Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (Bill C-54)

On Monday, May 27th, 2013 in Debate
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Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Vaudreuil-Soulanges. That was a very fine speech indeed.

I want to turn our attention to another piece of this. As much as we can say we want to address the problem and that the problem is the people who are held not criminally responsible, if the legislation that is passed is not compliant with the charter, it will make things worse, even with the aims that the Conservatives claim they want to address here.

If my hon. colleague is familiar with the position of the Canadian Bar Association, its members have looked at this and at the removal of the language of the “least onerous and least restrictive” requirement, which is essential in their mind to constitutional validity of the provisions that we now have. The Supreme Court of Canada has underscored this: that if we remove, as Bill C-54 would, the language of the “least onerous and least restrictive” requirement, we may well find that this legislation would be susceptible to a constitutional challenge and that it would fail to survive.

Jamie Nicholls: Mr. Speaker, these are definitely matters that we would like to discuss with the government side in committee. We would like to talk about the balance between the rights of individuals and the rights of victims. These are things that can be explored and debated in committee. We can discuss the serious questions about the charter and the balance between the rights of victims and the rights of individuals. That is why we are supporting it at second reading: so that it can get to committee and we can discuss these issues.

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  • Nate

    Thank you for raising this concern. As you mentioned in the House, the “least onerous and least restrictive” requirement is the constitutional glue that holds this provision together. Charter challenges will ensue.

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