moved that Bill C-417, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (disclosure of information by jurors), be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise and speak at third reading stage of my private member's bill, Bill C-417.
This is a bill that arises from a key recommendation of a unanimous report by the justice committee respecting juror support. It is a study that was initiated thanks to the leadership of the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
During the course of that study, we heard from former jurors whose lives had forever been changed as a result of doing nothing more than their civic duty. Former jurors who sat through horrific evidence in gruesome trials had, as a result, suffered from mental health issues, including PTSD. I want to thank those jurors who came before us for having the courage to do so, because it was not easy to do, including Mark Farrant, Daniel Cozine, Michaela Swan, Patrick Fleming, Tina Daenzer and Scott Glew.
One thing these jurors said is an impediment to getting the mental health support they require is the jury secrecy rule. The jury secrecy rule makes it a Criminal Code offence, pursuant to section 649, to disclose any aspect of the jury deliberation process for life, even to a mental health professional. It begs the question: How is it possible for former jurors to get the therapeutic or counselling support they require when they are unable to have a free exchange with a medical health professional about what is one of, if not the most, stressful aspects of jury service, if they are to be silenced from being able to speak to a medical health professional about the core of their injury?
This is precisely what Bill C-417 seeks to change by carving out an narrow exception to the jury secrecy rule so that former jurors who are suffering from mental health issues arising from jury service can speak to a mental health professional about all aspects of their jury service. It is a bill that will protect the integrity of the jury secrecy rule, because, again, it will be in a strictly confidential context post-trial, while allowing for that vital exchange between a former juror and a medical health practitioner so that they can get the help they need and the help they deserve.
I have thought long and hard about there being any argument against this bill, and I really cannot think of an argument. It is why, when the justice committee studied this, every witness who appeared, from the mental health community to former jurors to the legal community, endorsed this change. It is why it was a key, unanimous recommendation of the justice committee's juror support study. It is why, when my bill was introduced at second reading, it passed unanimously in the House. It is why, when it went to the justice committee for further study, it passed unanimously, subject to some minor technical amendments.
If there ever was an amendment to the Criminal Code that everyone could agree on, it is surely this change. Therefore, what is needed now is to make sure that we can get this across the finish line and that we can get it passed. The time for debate, really, is over. What we need to do today is allow this bill to go forward and get it over to the Senate so that it has a fighting chance of being passed before the expiration of this Parliament. I implore my colleagues to join me this afternoon in seeing that happen.
There are many members from all sides of the House that I would like to thank, but I would like to specifically acknowledge the leadership of our chair, the member for Mount Royal, who has been tireless in his efforts to see this bill advance.
Let us come together, let us get this over to the Senate and let us get Bill C-417 passed before the end of this Parliament.