Dear League sisters and Father Edwin,

A warm welcome is extended to Gerry Heywood, chairperson from the Diocese of Victoria.

Thank you, Catherine Stroman and Linda Foucault, for all the work done during your terms as Diocesan Chairpersons of Legislation.

From the National Parliament:

– Cannabis/Marijuana

There are no developments on the legalization of marijuana/cannabis, the bill is still in consideration at Committee. It will return to the Senate for a final debate and vote on June 7.  The Federal Government has rejected calls to delay cannabis legalization and has said it will open up the legal market for cannabis two to three months after Bill C-45 receives royal assent.

– Human Trafficking

According to Statistics Canada, the number of police-reported incidents of human trafficking is on the rise and remains highly under reported.  Data from 2009 to 2016 show 95% of victims are women, mostly young, and more than a quarter are under age 18.  Beginning in 2018-19, $2.9 million has been allocated for a national hotline which will help connect callers with victim services and law enforcement. It will also gather data to better understand the nature and scope of trafficking in Canada. Canada’s national action plan on human trafficking expired in March 2016, and Public Safety Canada says there is no time frame for the creation of a new plan. A new national action plan should more fully address labour trafficking, which is often overlooked.

-Canada Summer Jobs:

Faith leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities across Canada have raised serious concerns regarding the new application requirements for the Canadian Summer Jobs program.

They met with the government and have persistently requested that the problematic attestation be amended or removed. A proposed rewording of the attestation was submitted to the Minister of Employment, but Minister Hadju made clear that there will be no accommodation provided, and no changes made to the attestation for this year.

– From the B.C. Legislature:

-Royal Assent: Bill 30 Cannabis Control and Licensing Act and Bill 31 Cannabis distribution Act

received Royal Assent on May 31.

– Monitoring the implementation of Gladue reports as requested on C.W.L. Resolution 2017.01:        Full implementation of the Supreme Court decision in R. v.     Gladue for Indigenous    Offenders.

The Gladue reports contain information on the unique circumstances of Indigenous people accused of an offence. The court can consider these reports during sentencing. Sentencing in the Gladue court focuses on restorative justice and community justice programs, while also making sure that offenders receive a fair sentence.

On May 30, 2018, during the question period in the B.C. Legislature, questions concerning the use of the Gladue reports in B.C. were directed to the Hon. D. Eby.  B.C. Attorney General

Question a)

“How will the over representation [of Indigenous people in prisons] be addressed as an ongoing process?”

Minister’s answer: “We have a partnership in place with the Aboriginal Justice Council that we are working with to develop an Indigenous justice strategy for the province. The justice strategy deals with over representation of Indigenous people in the justice system generally, whether it’s the child protection area, whether it’s in the criminal justice system”.

Question b)

The MLA stated: the Gladue reports have been identified as a concrete way to mitigate the over representation of Indigenous people in prisons. “The Legal Services Society has indicated they are severely underfunded and were able to produce around a 100 reports in the 2017-18 year. This is a report for less than 20% of the 600 who required them by law in that time period”.

“Can the Minister explain the shortfall of Gladue reports and how he hopes to increase the number of these reports that are going to be produced in B.C.? “

Minister’s answer: “For the first time the Legal Services Society is being provided funding to complete Gladue reports”. “We are trying to establish a system where Gladue reports can be done more efficiently. Many offenders come from rural and remote communities, and the people who have the information about the backgrounds and the circumstances of a particular offender are not easily reached by Gladue reports writers.  And we are working with Aboriginal Justice Council on decisions about how to move forward and to ensure we’re doing it in an appropriate way. We have partnership in place with the Aboriginal Justice Council that we are working with to develop an Indigenous justice strategy for the province. There are a number of initiatives underway related to Gladue reports”.

N.B. The statements from the MLA and the Attorney General have been summarized.  The complete transcript is available on the B.C. Legislature website, Debates of the Legislature Assembly (Hansard) House Blues, Wednesday, May 30, 2018, Afternoon sitting [1605 – 1610] Third Session, 41st Parliament (2018).

–  On May 31st, the B.C. Legislature adjourned until October 1st, 2018.

This is my last Communiqué and my prayer is that under the guidance of Our Lady of Good Counsel,

the Legislation Standing Committees at all levels continue the good work of keeping and defending our Catholic values and support social justice in Canada.