The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced legislation to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system and reduce court delays. Our Government is committed to ensuring that our criminal justice system keeps communities safe, protects victims, and holds offenders to account. We know that court delays are not new. They existed under the previous government. We know we must do better.
With the bill, our Government is fulfilling its promise to move forward with comprehensive criminal justice reforms. Once passed, this legislation will have a real effect on court delays. It will help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people and other marginalized groups in the criminal justice system, including those with mental health and addiction issues. It will help make our juries more representative of the communities they serve. Our Government is also making good on an election promise and Mandate Letter commitment to address intimate partner violence.
This package of reforms represents the priorities identified by federal, provincial and territorial governments. It also responds to input provided by Indigenous organizations, civil society groups and justice system actors. Taken together, these reforms will:
- limit the use of preliminary inquiries to more serious offences to ensure criminal cases can proceed more efficiently to trial
- strengthen our response to intimate partner violence
- streamline bail processes to ensure swifter access to justice
- provide judges with more robust tools they need to manage the cases before them
- improve the jury selection process to ensure that juries are more representative of the Canadian population
- provide more discretion on administration of justice offences
- reclassify offences to allow courts to deal more efficiently with less serious matters, freeing up limited resources for more serious offences
As we have said all along, there is no simple solution to address the issue of court delays, but we are doing our part in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners. Today’s bill, and all of our actions to date, are aimed at addressing the root causes of delays. This bill is intended to bring about a culture shift within the criminal justice system, something the Supreme Court in the Jordan decision has stressed is required.