Tory bill to make judges take classes on sex assault law fast-tracked

The House of Commons has unanimously agreed to fast-track a bill introduced by interim Tory leader Rona Ambrose that would require would-be judges to take courses in sexual assault law.

The Commons has accepted a motion from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to bypass the usual second-reading debate and send the legislation straight to committee.

The bill, C-377, would restrict eligibility for an appointment to the bench to candidates who have completed comprehensive sexual assault education.

It would also require the Canadian Judicial Council to report on continuing education seminars in matters related to sexual assault law and change the Criminal Code to require courts to provide written reasons in sexual assault decisions.

Ambrose says too many women and girls are reluctant to come forward after being sexually assaulted and that judges need better training in handling such cases.

The bill was introduced after a judge in Halifax acquitted a suspect in a sexual assault case and suggested that even an intoxicated woman could consent to sex.