Last Thursday, mos of the text of the Tories’ Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, officially came into force. During C-32’s progress through Parliament, much of the discussion of it revolved around its various effects on the rights of the accused in criminal trials. There has been relatively little controversy about a clause tacked almost onto the end of C-32, which amends the Canada Evidence Act to include these words:
“No person is incompetent, or uncompellable, to testify for the prosecution by reason only that they are married to the accused.”
This brings an end to a common-law tradition, going back at least 400 years, of “spousal immunity” in criminal trials. Your husband or wife can now be compelled to testify against you concerning any funny business you have gotten up to — although communications made between parties to a marriage are still privileged and sacrosanct.
Is that OK? You may have not used the immunity shield, but it’s now no longer available to you.. Was this the right thing to do?
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