2022 Criminal Law in Review.

Date01 January 2023
AuthorDavison, Charles

DECEMBER 30, 2022 BY CHARLES DAVISON

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Over the past year, important criminal law developments came from several changes Parliament made to Canada's Criminal Code.

The law is always changing. So, it is challenging to list the most significant developments over the last 12 months. Others might have different choices, but what follows is my take on the most important changes in Canadian criminal law in 2022.

Some years are marked by significant court decisions (usually from the Supreme Court of Canada), which bring about noteworthy and lasting change in the process or substance of criminal law. This year, however, almost all the changes I count as the most important have come from Parliamentary action: changes to the Criminal Code.

In early 2022, amendments to the Criminal Code that Parliament passed in 2021 became effective. Several new offences came into force to respond to various situations and needs that arose over the last few years.

Ban on conversion therapy

In support of its efforts to promote general equality and tolerance among all sectors of society, the government proposed (and Parliament adopted) the criminalization of "conversion therapy". Conversion therapy is the idea that gender identities and sexual orientations can and should be changed by way of "therapies" favoured by other persons. While individuals can freely pursue any form of therapy or treatment for themselves, to cause another person to undergo conversion therapy is now a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail. Promoting, advertising or making money off conversion therapy are also now against the law and carry maximum sentences of up to two years in jail.

Intimidating healthcare professionals or obstructing access to health facilities

New criminal offences also respond to some of the most unpleasant and outrageous public reactions to emergency measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. A shameful side effect of the pandemic was some people harassing and intimidating doctors and nurses--the same healthcare professionals upon whom we all rely--simply because they were carrying out their duties to their patients. Some chose to picket and block hospitals, swear at and insult (and in some cases, threaten) healthcare professionals, and prevent patients from going into healthcare facilities.

In response, Parliament created new offences of intimidating healthcare professionals or obstructing access to healthcare services. Peaceful protest...

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