Mr. Robert Temple (Hastings South):
Mr. Speaker, in commencing my remarks I wish to highly commend the hon. Member for Greenwood (Mr. Brewin) for introducing this measure. Certainly the rights of the individual is something that affects us all and it is something of which we must always be aware and should see that at all times wherever possible-and we must make it possible- every accused person has the right to legal counsel. I also wish to commend the Government for having announced, as they did in the Throne Speech, the setting up of a Special Committee on Correction, and the Minister of Justice (Mr. Favreau) for having announced the make-up of that Committee this week. The Vice Chairman is the renowned Toronto criminal lawyer, Mr. G. Arthur Martin. This Committee will be dealing, I hope, with matters such as this raised today by the hon. Member for Greenwood.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the provision of a lawyer, or legal aid-whatever you want to call it-is essential right from the time an accused person is arrested. Quite often an accused person does not have a lawyer and does not know how to go about making an application for bail. Very often this results in too high a bail being set, and all the factors that should be taken into consideration on the accused's behalf are not taken into consideration. I believe it was Jefferson who said there should be "equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion." But I am sure there cannot be any equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has. All too often accused people are denied bail, or bail is set at too high a level and they are kept in prison awaiting trial, whereas the man with means is able to get bail set and be at liberty pending his trial.
Surely this is not something with which any of us can agree, namely this type of situation where the wealthy man can get his liberty and in many cases the poor man cannot. Bail is set to ensure the attendance of accused persons at their trial, and legal as-
sistance before trial to advise the accused with regard to his rights and how to present his application for bail is very vital to that accused person. All too often-although it happens very seldom in the area of Ontario from which I come-the accused person is unable to raise the $200, $300 or $400 bail and has to remain incarcerated awaiting his trial for some two or three weeks, whereas with regard to some types of offence perhaps 50 per cent, 60 per cent or 75 per cent of the people have no problem whatever in raising the money necessary for bail.
With regard to the provision of legal aid and bail, Mr. Speaker, I should like to refer to the Manhattan Bail Project, conducted by the Vera Foundation in the state courts of New York in conjunction with the New York University Law School and the Institute of Judicial Administration. The procedures there employed are essentially simple. This report says:
[DOT] (5:50 p.m.)
Adult prisoners brought to the Magistrates' Felony Court are interviewed by a group of law students from the evening division of New York University. Information is obtained on a variety of factors relevant to the prisoner's eligibility for pre-trial release, including his place of residence, employment, relatives living in New York City, criminal record, and period of residence in the city. With the prisoner's consent, his statements are verified principally by phone but occasionally by sending a student into the field for further investigation. Cases are identified in which the information collected suggests that the accused may safely be released without requiring-
-bail. It is interesting to note that of the first 200 cases of pre-trial liberty, as they call it down there, which means in fact released on your own recognizance by signing a bond and then putting up cash bail, only two accused failed to appear at trial.
Another matter which touches on the same question and which goes to the length of time that an accused has to spend in jail-on a capital crime, of course, bail is not allowed-is this. From the lawyer's point of view it is difficult to conduct an effective pre-trial examination and make a complete investigation while the accused is in prison awaiting trial. As I say, in capital cases there is no alternative. However, I would suggest that this committee on corrections could look into the cases of county towns that have only two assizes per year that can deal with capital cases, which means that if an accused is arrested, say one or two weeks after the end of the last assize, he will have to wait five or six months for his trial. There must surely
May 5, 1965
be some way to speed up his trial, and I hope the Committee on Corrections will also take this aspect into account.
Another matter regarding legal aid as proposed by my hon. friend from Greenwood is the fact that poor people who do not have the economic resources to provide their own bail have no alternative but to remain in prison. As I said earlier, it is very difficult to conduct a complete investigation into all the circumstances leading to arrest, which investigation is necessary to enable the lawyer to do his job at the trial. Therefore I believe that more accused should be released on their own recognizances. I believe that a committee should be set up to look into the circumstances of an accused's background, such as where he lives, where he is employed and whether he has any previous criminal record. This is done in the instance of juveniles, but in the case of an adult person awaiting trial no probation officer is available to do this work.
I believe that legal aid should be available to everybody. This is not to say that as of right any government must pay lawyers to conduct legal aid defences. That is not the point. The point, as I see it, is that everyone should have equal justice no matter what are the circumstances. Because if we do not have that, then this society will not exist for very long. Our society must be one in which the law is for both rich and poor; there should not be one law for the rich and one for the poor.
Subtopic: REQUEST FOR CONFERENCE ON PROVISION OF LEGAL AID