Justice Minister David Lametti will be tabling a new bill that is expected to address the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that deemed the law prohibiting the use of extreme intoxication as a defence for some crimes as unconstitutional.
Lametti has given notice of a piece of legislation that will amend the Criminal Code as it pertains to self-induced extreme intoxication. The bill, “an Act to amend the Criminal Code (self-induced extreme intoxication)” will be presented to MPs on Friday, and the Liberals are already making plans to expedite its passage.
The justice minister will be joined by Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien to hold a press conference on the incoming proposal on Friday afternoon. On Thursday, Government House Leader Mark Holland indicated that next week the government will be focusing on “finding a way to expedite” the bill.
With the May decision, the Supreme Court ruled that automatism—claiming to be in a state of extreme intoxication that results in a loss of self-control—can be used as a defence in the commission of certain violent crimes.
The Court found that the section of the Criminal Code barring this violated the Charter because a person’s decision to become intoxicated should not be interpreted as an intention to commit a violent offence, and therefore the accused could be convicted without the prosecution having to prove that the person intended to commit the offence.
In striking down the portion of the Criminal Code, Canada’s top court suggested Parliament could pursue new legislation to fill the gap in the law. The Conservatives also called on the Liberals to bring in a bill to address the ruling, in short order.
At the time of the ruling, Lametti said that while these cases are extremely rare, as a legislator he felt a “duty to protect” victims, and support their families.
“I share their disappointment, and I share their concern. Anytime that there’s a gap in the Criminal Code, there is a sense of urgency. So yes, we will analyze [the ruling] but I can assure you that we will do it expeditiously,” Lametti said.