After a decade long reign where Canadians witnessed countless tough-on-crime initiatives and harsher penal policies brought on by the Conservative government; Canadians will see many changes to the system put forth by the newly elected Liberal leader – Justin Trudeau.
These revolutionary changes and the mark it will leave on the Canadians Justice System is not new for the Trudeau family. Justin’s father’s implementation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, caused a legal revolution across Canada. Similarly, Justin Trudeau will forever alter the Justice System in Canada during his time in office with these six changes.
- Legalization of marijuana
A great deal of talk has surrounded Prime Minister Trudeau’s ideologies on legalizing marijuana. Throughout his campaign he has publically discussed the need to stop penalizing those who use smaller amounts of marijuana. Further, the Prime Minister would like to see marijuana taxed and regulated, to ensure it is not abused, especially by youth. Within his short time in office, it seems that Trudeau is focused on this issue and beginning the processes of legalizing the substance; something that has been done across several U.S states.
- Bill C-51
The controversial anti-terror bill, which was drafted by the conservative government, was voted in by both the Conservative and Liberal government this past year. However, The Liberal party indicates that they will be reviewing and amending elements of the Bill that they deem problematic. For instance, Trudeau will focus on clauses that allow Judges to violate Charter rights by authorizing civilian spies. The public has had a great deal of concern surrounding this bill and what it will mean for Canadians and their rights to privacy. Further, Trudeau will target these concerns in his subsequent amendments.
- Doctor Assisted Suicide
Last February, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of doctors having the right to assist in the suicide of their patients, when the individual was consistently suffering from a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”. Courts suspended their ruling to give governments the time to draw up rules regarding the matter. Therefore, the Liberals are now responsible for setting the guidelines and boundaries on the subject (e.g., who qualifies, the consultation process, etc.).
- Supreme Court Appointment Process
In Canada, it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to appoint the Supreme Court judges. Over the last few years, there have been many questions on how our former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, had decided which judges to appoint – as they are expected to be non-partisan elected judges. Further, the entire process was kept very secretive. In contrast, Trudeau would like to bring transparency to the entire system, in an attempt to avoid the controversies brought on by the conservative governments past actions.
- Electoral System
Throughout his campaign and after his Majority win, Trudeau has promised to make changes to our first-past-the-post electoral system. The Liberal Platform has not committed to any specific system that will replace our old one, but is talking about calling together an expert panel to help make the best plan.
- Prostitution laws
During the Conservative government’s time in office, the Supreme Court of Canada found that prostitution laws in Canada were unconstitutional, bringing about harm to the women and men within this industry. Consequently, the Conservatives changed and passed new laws that, in essence, ultimately banned sex work once again and created unsafe environments for prostitutes. For instance, the new policies would decriminalized prostitution, while criminalizing the actions of Johns and Pimps. This would once again force women into seemingly unsafe situations to avoid implicating their clients.
The new laws will subsequently be tested during his term, and Trudeau will have to decide what amendments to make to the laws and how the decriminalization of sex work will look in Canada.
In turn, Canadians will see a new approach taken to many of these issues, and other topics related to crime and justice in Canada. It is the belief that the tough-on-crime agenda of the Conservatives is long past us; bringing about a new era of criminal justice reform.