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Letter To The Ministers On Bill C-66

July 24, 2018

The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6


The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6


Dear Ministers,

Re: Bill C-66, the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act (now S.C. 2018, c. 11)

I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA). As you may know, the CCJA is one of the longest serving non-governmental organizations of professionals and citizens interested in criminal justice in Canada, having begun its work in 1919 and having testified before Parliamentary Committees on numerous occasions. Our association represents 700 members from all across Canada.

Following decades of injustice perpetrated against sexual minorities, addressing unjust convictions in the criminal justice system is precisely the type of change needed to achieve restorative justice. While we commend the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act and its main objective of creating a procedure for expunging certain types of unjust convictions levelled against members of Canada’s LGBTQ+ community, the CCJA joins a great many people and organizations who believe that the Act does not go far enough.

The CCJA shares in the concern that the scope of the Act’s approach (i.e. the schedule of listed offences) is too narrow and overlooks other sections of the Criminal Code that were discriminatorily applied to the LGBTQ+ community. We echo the observations made in the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights’ Tenth Report on the Act’s limited schedule, recommending the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness launch public and stakeholder consultations on the bawdy house laws in particular and any other provisions of the Criminal Code that were applied in a discriminatory fashion towards sexual minorities. The CCJA believes that consultations on redressing the past discriminatory application of other offences under the Criminal Code are a good first step to achieving the holistic remediation that the Prime Minister envisioned in his apology last November to the LGBTQ+ community.

Further, clarity is also needed on the major criterion of s.23 of the Act which provides that the Governor in Council may, by order, add an item to the schedule if the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the criminalization of the activity constitutes a “historical injustice” – a term that remains undefined in the Act. We urge the Government to provide clarification of this term in legislation or other appropriate instrument. The CCJA submits that rooting the definition of historical injustice in the fundamental, guiding principles of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would go a long way to clarify the intent and parameters of this concept.

As citizens in an inclusive society that values justice, freedom and human dignity, we make these submissions not to discount the laudable achievements of the Act, but to build on this positive step forward. We ask that you continue to make progress on this file by considering the recommendations herein.



Irving Kulik
Executive Director

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