How Elections Affect Your Procedural Rights

As the elections numbers have shown us, not everyone votes. Some do this because they reason that their votes won’t have any effect in any event. Nevertheless, whether you vote or not, the people that you elect have a huge impact on your procedural rights should you ever get caught up in the criminal justice system. Everything from legal aid to how much public sector employees get paid can be subject to the debate by politicians that are elected to political office.

Recent conversations with clients of mine have made me realize that the magnitude of important procedural changes enacted by politicians at the federal level have not entered into the normal everyday conversations of the average citizen.

A lot of Canadians don’t realize that through Bill C-75 (that came into being within the last month), they have lost the right to peremptory challenges when selecting a jury and the right to a preliminary hearing to see if the crimes you’ve been accused of have any merit to them, with the only exceptions being crimes that have a potential penalty of 14+ years such as Murder and other serious crimes found in the criminal code.

In the end, is this end result of a lack of basic knowledge about procedural changes because a lot of people don’t vote? Rather, I’d say that it is more so a symptom of a society that is apathetic towards political issues. It is one thing not to partake in a system and another to completely ignore it altogether.

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