Ottawa’s justice reforms will change how juries are selected, bail is set and trials are held

Colten Boushie, 22, is shown in an undated handout photo. Boushie’s shooting death triggered an outcry that Canada’s justice system was unfair to Indigenous peoples.  (HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tabled Thursday in the House of Commons, Bill C-75 would amend the criminal code, the youth justice act and other laws. A key part the 200-page package addresses concerns that the legal system is stacked against Indigenous people. It proposes to abolish what are known as peremptory challenges, which allow Crown and defence lawyers to dismiss a certain number of potential jurors without having to give a reason for their objection.

The move comes after a reportedly all-white jury acquitted a Saskatchwan farmer of murder in the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man. The high-profile acquittal of Gerald Stanley prompted protests across the country, and an emotional and highly publicized trek to Ottawa by members of the Boushie family, who pleaded for change.

“I can understand the desire to respond to the Stanley case, and to the occasional abuse of (peremptory challenges), but they are not getting at the problem of non-representative juries,” said lawyer Frank Addario, a former president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

“The criminal code could have been amended to require representative juries, which would create an obligation on the part of the provinces to create representative jury panels...This was a good opportunity to right that wrong.”

Wilson-Raybould said systemic racist attitudes across the justice system are “a challenge that we face” but said the bill “is a start” towards enacting changes that fall within federal jurisdiction.

“This is a call to action for all actors in the justice system,” she said.

In response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that slammed a “culture of complacency” in the legal community, the bill takes square aim at reducing criminal trial delays by proposing new limits on preliminary inquiries. It would restrict the pretrial hearings to cases where the offence carries a possible life sentence, such as murder. There are some 9,100 preliminary inquiries held each year. Thursday’s change would reduce that by 87 per cent, Wilson-Raybould said.

The legislation would also reclassify many offences. All indictable crimes with maximum sentences of 10 years or less — 136 in all, ranging from theft over $5,000 to prison break offences — could be prosecuted as summary offences, a more streamlined process.

Under this change, the maximum penalty for “summary conviction” offences would be raised to two years less a day, up from six months for many offences now. The federal Justice Department believes more prosecutions would shift into provincial courts — freeing up court time in superior trial courts. Upon conviction, those sentences would be served in provincial jails, not penitentiaries.

“Once passed, this legislation will have a real effect on court delays,” Wilson-Raybould told reporters. She said the measures are supported by police and provinces and territories.

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi told the Star Thursday he’s confident that the provincial court has the necessary resources to deal with an influx of summary conviction offences, and has no plans to add more judges.

“We feel that we have the capacity within the Ontario Court of Justice to deal with those additional cases given now that preliminary inquiries will not be taking place in a large number of cases,” he said.

Naqvi had urged Ottawa last year to amend the criminal code to limit the use of preliminary hearings. He argued this was necessary in the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark 2016 ruling, Regina vs. Jordan, which set strict timelines to bring criminal matters to trial: 18 months in provincial court and 30 months in Superior Court.

“This is a time to engage in bold reform; the Supreme Court of Canada was very clear in calling everyone out on the complacency in the system,” Naqvi said. “The need (for preliminary hearings) is far, far limited given that we live in this new reality in trying to get these cases done in either 18 or 30 months.”

Preliminary hearings, which take place in provincial court, traditionally served two purposes: a discovery purpose, allowing defence lawyers to know the case against their client, and a screening purpose, meaning a judge would decide whether there was enough evidence to send the accused to trial in superior court.

Defence lawyers have argued preliminary hearings still serve a purpose, particularly when it comes to narrowing issues ahead of a trial, thereby saving time.

“The experience of people who work in criminal law is that preliminary inquiries are a useful tool to reduce delay, settle cases, and sharpen up the issues for trial,” Addario, the criminal defence lawyer, said.

The legislation, which comes with 100 pages of explanatory notes, does not offer more money to help provinces pay for more services in provincial courts and jails that are expected to handle more criminal cases, or for more legal aid services, or addictions and mental health services, to deal with Indigenous offenders or other marginalized groups Wilson-Raybould insisted must be given more support.

Among the other measures announced Thursday:







Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

The government has failed address the "route causes" of the problems in the justice system and instead has applied "bandaids" and effectively has set Justice a set back that is a very tragic indication that the government has and will undermine the fundamental principles of justice.

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould  needs a check up from the neck up. C-75 does NOT address the route causes but creates further injustice.

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould  just fails to understand even the earliest principles of law laid down in the Magna Carta.


By removing offences from indictment to summary conviction, it means no chance of a Jury trial when that is a route cause of injustice.

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould  could have and should introduced JURY TRIALS for any criminal offence. Why, because the government has appointed sycophants as judges who rubber stamp what every the government wants. Its worse than the Salem Witch Trials.

Provincial Jails are concentration camps and Universities for Criminals on how to deal in drugs or become insane.

If anyone is crazy, its Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould  who thinks that "freeing up Superior Court Judges and dumping the cases in the Ontario Provincial Court laughingly called "The Ontario Court of Justice"... Its a court of Injustice not justice. It makes a mockery of Justice where insults to Justice like Diane Lahaie act as "rubber stamps" for corrupt local Ottawa Police and equally corrupt Ottawa Crowns who are devoid of ethics.


Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould  and Yasir Haqvi make a pair of cohorts in crime, both don't give a rat's arse about justice, only political point scoring which makes you wonder what they do for an encore in their non published activities.

These pair of idiots talk about "the influx of summary conviction offences" without ever addressing the route causes or taking any notice of what the Judiciary or the Criminal bar advise them.

Then comes the government's feminist answer, "more steps to curb intimate partner violence".

IF the government had any such genuine intention, it would stop, promoting such violence by women towards men that has reached epidemic proportions.


The Government of Ontario is actually prosecuting and convicting men who report female upon male violence.

The only way they can get convictions is to throw out the fundamental principles of justice and remove any requirement for corroboration, which means a She Said beats a He Said at least 50% of time.

There is no justice in Ontario.


Ottawa Mens Centre