On October 16, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, delivered the Speech from the Throne to open the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament and outline the Government’s agenda. The government remains concerned with offering supporting to victims and punishing criminals. The following is an excerpt from the speech:
“Our Government believes that the justice system exists to protect law-abiding citizens and our communities. For too long, the voices of victims have been silenced, while the system coddled criminals. Our Government has worked to re-establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions; where penalties match the severity of crimes committed; where the rights of victims come before the rights of criminals.
- Our Government will introduce a Victims Bill of Rights to restore victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system.
- Our Government will focus on protecting the most vulnerable of all victims, our children. Recent tragic deaths, including those of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, and Todd Loik, have shocked Canadians. Our Government will introduce legislation giving police and prosecutors new tools to effectively address cyberbullying that involves criminal invasion of privacy, intimidation and personal abuse. This legislation would create a new criminal offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
- Canadians are rightfully alarmed when violent offenders found not criminally responsible for their actions are released into our communities. Our Government will re-introduce legislation to ensure that public safety comes first.
- But we must do even more to protect our children. Child predators should never be let off with only a single sentence for multiple crimes against children. Canadians demand that those who prey on our children pay the full price for every devastated life. Our Government will end sentencing discounts for child sex offenders.
- It is also unacceptable that dangerous and violent offenders are released into our communities before serving their full sentences. Our Government will end the practice of automatic early release for serious repeat offenders.
- But for the worst of all criminals, even this is not enough. Canadians do not understand why the most dangerous criminals would ever be released from prison. For them, our Government will change the law so that a life sentence means a sentence for life.
- Aboriginal women are disproportionately the victims of violent crime. Our Government will renew its efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
- Canadians also know that prostitution victimizes women and threatens the safety of our communities. Our Government will vigorously defend the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws.
- Finally, our Government recognizes the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals. It will bring forward Quanto’s law in honour of them.”
The government also plans to address forced marriage. “Sadly, millions of women and girls continue to be brutalized by violence, including through the inhumane practice of early and forced marriage. This barbarism is unacceptable to Canadians. Our Government will take steps to ensure that it does not occur on our soil.”
The CRCVC is most anxious for the introduction of the Victims Bill of Rights, which we hope will help to bring more balance to the justice system. The rights of victims are a unique issue, separate from the fair trial rights of accused persons or the sentencing/conviction of offenders and the management of their sentence. The human rights of victims have been infringed when crime is committed against them, thus they deserve rights to information, services and support to help them recover and restore their lives. They deserve the right to complain when their rights are not met and to have some sort of advocate or ombudsman who will enforce their rights and work to ensure the rights provided by the federal government are implemented and monitored across Canada. This is an enormous undertaking and we remain hopeful that the proposed VBR will set a standard for victims in Canada that is the envy of other nations.