The Liberal Bill C-51* revisits anachronistic, centuries old laws scattered about the Criminal Code, which includes oddities like pretending to practice witchcraft (actual witchcraft was presumably permitted?), blasphemy (fuck the Pope!), falsely claiming a Royal Warrant and several other oddball-to-modern-standards laws.
More seriously, the Code is being cleaned up in a few ways:
Many legal scholars have been clamouring for a clean-up of the code in recent years, however, for far more serious purposes.
In 2016, an Alberta judge relied on an unconstitutional provision of the Criminal Code to convict Travis Vader of second-degree murder, and was forced to knock the charges down to manslaughter due to the mistake.
There’s also situations where the Criminal Code hasn’t been updated to add clarity that was provided by the Supreme Court.
Courts have struggled to determine where to draw the line when it comes to intoxication and consent in recent years. To that end, Wilson-Raybould’s legislation will “clarify that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting,” according to a government backgrounder.
The law will also expand Canada’s rape shield laws — rules that limit how lawyers can cross-examine sexual assault survivors about their past sexual history — to clarify that one can have legal representation during those proceedings, and that evidence of a person’s past sexual communications can’t be used to infer consent.
A prime example of that situation occurred in the prosecution of radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, where messages from the the women, who were alleging sexual, were entered into evidence to undercut their allegations.
Perhaps the most momentous thing to happen in this legislation, however, is a new requirement that will force the minister of justice — and all future occupants of that job — to introduce a report alongside every piece of government legislation, explaining its possible implications on Canadians’ constitutional rights.
But yes, duels, obviously the most important detail here.
*Not to be confused with the Conservative’s Bill C-51, a sweeping surveillance bill still in effect which makes it so that intelligence agencies don’t have to pretend they haven’t been surveilling us for years.