A report on the creation of an independent commission to consider wrongful conviction applications from the Hon. Harry LaForme and the Hon. Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, asked us to lead public-facing consultations on the creation of an independent commission at arm’s-length from the government to replace the role of the federal Minister of Justice in investigating and deciding whether to refer claims by individuals of miscarriage of justice back to the courts.
Consultations were held from June to September 2021 with interested stakeholders, as well as representatives of criminal case review commissions abroad. Consultations focused on the creation of an independent commission in Canada to consider miscarriage of justice applications. The report summarizes the input received during the consultations on various reform options and provides recommendations on the path forward.
The report was submitted to the Minister of Justice by the Honourable Harry LaForme and the Honourable Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré in November 2021.
“Mistakes happen in the criminal justice system and we need to acknowledge and correct them…These cases are a stain on the collective conscience of Canadians.”
- Ronald Dalton / Heather MacIvor & Arthur Milnes Canada at 150: Building a Free and Democratic Society (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2017) p. 111
“It takes a lot longer to correct an injustice than to create one.”
- Maria Shepherd – Heather MacIvor & Arthur Milnes Canada at 150: Building a Free and Democratic Society (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2017) p. 113
“I recommend that, in the future, there should be a completely independent entity established which can effectively, efficiently and quickly review cases in which wrongful conviction is alleged.”
- Justice Peter Cory in Report of the Inquiry Regarding Thomas Sophonow, 2001.
“The answer only rarely lurks in the paperwork. I have always found that whenever you actually meet a prisoner or a witness, or go to the scene of the crime, you discover something new. You are unlikely to get the same result from simply interrogating a database.”
- David Jessel, former commissioner of the English Criminal Cases Review Commission, as quoted in Carolyn Hoyle and Mai Sato Reason to Doubt: Wrongful Convictions and the Criminal Cases Review Commission (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). p. 265.
“The wrongfully convicted have been failed by the justice system once already. Failing a second time is not negotiable.”
- David Milgaard, August 11, 2021 Roundtable.
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The Department of Justice Canada works to ensure that Canada’s justice system is as fair, accessible and efficient as possible. The Department helps the federal government to develop policy and to draft and reform laws as needed. At the same time, it acts as the government’s legal adviser, providing legal counsel and support, and representing the Government of Canada in court.
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