The Commission undertook a review of history and interpretation of The Evidence Act at the request of the Department of Justice. This paper is intended to facilitate modernization of the legislation’s language, rather than recommend significant changes in the law. Much of The Evidence Act is based on 19th century English statutes that are now both obscure and irrelevant. The Commission believes the analysis in this paper is a prerequisite to reform of the law of evidence (2004).
This Report concerns monetary compensation for those who are innocent and have been drawn into the legal system through no fault of their own. The Commission believes that a scheme of compensation is warranted and would be met with support from the Canadian public. Certain conditions must be met in order to support a claim for compensation.
The Commission recommends that there be statutory guidance in classifying provincial offences. It recommends further that the defences available for criminal offences be made available for all provincial offences. The Provincial Offences Act is proposed.
The traditional role of a coroner is to participate in criminal investigation. This role has expanded to include a duty to ensure examination of all violent and unexplained deaths in the province. The Commission proposes a new Coroners Act that will both accurately reflect and better facilitate the current role of coroners.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Warrant allows indeterminate detention of mentally ill offenders and those found unfit to stand trial or not responsible by reason of insanity. The Commission undertakes a study of the provincial advisory board that reviews the cases of those detained under the warrant. It proposes The Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Review Board Act to provide direction on the review process.
Generally, provincial offences are found to be strict liability offences, which do not have a fault requirement. However, defences of due diligence or reasonable mistake of fact are available. The Commission recommends that some reform be undertaken to protect those inadvertently caught by offence provisions not requiring fault.
Many provincial offences carry penalties similar to those prescribed for violations of the Criminal Code. These sanctions are imposed with regularity, though the offences often do not appear to merit them. The Commission suggests reforms to the provincial sentencing options to include diversion, conditional discharge, and suspended sentence-type penalties.