A Degraded Justice: Ontario’s Bill 117 A License to Perjury Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy
type of Order in Alberta, where Orders made under The Protection from Family Violence Act expire after one year, but can be renewed for additional years. What this allows for is that the Respondent’s behaviour can be reviewed by the court at regular intervals to determine whether the existing order has been breached or the sanctioned behaviour has changed over the year. It also at least contemplates that the accused might not be found guilty. Ontario’s Bill 117, on the other hand, proposes to eliminate several basic civil rights for an indefinate term.
Along similar lines, Bill 117 is notable for the fact that there are no strict guidelines within this Act to establish rules governing service of Emergency Orders on Respondents. While the Act stipulates that Judges making such Orders will “promptly forward a copy of the order and all supporting documents, including any reasons for the order, to the court.”, there is no paragraph stipulating service upon the Respondent. Although, thankfully, the order cannot be enforced unless it has been served (7(1)), I can certainly contemplate many misunderstandings and unnecessary charges made against Respondents for innocent breaches of these Orders, as they will have to struggle to prove they were not served with these Orders. May I recommend to this Committee that a paragraph strictly spelling out the Court’s duty to serve these Orders upon the Respondent be devised for Bill 117.
Further to this problem, part 7(1)(b) suggests that the attorney for the Applicant be left with the duty to serve the Order on the Respondent, and with all due respect to lawyers, it is unseemly for the Court to expect an attorney for the Applicant to act in the interests of the Respondent. Part 7(3) is also troubling, as Bill 117 proposes here that substitutional service may be sought “whether or not any attempt has yet been made to serve the Respondent.” I would like to suggest that at least some effort be made to directly serve the Respondent before a substitutional order of service is contemplated, as it is required in any other court proceeding.
In Alberta, though the Protection Act requires a limitation date, these orders are frequently made without a returnable date, making such an order very easy to obtain and very difficult and expensive to overturn. I would like to ask the Committee to examine the court records of Manitoba and Alberta, where special domestic violence laws exist, and search out charges of perjury arising from the making of a false statement to obtain an emergency order. You will not find one instance, even when the claims are eventually disproven in court. Perjury is rampant and the judiciary does nothing to stem the tide, nor does it mete out any penalties for the obstruction of justice in their courtrooms. In fact, the best liar usually wins. This is what Ontario has to look forward to if it implements Bill 117 as written.
Are We Fueling Violence?
No matter what happens in the future, I won’t soon forget the sights and sounds of the alleged confession made by Craig Anderson following the divorce-related murder of his wife, Lisa, here in Alberta in September 2000. The media accounts of this tragedy have not suggested that Mr. Anderson had a long history of violence during his marriage or even subsequent to his divorce. What it looks like is a typical, middle class male was driven over the cliff of reason, and I wonder if we are ready to ask ourselves “why”. Could it be that he lost his sanity when he discovered that a person could go to court and change his life