In March 2018, the Federal Government introduced 1st Reading of Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
**UPDATE REGARDING C-75**
The Law Society has been working with the Ontario government with respect to changes to aspects of the Criminal Code in Bill C-75, affecting agents regulated by the Law Society of Ontario, including paralegals, lawyer licensing candidates and law students. The September 2019 Convocation will consider a motion to preserve the abilities of these regulated agents to appear in summary conviction court, before Bill C-75 comes into force.
In August 2019, the Ontario government issued an order-in-council to designate authority to the Law Society to determine who has the ability to appear in summary conviction court as a regulated agent. The news release from the Ministry of the Attorney General is available here: http://news.ontario.ca/m/53364.
FOLA's Concerns with C-75
Nonwithstanding some improvements, FOLA shared the concerns of the Criminal Bar Association and focused our submission on three key areas:
1. Restricting Preliminary Inquiries;
2. Eliminating jury peremptory challenges; and
3. Allowing routine evidence to be admitted by affidavit
FOLA believes that access to justice in the criminal sphere includes access to both procedural fairness and a strong presumption of innocence. While work needs to be done to modernize the system and allow for alternative methods of discovering witnesses and minimizing the adversarial process in certain types of cases, engagement of the practicing bar will be key in ensuring the greatest gains are made in reforming the system. FOLA strongly encourages a review of the suggested changes and revisions to better achieve the ends sought, namely a fair and efficient criminal justice system.
Our submission to the Federal Government's Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights can be found here.