March 18, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


Mr. W. M.@

GERMAN (Welland) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 76) to amend the Criminal Code, 1892. He said : Mr. Speaker, prior to the last session of the Dominion parliament all convictions made by police magistrates in cities and incorporated towns had to be returned to the clerks of the peace of the different counties where the convictions were made. Last year, at the instance of some person, an amendment was made to the Criminal Code whereby it was allowed that police magistrates in cities and incorporated towns should not make these returns to the clerk of the peace. It was suggested that in the city of Toronto, for instance, the police magistrate tried obout 7,000 cases in a year, and that it would be hardship to him if he had to make a return of all these cases to the clerk of the peace in the city of Toronto. Though the police magistrate does try 7,000 police court cases in the year, the fact is that under section 55 of the Act, he would only have to make returns in something like 2,000 cases. The way the matter works out under the amend-

meat of last year is this. In each county there are from four to six or seven police magistrates in the different incorporated towns. All of these magistrates make more or less convictions, and try more or less cases each year. They try more now than formerly by reason of the fact that the jurisdiction of police magistrates is extended, so they are able to try almost any case that can be tried at quarter sessions by the consent of the person accused. The result is that a great many trials, under the Speedy Trials Act, with the consent of the person accused, take place before the police magistrates. If these returns are not made to the clerk of the peace, and if it becomes necessary, after the trial, at any time within six months, or a year, or two years, to get a record of the proceedings, it is impossible to know where to find the record. Unless you happen to know before what police magistrate the person accused was tried, you know nothing as to where to go to find the record of the case which you may happen to have under consideration. You inquire from the police magistrate and he tells you, perhaps, that he did not try the case. You, in the same way, apply to the others, and, of course, you will eventually be able to ascertain before whom the trial took place, but it is a great inconvenience to every person who has anything to do with the administration of the law throughout the country. When returns are made to the clerk of the peace you know that there is one central office where all these records can be obtained and that you may go there and find the papers. The clerk of the peace is a government officer. He is bound, under the law, to have a vault for the protection of these papers. Police magistrates are not so bound. They can keep the papers in a secure place if they choose, or they can keep them in an insecure place and allow them to be lost if they see fit, so that you have no regular system of any kind if the amendment to the code made last year is allowed to stand. I think it could not have been very carefully considered, because, otherwise, the amendment would not have been allowed. I think when the matter comes to be looked into it will be found that the ends of justice and the convenience of the public will be best served by having these returns made to the clerks of the peace in the different counties, as was necessary previous to the amendment of the law.
That is the object of the amendment which I propose. I think I am correct in saying that only one police magistrate in the province of Ontario, or in the entire Dominion for that matter, suggested that this change should be made, and I do not think that the opinion of one single police magistrate in all Canada should be sufficient reason for putting the general public, and particularly the members of the profession who have to do with the administration of the law, to a great deal of inconvenience. I

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