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Politics Federal parties pledge to revive bill to educate judges on sexual-assault law after election

All three major federal political parties have vowed to revive a bill requiring sexual-assault training for judges if they form the government after the October general election.

Former Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose’s private member’s bill C-337, the Judicial Accountability Through Sexual Assault Law Training Act (JUST), would require federally appointed judges to complete training in sexual-assault law and social context.

The bill was unanimously adopted in the House of Commons two years ago and finally made its way to a Senate committee in early June, where it was amended. It was supposed to go to the full Senate for a vote but has been caught behind government legislation, which takes priority. The Senate would have to vote on the bill and send it back to the House, but Parliament has risen for the summer.

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In a desperate final attempt to save the bill, Independent Senator Pierre Dalphond had proposed a motion to have the Senate hold a special meeting Thursday to adopt the bill, but he said it was blocked by Conservative senators who used procedural tactics to stop him.

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Ms. Ambrose tweeted Friday morning that all three major parties, as well as the Green Party, have committed to including her bill in their election platforms to ensure it passes.

She wrote that the last message from Parliament to victims of sexual assault “will NOT be the disrespectful one delivered by the unelected [Senate] yesterday when they refused to pass [Bill C-337]. We cannot allow that to happen.

“Building confidence in our courts will make more victims feel empowered to come forward.”

Braeden Caley, a spokesman for the Liberal Party of Canada, confirmed that the JUST Act will be part of the Liberal platform.

“It will be – and Liberals voted for it in the House. Once again, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives have played procedural games and focused on preventing the passage of important legislation that would help Canadians,” Mr. Caley said.

Mr. Scheer’s spokesman, Brock Harrison, said, “Conservatives have always supported this legislation and will pass it into law should we form government after the next election,” adding that it will also be part of the Conservative Party’s platform.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted that a New Democratic government would also introduce legislation mandating sexual-assault law training for judges.

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