Federal justice agenda includes bills that died in the last legislature, many Liberal election pledges

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The justice agenda of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s newly elected minority Liberal government is expected to include justice-related bills that died in the 43rd Parliament – advancing reforms to judicial discipline, as well as a ban on the so-called “conversion therapy”. for example, as well as legislative measures to keep the party’s many election promises.

At the time of going to press, the official tally of the seats of the main federal parties after a 36-day election campaign has not yet been finalized. But hours after polls closed on September 20, it became clear that the ranking of the 44th Legislature was not much different from that of the previous minority parliament, elected in 2019, in which the Liberals held 155 seats, the Tories 119, the Bloc Québécois 32, NDP 24, Verts 2 and Indépendants 5.

The preliminary results for Elections Canada seats for 2021 are (leading or elected): 158 Liberals (32.3% of popular vote); Preservatives 119 (33.9%); BQ 34 (7.8%); NPD 25 (17.7%); Greens 2 (8.4%); and People’s Party of Canada 0.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

During the election campaign, the Liberals made many commitments to justice, including criminal justice, the environment and tax reform and electoral platform Forward. For everyone.

Liberal promises include initiatives to: combat hate and racism (including the introduction within 100 days of legislation targeting “harmful online content”); crack down on guns; and create new tax measures, including imposing an “anti-rollover” tax on non-residents, non-Canadians who purchase vacant land and residential property in Canada.

The Liberal Party has also pledged to reintroduce criminal procedure reforms (Bill C-23) that embrace virtual means, such as the use of remote virtual procedures and the expanded use of the telewarrant process, among others. measures. The Liberals also pledged to “further support” the technological modernization of federal courtrooms and courts, and to support provinces and territories in the digitization and modernization of their court systems, as well as to facilitate ” partnerships to develop specialized technological and digital services for court operations. that are safe, secure and lead to wider and more equitable access to justice.

President of the Canadian Bar Association Stephen Rotstein

Canadian Bar Association (CBA) President Stephen Rotstein of Toronto said The Lawyer Daily his group intends to continue working with the liberal government, as it did during the last legislature, on the association’s four main priorities, namely: modernization of the justice system; improve access to justice and legal aid; improving diversity on federal benches; and lobby for greater recognition of Indigenous legal orders in the justice system. (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action # 50 urges Ottawa to fund and establish “in collaboration with Indigenous organizations” Indigenous Law Institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws consistent with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada.) “This is one of the things that we are working on with the Department of Justice and the Department of Crown and Indigenous Relations,” Rotstein said. He noted that the government has made progress in modernizing the justice system (which includes investments in technology for federal courts). “It’s great, what has been achieved,” he said. “We have to do more work. “

Rotstein said the previous Liberal government improved the diversity of federal benches, but that task is far from over. “The appointment of justice [Mahmud] Jamal to the Supreme Court of Canada, that was a very important and important appointment to the highest court, and we would obviously like to see more diversity at all levels of federally appointed courts, ”said Rotstein. “But I congratulate them on this nomination.”

To ensure access to justice, Rotstein said the CBA will also continue to press the new government to fund more of the provincial legal aid bill. (On this point, the minority Liberals would have the support of the NDP, which made the increase in federal funding for legal aid a particular element of his platform.)

Government bills that died in the previous Legislature, but could see new life in the 44th Legislature, include: S-5 (Judicial Discipline Reforms); C-6 (criminalization of non-consensual “conversion therapy”); C-10 (update of Broadcasting Act cover the Internet and regulate Internet service providers); C-11 (the Digital Charter Implementation Law, 2020); C-13 (one-off sports betting); C-21 (modifications of Criminal Code firearms penalties and offenses); C-22 (repealing certain mandatory minimum sentences, allowing greater use of conditional sentences and establishing diversionary measures for simple drug possession offenses); C-28 (revision of Canadian Environmental Protection Act); C-31 (criminal record – Reintegration Barrier Reduction Act); C-32 (SReal equality of English and French and strengthening of the Official Languages ​​Act); and C-36 (Criminal Code amendments regarding hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech).

Photo of Stephen Rotstein by the Canadian Bar Association

If you have any information, ideas for articles or tips for The Lawyer Daily please contact Cristin Schmitz at [email protected] or at 613-820-2794.


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