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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member spoke about the reverse onus for offences related to intimate partner violence. That is a step in the right direction. We on this side of the House fully support that aspect of Bill C-75. However, it seems like for every step forward that the government makes, it takes two steps backward.

On the issue of violence against women, could the hon. member speak to the fact that under Bill C-75 offences such as forced marriage or administering a date rape drug are now being reclassified as hybrid offences, in other words, less serious offences? Therefore, yes, one step forward, but it seems many steps backward when it comes to standing up and defending the rights of women.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her important contribution to the debate on Bill C-75. She outlined an important component of the bill, which is the access to justice component. I would like her to comment on another component of the bill that addresses an issue for the community she represents in Montreal and the community I represent in Toronto, and that is the overrepresentation of certain groups in the justice system. We know indigenous Canadians, black Canadians and other racialized groups are overrepresented in the justice system. The bill would treat administration of justice offences differently. These are offences such as breaching curfews when those curfews do not allow people to get to their places of employment because they have to work at night, for example.

Could the member comment on how we are changing the administration of justice offences so people are no longer criminalized for things such as breaching a bail condition and how that assists the marginalized communities that exist in Montreal and in other cities across the country?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his work on the justice committee. His question is a very important one. It is true that when it comes to administration of justice charges, it is mostly the vulnerable communities that are again disadvantaged, people who are poor, or who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. They go to work and, by accident, they break their curfew.

For example, they are waiting for a bus and it does not arrive, or it is late or they miss the it and there is no other way for them to get home, so they are stuck outside. They cannot afford to take a taxi. They are barely making ends meet. It is very punitive on them to have an administration of justice that penalizes them for the circumstances of their life, such as being poor, or suffering from substance abuse or mental illness. This is one of the reasons why Bill C-75 is so important to our criminal justice system.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to 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. This omnibus bill is over 200 pages. It includes major reforms to our criminal justice system.

With a concerning level of rural crime in my riding, the safety of my constituents is a high priority for me. The safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government.

While there are some aspects of the bill that I agree will help to reduce delays in the court system, there are several problems associated with it with which I have concerns.

First, I want to talk about the bill itself. As I mentioned, this is a 204-page omnibus bill. I want to remind the Liberals that during the election, they promised they would never table omnibus bills, but here it is. However, 80 other promises have either been broken or have not even started.

This is still on the Liberal web page, which I looked it up the other day. It states that omnibus bills “prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating [the government's] proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.” Yet here we are today discussing an omnibus bill.

It is a mixed bag that amends a total of 13 different acts in various ways. The bill needs to be split into more manageable portions so we can properly study it. What is more is that the government also has thrown in three bills that have already been tabled, Bill C-28, victim surcharge; Bill C-38, consecutive sentencing for human traffickers; and Bill C-39, repealing unconstitutional provisions. Perhaps if the government could manage its legislative agenda more effectively, it would not need to re-table its bills, push through omnibus bills or repeatedly force time allocation and limit debates.

The Liberals are failing to take criminal justice issues seriously. In March they tabled this bill the day before a two-week break period in our sitting schedule. Then they waited a half a year. Now they have returned it when there are only a few weeks left before our six-week break period. This does not give the image that justice is a high priority for the Liberal government.

The government's lack of judicial appointments has resulted in violent criminals walking away without a trial. As of November 2, 54 federal judicial vacancies remained. Appointing judges is an effective solution that is much faster than forcing an omnibus bill through Parliament. I remember in April when the minister talked about 54 more federal judges, yet here we are, almost the end of the year, and still no action.

I also want to talk about what is actually in the bill. Again, some parts of the bill I can support. For example, I agree with efforts to modernize and clarify interim release provisions and provide more onerous interim release requirements for offences involving violence against an intimate partner.

Modernizing and simplifying interim release provisions is an important step that will assist many rural communities across the country that do not have the resources to navigate lengthy procedures and paperwork. For that reason, I support this.

However, I wish the stricter release requirements were not limited to offences involving domestic abuse. With an alarming rate of rural crime in my riding and across Canada, which is often carried out by repeat offenders, we need to make it more difficult for all violent criminals to be released. Otherwise, we have a revolving door where they commit a crime, get arrested, get released and start all over again.

I was at a rural crime seminar in the city of Red Deer last Friday. A former police officer from Calgary city police told us about one of the cases he had worked on recently. An Alberta offender was charged with 130 offences, ranging from break and enter to car theft, equipment theft and possession of stolen property.

At the last sitting in Alberta the judge released him. Out the door he went. Where did he go? He took off to B.C. Now we understand they are looking for him in British Columbia, which has 100 similar outstanding charges against him in a very short period of time. This person should not have been released.

These criminals prey on farmers and elderly people. They know that RCMP resources are lacking in these areas and take full advantage of that. What the government needs to do is to provide our law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to stop the revolving door of criminals in and out of the courts. That is happening constantly.

Victims should be the central focus of the Canadian criminal justice system rather than special treatment for criminals, which is why our party introduced the Victims Bill of Rights. The government, unfortunately, does not agree since Bill C-75 would repeal our changes to the victim surcharge and reduce its overall use and effectiveness.

I believe in protecting victims of crime, which is why I introduced my own private member's bill, Bill C-206, that would ensure that criminals who take advantage of vulnerable people, specifically adults who depend on others for their care, are subject to harder, sure punishment.

Last month, a gentleman from my riding of Yellowhead was a witness before our public safety and national security committee. He shared with us his first-hand experience. It was a terrible story. This gentleman, whom I consider a friend, is aged 83. He heard his truck start up one day when he was having lunch with his wife. He walked outside to see his truck being driven out of his yard. He lives about 70 kilometres from the town of Edson where the local police office is located. He picked up his phone and was about to call when his vehicle returned to his yard. Two youths, one aged 18 and one aged 17, got out, knocked him to the ground, repeatedly kicked him in the face, the chest, the ribs, attempted to slash his throat, and then drove off again. This gentleman is 83. This is still being dealt with in the courts despite the fact it happened a year ago. This gentleman has had to attend court 10 times so far and the matter is still not over.

We on this side of the House will always work to strengthen the Criminal Code of Canada and make it harder for criminals to get out.

I am concerned that portions of Bill C-75 would weaken our justice system. Through the bill, the Liberals would reduce penalties for the following crimes: participating in criminal organizations, various acts of corruption, prison breach, impaired driving, abduction, human trafficking, forced marriage, and arson, just to name a few of many in the bill. Participation in terrorist activities and advocating genocide were deleted from this list only because a Conservative amendment was accepted at committee. Those are just a few examples of more than a hundred serious crimes that could be prosecuted by summary conviction and result in lighter sentencing, or even fines.

The government is failing to take criminal justice issues seriously. Reducing penalties for serious crimes sends the wrong message to victims, law-abiding Canadians and to criminals.

I am also concerned about the wording used in the section that would increase maximum sentences for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence. I support increasing these sentences but I do not support replacing the language of “spouse” with “intimate partner”. I believe both should be included. I understand that not all domestic abuse is within a spousal relationship, so there is a need to have "intimate partner" included. However, it should not replace "spouse". Rather, both terms should be included.

Another problem I have with Bill C-75 is the reversal of protections for religious officials.

When Bill C-51 was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in January, two amendments were moved by my Conservative colleagues. The first amendment proposed keeping section 176 in the Criminal Code of Canada, while the second aimed to modernize the language of that section. The Liberals agreed to them and that was good, but they need to listen more.

Imagine my disappointment when I read in Bill C-75 that section 176 in the Criminal Code was once again under attack. Assault of officiants during a religious service is very serious and should remain an indictable offence.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my views.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Yellowhead for his contribution to today's debate on Bill C-75. I would offer two comments and one brief question.

The first comment is that the term “intimate partner” is used in this legislation for a deliberate reason. It is a more expansive term than just “spouse”. Violence occurs, as we have heard in today's debate, against half of all women in this country, and that violence is perpetrated within couples that are married but also in couples that are unmarried or, indeed, just dating.

The second point is that there was a factual error in the comments by the member opposite. He indicated that a reduction in penalties has been provided for a list of offences, and he listed them. Hybridization does not ipso facto reduce a penalty; hybridization allows the Crown to proceed by way of summary conviction or by way of an indictable proceeding. It does not predetermine the sentence.

The member for Yellowhead is convinced of the need to ensure there are tougher penalties for people who are convicted of crimes. On this side of the House, we agree, which is why we are taking the summary conviction limit from the six months it has traditionally been to two years less a day. I invite the member's comment on that provision and on whether he approves of that increase in the penalty for summary conviction offences to two years less a day.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the third reading debate on 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. I intend to focus my remarks on sentencing-related issues.

At the outset, it is important to address the continuing criticism by the opposition that hybridizing all straight indictable offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or less—to allow the Crown to proceed by summary conviction in appropriate cases—would minimize the seriousness of these offences. These concerns reflect a lack of trust of the judiciary and Crown prosecutors, who already make these decisions every day. They also represent a profound misunderstanding of what Bill C-75 aims to achieve by reclassifying certain offences.

The proposal to hybridize offences is procedural in nature and is intended to allow prosecution by summary conviction of conduct that currently does not result in a sentence of more than two years. For instance, it is a mischaracterization of the reclassification amendments to assert that by hybridizing section 467.11 of the Criminal Code, i.e., participation in activities of a criminal organization, Bill C-75 is sending a message not to take organized crime offences seriously.

The proposed amendment simply recognizes that this offence can, by virtue of the range of conduct captured, include circumstances where an appropriate sentence falls within the summary conviction range. Proceeding summarily in these circumstances allows for more expeditious proceedings without undermining public safety or impacting the sentence ranges for this offence.

In fact, in 2011-2012 there were 49 guilty verdicts entered pursuant to section 467.11 of the Criminal Code. Of these 49 cases, only 34 were given a custodial sentence. Of those, one received one month or less, six received between one month and three months, 10 received between three months and six months, nine received from six months to 12 months, four received from 12 months to 24 months and the four remaining received a custodial sentence of 24 months or more.

At the time these sentences were imposed, section 467.11 of the Criminal Code was a straight indictable offence, and yet the overwhelming majority of sentences imposed were in the summary conviction range, including 15 non-custodial sentences. It is clear that keeping section 467.11 of the Criminal Code as a straight indictable offence would not in any way prevent the Crown, in appropriate cases, from seeking a non-custodial sentence or a sentence of imprisonment that is in the summary conviction range.

Let me be clear. There is absolutely nothing in Bill C-75 that would suggest to prosecutors and courts that hybridizing offences should result in their seeking or awarding lower sentences than what is currently sought or awarded under the law. Prosecutors would continue to assess the facts of each case and the circumstances relating to the offender and previously decided cases in order to determine which type of sentence they should seek. Sentencing judges would continue to impose sentences proportionate to the severity of the crime and the degree of responsibility of the offender, as mandated by the fundamental principle of sentencing in section 718.1 of the Criminal Code.

The misapprehensions about the proposed reclassification amendments also unnecessarily detract from other notable reforms. For example, the bill proposes to toughen criminal laws in the context of intimate partner violence, IPV, thereby increasing public safety and enhancing victim safety.

Bill C-75 includes a proposal that would impose a reverse onus at bail for an accused charged with an intimate violence offence if the accused has a prior conviction for violence against an intimate partner, regardless of whether it is the same partner, a former partner or a dating partner. In this context, to enhance the safety of victims of this type of violence, the accused, not the prosecutor, would have to justify their release to the court and the public. What this means is that the presumption that the accused should be released pending trial no longer applies

This proposal is targeted and reflects what we know about the heightened risk of safety that victims of intimate partner violence face. Victims of intimate partner violence tend to experience multiple victimizations before reporting it to the authorities or police. Based on Statistics Canada data from 2014, 17% of victims of spousal violence indicated that they had been abused by their current or former partner on more than 10 occasions.

I understand that one of the criticisms raised at committee was that the reverse onus could be problematic in jurisdictions where dual charging occurs, a practice whereby both partners are criminally charged, sometimes because self-defence on the part of the victim is confused with assault. I also understand that it is often not the law that is the problem in this context, but how it is applied.

Dual charging is an operational issue that provinces and territories have been addressing through the development and implementation of training and policies. For example, in March 2016, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police released the document “National Framework for Collaborative Police Action on Intimate Partner Violence”, which addresses dual charging and provides guidance for cases where charges against a victim are being contemplated.

Knowing that the research shows that victims are at an increased risk of violence in the aftermath of reporting to police, especially in cases where there is an ongoing history of violence in the relationship, I am confident that the reverse onus proposed here is carefully tailored to address the concerns raised.

Bill C-75 would also require courts to consider whether an accused is charged with an IPV offence prior to making a decision to release or detain the accused during a bail hearing. In addition, Bill C-75 would clarify that strangulation, choking and suffocation are elevated forms of assault and would also define "intimate partner" for all Criminal Code purposes, clarifying that it includes a current or former spouse, a common-law partner, as well as dating partners.

Moreover, Bill C-75 proposes a sentencing amendment to clarify that the current sentencing provisions which treat abuse against a spouse or common-law partner as an aggravating factor apply to both current and former spouses, common-law partners and dating partners. What is more, Bill C-75 would also allow prosecutors the possibility of seeking a higher maximum penalty in cases involving a repeat intimate partner violence offender.

I think we can all agree that allowing for the imposition of higher than the applicable maximum penalty in cases of repeat intimate partner violence offenders is a concrete example of Parliament sending a clear message to prosecutors and the courts that repeat intimate partner violence offenders should receive strong denunciatory sentences.

In these cases, where the Crown serves notice under section 727 of the Criminal Code that a higher maximum penalty is sought, a sentencing court would be given additional discretion to impose a sentence that exceeds the otherwise applicable maximum penalty. This will better reflect the severity of the conduct in question and assist courts in imposing sentences that better protect victims.

I urge all members to support this very comprehensive legislation which will reduce delays and make the criminal justice system more efficient and effective on the basis of evidence and not ideology.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise today 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. This is an omnibus bill that addresses matters related to the Criminal Code of Canada.

At first, everyone in our society who deals with major justice issues were quite pleased with what the Minister of Justice had to say. There is a clear need for reform. Unfortunately, many in the legal community and elsewhere who are calling for real reform are disappointed.

There is a great sense of disappointment. The longer we work with Bill C-75, the more the disappointment deepens. Michael Spratt, the former chair of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers' Association, has been quoted in this debate before. As he put it, “It all sounded so good. But it has all gone so wrong.”

I did attempt to make improvements to the legislation. Members of this place will know that while my status as leader of the Green Party of Canada does not allow me to sit on any committees, through the work of the PMO, first under former primer minister Stephen Harper and now under our current Prime Minister, I have what some might think of as an opportunity but I have to say it is an enormous burden that increases my workload. It is rather unfair because if it were not for what the committees have done, I could have been presenting substantive amendments here at report stage. That is my right as a member of Parliament and not of one of the three big parties. I have very few rights as a member of Parliament with one seat for the Green Party, but one of those rights was to be able to make substantive amendments at report stage. My rights have been subsumed into what, as I said, was done first by the Conservative government and now by the Liberals, to say that I have an opportunity to present amendments during clause-by-clause study at committee, although I am not a member of the committee. I do not have a right to vote, but I get a chance to speak to my amendments.

It was under that committee motion I was able to present 46 amendments. I participated vigorously in the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-75. It was a very discouraging process as very few amendments from opposition parties were accepted. Most of my amendments went directly to testimony from many witnesses who wanted to see the bill improved and I am disappointed that none of my 46 amendments made it through.

I should say that some of the worst parts of Bill C-75 were changed on the basis of government-proposed amendments. One of the ones that had worried me a great deal was the idea that in a criminal trial, evidence from the police could come in the form of a written statement without proffering the police officer in question for cross-examination. That was amended so that the prosecutors cannot use what is called routine police evidence without having someone put forward to be cross-examined. There was also the repeal of the vagrancy law and repeal of the law about keeping a common bawdy house.

However, many other sections of this bill cry out for further amendment, so at this point I want to highlight those sections that really need to be amended. We are at report stage, and third reading will come in short order. We are already under time allocation. I hope that when this bill gets to the other place, as it inevitably will, the other place will pass amendments that are needed.

It is quite clear that this bill, in some key areas, would do the opposite of what the government has promised, particularly in relation to disadvantaged people, particularly in relation to the status of indigenous peoples in our prisons, and particularly in relation to access to justice and fairness which have actually been worsened in this bill. That is not something I expected to be standing up and saying at report stage, but there it is. It is massively disappointing, and I hope that the Senate will improve it.

One of the things that was done, and I am not sure it was the best solution, but it was clearly a response to the Stanley case where it was a massive sense of a miscarriage of justice. When there is a jury, it is supposed to be a jury of the accused person's peers. If the person is an indigenous youth and his or her jury is entirely Caucasian, it is not exactly a jury of his or her peers. One of the reasons this happens is the use of peremptory challenges. Therefore, I do appreciate the effort in Bill C-75 to eliminate peremptory challenges. However, I want to go over the way in which this bill actually takes this backward.

The effort here of course, as many other hon. members have pointed out, is that this bill is in direct response to the Jordan decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016. In the Jordan case, the delays were so profound that the case could not proceed. Therefore, I think it is very clear that all Canadians feel the same sense of concern with the new trial timelines of 18 months for provincial courts and 30 months for superior court. No one wants people to be freed, who at this point still have the presumption of innocence, because they have not gone through their court case. If the evidence is good enough, the prosecutors bring those people forward. The idea that they are just let out of jail because the trial times and the processing of that person took too long offends our sense of justice. The Government of Canada and the Parliament of Canada were given a very quick jab toward justice by the Supreme Court of Canada. However, have we got it right?

In an effort to speed up trials, I will mention one thing first, which is the issue of eliminating preliminary inquiries. There was a great deal of evidence before our committee that the Government of Canada and the justice department did not have good data to tell us that preliminary inquiries were a source of great delay.

I want to quote from one of the legal experts. Bill Trudell is the current chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers. He described preliminary inquiries like this, “They're like X-rays before an operation”. That is a very useful thing to have. They do not happen all the time, but when we remove them without good evidence as to why we are removing them, we could end up having innocent people convicted. In fact, Bill Trudell said that as difficult as it was for him to say, he thinks more innocent people will be convicted because we have taken out preliminary inquiries without quite having the evidence that that was a good thing to do to speed up trials.

We have heard a lot from my friends in the Conservative caucus about the question of hybridization. We have the problem that, having changed the range of sentencing, the effect of Bill C-75 is to also increase the sentencing for a summary conviction from six months to two years.

The Liberals have also added in Bill C-75 provisions about the use of agents that I do not think were thoroughly thought through. To give a better sense of agents, and this goes to the question of access to justice, suppose people are not quite poor enough to get a legal aid lawyer but are trying to navigate the legal system and they cannot afford a lawyer. In many of those cases, for a very long time, criminal defendants have had the benefit, particularly if they are low income, of law school clinics, which are young lawyers in training. They are student lawyers working as a clinic to provide legal services to people charged with lesser offences. It is too late to amend as here we are at report stage. I hope the other place will amend this to ensure access to legal aid clinics out of law schools in order to help marginalized groups navigating the legal system. I think this is an unintended consequence. I am certain that people in the Department of Justice did not ponder this and say that one of the problems is too many poor people are getting help from law students. That was not a problem that wanted solving, that was a very good and ongoing process that has been recklessly compromised in this bill. I have to hope that when it gets to the other place, we can fix this and make sure that in the definition of “agents” we exclude law students and law schools running clinics.

There are other aspects of this bill where the Liberals have just failed altogether to deal with the issue of the disproportionate number of indigenous people behind bars. They have taken in some aspects, in taking things into account. However, one of my amendments, that I really regret was not accepted, was we have no definition of “vulnerable populations”, and a lot of the evidence that came before the justice committee suggested we need such a definition. I tried one and it failed. Maybe the other place can try again. I hope that Bill C-75 will see more improvement in the other place before it becomes law.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do recognize the amendment, but it kicks it to the provinces to act and the question is whether they will act to deal with the question of making sure law students can participate in hearings.

The bail issues and not recriminalizing people for things over which they really do not have control go directly back to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Morales. I think we have done a partial job in Bill C-75, but I think we could have done more.

As my hon. colleague will remember, a number of my amendments went to that question of making sure that we really thought through the levels of conditions of addictions or poverty that would make it virtually impossible to meet certain bail provisions. We could have done more, but I agree there are steps in the right direction in Bill C-75 to respond to R. v. Morales.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her contribution to Bill C-75.

She made reference to the limitation of preliminary inquiries only to those cases where the maximum sentence is life behind bars. She is quite right that the evidence before the committee overwhelmingly was that it would not reduce delay and that, in fact, it might increase delay because preliminary inquiries help weed out cases, particularly weak cases.

However, in addition to that, I was wondering if she could speak to this life criteria. It seems to be quite arbitrary, because there are certain offences where the maximum sentence may be life and others where it is not. In terms of the sentencing guidelines of case law, one would expect a similar sentence to be imposed, but yet in one case a preliminary inquiry would be available, in the other case it would not. It seems not to make a lot of sense.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on Bill C-75, which is officially called an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Once again, we have before us another omnibus bill.

Just two weeks ago, I spoke on the budget implementation act, part 2, which was an omnibus bill as well, which of course followed the BIA 1, which was also an omnibus bill. Those bills had sections inside of sections making legislative changes.

When the Liberals were in opposition they railed against omnibus bills, so much so that they actually put it into their campaign pledge. If we go to Liberal.ca, it is still there. This is what it says about omnibus bill. It starts, of course, by attacking Stephen Harper, and what Liberal talking point would be complete without blaming Prime Minister Harper? It says, “Stephen Harper has...used omnibus bills to prevent...properly reviewing and debating...proposals. We will...bring an end to this undemocratic practice.”

When we say that, of course, we put our hand over our heart. However, despite their pledge, here we have another omnibus bill. Perhaps that pledge meant they would prevent others from bringing omnibus bills, but not the Liberals.

If we go to the famous Liberal mandate tracker, what does it say on this promise? Under the “unfair and open government” part, it says they will end the use of omnibus bills. Funnily enough, we have an omnibus bill here, the budget implementation act, part 2, and part 1 is on omnibus bills.

Despite that, under the Liberal mandate tracker under “End the improper use of omnibus bills...” it says it is completed and fully met. Of course, this is the same mandate tracker that is judging balancing the budget by 2019-20. It says it is under way with challenges. The government has stated, its own finance department has stated, we will not see it balanced until 2045. However, somehow it was promised for 2019, and by 2045, it is under way with challenges. It makes me think that if the Liberals were the head of the Titanic, after hitting the iceberg and while it is going down, the Cunard Line reaches out to the captain and asks, “How are you making out on your trip?” and the response is, “Well, we are under way with challenges”.

Moving on to Bill C-75, I agree with a few items in this omnibus bill. With over 300 pages of changes, one has to be able to find a few good things. Bill C-75 would repeal unconstitutional provisions in the Criminal Code. That is fair and good. It would increase the maximum prison term for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence. It would provide that abuse from a partner is an aggravating factor on sentencing. We agree with that and fully support it. It would provide more onerous interim release provisions. Again, we can get behind that. It makes some efforts to reduce delays in the judicial system by restricting the availability of a preliminary hearing, increasing use of technology to facilitate remote attendance, and providing for judicial referral hearings to deal with administration of justice offences involving failure to comply with release conditions or failure to appear.

That being said, I have many grave concerns with the bill, mostly around how it waters down penalties for crimes. The Liberals are claiming they want to push through Bill C-75 using time allocation in order to speed up the court process, and also because of the Jordan ruling. The big problem is, the Liberals are not able to get their act together and appoint judges. It is one thing to make small steps in this way, but until they get their act together and appoint judges, we are going to continue with justice delays and people being released under the Jordan ruling. There have been hundreds of cases tossed due to delays because the government has been unable to do its job and appoint judges.

There are about 2,000 more applications before the courts to dismiss cases because of delays. We had a gang hit man in Calgary accused of three murders, and suspected by the Calgary police of committing 20 murders. He was released from his trial for the three murders he was charged with, because of delays, because we do not have enough judges. We had a man accused of murder, charged in Edmonton, released because of delays, because the government cannot get its act together and appoint judges. We had a killer in Quebec released because of delays. Possibly the worst was a monster in Nova Scotia who took a baseball bat and broke the ankles and shins of his baby. This man was released because the government is too incompetent to do its job and appoint justices. This is an issue that they have to get hold of and they are failing Canadians.

I am pleased that the Liberals did listen to the Conservatives and other opposition members at committee and backed away from having lighter sentences for some crimes, such as terrorism-related offences and advocating genocide. It makes one wonder why it takes us, in committee, to force the government to back away from lightening a sentence for advocating genocide.

Just two weeks ago in the House, we heard the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, the NDP leader, the Green Party leader and members of other parties stand up and make wonderful speeches, apologizing for the disgrace of Canada's not accepting the MS St. Louis and the genocide that happened. The same week, we had a concurrence report from committee about the genocide against Yazidi women, a report that, to the credit of my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill, dragged the government, kicking and screaming, into the light of recognizing that this had indeed been genocide. Despite everything ISIS has done in slaughtering these people, member after government member stood up to say that the UN had not decided it was genocide and that we could not call it that.

At least the government has recognized this and is not watering down the sentences for advocating genocide. However, I have to ask, why does it take the opposition to demand the government make this change?

As I mentioned, I have serious concerns about the watering down of serious crimes in this bill and reduced sentences for many serious crimes, including sometimes just a monetary fine. I want to go through a few of them.

One is prison breach.

Then there is municipal corruption, the influencing of municipal officials. Members will recall a couple of ex-Liberal cabinet ministers who went on to pursue careers in municipal politics who were charged with fraud. Maybe they were just doing a favour for their compatriots.

There is also influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices. Actually, we now have the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade being looked at for the clam scam. Perhaps they are trying to do him a favour.

Then there is obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergyman. This one is especially egregious. The Liberals tried to suspend this under section 176. There were special protections for clergyman performing ceremonies, whether church ceremonies, funerals, or other religious ceremonies. The Liberals tried to take that protection away. The opposition fought back. They promised they would not do that, and yet here in this bill they are reducing that crime.

Let us think about it. Two weeks ago we heard of the massive anti-Semitism that results in the genocide of Jewish people. This is two years after the massacre at the mosque in Quebec and just a month after the defacing of the Talmud Torah School, the Jewish school in my riding, with swastikas. Now we have the government saying that it is okay, that we do not need special protection for religious figures and clergymen.

Other crimes the Liberals are watering down include keeping a common bawdy house. Now, that may be great for parliamentarians, but certainly not for Canadians.

Then there is punishment for infanticide. As I mentioned earlier, we had a gentleman, a monster in Halifax, who was released after breaking the bones of his baby. Here we have a bill that allows for a reduction in sentencing for infanticide.

Another is concealing the body of child.

A further one is driving offences causing bodily harm. Again, we just legalized marijuana. We do not have a proper way to measure the impairment. Police departments have said they are not ready, and here we have the government going out of its way to reduce possible penalties for that.

Others include material benefit—trafficking, abduction of person under age of 16, abduction of person under the age of 14.

There there is forced marriage. Just in committee yesterday, we heard that in Sudan, Somalia and the Congo something like 50% of young girls are being forced into marriage. We have the government saying that we need to do more to prevent that, and we do overseas, but why is it reducing the crime here?

Again, to wrap up, I am sure this bill has wonderful intentions, but the government should look at fulfilling its responsibility of filling judicial vacancies and focus on victims and society, not on making things easier for criminals.

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November 20th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate of Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss some aspects of amendments to the selection of juries. As we know, jury reform is an area of shared jurisdiction and Parliament is responsible for the criminal law and the rules in the Criminal Code setting out the framework for in-court jury selection. The provinces and territories are responsible for determining, for example, who is eligible for jury duty and the process by which the jury roll is compiled. Bill C-75 proposes several reforms with respect to the in-court jury selection process.

First, is the abolishment of peremptory challenges. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard several witnesses testify on jury reforms. Several legal experts and advocates expressed strong support for their elimination, as it would finally put an end to discriminatory exclusion of jurors.

Kent Roach from the University of Toronto stated:

The proposed abolition of peremptory challenges in s.271 of Bill C-75 is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that neither the Crown or the accused engages in discrimination against Aboriginal people and other disadvantaged and identifiable groups when selecting a juror.

Brent Kettles from Toronto said:

...having peremptory challenges cannot help but lower the public confidence in the administration of justice when members of the public and perspective jurors watch perspective jurors excluded on the basis of no reason, on the basis of no evidence, and without any information.

When those exclusions are based basically on the gut feeling of who is likely to be sympathetic to one side or the other, then that doesn't give the public or perspective jurors a feeling that jury selection is happening in a way that is fair and impartial, and also represents the community.

Legal expert Vanessa McDonnell noted:

It's important to recognize that these challenges have historically been, and can be, used against accused persons to their detriment. We have to balance the perceived benefit of having the peremptory challenge in your pocket to challenge someone whom defence counsel doesn't feel quite right about against the very real risk, I would suggest, that these challenges are going to be used in a way that disadvantages the accused person. My view is that, on balance, the potential harm, not only to the system but to accused persons, is greater than any benefit that accrues.

Discrimination in the selection of juries has been documented for decades. Concerns about the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous people being under-represented on juries were raised in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge with the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry.

More recently, we heard from retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci, who studied these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario Juries. Having read these reports and after hearing from many experts on the topic, I am confident that Bill C-75 proposes the right approach in abolishing peremptory challenges. It is a simple and effective way to prevent deliberate discrimination and the arbitrary exclusion of qualified jury members.

Furthermore, to bring greater efficiencies to the jury selection process and to make it more impartial, the bill proposes to empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause—for example, because they are biased to one side—by either the defence or prosecution.

Currently, such challenges are decided by two laypersons called “triers” who are not trained in the law. This process has been problematic, causing delays in jury trials even before they begin and appeals resulting in orders for a new trial.

The proposal would shift the responsibility for such challenges to judges, who are trained adjudicators and therefore better placed to screen out impartial jurors. The proposed change reflects a recommendation made in 2009 by the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System, a group established by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers of justice, comprising judges, deputy ministers of justice from across Canada, defence lawyers, representatives of the bar associations and the police. It is also consistent with what is done in other common law countries, such as England, Australia and New Zealand.

I am confident that this change in procedure would result in improvements in the overall efficiency of our jury trials.

There are also several proposed changes to modernize and update the challenge for cause grounds. Notably, the proposed change to reduce the number of jurors with criminal records for minor offences who could be challenged and excluded from jury duty would help address concerns that excluding individuals with minor criminal records disproportionately impacts certain segments of society, including indigenous persons, as noted by Justice Iacobucci. It would also assist in improving broader participation on juries, and thus, jury representativeness.

In conclusion, the jury reforms in Bill C-75 would mark critical progress in the area of promoting fairness, diversity and participation in the jury selection process. These improvements would also enhance efficiencies, as well as public confidence, in the criminal justice system.

I call upon all members of the House to support this transformative bill.

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November 20th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been participating in this debate quite a bit throughout the day.

The member for St. Albert—Edmonton sent out a message via social media that said that he thought it was incredible that I and others were defending the hybridization of serious criminal offences in Bill C-75 by trying to distinguish which were serious and which were less serious. He went on to talk about kidnapping and said that kidnapping is always serious.

We are not saying that kidnapping is not serious. We are saying that there are a range of ways offences can be committed and therefore a range of ways in which we could look at the seriousness of offences, and we would leave it to the prosecution to make that determination. It is not up to a politician to look from within this chamber and decide what the range of seriousness is within an offence. That happens in a court room. It is up to the prosecution and the judge to make that determination.

When my hon. colleague talks about hybridization, does he think it is fair that we would leave it up to the prosecution to decide the range in which offences could be committed and therefore that the correct sentencing for those offences could be applied within our justice system?

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November 20th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this important bill, which affects entire segments of our justice system and is essential to the organization of our society.

However, I have no choice but to start this brief speech by saying that the government's approach has left a very bad taste in my mouth. I am choking on this gag that has been forced on me.

The Liberal government is once again imposing a gag order. It has used this tool over 50 times in the past three years to prevent parliamentarians from discussing and fully debating this type of bill, which will affect our justice system, the way justice is meted out in our country, and the rights of victims and accused persons.

Once again, the Liberal government is refusing to allow us to take the time we normally would to conduct a full and exhaustive study of a bill. It is the same broken record, the same old story. The Liberals promised to restore confidence in our institutions, to restore Parliament's credibility, and to once again allow parliamentarians, MPs, to fully participate in discussions. Instead, the government is once again muzzling us and sweeping us aside.

Bill C-75, which we are debating today, is the government's response to the Supreme Court's ruling in Jordan. The court was examining some very long delays in some complex cases. These delays represented a denial of justice for the accused. The cases were never-ending, going on for years.

The Jordan decision set limits. For a normal case, there must not be more than 18 months between the time when charges are filed and the trial is concluded. There are, however, some exceptions. In some cases, the maximum may be 30 months.

The Jordan decision was meant to prevent justice from being unduly delayed or denied, but it has also led to the release of criminals who essentially escaped justice, an unforeseen consequence of the decision. When cases go beyond the time limit set by the Jordan decision, the accused in these cases walk free and never have to face justice or face the charges that were filed against them.

That being said, the government's response must be to determine how to free up the justice system and ensure that criminals are made to stand trial and cannot escape conviction and be released.

That would not necessarily be a good thing from a public safety perspective. We want to keep that from happening again. We agree with the Jordan decision because it was based on sound reasons and grounds, but it has had unintended and dangerous consequences for our society and our fellow citizens.

Is the government's response adequate? That is where we disagree with the Liberal government. We do not think that the solutions set out in Bill C-75 will meet the objective of speeding up the court system so that any accused persons are duly tried within the time frame set out in Jordan. The simplest and most effective solution would be to put more resources into the system so that more files, more cases and more charges can be dealt with more quickly. There are a number of things the government could do to make that happen. The easiest one would be to appoint judges. If there were more judges, then there would be more trials. If there were more trials, then they would be handled much more diligently and would take less time.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government has been dragging its feet on this for three years, and there are still quite a few vacant seats on federal court benches. We are still waiting for those decisions to be made.

To the NDP, this is not about being tougher. The NDP believes that until the government decides to invest in the judicial system, open courts, appoint judges and hire clerks so everyone in the legal system can meet these deadlines, anything else is just a half measure and could even make things worse.

Before getting into preliminary inquiries and routine police evidence, I would like to take two minutes to mourn yet another broken Liberal promise.

This bill is 300 pages long and covers all kinds of things. One might have thought that, while making such major changes to our judicial system, the Liberal government would have taken the opportunity to keep its promise to scrap the mandatory minimum sentences brought in by the Stephen Harper government.

During the campaign, the Liberals told us they would get rid of those mandatory minimum sentences because they made for a bad system that prevented judges from doing their job properly. They said they wanted to restore flexibility to the judicial system and empower judges to exercise judgment because no two cases, no two situations, and no two trials are identical. There are always slight differences.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, took a right-wing populist approach to mandatory minimum sentences. They wanted to provide a show of force and send a message to criminals that they would not get away with anything. Instead, judges' hands were tied, as legislation took away their ability to determine, based on a full understanding of the evidence presented, the best way forward and the most appropriate sentence for an accused.

This is even more disappointing considering that not only was it one of the Liberals' promises in their election platform, but it was also included in the mandate letter given to the Minister of Justice. The mandate letter said that mandatory minimums were a priority issue for the Liberals, yet the Liberals did not include this important matter in their criminal justice reform legislation. This is a lost opportunity to implement real, meaningful reform.

We are left, then, with the status quo, and judges still have no discretion around sentencing. Defence counsel will have no incentive to negotiate a plea, and the number of cases going to trial could increase. Once again, the Liberals missed the boat. This problem could have been solved.

I would like to take a moment to quote a few people. Amanda Carling, Emily Hill, Kent Roach and Jonathan Rudin wrote an article earlier this year in The Globe and Mail. The authors believe that mandatory minimum sentences are a bad idea. They argue that Parliament cannot possibly know all the varieties of offences and offenders who might commit them. Furthermore, such sentencing does not take into account the various circumstances offenders might find themselves in, for example, whether offenders live in abject poverty, have intellectual disabilities or mental health issues, have experienced racism or abuse in the past, or have children who rely on them. The authors added that mandatory minimum sentences do not allow judges to decide whether incarceration is necessary to deter, rehabilitate or punish a particular offender.

I think that is a major point that the Liberals should have included in this bill, but they missed the mark. Let us not forget that the courts are a reflection of the social problems and the social reality in our communities. This bill not only offers solutions that will not help clear the backlog in the system, but it does very little to recognize the root causes of the court backlogs, the myriad of social problems such as poverty, addiction, mental health problems, marginalization, and so forth. Investments and social support are urgently needed to reduce the burden on the courts and address the complex issue of over-representation of minorities, especially indigenous or racialized persons in the prison system.

In closing, I want to point out that the NDP is particularly concerned about the provision authorizing the admission of routine police evidence presented by way of affidavit. In other words, if we consider the fact that this routine evidence is presented through an affidavit, there is no opportunity during a trial to cross-examine the police officer on this piece of evidence. We think this could infringe on the rights of the accused to a full and complete defence.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Marco Mendicino Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise and speak to Bill C-75, which represents a package of bold and comprehensive reforms. This is not the first time that I have spoken to this significant piece of legislation. I did have the opportunity to comment on it previously in my former capacity as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and the attorney general of Canada.

I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to a number of people who have contributed to Bill C-75. First, obviously, I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for her leadership. I would also like to thank members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their close study of the bill, and all of the stakeholders and contributors who through their testimony before committee and their written submissions provided for a very rigorous and thoughtful study of this bill.

Having had the benefit of reviewing those submissions and some of the testimony and seeing the hard work and contributing to it myself by participating in round tables around the country, consulting with stakeholders in conjunction with the Minister of Justice, I am confident in saying that Bill C-75 is a momentous piece of legislation. When it becomes law, it will improve our overall criminal justice system.

I also want to thank the thousands of people who work within our criminal justice system day in and day out, law enforcement, police, members of the judiciary, and all the social services which are wrapped around the criminal justice system. Having worked in it myself for over a decade, I can say without any hesitation that these are individuals who care about protecting our community while also offering the prospect and opportunity for people who find themselves caught within the criminal justice system to reform and to rehabilitate, which is a fundamental principle of the criminal justice system, especially as it relates to our sentencing processes.

There is obviously more to do. The Supreme Court of Canada put into very sharp focus the task that is ahead of us as a result of some of the ongoing challenges which the criminal justice system is confronted with every day. What are those challenges? They range from, obviously, the overrepresentation of marginalized individuals, in particular, members of the racialized community, as well as our indigenous peoples. Far too often, for reasons that are not their fault but rather a result of the systemic challenges which they face on an individual basis as well as the collective challenges that communities face, they find themselves caught in the web of the criminal justice system.

We need to be very candid with ourselves about what those challenges look like. We see overrepresentation of racialized members as well as indigenous peoples in our jails right across the country.

We also know there is an under-representation of those very same groups within the legal profession and within the judiciary. The work that the Minister of Justice has undertaken in appointing a judiciary which is more reflective of the diversity of this great country is in part a sincere effort to address that challenge. Having spoken with many members right across the continuum of our society, I can say that we have made progress, but there is still more work to do.

I also would note that the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan did point out quite rightly and quite justifiably that there are serious concerns when it comes to delay, court delay in particular, and if not addressed, a denial of the right to have a trial within a reasonable period of time can amount to an infringement of a person's rights under the charter, particularly under section 11(b) of the charter. It was incumbent upon all of us in the words of the Supreme Court to address the culture of complacency which for far too long has shackled our ability to address delay.

Having had the benefit of reflection and having had the benefit of consultation and discourse in the context of Bill C-75, we now have a suite of reforms which will not solve all of the problems, but certainly will begin to dramatically rewire and hopefully create a criminal justice system, a set of processes, which will allow people to have access to justice, have the right to have their day in court, and begin that path to rehabilitation which is so important in order to create communities which are strong, resilient and safe.

I will now highlight some of the important components of Bill C-75, much of which has been debated for quite some time now in this House and at committee. Eventually, the bill will make its way over to the other place and then back.

It begins at the very start of the criminal justice system process when an individual is arrested and is brought before the court for his or her first appearance. It is at that moment the court is then asked to determine whether that person should be released or detained pending his or her trial.

We have enshrined a principle of restraint in Bill C-75, the point of which is to ensure that justice actors who are appearing in court, either representing the Crown or the defence or in their capacity as duty counsel, are not automatically overburdening judicial interim release orders with conditions which essentially are a prescription for reoffending and failure. Rather, through this principle of restraint, we are encouraging all of the parties who are involved in the determination of bail to assess the conditions which are necessary to address one of the three statutory grounds on which an individual is released.

From the perspective of the primary grounds, if the person is a flight risk, what are the conditions that are necessary to secure the person's ongoing attendance before the court? On the secondary grounds, is there a serious risk of reoffending? What are the conditions that are necessary for the purposes of ensuring that the community's concerns are addressed on secondary grounds? Obviously, under the tertiary grounds, we question whether there are additional conditions which are required to maintain the public's confidence in the administration of justice. Again, we look for some nexus between what are the conditions which are being asked for by either party and their advancement of the tertiary ground concerns.

We have, through the principle of restraint, really fostered a much more responsible approach. This is about addressing the culture of the criminal justice system right from the get-go, once a person is implicated with charges at the bail stage.

We have also, in the context of Bill C-75, introduced a suite of reforms that will, hopefully, reduce the number of administration of justice offences which are in the system. Looking at the statistics which are available right across the country, we see, for example in the province of Ontario, that over 40% of the charges in the provincial court system, the Ontario Court of Justice, could be classified under the administration of justice offences.

We are looking to find alternative ways to address potential breaches through the principle of restraint, to actually reduce the likelihood that there will be an unnecessary technical charge which is unrelated to the underlying substantive offence, but also to introduce a concept called judicial referral hearings, where even if there is a legitimate breach, to look for other ways to address it, short of introducing an entire set of new charges.

I would also point out that Bill C-75 addresses intimate partner violence. This is something that I heard very personally and I know the minister did as well in our round tables. There is the need to address the systemic barriers which for far too long have prevented victims from coming forward. How are we doing that? In the case of repeat offenders, people who have been convicted in the past of sexual offences or offences related to intimate partner violence, to put the onus on them to determine whether they should be entitled to bail, and also to look for additional factors to be taken into consideration.

At the back end there are more tools available both to the prosecutor as well as to the court to determine what is the appropriate sentence by lifting the maximum sentences available, again for repeat offenders. That, coupled with the investments which we are making in the victims fund, by looking at other ways in which we can make it easier for victims to be able to come forward to ensure that they are heard, to ensure that they have a voice in the system, is absolutely crucial in order to ensure that there is access to justice.

These are just some of the highlights in Bill C-75. Again, there is no one simple solution to solving all of the challenges which the criminal justice system is confronted with.

I rise with great pride to speak on behalf of the bill. I urge all members to support it. At the end of the day, it will bring the criminal justice system into the 21st century and therefore be a great service to our country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.

Marco Mendicino

Mr. Speaker, the hon. colleague across the aisle knows better than to ask such a rhetorical question. Of course, no member on the government side of this chamber is in favour of being lenient and turning a blind eye to human trafficking. In fact, I would point out that under the last Conservative administration, there were broad cuts made to our public safety apparatus to the tune of three-quarters of a billion dollars, which undermined our ability to bring human traffickers to justice.

This government has reversed those cuts. Not only that, we introduced legislation to provide additional tools to prosecutors to ensure that the appropriate burdens would be in place so we could bring human traffickers to justice. To that I would also add that Bill C-75 is precisely about ensuring that we have access to justice by introducing a suite of procedural reforms, which I addressed in my commentary.

Once we get beyond the kind of regrettable rhetoric that we hear from the Conservative benches, and in particular the member who just posed that question, we see we have before us a very strong bill. It is based on evidence and on data. I would encourage my hon. colleague to look at some of that information and vote in support of Bill C-75.