Thank you very much.
I hope I don't take my full five minutes. I'm pleased to be back at the committee and to speak with you again. I have three points.
First, you asked some questions and we have provided the responses to you. I think those have been handed out.
Second, I need to acknowledge with thanks the grant that was given by the federal government directly to the National Judicial Institute. We identified to the federal government that there is a gap in training in social context education for provincially appointed judges.
I know that's not the focus of this committee, but provincially appointed judges do about 95% of the criminal work in Canada, so it's important that they are trained as well.
We will be doing some videos. They'll be on our website, available to all judges, including federally appointed judges. The objective of those is to remind provincial court judges of the requirement that they understand social context. Then they work through some examples with them, one on gender-based violence and the other we believe on indigenous law, but we're not sure.
Third, I read with interest the evidence that was given by the other people who have been here since we were here. As you know, I stayed to listen to the three professors and the crown prosecutor and that was all wonderful information, some of which I didn't know.
I think it's fair to say with respect to professors Koshan, Craig, and Mathen that we agree with them with respect to judges analyzing and thinking through their decisions. I won't spend time now on the education that we give judges to make sure that happens, but would be happy to do so in questions.
To your last group of witnesses from the community, I thought it would be helpful to tell you about a couple of programs that we've run in the past and that show community involvement.
About two weeks ago at one of our court-based sessions, with the federal judges in one of our provinces, we did the comings and goings exercise. I don't know if you know of it, but judges are asked to take on the role of a woman in an abusive relationship. The woman has two children and a pet dog. One day her husband comes home drunk and beats her. The judges are asked to take on the role and make the choices that the woman may have to take. Does she leave the home and go to a shelter? Then the judges are told the shelter shuts down for lack of funding. Where does she go? The judges say to go to a hotel. She has no money.
At the end of the exercise the judges are put in the situation where they have two choices: be homeless or go back to the abuser. What's the objective of this? This is to allow judges, when they hear bail hearings, to understand the predicament of women who are in an abusive relationship. Do I let this fellow out? Do I give conditions when I let him out? what about child support? One of the real barriers to women leaving an abusive relationship is money. So, that's one example.
The other example is a course we put on in January. It was called “Judges with Community”. The focus was mental health and people who have mental issues but are in conflict with the law.
You ask, why are you telling me this? We're talking about gender-based violence. We all know the intersectionality between gender-based violence, mental illness, poverty, sometimes race, diversity, and the special issues that can arise in our indigenous communities.
That planning committee is made up of one of our planners, judges, academics, and a member of the community who works with people with mental challenges.
I wanted to share those examples with you. We spent time during that seminar in Halifax at a Mi'kmaq centre, doing some circle learning, understanding the views of people who are mentally ill and in conflict with the law, and the people who work with them.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I'd be happy to answer any questions.