Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak to Bill C-75 briefly.
I welcome the introduction of the end of peremptory challenges in jury trials. I am worried about removing the opportunity to cross-examine police officers during preliminary inquiries. I wonder if the member has any comments on that.
Bill Blair – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Mr. Speaker, it is an issue that has been raised. There is a concern among the defence bar about the efficacy of preliminary hearings. I have actually given testimony at many preliminary hearings in my life, and in many cases, we have found that with the new requirements of disclosure and with other judicial efficiency measures, such as judicial pretrials that are now taking place, the requirement and the efficacy of pretrials have been significantly impacted.
There is ample evidence in our trial procedures for the evidence to be tested properly in court and subject to cross-examination. Recognizing the importance of certain types of trials, we would maintain preliminary hearings for those offences that are considered within our criminal justice system to be the most serious and to have the greatest consequences. They would carry a potential life sentence. We are maintaining preliminary hearings for those very serious cases, but frankly, the system has evolved and we are recognizing that evolution.