Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if “more” is being picked up in Hansard, but I do appreciate that exhortation to speak more about this.
We, as Conservatives, will always fight for a just and appropriate system, not a legal system but a justice system. I hope every single person in the House wants a system that is just and appropriate. I am mindful of the fact that we may disagree on some points, but there are issues that we should be able to come together on. To me, sexual offences against children and bail reform are those types of issues.
This legislation amends the process for peace officers to apply for and obtain a warrant using telecommunications rather than appearing in person. The process for obtaining a warrant is rather cumbersome. An affidavit has to be sworn and that takes time. The affidavit has to be drafted and usually fact-checked. That takes time. The affidavit has to be sworn, and then it has to be submitted or brought to a justice or a judge. Times change, and this bill allows for that electronic submission.
Fingerprinting, as I touched upon, being conducted at a later date is something that a judge will now be able to determine whether it is necessary in the circumstances.
The accused and offenders appearing remotely by audio and video conference is interesting. At this point, I believe there is a provision in the Criminal Code that an accused person can be excused. This will bring a measure of efficiency, but it might not necessarily bring the efficiency we are looking for.
I am going to speak to preliminary inquiries. The issue with preliminary inquiries is due especially to disclosure being so comprehensive. It is based on incremental decisions that have expanded disclosure since the Stinchcombe decision. Disclosure is expansive.
While some lawyers may have used preliminary inquiries in the past to determine the strength of the Crown's case, they have often become, in non-serious cases, a perfunctory exercise to simply dig a bit more. That is my view of it. Preliminary inquiries were eliminated by the House, I believe, for offences with penalties of 10 years and under a few years ago.
Here is the thing: A sexual assault has a 10-year maximum so there is no preliminary inquiry. However, sexual interference, which involves a child, does. If someone sexually interferes with a child or commits an Internet-luring offence against a child, that child has to potentially testify twice.
There are some shortcuts within the Criminal Code, but I think we can talk about victimization and secondary victimization in the House, and it is time that we talk about the trauma that goes with it. Children who suffer from these types of offences are often subjected to a psychological life in prison of their own.
It is time that the system addresses this. I call on the House to remove preliminary inquiries for sexual offences, or at least streamline the process, for all victims so that they are only testifying one time so that we consider this from a trauma-informed practice.
Somebody very close to me has done a great deal of work and continues to do a great deal of academic work on the issue of access to Internet for remote proceedings. The Liberal government has repeatedly promised that we are going to see more rural Internet. For people in Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and for people in rural Canada, they cannot access these provisions because they do not have access to adequate Internet. There are people who need to appear remotely because they are three hours from the courthouse, but appearing remotely is not available because they do not have access to the Internet.
I want to tell the government to fix this, not only for the benefit of all involved from a quality-of-life perspective but also from a justice perspective.