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Track Irwin

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is rights.

Liberal MP for Mount Royal (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 41.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Victims Bill of Rights Act April 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the co-operation of the federal, provincial and territorial governments is a fundamental requirement for this bill and it is the point of the comments made by the Attorney General of Manitoba. I said in my comments that there must be co-operation.

The minister said that this bill was also based on provincial measures. I hope that the federal government will work not just with the provincial governments, but also with the people and witnesses that will appear before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights when we study this bill.

Victims Bill of Rights Act April 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his remarks and his contribution to the debate. I indicated that he did make references in his remarks regarding the matter of resources, and as I said, we look forward to the institutionalization of important resource allocation with regard to the four substantive rights and their enforcement, as are set forth in this legislation.

In the matter of victim surcharges, I do not want to repeat what I have elsewhere said in this House, or even in my remarks today. However, there remain problems, as I said in my remarks, about that principle of “reasonable”, and particularly the importance of maintaining judicial discretion in that regard.

Finally, the minister mentioned going abroad internationally and the matter of enforcement, and I commend him for that. I just want to mention my particular concerns regarding victims in Canada of crimes perpetrated abroad. While reference has been made to civil remedies for victims of terror, we need to expand this to remedies with regard to victims of torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. I hope the minister might consider that as we go forward with this bill, as well as other amendments that will be going before the committee.

Victims Bill of Rights Act April 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to join this debate and address Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, which sets out a number of important rights for victims of crime, particularly with respect to information, participation, protection, and restitution.

For victims and their families, navigating the path of justice, from police services to the trial process to incarceration and parole, can be a very difficult ordeal, sometimes frightening and often costly. Victims may have experienced significant emotional or physical trauma as well as material loss, and most painfully, the loss of loved ones.

As such, it is critical that our justice system and related departments and agencies treat victims with respect and sensitivity, appreciate their concerns, and minimize their burden. To that end, the bill before us appears to be in most respects one more step in the right direction, and I commend the minister for this initiative.

I have certain concerns about aspects of the proposed legislation that I will discuss shortly, the substantive critique that the minister himself invited, but I am hopeful that these legislative aspects can be examined and, if need be, amended and refined at committee.

As I said, Bill C-32 is one more step because it builds upon past efforts across party lines, and as the minister mentioned, the initiatives by provinces, to improve the treatment of victims of crime within our justice system.

Indeed, the preamble of the bill references the Canadian statement of basic principles of justice for victims of crime, which was first endorsed by federal, provincial, and territorial ministers of justice in 1988 under a Progressive Conservative government, and updated and endorsed again under a Liberal government in 2003.

Shortly thereafter, as minister of justice, I was proud to introduce the Martin government's very first bill, which increased protections for children and other vulnerable Canadians against exploitation and abuse. In particular, that legislation facilitated the testimony of child victims and other vulnerable witnesses by providing for the more widespread use of testimonial aids and support persons, which the minister referenced in his remarks today. In fact, the legislation before us builds upon many of the very provisions that were enacted or enhanced at that time.

I was also pleased to introduce Canada's first ever legislation to specifically target human trafficking, the contemporary global slave trade with its multiply-affected victims. It is to the credit of this House that the battle to combat human trafficking and exploitation has been a multi-partisan effort. Indeed, the bill I introduced at the time passed unanimously, and in recent years I have been pleased to support efforts by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul and the member for Ahuntsic to build upon that initial legislation.

There was all-party support as well for a 2005 bill that enhanced the national DNA data bank by authorizing judges to order DNA samples from those convicted of a number of serious crimes, including child pornography and offences related to underage prostitution. The national DNA data bank was itself created by the Liberal government in 2000, and has proven to be a valuable crime-fighting tool that has helped to protect vulnerable Canadians and to bring to justice those who would do them harm.

As regards the role of victims within the justice process, as minister of justice, I joined with the hon. Anne McLellan, the then minister of public safety, to establish a national office for victims in order to coordinate federal initiatives for victims of crime and ensure that their perspectives would be considered in the development of policy and legislation, which is a principle and process enhanced by this victims bill of rights act. We also set up a fund to help cover travel and accommodation costs for victims attending parole board hearings.

Moreover, and again with the support of MPs on both sides of the aisle, we enacted important measures to improve the treatment of victims in cases where the accused was found not criminally responsible. Those measures included protecting the identity and privacy of victims, allowing for the oral presentation of victim impact statements, and permitting the adjournment of review board hearings if victims needed more time to prepare.

Therefore, as I have said, I am proud not only of my own party's record when it comes to crime prevention and victims' rights—and here I reference as well the restorative justice initiatives—but also of the many instances in the past when members of all parties joined together in a spirit of collaboration and good faith to advance these important objectives and ideals.

I note with regret that public safety and victims' rights have sometimes been used as a wedge issue in an attempt to paint opponents of legislation that may have suspect constitutional policy grounds as being soft on crime or uncaring toward victims. Yet, victims are best served when we as parliamentarians focus on their interests rather than our own.

Many of the past bills to which I have referred were subject to thorough scrutiny and amendment at committee, a fact indicative not of the weakness of the legislation but the strength of the parliamentary process. I hope that the debate and study of Bill C-32 will likewise be open-minded and robust, as the minister appeared to invite.

In that vein, I will now turn to the legislation itself and to some of its aspects that merit further examination.

First, the bill would establish a number of victims' rights, divided into the categories of information, protection, participation, and restitution. As I said, I fully support the idea of extending these important rights to victims of crime. Victims must clearly be made aware of the rights and resources at their disposal, and they must, if they so choose, be kept abreast of the justice process from the investigative phase to the potential ultimate release of the offender, and at every point in between.

As well, the security of victims must be a paramount consideration, including the protection of their right to privacy and protection from intimidation and retaliation. Victims themselves should be able to share their views with the appropriate authorities within the justice system and to have, as much as possible, a meaningful role throughout the justice process. Finally, victims should be able to seek restitution where appropriate.

These are important rights contained in the legislation, to which I am pleased to lend my support and my party's support.

My concerns with respect to this section of the bill, and here I again relate to the minister's invitation regarding substantive critiques, are related primarily to the degree to which these rights are, in fact, enforceable. It is one thing to proclaim that victims of crime have this panoply of rights, however important that in itself is, but it is quite another to give them concrete expression by devoting adequate financial and human resources and putting in place an effective organizational infrastructure for recourse and remedy.

For instance, a House of Commons subcommittee studying victims' rights 14 years ago found that victims sometimes had difficulty contacting the right person within a government agency to access information to which they were entitled, and they occasionally received different or conflicting information from various sources within the same agency.

I mention this not to cast blame on any of the individuals who work at the Correctional Service , the Parole Board, or any other agencies that make up our justice system but to underscore the extent to which the resources in this system are already spread quite thin. As such, saying that a victim is entitled to information, protection, restitution, or a role in the process is important, and it cannot be underestimated. However, it is not the same as ensuring that they, in fact, get that.

Moreover, for rights to be meaningful, there must be appropriate recourse available in the event that they are infringed. However, the avenue for recourse as set out in Bill C-32 is merely a requirement that federal departments and agencies establish internal mechanisms to receive and review complaints and recommend remedial action. Again, it is not clear whether additional resources would be allocated to ensure that the complaint mechanisms would be effective, but neither is it clear what recourse, if any, victims would have if such internal complaint mechanisms did not resolve a situation to their satisfaction. This potential lack of recourse risks aggravating, rather than assuaging, the frustration of victims.

In short, having raised the expectations of victims of crime, the government is now responsible for meeting those expectations. I hope to hear more from the government, as the minister himself spoke today, about the concrete ways in which it intends to do so.

I will now move on to the Criminal Code amendments contained in this bill. For the most part, these amendments seek inter alia to protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses, to specify certain information to which victims are entitled, and to enhance the role of victims in the justice process. All of these objectives, as I mentioned earlier, are ones that I share.

There are, however, several clauses in this section of the bill that merit thorough examination at committee so as to ensure that their consequences are fully and accurately understood. To begin with, the bill proposes quite a broad definition of “victim” in the Criminal Code. The minister referenced this definition in his remarks.

The new definition would go so far as to include, in certain circumstances, an individual, and I quote:

...who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss as the result of the commission of an offence against any other person.

I certainly understand the impulse to extend the protection and rights of Bill C-32 to as many Canadians as possible, but there may be a point at which a definition becomes so broad that it can be rendered unworkable. For example, if everyone who has suffered emotional harm because of an offence committed against any other person is entitled to make representations during sentencing proceedings or at a review board hearing, as provided for by this bill, might there not be a risk of overburdening the system and slowing down proceedings to the detriment of victims themselves? At the very least, when experts come before committee, this would be a question worth asking and clarifying.

Another element of Bill C-32 that should be carefully considered is the expanded access to publication bans with respect to court proceedings.

The safety and privacy of victims and witnesses are undoubtedly vital concerns. At the same time, requests for publication bans require resources to adjudicate and enforce. It is not evident that our justice system is presently equipped to deal with this change.

Again, to be clear, I do not mean to suggest that the change is problematic in and of itself, but we must investigate its implications and cost consequences and ensure that the government is prepared to make the necessary resource commitment.

Bill C-32 would also remove the protection of spousal privilege such that it would be possible to compel an individual to testify against his or her spouse. As the minister himself mentioned in his remarks, numerous exceptions to this privilege have existed in Canada for many years. This is, nevertheless, a long-standing legal principle, and it will be important to understand its operation and use to fully appreciate the impact, positive or negative, of its removal. Again, this would be a useful issue for committee deliberation.

Another possible area of concern regards the payment of restitution by an offender to a victim. In particular, the legislation would prohibit a court from considering an offender's ability to pay when making a restitution order. This would be a significant concern in cases where the offender is impoverished and no work program is available to him or her while incarcerated, not least because the victim would be unlikely to receive the restitution that he or she has been awarded by the court.

This particular provision echoes the government's unfortunate approach to the victim fine surcharge, whereby offenders are required to pay hundreds of dollars at sentencing, with no allowance made for those who simply do not have the money. Since the mandatory surcharge has come into force, judges across the country have had to find creative ways around it, such as allowing many years for repayment.

Bill C-32 would make an important change to the surcharge, requiring that it be paid either within a period determined by the province or in a reasonable time after its imposition. Yet what is “reasonable” may depend greatly upon the offender's ability to pay. Indeed, to cite certain real-life cases from recent months, it is unclear what would be a reasonable period of time in which to expect a homeless Ottawa teenager or a drug-addicted refugee from Sierra Leone to raise hundreds of dollars.

The wording would likely lead to even more court cases on this front, all of which would cost taxpayers more than any amount they would receive from the payment of the surcharge.

Another aspect of Bill C-32 that must be carefully considered concerns the important changes to sentencing principles proposed in the bill, which the minister referenced in his remarks. For example, Bill C-32 would add the protection of society as a fundamental purpose of sentencing in the Criminal Code. Yet existing sentencing principles already include “the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society”. As such, it is unclear what the government is seeking to achieve with this seemingly redundant provision.

I hope that the justice committee will hear from criminal law experts about any possible effects of this change.

The bill would also add the denunciation of harm done to victims as a purpose of sentencing, an addition that raises similar questions, in particular how this denunciation would be achieved in a manner distinct from the denunciation of the conduct at issue and whether the impact of such a double denunciation would simply be to increase prison sentences across the board, regardless of whether such punishment fit the crime.

Finally, Bill C-32 would change the provision that underpins the Gladue principles of sentencing for aboriginal offenders. These principles currently require the courts to consider “all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances”, particularly with respect to aboriginal offenders, notably in recognition of the serious problem of the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in Canadian prisons.

Importantly, the Gladue principles do not automatically reduce an aboriginal offender's sentence, nor do they permit aboriginal offenders to escape serious punishment for serious crimes. The principles have, however, been upheld by the Supreme Court as recently as 2012.

However, Bill C-32 would appear to limit the application of the Gladue principles by specifying that the sentence must be “consistent with the harm done to victims or to the community”.

At the very least, this raises questions about the extent to which a sentencing principle meant to facilitate rehabilitation should be marginalized in favour of a more punitive approach. It would certainly be appropriate for experts in aboriginal justice to testify at committee on this point.

Nevertheless, in spite of these areas of potential concern, I will support sending the bill to committee for further study.

As I said earlier, I hope that committee members will engage in that study with the seriousness and responsiveness the subject demands and that the government, as it appears to indicate, would be open to amendments.

Before I conclude, I will turn briefly to measures not included in the bill that could be as important, if not more so, when it comes to respecting victims of crime and to preventing Canadians from becoming victims in the first place.

In our focus on domestic victims of crime, we must not forget that there are Canadians impacted in serious ways by crimes that have occurred abroad. In this regard, I remain troubled by the government's stance on state immunity. Thus far, it has acted to limit the number of state entities Canadians can sue for terror.

While I was pleased that the government adopted the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act just a few short years ago, the government has only listed two states Canadians can sue. Even then, it did not initially seem disposed to helping Canadian victims get justice prior to American claimants seeking to enforce foreign judgments regarding Iran in Canada. There must be a more equitable process for victims than the current listing mechanism that places the entirety of its discretionary authority in the hands of the minister. While I will not dwell on this point, I do hope the government will reconsider its position on this issue. As well, I trust that the protection will be expanded to include not only victims of terror but also victims of torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, which I have referenced in a private member's bill otherwise before this House.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of keeping Canadians from becoming victims of crime to begin with, the prevention principle. Regrettably, the government has not put sufficient emphasis on prevention in its approach both to victims' rights and to public safety in general.

To reduce the incidence of crime, we must combat factors that we know are linked with crime, such as issues of poverty, addiction, and mental health. Efforts in this regard require significant resource commitments and a conception of public safety that goes beyond punitive measures.

This brings me to the final area of concern. Bill C-32 contains no provisions about data sharing and collection or about developing best practices and guidelines such that victims' rights are understood in a way that is meaningful and consistent. It might be appropriate to require an annual report on the bill so that we know how many complaints are raised with respect to each right and how many are resolved to the victims' satisfaction, while enhancing federal-provincial co-operation in this regard.

In closing, I am glad this legislation is before us. While I have some concerns regarding particular clauses, I will be voting in favour of the bill at second reading, and I encourage others to do the same. We all have a part to play in supporting victims of crime. While Bill C-32 could be stronger and more effective, and I trust that at the end of the process it will be, it is one more important step in the right direction.

Human Rights April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this national victims of crime awareness week, wherein this year's theme is “taking action” to ensure that the needs of victims are made a priority within the justice system.

While the government's proposed victims bill of rights offers some useful additions to Canadian law, it does not yet sufficiently address the importance of prevention and remedy, and resource shortages.

This year, victims week coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. As Rwandans mourn their dead in painful silence and quiet dignity, the overarching message of Rwandan remembrance is not only the horror of the genocide, but also that the genocide was preventable, that it was the silence, the indifference, the inaction of the international community in the face of genocidal incitement and mass atrocity that made the Rwandan genocide possible.

Our focus on domestic victims must not ignore the victims of mass atrocity abroad, particularly given the mass carnage that is taking place in the Central African Republic today, with incendiary violence, mass atrocity, and the killing of 140,000 civilians in the last year alone.

Canada should take the lead in sounding the alarm, in acting on the responsibility to protect obligation, in responding to the United Nations' urgent call for more blue helmets, and thereby to honour the legacy of Rwanda and the victims of genocide.

Privilege March 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, in response to the question of the member for Charlottetown, the Minister of Justice said that the Liberal government had invoked the notwithstanding clause.

I just want to say that the Liberal government did not invoke the notwithstanding clause, as a matter of fact. I had stated, as the minister of justice, as a matter of principle and policy we would never—

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 24th, 2014

With regard to the appointment to the Supreme Court of Justice Marc Nadon, and the information provided to MPs on the ad hoc committee and available on the website of the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada which notes that “Each candidate was asked to identify five decisions for particular consideration by the Panel, preferably dealing with issues coming within the usual scope of the Supreme Court of Canada […] As far as possible, the choice of five decisions was to reflect at least one of each of the following areas of law: constitutional law (Charter or federalism), criminal law (or national security), civil law, administrative law, and the candidates’ choice”: (a) how was this list of areas of law developed; (b) who determined which areas of law to be included; (c) by what criteria were the areas of law determined; (d) how were these areas identified; (e) how were areas of knowledge important to the court identified and assessed; (f) in what ways was the particular legal expertise of the departing justice assessed; (g) what impact does the particular legal expertise of the departing justice have on the development of the areas of law sought; (h) how was five determined to be the appropriate number of cases; (i) for each of the last eight appointment cycles, broken down by cycle, (i) how many cases were sought from candidates, (ii) which specific areas of law were to be reflected, (iii) what other judicial writings were sought, if any, (iv) what is the equivalent wording to the phrases identified in the question, (v) how were the areas of law determined, (vi) how was the number of cases determined, (vii) how long were candidates given to provide cases and materials, (viii) were candidates given a choice between Charter or federalism within the area of constitutional law, (ix) were candidates given a choice between criminal or national security, (x) was national security in any way part of the area list, (xi) were candidates asked for academic or research works, (xii) were candidates allowed to provide academic or research works, (xiii) were candidates asked for speeches, (xiv) were candidates allowed to provide speeches, (xv) in what way were the case exigencies communicated to candidates; (j) what mechanisms exist for ensuring the appropriateness, relevance, and probative value of the materials sought from candidates; (k) what mechanisms or processes exist to ensure a candidate’s choice of cases conforms with the areas of law specified; (l) what restrictions are there on the areas of law for which cases could be sought; (m) what ensures that only cases of types that would be heard by the Supreme Court would be sought from candidates; (n) what ensures that the areas of law specified reflect the workload of the Supreme Court; (o) whose ultimate responsibility is the development of the list of areas of law for which candidates are asked to submit cases; (p) what role exists for Parliament in the determination of this list; (q) what is the role of the Minister of Justice in the determination of the number of cases sought from candidates; (r) what is the role of the Minister of Justice in the determination of the areas of law sought from candidates; (s) what is the role of the Prime Minister in the determination of the number of cases sought from candidates; (t) what is the role of the Prime Minister in the determination of the areas of law sought from candidates; (u) what is the role of the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs in the determination of the number of cases sought from candidates; (v) what is the role of the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs in the determination of the areas of law sought from candidates; (w) what is the role of the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs in the process of ensuring candidates provide the information sought; (x) does the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs provide advice to the Minister of Justice or the Prime Minister on the information that should be sought from candidates; (y) does the Department of Justice provide advice to the Minister of Justice or the Prime Minister on the information that should be sought from candidates; (z) with whom does the Minister of Justice consult on the information that should be sought from candidates; (aa) with whom does the Prime Minister consult on the information that should be sought from candidates; (bb) with regard to the areas of law identified for the Nadon appointment, (i) how do these differ, if at all, from those identified for the vacancy that resulted in the appointment of Justice Wagner, (ii) with whom did the Minister of Justice consult in identifying these areas of law, (iii) with whom did the Prime Minister consult in identifying these areas of law; (cc) with what other agencies or departments does the Prime Minister’s Office work or consult in developing the list of areas of law; (dd) with what external organizations, individuals or groups did the Prime Minister’s Office work or consult in developing this list of areas of case law to be sought; (ee) how much did the development of this list cost and what is the breakdown for this figure; (ff) how much did the overall appointment process cost and what is the breakdown for this figure; (gg) how much have the previous five appointment cycles cost and what are the breakdowns for these figures; (hh) in what ways is Parliament informed of the number and type of cases being sought from candidates to the Supreme Court; (ii) what requirements are provided to candidates, if any, regarding how recent decisions must be in the areas of laws indicated; (jj) if cases provided are unilingual, whose responsibility is the translation of said judgment and who bears the cost for translation; (kk) for whose benefit are the cases provided; and (ll) who reviews the cases if not a panel of MPs?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 24th, 2014

With regard to the Legal Aid Program Evaluation Final Report of 2012: (a) what is the role and mandate of the government with respect to criminal legal aid; (b) how was the policy in (a) determined and developed, when and by whom; (c) what is the role and mandate of the government with respect to civil legal aid; (d) how was the policy in (c) determined and developed, when and by whom; (e) what steps has the government taken to provide criminal legal aid; (f) what steps has the government taken to provide civil legal aid; (g) what statistics does the government track with respect to delays before provincial courts; (h) what steps has the government taken to develop national standards for the provision of legal aid; (i) what metrics has the government developed with respect to access to justice; (j) with respect to the metrics in (i), (i) how are these assessed, (ii) when was the most recent assessment, (iii) what was the conclusion of that most recent assessment, (iv) what action was taken as a result of that assessment; (k) what policy objectives have been identified with respect to (i) the challenge of access to justice, (ii) the challenge of long trials, (iii) the challenge of delays in the justice system, (iv) the challenge of dealing with deeply rooted, endemic social problems, (v) the rising cost of legal aid, (vi) the increasing demand for legal aid, (vii) concerns expressed about whether provinces and territories can continue to increase their contributions; (l) what individual pieces of legislation have been adopted or proposed to address each of the issues in (k), broken down by sub-issues; (m) what regulations have been adopted with respect to the issues in (k), broken down by sub-issue; (n) what indicators have been identified to measure the efficiency and economy of the federal Legal Aid Program (LAP); (o) what steps have been undertaken to collect relevant data from provinces, territories and legal aid plans on the (i) effectiveness, (ii) efficiency, (iii) economy of the LAP to assist future evaluations; (p) what measures are in place to expand the use of duty council with respect to ensuring access to legal aid; (q) for the last ten years, broken down by year, what has been the average cost of a legal aid application; (r) for the last ten years, broken down by year, what has the cost been for LAP funding for criminal legal aid; (s) for the next ten years, what is the projection for funding for criminal legal aid currently represented; (t) for the last ten years, broken down by year, what has been the cost of criminal legal aid and how is this figure arrived at; and (u) for the next ten years, broken down by year, what is the projected cost of criminal legal aid and how is this figure calculated?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 6th, 2014

With regard to Canadians detained abroad: (a) broken down by year for each of the last 15 years, and broken down by country of arrest, charge, or detention, (i) how many Canadians have been arrested outside of Canada, (ii) how many Canadians have been detained outside of Canada, (iii) how many Canadians detained outside of Canada have been charged with an offence, (iv) how many Canadians have been detained without charge outside of Canada; (b) broken down by country of arrest, charge or detention, (i) how many Canadians are currently detained outside of Canada, (ii) how many Canadians currently face charges outside of Canada, (iii) how many Canadians are currently detained without charge outside of Canada; (c) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) which representatives of the government met with the individual charged or detained, (ii) on what dates did these meetings occur, (iii) what other communication, if any, occurred between the government and the individual, (iv) through what medium did this communication occur, (vii) what was the purpose of each of these meetings and communications, (viii) what was the outcome of each of these meetings and communications; (d) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) which representatives of the government contacted family members of the individual charged or detained, (ii) on what dates were these family members contacted by the government, (iii) which representatives of the government were contacted by family members of the individual charged or detained, (iv) on what dates did the family members contact the government, (v) through what medium did each contact between the government and the family members of the individual charged or detained occur, (vi) what was the purpose of each communication between the government and the family members of the individual charged or detained, (vii) what was the outcome of each communication between the government and the family members of the individual charged or detained; (e) regarding each instance in (a) and (b), (i) what non-governmental organizations were contacted by the government, (ii) on what dates were these organizations contacted by the government, (iii) which representatives of the government contacted these organizations, (iv) what non-governmental organizations contacted the government, (v) on what dates did these organizations contact the government, (vi) which representatives of the government were contacted by these organizations, (vii) through what medium did each contact between the government and a non-governmental organization occur, (viii) what was the purpose of each communication between the government and the non-governmental organization, (ix) what was the outcome of each communication between the government and the non-governmental organization, (x) what assistance did non-governmental organizations offer to provide to the government, to the Canadian, or to the Canadian’s family, (xi) in what ways did non-governmental organizations assist in providing services to the Canadian arrested, charged, or detained, or to his or her family, (xii) in what ways did non-governmental organizations assist in securing or attempting to secure the release or extradition of the Canadian, (xiii) what other assistance did the non-governmental organization provide; (f) regarding each instance in (a) and (b), (i) what representations were made by the government to the government of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged or detained, (ii) on what dates were these representations made, (iii) which representatives of the government made these representations, (iv) through what medium were these representations made, (v) what response did the government receive from the government of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged or detained, (vi) which representatives of the government received the response, (vii) through what medium was the response delivered, (viii) which representatives of the government of the country in which the Canadian was charged or detained responded to the government’s representations, (ix) what was the purpose of each representation made by the government to the government of the country in which the Canadian was charged or detained, (x) what was the outcome of each representation made by the government to the government of the country in which the Canadian was charged or detained, (xi) what other communications did the government receive, solicited or otherwise, from the government of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged or detained; (g) regarding each instance in (a) and (b), (i) what governments of third-party countries were contacted by the government, (ii) on what dates were the governments of third-party countries contacted by the government, (iii) which representatives of the government contacted the governments of the third-party countries, (iv) what governments of third-party countries contacted the government, (v) on what dates did the governments of third-party countries contact the government, (vi) which representatives of the government were contacted by the governments of third-party countries, (vii) through what medium did each of these contacts occur, (viii) what was the purpose of each contact between the government and the government of a third-party country, (ix) what was the outcome of each contact between the government and the government of a third-party country, (x) what assistance did governments of third-party countries offer to provide to the government, to the Canadian, or to the Canadian’s family, (xi) in what ways did governments of third-party countries assist in providing services to the Canadian arrested, charged or detained, or to his or her family, (xii) in what ways did governments of third-party countries assist in securing or attempting to secure the release or extradition of the Canadian, (xiii) what other assistance did the governments of third-party countries provide; (h) at the time of their arrest, charge, or detention, which Canadians in (a) and (b) had (i) Canadian citizenship, (ii) Canadian permanent resident status, (iii) other status in Canada; (i) for each instance in (a), (i) does the Canadian remain detained outside of Canada, (ii) is the Canadian currently detained in Canada, (iii) was the Canadian extradited to Canada, (iv) was the Canadian released by the country in which he or she was arrested, charged, or detained, (v) was the Canadian released after being extradited to Canada, (vi) did the Canadian die in the custody of the country in which he or she was arrested, charged, or detained, (vii) did the Canadian die in Canadian custody, (viii) is the Canadian’s status unknown; (j) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) on what date did the government learn that the Canadian had been arrested, charged or detained, (ii) which representative of the government first learned that the Canadian had been arrested, charged, or detained, (iii) how did that representative learn that the Canadian had been arrested, charged, or detained; (k) for each instance in (a) and (b), was the arrest, charge, or detention determined by the government to be consistent with (i) Canadian norms, (ii) international norms, (iii) the norms of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged, or detained; (l) for each instance in (a) and (b), based on what information did the government determine whether the arrest, charge, or detention was consistent with (i) Canadian norms, (ii) international norms, (iii) the norms of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged, or detained; (m) for each instance in (a) and (b), based on what criteria did the government determine whether the arrest, charge, or detention was consistent with (i) Canadian norms, (ii) international norms, (iii) the norms of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged, or detained; (n) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) who made the determinations in (k), (ii) when did the process of making the determinations in (k) begin, (iii) when were the determinations made; (o) for each instance in (b), (i) what actions is the government taking to ensure that the Canadian’s rights are respected, (ii) what actions is the government taking to ensure that the Canadian receives a fair trial, (iii) what actions is the government taking to ensure that the Canadian is treated humanely, (iv) what actions is the government taking to secure the Canadian’s release, (v) what actions is the government taking to secure the Canadian’s extradition?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 6th, 2014

With regard to applications to the Minister of Justice for ministerial review of criminal convictions: (a) for each year since 2002, (i) how many applications for review of a criminal conviction were received by the Minister of Justice, (ii) of the applications received, how many preliminary assessments were completed, (iii) of applications that completed preliminary assessment, how many proceeded to the investigation stage, (iv) of completed investigations, how many applications were dismissed, (v) how many applications, and which specific ones, were granted, (vi) of applications granted, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister direct a new trial, (vii) of applications granted, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister refer a case to the court of appeal; (b) for each year since 2002, (i) how much funding was made available to the Criminal Conviction Review Group (CCRG) for use in the conviction review process, (ii) how much money was spent by the CCRG, (iii) how much money has been requested by the CCRG; (c) for each year since 2002, (i) how much funding was made available to the Department of Justice for use in the post-conviction review process, (ii) how much money was spent by the Department of Justice in this regard, (iii) how much money was requested by the Minister of Justice for use in this regard; (d) in the current employ of the CCRG, (i) how many individuals are lawyers; (ii) how many individuals are non-lawyers, broken down by job title, (iii) what is the employment term for the individuals in (i) and (ii); (e) for each year since 2002, (i) how many lawyers were employed by the CCRG, (ii) who was responsible for determining the staffing requirements of the CCRG, (iv) how frequently were staffing levels reviewed to ensure that they are adequate to handle the number of applications received, (v) how many CCRG staff were involved in the review of each application received by the Minister, (vi) how many applications were reviewed by each individual lawyer employed by the CCRG, (vii) broken down by case, which lawyers were assigned to which applications, (viii) of those applications reviewed by each individual lawyer employed by the CCRG, how many, and which ones, resulted in a completed preliminary review, (ix) how many resulted in a completed investigation; (f) for each year since 2002, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the CCRG recommend further investigation; (g) for each year since 2002, in how many investigations, and in which specific cases, did the CCRG, (i) interview or examine witnesses, (ii) carry out scientific testing, (iii) obtain assessments from forensic and social science specialists, (iv) consult police agencies in connection with the specific investigation, (v) consult prosecutors in connection with the specific investigation, (vi) consult defence lawyers in connection with the specific investigation, (vii) obtain any other relevant information or documentation; (h) for each year since 2002, (i) in how many cases, and in which ones, did the CCRG produce an investigation report, (ii) in how many cases, and in which ones, did the applicant provide comments on an investigation report, (iii) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the CCRG conduct further investigation based on an applicant’s comments to an investigation report, (iv) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Special Advisor produce advice or make a recommendation to the Minister that differed from the advice or recommendation contained in the CCRG’s investigation report, (v) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister make a determination that differed from the investigation report, (vi) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister make a determination that differed from the Special Advisor; (i) Regarding the “new matters of significance” test, (i) is it currently necessary that an application for review of a criminal conviction be supported by “new matters of significance” in order for it to proceed to the preliminary assessment stage, (ii) in order for it to proceed to investigation, (iii) in order for the Minister to allow the application; (j) regarding the “new matters of significance” test, (i) has the test been applied the same way in each year since 2002, (ii) if not, how has its application changed, (iii) are there any cases, and if so which ones, where an application proceeded to any stage of the review process without having adduced “new matters of significance”, (iv) what is the meaning of the term “new matters of significance” in the context of the ministerial review process, (v) for an application to proceed, must it be supported by “fresh evidence” not available at the time of trial, (vi) can an application for review proceed based on evidence that existed, but was not reasonably discoverable at the time of trial, (vii) can an application for review proceed based on evidence that reasonably could have been, but was not, discovered by the applicant at the time of trial; (k) for each year since 2002, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister waive privilege regarding an investigation report; (l) broken down by year since 2002 and by case, in which cases did the Minister, (i) determine there to be a conflict of interest, (ii) in those cases where the Minister determined there to be a conflict of interest, in which specific instances did the Minister authorize an agent outside of the department of Justice or the CCRG to carry out the investigation; (m) broken down by year since 2002 and by case, in which cases, and to whom, did the Minister (i) delegate his powers to take evidence, (ii) delegate his powers to issue subpoenas, (iii) delegate his powers to enforce the attendance of witnesses, (iv) delegate his powers to compel a witness to give evidence, (v) delegate his powers to otherwise conduct an investigation and, if so, what specific powers were delegated; (n) regarding the requirement under section 696.5 of the Criminal Code that the Minister of Justice submit an annual report to Parliament regarding applications for ministerial review, (i) what are the requirements pertaining to the compilation and submission of the annual report, (ii) where are these requirements contained, (iii) have these requirements changed since 2002 and, if so, when and in what specific ways were they changed, (iv) what requirements for publication exist, if any, (v) what is the process for dissemination of the report; (o) regarding the requirement under section 7(f) of the Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review that the Minister include in his annual report “any other information that [he] considers appropriate”, (i) what guidelines exist for determining what information is appropriate for inclusion in the report under this element of the Regulations, (ii) what aspects of each ministerial report submitted pursuant to section 696.5 of the Criminal Code since 2002 was included as a result of the Minister’s determination that it is appropriate for inclusion under section 7(f) of the Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review; (p) broken down by year since 2000, how many Canadian Commissions of Inquiry into wrongful convictions have recommended the further study or implementation of an independent commission to assume the powers of the Minister of Justice to investigate and refer cases of suspected miscarriages of justice for judicial re-considerationl; (q) broken down by specific Commission of Inquiry, (i) which specific foreign review mechanisms have been examined as potential models to reform the current Canadian post-conviction review regime, (ii) what actions have been taken to implement the findings or suggestions of the commission of inquiry, (iii) has the government consulted with any stakeholders regarding the possibility of implementing an independent commission of inquiry to assume the powers of the Minister of Justice in this regard, (iv) what specific stakeholders were consulted in this regard and when, (v) with which provinces has the government consulted in this regard, (vi) with which provincial bar associations has the government consulted in this regard, (vii) with which provincial Attorneys General did the government consult in this regard, (viii) has the government engaged in any analysis of the comparative costs associated with the current ministerial review process compared to a possible independent review commission; (r) what specific steps is the government undertaking to minimize the incidence of wrongful conviction; (s) what efforts have been made to implement the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group reports in respect of wrongful conviction; (t) what efforts are made to inform Canadians of their options with respect to addressing what they believe to be a wrongful conviction or other miscarriage of justice; (u) with respect to the government’s website entitled “Conviction Review" (http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/ccr-rc/rev.html), last updated on April 30, 2013, what changes were made on this date and what are the three previous versions of this page; (v) by what means is the wrongful conviction process as a whole reviewed by the government and what metrics are tracked with respect to it; and (w) regarding the 2004 Annual Report, in which the then-Minister of Justice stated that “although it is not required, applicants are encouraged to seek the assistance of counsel,” (i) when was the language "encouraged to seek the assistance of counsel" removed from the Annual Report, (ii) whose decision was it to remove this language and on what basis, (iii) when was this change implemented, (iv) did this change further a specific policy objective, (v) what policy objective did this change further, (vi) is there any difference in the success rates of pro bono applications compared to applications submitted with legal assistance and what is the difference, (vii) has the Department of Justice called for greater access to legal assistance for those submitting applications for ministerial review of their criminal convictions?

Human Rights February 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this week I delivered the keynote address at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a moving and inspiring gathering of dissidents and former political prisoners who shared witness testimony of human rights violations in countries, including North Korea, Syria, Russia, Eritrea, Iran, and China. These heroes of humanity, the gold medallists, so to speak, of moral courage, personify the larger struggle for human rights in our time, transforming human history through their involvement in that history. It is our responsibility to break the silence, briser le silence, surrounding political prisoners, to advocate on their behalf, to let them know that they are not alone and that the violators of their rights will be held to account.

I also spoke at the Kwibuka20, the official launch of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity. As part of Kwibuka, survivors bore witness and spoke movingly of the unspeakable horrors of the Rwandan genocide, unspeakable because they were preventable. While the international community dithered, Rwandans died.

We remember the past and the lessons of the past.

I trust that all members of this place will join me as we unite to remember and bear witness, and to combat indifference and inaction, atrocity, and impunity, as we seek to pursue justice and human rights for all.