Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue No. 65 - Minutes of Proceedings - June 17, 2019


OTTAWA, Monday, June 17, 2019
(154)

[English]

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met this day at 7:47 p.m., in room B45, Senate of Canada Building, the chair, the Honourable Serge Joyal, P.C., presiding.

Members of the committee present: The Honourable Senators Batters, Boisvenu, Boniface, Carignan, P.C., Dalphond, Dean, Dupuis, Joyal, P.C., McIntyre, Pate and Pratte (11).

Other senator present: The Honourable Senator Bernard (1).

In attendance: Maxime Charron-Tousignant, Analyst, Parliamentary Information and Research Services, Library of Parliament.

Also present: The official reporters of the Senate.

Pursuant to the order of reference adopted by the Senate on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, the committee continued its consideration of Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.

WITNESSES:

Canadian Bar Association:

William Thompson, Member at Large, Criminal Justice Section (by video conference).

Canadian Association of Black Lawyers:

Lori Anne Thomas, President (by video conference).

Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty:

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Director of Research (by video conference).

Department of Justice Canada:

Ari Slatkoff, Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel.

The chair made a statement.

It was agreed that the letter from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, be published as an appendix to today's Evidence (Appendix 5900-1.42/LCJC-C-93, 65, "1'').

Mr. Thompson, Ms. Thomas and Mr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah each made a statement and answered questions.

At 8:48 p.m., the committee suspended.

At 8:52 p.m., the committee resumed.

It was agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.

It was agreed that the title stand postponed.

It was agreed that clause 1 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 2 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 3 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 4 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 5 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 6 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 6.1 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 7 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 8 carry, on division.

It was agreed that clause 9 carry, on division.

It was agreed that the schedules carry, on division.

It was agreed that the title carry, on division.

It was agreed that the bill carry, on division.

It was agreed that observations be appended to the committee's report on the bill.

The Honourable Senator Pate moved that the following observations be appended to the report:

The Committee notes, as the Minister of Public Safety acknowledged in his testimony, the need for broader reform to the criminal record system to ensure that no one is barred from accessing criminal records relief to which they are entitled simply because they lack legal or financial resources. The Committee calls on the government to accelerate reforms to the Criminal Records Act. In particular, it calls on the government to examine how best to improve co-ordination of the management of records across Canadian jurisdictions and to implement the necessary technological advances to allow for a more automated approach to criminal records relief that would not require an application process or fee.

After debate, it was agreed to separate the Honorable Senator Pate's observations in three parts.

After debate, the question being put on part 1 of Senator Pate's proposed observation, it was adopted by a show of hands.

After debate, the question being put on part 2 of Senator Pate's proposed observation, it was adopted by a show of hands.

After debate, the question being put on part 3 of Senator Pate's proposed observation, it was adopted by a show of hands.

The Honourable Senator Pate moved that the following observations be appended to the report:

The Committee notes with concern the current barriers to obtaining criminal record suspensions, in particular relating to the cost and the complexity of the application process. The committee notes the negative impact such barriers have for successful community integration and public safety. The committee calls upon the government to work with provincial and territorial governments to develop a mechanism for conviction expiration and prohibitions on post conviction expiry discrimination, particularly as it relates to opportunities for employment, housing, education, parenting and volunteer work.

After debate, it was agreed to separate the Honorable Senator Pate's observations in three parts.

After debate, the question being put on part 1 of Senator Pate's proposed observation, it was adopted by a show of hands.

Mr. Slatkoff was invited to the table and answered questions.

After debate, the question being put on part 2 of Senator Pate's proposed observation, it was adopted by a show of hands.

After debate, the question being put on part 3 of Senator Pate's proposed observation, it was negatived by a show of hands.

The Honourable Senator Carignan moved that the following observation be appended to the report:

The committee invites provinces that do not have laws proscribing discrimination on the basis of pardoned criminal records to consider legislative amendments in that regard.

After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was adopted on the following vote:

YEAS

The Honourable Senators Joyal, Batters, Boisvenu, Boniface, Carignan, Dalphond, Dean, McIntyre, Pate and Pratte — 10

NAYS

NIL

ABSTENTIONS

The Honourable Senator Dupuis — 1

The Honourable Senator Dalphond moved that the following observations be appended to the report:

To help vulnerable and marginalized populations make use of the proposed measures, the Committee recommends that the government ensures that the bill's implementation plan includes the development of awareness and information tools designed specifically for these groups, as well as measures to assist them in applying for a criminal record suspension. When developing these tools and measures, the Committee recommends that the government considers factors such as theses groups' limited access to social networks and traditional means of communication.

After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

It was agreed that the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be empowered to approve the final version of the observations being appended to the report taking into consideration today's discussion and with any necessary editorial, grammatical or translation changes as required.

It was agreed that the bill be reported, with observations, to the Senate.

At 9:40 p.m., the committee adjourned to the call of the chair.

ATTEST:

Keli Hogan
Clerk of the Committee