Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Minister of Justice) moved for leave to introduce bill No. 139, to amend the Criminal Code.
He said: The purpose of this bill is to provide three amendments to the Criminal Code. The first is to do away with the provision under which the minimum sentence for theft of an article from a post office is three years' imprisonment. We are taking out the minimum because it has been found by experience that in a great many cases it is difficult to get a conviction when the conviction would necessarily entail a minimum penalty of three years.
The second is to increase the maximum penalties provided for defrauding the government in sales to the government of miltary stores. The maximum penalty was two years imprisonment or a fine of $5,000. It is proposed to increase that maximum to three years and a maximum fine of $50,000. The third is to substitute the Superior Court of Quebec for the Court of King's Bench for the hearing of appeals from summary convictions. The Court of King's Bench is the court which hears criminal cases with a jury. The sittings
of that court in the rural districts are quite infrequent, sometimes more than a year elapsing between one sitting and the next, but the Court of King's Bench is presided over by the same judge who presides over the superior court, which is the high court of original jurisdiction. The amendment would substitute the superior court for the Court of King's Bench so that appeals from summary convictions would be more speedily disposed of. It has been found in some cases that when appeals were taken from summary convictions, the appeal was abandoned when the court sat many months after the appeal was entered. This amendment will be in the interests of the expeditious administration of justice, because appeals may be heard at the ordinary term of the high court in each rural district.