of unintended consequences in what is a difficult yet critical area of law. Sexual assault law is too important to leave any room for error. If the definition of incapacity is to be provided, it is imperative we get it right.
If we are to alter this complex area of law in such a significant way, we must be informed by adequate analysis and debate in both chambers as well as by a broad range of stakeholder perspectives, including prosecutors from whom neither of the committees in this place or the other had the opportunity to hear. In addition, we need to consult with the defence bar, police associations and victims groups.
It is our obligation to ensure that the hundreds of sexual assault cases that are prosecuted every day in the country are not negatively affected by an amendment that has yet to be subject to full discussion and deliberation.
As I mentioned before, in order for these issues to receive the treatment they deserve and require, I will and have committed to study the issue of incapacity, with a view to striking the right balance on this important matter. I am grateful to the witnesses who appeared before the Senate committee for suggesting that this issue be the subject of further study. I look forward to consulting with them further as part of my future review.
Our government continues to work toward fostering an environment where survivors of sexual assault feel empowered to come forward and trust the system they turn to for justice and support. Consulting on and studying the issue of capacity to consent while conscious will form an integral part of that effort.
I am incredibly proud of our government's efforts to date within the area of sexual assault law. I am confident that our continued efforts will help to ensure that all victims are treated with compassion, dignity and the respect they deserve.
Bill C-51 is an important part of our work on this issue. It is also consistent with our broader efforts to ensure that our criminal law is responsible to the needs of all Canadians and that it reflects our values. Our government will continue to find ways to improve upon our criminal justice system so it keeps Canadians safe, respects victims, responds to the needs of vulnerable populations and addresses the underlying social causes of crime. I am proud of the role Bill C-51 will play in helping us to achieve these goals. I look forward to the bill's expeditious passage to ensure these important reforms are enacted without further delay.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I want to comment again on the efforts that were made at both committees and the improvements the House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has made.
With respect to the comments around expanding the rape shield provisions and on defence disclosure, I appreciate the conversation that took place at committee. I assure my hon. colleague that with respect to disclosure requirements, to sustain expanding the rape shield provisions to sexual communications and creating a regime for the admissibility of private records in the hands of the accused would not impose a reverse or defence disclosure obligation.
The Crown is not entitled to receive evidence. Nor is the defence required to hand it over. They are rules of evidence which govern the admissibility of the evidence in sexual assault trials and not rules of disclosure.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my hon. colleague on recognizing the need to assist victims of sexual assault and to assist them in accessing the criminal justice system, being informed of their rights and being able to obtain legal advice if they have an inability to pay for that advice.
We recognize this is an issue. One of the things I am incredibly proud of is that my department and our government have invested significant dollars to support victims of sexual assault in a broad range of areas. Specifically with respect to the Department of Justice, we have what is called the victims fund. Through the victims fund, we have been able to fund projects in provinces, as I referenced in my speech, around providing four hours of free legal advice to victims of sexual assault.
I know there can and is more to be done. We are committed to ensuring we provide all victims with the respect they deserve, with the necessity to ensure that they are aware of their rights and that my office continues to work with the ombudsperson for victims rights among the other measures we are advancing on gender-based violence.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to acknowledge the parliamentary secretary's important work on advancing our justice legislation. His questions give me the opportunity to highlight broadly what our government continues to do with respect to addressing sexual assault and gender-based violence.
We have invested significant dollars in budget 2018 to combat gender-based violence, including sexual assault. We have provided $25 million over five years for legal aid for victims of workplace sexual harassment. We and the Minister of Status of Women are embarking on a national strategy to address gender-based violence and to support judicial education and training, among other initiatives, in the Department of Justice, such as the victims fund. We continue to work with my counterparts in the provinces and territories to continue to have a fulsome response to gender-based violence.
In terms of our legislative agenda on law reform, there is a direct connection between Bill C-51 and Bill C-75, which is the criminal justice reform bill that addresses efficiencies and effectiveness, all of which are intended to ensure that we are protecting and supporting victims of crime.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am not going to speculate as to whether or not a previous bill, Bill C-39, could have been passed by unanimous consent.
What I am confident in and very pleased with is that Bill C-75 includes the former Bill C-39 to remove these zombie laws that my friend has spoken about. It is contained within Bill C-75, which has passed third reading in this House and is on its way to the other place. I look forward to the debate and discussion in the other place on this important piece of criminal justice reform and to the speedy passage of Bill C-75 so that we can, in fact, remove the zombie provisions that are contained within the Criminal Code.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I would like to table, in both official languages, a charter statement for an act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services.
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 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 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 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 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 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 Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, medical assistance in dying is an incredibly complex, sensitive and deeply personal issue. Our government put forward legislation that we are proud forms the national framework around medical assistance in dying. It draws the correct balance between the autonomy of individuals and protecting vulnerable people.
We are continuing to have a discussion around medical assistance in dying. We have, according to the legislation, commissioned three reviews on highly complex issues that will be coming back in December. We look forward to having further conversations about it.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, again, medical assistance in dying is a deeply complex, sensitive and deeply personal matter for individuals who are seeking to access medical assistance in dying.
Our government introduced Bill C-14 in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Jordan. We are confident that our legislation strikes the right balance between protecting vulnerable people and respecting the personal autonomy of individuals, as well as recognizing the conscience right of health care practitioners.
We will continue to have a conversation around medical assistance and dying. We have commissioned three reviews according to the legislation, which look at complex issues.
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)
moved that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure I speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, bestiality and animal fighting, which brings forward important updates to the Criminal Code. Our government remains steadfast in our commitment to ensure our laws protect our most vulnerable and reflect our commonly held values. The bill is exactly about that.
As a government, we have brought forward important amendments to the Criminal Code, including by increasing efficiencies in the criminal justice system, cleaning up outdated and unconstitutional provisions, clarifying sexual assault laws and strengthening the impaired driving regime. These changes, along with those proposed in Bill C-84, reflect my ongoing commitment to ensuring our criminal laws remain clear, comprehensible and contemporary.
I am proud of our efforts in this regard and will continue to pursue law reform that is evidence-based and ensures our criminal justice system extends the strongest protections to Canadians, especially the most vulnerable.
Before I begin to outline the details of the bill, I would like to acknowledge the advocacy of many honourable members in the House, including in particular the member for Beaches—East York for his leadership and for initiating a very important discussion on this issue in his private member's bill. I would also like to thank the several organizations and numerous Canadians who have written in and advocated for many years. The bill is a result of their hard work.
Bill C-84 focuses on filling gaps in the Criminal Code and preventing violence and cruelty toward animals. It reflects significant consultation with child and animal protection groups, as well as agricultural and animal use stakeholders, and brings forward changes that reflect a common ground approach to addressing these important issues.
Clause 1 would add a definition of “bestiality” in section 160 of the Criminal Code to include “any contact, for a sexual purpose, between a person and an animal.” This responds to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W. in 2016, where the court held that the bestiality offences in section 160 of the Criminal Code were limited to sexual acts with animals that involved penetration. In arriving at that determination, the court examined the common law definition of bestiality, which originated in British law and was subsequently incorporated into our Criminal Code.
The broadened definition would increase protections for children, as well as other vulnerable individuals who may be compelled to engage in or witness bestiality, and animals, by ensuring the criminal law captures all sexual acts with animals, not just those involving penetration. By virtue of the definition's “sexual purpose” focus, legitimate animal husbandry and veterinary practices would continue to be excluded from the scope of the offence.
In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that courts must interpret the law, not change the elements of crimes in ways that seemed to them to better suit the circumstances of a particular case. Rather, it is Parliament's responsibility to expand the scope of criminal liability, should it elect to do so.
In the wake of this decision, child protection advocates as well as animal welfare groups expressed serious concern with the effect of the decision and called for law reform. I agree the gap identified by the Supreme Court requires a parliamentary response, and we are doing just that.
As mentioned, this bill responds to the Supreme Court's decision in D.L.W., by defining bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.” This would ensure all contact between a human and an animal for sexual purpose would be prohibited. This would send a clear and unequivocal message to those who would wish to harm animals. This amendment would also provide increased protection to children who would be exposed to or coerced to participate in abusive conduct, as well as other vulnerable persons who may be compelled to engage in such conduct.
The proposed definition focuses on the broad term of contact for sexual purpose. The phrase “for a sexual purpose” has a well-established meaning in Canadian criminal law. It is used in a number of different instances in the Criminal Code, and I am confident the use of this consistent terminology will cover the offences in question.
In its entirety, the proposed definition is clearer and reflects Canadians' understanding of what this offence entails. It is also consistent with calls from animal welfare groups and agricultural stakeholders, including the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
At the same time, this definition will ensure that those involved in legitimate animal husbandry activities, including breeding livestock and veterinary medicine, will not be captured by these offences.
Currently, the Criminal Code has three main offences related to bestiality. Bill C-84 does not change the nature of the penalties related to these offences which, on indictment, carry maximum sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years in jail.
I would also like to note that the changes proposed in my criminal justice reform legislation, Bill C-75, will increase the maximum penalty on summary conviction for both offences to two years less a day. Such changes will contribute to a more efficient criminal justice system by encouraging proceeding by way of summary conviction where it is appropriate to do so.
There is a strong public safety rationale for Parliament to expand the scope of these offences, particularly as it relates to enhancing protections for children and other vulnerable persons. Research continues to demonstrate a well-established link between animal sexual abuse and sexual abuse of children, as well as other forms of violence.
I would note that the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies organized a conference in 2017, the purpose of which was to look more closely at these issues. The final report provides an overview of these issues. I commend the federation for its important work to promote a greater understanding of the severity of these issues.
We also see these links in criminal cases. Canadian criminal law shows that when sexual abuse of a child involves an animal, the extent of this horrible behaviour is most often severe and frequently includes a pattern of vicious treatment of both the child and the animal. With this bill we are ensuring that those in law enforcement, including prosecutors, have the tools they need to achieve justice for the victims of these despicable acts.
I would also like to discuss a second set of reforms contained in Bill C-84, which marks an important step in providing comprehensive protections for all animals. These additional measures will strengthen protections for animals by broadening the scope of the animal fighting offences in the Criminal Code.
There are currently two offences in the Criminal Code that specifically address animal fighting. The first is paragraph 445.1(1)(b), which prohibits encouraging, aiding or assisting at the fighting or baiting of animals. This is a hybrid offence with a maximum penalty of five years on indictment or a maximum of 18 months' imprisonment and/or a fine, not exceeding $10,000. Bill C-75 will also increase the maximum penalty on summary conviction to two years less a day.
Presently, this offence fails to capture a number of other associated activities with participating in the deplorable activity of animal fighting. Accordingly, Bill C-84 proposes to broaden the scope of this offence to include a wider range of activities, including encouraging, promoting, arranging and assisting at, receiving money for, or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals, including prohibiting any of these activities with respect to the training, transporting or breeding of animals for fighting or baiting.
These are important changes and will ensure that all aspects of animal fighting are prohibited, ensuring that all persons in the chain of this criminal behaviour can be held accountable. I note, in particular, that the proposed changes also target the financial incentives associated with this crime and, in so doing, will act to discourage those involved with this unacceptable behaviour.
The second existing offence prohibits keeping a cockpit, which is section 447, and carries the same penalties as animal fighting. It too will see its maximum penalty on summary conviction increase through Bill C-75. This offence, as it exists in the Criminal Code, is extremely narrow in scope, a reflection of its historical origins when cockfighting was the primary form of animal fighting.
However, we know that, unfortunately, dog fighting has grown in prominence today. Bill C-84 amends this offence to ensure it extends to building, keeping or maintaining any arena for the purposes of fighting any animal. The fact of the matter is that all forms of animal fighting are cruel and abhorrent, and so our laws should appropriately extend to all animals. Simply stated, there is no legitimate or reasonable societal purpose to engage in animal fighting. This behaviour is cruel and must be stopped.
This is another important step our government is taking to ensure our criminal laws are contemporary and address conduct that is deserving of criminal sanction. It is important to note that animal fighting has often been linked to organized crime, including illegal gambling and the illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons. The changes we are bringing forward in Bill C-84 will improve the ability of law enforcement to prosecute criminals, track cases of animal fighting and protect public safety. By broadening the offence to include additional activities, we are ensuring that law enforcement is equipped to detect and intercept the crime at whatever stage it is discovered.
I would like to take a few minutes to speak specifically about dog fighting. Given its clandestine nature, it is difficult to collect statistics on the prevalence of dog fighting in Canada. In fact, dog-fighting operations often go undetected until law enforcement officers discover them while investigating other crimes. That said, we know that in May and October 2015 and in March 2016, the Ontario SPCA major case management team, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Chatham-Kent Police Service partnered together to end suspected dog-fighting operations. These three joint investigations led to the execution of 11 search warrants on three properties in Lanark County, Tilbury and Kent Bridge, Ontario. This resulted in the seizure of 64 pit bull dogs, documents, pictures, veterinary supplies, electronic equipment and hundreds of items related to the training and fighting of dogs.
The Ontario SPCA reports that dog fighting is undeniably taking place in Ontario. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that dog fights can last one to two hours and end only when one of the dogs is too injured to continue or has died. The dogs involved often suffer from deep puncture wounds, broken bones, and in many cases die from blood loss or infection.
As I mentioned, dog fighting, a terrible form of animal cruelty, is also linked to a wide range of other crimes, including illegal gambling and drugs and weapons offences. The primary motivation for dog fighting is gambling and participants often wager thousands of dollars, showing how lucrative it is for those involved.
I would also note that, according to the Ontario SPCA, when police raid dog-fighting events, they often find children present. Exposure to this type of abuse desensitizes children to violence and may itself be a form of child abuse. I am proud that we are taking important steps to limit and prevent this horrible abuse to animals and children. The proposed reforms to the offence, targeting arenas coupled with the changes to the animal-fighting offence, will target those who take part in training or receive money to train dogs to fight and who employ terrible techniques to increase the viciousness and ferocity of these animals. This so-called training can include abusively suspending a dog from a tree or a pole by its jaw and encouraging the dog to grab bait and hold on as long as possible in order to increase the lethality of its bite.
No animal should have to die as a form of human entertainment. It is unspeakably cruel and offends Canadians' values at the deepest level.
I am proud of these necessary changes we are bringing forward to protect animals from horrible situations of abuse. It is important for me to reiterate that this bill in no way interferes with any legitimate animal use. This bill seeks to protect public safety and ensures that we are doing more to prevent violence and cruelty toward animals.
We are focusing on aspects of protection that enjoy broad support and reflect our shared values. Again, the broadening of these offences will not interfere with legitimate animal uses, such as the training and work of service dogs, medical research, hunting, fishing or indigenous animal harvesting rights. Animal fighting and bestiality are in no way legitimate activities.
Before I conclude, I would like to reiterate that this bill is the result of significant consultation and there has been broad support expressed for these reforms. As mentioned earlier, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture have called for these changes. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and many agricultural stakeholder groups have also advocated for these amendments to address animal fighting and bestiality.
As parliamentarians, many of us hear from concerned citizens who are urging action to modernize our animal cruelty offences. Similarly, in our consultations, a number of provinces have called upon Parliament to take action to address the gap identified by the Supreme Court in D.L.W. I am confident that this bill addresses these concerns.
I recognize that some would want the bill to go further by proposing additional reforms to animal cruelty laws. I believe it is critically important that we take steps now to address these particular issues, for which I believe there is broad support. Our government is committed to all of the appropriate protections that are extended to the most vulnerable, and we will continue to review this as part of our broad review of the criminal justice system.
There have already been some suggestions made, including by animal rights organizations, on the ways that we can strengthen this bill. As I have said with respect to other legislation, I welcome constructive suggestions that reflect the objectives of our proposed reforms and look forward to a fulsome and productive debate. I therefore urge all members to support this bill and help ensure its swift passage.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. colleague across the way for her private member's bill, which speaks to the issue raised in D.L.W.
This government bill, as I said, goes to address the gap that exists in the criminal law with respect to bestiality by providing a definition.
I hear the member regarding the delay. It has taken some time to bring this bill forward. I hope her concerns around the delay will assist in this piece of legislation going forward quickly.
As for prohibitions on animal ownership, there are provisions within provincial legislation that actually address the prohibition of maintaining or keeping an animal as a result of cases that have gone forward where individuals have been convicted.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his recognition that there may not be many members of the House who would oppose the specific pieces of Bill C-84.
I have had the opportunity to talk with the hon. member about the horrific example of abuse that happened in his riding with respect to Teddy the dog. Bill C-84 reflects a consensus among individuals who want to make every effort to protect animals and protect vulnerable people, including children. In my office, I have received letters from many stakeholders across the country who support the quick movement of Bill C-84.
Does it go to the extent the member is talking about? This is a first step. We continue to have discussions with stakeholders who want this legislation, and the government, to go further. I am committed to continuing to have those conversations.
There is more we can do. Certainly there is a diversity of opinion around amendments and changes that can be made to the Criminal Code to modernize it. As the member said, there are many provisions that have been in place since 1892.
We continue to have these discussions to modernize the Criminal Code. Our government is committed to ensuring that animals are protected from cruelty and that we do everything we can to ensure that children are protected as well. Those discussions are ongoing.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question about the necessity to expand the reach of animal fighting to include dogs. As I mentioned in my speech, there has been significant study around dog fighting, which does exist in Ontario, by the Ontario SPCA major case management team, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Chatham-Kent Police Service. As I said, they have partnered to identify the reality that dog fighting does exist in Ontario.
I recognize the member's comments about individuals in his constituency raising this issue. In my own constituency, many constituents have come to me to ask the government to address it. There is probably not one member of the House who has not received letters from constituents about this.
The government's commitment in putting forward Bill C-84 is to ensure that we do everything we can to protect animals and protect vulnerable people, including children. The commitment I made here on the floor today is to continue this conversation as we proceed and to look toward modernizing the Criminal Code provisions.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, to answer both parts of my hon. colleague's question, this legislation is short and well thought through.
In terms of bestiality, it follows the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. D.L.W., which talks about contact for a sexual purpose. As I said in my speech and as the member indicted, this has a well-established meaning at law and viewed objectively for when an act is committed for a sexual purpose that it was committed for the sexual gratification of the accused. In terms of the intent of the legislation, it is very clear to not address or not infringe upon legitimate animal husbandry or artificial insemination activities.
Quickly to the member's question about what other Criminal Code provisions have looked at “for sexual purpose”, he can find this in terms of child pornography, voyeurism and making sexually explicit material available to a child.
I would be happy to continue a conversation with the member on these provisions.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis for his advocacy, in fact all parliamentarians' advocacy, on this important issue.
Yesterday I was proud to introduce Bill C-84, which delivers on our government's commitment to protect children and animals from abuse. We are toughening the laws against bestiality and animal fighting, conduct that is completely unacceptable. I look forward to the support of all members in this House.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting).
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have to say this prosecution is being handled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which operates independently from my office. As this matter is currently before the court, it would be entirely inappropriate for me to comment further.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is being handled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, a body that acts independently of my role. As this matter is currently before the court, as the member opposite should know, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I can say that I have a very clear understanding of the importance of the independence of the judicial system.
As I have stated, this prosecution of Vice-Admiral Norman is being handled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, a body that is independent from my office, the Office of the Attorney General.
It would be entirely inappropriate to comment on this matter, because it is before the courts.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I will say it again. This prosecution is being handled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which is a body that is independent from the Office of the Attorney General.
As this matter is before the courts, we will not, it is not appropriate to, comment further.
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 Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a document entitled, “Legislative Background: An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act (Bill C-78)”.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved that Bill C-78, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-78. The bill, which I tabled on May 22 of this year, would help support and protect families, especially children, from the negative outcomes and conflicts that are the sad reality of separation and divorce.
Our government has taken great strides to strengthen the Canadian family justice system. In budget 2017, we created ongoing funding for federal, provincial and territorial family justice activities through the Canadian family justice fund. In the same year, we also signed two international family law conventions. This year in budget 2018, we announced funding to expand unified family courts, fulfilling one of my mandate letter commitments. However, despite all this progress, we still need to do more.
Separation and divorce can be difficult for families, especially for children. We know that the impacts can be wide-reaching. Over two million children live in families with separated or divorced parents. There is no other area of law that touches as many Canadians.
Federal family laws should help families resolve their disputes quickly and effectively, but these laws have not been substantially updated in over 20 years and were in desperate need of modernization. Over the past two decades, families have changed and our justice system has changed. Our government understands that much should be done to improve federal family laws and the family justice system to better meet the needs of all Canadians.
Bill C-78 advances four critically important goals: promoting the best interests of the child, addressing family violence, reducing child poverty, and improving the efficiencies and accessibility of the family justice system. I will address all of these in turn.
I will begin with the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child test is the cornerstone of family law. It is the only basis upon which decisions about who may care for a child can be made under the Divorce Act. This test has been called a child's “positive right to the best possible arrangements in the circumstances”. It allows courts to consider how to best foster the child's overall development and protect the child from conflict and the disruptive effects of divorce at such a vulnerable point in the child's life.
Despite the importance of the best interests of the child test, the Divorce Act currently provides minimal guidance on how courts should apply this test. Bill C-78 would change this. It proposes an extensive, though not exhaustive, list of criteria for courts to consider when making decisions in the best interests of the child.
The criteria we have proposed include elements such as the child's needs, given the age and stage of the child's development, the child's relationships with important people in his or her life, especially parents but also others such as grandparents, and the child's culture and heritage, including indigenous heritage.
One criterion in particular, the requirement that courts consider the views and preferences of the child, giving due weight to the child's age and maturity, demonstrates Canada's ongoing commitment to its obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This criterion encourages parents and courts to consider the voice of the child in determining parenting arrangements reflecting the importance of children expressing their views in matters that affect them.
The most significant change that Bill C-78 would bring to the best interests of the child test and the lens through which all other factors would be examined is the provision that would be called the “primary consideration”. This would be a requirement that courts consider the child's physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being. It would help ensure that the most critical elements of the child's well-being are always the centre of focus and of any best interests analysis.
Also, to further the best interests of the child, we are proposing to remove the terms “custody” and “access” from the Divorce Act. For years, these terms have been criticized for fuelling conflict between parents. Custodial parents have been long seen as the winners of custody disputes and access parents have long been seen as the losers. The terms are relics from property law, reflecting a time when children were legally considered to be their parents' property.
To help parents collaborate and focus on their child's best interests, we are introducing terms based on parents' responsibilities for their children. Instead of custody orders, courts would make parenting orders. Parenting orders would address parenting time and decision-making responsibility. Two provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, and many of our international partners, such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, have replaced property-based language with this sort of language focused on the child-parent relationship. In Canada, even where custody and access are still on the statute books, many judges, lawyers and other family justice professionals have already begun to abandon property-based language in their orders and agreements about children, favouring language focused on the parent-child relationships.
Another major change Bill C-78 proposes with the best interests of the child in mind is the creation of a relocation framework in the Divorce Act. Relocation or moving with children after separation and divorce is one of the most litigated areas in family law. The stakes are often very high, particularly when a proposed move would involve a significant geographic distance. The bill creates notice requirements for parents proposing to move, best interests criteria for courts to consider in relocation cases and rules for courts to apply depending on the parenting arrangement in place for the child. This would help courts and parents make informed, child-focused decisions.
Canada has recently taken steps to advance the interests of Canadian children in international family law disputes. On May 23, 2017, Canada signed two international family law conventions. One of these conventions, the 1996 convention on the protection of children, would make it easier for Canadian parenting orders to be recognized and enforced in other countries that are also party to the convention. This would provide better assurance to families that travel or relocate to another convention country that their Canadian court order would be respected. Bill C-78 also includes amendments that are necessary for Canada to become a party to the convention. The other convention is the 2007 child support convention, which would help with poverty reduction, as I will discuss a little further on.
The next aspect of Bill C-78 that I would like to address is family violence, an issue of great importance to our government and to all Canadians. Most provincial and territorial family laws address family violence in separating couples, but federal family laws are conspicuously silent. It is long past time to address this silence.
Although separation may be a means of escaping an abusive relationship, evidence shows that spouses are at an increased risk of violence at the time of separation. We are also learning about the lasting effects of trauma such as family violence on children's developing brains. The impact can be debilitating and lifelong. More can and must be done to prevent this from happening. Bill C-78 includes three amendments to address family violence in the Divorce Act and one in the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act.
First, we have proposed an evidence-based definition of family violence in the Divorce Act that highlights common indicators of abusive behaviour. Coercive and controlling behaviour which is known to be particularly dangerous is highlighted.
Second, we have proposed a distinct set of best interests of the child criteria to help courts make appropriate parenting orders when there has been family violence. These include considerations such as the nature, seriousness and frequency of violence.
Third, we have a provision that would require courts to consider whether there are any child protection or criminal orders or any other proceedings that could influence an order under the Divorce Act. This provision would help prevent conflicts between courts, such as a family law order that gives a parent time with a child in a manner that conflicts with a criminal restraining order.
Finally, we have proposed an amendment to the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act that would restrict the sharing of personal information in situations of family violence where a family member's safety may be at risk.
Together, these measures would help courts better address family violence at a time when family members are particularly vulnerable, and help prevent family violence as families adjust to their new post-separation arrangements.
Next, I will explain how Bill C-78 would address poverty reduction, and child poverty specifically. Many families who go through separation and divorce experience a dramatic increase in expenses. The transition from a single family home with separate expenses to two homes with duplicate expenses can be a great burden. Shifting child care responsibilities can affect a parent's ability to find and maintain employment. These changes make many families vulnerable to poverty. Therefore, it is critically important that families receive the child and spousal support owed to them and that these amounts be fairly and properly calculated, reflecting accurate financial information.
Bill C-78 includes several measures that would help reduce poverty and help families recover from the financial crisis many experience as part of separation. First, we have proposed changes to the Divorce Act that would make it easier for families to determine and change child support without going to court, saving them money and, potentially, complication and stress. We have also proposed measures that would introduce a new application-based procedure to establish or vary a support order when parties reside in different jurisdictions.
Earlier, I mentioned the 1996 child protection convention. Canada also signed the 2007 child support convention. The 2007 convention will help families by providing a low-cost and efficient way to obtain or change support orders across international borders. As with the 1996 convention, amendments to federal laws are proposed as an essential step for Canada to becoming a party to the 2007 convention.
We are also proposing a number of changes to federal laws that would facilitate the enforcement of child and spousal support. For example, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act would be amended to allow for the search and release of a party's income information to courts and provincial services, including provincial enforcement services, for the purposes of establishing, varying or enforcing support. This amendment is intended to allow child support orders to be made more quickly, accurately and with less trouble and expense. Costs would be reduced for families and courts.
There are billions of dollars of unpaid child support payments in Canada. With this bill, we would be giving provinces, territories and individuals more tools to ensure that those obligations are being paid. In addition, the vast majority, some 96%, of cases registered in maintenance enforcement programs involve male payers paying female recipients. The problem of unpaid support contributes to the feminization of poverty, which the measures in this bill would help address.
Finally, another proposal in this bill is to prioritize child and spousal support debts above all other debts except Crown debts under the federal Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act. Again, this would help make sure that families receive the money they are owed.
I will now move on to the bill's final theme, which is to improve the efficiency of, and families' access to, the Canadian family justice system. We know that changes to the family justice system are long overdue. Retired Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell has noted the many calls for fundamental change to, or a paradigm shift in, the family justice system. Parents struggle to pay for lawyers and often have no choice but to represent themselves in family law disputes, which may be highly contentious and emotionally charged. It is not easy to be one's own advocate in these circumstances, yet research tells us that between 50% and 80% of Canadians in family law disputes represent themselves in court.
Self-represented family law litigants risk making choices without understanding their rights and obligations, and can find the process incredibly stressful. They also add to the strain of overburdened courts. Judges and court staff take significantly more time with self-represented litigants to help them navigate their complex legal challenges. The bill includes several measures to facilitate family law processes for families and to divert people away from the courts, saving time and resources for cases that require a judge's consideration.
One of these measures is to encourage family dispute resolution processes, which can include mediation, negotiation, collaborative law and other forms of out-of-court dispute resolution. These processes are generally less expensive, can help families come to agreements faster, and often allow parents to play a more active role in crafting appropriate arrangements for their families.
After the bill's proposed changes, lawyers would have a duty to tell parents about family justice services that could be of assistance to them and to encourage them to try a family dispute resolution where appropriate. Courts would have the option of referring parents to a family dispute resolution where available.
Other measures to increase access to family justice include expanding the range of measures that the administrative services that determine child support may address. Provinces and territories have administrative child support services that recalculate support orders based on a parent's current income. The bill would expand the role of these out-of-court services, including allowing for the recalculation of interim support orders. Families could use these services rather than having to retain lawyers to go to court to change their child support orders, again saving them money and reducing court time.
I would like to conclude by again stressing how important it is for our government to improve federal family laws. As I said, our family laws are outdated. They no longer reflect the reality of middle-class Canadian families. Many of the processes set out in federal family laws are slow, cumbersome and heavily dependent on the courts. Bill C-78 will help Canadians find faster, more cost-effective and lasting solutions to family law disputes, with the best interest of the child at the heart of all of it.
I am confident that the changes we have proposed would bring positive change to the Canadian family justice system and to Canadian families and children. I look forward to working with all of my parliamentary colleagues to help promote the best possible outcomes for families experiencing separation and divorce. I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting this incredibly important piece of legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for the really important question, as well as stressing that for parents, and children in particular, who face separation and divorce, it can be really challenging and that there are and have to remain many ways to resolve these really contentious issues in complicated cases.
The focus of my remarks was on looking to out-of-court processes where appropriate, which parents who are going through a separation or divorce could take advantage of, and on putting a positive obligation on lawyers and legal agents to advise parents of these alternative dispute resolution processes. This does not in any way take away the ability to have these important matters to be heard before a judge. He or she would maintain their ability to determine what is appropriate in the particular circumstances. Again, the focus of this legislation is on the best interests of the child, which will be paramount in out-of-court settlements, as well as judge-delivered settlements.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I recognize, acknowledge and appreciate the support my colleague has expressed for Bill C-78. I also recognize and acknowledge there have been many individuals, family law practitioners and others, who have expressed support for this legislation.
Like the hon. member, I too have had a number of discussions about where this piece of legislation could potentially be improved. That said, I hope we all share an understanding that the Divorce Act is outdated and needs to be modernized. It has not been updated for over 20 years.
I am open to hearing how Bill C-78 could be improved. I have received some letters and would be happy to continue to have discussions with all members of the House.
I look forward to this piece of legislation hopefully going to committee so we can do the work that is necessary to make sure that we get it right.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her commentary and speaking about some personal cases and situations that she is familiar with. I do not believe that there was a specific question.
However, in terms of what we are doing broadly with respect to this piece of legislation, we want to put in as much information as we can to provide the courts and judges with specific factors to consider when they are looking at the best interests of the child. I think one of the primary considerations would be for a judge to listen to the child, in appropriate circumstances, as to where the child wants to go.
We are working, as I indicated, in terms of the international conventions. We are working with the provinces and territories around the protection of the child and how that will assist in terms of enforcement across international jurisdictions. I did hear my colleague on that.
As well, I have heard of individual circumstances and cases that are egregious. Perhaps there is a way we can have a conversation about how that can be addressed. I am not sure in thinking about it right now, but I am happy to continue to have that conversation to make sure that individual children do not, as much as possible, fall through the cracks. Obviously, every case is different, but I am happy to have that conversation to see how we can protect children in the face of violence and being taken out of jurisdictions and the consequences that result from some of those situations.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table, in both official languages, a charter statement with respect to Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question with respect to Bill C-45, the cannabis legislation that we are moving forward. I would like to thank the members in the other House for the thoughtful and considered amendments they have put forward.
I am anticipating that we will receive a message in this House. We will carefully consider the amendments that the other House has put forward as we move toward a comprehensive legalized framework and strict regulation of cannabis.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to table, in both official languages, a legislative background for 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.
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, certainly we are taking a broad approach to a review of the criminal justice system, a balanced approach that supports victims of crime, that ensures the offenders are held to account, and that promotes public safety.
We are committed to appointing a new federal ombudsperson for victims of crime. We are presently undertaking a review and identifying a potential candidate. This is a priority for our government. We will move forward at the nearest and closest time with the most appropriate and skilled individual.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as I said, our government is committed to ensuring that the criminal justice system provides for safe communities, ensures and respects victims of crime, and holds offenders to account.
Our government is committed to a renewed approach, as we have said, in terms of the appointments process, based on openness, transparency, and merit. The process for the appointment of the new federal ombudsman for victims of crime is presently ongoing and remains a high priority for me. The position will be filled as soon as possible at the conclusion of this process.
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 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 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 Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talks about being impressed or not impressed. I am not impressed with the misrepresentations and the hyperbole that is coming from the other side of the House from the official opposition.
This is an incredibly important bill. The member opposite is alluding to consultation or engagement with the legal community. I have engaged, my parliamentary secretaries have engaged, and my officials have engaged for two and a half years, and then some, with respect to getting feedback from the legal community, from all actors in the justice system, including having two federal, provincial, and territorial meetings with my counterparts in the provinces and territories, the justice ministers, all of whom are supportive of the bold reforms that we are putting forward.
This is a necessary measure to answer the call to action of the Supreme Court of Canada.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward with Bill C-75. We want to get it to committee to have this discussion.
There have been conversations among the parties with respect to Bill C-75. From those discussions, members on this side have spoken to this bill, the New Democratic Party has exhausted its speakers, and members from the official opposition see fit to not speak to this bill at all, and in fact to cut off second reading debate.
We want to get this bill to committee so that the legal community and others can have further dialogue and debate, make suggestions, and put forward potential amendments to improve this legislation. This is an important piece of legislation, and we would like to get it to committee.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I think there are two questions there. The member opposite references Bill C-46, which is the impaired driving legislation. When passed, this measure will create among the toughest impaired driving regimes in the world. I find it remarkable that the opposition members are talking about impaired driving when members of the Conservative Party in the other House voted to gut Bill C-46 to remove mandatory alcohol screening, which has proven to save lives, which is supported by MADD Canada, and which is supported by the chiefs of police. This is remarkable.
In terms of sentencing, which is what the member opposite is talking about with respect to impaired driving, we are looking at reclassifying offences. This is not to change the fundamental principles of sentencing, which require proportionality, but to ensure that we provide prosecutors with the necessary tools to utilize their discretion to proceed by way of summary conviction or by indictment to ensure that they can use their discretion and assist with respect to court delays.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the judicial appointments process, which we dramatically reformed. I have to say that I am incredibly proud of the 179 Superior Court judges that I have appointed. Last year, 100 appointments were made, which is more than any other minister of justice has made in more than two decades.
In terms of judicial appointments, of course this is something that I take seriously. I am going to continue to fill the necessary vacancies. This is one aspect that could potentially contribute toward the delays. However, 99% of criminal cases are heard in provincial courts. We are continuing to work with our provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure that we are moving forward with Bill C-75, which is an incredibly collaborative bill.
I am going to continue to address the appointments of judges, but the member opposite should know that this is only one aspect. There are more complicated issues that need to be addressed as well.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, every member in this House, I am certain, takes the issue of human trafficking extremely seriously. These are among the most vulnerable people in our society, and we need to protect them.
The reforms that we are making in the criminal justice system are broad-based. They ensure that we are protecting public safety, that we are showing compassion and respect for victims, and that people are held to account for their offences.
Contained within Bill C-75 is the bill that we had introduced to deal with human trafficking. However, because this is a difficult offence to prove, the bill proposes to provide additional tools to prosecutors and law enforcement in order to prove the offence of human trafficking. That is one measure.
In terms of assisting victims, we are doing many different things, including in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault. We are bolstering the intimate partner violence provisions within this bill, among many other things. Recognizing that this is Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, we have engaged in a number of ways to assist with respect to victims and to ensure that we are showing our compassion and respect to them.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the opportunity to correct the mischaracterization that members opposite are projecting on the reclassification of offences.
Reclassification of offences is not about sentencing ranges. Instead, these amendments would give crown prosecutors, as I said, the necessary discretion to elect the most efficient form of prosecution, whether that be by way of summary conviction or by indictment. This measure does not speak to or change the fundamental principles of sentencing; what is does speak to is the amount of court time.
All offences are serious, but if the offence merits moving by way of summary conviction, it can be dealt with in the provincial court, where matters are less complicated, thereby expediting and leaving room and time in the superior courts for the more complex cases. This measure would contribute, as do the other measures in this bill, to a comprehensive approach that will tackle delays in a fundamental way.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have to comment on the absolute mischaracterization by the member opposite with respect to what we are doing in terms of the reclassification of offences.
We are not touching the sentencing ranges. We are providing the necessary discretion in terms of additional offences for a prosecutor to proceed by way of summary conviction or by way of indictment. This does not change the facts of a specific offence. This does not change the fact that the prosecutor, given the gravity of the offence, will proceed in the necessary and appropriate manner.
We are not changing the fundamental principles of sentencing at all. I want to be very clear about this. The members opposite can try to work really hard to incite fear, but what we are doing is working with the provinces and territories that have agreed to these bold reforms, including the reclassification of offences, to tackle in a fundamental way something their government was not able to do to ensure that we address delays in the criminal justice system.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-75, we have introduced a very comprehensive piece of legislation.
In my view and in the view of the government, the best way to deal with the criminal justice system is to ensure that we have done our homework, ensure that we work with officials not just within my department but across the country, ensure that we are working with the provinces and territories to bring forward and understand a shared responsibility on the administration of justice, and ensure that there is agreement around the bold reforms that are necessary.
We have had extensive consultations and discussions with the provinces and territories. We are taking heed of the report of the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs, which did a detailed study on justice delays, and we are taking heed of online surveys as well as round tables right across the country in every jurisdiction.
We are taking this incredibly seriously. We have the evidence to support the reforms that we are making. I would invite the members opposite to support alleviating the delays in the criminal justice system.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly proud to answer the member opposite's question.
With respect to listening to the provinces, and I will add the territories, of course we have listened to the provinces and territories. If the member opposite was familiar with the Government of Quebec, the minister of justice was involved in the discussions we had. The provinces and territories and I issued a press release about the bold reforms that are necessary in six fundamental areas.
We have acted on the fundamental areas that have been identified. Of course we are listening to the provinces and territories. We will continue to listen to the provinces and territories.
With respect to amendments, absolutely, I am always open to hearing amendments. I am always open to hearing how we can improve on a piece of legislation, not only from the parties in the opposition but from the actors and the witnesses that come before committee.
In terms of front-line workers, we had a round table on victims and those who advocate for victims. We had a round table that included judges, defence counsel, and prosecutors in every jurisdiction across the country, so we have done our necessary homework. We have the evidence to put forward on Bill C-75.
I would seek all members' abilities in having these debates and discussions, and where this bill can be improved, let us improve it. This is the opportunity we have to address the Supreme Court's—
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the comments from the member across the way, and I would have to, with great respect, disagree. Committees are not dysfunctional. Committees are filled with members of Parliament who work incredibly hard to hear from witnesses, to write reports about very important matters, to consider legislation that has been put forward, and to consider private member's bills. This is an incredibly important part of the parliamentary process. I have taken great heed of the recommendations in terms of amendments that have come forward from committees that have considered legislation I have put forward, as have all members of this government.
Therefore, I think it is a very misplaced characterization of what our committee members do. They are not dysfunctional. They are a fundamental part of the parliamentary process.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, one of the key elements of Bill C-46 is mandatory alcohol screening, which is in use in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia and Ireland. Our government was very disappointed last night when the Conservatives voted to remove mandatory alcohol screening. We agree with MADD Canada that mandatory alcohol screening saves lives and that it is a fundamental piece in moving forward on and tackling impaired driving. We need this life-saving measure right now.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to 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. The legislation represents a key milestone in our government's commitment to modernize the criminal justice system, reduce delays, and ensure the safety of Canadians.
For more than a decade, the criminal justice system has been under significant strain. Although the crime rate in Canada has been declining, court cases are more complex, trials are getting longer, and the impacts on victims are compounded. In addition, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians, including those suffering from mental illness and addictions, continue to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system. For these reasons, I was mandated by the Prime Minister to reform the criminal justice system, and it is why I was proud to introduce this legislation as part of our government's response to those fundamental challenges.
Bill C-75 also responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in 2016 in R. v. Jordan. The decision established strict timelines beyond which delays would be presumptively unreasonable and cases would be stayed. In such cases, the accused will not stand trial. This is unacceptable, and it jeopardizes public confidence in the justice system.
The bill also addresses issues raised in the June 2017 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which called on the government to address court delays, and it reflects our government's commitment to bring about urgent and bold reforms, many of which were identified as priorities by all provincial and territorial justice ministers in April and September of last year.
The bill proposes reforms in seven key areas. First, the bill would modernize and streamline the bail system. Second, it would enhance our approach to addressing administration of justice offences, including for youth. Third, it would bolster our response to intimate partner violence. Fourth, the bill would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment. Fifth, it would reclassify offences to allow the crown to elect the most efficient procedure appropriate in the circumstances. Sixth, it would improve the jury selection process. Seventh, it would strengthen the case management powers of judges. The bill includes a number of additional reforms related to efficiencies, which I will touch on briefly later.
As noted, the first area of reform would modernize and streamline the bail regime. Under the charter, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If charged with an offence, that person has the right not to be denied bail without just cause. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly stated that bail, including the types of release and conditions imposed, must be reasonable, yet we know that police and courts routinely impose conditions that are too numerous, too restrictive, and at times directed toward improper objectives, such as behaviour and punishment. These objectives do not protect public safety.
We also know that there are more individuals in remand than those convicted of a crime. In other words, our correctional facilities are more than half-filled with people who have not been convicted of an offence.
In addition, the current approach to bail uses a disproportionate amount of resources, taking away from more serious cases. It perpetuates a cycle of incarceration.
Consistent with the 2017 Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Antic, the proposed bail reforms would codify a principle of restraint. This would direct police and judges to consider the least restrictive and most appropriate means of responding to criminal charges at the bail stage rather than automatically detaining an accused. The individual circumstances of an indigenous accused and a vulnerable accused, such as a homeless person or one with mental illness and addiction issues, would become required considerations when making bail decisions. This means that an accused's circumstances would have to be considered prior to placing conditions upon them that were difficult or impossible to follow.
The principle of restraint would make bail courts more efficient by encouraging release at the earliest possible opportunity, without the need for a bail hearing in every case, and would take significant steps to reduce costs associated with the growing remand population currently detained in custody awaiting trial.
The bill would also strengthen the way our bail system responds to intimate partner violence by providing better protection for victims. If an accused has a history of violence against an intimate partner and is charged with similar conduct, the amendments would impose a reverse onus at the bail hearing, shifting the responsibility to the accused to show why the accused should not be detained pending trial.
I will now turn to the second area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is to enhance the way our justice system responds to administration of justice offences. These are offences that are committed by a person against the justice system itself after another offence has already been committed or alleged. Common examples are failure to comply with bail conditions, such as to abstain from consuming alcohol; failure to appear in court; or breaching a curfew.
Across Canada, accused people are routinely burdened with complex and unnecessary bail conditions that are unrelated to public safety and that may even be impossible to follow, such as when a curfew is broken by an accused because he or she missed the bus in a remote area. In other words, accused people are being placed in circumstances in which a breach is virtually inevitable. We are setting them up to fail.
Indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are disproportionately impacted by breach charges, often because of their personal circumstances, such as a lack of family and community supports. As a result, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are more likely to be charged, more likely to be denied bail, and if released, more likely to be subject to stricter conditions.
In addition, administration of justice offences impose an enormous burden on the criminal justice system, as nearly 40% of all adult cases involve at least one of these administrative charges. To respond to these challenges, Bill C-75 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. This would be an entirely new tool that would serve as an alternative to an unnecessary criminal charge and that would substantially increase court efficiencies without impacting public safety.
In the youth context, these proposals would encourage police to first consider the use of informal measures, as already directed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, such as warnings, cautions, and referrals, and would require that conditions imposed on young persons be reasonable and necessary. This aligns with the overall philosophy of the act, which is to prevent our youth from entering a life of crime, in part by providing alternatives to formal criminal charges and custody.
At the judicial referral hearing, a court would hear the bail conditions and have three options: release the accused on the same conditions, impose new conditions to better address the specific circumstances of the accused, or detain the accused. This approach would allow for alternative and early resolution of minor breaches and would ensure that only reasonable and necessary conditions were imposed. This is a more efficient alternative to laying a new criminal charge and would help prevent indigenous persons and marginalized Canadians from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system.
The third area of reform in Bill C-75 is with respect to intimate partner violence. In 2015, Canadians elected our government on a promise to give more support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment and to ensure that more perpetrators were brought to justice. I am proud to follow through on this commitment within this bill.
As I already noted, those accused of repeat offences involving violence against an intimate partner would be subject to a reverse onus at the bail stage. In addition, the bill does the following: (1) proposes a higher sentencing range for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence; (2) broadens the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating partners and former partners; (3) provides that strangulation is an elevated form of assault; and (4) explicitly specifies that evidence of intimate partner abuse is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
Intimate partner violence is a reality for at least one in two women in Canada. Women who are indigenous, trans, elderly, new to Canada, or living with a disability are at increased risk for experiencing violence due to systemic barriers and failures. The personal and often lifelong consequences of violence against women are enormous.
The fourth area of reforms is to increase court efficiencies by limiting the availability of preliminary inquiries. Preliminary inquiries are an optional process used to determine whether there is enough evidence to send an accused to trial. Bill C-75 would limit their availability to accused adults charged with very serious offences punishable by life imprisonment, such as murder and kidnapping.
I recognize this represents a significant change. It is not a change we propose lightly. It is the product of an in-depth consultation process with my counterparts in the provinces and territories and with the courts, and it is based on the best available evidence. For instance, we know in 2015-2016, provincial court cases involving preliminary inquiries took more than four times longer to reach a decision than cases with no preliminary inquiry.
It is important to note that there is no constitutional right to a preliminary inquiry, and one is not necessary for a fair trial so long as the crown satisfies its disclosure requirements. In the Jordan decision, the Supreme Court of Canada asked Parliament to take a fresh look at current processes and reconsider the value of preliminary inquiries in light of the broad disclosure rules that exist today. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs also recommended that they be restricted or eliminated.
The proposed measures would reduce the number preliminary of inquiries by approximately 87%, ensure they are still available for the more complex and serious offences, help unclog the courts, and reduce burdens on witnesses and victims from having to testify twice, once at a preliminary inquiry and once at trial. For example, this measure would eliminate the need for a vulnerable witness in a sexual assault or child sexual assault trial from having to testify twice.
I am confident these reforms would not reduce trial fairness, that prosecutors would continue to take their disclosure obligations seriously, that our courts would continue to uphold the right to make full answer and defence, and that there would remain flexibility in existing processes, such as out-of-court discoveries, that have been implemented in some provinces already—for example, in Quebec and Ontario.
I will now turn to the fifth major area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is the reclassification of offences. The Criminal Code classifies offences as summary conviction, indictable, or hybrid. Hybrid offences may proceed as either a summary conviction or as an indictable offence. That choice is made by the prosecutor after considering the facts and circumstances of the case. The bill would hybridize 136 indictable offences and standardize the default maximum penalty for summary conviction offences in the Criminal Code to two years less a day.
These proposals would neither interfere with the court's ability to impose proportionate sentences nor change the existing maximum penalties for indictable offences. What Bill C-75 proposes is to provide more flexibility to prosecutors to proceed summarily in provincial court for less serious cases. This would allow for matters to proceed more quickly and for superior courts to focus on the most serious matters, resulting in an overall boost in efficiency in the system.
Let me clear: this reform is in no way intended to send a message that offences being hybridized are less serious or should be subjected to lower sentences. Rather, it is about granting greater discretion to our prosecutors to choose the most efficient and appropriate procedure, having regard to the unique circumstances before them. Serious offences would continue to be treated seriously and milder offences would take up less court time, while still carrying the gravity of a criminal charge.
A sixth area of proposed reforms in Bill C-75 is with respect to jury selection.
Discrimination in the selection of juries has been well documented for many years. Concerns about discrimination in peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous peoples being represented on juries was raised back in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge, in the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry report. That report, now over 25 years old, explicitly called for the repeal of peremptory challenges. More recently, retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci addressed these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario juries.
Reforms in this area are long overdue. Peremptory challenges give the accused and the crown the ability to exclude jurors without providing a reason. In practice, this can and has led to their use in a discriminatory manner to ensure a jury of a particular composition. This bill proposes that Canada join countries like England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in abolishing them.
To bring more fairness and transparency to the process, the legislation would also empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause by either the defence or prosecution. The legislation will strengthen the power of judges to stand aside some jurors in order to make room for a more diverse jury that will in turn promote confidence in the administration of justice. Courts are already familiar with the concept of exercising their powers for this purpose.
I am confident that the reforms will make the jury selection process more transparent, promote fairness and impartiality, improve the overall efficiency of our jury trials, and foster public confidence in the criminal justice system.
The seventh area of reforms will strengthen judicial case management. As the Supreme Court of Canada noted in its 2017 decision in Cody, judges are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster culture change. I completely agree. Judges are already engaged in managing cases and ensuring that they proceed promptly and fairly through the existing authorities in the Criminal Code, as well as provincial court rules. These reforms would bolster these powers—for instance, by allowing case management judges to be appointed at the earliest point in the proceeding.
In addition to the major reforms I have noted thus far, Bill C-75 will make technical amendments to further support efficiencies, such as by facilitating remote technology and consolidating and clarifying the Attorney General of Canada's power to prosecute.
Finally, the bill will make better use of limited parliamentary time by including three justice bills currently before Parliament: Bill C-28, Bill C-38, and Bill C-39.
In closing, Bill C-75 proposes meaningful reforms that will speed up criminal court proceedings and improve the safety of our communities while also taking steps to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and marginalized Canadians in the criminal justice system.
Our criminal justice system must be fair, equitable, and just. Victims, families, accused, and all participants in the justice system deserve no less. I urge all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague across the way about the reclassification of offences. I will start answering the question by speaking to the collaborative work that we engaged in with the provinces and territories in identifying appropriate and bold reforms that would ensure we are collectively addressing delays in the criminal justice system.
The reclassification of offences was strongly supported between and among my colleagues. As I noted in my speech, these amendments would give prosecutors the discretion they need to elect the most efficient mode of prosecution. Evaluating cases on a case-by-case basis would enable some offences to proceed summarily in provincial courts, which our discussions told us would free up time in superior courts for the more serious offences.
This is one of the bold reforms that we are proposing to move forward on that will have a fundamental impact on delays in the criminal justice system.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question and the focus on the “What we heard” report. We have done extensive consultations across the country on how we can collectively reform the criminal justice system. I take very seriously within my mandate letter the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system and recognize that it is not just indigenous peoples but other marginalized people as well, such as those suffering from mental illness and addictions.
In terms of how Bill C-75 addresses bail reform and administration of justice offences, conditions placed on marginalized individuals and indigenous persons are more predominantly featured for these individuals. Inappropriate conditions placed on these individuals bring indigenous people or other marginalized individuals back into the criminal justice system. We are providing law enforcement and the courts with discretion to take into account those factors with respect to these populations.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, as I stated earlier, we have done extensive consultations ever since I was honoured to have been placed in this role. We have done round tables right across the country in every province and territory. Round tables included judges, retired judges, defence lawyers, and prosecutors, as well as representatives of victims' organizations. That consultation has been taking place over more than two years now.
In addition, I and my parliamentary secretaries have had ongoing discussions with our counterparts in the provinces and territories, and I am really pleased to say that our shared responsibility in the administration of justice was taken very seriously. We identified areas of bold reform in terms of bail, administration of justice, reclassification of offences, and preliminary inquiries. These were all intensive discussions that we engaged in with my counterparts, and we also engaged with Canadians through surveys, questionnaires, and online surveys.
There have been extensive consultations with respect to these bold reforms that we are putting forward to answer the Supreme Court of Canada's call to reduce delays in the justice system.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, that is absolutely not what I am saying. The member opposite is completely mis-characterizing the bold reforms that we are proposing with the reclassification of offences.
This is not about altering sentencing ranges. This is not about changing the fundamental principles of sentencing, which require courts to impose sentences proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.
What we are doing with the reclassification of offences is providing prosecutors with the discretion to proceed by way of summary or indictment. This is not changing the sentencing ranges. We have not changed the maximum penalties for the most serious offences.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, every single case or offence that comes before a court, if it is within the offences that we are proposing to reclassify, will be considered on its merits.
We are not reducing or changing the sentencing regime with respect to these offences. What we are doing is providing prosecutors with the discretion to provide for and determine the individual circumstances of a case. All offences are serious. A prosecutor will have the ability, based on their discretion, to determine what is the most appropriate and efficient manner to prosecute a case.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-78, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table, in both official languages, a charter statement on Bill C-78, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, this morning I was pleased to introduce Bill C-78 and the accompanying charter statement.
We know that separation and divorce impact the lives of millions of Canadians and can be challenging for families, particularly for children. That is why Bill C-78 focuses on the best interests of the child first, reducing conflict, addressing family violence, and encouraging parents and former spouses to meet their family support obligations.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to table, in both official languages, a charter statement on Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring that we continue to move forward with broad-based criminal justice reform to address delays that were identified by the Supreme Court of Canada.
I was grateful to introduce Bill C-75. I look forward to the member opposite supporting Bill C-75 as we move forward, because it will substantially address the delays in the criminal justice system. I am going to continue to appoint meritorious judges across the country, including in Alberta, of which I have appointed 27 thus far.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring that we continue to move forward to transform the criminal justice system, with an eye to public safety, protecting victims, and holding offenders to account.
We are going to continue to move on this. This is why our government introduced Bill C-75, which I look forward to the members opposite supporting, given that they are concerned as well about delays in the criminal justice system.
I was also proud and continue to be proud of appointing meritorious judges across the country, 167 in fact, and last year, in 2017, 100 judges, the most of any justice minister in two decades.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, again, I am happy to stand up to speak about the appointments process that we have instituted. We will follow the appointments process for every appointment that I make.
I have made 167 appointments to the superior courts across this country, 27 in Alberta. I will add again, there were 100 appointments last year, a record of any minister of justice in over two decades.
I look forward to the member opposite also supporting Bill C-75, as we are committed to ensuring that we reduce the delays in the justice system.
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