Government of Canada takes important step to modernize the Criminal Code 

News Release

The first step in updating the Criminal Code to show respect for the Charter

March 8, 2017 - Ottawa, ON - Department of Justice Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that our criminal laws protect Canadians, hold offenders to account, meet the highest standards of equity and fairness, respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and show compassion to victims. This, in turn, will help to promote a justice system that protects Canadians, their communities and their rights. 

As part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to modernize and review the criminal justice system, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, today introduced legislation that would remove or amend provisions of the Criminal Code that have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada and appellate courts and have no force in law. For example, certain provisions related to murder were found unconstitutional in 1990, and the offence prohibiting abortion was found unconstitutional in 1988, but they have never been removed from the Criminal Code. Removing these and other invalid provisions would make the Criminal Code more clear and accessible and help Canadians, including those involved in the criminal justice system, to better understand the current state of law.

This is the start of the Minister’s modernization of our criminal justice system to ensure that it shows the greatest possible respect for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


“As Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I have been mandated to ensure that our legislation meets the highest standards of equity, fairness and respect for the rule of law. This bill, which would remove invalid laws from the books, is an important step towards fulfilling that commitment. We will bring forward other bills to further amend the Criminal Code to reflect our commitment to the Charter and to a fair justice system. The result will be a justice system that better protects Canadians and their rights, and provides safety to their communities.”

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick Facts

  • The proposed legislation would remove invalid, unenforceable provisions in the Criminal Code that were struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada and appellate courts for violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • In addition, a proposal to remove the anal intercourse offence in the Criminal Code has been included in this legislation. This would replace Bill C-32, which was introduced in November 2016 to repeal the offence.

  • The removal of these provisions would eliminate the possibility that someone could mistakenly be charged, prosecuted or even convicted under provisions that are no longer in force.

  • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights, and language rights.

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For more information, media may contact:

David Taylor

Office of the Minister of Justice



Media Relations

Department of Justice Canada



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