Debates of Oct. 9th, 1998
House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was extradition.
- Extradition Act
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- International Day For The Elimination Of Poverty
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- The Senate
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- Canada Post
- The Arctic
- Solicitor General Of Canada
- Cree-Naskapi Commission
- Government Response To Petitions
- Committees Of The House
- Business Of The House
- Questions On The Order Paper
- Extradition Act
- Competition Act
The House resumed from October 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-40, an act respecting extradition, to amend the Canada Evidence Act, the Criminal Code, the Immigration Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and to amend and repeal other Acts in consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
October 9th, 1998 / 10 a.m.
Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB
Madam Speaker, I began my presentation yesterday and was interrupted, so I am happy to resume my remarks with respect to the position taken by the NDP caucus on Bill C-40, the changes to the Extradition Act.
As I pointed out yesterday, the NDP caucus has some reservations and concerns about Bill C-40, but in general we support the substance of it. Today I would like to recap some of the concerns and reservations that the NDP has about the bill.
First, we are not fully comfortable that the changes to the rules of evidence will be thorough enough to satisfy our justice critic. Changes as to who may or may not be excluded from testifying is also of some concern. We are concerned, as well, about the lack of clarity with respect to extradition to countries where the death penalty still exists.
This is the primary reservation the NDP caucus has about Bill C-40. We wish the language was much more clear and thorough in dealing with this controversial subject. The Canadian people have stated time and again that they do not believe in the death penalty. They think it is barbaric. They would like to believe that we are farther out of the trees than that. It should be made very, very clear that in the case of extraditing criminals to a country where the death penalty exists, we do not want to be a party to that. The NDP caucus is not entirely comfortable with that wording.
I do not think we even need to review all of the current examples of people who were convicted of serious crimes and who were later found to be innocent. If we lived in a country which had the death penalty, it could be that certain people would have been executed when, given the fullness of time, they would have been found to have been innocent.
We are also very critical of places where this has happened. In the United States a fairly recent example was a man by the name of Caryl Chessman. He was executed in New York state. Later he was found to be fully innocent. He went to the electric chair and he had done absolutely nothing wrong.
Even further along these lines is the fact that duality must be demonstrated. That is, the crime for which we are extraditing a person to another country must also be considered a crime here. That is pretty plain and simple. The crime has to be considered with the same severity in this country as it is in the country we are extraditing someone to.
Should not the same apply to forms of punishment? It is not just the death penalty we are critical of, we are also very critical of countries that use cruel and inhumane punishment as part of their sentencing, whether it is torture, mutilation or anything else.
We do not think that Bill C-40 fully deals with the issue of extraditing someone to a country that deals with theft by cutting people's hands off. We would like that to be a lot more firmly stated.
If the rule is hard and fast about extradition to countries where the death penalty does exist, we are wondering about flexibility. If we have a written agreement with the country with whom we have an extradition treaty that they will not execute the prisoner, would we then feel comfortable in extraditing the prisoner to that country?
I have a specific example along those lines in my own riding where a Canadian citizen has been charged with murder in the United States. The grand jury in the United States took only eight minutes to indict this person, the evidence being so overwhelming that the person was involved.
The argument is that this person should not go to the United States to stand trial because the state of Florida, where this incident took place, has the death penalty.
We now have the opportunity with Bill C-40 to look into these issues so that we will be able to deal with these eventualities as they come up. I will talk more about that case later if time permits.
We know that the existing system is flawed. It is cumbersome. It is time consuming. It is antiquated. It is actually based on two pieces of legislation from the 1800s: the Fugitive Offenders Act of 1882 and the Extradition Act of 1877. It is very obvious that we needed to review how we deal with this kind of thing.
I have a recent letter from the Minister of Justice about the case I was speaking of. Even the Minister of Justice is clear, given the tone and content of this letter, that she believes the process of extradition is slow, tedious and cumbersome. She points out the two stages of extradition in the current system. She says that extradition from Canada involves two phases and this is one of the reasons it gets to be very cumbersome.
In the first phase, which is often referred to as the judicial phase, an extradition judge must determine on the basis of affidavit evidence submitted by the requesting state whether the conduct in the foreign state would constitute an offence in Canada. There is the duality I was talking about earlier.
We first must satisfy ourselves that the conduct this person exhibited in the applicant state would be considered a crime of equal magnitude in this state.
At the judicial phase that has to be satisfied. As well, at that stage the applicant state has to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence. In the case that I was talking about, if the federal grand jury in the United States indicts, clearly there is ample evidence at least that the person should come to justice and stand trial.
The second phase, and this can even be a more lengthy phase of the extradition process, is the executive phase. That is where the Minister of Justice gets involved. The Minister of Justice must decide whether the fugitive should be surrendered to the requesting state in accordance with the relevant extradition treaty. This is where it can really bog down and take many years.
In the closing paragraph of her letter to me the Minister of Justice tried to give some solace or comfort. She pointed out that the process has in fact speeded up dramatically due to changes in 1992 when amendments were made to the extradition legislation. She claimed that this has shortened the extradition appeal process.
The changes that went through in 1992 obviously did not do the job. Six years have gone by since 1992 and the same cases are in fact being drawn out. It is the “justice delayed is justice denied” point of view.
I am the first one to admit that extradition law is a very complex body of law. It involves many players. We are dealing with international politics, we are dealing with criminal law, we are dealing with international law, we are dealing with conflicting laws, the courts, the federal minister of justice and the governor general. It is a soup of interests that are in competition with each other. Frankly, it is a field day for the lawyers who would seek to delay and would use a delay to their benefit.
The existing extradition laws have been exploited by certain individuals. We should never condone or put in place any kind of system where five and seven and even twelve years sometimes is the norm for bringing a criminal to justice, especially if there is evidence to indicate that at the very least the person should stand trial.
Another thing we have to remember, which makes it even more complex, is that the Immigration Act comes into it and often people get the two blurred: deportation and extradition. This again is a further complication at the early end of an application for extradition. Often it is possible for deportation to take place if a foreign person within our borders has done something against our Criminal Code. Obviously that is a matter where the immigration department deports and we do not have to extradite.
I will refer to the case that I was talking about earlier. I have a special interest in extradition which should be of great concern to all here. This is the case of a major in the Canadian air force who was posted to Florida. He was murdered. His name was Major David Threinen and he lived in my riding. David Threinen's mother was in my office recently asking if there was something we could do to get involved, which led me to write to the Minister of Justice.
The fact is that David Threinen's wife, Monique Threinen, and her boyfriend at the time are the people who it is felt murdered David Threinen. The boyfriend has now been convicted of first degree murder and is sitting in a Florida jail. From the very first moment he has said “It wasn't me who struck the final blows, it was Monique Threinen”.
The Canadian government intervened on behalf of Monique Threinen in the state of Florida. A very short time after the death of her husband the Canadian government, the air force, swept her out of the country and returned her to Canada with her two children. They paid her the death benefit, which was something like $100,000, two years' pay. They began immediately paying her the widow's pension. She fled the country and the justice system to hide out in Canada with this windfall of money that the Canadian government paid her and with the $2,000 or $3,000 a month that the government is still paying her. All those involved and all those close to her from her former husband's mother, her former husband's family, to the father of her first child from a different marriage have come forward with statements to the effect that they want Monique Threinen to go back to the United States to stand trial for this murder. No one is trying to prejudge the case. They only want the judicial process to be allowed to follow through its course and for her to go to court and prove her innocence or guilt.
With the windfall of money she received from the Canadian government she hired some of the best lawyers in the province of Manitoba. They are fighting this tooth and nail. They are fighting it with the comfort and confidence that if they use all the tricks at their disposal they can drag this out for three, five or seven years. In the meantime this woman who may be guilty of murder has the advantage of living in relative comfort in Winnipeg, raising her children without allowing her other family members to see them. The grandparents are horrified by this.
This is a clear example why Bill C-40 is attractive to us. Even if we do not think it is perfect, even if we think it is a little flawed, we are eager to see the process speeded up and simplified to where in a dramatic case like this one no one can hide behind the complicated and ponderous steps that must be taken in the current situation of extradition.
We have other examples where it has gone on far too long. I can point out an extradition hearing where the headline was “Activists are hot at Allan Rock over murder extradition”. When that member was the minister of justice an organization was very upset about the case of another person wanted in the State of Florida in a drug dealing murder, Edgar Garcia.
He spent five years in the Don Jail as a guest of the crown fighting his extradition even though there was ample evidence that he should have gone to stand trial in the other country. The real obstacle was that Florida had the death penalty. I am the first one to argue we do not want to send anyone to a country where he or she might wind up convicted guilty and executed, because as a Canadian people we have decided over and over again that is fundamentally wrong.
In this case the State of Florida was willing to say that if that person came back and stood trial it would not go for the death penalty. The state prosecutor in the State of Florida agreed that they would not go after the death penalty. I believe the minister was comforted by that to the point where they co-operated and eventually sent Mr. Garcia to Florida where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
In summary, I am glad to say that the NDP caucus can and will support Bill C-40 with the reservations I outlined earlier. The most glaring concern or reservation is the lack of clarity involved in the extradition of criminals to countries where the death penalty exists or where other types of cruel and inhuman punishment exists.
Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-40 which we will be opposing. The reason is, as the member previously said, that it does not go far enough.
Before I get into some of the details on Bill C-40 I want to talk a bit about my concerns about the government and its legislation dealing with the criminal justice system in itself, which encompasses Bill C-40.
I was dismayed to learn in my riding that there was another attempt to rob the store of a very good friend of mine, Brian Lee who owns Lee's Fine Jewellery. This time it worked. Bandits came into his very fine jewellery store, stuck a gun in the face of one of his employees and walked off with about $100,000 worth of jewellery. To somebody like Brian that is not only devastating but its hurts the store's income. It hurts the confidence of the people in our community.
When I stand here to express my dismay about situations like this one, I go back once again to legislation brought up in the House pertaining to criminal justice. One of them was the gun law. We supposedly have a gun law to do deal with the crime problem. Since the government has brought in the gun law, for instance, at least five people have been murdered by guns in my riding. Brian's store was held up by someone with a gun in hand.
For five years I have stood in the House time after time to talk about criminal justice matters. Time after time the same things recur and recur again.
Here we are on Bill C-40 dealing with extradition and I want to talk a bit about some of the comments in the press release put out by the government in this regard. It says fighting global crime is high on Canada's agenda and Canada needs modern legislation to succeed. I could not agree more with that statement. However, when we look at the legislation tabled in the House we wonder how it fits with the PR exercise the government goes through after it tables something in the House.
In another press release the government said that Canadians have expressed concerns about Canada's extradition laws; they want to prevent their country from becoming a safe haven for fugitives. Yes, we do. I am not a lawyer but I have fought enough criminal refugee and immigration cases in the last five years, in fact more than anybody in the House. These comments do not fit.
The fact of the matter is that this is a safe haven. It has been a safe haven internationally for criminals. It will continue to be a safe haven internationally for criminals. It is not just extradition as the NDP member previously said. It has to do with deportation although there are differences.
The previous member who spoke about deportation indicated that it was a little easier to deport than it was to extradite. I assure the House that is not the case. I have been there and I have been through those battles.
In my riding I have been in and out of refugee hearings and deportation hearings so often that I just shake my head when I go in because I know what I am going to be dealing with. Now I have managed to have four or five people deported from the country. It is a monumental exercise. I do not think the government appreciates what we are dealing with in criminal matters.
Boujam Aai Inthavong, an individual in my riding, helped murder a young man in my community who was 17 years old. He beat him with a bat in front of witnesses. The guy with Inthavong shot him in front of approximately 100 people. Inthavong ended up in prison for three years. While in prison he applied for refugee status and got it inside of 50 minutes. It took me and people in my community a year and half to try to get it overturned. We had to get a ministerial permit. We had to get the minister to declare him a danger to the public. We forced that on him. We went through appeal after appeal after appeal, fight after fight after fight.
We had to open up diplomatic relations with Laos because nobody had ever deported somebody from this country to Laos. After all that was done, almost two years later he was finally deported. The costs involved in that were through legal aid paid for by taxpayers. At one point he had two lawyers fighting me, not a lawyer but just an average citizen, all at public cost.
The government has the unmitigated gall to issue press releases like this one stating that it wants to prevent our country from becoming a safe haven for fugitives. I have news for the government. This country is a safe haven for fugitives and it is this government's fault.
There is little point in trying to impress people by mediocre changes in legislation and then hitting the streets with news releases. It does not wash where the problems are, which is in the communities.
Jose Mendoza, a young man from El Salvador, came to my community. This is not an extradition case but I am trying to explain that extradition and deportation are really quite similar and the problems are the same. Jose could have been extradited because in one of his hearings he said he was wanted in El Salvador. He used that excuse. He had 12 criminal convictions as a young man between the ages of 17 and 22, including what they call today sexual assault but I call rape.
Then, after all of that, he was back out on the streets at age 22 and raped Tasha, a girl in my community. The battle started for Jose. I wanted him out of the country. They agreed and Jose Mendoza agreed. His legal aid lawyer said “If you stay the charges Jose will accept deportation”. Everything is a-okay. Tasha said that at least we were rid of him and he would not remain in Canada.
We shipped him out escorted to El Salvador where he hitch-hiked through Guatemala, Mexico, the United States and showed up at the Douglas border crossing where he said that he was a refugee. They agreed that he was a refugee according to the rules, that he was entitled to make a claim as a refugee, and he was in. After all that he was in, so we started the fight.
We are very close to beating the refugee claim, with no help whatsoever from the government. We can imagine how Tasha felt. The reason we found out that he was back in Canada was that Tasha met him at a gas station about eight months later.
I have to ask sane people listening to these kinds of stories if they really think the government is dealing with these kinds of issues. Do they really think that half-baked legislation on extradition is working? Do they really think that appeal after appeal after appeal under legal aid is helping our system? Do they really think our deportation rules are helping us? I do not.
I got involved in the refugee claim with Jose Mendoza and tried to table his 12 prior convictions including one rape but not including Tasha's. The refugee board says that it does not consider that. What it considers is the effect the deportation will have on this individual if he goes back to El Salvador a second time. I really do not give two hoots about that.
I do care about the law-abiding Canadian citizen. I do care about the 12 prior convictions. That is what I care about and that is what the people in my community care about. But try to convince the group on the other side here and it does not work.
Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE
They are tightening it up.
Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC
This is a bunch of hogwash. This is a haven. They are tightening it up, he says. Let us see how the Liberals are tightening it up.
Rafay and Burns committed murder in 1994. The case will be heard by the supreme court in November. The B.C. Court of Appeal found the minister had to refuse extradition because they faced execution for bludgeoning Rafay's parents to death. And they are fixing it up over there. Fixing it up, the hon. member says.
Pierino and Miachael Divito, Mafia figures, are wanted in the U.S. for conspiracy to import 300 kilos of cocaine. Three hundred kilos, in case there is anyone who does not know, is a lot. It goes to court because of “much harsher drug sentences handed out in the U.S.” “We will go all the way to the supreme court, their lawyer vows”. Is that not nice?
And they say they are fixing it up. Fixing it up. Let us see here.
The leader of the Rock Machine biker gang, a Mr. Cazzetta, wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. He delayed extradition for four years with arguments taken all the way to the supreme court. And they are fixing it up they say.
Michael Gwynne, a fugitive serving a 120-year sentence. Have we ever heard of that in Canada? He was apprehended in 1993. He has argued the case for five years all the way to the supreme court on our money. And they are fixing it up they say.
The Liberals have such a funny way of fixing things up. The problem in the House is that time and time and time again legislation that is supposed to be fixing things up is ineffectual. When it gets down to dealing with these issues in the communities, on the streets with police, law-abiding Canadian citizens say “Who is running that nuthouse in Ottawa anyway”.
There the Liberals are over there reading their notes to see if they can counteract what I am saying.
I do not know what we can do other than to get rid of that motley crew over there and elect a government that maybe will address the issues on the street, maybe will go back to grassroots Canadians and ask them what is really bothering them.
Any one of the members across the way should just once try to fight for their community on a deportation hearing, a bogus refugee claim by a criminal trying to stay in Canada, or an extradition hearing like the ones I just read. Do it at a parole hearing of somebody who should not be out on the streets, a section 745 hearing, the faint hope clause, for a multiple murderer who should not be out on the streets. Do it on a DNA bill which the Liberals suggest is benefiting the country.
With the DNA bill which just went through the House the police will not take DNA samples from currently incarcerated individuals unless they are multiple murderers, multiple sex offenders or dangerous offenders, which is such a small minority of those in prison today. There are approximately 15,000 federal inmates and approximately 15,000 provincial inmates who will not have DNA samples taken. Those are the kinds of legislative problems the government does not understand.
I wish government members could have been there when I was with a friend of mine in my riding not too long ago. She had been sexually assaulted and her store had been robbed by James Armbruster. Before that he had been in Sumas centre. I call it daycare for prisoners; it is called a community correctional centre. There is no DNA attached to this guy. He was in Sumas centre with 63 prior convictions, count them all, 63 prior convictions. He got out and added two more, sexual assault and robbery. And the Liberals say they are dealing with the issues.
We have to be there to understand. We have to get out of these seats in Ottawa, go back home and sit down with victims of violence to understand how they feel, from Brian Lee's jewellery store, to Tasha who was raped by José, to my friend who was raped by Armbruster who had 63 prior convictions. It makes one sick to listen to it.
This bill on extradition is ineffective, as are most of the government's other bills. In my last 50 seconds I am going to try to say something nice. It was nice knowing you but I cannot wait until the next election. These kinds of ineffective bills go through this House with the Liberal majority government. Then those bills go through the Senate and the Liberals' appointed friends and neighbours rubber stamp them. That is not going to wash any longer. The Canadian public is damned sick and tired of it.
Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK
Madam Speaker, does my colleague agree that this bill in its present form will do nothing at all to have a catch-up? There are approximately 18,000 refugees in Canada. This deportation bill will have no effect at all unless there is some screening for people coming into this country the same way there has been in the past. We will be no better off with this bill in place in getting rid of the large number of people claiming refugee status than we were before the passage of this bill.
Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC
Madam Speaker, I have a point of clarification. This bill is about extradition which is removing people with criminal records from the country. It is not mutually exclusive with deportation. One of the things criminals often do is they claim refugee status to avoid extradition and deportation.
The member is absolutely right. This country has a backlog of these cases, it is sad to say. In the last parliament when we had a backlog of these cases, the government said “We have such a backlog, we cannot deal with it so maybe we should put them all on a fast track and bring them in”. Out go the citizenship papers and guess what we are left with.
I would like to think that all the speeches from my colleagues are going to amount to a lot of difference. But in this country where there is a majority government and the Liberals now have their buddies in the Senate, these bills go through. Canadians deserve a lot better than this. They deserve some consideration for laws that work.
I have been involved with a lot of victims rights groups in my short time in this House. Victims and potential victims, honest law-abiding Canadian citizens deserve a lot better than they are getting now.
Charlie Penson Peace River, AB
Madam Speaker, in my riding of Peace River, immigration is one of the main areas I have to work with as an MP.
A lot of people want to come into this country. Canada has been built on immigration and I think will continue to be built on immigration. There are a lot of potential candidates for immigration who would make excellent Canadian citizens.
On the other side, we saw the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration last year let in about 4,500 people on special ministerial permits, fast tracking that whole process. Of those 4,500, something like 1,000 to 1,100 had criminal records including charges of murder and rape in their own country.
Considering that such a terrific amount of people want to come and make Canada their home and would make good citizens, what does my colleague think of the process of having those special ministerial permits? They essentially bypass the process where we should be extraditing those criminals back to their own countries to face charges rather than giving them Canadian citizenship.
An hon. member
I don't think so.
Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC
One of the Liberals said “I don't think so”. That has been the problem. They don't think, so.
My hon. colleague is right. So many good people want to come to Canada, so why are we slipping in those who in effect are risks to our society? I do not have an answer for that. They have criminal records and I think the hon. member opposite would admit that. We know that to be true. It escapes me, quite frankly. Why that attitude? Why can we not select better? Why can we not bring in other people rather than the criminals? Why can we not look at a tougher criteria?
There are many good people out there whom we want in this country and many come in. But the minority few, the approximately 1,100 we talked about here, leave a trail of crime behind them. This is serious. Then once they come in under a visa, they say “Now I am a refugee. If you want to get rid of me, it is really tough to get me out”, which it is. I cannot understand for the life of me why we go through all the expense and time and pain to individuals.
If someone is a drug dealer in another country or if someone raped and pillaged in another country, exactly what do we think they are going to do here? Start teaching school?
Think a bit about this. I have a great problem with the philosophy over there but then again, look at this. Who is listening?
Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON
Madam Speaker, I could not resist the temptation to make a comment about what has been said regarding the permit system. I have been a member of the House of Commons for about 10 years now and I think the immigration system would be in great difficulty, and I hope the members opposite would recognize it, if there were not a permit system available.
It is virtually impossible to design an immigration system that will cover every single facet of family relationships, business relationships and international relationships. There are times when the immigration rules simply do not work and look stupid. That is not because they were designed to be stupid, it is because those rules cannot cover every situation. That is why the permit system is there. It deals with the very rough edges. Every member of parliament in this House has had to deal with stupid rules within the system, not designed to be stupid but they are stupid because of a real life situation that does not fit within the paradigm designed. That is why the permit system is there. That is why it deals with difficult systems.
I would not want to be a member of parliament if there were not a permit system that offered a band-aid or a fix to a very difficult human situation. Members opposite think that is stupid. They think it looks dumb. It would look even dumber if the permit system were not there.
Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC
Madam Speaker, with all due respect to the member, I think he is a little confused.
It is not only the permit system that is the crux of the problem here. Once one comes into this country I would expect there are two relatively basic principles: one obeys the laws and contributes to the welfare of the country. If the laws are not obeyed in this country one of the greatest difficulties is the removal. The removal is part of the problem; appeal after appeal.
There is an abuse of the legal aid system. I think the hon. member is a lawyer. I do not know if he has ever been involved in this but I have. I see abuse of that system every single day I am involved in it with victims. Lawyers abuse it and the individual who should be thrown out of the country abuses it. The member should not shake his head. There is an answer to it. Fix the damn system.
Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-40, an act respecting extradition to amend the Criminal Evidence Act, the Criminal Code, the Immigration Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. It will also amend other consequential pieces of legislation and the amendments may have some ripple effect throughout the country in our justice system.
It is truly an honour and somewhat shocking to be speaking on two substantial justice bills on two consecutive days. This is probably the first time since I have been elected to parliament that we have been debating two justice bills in such close proximity.
I am very hopeful and optimistic that this perhaps signals a change in priorities from this government. I am hoping this is a sign of good things to come. Hope burns eternal in that regard. I also hope that the justice minister is not going to find herself on a flight home this weekend with a Liberal seatmate and chat about justice matters in such an open way as her colleague, the solicitor general.
In more simple and less partisan terms this legislation essentially merges our 100 year old Extradition Act and our Fugitive Act into a new and modern Extradition Act. This is following the lead of other countries and the sensible calls from many in our country.
I share the belief of the parliamentary secretary that the objectives of this bill are positive and even noble. Several events justify the revision and update of our Extradition Act.
Not only is it 100 years old but it does not deal with modern criminality. Modern criminality involves such things as telemarketing fraud and the use of Internet to commit an offence in another jurisdiction.
Sadly we have seen a great rise in this type of criminal activity in Canada of late. These technological realities draw attention to just how outdated this legislation has become.
The present act is not flexible enough to accommodate changes arising from within the globalization of criminal activity such as drug trade, organized and transborder crimes.
Organized crime has reached crisis levels in this country. This under a Liberal government comes according to a very reliable source, mainly the police and security officers who are daily forced to deal with this type of activity.
My hope is that this type of legislation will certainly be a step in the right direction and will certainly help stem this rising tide of criminal activity.
The Extradition Act was last amended in 1991 by the former Progressive Conservative government. Bill C-31 considerably reduced delays in extradition cases and at that time groups within the law enforcement community and security intelligence agencies were already requesting a large overhaul of the entire system.
The former Conservative government also passed the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act which also becomes the subject of this debate today. The Conservative government's legislation, however, enabled Canada to co-operate more effectively with other countries in the investigation and prosecution of transnational and international crimes such as acts of terrorism, drug smuggling and money laundering.
Sadly, as I mention this the U.S. State Department's most recent “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report” listed Canada as one of the most attractive locations for laundering illegal cash.
The Liberal government has let our country fall into this category and it is mentioned in the same breath as Brazil and the Cayman Islands. This is not a glowing reference that comes from our international best trading partner, the United States.
Bill C-40 does propose changes to merge the Extradition Act and the Fugitive Offenders Act and this new act would allow Canada to meet its international obligations since it would allow extradition to international criminal courts and tribunals, including war crimes tribunals. A person would therefore be extradited if the act committed is considered a crime in Canada and in that state.
Requirements for some form of evidence would then become more flexible and this would bring Canada's extradition procedures and practices closer or more in line with those of other countries. It raises the level of co-operation and of course we always have expected a high level of co-operation from our trading partner the United States.
The government hopes it would prevent fugitives from considering Canada as a safe haven and avoiding having to come to grips or to face justice within their own country or within Canada depending on where the crime had been committed. This new act also retains the Progressive Conservative amendment to Bill C-31 to maintain an effective extradition process.
Canadians have continually expressed concerns about our extradition laws and they want to prevent their country from becoming this so-called safe haven for fugitives.
Over the past number of years several high profile cases such as Ng, Kindler, Maersk Dubai , which occurred on the high seas and resulted in arrests in the Port of Halifax, and the Narita airport bombing have caused a raised consciousness of some of the shortcomings of the current legislation.
As well, there have been numerous concerns expressed by our extradition partners at the international level and this again demonstrates the need for reform and modernization of this law.
Indeed I was pleased to add my name to the many Canadians who objected this summer to the scheduled deportation of those involved in the Maersk Dubai as witnesses and crew members. New Brunswick Conservative Senator Erminie Cohen played a key role in soliciting support for those brave men who had the courage to come forward and report to authorities the atrocities that occurred on the high seas. I publicly commend her for her efforts in that regard.
One of the other major concerns with this current legislation is that Canada requires countries requesting extradition of a fugitive to submit their request according to a fairly narrow approach to what is acceptable evidence. This creates real difficulty especially for countries working within a civil law system. They are forced to rely on facts and accept a wider variety in terms of the type of evidence that will be admissible.
Other concerns include that difficulty for Canada to meet its international obligations to the international criminal courts or tribunals as Canada cannot extradite a fugitive to such a body under the present regime.
When extradition legislation was adopted in Canada over 100 years ago many forms of telecommunication we now know did not exist, nor did airplanes. The current legislation is silent on some of these newer types of crimes such as telemarketing fraud, theft of information by computer, use of the Internet to commit an offence in another jurisdiction. It is inflexible in that regard.
The increasing mobility of individuals is a reality that did not exist. This again makes it difficult for effective extradition relations with our international partners and again highlights the critical need for changes in this act.
Following a comprehensive review and consultation with many of our partners, the Extradition Act and the Fugitive Offenders Act required many major changes to reflect these modern procedures and practices. This bill tabled by the Liberal government would provide a single act that exemplifies the extradition process in Canada for our partners who wish to extradite a fugitive from Canada to their country or reciprocally for Canada to bring fugitives back to this country to face justice here.
At the same time this will would also provide enhanced protection and safeguards for persons who are the subject of an extradition request.
It is a well known maxim that we do not take our charter rights outside of Canada. But this does set up certain guidelines that will ensure that Canadian rights are protected both within and outside our country.
This proposed legislation would bring the extradition process into the 20th century and certainly make it more accessible to foreign states, bringing our extradition procedures and practices closer to those of other countries and, more important, prevent Canada from becoming a safe have for fugitives who want to avoid facing the full brunt of the law in countries where they commit crimes.
One aspect of the legislation that is neglectful and where there is a common theme is that of financing. The government passes law apparently without any appreciation of the cost. Most recently we have seen pronouncements from the solicitor general with respect to organized crime. His tough talk on organized crime is resonated throughout the policing community. Yet at the same time we learn from the auditor general that $74 million has been cut from the RCMP organized crime budget for this fiscal year, a very apparent and shocking contradiction.
The Liberal government passed Bill C-68 and will no longer deny that the implementation cost is now in the range of $350 million when the former justice minister told us at the time that the cost would be $85 million. Some estimates place the eventual cost at somewhere in the range of $.5 billion to $1 billion.
So we are now discussing two bills sponsored by the Minister of Justice. Yet there remains a shortfall of over $200 million in the national policing services. Since 1993 CSIS has lost more than 20% of its employees and its operating budget again is in decline. No matter how well intentioned this legislation, how does the government expect its law enforcement agencies to enforce this type of law without adequate resources for front line policing?
But the police soldier on. I have had the pleasure of working with many police in our country, officers like Kevin Scott—
My colleague, as it is 11 o'clock, we will proceed to Statements by Members. The hon. member has about nine minutes left in his speech.
Statements By Members
Albina Guarnieri Mississauga East, ON
Mr. Speaker, for the past year Mississauga East residents have been subjected to intolerable levels of noise from low flying aircraft due to the operation of the new north-south runway.
The aircraft are now flying so low over residential areas and generating so much noise that one child could not hear his father's call to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle. This runway has been anything but a vehicle promoting safety.
The local airport authority, the GTAA, has refused to consider any restrictions on its use which might alleviate the impact on residents until after it settles its dispute over development fees for the city of Mississauga.
I call on the Minister of Transport to amend the operational standards set by his department to restrict the usage of the new north-south runway to only those hours when the volume of flights exceeds the capacity of the existing north-south runway.
This is a measure which is safe, efficient and which—