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A Degraded Justice: Ontario’s Bill 117 A License to Perjury Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy

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“The objective of general deterrence can be met in this case without resorting to imprisonment. Other members of the community will be deterred by the consequences visited on you as a result of your actions. I know the offence has had a devastating impact on you and has left you wracked with guilt, that you were prominently named in the media as the person responsible for this tragedy, and that you have faced five months of uncertainty as to what will happen to you."

It is hard to believe that a Judge would be similarly impressed with the “punishment” of uncertainty or media attention, as this Judge was in feeling sorry for Ms. Bobyak. The judge, in his wisdom, determined that media reports and “uncertainty” about the future, was sufficient punishment for the crime of arranging a murder for the purpose of collecting on a life insurance policy. This sentence gives every man in Alberta a good idea about the value of their lives in this province. It is doubtful that a similar sentence would be imposed upon a man commiting the same crime, and the issue of the insurance policy was completely ignored by Justice Caffaro.

Of the 236 cases of assault which were brought to trial in Alberta since 1998, not one case was that of a female assaulting a male. While trial decisions do not include data on cases settled by plea bargain, the policy of Crown Prosecutions with respect to the seriousness with which allegations of assault on men by female perpetrators is very clear indeed. It would not be unreasonable to conclude that in Alberta, men don’t get hurt, and assault of men by women is not taken very seriously in this province. Since Bill 117 was designed in a reactionary environment from two particularly gruesome domestic murder-suicides, it is unlikely that Ontario will avoid the gender bias inherent in its own domestic violence law; at least, without some drastic revisions to its current form.

Gender bias against men is rampant throughout Canada, and no where is this better illustrated then by reviewing the spate of provincial domestic violence measures over the past ten years. Every one of these Acts, and Ontario’s Bill 117 is certainly no exception, presumes that only women are victims of violence, only women tell the truth about violence, and only men are to be punished for acts of violence. Ontario might be wise to learn from the experience of other provinces, before it forges ahead with a gender-biased domestic violence law of its own that does not contemplate the possibility that the accuser is the abuser, or that the accuser is capable of lying.

I conclude this section by stating that where there is substantiating evidence, that is a certain situation that can be identified in an emergency hearing. But in most cases, Ontario will find that this evidence does not exist, and your Bill 117 will only eliminate the rules of evidence regarding these crimes, thereby hiding bad behaviours which both men and women are equally capable of: lies and violence.

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