Mr. Speaker, may I acknowledge at the outset my gratitude to the hon. member for Comox-Alberni for informing me last evening of his intention to raise this matter. I am grateful for his consideration.
As a result I have had an opportunity to review the dossier. I can tell the hon. member that I have received correspondence from counsel acting on behalf of Mr. Kelly, invoking the provisions of section 690 of the Criminal Code. This section empowers the Minister of Justice to grant mercy in the name of the crown either by directing a new trial, or by referring the matter to an appeal court for a review where there has been some indication that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.
I am now in the process of assembling the material that will enable me to deal with that application, including requesting a copy of the transcript at trial, the addresses to the jury, any reasons for judgment that may have been given, also particulars of any new evidence that counsel wishes me to consider.
In accordance with the invariable practice that material will be organized and assessed. An investigative brief will be prepared. It will be presented in the fullness of time to counsel for the applicant for comment and then the matter will be put on my desk for decision.
I assure the hon. member that I consider my functions under section 690 to be among the most important responsibilities in my portfolio. I will deal with this, as with all other such applications, very carefully and I assure him it will be dealt with in accordance with standard procedure.