On April 3, 2014 the Prime Minister announced legislation to give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. The Victims Bill of Rights will create rights. Victims will have right to information, protection, participation and restitution and it will provide a complaint process for breaches of these rights.
February 23, 2015. The Bill was passed into law in the House of Commons. It is now before the Senate. It creates a quasi-constitutional Victims Bill of Rights that includes declaratory principles reflecting the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice, amends the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Ac. It also requires the restitution in certain cases where ascertainable pecuniary losses have been incurred. Finally, it amends the sentencing principles (Gladue) to ensure the sentencing of offenders appropriately balances the gravity of the offence, the harm to the victim, protection of society, and the circumstances of the offencder.
THE ACT DOES NOT APPLY TO CAF MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Pursuant to subsection 18(3) , the Act does not, repeat NOT, apply in respect of offences that are “service offences“, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the National Defence Act, that are investigated by the CF NIS or proceeded under that Act (for instance by a Court Martial).CF members who are victims of a crime will therefore be denied this bundle of rights extended to every other Canadian victim.
Ironically, despite the fact that the Bill will have no effect or benefit upon the rank and file, during debate for Third Reading of the Bill in the House on February 20, 2015, the Associate Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Julian Fantino, rose to thank the Minister of Justice (Hon. Peter MacKay) for his work adding:
Drawing on my own experience over some 40 years in law enforcement, I can say with all honesty that this bill has been a long time in the making. The whole issue of victims’ rights has been neglected over many years. The overwhelming majority of effort over the years has been in the area of the victimizers, the accused, the kinds of rights and entitlements to which the accused are given from the beginning to end of their involvement in the system.
It boggles the mind that CAF members and their families are excluded from reaping the benefits and exercising the enforceable rights contained in this important piece of legislation. This is one more example of Canadian Armed Forces members – and their families – being left out in the cold. Victims of crime investigated or prosecuted by the military will continue to have to fend for themselves being denied of the benefits of this important piece of legislation.