Bill C-50 (Historical)
Improving Access to Investigative Tools for Serious Crimes Act
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (interception of private communications and related warrants and orders)
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Rob Nicholson Conservative
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse Act
March 19th, 2013 / 1 p.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB
Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to address Bill C-55. It is important right from the beginning to mention why we are debating the bill today. On April 13, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada sent a very strong message to the House of Commons, in particular to the Prime Minister, that section 184.4 needed to be amended. It made a sunset by saying that the Government of Canada would have one year to pass the necessary legislation to validate the Criminal Code.
What is section 184.4? It talks about a police officer's ability to intercept a private conversation in some fashion without having to get a warrant. That is what this is all about. The government has been aware of it for a number of years. The Supreme Court of Canada having made its decision on April 13, 2012, and having put a time limit on it has now forced the government to act on it.
I will talk about the lack of the timely fashion in which the government has made the decision to bring in the bill. However, prior to doing that, I would like to reflect on what I believe is very important to all Canadians.
All Canadians believe in private rights and want to ensure their rights are protected. At times we might get a little spooked. We see cameras popping up all over the place, whether it is photo radar cameras, speed cameras, cameras at high density intersections, or even nowadays on sidewalks or public buildings and public areas where people gather. Every so often I hear from constituents who want to talk about private rights. It is important for us to recognize that as individuals we do have private rights that need to be protected at all times.
I was a very strong advocate for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for many years. This year we celebrated 30 years of having the charter, which has stood the test of time. A vast majority, 90%-plus of Canadians, have grown to respect and believe in the charter as something that protects them.
I remember when my girlfriend, now my wife, and I watched the signing ceremony between Pierre Trudeau and the Queen in 1982. It was a special moment and it was something my girlfriend appreciated. It was important to me and I believe it was important to her. It is because we recognized how important it was that individuals had rights. That is why Bill C-55 is very important legislation.
I have had the opportunity to speak about it at second reading. Unfortunately, I was unable to be at committee, but I did to get to speak very briefly yesterday because we were limited to 10 minutes to the amendments brought forward. However, it is important legislation that needs to be addressed.
If we look at it from a historical point of view, whether it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, or Jean Chrétien or one of Canada's best Attorneys General, the member for Mount Royal, it speaks so well on individual rights and the need to protect them. Quite often when individuals of that calibre stand and talk about individual rights, we need to listen because it is a very important aspect of being Canadian.
We turn on the news and we watch throughout the world where individual rights are virtually walked all over. There is a general lack of respect for individual rights throughout the world. I believe Canada has a leadership role in demonstrating to the world that we value the Charter of Rights.
A number of years ago I had the privilege and the opportunity to travel to Israel. When I met with one of the politicians there, he made reference to Canada's Charter of Rights and how he thought it was an important thing that Canada did in 1982. What we are doing here has an impact that goes beyond our own borders. That is why there is an onus and a responsibility for us to be very careful in behaving and acting on important legislation in a more timely manner.
Before going into some of the details of the bill, I will talk about why we have the bill. I made mention of the Supreme Court of Canada and also that the government knew about it well before that. The Supreme Court of Canada has in essence said to the government that it really has messed up. It did not have to go to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Conservatives had an opportunity to deal with the issue previously. Many parliamentarians here today will recall Bill C-50. I was not here at that time. That bill was an attempt to deal with what the Supreme Court of Canada was forced to deal with, but because the Conservatives prorogued the session, in essence killing all legislation before the House, that attempt was defeated.
That was not the first or second time. The most recent time would have been Bill C-30 from last year. That bill came with a great deal of fanfare. A lot of allegations were made and the overwhelming reaction was quite significant, to the degree that we saw the Government of Canada push the hold button, and that bill has never seen the light of day.
The bill was introduced almost a year ago, and it would have dealt with this issue, at least in part. It also would have dealt with other things, which raised the ire of hundreds of thousands of Canadians and opposition parties, definitely the Liberal Party of Canada. However, we saw the Conservatives failing to address what was a very important issue, and I will comment on that issue very shortly. Instead of doing the right thing, which would have been recognizing that Bill C-30 was going nowhere back in June, the Conservatives could have introduced this bill last fall, in September or October, and reviewed some of the other legislation that we were talking about then.
There were opportunities for the government members to deal with this legislation. It is not like there is overwhelming opposition to Bill C-55. In fact, the members of the Liberal Party have been very clear that we support the passage of the bill. We have done nothing to slow down its passage. We recognize that the bill has to be passed through Parliament by April 12 or 13 of this year. We have committed to working to do that.
However, we also believe the legislation needs to go through due diligence and through the process in a timely fashion.
What does that mean? It means the government and, in particular, the government House leader. This is another wake-up call for him. He needs to get his legislative agenda in order. He needs to perhaps meet with the Prime Minister and some of his other ministers and get a sense in what kind of legislation is coming down the pike into the House of Commons. If he did his homework, then at the very least the legislation we have today could have been, and should have been, introduced back in October last year, give or take a month. Had the Conservatives done that, there would not be this sense of urgency we have today to pass the legislation.
That decision, many of my caucus colleagues would say, was intentional. The government continued to hold back on introducing this legislation. I cannot blame them for thinking that. All we have to do is take a look at all the legislation that has been brought forward and the record number of time allocations on a wide variety of legislation. Remember those huge budget bills containing dozens of pieces of legislation amended through the backdoor of a budget. We can understand why members of the Liberal Party are a little skeptical in how the government chooses to bring in legislation.
The timing is a very important issue.
We have Bill C-55 today. It is expected the bill will pass. As I say, it does have the support of the Liberal Party and we will assist the government allowing the bill, ultimately, to pass.
However, we ask the government to take responsibility when it brings forward legislation, to take into consideration that the House of Commons has a very important role to play. When it brings a bill in for second reading, members of Parliament of all political stripes are should be afforded the opportunity to provide their contributions, whatever they might be. Even if it is a sense of repetition speaker after speaker, it has to provide for that and then allow for it to go to committee in a timely fashion where we can bring in different stakeholders.
I would like to think that under Bill C-55, in a normal process, there might have been a higher level of interest from the different stakeholders from coast to coast to coast with respect to what type of legislation they wanted to see. That would have been very productive.
There was an attempt. It could be very discouraging to move amendments inside the House since there has been a Conservative majority, a different type of Conservative Reform Party going back to the old Reform roots, possibly. However, there has been a different attitude. Even I have detected that. It can be a challenge to move amendments inside the House. I have seen amendments stonewalled. I remember when the member for Mount Royal attempted to move amendments in committee and, ultimately, at third reading and the government turned them down. It took the Senate in order to pass it.
If Bill C-55 were provided the opportunity that it should have been in allowing for not only that fulsome debate within the chamber but equally an opportunity to have stakeholders from across Canada contribute to the debate, I believe we would have had more of a contribution at that point in time.
It is important to allow for that. We are talking about are private communications that can be interrupted or listened to by the police without any warrant. That is very serious. I think many Canadians could have made presentations if it was felt that we had the time to listen thoroughly to our stakeholders or even affording opposition parties or individual members to consult on the legislation in advance.
From committee, we come now to third reading. The bill has been here for a couple of days. We in the Liberal Party want to see the bill pass. I suspect that the New Democrats will support us. However, the timing is a huge concern.
The bill requires appropriate ministers in Canada to report whenever they have an intercept. That means that a minister of justice in a province, such as Manitoba, Ontario, or wherever it might be in Canada, would be notified when an interception occurred in their jurisdiction. Those provincial entities would then be obligated to report to the House of Commons, through the Minister of Public Safety, and ideally, to have it tabled it in some form in the House. It is a very important measure.
We would like to think that the frequency of any police agency having to use clause 184.4 without a warrant would be very low. There is nothing wrong with trying to find and accumulate information that allows us to make valued opinions regarding its usage. We should be reviewing that, because we are talking about individual rights.
Where a person's rights have been overlooked because it is believed that it is in the public interest, that individual has the right to know that a wiretap was done without a warrant. We are not saying that we should give a person a call to say that the telephone is going to be tapped. Once it has been done, there is an obligation to let that individual know that it has taken place. From what I understand, that is being done within this legislation.
The bill would provide more accountability and oversight. It would narrow the number of individuals or offices that could actually use clause 184.4. Today, one could be a mayor of a municipality and have the authority to listen to a private conversation without a warrant. The legislation is saying that this is too wide. We need to narrow the number of individuals who can do that. Bill C-55 narrows it down to police officers.
It also limits the types of interceptions. It should be used very rarely. For example, in a situation where someone's life is at risk or a child has been kidnapped, we need to ensure that police officers have the ability to save that life or ensure that a child is not molested. Bill C-55 moves in that direction.
Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse Act
March 19th, 2013 / noon
Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise today. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi. I know the member well because I serve on two committees with him.
I am very pleased to speak again in the House on the NDP's views on this piece of legislation, Bill C-55. It would amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court ruling referenced several times here this morning in previous speeches.
The point that has to be reiterated is that this is all coming about with a very few days remaining to meet the deadline that was provided to the House by the Supreme Court. It stayed a decision for a year to give the government the opportunity to bring forward an improvement to legislation that is much needed. We have supported this legislation throughout the process, although we found the process daunting because of the delay that took place in getting it here. We supported the government because it is an important tool for our police services in this country.
However, on the counter side of that, it is very important for the official opposition to look cautiously at any legislation that authorizes people to look into people's lives in the manner that this would. This enactment seeks to amend Canada's Criminal Code, and the Supreme Court ruling talked about the need for safeguards for Canadians, because this allows for authorized, and I want to stress the word “authorized”, interception of private communications, done prior to judicial authorization as foreseen in section 184.4 of the act.
It is worth noting that the enactment states that it:
requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4;
provides that a person who has been the object of such interception must be notified...within a specified period;...
The assumption is that those persons have not been found to be taking part in any criminal activity, and thus they have every right to be informed; and if they were involved with criminal activity and are part of an ongoing investigation, there could be an extension.
It narrowed the class of individuals who could actually make such interceptions, and those limited interceptions to particular offences are listed.
I was speaking a few moments ago about the fact that we are within three weeks of a deadline supplied to us by the Supreme Court. There was the benefit of a year from the Supreme Court to act on this, and the government has not done so until the very last minute. I have to question what the delay is. Why did it take close to a year for the government to respond to this? This was not a great difficulty, from the standpoint that the Supreme Court identified the areas in which the government had to make changes.
I would go so far as to say that when any government or any party in government looks to put forward legislation, a significant part of the process is debate in this place. Another significant part is the opportunity for all parties to come together, which we did in the instance of Bill C-55 at committee, to look at it, to hear witness testimony, to do those things necessary to offer any piece of legislation the due diligence necessary to make it as good as we possibly could. That is the concern over the timeframe, the concern over the fact that we had a couple of days to try to do things that could have well extended beyond, had we brought in more witnesses. It is troubling because that impedes the due diligence we have to administer on behalf of those people who sent us to this place.
I tend to repeat myself in my remarks, because that troubled me to the degree that I felt it was worth repeating.
There have been other times in this place that the opportunity to debate and to consider various bills has been impeded. I would ask how many times the Conservative government has moved time allocation on bills. It is not the delay just in this particular bill, but in other bills. We must be closing in on 30 times that it has occurred in this Parliament. It has to be close to that by now. I hear other members agreeing.
We have seen budget bills and other legislation affecting services, which Canadians rely on, shut down or extremely limited by the Conservatives, at what appears to be almost every opportunity. It stifles the opportunity for us to make those bills better. It stifles the opportunity we have as members to point out what they have done well and what they have done not up to the standards Canadians expect. We get to do that in this public forum. That has been curtailed too many times.
Once again, that is part of my concern with this bill, Bill C-55, and how it got to committee after such a delay. It has the potential of impacting ordinary Canadians in a very negative way if the protections of which the Supreme Court has spoken to us were not put into place.
Bill C-55 is simply an updated version of wiretapping provisions the Supreme Court previously deemed unconstitutional. That is quite a statement when we think about it. Fortunately again for the House, the Supreme Court set the parameters of what it saw as the need to protect Canadians' rights.
I have to say that Canadians have good reason to be concerned about privacy legislation that comes out of the government. To date the government has not had what I see as a good record in that area. It is not encouraging at all.
There is an obligation on the official opposition to work for the public good in upholding the rule of law, our Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was in February 2012 that the Conservative government tabled Bill C-30. Members will recall that gave authorities the power to access personal information in a way to which the Supreme Court responded.
It raised very serious concerns across the country, as I recall, about personal privacy and fundamental rights. That was due to the manner in which it was constructed and the powers it was seeking to give out. I will add that it was kind of a compilation of previous bills that have been before this House, Bill C-50, Bill C-51 and Bill C-52 from a previous parliamentary session. The Conservatives were attempting to build on the original legislation from 1999 to provide public safety authorities with extensive surveillance powers over digital information. As I said a moment ago, there was a significant backlash from the people of Canada in regard to this.
Now we have the government with these much-needed changes, I will commend the government. It reached across to us in the committee. We did work better on that bill than we did on some others in the past. If we did not meet the deadline or the provisions required by the Supreme Court, then these emergency powers would be thrown out.
I began my remarks talking about the need for police officials of our country to apply these. In this particular case, these provisions are intended to happen at the worst possible time, when somebody is under physical threat of injury or harm. It was important for us to go a little deeper into it.
I am looking for what really needs to be summarized here, and that is the fact that our role is to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadians are balanced with the police officials' needs to investigate, particularly in a time where someone is under the threat of physical harm. I have to say that, working together, I believe we accomplished that. Thus, we will be supporting this bill.
March 4th, 2013 / 4:30 p.m.
Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
The draft of Bill C-55comes from Bill C-30. Previously, it was Bill C-50 and at the outset, it was Bill C-31. The only change that we made to the content of Bill C-30 in order to incorporate it into Bill C-55 was to include the restriction for police officers. The Supreme Court had indicated that it would be a good idea to do so, and the government wanted to reflect that.
March 4th, 2013 / 4:30 p.m.
Karen Audcent Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
We've previously included responses to the reactions in Bill C-31. Then there was Bill C-50. But those responses pertained to lower court rulings. Then came Bill C-30. The Supreme Court rendered its decision on April 13, 2012. So we've been working on responses to the Supreme Court decisions since then.
Prior to that, we were basing our study on the rulings of lower courts, because the British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec courts indicated that we had to examine this section of the Criminal Code because it raised constitutional concerns.
Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse Act
February 25th, 2013 / 5:50 p.m.
Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for that great round of applause as I start my speech.
I am very pleased to rise today to stand up and talk about our points relating Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision.
I know that we are coming to this with 19 days to go before it is supposed to be taken care of. As New Democrats, we recognize the importance of this and will be supporting it at second reading. We are in favour of sending this legislation to committee for review.
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide, in response to the Supreme Court's decision, safeguards related to authorization to intercept private communications without prior judicial authorization under section 184.4 of the act.
Notably, the enactment states that it:
(a) requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4;
(b) provides that a person who has been the object of such an interception must be notified of the interception within a specified period;
(c) narrows the class of individuals who can make such an interception; and
(d) limits those interceptions to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code.
I was talking earlier about how this really has come down to 19 days. I believe my colleague from Winnipeg North asked this question repeatedly today. The Conservatives have had a year to act on this. Why now, in the eleventh hour, are we having to deal with this so quickly? If they are truly looking at what can make great legislation, it is the debate and involvement of all members of Parliament from all sides.
However, once again, we see the Conservatives bringing forward legislation at the eleventh hour so that we all have to come together very quickly to try to pass something that we, of course, want to give due diligence and a good once over. Unfortunately, we have seen from the Conservatives time and time again the lack of opportunity for debate.
How many times is it now that the Conservatives have used time allocation to shut down debate when it comes to important bills? I believe that we are up into the 20s if not the 30s. We have seen budget bills and other legislation affecting the services Canadians rely on shut down at every opportunity. It is unfortunate that we once again have to come to an eleventh hour conversation to ensure that we can get legislation to committee.
This new legislation is simply an updated version of the wiretapping provisions the Supreme Court deemed to be unconstitutional. The court has established new parameters for the protection of privacy, and we expect this legislation to be in compliance with those standards.
Canadians have a good reason to be concerned about the Conservatives' privacy legislation. Their record in this area is not very encouraging. We need to continue working for the public to uphold the rule of law, the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If we go back, not too long ago, we had the inception of Bill C-30. Back in February of 2012, the Conservative government tabled Bill C-30, which would give authorities the power to access the personal information of Canadians without a warrant. That bill raised serious concerns about personal privacy and fundamental rights and freedoms. Bill C-30 was a compilation of three bills that made up lawful access in the last parliamentary session: Bill C-50, Bill C-51 and Bill C-52. The Conservatives were then building on legislation first spearheaded to propose providing public safety authorities with surveillance powers over digital information in 1999. This led to a huge uproar from people from coast to coast to coast who were concerned about this legislation and how it would enable law enforcement to access a citizen's personal information without a warrant.
Right now, we have seen the Conservatives quickly change their tune in this new bill they have brought forward. With the government trying desperately to comply with the Supreme Court ruling within the prescribed time frame, which is April 13, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the authorization of the emergency power to intercept without authorization by the court in situations of imminent harm could be justified under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Supreme Court held that section 184.4 of the Criminal Code, interception in exceptional circumstances, enacted in 1993, was unconstitutional because it did not include any accountability measures. The court gave Parliament until April 13, 2013, to amend the provision and make it constitutional.
The Conservatives have proposed amendments that appear to be a direct response to that decision in that they add safeguards to constitute notification and reporting under section 184.4 of the Criminal Code. The legislation would require giving a person 90 days' notice, subject to an extension granted by a judge after his or her private communications had been intercepted in situations of imminent harm.
These amendments would limit the authority of the police to use this provision. All peace officers can avail themselves of it at present and would restrict its use to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code. The proposed amendments appear to be a direct response to the court's instruction.
If we are to look at those in a little more detail, 184.4 outlines:
A peace officer may intercept, by means of any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, a private communication where
(a) the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds—
Reasonable grounds is very important.
—that the urgency of the situation is such that an authorization could not, with reasonable diligence, be obtained under any other provision of this Part;
(b) the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that such an interception is immediately necessary to prevent an unlawful act that would cause serious harm to any person or to property; and
(c) either the originator of the private communication or the person intended by the originator to receive it is the person who would perform the act that is likely to cause the harm or is the victim, or intended victim, of the harm.
If we look at R. v. Tse, this appeal concerned the constitutionality of the emergency wiretap provision in section 184.4 of the Criminal Code.
In this case, the police used section 184.4 to carry out unauthorized, warrantless interceptions of private communications when the daughter of an alleged kidnapping victim began receiving calls from her father, stating that he was being held for ransom. Approximately 24 hours later, the police obtained a judicial authorization for continued interceptions pursuant to Standing Order 186 of the code.
The trial judge found that section 184.4 contravened the right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure under section 8 of the charter and that it was not a reasonable limit under section 1. The Crown appealed the declaration of unconstitutionality directly to this court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
Section 184.4 permits a peace officer to intercept certain private communications without prior judicial authorization if the officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that the interception is immediately necessary to prevent an unlawful act that would cause serious harm, provided judicial authorization could not be obtained with reasonable diligence.
In principle, Parliament may craft such a narrow emergency wiretap authority for exigent circumstances. The more difficult question is whether the particular power enacted in section 184.4 strikes a reasonable balance between an individual's right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures and society's interest in preventing serious harm. To the extent that the power to intercept private communications without judicial authorization would be available only in circumstances to prevent serious harm, this section strikes an appropriate balance. However, section 184.4 violates section 8 of the charter, as it does not provide a mechanism for oversight and, more particularly, notice to persons whose private communications have been intercepted. This breach cannot be saved under section 1 of the charter.
When we look at all of those details, what do we truly want as New Democrats? What should we all want as parliamentarians? To start off, we are in favour of the legislation as presented being sent to committee for review. It is essential that we play our role as members of Parliament. It is essential for us to investigate measures that include oversight and accountability, which is also the court's opinion, and we expect nothing less. We will work for the public to uphold the rule of law, the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Members do not have to take my or the NDP's word for it, as there are many others out there who validate it. Michael Geist in OpenMedia said:
—Bill C-30 may be dead, but lawful access surely is not. On the same day the government put the bill out its misery, it introduced Bill C-55 on warrantless wiretapping. Although the bill is ostensibly a response to last year's R v. Tse decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, much of the bill is lifted directly from Bill C-30.
As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-30, an act to enact the investigating and preventing criminal electronic communications act and to amend the Criminal Code and other acts, which was also referred to as the protecting children from Internet predators act, did many things. There was a lot to be said from coast to coast to coast about many of things presented in that bill.
At the time, we supported making changes to ensure that the police would have powers to address the emerging threats posed by cybercrime, and we supported efforts to bring policing into the digital age. However, a number of that legislation's provisions unnecessarily eroded the privacy rights of ordinary citizens. We believed that we could aggressively go after criminals at the time of Bill C-30 and punish them to the full extent of the law without making false comparisons to child pornographers and treating law-abiding Canadians like criminals.
To reiterate, Mr. Geist has mentioned some of his concerns with Bill C-30 that are emerging again with Bill C-55. If people like Mr. Geist are thinking this, then of course we need to get Bill C-55 to committee to review all of the things that were previously in Bill C-30 and that may now be in Bill C-55 and that Canadians from coast to coast to coast may be upset with.
To mention others' views on Bill C-55, Chris Parsons from the blog “Technology, Thoughts, and Trinkets” states:
—the Canadian government struggled to explain the legislation—and the need for all of its elements—to the public. In the face of public dispute over the legislation’s need the government sent the legislation to Committee before Second Reading. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police strongly supported the government, as did individual police chiefs from around the country. This extended to calls for examples of where the legislation would have helped to resolve criminal cases; to date, though, few substantive examples were found.
That sums it up right there.
Political pressure recently, in our opinion, led to the failure of Bill C-30. However, some of its measures have been reiterated in other federal legislative proposals. Civil libertarians have succeeded in their fight against lawful access, but it is important to note that some aspects of Bill C-30 were transferred outside the parliamentary process a few months ago, but the failure of Bill C-30 does not mean the non-parliamentary processes will be stopped as well.
Parliament is generally informed of the use of wiretapping so it can be aware of the frequency and the circumstances of its use. However, when 184.4 is invoked, there is no disclosure obligation. There is no need to let anyone know. The court stated that a requirement to keep records of the use of wiretapping, under 184.4, would also increase accountability, but would not be necessary if there was an obligation to provide prior notice.
In summary, we will support the bill at this time. We are in favour of the legislation getting to committee for review. However, it makes us want to ask some questions. It makes us wonder what precautions the government has taken to ensure the legislation is truly in compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling. We truly need more than 19 days to understand if this will be in compliance. Yes, we want to act quickly on this, but not at the eleventh hour.
Can the government explain how the Department of Justice's assessment of the legislation's compliance with the charter and the Constitution was carried out? Why has the government waited so long to address a relatively simple matter relating to freedom and public safety? We are pleased that the government listened to the public on Bill C-30 , and Bill C-55 seems to be a step in the right direction. However, why did the government dig its heels in for so long rather than admit it was wrong and work with the opposition to resolve the problem? As members of Parliament, we are here to work together to resolve problems. What measures from Bill C-30 has the government brought back and are now outside the scope of the House of Commons?
Those are some of the things we truly need to have addressed, now in this debate, the debate that we will carry on and the debate that we will have when the bill gets to the committee stage. Many of those questions will need to be answered. We hope we can get the answers from the government for those questions when we get to committee. Unfortunately, what we have seen time and time again is that is not the case. I can talk about committees that I have sat on where we have brought forward legitimate amendments, ideas and propositions and every one of them has been denied. The Conservatives do not accept amendments, they will not listen to reason and for some reason, they just do not get that we are all trying to do this together. We are in this together to try to make laws and legislation better from coast to coast to coast for Canadians.
At the end of the day, I hope this time—and we are always hoping that a glass is half full—that when it gets to committee, if we have amendments, if we recognize that something was missed in trying to deal in such a quick fashion on the Supreme Court's ruling, that we can work together to resolve it and get this done quickly.
Business of the House
March 10th, 2011 / 3:10 p.m.
John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, with respect to your ruling yesterday, we are working right now as we speak to comply on that issue and we will be responding in short order.
We will continue debate today on the Bloc opposition motion that began this morning.
Tomorrow, we will call for third reading of Bill C-55, the new veterans charter bill. I appreciate that there has been support for the passage of that bill. It is important for Canada's veterans and I am pleased that we have been able to come together on that.
Following Bill C-55, if time permits, we would debate Bill C-54, protecting children from sexual predators; Bill S-7, the justice for victims of terrorism; Bill C-8, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement; Bill C-12, the democratic representation bill, which is an important bill for my premier in Ontario and particularly for the people in both Alberta and British Columbia; Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement; Bill C-57, improving trade within Canada; Bill C-43, RCMP modernization; Bill C-52, investigating and preventing criminal electronic communications; and Bill C-50, improving access to investigative tools for serious crime.
With respect to the business for next week, I will be, among other places, working hard in my constituency for the people of Ottawa West--Nepean.
March 10th, 2011 / 9:20 a.m.
Immigration Program Manager, Kiev, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Kiev has seen a decrease in the number of provincially sponsored immigrants, for the very simple reason that the recruitment in the last couple of years has dried up, given the world economic recession. Now, with the economy picking up, we expect Saskatchewan and Alberta to start larger recruiting, which will bring first temporary workers to Canada, and then subsequent to that we will expect to see the immigration applications from this movement.
In skilled workers, Bill C-50 has resulted in a very low intake of applications that are successful, primarily for reasons of English and transferability of skills.
We've seen an 86% refusal rate for cases under ministerial instructions. Previously, any occupation was acceptable; now we have a limited number, which narrows the focus. Then within that field, if you don't have a very good degree of English, you're simply not going to make it on points.
At the same time, Quebec Immigration has done fairly strong recruitment, and the target for Quebec Immigration is a fairly high component of our economic target.
So the numbers are shifting within the economic field.
In family class, we are processing all parental cases that come in. There are no cases backlogged. In fact, last year I ensured that all family class cases were put into process, which is why our inventory of cases is actually decreasing. The number of active cases, as mentioned before, is only 776, and this is decreasing by the day as visas are being issued. The primary reasons for that are economic.
Business of the House
March 3rd, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.
John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, before I respond to the member's question, I would like to, on behalf of the government, add my voice to the voices of the member for Toronto Centre and the member for Winnipeg Centre who spoke about the passing of a distinguished member of the parliamentary press gallery, Jim Travers of The Toronto Star. He was a long-time member of the parliamentary press gallery and a former editor of the Ottawa Citizen. Jim would have been just 63 years old next month. His passing in the hospital was completely shocking and unexpected.
Jim was a top national journalist and a columnist who never was afraid to make his views known on the printed page and on the airwaves as a frequent guest on panel shows and talk radio. He was a passionate Canadian. He loved this country and he was incredibly committed to his craft. Canada has certainly lost a legend.
On behalf of all of us in this place, I offer our sincere condolences to Jim's wife Joan, his sons Patrick and Ben, and to the rest of his family and friends, and his colleagues especially from The Toronto Star who, I know, are deeply saddened by this loss, and, indeed, all of his colleagues in the parliamentary press gallery at this very difficult time. The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with Jim's family and many friends.
In terms of parliamentary business for the coming week, today we will continue debate on the NDP opposition motion. I thank my NDP counterpart, the member for Vancouver East, after our difference of opinion. We have worked to make Parliament work and we have come to an agreement that has been satisfactory to both sides. I also thank my opposition colleagues from Ottawa South and Joliette for their assistance and agreement in this matter.
Tomorrow, we will resume and hope to complete debate on Bill C-55, the enhanced new veterans charter that our colleague, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, has introduced. Following Bill C-55, we will move to call Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons).
Next week, we will continue with the business on Friday and, in addition, we will call Bill C-20, the action plan for the National Capital Commission; Bill C-54, the child sexual offences; Bill C-8, the Canada–Jordan free trade agreement; Bill C-12, the democratic representation; Bill C-46, the Canada–Panama free trade agreement; Bill C-57, improving trade within Canada, brought forward by the Minister for Small Business; and Bill C-50, improving access to investigative tools for serious crimes, which is an important bill sponsored by our colleague, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
My friend from Ottawa South and the member for Vancouver East mentioned a solicitation for financial funds on parliamentary letterhead.
Mr. Speaker, as the chair of the Board of Internal Economy, I think it would be wise for you to place this issue before the Board of Internal Economy. There have been several complaints about opposition members soliciting campaign funds on government websites and perhaps the board could discuss that at the same time.
With respect to Bill S-10 and Bill C-49, we continue to make our case to Canadians and are working hard to convince the Liberal Party of the wrong decision it has made on these important piece of legislation. We will call for further debate in due course.
March 1st, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.
Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice
I'm pleased to be here with my colleague, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Status of Women. In addition, I'm pleased to be here with Lisa Hitch, who is a senior counsel with the Department of Justice.
I'm here today to provide information about the recent concrete action taken by the Government of Canada to address the disturbingly high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women. As you know, in last year's Speech from the Throne we recognized this pressing priority.
I was pleased that an additional $10 million was set aside in budget 2010 to address this important issue. On October 29 of last year, my colleague announced a number of concrete actions to support governments, aboriginal groups, law enforcement, and other stakeholders in tackling this issue.
Research conducted by the Native Women's Association of Canada during their five years of funding by the Government of Canada has highlighted the complex and interrelated set of factors that contribute to the high rates of violence facing aboriginal women and girls in Canada today.
The Government of Canada has already taken a number of steps to address some of these underlying factors, from the new federal framework for aboriginal economic development, the commitments as part of Canada's economic action plan to aboriginal skills training and employment, and budget 2010's investment in aboriginal health programs, to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's family violence prevention program and CMHC's shelter enhancement programs on reserves, and many others.
But because this issue is important, involving an all too real tragedy for the women involved, for their families, for their children, and for their communities, the government wanted to consider how best to use the additional $10 million to achieve concrete action.
The concrete steps announced on October 29 of last year include: a new RCMP national police support centre for missing persons that will provide front-line police officers with more comprehensive information on missing persons across jurisdictions; amendments to the Criminal Code in Bill C-50, currently before the House, to improve the efficiency of investigations into serious crimes, including those that involve missing and murdered aboriginal women; support to the development of school- and community-based pilot projects to help provide alternatives to high-risk behaviour for young aboriginal women to reduce their vulnerability to violence; support for the provinces to develop or adapt culturally sensitive victim services for aboriginal people and for families of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and for the response of aboriginal community groups to the unique issues faced by the families at the community level.
They also include: support for the development of community safety plans to improve the safety of aboriginal women within their communities; support for the development of awareness materials on the importance of breaking intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse that threaten aboriginal communities across Canada; and developing a national compendium of promising practices in the areas of law enforcement, victim services, aboriginal community development, and violence reduction to help aboriginal communities and groups improve the safety of aboriginal women across the country.
I am pleased that there has been significant interest in the Department of Justice funds. As was indicated by my colleague, there are approximately 20 projects under way.
Madam Chair, the question of missing and murdered aboriginal women is of great importance not only to the government, but I'm sure to each and every member here. The government is moving forward to respond.
Again, I thank the committee for this opportunity to appear today.
February 17th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.
Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON
I'm asking on Bill C-4, Bill C-5, Bill C-16, Bill C-17, Bill C-21, Bill C-22, Bill C-23B, Bill C-30, Bill C-35, Bill C-37, Bill C-38, Bill C-39, Bill C-43, Bill C-48, Bill C-49, Bill C-50, Bill C-51, Bill C-52, Bill C-53C-54, Bill C-59, Bill SS-6, Bill S-7, Bill S-10.
What are the costs? What are the head counts? What are the implications? Why won't you give them to Parliament?