Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 16:40
I'm not sure this is in order because of the way these are grouped together in the lines. I'm not able to speak to NDP-1 because it covers the same lines. The issue, of course, is vulnerable populations—
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 16:41
Could officials comment on the implications from their perspective of deleting the word “primary”?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 16:45
Thanks, Chair.
Many of the NDP amendments that are going to be coming forward in the next few minutes are derived from what I thought was persuasive testimony by Marie-Eve Sylvestre of the University of Ottawa.
Members will remember that it was her position that it was necessary to define the term “vulnerable population” in the bill. It doesn't do that in the current formulation. She was concerned about people experiencing homelessness, drug or alcohol users, people with mental health problems, sex workers, racialized minorities, all of whom are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and are placed at a disadvantage because they're overexposed to police surveillance and often the victims of profiling and discrimination.
The purpose of my amendment would be to follow her recommendations in that regard.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 16:51
Thanks, Chair.
As I indicated in my last intervention, the basis of NDP-2, and NDP-3 and others that are following, is the analysis conducted by Professor Sylvestre in her empirical work. The number of adults placed in interim detention is significantly more than the number of persons sentenced to imprisonment in Canada.
The high interim detention rates have a disproportionate effect, she said, on groups like aboriginals and people with mental health issues. The decision to detain is first made, of course, by the police, and directly influences the continuation of the proceedings. Indeed, a detained person who appears before court is much more likely to plead guilty in the earliest opportunity, the research shows.
The purpose of NDP-2 is to address when a person may be denied from release only if they pose a real and substantial risk to the safety and security of any person—a victim or a witness. It thus brings clarity to the term “reasonable grounds”, and that is the purpose in doing so.
I would commend her work and the amendment to the committee.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 16:54
My objective is simply to try to record her evidence in the legislative amendment.
The peace officer has to agree to release the arrested individual prior to the court appearance if the accused is not a real and substantial risk to the safety and security of the person, particularly any victims or witnesses of the offence, or if they are unlikely to repeat the offence.
I think we have evidence of the mass over-incarceration of certain categories of people, many of whom don't go on to be convicted.
It seemed to me that her evidence, with all of the analysis and empirical work behind it, shows that it does need.... I want an operational impact. That is, of course, what is intended here, so I would stand by the proposal.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 16:58
There's a line item, and the purpose of NDP-4 is to remove certain parts of Bill C-75, lines 27 to 29 on page 70, which deal with abstaining from going to any specific place or entering any geographic area, and replacing it with:
ing any geographic area, which condition must be:
(i) delimited reasonably, having regard to the circumstances of the accused, including if the accused is an Aboriginal person or belongs to a vulnerable population, and
(ii) reasonably necessary to ensure the safety and security of any person referred to in paragraph (d), except in accordance with any specified conditions;
This amendment, Chair, would ensure that the geographic limitations imposed on an individual, pertaining to an undertaking, are “delimited reasonably” and have ”regard to the circumstances of the the accused,” as I said, for aboriginal persons and vulnerable populations. It would ensure that the limitations are reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of the public, victims or witnesses.
I assume that members will remember the testimony she gave about how, in Montreal, these conditions were used in an absolutely ridiculous fashion. This would be to confine them more carefully. She said that the conditions are subject to considerable abuses and are widely used against marginalized individuals to banish them from inner cities' public spaces, where they have access to essential health and social services like food banks, shelters, and harm reduction services. In her judgment, the language needs to be stronger, to send a clear message to the police that they must restrict it to what is necessary to protect the safety of victims and witnesses.
I think the evidence she gave was overwhelming, to the effect that this has been abused to date. It results in ridiculous circumstances. This language would, I think, effectively correct those deficiencies.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 17:10
Thanks, Chair.
We're still back with the peace officer during the undertaking period, and the objective here is adding proposed subsection 501(3.1) as an additional condition. There already are others. This one would deal with the issue of an accused's level of dependence on a substance or alcohol, and it would say that, if the undertaking contains a condition about consuming alcohol or drugs, the consideration must be given to the level of dependency on the substance, and priority given to harm reduction measures rather than abstinence, to the extent that it is possible to do so without compromising the safety and security of a victim, a witness or the public.
It takes into account the very compelling testimony, again, that we heard about how people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs are reacting when these undertakings restrict their consumption but there's just no way they're going to ever be able to meet them.
There's a case in Alberta that has been referred to called R. v Omeasoo, a 2013 Alberta case where the judge said:
It is trite to say that conditions in an undertaking which the accused cannot or almost certainly will not comply with cannot be reasonable. Requiring the accused to perform the impossible is simply another means of denying judicial interim release.
The objective of NDP-5 is to address that reality.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 17:22
Thanks, Chair. These next two are essentially the same as I moved before, but rather to first court appearance bail, if you will, rather than the undertaking in which the context was different before.
Again, the interviews that Professor Sylvestre and her team undertook with legal stakeholders showed that the conditions that are often imposed just don't work. They're arbitrary. They're unreasonable. They're excessive. For example, the one about the condition prohibiting a person being found in a designated area is often too wide and exaggerated. Others are too restrictive on freedoms, like when you have a curfew imposed on someone in the context of vandalism, or unrealistic like the one I talked about earlier, consuming alcohol when you're alcoholic or the like.
Imposing unreasonable and potentially disruptive conditions is just another way of denying bail. The purpose of these amendments would be to try to reasonably limit the geographic location and reasonably ensure security and safety, but taking into account the issues of abstinence that I talked about earlier.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 17:28
I agree. The evidence of Jonathan Rudin of Aboriginal Legal Services, as was said, was counterintuitive. I would never have thought I'd be in favour of his perspective, the idea of removing the reverse onus, but he said the following, and I just want to read it into the record:
One of the impacts of dual charging is that women end up with convictions for assault that they should never have had. If these provisions go through and their partner once again alleges abuse then they may have trouble meeting the reverse onus. This means that they will be detained, they will likely plead guilty and the cycle will continue and continue. Over 40% of women in custody today are Indigenous—this provision of the bill will make a shameful situation even worse.
That's Jonathan Rudin, who deals with this issue day in and day out. I found his testimony overwhelmingly powerful. I hope the members of this committee will see fit to reverse this injustice.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2018-10-29 17:35
This is the same principle in terms of release orders by specifying the detention of the accused must only be used if necessary to ensure the attendance in court and in regard to the seriousness of the offence. Why? If the offence of the accused is not serious, then measures of detention should not be taken to ensure that they'll appear in court, as the accused does not pose a security risk to the public.
It's pretty straightforward and I think pretty practical.
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