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

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

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 a term of 14 years or more 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) re-enact the victim surcharge regime and provide the court with the discretion to waive a victim surcharge if the court is satisfied that the victim surcharge would cause the offender undue hardship or would be disproportionate to the gravity of the offence or the degree of responsibility of the offender; 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

June 19, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments 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
June 19, 2019 Passed Motion for closure
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

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 6:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the point is clear that the Leader of the Opposition has been told that Unifor will be his worst nightmare going into the next election.

The point is that this is clearly a very partisan organization. This is an organization that very much is against the Conservative Party of Canada and very much campaigning on behalf of the Liberal government, which means that now this whole exercise just became very political in nature.

I do not think we can argue with that point. It is very clear what has been said and what the motive of this union is. Therefore, $600 million are on the line and where they go will be determined by this partisan group of individuals. It is not only that. The majority of the money is being withheld and is going to only be given to these media outlets post-election. This means there will be an awful lot of motivation given to them, through the withholding of money and the promise of funds after the election, to cover the 2019 election in a very particular way. It does not take a great deal of intelligence to determine what that way is.

Of course media outlets will be encouraged, if not manipulated, to cover the election of 2019 from a Liberal vantage point rather than from a fair one that is non-partisan in nature. Why is that? It is because there are $600 million on the line and they want a piece of the pie.

I have clearly outlined that there is problem with regard to the independence, but it is not just me who says that. There is far more being said by journalists throughout the country.

Andrew Coyne said, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”

Don Martin said, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”

Jen Gerson, CBC and Maclean's, said, “If any of these associations or unions”, so the eight individuals who have been selected, “could be trusted to manage this 'independent' panel, they would be denouncing it already.”

Those are quite the statements.

Chris Selley, the National Post, said, "Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”

I and my Conservatives are not the only ones pointing out significant concerns with the decision to give out $600 million of government money to media outlets across the country. Clearly, this is an attack on the independence and the freedom of our press.

In addition to that, it is a matter of protecting democracy and of ensuring media outlets actually cover the story of the day without being pressured by the government to do it one way or the other. As soon as the government offers money to media outlets, all of a sudden the press feels the pressure to cover stories in a way that would perhaps paint the government in a positive light. That is not okay; that is not the Canada we belong to.

We see the lack of independence and the lack of freedom in places like Turkey, Russia and China, where it is dictated how any sort of news will be covered and granted to the people in those countries. In Canada, we very much depend on the government staying out of the way and allowing press to cover a story from whatever angle that media outlet should choose.

The other problem with this is that there is no transparency in the application and review process. This concern has been brought up by the CAJ within the last couple of days. It has pointed out that there needs to be a more transparent process in moving forward with this, that those who apply for this funding should be listed online and that the process for applications for this funding should be made transparent. This should be put online and made available to the Canadian public. After all, the Liberals are taking Canadian taxpayer dollars and using them to help media outlets. That process needs to have greater transparency to it.

In addition to that, there should also be some transparency with regard to not only those who apply, but also who is rejected and why. Why are they rejected? It is fair that many Canadians, many journalists and many of those on this side of the House have a concern that the government will be quite biased in the way that it selects people. I say the government because, make no mistake, that while there are eight individuals on the panel, I have my suspicions that they are nothing more than eight puppets with the current government pulling the strings.

The entire independence and freedom of the press is being called into question with this $600 million bailout. In addition to that, our democracy is being put in jeopardy, as well as just a lack of overall transparency and good governance. It is absolutely terrible.

Furthermore, with regard to credibility, one journalist wrote, “The minute the union starts helping a government divvy up taxpayers’ cash for the benefit of news outlets, there is quite rightly a perception that reporters’ coverage is being bought off.” Whether that is the case or not, there is that perception. He goes on to explain that the credibility of a journalist is of utmost importance, that our journalists work hard to maintain the credibility and trust of the Canadian public. By the government giving $600 million to the free press, it calls into question that credibility. There is a problem there.

This is not the first time the Prime Minister has put his interests above those of Canadians. He does this quite often. In the NAFTA agreement, he said that he would get a good deal for Canada. He said he would not allow ink to go on paper until tariffs were removed. However, he put ink to paper. Meanwhile, we still had tariffs on steel. We still had tariffs on aluminum. We had tariffs on softwood lumber. We allowed the U.S. to take a good chunk of our market with regard to dairy. We allowed it to take a good chunk of our market with regard to auto and implement quotas. At the end of the day again, we saw where he put his image before the needs of the Canadian people.

Further to that was the students summer jobs program. We watched again as the government put itself first. It imposed a requirement on organizations that they would need to sign off on a value statement, that they would need to sign off on a set of beliefs and values in order to receive dollars from taxpayers. If organizations were not willing to sign this value statement, or this attestation, then they could not have any of that money. Again, the government was not acting in the best interests of Canadians. Instead it was acting in the best interests of the Prime Minister and the image he wanted to portray.

The problem with this was that many faith-based organizations could not sign the Prime Minister's value statements. Those organizations do tremendous work. They look after the homeless. They look after those who live in poverty. They help refugees come to Canada and settle here. They run summer camp for kids, many who are underprivileged kids. The Prime Minister actually refused to give them a dollar because they would not sign his value statement. That is wrong.

With the carbon tax, again, the Prime Minister is wanting to put forward this image of himself as someone who cares for the environment. He gets this great idea about putting a tax on pollution. Then all of a sudden people will no longer need to drive their cars to work, put clothes on their back, food on their tables or heat their homes in -30°C. That is not the case at all. That is ridiculous. It lacks any sort of logic.

What have we watched over the last four years? We have watched as emissions in the country have gone up. We have watched as the government is further away from meeting its targets than we have ever been as a country.

The current Prime Minister has the audacity to say he is standing up for Canadians, but he is standing up for no one other than himself. He wants to maintain his image, propagate his ideals and manipulate Canadians along the way, when it is all based on a foundation of deception.

With Bill C-71, the Prime Minister said he wanted to look after the safety and well-being of Canadians, and in order to do that he would go after those who legally acquired their firearms, who were properly vetted to have a firearm and who legally used their firearms, because that would take all criminals and gangs off the street. He thinks he will help make this place a safer country if he shuts down the sports shooters and the hunters. That is the Liberal logic. It is terrible. It is more about image than it is about serving the well-being of this country and the Canadian public.

Meanwhile, the same government put another bill in place, Bill C-75. Do members know what that bill did? It rewarded terrorists. It rewarded those who force marriage. It rewarded those who engage in genocide.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2019 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are arguing that if we are all in support of the bill, we should just stop our speeches, stop giving voice to some of the concerns we have, and let it go, even though the government saw fit to introduce it during the first week of this month, which is very much at the end of the 42nd Parliament.

I have seen this pattern before. The Liberal government had a series of justice bills aimed at cleaning up the redundant and inoperable sections of the Criminal Code. It let those sit at first reading, in purgatory, and then eventually rolled them into Bill C-75, which was a gigantic omnibus bill full of problems. If it had just gone through with simple amendments to the Criminal Code, we could have put them through very quickly.

My concern is not so much about support in the House. It is about what is happening in the other place. The Senate does not seem to be a very friendly place for government bills these days. I am worried that we simply do not have enough time for the other place to send it back here if it makes amendments and for the bill to receive royal assent. This is on a very clear Liberal promise that was made in 2015.

May 14th, 2019 / 9:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Chair, the important aspect of Bill C-75 is that it would address delays by not clogging up the system with the administration of justice offences the member for Eglinton—Lawrence mentioned and by invoking the principle of restraint.

This would ensure that we do not overrepresent indigenous people in the criminal justice system and thereby cause increasing delays by clogging it further.

May 14th, 2019 / 9:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Chair, in the course of my remarks, I also made mention of Bill C-75, which is an important piece of legislation that would help reduce court delays by modifying several aspects of court processes and trial processes.

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary might highlight some of the ways in which we would significantly reduce delays through the enshrinement of Bill C-75.

May 14th, 2019 / 9:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Chair, I would like to thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for both his response to my question and his ongoing work, which includes advocacy on Bill C-75.

I would like to ask him a follow-up question. How do we ensure that indigenous people are better reflected in our judiciary, and in particular, on our juries? This is work the parliamentary secretary has given testimony to.

May 14th, 2019 / 9:15 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Madam Chair, I thank the member for Eglinton—Lawrence for his work as parliamentary secretary.

The work that is being done starts with Bill C-75, which was mentioned in the comments by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence. Bill C-75 adopts a number of principles, including a principle of restraint, conditions imposed by the police that must be reasonable in the circumstances necessary to ensure the accused's attendance in court and also to ensure that the entire circumstances of the accused are considered before conditions or sentences are meted out under that legislation. This will help address the overrepresentation of the accused, particularly indigenous accused, in our system.

May 14th, 2019 / 9:05 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Madam Chair, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. I would also like to commend the minister for his hard work and his dedication to the portfolio, which has seen his shepherding of legislation dealing with criminal justice reforms; important justice reforms that will enhance access to justice; his and his team's work on ensuring that we have a very capable and high-calibre bench through the ongoing work of judicial appointments, and finally, the all-important and historic work with reconciliation as it relates to our indigenous peoples.

I am honoured to be here to contribute to this debate, to speak to some of the concrete steps we have taken towards recognizing and realizing the government's vision of reconciliation with indigenous peoples across Canada.

Our government has taken the time to meet with many indigenous leaders across this country. We heard about their priorities, their vision for the future, and the challenges and obstacles they still face in achieving this vision. Hearing these perspectives has served to reinforce our government's commitment to renewing its relationship with indigenous peoples. We have continued with our efforts to address the ongoing negative and adverse impacts of colonialism, discrimination and marginalization that have, for far too long, been part of this country's social fabric.

Contributing to renewed Crown-indigenous relationships based on rights, respect, co-operation and partnership remains a priority for the Government of Canada. This is especially true in relation to Canada's justice system. Over the past few years, the Department of Justice and the Government of Canada have introduced transformative laws and initiatives to help achieve reconciliation.

One such initiative that we are very proud of is the release of the principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples. This document will ensure that the rights and needs of indigenous peoples are considered whenever new policy initiatives or laws are being introduced or considered.

Another key document that the Department of Justice has released is the Attorney General's directive on civil litigation involving indigenous peoples. This document will help guide litigation positions being developed. The Department of Justice also continues to work with other government departments to find alternatives to litigation with indigenous peoples wherever and whenever possible and appropriate.

These are both foundational documents that establish a modern legal framework and clearly identify the core values informing the department's day-to-day work. As the introduction to the principles notes, they are “rooted in section 35, guided by the UN Declaration, and informed by the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action”.

In addition, they reflect a commitment to good faith, the rule of law, democracy, equality, non-discrimination and respect for human rights. Training that focuses on the history and context that underlie the principles has been provided to approximately 25% of the Department of Justice's employees. It also covers practical ways in which these important documents can inform all the legal and policy work the Department of Justice oversees.

The directive is also a testament to the government's desire to transform Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples and uphold the promises of section 35 of the Constitution.

The directive continues to guide the Government of Canada's legal approaches, positions and decisions in civil litigation over ancestral and treaty rights and the Crown's duty towards indigenous peoples.

The Department of Justice also continues its efforts to advance the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, including the call upon governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

Canada has already stated its unqualified support for the UN declaration. Recently, in this session, the House of Commons restated its support for the passage of Bill C-262, an act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

If passed, Bill C-262 will bring us even closer to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It will require us to continue the work we have already started on regularly reviewing federal legislation to assess consistency with the standards set out in the declaration. In collaboration with our indigenous partners, we will also have to develop an action plan for the implementation of the declaration and release annual reports on our progress.

The Department of Justice continues to advance a number of additional and more specific measures that will contribute to reconciliation over the long term. A key priority for the department is Bill C-75, which is now in the other place. The bill proposes various measures meant to help to address court delays. It will also play a role in one of the most serious issues facing our criminal justice system: the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the justice system itself and in particular in our jails.

Bill C-75 tackles bail reform and also addresses administration of justice offences, such as breaching bail. These offences can unfortunately function as an entry point into the criminal justice system and significantly contribute to the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system.

The Department of Justice also continues to support and expand the use of restorative justice, which we know is a priority for many of our indigenous partners. It is also committed to supporting innovative approaches to the administration of justice in Canada. This means focusing not just on renewing the government's relationship with indigenous peoples, but building a partnership where indigenous perspectives, laws and legal traditions find voice in an indigenous justice system in harmonization with the justice system regimes and processes across Canada.

For this reason, our government has encouraged indigenous communities to share their views and perspectives on indigenous laws and legal traditions. We are actively working to promote more dialogue with indigenous peoples that will guide our collective efforts to recognize and implement indigenous justice systems in Canada. Not only does this work occur in the Department of Justice, but across many ministries so as to give effect to reconciliation.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is holding a symposium on the indigenous justice system today and tomorrow. This is an valuable opportunity to talk to indigenous partners, academics, students of indigenous law and public servants from across Canada about revitalizing indigenous law and national and international perspectives on interactions between indigenous and non-indigenous justice systems.

The government also recognizes the importance of revitalizing indigenous legal systems. We know that indigenous law institutes, in partnership with indigenous communities, can play crucial roles in understanding, developing and implementing indigenous laws.

Not only are we working on transforming and modernizing our laws and programs, but we also have a transparent, inclusive and accountable judicial appointment process.

This new process underlines our government's commitment to reshaping the bench to better reflect Canada as it is today and to make the courts more accessible. I mentioned this important work at the outset of my remarks.

Ultimately the goal of all of the measures and initiatives I have just mentioned is to transform both how the Department of Justice engages with indigenous peoples and how indigenous people experience the justice system. We believe that the efforts made by this government to improve its relationship with indigenous peoples has led to some very significant progress and improvements to the lives of indigenous peoples over the last few years. However, much more work remains to be done.

Working in tandem with indigenous communities, we believe we can continue to ensure the implementation of the necessary work and the shifts in mindset required to advance our shared goal of achieving true reconciliation. Our government is committed to promoting, protecting and implementing the rights of indigenous peoples.

We hope that the efforts and accomplishments of the Department of Justice will continue to reflect our government's shared commitment to achieving reconciliation and earnestly carrying out the work required to accomplish such an important goal.

Not only do I encourage the government to continue this work, but I certainly encourage my colleagues across the aisle to support this transformative and historical work when it comes to reconciliation.

I have a number of questions for the minister.

First, what are some of the ways the government is working to reduce the over-incarceration of our indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system?

May 14th, 2019 / 7:20 p.m.
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Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for her important question. As I have stated, we are committed to ensuring that Canada's criminal justice system meets the highest standards of equity and fairness.

The Boudreault decision on December 14 found, as the member has pointed out, that the victim fine surcharge violated section 12 of the charter because it could result in a grossly disproportionate punishment, especially for vulnerable and marginalized offenders. Indeed, the provinces and territories that use this fund to fund victim services have not used it since December 2014, or their courts have not used it.

We realize this has an important role. We thought Bill C-75 went a long way to following with that, but after consulting with provinces and territories, the federal ombudsperson for victims of crime, and stakeholders, we have decided to propose amendments to Bill C-75, presently in front of the Senate, that will grant judges additional discretion to determine when the surcharge should be applied. This aligns it with the Boudreault decision, while continuing to ensure that offenders are properly held accountable to victims and to society as a whole.

May 14th, 2019 / 7:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, since this place studied Bill C-75, on December 14, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision on the victim surcharge found in section 737 of the Criminal Code. The court held that the mandatory victim surcharge is contrary to section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it could result in grossly disproportionate punishment for vulnerable or marginalized offenders.

The mandatory surcharge is a fixed amount that every offender must pay at the time of sentencing. It is 30% for any fine imposed or $100 per summary conviction offence or $200 per indictable offence.

I am aware that Bill C-75 proposed changes to this regime in order to provide some judicial discretion related to the imposition of the victim surcharge. Does the minister feel that these changes properly respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's guidance? Will the government be proposing any amendments to this bill to reflect this new Supreme Court of Canada decision?

May 14th, 2019 / 7:15 p.m.
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Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for her speech, her question and her work on the justice committee.

The answer is fourfold.

The first measure is law reform, and the hon. member has spoken at length about the changes brought forward in Bill C-75, which we feel will increase the efficiency of our justice system and reduce delays.

The second is funding for various programs. The indigenous court worker program is one example. By working with certain over-represented groups, we will be able to address delays in the justice system.

The third is collaboration with provincial and territorial governments to address delays, and the last one has to do with judicial appointments. As I mentioned in my speech, we have made over 300 appointments of a very high quality since taking office, and that is helping to reduce delays in the system.

May 14th, 2019 / 7:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Chair, I will be providing 10 minutes of remarks followed by some questions.

I want to begin my remarks today by thanking all members on the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights from all sides of the House. Together, over these past few years, we have worked on issues related to access to justice, medical assistance in dying, mental health supports for jurors, strengthening impaired driving laws, addressing the issue of human trafficking in Canada and so much more. Ultimately, we have worked hard to ensure that the communities we represent safer.

There have been many pieces of legislation that have passed through our committee, and today I would like to focus 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.

One of the challenges I have heard about from my community and from Canadians across Canada is the issue of delays in accessing the justice system. I have also heard from constituents about the accessibility of the justice system, issues surrounding victims rights and the challenges faced by victims of intimate partner violence. The purpose of Bill C-75 is to address these very issues of our communities from coast to coast to coast.

This legislation is a key milestone in the government's ongoing efforts to transform the criminal justice system, keeping the government's overall goals at the forefront, which are to keep communities safe, protect victims and to hold offenders to account.

Canada's justice system faces numerous major and multi-faceted challenges. While the volume and severity of crimes have decreased over the years, criminal court cases are becoming more complex and trials are taking longer to complete. Delays in the criminal justice system impact the accused and his or her charter right to be tried within a reasonable time. They also impact victims and all those affected by crime in our communities.

The criminal justice system is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial and territorial governments.

The federal government is responsible for the enactment of criminal law and procedure, criminal prosecutions of all federal offences, certain offences in the Criminal Code and prosecution of all offences in the territories, as well as the appointment of judges for superior courts.

Provincial and territorial governments on the other hand are responsible for the administration of justice, including the prosecution of criminal offences in the provinces, the administration of police, Crown and court personnel and the appointment of provincial court judges.

At their meetings held in April and September 2017, federal-provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice met to discuss actions taken and ways to strategically address delays in the criminal justice system. Discussions included identifying innovative and best practices as well as legislative reforms to resolve criminal cases in a just and timely manner. All agreed on the need for targeted and bold criminal law reform in the following key priority areas: bail, administration of justice offences, preliminary inquiries, reclassification of offences and judicial case management.

Ministers agreed on the importance of a collaborative approach with all players in the criminal justice system, and Bill C-75 is a true reflection of that collaborative approach with key criminal justice system partners.

Some reforms included in Bill C-75 would address issues that were identified by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in its June 2017 report, entitled, “Delaying Justice is Denying Justice”. It included 50 recommendations, with a number of them relating to criminal law reform. The bill would address a number of these recommendations, namely on preliminary inquiries, case management, bail, administration of justice offences and the use of technology, including to facilitate remote appearances.

In addition, the reforms respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Jordan in 2016, which established strict timelines beyond which delays would be presumptively unreasonable and result in cases being stayed. In this decision, the Supreme Court also stressed the need for efforts by all those involved in the criminal justice system to reduce delays and increase efficiencies. Bill C-75 would address that.

One of the issues highlighted through our committee work is the overrepresentation of indigenous people in jail. The 2016-17 statistics indicate that 28% to 30% of custody admissions are indigenous. The numbers are even higher for youth at 50%, and women at 42%. Bill C-75 would help reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and vulnerable populations in the criminal justice system.

Indigenous people and vulnerable populations tend to be disproportionately impacted by onerous and unnecessary bail conditions. They are also more likely to be charged with breaching minor conditions, and more likely to be caught in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.

The bill would help address these problems by enacting a principle of restraint in the bail regime to ensure that when there are no concerns about the accused coming to court or posing a risk to public safety, police officers and justices would release detained accused at the earliest reasonable opportunity; by requiring that conditions imposed by police be reasonable in the circumstances and necessary to ensure the accused's attendance in court or the safety and security of the victims or witnesses; and by providing that circumstances of the accused, in particular indigenous accused and accused persons from vulnerable populations, be considered at bail and in determining how to address a breach of conditions.

Bill C-75 also includes measures that would positively impact victims of crime. These include the bail reforms, which would also better protect victims of intimate partner violence by creating a reverse onus at bail, and would expand the list of conditions that can be imposed by police, including conditions to protect victims.

The preliminary inquiry reforms, which would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment, would prevent some victims from having to testify twice.

The proposed administration of justice offence changes would only apply in cases in which there has been no harm caused to a victim, whether physical, emotional or through property damage.

The bill would also provide reassurance to victims of intimate partner violence by imposing a reverse onus at bail for accused persons charged with an intimate partner violence offence if they have a prior conviction for violence against an intimate partner; by requiring courts to consider whether an accused is charged with an intimate partner violence offence when determining whether to release or detain the accused; by clarifying that strangulation, choking and suffocation are elevated forms of assault; by defining “intimate partner” for all Criminal Code purposes and clarifying that it includes current or former spouse, common-law partner and dating partner; by clarifying 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 or common-law partners and dating partners; and by allowing for the possibility of seeking a higher maximum penalty in cases involving a repeat intimate partner violence offender.

Lastly, the proposed reforms with respect to bail, administration of justice offences and the reclassification of offences support an approach that is expected to minimize the differential impact on marginalized populations in the criminal justice system, including indigenous peoples, through modernizing and streamlining processes, providing flexibility and creating appropriate tools for managing factors such as vulnerability, mental health and addiction.

It is important to note that these proposed Criminal Code amendments cannot address all social issues that impact those in contact with the criminal justice system. As such, operational changes in the courts or in the administration of justice at the provincial and territorial level may better address such issues. As well, training for criminal justice system actors, such as police, the Crown and judges, would support the bill's goal of making the criminal justice system more fair and accessible to all Canadians.

As mentioned earlier, opportunities to address delays also fall under provincial jurisdiction, as provinces have responsibility over the administration of justice. It is unfortunate that the Ontario provincial government has recently announced its decision to cut funding for the Ontario Provincial Police by $45 million. These cuts will impact the administration of justice.

The people of Ontario, and indeed all Canadians, have the commitment of the federal government that we will continue to work closely with the provinces and territories to identify further measures to reduce delays and improve the criminal justice system.

That said, I do have some questions for the minister, if allowed.

May 14th, 2019 / 6:50 p.m.
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Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Chair, we are proud of Canada's diversity and inclusion. Our government believes that all Canadians should be safe to be themselves. In that regard, the major accomplishment was passing legislation that adds gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as adding gender identity and expression to the list of distinguishing characteristics of an identifiable group, so that they are protected by the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.

My colleague has mentioned section 159, the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions, in Bill C-75, which are also very important. We are proud to recognize these historic challenges that have been faced by the LGBTQ2 community, and we are committed to making their lives better. Indeed, equality is what we are committed to, so that people can live their lives and flourish as they wish to.

May 14th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, I would like to say in English what I said in French, which is that the the directive the minister is talking about is important, and we have heard from witnesses that it is important because it is a step in the right direction. It says that the government needs to follow the science, that prosecutors need to follow the science, and that when somebody is undetectable, they are untransmittable and should not be charged or prosecuted for non-disclosure of HIV status.

Equally important is the fact that because it is federal jurisdiction, the directive applies to the territories. British Columbia and Ontario have since issued a similar directive to their Crowns. However, I think it is important that we work at the federal, provincial and territorial level to include and encourage other jurisdictions to issue similar policies and directives.

Also, it would be important for us to look into the justice department. We have section 159, and we have the vagrancy and bawdy house provisions in Bill C-75, and I am looking forward to seeing it come back from the Senate. Could the minister share with the House and the committee of the whole other accomplishments that the department has achieved to make the lives of LGBTQ2 Canadians better?

May 14th, 2019 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, I will take your comments to heart and continue in the same vein the committee of the whole has proceeded to this point.

I will be providing 10 minutes of remarks, followed by some questions.

I am very proud today to take the floor to share with Canadians some of our government's accomplishments in recognizing, promoting and protecting the equality rights of LGBTQ2 communities.

From the beginning of our government's mandate, we have demonstrated our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the hope that all Canadians can participate fully in Canadian society and be recognized as deserving of the same respect, deference and consideration. This commitment equally extends to members of the LGBTQ2 community.

Canadians expect their government to respect their human rights and to promote these rights. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs once stated in this very chamber, LGBTQ2 rights are human rights, and human rights have no borders. It is a commitment our government takes very seriously abroad and here at home.

ln budget 2017, the Government of Canada set aside $3.6 million over three years for the creation of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat within the Privy Council Office. The secretariat works with LGBTQ2 stakeholders across the country. This important work keeps our government informed about the challenging situations affecting LGBTQ2 Canadians and the potential solutions.

The secretariat also supports the integration of LGBTQ2 considerations in the day-to-day work of the federal government across all ministries. These efforts really help the government ensure that federal policies, programs and laws related to gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation are all within the same spirit and the same view to equality, inclusion and diversity.

ln November 2016, I was honoured to be appointed the Prime Minister's special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues. My role is to advise the Prime Minister on how to develop and coordinate the Government of Canada's LGBTQ2 policies and laws. This includes informing cabinet, parliamentarians and committees and engaging with LGBTQ2 organizations from across the country and around the world to promote equality, and listening to LGBTQ2 people and communities and identifying solutions to improve their lives.

In addition to the excellent work of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat, all ministries of our government have a responsibility to improve the lives of LGBTQ2 Canadians, and that includes the Department of Justice.

Early in our government's mandate, we also introduced and passed Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. This bill conferred greater protection on members of LGBTQ2 communities who experience discrimination and even violence because of their gender identity or expression. Bill C-16 added gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act. This law promotes the principle that all individuals should have an equal opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, without being hindered by discriminatory practices.

Bill C-16 has also expanded hate crime offences in the Criminal Code to protect groups that are targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression.

Unfortunately, in Canada, transgender people are at high risk of verbal or physical violence and sexual harassment. Given this high degree of violence or threatened violence, it is only fair that our criminal law specifically denounce violence committed against a person as a result of the person's gender identity or expression.

The Prime Minister's apology to LGBTQ2 communities was another significant milestone in recognizing LGBTQ2 communities and protecting them as equal members of Canadian society. On November 28, 2017, the Prime Minister delivered a formal apology in this very House to individuals harmed by federal legislation, policies and practices that led to the oppression of and discrimination against two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Canada.

The Prime Minister apologized specifically for the shameful LGBT purge, the historical unjust treatment of LGBTQ2 federal public servants, including those in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This discriminatory treatment resulted in the loss of livelihoods, dignity and even lives.

There was a time in this country when people could be charged, prosecuted and criminally convicted simply because of their sexual orientation. To address this grave injustice, this government introduced Bill C-66. Now records of convictions involving consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners of legal age can be destroyed.

We are hopeful that this change will provide some relief to the many LGBTQ2 Canadians for whom the pain, trauma and fear have been all too real for all too long a time. Such discrimination has no place in Canada today. With Bill C-66, we took responsibility for recognizing and rectifying this historic injustice.

Since the government is taking measures to rectify historic discrimination based on unfair laws and policies, it is taking steps to remove from the Criminal Code an anachronistic offence that was used to target consensual sexual activities between gay men.

Under section 159 of the Criminal Code, unmarried persons can consent to engage in anal intercourse at age 18. The age of consent for any other form of non-exploitative sexual activity is 16 years old. Section 159 makes an exception for consensual anal intercourse between married spouses if they are of the opposite sex, but not if they are of the same sex. This is discriminatory policy, and several appellate courts have found that this provision violates the equality rights guaranteed by section 15 of the charter. Repealing section 159, as Bill C-75 proposes to do, will prevent the laying of charges against people who engage in non-exploitative, consensual anal intercourse.

The Attorney General of Canada recently issued a directive on the prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases for federal prosecutors, which applies in our territories.

Presently, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is undertaking a study that deals with the issue of HIV criminalization. The committee has heard from numerous witnesses about the negative impacts, not just on people's lives but on the public health system, of criminalizing HIV non-disclosure. I look forward to the continued work of the justice committee and to its report, and I look forward to the government's responding in a robust way to this very serious issue.

Returning to the directive, I note it is based on current scientific evidence regarding the sexual transmission of HIV and applicable criminal laws, as clarified by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Mabior case. The directive recognizes that the non-disclosure of HIV is, first and foremost, a public health issue. It is also important to note that public health authorities have many tools at their disposal to ensure that people do not engage in reckless behaviour. Those tools would not require that such a provision be in the Criminal Code.

The Attorney General of Canada also issued a directive on the prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases for federal prosecutors, which applies in our territories. It is important that we work with the provinces. Right now, Ontario and British Columbia have policies and directives, but there are several territories in Canada that do not have such a directive. The directive is based on current scientific evidence regarding sexual transmission of HIV and the applicable criminal law.

Today I have touched on only a few of the many actions our government has taken to advance the full recognition, protection and participation of our LGBTQ2 communities. Our government will continue to demonstrate its commitment to promoting an inclusive society that works for all Canadians.

Before I get to questions, it is important to note that when we open up committee to civil society organizations and hear witnesses from coast to coast to coast, we let people who are not within 15 minutes or even two hours of Ottawa know that this government is their government. We let them know that the House and our parliamentary committees are designed to understand the issues that matter to them. It is important that we continue to open our committees to a diversity of voices, such as indigenous voices, the voices of depressed and marginalized people, and the voices of the LGBTQ2 community.

The health committee is right now wrapping up a study that was unanimously accepted by all members, about the health indicators of LGBTQ2 people. Our health indicators for this group are only slightly above those for indigenous people.

We have a lot of work to do in this chamber. We have a lot of work to do in advancing legislation and a lot of work to do to make lives better for all Canadians.

Now I have a few questions for the minister.

Could the minister share with us why it is important for us to continue our work on the prosecutorial policy directive as it pertains to the prosecution of HIV disclosure?

May 14th, 2019 / 6:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, with respect to the LGBTQ2 issue, the minister raised important aspects of Bill C-16. I wonder if he could comment on Bill C-75, which I also understand would take an anomaly in the Criminal Code, which is that consensual sexual relations of same-sex couples who are adults are not criminalized, but currently consensual sexual relations between youth ages 16 and 17 are criminalized. How would Bill C-75 address that point?