Final report on the review of Canada’s criminal justice system

Conclusion

This comprehensive review has helped to start and advance a national conversation about the criminal justice system in Canada, its role, its structure, its goals and its ability to deliver on the priorities of Canadians. The Government of Canada has already implemented some reforms through legislation during its current mandate. The expansive consultations and engagement process around the criminal justice system review have highlighted the possibilities of real and lasting change.

Canadians deserve and expect a well-functioning system that effectively meets the needs of victims, keeps offenders accountable, keeps our communities safe and protects the vulnerable.

Our justice system is complex with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal agencies and organizations all playing a role. Even as review participants acknowledged the need for change, they also recognized the imperative to move forward with a measured approach that responds to the complexity of the system. There is a need for careful consideration of the impacts and alignment of each potential reform in the different levels of government and institutions involved.

It was widely acknowledged over the course of this review that changes to our criminal justice system – whether implemented through legislation, policy or program – will have a far-reaching impact. Their effect will be felt for decades. Changes will have implications for the individuals who come into contact with the system, as well as for the victims of crime and Canadian society as a whole.

The role of the criminal justice system is to preserve public safety, promote respect for the law and address crime in a just, fair, efficient and compassionate manner. This period of significant change presents us with great opportunity, but also considerable challenges. The key messages from Canadians that have emerged from this review seek to make both the victim and the offender active participants in the journey for justice. Participants, stakeholders, and the many Canadians who engaged in the review process clearly emphasized the importance of repairing relationships, ensuring victims have a powerful voice in this process and allowing them to heal as key. At the same time, they emphasized encouraging the offenders to take responsibility for their actions. This work is hard but must continue in a thoughtful, coherent and comprehensive way to reflect the kind of country we are, and the kind of country we want to become.