HANSARD UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2011 YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
MINISTER'S STATEMENT 20-17(1): MEETING WITH FEDERAL JUSTICE MINISTER ON BILL C-10
HON. GLEN ABERNETHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to update the House on discussions I had with the federal Minister of Justice, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, yesterday. The purpose of this meeting was to bring the concerns of my colleagues regarding Bill C-10 to the Minister and to discuss how best to mitigate the impacts of the bill on the Northwest Territories.
The Parliament of Canada has the right and responsibility to pass national legislation in respect to criminal justice that can significantly affect all the provinces and territories. The motion passed just last Friday by this Assembly details some of the concerns that we have about this bill, and how it may affect our residents and our institutions that respond to crime. But we must be mindful of the fact that Bill C-10 is the latest in a string of federal bills aimed at addressing crime. Since 2006 there have been 18 crime and public safety bills that have gone through Parliament, many of which are now law. These initiatives have had a cumulative impact on our services here in the Northwest Territories.
For the record, Bill C-10 bundles nine bills that were introduced in the previous Parliament into one large piece of legislation. The bill covers everything from sexual offences and drug crimes, to compensating victims of terrorism and eliminating pardons for some offences. The bill also introduces new offences and mandatory minimum sentences, imposes higher penalties and restricts the use of conditional sentences.
We anticipate the changes in sentencing will affect our corrections system where we may see more or see increases in the number of adults in custody as well as more youth in pre-trial and sentence custody. There may also be pressures on our courts and on our Legal Aid Program as more people may contest charges due to the increased penalties.
Additionally, the new legislation may place more demands on our victim services. There may be increased pressures on our community justice programs and will continue to try to deal with matters outside of the court system wherever possible.
Minister Nicholson and I had a positive discussion, recognizing the unique concerns we have in the Northwest Territories. We agreed that we will continue to work together on a number of fronts including: diversion options, potential options for alternative courts, victim services, Aboriginal justice and youth justice.
I extended an invitation to Minister Nicholson to come visit one of our small communities here in the North to see daily life firsthand. He was open and receptive to the invitation.
We will be continuing our discussions with Canada to develop concrete approaches to mitigating the effects of Bill C-10, and work with our northern counterparts in Nunavut and the Yukon to promote our common interest and to share the best practices. We look forward to further discussions with all Ministers of Justice at the FPT Ministers of Justice meeting at the end of January. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Abernethy.