The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, along with Senator Claude Carignan, today announced the introduction of legislation to make our streets and communities safer by reducing the number of long, drawn-out trials, sometimes referred to as mega-trials. The Government is committed to improving criminal procedures to ensure that justice is delivered swiftly and effectively, as stated in the 2010 Speech from the Throne. Justice Canada.
Mega-trials often result from vast and violent organized criminal operations, terrorist activity, or white-collar crime. These trials involve a large amount of complex evidence, numerous charges against multiple accused and the need to call many witnesses. This can take up a lot of court time and generate excessive delays, increasing the risk of mistrials.
“Our government wants to ensure that the justice system has the tools it needs to make our streets and communities safer,” stated Minister Nicholson. “The changes we are proposing today would help streamline procedures so that those involved in organized crime, white-collar crime or terrorism related offences are brought to justice swiftly.”
The Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act contains new measures related to the following three objectives:
- Strengthening case management;
- Reducing duplication of processes; and
- Improving criminal procedure.
For example, this bill would make it possible to appoint a Case Management Judge who would be empowered to impose deadlines on parties and encourage them to simplify proceedings by narrowing the issues, making admissions and reaching agreements. The Case Management Judge would have the power to decide preliminary issues such as Charter and disclosure motions. As well, duplication of processes could be reduced by allowing for a joint hearing of motions involving similar evidence that arises in related but separate cases.