|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2011
OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has serious concerns about the general direction of Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act, suggesting it is contrary to what is known to lead to a safer society, and would move Canada along a road that has failed in other countries, at great expense.
“The CBA offers its critique of Bill C-10 on the basis of a solid foundation of evidence and experience,” says Eric Gottardi, Vice-Chair of the CBA’s National Criminal Justice Section. “Criminal law should be based on the most effective policies and best use of public resources.”
In its approximately 100-page submission, the CBA says the legislation adopts a punitive approach to criminal behaviour, rather than a focus on how to prevent that behaviour in the first place, or rehabilitate those who offend. “As most offenders will one day return to their communities, prevention and rehabilitation are most likely to contribute to public safety,” the brief notes.
The CBA’s criticism extends to the omnibus process the government has taken with this legislation. The CBA brief notes that “some of these initiatives have received no Parliamentary committee consideration to date, yet contain fundamental shifts in Canada’s approach to criminal law and the treatment of offenders.”
The CBA has a longstanding commitment to improving Canada’s criminal justice and correctional system. Most recently at its 2011 Canadian Legal Conference, the CBA publicly urged that Canada adopt:
- a more health-based response to the mentally ill, in place of incarceration;
- policies and laws that recognize the historical, social and economic realities of aboriginal people;
- a judicial “safety valve” to ensure justice in sentencing; and
- a policy of transparency in regard to the cost of any future criminal justice initiatives.
The CBA’s National Immigration Law Section has raised concerns with proposals in Bill C-10 aimed at protecting vulnerable immigrants. “While providing assistance to trafficked and other vulnerable people is laudable, these proposals would introduce a scheme that is vague, confused and potentially harmful to the very people it seeks to protect,” says the CBA brief.
Eric Gottardi and Prof. Michael Jackson of the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia and member of the CBA’s Committee on Imprisonment and Release will present the CBA brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, October 18 in Room 253-D of the Centre Block. The CBA submission is available online.
The CBA is dedicated to improvement in the law, the administration of justice, and support for the rule of law. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.
The Canadian Bar Association
Tel: 613-237-2925, ext. 146