The presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial is the bedrock of our criminal justice system

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, it is a rare opportunity that I get to follow up with a question for the hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville.

I understand that the benefit of going to trial faster is that it may make things easier on victims of crime. I care deeply about victims of crime and wish the previous government had followed all the recommendations of the ombudsman for victims of crime. However, there is nothing more important in the criminal justice system than the presumption of innocence and the right of the accused to a fair trial. If we eliminate preliminary inquiries, and innocent people go to jail, is that not a factor that should weigh in the consideration of the benefits of eliminating preliminary inquiries?

Gagan Sikand – Member for Mississauga-Streetsville

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague’s concern, because ultimately, we are trying to do the same thing, and that is administer a good justice system. The person being accused is still entitled to a trial. We are just following up on consultations with stakeholders, with what judges have said and what legal experts have said, to make that very administration of justice more effective and more efficient.