The mandate of the Law Reform Commission, created by the federal government in 1972, as a permanent and independent body, is to review and reform the federal laws of Canada.  The goal of the Commission is to promote laws which are “modern, principled, rational, comprehensive, egalitarian, and readily intelligible to ordinary citizens as well as to lawyers and judges.’  Over the last several years the Commission has focused on revising Canada’s Criminal Code.

The Commission is composed of a President, Vice-president, and three Commissioners all appointed by the federal government.  The group reports directly to Parliament through the Minister of Justice.  Parliament is not obliged to legislate in the manner recommended by the Commission, however, the Commission’s views are generally given very serious consideration.

The recommendations on abortion contained in this latest Working Paper flow from a Consultation Document, Abortion Policy Options, written by the “working group on the legal status of the fetus” after two years of study, and released in 1986.  That document was distributed for comment to numerous professional associations and interest groups including pro-life and pro-abortion organizations and individuals.  The working group’s preferred option was a trimester approach with totally unrestricted abortion during the first stage of pregnancy.  (The Interim, March 1988)

The new Working Paper contains the “tentative views” of the Commission following the analysis of comments on the Consultation Document and further research and study on the part of the Commissioners.  The Commission has once again sought public comment on this stage of its work, before it presents its final views to the Minister of Justice in the form of a formal Report.