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

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

February 7th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary mentioned Bill C-75, and I would agree with part of it. However, many of those offences have been downgraded, almost 60 of them, and when the suggestion is not to take property crimes seriously, that statement of hers will ring loudly for a long time in my riding and create anger. If someone has been a victim of property crime, that is a tragic piece.

When she speaks of Bill C-75, which is a slap on the wrist for many offences on property, people become very angry. This is a challenge. Rural crime is still a challenge and it needs to be resolved.

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

February 7th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Karen McCrimmon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Bow River's intervention today, but I would like to remind him there are significant crimes happening across this country that really are more serious than property crimes. There are crimes against people happening every day, as well as crimes against women.

Originally, this question came out of the case of Tanya Campbell-Losier, which took place in Brooks, Alberta. These people continue to endure the pain of this woman's loss. While I think we are making some huge headway on this, it is very important not to forget the people who were involved in these kinds of crimes across the country.

I know people are there for the people of Brooks, Alberta, and I know they want to make sure they know they are comforted and supported, but there really is not any comfort to be found in jurisdictional issues and processes and procedures of criminal law. However, in the context of the discussion in Parliament, it is important to be clear. That is part of our role here.

The offender in that particular case is a provincial offender who was incarcerated in an Alberta provincial prison. When he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received his sentence last spring, it was pursuant to the exact same Criminal Code provisions that were in place under the Harper government. Nothing had changed. When he was granted day parole in the fall, it was pursuant to the exact same criteria in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that were in place under the Harper government. There had been no changes.

Again, that is obviously cold comfort to Tanya's loved ones. They do not want us pointing partisan fingers. They want us to make the system better.

There is a legitimate question to come to this government: What is this government doing to protect women from intimate partner violence and to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes? Here is the answer. We have introduced Bill C-75, which would strengthen the way the criminal justice system deals with intimate partner violence by allowing for longer sentences, reversing the onus at bail hearings for repeat offenders and broadening the definition to include not just spouses but dating partners and former partners.

We have invested over $200 million to prevent gender-based violence and to support survivors and to deal with the scourge of violence against women. We are providing safe options to women in abusive relationships by devoting a third of the $40-billion national housing strategy to projects for women, girls and their families fleeing violence. This also helps maintain 7,000 shelter spaces.

Of course none of that brings Tanya back, but it will help more women from suffering her fate. Once again, my deepest condolences to her family and friends, and the community of Brooks, Alberta, whom I am sure continue to miss her very much.

Bill C-78—Time Allocation MotionDivorce ActGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2019 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I find it interesting, just entering into the conversation now, that the hon. minister stands up and talks about how there has been ample time to consult our constituents.

With that, I would like to bring up a constituent, somebody for whom I have been tirelessly advocating. She is Shelley Beyak, whose children, Liam and Mia Tarabichi, were kidnapped by their father, Shelley's ex-husband. The Prime Minister refuses to intervene in this case.

How does the hon. minister, who is new on this file, rationalize the comments today about speeding up a piece of legislation when he and his Prime Minister are failing to act to bring home Liam and Mia Tarabichi, a situation this bill actually touches on? As well, another piece of legislation, Bill C-75, actually lessens the charge for abduction of children under 14 and would again fall to this situation.

How does the minister rationalize his actions on this file while levying time allocation on this important piece of legislation?

January 31st, 2019 / 9:35 a.m.
See context

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

David Lametti

With respect to the bestiality provisions, my sense is that the challenges would be the same as with any sexual assault provision where you have a vulnerable party. Vulnerable parties are often not people who readily go to a police station and file a report. You're talking about children, for example. It requires other people to report, other people to know about it. All of the investigative challenges that exist with respect to sexual crimes against children generally are going to be quite similar here, I think. Again, we're trying to provide an additional tool and an additional basis on which people can be charged.

We've alluded to some of the challenges that exist around animal fighting, in the sense that it's clandestine, so hidden to begin with, and also often interwoven with organized crime, which adds another layer of complexity.

But, once again, we're trying to provide a basis on which our law enforcement authorities can move in and stop the practice. Hopefully, I think, generally, some of the administration of justice provisions that are contained, for example, in Bill C-75, will also help facilitate the task at the other end.

January 31st, 2019 / 9:20 a.m.
See context

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

David Lametti

As legislators, I think any piece of the puzzle we can improve.... There are many moving parts, with Bill C-78 and the Divorce Act being one, as is administrative justice reform, which you have already looked at, and Bill C-75 and moving forward with that are all a series of parts to improving the criminal justice system and the administration of justice. With all of these pieces of legislation, whether they be social or criminal, or help in some other way, we hope to improve the lot of families and children, and to better protect animals.

I guess there isn't one single answer other than to say that we're trying to make a number of things better, and we will continue to do that.

JusticeOral Questions

December 13th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have received the correspondence from my hon. colleague across the way and I will take great care in reviewing that correspondence. The letter is speaking with respect to a bill that we introduced, Bill C-75, which seeks to reform the Criminal Code and improve efficiencies and effectiveness.

We are making changes to bail reform. We are looking at administration of justice offences to address delays, with the underlying emphasis on public safety, ensuring we respect victims and ensuring we have an efficient and effective criminal justice system. I look forward to having further conversations with the hon. member.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am here to speak tonight to Bill C-51. For those who are not aware, this bill is intended to clean up clauses in the law that are no longer useful or applicable and to strengthen some of the language.

First, Bill C-51 is another omnibus bill. The Prime Minister said that the Liberals would not have omnibus bills, but we continue to see them in the House day after day. I may have gotten used to the fact that the Prime Minister always breaks his promise. However, I want people to be aware of this so they understand, as we approach next year's election, that the Prime Minister does not keep his promises and if he makes new promises, Canadians can expect that behaviour to continue. The promises really are not worth the paper on which they are written. Therefore, I object to this being an omnibus bill.

Usually when we think of justice bills, we think about what the government is trying to achieve in the country with respect to justice. Normally, we try to define what behaviour would be considered criminal, sentences that would be appropriate and commensurate with the crimes and that they are enforced in a timely way. However, I have to question what the justice minister is thinking with these pieces of legislation and actions that have been taken.

The government is in the fourth year of its mandate and what priority has the justice minister been giving time to? First, she has not put enough judges in place to keep murderers and rapists from going free because time has passed and the Jordan principle applies. That should have been a priority for the government, but clearly was not.

We heard earlier in the debate about how the government was pursuing veterans and indigenous people in court. That is obviously a priority for it, but one would think that other things would make the list. The Liberals prioritized the legalization of marijuana and the legalization of assisted suicide. Then it introduced Bill C-75, which took a number of serious crimes and reduced them to summary convictions of two years or a fine, things like forcible confinement of a minor, forced child marriage, belonging to a criminal organization, bribing an official and a lot of things like that. Those were the priorities of the government.

Then there is Bill C-83 regarding solitary confinement and impacts on 340 Canadians.

I am not sure what the priority of the government is when we consider the crime that has hit the streets. There is the increase in unlawful guns and gangs and huge issues with drug trafficking. I was just in Winnipeg and saw the meth addiction problem occupying the police and law enforcement there. I would have thought there would be other priorities.

If I think specifically about some of the measures in Bill C-51, the most egregious one to me is that the government tried to remove section 176, which protects religious officials and puts punishments in place for disrupting religious ceremonies.

Eighty-three churches in Sarnia—Lambton wrote letters and submitted petitions. There was an immediate outcry. It was nice that the government was eventually shamed into changing its mind and kept that section the way it was. However, why is there no moral compass with the government? We have had to shame it into doing the right thing many times, and this was one of them.

Terri-Lynne McClintic was moved to a healing lodge. I remember hearing the Minister of Public Safety talk day after day about how there was nothing he could do. I looked at section 6(1) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. It says that the minister has full authority over his department. Eventually, of course, we shamed the government into the right thing. We heard today there may be a similar opportunity with Michael Rafferty, the other killer of Tori Stafford.

There is the Chris Garnier situation. He brutally murdered a police officer. He has PTSD and is getting veterans benefits when he was never a veteran. Again, we had to shame the government into taking action.

Then there was Statistics Canada. The government had a plan to allow it to take the personal financial transactional information of people's bank accounts and credit cards without their consent. Again, there was a total out-of-touch-with-Canadians response from the government, asking why it was a problem. Eventually, ruling by the polls, Canadians again shamed the government into changing its mind on that one.

Finally, there was the Canada summer jobs situation, which was very egregious to me. In my riding, numerous organizations were not able to access funding because of this values test that the government had put in place. The hospice, which delivers palliative care, was not even able to apply. It is under the Catholic diocese of Canada, which objected to the attestation. It has taken a very long time, but again, the government has been shamed into saying that the people are right and that maybe it will change it up for next year. Why does the government always have to be shamed into these things instead of having a moral compass to know what is right and what is not?

Bill C-51 would clean up a lot of things that were obviously a big priority for the government, like comic books causing crime. We know there have been huge issues about that in Canada. It would remove offences such as challenging someone to a dual. It would clean up the section on people fraudulently using witchcraft and sorcery. It would clean up a number of things. I do not object to it; I just do not see it as a priority when people are dying because of serious crimes.

Then there is the issue of sexual assault. The government spends a lot of word count talking about the fact that it cares about this. However, does it really care about sexual assault and strengthening the language on consent when it does not appoint enough judges to keep rapists from going free?

I was the chair of the status of women and we studied violence against women and girls. We know that one out of every thousand sexual assault cases actually goes to court and gets a conviction. If we want to talk about the sentences applied, they are measured in months and not years, when the victims struggle on forever.

Although there has been an attempt to make it clear what consent really means, there has been discussion in the debate today that it is still not clear. If people are interested to see what consent really means, there is a little video clip that can be googled. It is called Tea Consent. It is a very good way of demonstrating what consent is. I encourage everyone to take a look at that.

When it comes to the justice system and the priorities of the government, I cannot believe it has not addressed the more serious things facing our nation. We can think about what the justice minister ought to do, such as putting enough judges in place so we can have timely processing of events, and prioritize. If we do not have enough judges for the number of cases occurring, it is an indication of too much crime. However, it is also an opportunity to put the priority on processing murderers and rapists ahead of people being charged with petty crimes of less importance.

When it comes to looking at some of the actions the government should be taking going forward, it should be focusing on the issue of illegal gun activity happening right now. Ninety-five per cent of homicides is happening with unlawful guns or guns that are used unlawfully. There is a huge opportunity to do something about that. This should be a priority for the justice minister.

Our leader has put together a very cohesive plan that would reduce gun and gang violence. It is a great, well-thought out plan. I wish the Liberal government had some plan to try to do something to reduce crime in the country and to ensure that the people who commit crimes are actually held to account. I do not see that in Bill C-51. I have to wonder why it took so long to bring the bill forward.

As I said, the government is in the fourth year of its mandate and Bill C-39 would have made a lot of these fixes. It was introduced in March of 2017. Here we are at the end of 2018 and still none of this has gone through.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, like my colleague, I have been here since 2004. It is interesting to realize that for 10 years the House will not be located here. It reminds me of how honoured I am to be here.

I do want to ask the member about this whole soft on crime agenda of the Liberals. He mentioned section 176. In my community, people perceive that as an attack on religious freedom.

He also talked about the Canada summer jobs program.

Bill C-75 would actually change indictable offences into summary convictions.

My colleague asked if we on this side have consulted experts. It seems members on the other side do not want to consult with Canadians.

The entire agenda of the Liberals moving forward is soft on crime policies, especially policies that would change something that was an indictable offence into a summary conviction. What kind of message does that send to Canadians?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege to stand in this place, especially as we approach the time when it will be closed and the last week we will be here.

It is an august place, a place where many interesting debates have happened since it reopened after the fire. As for the one before the fire, we are coming up the 100th anniversary of Prime Minister Laurier, who was a leader of note. He established Alberta and Saskatchewan as provinces, and passed away the following year. Not only did he establish Alberta and Saskatchewan, he was in favour of free trade agreements. In 1911, he lost an election on a free trade agreement. We may see that happen again in 2019.

Also I remember well the debates on the flag issue, which was a focus for the country in the sixties. The debates between Diefenbaker and Pearson are legendary in this place. The flag issue is one that had a lot of Canadians focused on this place and on the debates, which resulted in the maple flag we have today.

I also remember when we had a loyal opposition party leading a charge to leave the country. A lot of people were a little confused about the debates that went on in this place when the leader of the loyal opposition wanted to split up the country.

Many debates have happened in this place, with many people who are orators, intelligent people expressing their opinions and representing Canadians. At this time, I am one of 338 who has the honour and privilege to stand in this place, but not for much longer as this building will close this week and we will move to another place. Again, it is a privilege to look around and see the magnificent edifice and beautiful place in which we get to work.

Today I rise to speak to C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act. Since it was introduced the first time, and again as it has come back from the Senate, there have been learned people standing and speaking to this. It is an omnibus bill. It is very complicated and one some people in the House are able to understand, comprehend and speak very clearly about. Others speak of its broad issues, but not as intelligently as some of the members in the House who have legal backgrounds.

However, it should not be a surprise there are issues when we get a bill this big, although many people would agree with some of the things in it.

I will be sharing my time, Mr. Speaker, with my colleague from Niagara West.

We agree with some things in this omnibus bill. It contains some worthy provisions. Clarifying the law in relation to sexual consent is very important. Repealing unconstitutional provisions in the Criminal Code is a positive aspect. I was also very happy the government backed down, as we have heard many times, on the removal of section 176 of the code. I heard a lot about this one from my constituents. Many faith groups, including those in my riding of Bow River, were deeply concerned about that section.

The section provides protection to those practising their religion. We have freedom of religion in Canada. One of thing I may not agree with everybody on is religion, but I would fight to the death for those people to be able to express their religious beliefs. Religious communities need to be able to worship without fear of interference and disruption. This is truer now than ever. Hate crimes against religious groups are on the rise in Canada. A section of the code that gives these groups clear, unambiguous confidence in their right to worship as they please is far from redundant.

When we were talking about the inoperative sections of the Criminal Code and Bill C-51, it was the unfortunate decision by the government to initially include section 176 of the Criminal Code among the sections it deemed to be obsolete. Section 176 is hardly redundant, hardly obsolete and certainly not unconstitutional. Indeed, section 176 is the only section in the Criminal Code that protects clergy from having their services disrupted, something which is very serious and goes to the heart of religious freedom.

The government turned a blind eye when it introduced this, and the Conservatives called them out on it. As a result, tens of thousands of Canadians spoke out, telling the government that it was wrong.

My learned colleague on the other side previously mentioned that a committee was able to resolve this. It was one of the outstanding features of the committee that it unanimously came to that. However, it is my belief that there was such push-back in religious communities that the people sitting on that committee realized the mistake in that initial document and changed it.

Municipal governments must react much sooner when they may have made a mistake. If in coffee shops they hear about something, they pass it the next day, and at the next meeting, they can fix it. This is a much longer process, but at the committee level, members heard from religious people of faith in our country that this was not the appropriate thing to do.

I will move on. Clause 14 of Bill C-51 proposed to repeal section 176 of the Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to unlawfully obstruct a religious official. Conservatives were the first to identify this clause. As a result of the public backlash, the Liberals on the justice committee amended Bill C-51 to remove it.

However, only months later, the Liberals hybridized section 176 in Bill C-75. Currently, it is a solely indictable offence, which is reserved for the most serious offences. However, by hybridizing section 176, it could be prosecuted as a summary conviction offence, which is reserved for less serious offences. That means that offenders could just get a fine, and I think that would downgrade the importance of religious freedom. For people who practice it and leaders of religion, this would be downgraded to a less serious offence. That is not right.

While the specific changes would not have a significant impact on the maximum sentence, unlike some of the other offences the government is hybridizing, it would send a message. I would submit that it would send exactly the wrong message. It would send the message that disrupting a religious service and infringing on the freedom of religion of Canadians, which is not just any freedom but a fundamental freedom in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is not that serious. That is just wrong. It is why the Conservatives opposed it and stood up to fight Bill C-75.

Then there were amendments that came back from the Senate. The Senate put forward amendments because there was concern that this would add confusion in cases where a person was not unconscious but was, for example, highly intoxicated. Unfortunately, while the Senate amendments may have been well intentioned, they would simply cause more problems and solve a problem that really does not exist. We would support voting against these amendments, because we believe that they do not clarify; they just make things more confusing.

Conservatives fully support all changes in the bill to clarify and strengthen sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code. These changes would help support victims of horrific sexual assault crimes. Conservatives also support repealing or amending sections of the code that have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

It is important to keep the code clean and up to date for efficient and effective justice for victims and their families. Bill C-51 would merely clarify that consent can never occur when an individual is unconscious. That is consistent with the J.A. decision.

Bill C-51 would not, as the Senate amendment argues, potentially create a bright line for consent on the basis of consciousness. In that regard, proposed paragraph 273.1(2)(b) provides that “no consent is obtained...for any reason other than [unconsciousness].” This language clearly acknowledges that there are many possible reasons a person may be incapable of consent, despite being conscious.

The Senate amendment would likely lead to additional complexity and confusion over what evidence was relevant to determine consent. Instead of adding certainty to the law, it would lead to further litigation involving these factors. For those reasons, we oppose this amendment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, on that point, the government proceeded with hybridizing offences under section 176 in Bill C-75. Although members of the standing committee chose to make that change with respect to Bill C-51, we saw new government legislation in the form of Bill C-75 that again showed a lack of appreciation for this important section.

It would have been great if the same standing committee had shown the alleged independence that the member speaks of by fixing it the second time around as well. Unfortunately, sometimes, even on relatively independent committees, the PMO's hammer comes down and we do not see that change.

It is frustrating to see repeated attempts by the government in its legislation to weaken section 176. Yes, there was an amendment the first time around on this bill, but there was not an amendment the second time around.

In so many different areas, the government tries to do something, there is a public backlash, it waits a while and then we see it do something similar. Talking about the impact on faith communities, the Canada summer jobs issue has been in the news recently. I do not think Canadians are going to be fooled by the fact that the government is trying to make what looks like a change in an election year. Many faith communities have seen what the government's intentions are with respect to their freedoms and liberties. To change the tone of the discussion in an election year is not the best indication of what it has in mind or what it would likely do if it were re-elected.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill C-51 and, in particular, the Senate amendments.

My intention in my remarks today is to focus on two issues that arise out of this bill. One is the question of advance consent in general, at a philosophical and practical level, and whether we think that a person ought to be able to consent in advance to something happening in the future and some of the issues related to that in this bill. The other is I want to talk about section 176 and the way in which the government approaches our response to potential acts of hate and violence and disruption that are perpetrated against faith communities in Canada.

The issue of advance consent is very much one that has been discussed back and forth and from different perspectives. I note that with respect to the idea of someone consenting in advance to sexual activity, this is a subject on which the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal, at certain points in time, disagreed. There was a court decision in R. v. J.A. in which the person accused of sexual assault argued in the context of that particular case that sexual assault had not taken place because the complainant had consented to being rendered unconscious, allegedly, and consented, allegedly, to engaging in sexual activity. The Ontario Court of Appeal actually agreed with the arguments of the accused in this case, and said the “only state of mind ever experienced by the person is that of consent”.

I think the Ontario Court of Appeal got it wrong. Many people would say that it is not only wrong but deeply offensive to suggest that a sexual act could be performed without a person's explicit consent in the moment, on the basis of alleged prior consent in advance.

In my view, the Supreme Court got it right when it said:

It is not possible for an unconscious person to satisfy this requirement, even if she expresses her consent in advance. Any sexual activity with an individual who is incapable of consciously evaluating whether she is consenting is therefore not consensual within the meaning of the Criminal Code.

Bill C-51 puts that legal court decision into the Criminal Code by noting that there is never consent when a person is unconscious. Proposed paragraph 273.1(2)(a.1) states:

For the purpose of subsection (1), no consent is obtained if

(a.1) the complainant is unconscious;

The decision of the Supreme Court in this case is the right decision. It is one that I agree with and it is one that is reflected in the law.

It is noteworthy at the same time that the Ontario Court of Appeal thought differently and indeed advanced arguments for the idea that a person could provide so-called advance consent in this case. It reflects the fact that in different contexts around different debates, people have made arguments about the supposed legitimacy of advance consent. We see in another case the use of that argument, and I will get to that in a few moments.

The cases against so-called advance consent as something we should allow or accept are myriad. One of the obvious arguments against it is that one's past self, in one's wishes and inclinations, might disagree substantively from one's future self. One might think that at such and such a point in the future under certain circumstances one will want this or feel this or accept this. However, in reality, when one experiences those things, one feels totally differently in the context of that new situation. The idea of a past self irrevocably dictating the conditions and events that are going to occur with a future self is unjust to the future self and it violates the autonomy of the individual at that point in time in the future. Our past selves differ from our future selves, and perceptions about how we will experience certain events in the past might differ from how we actually experience them in the moment when they are taking place.

It is on this basis of recognizing the importance of autonomy, not in the sense of a past self-binding and future self-binding but autonomy in the sense of individuals making determinations about themselves in the moment and being able to ensure that they are comfortable with and accepting of everything that is happening while that thing is happening, that the court, the House, and this legislation recognize the fundamental wrongness of advance consent in the context of sexual activity.

I develop this point in spite of the perhaps pre-existing agreement in the House because it has some relevance to our discussion of other issues with respect to consent. In particular, some members would like to see us allow advance consent in the case of euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is important for members to reflect on the argument for and against allowing advance consent in the one case when we consider the possible application of that same principle in a different case.

Questions were asked in the House, for example, about the case of Ms. Audrey Parker, a tragic situation for her, and other cases, where the idea of advance consent was brought up. Some have argued, especially some of my friends in the NDP, that people should be able to provide consent in advance that their life be taken if their condition advances to a certain point and if certain conditions are met.

I find that prospect very troubling, that a present self could irrevocably bind a future self, especially that the person could establish parameters under which that future self would be bound even in a case where that future self might, in the moment in terms of practical expression, not want that to happen.

The particular context in euthanasia of providing advance consent is, of course, that people have to imagine how they would experience certain conditions, certain development of a disease, and how they would feel about it, how they would respond and what they would want in the moment. The idea and the argument that some advocates have made is that the person should be able to issue an advance directive, so that even if they in that moment do not have the capacity to make a decision, their past self would decide for them in the present.

This can create a situation, though, where one might ask what happens if a person with somewhat lost capacity, but nonetheless with a condition set out by their past self, then says he does not want his life taken. His past self had established this living will, this advance directive of sorts, that would then theoretically involve the state and medical professionals taking his life in a case where he did not want that to happen in the moment based on something his past self said.

This is not a purely hypothetical case. There is currently a case before the Dutch courts in which a patient was held down by family members while a physician injected her with lethal medication. The doctor was acting based on an interpretation of an advance directive and of past statements made by the patient.

We do have cases where there is an application of the idea of advance consent to euthanasia, and we have a very scary situation, frankly, where a person's life is taken when he or she is saying in the moment, “No, I don't want this to happen”, but someone else is interpreting something the individual said in the past as overruling the individual's expression in the moment.

The present self who is facing this kind of violence, I would argue, is maybe at a point of lower capacity than the person previously had, but I still think it is a very scary situation or proposition.

I would encourage members to reflect on the question of advance consent and to take a consistent position on it. I would suggest that members set a similar standard for consent in these cases. It does not seem, to me, to make sense to have a lower bar for the consent required to die than consent required for sexual activity, to abhor advance consent in the case of sexual activity, and yet to support it in the case of death and dying. We do not know exactly where the debate on advance consent in the context of death and dying is going to go. I know there is an expert panel the government has put forward that we expect to hear a report back from relatively soon. I know there are members of the government caucus who have said that they are supportive of the idea of advance consent.

However, if we think about the case that I spoke about in particular and how we would feel if a past version of ourselves had said we wanted something, which all of a sudden, in the moment, in a situation, we really do not want to have happen, and yet we are told that we had said we had wanted this in the past, so our past self can dictate to our present self. I would see that as really going against a pretty basic principle of autonomy that I know is important to many members.

I leave that for the consideration of the House. It is very relevant to our discussion of Bill C-51, in terms of the way in which the bill codifies the point that in the context of sexual consent, one cannot consent in advance, that a person who is unconscious can never consent, regardless of what they said beforehand. Again, to underline this, I very much agree with that particular change to Bill C-51. I want to encourage members to think about what that means for some of the other conversations that are happening.

This bill deals with Senate amendments. There is a proposed Senate amendment that provides some specific language around that section. I know that some of my colleagues are favourably disposed towards the intent of the senator who brought this forward, but are concerned about some of the unintended legal implications of it, namely, that if certain things are spelled out explicitly, there might also be things that are not spelled out in the section. The sense, and I think it is a good sense, is that the existing language in that particular section of Bill C-51 does the trick in hitting the particular point on the mark. That is what I wanted to say about the issue of advance consent.

I would like to make a few comments about section 176 of the Criminal Code and the back and forth we have seen in our discussions on that section and on some of the other actions the government has taken in this regard.

Section 176 deals with the disruption of a religious service and vandalism against church property, and so forth. Our caucus has done a great deal of work with civil society to bring attention to the importance and value of this section, and to oppose initial efforts by the government to remove this section.

The government argued that section 176 could be removed, because it was redundant. Clearly the offences that are covered by section 176 are things that other charges could apply to, but that does not mean that the offence, in terms of putting a particular emphasis on it and ensuring fulsome prosecution in these cases, is redundant. By analogy, our Criminal Code speaks specifically of hate crimes, and I have never heard anyone argue that hate crimes legislation is redundant because the violence associated with hate crimes, namely, vandalism, but more particularly assault and those sorts of things, are already illegal.

I have never heard anyone ask why we need hate crime provisions because those things are already illegal. I think all of us accept that the message sent by having a particular category of prosecution associated with hate crimes is appropriate, because hate crimes are not just aimed at doing violence to a particular individual but also at making an entire community feel threatened and unsafe in living their lives as they do, including the practice of their faith and the public actions they take that are associated with their identity, and so forth.

Hate crimes legislation is about ensuring that groups of people are not targeted on the basis of their identity. That is why we treat a hate crime as something distinct from an act of assault on its own. If members accept that principle with respect to hate crimes and hate crimes in prosecution, it would seem to me that the same principle goes to section 176. Someone who actively disrupts a church service or commits acts of vandalism or violence against religious clergy are not just trying to enact specific violence against an individual or place. It is not merely an act of trespassing or vandalism, rather an action that carries with it a real chill for the ability of people of faith to live freely and confidently without worry of that kind of violence. That is why section 176 is not redundant. It is critically important.

Another argument the government used was to say that the language in section 176 is outdated because it refers to a clergyman and is not, in its textual implications, inclusive of all faiths and genders. However, in reality, the section was clearly being applied in a way that was fully inclusive. It really was an odd argument to make that we should take the section out completely because it was not, in its language, inclusive when all that was really required was to change the language. Even changing the language did not change the actual practical effects of the law.

In the end, in response to a really strong reaction and groundswell from different communities working collaboratively with our party, the proposed deletion of section 176 by Bill C-51 was abandoned. We were pleased to see that.

At the same time, we then saw the government, in Bill C-75, proposing to hybridize offences under section 176, effectively reducing the sentence for these offences. In the previous discussion in the House on this issue, my friend from Winnipeg North offered a defence of the idea of hybridized offences. I do not think anyone has argued there should not be any cases where the level of available discretion would not cover a spectrum associated with hybridized offences.

However, I think a lot of those who advocated significantly for section 176 to be preserved, and were initially pleased by the government's stepping back from their decision, kind of saw in the hybridization of this particular offence yet another indication that the government does not really understand the importance of this and does not accept the value of having strong, clear language with appropriate associated sentences in the Criminal Code to protect the practice of faith in this country.

It is ironic because the government talks a good game a lot of the time when it comes to fighting hate. When it comes to motions or statements around these kinds of issues, the government always seems to be ready.

We had considerable debate in the House on Motion No. 103 on the question of “Islamophobia”. All of us in the House should read that it is important for us to take a strong stand against, in this case, anti-Muslim violence or hatred, and that it is important for us to take a strong stand against those who express bigotry against any community. However, we wanted the government to provide a definition of what it meant by “Islamophobia”, and it refused to do that. Unfortunately, the House was not able to come together in a way that might have been desirable to send a clear unified statement on that issue.

Despite the specific language of Motion No. 103 speaking of the need to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear”, the government's actions with respect to section 176, an actual section of the Criminal Code that provides real legal protection for those practising their faith, show that in so many cases, it is only interested in the statement and not the substance.

For faith communities and leaders across the board who wonder what substantive protections exist, they should look to and expect the government to underline the importance of section 176, not to be weakening its application as we are seeing.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is right. It does send a strange message. On the one hand, they want to clarify a situation, but on the other, they make it impossible to clarify.

I have always advocated for victims of crime. What bothers me the most about Bill C-51 is that it mentions the Charter of Rights and Freedoms a lot but does not mention the Victims Bill of Rights at all, even though it is supposed to help victims. Plus, the Victims Bill of Rights takes precedence over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unlike their attackers, victims of crime get life sentences. In many cases, there is no minimum sentence for perpetrators. A judge may hand down a maximum sentence knowing full well that the offender will never serve it in its entirety. Many offenders get out of jail after serving a third of their sentence, and that is what makes victims of crime nervous. Sexual assault and rape are life sentences for victims. We have no idea what those women and young boys go through. Yes, boys can be victims too.

For those people, and as far as I am concerned, Bill C-51 does not go far enough. I would have liked an explanation as to why Bill C-75 was scrapped when it should have been kept. I would also like someone to mention the bill introduced by our former leader, Rona Ambrose, that addressed this problem.

Bill C-51 is a good bill, but there is still more work to be done.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is right that there are a number of aspects of Bill C-51 that are welcome in clarifying, in some cases, the law around sexual assault.

I think everyone in this House would agree that sexual assault is an extremely serious offence. The lives of those who are victims of sexual assault are forever changed. It is why I have to say I am very disturbed that, on the one hand, there are some positive aspects to Bill C-51 but, on the other hand, the government would turn around in Bill C-75 and hybridize the offence of administering a date-rape drug. The government is actually reclassifying that offence from what is now a solely indictable offence, the most serious type of offence in the Criminal Code, to an offence that could be prosecutable by way of summary conviction.

I was wondering if my hon. colleague could comment on what kind of a message it sends to water down sentencing for administering a date-rape drug. I would submit it sends exactly the wrong message.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will agree with my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton. It is a real head-scratcher.

He recalled a few hours ago that when Bill C-32 was introduced, the government made much fanfare. There was a huge press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons. A number of stakeholders were behind the minister. It made headlines across the country. That bill still remains in purgatory.

It was then rolled into Bill C-39, and we had hope that this was moment we would be moving forward with the much-needed amendments to the Criminal. However, again, that bill remains in purgatory at first reading.

Finally, Bill C-39 was rolled into Bill C-75. The House of Commons has only just passed that bill and sent it to the Senate.

Here we are more than three years into the government's mandate and we have only just sent that package of Criminal Code reforms to the Senate. Who knows how long it will take in the other place, given how massive that bill is, how many debates will be needed in the Senate and how many stakeholders will appear before the legal and constitutional affairs committee.

For a government that came to power with such a huge and ambitious mandate to reform our criminal justice system, the evidence of its legislative progress has been very lacking. I would agree with my colleague that the government's management of time in the House could certainly use a few lessons.

Consideration of Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 1:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, with respect, I will have to disagree with my colleague. Yes, I agree there are some very substantive provisions in Bill C-75 and Bill C-51 which we do support. The problem is that in Bill C-75, the government rolled in those changes with other more contentious issues and therefore has forced the legislation down to a snail's pace where it now has been sent to the Senate.

Three years into the Liberal government's mandate, when we look at its accomplishments at cleaning up the Criminal Code, so far nothing has been done. The zombie provisions of the Criminal Code are still on the books. The Criminal Code is reprinted every single year. The 2016 edition, 2017 edition and 2018 edition all contain those mistakes. If I am going to look at the government's performance based on its amendments to the Criminal Code, I am sorry but it is a failing grade.