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An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code (S.C. 2021, c. 8)

Assented to 2021-05-06

An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code

S.C. 2021, c. 8

Assented to 2021-05-06

An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code

SUMMARY

This enactment amends the Judges Act to restrict eligibility for judicial appointment to persons who undertake to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context. It also amends the Judges Act to provide that the Canadian Judicial Council should report on seminars offered for the continuing education of judges on matters related to sexual assault law and social context. Finally, it amends the Criminal Code to require that judges provide reasons for decisions in sexual assault proceedings.

Preamble

Whereas survivors of sexual assault in Canada must have faith in the criminal justice system;

Whereas Parliament recognizes the importance of an independent judiciary;

Whereas parliamentarians have a responsibility to ensure that Canada’s democratic institutions reflect the values and principles of Canadians and respond to their needs and concerns;

Whereas sexual assault proceedings have a profound effect on the reputations and lives of the persons affected and present a high possibility of revictimizing survivors of sexual assault;

Whereas problematic interpretations of the law may arise in sexual assault proceedings;

Whereas Parliament recognizes the value and importance of judges participating in continuing education;

Whereas it is imperative that persons seeking to be appointed to the judiciary undertake to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context;

Whereas Parliament wishes to be made aware of seminars offered to federally appointed judges on matters related to sexual assault law and of judges’ participation in the seminars;

And whereas reasons for decisions in sexual assault proceedings enhance the transparency and accountability of the judiciary;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

R.S., c. J-1Judges Act

Marginal note:1992, c. 51, s. 3

  •  (1) The portion of section 3 of the French version of the Judges Act before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

    Marginal note:Appartenance au barreau

    3 Peuvent seules être nommées juges d’une juridiction supérieure d’une province, si elles remplissent par ailleurs les conditions légales, les personnes qui, à la fois :

  • Marginal note:1996, c. 22, s. 2

    (2) Paragraphs 3(a) and (b) of the Act are replaced by the following:

    • (a) is a barrister or advocate of at least 10 years’ standing at the bar of any province or has, for an aggregate of at least 10 years,

      • (i) been a barrister or advocate at the bar of any province, and

      • (ii) after becoming a barrister or advocate at the bar of any province, exercised powers and performed duties and functions of a judicial nature on a full-time basis in respect of a position held under a law of Canada or a province; and

    • (b) undertakes to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination, including by attending seminars established under paragraph 60(2)(b).

  •  (1) Paragraph 60(2)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

    • (b) establish seminars for the continuing education of judges, including seminars on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination;

  • (2) Section 60 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

    • Marginal note:Seminars related to sexual assault law

      (3) The Council should ensure that seminars on matters related to sexual assault law established under paragraph (2)(b)

      • (a) are developed after consultation with persons, groups or organizations the Council considers appropriate, such as sexual assault survivors and persons, groups and organizations that support them, including Indigenous leaders and representatives of Indigenous communities; and

      • (b) include, where the Council finds appropriate, instruction in evidentiary prohibitions, principles of consent and the conduct of sexual assault proceedings, as well as education regarding myths and stereotypes associated with sexual assault complainants.

 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 62:

Marginal note:Report — seminars

  • 62.1 (1) Within 60 days after the end of each calendar year, the Council should submit to the Minister a report on the seminars referred to in paragraph 60(2)(b) on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination, that were offered in the preceding calendar year. The report should include the following information:

    • (a) the title and a description of the content of each seminar, its duration and the dates on which it was offered; and

    • (b) the number of judges who attended each seminar.

  • Marginal note:Tabling of report

    (2) The Minister shall cause a copy of any report received to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 10 days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the report.

R.S., c. C-46Criminal Code

 The Criminal Code is amended by adding the following after section 278.97:

Marginal note:Reasons

  • 278.98 (1) In proceedings in respect of an offence under section 151, 152, 153, 153.1 or 155, subsection 160(2) or (3) or section 170, 171, 172, 173, 271, 272 or 273, the judge shall provide reasons for a decision that a person is

    • (a) acquitted;

    • (b) found guilty;

    • (c) discharged, after having been found guilty;

    • (d) found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder; or

    • (e) found unfit to stand trial.

  • Marginal note:Historical offences

    (2) Subsection (1) also applies in proceedings for any offence under this Act, as it read from time to time before the day on which this section comes into force, if the conduct alleged would be an offence referred to in subsection (1) if it occurred on or after that day.

  • Marginal note:Record of reasons

    (3) The reasons shall be entered in the record of the proceedings or, if the proceedings are not recorded, shall be provided in writing.

  • Marginal note:Proceedings before judge

    (4) This section applies only in proceedings before a judge without a jury.

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