Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak today to the reforms proposed by Bill C-233, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Judges Act (violence against an intimate partner).
I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am joining you from my home and place of work that is situated on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and the Algonquin Anishinabe nations.
I propose to provide a brief overview of the bill's reforms with reference to the relevant existing legal frameworks, and then my colleague, Melissa Moor, and I will be happy to attempt to answer any questions you may have.
As you know, the bill proposes two sets of amendments, one to the Criminal Code's interim judicial release, commonly known as bail provisions, and one to the provisions in the Judges Act for continuing education seminars. I will address each in turn.
Amendments to the Criminal Code would require a justice of the peace to determine whether an accused charged with an offence against his or her intimate partner should be required to wear a remote monitoring device as a condition of bail, commonly referred to as a “bond”, when requested by the Attorney General.
Currently, the Criminal Code allows courts hearing bail applications to impose any conditions they deem necessary, as long as they are justified, in any of the following cases: to ensure the accused's presence in court, for the protection or safety of the public, including victims, and [Technical difficulty—Editor] so as not to undermine section 515(10) of the Criminal Code.
In particular, they may impose any conditions they consider necessary to ensure the safety of victims or witnesses to the offence, which may include the requirement to wear a remote monitoring device as a condition of release for any offence, including offences against an intimate partner. The electronic monitoring of accused persons on bail is a matter of administration of justice, and therefore a provincial and territorial responsibility. The use of such a device varies across the country. Some provinces and territories provide electronic monitoring programs and pay for the device, while others require the accused to pay for it.
Now I will turn to Bill C-233's Judges Act amendments, which would add intimate partner violence and coercive control to the list of continuing education seminars for judges that the Canadian Judicial Council may establish. That list of continuing education seminars already references “matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination”, as enacted by Bill C-3, which came into force in 2021.
“Coercive control” is a term coined by sociologists to refer to a pattern of controlling behaviour that takes place over time in the context of intimate partner or familial relationships and serves to entrap victims, eliminating their sense of freedom in the relationship. A broad range of controlling conduct may be employed, but the focus is on how a pattern of such conduct serves to subjugate, not the individual incidents in which abusers exercise control.
The concept of coercive control has been used in both family law and criminal law contexts. In the family law context, the concept was recently added to the Divorce Act's definition of family violence. Although there are no specific offences of intimate partner violence or coercive control in the Criminal Code, numerous Criminal Code offences of general application can address this type of conduct, such as homicide, assault, threats of death or bodily harm, sexual assault and criminal harassment.
That concludes my remarks. I welcome any questions you may have.