April 8, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)


Mr. Garson:

Yes. It was precisely for the purpose of providing a more rational method of defining crime that the new code was drafted. The commissioners were instructed to try to reduce the compass of the code and they succeeded in that regard by reducing it from 1150 sections to 750 sections. To what purpose. This is what they say on this point in their report:
The work of consolidation has been designed to do away with duplication and needless repetition and to draft provisions that will, where possible, eliminate particularization and reduce the need for amendment.
Most of us are perhaps guilty of intellectual vanity, each being proud of his own brain-child and maybe a little bit prejudiced in his viewpoint on that account. I am therefore not suggesting that the members of the royal commission on the one hand or the government on the other should have their views accepted as to whether the methods we have followed is the only proper method of drafting a criminal statute. But upon this very same subject let me read from one of the great British draftsmen who was responsible for the monumental

imperial consolidated acts in the middle of the nineteenth century. This is what he said. Incidentally, he was also the author or the editor of "Russell on Crime", one of the classical books on criminal law. He said this:
I am very strongly In favour of general clauses when they can be used without any others. They are not only clear and simple; but, if I be not very much mistaken, would reduce the length of our statutes to a greater extent than any other plan that could be devised. Let it be considered what might be effected in forgery alone. No satisfactory reason can be given why the forgery of every written instrument should not be included in a single clause. . . That clause might be so framed as to include all existing and future instruments; and as no forgery can be tried by any Court of Quarter Sessions, there is no reason why the same wide discretion as to punishment should not be given to the court as in cases of manslaughter.
Then further on-and this a man who was one of the great draftsmen of the last century-he said this:
Hitherto the usual system of framing criminal acts has been to specify each and every act intended to be subjected to any punishment; such a course has the advantage of calling direct attention to all the acts that are made penal; but such a course is open to this objection, that it often leaves offences of equally great criminality unprovided for, and thus affords the artful a chance of evading punishment. Several courses may be adopted to remedy this object. A clause may be framed in such general terms as to include all cases of the same kind within it. This is the simplest, and, perhaps, the best course; and it leaves the judgment of the court entirely unfettered as to the punishment in every case.
I think the argument of my friends the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre and the hon. member for Kamloops would have been much more convincing if they could have told us of any cases of these particularized offences of mischief that were not covered by the section in the bill. If they are all covered in the section that we have, why should we have to take five or six pages of printing to describe what can be covered in half a page? For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I certainly cannot support my hon. friend's motion.
I should like to take this opportunity of thanking my friend the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Mclvor) for his complimentary remarks as well as my friend the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mr. Maclnnis). At the same time I should also like to express my deep appreciation-and I am very sincere in this-for the magnificent co-operation which we have had from all the members of the house, particularly those who sat on the special committee of the House of Commons last year. We said when we launched this bill in the first place that we wanted the 83276-248
Criminal Code
approach to the provision of a good Criminal Code of Canada to be conducted on a completely non-partisan basis and that each of us should vote in a non-partisan manner on the merits of each section as it came up.
I must say that I never sat on any legislative committee, either in provincial politics or in federal politics, in which there was less partisanship, a more objective consideration of the merits of each section and a willingness to listen to ideas no matter whence they came. We had some communist organizations there and it was a matter of great pride to me as a Canadian that they received the same courteous attention and the same consideration of their arguments as if they had not been people whose political principles we condemn by considering them and rejecting them. It seems to me that is the essence of genuine freedom of expression and real democracy. I want to say to the members of the house, particularly to those who served on that committee, that as the minister in charge of this bill I am most deeply grateful to them for the splendid manner in which they co-operated in producing what I think is quite a good piece of legislation.

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