House of Commons Hansard #160 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organized.

Topics

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have another motion to move, if the House is so predisposed:

That on Friday, April 25, 1997, until members return from a ceremony granting the royal assent to a bill or bills, the House shall not adjourn for any reason except pursuant to a motion by a minister of the crown provided that, if no such ceremony has occurred by the ordinary time of adjournment, the sitting shall be suspended to the call of the Chair which may come for the sole purpose of attending such a ceremony, after which the House shall be adjourned to the next sitting day.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Does the parliamentary secretary have unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

There is no consent.

Information Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in accordance with subsection 54(3) of the act to extend the present laws of Canada that provide access to information under the control of the Government of Canada, Chapter A-1, of the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985, this House approve the reappointment of John Grace as Information Commissioner, to hold office until December 31, 1997.

Information Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

April 21st, 1997 / 4:55 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is prepared to accept the motion of the parliamentary secretary on the basis that the Information Commissioner is approved not only by the House of Commons but by the Senate. That process being in place is a good precedent for other persons appointed by government into a variety of positions.

Mr. Grace was appointed on July 2, 1990 and his term will expire on July 1, 1997. Certainly it would be of benefit to extend it to the end of the year.

In principle the other 2,000 appointments that are often considered as patronage appointments by government should receive some kind of scrutiny just like this appointment. That certainly would make for a better understanding by the general public and would most likely bring forward a better quality of person.

John Grace, the current Information Commissioner, has been extremely fair and diligent and has served Canadians well. We are prepared to move and support the extension of his term for six months.

Information Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Does the parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Information Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Information Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Information Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank all the members of this House, my colleagues from all parties, for agreeing to pass this bill today. The Reform Party, the Bloc Quebecois, all the parties have co-operated in allowing the government to pass this bill today.

It is a reflection of the importance all members of the House place on the effort to give police forces the important tools they need in combating organized crime.

The House has joined together today to clear the way for the adoption of legislation which I believe and contend is both valid and effective in helping the police achieve the objectives we all share.

Finally, we believe that all our proposals will help the police achieve their goal, which is to stop criminals.

We believe that these proposals to fight organized crime will help police put out of business those whose business is committing crime in this country.

We have proposed a new approach to fighting gang activity by criminalizing participation in a criminal organization and adding to the Criminal Code a new definition of criminal organization offence. But this new offence does not outlaw membership in a criminal organization. In fact, combined with the new definition, it provides the basis for the implementation of new investigative procedures and Criminal Code provisions.

We propose this new approach to fighting gang activity by creating the offence of participation in a criminal organization; not criminalizing mere membership, but rather creating a new framework by establishing a new category of crime, allowing police access in that category to exceptional methods of detection and investigation, providing for tougher penalties and sending the message that we are devoting specific efforts to battling organized crime.

We have proposed giving the police new powers to seize the proceeds of crime in relation to a criminal organization offence and, with prior judicial authorization, have access to tax information regarding the activities of criminal organizations.

We are adding to the Criminal Code new offences and new sentences regarding the use of explosives as part of a criminal organization's activities.

We are adding to the Criminal Code new sentencing provisions, especially with respect to parole eligibility as relates to certain criminal organization offences.

We will allow measures to be taken in support of police surveillance of gang activities.

Concerning criminal organization leaders, a new power is being given to sentencing tribunals to preserve peace by preventing them from engaging in their illicit activities.

To us, this is a first step in the right direction, and more will have to be done to put organized crime out of business and put an end to gang activities.

I want to emphasize that, although the pace has picked up these past four weeks at Justice Canada, these proposals were in fact nearly two years in the making. During this past year, the Solicitor General of Canada and myself had discussions with the police community and held a national forum on organized crime eight months ago. These proposals are the result of this thorough and systematic review.

I also want to say that, even though biker wars have been raging primarily in Quebec, this phenomenon is also a problem in other regions of the country. According to the RCMP, biker gangs are active everywhere in Canada.

I had long discussions with police chiefs from various Canadian cities, with officials from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and with my colleagues, the provincial attorney generals. In my opinion, the proposals in Bill C-95 are an initial commitment to fight organized crime across the country, and not only in Quebec.

In my conversations with chiefs of police and attorneys general throughout the country in this past period and particularly while we have been drafting and preparing Bill C-95, I have been impressed at the unanimity among law enforcement officials throughout Canada about the need for specific legislation to deal with organized crime.

I spoke with the president of the Canadian Police Association who urged me to deal with this as a national issue requiring a national solution. I spoke with the chief of police in Vancouver who told me that there are motorcycle gangs active on the criminal side in that city. I spoke with the chiefs of police in Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto, and to a person they have urged us to proceed with this legislation so that they may have these tools available to confront issues that arise in their own communities.

I have spoken with the mayor of Vancouver. I have spoken with the mayor of Winnipeg. I have spoken with the attorney general of British Columbia, the attorney general of Manitoba, the attorney general and the solicitor general of Ontario to discuss these measures with them. In each case I have found only enthusiastic encouragement for us to pursue this course.

This is not an issue that exists only in one province. Organized crime is a scourge that afflicts this country from coast to coast to coast. We must through legislative means as well as by all other means available see that we treat it with the seriousness that it merits.

Of course, improving the legislation is only one weapon in the arsenal that we must deploy to fight violence associated with criminal organizations and organized crime. All the provinces have a major role to play, since the Constitution provides that the administration of justice comes under their jurisdiction. The provinces must allocate adequate resources, so that police officers can do their job, and so that, when people are arrested, they are prosecuted by specialized crown prosecutors expressly mandated for that purpose.

At the federal level, there is a need to co-ordinate the fight led by police forces across the country. Organized crime is a national concern which requires national measures. That is why the solicitor general agreed to table in Parliament an annual progress report on the fight against organized crime, and on the situation across the country. The solicitor general also announced that he will set up a national committee and five regional co-ordination committees to address police concerns regarding the need to co-ordinate measures to enforce the act.

I must say that I am very much indebted to those who consulted and worked with us in the preparation of this legislation. I am speaking first of all about those mayors of municipalities in Quebec who met with me.

In the past three weeks, I met with the mayors of Quebec to listen to their concerns, discuss various approaches, and assure them that the federal government intends to take action.

I also met with Quebec's chiefs of police, who worked with us to identify concrete and efficient measures, which we included in Bill C-95. I also want to mention the Barreau du Québec, which co-operated with us by reviewing our bill and expressing its

concerns about certain clauses. We listened and we sometimes changed our approach in order to deal with these concerns.

I also want to thank officials from the Société des avocats de la défense de Montréal and, finally, my Quebec counterparts, Paul Bégin and Robert Perreault, the Minister of Public Security.

I truly enjoyed co-operating with the Quebec ministers and their officials. We worked constructively and we welcomed ideas and proposals. We accepted a number of them, but it was not possible to include every suggestion made by Mr. Bégin. However, the various levels of government worked together to make sure we have legislation that will help police forces do their work.

As I said earlier, the province has a responsibility to make sure adequate resources are provided to police officers and to crown prosecutors.

I have also to thank the Canadian Bar Association, representatives of the Criminal Lawyers' Association and representatives of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association who worked with us in our preparation of this legislation.

I do not pretend for a moment that we have addressed all the concerns that they have expressed. I know there are many among the groups that I have mentioned who have concerns about some of the aspects of this legislation. They were good enough to give us their commentary and to react to some of the proposals that we were considering. Because of their commentary and their reactions, our reference has to that extent been enriched. I am grateful to them for the time they took in that consultation.

I commend to the House this legislation which the government believes will improve the criminal law of Canada, will give the police the tools they need to fight a particular, a specific and a most difficult scourge, that is organized crime. Difficult to investigate, tough to prosecute, but one of the greatest challenges we face in the criminal justice system is to take on organized crime in a serious minded way. This legislation represents a good first start in that regard. I commend it to the House, expressing all the while my gratitude to colleagues for collaborating with the government in this effort.