David Daubney (2011)
David Daubney, formerly a Member of Parliament in Canada, has been a highly effective advocate for criminal justice reforms. His interest in restorative justice began twenty five years ago when he chaired the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice. As his Committee conducted hearings across Canada it heard testimony about groundbreaking victim offender reconciliation programs. The Committee recommended that restorative values and principles be incorporated into the Canadian Criminal Code and that alternatives to prison be expanded, particularly for Aboriginal offenders.
In 1996 Canada adopted a new sentencing code that explicitly incorporated restorative principles and objectives. However, as is sometimes the case with sentencing reforms, the provisions were eventually challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada. By that time David had joined the Attorney General of Canada’s office, and he drafted the Government’s pleadings supporting the legislation. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the legislation and strongly endorsed the restorative justice provisions. Several years later, Parliament adopted juvenile justice reforms with similar provisions for young people.
David led the Canadian delegation to the United Nations in a multi-year effort to win UN adoption of the Declaration of Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice in Criminal Matters. His political skill and perseverance in the face of strong opposition were essential in their eventual endorsement by the UN in 2002. These are now used by Governments around the world as they formulate restorative justice policies.
For restorative justice to become the normal way of responding to crime there must be public officials who can translate its principles and values into public policy. No other single individual has been more influential in shaping restorative justice public policies in his nation and the world as David Daubney.