An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to amend, remove or repeal passages and provisions that have been ruled unconstitutional or that raise risks with regard to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as passages and provisions that are obsolete, redundant or that no longer have a place in criminal law. It also modifies certain provisions of the Code relating to sexual assault in order to clarify their application and to provide a procedure applicable to the admissibility and use of a complainant’s record when in the possession of the accused.

This enactment also amends the Department of Justice Act to require that the Minister of Justice cause to be tabled, for every government Bill introduced in either House of Parliament, a statement of the Bill’s potential effects on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act.

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.

Votes

Dec. 10, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments 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
Dec. 10, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / noon
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

moved:

That in relation to the Senate amendments for Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of Senate amendments to the bill; and

That fifteen minutes before the expiry to the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the Senate amendments of said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required, for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the state of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / noon
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I guess it is fitting for this government that we, in the final days of sitting in this chamber, are again talking about its favourite parliamentary procedure, time allocation, something that the Liberals said that they would never use when they were in opposition. Today we have time allocation on Bill C-51, particularly on the amendments by the Senate, the same Senate the Prime Minister said he was liberating by appointing independent senators to, because he wanted their feedback. He wanted additional debate. Today, they are once again shutting down that additional debate in the House.

This once again is an example of the Liberal government ramming things through. I am going to remind my friend from Winnipeg North that in 2011, the first time he spoke about time allocation, the first of many times he complained about it, he said that its use would mean he was “abandoning every principle I have on parliamentary tradition”. Abandoning principles seems to be all they have done in government.

My question is for either the minister or the member for Winnipeg North regarding the desire to have independent input from the Senate, with the changes made to the other place by the Prime Minister. Bill C-51 is an example of that additional insight from the Senate. I spoke last week on it. Why is the government curtailing debate on Bill C-51 through the use of time allocation? Once again, the Liberals are not adhering to their promises on omnibus bills or time allocation, nor are they keeping with the Prime Minister's promise to have an independent Senate that could provide input on bills. Why are they using time allocation and discounting the input from Senator Pate and others?

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / noon
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the comments by my friend and colleague across the way. My favourite parliamentary procedure, one of the favourite duties I have in this place, is passing good laws that are informed by robust consultation.

I believe the member for Winnipeg North would agree with me that we have had substantial debate on Bill C-51. The bill benefited from the very direct engagement of the hon. members in the other place. We have taken serious account of their message back and have recognized that their proposed amendment is well intentioned. We are committed to continuing to work with the hon. senators and Canadians generally, as we seek to move forward and look at the law of consent and the incapacity to consent. This is something on which there will be ongoing discussion, dialogue and commitment by our government.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I have found myself, as a New Democrat, in the awkward position of agreeing with the work the Senate has done. I was one of those who voted in favour of Bill C-51, because I agree with the focus of the bill and the provisions in it. Ultimately, what the Senate has attempted to do reflects very much what I attempted to do at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

My issue with the government's approach and its parliamentary tactics comes from the fact that for the various justice bills, Bill C-32, Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75, the Minister of Justice could very well have packaged many of the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code in Bill C-39 and Bill C-51 in one bill that would have passed through Parliament relatively quickly. Instead, she packaged in some other provisions that have been more contentious, and therefore, has forced the government to use extraordinary measures like time allocation.

With all the evidence from legal experts over the years who have talked about the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code, why could the Minister of Justice not have packaged the provisions in Bill C-39 and Bill C-51, which would not have had any argument, in one bill? Instead, three years into the government's mandate, we find ourselves still deliberating on these provisions, and nothing has changed.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way sat on the justice and human rights committee, which has debated many justice bills.

As for the member's characterization of parliamentary tactics, the only parliamentary tactic I employ and that our government employs is to work as co-operatively as we can with all members in the House to have informed debate about particular bills the government puts forward, seeking feedback from hon. members in this place and the other place and valuing the work done at committee.

With respect to all the justice bills that have been advanced, we have been working expeditiously to move forward with Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75 so that we clean up the so-called zombie provisions and the unconstitutional provisions. I would look to all hon. colleagues in this place to work with us to make sure that these pieces of legislation move forward as expeditiously as possible.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, it is encouraging that in Bill C-51 there are provisions that would remove sections of the Criminal Code that have been found to be unconstitutional by appellate courts. However, following up on the question put by my friend for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, it is disappointing that the government still has not removed unconstitutional sections, sections the Supreme Court of Canada has found to be of no force or effect.

It has now been over two years since Travis Vader had his conviction on two counts of second degree murder overturned as a result of the application of an inoperative section. Two years later, Bill C-39 remains stuck at first reading. The only thing preventing inoperative sections of the Criminal Code from being removed is the government. Can the minister explain to the McCann family why, after two years, they are still waiting for section 230 and other inoperative sections of the Criminal Code to be removed?

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to unequivocally state that I do not agree with the member opposite's characterization of the work we are doing.

I will say, with respect to his comments about shutting down debate and discussion, that with respect to the issue at hand, Bill C-51, this House has debated Bill C-51 for a total of 10 and a half hours, including three hours of debate on the message from the other place. The Senate debated Bill C-51 for four hours. It benefited from a total of 19.5 hours of study at committee, between the House and the Senate, which heard from 63 witnesses.

We are talking about Bill C-51. I look forward to having this become law so we can ensure that we codify the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. J.A., that we further support sexual assault victims and that we ensure that we can move forward with charter statements that will be introduced with all government legislation once this bill becomes law.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-51, Bill C-57, Bill C-87, Bill C-88, and Bill C-21, all of these bills have had notice given of time allocation in the last week we are sitting before the Christmas break. Is this not just another indictment of the failure of the Liberal government when it comes to managing the business of the House?

The Liberal government said it was going to do things differently. All of a sudden, like the kid who spent the entire semester at school partying, when that final assignment comes due, it is a rush to try to get it in, in the nick of time, before the deadline. Is this not just another example of the Liberals' failure to manage the business of this place?

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am not satisfied with the minister's previous response to my question. We can look at the legislative track record of the Minister of Justice, starting with Bill C-28, the victim surcharge bill, which was rolled into Bill C-75. We had Bill C-32, which was rolled into Bill C-39, which was then rolled into Bill C-75, and now we have Bill C-51.

I talked about tactics. Time allocation is a tactic. It would have been an unnecessary one if we could have dealt with the substantive provisions in all those bills, but instead, the government's strategy was to basically string us along with the introduction of these justice bills that would clean up the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code and then leave them in some kind of purgatory stuck at first reading.

When the Minister of Justice took office, everyone knew that there were zombie provisions in the Criminal Code that had to be cleaned up. This has been a topic of discussion for decades, and every year, the Criminal Code is faithfully reproduced with all of these mistakes.

Again, why did the Minister of Justice, in 2016, the first year of her mandate, not take the provisions in Bill C-32 and Bill C-39 and elements of Bill C-51 and package them in one bill? We could have had that passed, done and dusted by now, but instead, they were rolled up with contentious provisions, and they are still being debated. Bill C-75 has only just been sent to the Senate. Who knows how long it is going to take there?

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, in terms of reintroducing the Criminal Code, I am incredibly proud to be part of a government that has taken action, which has not been taken for decades, as the member mentioned, to ensure that we have a modernized Criminal Code, that we remove the unconstitutional provisions, the zombie provisions, that we update the laws around sexual assault and intimate partner violence and that we look at the victim fine surcharge as well as section 159. All of these are issues raised in government bills the member opposite has spoken to.

We are moving forward with comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, and that starts with looking, in a substantial manner, at the Criminal Code. This is what we have sought to do and what is contained in Bill C-51 and also in Bill C-75.

I look forward these two pieces of proposed legislation becoming law so that we can do what has not been done for far too long, which is modernize the Criminal Code.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, one of the things we need to emphasize is that in preparation for bringing forward Bill C-51 and previous legislation, there has been a great deal of background work with many stakeholders in different jurisdictions. I wonder if the minister could provide her thoughts on the importance of having done a lot of the preliminary work and give us a sense of some of the background work leading to the introduction of the legislation itself. Not only has there been a thorough debate, with questions and answers, in committee and in debates inside the chamber, there was also a great deal of consultation prior to the legislation even being introduced.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member for Durham raising charter statements because one of the significant pieces of Bill C-51, when hopefully it becomes law, is it will be a direct responsibility of the government to introduce a charter statement with each piece of government legislation.

I would be happy to speak with the member for Durham at any time, not necessarily in the House, about the robust legislation and activities of the Department of Justice. I would extend that invitation to him.

In terms of charter statements, they are the responsibility of the Minister of Justice to look at government legislation. Charter statements are not legal opinions, but they detail where the charter is potentially engaged by a piece of legislation that the government is putting forward. It provides a window into how government decisions are made or the thought processes that government went through in terms of putting forward a piece of legislation. This is something that has not been done before. This is something that is contained within Bill C-51. With the coming into force of that bill, the charter statements will be applicable to all pieces of government legislation.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, again I am pleased to stand up and speak to the charter statement, which is a very substantial part of Bill C-51. I have, as the Minister of Justice, introduced charter statements with each piece of government legislation that I have introduced in this place. I will say that charter statements are meant to be informative. Charter statements are meant to make the thoughts and the thinking behind government legislation accessible to Canadians, not to provide legal advice to Canadians or legal advice to this place. As the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General and the chief law officer of the government, I provide legal advice to the government.

What I believe is incredibly useful, and I have had feedback in this regard, is to have a discussion about where the charter is engaged with respect to specific pieces of legislation and to reference case law that has considered the issues in terms of specific charter sections to give an idea or window into government legislation and where the charter may or may not be implicated. This is the idea behind this. Again, it is not legal advice.

I will not comment on comments that were made by the hon. members of the other place, but I take great pride in ensuring that our charter statements provide the information and the accessibility not only to members in Parliament but to Canadians generally. This is a practice that will continue. This is a practice that has assisted in terms of getting a window into the eyes of where the charter is implicated in terms of government legislation.

Consideration of Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-51 is a broad and complex bill. If I have the time, I will entertain further discussion of the merits of the bill, which I feel is a good bill.

Bill C-51 proposes many different things in clarifying provisions relating to sexual assault, repealing unconstitutional provisions of the Criminal Code, clarifying and strengthening our charter by ensuring the government prevents charter statements for every piece of government legislation and seeking to avoid unnecessary litigation by enhancing our understanding of the criminal law.

This debate is essentially about the Senate amendments to the bill with respect to the issue of sexual assault.

As these issues were covered by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights when it debated the bill, this is an interesting analogy to bring to the attention of the House. We did not support the amendments that were brought forward by Senator Pate, amendments that were adopted by the Senate.

When we were debating the sexual assault provisions in the bill, there was enormous discussion.

The bill's intent is to codify the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in J.A. and Ewanchuk.

In the decision in J.A., the intent was to set out and make it clear that someone would not be capable of providing consent when unconscious, but also that there were other instances in which the individual might be unable to provide consent.

In the case of Ewanchuk, the issue related to a misunderstanding of the law, clarifying that a mistake of law was not a defence to sexual assault.

When the legislation came to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we introduced amendments to clarify what people were concerned about when they came to testify about the bill. We heard from a wide range of witnesses, representing groups on all sides of the spectrum, from defence counsels and prosecutors to women's groups, victims' groups, etc.

We wanted to ensure that it was very clear that unconsciousness was not a bright light, meaning that anything short of unconsciousness would be seen as potentially not allowing one to say that consent was not extended.

As such, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made an amendment to make clear that consent had to be contemporaneous at the time of the sexual activity, that it must be ongoing, that it would not be valid if made in advance and that the person engaging in sexual activity was allowed to withdraw consent at any time. That amendment was supported by all members of the committee.

We also had an amendment to clarify Ewanchuk with respect to the mistake of law defence. We were concerned that the bill as originally drafted would possibly allow people to conclude that a mistake as to fact would no longer be a defence. We clarified that portion of the bin the bill to make it clear that it was only a mistake in belief as to what the law was that would no longer provide a defence allowing a mistaken belief as to fact to continue to constitute a limited defence.

For clarity, that means if someone who erroneously believes that when married, a spouse has to consent and that there cannot be sexual assault in marriage, that is a mistake as to law and it is not permitted anymore as a defence. That clarifies the Supreme Court decision in Ewanchuk within the Criminal Code.

That was what our committee had done, but the Senate went far beyond that and made amendments that sought to set out an additional framework of what type of capacity was required for consent.

The Senate added that lines 17 to 20 be replaced to say:

(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity in question for any reason, including, but not limited to, the fact that they are

(i) unable to understand the nature, circumstances, risks and consequences of the sexual activity in question,

(ii) unable to understand that they have the choice to engage in the sexual activity in question or not, or

(iii) unable to affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity in question by words or by active conduct;”, and...

(3.1) For greater certainty, capacity to consent at the time of the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge cannot be inferred from evidence on capacity to consent at the time of another sexual activity

These are all very well-meaning amendments. They are amendments that seek to clarify capacity, but I am afraid that these amendments may have unintended consequences, could prolong cases a great deal by leading to enhanced questioning in all of these areas and, in fact, go way beyond what the Supreme Court said in J.A. and go beyond the intention given to the legislation, which was to codify the decision in J.A.

The Minister of Justice has advised us that she will be undertaking further consultations with relevant groups across the country and may come back to us with further clarifications to the legislation on capacity. However, I believe that putting forward these very detailed amendments that were not considered by the witnesses who appeared at the House committee or Senate committee because these were not on the table in the legislation, so we did not hear from the wide spectrum of witnesses on their thoughts about the draft language, leads to us using very specific draft language that the legal community across Canada was not consulted on.

I would also draw the attention of the House to the fact that the committee considered amendments very similar to this that were brought forward by my colleague from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford in the New Democratic Party who sat on the committee at the time. When those amendments were brought forward, I found them to be confusing. I asked a question of the officials from the Department of Justice that I would like to put on the House record. This is from the record of the justice committee. I asked the following:

Can I ask a question, either to [the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford] or the officials, or maybe to both? I have two questions, actually.

One, with the fact that we have “unconscious” and then a general provision saying for anything else, is there any potential that by adding two specific examples into the second paragraph, the courts may then narrow the scope of what it's intended to mean?

Two, would somebody not being aware that they are not obliged to consent to the activity not be a mistake of law, a misunderstanding of the law, as opposed to incapacity?

The official from the Department of Justice who answered the question, Nathalie Levman, counsel for the criminal law policy section, stated the following:

Regarding your second point, I agree with you. I'm concerned that this doesn't necessarily speak to the capacity issue that proposed paragraph 153.1(3)(b) speaks to.

That raises a number of different points about your first question, which is that the law on when a person is so incapacitated that no consent is obtained in law is complex. The case law is difficult and there may be a number of different factors that are relevant. Singling out two factors, one of which may not relate to capacity, may have some unintended effects. As to what those effects could be, I cannot speculate, but I just point out that it is a complex issue of law, this particular paragraph, proposed paragraph 273.1(2)(b).

That brings me back to my argument. The fact that the Department of Justice was unable to say clearly what the intended amendment would even mean and talk to us about the ambiguity that the amendment potentially offered leads me to conclude, as I believe my Conservative and Liberal colleagues all concluded at committee, that adding these words into the law, while well intentioned, may have factors that we had not considered. I think this would certainly render a provision to the law that the courts have now interpreted for a considerable amount of time even more complex than it needs to be, leading to multiple questions that I could see being asked now to deal with the all of the different situations put forward by the Senate amendment.

I applaud Senator Pate for her decision to be an advocate on this issue, but I regret that I cannot agree with the position that she took in terms of proposing the amendment to go forward at this time.

I would prefer seeing the Minister of Justice do wide consultation, which would then allow, when a bill comes forward, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to have the benefit of the draft language to share with all of the different witnesses coming before committee, so that all of them could expound on whether or not they find that language to be helpful or problematic, etc.

That being said, I would also like to speak to another amendment that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made to the bill. There has been a lot of discussion about the provisions that the bill removed from the Criminal Code that had been ruled either unconstitutional or inoperative; inoperative ones, such as challenging someone to a duel. We would all agree that is no longer an issue for many Canadians, and that that was properly removed from the legislation.

Another one that would be removed as inoperative is possessing, printing, distributing or publishing crime comics. Again, I think most of us would agree that there is no need for a specific provision as to that. Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft is another one. While it is comforting to know that if someone actually does practise witchcraft and is not being fraudulent about it, they are allowed to do so in Canada. I do believe that removing the potential of fraudulently practising witchcraft is definitely a good step.

Another is issuing trading stamps, who knew it was illegal to issue trading stamps? However, I am pleased that we removed that from the Criminal Code. I am also very pleased that we worked with—

Consideration of Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal friend for his speech and for entertaining our brief heckles at one point in the speech.

I am going to ask the member the same question I asked the Minister of Justice this morning about charter statements that are explored within Bill C-51, an approach of the government, in terms of giving a statement that the charter has been considered and the government feels there is no violation or question of a constitutional nature.

I would ask the member to contrast that with the editorial in The Globe and Mail today by Chief Fox, an indigenous leader from Alberta who said that they were not properly consulted with respect to Bill C-69. We have an anti-resource to market bill by the government, where clearly indigenous leaders say that the duty to consult was not met.

In a charter statement environment, how is the government consulting indigenous Canadians? It is clear that there is legislation before Parliament right now that first nations leaders say they have not been consulted on. My concern with the charter statement is it is a way of the government putting out “chill”, saying that it has considered all arguments about charter or constitutional provisions, and therefore this legislation is okay.

Is the member aware of how the government is consulting indigenous peoples as a part of the charter statement preparation?