Eight Government bills on agenda as Senate set to resume
Legislation that proposes to clarify and strengthen sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code is expected to move to second reading when the Senate sitting resumes.
Senators will debate several key pieces of government legislation when the sitting resumes this month, including a bill that aims to ensure justice for complainants in cases of sexual assault and another that proposes to expunge historically unjust convictions against same-sex partners for taking part in consensual sex.
There are currently eight government bills at various stages in the Senate.
Bill C-51, which proposes to clarify and strengthen sexual assault provisions in the Criminal Code, is expected to move to second reading when the Senate sitting resumes.
The bill clarifies that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting and that the defence of mistaken belief in consent cannot be used if the accused believed that a person’s failure to resist in such a case meant that the person consented.
The bill also expands rape shield provisions regarding a complainant’s prior sexual history to cover communications of a sexual nature and provides complainants with a right to counsel during rape shield proceedings.
The bill further proposes to repeal parts of the Criminal Code that have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, and remove offences that are now obsolete or redundant, including:
- Challenging someone to a duel;
- Possessing, printing, distributing or publishing crime comics;
- Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft; and
- Issuing trading stamps.
Bill C-66, the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act, is also expected to move to second reading. The proposed legislation is part of a larger government effort to correct long-standing discrimination against LGBTQ2 Canadians.
In the past, Canadians who engaged in consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners could be convicted of a crime and receive a criminal record. The proposed legislation would allow such individuals to request that the record of their unfair criminal convictions be destroyed. Representatives may also apply for an expungement on behalf of deceased victims.
Meanwhile, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will begin its examination of Bill C-46, which proposes to create new and stronger laws against alcohol- and drug-impaired driving.
Second reading of Bill C-45, which sets framework for legalizing, strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis, will also resume. In addition to second reading debate, the Senate will open its doors to three ministers and a parliamentary secretary for a televised Committee of the Whole meeting on February 6.