Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act

An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code (sexual assault)

Sponsor

Rona Ambrose  Conservative

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

Status

In committee (Senate), as of May 31, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-337.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Judges Act to restrict eligibility for judicial appointment to individuals who have completed comprehensive education in respect of matters related to sexual assault law and social context. It also requires the Canadian Judicial Council to report on continuing education seminars in matters related to sexual assault law. Furthermore, it amends the Criminal Code to require that reasons provided by a judge in sexual assault decisions be entered in the record of the proceedings or be in writing.

Elsewhere

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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have been here for three plus years and this will be the last week for many of us in this beautiful building. I hope all 338 of us take the time to walk around each of the sections of this wonderful building and soak them in: the Railway Committee Room, the Reading Room, the Library of Parliament and the House of Commons. This is one of the great institutions of our country. We all felt it coming to the House of Commons tonight, with the Christmas lights. We are so privileged, over 300 of us, to call this our home.

A good number of us will not be here when it reopens, whether it is in 12 years, 15 years, 20 years, whatever the case may be. Hopefully, we all take pictures. This is a great facility and such an honour. I had a distinguished 40-year career in broadcasting. The iconic curtains in the House of Commons have been here for so long. Come Wednesday or Thursday, we should treat this place like a basketball court, cut them down and each get a piece of the curtains.

I am here tonight to speak on Bill C-51. The stated purpose of this bill is to streamline the Criminal Code of Canada by removing certain provisions that no longer have any relevance in contemporary society. The Conservative Party is very supportive of Bill C-51 strengthening the provisions of the sexual assault legislation and has led the way for supporting victims of sexual assault by, among other things, Bill C-337 by my former Conservative colleague Rona Ambrose, which is one such measure.

Bill C-337 would make it mandatory, as we have heard in the House throughout the day, for judges to participate in sexual assault training and be aware of the challenges sexual assault victims face. The bill was designed to hold the Canadian judiciary responsible for the ongoing training of judges and the application of law in sexual assault trials. It would require that lawyers also receive training in sexual assault as a criterion of eligibility for a federally appointed judicial position. As members will recall, Bill C-337 was passed in the House of Commons and appears to be well on its way to royal assent in the Senate, although Ms. Ambrose, like the rest of us, is waiting patiently for the results.

Bill C-51 would expand the rape shield provisions to include communications of a sexual nature or communications for a sexual purpose. These provisions would provide that evidence of a complainant's prior sexual history cannot be used to support the inference that the complainant was more likely to have consented to the sexual activity in issue or that the complainant is less worthy of belief. The bill also provides that a complainant would have the right to legal representation in rape shield cases, which I believe is very important, but also creates a regime to determine whether an accused could introduce a complainant's private records at trial that would be in his or her possession. This would complement the existing regime governing the accused person's ability to obtain complainants' private records when those records would be in the hands of a third party.

There are some aspects of Bill C-51 that Conservatives were opposed to, such as the removal of section 176 of the Criminal Code, the section of the code that provides protection for religious services and those who perform religious services. It was absolutely ludicrous to remove this section of the Criminal Code when we have seen such a startling increase in attacks on mosques, synagogues and even churches as of late.

It should be noted that, according to Statistics Canada, over one-third of reported hate crimes in this country are motivated by hatred of religion, and removing section 176 would remove valuable protection for our faith leaders in this country.

I received many calls in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood over the removal of this section from the Criminal Code. This was brought up on June 5 here in the House, and a couple of weeks later when we recessed for the summer, I had many phone calls in my office in Saskatoon. I remember one phone call came from Pastor Eldon Boldt of Circle Drive Alliance Church. He was terribly concerned by this and was going to start a petition. He wanted the current government to know that this was wrong. He was concerned not only for his own well-being but for other religious leaders across the country.

In Quebec City, we had six people killed in a mosque attack. Our Conservative caucus at the time of that attack was just leaving Quebec City and returning to Ottawa. Also, 26 people were killed at the First Baptist Church in Texas. This is just a short list of what has gone on in this world.

Our religious freedoms are protected, and section 176 of the Criminal Code is certainly part of that protection. Religious freedoms are fundamental to all Canadians, and Conservatives are clearly proud to be among the first to stand and support religious freedoms of all faith.

I should add some words from the Right Hon. John G. Diefenbaker, Canada's prime minister from 1958 to 1962, who hails from my province of Saskatchewan, in fact, Prince Albert. He said:

I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

If members come to my city of Saskatoon, I will take them to the Diefenbaker Centre where these words are etched onto the wall. It is very important, and these are great words from former prime minister John G. Diefenbaker.

There was a large public outcry against this amendment, and, thankfully, the Liberal members of the justice committee listened to all Canadians and voted to keep section 176 of the Criminal Code.

To summarize, I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill C-51, which covers a broad range of amendments to the Criminal Code. Our current Prime Minister, of course, talked about omnibus bills being undemocratic. We talked about this in the House. I remember door-knocking back in 2015 as our former Conservative government was blamed, and maybe rightfully so at times, for the omnibus bills created in the House from 2011 to 2015. However, we see now that the bill before us, introduced by the current government, could also be considered an omnibus bill, because it has so many sections to the Criminal Code that we are dealing with. It is a promise, actually a pattern of promises, not kept by the Liberal government.

However, there are some amendments to the Criminal Code addressed in Bill C-51 that are quite necessary and really common sense. For example, we fully support all changes in the bill that clarify and even strengthen the sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code. These changes would help support all victims of sexual assault crimes.

Conservatives have always stood up for the rights of victims in this country. We have a proud record of introducing the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and the passing of Bill C-337, which would make it mandatory for all judges to participate in sexual assault training. Both of these actions are in support of victims. Sometimes we forget all too much about the victims in this country, and they certainly need to be supported.

I think the Conservative Party has supported victims very well in the past number of decades.

Additionally, we support repealing or amending sections of the code that have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. The removal of obsolete or even redundant provisions makes common sense. There is really no need for provisions about witchcraft or duelling in the streets. They are just not part of today's society.

However, an area of this bill which caused great concern for all Canadians was the government's removal of section 176 of the Criminal Code. We have talked about that. Thanks to the work of an effective opposition on this side, and the voices of all Canadians who spoke up in the summer of 2017 to challenge the government, the Liberals have decided to back down from these changes.

That just about wraps up my time. I just want to wish everyone who is in the House and who is watching the House of Commons on CPAC tonight all the best in the holiday season. As this could be the final time that I rise in 2018, I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin with my prepared text, I would like to read a Facebook post by Mr. Rodney Stafford, who is from my riding. It starts with “Rodney Stafford is feeling angry”. His post reads:

I'm really trying to find the words to say right now. There are so many questions that have been unanswered regarding Terri-Lynne, and I'm NEVER going to rest until justice is upheld. NOW, knowing what all we have [all] been fighting for over the last three months, and the questions asked without real answers and run around, it has come to my knowledge as of today that MICHAEL RAFFERTY--THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL ACTIONS THE DAY OF APRIL 8TH, 2009. THE ABDUCTION, BRUTAL RAPE, MURDER, AND CONCEALING OF EVIDENCE, WAS TRANSFERRED FROM HIS MAXIMUM SECURITY FACILITY TO A MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITY IN MARCH!!!!!! This means that ALL THIS TIME over the last three months, CORRECTIONS SERVICE CANADA AND OUR CANADIAN GOVERNMENT have been hiding the fact that NOT ONE, BUT BOTH people responsible for stealing the life of Victoria have been working their way to luxury. Where in the world does it make sense that the worst of the worst of criminals, not petty thieves, THE WORST OF THE WORST, CHILD KILLERS!!!, even get the opportunity at a better life. So now there are two child killers living in Medium Security penitentiaries, with frequent day passes, medical, dental, schooling, and access to air!!! I NEED CANADIANS EVERYWHERE TO HELP WITH THIS FIGHT!!! Our children and lost loved ones deserve justice and security within our country. I am so ashamed to be Canadian right now. During our meeting with Anne Kelly, Commissioner of Corrections, she was blatantly asked by Petrina if there was information about Rafferty that we didn't know about. Another dodged question. Corrections Service Canada NEEDS AN IMMEDIATE OVERHAUL if this is what they consider justice. Three, NOT ONE, but three appeal judges on October 24th, 2016 looked Michael Rafferty's lawyer in the face as they ALL stated he was right where he belongs. SAME AS THE TRIAL JUDGE!! So Corrections Service Canada, a year and a half later, says ha, no you're not. And lowers his security and transfers him. YET AGAIN WITHOUT MAKING CONTACT WITH ME regarding his transfer. Think about it??? That means, during the rallies and all this time that Canada has been fighting for real justice for Victoria and all our loved ones regarding the lowering of Security and transfer of Terri-Lynne, CSC has withheld this information about Michael Rafferty. I only received the information because I had requested it even though I was asked "There really hasn't been much activity on Michael Rafferty's file, would you still like me to send the information to you".??? "Oh ya", I said. Glad I did.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please share the snot out of this. If Commissioner Anne Kelly is willing to sit and slap me in the face over and over again with the tragedy having lost Victoria to two brutal killers the way we all did, who is she willing to screw over??? THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE ON EVERY LEVEL!!!! CHILD KILLERS!!!!!!

That was written by Rodney Stafford, the father of Tori Stafford. It shows there is a justice issue at stake here that all Canadians feel is very important, and in this case, a father has made his feelings very clear.

Now, I would like to share my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-51. The purpose of this bill is to streamline the Criminal Code of Canada by removing certain provisions that are no longer relevant to contemporary society. Bill C-51 is a justice omnibus bill. It is one bill containing many changes on a variety of different matters.

The Prime Minister and his Liberals call omnibus bills “undemocratic”, and the Prime Minister pledged that the Liberal government would undo the practice of introducing omnibus bills. Regardless, my Conservative colleagues and I are aligned with the need to strengthen the provisions of the sexual assault legislation.

Former Conservative leader Rona Ambrose led the way for supporting victims of sexual assault by introducing a private members' bill, Bill C-337. This bill would make it mandatory for judges to participate in sexual assault training and education to ensure that the judiciary is aware of the challenges that sexual assault victims face. Her bill is designed to hold the Canadian judiciary responsible for the ongoing training of judges and the application of law in sexual assault trials. As we all remember, this bill was passed by the House of Commons and we were hopeful that it would pass the Senate. It has not passed yet.

We are pleased that the Liberals are planning to strengthen the sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code surrounding consent and legal representation, and expanding the rape shield provisions. The Conservative Party stood up for the rights of victims of crime when the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights passed in 2015, and will continue to do so in the future.

Bill C-51 would amend, among other things, section 273.1 to clarify that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting. This is a reflection of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. J.A. It proposes to amend section 273.2 to clarify the defence of mistaken belief if consent is not available and if the mistake is based on a mistake of law—for example, if the accused believed that the complainant's failure to resist or protest meant the complainant consented.

This bill would expand the rape shield provisions to include communications of a sexual nature or communications for a sexual purpose. These provisions prevent evidence of a complainant's prior sexual history being used to support the inference that the complainant was more likely to have consented to the sexual activity at issue, or that a complainant is less worthy of belief.

In addition, this bill would provide that a complainant would have a right to legal representation in rape shield cases. It would create a regime to determine whether an accused could introduce a complainant's private records at trial, which would be in his or her possession. This would complement the existing regime governing an accused's ability to obtain a complainant's private records when those records would be in the hands of a third party.

Another aspect of Bill C-51 that I strongly support is the removal of unconstitutional sections of the Criminal Code. Canadians should be able to expect that the Criminal Code accurately reflects the state of law, and, yes, Canadians who made that common-sense assumption could be wrong.

I agree with a few other revisions, for example, clause 41's removal of section 365 of the Criminal Code, which states, “Every one who fraudulently (a) pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration”, and clause 4's removal of section 71 pertaining to duelling in the streets, which states:

Every one who

(a) challenges or attempts by any means to provoke another person to fight a duel,

(b) attempts to provoke a person to challenge another person to fight a duel, or

(c) accepts a challenge to fight a duel

There are a number of provisions to be removed. Obviously, it is long overdue that the sections dealing with duelling are removed.

One other positive aspect of Bill C-51 is the fact the government has finally backed down from removing section 176 from the Criminal Code.

One of the parts of the bill removes unconstitutional sections, as well as sections of the Criminal Code that, in the opinion of the government, are redundant or obsolete.

There has been much discussion on section 176. What is most interesting is that minister brought this bill before Parliament on June 5, 2017. Ironically, on June 9, 2017, a criminal court case in Ottawa dealt with the bill. It would seem that there was not a great deal of research done by the government on what that particular section of the code really meant. It is fair to say that section 176 of the Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence to obstruct or threaten a religious official, or to disrupt a religious service or ceremony. Section 176 is not unconstitutional, it has never been challenged in court, and it is not obsolete. Actually a number of individuals have been successfully prosecuted under it. Also, it is not redundant, as it is the only section of the Criminal Code that expressly protects the rights and freedoms of Canadians to practise their religion without fear or intimidation. Religious prejudice knows no borders and has no respect of persons. That is why I am glad that the government listened to the thousands of Canadians who signed petitions, wrote letters and emails, and made phone calls to MPs and the government to keep section 176 in the Criminal Code.

There was one other section of the code I did not agree with the government removing. That section has specific protection if someone attempts to attack the Queen. We all know this section is not used often. In fact, it has probably never been used. However, as state visits are rare, it should still remain in the code because it protects the person who represents the monarchy in Canada. It is still a very serious crime. Attempting to attack royalty, as Canada's head of state, is not the same as getting into a bar fight. The section is important and it has significant aspects.

I am pleased the government is no longer scrapping section 176. I am pleased with the clarification with respect to sexual assault. I am also pleased that a number of sections that are taking up space in the Criminal Code and no longer have any particular relevance are being removed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Bow River mentioned that this is the last week we are going to be in the House. I never really thought about that in terms of this being maybe the last time I rise in this building before it is shut down for what could be the next decade or so. I want to just comment on what the member for Bow River said.

It is an honour and a privilege for all of us to serve in this place. This building is certainly historic, and the fact that we have an opportunity this one last week to rise is not lost on me. As I said, I do not know if any of us will make it back here 10 years from now. Who knows? Some of my younger colleagues over there may.

It is great to get a chance to stand and talk about Bill C-51, the justice omnibus bill. It contains a number of changes on a variety of matters. One of the things I find interesting, and I know it has been mentioned before, is that the Liberal government railed on and on about how omnibus bills were so bad and the fact that Conservatives would put so many things in them and how the Liberal government was going to be different and would not behave this way.

I find it interesting and somewhat comical that the Liberals railed about what the Conservative government did in the past, yet here they are, and some of the Liberal omnibus bills are actually greater in size than the ones we moved forward during our time in government. I needed to mention that. I think there is some irony there. I know the Liberals campaigned on that.

I am here to talk about Bill C-51, but I would love to talk about how the Liberal government said it would act differently when it got into government, yet we see that this has not necessarily been the case.

I will give credit where credit is due. I know there are some things in the bill we were encouraged to see the Liberals move on. There was some strengthening of penalties for sexual assault. These are definitely important things. I will talk about that briefly. The Liberals got rid of some obsolete laws as well. There is some cleanup there.

There are some things we still have concerns about. My colleague from Bow River and other colleagues have mentioned it, but it is somewhat troubling that the Liberals would even consider the removal of section 176. This is something that is very near and dear to the hearts of a lot of my constituents in the Niagara West area. I come from an area where there are a tremendous number of churches, a number of Dutch Reform churches, but not just Dutch Reform. There are all denominations. The fact that the Liberal government would actually consider removing that just shows how out of touch the government is sometimes when it comes to some of these issues. I will get to that in a second.

I want to talk about the sexual assault piece. I want to say that I am pleased. As I said, I will give credit where credit is due. The Liberals followed our lead to strengthen the sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code around consent, legal representation and expanding rape shield provisions. Standing up for the rights of victims of crime is something our party has always been very serious about. We are aligned with the provisions the Liberals have in this legislation in terms of strengthening those issues.

Among other things, there is a private member's bill introduced by our former Conservative leader, Rona Ambrose, Bill C-337. This bill would make it mandatory for judges to participate in sexual assault training and ensure awareness among the judiciary, in addition to education about the challenges sexual assaults create. The bill was designed to hold the Canadian judiciary responsible for the ongoing training of judges. We were pleased to see this bill passed in the House. Now that it is in the Senate, we hope it will move it forward.

I want to talk a bit about section 176. That the government would consider removing it is certainly troubling. It is good to see that it backed away, as has been mentioned. This was the only section of the Criminal Code that directly protected the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion happened to be.

In fact, section 176 was recently used, on June 9, 2017, in a criminal case here in Ottawa. It is imperative to see that interrupting a religion service is really not the same as interrupting other services. If we think about the various religions that are practised in this country, with the Sabbath maybe being on Saturday for some and on Sunday for others, the fact remains that people are there to worship. That fact that it would even be considered that they would not have the ability to do that or that it would be okay to interrupt is very troubling.

It is good to see they have backed off on this, but we are still concerned with the message the government sent to religious communities, that they are not important.

My colleague, the member for Bow River, mentioned last summer's summer jobs program, which was a concern. I had a number of churches in my riding that did great stuff. They were running day camps for disabled, helping to feed people and doing a ton of things that I thought were great in nature, just for the overall encouragement of the community. A lot of these organizations were not even considered. We will see how it works this summer. I see there have been some changes.

I really believe that churches, especially in my community, regardless of the denomination, are great community leaders. I always say we have a great community spirit in Niagara West. It has a lot to do with the people in my community of Niagara West, but also there are a number of churches that encourage volunteerism and that give back, feed the poor and do a number of these things that are all very fundamental to healthy communities.

A safer Canada is certainly a concern. It is a government's responsibility to make sure its citizens are kept safe. We see what is happening with gang violence in Canada. When we soften penalties for gang crimes and reduce them to administrative fines, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, but there are real consequences for Canadians when gang members are being let off in our streets.

One of the things we want to do as a Conservative government is put an end to the revolving door for gang members. Now, even if someone is a known notorious gang member they are entitled to bail. We would make sure repeat gang offenders are held without bail. I think that is reasonable when we look at what gang members may do in a community, how they might terrorize a community. We would also make sure it is easier for police to target and arrest gang members.

Canada's Conservatives always put the safety and security of Canadians ahead of the interests and comfort of violent criminals. We would work hard to impose tougher federal prison sentences for the leaders who order others to do their dirty work for them.

The other thing that is important is we want to make sure we are recognizing and supporting the rights of victims over the rights of criminals. We have seen some troubling things that have happened in recent days in the country. We saw issues with Terri-Lynne McClintic and with Christopher Garnier, and the fact that Tori Stafford's killer was in a healing lodge instead of behind bars. We have seen cop killers who have not served a day in the military getting services. These are things that are all troubling, not just to us as Conservatives, but to Canadians at large. We just learned recently that Tori Stafford's father is now reporting that her co-conspirator, Michael Rafferty was transferred to a medium-security prison in March. He was just informed about this happening.

We can see some of the things we are dealing with in the country. We realize violent repeat offenders are people who probably should have a harder time getting bail if these are things they are doing on an ongoing basis.

As we look at what is going on right now in our justice system, I think there are opportunities to make sure we are looking at returning terrorists from ISIS. That is another issue. I realize I am almost out of time, but I could spend a lot of time on that. We realize that some of these individuals who have gone over purposely to kill and destroy are people we should be looking at, and making sure we are doing our job to keep them behind bars to ensure they are not a threat to society here in Canada.

In conclusion, the government is failing to protect victims of crime. The Prime Minister did nothing after learning of Catherine Campbell's killer receiving taxpayer funds, having never served a day in the military. We have pushed and pushed the Liberals to put Tori Stafford's killer back behind bars, and to transfer her from the healing lodge. We believe we need to continue to work to protect the rights of those who need it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Saskatoon—University.

I find it very impressive that my colleague opposite hopes to have a second mandate. I hope that will not be the case.

I am rising today in the House to speak to Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.

This bill has sparked lively discussions and important debates because it deals with sensitive subjects both for parliamentarians and the general public.

The bill has some value because Canada's Criminal Code needs to be updated. Passages or provisions that have been deemed to be unconstitutional or that could result in challenges based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms need to be amended, removed or repealed, as do any passages or provisions that are obsolete or unnecessary or that no longer have a place in today's criminal law.

Bill C-51 has four main sections, namely the provisions pertaining to sexual assault, the provisions that have been deemed unconstitutional or that are similar to other provisions that were, the obsolete or needless provisions, and the charter statements.

I would like to focus on the part of the bill that would amend certain provisions of the Criminal Code pertaining to sexual assault in order to clarify their application and to establish a regime concerning the admissibility and use of a plaintiff's or witness's private records in possession of the accused.

In light of all the much-needed efforts made by all parties concerning the reporting of sexual assault, I agree with the provisions of Bill C—51 pertaining to sexual assault because they are very reasonable, and the Conservative Party has always advocated and voted for improving laws when they strengthen the rights of victims of crime, including victims of sexual assault.

The changes proposed by Bill C-51 are necessary if we are to be consistent in our efforts to support victims of sexual assault.

As a woman, a mother of two daughters and an advocate for enhancing the rights of victims of crime, I fully support the changes proposed by the bill, which would clarify and strengthen the sexual assault provisions of the Criminal Code.

It is obvious that these changes will help the government provide solid support to victims of the serious and deeply traumatizing crime of sexual assault.

Despite this positive step forward, it is vital that we also amend the Canadian Criminal Code to toughen penalties for criminals convicted of sexual assault, so that victims feel supported from the moment they decide to report their attackers.

Furthermore, the Criminal Code should have significant minimum sentences for perpetrators; otherwise, victims will never feel like justice has been done.

It is indeed important to modernize the Criminal Code and keep it up to date in order to ensure that justice is done, eloquently and effectively, for the sake of victims and their loved ones. However, as I was saying earlier, the Criminal Code needs to have significant minimum sentences, not maximum sentences. We already know that in most cases, these sentences are rarely imposed by judges. A minimum sentence is a stronger and far more effective deterrent for perpetrators and also sends a positive message to victims.

Parliament has adopted clear provisions that define the concept of consent in the context of sexual assault.

Section 273.1 includes an exhaustive list of factors pertaining to situations where no consent is obtained. I am pleased that Senator Pate's amendments on this were not adopted. It is essential to keep the concept of consent intact. Consent can never be obtained when a person is unconscious.

The wording in Bill C-51 clearly recognizes the many possible reasons why a person cannot provide consent even if they are conscious.

We had to preserve one of the primary objectives of this bill, namely to ensure that we did not make legislative measures more complicated than they already are or make the concept of consent contentious. Far too often, in court, defence attorneys use the concept of consent against victims.

For the victims, nothing must undermine the definition of consent, which requires the complainant to provide actual active consent through every phase of the sexual activity. It is not possible for an unconscious person to satisfy this requirement, even if they express their consent in advance.

I can only imagine what state sexual assault victims would be in, if, during an evening, they provided consent to “normal” sexual relations but were drugged with the date-rape drug and violently sexually assaulted.

If the government wants to better protect victims of sexual assault, it is vital that it keep this provision, especially since we also support former MP Rona Ambrose's private member's bill, Bill C-337, an act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code with regard to sexual assault. This bill would restrict eligibility for judicial appointment to individuals who have completed comprehensive education in respect to matters related to sexual assault. Furthermore, it amends the Criminal Code to require that reasons provided by a judge in sexual assault decisions be in writing.

In closing, I would like to add that this bill, if it were serious about this matter, could have proposed that the Department of Justice be required to assess the impact of any change to the Criminal Code on the rights of victims of crime contained in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. That is the only reason for my strong reluctance to vote for this bill. I believe that, without this provision, we run the risk of passing legislation that could negate the rights contained in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

However, I will agree to vote for Bill C-51 because, on the whole, it is a good bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
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Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I have two major points.

First, Bill C-337, presented by Rona Ambrose in this House, was supported by members on this side of the House. We look forward to its expeditious passage in the same way that the member for Durham does.

Second, the sanctimonious language that I have just heard, contributing to the debate with respect to charter statements, is incredible. The legacy of that party is seven consecutive defeats at the Supreme Court in respect of the charter. It is a legacy that had section 12 being applied to the denial of refugee health care in this country, an application that has never heretofore been done outside of a criminal context. It is a legacy that had the Chief Justice of Canada taking a public podium to renounce the allegations made by former prime minister Harper.

The very simple answer, to purport that a charter statement is somehow an effort to immunize us from litigation, is ridiculous on its face. We are the party that takes the charter seriously. That is why we are implementing charter statements.

Proof positive, for the member for Durham, if we were so afraid of constitutional litigation, why on earth would we ever have reinstated the court challenges program, which promotes and emancipates and empowers access to justice and constitutional litigation on the part of litigants? We are not afraid of the charter, nor are we afraid of constitutional litigation. That program was cut by the member opposite when he was a member of the cabinet.

Is it the member opposite's statement in this House that his party, if it was to ever return to power, God forbid, would retract the charter statements that are now a statutory duty, pursuant to the provisions of this legislation?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from London who spoke earlier and all members for their comments on Bill C-51 today.

At the outset, because I have some time today to give a bit of a longer speech, I want to address the fact that I am troubled that in government, the Liberals are doing exactly what they said they would not do when they were in opposition. In fact, this is our second omnibus justice bill.

I know my friend from Winnipeg, the deputy House leader of the Liberal caucus, likes when I quote some of his outrage in the past Parliament about the use of omnibus bills. However, when it comes to justice omnibus bills in particular, I think the need for a lot of these provisions to be considered independently is the best way to go.

Although the bill is certainly not as long as the government's latest budget implementation act, at 850 pages or more, weaving together a variety of unrelated things in the form of one bill, here we have another substantive piece of justice legislation being presented in an omnibus bill.

Breaking it down, there are some good parts and some parts we certainly have some challenges with. I would like to use my opportunity, if I may, to highlight both the good and the bad.

The good is that as a Parliament, we need to show that we can speak with a united voice with respect to zero tolerance for sexual assault and not respecting the consent of an individual in the case of sexual relations of any kind. Therefore, I think it is good that we are having a fulsome discussion on this part of the bill today. In fact, several members have quoted from some of the case law that has led to the need for Parliament to weigh in and be very clear that people cannot provide the consent necessary to engage in sexual activities when they are unconscious. We need to send a clear signal from Parliament. I think the Senate amendments actually take away that clarity somewhat, and I am glad we are having the debate here on proposed section 273.1 in the bill.

The Supreme Court case that drove clarity in this area was very clear. It said that it was not possible for people to provide consent if they were not conscious, even if express consent had been provided ahead of time, when they were conscious. I think Parliament needs to be crystal clear that consent evolves and that there has to be the constant presence of consent and respect. That is what this bill is intended to do. In fact, some of the Senate amendments, which would almost create tests with respect to the standards, confuse the issue. There needs to be a clear signal sent that consent has to be constant. I think that is a signal that, as parliamentarians, we have to send.

I can say, as someone of my generation, that the debate on campuses about no means no and all these sorts of things was not taken seriously in the early 1990s. We are still having debates today about it. An accused will try to suggest that consent was provided sometime earlier. If consent was provided in the context of alcohol or substances, and if someone was unconscious, consent could not be provided.

The Supreme Court was clear. I think Bill C-51 and our updates to the Criminal Code send a very clear message. There is no test to be performed. It is a bright line. Everyone, all Canadians, need to show respect and a commitment to consent in the context of sexual assault cases. It is basic respect. We are in the era of the #MeToo movement and discussions about unsafe workplaces. All these things have been positive in making sure that one has a positive obligation, with respect to one's relations with someone else, to make sure that there is always consent present. I think that is clear.

I am also glad that a number of speakers from several parties have referenced Bill C-337, the bill of the former interim Conservative leader, Rona Ambrose, on judicial training in the context of sexual assault trials. The bench comprises a cross-section of society, and those attitudes need education to make sure that judicial standards adhere to the expectations we have as a society of respecting consent.

We know, in Ms. Ambrose's home province of Alberta, the case of Justice Camp, where attitudes toward a victim by the bench showed just how disconnected some may be. The vast majority of the bench would be explicitly mindful of the complainant in those cases, but we have seen cases in recent years that show that judicial training with respect to consent, in the context of sexual assault trials, is needed, as is education for all members of the bar.

As a member of the bar, I am glad that a few years ago, law societies across the country incorporated continuing legal education requirements for lawyers to make sure that they are aware of expectations with respect to consent and the law. The very fact that there would be some reluctance to have same continual legal education for judges in the context of sexual assault cases is troubling. I know that most justices demand that level of CLE, so I hope that the government, in the context of my starting off my speech by talking about some of the positive elements of Bill C-51, pushes Bill C-337 through. It should not matter that it came from a former Conservative member of Parliament, Rona Ambrose. It should not matter that it came from this side of the chamber if it addresses the same elements I am saying I support in Bill C-51 today. Let us hope there is some movement in the Senate so that in the spring, we can ensure that it is an expectation that all members of the bench have that training so they can guarantee an environment of respect for all complainants who come forward.

The provisions in proposed section 273.1 also show that Parliament is clear in its direction with respect to consent always being a requirement, and if there is any uncertainty, we err on the side of complainants. Everyone should know that if circumstances change, be they the context, consciousness, alcohol or these sort of things, prior consent is not sufficient. We have to be crystal clear on that.

This is also similar to Bill C-75, an omnibus justice bill, which I have spoken to in Parliament. I have also spoken to Bill C-77, on modernizing criminal justice within the context of the National Defence Act. I supported a number of measures in that bill. In fact, the previous government introduced Bill C-71 in the last Parliament to try to update the National Defence Act and the treatment of criminal conduct by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. That is still in a state of flux. All these bills, particularly because they deal with the rights of the accused and the rights of the victims or complainants in these cases, should be given specific attention and not be put into omnibus bills.

I would like to speak for a moment about the fact that this bill is part of the process of requiring a charter statement from the government with respect to legislation before the House of Commons. I have some concerns about that approach, in two ways. First, I am worried that it may send some sort of chill to suggest that the government is trying to innoculate itself by saying that it reviewed the bill ahead of time and has a charter opinion on it, meaning, therefore, that we cannot raise charter concerns or that there is no reasonable basis to have concerns about its validity under the charter by groups that may be impacted by the decision of this Parliament.

The very nature of the charter itself was to give a back and forth test with respect to the will of Parliament, and the ability for the court to determine whether fundamental charter rights were breached directly or indirectly by legislation in the context of enumerated groups under section 15 of the charter, are expressly contained within the charter, or are analogous ground groups, provided by subsequent court decisions.

The balancing test under section 1 of the charter, the Oakes test, which I learned in law school and is some of the first charter jurisprudence, is that balancing of the charter. By issuing a charter statement, I am quite concerned the government is trying to suggest it is doing its own Oakes test, its own charter examination of issues at the time it is passing legislation. I am not suggesting it will cause chill, but I have not have heard an argument from a member of the government bench to suggest this is any different than any government since the mid-1980s, when the charter came into effect.

Suggesting that the seal of approval for the charter is granted by one of these statements is simply ridiculous. It is up to the court to provide that reasonableness and those limitation tests under the provision of section 1 of the charter, which allows a charter right to be violated by legislation, but applies a reasonableness and balancing test to it since the Oakes jurisprudence started.

I will give a couple of examples of why I have this concern. In this Parliament, we have seen many instances of the government acting in a way I firmly believe violates the charter rights of many Canadians. This is germane because just today, shortly before we rise for Christmas, the government is reversing its position on the so-called values screen for Canada summer jobs.

We all know the controversial values test was applied for the first time in the history of this summer employment plan for youth as a clear way the government intended to exclude faith-based organizations and other service organizations from funding related to students. There were concerns from a charter basis expressed from day one when it came to the values test. Is the government suggesting, with its charter statements, that its actions on a whole range of decisions are somehow inoculated because it is providing a charter assessment? That is political theatre. It cannot provide its own charter assessment. It tries to craft legislation that it feels strikes the right balance, but the actual charter determination is not made in this chamber, which writes the laws, but in other courts.

We bow to the Speaker. We have a bar. This is a court. We write the laws, but we do not adjudicate our own laws. This is a very big distinction I have not heard the government express any clear indication on yet.

I will use another example. There have been several violations, in my view, of indigenous peoples' rights with respect to the duty to consult. In fact, I believe Bill C-69 violates that duty. We can look at the approach the government has taken on the cancellation of the northern gateway pipeline, which is one-third owned by indigenous groups. The duty to consult is not frozen in time. It does not exist 10 years before one develops a pipeline or cuts trees in a forest. If one decides to change the circumstances of that consultation, or cancel something that indigenous peoples are a one-third owner of, one has a duty to consult them on the cancellation. This is an ongoing duty.

The fact that the government may have a piece of paper that says this is our charter statement, this is our validation that the bill conforms with the charter, is political and inappropriate, because the government is suggesting this legislation will withstand any judicial scrutiny before the judicial scrutiny is applied. The government is suggesting that this is A-okay. That is not the way it works.

I invite the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and the parliamentary secretary to walk a little past the Confederation Building on the Hill to a building called the Supreme Court of Canada. It is there that the Oakes test was born, the Oakes test where the section 1 charter clause was.

As I have said, the values test that the government did to politicize the Canada summer jobs program would not be inoculated because of a government-produced charter statement nor would some of its actions with respect to Bill C-69, Bill C-75, Bill C-77. These are court determinations.

I do not have any proof because the charter statement concept is part of the government's justice reforms, including in this legislation, but I do have serious concerns that it will send a chill to suggest that the government will not consider valid concerns people have with respect to their charter rights.

I would like subsequent members of the Liberal caucus, particularly the ministers or the parliamentary secretaries, to provide a substantive rationale for their approach with respect to the charter statements. Are they somehow suggesting that previous governments, both Conservative and Liberal, have somehow not conformed to the charter by doing exactly what we are supposed to do as a Parliament, which is to try and find the right balance between the will of the people and certain provisions within the charter? That is done by a court using the Oakes test, doing the balancing. Producing a charter statement does not protect the government from criticism.

As I said today, days before Christmas, the government suddenly admits that its approach on the values test for summer jobs is wrong. This is much like days before Christmas last year, when it broke its promise to veterans on the return to the Pension Act. The Liberals make very good use of the pre-Christmas period not just for parties, but for dumping out their dirty laundry.

I would like to thank the thousands of Canadians from across the country and many of my colleagues in this chamber for representing the charter rights of millions of Canadians with respect to the conduct of the Canada summer jobs program.

Why I am focusing on this part of the bill is because we have to make sure that Canadians, members of the media and members of both Houses of Parliament do not get fooled by the fact that the government validating its own legislation under the guise of charter approval is not actually charter approval.

I am hoping in the remaining debate we can actually hear a cogent argument from the Liberal caucus on this. Otherwise, it seems to be more of the sort of media spin that we hear from the government.

The Prime Minister just yesterday, while leaning on his desk acting like a professor, told the opposition what we should ask and what we should criticize. We know full well what we should ask and we know where our criticisms and critiques are warranted.

Quietly, when the House does not sit, the Liberals backtrack on things, like they did today on the summer jobs values test, like when we rose for Remembrance week, and Miss McClintic, another justice consideration, was quietly transferred to a prison as we had been demanding, and as the break week happened Statistics Canada suddenly pulled back its program.

Like the Chris Garnier criticism, the non-veteran murderer who is receiving treatment funds from Veterans Affairs Canada, on most of the criticisms we have been raising even though they make the Prime Minister uncomfortable, the Liberals have backtracked. We have been doing our job quite effectively.

In the remaining time for debate, I would like one of the Liberal members to stand up and provide a context and a rationale addressing my concerns in regard to charter statements with respect to the bill before us and others.

As I said at the outset, we support the amendments and update of our Criminal Code with respect to sexual assault.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-51. The stated purpose of the bill is to streamline the Criminal Code of Canada by removing certain provisions that no longer have any relevance in contemporary society.

I agree with many of the revisions, such as the removal of clause 41 of section 365 of the Criminal Code, which states, “Every one who fraudulently (a) pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration”; and clause 4, the removal of section 71 pertaining to duelling in the streets, “Every one who (a) challenges or attempts by any means to provoke another person to fight a duel, (b) attempts to provoke a person to challenge another person to fight a duel, or (c) accepts a challenge to fight a duel”. These are a number of the provisions to be removed.

I suppose the government may argue that the provisions against duelling have worked, because it has disappeared from our streets. Therefore, people certainly got the message a long time ago. Witchcraft and neighbourhood duelling no longer have any bearing on our society today. That is one point on which we can agree.

The Conservative Party is also aligned with the strengthening of the provisions of the sexual assault legislation and, indeed, has led the way for supporting victims of sexual assaults by, among other things, the private member's bill introduced by former Conservative leader, Rona Ambrose, Bill C-337. The bill would make it mandatory for judges to participate in sexual assault training and ensure awareness in the judiciary in addition to education about the challenges sexual assault victims face. Her bill was designed to hold the Canadian judiciary responsible for the ongoing training of judges and the application of law in sexual assault trials.

Essentially, Bill C-337 would ensure the following. It would require that lawyers receive training in sexual assault as a criterion of eligibility for a federally appointed judicial position; that the Canadian Judicial Council provide an annual report to Parliament on the details of the type of sexual assault training offered and judicial attendance at the training, as well as the number of sexual assault cases heard by a judge before having received adequate sexual assault training; and that judges provide written reasons on decisions with regard to sexual assault.

As we will remember, this bill was passed in the House of Commons, and we were all very grateful to see it passed. It is now in the Senate and I hope the Senate will get the message and move forward on the bill, which has the support of this chamber and, I believe, Canadians across the country.

We are pleased the Liberals have followed our lead with regard to strengthening sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code surrounding consent, legal representation, and expanding the rape shield provisions. The Conservative Party always stands up for the rights of victims of crime and have done so consistently, among other things, including the Canadian Victims Bills of Rights passed in 2015.

Bill C-51 would amend, among other things, section 273.1 to clarify that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting. Again, as my colleague pointed out, this is a reflection of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Regina v. J.A. It proposes to amend section 273.2 to clarify the defence of mistaken belief if consent is not available and if the mistake is based on a mistake of law, for example, if the accused believed that the complainant's failure to resist or protest meant the complainant consented. This, as was pointed out in the earlier speech of the parliamentary secretary, codifies a number of aspects of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R v. Ewanchuk from 1999.

As well, the bill would expand the rape shield provisions to include communications of a sexual nature or communications for a sexual purpose. These provisions provide that evidence of a complainant's prior sexual history cannot be used to support the inference that the complainant was more likely to have consented to the sexual activity in issue or that the complainant is less worthy of belief.

In addition, the bill would provide that a complainant would have a right to legal representation in rape shield cases, which I believe is very important. It would create a regime to determine whether an accused could introduce a complainant's private records at trial, which would be in his or her possession. This would complement the existing regime governing an accused's ability to obtain a complainant's private records when those records would be in the hands of a third party.

As I mentioned at the outset, some proposed changes we were adamantly against. As it turns out, thousands of Canadians were also adamantly against the removal of section 176 of the Criminal Code, the section of the Criminal Code that provides protection for religious services.

I would be hard-pressed in my career to know when I have received more emails, or more petitions or correspondence than on this section. When Bill C-51 was first introduced, the government interestingly enough made no mention whatsoever of the fact that it would remove the section that directly protected religious services and those who performed those services.

I was a little taken aback when I read legislation and I saw the removal of section 176. Even though I have practised some criminal law in my career, I had to check exactly what section we were talking about and, indeed, this was the section that said among other things:

(1) Every one who (a) by threats or force, unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent a clergyman or minister from celebrating divine service or performing any other function in connection with his calling, or (b) knowing that a clergyman or minister is about to perform, is on his way to perform or is returning from the performance of any of the duties or functions mentioned in paragraph (a) (i) assaults or offers any violence to him, or (ii) arrests him on a civil process, or under the pretence of executing a civil process, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. (2) Every one who wilfully disturbs or interrupts an assemblage of persons met for religious worship or for a moral, social or benevolent purpose is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. (3) Every one who, at or near a meeting referred to in subsection (2), wilfully does anything that disturbs the order or solemnity of the meeting is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

When the government did not mention this was what it would remove, I remember very clearly saying to my colleagues, when this first came up for second reading debate in June, that they should talk to their constituents and ask them if they thought this was a good idea to remove the section of the Criminal Code that directly protected religious services and if they were aware of the fact that the government now wanted to remove the special protection that members of the clergy had. I asked them see what the response was.

I think my colleagues in the Liberal Party must have heard the message. They would have heard the same things I heard when we brought this to everyone's attention. Interrupting a religious service is not the same as a scuffle, or yelling at a hockey game, or disruption of a meeting. Even people who do not attend religious services would agree that this is more serious. This is the message I certainly hoped the Liberals would get, that this section was and remained critical and removing it would have eliminated the provision that completely protected the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion may be.

Ironically enough during the very week the justice committee was reviewing the government's plans to remove this, the worst mass shooting in Texas history struck an otherwise quaint small town in that state. Gunman Devin Kelley stormed the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and killed more than two dozen people. The following Sunday, a funeral service was held at the church. The original plan was to hold a small service, but so many people were outraged and moved by this horrible incident that hundreds and hundreds of people came out to show their support for the people of the community. It reiterates the fact that religious freedom is part of the constitution of the United States and it is contained in the First Amendment.

In Canada, our religious freedoms are protected and section 176 of the Criminal Code is part of that protection. Religious freedoms are fundamental to Canadians as well, and the Conservatives are proud to be among the first to stand and support religious freedoms for all faiths.

Faisal Mirza, the chair of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, made a point when he appeared before the committee. He said, “We cannot be blind that the current climate of increased incidents of hate, specifically at places of worship, supports that religious leaders may be in need of more, not less, focused protection.” He was referring to the deadly shooting at a Quebec mosque in January, when the lives of six people came to a violent end. Among the victims were parents, civil servants, academics, and people who had left their countries of war to seek a better life in Canada.

Religious crime knows no borders and has no respect of persons. This is why I am pleased to say that, after hearing testimony from faith communities across the country, justice committee members voted to keep section 176 of the Criminal Code in place.

I would like to thank those thousands of Canadians who wrote or emailed their respective members of Parliament. I indicated in my opening comments that I did not remember receiving as much feedback as did on this. I think all members have experienced the same kind of push-back on this, that the protections provided in section 176 are there for a particular purpose.

Again, I disagree with the comments made by my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, when he pointed out that the Minister of Justice said that these things were still offences under the Criminal Code. It is not the same thing. Disrupting a religious service is not the same as creating mischief somewhere and it is not the same as causing a disruption at a hockey game. Most Canadians would agree with us on this side of the House that this is more serious, and that it should continue to have protection within the Criminal Code.

Again, I find it ironic that when this bill was presented to the public, there was mention of duelling and witchcraft, but not one mention of the fact the government would remove the specific protection for religious services and religious officials.

There was one other section of the Criminal Code I did not agree with the Liberals removing. This is the section that has specific protection if someone attempts to attack the Queen. Some of my colleagues said that these sections were not used very often, or one of my colleagues said that the Queen would not be visiting here very much in the future. Again, I believed this was a bad idea.

When I was at the University of Windsor, I will always remember that one of my law professors pointed out the sections in the Criminal Code with respect to treason. He said that it was great this section was very seldom ever used in Canada, but it did not mean it should be removed. I do not go along with the thinking that if nobody commits treason, then we better get rid of that section in the Criminal Code. That is not how it works. This is still a very serious crime. Again, if anyone attempts to attack the Queen, as Canada's head of state, in my opinion it is not the same as getting into a fist fight at a bar some night. It is important; it has significant aspects.

I have to point out that the timing of this is terrible. This is the 65th anniversary of when the Queen took the throne. Nobody has a better record anywhere of public service in the world today than she has.

It has been consistently going on since before she assumed her reign in 1952 and in her service during World War II. That is what she has done, and again this is the year the Liberals decided they would remove this specific protection against someone who is attempting to attack her.

That being said, I am pleased that the government caved on section 176. I am very pleased with respect to the clarifications with respect to sexual consent. I am very pleased as well that a number of the sections that are taking up space in the Criminal Code that no longer have any particular relevance are being removed. However, one of the things that something like this has taught us on this side is we have to be very careful. This is the lawyer in me. We have to read the fine print, and the fine print removing the protection for religious services and religious officials is something that we have to be very aware of. I can assure my colleagues on the other side that we will look at all legislation to see if what are supposed to be unintended consequences are in fact consequences of a very serious nature. Again, my heartfelt thanks go out to all those religious institutions, all those Canadians, and all those individuals who spoke up in support of section 176.

JusticeOral Questions

October 26th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, sexual assault is completely unacceptable. Our government has an unwavering commitment to ensuring that victims of sexual assault are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.

I was incredibly proud to stand with all members of the House to move forward private member's bill, Bill C-337, to the other place. I hope it moves forward to provide the necessary training for the judiciary.

We will continue in the absence of that to do everything we can as a government to ensure that we provide the necessary—

JusticeOral Questions

October 26th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year, the House unanimously passed Rona Ambrose's bill on sexual assault training for judges. This training is required to educate judges and to encourage victims to report sexual assault. Now more than ever, it is important to take swift action.

Unfortunately, this bill is being held up in the Senate. It is completely unacceptable and ridiculous that the Senate, with its unelected members, is stalling an initiative that has the unanimous consent of the House.

Will the Prime Minister join us and ask the Senate to move quickly on Bill C-337?

October 25th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Collective Member, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter

Hilla Kerner

Thank you.

I'm hoping my accent will be clearer in the beginning.

The women who work in a rape crisis centre did not need the “Me too” campaign to know how common it is for women to experience sexual assault and rape. Being a girl and a woman in this world means we are likely to be sexually assaulted. If we are poor, indigenous, women of colour, or women with cognitive or physical disabilities, we are even more likely to be sexually assaulted. I would say it's almost guaranteed and, yes, me too.

In preparation for this submission, we looked at almost 6,000 cases of sexual assault and rape of women who called our rape crisis centre in the last five years. Twenty-five hundred women were raped by their husbands, boyfriends, or lovers, and another 422 women were raped by their ex-male partner after they broke up with him. Two hundred and thirty-four women were sexually assaulted, most often raped, by their male supervisor or co-worker. Eleven hundred women were sexually assaulted by someone they knew professionally, often through social circumstances like a party, mutual friends, or someone they had a first or a second date with. Three hundred and thirty women were raped by their own fathers when they were young, and another 471 women were sexually assaulted or raped by other family members or family friends. Five hundred and nine women were assaulted by men who were a stranger to them.

We appreciate the Minister of Justice's efforts to advance sexual assault provisions with the amendments proposed in Bill C-51. We have one objection, and that is to the addition of “no consent is obtained if the complainant is unconscious”. Of course an unconscious woman cannot consent, but this is already captured under the existing law which says, “No consent is obtained” if the “complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity”.

The addition can be misused by defence counsels to argue that unconsciousness is a threshold for incapability, and since we too often see cases where judges do not know sexual assault laws, the intent behind the laws, and the intent of Supreme Court judgments instructing the application of the law, there is a serious danger that the judges will accept the defence arguments in this matter.

We support the proposed articulation that no consent is obtained if there is “no evidence that the complainant's voluntary agreement to the activity was affirmatively expressed by words or actively expressed by conduct”.

We also support the expansion of rape shield provisions to include communication of a sexual nature or communication for a sexual purpose. We support the right to legal representation for victims in rape shield proceedings.

About the amendment concerning victims' private records, it has been exactly 20 years since the passing of Bill C-46 which amended the Criminal Code with specific provisions regarding the production and disclosure of records of the accused in sexual assault proceedings.

We have been members of CASAC, the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, since 1978. Early on, members of CASAC faced the need to protect a record; so in 1981 CASAC members passed a resolution to protect the confidentiality of records and to protect the confidentiality of what women told us regardless of legislation. Seeking women's records from rape crisis centres is a clear and blunt attempt to undermine a victim's credibility and violates their privacy and dignity. It is also a direct attack on rape crisis centres and our role in supporting individual victims, our demands that violent men be held accountable, and our overall fight for women's equality and liberty.

When Bill C-46 passed, the feminists who advocated for it described it as second best, because the full demand was for no records at any time. The current proposed amendments regarding women's records in the possession of the accused gets us closer to that demand, and we support this.

Alas, good laws mean nothing when judges do not know the law and therefore do not uphold the law. We are aware of the recent attempt by Parliament to address this issue, and we are looking forward to speaking to the matter when Bill C-337 is discussed at the relevant committee in the Senate.

Judges' ignorance is only one element in the utter failure of the criminal justice system as a whole to hold men who commit violence against women accountable. Of the 6,000 cases that I mentioned earlier, 1,800 were reported to the police. About 30 resulted in charges, and fewer in convictions.

The common sexism and diminishment of women in all aspects of our private and public lives teach men to see and treat us as things and not as full human beings. Pornography is a devastating and effective promotion and reinforcement of men's sexualized violence against women. Prostitution is a devastating and effective promotion of the sexual commodification of women, where women are used as a commodity that can be bought and sold by men.

The problem is not that men do not know if a woman really consented or if she really wanted to have sex with them; the problem is that they don't care. They are allowed not to care, because they know they can rape women with impunity.

We often use the term rape culture to mean the acceptance, the collusion, the promotion of male violence against women. Men use rape culture to sustain rape structure, a structure that keeps men in domination and keeps us women in submission. The accumulation and the impact of all the individual rapes that men commit against individual women sustain all men's power over all women.

Of course, we know it's not all men. We know that not all men are wife beaters, sex buyers, rapists, or pornographers, but for sure, many are. We know that because of all the women who call our and other rape crisis centres, and because of all the women who are living in our and other transition houses. And now,anyone who pays attention knows it too, because of all the women who say “Me too.”

We believe men can change, but not as long as they get permission and encouragement to violate our bodily integrity and autonomy. We need to shake the pillars of the rape structure and start by holding men who commit violence against women accountable. So far, the Canadian state and its criminal justice system has been failing to do so.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms promises us, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law.” It is now 2017, and we women still do not have it, not the equal protection nor the equal benefit of the law.

Thank you.

June 20th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Marilyn Gladu

All right, ladies and gentlemen. Here we are with our committee business. It's going to be sort of an interesting meeting today because, as you know, we're supposed to have votes. The bells are supposed to go at 10:05. It's unfortunate that our panel is in the second half, but we'll have as many of them give their opening remarks as we can before the bells go, and the bells could be delayed. You can never predict what's happening in the House.

For our committee business, there are a couple of things. First, we talked last week about the letter that's going to the justice minister on Bill C-337, and we have the final changes. Do any of you have any issue with the draft that was updated and sent to you? Okay, so that can go. Wonderful.

Today, our main topic of discussion is what we will study after the economic status of women. The clerk did email to you the list of all of the things that previously we had suggested. This was so that you could check off what we've already studied and we could look at the ones that are left. However, are there any that you would like to bring forward by way of a motion?

Ms. Damoff.

June 13th, 2017 / 9:35 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Marilyn Gladu

I know. I agree.

The second thing is the Bill C-337 letter. If you remember, there was a letter that we were going to provide to the justice minister on that bill, that she could then give to her provincial counterparts. The draft was sent. Are there any changes that you'd like to see to that?

Ms. Malcolmson.

June 8th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Marilyn Gladu

Very good.

Unfortunately, that's the end of our time for today, so I want to thank our witnesses for your excellent work and your help with the session today.

For committee members, I just want to remind you that next week we'll be looking at the draft of the letter for Bill C-337. It will be sent out to you and you can take a look at that. We'll also have an opportunity to do committee business on Tuesday. There's an order in council appointment to discuss, the coordinator for Status of Women, and we have to decide whether we want to interview them or not.

We will see you next week. Have a great weekend.

The meeting is adjourned.

May 18th, 2017 / 9:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Madam Chair, thank you for this brief moment of the committee's time.

We've had Kyna Boyce sitting with us since December 2015. She's policy adviser to the Minister of Status of Women. She also assists the parliamentary secretaries, of which I am the second one. She will be taking a new position with Minister Duclos. I know, particularly on the government side, that she's been an absolutely essential link between the minister and this committee. She worked very hard on Bill C-337 and helped us all get to a consensus on it.

In her new role, of course, she'll be tackling issues such as EI, child care, and housing, some of the things that we know are so important to women. We wish her well in her new position and thank her for all of her service to this committee.

May 18th, 2017 / 9:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

I have some other questions and suggestions as well. I would suggest, partly because the bill is still in process, that we don't need to rush this, but especially I want to make sure that the people who receive this letter really understand what it is we're asking for and why. I would thus rather see an expansion of some of the rationale, because this is really an advocacy letter to catch the other ministers up on what they missed.

In the very first paragraph, then, I think some expansion of what the bill does—some bullet points that summarize the contents of the bill—could be added, so they will understand what Bill C-337 is.

In the second paragraph, I think we need some rationale. What's the imperative for making transcripts widely available? If we simply give the ask without saying why, then I think it will have less impact.

We could, for example, select a piece of witness testimony, if we didn't have anything else that described the imperative. I have one suggestion. Elaine Craig, from the Dalhousie faculty of law, had a quote that we could provide, if that's helpful and if others agree that we need to have a bit of background.

Then, in the paragraph on training I think we should make sure that we are reflecting the vocabulary used in the bill. “Trauma-informed training” is an example: I'm not sure this is the language that ended up being in the bill. Again, if we were able to provide one example—maybe a sample line of testimony....

Finally, I just wasn't clear from the draft to whom we are directing this; whether we're aiming it to the justice minister and saying, “Can you, please, at a government-to-government level, on our behalf convey this to the provincial ministers?”; or whether we're writing to the justice minister and cc'ing all the provincial and territorial ministers. I think we should just have clarity on that before we send the letter.