Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Mr. Cooper, thank you very much for your work on this important consideration of our Criminal Code, and I appreciate your taking the time today to speak to us about Bill S-217.
I have some questions and some concerns about the proposed legislation, and I'm hoping you can shed some light on those concerns. I think it's important to note that there isn't a single parliamentarian who doesn't acknowledge the tragic circumstances that led to the thinking behind the loops that may be closed by S-217.
My concern is three-fold, so I have three questions. One is related to the delays that will invariably be introduced in the system should this legislation become the law of the land, including in non-contested hearings. If this passes, it would have to be considered in a non-contested hearing, and if that only added five minutes, doing 30 to 50 bail hearings a day, the system of justice would slow down. You are on record as well as having said we need to do better to speed up the wheels of justice. Our government has done its part, in part, by having 12 judges nominated in Alberta. I see a dichotomy here between, on the one hand, wanting to speed up the wheels of justice, and on the other hand, introducing potentially serious consequences at bail hearings if S-217 should pass. That's one concern.
The second concern I have is that I think this tries to legislate human error. As much as I think there's legislation we'd like to see in the Criminal Code that could legislate human error, I'm not sure how that's possible and how we could have that come out of the system.
Third, the Alberta bail review conducted by former federal prosecutor Nancy Irving raises serious concerns and strong objections to the practice of some 3,000 police officers being able to represent the crown at bail hearings. I know that's under consideration in Alberta right now. If we had crown prosecutors at bail hearings instead of police officers, crown prosecutors who are better trained and understand the nuances of this, wouldn't that obviate the need for S-217?
I think it's important to note for the record that it was the Conservative government in 2015 in their budget that cut CPIC by 10%. I also think it's important to note that the last AG's report said very clearly that the delay in getting information from conviction into CPIC is 14 months in English Canada and 36 months in French Canada. I believe this compounds the issue we already have, and that's why I have grave concerns.