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 (Senate), as of Dec. 3, 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.

Votes

Dec. 3, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of 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
Nov. 20, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of 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
Nov. 20, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
Nov. 20, 2018 Passed Time allocation for 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
June 11, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of 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
June 11, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of 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 (reasoned amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of 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 (subamendment)
May 29, 2018 Passed Time allocation for 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

Bill C-75—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's appreciation of the importance of this legislation and having Bill C-75 move through the parliamentary process and be passed in order to address the delays in the criminal justice system and to answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a priority for this government and I would hope it is a priority for all members in the House.

There has been a lot of debate and discussion. As I have said, at committee there were some 27 hours of debate and discussion. I very much appreciate, as does the government, the feedback and amendments that came from committee, the additional amendments requested by stakeholders and voted on by committee members, that would repeal vagrancy and bawdy house offences.

I thank the committee once again for all of its input and the amendments put forward that improve this legislation.

Bill C-75—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to stand to address the comments made by the member opposite, and I dispute his comments completely.

In terms of not listening to witnesses, that is absolutely not true. My parliamentary secretary and all members of the justice committee had the benefit of hearing from 95 witnesses at the justice and human rights committee, all of whom spoke about their passion for criminal justice reform and made very concrete suggestions about how the bill could be improved. We accepted many of those recommendations that I believe have very significantly improved Bill C-75. I look forward to continued debate and discussion as this bill goes to the other place.

On top of all of the discussion that happened in this House and at committee, we engaged in discussions and consultations right across the country with criminal justice stakeholders. I engaged on an ongoing basis with my counterparts in the provinces and territories, all of whom are supportive of the bold reforms that we are proposing in Bill C-75.

Bill C-75—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, again, I will stand to speak to the nature of Bill C-75 and the substantial discussion and consultations we have had for the last three years on the very elements of Bill C-75. I understand and recognize the desire of members to speak to this important piece of legislation. Many members from the party opposite have risen in this House to speak to this legislation and during the many hours of debate and discussion that occurred at the justice and human rights committee.

As members in this House, we have an obligation to move forward and answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address delays in the criminal justice system. Bill C-75 would do just that, in a comprehensive way. I look to all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation moving forward.

Bill C-75—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments on the importance of answering the call of Canadians, the call of the Supreme Court, to move forward with criminal justice reform that would address delays in the criminal justice system. To speak to the member's specific questions about what has gone into Bill C-75, in the lead-up to the introduction in March of this year I conducted, and my parliamentary secretary participated in, round tables across the country. We conducted online surveys and had requests for feedback. We received thousands of responses and we produced a report of what we heard. We benefited from ongoing discussions, as well as reports from years ago by the Senate committee, on what we can do to improve delays in the criminal justice system. We have incorporated many of the recommendations from the other place into Bill C-75. Again, I want to highlight the discussions and debate that occurred in this House, the robust discussion that happened at committee with the 95 witnesses heard, the 27 hours of debate and discussion we benefited from, and improving the bill through various amendments that came from the committee.

Bill C-75—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I do remember going on campaign stops before the election, talking about doing things differently. In fact, our government is doing things differently.

We have engaged in consultation for the past three years. There was a lot of discussion at committee. There was a lot of discussion in this House. I would be very happy to sit down with the member opposite to talk more about Bill C-75 and the provisions that are contained therein.

Again, we are doing things differently. We have fundamentally changed the way that we engage with Canadians. I look forward to the discussion and debate in the other place. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our legislation moves through the parliamentary process so we address the desires and the needs of Canadians, and we address the delays in the criminal justice system. We made a commitment as a government to heed the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address delays.

Bill C-75—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, again, I appreciate the comments and the opportunity to respond to the comments.

The member opposite asked what this is achieving. What is Bill C-75 achieving? It is achieving the necessity of addressing delays in the criminal justice system, achieving efficiencies and effectiveness.

Again, I disagree with the characterization that Canadians are not supportive of this. We have done substantial consultation right across the country. In terms of the member opposite's comments about downloading to the provinces, I would like to inform the member opposite that I have been working with the provinces and territories on an ongoing basis for three years, and they are supportive of this. This is not a download on the provinces and territories. This is co-operative federalism at its best, around the administration of justice, to ensure that we do everything we can as actors in the criminal justice system to heed the call of the Supreme Court of Canada.

This has robust support right across the country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss the proposed changes to this bill that would affect the LGBTQ2 community, human trafficking and the victim surcharge.

As special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, I am particularly proud of the work of our government in advancing the rights of LBGTQ2 Canadians and the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in making concrete, tangible legislative changes that would improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians.

Today, on the the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we pause to reflect on the lives of transgender people here in Canada and around the world that have been lost to murder, suicide, hatred and discrimination; the lives diminished due to overt transphobia and misogyny; and the daily discrimination faced by trans children, siblings, parents and their loved ones, I am proud, as the first openly gay MP elected from Alberta to the House, that Parliament passed Bill C-16 to protect trans persons in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. I am particularly proud that our government led this charge.

I am also proud of the work of our government in passing legislation to enable Canadians who have criminal records for same-sex consensual activity to have these records expunged, and I acknowledge the leadership of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on this file.

I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada for including in Bill C-75 the removal of section 159, which discriminates against young gay or bisexual men. That would now be removed from the Criminal Code with the passing of Bill C-75.

I also applaud the work of the committee and the ministry in responding to expert testimony for the repeal of the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions that were used by police forces to arrest gay men who frequented gay clubs and bathhouses. Men arrested in these police raids, many now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, still face criminal records as a result of these charges. We heard the testimony, and the committee and the ministry responded. Should Bill C-75 pass, these odious provisions in the Criminal Code would be removed and amends could thus be made.

Parts of the bill pertain to human trafficking and the victim surcharge.

I think it is very important to clearly state that human trafficking cannot be tolerated and that our government sees it as a very serious concern. That is why we continue to work closely with the provinces, territories, law enforcement agencies, victim services groups, organizations representing indigenous peoples, and other community groups, as well as our international partners. We are working together to combat all forms of human trafficking in Canada and abroad, to provide victims with special protection and support, to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and to ensure that their punishment reflects the severity of the crime.

Human trafficking is a very difficult crime to detect because of its clandestine nature and victims' reluctance to report their situations out of fear of their traffickers. We heard testimony about that when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights travelled across the country to listen to victims of human trafficking and to see how we could change the Criminal Code to provide more opportunities for police to work with those organizations that work with victims.

The legislative changes within Bill C-75 would provide police and prosecutors with additional tools for investigation and prosecution. These measures would bring the perpetrators of human trafficking to justice so they can answer for the severity of their actions.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-38 would bring into force amendments that have already been passed by Parliament, but were not promulgated in the former parliamentary initiative, Bill C-452. They would also strengthen the legislation to combat all forms of human trafficking, whether through sexual exploitation or forced labour, while respecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.

We heard of heinous crimes being committed not just against those who are unknown to the perpetrators, but also against family members. Family trafficking exists in this country, and we must make sure that police forces are armed with the tools they need to be able to put an end to such heinous crimes.

More specifically, the proposed changes will make it easier to prosecute human trafficking offences by introducing a presumption that will enable the Crown to prove that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the victim's movements by establishing that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of the victim.

In addition, these changes would add human trafficking to the list of offences to which the provisions imposing a reverse onus for forfeiture of proceeds of crime apply.

I would now like to discuss the changes that would affect the victim surcharge. Bill C-75 proposes to restore judicial discretion to waive the victim surcharge by guiding judges to waive the victim surcharge only when the offender is truly unable to pay. For certain offences against the administration of justice, where the total amount would be disproportionate in certain circumstances, the bill would also provide for limited judicial discretion to not impose a federal victim surcharge amount per offence.

The federal victim surcharge, which is set out in the Criminal Code, is imposed on a sentencing basis, and revenue is collected and used by the province or territory where the criminal act was committed to assist in the sentencing process for funding victims services. Bill C-75 would maintain that the federal victim surcharge must be imposed ex officio and must apply cumulatively to each offence. However, to address concerns about the negative impact of current federal victim surcharge provisions on marginalized offenders, the bill would provide limited judicial discretion regarding the mandatory and cumulative imposition of the surcharge in certain circumstances.

Bill C-75 would provide clear direction as to what would constitute undue hardship. These guidelines would ensure that the mandatory exemption, or waiver, would be applied consistently and only to offenders who were truly unable to pay the surcharge. In addition, the bill would state that undue hardship would refer to the financial ability to pay and was not simply caused by harm associated with incarceration. We are trying to avoid the criminalization and over-criminalization of people simply because of their inability to pay a federal victim surcharge.

For certain offences against the justice administration, in the event that the cumulative surcharge was disproportionate to the circumstances, Bill C-75 would contain provisions allowing an exception to the victim fine surcharge ratio. This exception would apply to two types of offences against the administration of justice: failure to appear in court; and breach of conditions of bail by a peace officer or court order, and only when said breach did not cause any moral, bodily or financial damage to the victim.

Studies show that marginalized offenders, especially indigenous offenders and offenders with mental health and addiction issues, are more likely to be found guilty of offences against the administration of justice.

Under the existing victim surcharge provisions, it is unlikely that much of the money collected in the federal victim surcharges that are paid out to the provinces and territories comes from groups of offenders who are unable to pay the victim surcharge or who are only able to pay part of the surcharge because of their personal situation or because of their multiple offences against the administration of justice.

In addition, offenders who suffer undue hardship as a result of the mandatory victim surcharge are, by the current application of the provisions, hampered in their ability to regain financial stability. This places them in a situation where the surcharge does not allow them to successfully reintegrate into society after serving their sentences or paying their outstanding fines, and they risk reoffending. These types of situations do not help survivors or victims of crime or the provision of services to help them. This proposed exception would be consistent with the principles of fairness and equity.

I am confident that by maintaining a higher mandatory surcharge, this proposed legislation would support the objective of the victim surcharge to provide a source of funding for provincial and territorial victim services while strengthening offender accountability regarding victims and society in general. At the same time, the bill would be in keeping with the principles of proportionality, fairness and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Not having gone through law school, I can say that it is an honour to serve on this committee and to be part of making Bill C-75 appear in the House today.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I am going to answer the question, if the heckling will stop.

What I can say very clearly is that the hybridization of offences would provide the courts with the tools they need to make sure that we respect our obligations under Jordan's principle. Nobody wants to see criminals on the streets because they did not get their time in court within two years. Principles of sentencing would not be affected by Bill C-75. That is section 718 of the code. Members can look at it.

Hybridization would be another tool for prosecutors, and they would be able to use it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, if the member for St. Albert—Edmonton were to go back on the tape, he would also see that I was very clear about his comment to the committee and said “hogwash and poppycock” on his politicization of a very serious matter in Bill C-75.

I have met with Ms. Arsenault. I have met with George Marrinier. They are constituents. Quite frankly, that member knows, as members on the other side know, that this is not a sentencing question. We doubled the fines for impaired driving to 14 years. I can tell members that this is going to help us respect the Jordan principle.

The member can be upset about this, just like I am, but this is going to help us in the administration of justice.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and put some thoughts on the record with respect to Bill C-75, which is the government's response, we are told, to the Jordan decision, which had to do with lengthy delays in the criminal justice system in Canada. The ruling maintained that cases had to be dealt with in a certain amount of time or the people accused of committing a crime would be off the hook. We have seen across the country instances of people accused of very serious crimes not being tried in court because of a failure to meet deadlines.

It is quite important, I think, that both the government and Parliament take action. This is a long-standing complaint, and not just in some of the most serious crimes and trials. We have also heard from Canadians who have had occasion, one way or another, to deal with court proceedings, especially if they are victims or the families of victims, that they are often outraged at the amount of time it takes to get justice. Of course, justice delayed too often is justice denied. The Jordan decision emphasizes that even more so and raises the stakes in terms of being able to deal with issues in a timely way. If we do not do so now, we will face a situation of people never being tried for the crimes they are accused of having committed.

Our responsibility as parliamentarians is to judge, on balance, this piece of legislation being presented by the government, which was not greatly amended at committee. I know the hon. member for Victoria and the NDP caucus did a lot of great work on this bill and made a lot of proposals at committee that were not accepted by the government, so this really remains a government package of reforms. Our duty as parliamentarians is to decide whether, on balance, this is going to address the issues that were raised in the Jordan decision and expedite our legal processes so that Canadians can expect to get justice through the courts.

One of the ways the government could have done that prior to presenting any legislation in this House would have been to act swiftly to appoint federal judges. It has been an ongoing story of this Parliament in terms of the failure of the justice minister to ensure that the roster of judges is full. We have heard many times in this House that the government ought to have been acting more quickly. Vacancies remain on the bench. The fact of the matter is that even if we have perfect laws, which we do not now and will not after Bill C-75 passes, if we do not have judges to hear the cases, it matters very little what the laws on the books are. It is the judges who hear the cases and the judges who make decisions.

Thus, it is incumbent upon the government to move more quickly on this. It has been three years now. Surely the government is not going to make a case that Canada does not have people qualified to hold those positions. The people are out there. It is a matter of the government making it a priority to actually make those appointments happen. Saying it is a priority is not enough. They have to actually appoint those judges. I do not want to hear government members getting up to talk about how important it is to them. I will wait to see when those positions are filled. That is the true test of how important it is for the government, and so far, it has not been very important.

The other thing we know is that if this is the government's signature justice reform, which it appears to be, a contributing factor to what is at stake with the Jordan decision is the issue of mandatory minimum sentences. That issue was very popular with the previous Conservative government. For a wide range of criminal charges, they brought in mandatory minimum sentences. We know that those are problematic in a number of ways. I think they are problematic in principle.

The fact of the matter is that no two crimes are the same. There are different circumstances depending on the particular crime and who is involved. The people best qualified to make decisions about what is an appropriate time to serve, along with other measures, such as addictions treatment and whatever else is factored into sentencing, are the people who hear the cases. I do not think it is for Parliament to pre-judge, for any case or set of cases, what the appropriate punishment is. That is why we have judges, people who are trained in the legal profession and have seen many different cases and are able to discriminate.

It is appropriate to entrust that work to judges, for whom it is a profession. Mandatory minimum sentences are about taking that away. One of the side effects of that, particularly in cases of smaller charges like minor drug possession and charges of that nature, is that when people know there is going to be a mandatory jail sentence of two, three, four or five years, it is really a disincentive for them to plead guilty. We have tools in order to make sure the most serious cases are heard in a timely way, and that murderers and gang members are not getting off easy because of the Jordan decision. One of those tools is to take some of those smaller cases and plead them out. People are not going to do that if it means serious jail time.

Again, there are people in the courts and the police force who are involved in making those kinds of decisions when they have that discretion. It is important to leave it to judges, prosecutors and the police to prioritize those cases, precisely to make sure that the worst ones and the ones they have the best chance of getting a conviction on are tried. Those people then get justice, and the courts are not bogged down with other kinds of cases without any ability to make a judgment call about what is relatively more or less important.

That was a major problem with changes to the justice system that we saw in the last Parliament. Outside of the Conservative Party and people who supported them in the last election, there was a pretty broad consensus that those things had to be repealed. We do not see that here. That is an obvious thing that is not in this legislation. It would have helped with respect to the Jordan decision, and would have been important to do on principle anyway.

One of the other things the bill does is establish hybrid offences between the provinces and the federal government. There is real concern that this is going to mean we are going to improve federal court wait times at the expense of provincial court wait times. This is classically Liberal, in a certain way.

I do not want to be too partisan about it, but I remember the nineties, when the federal government decided it was going to balance the budget at all costs. It made deep cuts to the health and social transfer. That ended up on the ledger of provincial governments, which now did not have the same funding for health services and other services that they were providing to their populations. Those governments went into deficit or had to take other measures, whether it was cuts to services or raising taxes, in order to be able to maintain what had theretofore been supported by the federal government.

For as much as the federal books looked better, there was only one taxpayer, and those people paid it at the provincial level instead of at the federal level. What looked good on the federal government did not ultimately make a difference to Canadians. They paid for it, either through higher taxes at the provincial level or through serious cuts to service.

Unfortunately, we had a Conservative government in the nineties, and we paid for that in terms of serious cuts to services. We lost nurses and teachers, and the federal government sat pretty while pretending it was not responsible for that. At the end of the day, its budget cuts did that.

We are gearing up for the potential for something similar, where the federal government will say, “Look at us. The wait times for the Federal Court are way down.” However, we have the potential to see those same waits happening at the provincial level, because people who at one time would have faced a charge at the federal level will now instead face a similar charge at the provincial level. We will not get rid of the wait times; we are just shifting the burden from the federal books to the provincial books.

For anyone paying close attention, the Liberals are not fooling anybody. If our job is to make sure those wait times go down and justice is served in a timely way, it is really important that we do it in a way that actually accomplishes that and does not give the federal government a talking point at the expense of the provinces.

I am out of time, but I look forward to questions.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to address the House today in discussion of Bill C-75. As members are aware, Bill C-75 represents our government's commitment to ensure that the criminal justice system continues to serve Canadian citizens in the most efficient, effective, fair and accessible manner possible.

Through Bill C-75, our government is fulfilling its promise to move forward and modernize the criminal justice system and address court delays. Due to the failures of the previous government, court delays have persisted within the criminal justice system. Court delays are not a new problem.

However, our government recognizes we can and must do better. Since 2015, we have heard from countless stakeholders, community members, lawyers and other individuals regarding the need to reform the criminal justice system.

In fact, the Supreme Court's rulings in the Jordan and Cody cases further support this rationale. As such, through collaborative efforts identified by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, Bill C-75 seeks to remedy these significant gaps and inefficiencies.

Among other reforms, Bill C-75 proposes to limit the use of preliminary inquiries for offences carrying maximum penalties, modernize bail practices and procedures in order to improve access to justice, better protect victims of intimate partner violence, provide judges with greater discretionary tools to manage cases and efficiently bring criminal matters to resolution, hybridize offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years or less, and increase the maximum penalty for all summary offences to two years less a day.

Today, I will be focusing on the hybridization aspect of Bill C-75. Bill C-75 introduces legislation that provides Crown prosecutors the discretion to elect the most efficient mode of prosecution, evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This system of reclassification would reduce court time consumed by less serious offences while allowing limited resources to be redirected to more serious offences. Moreover, this legislation prevents indictable cases from being dismissed or stayed due to the system's inability to try the accused within a reasonable time frame.

Bill C-75 amends over 115 offences punishable by either an indictable offence or summary conviction. Since the proposal hybridizes all straight indictable offences punishable by a maximum of 10 years or less, criminal offences relating to terrorism and genocide are subsequently captured. These are clauses referring to section 83.02 of the Criminal Code, providing or collecting property for certain activities; section 83.03, providing, making available, etc., property or services for terrorist purposes; section 83.04, using or possessing property for terrorist purposes; section 83.18, participation in activity of terrorist group; section 83.181, leaving Canada to participate in activity of terrorist group; subsection 83.221(1), advocating or promoting commission of terrorism offences; subsections 83.23(1) and 83.23(2), concealing person who carried out terrorist activity and concealing person who is likely to carry out terrorist activity, and finally subsection 318(1), which relates to advocating genocide.

Canada is a leader among nations in the fight for universal human rights and the international rule of law. We were one of the first countries to sign the Rome Statute and the first country to ratify its membership within the International Criminal Court. Moreover, on a number of occasions, Canada has publicly denounced the actions of other governments due to their harsh treatment of their citizens, and urged their cases to be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation, such as in the cases of Myanmar and Venezuela. Canadians are proud to live in a country that is diverse, with a global reputation as a defender of human rights.

Given the very few times that genocide and terrorism-related charges have been invoked in Canadian courts, the extremely serious nature of the issues, as well as Canada's moral obligation to continue to serve as an international promoter of justice, I am proud to inform the House that all eight clauses referred to above relating to genocide and terrorism-related offences were removed from the hybridization list. Specifically, all genocide and terrorism-related offences will continue to remain as straight indictable offences with a maximum penalty of 10 years less a day.

In its witness testimony, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs expressed its strong support for such amendments. It stated:

...terrorism [is] a heinous and potentially catastrophic phenomenon. Today, terrorist groups around the world, some of which actively seek to inspire recruits in Canada, are often motivated by ideologies infused with antisemitism. Far too many Jewish communities around the world – from Argentina to Denmark, and from France to Israel – have suffered from deadly terror attacks.

Additionally, B'nai Brith Canada expressed its concerns regarding the hybridization of offences relating to genocide and terrorism, stating:

It is inappropriate to allow these offences to be prosecuted in a summary fashion. To be treated with the seriousness which they deserve, they should continue to be prosecutable by way of indictment only.

Following the proposed amendments to remove all eight genocide and terrorism-related clauses from Bill C-75, our government will continue to send a clear, symbolic and moral message rebuking the offensive crimes mentioned above. However, I would like to strictly emphasize that the reclassification of offences does not affect basic sentencing principles exercised by courts. Depending on the severity of the case, Crown prosecutors will be required to consider a multitude of factors and ultimately decide to prosecute either as an indictable offence or summary conviction.

Before I conclude, as a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to all the witnesses for submitting their testimony and appearing before the committee to present their expert opinions regarding Bill C-75. I can assure everyone that all recommendations and appeals put forward were carefully considered and taken into account.

Although there is no simple solution to resolve the issues of court delays, our government is taking action to introduce a cultural shift within the criminal justice system to address its root causes. We are taking important steps forward to act on what we have heard. Moreover, we are taking full advantage of this opportunity to create a criminal justice system that is compassionate and timely, a system that reflects the needs and expectations of all Canadian citizens.

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November 20th, 2018 / noon
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy serving on the justice committee with the member for Willowdale. He did appear before the justice committee to provide evidence about why genocide and terrorism-related offences should not be reclassified. His testimony was certainly helpful to the committee.

The member spoke of consultations that took place in the lead-up to Bill C-75. The fact is the government simply took a whole series of offences that were at a 10-year maximum and reclassified them, including terrorism and genocide, which I think the member would agree had no business being reclassified.

The member spoke a few moments ago about the fact that those offences should not be reclassified because they need to be treated seriously and prosecuting them by way of summary conviction would not do justice.

I wonder if the hon. member could speak to why the government does not seem to also take seriously offences such as impaired driving causing bodily harm or administering a date rape drug.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak 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.

It is disappointing to again see the Liberal government bring in a 300-page omnibus bill after the Liberals specifically said in their campaign promises that they were not going to do that. However, a broken promise a day seems to be the order of the Liberal government.

That said, let us think about what we are trying to accomplish in our judicial system and then look at how Bill C-75 may or may not fit into that.

What we first want to do in our criminal justice system is define the behaviour that is criminal. We want to say which things are not acceptable in Canadian society. That would be goal number one. Goal number two would be to make sure that appropriate punishments are established to deter people from perpetrating these crimes. We want to make sure that we have those appropriate punishments defined. We want to make sure that victims rights are protected, that we are not just focused on the criminal but we are also focused on making sure that victims rights are protected. Then we want to make sure that whatever rules we decide, we actually enforce them in a timely way.

I think that is really what we want to get out of the criminal justice system.

If we look at the Conservative record, everyone in Canada well knows that the Conservatives want to be tough on crime. We want to ensure that if people commit crimes, they do the time. We want to make sure that people are not just let off the hook.

If we look at the Liberals' record on this, it is not quite so clear. In fact, I would argue that the criminals seem to be making out very well under the Liberals.

The first issue is the Liberal government's failure to appoint judges so that cases could be tried in a timely way. According to the Jordan principle, if they are not tried in a timely way, within two years, those people will go free. We have seen murderers and rapists having their cases thrown out of court because there were not enough judges being appointed. Clearly, that is a failure of the Liberal government. We are in the fourth year of a four-year mandate and there are still vacancies, which is causing cases to continually be thrown out.

If the government were responsible, at some point it should have taken a look at perhaps more minor crimes. For example, if it thought that it was going to legalize marijuana, perhaps any of the charges with respect to possession of marijuana that were in the system could have been punted in order to focus on prosecuting more serious crimes, like murder and rape. However, that was not done.

The other thing we saw is that the Liberal government is continually trying to soften the penalties for crime.

Today, in Canadian society, it is a crime to disrupt a religious ceremony or to threaten a religious official or cleric. The Liberal government tried to put Bill C-51 in place to take away those protections with respect to worship and the clerics. There was a huge outcry across Canada. I know that all the churches in my riding wrote letters. There were many petitions that were brought forward. There was a huge outcry from Canadians, so the government backed off on that. Now we see that the government has brought this back under Bill C-75 as one of the things the government wants to reduce sentences on to a summary conviction, which would be less than two years in prison or a fine for obstructing or violence to or arrest of an officiating clergyman. It seems a little bit sneaky that the government heard a clear message from Canadians to back off and then it tried to slide it into another bill. That is not a good thing.

Let us look at some of the other crimes that are now considered in Bill C-75 to be minor and subject to a judge's decision on whether or not they get a fine or a summary conviction of up to a two-year maximum.

One is prison breach. Really, somebody who breaks out of prison is going to be given a fine. That should not even be an option. Municipal corruption is another thing on the list, as is influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices. We have already talked about obstructing or violence to clergymen.

Another is impaired driving offences causing bodily harm. It is unbelievable that at this particular moment in time, when the Liberals have just legalized marijuana and every other jurisdiction has seen a tripling of traffic deaths due to impaired drug driving, they would decide that this crime is less serious and people might be able to get off with just a summary conviction or a fine.

Regarding abduction of a person under the age of 16 or abduction of a person under the age of 14, what is a more serious crime than kidnapping a child? I cannot imagine. To give that person a fine or a summary conviction just seems like there is no moral compass whatsoever.

It is interesting that polygamy is on the list. We have not had a lot of trouble. Polygamy has always been illegal in Canada. Why are we now saying that we would reduce the penalty for polygamy and make it a fine?

What about forced marriage? I was at the foreign affairs committee yesterday, and we had testimony from the Congo, Somalia and South Sudan about the dire situations there and 50% of girls being forced into child marriage and what a horrendous impact that had on their life. The Liberal members of the committee were sitting there saying, “Oh, this is a terrible thing.” However, here in our own country, we have decided that the penalty for forced marriage is going to be a fine or a less-than-two-years summary conviction. It is ridiculous.

Arson, for a number of reasons, is now on this list and is not considered that serious when in fact it drives up the cost of insurance and it takes people's homes. It is obviously a serious crime.

Participating in the activities of a criminal organization is now on here as not being that serious. The government members have been standing up, day after day, talking about trying to eliminate organized crime from Canada. Now if people are part of organized crime, apparently that is not a serious offence.

Therefore, Bill C-75 does not meet what we said we wanted to meet originally in our justice system. We wanted to talk about the appropriate punishments that need to be established to deter crime. That is not what is happening here.

In addition to all of those things, we see that there are other changes recommended in this bill. There is the repealing of the victim surcharge changes that were brought by the Conservatives. It is important that we protect victims' rights and that there is a fund that will help victims in some way after they have suffered a crime.

Removing the power to have a youth tried as an adult is a bit concerning to me. There are some very heinous crimes where the judges still need to have the ability to do that.

Delaying consecutive sentencing for human traffickers was an important law that was brought into place under the Conservative government. We have a huge issue with human trafficking. From my riding to Toronto, there is a huge ring. If someone were caught human trafficking, it would not be just one life that was impacted. There would be hundreds of girls involved. The consecutive sentence allowed individuals to be sentenced for each one of those victims and not get out of prison for a very long time, for what is a heinous crime.

I always like to say what the good things are that I like about the bill as well as the things that I do not like. I see in here that the only increases in penalties are for repeat offenders on intimate partner violence. I am glad to see that because the government has been totally inadequate in its response to violence against women. As the former chair of the status of women committee, we studied and found that one in three Canadian women suffers from violent acts in her lifetime. It has been disappointing to see that the current government, while pledging $400 million in the last budget for StatsCan to steal people's private information, gave $20 million a year to address the problem of violence against women. That has been totally inadequate. At least the Liberals have done something in this bill to try to move forward on that.

In summary, I would say that this bill has not met the objectives. It has not helped put penalties in place. In fact, I would argue that it would erode the penalties that people would receive.

I call on the justice minister to do her job, to appoint the justices who are missing and to put in place punishments that fit the crime. I have brought numerous petitions to the House on Bill C-75 to just eliminate it.

The Liberals talk about trying to get wait times down. They could get wait times down by not trying any criminals and not putting any of them in prison. That would get the wait times down, but it would not achieve what we want in our justice system, which is to define the crimes and to define adequate punishment and ensure that they are enforced in a timely way.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her good work and standing up for victims in Canada. On this side of the House, our priority is to stand up for victims.

In my riding, in the member's riding and other members' ridings, we have all heard from MADD Canada, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has major concerns about the incidence of drunk driving on our roads, often resulting in bodily harm or death. Within the last few weeks in the House, we have heard of family members who have died as a result of drunk driving. We need to take this seriously.

I would ask my colleague to comment on the application of the reduction of the penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm in Bill C-75, what the negative impacts of that could be and, if she has time, comment on whether she is hearing the same thing from MADD Canada in her riding or from other constituents who have expressed concern about the weakening of this provision.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-75.

There is no doubt that we need to modernize our criminal justice system, and in order to do so, we need to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts. Some of the issues that must be reviewed are the lengthy pre-trial delays, changes to how administration of justice issues are managed, legislative changes, as well as judicial case management. However, in my humble opinion, the most important amendment has to do with how the justice system deals with certain accused persons.

Some groups, like indigenous peoples, minorities and people with mental illness or substance abuse issues, are overrepresented in our criminal justice system. These groups are among the most vulnerable members of our society, yet they are sometimes treated unfairly by the justice system. One could even say they are treated with hostility. Our justice system cannot treat different people differently. This is unacceptable, and it has been going on for a very long time.

Bill C-75 allows us to correct these inequalities in the justice system. Complainants who wait years to testify and witnesses who want to move on and get back to a normal life have no choice but to wait because of delays in the system. These delays interfere with their need to feel safe and the justice system's mission to maintain public order. Then there is the matter of the accused who wait years to be declared innocent or those who commit heinous crimes but end up walking away because of the dysfunctional system.

I am running out of time, so I will focus on the issue of bonding. This is an aspect of criminal law that directly affects the presumption of innocence. This fundamental concept is protected under section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter guarantees that any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. Section 11(e) of the Charter provides that any person charged with an offence has the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. Section 7 of the Charter states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

When it comes to bail, everyone should be fully entitled to their charter rights. Every one of us must receive equal treatment in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other laws. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. For example, defendants who live in remote communities are disproportionately affected by the existing bail system. Statistically, poverty, unemployment and substance abuse are more prevalent among people who live on reserves, and, as a result, they own very little. Bail is also required of people who have to travel from their remote communities to big cities because the judicial system does not serve their hometowns. How are these people supposed to come up with bail? When the financial burden is so great, is that not a violation of people's charter rights?

That is why Bill C-75 is so important. It would allow for less burdensome conditions of release for those who are already disadvantaged compared to other members of society.

This will also help break the cycle of the most vulnerable Canadians being overrepresented in the justice system.

Another reason that Bill C-75 is very important is because it deals with remote appearances. This bill would bring the system in line with current technology and all of its benefits. It would be invaluable to have access to audioconference and videoconference technology, allowing all parties involved in the process, including judges, to participate.

It would be helpful if accused persons could participate via these types of technologies instead of having to fly in from remote communities, which takes considerable resources. These technologies would alleviate the financial burden on society and give accused persons better access to justice. Furthermore, complainants would not have to travel from their remote communities, since they could use these technologies to seek justice.

Courts would have discretionary powers and would consider the individual circumstances of each case, so these technologies could be used for individuals to appear remotely at each stage of the justice process.

The reason for the amendments to remote appearances is to help ensure the proper administration of justice, which includes fair and efficient criminal proceedings, while respecting the right of the accused to a fair trial and to a full and complete defence, as guaranteed by sections 7 and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If we take another look at plea bargaining, a lot can go wrong. For instance, the accused will often plead guilty in order to minimize the cost of their defence. Those living in precarious situations are less likely to properly defend themselves. This once again demonstrates the need for Bill C-75. It is very sad to think of an innocent person pleading guilty because it is faster and cheaper.

Clause 270 of the bill highlights an important fact. Many vulnerable people are not always aware of the magnitude of their actions and decisions. This can include adolescents, aboriginal people, minorities and people who want to avoid the stress of long delays before the trial. They are more likely to plead guilty for those reasons.

In addition to the provisions set out in section 606 of the Criminal Code, the amendment would require judges to be satisfied that the facts presented support the charge before accepting a guilty plea.

Bill C-75's modernization of the bail system also includes changes regarding intimate partner violence. It is unfortunate that not until recently the matter of intimate partner violence was not given the attention it warranted. The changes to the criminal justice system in this aspect are in keeping with our government's commitment to give more support to those who have faced domestic violence.

Statistically, intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence reported to the police. One in two women face intimate partner violence. This is a dire statistic. It means that 50% of our female population has been victimized while in an intimate relationship. Those who are already vulnerable, such as the elderly, trans, people with disabilities and the indigenous population, face these things in a difficult way. One time is one time too many when people who are accused of intimate partner violence are given bail and go back and attack the very same partner. This reason alone demonstrates to all of us the urgency in having intimate partner violence directly addressed during bail hearings.

The amendments I have mentioned are crucial for the protection of those facing such forms of violence. For all of these reasons, I support 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.