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No question of using the exemption to remedy the Jordan ruling, responds Ottawa

Photo: Patrick Doyle The Canadian Press Canadian Justice Minister Arif Virani disagreed with the Bloc on Thursday. “We now see another federal party deciding that the Charter is simply an option!” he said.

The Liberal government quickly indicated that it would oppose a bill tabled Thursday by the Bloc Québécois, which aims to prevent the release under the Jordan decision of people accused of the most serious crimes. more serious — because the text proposes to derogate from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Here, on this side of the House, the Liberal Party, our government , will always protect your rights,” chanted the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Arif Virani, in the House during the question period.

The Bloc Québécois justice spokesperson, Rhéal Fortin, declared the same morning that he believed he could rally Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats behind the bill tabled by his party on Thursday.

The short legislative text C-392, signed by Bloc MP Denis Trudel, wants to codify the fact that a trial must last at most 18 months for cases heard in provincial court and in maximum 30 months for criminal cases, as dictated by the Jordan decision. However, he proposes to relax the notion of legal deadlines, such as by allowing the non-taking into account of delays caused “solely or directly by the conduct of the defense” or even those which are of a “reasonable nature” if the prosecution is able to demonstrate “exceptional circumstances”.

The bill primarily aims to prevent certain criminals, those accused of the most serious crimes, from availing themselves of a stay of proceedings under the Jordan decision. These are primary offenses defined by section 487.04 of the Criminal Code. To do this, the bill provides for the use of subsection 33 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the so-called notwithstanding provision, which would protect the law from legal challenge.

“This would be the first time that for a project tabled in the Parliament of Canada, therefore at the federal level, the notwithstanding provision has been invoked to override the protections of the Canadian Charter [of rights and freedoms]. It’s big,” explains constitutional expert Stéphane Beaulac, professor of law at the University of Montreal.

The Supreme Court of Canada determined in 2016 that the administration of justice would be better served by imposing maximum trial lengths to ensure the rights of accused persons. This led to the release of many people undergoing trial, including for serious crimes, as the proceedings became interminable.

Call to appoint judges

At a press briefing on Thursday, Rhéal Fortin explained that the main objective of Bill C-392 is to force the Trudeau government to fill vacant judge positions, a well-documented cause of the explosion in court delays.

He believes that “a good number of citizens” would agree with the idea of ​​preventing the court’s schedule from derailing serious criminal charges, even if it means having to protect themselves against a legal challenge based on the guarantees offered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “You go hunting, you wear a bib. You go to war, you wear armour,” he said, by way of comparison with the use of the notwithstanding clause. He deplores the fact that 109 accused were released in this way last year in Quebec.

Minister Virani did not see it that way. “Now we see another federal party deciding that the Charter is simply an option!” he said, referring to the recent allusion by the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada to his intention to use the notwithstanding clause in criminal justice matters.

In April, Pierre Poilievre told a gathering of police officers that he planned to toughen criminal laws with “any tool” at his disposal, leaving “the people” to judge whether this is consistent with the Constitution.

Arif Virani also defended his record. He claims to appoint judges at the “fastest pace in Canadian history”, having made 113 appointments since taking office. Mr. Virani became Minister of Justice last July, when Quebecer David Lametti, his predecessor, was removed from the Council of Ministers.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116