November 18, 2015 – The Prime Minister of Canada has sent a mandate letter to each of his new Ministers. He expects them to deliver on the government’s top priorities. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould will be tasked with ensuring legislation meets the highest standards of equity, fairness and respect for the rule of law. She is expected to:
- Lead a process, supported by the Minister of Health, to work with provinces and territories to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding physician-assisted death.
- Develop, in collaboration with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and supported by the Minister of Status of Women, an approach to, and a mandate for, an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada, including the identification of a lead Minister.
- Review our litigation strategy. This should include early decisions to end appeals or positions that are not consistent with our commitments, the Charter or our values.
- Conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade with a mandate to assess the changes, ensure that we are increasing the safety of our communities, getting value for money, addressing gaps and ensuring that current provisions are aligned with the objectives of the criminal justice system. Outcomes of this process should include increased use of restorative justice processes and other initiatives to reduce the rate of incarceration amongst Indigenous Canadians, and implementation of recommendations from the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith regarding the restriction of the use of solitary confinement and the treatment of those with mental illness.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to address gaps in services to Aboriginal people and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.
- Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
- Undertake modernization efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, in cooperation with provinces and territories. This should include improved use of information technology to make the system more efficient and timely, exploration of sentencing alternatives and bail reform, and the creation of a unified family court.
- Support the Minister of Canadian Heritage to restore a modern Court Challenges Program.
- Work with the Ministers of Finance and National Revenue to develop a modernized regulatory and legal framework governing the Charitable and Not-for-Profit sectors.
- Engage all parties in the House of Commons to ensure that the process of appointing Supreme Court Justices is transparent, inclusive and accountable to Canadians. Consultations should be undertaken with all relevant stakeholders and those appointed to the Supreme Court should be functionally bilingual.
- Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in his efforts to repeal key elements of Bill C-51, and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security and better balances collective security with rights and freedoms.
- Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in his efforts to repeal key elements of Bill C-42 and implement our commitment to reduce the number of handguns and assault weapons on our streets.
- Implement our platform commitments to toughen criminal laws and bail conditions in cases of domestic assault, in consultation with stakeholders and with the goal of keeping survivors and children safe. You should undertake this work in consultation with the Minister of Status of Women and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
- Work with the President of the Treasury Board to enhance the openness of government, including supporting his review of the Access to Information Act to ensure that Canadians have easier access to their own personal information, that the Information Commissioner is empowered to order government information to be released and that the Act applies appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.
- Introduce government legislation to add gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to the list of distinguishing characteristics of “identifiable group” protected by the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, also has a long mandate to fulfill based on election promises:
- Assist the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons in the creation of a statutory committee of Parliamentarians with special access to classified information to review government departments and agencies with national security responsibilities.
- Work to repeal, in collaboration with the Minister of Justice, the problematic elements of Bill C-51 and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security and better balances collective security with rights and freedoms.
- Create an Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Coordinator.
- Lead a review of existing measures to protect Canadians and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats, in collaboration with the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and the President of the Treasury Board.
- Take action to get handguns and assault weapons off our streets by working with the Minister of Justice to strengthen controls on hand-guns and assault weapons, including by repealing some elements of Bill C-42.
- Enhance compensation benefits for public safety officers who are permanently disabled or killed in the line of duty, including the creation of a compensation benefit for firefighters, police officers, and paramedics.
- Work with provinces and territories and the Minister of Health to develop a coordinated national action plan on post-traumatic stress disorder, which disproportionately affects public safety officers.
- Restore funding to provinces and territories to support Heavy Urban Search and Rescue teams.
- Work with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, and municipalities to develop a comprehensive action plan that allows Canada to better predict, prepare for, and respond to weather-related emergencies and natural disasters.
- Support the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health on efforts that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
- Work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to address gaps in services to Indigenous Peoples and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.
- Take action to ensure that the RCMP and all other parts of your portfolio are workplaces free from harassment and sexual violence.
The CRCVC looks forward to the upcoming work of Parliament to address all of these important issues. We will pay close attention to: the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; the toughening of criminal laws and bail conditions in cases of domestic assault; sentencing reforms and increased use of restorative justice processes; the use of information technology to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system; the creation of a counter-radicalization office and the work done to ensure the RCMP and all other Public Safety portfolio workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence.