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
/ 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
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
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
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
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
“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:
- Steps to curb intimate partner violence. These include a reverse
onus at bail for accused persons charged with an offence involving such
crimes and with previous convictions. As well, strangulation would
become an elevated form of assault.
- Updated bail procedures to increase the scope of conditions that can
be imposed by police without having to seek court approval.
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
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
IF the government had any such genuine intention, it would stop,
promoting such violence by women towards men that has reached epidemic
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