Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to address the issue at hand. In listening to members speak on the legislation, there are a couple of thoughts specifically that come to mind.
Many years ago, I was a justice critic in the province of Manitoba. I want to highlight the fact that we have discussions in Ottawa and come up with some very good, tangible ideas. As was pointed out, this issue was well debated, discussed and studied in one of our standing committees. Members of the House have already referred to the 2018 standing committee that did a study on this issue. One of the things that Parliament can do and does well is when it identifies an issue on which we can build consensus. Often I will stand and challenge members to support specific pieces of legislation.
This is a bill that does deserve and merit the support of all members of the House of Commons, but we need to recognize the idea of jurisdictional responsibility. Yes, it is in the Criminal Code, but as some speakers have alluded, whether it is was in the study process or even during the debate on this bill or previous bills, we need to recognize that the provinces also play a critical role in this. In fact, I suspect that even if the standing committee did not look at it, which would surprise me, what we would find in Canada is a patchwork system.
Some provinces provide more support than other provinces. In certain areas, and I suggest this is one of those areas, passing this legislation would go a long way in showing national leadership on this important issue and, hopefully, at the end of the day, we would see a more consistent system throughout Canada. I believe we owe that to our jurors.
When we think of the foundations of our nation, we can talk about Parliament or the independence of our judicial system, the rule of law and the fundamental pillars that hold that up. When we talk about the jury process, it is not like people go to court saying, “Pick me, pick me, I want to be a juror.” There is a process by which jurors are selected, and there is an obligation on our residents to fulfill that call to be a jurist when they are put in that position. The member before me referred to a particular incident, a horrific incident. Sadly, we see far too many of those types of incidents in all different regions of our country.
There was a time when mental health, as the previous speaker referenced, was kind of pushed to the side. It is only in the last decade or so that we have seen mental health put front and centre in terms of the need for government policy. When we put that lens on the issue of justice, there are certainly areas that could be clearly amplified, and this is just one of those areas. For all of the reasons the example was cited, one can only imagine the many different horrific examples that have taken place in the last number of years alone that we have asked our fellow citizens to sit and listen to in great detail.
I have never sat as a juror, but I can imagine some of the things that a juror has to go through to ultimately provide that decision, and that decision is absolutely critical in terms of being part of the foundations of our judicial system. I understand and I believe that the vast majority of people would understand and appreciate why it is so critically important that a juror or a jury has to keep what is said within in a very confidential manner.
As I know members of the Liberal caucus do, I suspect, based on the discussions that I hear and the type of support received by previous legislation and the unanimous support of that standing committee I made reference to, that all members of the House understand the issue of mental health and what it is that the individual juror has to go through to reach that decision and fulfill that obligation.
As a society, we are very dependent on that. Given that, and if we take into consideration the issue today of mental health, one would expect we need to be more open to the post-traumatic experiences that many jurors have to deal with as a direct result of their being a good citizen of Canada and participating in our judicial system.
This bill, Bill S-206, is not proposing, as the standing committee is not proposing, that a juror would be able to go out and about and have a press conference and say, “Here is what we dealt with when we went and talked about this case,” prior to conviction or no conviction. What is being suggested here is fair and reasonable. From my perspective and, I believe, the perspective of virtually all members of the House, it is recognizing the needs of that juror, who has had an experience as a direct result of doing the right thing and being there for our nation and supporting our judicial system and who is having a very difficult time coming to grips with what he or she witnessed during the trial.
I think there is an obligation on the government, whether it is the federal government or the provincial government, to take the actions necessary to provide that support. In doing so, we should be thinking about how we maximize the effectiveness of our juries. We have to ensure that the proper supports are there. By doing that, we are minimizing the negative consequences of a juror having to participate.
We are saying, in essence, this: Let us look at ways in which we can allow for that juror to be able to talk to a professional health care provider to seek the counselling and the services that are necessary to support our system and, in particular, that juror.
I think there is an obligation to do that and I believe that is the reason the bill has received the universal support that it has. I suspect that, ultimately, when it does come to a vote, it will be of an unanimous nature.