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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

 

 The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

 

 has the honour to table its

 

FOURTH REPORT


 

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, November 21, 2007, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:

1. Clause 18, page 7:  Replace lines 3 and 4 with the following:

“appears shall advise the accused of his or her right to apply for an order under subsection”.

2. Clause 19, page 7: Replace, in the English version, lines 31 and 32 with the following:

“(a) cause the portions of an information or indictment against the accused that are in an”.

3.  New clause 21.1, page 9:  Add after line 3 the following:

21.1 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 532:

532.1 The Minister of Justice shall prepare and cause to be laid before each House of Parliament an annual report for the previous year on the operation of the provisions of this Part that includes

(a) the number of orders granted under section 530 directing that the accused be tried before a justice of the peace, provincial court judge, judge or judge and jury who speak both official languages of Canada;

(b) the number of trials held in French outside the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick; and

(c) the number of trials held in English within the province of Quebec.”.

4.  New clause 21.2, page 9:  Add before line 4 the following:

21.2 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 533:

533.1 (1) Within three years after this section comes into force, a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this Part shall be undertaken by any committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament that may be designated or established by the Senate or the House of Commons, or by both Houses of Parliament, as the case may be, for that purpose.

(2) The committee referred to in subsection (1) shall, within a year after a review is undertaken under that subsection or within any further time that may be authorized by the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament, as the case may be, submit a report on the review to Parliament, including a statement of any changes that the committee recommends.”.

5.  New clause 45.2, page 20:  Add after line 16 the following:

45.2 (1) If Bill C-2, introduced in the 2nd session of the 39th Parliament and entitled the Tackling Violent Crime Act (the “other Act”), receives royal assent, then subsections (2) to (4) apply.

(2) If subsection 21(3) of the other Act comes into force before section 7 of this Act, that section 7 is replaced by the following:

7. Section 255 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (3.2):

(3.3) For greater certainty, everyone who is liable to the punishment described in any of subsections (2) to (3.2) is also liable to the minimum punishment described in paragraph (1)(a).

(3) If subsection 21(3) of the other Act comes into force on the same day as section 7 of this Act, then that section 21(3) is deemed to have come into force before that section 7 and subsection (2) applies as a consequence.

6. Clause 46, page20:  Replace line 17 with the following:

46. Sections 7, 8, 18 to 21.2, 29, 35, 37 to 40,”.

Your committee has also made certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

 

JOAN FRASER
Chair


OBSERVATIONS
to the Fourth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
(Bill C-13)

Your Committee would like to express an additional concern on the use of official languages in criminal proceedings, with regard to the special situation of Canada’s Aboriginal people.

Clause 31 of Bill C‑13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments), refers to the Territory of Nunavut.  Your Committee is sensitive to the reality that many Aboriginal people speak neither of Canada’s official languages.  The additional difficulties created by interpretation are broadly recognized.

Your Committee pointed out in the observations attached to its Second Report on Bill S‑10, A second Act to harmonize federal law with the civil law of the Province of Quebec and to amend certain Acts in order to ensure that each language version takes into account the common law and the civil law, tabled on November 25, 2004, the existence of “Aboriginal traditional law, [which] pre-existed the two other sources of law”, and urged that “a way should be found to integrate Aboriginal legal traditions into Canadian law alongside the civil and common law in a manner that will better reflect Canada’s diversity.”

The importance of training and appointing judicial personnel in criminal cases who are fluent in the appropriate Aboriginal language, particularly in the more isolated northern communities, should be among the priorities of the Department of Justice and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. To this end, the Committee also urges the government to collect statistics on the number of criminal proceedings where aboriginal languages are used.

The Committee notes that the Minister of Justice in his appearance before the Committee on November 28, 2007, acknowledged the concerns of the Committee that not only judicial personnel, but also defence counsel in some parts of the country lack the capacity to communicate with the accused in a minority official language. The Minister agreed to follow up with his provincial counterparts on the issue, indicating that:

[t]he training of defence lawyers is not exactly within the federal sphere, but I would be pleased to pass along those comments.

One final observation concerns the fear expressed by a witness of the potential extra-territorial application of clause 5 of the bill, which deals with the transmission and reception of information relating to book-making, betting and wagering, among other things. For the sake of clarity, the Committee wishes to note that it is satisfied that clause 5 of the bill will not have extra-territorial application.

 


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