The Trudeau Government likes to say they make evidence-based decisions. The overwhelming evidence heard at the Senate Legal committee on peremptory challenges in Canada’s jury selection process showed that these challenges are being used by defence counsel and Crown prosecutors to ensure our criminal trials are fair — particularly for Indigenous and other racialized accused. Further, removing these quick and efficient juror challenges will worsen Canada’s criminal court delay crisis. Yet, with seemingly no consultation or study, the Trudeau government decided to eliminate peremptory challenges from our jury selection process in their omnibus criminal law reform Bill C-75.
In a speech delivered in the Senate Chamber, Senator Denise Batters cites the signficant evidence heard at the Senate Legal committee in favour of retainng peremptory challenges. She also quells the arguments for removing these challenges. She then introduces an amendment to Bill C-75 to keep peremptory challenges in Canada’s Criminal Code.
Unfortunately, Senator Batters’ amendment is defeated 51-26. Only Conservative senators voted for the amendment; all “Independent”, Liberal and Government senators present voted against it. So much for evidence-based decision-making in the Senate of Canada.
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(June 13, 2019)