Eliminating preliminary inquiries tramples on the rights of the accused

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I have touched on a few other aspects of Bill C-75, and I certainly agree with my hon. colleague that doing more to deal with intimate partner violence is critical.

I am troubled that the bill would eliminate preliminary inquiries. A preliminary inquiry is typically a time when the defence gets to test the evidence. It is something of a dry run or dress rehearsal for what is going to come at trial, and it allows the defence to properly prepare and may even lead to deciding not to proceed to trial because the evidence is too weak.

I do not understand the rationale for eliminating preliminary inquiries, all for efficiency. It is trampling the rights of the accused, who may be innocent, in the interest of efficiency. At least that is how I see it right now, standing here tonight.

I would love to know what the defence and rationale is for getting rid of preliminary inquiries.

Gagan Sikand – Member for Mississauga-Streetsville

Mr. Speaker, as stated earlier, getting rid of preliminary inquiries would not only make the system more efficient but would also help to serve the victims. We have seen through speaking with stakeholders that when we have preliminary inquiries, we are actually subjecting victims to being re-victimized, and that is certainly something we do not want. There are two benefits right there. One is to have the system be more efficient. Second, it is more compassionate, because we would not re-victimize victims.