Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada takes important step toward creation of an independent Criminal Case Review Commission
March 31, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
A well-functioning justice system is one that serves all Canadians, protects the vulnerable, and builds a safer and better Canada. That is why the Government of Canada is taking steps to establish an independent Criminal Case Review Commission to ensure that potentially wrongfully convicted people can have their applications reviewed expeditiously and by an independent body.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, took an important step forward by appointing the Honourable Harry LaForme, former justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, to lead public-facing consultations on the creation of an independent Criminal Case Review Commission. He will be joined in conducting these consultations by the Honourable Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, former judge of the Court of Quebec.
Mr. LaForme and Ms. Westmoreland-Traoré will conduct consultations with a wide range of stakeholders on the potential structure and mandate of the new commission. Those being consulted will include provincial and territorial partners, criminal law professionals, victims of crime, Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and other racialized communities, and organizations that advocate for the wrongfully convicted.
Consultations on the appropriate structure and mandate of the new commission are a critical next step in the process of establishing the commission. Details of the consultations will be made available at a later date. Following the consultations, a report will be submitted to the Minister of Justice summarizing the input received, and providing advice and recommendations.
"Wrongful convictions are a matter of deep concern to me, and to many Canadians. I am pleased to appoint two distinguished former justices, the Honourable Harry LaForme and the Honourable Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, to hold public-facing consultations on the creation of an independent Criminal Case Review Commission. These consultations will capture a wide array of perspectives and will help inform a comprehensive, made-in-Canada approach to this issue. This represents an important step forward in the establishment of an independent Criminal Case Review Commission in Canada."
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Once consultations are completed by Mr. LaForme and Ms. Westmoreland-Traoré, a report will be submitted to the Minister of Justice detailing the findings and recommendations and it will inform next steps.
The current criminal conviction review process is set out in sections 696.1 to 696.6 of the Criminal Code and accompanying Regulations.
The criminal conviction review process was reformed in 2002 following public consultations, which resulted in changes that clarified the criteria for making an application, provided for subpoena powers, and expanded the reach of the regime to summary conviction offences.
Models for independent commissions exist in the UK (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), Scotland, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
- Biographies - the Honourable Harry LaForme and the Honourable Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré
- Department of Justice: Criminal Conviction Review
- Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review — Miscarriages of Justice
- UK Criminal Cases Review Commission (external site)
- Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (external site)
- New Zealand Criminal Cases Review Commission (external site)
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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