Holland’s job is to shepherd the government’s legislative agenda through an often-raucous House of Commons — a role mirrored in similar positions among the other official parties.
He spoke with journalists on Monday morning to reflect on what the government has achieved so far during the spring session of the House of Commons, and suggested a bill tabled just days ago could be fast-tracked to make it to the Senate before that chamber rises at the end of June.
“The extreme intoxication defence in the Sullivan decision is something we’ve been very concerned about,” Holland said.
“I’m extremely confident we’re going to be able to move a solution through the House before lifting.”
He added: “We don’t want to leave that open, and I think all parties are in concurrence about that.”
The House of Commons is expected to rise for the summer on June 23.
The Senate sits for an extra week, until June 30.
That extra week typically sees the Red Chamber dealing with a flood of bills that made it through the House of Commons just under the wire, and that need study by senators before they can receive royal assent and become law.
Holland’s comments come after Justice Minister David Lametti on Friday tabled a bill to eliminate “self-induced extreme intoxication” as a legal defence for violent crimes.
Bill C-28 would also create new language in the Criminal Code that establishes criminal liability when a person who commits a violent crime is in “a state of negligent self-induced extreme intoxication.”
Canada’s Supreme Court rules voluntary extreme intoxication is a defence
For a person to be found criminally liable under the drafted update of Section 33.1 in the Code, the court would need to consider the foreseeability of the risk that ingesting intoxicating substances could “cause extreme intoxication and lead the person to harm another person.”
In making that determination, the court would have to consider anything the person did to avoid such a risk.
That legislation comes after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unconstitutional in May a provision in the Criminal Code that barred the use of the “extreme intoxication” defence in violent crimes by people whose intoxication was self-induced.
Legal experts raised concern about what the availability of the defence would mean for women, who have historically comprised the majority of victims in cases where men tried to use the defence in court.
‘Enormous’ amount of work left to do: Holland
Holland said that while he’s optimistic the Senate will be able to get a number of government bills passed in its final week later this month, there will remain an “enormous” amount of work to do this fall.
Members of Parliament are due to return in September after largely working in their ridings over the course of the summer months.
When they do, Holland said the intent is that the provisions allowing for hybrid parliamentary proceedings will still be in place. He told reporters the government plans to table a motion on Monday night that would keep hybrid proceedings in place for another year.
Parliament to allow MPs to participate virtually after contentious vote on hybrid sittings
He said while the government is pledging to answer all questions in question period in person barring health issues like a COVID-19 infection or a new variant that raises concerns, there will remain times when people will need to be able to participate from home.
As an example, he said five Liberal MPs including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.
– with files from The Canadian Press
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.