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View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, our government introduced Bill C-75 in the last Parliament in order to prevent people from entering into the justice system, into that revolving circle of a justice system, without having any impact on reducing crime. We introduced good measures to fight crime efficiently, to fight crime fairly, to protect victims, but also to prevent the over-criminalization, particularly of certain peoples, like indigenous peoples or racialized peoples, in our criminal justice system.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:21 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills: C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast; C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts; 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; C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act; C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages; C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families; C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures; C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act; C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
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—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
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—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-19 18:32 [p.29426]
Mr. Speaker, in relation to the consideration of the Senate amendments 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, I move:
That debate be not further adjourned.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 18:33 [p.29426]
Mr. Speaker, I am very alarmed that here we go again with the Liberal government, through an omnibus bill, Bill C-75, watering down criminal penalties for serious crimes. What really irks me terribly is that impaired driving causes bodily harm.
Statistics in Canada today state that impaired driving offences are going up. Impaired driving is a leading cause of death in Canada, whether from consuming alcohol or drugs, and here is that government trying to include a softening of the sentences for it through Bill C-75.
I wonder if the government could answer this. What is it really trying to do here? Statistics are going up and penalties are going to be reduced. How is that going to help make Canada safer for people driving on the roads?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, let me say at the outset that I am going to miss the hon. member. He is now my neighbour. I have always enjoyed working with him, particularly during our time on the industry committee.
That is not our intention at all in this piece of legislation. While there is a hybridization of certain offences in this legislation, serious crimes where the facts are serious will always be taken seriously, both in terms of the sentence sought and in terms of the procedure used if it goes by way of indictable offence.
Sometimes, under the same alleged offence, there are facts that point to a less serious situation, and here we give the prosecution service across Canada the option to proceed by way of summary offence, which is quick and efficient, making more resources available within the judicial system for the treatment of serious crimes, and they will always be treated seriously.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, here we are on one of the last sitting days of this Parliament, and it is passing strange that the Liberals appear to be going for a very strange record.
In the last Parliament, I took a photo of myself standing next to a pile of bills on which the Conservative government had introduced time allocation. It was nearly half a metre tall. If we stacked up the bills that the Liberal government has used time allocation on, the pile would be of similar size. Even though the Liberals have not quite reached the 100 record for time allocation that the Conservatives established, they have used some kind of time allocation or closure on a greater percentage of their bills than the Harper government ever did.
Lately, we have had closure motions like this one. One of those motions restricted debate to a government speaker only, with no questions allowed. One of them occurred after four minutes of debate. This one occurs after less than two hours of debate.
Could the Minister of Justice tell us if the Liberals are going for a new record? I always like it when Conservatives and Liberals compete to be the worst.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I believe that in the current Parliament, closure has been used 10 times. I coached soccer for a number of years, and the number 10 was always a lucky number. Many of the best players in the world wear the number 10. For a soccer fan, that is a good thing.
In all seriousness, this bill was introduced in March 2018. It has been debated in the House for a total of 22 hours and 10 minutes. It has been with the Senate since December. The Senate has proposed 14 amendments and we have accepted 13. There has been a lot of back and forth, a lot of study by both committees. I can go through the number of speeches and the time spent on those speeches, as well as the witnesses in front of either the justice committee in the House or the justice committee in the other place.
It is simply time. It is an important bill. We have had time to look at it. A lot of House time has been dedicated to it. It is time to move on.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-06-19 18:38 [p.29427]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's being in the House and the opportunity to question him.
I tabled a bill recently in regard to human trafficking. I know we all think this is a very serious offence. I would like the minister's honest opinion here.
He mentioned the hybridization of offences: in other words, taking things that were indictable offences and turning them into summary convictions. For example, in some cases of human trafficking, it would be taking it from a high level down to two years less a day or a $5,000 fine.
The reason I want him to answer is that, in Oshawa and Durham Region, human trafficking has actually doubled. I know the minister's intention, but there is a reality here. Two years less a day or a $5,000 fine is very lenient when a person who traffics one individual can make $300,000 a year. That is only for one person, but many of these guys are trafficking 10 to 20 young girls in our communities. The challenge is that Canada is becoming a country where this crime is being perpetrated because the system here is so lenient. Two years minus a day or a $5,000 fine is just the price of doing business for these guys.
Does the minister think that two years minus a day or a $5,000 fine for a serious crime like human trafficking is going to stop somebody from victimizing our young people, especially young women for sex trafficking and things like that? Could he please comment? I do not think it is realistic, and advocates think this is ridiculous.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would point out is that we rolled what used to be Bill C-38 into this bill, which deals with human trafficking and presents improvements to prosecuting human trafficking in the justice system.
The answer to his question is the same as the previous, which is that in the serious kinds of facts that he describes, it would be quite unfathomable for a prosecutor to proceed by way of summary offence. It would proceed by way of indictable offence and that is the way it would go. I would point out that across Canada, provinces are widely in favour of this bill. We worked closely with our provincial and territorial counterparts in putting this legislation together, and they are widely supportive of this bill, particularly on the side of the Crown. This is evidence that this is the way it is going.
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
2019-06-19 18:41 [p.29428]
Mr. Speaker, I am slightly disappointed that the Minister of Justice moved a closure motion today. Yet another minister rises today to limit the number of hours of debate in the House by using a procedure that is supposed to be extraordinary but that has become commonplace under the Liberal government. When the Liberals were on this side of this House, they spoke out every time this procedure was used. Now, they are joking around about this being their 10th closure motion. They are making jokes as if this were all a game. They are laughing at Canadians who are watching today and who are seeing a government invoking closure for the 10th time. They seem to be taking this lightly, as if it were no big deal, just another regular procedure, but it is supposed to be an extraordinary procedure.
How can my colleague defend this today? How can the Minister of Justice, who is supposed to defend our rights and justice in Canada, rise in this democratic chamber to defend the use of a procedure that is supposed to be extraordinary? The situation is rather ordinary and does not call for the use of a procedure to shut down debate and rush this bill into law.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed by my colleague's question because I just said that we spent over 22 hours debating this bill in the House. There were 78 speeches in the House. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard from 107 witnesses over the course of 10 meetings, and 50 submissions were received.
This bill was introduced in the House in March 2018 and in the Senate on December 3, 2018. It is now June 19. We worked with the Senate to improve the bill. All in all, it is entirely appropriate to use this measure to conclude debate today.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2019-06-19 18:43 [p.29428]
Mr. Speaker, although I am anything but a lawyer, my constituents and I are very concerned about long delays in the legal system. I see some major reforms in Bill C-75.
I would like to know if the minister thinks we held enough consultations. I believe this is a very important bill, and I want to be sure everything has been done properly.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. The short answer is yes. We held consultations. We did a lot of work on different aspects of the bill.
This should be part of our response to the issue of delays in the judicial system. The reform of hybrid offences will give more discretion to our prosecution services. This will differentiate less serious cases from more serious cases, which will be allocated more resources.
This will also help indigenous people across the country, who are often overrepresented in the justice system. There are reforms of administrative procedures and also of administrative offences. This should help prevent revolving door justice for indigenous people. There is also a reform of preliminary inquiries.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, we are in the last few days of Parliament, and it seems like every day the government is saying it is going to invoke closure and bring forward time allocation to shut down debate.
Contrary to what the minister has just said, the process we go through here is this: Our committees look at these justice bills, and then we debate them here and send them to the Senate. Sometimes the Senate will send a bill back to us with amendments. Indeed, the Senate has sent this bill back with a number of amendments, at least 13 or 14, from what we hear tonight. However, we are not given the ability to debate those amendments. Our constituents expect us to do our due diligence.
We debated the bill prior to this, but the Senate has sent it back, and now the Liberal government is going to invoke closure. This is not just about closure and time allocation; it is about another promise of an omnibus bill. Bill C-75 is a 300-page bill that is an omnibus bill. The government has thrown everything in here, and now we are asked to shut down debate and get ready to vote on it.
The question that came from the Liberal side hit the nail on the head. That member said that one of the things we are concerned about is long delays in the courts. This bill is not just hybridizing many offences, but showing the failure of the Liberals to appoint judges throughout this country so these cases can be heard in the court system. Therefore, the Liberals bring this forward to basically push things through quickly, like a revolving door.
This is how the Liberals drew this up. Originally, offences like leaving Canada to join a terrorist group were part of this bill. It is basically allowing them to water down serious offences, such as advocating genocide, using a date rape drug and human trafficking. Yes, some of those may not be in there now, but that is the Liberal philosophy of criminal justice reforms.
I am sorry, but we are skeptical of the kinds of measures the current government brings forward, and we are very skeptical of the closure the minister is invoking.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I disagree not only with the facts as the hon. member has presented them, but also with his starting assumptions.
With respect to appointing judges, we have set up a rigorous and transparent system to appoint judges. At last count, I believe there were over 350 superior court judges appointed across Canada. There are not many vacancies left. I have appointed 50 to 60 since I was appointed Minister of Justice.
With respect to the examples the hon. member cited, those are precisely examples of how the justice committee worked and worked well. Changes to the bill were brought by the committee and accepted by the government.
This bill has been in front of us for over a year. It is not a question of anything being rushed through. We have been quite deliberate. We have accepted amendments at the justice committee level. We have heard and accepted amendments from the Senate. There has been a good to-and-fro in a number of different situations. Frankly, I have no problem whatsoever invoking closure on this bill, given where we are in this session and given the amount of input that all sides have had on this bill.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2019-06-19 18:49 [p.29429]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House as a father from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert. We are grappling with a real crisis. Young women are getting dragged into a process that will destroy them. As a father, I am deeply troubled by that.
I know nothing about this subject, seeing as I am not a lawyer, but the point raised by my Conservative colleague caught my attention. It is true that $5,000 sounds like a paltry fine. I do not know much about this.
The government says that we have been talking about this for however many days and hours, but when it decides to cut our debate time short, it is not respecting the standard regarding the number of hours that should be allocated to debate on a given issue. The Liberals say it is fine, but this is an issue I really care about.
Do they think all bills should be debated for less time? Is the Minister of Justice trying to tell us that the parliamentary process in general is too long?
The debate on this issue does not seem like an appropriate place to save time. This is such a serious issue that we should have enough time to discuss it fully, but the Liberals are saying we have talked enough.
Does my colleague think the parliamentary process is too long? It seems to me that it is shorter in China.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
What I am saying applies specifically to this bill. I am talking about this bill only.
As parliamentarians, we have a lot of opportunities to reflect on legislation and take part in debates. As I said, there were 22 hours and 10 minutes of debate. At second reading, there were seven hours and 15 minutes of debate. We heard 24 speeches at second reading, including nine from the NDP. Everyone had plenty of opportunity to contribute to this bill. I can quite comfortably say that we had enough time. We have been studying this bill for more than a year. At some point we have to decide.
As I just explained, as far as human trafficking is concerned, which my colleague brought up, we incorporated Bill C-38 into Bill C-75 because human trafficking is a very serious offence.
Moreover, the system gives the prosecutor the flexibility to determine how to proceed. Also, there is always the option to proceed by way of indictment. The penalties are very serious.
I want to assure my hon. colleague that we are not treating serious offences any less seriously.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2019-06-19 18:53 [p.29429]
Mr. Speaker, it is clear to me that the Conservatives are misleading Canadians in saying that this is going to reduce sentences. I have heard this time after time. What it really means is that they do not trust the independent police or independent prosecutors who bring cases forward to the justice system.
The bill would ensure that they would have discretion and would ensure that they could put people behind bars. Do Conservatives honestly believe that people who have dedicated their lives to criminal justice and fighting for victims would use the bill to reduce sentences?
What this would do is clean up the mess left by the Harper government. The Jordan decision was argued before we were elected and released after. After 10 years of making a mess of the justice system and clogging it up, the only thing we hear from the Conservatives is Doug Ford's plan to cut and make things even worse. They have nothing.
Could the hon. minister please tell the House why it is important to get the bill through?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work on the justice committee, to which he has brought his experience as a practising lawyer.
The bill is critically important as part of our response to the Jordan decision and to making the criminal justice system much more effective and efficient, while maintaining fairness for victims and making sure that the rights of the accused are also protected.
It is critically important that we pass this legislation. It contains a number of reforms that attempt to reduce delays in the system and attempt, as the hon. member has said, to give discretion to our prosecution service in general, which we think very highly of. As we know, at the federal level, it was, in part, created by the justice minister in the previous government, the member for Niagara Falls.
It is important that we move ahead with these kinds of reforms. Along with the number of judges we have named and the process we have created to name them, we are pushing the system ahead.
We have consulted widely. We have consulted practitioners and experts. Most importantly, we have consulted parliamentarians. That is why we are moving to do what we are doing this evening.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2019-06-19 18:56 [p.29430]
Mr. Speaker, what the minister did not say is that they never consulted the victims of crime in this country. On the second to last day of Parliament, Bill C-75 comes to us. It does not show that they are taking the safety and security of Canadians seriously. We have seen this. They are attempting to water down serious offences in this bill, such as impaired driving causing bodily harm. The province of Saskatchewan has the worst record in the Dominion of drunk driving charges. I have talked to many victims, and they are upset with this bill, because they have not had chance to address it. Many of them have lost loved ones. When they look at this flawed bill, it is all about criminal rights and nothing about the victims in this country.
I would like the minister to answer that. What is the government doing for the victims in this bill, because they are upset with this?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I reject his premise on this bill. I believe it is an attempt to mislead.
With respect to drunk driving, in addition to the measures contained in this bill, we have also passed Bill C-46, which strengthens our ability to react to driving while impaired. Again, it is the result of consultation with police forces across the country.
I categorically reject the idea that we do not take victims into account. This legislation takes victims into account. We met with victims groups seriously throughout the process, and I have since I have become minister.
Let me say that years ago, when I clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada and helped Mr. Justice Peter Cory prepare for the Ascov decision at the time, which was the Jordan of that generation, one of the things that were abundantly clear was that delays in the system did no good for victims. By improving delays in the system, we are also helping victims. We are helping families adapt to the tragedies that have befallen them, and we are helping them to have closure and move on.
I reject categorically any hint from the other side, any insinuation from the other side, that we do not take victims seriously. That is simply false.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-19 18:59 [p.29430]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful that the minister is here today to answer questions, because New Democrats have a lot of concerns. The government is again breaking another promise. The Liberals said that they would not use closure if they were in government and condemned it when they were sitting on this side of the House. Here we go again with another omnibus bill. They said they would not put forward omnibus bills. The broken promises continue, whether it be electoral reform or environmental protection. They are ramming through legislation without proper debate.
In terms of this piece of legislation, we have not heard from enough witnesses, and the Liberals have not produced this legislation in an evidence-based way. We are concerned that this legislation might even lead to more backlogs. We have concerns that we would like to debate here in the House, and we have not had the opportunity to do so.
Here we go again with another broken promise by the government. I would like to hear the minister speak about some of the concerns New Democrats have and about why the Liberals are breaking another promise.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is one of the first members I met when I came here four years ago, and this may be one of the last exchanges we have, so it is quite fitting.
There were over 107 witnesses at the justice committee over the course of 10 meetings, in 43 hours of committee time. There were 58 briefs submitted. There were also more than eight meetings of the justice committee in the other place and 40 witnesses during the Senate study. In addition to the usual letters and that sort of thing that come up through this kind of process, which has been going on for more than a year, we have dedicated a lot of House time and a lot of committee time to the bill. The other chamber dedicated a lot of time to the study of this bill. Amendments were proposed at the committee stage by all sides, some of which were accepted, some of which were not. The same was true at the Senate stage. There has been a lot of back and forth and a lot of participation.
I can assure the hon. member that I am quite comfortable with the amount of parliamentary input into this bill, and I am comfortable in saying that it is simply time to adopt it and allow these changes to be implemented in the system, because they will do people good, be they victims or the accused.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-06-19 19:02 [p.29430]
Mr. Speaker, I introduced a private member's bill that would change the Criminal Code on human trafficking. Right now it is extremely difficult to get a conviction in Canada, because we have to prove fear. The bill would align our definition with the Palermo protocol. In other words, it would allow easier convictions of human traffickers and also allow for training judges on human trafficking. Right now, it is extremely difficult to get a conviction.
I was wondering if the Minister of Justice could let all Canadians know if he would be supporting my private member's bill, or at least the initiatives the bill intends to provide for Canadians, especially victims of human trafficking.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the bill addresses human trafficking and tries to make it easier to prosecute human trafficking offences. It is my understanding that our government will also take measures toward a better approach on human trafficking in upcoming weeks. I am pretty confident that we have addressed a part of that question in this bill.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 19:43 [p.29432]
Mr. Speaker, today in the House we are discussing Bill C-75. The bill is supposed to strengthen the justice system. It is meant to better protect Canadians. It is meant to reduce delays and it is meant to modernize the criminal justice system.
In part, it does this by facilitating the administration of justice down to the provinces. However, the reality is the bill is yet another example of the current government's dirty habit of saying one thing but doing another. It is known as Liberal hypocrisy, or sometimes people refer to it as Liberal logic.
At the end of the day, this will in fact severely damage Canadian society and our justice system as a whole. Despite the rhetoric from across the way and despite the current heckles, the Liberals decided that they would not properly consult with stakeholders. They rammed the bill through without giving it careful consideration, without paying attention to the call for further discussion and certainly without adequate debate in this place.
As a result, Canadians are stuck with a piece of legislation that has a number of flaws that are very significant in nature. One of the flaws has to do with hybridization. Putting aside the issue of reducing the penalty of very serious crimes for just a moment, which I will come back to, hybridization also results in many crimes being moved from Federal Court into provincial court.
The Canadian Bar Association had this to say with regard to hybridization. It said this“would likely mean more cases would be heard in provincial court. This could result in further delays in those courts”. In other words, we already have a backlog within our justice system and the Canadian Bar Association is saying that Bill C-75 would result in an even further backlog, which is problematic because these individuals do need to go to trial. These cases do need to proceed, so holding them up even further is actually an injustice to the victim.
Furthermore, it should be noted that it is the government's chief responsibility to care for the safety and well-being of its citizens, to defend the vulnerable, to create laws that put the rights of victims first, which is why it is extremely alarming to see that the Prime Minister is actually pandering more to criminals than standing up for victims.
Bill C-75 reduces penalties for some very heinous crimes including participating in a terrorist group, trafficking women and girls, committing violence against a clergy member, murdering a child within one year of birth, abducting a child, forced marriage, advocating for genocide or participating in organized crime.
The members opposite do not like it when I say those things, it is an inconvenient truth for them, so their heckling gets louder and louder, but the truth cannot be concealed. These heinous, unthinkable acts would have a reduced sentence under Bill C-75.
Conservatives believe in the safety of Canadians being put first. They believe that it should be the number one priority of any government. We will continue to speak up on behalf of victims and we will continue to advocate for them to come first in our justice system. It is very important for me to stand here today and to speak to this piece of legislation because the rights of victims and the rights of communities must come first.
We have a Prime Minister who is much more concerned about pursuing his own agenda than he is about acting in the best interests of Canadians. It is not just with Bill C-75, it is with other pieces of legislation and other decisions being made by the government as well.
Bill C-71, which is the firearms legislation, was rammed through by the government earlier this spring. This was an attack on law-abiding firearms owners. Bill C-71 was rammed through without the government taking concern for the advice of law enforcement agents. It was rammed through without them actually consulting with legislative experts. It was rammed through without the Liberals taking the time to consult with and listen to Canadians.
When those in power turn a deaf ear to the people that they represent, arrogance incapacitates any ability for them to exercise logical thought or common sense. That is exactly what has happened under the current government.
The irony in all of this is that while the Liberals are letting criminals off the hook for committing atrocious crimes such as forced marriage, trafficking, terrorist activity and genocide, they insist on demonizing those who hunt or use their rifles for sport shooting. It is absolutely ludicrous. In what world does this make sense?
From the start, the Liberals did not want to debate Bill C-71. They did not want to consult, because that would mean they would need to listen and then would be held accountable to act on the things that they heard. Instead, the Liberals decided to push Bill C-71, the firearms legislation, through the House. They told Canadians that the bill is for their safety and protection, but it does nothing of the sort. It fails to address gang violence, it fails to address illegal firearm acquisition and use and it fails to address rural crime and violence. Bill C-71 simply goes after those who are already following the law, while rewarding criminals with shorter sentences or allowing them to walk away altogether.
It is very clear that what the current government likes to do more than anything is deceive Canadians. It is less about the safety, well-being and security of our country and more about appearing to be doing something good. If the government took Canadians seriously and really took the position of honour that has been bestowed upon it seriously, then it would genuinely want to strengthen our justice system and our borders. It would genuinely want to invest in front-line responders and make sure that illegal firearms are taken off the street and that people are kept safe in this country, but the current government is not interested in actually governing well. The current government under the current Prime Minister is more interested in its appearance, its image.
The Prime Minister told veterans that they cost too much. Meanwhile, he handed $10 million over to a convicted terrorist, Omar Khadr.
An hon. member: Shame.
Ms. Rachael Harder: It is shameful. I'm glad you recognize it.
The Prime Minister insists consistently on putting criminals before victims. This is wrong, because Canadians elect a government to look after their safety, security and well-being, to ensure that this country is running on all cylinders, that Canadians have a vibrant future that they can dream for, work toward and step into and be excited about for their children and grandchildren. The bill we are discussing today, Bill C-75, which makes changes to the criminal justice system, actually puts this country at risk and victims in serious danger. It rewards criminals.
The role of every government is to keep citizens safe. It is to facilitate an environment of economic prosperity in which people are free to use their time, their talent and their energy to build wealth and achieve the financial outcomes they desire. This means protecting our borders, investing in necessary infrastructure, decreasing taxes, exercising fiscal restraint and scrapping unnecessary regulations. It means respecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians and celebrating the contributions of those who work hard, rather than turning them into criminals. I am talking about the retired widow who lives next door to me, the local business owner who serves coffee when I go there, the medical practitioners who look after our health, the students who dream for a vibrant future and the veterans who have faithfully served this country. These are the faces that government should be looking into when it makes decisions to rule this country.
During his time as prime minister, John Diefenbaker told party members, “I was criticized for being too much concerned with the average Canadians. I can't help that; I am one”, and so it is today. Just as the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker did all those years ago, my colleagues and I on this side of the House are committed to standing up for everyday Canadians, those who work hard and want a vibrant future not just for themselves but for their children and grandchildren.
When we mess around with the justice system with a bill like Bill C-75 and when we reward criminals who commit some of the most heinous crimes imaginable and allow them to go free or we diminish their sentence to a mere fine, we depreciate the value of our country and we fail to look after the well-being of Canadian citizens.
In this place, there are 338 of us who were elected to do far better than that. I would expect much more from the current Prime Minister and much more from the members who govern with him. There is no greater honour than to serve in this place, to be elected by the people of Canada and to have the opportunity to function as a voice on their behalf. I would call upon this House to steward that honour and to vote this bill down.
View Kim Rudd Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am a mother and a grandmother and I truly am honoured to be in this place. I feel I have a duty and a responsibility to represent my constituents and all Canadians. I come here with honesty and integrity. I listened to the member across the way talk about people heckling in a place where we could hear a pin drop.
It is dishonest and it is misleading. I ask if the member opposite is proud of the remarks she just made.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 19:54 [p.29433]
Mr. Speaker, I would invite that member to have her hearing checked, because there was clear heckling in this place.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-06-19 19:55 [p.29433]
Mr. Speaker, I respect the member opposite's commentary here tonight, but in terms of clarifications, there are significant inaccuracies that she put forth in her comments.
The member represented to this House that crimes and offences related to terrorism or advocating genocide are being hybridized in this bill. That is clearly not the case. I urge the member to actually look at the bill as it was structured and as it was amended at the standing committee.
I take issue with many things that she raised here in terms of our government's commitment to addressing crime and our government's commitment to addressing victims. I know of the member's role on the committee for the status women and I would put this to her: This bill addresses intimate partner violence. This bill includes enacting reverse onus at bail for repeat offenders. It broadens the definition of intimate partner violence to include dating partners and former partners and it increases the maximum sentence in cases involving intimate partner violence.
In light of her own advocacy for women in this Parliament, would the member agree that those amendments serve the victims for whom she seems to speak?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 19:56 [p.29433]
Mr. Speaker, I respect the hon. member's question. Certainly any act that advocates on behalf of victims is noble. Any act that would put the well-being of women and children first and foremost is absolutely to be commended.
However, there are allowances made within this bill that would in fact allow people off with very small fines or penalties after committing extremely heinous crimes. I would also like to add that if the member opposite and his colleagues are interested in the well-being of victims, it probably would have been a good idea to consult with them in the creation of this bill. That was not adequately done.
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
2019-06-19 19:57 [p.29433]
Mr. Speaker, I too was surprised to hear my colleague talk about heckling, because she is part of the Conservative caucus, which does most of the heckling in the House. Every day, during question period, that is the caucus that makes the most noise. I am surprised to hear her say that there is too much noise in the House. I would like to know whether the Conservative Party has a new, no-heckling policy for debates in the House, including question period.
My question is actually very specific. I know it is not directly related to the bill, but since the member raised the issue of heckling in the House, I would like to know whether the Conservative Party intends to introduce a no-heckling policy during question period.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 19:58 [p.29434]
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have always had a policy of standing up for victims and placing them as our first priority. We have always had a policy of advocating for Canadians who live everyday lives. We have always had a policy of making sure that our justice system is strengthened and that the most vulnerable among us are advocated for. We will continue that legacy when we form government in October.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2019-06-19 19:58 [p.29434]
Mr. Speaker, we looked at this bill for dozens of hours at the justice committee, and I think I was looking at a different bill than the one the member was referring to. I would like to point out two inaccuracies in her comments.
First, terrorism and genocide offences were not hybridized under this bill.
Second, and more important, offences are not given lesser penalties under this bill. There are many offences that were already hybridized in Canada before this bill. All that hybridization does is allow the Crown to choose between an indictable and a summary type of offence. Under indictable offences, which they were before, the maximum sentence was five, seven or 10 years, but the minimum sentence could have been a fine. Therefore, there is no difference in minimum sentences and there is also the possibility of looking at the facts of the case and prosecuting it as a summary offence.
I would like to ask if the member was aware, before she gave her remarks, that terrorism and genocide offences were not hybridized under this bill?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 19:59 [p.29434]
Mr. Speaker, certainly when this bill was first brought forward, terrorism and genocide were included within hybridization. However, due to pressure that was applied by the Conservative members in this House as well as by members of the Canadian public, the Liberals did walk those two back, so I will give them credit for that.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-19 20:00 [p.29434]
Mr. Speaker, Cody Legebokoff is Canada's youngest serial killer. He heinously killed four young women in my riding. He just started serving his time, but recently he was transferred to medium security. I want to ask our hon. colleague what she feels about the current government's lack of priority for victims' rights. Cody Legebokoff should be behind bars—
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-19 20:00 [p.29434]
Mr. Speaker, I think the bottom line is this: Those who find themselves elected in this place find themselves in a very honoured position and have every responsibility to stand up for the rights of victims first and foremost. Bill C-75 fails to do that.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-19 20:01 [p.29434]
Order. It being 8 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the amendments tabled by the Senate to Bill C-75 now before the House.
Order. What I am hearing is over here. Order. I have spoken to both members, and I expect them both to be silent and keep their hands down for a while.
The question is as follows—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: Okay, I am going to ask the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George to go outside for a while and take a little break until he can calm down, until he can be in here without reacting to what he is hearing.
The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Speaker: Call in the members.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved:
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation 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 House:
agrees with amendments 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12(b), 13 and 14 made by the Senate;
proposes that amendment 3 be amended to read as follows:
“3. Clause 239, pages 90 and 91:
(a) on page 90, replace lines 2 and 3 with the following:
“dictable offence that is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment, other than an offence listed in section 469, the justice”;
(b) on page 90, replace lines 18 and 19 with the following:
able by 14 years or more of imprisonment, an offence listed in section 469 that is not punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment or an”;
(c) on page 90, replace line 44 with the following:
“section 469 that is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment,”;
(d) on page 91, replace lines 20 and 21 with the following:
“offence listed in section 469 that is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment, the justice shall endorse on the informa-”;
proposes that amendment 4 be amended to read as follows:
“4. Clause 240, pages 92 and 93:
(a) on page 92, replace line 11 with the following:
“14 years or more of imprisonment, other than an offence mentioned”;
(b) on page 92, replace lines 25 to 27 with the following:
“offence that is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment, an offence listed in section 469 that is not punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment or an offence mentioned in section”;
(c) on page 92, replace line 41 with the following:
“section 469 that is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment,”;
(d) on page 93, replace line 20 with the following:
“is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment, the justice or”;
proposes that, as a consequence of Senate amendments 3 and 4, the following amendment be added:
1. Clause 238, page 89: replace line 33 with the following
“fence that is punishable by 14 years or more of imprisonment is be-”;
proposes that amendment 6 be amended by replacing the words “an intimate partner – and, in particular, a partner” with the words “a person” and by replacing the words “on the basis of sex or is an Aboriginal person” with the words “because of personal circumstances – including because the person is Aboriginal and female”;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 10 made by the Senate because the Bill already provides flexibility to the provinces and territories with respect to agent representation while also recognizing regional diversity in respect of how legal representation is regulated across Canada, and because the amendment could have unintended repercussions for the provinces and territories; and, the Government continues to work with the provinces and territories to support the effective implementation of these reforms.
proposes that amendment 12(a) in the English version be amended by replacing the words “apply in Bill C-45” with the words “apply if Bill C-45”.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today to speak to the amendments made by the other chamber 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.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
After being examined and given thoughtful deliberation in the Senate, the bill has returned to the House of Commons so that we can review the 14 amendments that have been made.
I would first like to thank all members and senators, particularly the members of the committees of both chambers, for their work to reduce the delays in the criminal justice system.
In particular, I would like to thank the chair of the justice committee, as well as the member for West Nova, both of whom gave me critical advice at appropriate moments.
I would also like to thank all of the witnesses who took the time to submit briefs and to appear before the committee, since they expressed very useful views about their experience with the criminal justice system, whether from the perspective of a professional, an accused, a victim or a family member.
Many of these witnesses echoed the concerns expressed by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 2016 Jordan decision.
We all know that delays in the criminal justice system are destructive, and particularly so to some of the most vulnerable members of our society: victims of crime and their loved ones. Delays also impact accused from groups that are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Of course, the cost of inefficiencies is also borne by taxpayers.
I learned this lesson very early when I was fortunate enough to be a clerk to Justice Peter Cory of the Supreme Court of Canada. At that time, the Askov decision was heard, which was the predecessor to Jordan.
Bill C-75 presents an important opportunity to take concrete action to reduce these delays and respond directly to my mandate. It is the product of significant consultation over many years, and it would modernize the criminal justice system in ways that provinces and territories, which are responsible for the administration of the system, have agreed would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this system.
All of the proposed amendments have been crafted with a view to the impact they would have on the incarceration rates of indigenous persons and persons who are vulnerable to being overrepresented in the criminal justice system in Canada. Bill C-75 seeks equally to improve the safety of our communities by implementing our government's commitments to toughen criminal laws and bail conditions in cases of intimate partner violence, or IPV, with the goal of keeping women and children safe.
As members will no doubt recall from when the bill passed through this place the first time, it is bold and transformative and contains many much-needed improvements to the criminal justice system. Today I will provide a general overview of the key areas of criminal law reform contained in Bill C-75, as well as some details on the amendments proposed by the other place.
First, I want to talk about the modernization and simplification of the bail provisions.
All stakeholders support the bill's proposal to modernize and simplify the interim release provisions. Everyone agrees that these reforms need to be made right away. This critical modernization of the interim release provisions will be the most comprehensive reform in 45 years. It will strengthen the key principles of interim release, which the Supreme Court of Canada has outlined many times, particularly just recently in 2017 in R. v. Antic.
Moreover, these changes are needed to reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous people and individuals from vulnerable populations in the criminal justice system. I look forward to the addition to the Criminal Code of the proposed requirement that particular attention be given to the circumstances of aboriginal accused in interim release decisions.
The other place proposed a slight change to the interim release provisions in the bill in response to the March 2019 Supreme Court ruling in R. v. Myers. The Court stated that the detention review under section 525 of the Criminal Code must be an automatic procedure whether the delay was unreasonable or not. This ruling raised some concerns in Quebec over the court of competent jurisdiction to hear these cases, given the unique way the term “judge” is defined for Quebec for the purposes of these interim release hearings.
Amendment 2 would uphold the current definition of this term for Quebec, but will add that only a judge from the Court of Québec may conduct a detention review, except in the case of a decision on the detention issued by the Superior Court of Quebec.
I urge all hon. members to support amendment 2 from the other place since it gives Quebec greater discretion to guarantee more effective use of judicial resources.
The bill amendments are also instrumental in increasing the safety of all women and girls, including indigenous women and girls. Specifically, they would require a justice to consider whether an accused would be charged with an offence involving IPV against an intimate partner when determining whether to release or detain the accused.
The amendments would also require courts to consider the criminal record of the accused, including prior convictions and the context of the offence. In cases where an accused who had a prior conviction for violence against an intimate partner is facing new charges for IPV, a reverse onus would be imposed on the accused at bail, meaning that the burden would shift to the accused to justify why the accused should not be detained pending trial.
Bill C-75 proposes other amendments in relation to ensuring that convictions for violence against intimate partners are taken seriously at the sentencing stage.
As passed by this place, Bill C-75 would modernize the current aggravating sentencing factor in the Criminal Code to ensure it would concur with our current understanding of IPV and would specify that it would apply to both current and former intimate partners, as well as the more modern conception of intimate partnerships, including dating partnerships. It would also allow for the possibility of seeking a higher maximum penalty in cases involving a repeat IPV offender.
Informed by the testimony of the commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the other place's amendments 6 and 7 would strengthen these amendments to ensure that violence against indigenous women and girls would be treated all the more seriously at sentencing. The other place's amendment 6 would create a new sentencing objective in the Criminal Code that would direct a court to give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence for an IPV offence, in particular where the victim is vulnerable on the basis of sex or is an indigenous person.
The other place's amendment 7 would expand Bill C-75's aggravating factor to include IPV committed against a member of the offender's or the victim's family and would create a new sentencing principle that would require a court imposing a sentence for an IPV offence to consider the increased vulnerability of female victims, giving particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal female victims.
I support these amendments, with a minor modification to the other place's amendment 6 to remove the concept of IPV and replace the reference to a person's sex with reference to personal circumstances and to specifically refer to aboriginal women. This would assist in ensuring judges take into account the increased vulnerability of indigenous women as victims for all offences.
It is also timely in that it would address some of the recommendations in the recently released missing and murdered indigenous women and girls report, recommendations 5.17 and 5.18. Moreover, these amendments would address some of the concerns noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its recent Barton decision, where the court noted that indigenous women faced injustices in all areas of the criminal justice system as well as extremely high rates of violence.
I acknowledge that some may question these two amendments, given that the House did not support Bill S-215 at second reading. Bill S-215's proposed aggravating factors would have applied to only a few offences. This other place's amendment also differs from Bill S-215 in that it would apply to a broader group of victims. It would directly call on the court to consider the vulnerability of female victims, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal female victims. In contrast, Bill S-215 was limited to the fact that the victim was a female person who was Indian, Inuit or Métis.
The second element is enhancing the existing approach to administration of justice offences, including for offences committed by youth. The judicial referral hearing procedure proposed in Bill C-75 is another positive reform aimed at diverting less serious, non-violent cases from the courts so that they may be dealt with more efficiently. This approach will also help reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous people and other marginalized groups in the criminal justice system, who are overrepresented among those accused of administration of justice offences.
This area of reform was recommended in the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs' final report entitled “Delaying Justice is Denying Justice: An Urgent Need to Address Lengthy Court Delays in Canada”, given the significant number of cases involving administration of justice offences in the system and the pressure they cause. It is harder for the accused to break the cycle of crime because of these offences.
The bill gives police officers and prosecutors a new tool that allows them to ask judges to review all bail conditions that apply to the accused. This allows for an assessment of the reasonableness of the conditions and helps promote a culture change encouraging criminal justice professionals to play an active role in reversing the upward trend in the number of charges related to administration of justice offences, when other kinds of offences are declining.
The third point is on restricting the availability of preliminary inquiries to the most serious offences. As introduced, Bill C-75 proposed to restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to indictable offences punishable by life imprisonment, roughly 70 offences. The other place agreed that these offences should automatically include a preliminary inquiry.
However, it also expanded their availability on a discretionary basis to all other indictable offences with a maximum penalty of less than life imprisonment, which would have been an additional 393 offences. As per the other place's amendment, preliminary inquiries would be available in two circumstances: first, where one or both parties requested one; and, second, a justice was satisfied that certain criteria were met, namely that appropriate measures were taken to mitigate the impacts on victims for both approaches and, where it was on the request of one party, that it was also in the best interest of the administration of justice.
The amendment responded to concerns that preliminary inquiries were not available for more and serious offences. However, the expansion of their availability, combined with the new complex criteria, would lead, in our view, to further delays and unnecessary litigation; for example, to interpret the proper application of the criteria.
Recognizing, however, that the other place's amendment was motivated by continuing concerns by the legal community and others, I proposed to not accept the other place's amendments 3 and 4 as drafted, but to revise the bill's original approach to make preliminary inquiries also available for offences with a maximum penalty of 14 years, for example, sexual assault with a weapon.
Although this would expand the availability of preliminary inquiries for 86 more offences, the proposal is consistent with the 2017 FPT ministers of justice's consensus to restrict them to offences carrying the most serious terms of imprisonment. A 14-year threshold will still provide certainty and will avoid the delays inherent in the other place's amendment.
I hope you will all will join me in supporting this amendment, as it strikes an important balance in what is a long-standing, contentious debate regarding preliminary inquiries.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I hope that everyone in this House will join me.
The fourth element is on reclassification of offences. Reclassification of offences is another key element of Bill C-75 that will modernize and streamline the Criminal Code and promote a more efficient and economical use of judicial resources.
Hybridizing offences that are punishable by a maximum penalty of two, five and 10 years' imprisonment gives the provinces and territories greater flexibility to match their resources to the cases based on the offender's circumstances and the gravity of the case.
However, this reclassification would not change the fundamental sentencing principles. The classification reforms do not reduce penalties. Serious offences will continue to be treated seriously by the courts.
The other place's amendments 1, 10, 11, 13 and 14 are about the reclassification of offences and touch on areas for which witnesses expressed concerns about amendments potentially having unintended consequences.
Amendment 1 would allow a court to order DNA sampling for offences punishable by five and 10 years' imprisonment. Bill C-75 would hybridize those offences, and DNA orders are already issued for them. This amendment is consistent with the objectives of the bill, and I urge the House to join me in supporting it.
I would also urge the House to join me in supporting amendment 11, which would amend the Identification of Criminals Act to state that a person accused of a hybrid offence can be fingerprinted even if the prosecutor opts to proceed by way of summary conviction.
Amendments 13 and 14 are consequential amendments relating to the coming-into-force date of the specified provision if amendment 12 is agreed to.
The other place's amendment 10 attempts to respond to concerns that a number of stakeholders made regarding the unintended impact of Bill C-75's proposed amendments to increase the maximum penalty for most Criminal Code offences with a summary conviction penalty to two years less a day.
Currently section 802.1 makes clear that agents, including law students, articling students, paralegals and others, cannot appear in summary conviction proceedings where the maximum term of imprisonment is greater than six months, unless the agent is authorized under a program approved by the lieutenant governor in council of the province or the accused is an organization.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights amended section 802.1 to allow provinces and territories to establish criteria in addition to their existing authority to approve programs, authorizing agents to appear in summary conviction proceedings where the maximum penalty was more than six months and to allow agents to attend court in place of the accused to seek an adjournment of the proceeding on all summary conviction matters without prior authorization.
These amendments maintain jurisdictional flexibility in this area of criminal procedure while also recognizing regional diversity and how legal representation is regulated across Canada.
The proposed other place's amendment would add a provision that would also allow agents to appear where they are authorized to do so under the law of a province. We are concerned that there might be unintended results to this amendment. As I stated earlier, this bill is the product of considerable consultation with provinces and territories and there has not been sufficient time to analyze and ascertain what the effect of this amendment would be under existing provincial and territorial laws.
Moreover, provinces and territories already have flexibility to quickly address any consequences of the reclassification scheme on agents through the amendments made to the bill in this place last December. Using the proposed new power to do this through criteria or a program established by the lieutenant governor in council is a much faster process than legislative reform.
For these reasons, we do not support the other place's amendment 10.
The fifth element is about strengthening case management. Bill C-75 will strengthen Criminal Code provisions to improve case management.
The sixth element is about improving the jury selection process. Bill C-75 will also improve the jury selection process by eliminating the potentially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges, making the selection process more transparent, promoting fairness and impartiality and making jury trials more efficient in general.
The seventh key area was implementing other additional efficiencies. One of the most widely supported aspects of the bill is the promotion of additional efficiencies, including through the use of technology where available to facilitate remote appearances.
Bill C-75 also includes reforms proposed in three bills that were previously introduced as separate bills: Bill C-28, victim surcharge; Bill C-38, exploitation and trafficking in persons, and Bill C-39, repeal of provisions ruled unconstitutional.
The other place's amendments 5, 8 and 9 respond to the December 14, 2018, decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Boudreault, which struck down the provisions in the Criminal Code related to the federal victim surcharge, used by provinces and territories to partially fund their victim services.
The other place's amendments re-enact a new victim surcharge regime that requires the imposition of a surcharge in all cases, but provides greater judicial discretion to depart from imposing the surcharge in appropriate cases, in order to address the concerns of the Supreme Court decision.
I believe the victim surcharge amendments will restore the necessary judicial discretion to ensure that the sentence imposed in each case is fit and proportionate. I urge this House to join me in supporting these amendments. These are changes that I know my provincial and territorial colleagues are awaiting.
In conclusion, as we can see, this bill contains a number of crucial measures to reduce delays in the criminal justice system. These measures will help modernize and simplify the system, while at the same time providing additional safeguards for vulnerable victims and restoring the ability to collect the federal victim surcharge.
Last, but not least, these amendments represent an important step towards reversing the historically disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on indigenous peoples and marginalized peoples.
We must work together to ensure that this bill is passed before we adjourn for the summer.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 22:21 [p.29247]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister on his speech. I agree, on behalf of the NDP, with the thrust of his remarks with respect to the Senate amendments made to Bill C-75, certainly with respect to intimate partner violence and the bail reform provisions and, in particular, the section 802.1 where law students and agents will again be able to represent people fully in summary conviction matters. I think these are all really important matters and I agree with him.
However, surely, if the issue is about the Askov and Jordan delay principles, the elephant in the room would be the fact that the government has failed to follow up on the Prime Minister's commitment to address to the minister, in the mandate letter, the minimum mandatory sentences provisions. I agree with him that we have a crisis in the over-incarceration of indigenous people, eight times as many indigenous men per capita, 12 times as many women.
Jonathan Rudin and others who work with Aboriginal Legal Services, say that there has to be a change in the mandatory minimum provisions if we are going to change that. Why does the government not get that?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work on the justice committee on this bill and other bills.
With great deference, I took over the bill at a certain stage at which the point on mandatory minimums had already been settled for the time being. I have committed publicly in front of the justice committee, as well as publicly in other places and I am willing to do so in this House, hopefully remaining in this position moving forward, that I will make the study of mandatory minimum penalties a priority for myself.
That being said, we have taken on other provisions in this reform, particularly the reforms we are making to the administration of justice, which can be a revolving door for indigenous persons in Canada. By regulating those administrative law offences, I think we have addressed a great deal of the question for indigenous peoples. Certainly, we will monitor the situation, the mise en oeuvre of this bill on the ground, once it gets enacted into legislation and we will be open to future reform.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
View Randy Hoback Profile
2019-06-17 22:24 [p.29247]
Mr. Speaker, one thing about the Conservatives is we stand for the rights and concerns of the victims over the concerns of the criminals. I would ask the minister this. How can he justify the watering-down of offences such as impaired driving that causes bodily harm, the use of the date-rape drug or human trafficking? How can he justify the changes in these areas that make it less offensive or less of a consequence for people to participate in these types of crimes?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. It is good to interact with him again after our first year in trade.
I would reject the premise of the question in the sense that we have created a number of hybrid offences that could be prosecuted either by way of summary procedure or indictable offence. We leave that discretion up to the Crown prosecutors as they move forward, but that is not to say that we are treating any of these offences any more lightly. Serious offences will be treated seriously. Depending on the facts of the case, the prosecutor will decide whether to proceed by way of indictment or by way of summary offence. The option to use the summary offence is there to accelerate the system to make it more efficient where the nature of the facts are such that the offence perhaps is not as serious. However, serious criminality will always be taken seriously under this and the procedure by way of indictment still remains.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-06-17 22:26 [p.29247]
Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns of the hon. member for Victoria. We are still hampered in our criminal justice system by a series of mandatory minimums that we know have been found, by any criminology or empirical evidence, to absolutely not be effective and are a burden on the justice system. In this reform, we had hoped to see that.
I have a private member's bill, should the Minister of Justice want to look at it, which enumerates all of the mandatory minimums brought in in the 41st Parliament so that, in one piece of legislation, we could remove them all. Since the Minister of Justice has undertaken to study the matter, I wanted to draw to his attention the existence of my private member's bill and I hope that we can do more.
Also, I put forward about 46 or 47 amendments at committee around certain aspects of vulnerable populations. I know the Senate has made a number of helpful amendments. I think the bill could still be much improved, although some of the Senate amendments go some distance toward what I was trying to do in clause-by-clause. Therefore, I would appreciate any comments from the Minister of Justice.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I was not the person shepherding the bill during the proceedings in front of the justice committee in this place. That being said, I did work with the Senate committee quite closely with respect to the amendments proposed on IPV and vulnerable victims, in particular, indigenous women.
I will take the member's suggestion on minimum mandatory penalties and undertake to look at whatever she proposes.
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2019-06-17 22:28 [p.29248]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Justice. He has done a tremendous job on not only this but also the judicial appointments, and looking at improving efficiency and effectiveness in our judicial system.
During his presentation, when talking about the Senate amendments, the minister made comments about expanding preliminary inquiries to 14 years, which used to only be for more serious offences. Could he comment on how he has taken the amendment from the Senate and made a suggestion toward 14 years and how he came to that?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is a good one. The bill as it went to the other place reserved preliminary inquiries or the right to preliminary inquiry for only offences that carry the potential of a life sentence. We heard from senators. We heard from criminal defence lawyers and others that perhaps this was too stringent a criterion, that in fact, in many complex cases, a preliminary inquiry actually helped to make the case run in a more efficient manner perhaps by identifying the kinds of evidence and whether or not certain kinds of evidence would be heard.
The other place recommended a change that would have allowed for a preliminary inquiry to be expanded to all sorts of serious offences, but with a discretionary criterion that would have created extra burdens on the system, particularly in the early years as we were sorting out the criteria. I will not go into the detail again, as I mentioned it in my speech.
We have tried to achieve a middle balance, expanding the number of offences by roughly 100, by saying a preliminary inquiry will be automatically possible where the penalty is 14 years or greater, including the life sentence but expanding the number. We feel this is an appropriate and efficient compromise without the discretion. Again, we will monitor the application of the law on the ground to see how the amendment plays out in practice.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-17 22:31 [p.29248]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to speak. This could quite possibly be the last speech I make in the 42nd Parliament. I certainly have a number of things to say about Bill C-75.
Bill C-75 amends criminal law. It is a justice bill. When we look at bills that fall into this area, it is important to remember what we are trying to achieve with bills in the criminal justice system. The first thing we are trying to do is define for Canadians what unacceptable behaviour is. Once we have set that standard, then we are trying to assign penalties suitable to deter people from committing that crime. In Canadian federal prisons, we do not do a lot of rehabilitation, so really the main part of the criminal justice system is to assign a penalty that both is commensurate with the crime that was committed and also is a deterrent to keep people from committing that crime, and then to prosecute that charge in court with a fair and due process.
I would like to look at Bill C-75 and compare it to those criteria to see how it measures up.
First, I will talk about defining unacceptable behaviour. I am not sure that the Liberals understand what unacceptable behaviour is. I say that because we are talking about a Prime Minister who is the first prime minister to break a law, which he did when he took a private helicopter to billionaire island. The member for Brampton East was involved in allegations of money laundering. We are currently seeing the member for Steveston—Richmond East in several instances of money laundering, as well as being disbarred. There have been multiple ethical lapses and cases of sexual harassment that caused some members to be out of the caucus, but I would argue there are still some members within the caucus. There is a tolerance for things that, in the minds of Canadians, shows that maybe there is not a good moral compass in the Liberal Party to define what unacceptable behaviour is.
With respect to assigning penalties suitable to deter people from committing the crime, one of the most egregious things about the changes in Bill C-75 is that the Liberals have taken a number of crimes that Canadians would consider to be very heinous and reduced them to a summary conviction of two years or a fine. It is important to look at the list of the kinds of crimes we are talking about, so that people can convince themselves whether this is appropriate.
The most heinous crime on the list has to be the forcible confinement of a minor. In the minds of all Canadians, we value our children and we want to protect our children. If somebody kidnapped and forcibly confined a child, I do not think most Canadians would think it is okay to get off with a fine for doing that. That is unacceptable.
Also on the list is forced marriage and forced marriage of children. I am not sure this should be allowed at all in Canada, but I know one thing. If we are talking about forced marriage and marriage for people who are under 16, that is rape. It is clear that it is rape. Therefore, to put that as a summary conviction of less than two years or a fine is unacceptable. We can see in this country that rape is on the increase. One in three women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. Therefore, it is clear that we do not have the right deterrent to reduce the crime that is happening.
I was the chair of the status of women committee when we studied violence against women and girls in Canada. We had testimony from quite a number of countries, and I was interested to look around and see which countries were doing a better job in the area of rape. There are countries that do not have a big issue with rape. I asked the witnesses why that was, and they said the penalty for the crime was 10 to 15 years in prison, so they have a deterrent for people not to commit that crime. There is also an awareness of the fact that it is illegal. We have a lot of people coming to Canada from places that have a different culture in many cases and have a different tolerance for things like rape. It is important that we educate people who come to this country about those issues. We should be setting punishment for this crime that is commensurate with it, and a fine is not acceptable.
Assault with a weapon is on the list. We sadly saw what happened today at the Raptors parade with people getting shot. This seems to be an event that is on the rise. I think about the Danforth shooting. I think about a number of shootings that have happened. Assault with a weapon should not be less than two years in prison or a fine. That is not acceptable. That is not a deterrent, and I think most Canadians would agree with that.
Originally, there were a number of items on the list that had to do with participating in terrorism activities, or leaving Canada to participate in the activities of terrorist groups. There was some walk-back within Bill C-75 on that issue, but we are still not in the place we need to be on that.
Canadians are concerned about terrorism. A number of events happen but we do not receive any information. I am thinking about the two fellows in Ontario who were caught with explosives and the FBI was investigating. Everyone says there is nothing to see here; all is fine. There is the Danforth shooting, the guy who drove a van and killed multiple people in Toronto. There is the return of ISIS fighters and people not knowing what is happening with them. Are they walking around? How do we know that the public is safe? There is a concern among Canadians that we should take a hard line on terrorism. I am glad to see some walk-back on that, but I want to keep an eye on it.
Another thing on the list is municipal corruption. Corruption in government of any kind is not something that should ever be reduced to a fine. We have seen lots of corruption in the existing Liberal government, lots of scandal. The fact that the Liberals have reduced the severity of the crimes on this list is indicative of the lack of moral compass on the other side.
Maybe “assisting prisoner of war to escape” is not a current issue, but how about “obstructing or violence to or arrest of an officiating clergyman”? This one is particularly egregious to me. I remember when Bill C-51 came from the Liberal government and tried to take what is today considered a crime, to attack or threaten a clergyperson, and remove that altogether. I remember the concern from churches in Sarnia—Lambton and across the country. They wondered why the Liberals wanted to take a protection away from the clergy, especially when cases of that nature had been prosecuted.
As a result of the public outcry and a swing in the polls, the Liberals backed off that, but here it is, showing up again, and this should be a flag to people who are watching tonight. What we see with the Liberals again and again is that they try something and when there is a public outcry, they back off, but as soon as they get another chance to sneak it in, it comes back.
A number of things have been like that. I am thinking of the tax that the Liberals were going to put on dental and health care. They backed off, but I bet it will reappear. It is the same thing with the small business tax on passive assets. As soon as there was an outcry, the Liberals backed off, but this is something to watch for if they get another chance.
Impaired driving causing bodily harm is on the list. This is quite concerning as well. We can think about the amount of work that organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done to raise awareness, to try to get stiffer penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm. We can think of the tragedy of many parents who have lost children or loved ones who have been killed by somebody driving impaired. To reduce this to a conviction of less than two years or a fine is totally unacceptable, especially from a government that legalized marijuana, knowing that Colorado and Washington saw a doubling of traffic deaths due to impaired driving. This is a step in the wrong direction and should be reconsidered.
There is another one in the bill that talks about polygamy, and I am not sure why this one made the list. Polygamy has been illegal in Canada for quite some time and culturally, we would like to preserve that. I am not sure why we would want to lessen the severity of the crime for that.
There is arson for fraudulent purposes. These acts are clearly serious crimes. If I go back to the original premise that says the reason we have a criminal justice system is to assign penalties suitable to deter people from committing a crime, I think we could admit that diluting the penalty in the way Bill C-75 does is not going to help us move forward or deter crime in this country.
I want to read quotes of what people have said about Bill C-75. Ms. Markita Kaulius, the president of Families for Justice, said, “Bill C-75 is a terrible bill for victims and for public safety.” Stephanie DiGiuseppe, a litigation lawyer in Toronto specializing in criminal and constitutional law, said, “Bill C-75 is a massive step backwards for justice reform in Canada.” Christian Leuprecht, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, said, “the signal that [Bill C-75 is] sending is that these offences are no longer as serious as they were before.” It has been recognized across the country that this bill is not going to be good for the criminal justice system and it is not going to accomplish what we need to accomplish.
If I were a criminal in Canada, I would be saying it is a great time to be a criminal with the Liberal government in place because it always protects the rights of criminals instead of the rights of victims. There is a move to decrease punishments. We talk about some of the things that Bill C-75 was hoping to accomplish. One was that the court system is overloaded right now. One way of offloading the courts is to get rid of all the people in line by fining them instead of making them go through the court process. One way to prevent the courts from being clogged up is to hire enough judges to adjudicate the cases.
In the four years the Liberal government has been in place, the court is missing about 60 judges, at last count. That never happened under the previous Conservative government. There was always an adequate number of judges to process the cases in the courts. Therefore, reducing sentences and letting everybody off the hook is not the answer. We do not say that since there are too many people in line, we should allow the murderers and rapists go free, but that is essentially what is happening now because there are cases are waiting too long. According to Jordan's principle, after two years, those cases are thrown out of court. During the reign of the Liberals, murderers and rapists have gone free in Canada. Clearly, understaffing the judiciary is part of the problem and part of the solution is replacing them.
When it comes to enforcing punishments, there has been a bit of a lackadaisical attitude. I remember when we first heard that Terri-Lynne McClintic had been sent to a healing lodge that had no security. She had been convicted of brutally murdering a child and was supposed to be imprisoned with a lot of security until 2030. When we raised the issue, those on the other side did not understand why we were raising it because they thought it was no big deal. It took a public outcry for the government to recognize that this was a big mistake and people who commit serious crimes, like murdering a child, need to be behind bars. The punishment needs to fit the crime. Again, there is lack of a moral compass on the other side.
However, there are lots of protections for people in prison. Mental health supports were announced in the budget for folks in prison. I am not saying that criminals do not deserve mental health supports. I am just saying that since mental health supports are very much lacking for the rest of Canadians, why are we putting prisoners first? There is a program to provide free needles and we are moving to providing free illegal drugs to prisoners. I am not sure why the government is in the business of doling out illegal drugs; we do not provide free syringes and drugs to people with diabetes or everyone who has cancer.
I would certainly argue that when it comes to priorities, the government appears to be putting a priority on criminals, instead of victims and the rest of Canadians. I do not think that is the right priority, and the government should re-evaluate it.
The current Minister of Justice talked about the Senate amendments and the ones that should be included. He talked about the victim surcharge in one of the amendments. The victims surcharge was put in place because victims services were expensive. This was a way of recouping some of the costs, people who had done the harm had to do some remediation of the harm.
I am not sure, then, why the government would remove the requirement to have this victims service charge and to leave it to the discretion of judges. First, they have to remember that they can apply a victims surcharge. Then we leave it to their discretion as to whether they will apply it.
My experience has always been that when it is left to the discretion of judges, we see sentences becoming smaller and smaller over time. It is heartbreaking to me. I think about some of the stories I have heard of rape and been involved with them. In Sarnia—Lambton, for example, there was a case recently, where a 13-year-old girl was gang raped by two men who received prison sentences of months. We absolutely cannot have this kind of thing.
I think of Rehtaeh Parsons who was raped by multiple people. As a result of the ensuing shame that was put on her for over a year and a half, she took her life. It was a wrist slap for the people who were involved in that crime.
We do not have the right balance, and Bill C-75 does nothing to address it.
I want to talk about the previous Conservative government and its record on crime. The Conservatives are known, in general, to uphold criminal justice, to take the rights of the victim, rather than the rights of the criminal, and to try to impose stiff penalties for violent and heinous crimes. People will have a choice in the fall election. They will have a choice to move away from protecting the criminals' rights and move into the space of protecting the victims' rights. That will be important.
One of the interesting parts of the Senate amendments was the Senate trying to add different offences. The Senate decided it would add neglect or interference with a dead body to the list of things we might want to give a fine for or a summary conviction. The Senate wanted to make infanticide, killing a baby, a less than two years sentence or a fine. I do not think that is where Canadians are.
Setting traps, obtaining credit from false pretense, stock manipulation, gaming, fraud, falsification of documents, dealing in counterfeit money, on all of these things, the everyday Canadian would say they are crimes and people should go to prison when they do these things. They should not be given a fine or a summary conviction. I do not think it is right.
The government promised to uphold the rights of Canadians and to protect them. This is another example of where the government has not kept its promise to Canadians. It promised a lot of things. The Liberals promised small deficits. They promised to balance the budget by 2019, and here we are in 2019. They promised open and transparent government, but we have seen gag orders and cover-ups. The privacy legislation, which we just talked about, clearly is not hitting the mark.
We were told 2015 would be the last election under first past the post, another broken promise. We were told there would be no omnibus bills, another broken promise. We were told they would restore home mail delivery. The Liberals have broken 75% of their promises. When people are listening to what Liberals are promising this year, they should keep that in mind, that three-quarters of what is going to be said is never going to happen. We have seen that with the pharmacare promise. The Liberals promised that in 1997, 2004 election and again in the last election.
Then there is the wrong approach to guns. Assault with a weapon has been added to the list in Bill C-75 that will get a slap on the wrist. However, we see an increasing number of crimes involving guns. In fact, 95% of the gun crime in Canada is caused by illegal guns or guns used illegally. The government has not come up with a plan to address that. Our leader has come with a comprehensive plan that will address the real problem, which is guns used illegally by gangs, and bring the right penalties to deter bad behaviour. However, the Liberals are not on that page. They are as always taking the side of the criminals on these things, and we see a further move to decriminalize other behaviours.
I know there is a real push on for the Liberals to decriminalize all drugs. We just did a study at the health committee on the meth problem. We visited across the country. When we went to Winnipeg, we saw the problem with methamphetamine addiction. The response of the Liberals was to decriminalize it and give people free methamphetamine. Police officers are saying that these people are committing a lot of crimes, they are breaking into people's houses and there are all kinds of violent acts going on. Therefore, we have to be doing something that balances the protection of Canadians with the care that we have for folks who are addicted. However, that has not been addressed.
On Bill C-75, I received numerous petitions. I know people across the country are paying attention to this. I received a lot of information from the member for Niagara Falls, who was a former justice minister, as well as the member for Milton, who is very educated in these areas.
I heard the current Minister of Justice talk about indigenous people being overrepresented in the criminal justice system, and that is true. We need to get to the root cause of that, but I do not think reducing penalties for serious crime is the way to go about it.
I looked at some of the points that were made on reducing intimate partner violence. It is a great thing to reduce intimate partner violence, but forced marriage is intimate partner violence, especially when it is a child. There is a bit of hypocrisy in the way the bill was brought forward.
I did not hear a lot of conversation from the Minister of Justice on the modernization and simplification of the bail system and I would like to hear more. There is definitely room for improvement, but, again, modernization and simplification cannot mean abdication of responsibility in the criminal justice system.
On allowing a preliminary inquiry, which originally was allowed for serious crimes that carried life imprisonment, and I believe 70 infractions would meet that criteria, the bill would open that up to another 393 that could have access to a preliminary inquiry if one party or the other demanded it. Again, this will take more court resources. If the whole purpose of Bill C-75 is to try to help offload the courts and if the Liberals would let some more serious crimes go with a less than two-year conviction or a fine but then load up the court system again with a bunch of preliminary inquiries for a greater realm of offences, I am not sure that would achieve what they want to achieve.
Overall, when I look back to what we want to do in the criminal justice system, we want to define unacceptable behaviour, and certainly there is a good list, but we also want to assign penalties suitable to deter people from committing the crime. The Liberals missed the mark on that with Bill C-75.
We want to prosecute in court with a fair and due process. I do not think Bill C-75 would do that. I do not think it is fair to the victims to have these very serious crimes punished with a slap on the wrist, which is essentially what a fine or a less than two year summary conviction is. I do not think we will increase the cycle time through the courts, because, again, judges are still missing, which is a key part of it. Now the bill would increase the number of preliminary inquiries. Therefore, I do not believe Bill C-75 will hit the target.
The bill should not go forward. I know the government is rushing it through in the dying days of of the 42nd Parliament, but I will not support Bill C-75 and I know my constituents and those across the country will not support the bill or the government.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-06-17 22:56 [p.29251]
Mr. Speaker, the notion that due process is somehow an erosion of democracy development is categorically false and it betrays the development that has occurred in the country and every other western democracy in the last 50 years. The notion that it is a great time to be a criminal, a quote from the member's statement, is insulting to all members in the chamber. The notion that when a Supreme Court ruling comes out that a government seeks to respond to is the fault of the government in question is categorically false.
If the member listened to the speech of the Minister of Justice, he talked about the Askov decision, which came out in 1990 when Brian Mulroney was the prime minister. The fault is not of a government in session with respect to any judgment like that is rendered that results in 50 or 100,000 cases being found void and resulting in people being innocent. The fault of the government is not responding to constitutional jurisprudence.
What we are doing in this case is responding to the Jordan decision. The member has some concerns, which she has attempted to articulate. She questioned whether we had a moral compass. I will tell her exactly where the moral compass is on this side of the House. It sits in chilling inequalities. How? In the bill, the inequalities are cured insofar as the LGBT couples are treated the same way as heterosexual couples. The moral compass is in ensuring that there is not an overrepresentation of indigenous or racialized accused. The moral compass is in ensuring the bill reflects an initiative to ensure there is not overrepresentation.
Would the member opposite agree that when we make changes to intimate partner violence and changes to resurrecting a victim's surcharge, are we doing justice to the victims of gender-based violence, about which she spoke, and the victims who deserve compensatory assistance through the criminal justice system?
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-17 22:58 [p.29252]
Mr. Speaker, there was quite a bit to that question.
With respect to it being a great time to be a criminal under the Liberals, I am sure many people have seen on Facebook the comparison that says would it not be great if we put seniors in prison because then they would receive the medical care, the food, the shelter and the attention they need. In some cases, we are treating criminals better than we are treating seniors.
This move to focus on less punishment for the criminals and to ignore the victims rights or to take away the funding for victims services is a disservice.
With respect to equality under the law, I absolutely believe in equality under the law and we need to do what we can, but we need to address the root causes of why we have overrepresentation from some groups in prison.
On intimate partner violence, although I want to see intimate partner violence reduced, we see this increasing. Many people coming into the country are coming from places where intimate partner violence is very common and considered part of everyday life. We need to educate those people so we can prevent this from happening. However, we need to recognize that in Bill C-75 there is a total discrepancy between working on intimate partner violence, but allowing forced marriage, especially forced marriage of children.
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2019-06-17 23:00 [p.29252]
Mr. Speaker, I respect my colleague opposite, but when I listen to the statements she has made, I cannot help but think that Rebel Media must be awfully proud of her comments in the House tonight. There is so much misinformation in the statements and allegations she has made against the government and its attempts to reconcile appropriately matters in our justice system that I cannot come to any other conclusion than it is from a misunderstanding of how the criminal justice system in Canada works.
For example, there are already many hybrid offences on the books, including sexual assault. It does not mean people will be getting off for a serious offence with a mere fine or an unreasonably lenient sentence. In fact, most of the offences, if not all of the ones she talked about and listed, already have a fine available as a possible sentence if it is preceded by indictment. It is sheer hogwash for her to talk about making the sentences more lenient.
In the circumstances she describes, those sentences would be unfit for those types of circumstances. Section 718 of the Criminal Code is exactly where we find the principles of sentencing based on the circumstances of the offence and the circumstances of the offender. Has my colleague actually read section 718 of the Criminal Code? I would like to hear her answer on that.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-17 23:02 [p.29252]
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the sentencing, I can only see what comes out in different cases in the news and what we have studied. I will give the member an example from the study we did on violence against women and girls. We found out that 40% of women who present themselves to the police department and claim they have been raped are not taken seriously and no report is written. Of the 60% who had a report written, of 1,000 different complaints, there is a very small percentage, less than 5%, that make it to court. From that, there is a very small percentage that get a conviction, and the prison sentences are measured in months, not years. That is not equity. While the member is probably more experienced in the area of law, and I understand he is returning to that practice, what I see is not justice for the crimes that are being committed in our country.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
View Randy Hoback Profile
2019-06-17 23:03 [p.29252]
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting when we start comparing the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals tend to come in here and say they know best. They will do what they think is best and what people should understand is best. The Conservatives talk to people. We talk to them about what they would like to see in regard to legislation, how criminals are treated and how victims are treated. Could the member inform this House on the difference between how the Conservatives approach this versus the Liberals? The reality is, they are preaching and we are listening.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-17 23:03 [p.29252]
Mr. Speaker, I find that the Liberals are always consulting but never listening, where the Conservatives are consulting and listening to what people are saying. As I posted the information on Bill C-75, I saw huge activity on social media. There were a huge number of petitions and letters and emails from Canadians saying that was not what they wanted. When people have committed serious crimes, they need them to be put in jail and kept there. They want the prison sentence to fit the crime. They do not want murderers and rapists walking away because their case has been before the court for too long. Therefore, I think Canadians recognize there is a problem. This bill does not address the problem. That is the point I was making tonight.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2019-06-17 23:04 [p.29252]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows how much I respect her.
To come back to the previous comment, I think the great difference is that the Liberals tend to believe that judges should have the discretion to deal with each and every case as is appropriate to that individual case. From what I hear, the hon. member and the Conservatives are suggesting that the Parliament of Canada should create a uniform rule that would apply to each and every case, which is not possible. Therefore, I would like to ask the hon. member this. Given what my friend from West Nova said, does she concur that the Criminal Code, as set out, suggests to judges, based on the individual facts of each and every case, what the appropriate sentence is, and that judges in Canada are highly trained, intelligent people who render the right sentences?
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-17 23:05 [p.29253]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. He knows, as well, how much I respect the work he has done, especially at the justice committee.
The proof is always in the pudding. I do not think Canadians look at the decisions that judges have made and think that criminals are getting an adequate punishment for the crime. While not every single crime is identical, and I am not opposed to judges having some leeway, it looks to me that the leeway is so big that, in many cases, we are coming to the minimum sentence instead of something that is more standard. Keep in mind that when people receive their sentence and have gone to prison, that sentence is often reduced for good behaviour or a lot of other reasons. They end up getting a much shorter sentence anyway.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:06 [p.29253]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise, albeit at this hour, to discuss Bill C-75 and the Senate amendments that have been brought to this place from there.
I agree with the thrust of the Senate amendments on behalf of the New Democratic Party, which supports the thrust of those amendments, but reluctantly have to say that, as amended, we must oppose this bill for the reasons I will describe.
I agree with the Minister of Justice, who spoke earlier, about some of the positive changes in this initiative. The bail reform provisions are exemplary. The intimate partner violence provisions are also very good. I am pleased that the Senate had the opportunity to deal with some of the recommendations by Judge Marion Buller, who, of course, chaired the inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. She had the benefit of testifying before the Senate committee and, in turn, it had the ability to reflect her wisdom. That finds its way into the amendments before us tonight.
This improves the bill quite significantly, as I will describe, but there are some very significant issues that remain. I want to commend our colleagues in the other place for the work they have done to improve this flawed bill. We need to thank them for some of the work they had the opportunity to do.
We too, on the NDP side, have done an enormous amount of research and consultation, with people from the criminal defence bar, academics, prosecutors, former deputy attorneys general and others. We have done our homework on Bill C-75. After all, it is a mammoth initiative, the most significant criminal justice reform bill in a very long time. Regrettably, as a result of those consultations, we concluded that we must continue to oppose the bill, for reasons I will describe in a moment.
To be clear, we are in support of the amendments made by the Senate, yet decry the government's inadequate response to those amendments and ultimately have to therefore oppose the final bill as amended.
To begin with, why was Bill C-75 initiated? The Minister of Justice was clear about that in his remarks earlier. He alluded to the Askov case in the Supreme Court of Canada, and then, of course, the Jordan decision. The court said that there has to be a trial within a timely period, and it set down very specific limits for both indictable and summary conviction cases.
The objective was one of efficiency. It was to try to make our courts more efficient to deal with the enormous and, quite frankly, embarrassing backlog we have with our court cases, and to deal with the consequence of the Jordan case. As we know, often people who are guilty of offences walk free because the courts are not able to give them a trial within a reasonable period. That has to be an embarrassment to all Canadians.
Efficiency was the goal of this bill. However, after the consultation I just described, the debate in the House, and the work I was part of on the justice committee, where we heard a great variety of presentations, we concluded it is simply not an adequate response to the Jordan problem.
As I alluded to earlier, there are some good things in this bill, which I will also refer to later. However, sadly some of the deeply problematic things continue in the bill. I want to talk, by way of giving illustrations, of the general concerns that the criminal justice bar has had with this bill. I will start Ms. Sayeh Hassan, who is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer. By way of summary, she said, “While there are parts of Bill C-75 that have the potential for improving the criminal justice system, many other parts will not only be unhelpful when it comes to reducing delay but will also wipe out numerous rights currently afforded to an accused person.”
The big ugly elephant in the room is the fact that the government chose to completely ignore what so many people have talked about, which is the need to get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing. We had a reasonable hope that it would do so. After all, the Prime Minister told the former minister of justice that it was part of her mandate. Nothing happened.
Sean Fine, of The Globe and Mail, wrote:
As far back as October, 2016, the [former attorney general] told the Criminal Lawyers' Association in a speech that she would change the minimum sentencing laws “in the near future.” Days later, she told The Globe that new legislation would be coming soon, “certainly in the early part of next year.”
It never happened.
Our colleagues in the other place made a similar observation. It is the fourth item on their list of formal observations. I think it is worth repeating what they summarized. Under “Mandatory Minimum Sentences”, it says:
In its Delaying Justice is Denying Justice report, the Committee recommended that the Minister of Justice undertake a thorough review of existing mandatory minimum sentences in order to: ensure a reasonable, evidence-based approach to when they are appropriate; and consider whether persons with mental health issues should be considered for alternative sentencing options or treatment when faced with mandatory minimum sentences.
During its study of Bill C-75, some witnesses expressed significant disappointment that it does not include any reforms to the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code. In the Mandate Letter to the Minister of Justice...of 12 November 2015, [the Prime Minister] stated that the Minister...was to “conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade.” In the Minister’s letter to the Chair of the committee, he stated that the Government “is committed to advancing sentencing reform” and that it is “committed to reviewing the mandatory minimum penalties in the Criminal Code with an eye to eliminating many of them and restoring judicial discretion.”
The committee [of the Senate] observes that the Government of Canada has had four years to bring forward amendments to these provisions in the Criminal Code and that, to date, no legislative action has been taken.
I join with my colleagues in the other place in noting that the government's failure to address the often unconstitutional mandatory minimums cannot be understated. It is a serious problem.
This led the Criminal Lawyers' Association to write in its position paper that “[m]andatory minimum sentences frustrate the process of resolving cases by limiting the Crown’s discretion to offer a penalty that will limit the Crown's ability”—
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:14 [p.29254]
Mr. Speaker, I was just making the point that the Criminal Lawyers' Association has made, about why mandatory minimum sentences are important. It is because if a criminal lawyer has the possibility, a zero-sum game, that his or her client will get the minimum sentence that is there with no discretion of the judges to forge a penalty that is appropriate in the circumstances, the lawyer is not going to cut any deals. There will be no plea bargaining. There will be no efficiency. Therefore, the greatest single efficiency gain would have been what the Prime Minister promised us would happen, which is that mandatory minimum sentences, the way the Conservatives did it, would be eliminated. That was the promise that Canadians received over and over again, only to be completely thrown out in this bill.
It is a gigantic reform initiative. To be fair, it is all pertaining to criminal law but is a gigantic effort with this gigantic problem completely ignored. It is not a problem that I alone identify as an obstacle to efficiency gains and to addressing the crisis that Jordan represents, of people walking free from very serious crimes because we cannot get a trial in a reasonable amount of time. For reasons that escape me, the Liberals completely ignored that and did a number of other things, some of which are commendable but do not do what the objective of the bill was to be, which was to address the issue of inefficiency. That is the problem that the Criminal Lawyers' Association pointed out.
The courts have been reduced to simply being, as some people call them, slot machines of justice. They have no discretion at all. If the facts are made out, the penalty is there. It is push a button. Some judges have complained to me privately that they feel like they are simply automatons. That is not what judges historically have done. The Conservatives rendered them in this position that is invidious and, frankly, embarrassing to many judges. What they thought they had the power to do, which was to render an appropriate sentence to fit the crime, was thrown out the window when mandatory minimums were imposed on so many of the sentences in the Criminal Code.
We also have a crisis in Canada with the overrepresentation of indigenous women in particular. To his credit, the Minister of Justice referred to this problem. We all are aware of it. It is another national disgrace. Jonathan Rudin testified to the justice committee. He is a very memorable witness. He is a lawyer with the Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. He highlighted the government's inaction with regard to abolishing mandatory minimum sentences and its particular effect on indigenous women. Here is what he said:
[w]e have to look at the fact that there are still mandatory minimum sentences that take away from judges the ability to sentence indigenous women the way [judges] would like [them] to be sentenced. There are still provisions that restrict judges from using conditional sentences, which can keep women out of prison.
The first thing he urged the committee to recommend was to bring into legislation that judges have sentencing discretion, which the Liberals promised to do and did not.
I suspect the problem is much worse now, but in 2015 the proportion of indigenous adults in custody relative to their percentage of the population was eight times higher for indigenous men and a staggering 12 times higher for indigenous women. Any measure that could address this problem head-on has to be looked at seriously. The government's failure to address what the mandate letter from the Prime Minister told us it would do is a serious missed opportunity.
I would like to turn to preliminary inquiries, which the minister also referred to and was the subject of some of the reform proposals that the Senate brought forward. The Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee passed an amendment to Bill C-75 that would bring back the option for preliminary inquiries for hundreds of criminal offences. Since Bill C-75 was first introduced in the House, the NDP has been advocating that preliminary hearings be retained in criminal proceedings. The Senate is attempting to reverse the government's move to eliminate preliminary inquiries for all offences, except for offences carrying a sentence of life imprisonment.
Senator Pierre Dalphond, a former judge, passed an amendment to bring back the option of preliminary inquiries for most indictable offences, as long as the judge ensures that the impact on complainants is mitigated.
The Liberals argue that this will cost court time, but we heard at the justice committee over and over again testimony that, if we got rid of preliminary inquiries, time saving would actually be marginal and the potential for miscarriage of justice would be great.
While the government has accepted many of the Senate amendments, it is using its motion to continue to severely limit the use of preliminary hearings. We have opposed this measure since Bill C-75 was brought to the House, and our stance, I am confident, remains the correct one.
The Liberals at the House justice committee voted to allow preliminary inquiries only when the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. The other place amended this provision to allow far more judicial discretion, increasing the number of offences that could have a preliminary inquiry from 70 to 463. The minister pointed out that they tried to find some middle ground on this issue.
Overwhelmingly, we heard from witnesses at the justice committee that restricting the use of preliminary inquiries will not address court delays sufficiently and will sacrifice or could sacrifice the rights of the accused. For example, Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt said at the committee that preliminary inquiries occupy a very small percentage of court time but “deliver huge savings to the system. Preliminary inquiries deliver these efficiencies in a number of different ways.” They focus issues for trial, reducing trial length; they identify evidentiary or legal problems in a case at an early stage so the parties can ensure that these problems don't arise during the trial; and they can facilitate the resolution of charges.
He was not alone. Time does not allow me to list all the people who agreed with Mr. Spratt, but they include the Canadian Bar Association; the Criminal Lawyers' Association; the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association, the prosecution side; various defence lawyers, such as Sarah Leamon, a criminal lawyer; Professor Lisa Silver of the University of Calgary, and on and on, yet the government did not want to go there. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why.
There is also a huge possibility that with taking preliminary inquiries away, there could be a risk that people will be wrongfully convicted. That is what Bill Trudell, the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, said. The government says we do not need them because we now have what are called Stinchcombe disclosure provisions, Stinchcombe being a famous case requiring the Crown to provide all the evidence available to the defence witnesses. The government says that, as a result, we do not need preliminary inquiries. That certainly is not what these people have said, and on a risk-benefit analysis they think it is just not right. The possibility of a wrongful conviction seems to be something we should all be worried about.
I know that time is running out quickly, but I said I would comment on some of the positive things in the bill, and I would like to do so.
First, there is the elimination of what are called “zombie” provisions of the Criminal Code, which criminalize things that are no longer illegal. These provisions have been found to be unconstitutional and have no place in the Criminal Code.
The bill would restore the discretion of judges to impose fewer victim fine surcharges or not impose them at all. I commend the government for that step as well.
I said in my question for the Minister of Justice earlier that I commend the government for broadening the definition of intimate partner violence. That is a good step. Creating an alternative process for dealing with breaches of bail is another good step. Codifying the so-called ladder principle, which requires that the least onerous form of release be imposed, is a good thing as well.
I agree with the government, and I confess not everybody does, that abolishing peremptory challenges is a positive step. Also, the routine police evidence provision has been amended for the good.
For the LGBTQ2+ community, the vagrancy and bawdy house provisions that were often used in the past to criminalize gay men have been rightly repealed. I am proud of the role that I played at the justice committee in moving those amendments, and I commend the government for finally repealing these discriminatory provisions.
I wish to be on record as saying that there is much in this bill that is commendable. It is the fact of the missed opportunity that is so disturbing.
I still have concerns about the many hybrid offences created in Bill C-75, because contrary to what the hon. Conservative member for Sarnia—Lambton said earlier, all this does is to push them down to the already overburdened criminal courts at the provincial level. The more hybrid offences, which proceed by way of summary rather than indictment, go to the provincial courts, where 95% of all criminal matters already take place. I have talked to people in my province of British Columbia who are very concerned about the impact of this on the administration of justice in that province. Jordan is perhaps not as much of a problem in the superior courts, but is a bigger problem in the provincial courts. Surely, that was not the intent.
I know that I have little time left, but I want to complete the point I made earlier about Madam Justice Marion Buller, the chief commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She had the opportunity to go to the Senate committee with her report. A number of suggestions were made for reform in the other place and are now in the amendments before this House. I am very happy that that has happened. However, there are still serious problems with some of the legacies of residential schools and the sixties scoop that still need to be addressed.
I believe my time is almost at an end, so let me just say this. I wish we could support this bill. There is much in it that is worthwhile, but the failure to do what the Prime Minister told us they would do, deal with the mandatory minimums, and the inability to address the preliminary inquiries in a more manageable way, are the reasons we must respectfully oppose this bill.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-06-17 23:27 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying to the member for Victoria how refreshing it is to have him contribute to this evening's debate, especially hot on the heels of the contribution from the Conservative member who preceded him. His erudite analysis is a welcome contribution, and I will freely admit to him that we miss those kinds of interventions at the justice committee. I will just leave it at that.
I would agree wholeheartedly with the statement he has made about judges needing to use their discretion and, importantly, their own life experience in terms of informing their judicial decision-making function. That is why we have not only appointed over 200 judges, but sought to appoint a diverse group of judges.
I am glad that the member mentioned, at the tail end of his speech, the issue about the overrepresentation and some of the features of this bill that he agrees with. The things that he mentioned are changing the principles of restraint on bail, changing the way we select jurors, but also the administration of justice offences, which are important, because we are trying to reduce the over-criminalization of particular groups, including indigenous people.
The question I would ask him is in respect to indigenous women. In terms of his experience as a parliamentarian, which is longer than mine, is it encouraging for him to see, in such rapid succession, the tabling of the report on MMIW and, hot on the heels of those calls to justice, the head of that inquiry appearing before the Senate, incorporating calls to justice that then found their way into Senate amendments that we are agreeing to, and also the fact that 13 of the 14 amendments are being agreed to? Is that the path forward to not only reconciliation, but addressing the important issue of gender-based violence, particularly against women who are indigenous?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:28 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his thoughtful question.
I agree with him that we have to find a better way to get more discretion to judges. Again, that was the thrust of my comments about mandatory minimums. It is sad that we do not have the opportunity for judges to look at aboriginal offenders as people rather than simply checking a box, saying that this is the penalty for that offence and that is the end of the story.
However, I do agree with the parliamentary secretary that it is refreshing and positive that Judge Buller was able to talk to the Senate. We did not have that opportunity at the justice committee. To have the Senate instantly put into this bill some of the insights that the commissioner generated, I think is very positive. Whether they will go as far as we would like in dealing with the outrageous overrepresentation of indigenous women in our prisons, I do not think so, but it certainly is a positive step.
View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
View Alice Wong Profile
2019-06-17 23:29 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his input and for analyzing the bill that is under debate right now into the late evening, and pretty soon to be early morning.
Elder abuse is on the rise. Seniors are being physically, mentally and sexually abused. Could the member comment on how this bill could help to deter those criminals, as well as how it could protect our vulnerable seniors?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:30 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the member for Richmond Centre's advocacy on behalf of seniors and the elder abuse issue. I am very familiar with it in my riding of Victoria, as members might imagine.
The possibilities of fitting the punishment to the crime have to be taken seriously. It was the Conservatives, sadly, who visited upon Canadians the mandatory minimums, which took away the discretion courts would have to do just that. However, the possibilities in this bill, through better administration of justice reforms, better bail provisions and, interestingly, contrary to the Conservatives' analysis, allowing more hybrid offences to go to the provincial court on summary conviction would encourage more prosecutors to go forward with cases. They might have been hesitant in the past to do that because they were serious indictable assaults and the like and now perhaps they would be more willing to do so when they are preceded by a summary conviction. That can be a positive step in the right direction as well.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2019-06-17 23:31 [p.29256]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Victoria for bringing us back to the original intention of the bill, which was to address the consequences of the Jordan decision and, particularly, the very serious problem of people committing serious crimes getting off scot-free because they are not getting to trial in a timely manner. My colleague did a good job of elucidating how the mandatory minimum sentence regime contributed to those delays, the problems they represent and the fact that it is not represented in the bill.
Near the end of his remarks, my colleague also made mention of how it is the case that the hybridization of certain offences may well end up meaning that we download the delays that currently are in Federal Court to provincial courts. It seems to me that is an important aspect to consider. Some people will recall a different kind of problem in the 1990s, when the federal government balanced its budget by offloading the financial issues on the provision of health services to provinces. I am concerned about the possibility of a similar problem, where the federal government is seeking to claim a victory on an important issue by passing the problem down to provinces, seeing those same problems recur, but in a different place, and the federal government saying it is not its responsibility and it did its job, even though it was really just a downloading.
The member did not have time in his remarks to elaborate on that and I am wondering if he could do that now.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:33 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, when the government speaks to this, it claims it has had conversations at federal, provincial and territorial meetings with their counterparts in the provinces and territories. The people I talked to were very worried about the downloading. The claim is that is not an issue, but I cannot see why it would not be when so many of these offences are being hybridized and then, of course, will be dealt with in provincial courts.
The problem is that not only are 95% of criminal cases in provincial courts, but the people are often unrepresented, whom the courts bend over backward to help. They have mental health issues frequently and are involved in the drug world and that is what clogs the courts. We are not doing much about that and there is a crisis in legal aid. Everyone knows we do not fund legal aid enough, the federal or provincial governments, so there are unrepresented litigants who are themselves taking a great deal of time.
Thankfully, there are some reforms in places like British Columbia drug courts and the like that deal with these things in a much more focused way, which hopefully will make a difference, but the problem of downloading has to be taken seriously. I just hope at the next federal-provincial-territorial meetings we can address this issue more specifically.
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2019-06-17 23:34 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank my friend from Victoria for his contributions to the justice committee and all of the work he does in the House. He ably advances arguments that make a lot of sense.
I want to put to him the issue of downloading to the provinces that he mentioned and was just asked a question on that a moment ago. He is right, there has been considerable discussion between the provinces and territories on this issue of hybridizing. In fact, the provinces and territories wanted this hybridization to come into effect. They have certainly had many conversations with the Minister of Justice and other stakeholders who consulted on this.
When we talk about downloading to the provincial courts and the fact that the vast majority of cases proceed through provincial courts, the reforms made in this bill with respect to the administration of justice offences, bail reform and other measures would help alleviate some of the clogging of the provincial courts so that we can deal with the matters on a more expeditious basis.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:35 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend for West Nova, who has been an excellent member of the justice committee and with whom I have enjoyed working a great deal.
I have been told more than once that hybridization was sought by the provinces. That might be the old adage of be careful what you wish for, because while I completely agree that the reforms to administration of justice matters and bail will help a great deal, I think we need to do root and branch work if we are ever going to address the burden the Jordan case will impose on provincial governments. I mentioned, for example, drug courts. I mentioned some of the more positive reforms that are taking place in some jurisdictions, British Columbia and Quebec among them. However, unless we do that, it is just impossible for me to understand, when we add all the additional offences that will be dealt with at the provincial court level, how this additional burden will not clog the system.
I would be interested to know what the provincial ministers with whom the member has been speaking have to say, because those with whom I have spoken are very concerned.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-17 23:37 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate 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.
Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings of the bill.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-17 23:39 [p.29257]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast.
Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings of the bill.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-17 23:39 [p.29258]
Mr. Speaker, I wish to give notice that, with respect to the consideration of the Senate amendments 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, at the next sitting of the House a minister of the Crown shall move, pursuant to Standing Order 57, that the debate be not further adjourned.
If there is a desire to find a better way forward, I look forward to those opportunities, but until then, it is with regret that I provide this notice.
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2019-06-17 23:39 [p.29258]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate considering the Senate amendments 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.
Bill C-75 represents the government's legislative response to reduce delays, modernize the criminal justice system and facilitate the administration of justice by the provinces and territories.
The Senate proposed amendments to the bail, reclassification of offences, victim surcharge and preliminary inquiries provisions of the bill.
I would like to focus my remarks tonight on some of the amendments relating to the reclassification of offences, or hybridization as it is sometimes called.
The reclassification amendments are a key part of the legislative reforms identified by federal, provincial and territorial ministers of justice to reduce delays in the criminal justice system. They would also modernize and streamline the scheme for classifying offences in the Criminal Code.
There are two types of offences in the Criminal Code, those that proceed by summary conviction or by indictment. Some offences can be either. Summary conviction offences deal with less serious conduct, for example, causing a disturbance or trespassing at night, for which the current maximum penalty is normally up to six months imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Indictable offences tend to be for more serious actions, for example, aggravated assault, robbery or murder for which maximum penalties range from two years to life imprisonment.
I failed to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Mount Royal.
A hybrid offence allows the Crown to choose whether to proceed by indictment or summary conviction, recognizing that the severity of the conduct covered by the offence can vary greatly depending on the circumstances, for example, uttering threats, assault, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
Bill C-75 would hybridize 118 straight indictable offences that currently would be punishable by maximum penalties of two, five and 10 years imprisonment. It would also amend the Criminal Code to increase the maximum penalty for most criminal offences with a summary conviction penalty to two years less a day. The maximum penalties are being increased for summary conviction offences. The bill would also increase the current limitation period for all summary conviction offences from six to 12 months.
Indictable offences are often heard in Superior Court and generally take longer to process because of their associated procedural requirements, such as jury trials and preliminary inquiries, which can significantly lengthen the time it takes to complete a case. The reason for the availability of more procedural safeguards for indictable offences is that they carry the risk of much lengthier periods of incarceration.
However, there continues to be many straight indictable offences for which, depending on the circumstances, sentences in the summary conviction range are often appropriate and are in fact being imposed.
Cases involving straight indictable offences where the Crown is seeking sentences in the summary conviction range add unnecessary strain to Superior Courts because though they end up with a summary range sentence, they have been eligible for and have used complicated and time consuming processes to get there.
When an offence is hybrid, the prosecutor can elect to have the case heard either by summary conviction or indictment, based on the severity of the case, the circumstances of the offender and the best resources that fit that case. For this reason, provinces and territories have asked for many more straight indictable offences to be hybridized.
More cases being heard in provincial court would leave Superior Courts with more resources to consider more serious cases, thus speeding up the processing times.
Also, other proposed reforms in Bill C-75, such as restricting the availability of preliminary inquiries to only the most serious offences, will offset any additional workload on provincial courts that might result.
These proposals are not about downloading to the provinces and territories, as some have suggested. They are about providing provinces and territories with the additional flexibility they have asked for so Crown attorneys can choose the process that best aligns with the facts and circumstances of each case.
Some have claimed that changing the classification of offences will change how seriously these crimes will be taken by the system. This is simply not true.
The best indicia of the seriousness of an offence is its maximum available penalty. The hybridization amendments would not change any of the maximum penalties on indictment.
It is already a feature of our criminal justice system that prosecutors assess the facts of the case and the circumstances of the offender to determine which type of sentence to seek from the court. They can already ask for fines and low or no jail time for most of the indictable offences that Bill C-75 proposes to hybridize. As I have already explained, they often avail themselves of summary range sentences.
I have full faith in our prosecutors to continue to seek appropriate sentences. At the end of the day, it will be the judge who decides. Nothing in Bill C-75 proposes to lower the sentences that would be imposed under the law as it is now. These reforms will not change the fundamental principles of sentencing outlined in section 718 of the Criminal Code, which requires proportionality.
The Senate made three types of amendments to address concerns about possible unintended consequences of the reclassification proposals. One of these further amended section 802.1, to also allow agent representation as authorized by the law of the province. However, this is problematic because we do not have any information about how this amendment would operate with existing provincial and territorial laws. As a result, I am not comfortable supporting this amendment.
I am satisfied that the amendment this chamber supported last December to address this issue gives the provinces and territories sufficient flexibility to quickly address any consequences of the reclassification scheme on agents.
I am pleased to be able to support the other two amendments that the Senate made to the reclassification provisions. These are technical and would amount to maintaining the status quo for the collection of DNA samples of convicted offenders and of fingerprints of accused persons. Discretionary DNA orders are currently available for Criminal Code offences with maximum penalties of five years or more when the Crown proceeds by indictment.
Police have expressed concerns that fewer DNA samples will be collected once the reclassification amendments of Bill C-75 come into force. Senate amendment 1 will maintain the availability of DNA orders for those five- and 10-year indictable offences that Bill C-75 proposes to hybridize.
A similar amendment was moved when the bill was before the justice committee, however, that proposal had been much broader and would have expanded the current availability of DNA orders. Senate amendments 11, 13 and 14 respond to police concerns that the hybridization in Bill C-75 will result in police being able to collect fewer fingerprints.
These amendments change the Identification of Criminals Act, to clarify that fingerprints can be taken for an accused who has been charged with a hybrid offence, even where the Crown has elected to proceed by summary conviction. As we can see, Bill C-75 includes many significant tools to reduce delays in the criminal justice system and to better equip its stakeholders and participants to meet the Jordan time frame.
I support the majority of the Senate amendments and I urge my colleagues to support the government's proposed approach to ensure that this much needed bill is passed before the summer recess.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I will be getting up again in Parliament. We are coming to the end of this time and I will not be back in the fall, so I want to take a moment to recognize the staff members who spend so much of their time trying to get us ready so that we can come into the House and do our job. I want to particularly acknowledge my present staff, Anita Hindley, Anna-Marie Young, Joycelin Mosey and Tristan McLaughlin, for the work that they do.
In the House we often find ourselves at odds in terms of perspectives on issues and certainly that has been the case with the bill. Liberals have failed in so many areas in terms of justice bills. I think of Bill C-45, when they were told they were going to end up in court over their drunk driving provisions. That certainly is happening.
This bill lessens sentences for dozens of different offences in spite of what the Liberals are saying tonight. I am wondering if the member opposite could tell us why all of their conversation about justice issues is focused basically on giving criminals a break and so little of it is focused on protecting the public and victims of those crimes.
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2019-06-17 23:48 [p.29259]
Mr. Speaker, although I must reject the premise of the question, I can say a couple of things.
The member mentioned Bill C-45, and Bill C-46 being the companion piece, dealing with impaired driving. Earlier today, a Conservative member talked about MADD Canada. In fact, it supported Bill C-46 and the impaired driving regime that was put in place as a result of Bill C-45 coming into force. Giving police officers the tools they need to keep our roads safe was important. That is why MADD Canada supported this government's proposal in Bill C-46.
As it relates to other initiatives dealing with the criminal justice system, there is a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of those who suggest that, as I dealt with in my speech, giving the Crown more flexibility in determining which procedure to use somehow minimizes the impact of the penalties that would be imposed by the courts. That is simply not true. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of the criminal justice system. I invite my friend to read section 718 of the Criminal Code, which clearly identifies the principles of sentencing, based on the circumstances of the offence and of the offender.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-06-17 23:50 [p.29260]
Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the member for West Nova for his work in contributing today and his contributions at the justice committee, which we will significantly miss as he goes back to practice in the fall. However, I want to draw on that legal experience and ask the member two questions that relate to the same feature. He talked about hybridization in his speech. I want to know if the member for West Nova could elaborate on the extent of hybridization currently under the Criminal Code. Also, could he elaborate a bit about the fact that he articulated support at committee for ensuring that, as an exception, terrorism and genocide would remain as straight indictable offences? What qualitatively distinguishes those two types of offences in this discussion?
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2019-06-17 23:51 [p.29260]
Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about the category of offences, there are already many hybrid offences in the Criminal Code, including things that can be done in various circumstances, from the less serious up to the most serious. We are talking about offences such as sexual assault. That does not impact at all on the sentencing. They are still dealt with in the same way, with the same principles of sentencing, whether or not the Crown proceeds by indictment or summary conviction. The Crown attorneys use this every day. We trust them to make those decisions based on the circumstances of the offence and of the offender.
With respect to the terrorism-related offences and those advocating genocide, which initially were contemplated to possibly be hybridized, at committee, and after hearing from community groups and organizations that could be impacted by this, our committee advanced that those be taken out. They are distinct from the other types of offences that were being hybridized, because they constitute offences against a community. It was felt that it was extremely unlikely that they would ever proceed by way of summary indictment in any event, so they were removed.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2019-06-17 23:52 [p.29260]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a pleasure to follow the remarks from the hon. member for Victoria and the hon. member for West Nova, both of whom have been outstanding members of the justice committee and will be missed in this place for their wisdom, sincerity, honesty and integrity. I will very much miss both of my colleagues.
I am pleased to rise to talk about the amendments adopted by the Senate at third reading on June 13, 2019.
First and foremost, I would like to thank all members of the other place for their thoughtful consideration of Bill C-75. In particular, I want to thank the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for its diligent and comprehensive examination of the bill.
This bill proposes major reforms to reduce delays by modernizing the criminal justice system and enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of procedures, while ensuring the safety of Canadians and seeking to reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous people in the system.
The provinces and territories, along with many members and many stakeholders in the criminal justice system, are looking forward to the enactment of this legislation.
Bill C-75 introduced reforms in seven key areas: modernizing and streamlining bail; enhancing the existing approach to administration of justice offences, including for youth; restricting the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment; reclassifying offences; strengthening judicial case management; improving the jury selection process; and implementing other additional efficiencies.
The other place has proposed amendments to the bill related to bail, reclassification of offences, the victim surcharge and preliminary inquiries.
Although the focus of my remarks will be on the other place's amendments related to the preliminary inquiry provisions of the bill, I would like to preface these by highlighting a few other areas that, cumulatively, will improve efficiencies and reduce delays.
Bill C-75 includes widely supported changes to bail provisions. They seek to enact a principle of restraint for the police and the courts to ensure that the earliest possible release of the accused is favoured over detention, while providing additional guidance to the police on how to impose the appropriate conditions.
The bill would improve the approach used for administration of justice offences, such as breach of bail conditions.
These offences represent a significant volume of Canadian criminal court processing. The creation of a judicial referral hearing would result in fewer charges for these offences being laid, given that the hearing would serve as an alternative for bail breaches and failures to attend court in cases where there has been no physical, emotional or financial harm to a victim.
I would now like to turn to the amendments proposed by the other place to the preliminary inquiry reforms in Bill C-75.
As introduced, the bill would have restricted the availability of preliminary inquiries to adults accused of the 70 offences in the Criminal Code for which they could be liable to life imprisonment. The government's objective has been clear from the beginning on this matter: to reduce the number of preliminary inquiries held in Canada to create efficiencies and limit the impact on those who would have to testify twice. In the jurisdictions that hold the majority of these hearings, the improved efficiencies in the criminal justice process could be significant.
Our committee, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs heard from many stakeholders from the legal community, including the defence bar and Crown attorney associations, such as the Canadian Bar Association and the Barreau du Québec, that opposed such a significant restriction on the availability of preliminary inquiries, arguing that they are vital in providing important evidence to the accused of the case against them.
As a result of these concerns, the committee in the other place moved an amendment that would expand the availability of preliminary inquiries, on a discretionary basis, to all other indictable offences, an additional 393 offences, in two situations. The first would be where one or both parties requested one and a justice was satisfied that appropriate measures were taken to mitigate the impact on victims. The second situation would be where only one party requested a preliminary inquiry, a justice was satisfied that it was in the best interest of the administration of justice that one be held and appropriate measures were taken to mitigate the impact on victims.
As proposed, the amendment would add a step in the criminal justice process to justify holding a preliminary inquiry. It could generate uncertainty for the parties as to whether a preliminary inquiry would be held and would likely result in litigation on the interpretation of the new complex criteria, ultimately leading to additional delays.
Even witnesses who came before our committee who believed that the proposals contained in Bill C-75 were too restrictive agreed that they could add to delays. For example, in her testimony before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, one of our most incredible witnesses, lawyer Sarah Leamon, from British Columbia, stated:
Now, we know that when a person does decide to go ahead with a preliminary inquiry, the matter will take significantly longer to conclude and is likely to use more judicial resources. That is supported by statistics from Statistics Canada, as well as The Canadian Bar Association....
Given that the amendment was driven by concerns, which were also echoed by members across party lines in this chamber, that the availability of preliminary inquiries was being too severely curtailed by Bill C-75, and I must note that there were many members of our committee who wanted to try to find a way to amend the bill to expand the scope of preliminary inquiries, I am very pleased that the Senate proposed something. The government, in response, is offering a constructive alternative approach. This would involve making preliminary inquiries available for offences carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years or more of imprisonment.
Although this would expand the availability of preliminary inquiries to an additional 86 offences, it would be consistent with the objective of Bill C-75 as introduced as well as with the 2017 federal-provincial consensus to restrict them to offences carrying the most serious terms of imprisonment. This approach would be palatable to jurisdictions that would have further restricted their availability to the most serious offences in the Criminal Code, such as murder and high treason. It would also provide certainty as to which offences would be eligible for a preliminary inquiry and would avoid the risk of litigation inherent in the Senate amendment.
This proposal strikes an artful compromise and a good balance, and I strongly support it.
Overall, this important bill responds to the systemic problem of delays in the criminal justice system, while introducing innovative measures for driving a shift in culture, as noted by the Supreme Court in Jordan.
I ask all my colleagues to support this very good bill and the constructive approach of the government and the Minister of Justice, whom I strongly support, to the amendments from the Senate.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-05-14 18:22 [p.27793]
Mr. Chair, with respect to the LGBTQ2 issue, the minister raised important aspects of Bill C-16. I wonder if he could comment on Bill C-75, which I also understand would take an anomaly in the Criminal Code, which is that consensual sexual relations of same-sex couples who are adults are not criminalized, but currently consensual sexual relations between youth ages 16 and 17 are criminalized. How would Bill C-75 address that point?
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-05-14 18:38 [p.27796]
Mr. Chair, I will take your comments to heart and continue in the same vein the committee of the whole has proceeded to this point.
I will be providing 10 minutes of remarks, followed by some questions.
I am very proud today to take the floor to share with Canadians some of our government's accomplishments in recognizing, promoting and protecting the equality rights of LGBTQ2 communities.
From the beginning of our government's mandate, we have demonstrated our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the hope that all Canadians can participate fully in Canadian society and be recognized as deserving of the same respect, deference and consideration. This commitment equally extends to members of the LGBTQ2 community.
Canadians expect their government to respect their human rights and to promote these rights. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs once stated in this very chamber, LGBTQ2 rights are human rights, and human rights have no borders. It is a commitment our government takes very seriously abroad and here at home.
ln budget 2017, the Government of Canada set aside $3.6 million over three years for the creation of the LGBTQ2 secretariat within the Privy Council Office. The secretariat works with LGBTQ2 stakeholders across the country. This important work keeps our government informed about the challenging situations affecting LGBTQ2 Canadians and the potential solutions.
The secretariat also supports the integration of LGBTQ2 considerations in the day-to-day work of the federal government across all ministries. These efforts really help the government ensure that federal policies, programs and laws related to gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation are all within the same spirit and the same view to equality, inclusion and diversity.
ln November 2016, I was honoured to be appointed the Prime Minister's special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues. My role is to advise the Prime Minister on how to develop and coordinate the Government of Canada's LGBTQ2 policies and laws. This includes informing cabinet, parliamentarians and committees and engaging with LGBTQ2 organizations from across the country and around the world to promote equality, and listening to LGBTQ2 people and communities and identifying solutions to improve their lives.
In addition to the excellent work of the LGBTQ2 secretariat, all ministries of our government have a responsibility to improve the lives of LGBTQ2 Canadians, and that includes the Department of Justice.
Early in our government's mandate, we also introduced and passed Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. This bill conferred greater protection on members of LGBTQ2 communities who experience discrimination and even violence because of their gender identity or expression. Bill C-16 added gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act. This law promotes the principle that all individuals should have an equal opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, without being hindered by discriminatory practices.
Bill C-16 has also expanded hate crime offences in the Criminal Code to protect groups that are targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression.
Unfortunately, in Canada, transgender people are at high risk of verbal or physical violence and sexual harassment. Given this high degree of violence or threatened violence, it is only fair that our criminal law specifically denounce violence committed against a person as a result of the person's gender identity or expression.
The Prime Minister's apology to LGBTQ2 communities was another significant milestone in recognizing LGBTQ2 communities and protecting them as equal members of Canadian society. On November 28, 2017, the Prime Minister delivered a formal apology in this very House to individuals harmed by federal legislation, policies and practices that led to the oppression of and discrimination against two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Canada.
The Prime Minister apologized specifically for the shameful LGBT purge, the historical unjust treatment of LGBTQ2 federal public servants, including those in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This discriminatory treatment resulted in the loss of livelihoods, dignity and even lives.
There was a time in this country when people could be charged, prosecuted and criminally convicted simply because of their sexual orientation. To address this grave injustice, this government introduced Bill C-66. Now records of convictions involving consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners of legal age can be destroyed.
We are hopeful that this change will provide some relief to the many LGBTQ2 Canadians for whom the pain, trauma and fear have been all too real for all too long a time. Such discrimination has no place in Canada today. With Bill C-66, we took responsibility for recognizing and rectifying this historic injustice.
Since the government is taking measures to rectify historic discrimination based on unfair laws and policies, it is taking steps to remove from the Criminal Code an anachronistic offence that was used to target consensual sexual activities between gay men.
Under section 159 of the Criminal Code, unmarried persons can consent to engage in anal intercourse at age 18. The age of consent for any other form of non-exploitative sexual activity is 16 years old. Section 159 makes an exception for consensual anal intercourse between married spouses if they are of the opposite sex, but not if they are of the same sex. This is discriminatory policy, and several appellate courts have found that this provision violates the equality rights guaranteed by section 15 of the charter. Repealing section 159, as Bill C-75 proposes to do, will prevent the laying of charges against people who engage in non-exploitative, consensual anal intercourse.
The Attorney General of Canada recently issued a directive on the prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases for federal prosecutors, which applies in our territories.
Presently, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is undertaking a study that deals with the issue of HIV criminalization. The committee has heard from numerous witnesses about the negative impacts, not just on people's lives but on the public health system, of criminalizing HIV non-disclosure. I look forward to the continued work of the justice committee and to its report, and I look forward to the government's responding in a robust way to this very serious issue.
Returning to the directive, I note it is based on current scientific evidence regarding the sexual transmission of HIV and applicable criminal laws, as clarified by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Mabior case. The directive recognizes that the non-disclosure of HIV is, first and foremost, a public health issue. It is also important to note that public health authorities have many tools at their disposal to ensure that people do not engage in reckless behaviour. Those tools would not require that such a provision be in the Criminal Code.
The Attorney General of Canada also issued a directive on the prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases for federal prosecutors, which applies in our territories. It is important that we work with the provinces. Right now, Ontario and British Columbia have policies and directives, but there are several territories in Canada that do not have such a directive. The directive is based on current scientific evidence regarding sexual transmission of HIV and the applicable criminal law.
Today I have touched on only a few of the many actions our government has taken to advance the full recognition, protection and participation of our LGBTQ2 communities. Our government will continue to demonstrate its commitment to promoting an inclusive society that works for all Canadians.
Before I get to questions, it is important to note that when we open up committee to civil society organizations and hear witnesses from coast to coast to coast, we let people who are not within 15 minutes or even two hours of Ottawa know that this government is their government. We let them know that the House and our parliamentary committees are designed to understand the issues that matter to them. It is important that we continue to open our committees to a diversity of voices, such as indigenous voices, the voices of depressed and marginalized people, and the voices of the LGBTQ2 community.
The health committee is right now wrapping up a study that was unanimously accepted by all members, about the health indicators of LGBTQ2 people. Our health indicators for this group are only slightly above those for indigenous people.
We have a lot of work to do in this chamber. We have a lot of work to do in advancing legislation and a lot of work to do to make lives better for all Canadians.
Now I have a few questions for the minister.
Could the minister share with us why it is important for us to continue our work on the prosecutorial policy directive as it pertains to the prosecution of HIV disclosure?
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-05-14 18:49 [p.27798]
Mr. Chair, I would like to say in English what I said in French, which is that the directive the minister is talking about is important, and we have heard from witnesses that it is important because it is a step in the right direction. It says that the government needs to follow the science, that prosecutors need to follow the science, and that when somebody is undetectable, they are untransmittable and should not be charged or prosecuted for non-disclosure of HIV status.
Equally important is the fact that because it is federal jurisdiction, the directive applies to the territories. British Columbia and Ontario have since issued a similar directive to their Crowns. However, I think it is important that we work at the federal, provincial and territorial level to include and encourage other jurisdictions to issue similar policies and directives.
Also, it would be important for us to look into the justice department. We have section 159, and we have the vagrancy and bawdy house provisions in Bill C-75, and I am looking forward to seeing it come back from the Senate. Could the minister share with the House and the committee of the whole other accomplishments that the department has achieved to make the lives of LGBTQ2 Canadians better?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, we are proud of Canada's diversity and inclusion. Our government believes that all Canadians should be safe to be themselves. In that regard, the major accomplishment was passing legislation that adds gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as adding gender identity and expression to the list of distinguishing characteristics of an identifiable group, so that they are protected by the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.
My colleague has mentioned section 159, the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions, in Bill C-75, which are also very important. We are proud to recognize these historic challenges that have been faced by the LGBTQ2 community, and we are committed to making their lives better. Indeed, equality is what we are committed to, so that people can live their lives and flourish as they wish to.
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2019-05-14 19:07 [p.27800]
Mr. Chair, I will be providing 10 minutes of remarks followed by some questions.
I want to begin my remarks today by thanking all members on the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights from all sides of the House. Together, over these past few years, we have worked on issues related to access to justice, medical assistance in dying, mental health supports for jurors, strengthening impaired driving laws, addressing the issue of human trafficking in Canada and so much more. Ultimately, we have worked hard to ensure that the communities we represent safer.
There have been many pieces of legislation that have passed through our committee, and today I would like to focus on Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
One of the challenges I have heard about from my community and from Canadians across Canada is the issue of delays in accessing the justice system. I have also heard from constituents about the accessibility of the justice system, issues surrounding victims rights and the challenges faced by victims of intimate partner violence. The purpose of Bill C-75 is to address these very issues of our communities from coast to coast to coast.
This legislation is a key milestone in the government's ongoing efforts to transform the criminal justice system, keeping the government's overall goals at the forefront, which are to keep communities safe, protect victims and to hold offenders to account.
Canada's justice system faces numerous major and multi-faceted challenges. While the volume and severity of crimes have decreased over the years, criminal court cases are becoming more complex and trials are taking longer to complete. Delays in the criminal justice system impact the accused and his or her charter right to be tried within a reasonable time. They also impact victims and all those affected by crime in our communities.
The criminal justice system is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial and territorial governments.
The federal government is responsible for the enactment of criminal law and procedure, criminal prosecutions of all federal offences, certain offences in the Criminal Code and prosecution of all offences in the territories, as well as the appointment of judges for superior courts.
Provincial and territorial governments on the other hand are responsible for the administration of justice, including the prosecution of criminal offences in the provinces, the administration of police, Crown and court personnel and the appointment of provincial court judges.
At their meetings held in April and September 2017, federal-provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice met to discuss actions taken and ways to strategically address delays in the criminal justice system. Discussions included identifying innovative and best practices as well as legislative reforms to resolve criminal cases in a just and timely manner. All agreed on the need for targeted and bold criminal law reform in the following key priority areas: bail, administration of justice offences, preliminary inquiries, reclassification of offences and judicial case management.
Ministers agreed on the importance of a collaborative approach with all players in the criminal justice system, and Bill C-75 is a true reflection of that collaborative approach with key criminal justice system partners.
Some reforms included in Bill C-75 would address issues that were identified by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in its June 2017 report, entitled “Delaying Justice is Denying Justice”. It included 50 recommendations, with a number of them relating to criminal law reform. The bill would address a number of these recommendations, namely on preliminary inquiries, case management, bail, administration of justice offences and the use of technology, including to facilitate remote appearances.
In addition, the reforms respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Jordan in 2016, which established strict timelines beyond which delays would be presumptively unreasonable and result in cases being stayed. In this decision, the Supreme Court also stressed the need for efforts by all those involved in the criminal justice system to reduce delays and increase efficiencies. Bill C-75 would address that.
One of the issues highlighted through our committee work is the overrepresentation of indigenous people in jail. The 2016-17 statistics indicate that 28% to 30% of custody admissions are indigenous. The numbers are even higher for youth at 50%, and women at 42%. Bill C-75 would help reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and vulnerable populations in the criminal justice system.
Indigenous people and vulnerable populations tend to be disproportionately impacted by onerous and unnecessary bail conditions. They are also more likely to be charged with breaching minor conditions, and more likely to be caught in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.
The bill would help address these problems by enacting a principle of restraint in the bail regime to ensure that when there are no concerns about the accused coming to court or posing a risk to public safety, police officers and justices would release detained accused at the earliest reasonable opportunity; by requiring that conditions imposed by police be reasonable in the circumstances and necessary to ensure the accused's attendance in court or the safety and security of the victims or witnesses; and by providing that circumstances of the accused, in particular indigenous accused and accused persons from vulnerable populations, be considered at bail and in determining how to address a breach of conditions.
Bill C-75 also includes measures that would positively impact victims of crime. These include the bail reforms, which would also better protect victims of intimate partner violence by creating a reverse onus at bail, and would expand the list of conditions that can be imposed by police, including conditions to protect victims.
The preliminary inquiry reforms, which would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment, would prevent some victims from having to testify twice.
The proposed administration of justice offence changes would only apply in cases in which there has been no harm caused to a victim, whether physical, emotional or through property damage.
The bill would also provide reassurance to victims of intimate partner violence by imposing a reverse onus at bail for accused persons charged with an intimate partner violence offence if they have a prior conviction for violence against an intimate partner; by requiring courts to consider whether an accused is charged with an intimate partner violence offence when determining whether to release or detain the accused; by clarifying that strangulation, choking and suffocation are elevated forms of assault; by defining “intimate partner” for all Criminal Code purposes and clarifying that it includes current or former spouse, common-law partner and dating partner; by clarifying that the current sentencing provisions, which treat abuse against a spouse or common-law partner as an aggravating factor, apply to both current and former spouses or common-law partners and dating partners; and by allowing for the possibility of seeking a higher maximum penalty in cases involving a repeat intimate partner violence offender.
Lastly, the proposed reforms with respect to bail, administration of justice offences and the reclassification of offences support an approach that is expected to minimize the differential impact on marginalized populations in the criminal justice system, including indigenous peoples, through modernizing and streamlining processes, providing flexibility and creating appropriate tools for managing factors such as vulnerability, mental health and addiction.
It is important to note that these proposed Criminal Code amendments cannot address all social issues that impact those in contact with the criminal justice system. As such, operational changes in the courts or in the administration of justice at the provincial and territorial level may better address such issues. As well, training for criminal justice system actors, such as police, the Crown and judges, would support the bill's goal of making the criminal justice system more fair and accessible to all Canadians.
As mentioned earlier, opportunities to address delays also fall under provincial jurisdiction, as provinces have responsibility over the administration of justice. It is unfortunate that the Ontario provincial government has recently announced its decision to cut funding for the Ontario Provincial Police by $45 million. These cuts will impact the administration of justice.
The people of Ontario, and indeed all Canadians, have the commitment of the federal government that we will continue to work closely with the provinces and territories to identify further measures to reduce delays and improve the criminal justice system.
That said, I do have some questions for the minister, if allowed.
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2019-05-14 19:17 [p.27802]
Mr. Chair, one of the cases that keep reappearing within our justice committee when we are talking about delays and the speedy admission of justice is the Jordan decision in 2016.
In 2016, in the Jordan decision, the Supreme Court of Canada called upon all criminal justice actors to do their part in reducing court delays. To that end, what measures does the minister feel are the most important to increase efficiencies in the criminal justice system?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for her speech, her question and her work on the justice committee.
The answer is fourfold.
The first measure is law reform, and the hon. member has spoken at length about the changes brought forward in Bill C-75, which we feel will increase the efficiency of our justice system and reduce delays.
The second is funding for various programs. The indigenous court worker program is one example. By working with certain over-represented groups, we will be able to address delays in the justice system.
The third is collaboration with provincial and territorial governments to address delays, and the last one has to do with judicial appointments. As I mentioned in my speech, we have made over 300 appointments of a very high quality since taking office, and that is helping to reduce delays in the system.
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2019-05-14 19:19 [p.27802]
Mr. Chair, since this place studied Bill C-75, on December 14, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision on the victim surcharge found in section 737 of the Criminal Code. The court held that the mandatory victim surcharge is contrary to section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it could result in grossly disproportionate punishment for vulnerable or marginalized offenders.
The mandatory surcharge is a fixed amount that every offender must pay at the time of sentencing. It is 30% for any fine imposed or $100 per summary conviction offence or $200 per indictable offence.
I am aware that Bill C-75 proposed changes to this regime in order to provide some judicial discretion related to the imposition of the victim surcharge. Does the minister feel that these changes properly respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's guidance? Will the government be proposing any amendments to this bill to reflect this new Supreme Court of Canada decision?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for her important question. As I have stated, we are committed to ensuring that Canada's criminal justice system meets the highest standards of equity and fairness.
The Boudreault decision on December 14 found, as the member has pointed out, that the victim fine surcharge violated section 12 of the charter because it could result in a grossly disproportionate punishment, especially for vulnerable and marginalized offenders. Indeed, the provinces and territories that use this fund to fund victim services have not used it since December 2014, or their courts have not used it.
We realize this has an important role. We thought Bill C-75 went a long way to following with that, but after consulting with provinces and territories, the federal ombudsperson for victims of crime, and stakeholders, we have decided to propose amendments to Bill C-75, presently in front of the Senate, that will grant judges additional discretion to determine when the surcharge should be applied. This aligns it with the Boudreault decision, while continuing to ensure that offenders are properly held accountable to victims and to society as a whole.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-05-14 21:16 [p.27819]
Madam Chair, I thank the member for Eglinton—Lawrence for his work as parliamentary secretary.
The work that is being done starts with Bill C-75, which was mentioned in the comments by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence. Bill C-75 adopts a number of principles, including a principle of restraint, conditions imposed by the police that must be reasonable in the circumstances necessary to ensure the accused's attendance in court and also to ensure that the entire circumstances of the accused are considered before conditions or sentences are meted out under that legislation. This will help address the overrepresentation of the accused, particularly indigenous accused, in our system.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2019-05-14 21:19 [p.27819]
Madam Chair, in the course of my remarks, I also made mention of Bill C-75, which is an important piece of legislation that would help reduce court delays by modifying several aspects of court processes and trial processes.
I wonder if the parliamentary secretary might highlight some of the ways in which we would significantly reduce delays through the enshrinement of Bill C-75.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-05-14 21:19 [p.27819]
Madam Chair, the important aspect of Bill C-75 is that it would address delays by not clogging up the system with the administration of justice offences the member for Eglinton—Lawrence mentioned and by invoking the principle of restraint.
This would ensure that we do not overrepresent indigenous people in the criminal justice system and thereby cause increasing delays by clogging it further.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-02-07 18:45 [p.25436]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Bow River's intervention today, but I would like to remind him there are significant crimes happening across this country that really are more serious than property crimes. There are crimes against people happening every day, as well as crimes against women.
Originally, this question came out of the case of Tanya Campbell-Losier, which took place in Brooks, Alberta. These people continue to endure the pain of this woman's loss. While I think we are making some huge headway on this, it is very important not to forget the people who were involved in these kinds of crimes across the country.
I know people are there for the people of Brooks, Alberta, and I know they want to make sure they know they are comforted and supported, but there really is not any comfort to be found in jurisdictional issues and processes and procedures of criminal law. However, in the context of the discussion in Parliament, it is important to be clear. That is part of our role here.
The offender in that particular case is a provincial offender who was incarcerated in an Alberta provincial prison. When he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received his sentence last spring, it was pursuant to the exact same Criminal Code provisions that were in place under the Harper government. Nothing had changed. When he was granted day parole in the fall, it was pursuant to the exact same criteria in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that were in place under the Harper government. There had been no changes.
Again, that is obviously cold comfort to Tanya's loved ones. They do not want us pointing partisan fingers. They want us to make the system better.
There is a legitimate question to come to this government: What is this government doing to protect women from intimate partner violence and to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes? Here is the answer. We have introduced Bill C-75, which would strengthen the way the criminal justice system deals with intimate partner violence by allowing for longer sentences, reversing the onus at bail hearings for repeat offenders and broadening the definition to include not just spouses but dating partners and former partners.
We have invested over $200 million to prevent gender-based violence and to support survivors and to deal with the scourge of violence against women. We are providing safe options to women in abusive relationships by devoting a third of the $40-billion national housing strategy to projects for women, girls and their families fleeing violence. This also helps maintain 7,000 shelter spaces.
Of course none of that brings Tanya back, but it will help more women from suffering her fate. Once again, my deepest condolences to her family and friends, and the community of Brooks, Alberta, whom I am sure continue to miss her very much.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2019-02-07 18:49 [p.25437]
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary mentioned Bill C-75, and I would agree with part of it. However, many of those offences have been downgraded, almost 60 of them, and when the suggestion is not to take property crimes seriously, that statement of hers will ring loudly for a long time in my riding and create anger. If someone has been a victim of property crime, that is a tragic piece.
When she speaks of Bill C-75, which is a slap on the wrist for many offences on property, people become very angry. This is a challenge. Rural crime is still a challenge and it needs to be resolved.
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 Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2018-12-03 18:29 [p.24352]
It being 6:30 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, November 27, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-75.
Call in the members.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2018-12-03 18:53 [p.24352]
Mr. Speaker, we wanted to vote for the bill, but we did not hear you. We wish to vote in favour of the bill.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2018-12-03 18:53 [p.24352]
Is there unanimous consent for the Bloc Québécois members to vote in favour of the bill?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2018-11-28 15:59 [p.24106]
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 third time and passed.
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