Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Justice Minister Talks Legal Crackdown in First Speech to Bar Association

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Justice Minister Talks Legal Crackdown in First Speech to Bar Association

Article excerpt

New justice minister talks legal crackdown

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SASKATOON - Justice Minister Peter MacKay is talking about cracking down on drunk driving, sexual predators and cyberbullying, while doing more to help victims.

MacKay made the comments in his first speech to the Canadian Bar Association since taking over the justice portfolio.

He told the crowd in Saskatoon that he intends to move forward on a bill of rights for victims after hearing heartwrenching stories from people who were frustrated with the legal process.

"First, I think it's fair to say that many have recognized that significant improvements have occurred," MacKay said Monday.

"But second, I've heard many victims who still feel the system is failing and they don't feel that thus far it is meeting their needs. They want the system reformed to include them in a more substantial way.

"We've heard that victims want to understand what is happening to them, what is going on around them throughout the process and they need to know that, in fact, their rights will be protected. And that these rights will at least be moving in the same direction as the rights of the offenders in fact enjoy."

The minister also said more will done to help stop cyberbullying.

In a news conference after the speech, MacKay, who was once a Crown prosecutor in Nova Scotia, said legislation could come this fall.

"The inappropriate transmission of intimate images without consent is a crime and there are certain, I think, legislative gaps now that we've identified in the Criminal Code that we hope to plug as soon as this fall if we can get those amendments properly drafted and before Parliament in the coming session," he said.

A report commissioned after the suicide of a Nova Scotia teen said there should be a law against distributing intimate photos without someone's consent.

Rehtaeh Parsons hanged herself in April and was taken off life-support three days later. Her family alleges the 17-year-old was sexually assaulted by four boys and a digital photograph of the incident was passed around her school.

Ottawa, the provinces and territories released a report in July that said the law as it stands doesn't go far enough to protect victims of this type of online exploitation. …

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