Happy New Year from the Chair

  • January 18, 2024

Kyla Lee

Our Section is off to a fantastic start this year! Some of our initiatives involve legislative reform, including making submissions on Bill C-48 which was recently given royal assent. This is an interesting and concerning time in criminal law, as we see the integrity of the justice system under attack from public discourse around repeat offenders, violent crime, and increases in shoplifting.

Our Section has a long tradition of cooperation and working together between the Crown and defence, which makes us well-positioned to respond to legislation and law reform issues aimed at these cases.

Our Section will be sponsoring a resolution on the right to reasonable bail at the CBA AGM on February 8, 2024. In addition, we are working hard on initiatives with the federal government in a variety of areas that are adjacent to criminal law or directly impact it. Watch this space for further updates.

On April 6, 2024, join us at our annual conference in Vancouver, BC, and stay tuned for our upcoming member engagement initiative with law students and young lawyers.

CBA Criminal Justice Conference Spring 2024

Mark your calendars! The CBA Criminal Justice Section will once again host an in-person conference in Vancouver on April 6, 2024. The panel will include esteemed speakers from the bench and bar and is guaranteed to be a day of insightful and captivating discussion. Keep an eye out for registration and agenda details.

Working group and Submissions on Advocacy

The Section has been hard at work preparing submissions for consideration such as, among other things:

In December 2022, the CBA-ACT issued a Guide for Internal Investigations of White-Collar Crime. The Guide discusses best practices to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of white-collar crimes, focusing on cooperating with enforcement agencies, solicitor-client privilege, independence of the investigation counsel and witness interviews. In May 2023, the CBA presented a webinar about the Guide.

In June 2023, the CBA-ACT commented on Bill C-42 (creating a free, publicly accessible and scalable beneficial ownership registry) saying the public should not have unfettered access to personal and sensitive information in the registry.

In August 2023, the Section and the CBA-ACT responded to a federal government consultation on how to improve Canada’s Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Regime.

  • Bail Reform: this subcommittee filed a submission to the HOC Committee on the bail system and to the Senate Committee on Bill C-48 in early October 2023.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: this subcommittee filed a submission on Bill C-40 and appeared on November 28, 2023.
  • Uniform Law Conference of Canada: Our Section sent two representatives, Melanie Webb and Christopher Samuel to the ULCC Annual Conference held in Charlottetown in August 2023. They presented 3 resolutions. The resolution on mental fitness at sentencing was withdrawn because a similar broader resolution was presented by the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges. The faint hope resolution passed as did the records regime resolution. A working group led by Melanie Webb was created for the latter to streamline and create efficiencies in the process.
  • End of Life Working Group: In October 2023, the Working Group commented on Bill S-248, a private Senate bill on Advance Requests for Medical Assistance in Dying. In a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, the Working Group said that Bill S-248 is a strong and thoughtful approach to introducing Advance Requests. The submission reiterates earlier comments and recommendations to establish a legal framework for Advance Requests. In November 2023, the Working Group Chair appeared before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying to discuss delays for MAiD where mental illness is the sole underlying condition. The Working Group Chair reiterated earlier written submissions on MAiD and mental illness.
  • Imprisonment and Release Committee: Prepared a submission on prisoners’ right to counsel (August 2023) and also one on the Consultation on Commissioner’s Directive 711 – Structured Intervention Units (solitary confinement) (October 2023).
  • Anti-Corruption Team: Our Section is a member of the CBA Anti-Corruption Team (CBA-ACT), a multi-Section committee comprised of members from various Sections.

Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions

This updated resource aims to help lawyers and judges gain a better understanding of the impact of criminal convictions on offenders as they navigate the judicial and carceral system. Thank you to the Section volunteers who assisted with updating the toolkit!

New 2024 CBA Criminal Justice Section Essay Contest – Current issues in Canadian sentencing law

Our Section will launch its first Essay Contest in January 2024! A $500 prize will be offered to the winner.

The award is presented annually for the best English or French scholarly paper received by the submission date on a subject relating to current issues in Canadian sentencing law by an individual who is a full-time or a part-time student currently enrolled at a Canadian law school.

Also, all current graduating law students, articling students, candidates in the Law Practice Program and National Committee on Accreditation candidates enrolled at a Canadian law school, are eligible to enter as long as they are not called to the Bar in Canada.

The submission deadline for this year’s contest is May 2, 2024. Details on the contest criteria and eligibility are available.

Law Student & Young Lawyer Member Engagement

Our Coffee in the Times of Covid sessions, in collaboration with the Law Students Section were a huge success and so we can’t wait to bring it back! Keep an eye out for details about these insightful lunchtime sessions.

Follow us on LinkedIn

While our Section is active on X, we wanted to broaden our social media reach and have recently joined LinkedIn! Follow us on LinkedIn at CBA Criminal Justice. We will be posting about events, landmark decisions in penal and criminal law, news about our Section, including appearances before parliamentary committees and our initiatives.

We hope to make our presence known on LinkedIn, so follow us, and like and repost our content!

Call for Member Articles

Our Section is looking to feature member articles in Voir Dire. If you are interested in having an article published, please let us know. Our Liaison Officer, Madison Coulas, would be happy to connect with you.


Kyla Lee
Chair, CBA Criminal Justice Section, 2023-2024