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Results: 31 - 45 of 84
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2018-11-20 16:08 [p.23631]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the passion of my colleague opposite. I would want to believe that too, if I were her. I would want to believe what my colleagues told me, what my ministerial colleague told me.
Can she tell me whether she will at least have a chance to look into how little progress the current government has made on its legislative agenda compared with the previous government at the same point in time?
When a bill is suddenly introduced, it is only natural to say that we are going to examine it, but ultimately, many witnesses and experts in the field believe that Bill C-75 does not come close to doing what needs to be done.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
View Rachel Blaney Profile
2018-11-20 16:22 [p.23633]
Mr. Speaker, there is a quote from an article by Elizabeth Sheehy and Isabel Grant, in the Toronto Star, entitled “Bill C-75 reforms too little, too late....” It says:
A woman is killed by her current or former partner every six days in Canada. Indigenous women are killed by their intimate partners at a rate eight times higher. Domestic violence is a national crisis.
The federal government’s Bill C-75, introduced last month, proposes changes to the criminal law response to domestic violence. But the bill will do too little, too late. What we need is a comprehensive, integrated strategy to prevent and respond to domestic violence, and resources to support women extricating themselves from violent relationships.
We know that women's organizations that address issues of domestic violence have been coming again and again begging for money they desperately need to help these women prevent these kinds of situations. We know that the government is absolutely not providing the support they desperately need.
If this bill is so great, I want to know what the follow-up will be to make sure that these women are supported so that they can begin to have trust in the justice system of Canada.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2018-11-20 16:37 [p.23635]
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for his speech. We discussed our positions, which sometimes align, but often do not.
Obviously, I always feel a need to point out how disappointing this government's legislative agenda is. Given all of the serious problems Canada is facing, including those faced by first nations, this bill once again seems insufficient.
In the spring, the Criminal Lawyers' Association said that, sadly, intimate partner violence is one of the recognized legacies of residential schools and the sixties scoop. It believes that creating a reverse onus at the bail stage and increasing the sentence on conviction will likely aggravate the crisis of the overrepresentation of indigenous people in our prisons.
I would like to know what my colleague thinks about that. I think that is a major problem. The government is always talking about reconciliation, but it would be nice if the Liberals would take concrete action to improve this situation, rather than just being satisfied with public relations exercises.
View François Choquette Profile
NDP (QC)
View François Choquette Profile
2018-11-20 17:09 [p.23639]
Mr. Speaker, we are well aware that the government had to respond to the Jordan decision and that that is the purpose of Bill C-75. However, the government failed to do one thing: ensure that delays will no longer be a problem. We need to make sure criminals actually get convicted and serve their time in jail.
Sadly, there is a case going on in Calgary that is very well known. Nick Chan is a notorious gang leader who was accused of murder and other crimes, but he has been released because his right to be tried within a reasonable time, as laid out in Jordan, was violated due to the shortage of judges.
The bill is a first step toward addressing the problem, but it has its flaws, which I mentioned earlier in my speech.
What is the government doing right now to fill those vacant seats and put more judges on the bench?
View François Choquette Profile
NDP (QC)
View François Choquette Profile
2018-11-20 17:12 [p.23639]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House 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.
Before I begin my speech, I want to thank the hon. member for Victoria for the excellent work he did on this file in committee. He worked very hard. He proposed many amendments, asked witnesses questions, and made some insightful and very impressive remarks. That is what will fuel my remarks today.
Why are we voting against the bill? The purpose of the bill was to respond to the Jordan decision, but it does not respond to it correctly. That is one of the reasons we are voting against the bill. It does not go far enough, and it fails to achieve what it set out to do. That is the problem.
The stated objective of the bill was to comply with the Supreme Court's 2016 Jordan ruling and to clear the backlog in the justice system, which is very important.
The problem with the Jordan decision is that now the Charter guarantees the right to be tried within a reasonable time. That is fine. The Jordan decision set out a timeframe. The time limit between the laying of charges and the conclusion of the trial was set at 18 months, or 30 months in some cases.
If that deadline cannot be met, situations may arise—much like the notorious cases I mentioned earlier in my question—where real criminals who have committed very serious crimes can be let off without a trial. That is awful. That should never happen again. Our government should be ensuring that it never happens again.
That is why Bill C-75 was so highly anticipated. It should have corrected that situation, but unfortunately, it does not.
One of the major reforms in Bill C-75 is not based on sound evidence, and that is very problematic. The stated objective of the bill is to respond to the Jordan decision. However, we have serious doubts about whether the proposed amendments will actually help reduce case completion times in the criminal justice system.
Many of the proposed measures will likely have the opposite effect and could actually add to the delays.
The Liberals claim that this bill is a bold reform of the criminal justice system, but there is one problem, in addition to what I mentioned just now. The Minister of Justice's mandate letter has something very important in it, something we very strongly believe in: eliminating the mandatory minimum sentencing system. All of the leading legal minds and experts have told us repeatedly that mandatory minimum sentencing is bad for our justice system. It is bad for offender rehabilitation and reintegration, and it undermines judges' ability to exercise their judgment in unique cases.
What does Bill C-75 have to offer on that score? This was in the minister's mandate letter, so we expected the elimination of minimum sentencing to be a key component of the bill, but apparently it does not even bear mentioning.
The Liberals broke their promise, and that is a major disappointment. As I said, defence attorneys and legal academics agree that the reversal of this practice would have been a huge step toward unclogging the court system. Unfortunately, the Liberals chose not to tackle this key issue. That is inexplicable. I do not understand why they made that choice.
My first concern has to do with reducing the use of preliminary inquiries, which are essentially dress rehearsals for trials. They are used in only 3% of cases, so eliminating them in most cases, which is what Bill C-75 proposes to do, will not save a lot of time right away. One could argue that preliminary inquiries help narrow the issues to be presented at trial and that, in some cases, they completely eliminate the need for a trial if the Crown's evidence does not hold up. Eliminating preliminary inquiries is a solution that was proposed to reduce delays, but it will actually do the opposite.
My second concern is about the regressive change to summary offences. Imposing harsher sentences on those who commit less serious crimes, namely increasing the maximum sentence from 18 months to 24, is just one element of this reform. Many accused would be better helped by being given more social support, rather than being criminalized. This amendment would disproportionately affect members of racialized groups and indigenous communities, more specifically those with a low socioeconomic status and those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
Another major shortcoming of this bill is that it does not propose any measures to address the root causes of crime, such as poverty. In fact, today is national anti-poverty day. Other root causes include addiction, mental health problems and marginalization. There is nothing concrete in the bill to address those factors. Unfortunately, many people end up in the legal system when their situation is actually a result of social problems that we should be addressing. Sometimes those problems are of long standing. Take, for example, the social problems in indigenous communities and mental health problems.
The government needs to sit down with the affected communities to come up with solutions to these problems and try to improve their situation. Unfortunately, this bill has no plan to that effect.
I also want to reiterate that appointing more judges to fill judicial vacancies is absolutely crucial. We can no longer tolerate all these judicial vacancies. This government has been in power for over three years now. These judicial vacancies must be filled.
Let me remind members of the Nick Chan case in Calgary. Everyone is still talking about it today. This notorious gang leader was accused of murder and other serious crimes, but he was let off because his right to be tried within a reasonable time, as laid out in the Jordan decision, had been violated due to the shortage of judges.
This is a very serious problem that the government must address as quickly as possible. Of course, we have an independent judicial appointments process, but that process needs to go a lot faster. The vacancies must be filled, because we simply cannot let other notorious criminals escape prosecution because of a lack of judges.
View François Choquette Profile
NDP (QC)
View François Choquette Profile
2018-11-20 17:24 [p.23640]
Mr. Speaker, I congratulated the government on its new approach to appointing judges. I think that the diversity of the new appointments is a very good thing. The increased number of bilingual judges is also a very good thing. However, the remaining vacancies do need to be filled as soon as possible.
My colleague did not address a very important aspect of my speech, the part about mandatory minimum sentences. It is so important that it was included in the Minister of Justice's mandate letter.
The Liberals have been in power for three and a half years. When will they finally put an end to mandatory minimum sentences?
View François Choquette Profile
NDP (QC)
View François Choquette Profile
2018-11-20 17:26 [p.23640]
Mr. Speaker, the new process is indeed a good thing. We are pleased that the newly appointed judges represent a greater diversity of Canadians.
However, we are disappointed by how long it took and by the outstanding vacancies. That is what we find deplorable.
I would like to reiterate that abolishing mandatory minimum sentences is in the mandate letter of the Minister of Justice. Legal experts Amanda Carling, Emily Hill, Kent Roach and Jonathan Rudin have said that mandatory minimum sentences are a bad idea and that it is impossible for the legislator to know all the different types of offences and the offenders who might commit them. They believe that mandatory minimum sentences do not take into account the fact that some offenders live in abject poverty, have intellectual disabilities or mental health problems, or have been victims of racism or assault.
Why has the government not accomplished what is set out in the mandate letter?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2018-11-20 17:40 [p.23642]
Mr. Speaker, I hear the government talk about being a law and order government when it is clearly a common spin government.
I am not an expert on these matters, but all I can say about this bill is that everyone including the member for Papineau can see that the justice system is clogged up because of these very mandatory minimums.
Why not deal with the bigger problem, which is mandatory minimums? It is as though they called a plumber to fix a leak in the water heater and he is wasting his time fiddling with the taps.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-11-08 10:37 [p.23429]
Madam Speaker, I am deeply concerned and share the concern expressed in the House and at committee by my colleague, the NDP justice critic, the member for Victoria. Despite the Minister of Justice's mandate letter, which directed that she remove mandatory minimum sentences, and despite the fact that the criminal trial lawyers association of Canada called for that reform because of the delays in court proceedings, many matters are going to trial because of the fear of minimum mandatory sentencing.
Could the member speak to why they did not deliver on the instruction of removing the minimum mandatory sentences? Why did they refuse to do that? They could have done it within this 300-page bill.
View Karine Trudel Profile
NDP (QC)
View Karine Trudel Profile
2018-11-08 10:52 [p.23430]
Madam Speaker, in its own report on the stakeholder consultations, the Department of Justice admitted that the strain on our system is largely due to social issues. Nearly all the participants in the round table raised the same major concerns. They said that the people coming into contact with the criminal justice system are almost all vulnerable or marginalized individuals, many of whom have issues with mental illness, substance addiction or violence.
I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the notion that the government should invest more in addressing the root causes of social inequality and stop criminalizing people in need of help.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-11-08 10:54 [p.23431]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-75. This is a very large, very complex bill that touches on many important issues related to our justice system.
Obviously, I will not have enough time today to cover every element of the bill, so I will just focus on the aspects that interest me the most. However, I want to start by giving some background on the events that led to this bill and how it concerns my constituents.
As we know, Bill C-75 is a response to the Jordan decision, in which the courts ruled that there were unacceptable trial delays and that proceedings would now be terminated after a certain time frame. This was concerning to my constituents and to all MPs, especially those from Quebec, because we have seen several troubling cases in Quebec. In some cases, people charged with horrific crimes have been freed because of Jordan. These have been sordid and disturbing cases for the affected communities.
The Jordan decision seeks to address major issues, particularly with respect to services to indigenous peoples and the administration of justice. This is essential for maintaining public confidence in the justice system, especially the confidence of people who have asked me about many disturbing, high-profile cases. It is essential because the justice system cannot function properly without maintaining public confidence.
If I can wear my public safety critic hat for a moment, I would say the same is true in many situations involving public safety. This is not just about the justice system, but also the correctional system and police forces or national security agencies, which also play a role here.
Given the importance of maintaining public confidence, this bill had to be thoroughly reviewed. On that I want to commend my seat mate, the hon. member for Victoria, who was one of the finalists in the hardest working category of the Parliamentarians of the Year Awards, and rightly so. It is not difficult to understand why when we read a bill like this one, because these are extremely complicated matters that require rigorous review.
We must also exercise caution in political debate. To prevent undermining public confidence, we do not want the procedures and the implementation of these measures to be tainted by partisanship. This cannot be repeated often enough.
In this context, the objective of the bill in question is primarily to reduce legal delays. There are several positive elements, but some flaws as well, and although my time is limited, I would like to address some of them.
The first element, mandatory minimum sentencing, is the most important. This type of sentencing became singularly common during the last Parliament under the majority Conservative government. However, this policy failed, not just in Canada, but in the United States as well, where even very right-wing Republican legislators realized that it did nothing for public safety.
Mandatory minimum sentencing is imposed on judges by law to punish all sorts of crimes, which are often horrible. This creates a number of problems. The first obvious problem is that it eliminates judicial discretion, which weakens our judicial system. Also, mandatory minimum sentences are often intended to punish crimes that are driven by other social factors. We are therefore exacerbating troubling social phenomena, such as the overrepresentation of members of racialized populations or indigenous people in the prison and legal systems.
Some crimes, like drug possession and use, are public health issues and not law and order issues. We cannot minimize how important these issues are.
The facts, from Canada and elsewhere, show three things. First is obviously the social impact, as I just explained. Second is that, on several occasions, the courts struck down some of the legislation that was passed during the previous Parliament. For example, they threw out the Conservative provisions around mandatory minimums. Third, the mandatory minimums did not achieve the goals of increasing public safety, putting dangerous criminals behind bars and reducing recidivism rates.
I brought up this issue in reference to the previous government. What does this have to do with this bill introduced by the current Liberal government? During the previous Parliament, a number of Liberal members spoke out against such policies. At the time, the Minister of Justice and other members of the current government said loud and clear that this was an issue that needed to be fixed quickly. Now, we see that Bill C-75, which they already took far too long to introduce, does nothing to address this issue, even though the Liberals have been in government for three years.
My colleague from Edmonton Strathcona raised the issue with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice earlier today. The parliamentary secretary responded that it was an issue the government was seized with. The time for considering this issue is long past, which has become a trend with this government. This policy was doomed to fail even before the Liberals were elected, because it penalizes the people we want to help out of poverty so that they can contribute to their communities and our society. The Liberals missed an opportunity to fix this very important issue that has been around for a long time.
Certain U.S. states that lean heavily Republican, commonly known as red states, have observed over the course of many years that this policy is doomed to failure. If they have been able to see this, I think a supposedly progressive government should be able to see it too. These judicial reforms have been too long in the making, and I hoped this bill would take care of the problem, but sadly not. As has happened far too often since this government was elected, we will have to look to the Senate for a solution. An excellent bill has been proposed by Senator Kim Pate to address the issue of mandatory minimum sentences. That bill is one to keep an eye on. All in all, the government has missed an opportunity.
I want to talk about another element of the bill, namely hybrid offences. This is a very important part of the bill because it should help speed up the administration of justice. However, we have learned that this measure could increase the burden on the provinces. It is important to remember that the provinces are responsible for the administration of justice.
Representatives of the Quebec bar told the committee that it is not so concerning for them, because Quebec already has a very robust justice system that gives the prosecutor significant discretion. The Crown works hard to assess cases appropriately in order to prevent a backlog and minimize delays in the justice system.
When we are placing an additional burden on the provinces and have to rely on the provincial governments' goodwill, it is a sign that the federal government has a lot of work to do to make all this easier. Obviously, Bill C-75 does not really achieve that objective.
Unfortunately, it looks like my time is up. There were other elements I would have liked to address. This is, of course, a very large and complicated bill. The Liberals missed an opportunity to carry out the necessary administrative reforms to our justice system.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-11-08 11:06 [p.23432]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
We do in fact support those aspects of the bill. Since the devil is in the details, we will obviously have to see how those things will be implemented. The case my colleague mentioned is indeed very troubling. The matter of representation of indigenous peoples and racialized groups on juries in Canada must be resolved.
On the flip side, this bill does not fully resolve the issues related to mandatory minimum sentencing and all of the other aspects of the justice system that lead to an overrepresentation of vulnerable people in the correctional and justice systems.
It would be disingenuous of me to say anything other than the fact that I appreciate my colleague's goodwill. I do not want to diminish the importance of consultation, but I think that after being in office for a number of years now, the government could have done more to remedy the problems that perpetuate these social injustices. The bill contains good measures, but obviously more needs to be done.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 11:07 [p.23432]
Madam Speaker, I am vice-chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, and we heard very disturbing testimony about the impact of mandatory minimums, particularly on single mothers and indigenous women. In the past, judges had the discretion to say mothers could serve their sentences on weekends and look after their kids during the week. It has broken families, and kids have been forced into foster care because that flexibility no longer exists.
I heard the parliamentary secretary say we need more consultation on this. I would like to hear my colleague's view of whether there is any clearer direction than the several court rulings that have asked the government to move away from this practice. Does my colleague really think we need more consultation, or should the government have acted in this legislation to carry out the instructions in the Prime Minister's mandate letter to end the practice of mandatory minimums?
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-11-08 11:08 [p.23433]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
I share her dismay at the thought of women losing custody of their children because of a law whose mandatory minimum sentences were ruled inappropriate by several courts.
As she correctly pointed out, it was in the mandate letters, and more consultation is needed. In addition to the court rulings, we can consider the facts themselves: this policy has not achieved the desired outcomes, it has not ensured public safety, and it has not reduced recidivism. In some cases, it has had the opposite effect. The facts are very clear.
I think everyone involved, those from civil society especially, agrees with us. That is why the Prime Minister wisely included this directive in the mandate letters. Now we are asking the government to do the right thing by implementing this new policy and putting an end to provisions brought in by the Conservative government.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 11:19 [p.23434]
Madam Speaker, the status of women committee did a study last year about the experience of indigenous women in the justice system and in incarceration. We really hoped that Bill C-75 would bring in some of that advice. The government calls it a bold bill. I am afraid it is not.
I want to read something for my colleague. At committee, in December of last year, Jonathan Rudin, program director for Aboriginal Legal Services, said:
...mandatory minimum sentence prevents a conditional sentence from being put in....What happens then is that the person goes to jail, and if they don't have someone to look after their kids....they will lose their kids.... Even if the person gets their children back, they will have been removed from their families....that experience of being taken from your family and put into foster care....is incredibly damaging.
He also said:
The first thing we urge the committee to recommend and to at least try to do is to have the current government bring in the legislation they have promised to bring in to restore to judges their discretion to sentence people without the burden of mandatory minimum sentences and the restrictions on conditional sentences.
Why is that not in this bold bill?
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