An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody)

Status

Dead, as of June 14, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill S-217.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to

(a) expand the grounds for the justification of detention in custody; and

(b) require that, in any proceeding under section 515, the prosecutor lead evidence to prove the fact that the accused has failed to appear in court when required to do so and the fact that the accused has previously been convicted of a criminal offence or has been charged with and is awaiting trial for another criminal offence.

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 14, 2017 Passed 11th Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
March 8, 2017 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

June 14th, 2017 / 6:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am a very hopeful person, so I will hope that it can and it just has not yet. However, that remains to be seen. It is up to the government to make good on that hopeful remark. It is frustrating.

I will maybe just examine another angle of my frustration with the position of the government, and not just in respect to access to information, but I think it makes the point well. We hear often, when it is convenient for the government, that it appreciates the work of committees and it wants to send things to committee and it wants to have it studied, and that is a great virtue. The government did not feel that way about the infrastructure bank because it did not want to break that off and actually have a committee have more time to look at it. The government cherry-picks. It liked the work of the committee on Bill S-217, which we voted on earlier. It cherry-picks when it likes the work of a committee and when it does not.

Interestingly, the work that we have done on the access to information, privacy and ethics committee generated, and members can correct me if I am wrong, two unanimous reports. One report was on access to information reform. It was a commitment of the minister that he would bring forward legislation this spring, which he has subsequently changed and has not given a new date by which he will bring that legislation in. We also had a unanimous report on reform to the Privacy Act.

In no case has the government taken that work of the committee, unanimous work, which means six Liberals on the committee endorsed all of those recommendations, and picked one recommendation that it would put into law. Again, the government's word is not worth much.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 14th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 30, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding the recommendation not to proceed further with Bill S-217.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2017 / 7:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to start off tonight by thanking the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for putting his heart in the cause.

I think a lot of us have heard the story about Constable Wynn and the family he left behind. His dear wife sits in this place tonight listening to our debate, which actually makes it a little more difficult to talk about, because sometimes this place is filled with a lot of words. However, tonight these are powerful words that have impacted somebody's life and will impact lives in the future.

Bill S-217 is asking for something very simple. However, I think the governing party is trying to mislead this place by making it something more complicated than it really is. For instance, “may” and “shall” refer to two different things. The term is “may...lead evidence”, which we would change to “shall...lead evidence” or shall present evidence. There is no aspect of this that would require proof. It talks about presenting evidence, to demand that evidence is put before the court in these kinds of cases.

I want to talk about an article in the National Post about the person who shot Constable Wynn, and I will go over some of the details.

...details a lengthy list of 57 convictions, starting in April 1999 when he was ordered jailed for two months for theft and break and enter.

In the years that followed, when Rehn wasn’t serving time, he was racking up convictions in Edmonton, Calgary and the smaller communities of Evansburg and Drumheller.

They were for assault, assault with a weapon, drug possession and possession of prohibited firearms. He obstructed a peace officer, escaped lawful custody and drove while disqualified.

He also was convicted for breaking and entering, theft and possession of stolen property.

Parole Board Of Canada documents show Rehn served two federal jail terms as an adult.

The first was a two-year sentence for possession of stolen property and driving while disqualified. The second was for three years on charges including escaping custody and possession of a loaded prohibited weapon.

Collectively, he was sentenced to serve more than 12 years in custody, but it’s not clear how much of that time he actually spent behind bars.

On the day he died, [the criminal]...was still facing 30 charges for four separate offences, including fraud, resisting a peace officer, escaping lawful custody, possessing a prohibited firearm, failing to appear in court, failing to stop for police, dangerous driving and multiple charges of breaching bail conditions.

Somebody mentioned that there were more than 50 convictions, but there were 57, and all the member for St. Albert—Edmonton is asking is that this evidence be put before the court when bail is being granted or discussed. To look elsewhere is absolutely a breach of justice for the Canadian public, to overlook those 57 convictions.

The opposition has the victims bill of rights on our side, which was one of the proudest moments of our government when I first arrived here in 2011. The victims bill of rights is something that recognizes victims and their meaningful place in these court cases in our justice system, because it is a system that often seems to overlook a victim. As soon as people are victims, as soon as they pass away or are gone, they are discarded and not even accounted for in terms of the case. It seems they do not matter. It feels as if they do not matter.

We have heard the other side say that they care about justice, that they care about Constable Wynn's family, and these kinds of issues. This is one of hundreds of issues across this country where these kinds of previous convictions are not taken into account in bail hearings, and they need to be. We absolutely need these cases and previous convictions brought before bail hearings so that these guys and ladies remain behind bars, where they should be.

Sometimes, unless it is happening next door or it is a personal issue, where a family member of ours is involved in a particular case, there is a distance there.

The government has supported this legislation before. I would challenge the government members to put themselves in that seat up there, where the wife of Constable Wynn is sitting. They should put themselves in that seat up there. Her husband is never coming home. I challenge the other side to do this very thing, to put themselves in the place of the family members who are left behind because somebody is out walking the streets with 57 convictions and multitudes of others.

I heard of one case where there are 150 previous convictions and yet this person is still walking the streets committing crimes in our country. How is that even possible? It is possible because there is a clause that says “may” instead of “shall”. If we put this clause into our justice system that says “shall...lead”, shall produce evidence or “shall...lead evidence” of previous convictions, I think we could greatly reduce the number of people walking the streets who really should not be, for our own safety, for the safety of the members on the government side, and for their kids' safety, as well.

Again, I am going to challenge the government side that was supportive of it. The members voted for it before and I challenge them to vote for it again, and support our justice system in Canada. We can make it a justice system again, not a legal system. There are too many stories of people getting hurt. They are not coming back. They disappear off the record. Victims often do. After the funeral and all things are said and done, the niceties that have been said and exchanged, people like the Wynns have to go back to living their lives without the patriarch of their family.

This simple wording change would help Constable Wynn and those like him who go out to do justice for us on a daily basis. They go out and have to deal with these types of individuals on the street. It would give them a better chance of coming home at night.

I see members on the other side shaking their heads. I see people smiling and having great conversations, but this is actually some serious legislation that we are discussing tonight. For me, I would appreciate a greater amount of respect for the issue at hand, considering the person who is sitting up in our gallery.

The member across the way heckles me. What I cannot understand, and maybe I will just go to my thoughts, is how this particular member and members with him on the government side, who supported this previously, and who say they are behind the intent of Bill S-217, all of a sudden are completely changed in what they think the intent of this bill is and what it can do and will not do. They are saying that it does not plug every hole, so they are not going to support it. It does not fix everything, including the kitchen sink, so the government members are not behind it now.

For once, maybe the government could put a word in the law that gives the RCMP members a better chance of coming home at night. Why would the government members not even give them a 1% or 2% better chance of coming home at night? The member across the way is shaking his head again. I do not understand it. Why would we not give our legal system a better shot at keeping these guys behind bars, as we should? We are all responsible in this place to do that.

I would call on the government side and other opposition members to seriously consider Wynn's law, as we have termed it, and the fine work that the member for St. Albert—Edmonton has done on this. I say this in all sincerity. We get partisan in this place, but this is absolutely not a partisan issue for us. This is about justice. This is about keeping dangerous people off the streets, so men like Constable Wynn can go home to their wives and children.

I would just challenge this place to do the right thing. Regardless of what our parties think of this, all members should vote and do the right thing in supporting Bill S-217.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to address this issue tonight, but it is not lost on me the passion many feel about this issue. It is a very important issue our House has considered and sent to committee. I want to say first that when I first learned of Bill S-217 and took my time to understand it, in a good faith effort, I knew there were some elements of the bill I did not agree with, but I thought the overall intention of the bill was noble and that the sponsor in the House was bringing it forward for the right reasons. I thank him for doing that.

In the same light of a good faith effort, it was passed at second reading to send to committee so we could study it further, hear from experts, and hear from those who every day deal with the bail system in Canada so we could understand better what impacts and consequences the bill may have that were not apparent, perhaps, at first reading of the bill. I hope that same courtesy will now be extended to those who listened to the testimony at committee and arrived at a different conclusion.

I voted in support of this at second reading, despite concerning elements in the bill, because I wanted to have the opportunity to study it in full. On the same night this was passed at second reading, we also voted on another bill, Bill S-201, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act. That matter came before committee, and it was concluded by members of all parties to proceed with that bill, because it was good public policy.

The purpose of committee work is to go through a bill in a thoughtful, deliberative manner, listen to experts, have thoughtful discussions, ask good questions, and then come back to the House and make recommendations. That is what we are doing with the bill tonight.

I want to highlight that the essential element of the bill, as I saw it, was, in section 518 of the Criminal Code, changing the permissive “may” to the requirement “shall” lead evidence. That was the essential element. There were other provisions in the bill, however, that I totally disagreed with, because they were not the intention of the bill as I understood it. I appreciated the conversations we had across party lines to realize that the essential element of the bill was changing “may” to “shall”.

How did I approach this bill at committee? I looked at it as an opportunity to shine a light on our bail system in Canada, to understand the essential elements of the bill, and to then, based on the expert testimony, decide whether it was good public policy. One of the thoughts that came to mind throughout the testimony we were hearing was what applies to doctors: do no harm. I thought that was an important way to look at the bill. If we were changing our bail system and how it operates, we should do no harm.

I went in with an open mind and listened to witnesses with different perspectives on the justice system. The experts in the field dealing with bail hearings were the most important to listen to in deciding how we would go forward with this. I went in with an open mind, but I went in with the idea that we must do no harm.

The witnesses offered compelling testimony. I want to highlight, first and foremost, Shelly Wynn. Her testimony was heart wrenching, compelling, believable, and trustworthy, and I extend nothing but thanks to her for her courage in coming to our committee and for all the work she has done in highlighting the issue of bail in Canada.

We also heard from a number of experts. We heard from the Canadian Bar Association, the Ontario Provincial Police, Newfoundland police, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Association of Crown Counsel, defence lawyers groups, and individuals who have expert opinion to give on our system of bail in Canada.

All of those individuals came to the same conclusion and gave evidence based on the same rationale that this bill would do harm, would actually make our streets less safe, not more safe. The intention of the bill is to, as I understand it, close a loophole in the law to ensure that we are not allowing people out on bail who should be behind bars. The unintended consequences of this bill, however, would have exactly the opposite effect. It would make our streets less safe. It would put people out on the street who should otherwise be behind bars. Do not take my word for it. This was the expert testimony that we heard from police groups, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel, defence lawyers, and individuals who deal with this stuff every day and do not always agree on issues every day.

I want to go now through some of the issues that were raised. The first one is the possibility that this bill, in changing “may” to “shall”, leaving aside all of the other problematic elements in the bill, could have the possibility of raising the burden on the crown. At committee, Rick Woodburn, the president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel, stated:

...if you make us prove it, our onus goes up; it doesn't go down. Keeping the individuals you want to keep off the street is harder, not easier.

This is the person who represents Canadian crown prosecutors, who deals with these issues every day.

Superintendent David Truax, the detective superintendent of the Ontario Provincial Police, stated:

Some of the language in the bill obviously proves the fact that...could obviously require the prosecutor to call each and every individual officer to prove each and every individual fact. That obviously would cause strain on policing resources, requiring more...witnesses, more documentation, certified documentation, affidavits, and the like.

Nancy Irving, who was chairing the Alberta committee reviewing the bail system in that province, indicated that the crown burden of proof will be uncertain under years of litigation.

With regard to the issue of delay, I think this was most compelling for me and the most convincing as to why this would be problematic because, in the end, after hearing all of this expert testimony, it was pretty well incontrovertible that there would become mini-trials at bail hearings. This is not a matter of a couple of minutes to get a criminal record. That is not the issue. There are several steps that have to be gone through in a bail hearing, one being the circumstances of the offence being presented to the court. This would cause uncertainty in our bail system. This would cause added resources, added court time, and not a matter of minutes, but delays in bail. People would have to set over bail hearings, perhaps. What would happen in the meantime to those who are supposed to have timely access to bail hearings?

I want to now talk on the issue of delay. Rick Woodburn said the following:

Bail hearings don't take five minutes. They take somewhere between half an hour and two hours, on average. That's for a bail hearing where you just pass information up, hear from a surety, and hear some evidence—about two hours.

If this bill passes, bail hearings will double and triple in time, and it is not necessary.

My colleague across the way just referenced Dr. Cheryl Webster a moment ago in support of his conclusion. He should take her word then when she said the following:

...[it] stuck me...[that it is going to add to court delay with] the higher evidentiary burden.... Any additional time taken during the bail process puts cases even closer to being thrown out for violation of the constitutional right that an accused be tried within a reasonable amount of time.

Professor Anthony Doob stated:

The bill that you have before you will expand the bail process for everyone at a time when...everyone agrees that court delay is a problem.

The Canadian Bar Association echoed the same comments.

I think it is important for us, in a good faith effort in reflecting on this bill, to understand that bail review does need to happen. Our government is committed to doing that. We are committed to working with all sides of the House to make that happen. This bill would not achieve its intended aims.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2017 / 7 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, normally I begin my remarks by, in some form or another, stating how grateful I am to stand in this place and make my voice heard on a certain topic. Tonight, however, given the justice committee's recommendation that Bill S-217 not proceed further, I will be honest and say that I am deeply disappointed with the decision.

The committee members heard witness after witness testify that there are flaws in the bail system in this country. It has not kept up with the times, and as a result, known criminals are walking Canadian streets, probably in every community, out on bail.

Perhaps Bill S-217 did not fix the entire bail system, but at least it was a first step, a step the justice department appears to be unwilling to take, which is really shameful.

For those not familiar with the situation that precipitated the drafting of the bill by Senator Runciman, l will give a little background. I do not want to go into the details, but it was on the night of January 17, 2015, that RCMP Constable David Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond were on a routine inspection of licence plates outside a casino in St. Albert, Alberta. This could have happened anywhere. During that inspection, they discovered a licence plate that was connected to an individual for whom there was an arrest warrant. As a result, Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond entered the casino to arrest the individual. Before they could arrest the individual, who turned out to be Shawn Rehn, shots were fired. Auxiliary Constable Bond was shot, and tragically, Constable David Wynn was shot and later died in hospital.

Any time an individual is murdered in this country, it is a tragedy, but when a police officer is murdered in the line of duty, it is not only a tragedy, it is an outrage in this country, from coast to coast to coast. What makes the murder of Constable Wynn that much worse is that it was completely preventable, not what the member for Mount Royal said earlier in this place. This murder could have been prevented. David Wynn could have been a husband tonight. He could have been a father to three children. He could still be a member of our valued RCMP.

It is not if this happens again but when it happens again.

Constable Wynn's killer was out on bail at the time. He was out on bail, notwithstanding the fact that he had more than 50 prior criminal convictions, including convictions for weapons offences and multiple violent offences. On top of the 50 prior criminal convictions, he had at least 38 outstanding charges, and to top it off, he had numerous failures to appear in court, yet there he was, out on the street in the community of St. Albert, unbeknownst to the public.

I should add, of the 130 members working at the casino, and everyone was distraught over this event, two members are still not back at work at the casino in St. Albert, Alberta.

Let me get back to the justice committee meetings for a moment. The members heard expert testimony on the subject of bail. Let me just give a snippet of what the members heard. Dr. Cheryl Webster, associate professor, University of Ottawa, testifying as an individual, said, “We're not short of evidence that bail in Canada is broken”. Bail in Canada is broken, not damaged, broken. We can improve broken bones and get them re-set. We can fix a broken car or even a broken window, but a broken bail system, not so much. It is too time consuming, too costly, we hear, and we can always explain away the odd mishap as human error.

Mr. Jay Cameron, barrister and solicitor, Justice Centre for Constitution Freedoms, said:

I will conclude by saying this. Some people say that this is only symbolic. It's not symbolic. There was a tragedy that occurred, and it was the result of a flaw in the legislation. Only a fool would say, “I'm emotional about the tragedy, therefore, I'm not going to fix the flaw.” The problem is that there is a flaw. Fix the flaw and you won't again have more tragedies that result from it. That's the point.

Mr. Cameron's point is well taken by the official opposition party, my party, but unfortunately, not by the government. We understand the need to revisit the bail conditions in this country. Here we have it. The bail system is broken, and no one, certainly not the justice department, appears to be able or willing to fix it. Is that not shameful? Bill S-217 attempts to plug one gaping hole in the system, and all we hear is that it is going to take too much time for the bail hearings, that the Canadian Police Information Centre is not up to date, etc.

On June 6, just last week, I received a letter from the Saskatoon Police Association, from its president, Dean Pringle, and its secretary, Bill Bergeron. They were writing to express their strong support for Bill S-217. They pointed out that the oversight could be corrected with just two simple common-sense changes to the Criminal Code. Number one would be adding two new grounds under which an offender could be detained in custody, specifically, when the accused has failed to appear in court in the past and the accused has previously been convicted of a criminal offence or has been charged with and is awaiting trial for another criminal offence. Second and most important, and this is the key to this bill here tonight, would be replacing the word “may” with “shall” to require prosectors to introduce evidence of the accused's criminal record, or failure to obey court orders in the past, or other criminal charges for which an offender may be awaiting trial. Replace the word “may” with “shall” and think about what it would do for all our police officers in this country.

It is a similar position taken by the Canadian Police Association, the national voice for 60,000 police personnel who protect everyone in this country. Its president, Tom Stamatakis, has offered full support for this bill. He said, “Allowing prosecutors to introduce evidence of an accused's criminal history during a bail hearing is just common sense.” This legislation would not remove the discretion of judges when they are granting the bail. It just means that those judges would have all the relevant facts at hand when they make the important decisions.

This is a straightforward bill that would help keep Canadians safe and would provide prosecutors with more tools to detain high-risk individuals pending trial.

Some members would have us believe, as we heard here tonight from the government, that this bill would add more delays. That is not factual. What is factual is that it would save lives. As legislators, we must stand by our police in this country, who put themselves in harm's way each time they put on their badges.

Shelly Wynn is here, as she was in the past when Bill S-217 was debated. I want everyone to know that she is here, and I cannot help but feel her sorrow.

On March 8 this year, all the opposition parties in this place recognized the merits of this bill, Bill S-217. That was probably the most emotional night we have had in this House of Commons since we opened. I am going to give credit, because 28 members of the government caucus voted for the bill, against their party line. They were in favour of referring it to the justice and human rights committee. Obviously, the yeas had it that night, and Bill S-217 was referred to the committee. I wonder tonight if those same Liberal members will maintain the courage of their convictions and vote against the committee's recommendation or if they will simply toe the party line.

Finally, I would like to commend Shelly Wynn and her family for their commitment to seeing a better bail system in place for all Canadians; Senator Runciman for taking the lead in getting this legislation drafted and shepherding it through the Senate; and my friend and our colleague, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, who has steadfastly moved this legislation through this place. They have all done a wonderful job, and they deserve to be recognized for their dedication to this worthy cause.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to get up, as well, to talk to Senate Bill S-217, Wynn's law, which we all agree comes from a good place.

Shawn Rehn never should have been out on bail. His antecedence, his prior record should have been disclosed at the bail hearing. However, let us remember that the person acting as the prosecutor at that bail hearing was a police officer who was poorly trained. It was not a prosecutor exercising his discretion not to disclose the criminal record of the accused. I have heard, on multiple occasions, that Constable Wynn would still be with us if this law had been in effect and based on all the evidence we heard, that is not the case. Because that poorly trained—

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak once again on Bill S-217, known as Wynn's law. It is a simple bill. It is a straightforward bill to close a fatal loophole in the Criminal Code that cost Constable David Wynn his life when he was murdered by someone who was a career criminal and who was out on bail. One of the reasons he was out on bail was that his extensive criminal history had not been brought to the attention of the judge at the bail application hearing. One of the reasons why that information was not presented was that currently under the Criminal Code, leading such evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants is discretionary, even though it is always relevant and material to the question of bail.

It is with considerable disappointment that the Liberal-dominated justice committee voted to recommend that Wynn's law not proceed.

This is a common-sense bill, but as is so often said, common sense is not so common. If ever there was a better illustration of that truism, it is the Liberal opposition to passing this legislation.

Let us be clear about what the Liberals voted against in recommending that the House not proceed with Wynn's law. They voted against changing one word in the Criminal Code. The member for Mount Royal is shaking his head and he should not, because the fact of the matter is that the essence of Wynn's law has always been about changing “may” to “shall” in section 518 of the Criminal Code so that section 518 would read that a prosecutor shall lead evidence of the criminal history of a bail applicant rather than its current wording, which provides that a prosecutor may lead evidence of the criminal history of a bail applicant.

That has always been the essence of the bill. I was prepared to make all amendments necessary so that not only the essence of the bill would be that, but in fact that is all the bill would be. Notwithstanding that, the Liberals had absolutely no interest in accepting that amendment, so the Liberal record on the bill is very simple, it is very clear-cut, and it is in opposition to changing that one word.

I expect the member for Mount Royal, or whatever Liberal gets up to speak, will say it is a little more complicated than that, but I say it is not in the face of that fact. I would expect that the member for Mount Royal, or whatever other Liberal stands up in this place to defend what I would submit was an indefensible decision coming out of the justice committee, will hide behind certain groups that came out in opposition to the bill, while probably selectively ignoring other groups like the Canadian Police Association, which represents some 60,000 front-line police officers.

One can say this group supported Wynn's law and this group opposed Wynn's law, but that is not the issue. That is not what is relevant. What is relevant is the evidence, the evidence at committee on the specific question of changing one word from “may” to “shall”, and in that context, the question of leading criminal history of bail applicants at bail hearings. That is the question.

What was the evidence before the justice committee? The evidence was that witness after witness said that the criminal history of bail applicants is always relevant and material on the question of bail.

Indeed, the president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel testified before the committee that it was the bread and butter of what prosecutors do. He said it is the first thing that prosecutors learn to do when they learn how to handle a bail hearing. Not only that, not one witness provided a credible example of when a prosecutor should appropriately withhold evidence of the criminal history of a bail applicant.

In the face of bad evidence, it really does beg the question of how in the world any fair-minded and reasonable person could oppose changing “may” to “shall” in section 518 of the Criminal Code.

There were three main, at least semi-cogent, arguments that were put forward against changing that one word. One argument that was repeated a number of times was that Wynn's law would somehow interfere with prosecutorial discretion, even though not one witness was able to present one credible instance of when it would be appropriate for a prosecutor to exercise discretion in withholding evidence about the criminal history of a bail applicant. Wynn's law would not interfere with prosecutorial discretion because leading evidence about the criminal history of a bail applicant should not be a matter left to discretion.

Another rather bizarre argument that was put forward was the notion that Bill S-217 would somehow increase the evidentiary burden placed upon prosecutors, and that as a result of that increased evidentiary burden it would make it more difficult for prosecutors to keep dangerous criminals behind bars. The only problem with that argument is that Bill S-217, Wynn's law, has absolutely nothing to do with increasing the evidentiary burden. All Wynn's law would require is that prosecutors lead evidence of the criminal history of a bail applicant. The evidentiary standard is provided for in a totally different section of the Criminal Code, paragraph 518(1)(e), which provides that a judge may accept evidence that is credible and trustworthy. Wynn's law would not change that standard.

Then there was the argument of delay. It was asserted that somehow Wynn's law would cause a backlog in the courts and that it would make bail applications longer. It is frankly difficult to accept that argument in the face of the evidence that this is something that is almost always done. In terms of making something that is almost always done, always done, it is pretty difficult to imagine that, in that context, suddenly there is going to be a massive backlog in our courts. Then the question becomes, in the case where perhaps a bail hearing might take a little longer, what sort of bail applicants would see perhaps a few extra minutes to lead evidence?

It certainly would not be in the case of a bail applicant who had no criminal history, because in such a case, there would be no criminal history to lead evidence of. In the case of career criminals, someone like Shawn Rehn, who shot and killed Constable Wynn and shot Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond, with his more than 50 prior criminal convictions, yes, it might take a few minutes to lead evidence about that career criminal's history, and so it should. Extending it by a few minutes is a small price to pay.

In closing, let me say very quickly that Constable Wynn's killer's bail hearing was a very efficient bail hearing, but it had very fatal consequences.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

June 9th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, on January 17, 2015, RCMP Constable David Wynn was fatally shot while on duty by a criminal with a lengthy record.

Bill S-217 would require criminal history to be considered during a bail hearing. The bill would address a glaring oversight with two simple common-sense changes to the Criminal Code.

There was all-party support in the House for the bill. However, exactly one month ago today, members of the House of Commons Standing Committees on Justice and Human Rights adopted a report recommending that Parliament not proceed further with the bill.

Police associations across the country, including mine in the city of Saskatoon, are asking all parliamentarians to work across party lines to pass this important legislation.

The bill, to be debated next week, is aimed at protecting our communities, a goal all Canadians share.

June 8th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Yes, there's just a minor thing. In the third paragraph, it says “Bill S-217” in the English version. I don't have the French one in front of me, but there is no hyphen between the S and the 217.

June 8th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to bring the meeting to order.

Today we have a variety of things we just need to do, and a couple of them are housekeeping.

I'll just go through the agenda. Number one is to give the final approval to this letter that was previously approved. Now we have the French translation of the letter, related to Bill S-217. It's the letter that we are sending to the minister, which we carried on division.

Number two would be going through the three notices of motion that we received. Mr. Boissonnault is being replaced for the first part of the meeting and he'll be here after, so perhaps we could do the other two and then come back to his at the end when he is here, if that's okay. Number three, we will do our instructions to the analyst on the report on legal aid.

I just want to remind all members that for the proposed witnesses for our study on Bill C-46 could you please send those in to the clerk by tomorrow at five o'clock, or let him know that you can't get it to him by tomorrow at five but to expect it by a certain time. Could we do that so that we can talk about it on Tuesday and he can get everything circulated?

Is that good with everyone?

JusticeOral Questions

May 15th, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, again, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, including bail reform. That is why, when I met with my colleagues in the provinces and territories, we talked about what we could do to increase confidence in the criminal justice system in protecting victims and increasing public safety. We are moving forward collaboratively.

When the Province of Alberta, after the unfortunate and tragic death of Constable Wynn, put together a report, the report did not, when it came back, provide recommendations that are contained within Bill C-217.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 11th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill S-217, an act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody).

The committee has studied the bill and recommends not to proceed further with this bill.

May 9th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

I appreciate the comments from Mr. MacGregor.

I recognize that it's not a unanimous decision of the committee, but I do think we should outline the problems we heard from witnesses at our committee that caused members to vote against it in the majority. I think it's important to outline that in this letter. I don't agree with deleting that section on page one, ending on page two. I think that's an important part of the letter, to ensure that it's crystal clear why the majority of members of the committee did not support Bill S-217.

I will concede that we can remove the language thanking the ministers for their hard work. The point of this isn't to pat the ministers on the back, necessarily, but to acknowledge that there is work being done, and obviously to make some recommendations about how we would see things as a committee. I recognize, of course, that this will be on division.

I take your points, Mr. MacGregor, and I would support removing the acknowledgement of hard work and thanking the ministers.

May 9th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have to say that I take exception to a number of the points that are raised in this particular letter as it relates to Bill S-217. The letter states that there is concern that the burden of proof “that prosecutors would need to meet at bail hearings” would be increased. The fact is, to the degree that if there was any argument that the standard of proof would be increased as a result of Bill S-217, it was as a result of the additional words “to prove the fact”. There was an amendment here today to delete that language to remove any question and to remove any ambiguity that Bill S-217 would not change the standard of proof, but would merely require prosecutors to lead evidence, which, as Mr. Woodburn reminded everyone, was the bread and butter. Unfortunately, the government members opposite, the majority members of this committee, decided to instead vote for a motion to prevent any opportunity for there to be an amendment to remove that particular language.

Secondly, with respect to mini-trials, again, I have to say that no matter how many times the argument may have been made by certain witnesses, it really is unclear how Bill S-217 would create mini-trials. The fact of the matter is that whether you change the word from “may” to “shall”, a defendant, a bail applicant, already has the right to challenge the evidence and to cross-examine witnesses. That occurs all the time. Bill S-217 did nothing to change that fact. Instead, all it did was to require prosecutors to do something that they almost always do and make sure that they always do it. With respect to prolonging the bail process, again, it doesn't make sense that simply requiring prosecutors to do something that they almost always do would have any impact in significantly prolonging the bail process.

I for one would not support a letter that would congratulate the Minister of Justice for her work to improve the criminal justice system, based upon the comments that I've already made about, number one, her failure to do the easiest thing with respect to delay, and that is to fill judicial vacancies in a timely manner. I will not be supporting this motion.

May 9th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Thank you very much. I'm happy to play second fiddle to my colleague from West Nova.

You've mentioned that I'm not a regular member of this committee, although I've sat in for virtually every minute of this particular study, in part by coincidence in filling in for colleagues, but really, what motivated me to volunteer for those openings was the serious consideration I gave this bill during second reading and the attention that I thought it deserved. When it was first presented to me, I thought, as some of my colleagues have explained, that there was some merit to the ideas behind this bill.

I'd like to thank Mr. Cooper in particular, who took time to speak to me privately, even on a weekend, to sell some of the virtues of this bill. I enjoyed that level of engagement. His work as a parliamentarian has been exemplary.

Of course, after considering the evidence, I do find myself in a position of disagreement, despite having supported it at second reading and, of course, against the position of the government.

Some of my colleagues have mentioned the role of emotions, and emotions not being enough.... I find this an incredibly emotional experience. To hear Ms. MacInnis-Wynn's testimony was compelling, but I don't apply my emotions to the exclusion of reason and logic. My emotions have convinced me that we need to adopt a law that will not jeopardize the safety of Canadians in having more criminals on the street. Reason and logic have led me to a place where I believe that adopting Bill S-217 into law will have that countervailing effect.

I'll address some of the concerns, but before I jump into a few of the substantive issues that I see with this, let me say that I spent hours and hours toiling over this bill. If I had a friend who was a crown prosecutor or a police officer, I asked them what their thoughts were. I wanted to get feedback from those I know in my personal life who may deal with this issue. That helped inform my perspective, but I did find the evidence that came before this committee to be very compelling. I share Mr. Nicholson's point of view that what this is about is protecting victims, but more than just protecting victims, it's about reducing the number of victims we have in Canadian society.

With respect to the arguments about delay, Mr. Nicholson suggested that maybe it's 30 minutes. If this were a 30-minute delay or a matter of clicking “print” on a CPIC record, this would have my unequivocal support, but on the facts, the evidence hasn't borne out that suggestion. What we've heard is that this has the potential to turn bail hearings into mini-trials. They're already a source of significant delay.

One of the pieces of testimony that I found compelling, which was on behalf of prosecutors across the country, was that if the prosecutor were to show up seeking victory in a bail hearing and failed to produce the criminal record because of negligence—they simply forgot—the solution would not be readily available. What the evidence suggested is that a judge would likely say, “Well, I can't do this for you”, and the crown would have to adjourn, which would lead to the accused person being led out without having their bail hearing considered in the first place. I don't believe that this bill makes it more likely that the criminal record would be brought forward.

To your point, Mr. Falk, you've suggested that this was not a mistake, that it was permissible. I've heard that line of argument a few times, and I do appreciate the ingenuity behind the argument, but I disagree with the impact that it will actually have on the ground. We heard Mr. Michael Elliott, I believe it was, who appeared alongside Ms. MacInnis-Wynn, describe the introduction of criminal records at bail hearing as “protocol”. We've heard, on behalf of crown counsel, evidence suggesting that this is the first thing that a crown prosecutor learns, that it's a matter of routine.

From the evidence, the only instance that I can understand where this evidence would not be led is human error, and I don't believe changing the word “may” to “shall” or any sort of permissive to mandatory switch in the language would have the desired effect of making a criminal record appear on the record of evidence where it would not otherwise appear.

With respect to the government's intention, which Mr. Cooper alluded to, I can say with my right hand to God that this conclusion I have arrived at independently through consultation with those who have knowledge and through hearing the evidence.

This is not something that is being driven by the government in my experience, but instead by the response of the individual committee members to the evidence we've heard.

With respect to the argument that we haven't introduced any evidence from the front-line workers, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was unequivocal in its opposition to this particular piece of legislation going through.

With respect to the issue of judicial appointments, I take some exception to having a finger pointed across the way at me with the saying, “these Liberals are responsible for this.” Judicial delay in appointments has been a problem for, I dare say, decades in Canada.

When I practised law in Mr. Cooper's province of Alberta, I remember leading a training session for the Legal Education Society of Alberta—prior to this government's coming into power—about the fact that the mandatory judicial dispute resolution provision in the Alberta Rules of Court could not be implemented at the direction of the chief justice because there were insufficient judges in Alberta then.

This is not a problem that magically appeared under the new minister, but it is a problem—delay in the justice system. Given my conversations, the questions I've seen in the House, and the responses, I do have faith that this is being taken seriously, and I will continue to push alongside members of every party to ensure that we fill those vacancies expeditiously.

To conclude, I do not see a route that Bill S-217 can have to become law that would improve safety because the central component of this bill is the source of my reticence. For that reason, I plan to support Mr. Bittle's motion.

Thank you.