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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

moved that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today 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. The legislation represents a key milestone in our government's commitment to modernize the criminal justice system, reduce delays, and ensure the safety of Canadians.

For more than a decade, the criminal justice system has been under significant strain. Although the crime rate in Canada has been declining, court cases are more complex, trials are getting longer, and the impacts on victims are compounded. In addition, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians, including those suffering from mental illness and addictions, continue to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system. For these reasons, I was mandated by the Prime Minister to reform the criminal justice system, and it is why I was proud to introduce this legislation as part of our government's response to those fundamental challenges.

Bill C-75 also responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in 2016 in R. v. Jordan. The decision established strict timelines beyond which delays would be presumptively unreasonable and cases would be stayed. In such cases, the accused will not stand trial. This is unacceptable, and it jeopardizes public confidence in the justice system.

The bill also addresses issues raised in the June 2017 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which called on the government to address court delays, and it reflects our government's commitment to bring about urgent and bold reforms, many of which were identified as priorities by all provincial and territorial justice ministers in April and September of last year.

The bill proposes reforms in seven key areas. First, the bill would modernize and streamline the bail system. Second, it would enhance our approach to addressing administration of justice offences, including for youth. Third, it would bolster our response to intimate partner violence. Fourth, the bill would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment. Fifth, it would reclassify offences to allow the crown to elect the most efficient procedure appropriate in the circumstances. Sixth, it would improve the jury selection process. Seventh, it would strengthen the case management powers of judges. The bill includes a number of additional reforms related to efficiencies, which I will touch on briefly later.

As noted, the first area of reform would modernize and streamline the bail regime. Under the charter, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If charged with an offence, that person has the right not to be denied bail without just cause. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly stated that bail, including the types of release and conditions imposed, must be reasonable, yet we know that police and courts routinely impose conditions that are too numerous, too restrictive, and at times directed toward improper objectives, such as behaviour and punishment. These objectives do not protect public safety.

We also know that there are more individuals in remand than those convicted of a crime. In other words, our correctional facilities are more than half-filled with people who have not been convicted of an offence.

In addition, the current approach to bail uses a disproportionate amount of resources, taking away from more serious cases. It perpetuates a cycle of incarceration.

Consistent with the 2017 Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Antic, the proposed bail reforms would codify a principle of restraint. This would direct police and judges to consider the least restrictive and most appropriate means of responding to criminal charges at the bail stage rather than automatically detaining an accused. The individual circumstances of an indigenous accused and a vulnerable accused, such as a homeless person or one with mental illness and addiction issues, would become required considerations when making bail decisions. This means that an accused's circumstances would have to be considered prior to placing conditions upon them that were difficult or impossible to follow.

The principle of restraint would make bail courts more efficient by encouraging release at the earliest possible opportunity, without the need for a bail hearing in every case, and would take significant steps to reduce costs associated with the growing remand population currently detained in custody awaiting trial.

The bill would also strengthen the way our bail system responds to intimate partner violence by providing better protection for victims. If an accused has a history of violence against an intimate partner and is charged with similar conduct, the amendments would impose a reverse onus at the bail hearing, shifting the responsibility to the accused to show why the accused should not be detained pending trial.

I will now turn to the second area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is to enhance the way our justice system responds to administration of justice offences. These are offences that are committed by a person against the justice system itself after another offence has already been committed or alleged. Common examples are failure to comply with bail conditions, such as to abstain from consuming alcohol; failure to appear in court; or breaching a curfew.

Across Canada, accused people are routinely burdened with complex and unnecessary bail conditions that are unrelated to public safety and that may even be impossible to follow, such as when a curfew is broken by an accused because he or she missed the bus in a remote area. In other words, accused people are being placed in circumstances in which a breach is virtually inevitable. We are setting them up to fail.

Indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are disproportionately impacted by breach charges, often because of their personal circumstances, such as a lack of family and community supports. As a result, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are more likely to be charged, more likely to be denied bail, and if released, more likely to be subject to stricter conditions.

In addition, administration of justice offences impose an enormous burden on the criminal justice system, as nearly 40% of all adult cases involve at least one of these administrative charges. To respond to these challenges, Bill C-75 proposes a new approach. Police would retain the option to lay a new charge for the breach or failure to appear where appropriate. However, if the offence did not involve physical or emotional harm to a victim, property damage, or economic loss, the police would have an additional option of referring the accused to a judicial referral hearing. This would be an entirely new tool that would serve as an alternative to an unnecessary criminal charge and that would substantially increase court efficiencies without impacting public safety.

In the youth context, these proposals would encourage police to first consider the use of informal measures, as already directed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, such as warnings, cautions, and referrals, and would require that conditions imposed on young persons be reasonable and necessary. This aligns with the overall philosophy of the act, which is to prevent our youth from entering a life of crime, in part by providing alternatives to formal criminal charges and custody.

At the judicial referral hearing, a court would hear the bail conditions and have three options: release the accused on the same conditions, impose new conditions to better address the specific circumstances of the accused, or detain the accused. This approach would allow for alternative and early resolution of minor breaches and would ensure that only reasonable and necessary conditions were imposed. This is a more efficient alternative to laying a new criminal charge and would help prevent indigenous persons and marginalized Canadians from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system.

The third area of reform in Bill C-75 is with respect to intimate partner violence. In 2015, Canadians elected our government on a promise to give more support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment and to ensure that more perpetrators were brought to justice. I am proud to follow through on this commitment within this bill.

As I already noted, those accused of repeat offences involving violence against an intimate partner would be subject to a reverse onus at the bail stage. In addition, the bill does the following: (1) proposes a higher sentencing range for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence; (2) broadens the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating partners and former partners; (3) provides that strangulation is an elevated form of assault; and (4) explicitly specifies that evidence of intimate partner abuse is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

Intimate partner violence is a reality for at least one in two women in Canada. Women who are indigenous, trans, elderly, new to Canada, or living with a disability are at increased risk for experiencing violence due to systemic barriers and failures. The personal and often lifelong consequences of violence against women are enormous.

The fourth area of reforms is to increase court efficiencies by limiting the availability of preliminary inquiries. Preliminary inquiries are an optional process used to determine whether there is enough evidence to send an accused to trial. Bill C-75 would limit their availability to accused adults charged with very serious offences punishable by life imprisonment, such as murder and kidnapping.

I recognize this represents a significant change. It is not a change we propose lightly. It is the product of an in-depth consultation process with my counterparts in the provinces and territories and with the courts, and it is based on the best available evidence. For instance, we know in 2015-2016, provincial court cases involving preliminary inquiries took more than four times longer to reach a decision than cases with no preliminary inquiry.

It is important to note that there is no constitutional right to a preliminary inquiry, and one is not necessary for a fair trial so long as the crown satisfies its disclosure requirements. In the Jordan decision, the Supreme Court of Canada asked Parliament to take a fresh look at current processes and reconsider the value of preliminary inquiries in light of the broad disclosure rules that exist today. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs also recommended that they be restricted or eliminated.

The proposed measures would reduce the number preliminary of inquiries by approximately 87%, ensure they are still available for the more complex and serious offences, help unclog the courts, and reduce burdens on witnesses and victims from having to testify twice, once at a preliminary inquiry and once at trial. For example, this measure would eliminate the need for a vulnerable witness in a sexual assault or child sexual assault trial from having to testify twice.

I am confident these reforms would not reduce trial fairness, that prosecutors would continue to take their disclosure obligations seriously, that our courts would continue to uphold the right to make full answer and defence, and that there would remain flexibility in existing processes, such as out-of-court discoveries, that have been implemented in some provinces already—for example, in Quebec and Ontario.

I will now turn to the fifth major area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is the reclassification of offences. The Criminal Code classifies offences as summary conviction, indictable, or hybrid. Hybrid offences may proceed as either a summary conviction or as an indictable offence. That choice is made by the prosecutor after considering the facts and circumstances of the case. The bill would hybridize 136 indictable offences and standardize the default maximum penalty for summary conviction offences in the Criminal Code to two years less a day.

These proposals would neither interfere with the court's ability to impose proportionate sentences nor change the existing maximum penalties for indictable offences. What Bill C-75 proposes is to provide more flexibility to prosecutors to proceed summarily in provincial court for less serious cases. This would allow for matters to proceed more quickly and for superior courts to focus on the most serious matters, resulting in an overall boost in efficiency in the system.

Let me clear: this reform is in no way intended to send a message that offences being hybridized are less serious or should be subjected to lower sentences. Rather, it is about granting greater discretion to our prosecutors to choose the most efficient and appropriate procedure, having regard to the unique circumstances before them. Serious offences would continue to be treated seriously and milder offences would take up less court time, while still carrying the gravity of a criminal charge.

A sixth area of proposed reforms in Bill C-75 is with respect to jury selection.

Discrimination in the selection of juries has been well documented for many years. Concerns about discrimination in peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous peoples being represented on juries was raised back in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge, in the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry report. That report, now over 25 years old, explicitly called for the repeal of peremptory challenges. More recently, retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci addressed these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario juries.

Reforms in this area are long overdue. Peremptory challenges give the accused and the crown the ability to exclude jurors without providing a reason. In practice, this can and has led to their use in a discriminatory manner to ensure a jury of a particular composition. This bill proposes that Canada join countries like England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in abolishing them.

To bring more fairness and transparency to the process, the legislation would also empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause by either the defence or prosecution. The legislation will strengthen the power of judges to stand aside some jurors in order to make room for a more diverse jury that will in turn promote confidence in the administration of justice. Courts are already familiar with the concept of exercising their powers for this purpose.

I am confident that the reforms will make the jury selection process more transparent, promote fairness and impartiality, improve the overall efficiency of our jury trials, and foster public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The seventh area of reforms will strengthen judicial case management. As the Supreme Court of Canada noted in its 2017 decision in Cody, judges are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster culture change. I completely agree. Judges are already engaged in managing cases and ensuring that they proceed promptly and fairly through the existing authorities in the Criminal Code, as well as provincial court rules. These reforms would bolster these powers—for instance, by allowing case management judges to be appointed at the earliest point in the proceeding.

In addition to the major reforms I have noted thus far, Bill C-75 will make technical amendments to further support efficiencies, such as by facilitating remote technology and consolidating and clarifying the Attorney General of Canada's power to prosecute.

Finally, the bill will make better use of limited parliamentary time by including three justice bills currently before Parliament: Bill C-28, Bill C-38, and Bill C-39.

In closing, Bill C-75 proposes meaningful reforms that will speed up criminal court proceedings and improve the safety of our communities while also taking steps to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and marginalized Canadians in the criminal justice system.

Our criminal justice system must be fair, equitable, and just. Victims, families, accused, and all participants in the justice system deserve no less. I urge all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 24th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will begin debate on Bill C-75, the justice modernization act. This evening the House will consider, in committee of the whole, the votes in the main estimates for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

Tomorrow morning, we will debate the motion to extend the sitting hours. After question period, we will begin debate at report stage and third reading of Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty. We will resume that debate on Monday.

On Tuesday, we will resume debate at second reading of Bill C-75, the justice modernization act. On Wednesday, we will begin debate at report stage and third reading of Bill C-64, the abandoned vessels act.

Finally, should Bill C-74, the budget bill, or Bill C-69, the environmental assessment act, be reported back to the House, they shall take priority in the calendar.

JusticeStatements By Members

May 24th, 2018 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' tabling of Bill C-75 is an indication that they do not seem to believe either that crime is a serious issue or that victims' rights should be a priority. The bill contains elements that will permit crimes that are indictable offences to now be treated as summary offences. Perpetrators who commit offences such as participating in the activity of a terrorist group, forced marriage, polygamy, and impaired driving causing bodily harm will now be able to escape the consequences of their actions by simply paying a fine.

To add insult to injury, the Liberals are breaking yet another promise. They committed to protect religious officials by upholding section 176 of the Criminal Code, which says that the assault of religious officials is an indictable offence. In an era when religious officials are vulnerable to acts of hatred, it is puzzling that the Liberal government is once again trying to minimize the fundamental importance of religious freedom in Canada.

Conservatives believe that Canada's fundamental charter rights and the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government.

JusticeStatements By Members

May 23rd, 2018 / 2:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, time and again, the government has turned its back on victims, from opposing mandatory sentences to failing to appoint a victims ombudsman after six months. Now the government is watering down sentences with Bill C-75. Bill C-75 makes serious indictable offences prosecutable by way of summary conviction. As a result, serious offences, including participating in a terrorist organization, kidnapping a minor, and impaired driving causing bodily harm, can be punishable with a mere fine.

There can be no justice for victims when terrorists, kidnappers, and impaired drivers are able to walk away scot-free. Bill C-75 is an absolute travesty. Victims of crime deserve better than the Liberal government.

May 22nd, 2018 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, I certainly appreciate the spirit in which Mr. Fergus is trying to improve upon this. Obviously, I'm from a party where we want to put victims at the heart of the justice system.

The unfortunate part about today's amendment actually further elaborates the concern I have with this government deciding that it would make large-scale changes through an omnibus bill. I have no problem with some of the compensation for justices or some of the other portions of the bill, Mr. Chair, but you've heard me say this before, that we did not have substantive evidence from witnesses on division 20. Many of us rose and expressed concerns, Mr. Fergus included, about the whole process of including a large section [Technical difficulty—Editor] a departure from the Criminal Code, and putting it in front of this committee when we could not study it.

I know we have some lawyers who are currently practising or have formerly practised, but again the justice committee would be the better venue, considering that the government has Bill C-75, as well as other pieces of omnibus legislation that it could have included to have a proper study done. The justice committee could have brought forward victims' groups, academics, and other groups, whether they be from the legal side or otherwise, to basically argue whether or not this legislation is good or not.

I take issue that the government put a small section in their budget bill that applies more to restitution and how we process criminal proceedings or not. People can take issue with the previous government on many different parts of it. I have defended, actually, the use of omnibus legislation by the previous government and this government because sometimes you have to have a process to move things forward. But this is the wrong process.

I heard from members of the NDP, the Liberals, as well as our own caucus who were quite taken aback by the government's approach. I think this is doubling down by offering an amendment. I certainly appreciate where Mr. Fergus is coming from. I don't necessarily disagree with including provisions to make sure victims are included; that's not the issue I'm taken with here, Mr. Chair. I'm taking issue with the fact that this Liberal government is putting through, without very much scrutiny, a wide departure. I think it needs to be registered clearly. I think it is wrong for the government to be using the finance committee process. Again, and I can be corrected, I don't believe we heard from witnesses in direct reference to division 20, with the exception of an official from the government.

This has not been studied in the proper way. It has not been a proper process. I am going to be voting against the overall process, Mr. Chair, because I don't think this is the right way for the government to carry this forward.

Again, through the justice committee would have been a more ideal process, and for the government now to be introducing.... We all had a timeline, Mr. Chair, of when we were supposed to have our recommendations for amendments in. To have this tabled, dropped, at this time, I have to ask you if it is in order, because I don't think this is the proper process. The rest of us work very hard. We don't have the government resources where we can call upon the Minister of Finance's staff or the Finance Canada staff, or the Minister of Justice and her staff, to advise us on these things, and yet we can make a deadline.

I think the fact that they are adding these changes, Mr. Chair, in this committee after hearing very little evidence on division 20 is troubling. I think it points to the government running a haphazard process. I think that Parliament suffers. I think that we should not support any further movements. In fact, this should be given to the justice committee or, if not, the government shouldn't proceed with this until a proper process has been done. They have other pieces of legislation, Mr. Chair, that they could have tacked this on to that would have been far more appropriate than a budget bill.

Criminal CodeStatements By Members

May 11th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's Bill C-75 seeks to dramatically change the Criminal Code.

We support some of the measures in the bill, namely the one on domestic violence because it provides better protections for victims and is harsher on criminals. It makes perfect sense.

Here ends the praise, however. The Liberal government is seeking reduced sentences for those who commit heinous crimes, including participating in the activities of a terrorist group, municipal corruption, human trafficking, forced marriage, advocating genocide, as well as helping a prisoner of war to escape and causing bodily harm.

Canadians want justice to be served when a crime is committed. The Liberal government is acting recklessly in seeking reduced sentences for these crimes.

That is no surprise, however, coming from a government that is poised to welcome 60 former ISIS fighters and have them take poetry classes.

May 10th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair; I'm not used to fast snapper rounds. This is a new thing for a politician.

First of all, Judge Morrison, I want to thank you, and all the witnesses, for your wisdom. One of the things you said that really hit me is that our biggest job as a country is to protect our kids. A lot of kids who are into this trade and trafficking have started very young.

My colleague brought up the fact that the Liberal Party adopted a resolution to decriminalize the consensual sex trade. I would note that they've introduced Bill C-75 where they're weakening penalties for criminals. They're delaying consecutive sentencing for human trafficking. They have this hybrid idea where they're adding summary convictions as an option for indictable offences.

I would like your opinion, and maybe a few of the witnesses could give theirs. Should we be weakening penalties for human trafficking or looking to decriminalize the sex trade? Shouldn't we be tightening up laws and making it more difficult? Perhaps you can even tie in what you said about the Nordic model and what they're doing there that is actually showing some positive results.

I know it's a big question for everybody, but we don't have a lot of time here and I thought I'd throw it out here.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 10th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will begin debate on Bill C-76, the elections modernization act. This debate will continue tomorrow, and the following week will be a constituency week.

However, if we receive a message from the Senate this afternoon about Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, this bill will get priority.

Upon our return following the constituency week, we will resume debate on Bill C-76 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we will start debate at report stage and third reading of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

On Thursday, we will begin debate on Bill C-75, the justice modernization act.

Finally, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), I would like to designate Tuesday, May 22, for consideration in committee of the whole of the main estimates for the Department of Finance, and Thursday, May 24, for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

JusticeStatements By Members

May 10th, 2018 / 2:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians elect MPs to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons. Among other things, Canadians elect us to prioritize their safety and security, to defend the vulnerable, and to create laws that put the rights of victims before those of criminals, which is why it is extremely alarming to those of us on this side of the House to see the Prime Minister pandering to criminals rather than protecting victims.

Bill C-75 reduces penalties for a long list of very serious crimes, including participating in a terrorist group, trafficking women and girls, committing violence against a clergy member, murdering a child within one year of birth, abducting a child, forced marriage, advocating for genocide, and participating in organized crime.

The Conservatives believe the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of every government. We will continue to speak up and speak out for those who are affected. We believe that the values portrayed within Bill C-75 are both deceptive and damaging, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of Canadians.

JusticeStatements By Members

May 9th, 2018 / 2:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to make Canadians aware of some very troubling changes the Liberals are proposing in Bill C-75.

The government is essentially watering down very serious criminal charges by adding a possible summary conviction as a crown option. This could result in a penalty as low as a fine for what was an indictable offence with a penalty of up to 10 years. These charges include abduction of a child under the age of 14, material benefit from trafficking, breach of prison, participation in a terrorist group or criminal organization, advocating genocide, arson for fraudulent purposes, and the list goes on.

This is the Liberal answer to the current backlog in the justice system, a crisis created by not appointing the adequate number of judges to the bench.

Canadians know this. When a perpetrator of a serious crime is set free with a mere fine, he or she has not paid the price for that crime.

I call upon the government to finally start putting victims first.

May 8th, 2018 / 9:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Regardless of whether it was in the budget document, I think that this is not a good provision to have as part of an omnibus piece of legislation, especially to have it in the last section. That is no criticism on you. I'm simply pointing out a few things for the record. This is quite a change of approach.

Given the fact that the Governor in Council can add to a schedule and add or delete other crimes, we are giving a tremendous amount of discretion. Considering that, this should be a separate bill or part of one of the other omnibus bills—I think it's C-75—where at least the justice committee could hear this directly and take a look at this to see if this is the right approach.

I have deep concerns. Even the fact that you can have the bribery of a foreign official, to me that is not just an average, everyday, white-collar crime. That is something that someone who is politically connected or at a very high level in business can do. I share many of Mr. Fergus's concerns that some people will view this as a way to remediate your way out of jail if you are connected. I have some deep concerns here. I would really hope that we could talk about separating this out or at least have the justice committee review this, because this is a fundamental departure from the way we handle the Criminal Code.

I'm all for new thinking, but to have this as the last division in an omnibus bill—believe me, I have no issue with having justice as remuneration as part of a budget bill. You need to put it somewhere. To have a stand-alone bill for such a small section on something that is so routine—I get that—but this is not an appropriate use, in my understanding. This does not help the economy. In fact, it may encourage some people to push the envelope.

Mr. Chair, I don't know what to say other than maybe we should probably consider hiving this off and sending it to the justice committee. I'm not sure that's going to do me any good though.

May 8th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Are you talking about Bill C-75, because the provisions—

May 8th, 2018 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Minister, for being here today.

While I applaud, and I think all Canadians applaud, the concept that gangs and gun violence is something we all have to pay attention to and deal with, I have to suggest that, as I read this bill, it's embarrassingly lacking in anything that addresses gun violence with respect to gangs. You talk about this legislation being gang and gun focused, yet there is no reference whatsoever in this bill to gangs, guns, or criminal organizations.

I have to also suggest to you that I chuckle at the stats you have used, and how you have skewed them, because as you know, the commission of an offence for the theft of firearms was not a criminal offence until 2008 to 2010, and it took a while for that to get through the system. You suggest there has been an 800% increase, which suggests we should have about 1,200 when actually the stats from Statistics Canada suggest we have less than 900 that have been prosecuted in the last seven or eight years of this being there. I find interesting the use of stats to try to support the theft of guns and that the theft of guns is actually the problem here. It isn't.

We know that for the organized crime groups, especially in Toronto, it's the straw purchases. You have a somewhat legitimate gun owner or PAL owner come in and acquire a large number of firearms and then sell them to organized crime. It's a practice. It's what happens, and we know this happens all the time.

Your colleague, though, has introduced Bill C-75, a reduction of any sort of penalties for thefts, for the commission of an offence with a weapon, and these sorts of things. I'm really struggling, sir, to find out where and how you believe this will actually impact positively the gang violence and gun violence that's going on in this country. It's a regulatory bill that does nothing but target law-abiding gun owners. It does zero.

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Contents of Bill C-75—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

May 7th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on April 17, 2018 by the hon. member for Niagara Falls concerning the alleged premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Niagara Falls for having raised this matter, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for their submissions.

The member for Niagara Falls explained that an article by the CBC was published online eight minutes after Bill C-75 was introduced, suggesting that the only way this timeline was feasible was if the news organization was given advanced access to the contents of the bill.

Underscoring the importance of the House's right of first access to bills, the member contended that it is unacceptable that members have to “play catch-up” on a public debate on government legislation that is occurring between a well-briefed media and the Minister of Justice.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons told the House that no advance disclosure of the bill had occurred and the government had complied with all the rules. As a result, he believed that members were not impeded in their functions, nor was there any offence against the authority of the House.

Let me begin by noting that in this case, the right of members to be informed first as to the content of bills which are on notice is not in question. Rather, what is at issue is whether this customary privilege has been properly observed.

On June 8, 2017, I explained that the right of first access has to be balanced with other considerations, such as the complex policy development process that accompanies the drafting of a piece of legislation. I stated at page 12334 of the Debates:

The right of the House to first access to legislation is one of our oldest conventions. It does and must, however, coexist with the need of governments to consult widely, with the public and stakeholders alike, on issues and policies in the preparation of legislation.

This, then, must be measured against other evidence that is provided to the Chair; in other words, is there irrefutable evidence that specific legislative details about Bill C-75, beyond what could be considered as consultative information, were purposely and prematurely divulged to the media? Weighing the evidence provided in this case, as troubling as it is, it is difficult for the Chair to draw that conclusion, particularly since some details of the article in question could have come from the summary of the bill or from background information from discussions during the consultation process.

For that same reason, I can only agree with my predecessor when he noted on April 18, 2013, at page 15610 of the Debates, when referring to a question of privilege raised in relation to the premature disclosure of government legislation:

...it is a well-established practice that the contents of a bill are kept confidential until introduced in Parliament, thus making their premature disclosure a serious matter. However, in this case, a careful reading of the arguments presented to the Chair about what transpired reveals that the concerns expressed appear to be based more on conjecture and supposition than on actual evidence.

In addition, the parliamentary secretary assured the House that the government had not, in any way, divulged the contents of the bill nor its details before its introduction in the House. Therefore, although, as I said, this is very troubling, I cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege in this matter.

While the evidence presented may not be irrefutable in this instance, the Chair remains concerned that some members, of course, were left with the impression that they were put at a disadvantage in their ability to fulfill their duties.

When new ways, through technology or otherwise, are found to share information, it remains incumbent upon those who are responsible for legislative information to respect the primacy of Parliament by respecting the right of the House to first access. Members should never have to even so much as wonder if they were not the first to receive legislative information.

I thank all members for their attention.

JusticeStatements By Members

May 7th, 2018 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Conservatives, we believe in fighting criminals who commit violent crimes; we believe in upholding victims and their families, and supporting law-abiding citizens. The Liberals are more interested in doing the opposite. With Bill C-75, the Liberals are proposing to reduce penalties for serious crimes, such as assault with a weapon, participating or leaving Canada to participate in terrorist activities, and participating in the activities of organized crime.

This bill only weaken our justice system and sends the wrong message to Canadians. As Conservatives, Canadians can be assured we will always stand up for the protection of law-abiding citizens and will put the rights of victims first. That is why, when we were in government, we passed tough on crime legislation, including the Victims Bill of Rights, which that party voted for. Unlike the Liberals, we put our words into action.