Mr. Chairman, I congratulate the minister upon the energetic and capable leadership he has given this house and country in the field of criminal reform.
The hon. member for Broadview spoke about compensation for victims of crime. If the minister were to heed the hon. member's exhortations, however, I feel a great burden would be put on him to legislate with respect to something that falls clearly within provincial jurisdiction. The minister would be wasting his already scarce time on something over which he has no jurisdiction.
Today I wish to make two points. The first is a suggestion that the summary conviction appeal procedure be streamlined or made simpler and easier for those who fall prey to the technical barriers which confound the path of one who appeals. I suggest that subsection 3 of section 722 of the Criminal Code,
November 20, 1968
which deals with appeals from summary conviction courts to county judges, be amended to read:
The appeal court may at any time up to the date of the hearing of the appeal, waive any defects or omissions in the appeal process when the court considers it in the best interests of justice so to do.
I think that such a provision would remove some of the technical barriers people encounter through failure to have an affidavit sworn, to find a magistrate, who may be away on his summer holidays, or to raise sufficient costs. This would also cover many other matters urgently requiring attention.
I have had 18 years experience in practise of the criminal law, both in defence and, latterly, as a crown prosecutor. I have had a chance to view the matter and I have seen many difficulties of the nature I have described. I shall refer to only one case, that of Regina v. Amyot, 1968 Ontario reports, volume 2, at page 626. There an Ontario county judge found he had no jurisdiction to hear an appeal because the listing of the appeal was not properly posted at a certain place in the court house. If the appeal had been listed inside the court office it could have been heard; but since some clerk placed the list outside the court room, the appeal could not be heard. That does not strike me as being the course of true justice and I am sure the minister will be interested in assisting in this field of reform.
My second point deals with prelimary hearings. I urge the minister to consider the saving of money and the convenience of witnesses which might result from our adopting the British use of depositions. For instance, if a witness is to be called merely to give a formal statement such as, "Yes, I picked up a document at 5 a.m. on November 12," that statement could be reduced to a simple deposition or affidavit, and filed. Of course defence counsel would still have the privilege of calling that witness. I submit that in many thousand of cases in this country much money could be saved and many people con-venienced by adopting such a system.
Topic: YUKON QUARTZ MINING ACT
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS