Dear Minister Lametti:
Thank you for continuing to serve Canadians as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
From the beginning of this pandemic, Canadians have faced a once-in-a-century challenge. And through it all, from coast to coast to coast, people have met the moment. When it mattered most, Canadians adapted, helped one another, and stayed true to our values of compassion, courage and determination. That is what has defined our path through this pandemic so far. And that is what will pave our way forward.
During a difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice. They entrusted us to finish the fight against COVID-19 and support the recovery of a strong middle class. At the same time, they also gave us clear direction: to take bold, concrete action to build a healthier, more resilient future. That is what Canadians have asked us to do and it is exactly what our Government is ready to deliver. We will work to build that brighter future through continued collaboration, engagement, and the use of science and evidence-based decision-making. With an unwavering focus on delivering results, we will work constructively with Parliamentarians and maintain our strong partnerships with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners. This decade has had an incredibly difficult start, but this is the moment to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive and stronger country for everyone.
The science is clear. Canadians have been clear. We must not only continue taking real climate action, we must also move faster and go further. As Canadians are increasingly experiencing across the country, climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us. As Minister, I expect you to seek opportunities within your portfolio to support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.
This year, Canadians were horrified by the discovery of unmarked graves and burial sites near former residential schools. These discoveries underscore that we must move faster on the path of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. We know that reconciliation cannot come without truth and our Government will continue to invest in that truth. As Ministers, each of us has a duty to further this work, both collectively and as individuals. Consequently, I am directing every Minister to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights.
We must continue to address the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in the core fabric of our society, including our core institutions. To this effect, it is essential that Canadians in every region of the country see themselves reflected in our Government’s priorities and our work. As Minister, I expect you to include and collaborate with various communities, and actively seek out and incorporate in your work, the diverse views of Canadians. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, faith-based communities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 Canadians, and, in both official languages.
Across our work, we remain committed to ensuring that public policies are informed and developed through an intersectional lens, including applying frameworks such as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and the quality of life indicators in decision-making.
Canadians continue to rely on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news. I expect you to maintain professional and respectful relationships with journalists to ensure that Canadians are well informed and have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, Canadians and their governments have adapted to new realities. Governments must draw on lessons learned from the pandemic to further adapt and develop more agile and effective ways to serve Canadians. To this end, I expect all Ministers to evaluate ways we can update our practices to ensure our Government continues to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The success of this Parliament will require Parliamentarians, both in the House of Commons and the Senate, to work together across all parties to get big things done for Canadians. I expect you to maintain constructive relationships with your Opposition Critics and coordinate any legislation with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. As Minister, you are accountable to Parliament both individually, for your style of leadership and the performance of your responsibilities, and collectively, in support of our Ministry and decisions taken by Cabinet. Open and Accountable Government sets out these core principles and the standards of conduct expected of you and your office. I expect you to familiarize yourself with this document, which outlines my expectations for each member of the Ministry.
Our platform lays out an ambitious agenda. While finishing the fight against the pandemic must remain our central focus, we must continue building a strong middle class and work toward a better future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success and no one is left behind.
As Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, your top priority is to ensure that all Canadians have access to fair and just treatment before the law. This includes reforming and modernizing the criminal justice system, which will include work to advance strategies to address systemic racism and the disproportionate representation of Indigenous Peoples, as well as Black Canadians and members of marginalized communities. You will also prioritize the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the appointment of a Special Interlocutor to further advance justice on unmarked graves and address the legacy of residential schools.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- Work with Members of Parliament across parties to secure swift passage of legislation to make it a criminal offence to obstruct access to health services and to intimidate or threaten healthcare professionals or Canadians receiving health care.
- Fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and work with Indigenous Peoples to accelerate the co-development of an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration. You will be supported in this work by all ministers, and in particular the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister of Natural Resources.
- Work with Indigenous partners to appoint a Special Interlocutor who will work with Indigenous communities and provincial and territorial governments to support the development of a legal and regulatory framework to advance justice regarding unmarked graves and make recommendations related to federal laws, regulations, policies and practices surrounding unmarked and undocumented graves and burial sites at residential schools.
- Building on the passage of Bill C-4, which criminalized conversion therapy, continue to ensure that Canadian justice policy protects the dignity and equality of LGBTQ2 Canadians.
- Continue work to ensure the Bench is gender-balanced and reflective of Canada’s diversity by working with relevant stakeholders to encourage women, Black and racialized Canadians, Indigenous Peoples and LGBTQ2 Canadians to join the Bench and the legal profession. This will include working with the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs to better track diversity data for both new and past appointees to the bench.
- Address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Black and racialized Canadians and Indigenous Peoples in the criminal justice system and ensure all Canadians have access to fair and just treatment, including by:
- Secure support for the swift passage of Bill C-5 to reduce reliance on mandatory minimum penalties and promote non-criminal approaches to drug possession;
- With the support of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, continue to develop, in consultation and cooperation with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners, an Indigenous Justice Strategy; and
- With the support of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, develop, in consultation and cooperation with provinces, territories and Black Canadians, a Black Canadians Justice Strategy.
- Continue work to make drug treatment courts the default option for first-time non-violent offenders.
- Work with provinces and territories and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to help all Canadians have greater access to mental health courts to provide people suffering from mental health illnesses with a path to recovery, and expand access to culturally appropriate, trauma-informed mental health services for Indigenous Peoples who access treatment through mental health courts.
- Enhance access to justice by bringing our court system into the 21st century, including by working with provinces and territories to make better use of technology and virtual court services.
- Continue work to advance the establishment of an independent Criminal Case Review Commission to improve access to justice for potentially wrongfully convicted people to have their applications reviewed.
- Continue efforts with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to develop and introduce legislation as soon as possible to combat serious forms of harmful online content to protect Canadians and hold social media platforms and other online services accountable for the content they host, including by strengthening the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to more effectively combat online hate and reintroduce measures to strengthen hate speech provisions, including the re-enactment of the former Section 13 provision. This legislation should be reflective of the feedback received during the recent consultations.
- Support the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion in the development of the National Action Plan on Combatting Hate, including by establishing a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes to help survivors.
- Advance the priorities of Indigenous communities to reclaim jurisdiction over the administration of justice in collaboration with the provinces and territories, and support and fund the revitalization of Indigenous laws, legal systems and traditions.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety to bring forward measures to counter the rise of ideologically-inspired violent extremism and strengthen the capacity of Canadian police and prosecutors to bring to justice cybercriminals and terror suspects to the fullest extent of the law.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety to help end gun violence by introducing “Red flag” laws to allow the immediate removal of firearms if that person is a threat to themselves or others, particularly to their spouse or partner, and increasing maximum penalties for firearms trafficking and smuggling.
- Revive the Law Commission of Canada so it can provide independent advice on law reform needed on the complex legal issues Canadians face, such as systemic racism in the justice system, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, issues around climate change and rapid technological shifts in the world.
- Continue to work with the Minister of Seniors to strengthen Canada’s approach to elder abuse by finalizing the national definition of elder abuse, investing in better data collection and establishing new offences and penalties in the Criminal Code related to elder abuse.
- Work with provinces and territories to support the development of specialized sexual violence courts.
- Support the Minister of Public Safety in their work to strengthen the laws and investigative powers related to major financial crimes and to bring forward a proposal to establish a Canada Financial Crimes Agency.
- Secure support for the swift passage of reforms to the judicial conduct process in the Judges Act to ensure the process is fair, effective and efficient so as to foster greater confidence in the judicial system.
- Working with the Minister of Public Safety, Minister of National Defence and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and with the support of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, continue to advance the National Cyber Security Action Plan, ensuring Canada is well positioned to adapt to and combat cyber risks, and ensure the security and integrity of Canada’s critical systems.
- Building on previous public consultations and technical engagements amongst experts, continue substantive review of the Privacy Act including engagement with Indigenous partners to develop specific proposals for amendments to the Privacy Act to keep pace with the effects of both technological change and evolving Canadian values.
As Minister, you are also responsible for actively engaging with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. As we deliver on our platform commitments, it will be important that members of the Ministry continue to collaborate and work constructively to support rigorous and productive Cabinet decision-making. I expect you to support your colleagues in delivering their commitments, leveraging the expertise of your department and your own lived experiences.
To best achieve results for Canadians, Ministers must be rigorous and coordinated in our approach to implementation. I would therefore ask that you return to me with a proposed approach for the delivery of your mandate commitments, including priorities for early implementation. Furthermore, to ensure we are accountable for our work, I will be asking you to publicly report to me, and all Canadians, on your progress toward these commitments on a regular basis.
As we have been reminded throughout the pandemic, adapting to change is not only something government should do, it is something government must do. As you work to fulfil our commitments, I expect you to actively consider new ideas and issues as they emerge, whether through public engagement, your work with Parliamentarians or advice from the public service. I also expect you to work with your Deputy Minister to assess priorities on a continual basis as we build a better future for all Canadians. In addition to achieving results, you are responsible for overseeing the work of your department and ensuring the effective operation of your portfolio.
As you staff your office and implement outreach and recruitment strategies for federally appointed leadership positions and boards, I ask that you uphold the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. This helps ensure that federal workplaces are dynamic and reflective of the Canadians we serve. You will also ensure your Minister’s office and portfolio are reflective of our commitment to healthy and safe workplaces.
Canadians expect us to work hard, speak truthfully and be committed to advancing their interests and aspirations. When we make mistakes – as we all will – Canadians expect us to acknowledge them, and most importantly, to learn from them.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you, and to turn to me, and the Deputy Prime Minister, early and often to support you in your role as Minister.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada