House of Commons Hansard #210 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was languages.

Topics

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Minister of Justice that the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1978 and that he should use it as an example.

Are we to understand that, despite the very clear decision by the Supreme Court, the government will not change its policy with respect to homosexuals, lesbians and same sex spouses, a policy which, by the fact of doing nothing, denies the rights accorded by the country's justice system to all these Canadians?

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in fairness the member will know that the judgment of the court was released a week ago yesterday. As I mentioned, there are judgments both ways expressing a variety of views with respect to these matters and what flows from them.

The government should do what it is doing. It has reaffirmed its commitment to amend the human rights act. It is also going to look at the implications of the judgment. It is going to consult with caucus and determine the position that we will take on the wide variety of issues that arise on the subject of sexual orientation.

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

June 2nd, 1995 / 11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in dealing with the administration of the justice ministry, the minister insisted yesterday that "when the government goes to the legal profession to hire agents to help us with legal cases, the fundamental criteria is competence and merit".

That being the case, can the justice minister explain to Canadians the appointments recently made in the revenue minister's riding in Victoria. How does the appointment of three firms with little or no experience in drug prosecution and the termination of a firm with 20-years' experience fit his stated criteria of competence and merit?

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in British Columbia, as in the case of all other provinces where legal agents were appointed, suggested names for appointment were sent to the regional offices of the Department of Justice where they were vetted. We asked the regional justice offices whether they were satisfied the persons under consideration were competent for the work that was intended.

In the case of the agents under discussion, as in the case of all others who were appointed, the regional offices expressed their view that the individuals were competent for the work that was intended to be given to those lawyers.

If the hon. member will look at the record of agents appointed across the country he will find that in many cases agents appointed during the last regime are still doing work. Their appointments have been continued by the government because we thought they were appropriate to carry on the work in those cases.

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in news reports from Victoria an experienced undercover officer commenting on the justice department's termination of a firm with 20 years of drug prosecution experience has said:

It is a complete and utter farce. We are losing very experienced and very knowledgeable prosecutors who are used to dealing at all levels of drug enforcement. This is a definite blow to drug enforcement.

Public safety should never be compromised by political patronage. It begs the question: was the justice minister made aware of the very close connections between the revenue minister's political interests and the appointed firms?

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that public safety should not be compromised on any basis. I insist that in this case it was not.

The agents who were appointed are competent for the task for which they have been retained. As to the comments of the police officers, I know only what I have read in the press and what has been quoted by the hon. member.

I can say that any concerns anyone in the administration of justice system has about the quality of any of our agents can be communicated to the regional office and their comments will be considered; but we are satisfied that the agents we have in place are competent to carry out work on behalf of the people of Canada.

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, three times this year the Minister of Justice was unable to explain why individuals and businesses in Quebec receive only 5 per cent of the value of professional and special services contracts awarded by his department and has even expressed some doubt about this percentage. However, his own officials confirm our allegations.

After studying this matter for three months, can the Minister of Justice explain to us why his department awards 15 times more contracts to residents of his province, Ontario, than it does to residents of Quebec?

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a subject that two of his colleagues raised on earlier occasions.

I have a draft response on my desk to which I should have got this week but did not. I will see the written response is in the hands of the hon. members who asked the questions next week. It will furnish a detailed response to the questions that have been raised on this subject.

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the minister has been studying this matter for three months but has yet to give us an answer. The Minister of Justice has also said in this House that he did not believe that 98 per cent of professional and special services contracts are drafted in English. But, once again, his officials say the opposite.

Is the Minister of Justice still of the opinion that the fact that research contracts awarded by his department are drafted in English only accurately reflects the reality of bilingualism within his department?

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has the right to expect a detailed and factual response to these questions. Both the hon. member and his colleagues have asked specific questions about the number and percentage of contracts that have been awarded and the use of language in specific work done for the department.

My officials have prepared a response which I have in draft form on my desk. I shall get that response on these points to the hon. member and his colleagues within the week.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, every Canadian knows full well the story of 15-year old Tara Manning from Quebec and how she was sexually assaulted and stabbed 47 times.

Every Canadian's heart goes out to her family and is outraged that a killer may go free if a court upholds the claim that the killer's rights were infringed by a judged granting a warrant for a DNA search.

Since the minister knows full well that in order for the perpetrator of the crime to be held accountable legislation must clear the House before the summer break allowing a judge to grant a DNA search, will the minister immediately bring the legislation before the House?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am very aware of the case. I met with Mr. Manning, the father of the victim, and with his parents. I was very much affected by the sadness of the tragedy, particularly for the family.

I am not going to discuss the Manning case because it is pending in the courts. However I will respond on the subject of DNA testing and I will say that the government has said it would introduce changes to the Criminal Code to provide a further basis upon which authorities could take samples for DNA testing for prosecution purposes.

I should point out to the hon. member that there are provisions in the code at present which are being used for that purpose. Nothing I say is intended to suggest that those are insufficient for that purpose at this time.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians continually hear the government and the minister state that they will change legislation to enhance public safety. It has been 19 months and I have not seen it yet.

Canadians should have confidence in the justice system. We are waiting for the drunkenness defence bill. Now we are waiting and waiting for this legislation, which will definitely serve a purpose in the country and solve the problems.

How could the minister dare speak of justice when he completely abandoned the most basic concept of humanity, that when a person is murdered society must punish the murderer?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member

to be fair to the facts. Bill C-72 with respect to the drunkenness defence is before the House. Indeed it is at committee.

The hon. member took a very active role in the consideration of Bill C-37, which was improved because of his work on committee dealing with amendments to the Young Offenders Act. That bill is now in the Senate. The hon. member participated in committee work with respect to Bill C-41, which is intended to strengthen the sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code.

However, on the point the hon. member raises, I can tell the hon. member as I have in the past that we will introduce legislation to amend the Criminal Code to broaden the basis upon which DNA samples can be obtained.

I emphasize to the hon. member that there are provisions-

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

When?