Canada has proposed some major changes to its criminal code, especially in regards to sexual assault and rape.
Bill C-51 is currently being considered by the Senate but recently Canadians have expressed outrage at some parts of the bill.
The bill includes a lot of changes to the Criminal Code like repealing a bunch of odd laws that are no longer relevant, such as challenging someone to a duel or fraudulently practicing witchcraft. But of course, the part that everyone is talking about is the sexual assault provisions.
Bill C-51 will clear up a lot about consent, such as making it law that an unconscious person cannot consent and the defence that a person believed there was consent because the victim didn't fight back or say no doesn't hold up anymore.
What has Canadians concerned though, is the expansion of the rape shield laws. According to criminal defence lawyer Sarah Lemon in an opinion piece, this provision takes away the rights of the accused.
She says that the new expansion of the rape shield laws, which are in place to protect the victims, means an accused would have to disclose to the judge, prosecutor, and complainant (victim) any evidence such as emails, text messages, and witnesses they intend to present way before the trial even begins.
The judge then determines based on factors like public interest and privacy concerns of the victim if that evidence will be used in the trial. So if the accused had text messages with the victim that implied consent had been given, but the judge determined them inadmissible, they wouldn't be allowed to be mentioned at all in the trial.
On a Reddit thread, people are calling this particular element of the bill unconstitutional and saying that it completely takes away the accused right to a fair trial. Some have also called it a gross miscarriage of justice and have said it is the opposite of what Canada needs.
Bill C-51 has been referred to by some as the Jian Ghomeshi Bill as its provisions relate to the former CBC radio host's case, which was largely based on email communication between him and his accuser.
The bill also shares the same name as the previously proposed and super controversial anti-terrorism Bill C-51, which was protested by a lot of Canadians.