Victims Bills of Rights Act

Elizabeth May:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask my hon. colleague a question.

My question has to do with a specific topic, perhaps one of substance. It is about the fact that all victims have the right to information, upon request. The bill states a few times “only on request”. I think my colleague knows that under California’s victims bill of rights, victims are given a card, and not just when they ask for it. Why are my colleague’s thoughts on that, particularly for enhancing victims’ rights?

Françoise Boivin:

Mr. Speaker, the things that can be requested are written down. Asking is one thing; receiving is another.

Let me give you an example. On page 11 of Bill C-32, it states:

10. (1) Subsection 278.7(2) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(2) In determining whether to order the production of the record or part of the record to the accused, the judge shall consider the salutary and deleterious effects of the determination on the accused’s right to make a full answer and defence and on the right to privacy, personal security and equality of the complainant or witness, as the case may be, and of any other…

Victims can ask for certain things under the bill of rights, and that is fine. However, there are many qualifications attached. I am not saying this is bad; I am simply telling the government to stop pretending that this solves all the world’s problems. That is not true. It should not be raising victims’ expectations, for if they were to rely solely on the headlines in the media, they might think this is paradise. This is not the case, and the fall back to earth will be brutal.

That is all I have to say. Perhaps the government needs to change its rhetoric and use a tone that is a little more reserved, to stop making victims believe in things that do not exist.