Defence bar hopes Senate will amend sexual assault law reforms

Defence bar hopes Senate will amend sexual assault law reforms

With MPs poised to send the Trudeau government’s controversial proposed sexual assault law reforms to the Senate with only a few changes, the defence bar is hoping its constitutional red flags will get more attention from the chamber of “sober second thought.”

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In supporting the amendment Nov. 8, the Conservatives’ deputy justice critic Michael Cooper told MPs: “I have significant concerns about the changes to the Criminal Code with respect to the application process for defendants who have records related to the complainant — I think there are real distinctions between that scenario and records that are in the hands of third parties, which is why I voted against the previous clause. But at the very least, I believe there is absolutely no reason why one would have to go through the application process in the case of a witness.”

The Edmonton litigator also told committee members after testimony on Bill C-51 by Ottawa criminal lawyer Michael Spratt last month that “I agree with Mr. Spratt when he stated that the reverse disclosure requirements for the defence could potentially tip the hand of [the defence to] a liar, who would then be given an opportunity, as a result of sitting in and getting access to those records, and have an understanding of the defence’s litigation strategy to explain away inconsistencies and contradictions.”

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