Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Bill will give crime victims comfort: feds
VANCOUVER -- Entrenching victims' rights in legislation will help those affected by crime get on with their lives, says Canada's new justice minister.
Victims "very often, sadly, feel that they are re-victimized, or feel that in fact the system is failing and doesn't meet their needs," Peter MacKay said Wednesday in Vancouver before leading a round-table discussion about the Tory plan for a bill of rights.
MacKay said the rights bill, expected to be tabled this fall, will give victims some comfort and a louder voice in the justice system.
MacKay, a former Crown prosecutor, was appointed attorney general and minister of justice in last week's cabinet shuffle. He said Wednesday that throughout his legal career he has seen how victims are sometimes poorly served by the court.
"I remember a few years ago running into an officer that I had done a number of high-profile cases with and he was wearing a little fish hook on his uniform," MacKay said. "And I said, 'What does that fish hook signify?' And he said, 'Catch and release.' He said that's what we're doing."
"He was wearing (the hook) on his uniform because of such a deep sense of frustration with the system," MacKay said.
Although he would not comment on specific cases where victims have not been served by the court, MacKay said there are instances where he questions whether justice was done.
However, one of Canada's top criminal law professors is concerned that a victims' bill of rights will do little for victims, while potentially making the criminal justice system more difficult to operate.
There are "victims' bills of rights at the provincial level, and I guess one of my concerns about many of them is that they're really kind of toothless tigers," Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto, said.
"Governments are often quick to proclaim the rights of victims, but much more reluctant to give victims enforceable rights."
Some victims do want a punitive approach to crime, he said.
"But I think if we took victims' participation and satisfaction seriously in the criminal process, this would actually impose a lot more duties on police, prosecutors, judges.... Is this something that is really going to assist victims, even at the expense of making the criminal justice process less efficient, or is this something that is really window dressing and allows the criminal justice system to continue in a way that frankly often doesn't treat crime victims very well."
Roach noted many victims' services fall under provincial jurisdiction, raising complex issues about federal-provincial relations and what the role of a federal bill of rights would be.
The law professor said he will wait and see what the bill of rights includes when it is introduced in Parliament, but added that a potentially more effective alternative would be providing more money to victims' services.
Angela Marie MacDougall is the executive director of Battered Women's Support Services in Vancouver. She said while the current justice system often fails to help women who are victims of gendered-based violence, she's not convinced a victims' bill of rights will solve the problem.
"Any generic bill of rights would fail to meet the needs of women victims of crime, particularly sexual violence," she said, because specific provisions regarding violence against women would have to be included for it to be meaningful.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2013 A14
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 37 articles for today)4:55 PM 0
Photo Store Gallery
- RCMP in New Brunswick completes investigation in python deaths, now with Crown
- Edmonton drug dealers handing out cocaine samples to potential customers
- Survivor of plane crash, family of dead passenger still seeking damages from airline
- Can you keep a secret? Edmonton couple reveals $50M lotto win after 7 months
- Protesters denounce Israeli offensive in Gaza, call on Harper to support peace
- Canada's border agency had thousands of outdated lookout flags in system
- Death of a Quebec mayor from insect stings underscores need to be prepared
- List of charities undergoing tax audits related to political activities
- Fruit from California recalled due to possible Listeria contamination
- Suspect in Calgary stabbings sent to mental hospital for assessment
- RCMP charge Sen. Mike Duffy with fraud, breach of trust and bribery
- Ontario medical student, girlfriend among passengers of doomed Malaysian flight
- Conservative party president's 7-year-old daughter hit by minivan, killed
- Mayor of Montreal-area community dies after being stung by wasps
- Police investigate suspicious death at Pemberton, B.C. Music Festival
- Canadian teacher detained in Jakarta jail on accusations of child sexual assault
- Duffy accused of charging for personal trainer, makeup artist, funeral travel
- Big Lake Ontario shark hoax shows risks posed by viral marketing, experts say
- New report questions Canadian Ukraine election monitoring missions
- Cdns at odds with Harper gov't priorities: Finance Canada focus-group report
- Family of missing boy, grandparents won't give up on finding them alive
- Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Justice minister's emails to staff
- Calgary police confirm violent incident in case of missing boy, grandparents
- $20,000 per person:Activists push for guaranteed minimum income for Canadians
- 'We're lucky to have her in our lives;' baby survives crash that killed mother
- Suspect in case of missing grandparents and child to make court appearance
- Investigators bring in boat in search near Calgary-area acreage in missing family case
- Calgary police say there are other leads in case of missing boy, grandparents
- Ex-wife of B.C. homicide victim says man conned her; both appeared on Dr. Phil
- Police say search near Airdrie part of probe into missing Calgary residents
Ads by Google