An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (House), as of March 29, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) modernize and clarify interim release provisions to simplify the forms of release that may be imposed on an accused, incorporate a principle of restraint and require that particular attention be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal accused and accused from vulnerable populations when making interim release decisions, and provide more onerous interim release requirements for offences involving violence against an intimate partner;

(b) provide for a judicial referral hearing to deal with administration of justice offences involving a failure to comply with conditions of release or failure to appear as required;

(c) abolish peremptory challenges of jurors, modify the process of challenging a juror for cause so that a judge makes the determination of whether a ground of challenge is true, and allow a judge to direct that a juror stand by for reasons of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice;

(d) increase the maximum term of imprisonment for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence and provide that abuse of an intimate partner is an aggravating factor on sentencing;

(e) restrict the availability of a preliminary inquiry to offences punishable by imprisonment for life and strengthen the justice’s powers to limit the issues explored and witnesses to be heard at the inquiry;

(f) hybridize most indictable offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years or less, increase the default maximum penalty to two years less a day of imprisonment for summary conviction offences and extend the limitation period for summary conviction offences to 12 months;

(g) remove the requirement for judicial endorsement for the execution of certain out-of-province warrants and authorizations, expand judicial case management powers, allow receiving routine police evidence in writing, consolidate provisions relating to the powers of the Attorney General and allow increased use of technology to facilitate remote attendance by any person in a proceeding;

(h) allow the court to exempt an offender from the requirement to pay a victim surcharge if the offender satisfies the court that the payment would cause the offender undue hardship, provide the court with guidance as to what constitutes undue hardship, provide that a victim surcharge is to be paid for each offence, with an exception for certain administration of justice offences if the total amount of surcharges imposed on an offender for those types of offences would be disproportionate in the circumstances, require courts to provide reasons for granting any exception for certain administration of justice offences or any exemption from the requirement to pay a victim surcharge and clarify that the amendments described in this paragraph apply to any offender who is sentenced after the day on which they come into force, regardless of whether or not the offence was committed before that day; and 

(i) remove passages and repeal provisions that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, repeal section 159 of the Act and provide that no person shall be convicted of any historical offence of a sexual nature unless the act that constitutes the offence would constitute an offence under the Criminal Code if it were committed on the day on which the charge was laid.

The enactment also amends the Youth Criminal Justice Act in order to reduce delays within the youth criminal justice system and enhance the effectiveness of that system with respect to administration of justice offences. For those purposes, the enactment amends that Act to, among other things,

(a) set out principles intended to encourage the use of extrajudicial measures and judicial reviews as alternatives to the laying of charges for administration of justice offences;

(b) set out requirements for imposing conditions on a young person’s release order or as part of a sentence;

(c) limit the circumstances in which a custodial sentence may be imposed for an administration of justice offence;

(d) remove the requirement for the Attorney General to determine whether to seek an adult sentence in certain circumstances; and

(e) remove the power of a youth justice court to make an order to lift the ban on publication in the case of a young person who receives a youth sentence for a violent offence, as well as the requirement to determine whether to make such an order.

Finally, the enactment amends among other Acts An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) so that certain sections of that Act can come into force on different days and also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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.

JusticeOral Questions

April 19th, 2018 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, again, I am committed to continuing to appoint meritorious judges to the superior courts across this country. The member opposite should know that appointing judges is not necessarily the main reason that delays exist. What we are doing is fulfilling our government's commitment to follow through to significantly address court delays by introducing bold reform by way of Bill C-75. I expect the member opposite will support these measures because they would significantly reduce the delays in the criminal justice system.

JusticeOral Questions

April 19th, 2018 / 2:55 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, our government is committed to improving the efficiencies and the effectiveness of the criminal justice system to ensure victims are supported, to ensure that offenders are taken to account, and to ensure public safety.

Delays in the criminal justice system are not new. They certainly existed in the previous government. The case of reference started to make its way through the system well in advance of our taking government. What is new is that we have taken significant steps by introducing Bill C-75, which aims to take bold action to address delays. As well, I have appointed 167 judges to the superior courts of this country.

JusticeOral Questions

April 18th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, our government has taken responsibility by moving forward with criminal justice reform that keeps communities safe, protects victims, and holds offenders to account. By way of introducing Bill C-75, we have fulfilled a commitment to bring forward substantive reform to the criminal justice system that will fundamentally address delays, if passed.

Further to that, I take my responsibility of appointing superior court justices incredibly seriously. One hundred and sixty-seven have been appointed, with 27 appointed in Alberta. We will continue to appoint judges to ensure that all vacancies are filled.

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Contents of Bill C-75PrivilegeOral Questions

April 17th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege concerning the premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments.

The Minister of Justice introduced the bill on Holy Thursday, before the Easter long weekend, on March 29, 2018, at 12:11 p.m. At 12:19 p.m., eight minutes after the minister introduced the bill, CBC posted an article entitled “Liberals propose major criminal justice changes to unclog Canada's courts”.

The article goes into detail about Bill C-75 to make a prima facie case that CBC had prior knowledge of the contents of Bill C-75 before it was introduced.

For example, the article states that “The Liberal government tabled a major bill today to reform Canada's criminal justice system”, saying it contained measures designed to close gaps in the system and speed up court proceedings, including putting an end to preliminary inquiries except for the most serious crimes that carry a life sentence. It said, “The changes also include an end to peremptory challenges in jury selection” and that another proposed reform of the bill will “impose a reverse onus on bail applications by people who have a history of [domestic] abuse, which would require them to justify their release following a charge.”

Bill C-75 is an omnibus bill containing 302 pages. While I appreciate the quality of journalism at the CBC, I do not think anyone can believe that someone could read 302 pages, analyze what was read, write an article, and then post the article on the Internet with various links in just eight minutes. If such extraordinary human capabilities exist at CBC or if unknown technology exists to make this happen, then the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs would like to hear about it.

All I am asking of you, Mr. Speaker, is to find a prima facie case on the question of privilege to allow a motion to be moved instructing the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to look into this matter.

On March 21, 1978, at page 3,975 of Debates, Mr. Speaker Jerome quoted a British procedure committee report of 1967, which states in part:

...the Speaker should ask himself, when he has to decide whether to grant precedence over other public business to a motion which a Member who has complained of some act or conduct as constituting a breach of privilege desires to move, should be, not--do I consider that, assuming that the facts are as stated, the act or conduct constitutes a breach of privilege, but could it reasonably be held to be a breach of privilege, or to put it shortly, has the Member an arguable point? If the Speaker feels any doubt on the question, he should, in my view, leave it to the House.

Now, whether it be superhuman capabilities or advanced unknown technology available only to the media, it is unacceptable for members of Parliament to be left behind playing catch-up while the public debate on a government bill takes place outside the House, minutes after its introduction, between a well-briefed media and a well-briefed Minister of Justice.

It has become an established practice in this House that when a bill is on notice for introduction, the House has the first right to the contents of that legislation.

On April 14, 2016, the former opposition leader and current Leader of the Opposition raised a question concerning the premature disclosure of Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying).

The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that specific and detailed information contained in Bill C-14 was reported in a newspaper article and elsewhere in the media before the bill had been introduced in the House. The member stressed the need for members to access information in order to fulfill their parliamentary responsibilities, as well as the respect required for the essential role of the House in legislative matters.

On April 19, 2016, the Speaker agreed with the Leader of the Opposition and found that there was indeed a prima facia case of privilege regarding Bill C-14. He said:

As honourable members know, one of my most important responsibilities as Speaker is to safeguard the rights and privileges of members, individually and collectively. Central to the matter before us today is the fact that, due to its pre-eminent role in the legislative process, the House cannot allow precise legislative information to be distributed to others before it has been made accessible to all members. Previous Speakers have regularly upheld not only this fundamental right, but also expectation, of the House.

The Speaker's concluding remarks on April 19, 2016, were as follows:

In this instance, the chair must conclude that the House's right of first access to legislative information was not respected. The chair appreciates the chief government whip's assertion that no one in the government was authorized to publicly release the specific details of the bill before its introduction. Still, it did happen, and these kinds of incidents cause grave concern among hon. members. I believe it is a good reason why extra care should be taken to ensure that matters that ought properly to be brought to the House first do not in any way get out in the public domain prematurely.

On October 4, 2010, on page 4,711 of the House of Commons Debates, Speaker Milliken said:

It is indisputable that it is a well-established practice and accepted convention that this House has the right of first access to the text of bills that it will consider.

There was a similar case March 19, 2001, regarding the Department of Justice briefing the media on a bill before members of Parliament. This was referenced by the Leader of the Opposition in his submission on the Bill C-14 case, in which he quoted Speaker Milliken as saying, at page 1,840 of the House of Commons Debates:

In preparing legislation, the government may wish to hold extensive consultations and such consultations may be held entirely at the government's discretion. However, with respect to material to be placed before parliament, the House must take precedence. Once a bill has been placed on notice, whether it has been presented in a different form to a different session of parliament has no bearing and the bill is considered a new matter. The convention of the confidentiality of bills on notice is necessary, not only so that members themselves may be well informed, but also because of the pre-eminent rule which the House plays and must play in the legislative affairs of the nation.

The Speaker found another case of contempt on October 15, 2001, after the Department of Justice briefed the media on the contents of a bill prior to the legislation being introduced in the House. The leak of Bill C-75 is another example of the government's disregard for Parliament and its role in the legislative process. It is important that we in the opposition call out the government for these abuses of Parliament and place before the Chair any breaches of the privileges of the House of Commons.

Speaker Milliken said:

To deny to members information concerning business that is about to come before the House, while at the same time providing such information to media that will likely be questioning members about that business, is a situation that the Chair cannot condone.

You, Mr. Speaker, said, on March 20 of this year:

...respecting members’ needs for timely and accurate information remains essential. There is no question that the work of members of Parliament is made more difficult without expeditious access to legislative information. Given this reality, there is a rightful expectation that those responsible for the information should do their utmost to ensure members’ access to it. Not respecting this expectation does a disservice to all. It is particularly disconcerting when the government gives priority to the media over the members of Parliament.

Given the facts presented and the clear precedents on this matter, I believe, Mr. Speaker, you should have no trouble in finding a prima facie question of privilege. In that event, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's ReportRoutine Proceedings

April 17th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know you have been listening throughout my presentation. I have been interposing my remarks to make the point that we are not going to allow this motion to hijack the government's agenda relative to the substantive premise of the opposition motion. What is relevant about that is that any Canadian listening to this debate would hear that notwithstanding the efforts to delay and filibuster, we have our priorities right on this side of the House. I am spending an appropriate and proportionate amount of time devoted in my presentation to the priorities that matter. That is relevant for the purposes of understanding why we reject this motion. Perhaps the Conservatives want us to allow ourselves to be hijacked and not talk about these things. However, we are not going to surrender to that kind of false logic. Nor should we.

Let me round out my highlights in my remaining moments. I will come back to the very express language of the opposition motion, then conclude my remarks.

The trouble with the rhetoric we have heard from some of the members of the Conservative family is that it stokes fear. It stokes anger and division among Canadians. We live in a very broad, diverse country, but those different experiences all get reconciled in the chamber. We find ways as members of Parliament to be the voice for our local communities. At the same time, we take into consideration how Canadians in different parts of the country, in different provinces and territories go about living their lives and pursue opportunities and prosperity to provide for their children and families. This is the place where we can accomplish that. This is the place where we can balance those competing interests and priorities. If we cannot do it here, we cannot do it anywhere.

Therefore, I call on my Conservative colleagues to debate as passionately when it comes to natural resources, but also to remember this is an institution that does deliver for Canadians.

The last highlight I want to mention is a priority that is not in the budget but is one that matters to me, and that is Bill C-75, which was tabled before our two non-sitting weeks. The bill proposes to make significant reforms to the criminal justice system by reducing delay and by ensuring we are reducing systemic barriers to victims so they can come forward, have their stories heard, and get the justice they deserve. We cannot get to that business if we see these kinds of dilatory motions brought forward today by the Conservatives.

My Conservative colleagues are cheering me. We should have the record reflect that some colleagues are putting up their hands in adoration and praise. They are enjoying some of my remarks. They may not enjoy what follows, but one takes credit where one can get it.

There is a fundamental flaw with the opposition motion. We just heard the House leader for the Conservative Party say that it has been vigorously debated, then some jockeying back and forth about why not just let debate collapse. The motion proposes to tell the Ethics Commissioner what his job is. Unlike other parties in the House, this government respects the independence of the officers of the chamber to do their jobs and fulfill their responsibilities in a way that ensures Canadians can have confidence in the high ethical standards they demand of their parliamentarians.

The motion purports to say what the fixes for the loopholes should be, and so on. We cannot prescribe expressly how the debate around ethical standards will evolve. We will listen to the Ethics Commissioner and obviously pay very close attention to whatever recommendations he or his office may put forward. In the meantime, as my Conservative colleagues will know very well, the Prime Minister and the government have accepted the findings of the report on numerous occasions. We have had well over 130 or 140 questions in question period regarding the report, the same question repeated over and over again.

To what end? Simply to waste time. Simply to obstruct and impede all of the significant priorities and the things that matter, which I have already discussed in my remarks. Canadians are going to judge us, but they are also going to judge the opposition Conservatives on how they have used their time in the chamber. What they will see is not constructive dialogue, not thoughtful debate on jobs and the economy, on public safety, on trade. They are going to see obstruction.

Accountability is a two-way street. Canadians are watching the Conservatives very closely. I encourage them to withdraw this motion and let us get back to the business that matters.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

March 29th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table, in both official languages, a charter statement with respect to Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

March 29th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-75, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

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

March 28th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Terry Abel Executive Vice-President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

I would be happy to. Thank you.

Good afternoon, honourable chair and members of the committee. My name is Terry Abel. I'm executive vice-president with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Joining me today are Mr. Paul Barnes, who is the director of our Atlantic Canada and Arctic offshore, and Patrick McDonald, who is director of climate and innovation.

We are very appreciative of the opportunity to address the committee today and provide some of our experience and thoughts that might help inform your review of Bill C-69.

Hopefully, many of you know that CAPP and its members are responsible for producing around 80% of all the natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil, and oil sands across Canada, including offshore resources. Our industry is the largest single private sector investor in Canada. In 2014, it invested at a peak of $81 billion and at more like $45 billion in 2017. Collectively, we employ well above 500,000 Canadians from coast to coast.

Our offshore oil and gas and natural gas projects, located generally quite a way offshore—200 to 500 kilometres offshore in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia—have brought tremendous benefits to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia over the years and will continue to do so for some time.

As you know, the International Energy Agency continues to project that energy demand will grow worldwide by more than 30% by the year 2040, and growth in that demand will happen in both oil and natural gas, with hydrocarbon resources continuing to make up the lion's share of energy demand across the country, although renewables are growing substantially.

CAPP believes that Canada is well positioned to become the supplier of choice for oil and natural gas resources, given our world-leading responsible development practices and the fact that we have some of the largest and highest-quality reserves of oil and gas in the world. It's therefore imperative that Canada remain competitive with other oil and gas-producing jurisdictions; otherwise, Canada loses not only the opportunity to generate economic value from this industry, but also the consequential global reductions in GHG emissions that flow from Canada's being a more responsible producer of those resources.

I am going to introduce my comments today focusing on the competitiveness of our industry and on some aspects of the bill that can create uncertainty and further erode the global competitiveness of the industry. I'll touch on such things as transitional provisions, timelines, early planning, review panels, and regional strategic assessments.

We understand that the government's stated objective is to restore public trust in its environmental and regulatory review processes, something we absolutely share as an objective. We also want to ensure, however, that any changes restore confidence in the investment community.

Our industry is very challenged these days. There is a highly competitive global competition for capital resources, and Canada needs to remain competitive, if we're going to bring capital into Canada. Unfortunately, today Canada is attracting more uncertainty, not more capital, and we will continue to lose investment and jobs if we do not have a system of clear rules and decisions that are final and can be relied upon.

I'd like to point out that a 2016 WorleyParsons study of environmental assessment practices worldwide observed that while Canada has an EA process that is one of the most thorough and comprehensive, it also currently has “one of the most expensive time, and resource consuming EA processes in the world”.

Unfortunately, CAPP and the investment community today see very little in Bill C-69 that will improve that status. A simple example of this growing uncertainty is found in the transitional provisions within the draft impact assessment act. Current provisions require that assessments initiated under CEAA 2012 but not yet complete would generally have to continue and be completed using new legislation and rules. Specifically, the language in the bill that might allow an assessment to be completed under the current legislation, CEAA 2012, is actually very subjective and does not provide clear certainty as to which process will apply. If the intent of those provisions was to have those started in 2012 continue, we would argue that you could make this far clearer and more certain within the current language.

Requiring a new proponent, if that is the intent, to follow the new regulatory process midstream would run the risk of essentially taking processes back to the starting line. For example, we would point to offshore exploration drilling programs. There are four currently in Newfoundland. We see substantial risk that all the work undertaken today could be deemed incomplete. Therefore, they may have to restart and follow an entirely different process, which would add more time and more uncertainty for our investment community.

We simply propose that the government confirm that all projects in flight within federal, provincial, or territorial processes not be revisited under the new legislation.

Madam Chair, CAPP supports maintaining legislated timelines that we see both in CEAA 2012 and within proposed Bill C-69. However, it's not evident that overall, the regulatory review timelines will be any shorter than the current process. With the addition of early planning and no clarity regarding the time frames for review and information requests, and a number of opportunities sprinkled throughout the legislation to extend those timelines, we and the investment community generally conclude that we only see an increase in timelines overall.

We fully support the concept of early planning. I would note that it is normal practice by CAPP's members and our industry in general to engage early with stakeholders that may be impacted by proposed developments. We support the government's involvement in a more formalized process of early engagement as it provides an opportunity to get an early understanding of issues and clarity for all. It also gives stakeholders an opportunity to address issues that we often find come up in our project reviews that actually have very little to do with the project. They're much broader in nature.

For early engagement to be effective, however, all parties must be committed to the process and held accountable to meaningfully engage and honour timelines and their respective roles. We believe that without setting clear expectations for the stakeholders, industry, and government, the commitment to, and the introduction of, an early engagement or early planning process is likely to continue indefinitely and do nothing to support timelines improvement.

CAPP believes that, should the proponent and the agency at the end of the process not be able to agree on the scope of an EA, there needs to be some mechanism to actually bring discipline and closure to that process and actually let an EIA continue.

I'd like to flag something very specific to our offshore in my final comments. The way it's currently written, all offshore-designated projects would require a panel review. With that panel review come timelines that are at least twice that of the review by the agency. We do not believe there's any justification for a process that would effectively double the timelines, which we would expect would be at least four years, particularly as the potential effects of offshore oil and gas projects are well understood.

We have had numerous environmental assessments completed and reviewed in Canada both by CEAA and the offshore boards and decades of environmental effects monitoring in Canada as well as internationally that can contribute to practices that are pretty much standard at this point and are adopted in all jurisdictions across the world.

It's our view that a review panel that combines the experience and expertise of both the impact assessment agency and a specialized regulator, such as the offshore petroleum boards, should actually be able to decrease the regulatory review time required, not double it, as would currently be interpreted with the way the legislation is written. CAPP recommends that the requirement for offshore operations to require a review by panels be removed.

Our industry is also very supportive and sees the benefits of regional impact assessments as are enabled under the draft legislation. We note that they can include such benefits as improved environmental effects assessment and cumulative effects assessment. They would probably help a lot with stakeholder fatigue by not having to do the same things over and over again, and should afford some regulatory consistency and efficiency.

This approach is something that's used internationally. We would point to jurisdictions, such as Norway, that have already used that.

We continue to support the idea of regional impact assessments, and we recommend that, if we're going to go that route, a list of the completed and accepted assessments should be maintained and should ultimately form part of exclusion criteria for the project list that's going to be developed as well.

We believe it can be a powerful tool provided Canada, the provinces, and the territories, work together to complete assessments. However, as currently written, in Bill C-69 we really see no mandated timelines, no confirmation of the inclusion of provinces or life-cycle regulators, and really no guarantee that the process will be successful or will actually be utilized within the assessment process that Bill C-69 talks about.

I will wrap up quickly here, Madam Chairman.

CAPP again thanks you for the opportunity today. We urge you to carefully consider some of our feedback today, and we recommend changes that will resolve investor confidence, help Canada fully realize the significant economic value of our industry, and ensure the resulting global environmental benefits that flow when Canada is the supplier of choice.

Thank you again.