Bill C-24 (Historical)
Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
David Emerson Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- Dec. 6, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Passed That Bill C-24, An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 50.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 18.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Passed That Bill C-24, in Clause 17, be amended by: (a) replacing lines 42 and 43 on page 12 with the following: “product from the charges referred to in sections 10 and 14.” (b) replacing line 3 on page 13 with the following: “charges referred to in sections 10 and 14.”
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 17.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 13.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Passed That Bill C-24, in Clause 12, be amended by replacing lines 2 to 13 on page 8 with the following: “who is certified under section 25.”
- Dec. 4, 2006 Passed That Bill C-24, in Clause 10.1, be amended by: (a) replacing line 27 on page 5 with the following: “referred to in section 10:” (b) replacing line 12 on page 6 with the following: “underwent its first primary processing in one of”
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 10.
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24, in Clause 107, be amended by replacing lines 37 and 38 on page 89 with the following: “which it is made but no earlier than November 1, 2006.”
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24, in Clause 100, be amended by replacing line 3 on page 87 with the following: “( a) specifying any requirements or conditions that, in the opinion of the Government of Canada, should be met in order for a person to be certified as an independent remanufacturer;”
- Dec. 4, 2006 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 8.
- Oct. 18, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
- Oct. 16, 2006 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: “the House decline to proceed with Bill C-24, An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence, because it opposes the principle of the bill, which is to abrogate the North American Free Trade Agreement, to condone illegal conduct by Americans, to encourage further violations of the North American Free Trade Agreement and to undermine the Canadian softwood sector by leaving at least $ 1 billion in illegally collected duties in American hands, by failing to provide open market access for Canadian producers, by permitting the United States to escape its obligations within three years, by failing to provide necessary support to Canadian workers, employers and communities in the softwood sector and by imposing coercive and punitive taxation in order to crush dissent with this policy”.
- Oct. 4, 2006 Failed That the amendment be amended by adding the following: “specifically because it fails to immediately provide loan guarantees to softwood companies, because it fails to un-suspend outstanding litigation which is almost concluded and which Canada stands to win, and because it punishes companies by imposing questionable double taxation, a provision which was not in the agreement signed by the Minister of International Trade”.
Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
February 11th, 2011 / 12:10 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Minister of International Trade
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I have the honour to table a notice of a ways and means motion to amend the Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006. I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.
Mr. Speaker, while I am on my feet, I move:
That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act—Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
October 22nd, 2009 / 3:10 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on October 9, 2009, by the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel regarding the use of Standing Order 56.1 to disallow further amendments and subamendments at the second reading stage of Bill C-23, Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.
The member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel argued that the motion of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, having been moved pursuant to Standing Order 56.1, should be ruled out of order since it does not fall within the definition of a routine motion as prescribed in that Standing Order. Instead, he argued that the Standing Order was used to limit debate, in the same fashion as moving the previous question.
In addition to agreeing with the arguments raised by the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, the member for Vancouver East expressed concern about the expanded use of Standing Order 56.1 and the “creeping, sort of incremental change” accompanying this, which then led her to question the appropriateness of its use in this case. She added that there are other mechanisms available to the government to manage the amount of time allocated to debate on Bill C-23.
The chief government whip contended that the government was applying Standing Order 56.1 correctly and that there had been previous instances where the Standing Order was used in this fashion.
For the benefit of members, the motion adopted on October 9, 2009, reads as follows:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practices of the House, the second reading stage of Bill C-23, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, shall not be subject to any further amendments or sub-amendments.
As mentioned by the member for Vancouver East, similar concerns over the expanded use of Standing Order 56.1 were raised in 2001 when it was used for the disposition of a bill at various stages. When I ruled on that point of order on September 18, 2001 in the Debates at pages 5256 to 5258, I expressed reservations about the trend toward using that Standing Order for purposes other than for motions of a routine nature. My predecessor had already urged the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the use of Standing Order 56.1, and I reiterated this need for the committee to do so at the earliest opportunity.
In the absence of such feedback, on May 13, 2005 in the Debates at pages 5973 to 5974, I allowed a motion that provided for the completion of the second reading stage of two bills to be moved pursuant to Standing Order 56.1. Again, I highlighted the fact that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs still had not undertaken a study of Standing Order 56.1, and as such, I was not in a position to rule definitively on the appropriateness of that Standing Order's use and I stated the following on that occasion.
I believe having had nothing back [from the committee] I can only allow this one to proceed at this time, particularly so when the time allocated here is much more generous than would be the case under closure or under time allocation…Accordingly the motion appears to be in order.
Similarly, on October 3, 2006, I allowed a motion moved pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 which in part disallowed further amendments or subamendments to the second reading stage of Bill C-24, the Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006. Another motion with such provisions was allowed to proceed on December 12, 2007, in reference to Bill C-28, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 and to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2007.
As was the case in those two most recent examples, even though the current motion disallows further amendments and subamendments, it still allows members who have not yet done so to speak to the amendment and the main motion. Furthermore, as I then stated in my ruling in the Debates on October 3, 2006 at page 3571:
The motion does not set a deadline for completion of the proceedings, as would be the case under time allocation or closure...There is a significant difference.
This does not, however, negate the concerns expressed by members over time about the need for a clearer and agreed upon understanding of this Standing Order. The following quote from my 2006 ruling still applies in this case:
My predecessor and I have both encouraged the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the appropriate use of the Standing Order. To date I am not aware of any report by that committee on this question.
Should the House feel the need to change the parameters pertaining to the use of Standing Order 56.1, I would suggest once more that members bring their concerns to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Since the committee has not yet offered clear direction on the definition of Standing Order 56.1, and since motions disallowing amendments and subamendments have been ruled admissible in the past, I rule that the motion moved by the Government House Leader on October 9, 2009 is in order.
I thank hon. members for their attention.
Opposition Motion—Forestry Industry
Business of Supply
March 10th, 2009 / 11:20 a.m.
Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC
Mr. Speaker, first of all l would like to thank the hon. member for Halifax West for his insightful comments.
I thank my Bloc colleague for his motion and want him to know right off that I share his opinion on the need to establish a plan to help the forest industry. My party therefore supports the spirit of this motion. However, my colleague will not be surprised to hear me say that the plan should apply to the industry as a whole and not just to the portion of it in la belle province of Quebec.
The forest industry in Quebec, the Maritimes, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia is facing major challenges these days. If we think back, we will remember that the Liberal government itself put forward a forestry strategy in 2005.
On November 24, 2005, the Liberal government announced, in partnership with forest industry stakeholders, a true plan for the forestry sector, a forest industry competitiveness strategy committing $1.5 billion over five years. This strategy included: $215 million for the development of new technologies in areas such as the pulp and paper industry to enhance its competitiveness; $50 million to support the forest industry to develop bioenergy and cogeneration power technology; $90 million to support innovation in value-added wood products; $66 million in wood product market development; $10 million to enhance workplace skills in the forest sector; $150 million to help forest dependent communities diversify economically; $800 million in loan support to help Canada's forest companies invest to improve competitiveness; and $100 million in loan support for small forest sector businesses.
We can see that the Liberal government had anticipated quite a bit of what is happening today. Upon forming government in 2006, the Conservatives, however, cancelled the plan. Today Canadian forestry workers are paying the price for that action. Instead of investing then in improving technology, skills and competitiveness to strengthen the industry and to save jobs, Canada now faces tens of thousands of job losses. Since the Conservatives took over government, Canada has lost 18,000 forest sector jobs. Not only that, they negotiated a poor settlement on the softwood lumber dispute and we are paying the price today.
As regards the softwood lumber agreement with the United States, the Liberal Party of Canada has always supported a two-step approach to resolving the dispute over softwood lumber—arbitration by the courts and negotiation.
On September 19, 2006, the Liberal Party voted against the agreement on softwood lumber, and, on December 6, 2006, against Bill C-24 on the softwood lumber export fees. The Liberal Party wanted to be sure the Conservative government would respect the North American Free Trade Agreement and keep its election promise to recover all the customs duties collected illegally by the United States.
We believe the softwood lumber agreement is full of holes for the following reasons.
It is a reversal of the position adopted by successive federal governments and supported by NAFTA and World Trade Organization trade panels that our softwood lumber sector is not subsidized.
It compromises Canada's chances of helping a sector already in difficulty, by handing part of our sovereignty over our natural resources to our American competitors. The fallout of such capitulation will be felt in future disputes, which will no doubt arise not only in the softwood lumber industry, but also in other sectors facing the same accusations by our American competitors.
It creates an export tax, which, at the current rate, is in fact higher than the illegal American customs duties of the past.
It strips NAFTA of any credibility as arbitrator of trade disputes and voids the principles governing such discussions.
It drops $500 million into the hands of the American forestry sector, which uses it to fund legal and political attacks against the Canadian industry and another $500 million into the hands of the American government.
And, finally, it contains anti fluctuation provisions that will deny the Canadian industry the flexibility it needs to deal with the unexpected, such as the infestation of the pine beetle.
The Conservatives claim that their softwood lumber agreement put an end to the dispute, but the United States began consultations questioning the forestry policies of Ontario and Quebec within seven months of signing the agreement.
Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta face the same attacks. It is the $500 million the Conservatives handed over to the Americans that is being used to finance these attacks. On April 4, 2007, the Liberal Party announced that a Liberal government would organize a national summit on the forestry sector bringing together the stakeholders—public officials, the localities involved and the forestry sector—to work out responsible measures for the environment and protect jobs in the Canadian localities.
Instead of being proactive in investing to strengthen the industry, the Conservatives are now being reactive, announcing band-aid programs. The Conservatives' lack of vision has led to this crisis in the forest sector and caused many Canadians their jobs.
For our softwood industry, the Conservatives' softwood lumber deal has also been a failure. The Conservatives rushed into a flawed agreement that left $1 billion in the pockets of the United States. The Conservative government said that the softwood lumber agreement would put an end to litigation, yet Canada is back in court.
Unlike the Conservatives, the Liberal Party believes that there is a role for government to play in helping these sectors and the workers who depend on them.
My party has long recognized that action is essential. Accordingly, it is prepared to support a real plan to help the forest industry, a plan that would include a series of specific measures to ensure sustainable development.
June 14th, 2007 / 12:30 p.m.
Legal Counsel, Liberal Party of Canada
Under Bill C-24, the banks, being somewhat conservative in their practices, pulled away somewhat, certainly in my experience, from their generosity in the political process. That was not only because their political giving was so limited but was because the status quo, as it stands today, and in the absence of this bill, is that a loan becomes a contribution if it defaults. They can't just be generous and write it off in accordance with their practices, which is one of the exceptions, in which case somebody is going to scream about who gave the politician a break when they do write it off.
There was a very real concern under Bill C-24 about not getting into the situation of becoming an illegal contributor or taking a guarantee that made somebody an illegal contributor because their guarantee did convert anyhow, if called upon, into a contribution.
So the problem already exists. This legislation.... And I did, when it was introduced, call a friend who works for one of the banks. His answer was that there's just no way he'd be recommending to his client that it engage in any loans here. And the point we discussed was just that of the guarantee, the logistical problem of 50 guarantees, and how much paperwork that is for a $50,000 loan over a short term. There's not much profit in those loans, yet you're going to put a lot of person power into it.
But over and above that problem is the illegal guarantee, because the guarantor also made a contribution to another candidate in another riding, unbeknownst.... You're all innocent in doing this. And the unsophisticated but generous person doesn't even realize that he or she has overstepped. Is that guarantee, being an illegal guarantee under this legislation, an enforceable guarantee? The bank has no way of knowing the answer to that question. They don't want to find out by litigation. We lawyers charge enough that it's going to cost them more than any margin or risk they had on the table to begin with.
It's only one conversation, but if you can ask the banks—and I can understand their lack of great desire to get up in public and talk about what they will or won't do in the political sphere—whether they are really anxious to do this business under these terms, I strongly suggest that the answer is going to be “not really”.
Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development--Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
June 5th, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.
The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie
Before going to orders of the day I would like to give the ruling on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Wascana regarding the use of Standing Order 56.1 to timetable the proceedings on a bill in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
On May 31, 2007 during routine proceedings the government House leader sought, but did not obtain, unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, when the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development convenes a meeting, it shall not be adjourned or suspended until it completes the committee stage of Bill C-44 except pursuant to a motion by a parliamentary secretary and, provided the bill is adopted by the committee, agrees to report the bill to the House within two sitting days following the completion of the committee stage.
He then moved the motion again pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 and the motion was adopted when fewer than 25 members rose to object. A short time later, the hon. member for Wascana raised a point of order regarding the use of Standing Order 56.1. He was supported by interventions from the hon. member for Joliette and the hon. member for Hamilton Centre, while the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons argued that the motion adopted earlier had been appropriately presented under Standing Order 56.1.
Given that a meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development was imminent, I delivered an immediate ruling promising that the Chair would return to the House later with reasons. I am now prepared to do so.
First, the Chair would like to thank all hon. members who intervened on the point of order for their contributions on this question and is particularly grateful that members have taken note of certain key rulings, specifically those the Speaker delivered on September 18, 2001 and October 3, 2006.
A key element in my ruling today is the fundamental precept that standing committees are masters of their own procedure. Indeed, so entrenched is that precept that only in a select few Standing Orders does the House make provision for intervening directly into the conduct of standing committee affairs. In addition to the power the House has to give instructions to committees by way of a substantive motion that is subject to debate, there are, of course, Standing Orders 57 and 78, which can be used by the House to allocate time or for closure proceedings on a bill in committee. It is toward the use of these very instruments that the Speaker directed the House in his ruling of September 18, 2001, on Debates page 5257, where, as the hon. member for Wascana pointed out, the Speaker stated:
The expanded use of Standing Order 56.1 since 1997 causes the Chair serious concern. The government is provided with a range of options under Standing Orders 57 and 78 for the purpose of limiting debate.
Let us now turn to the Speaker’s ruling of October 3, 2006 allowing the use of Standing Order 56.1 to extend, in an open-ended fashion, the debate on Bill C-24, the Softwood Lumber bill.
It should be noted at the outset that when Standing Order 56.1 was used in reference to Bill C-24, the bill was then before the House at second reading, not before a standing committee. In allowing the use of Standing Order 56.1 in that case the Speaker did so with some concern and on the basis that:
The precedents available to me, including my own previous rulings, are [therefore] insufficient for me to rule the motion out of order on this occasion.
This is part of the Speaker's ruling quoted by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. At the time the Speaker had more to say. He also encouraged, as had Mr. Speaker Parent before him, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the appropriate use of this Standing Order, a pretty clear indication of the difficulties with which the House has had to deal when Standing Order 56.1 has been invoked in questionable circumstances.
In the present case, the Chair has looked carefully at the wording of Standing Order 56.1, which states in reference to the House itself that the Standing Order can be used to move motions in relation to “the management of its business” and “ the arrangement of its proceedings”. Interestingly, the only reference to committees in the Standing Order is one allowing motions for “the establishing of the powers of its committees”, suggesting that the rule was meant to be used not to reach into the conduct of standing committee affairs to direct them, but rather in a routine manner, to provide them powers they do not already possess. A review of the previous uses of Standing Order 56.1 appears to support this. The only examples dealing with standing committees or standing committee activity the Chair has been able to find have to do with granting standing committees the power to travel. The power to travel is, as all hon. members know, a power standing committees do not possess and so the use of Standing Order 56.1 in that regard falls squarely within the parameters of the rule.
Accordingly, to repeat the words I used when this matter was first raised, the use of Standing Order 56.1 to direct the business of the committee, of any committee, is a new development in the House and one that I find out of order.
I thank all hon. members who intervened for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.
Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Points of Order
May 31st, 2007 / 10:55 a.m.
Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their interventions, although I believe that you will find in your ruling that there has been precedents set, as was in the case of Bill C-24, and you will rule this motion in order.
I just want to respond to my colleague, the hon. House leader for the Bloc Québécois, who was making the argument that perhaps in some manner, witnesses coming from far afield would be inconvenienced. In fact, just the opposite is true. Witnesses are already here, witnesses from Saskatchewan and other provinces, since there is a committee meeting starting in approximately four minutes.
Therefore, there is absolutely no inconvenience to any witnesses. In fact, it gives them an even longer opportunity to present their case before the committee so that the committee will have the ability, should it choose to sit extended hours.
I would argue that there is more opportunity for not only witnesses but committee members to discuss this bill and in fact, that is quite the opposite of closure. It is giving all committee members an opportunity to speak for as long as they wish, which I think, quite frankly, is entirely democratic.
Document for Committee Chairs
May 28th, 2007 / 11:15 a.m.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member for Halton wants to continue to heckle, perhaps he can add to the debate after I am done instead of just shouting out his nonsense.
The reality is that this is a similar document that all parties produce to help train their individual members. I note that this internal document, as I say, is not a government document. It is something that was produced by the Conservative Party to assist our chairs.
Since the NDP members are so concerned about this, perhaps they could reveal to us their playbook or explain their tactics when they were delaying and continue to delay Bill C-45, the Fisheries Act; or Bill C-44, the amendments to the Human Rights Act; or their earlier extensive delay in filibustering Bill C-24, the softwood lumber act. In all of those things they employed tactics to delay passage of government legislation.
What about a chapter from their playbook dealing with moving concurrence motions to obstruct government legislation from following the due process and the procedure that we have become accustomed to in passing through the chamber? Instead, they resort, almost daily, to moving concurrence motions to delay that legislation.
I have remarked that the further training of our chairs, our committee members and, indeed, all of our caucus is to ensure that we are well aware of any procedural tools that we might have as a government, recognizing that we are a minority government and that we are outnumbered, not only in the chamber but at each and every standing committee. When we are confronted, as we have been by the opposition parties, which have become increasingly obstructionist, with a lot of legislation, we need to ensure we use every possible tool at our disposal to get our legislation passed through the committees, passed through the chamber and ultimately passed through a Liberal dominated Senate to become law in order that we can keep the promises that we made to the Canadian people in the last election campaign.
I have been noting that the people of Canada did not elect a coalition government of opposition parties. They elected a minority Conservative government and we have been trying to govern as such.
It is certainly my contention that this is an internal party document and that all parties have similar types of documents. It is beyond the pale that we would start out this final week with this bogus question of privilege.
May 1st, 2007 / 3:55 p.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Cannavino, Mr. Francoeur, good afternoon. I have a few comments to make. Mr. Francoeur, thank you for your testimony and, in particular, for pointing out the contradiction between the fact that the government wants to have stiffer sentences, but is not concerned about the easy availability of weapons. You will not have to work very hard to convince a number of us.
It seems to me that there are two types of measures that are really needed to fight crime. First, there is the firearms registry. If I were appointed Minister of Justice or Public Security, the first thing I would do would be to look at parole. I do not think that this bill will have a big effect on the problems you are describing.
Mr. Cannavino, you will be pleased to know that the Defence Lawyers' Association supports this bill. They told us—see how all is right with the world!—that in practice, magistrates, justices of the peace and judges did not release people on bail who had committed firearms offences. Obviously, not everyone might agree. I introduced a motion on street gangs, and I hope that my colleagues on the government side in a great gesture of friendship such as we have seen all too rarely over the past few years in this committee, will pass it on Thursday morning.
Mr. Cannavino, you were there when parliamentarians considered Bills C-84, C-24 and C-36. You know how concerned the Bloc Québécois and others are about gangsters and street gangs. People in Montreal and Toronto, especially your colleague Mr. Robinette from Montreal, have told us that drive-by shootings are not covered by the definition of criminal organization in the Criminal Code. Should we not include that immediately? When people are intercepted, a drive-by shooting is not enough to prove that they belong to a street gang and can therefore be charged. They can obviously be charged with homicide and other offences, but it would be better to have a charge of gangsterism, since that delays parole and results in longer sentences.
If we have to choose between a bill like C-35, which seems to us to entrench a practice which already exists, and not being more vigilant with the firearms registry and not changing the definition of criminal organization in the Criminal Code, I would opt for the latter approaches.
I would like to hear from your colleague, Mr. Francoeur, yourself or any of the other witnesses who might like to comment, but I would first say that I find the current system, which allows people to serve only one-sixth of their sentences, totally unacceptable. One-third would be understandable. But the revolving door scenario that you have described does not seem to me to have too much to do with Bill C-35; it stems more from the fact that people can serve just six months of a sentence—Some crimes that allow perpetrators to be eligible for release after one-sixth of the sentence are much more serious than these. Gun smuggling is a real concern. There are people eligible to serve no more than one-sixth of their sentences who pose a much greater danger to society, in my view.
I would have liked us to review this issue of serving one-sixth of sentences and of amending the Criminal Code to change the definition of criminal organization, which seem to me to be much greater priorities than bail for firearms offences, which is basically a non-issue in practice, if we are to believe the people who work on the frontlines.
April 24th, 2007 / 11:35 a.m.
Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice Canada
I won't go into the financial end of it, because I'm on the legal issues committee and we have no mandate on the finances. I rather suspect that will be an interesting issue when we get further down the road.
Basically, Bill C-240 was in the House and Bill C-279 was in the House, and when we did the consultation, the support was for a national one run by the RCMP. That's what we've been focusing on. If the federal government passed amendments to the DNA Identification Act or a separate missing persons data bank act with these kinds of safeguards and consents, etc., then the provinces would be under no obligation to make use of it. It would just be a service there for them to use if they wished. The higher your fee for service, the less likely they are to take advantage of it, I would imagine.
February 15th, 2007 / 9:05 a.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Mr. Chair, the motion I've introduced is further to the testimony we heard — as you'll remember — at the time of the summary of Bills C-95 and C-24, and to the consultations I've had with Montreal police representatives. It has four objectives. And I'll be introducing a minor amendment that I'm going to explain to you.
First, I was very surprised to learn that the existing definition of criminal organization — that is to say a group that is not randomly formed, of three persons or more, one of the members of which commits serious offences, punishable by a prison term of more than five years, resulting in a material benefit, especially a financial benefit — does not cover the phenomenon of drive-by shootings.
This morning, for example, the Montreal police will be holding a press conference. Six crimes like the one I've just described to you have been committed since the start of the year. I don't need to tell you that that's also true in Toronto and Vancouver. I think we have to amend the definition of criminal organization to include acts by members of street gangs and that we wouldn't be able to rely directly on material benefit.
That's why it is not my intention to reduce the scope of the definition of criminal organization. However, I believe we should include drive-by shootings in it. For example, there have been 120 victims of street gang confrontations in Montreal in the past 10 years. That was the first aspect.
The second aspect relates to Mr. Bélanger's remarks, that the warrants that police officers obtain for GPS systems, which are a device used to follow a car, must be harmonized. This isn't wire-tapping; you can't intercept communications. However, it makes it possible to follow a car's movements and to link individuals to each other. It's very useful for making demonstrations in court.
By way of a third point, I'd like to introduce a minor amendment. The idea is that there obviously are more specialized prosecutors. We're winning the battle against organized crime because Crown attorneys have agreed to specialize. That takes two, three or four years of work; you have to be aware of that.
I think there'd have to be specialized attorneys in connection with street gangs. They have to know their modus operandi, how the individuals who belong to street gangs operate. However, I won't be talking about money because I wouldn't want the government to feel bound. We could remove the reference to the $5 million fund. The government could just make a sufficient fund available to the attorneys general of the provinces, over five years, to help them train specialized Crown attorneys. I wouldn't refer to any amount in particular.
In addition, I've learned that the government made specific amounts of money available to the City of Toronto to train Crown attorneys. I wonder whether Montreal, Vancouver and other communities could benefit from that. It's not that we want to be “Montrealists”, but that's a reality.
For the rest, the fourth part of the motion is obviously that the government establish a data base, a Web site where all court decisions and evidence gathered in all street gang trials would be available to all stakeholders. I want to be clear on this, since I took the trouble to state it: all stakeholders, in my mind, are police officers, Crown attorneys and obviously the ministers concerned, but not necessarily defence counsel.
At the trial stage, the Stinchcombe decision will apply and everyone will obviously have access to the evidence. However, I think that the immediate stakeholders, that is to say the police, the public department and the Department of Justice should have access to a secure file.
That, Mr. Chair, is the gist of my motion, even though you're not listening to me, which obviously gives the impression that we're an old couple. I hope that the proposal to withdraw the $5 million fund will help make everyone more comfortable.