Government of Canada takes further steps to modernize the Criminal Code, strengthen sexual assault provisions, and show how new laws respect the Charter

News Release

June 6, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – Department of Justice Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that our criminal justice system protects Canadians, holds offenders to account, upholds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and shows the utmost compassion for victims.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation today that lives up to those fundamental commitments as part of a long-term plan to modernize our criminal justice system.

The proposed legislation would amend or repeal a number of provisions in the Criminal Code in order to ensure they are compliant with the Charter, and to make the law more relevant in our modern society.

It would also clarify certain sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code in order to prevent incorrect application of the law and strengthen other parts of the law to help make the criminal justice system more compassionate towards complainants in sexual assault matters.

Finally, it would require the tabling of a Charter Statement for every new government bill introduced in Parliament to help Canadians understand the potential effects of new government legislation on their Charter rights.


“This proposed legislation is another milestone in our ongoing efforts to make our criminal laws fairer, clearer, more relevant, accessible and compassionate. I am hopeful that the proposed changes to the sexual assault provisions will go a long way towards ensuring that complainants are treated with the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve. Measures proposed in this legislation would also provide Canadians with greater assurances that their Charter rights are being respected and would promote greater understanding of how Government legislation may engage our Charter rights and freedoms.”
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick Facts

  • This Bill builds on previous legislation that the Government introduced on March 8, 2017 (Bill C-39) as part of an ongoing initiative to review the criminal justice system and to update and modernize the Criminal Code.
  • It would repeal or amend a number of Criminal Code provisions that courts have found unconstitutional because they violate the Charter, and others that are likely to be found unconstitutional as a result of these court decisions.
  • It would also repeal some obsolete provisions that are no longer relevant in modern Canadian society, and repeal redundant provisions for which the targeted conduct is addressed by other offences.
  • The proposed amendments to the sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code would clarify the law as it relates to consent and the admissibility of evidence, and would provide for legal representation for a complainant in the context of rape shield proceedings.
  • The proposed legislation would require the tabling of a Charter Statement in Parliament for every new government bill introduced. Such statements would inform Canadians about potential effects of proposed legislation on Charter rights and freedoms and, where applicable, would explain considerations that support the constitutionality of a bill.

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