François Lareau, LL.M.
55-890 Cahill Dr. W.
Ottawa, ON, K1V 9A4
Telephone: (613) 521-3689
Fax: (613) 521-4522
Ottawa, January 25, 1999
The Honourable Victor Eric Toews, Q.C.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General - Manitoba
Room 104, Legislative Building
450 Broadway, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 0V8
Subject: Reform of the General Part of the Criminal Code
Thank you very much for your letter of December 30, 1998 (copy attached). I hope that Mr. Finlayson was not offended by my letter of September 30, 1998. It is simply that I wanted to have a dialogue with you and not with other officials. The fact that I was able to go through the lawyer of officials and get a direct reply from you is a credit to the democratic mentality and process of your department.
I was somewhat surprised by the frankness of your answer: "Our government has not taken a position on the questions raised in your letter". I think that it would be beneficial for your province and the citizens of Manitoba if your Department was to develop a position paper on the merits of having a comprehensive reform of the General Part of the Criminal Code.
Did the federal government ever organized a conference for the provincial justice ministers on the issue of a comprehensive reform of the General Part Criminal Code? The Hon. McLellan could organize such a meeting and invite experts to brief the ministers and their senior officials. I am sure that a frank discussion would be much more constructive than a Minister trying unilaterally to impose her policy on all her provincial colleagues. Have you ever seen a modern General Part of a criminal code, e.g. the General Part of the Penal Code of Germany (a picture is worth a thousand words)? Are you aware of the new General Part for the State of Israel? Have you been informed of the joint criminal law reform effort of the States in Australia? Would a new General Part not save millions of dollars to the Province of Manitoba in litigation? Honestly, I believe that the provincial Ministers of Justice would benefit from more information.
I am attaching a copy of the Hon. Anne McLellan's letter to me of January 19, 1999 and a copy of my letter of August 21, 1998 to her (my letter of October 26 is just a reminder). The reply is frustrating in that it fails to explain the change of policy from a comprehensive to a piecemeal approach. In fact, I find that the Department of Justice Canada and their Minister lack accountability. They announce a comprehensive reform of the General Part, consult with the public and then go silent. What public explanations has the Minister given for the change of policy? None. In my books, such conduct is not acceptable, especially on the part of a Justice Minister. What do you think?
to the ideas of the Hon. McLellan's on law reform, in November 1998, the
National Criminal Justice Section of the Canadian Bar presented to the
Hon. McLellan, their "Submission on Reforming Criminal Code Defences"
(a brief on the federal consultation paper on self-defence, defence of
property and provocation). In their submission, the National Criminal
Justice Section severely criticized the piecemeal approach:
"The National Criminal Justice Section is strongly of the view that reform of the General Part of the Criminal Code should occur in a comprehensive and principled manner. The Consultation Paper is focused solely on three problematic defences which it proposes be amended in the absence of tackling the broader problem of recodifying the General Part. We are concerned that this type of incremental approach is inherently problematic. It serves to perpetuate a Criminal Code which is archaic, incomplete, poorly organized and difficult to understand. Piecemeal modifications undercut the pressure on the Federal Government to undertake this comprehensive reform. That said, the National Criminal Justice Section understands that there are no plans to undertake comprehensive reform of the General Part at this time. Our comments on the proposed options for reform of the Criminal Code defences should be understood within the context of our strong preference for comprehensive reform."
For your information, I have started a web page, "Chronology - Towards a Modern General Part of a New Canadian Criminal Code?" at "chronologie_.htm". I have posted our correspondence there. I hope that this chronology and my other web pages on General Part matters will encourage research and promote the importance of the General Part.
I hope to correspond with you again in the near future.
cc: The Honourable A. Anne McLellan*
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Morris Rosenberg*
* copy of the letters of January 19, 1999 and August 21, 1998 not attached