Independence of the Judiciary Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (independence of the judiciary)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Irwin Cotler  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Introduced, as of April 24, 2015
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to allow a court the discretion to vary a punishment to be imposed in respect of an offence for which the punishment or different degrees or kinds of punishment are prescribed. It further allows a court to vary any minimum punishment sentence that it is required to impose under that Act, the court having to provide written reasons for the varied sentence.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Independence of the Judiciary ActRoutine Proceedings

April 24th, 2015 / 12:15 p.m.
See context


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-669, an act to amend the Criminal Code (independence of the judiciary).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the independence of the judiciary act, which would ensure that judges have the necessary discretion to impose principled and proportionate sentences tailored to the particularities of individual circumstances, individual offenders, and individual victims.

Everyone in this House seeks to prevent crime and keep Canadians safe. Sometimes, however, measures intended to achieve these laudable objectives, which we all share, turn out to be ineffective, counterproductive, and unjust. Such is unfortunately the case with the government's ever-increasing reliance on mandatory minimum sentencing provisions.

As the Supreme Court said last week, “Empirical evidence suggests that mandatory minimum sentences do not, in fact, deter crimes.” Instead, they lead to prison overcrowding. They disproportionately impact aboriginals and other minority groups. They increase costs for taxpayers. They may violate the charter, and they are, as one American study put it, a recipe for recidivism.

While the bill would maintain the mandatory minimum sentencing requirement where warranted, it would allow judges to vary mandated sentences where it is deemed just and reasonable to do so, provided they give written reasons for doing so.

It is in the interests of both justice and public safety that the sentence fit the particularities of the crime.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)