Ambrose bill to make judges take classes on sex assault law fast-tracked

Bill on training for judges fast-tracked

OTTAWA — The House of Commons has unanimously agreed to fast-track a bill introduced by interim Tory leader Rona Ambrose that would require would-be judges to take courses in sexual assault law.

The Commons has accepted a motion from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to bypass the usual second-reading debate and send the legislation straight to committee.

The bill, C-377, would restrict eligibility for an appointment to the bench to candidates who have completed comprehensive sexual assault education.

It would also require the Canadian Judicial Council to report on continuing education seminars in matters related to sexual assault law and change the Criminal Code to require courts to provide written reasons in sexual assault decisions.

Ambrose says too many women and girls are reluctant to come forward after being sexually assaulted and that judges need better training in handling such cases.

The bill took on more urgency after a judge in Halifax recently acquitted a suspect in a sexual assault case and suggested that even an intoxicated woman could consent to sex.

“The circumstances are disturbing and, incredibly, the judge ruled that, ‘Clearly, a drunk can consent’,” Ambrose said in the Commons Wednesday.

“Countless legal experts have pointed out the mistakes in this judgment. I have introduced a very common-sense bill to make sure that judges are not making basic errors or, even worse, painful comments that make victims think twice of ever pursuing justice,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed that there is work to be done on the issue.

“We need to make sure that we are doing a much better job than we are right now and that is why I look forward to parliamentarians having an opportunity to discuss ways in which we are going to be able to improve it, including with the member’s bill,” he said.

As a student, Trudeau said he worked at a sexual assault centre at McGill University and knows how devastating a sexual assault can be.

“We need to do much more, even 25 years later, to make sure that we are fighting against it, that we are reducing it, and that we are creating a justice system and a system of policing that actually enables survivors of sexual assault to come forward and get justice,” he said.

The agreement to fast-track the bill came as MPs and ministers repeatedly spoke of the importance of International Women’s Day.

Mulcair said it is rare to get this kind of unanimous support, but it comes on an important issue.

“When it comes to how our judicial system handles cases of sexual assault, we must all come together and say: we believe survivors,” he said.

 

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Legacy Group wants City of Kelowna to rethink its downtown redevelopment plans

The plan envisions redeveloping RCMP site, Kelowna theatre, Memorial Arena and city hall parking lot

Deadline to apply for Kelowna neighbourhood grant program is quickly approaching

The grant will match up to $1,500 for community projects

Solution being found after Kelowna housing society misplaces washer and dryer unit

Shannon McDonald wanted to pay it forward with a gift, but there was a communication error

Central Okanagan superintendent outlines priorities for 2019-2020 school year

Infrastructure and program development were main themes in presentation

Lake Country man charged for killing his wife expected to enter plea

Lambertus “Bert” Westervelt was charged with second-degree murder of his wife in April

BC SPCA gala returns to Kelowna

Touchstone Law Group is one of three sponsors for the Kelowna gala

Advanced polls see 29 per cent increase in voter turn out from 2015

Some 4.7 million people took part, says Elections Canada

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

Pot use admission at U.S. border snagging Canadian boomers, says lawyer

A waiver to enter the U.S. can cost $2,000 and isn’t a guarantee

Health concerns over vaping cast haze over Canadian cannabis market expansion

More than 1,000 people in the United States, and a handful in Canada, have developed a lung ailment

VIDEO: Meet your Kelowna-Lake Country candidates

All seven Kelowna-Lake Country candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

VIDEO: Meet your Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

Fuel Good Day has most successful year to date with $680,000 raised in Western Canada

The Sept. 17 fundraiser beat last year’s amount by $80,000

Okanagan ski hills highlighted on website’s ‘most affordable’ list

HomeToGo looks at rentals, lift passes, accommodations and food to compile list of Top 50

Most Read