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May 24th, 2018

NDP Calls on Liberal Government to Fix Criminal Justice Bill

OTTAWA – Today, the NDP announced it cannot support the Liberal's criminal justice bill in its current form. The decision was made following serious deliberation and consultation with legal experts, practicing lawyers, victim support groups, and academics across the country. They highlighted major flaws in the legislation. Bill C-75 was supposed to add fairness to our justice system and address backlogs in the courts, but instead maintained counterproductive policies like mandatory minimums brought in by Stephen Harper.

"The Liberals’ stated objective of this bill was to respond to the Supreme Court’s mandatory time limits for trials, yet there is considerable doubt that the changes proposed will make the system more expedient. Many of the proposed measures will arguably make the criminal justice system even slower," explained Murray Rankin, NDP Justice Critic. "There's still time to make improvements to this legislation if the Liberals are willing to work to improve this bill for all Canadians."

Despite promising to repeal Republican-style mandatory minimum sentences, which have been proven to be ineffective in deterring crime and a drain on court resources, the Liberal government has decided to uphold these regressive rules. Defence lawyers and legal academics agree that the reversal of this practice would have been a huge step toward unclogging the court system and improving our criminal justice system.

"We need to tackle the root causes of court delays and address issues head-on such as addiction and poverty. What we need is real criminal justice reform that preserves the rights of the accused, and unclogs the justice system," added Rankin. "The NDP will continue to advocate for evidence-based practices for the review and repeal of mandatory minimum sentences, for judicial vacancies to be filled in a timely way, to end criminalization of personal possession offences, and, most importantly, for greater investment in social supports. We hope that the government will join us in truly reforming our criminal justice system."