An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of June 19, 2017

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to, among other things,

(a) reintroduce the expression “least restrictive” in certain provisions of the Act;

(b) provide that an inmate must be released from administrative segregation before the end of the 21st day of that confinement, unless the institutional head orders that the inmate is to remain in administrative segregation;

(c) provide that an independent external reviewer, appointed by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, will review the case of an inmate who is ordered to remain in administrative segregation after that 21st day and in other circumstances;

(d) provide that the independent external reviewer shall, after the review, make a recommendation to the institutional head as to whether or not the inmate should be released from administrative segregation;

(e) provide that, 18 months after the amendments referred to in paragraph (b) come into force, the 21-day limit referred to in that paragraph is reduced to a 15-day limit;

(f) provide that the head of the appropriate regional headquarters of the Correctional Service of Canada shall, in the circumstances prescribed by regulation, order that an inmate is to be released from, or to remain in, administrative segregation;

(g) provide for a comprehensive review of the legislative and regulatory reforms to the administrative segregation regime, to be conducted five years after those reforms take effect; and

(h) reintroduce the requirement that the Parole Board of Canada hold hearings following a suspension, termination or revocation of parole or statutory release.

This enactment also amends the Abolition of Early Parole Act to provide that the accelerated parole review process under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act continues to apply to offenders in respect of an offence committed before the day on which the Abolition of Early Parole Act came into force.

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.

November 29th, 2018 / 7:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I don't want to belabour it because it appears to have good support, but I would say that the “least restrictive” language was included in Bill C-56. It was previously absent in Bill C-83. You now have put in “least restrictive measures” in a couple places. This does ensure consistency. Also, it is congruent with advice from many of the witnesses. I won't take time at this late hour to remind you of all the witnesses who think this is a good amendment.

Thank you.

November 29th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to say that Justice Arbour's recommendation dates back to when I was in elementary school. I'm not saying that to be glib. I'm saying that to demonstrate how long-standing this issue has been.

I think it's pretty clear from the minister's comments and his inability to provide me with an adequate response that he has already prejudged what he believes this will look like.

Both Bill C-56 and Bill C-83 have had nothing in terms of proper independent review with any kind of teeth. Moreover, I think the very fact that the government is appealing the B.C. decision has just left a bunch of bread crumbs that do not allow me, unfortunately, and with all due respect, to make the same leap of faith. I believe, from what I've heard from witnesses, what I've read and what I've heard Justice Arbour say many times over the years, that this is the way to go.

At the end of the day, I go back to what Justice Arbour articulated as the reason here: The minute you start going beyond a certain number of days without this type of review, you're actually influencing sentencing. You're changing the punishment that has been brought out by a court of law on an individual.

I understand that circumstances can change within a prison, but unfortunately, history has borne out that this has been abused and has gone against the way our system is supposed to work. I believe this is the only way we can properly correct that abuse. Having heard witness testimony, and through my own discussions with stakeholders, that's what I believe.

Unfortunately, on this file, with the dithering we've seen from the minister, both with his actions in appealing the decision through the Department of Justice and in his own testimony, I just do not have that same faith.

November 29th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Thank you.

Again, I think the committee was already guided by this notion that we changed with the first amendment that was carried after it was amended. This reintroduces language of least restrictive measures, also present in Bill C-56. It was formerly in the “principles” section of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

The amendment says that if a person is to be confined, the Correctional Service shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the penitentiary in which they are confined is one that provides them with the least restrictive environment for that person.

That amendment achieves a goal that is quite similar to that of the first one that the committee just accepted.

November 29th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hopefully, my voice survives this whole process.

I want to say while I have the floor as I move the amendment that in seven and a half years as a parliamentarian, I have not seen a bill that has been panned by every single witness who has appeared before this committee, notwithstanding the minister and his officials.

That said, the amendments that I'll be presenting today, including this one, represent what the witnesses have suggested to us would be the best possible solution, again, notwithstanding that this is probably a bill that would be best thrown out and taken back to the drawing board. We'll wait to see what happens in the B.C. courts.

Mr. Chair, NDP-1 seeks to reintroduce language that used to be in the act prior to being removed a number of years ago. It was actually in Bill C-56, the original attempt this government made at resolving the awful issues related to solitary confinement, and is constitutional, but, as many witnesses said when it came up, should also be in the legislation.

That language is:

the Service uses the least invasive and restrictive measures consistent with the protection of society, staff members and offenders;

It is so moved.

November 22nd, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Paterson, I want to start with you on the question of oversight, which has come up a number of times. As we all know, there was a previous bill that sought to address issues related to solitary confinement, Bill C-56, which was never debated in the House. One of the issues in that bill is that it actually had a mechanism, or at least more of a mechanism than we see in this legislation. The other issue was enforcement, as well, its having teeth, as we like to say.

I wonder if you can go into that, the importance of not just having a report or examining the particular case of an individual, but also having the ability to put remedial measures in place, so again understanding the link potentially with whether it's judicial or quasi-judicial oversight, or whatever form your organization believes that could take.

November 20th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

I just get cut off.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank all three of you for being here.

I have a few questions on some of the language that is in, or not in, the legislation. I'll just throw them out there and ask for a response from both you, Senator, and our friends from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The first is the absence of the term “least restrictive” that was in Bill C-56, which was also flawed legislation, but that's not what we're here to discuss.

The other piece of language that I wanted to hear from all three of you about is in proposed paragraph 32(a), which talks about “for security or other reasons”. That's something that I've asked multiple witnesses about because I have a concern that it continues the status quo of using this type of confinement to compensate for other systemic issues in our corrections system.

Can I hear all three of you—or both of you, however you divvy it up—on both of those two language issues in the legislation?

November 20th, 2018 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Oh, never. Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Senator, and the Civil Liberties Association group.

Senator, you have previously suggested, and you suggested today, that we need to scrap this legislation and basically start over. Did the minister consult with you on this legislation, or on the previous bill, Bill C-56?

November 20th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Correctional Investigator of Canada, Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada

Dr. Ivan Zinger

That was sort of the intention of the previous Bill C-56, which clearly stated that it was prohibited to place individuals with mental health problems in segregation. That prohibition no longer exists because it is expected that inmates could spend at least four hours outside their cell. At the same time, I think that remains a very restrictive environment for someone suffering from serious mental health problems.

As it is not exactly known where those new structured intervention units will be located, it is relevant to wonder whether inmates could have a therapeutic environment. So far, we don't know whether the segregation areas will simply be restructured and renamed.

November 20th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Correctional Investigator of Canada, Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada

Dr. Ivan Zinger

I think the clever part of Bill C-56 was the presumption of release after a certain period of time. Maybe that's when you would kick in some form of independent adjudication. Right now, with the way it's written, it's as soon as possible, and it's all internal. There's nothing there—it's all internal to the service, and we come up with a regime that has less due process than the previous regime did, and it has too much due process on the disciplinary side, arguably.

November 20th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Sure. I wasn't actually saying that this was the end place; I was just trying to pick that one little piece to begin.

One other question I had is on the issue of a cap on the number of days. We had someone from the John Howard Society who said that maybe a hard cap isn't possible in some circumstances, and that has come up in some articles.

Whether or not Mandela rules are what are at issue here, would it be helpful...? I read in a Toronto Star editorial that having a cap would be helpful just because it would force people to think about the other alternatives, to really go through the alternatives, and I believe that somewhere else it said that for the mental health of an inmate, it might be helpful to know there's at least a presumed cap with perhaps a policy that would enable it to be looked at. That was the type of wording that was in Bill C-56 as well, a presumed cap that could be extended if there were reasons.

Is it helpful to have a presumed cap?

November 8th, 2018 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

My question to both of you is this. There's no oversight in this bill. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on adding some type of oversight to make sure it's being carried out properly.

If you do think there should be some kind of oversight, what do you envision? Bill C-56 had something in terms of oversight. I'd be very interested in your comments on what kind of oversight should be put in place that we could consider to make sure that things are done the way they're intended.

November 6th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
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Director General, Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Angela Connidis

It's very true, as the minister said, that we would be ahead of the curve. No country that we've studied—and we did this when we introduced Bill C-56, as well—has taken such a deliberate approach to focusing the safety on the reintegration aspect and dealing with the underlying causes.

In Norway, they make it a priority for those who are excluded from the general population to receive some targeted interventions. No other countries have a legislative requirement that they should be out for four hours.

Remember, in the legislation, this is a minimum of four hours, so this is across the board substantially more beneficial for reintegration than other countries.

November 6th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

I think of what we proposed in Bill C-56 as a way to reform administrative segregation. I recall the Office of the Correctional Investigator describing that legislation as probably putting Canada in the vanguard of the world in terms of a progressive approach.

This legislation now goes further, eliminating administrative segregation and creating a quite different model that is intended to focus on mental health and other forms of treatment and intervention. Obviously we have to be successful in developing the new structures. We have to be successful in providing the new budgets and in the implementation of the plan, as it would be phased in over a number of years, but this has the potential to put Canada way ahead of virtually all our contemporaries in the way we manage our correctional system.

November 6th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

That is currently the case at any rate. Certainly, we have a fundamental disagreement on whether this is actually a change beyond a cosmetic one.

I have a question, however, about the cap on the number of days. As Mr. Picard said it's something that has been brought up by the UN. In fact, I'm curious to know whether you can explain why in Bill C-56 there was a prescribed cap. Mind you, we can debate, as we did at the time, the view that the mechanisms in place, should that cap be surpassed, were insufficient, but beyond that the cap was still there in writing, much closer to what the UN has called for—to respect human rights and dignity, essentially.

I'm wondering why there's no cap beyond the five-day and then the 30-day review? The bill doesn't prescribe a limit on the amount of time that a prisoner can be in solitary.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

October 19th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his articulate speech.

I just want to focus on one aspect. The Ontario and British Columbia courts ruled that the current law is unconstitutional on the grounds of two elements.

First, there was no independent body to review the justification for and the extension of administrative segregation. Second, the law did not set a limit for the undue or abusive extension of the administrative segregation.

Unfortunately, unlike former Bill C-56, the current bill does not meet these two criteria.

How can my colleague believe that the courts will deem this Liberal bill to be constitutional?