Canada's Original Think Tank

Open Caucus

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals began our Open Caucus initiative. The goal of these meetings is to foster nonpartisan discussion on issues facing our country. We invite all parliamentarians as well as the public to take part in the discussion with a panel of experts on any given topic, and focus informing ourselves and others on matters that are important to Canadians.


Open Caucus Themes

  • September 26, 2018 – Restorative Justice

    The Open Caucus, a forum for discussion on issues of national importance, was first established in 2014 when Senate Liberals opened their Caucus doors to the public on Wednesday mornings. The Open Caucus is now co-sponsored by the Independent Senate Liberals, the Independent Senators Group, and the Office of the Government Representative in the Senate. This non-partisan collaboration now brings together three groups representing the majority of the Senate’s current membership.

    The discussion is open to all Members of Parliament, Senators, parliamentary staff, media, and the public.

    Restorative justice has been advocated as a potential solution to mitigate the current issues facing the criminal justice system. Restorative justice focuses on repairing harm, healing in victims, meaningful accountability of offenders and preventing further crime. Research suggests that the use of restorative justice can result in higher satisfaction for all parties’ involved, increased efficiency, lower legal costs, effective rehabilitative programming, and lower rates of recidivism as compared to the traditional criminal justice system.

    According to the 2017 National Justice Survey, over half of Canadians reported low familiarity with the principles, processes and use of restorative justice. Without a basic awareness, restorative justices’ full potential cannot be realized. With the aim of broadening the traditionally adversarial approach to criminal justice, we ask experts: what are the implications of using restorative justice as an additional, alternative or complementary form of justice? Can restorative justice programs provide better justice for victims, offenders and society as a whole?

    The panelists were:

    • Jennifer Llewellyn: Professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University; worked and published extensively in the areas of domestic and international restorative justice
    • Jo-Anne Wemmers: Professor in the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal and an international expert on victimology
    • Johanne Vallée: Ambassador for the Centre de services de justice réparatrice (CSJR); former deputy commissioner for Quebec within Correctional Service Canada
    • Ryan Beardy: Second year student at University of Winnipeg studying Political Science and Conflict Resolution; Cree/Saulteaux from Lake St. Martin First Nation; significant experience in the criminal justice system
    • Chantell Barker: Justice Development Coordinator at Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc., expert in Restorative Justice and Conflict Resolution; First Nations from Sapotoweyak Cree Nation

    The meeting took place:

    Wednesday, September 26, 2018
    9:15am – 11:15am
    Room 160-S, Centre Block


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    Forum des sénateurs libéraux