Debates of May 12th, 2000
House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was dna.
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National Defence Act
Elinor Caplan for the Solicitor General of Canada
moved that Bill S-10, an act to amend the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the criminal code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
National Defence Act
John Maloney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House today on second reading of Bill S-10, an act to amend the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the criminal code.
The bill follows up on an earlier piece of legislation, the DNA Identification Act, which received royal assent in December 1998. That act provides for the creation of a national DNA databank which will contain DNA profiles of convicted offenders and unsolved crime scenes.
As members of the House will recall, parliament endorsed a post-conviction scheme for the databank because it will ensure that all charter requirements are met. Bill S-10 does not change this important feature or the other key elements of the DNA Identification Act. It does fine-tune the legislation to create a more comprehensive and effective national DNA databank.
Bill S-10 also proposes some practical changes to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the databank. The data bank is scheduled to be up and running by the end of June this year.
We therefore urge hon. members of the House to give Bill S-10 prompt consideration so that we can move quickly to introducing this powerful investigative tool to improve public safety for all Canadians.
I want to share with members how Bill S-10 was developed, how it will work, its benefits and how the bill was improved as a result of its passage through the Senate.
The bill addresses a number of proposals that were recommended by the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when it reviewed the original databank legislation. At that time the Senate committee proposed ways to better protect privacy interests and promote the databank's operations in an open and accountable manner.
Bill S-10 amends the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act to include the national DNA bank profiles from offenders who are subject to the military's code of service discipline and who are convicted of serious and violent offences. This amendment will ensure that we have a more complete databank that is not limited to civilian offenders.
For the purposes of the National Defence Act, a designated offence includes all the current criminal code designated offences as well as those service offences that are similar in nature to the criminal code offences.
Military judges will be authorized to impose databank orders on persons subject to the code of service discipline after they are convicted of a designated offence. The DNA profiles obtained from these offenders will then be entered into the databank's convicted offenders index.
The National Defence Act is also being amended to authorize military judges to issue DNA warrants for military police investigations of designated offences committed within or outside Canada by someone who is subject to the code of service discipline. This will assist military police in conducting more efficient and effective police investigations.
I want to emphasize that the proposed amendments to the National Defence Act mirror the current provisions in the criminal code. They include the same constitutional and privacy safeguards.
To enable parliament to monitor the ongoing operation of the databank, Bill S-10 includes new accountability measures. The RCMP commissioner will have to submit an annual report on the operations of the national DNA databank to the solicitor general. The solicitor general will then report to both Houses of parliament. Through this report, parliament will regularly receive valuable information about the databank's operations and will be able to assess whether it is meeting its intended objectives.
The parliamentary review provision in the DNA Identification Act has also been amended to give a Senate committee the same authority as a House of Commons committee to independently review the act.
The statement of principles in the DNA Identification Act is also being expanded to clarify that bodily samples and the resulting DNA profiles can only be used for law enforcement purposes. Bill S-10 makes it clear that such misuse is prohibited.
To ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the data bank, Bill S-10 also makes some practical changes to the criminal code. These changes were identified during recent consultations with the provinces and territories in planning for implementation of the databank.
Federal and provincial heads of prosecution noted that the current law is unclear as to when a court does not have to make a databank order. Therefore, the criminal code is being clarified. Bill S-10 will require that the only time the court is not required to make a databank order is if the prosecutor advises that the person's DNA profile is already in the data bank.
To deal with offenders who may be transferred out of a province before a databank order can be executed, provincial court judges will be able to endorse an order that was granted in another province.
Two criminal code provisions that have not yet been proclaimed are also being repealed. These provisions would require a peace officer to inform a person specified in a DNA warrant or data bank order that he or she may express a preference on what type of DNA sample to give, and for the peace officer to take that preference into account.
These provisions could cause uncertainty when a person's preference conflicts with a judge's discretion in the the DNA warrant or order. Uncertainty cannot be allowed to enter into this important process. Giving a person a choice on what type of sample to provide is also unnecessary in law.
The criminal code provision allowing a person to consent to the use of his or her existing DNA results for the databank is also being repealed. This is because Canadian forensic labs do not support sending to the databank bodily substances or DNA profiles obtained from the criminal investigations. Re-using an old DNA profile is not feasible because there is no way of verifying whether it actually belongs to the person specified in the databank order.
Bill S-10 contains another important change to the criminal code and the National Defence Act to promote the accuracy and integrity of the national DNA databank. Peace officers, or persons acting under their direction, will be required to take fingerprints at the same time that DNA samples are collected for the databank. This will enable the police to verify the identity of the person specified in the DNA databank order.
By comparing the person's fingerprints with those contained in the RCMP's automated fingerprint identification system, the police will know whether they are taking a sample from the right person. Fingerprints are also useful in verifying the identity of a person when a match occurs in the databank. Not only will this measure enhance the reliability of the databank but it will also protect a person who has the same name as an offender specified in the databank order. To ensure the complete privacy of fingerprints, the bill makes it clear that they may only be taken for databank purposes.
As a result of the improvements proposed in Bill S-10, Canada will have a more complete and effective databank that will better protect the public from repeat violent offenders. The legislation includes practical changes to ensure that the data bank can be successfully implemented and that parliament can oversee its operations over time.
All provinces and territories, the police, victims and the public are looking forward to the databank's timely implementation. It will be an important milestone and a long awaited tool to improve public safety.
I would therefore urge the hon. members of the House to support Bill S-10 so that we may proceed quickly in ensuring that its proposals are passed by the time the databank is implemented.
National Defence Act
Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC
Mr. Speaker, I will try to slow down. I think I see some smoke coming out of the translator's booth.
The opportunity to speak to this Senate bill, Bill S-10, an act to amend the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the Criminal Code, puts me in a bit of a quandary.
On one hand, I do not agree that we should be dealing with legislation that comes from the unelected and unaccountable other place. On the other hand, I have to agree with much of the intent of the legislation. It illustrates once again how the government has failed to do its job properly.
Just a couple of years ago we dealt with DNA legislation. In fact this is at least the third time we have dealt with DNA legislation in the past five years. I suppose the government was embarrassed about its previous failures to adequately address all that was necessary. That may explain why it brought Bill S-10 through the back door, so to speak, through the Senate once again instead of through the House of Commons. Surely the government will get it right one of these days.
In the meantime, while Canadians want legislation to address failings in our youth justice system, while Canadians are dying through failures in our health system through lack of funding and through the lack of a plan to address the failings of our national health program, and while victims of crime continue to wait for legislation from the solicitor general, we are forced to once again spend time in this place dealing with DNA.
Do not get me wrong. I believe DNA technology is one of the greatest tools for law enforcement and our justice system. All I am saying is that it is unfortunate that we have to take three or four kicks at the can just on DNA legislation when there are so many other issues of importance to our citizens. It is a travesty that the government wastes time and money trying again and again to get something right.
I remember the last time we discussed DNA legislation. When we were dealing with Bill C-3 just two years ago, the government played politics instead of sufficiently supporting our police officers.
When our police are asking for tools to help them solve hundreds of unsolved murders and rapes, the government goes only halfway. The government is more concerned with inconveniencing our criminals than it is with protecting our communities and ensuring that our more dangerous predators are removed from the streets.
Perhaps after a number of our incarcerated criminals succeed in getting back onto the streets, only to recommit additional crimes, will we then be able to obtain their DNA samples to help the police with past unsolved serious crimes. Maybe then we will once again be back in here dealing with yet another attempt to properly legislate on this issue of DNA and the DNA databank once and for all.
Bill S-10 amends the National Defence Act to authorize military judges to issue DNA warrants to assist in investigations of National Defence personnel. The bill also authorizes military judges to order military offenders convicted of a limited number of offences to provide samples of bodily substances for the purpose of the DNA databank. Essentially all this legislation is doing is including similar provisions for the national defence justice system that we provided under the criminal code through Bill C-104 in 1995 and Bill C-3 in 1998. As a side note, hon. members will also be aware that Bill C-3 was a prime example of just how little the government really considers its law enforcement officers and its citizens.
Bill C-3 was passed in September 1998 to set up the DNA databank so that evidence left at crime scenes for very limited types of offences could be compared to the DNA samples taken from some of our more dangerous criminals. I say some of our more dangerous criminals because the government decided to severely limit just who had to provide samples of saliva or blood.
For example, individuals who have only been convicted of one murder do not have to provide a DNA sample. Furthermore, Canadian citizens will be surprised to know that such a valuable and highly effective justice tool is not even in force yet. As I say, it was passed in September 1998. It will not be in effect until next month.
The RCMP have been quoted as saying:
—it's the single most important tool added to crime-fighting since discovery of fingerprint identification.
It has taken over a year and a half to come into being. Typically there are indications that it may take our correctional service another couple of years to fulfil its responsibilities under the legislation and to provide samples of those offenders presently incarcerated or serving sentences within the community. Should Bill S-10 pass this place I can only wonder how far down the road it will take before it too is actually in effect.
As I have previously stated in debate, it is most unfortunate that our DNA databank legislation is not much broader to include most, if not all, indictable offences. We all know that the vast majority of our more dangerous criminals start their life of crime with the lesser offences and move up to the more heinous criminal activity. Once a criminal commits an indictable offence that criminal should be included within the databank so that he will show up should he ever leave DNA evidence at the scene of a subsequent crime. The government seems to think that it should be a game between the criminal and our law enforcement personnel.
I keep hearing about the government's concern for balanced legislation. Seeing its legislation and seeing its political endeavours, I often wonder whether part of its aim toward balance is ensuring that our criminals have a fair chance against getting caught and receiving punishment for their crimes. It is often more concerned for the interest of the criminals than it is for the safety of our citizens and the efforts of our police officers.
Before the listener gets the impression that this DNA databank and DNA warrant process will only bring our criminals to justice, I should point out that it is most important to also prove the innocence of some accused. We are all familiar with how DNA evidence was used to exonerate Guy Paul Morin and David Milgaard. They provided bodily samples to prove that the evidence left at the scene of the crimes did not match their DNA, so this whole DNA revolution is probably more important or at least just as important to prove innocence as to prove guilt of an individual.
I have not said much about Bill S-10 specifically. As I have said, it brings to the military what we have done for our primary criminal justice process. It only makes sense that our military system operates on the same footing. Yes, it is an inadequate footing overall but at least it is a start.
I will be supporting the legislation. It is my hope that it will not take as long to come into force. For some reason the government does not seem to realize the importance of each day it delays the implementation of legislation such as this. It may result in another day that victims have to live with not knowing who was responsible for the crime. It may result in another day that an individual is falsely accused of a crime. It may result in a day that a criminal gets away with a crime, to say nothing of the added expense to the taxpayer of added investigation by our police and additional legal argument within our courts as both the innocent and the guilty make their appeals.
To sum up, DNA is a valuable tool to separate the guilty from the innocent. It will greatly assist the police. It will provide greater certainty to our justice system. It will protect our citizens. Some of us may question the necessity to separate our justice system from our military in this time of peace, but it only makes sense that we provide a similar regime for that process for the same reasons we have provided it within the civil justice system.
National Defence Act
René Laurin Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, despite the terrible way I sound this morning, I would like to be able to give you my message to the end. I am counting on the co-operation and indulgence of yourself as well as my colleagues so that I may manage to do so properly.
Bill S-10, with which we are dealing today, addresses a most interesting and timely subject, DNA evidence.
DNA is located in the nucleus of human cells and contains each human being's genetic code. In fact, each of us has a personal genetic code, with the exception of identical twins. A person's DNA yields his or her genetic fingerprint. For law enforcement officers and lawyers, the advancement of science in the area of genetics is an indispensable tool for solving crimes, that is for finding the guilty parties and clearing innocent ones.
Before addressing the main thrust of Bill S-10, an act to amend the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the criminal code, I would like to provide a brief overview of Canadian legislation as it applies to the sampling of bodily substances.
Before 1995, the criminal code included no provisions allowing bodily substances to be sampled for genetic analysis on individuals suspected of a crime. Police officers did, nevertheless, collect bodily substances for genetic analysis purposes on accused individuals. This practice was challenged before the courts under the provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
The decision in Borden by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1994 is an example of this. In this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada clearly says that the taking of bodily substances constitutes a search and seizure. Unless permitted under the law or unless the accused validly agrees to it, it is to be considered abuse. In this instance, hair and blood samples were taken from an accused in connection with an offence involving sexual assault. Since no legislative provision authorized this seizure and the agreement of the accused had not been obtained validly, the supreme court declared the seizure illegal.
This decision moved parliament to legislate in this area in order to respond to the constitutional requirements set by the Supreme Court of Canada. At the time, Bill C-104 added a section entitled Forensic DNA Analysis to the criminal code. These provisions have established the conditions and procedure to be followed for obtaining a warrant to entitle a Canadian peace officer to collect bodily substances for forensic analysis purposes from individuals suspected of having committed certain serious offences.
In 1997 the government decided to go further in the area of collecting bodily substances by introducing Bill C-3. The bill was passed by the House of Commons on September 19, 1998 and the new provisions contained in it are to come into effect in June 2000.
In the future, in addition to the taking of bodily substances when an individual is suspected of a crime, samples of bodily substances may be obtained from people already found guilty of designated offences in order to include them in the DNA data bank.
Indeed, Bill C-3, the DNA Identification Act, created a national DNA data bank administered by the RCMP. That bank will include a crime index containing genetic information collected at the scene of a crime.
It will also include an index containing the genetic identification profiles of adults and teenagers convicted of specific offences under the criminal code. This will help police compare DNA information found at a crime scene with the profiles of suspects and convicted offenders, the objective being to find the guilty party as quickly as possible, with the smallest possible margin for error.
Offences for which the taking of a sample may be authorized are called designated offences in the act. These offences are included in the criminal code and they are classified in the act as primary designated offences or secondary designated offences.
For example, for the purpose of the taking of a sample, murder, manslaughter and sexual assault are primary designated offences, while piracy, assault and dangerous driving are secondary designated offences.
When this bill comes into effect, the justice system will have an effective tool to solve crimes. Only one group had been left out in the previous legislation, namely the military.
Bill S-10, which is before us today, complements the legislation on the taking and the storing of DNA data. There were no reasons to exclude military personnel from the system established for civilians, and this is why the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill S-10.
I will now comment on the main amendments to Bill S-10. Bill S-10 essentially adds to the National Defence Act provisions that will authorize a military judge to issue a warrant authorizing the collection of bodily substances for DNA testing on military personnel who are suspected of having committed a designated offence, or who have been found guilty of such an offence.
First, the classification of offences for which a sample may be authorized is the same as in Bill C-3. It was quite rightly decided to include in this list certain offences specific to the military and covered under the National Defence Act, such as mutiny with violence, endangering a person on an aircraft, and negligence in the handling of dangerous substances.
A military judge may now issue a warrant authorizing the taking of a sample in a case where a member of the military is suspected of having committed a designated offence. The military judge will issue the warrant if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a designated offence has been committed and that a bodily substance has been found at the place where the offence was committed or on the body of the victim.
The results of forensic DNA analysis can be destroyed if the sample of the bodily substance taken does not match that obtained at the place where the offence was committed, if the person is acquitted of the offence, or if the charge is withdrawn.
In addition, when a member of the military is found guilty of a designated offence, the court martial may make an order for the taking of a sample in order to include the accused's DNA profile in the DNA data bank.
The distinction between primary and secondary offences is relevant here because it determines whether the taking of a sample will be ordered. When a member of the military is found guilty of a primary offence, the court martial must order the taking of a bodily substance sample. However, if he is found guilty of a secondary offence, the court martial is not required to make such an order.
In the latter case, a series of guidelines are given to assist the court martial in deciding whether or not to order a sample. The court martial must take into account the impact taking a sample would have on the privacy and security of the person. It can also take into consideration any previous convictions as well as the nature and circumstances under which the offence was committed.
Bill S-10 also contains the provision that, when samples of bodily substances are ordered, they shall be taken as soon as possible, even if there is an appeal. Results of the DNA analysis of bodily substances taken when a member of the Armed Forces is convicted of an office are transmitted to the Commissioner of the RCMP for entry in the convicted offenders index of the national DNA data bank.
Any portions of samples of bodily substances that are not used in forensic DNA analysis are also transmitted to the Commissioner.
Finally, I believe it is worth pointing out that the bodily substances which can be sampled are hair, saliva and blood. The foregoing were the main points of the new provisions to be added to the National Defence Act by Bill S-10 in order to allow the sampling of bodily substances for purposes of DNA analysis.
Bill S-10 goes still further, by also amending the Genetic Identification Act and the Criminal Code. I will therefore present the amendments to the act proposed by Bill S-10.
First of all, there is provision for the DNA profiles, as well as samples of bodily substances from which the profiles are derived, to be used only for law enforcement purposes in accordance with this Act, and not for any unauthorized purpose.
This addition provides additional protection to those who have had samples of bodily substances taken. In fact, these substances may in no case be used to develop a psychological profile or for medical research purposes. The DNA Identification Act will help solve crimes, convict the guilty and avoid legal errors.
We must remember however that every person has the right to privacy and must be assured that DNA information gathered will not be used for experimentation. The law provides penalties for those failing to meet these objectives.
Bill S-10 adds to the DNA Identification Act the requirement that the Commissioner of the RCMP responsible for administering the data bank report to the Solicitor General annually on the national DNA data bank.
Provision has already been made for a committee of the Senate or the House of Commons or a joint committee to examine the application of the law in the five years following its coming into effect. This is why this amendment does not seem crucial to me.
However, in the light of the financial problems the RCMP seems to be facing these days, this requirement may draw the attention of parliamentarians to the problems of implementing the law more quickly and, therefore, resolve them right away.
However, Bill S-10 also amends certain provisions of the Criminal Code concerning the collection of bodily substances. It involves permitting an order for sampling obtained following conviction to be executed in another province.
Let us take the example of an individual who is convicted and sentenced in Quebec of an offence for which the law permits a sample to be taken. The Quebec judge hands down a sentence and orders the taking of a blood sample, to include the DNA profile of the individual in the DNA data bank.
Under the new provision proposed in Bill S-10, if the individual is transferred to a penitentiary located in Ontario before the sample is collected, an Ontario judge can confirm the order issued in Quebec, thus making it possible to collect the sample in Ontario.
In other words, it would not be necessary for an Ontario judge to receive a new application and to issue a new order. This will help avoid having multiple and useless proceedings, thus allowing those who work in criminal law to save money and time.
The second change concerns a criminal code provision allowing the crown prosecutor to obtain the authorization to collect samples for a designated offence under the act on young offenders who are already serving a sentence when the act comes into effect.
These are ex parte applications, which means they are submitted without the offender being present. Under the current act, these applications must be accompanied by a certificate attesting that the offender is indeed serving a sentence for a designated offence, and a notice must be sent to the offender to inform him that the crown will submit the certificate. Since this is an ex parte application, the notice of filing is not necessary and Bill S-10 removes that obligation, which, in my opinion, is something quite acceptable.
A third amendment concerns a section in the criminal code dealing with the execution of the warrant. This section lists the formalities to be observed by a peace officer taking a sample of a bodily substance. One paragraph in this section requires the peace officer taking the sample to inform the offender that he or she may express a preference as to the substance to be sampled.
This requirement, if maintained, would place the peace officer taking the sample in a dilemma. If the judge ordered a sample of hair and the offender preferred to give a blood sample, the peace officer would be unable to enforce the judge's order. Bill S-10 repeals this requirement. I am sure this will avoid many impossible situations.
Under the fourth amendment, a peace officer taking a sample of a bodily substance in accordance with a court order may take fingerprints from the person at the same time. This is not stipulated in the legislation.
The purpose is to allow a comparison with fingerprints already taken at the time of arrest and to ensure solid identification of the offender. I am not convinced of the usefulness of such a procedure. It seems to me to hamper the process, when the fingerprints are already available, when the RCMP is overburdened and unable to keep up. Would this be another sign of a lack of communication between the various departments? Time will tell.
Finally, according to the present criminal code, the court does not have to issue a sampling order when this is not required for application of the law. This was unclear, and has been replaced in Bill S-10 by unequivocally stating that an order shall not be made if the national DNA data bank already contains a DNA profile of the person.
These then are the main changes to the DNA Identification Act and the criminal code by Bill S-10. I would like to close by reminding hon. members that the use of DNA has had spectacular effects on the lives of certain individuals.
We might refer to the case of David Milgaard, who spend 23 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. In 1997, he was fully exonerated through DNA testing. The tests made it possible to charge a certain Larry Fisher, a repeat sex offender.
Then there was the high-profile case of Guy-Paul Morin, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992 for a murder that he had not committed. Once again, DNA evidence came to the rescue and provided proof that he was not the murderer.
Undeniably, the use of DNA evidence can virtually work miracles. One cannot help but agree with the results. The sampling of bodily substances for forensic purposes, however, also raises some concerns. Some people fear that holding substances taken from individuals may result in the unjust marginalization and abuse of certain individuals. The profiles must absolutely not be used for such purposes.
This is why it is imperative for vigilance to be maintained in connection with this technology, which is invasive to say the least, and has the potential to allow countless information on an individual to be obtained.
Overall the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill S-10, with some reservations. It is pleased with the provision offering additional protection against the use of profiles obtained for purposes other than those allowed by the law.
National Defence Act
Gordon Earle Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to a bill that is very important for the concept of justice in our nation.
As has been said by other members of the House, I am very disappointed that the bill emanates from the other place and that the government has not seen fit to bring forth this legislation and move it forward through the proper channels, which would be through the House of Commons, so that the bill on this very important topic would originate here. At the same time, I commend the hon. senators of the other place who put their time and effort into working on this very important issue.
This enactment, as has been indicated, would amend the National Defence Act to authorize military judges to issue DNA warrants in the investigation of designated offences committed by a person who is subject to the code of service discipline. It also authorizes military judges to order military offenders convicted of a designated offence to provide samples of bodily substances for the purposes of the national DNA data bank. These authorities are similar to those that may be exercised by a provincial court judge under the criminal code.
This enactment would make related amendments to the DNA Identification Act and the criminal code. The DNA Identification Act amendments would allow bodily substances and the DNA profiles derived from them, which are taken as a result of an order or authorization by a military judge, to be included in the national DNA data bank.
The criminal code amendments extend the prohibition against unauthorized use of bodily substances and the results of forensic DNA analysis to include those obtained under the National Defence Act. In this bill there are other amendments to the criminal code which clarify and strengthen the existing regime concerning the taking of bodily substances for the purposes of forensic DNA analysis.
The important thing is that the legislation brings about consistency between the justice system for those who are in the national defence regime and those who are not. I have often spoken to members of our Canadian forces. I have been saddened to hear some of them tell me that quite often in the areas of health and justice they feel that they are second class citizens.
One young man talked to me in confidence about the fact that if he had a medical problem he did not feel he got the same kind of treatment as he would if he were on civvy street so to speak. The same sentiment was echoed with respect to the justice system. Quite often they saw the justice system as a kangaroo court. Because of the rank and file structure of national defence, they felt that they were not getting fair justice and that they were in a lot of cases facing a kangaroo court. These sentiments were expressed to me by members of the Canadian forces.
Any step that can be taken to make the justice system fair for all of our citizens is a very important step to take. Certainly this legislation moves in that direction by making sure that provisions for DNA collection and sampling are similar across the justice system. This is a very important aspect of the bill.
The bill touches on many topics and I will not get into all of them. It outlines the information that is required for taking the DNA warrant. It talks about the various investigative procedures, the contents of the information and how this information must be filed with the courts, the marshal administrator, certain formalities that are involved respecting the taking of warrants, the issue of the detention of people, privacy, transmission of results to a commissioner and the transmission of bodily substances. All these topics are dealt with in the bill, as is the role of the peace officer. These are all very important items.
The bill repeats a lot of things that were mentioned in previous legislation, Bill C-3. This bill has widespread support with the law enforcement agencies and the public. The concern of many people in the public is that our justice system bring about speedy and just results. They see the collection of DNA and the taking of samples and so forth as being one means to ensure that kind of justice.
I recall speaking with some law enforcement officers not that long ago who were very concerned about this issue. They wanted the support of the members to make sure that appropriate legislation was passed to facilitate them with their most difficult job of trying to handle the crimes that come before them. The bill is certainly a step in that direction.
The NDP supports the idea of the bill, the collection of DNA via warrants. It is important that due process be built in when this kind of system takes place.
While there is a great deal of support by police officers and members of the public, a number of people also have concerns about the bill. Many civil liberties groups have some concerns about it. We recognize that these are valid concerns. They range from economic concerns, the money that could be spent on other issues, to ethical concerns of DNA testing itself and the probability that the forcible taking of DNA samples may be challenged under the charter of rights.
A number of issues need to be addressed when this legislation goes to committee. Some of these are the indefinite period of keeping DNA on file; the inclusion of young offenders in the bill; and the issue of who has access to the DNA data bank and how the information may be used. The latter is very important because when we are talking about DNA we know that it is very peculiar to an individual. It is a part of the individual's identification, a part of that person. There has to be a certain amount of privacy and respect for privacy. We have to be careful as to how this information is used.
The fact that DNA may be taken even while a case is under appeal is another issue which should be discussed in committee and dealt with. The taking of DNA is mandatory upon conviction rather than at the discretion of the judiciary or upon request of the accused. That is an issue of concern to many people.
Finally, there is the fact that a person can be detained for what is defined as a reasonable amount of time for the taking of samples as opposed to setting a clearly defined period of time. What is reasonable in one person's eyes may not necessarily be reasonable in another person's eyes. There should be some kind of consideration given to specifying the amount of time involved when we are implementing that part of the legislation.
There are also the costs, maintenance and security of the DNA bank.
While we in the NDP support this legislation, we are supporting it cautiously with the caveat that the issues we have defined and talked about are extremely important and must be dealt with. They should be dealt with in a way that is going to make sure that we are improving the justice system and creating fairness and justice for all.
DNA is an extremely valuable and reliable tool for crime fighting. We support this legislation and urge that when the bill goes before committee that the very important issues I have talked about be discussed and dealt with.
National Defence Act
Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-10. This is an important bill which amends the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the criminal code.
The purpose of the bill is to include in the DNA data bank created in December 1998 the genetic profiles of offenders convicted under the military justice system. At present the DNA Identification Act affects only offenders who are convicted by the civilian court system and not the military. It also makes a number of minor changes to the existing act.
For us it only makes sense that this happen. It brings the military rules more in line with civilian rules and the circumstances with which civilians must deal. It is somewhat in line with the recent court decision which determined that military officers have the right to refuse questionable medication in the same way that civilians do. The military is going to have to treat the DNA process the same way as civilians do and we certainly support that. We support the total merging of the two systems into one.
In recent years the courts have seen high profile convictions, such as that of Paul Bernardo, and eventual acquittals, such as that of Guy Paul Morin, due to the use of DNA evidence. It is but the latest tool for law enforcement to use in the protection of Canadian society.
Bill S-10 allows for a more broad, equal use of the DNA data bank while being careful not to trample on an individual's privacy rights. It is a good piece of legislation brought about by the hard work of the hon. senators. The PC Party would like to commend their efforts by stating that we will be supporting Bill S-10 when it comes to voting time.
The DNA tool is a powerful tool in conducting criminal investigations. It began as a result of the warrant for taking DNA samples, the 1995 criminal code amendment to allow for DNA samples to be taken under a warrant to facilitate the conduct of certain police investigations and identification of suspects. The second stage was Bill C-3, a 1997 bill on DNA identification which set the structure and administration for a national DNA data bank containing the DNA profiles of those convicted of serious criminal offences and of the DNA samples found at the scenes of unsolved crimes.
The data bank should be operational by June 2000 and will be administered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which at present administers six forensic laboratories in the country. We can only hope that the federal government will come through with adequate funding for the DNA data bank.
The solicitor general proudly stated recently that public safety would continue to be the Liberals' number one concern as he announced funding of $115 million for the data bank. Sadly, many RCMP experts who will have to use this technology stated they needed $280 million for the data bank to combat crime in the 21st century. Once again the Liberal actions were nowhere near the Liberal rhetoric and law enforcement has been given short shrift.
In 1998 during the Senate meetings dealing with Bill C-25, an act to amend the National Defence Act which was to reform the military justice system, the then defence minister and his staff were enlightened to the fact that members of the military who were charged or convicted under the new National Defence Act enforced by the military police would not be subject to the provisions of Bill C-3 because it was enforced by the RCMP. For cases of sex offences involving members of the military, the RCMP would not have the jurisdiction needed to do the job of taking and storing DNA samples. By law it was supposed to do so but in cases of offences only involving the military, it could not.
Along with this apparent problem, a 1998 Senate report concerning the DNA data bank said that such access might affect the privacy of Canadians in an unprecedented and unintentional way. In addition the committee believed that the nature of the information contained in the proposed data bank necessitated the strict monitoring of any process that would allow for the release of this information to governments or agencies outside Canada. The report recommended that the government strengthen the legislation concerning the administration of the DNA data bank and the security of the information in that bank.
To ensure the passage of Bill C-3 the solicitor general committed to draft a new bill which is the bill we are talking about today. The bill would allow for, first, the jurisdiction of the DNA data bank to be extended to offenders convicted in the military justice system.
Second, the commissioner of the RCMP would be required to report on the operation of the DNA data bank as part of his annual report to the minister and then it would be tabled in parliament.
Third, a provision would be included in the new bill for parliamentary review every five years to address the concerns of members of the committee about the highly sensitive nature of the information contained within the data bank and the rapidity of technological change in this field.
Fourth and finally, the Senate and the House of Commons committees would have the same power to do a five year review as provided for in the new bill.
The solicitor general then asked that the bill be introduced in the Senate before being tabled in the House of Commons so that the senators could ensure that all of the points of concern had been properly addressed.
The amendments proposed in Bill S-10 include under the National Defence Act that the DNA profiles of offenders subject to the code of service discipline who are convicted for serious and violent offences will be included in the DNA data bank for the first time. The code would apply to military personnel, the reserves and some civilians who accompany military personnel abroad. As in the case of the existing provisions of the DNA Identification Act, Bill S-10 provides that both samples and the results of analyses must be transmitted to the commissioner of the RCMP and stored in the data bank.
The new bill also provides that the provisions to be included in the National Defence Act concerning authorization for taking DNA samples, the handling and storage of samples, the results of the DNA analyses and the respective privacy will be identical to the provisions set out in Bill C-3.
National Defence Act
The Deputy Speaker
I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member but I think it is time to move to statements by members. I can assure the hon. member that after routine proceedings he will have 14 minutes remaining in his allotted time.
Statements By Members
Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB
Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is Mother's Day. Each of us in our unique way will pay special tribute to our own mother and greet other mothers as well. We do so to celebrate the beauty and heroism of motherhood.
Our mothers carried us in their wombs and brought us into this world. They laboured to instil creativity in our minds and kindness in our hearts.
Mothers are the fountain of their children's virtues, the pillar of strength when children are in sorrow and the wellspring of inspiration when sons and daughters share their joy and success. Mothers perpetuate humanity.
This Sunday, whether our mothers have gone to the great beyond and live on in our memories or whether our mothers are in our homes now, to them we say, “I love you, Mother. I love you very much”.
Statements By Members
John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC
Mr. Speaker, Cape Scott is a large provincial park at the north end of Vancouver Island. The park includes five islands at the northwest tip of Vancouver Island. These are Cox, Lanz, Beresford, Triangle and Sartine. So known as the Scott Islands, they contain the most important breeding colonies of seabirds on our west coast and it is ranked as a globally significant important bird area with over two million breeding birds. Over one half of the global population of Cassin's Auklet and significant percentages of the world's populations of some other seabirds reside there.
The Canadian Nature Federation is launching an important Simon Fraser University biological research project to study feeding patterns around the Scott Islands. This launch will coincide with International Migratory Bird Day, which is tomorrow, May 13.
This is an important project, in a special place, for a very good purpose.
Statements By Members
Carolyn Parrish Mississauga Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, Canadians now have access to another innovative online service from Canada Post.
First there was ePost, then eParcel, and now PosteCS. With PosteCS Canadians can send documents of any size around the world instantly and securely. PosteCS is more secure than regular e-mail and it features delivery tracking and an electronic postmark. It is an affordable alternative to costly courier service.
PosteCS is further evidence that Canada Post is becoming a world leader in providing innovative, physical and electronic delivery solutions.
The government is determined to make Canada a world leader in the field of electronic commerce with innovative online products such as PosteCS.
Raglan Mining Company
Statements By Members
Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC
Mr. Speaker, since its establishment by Falconbridge Inc., the Raglan mining company has contributed to the economic development of two airports, one in Val-d'Or and one in Rouyn-Noranda, in the latter case through its chartered plane, which transports miners to the Raglan mine in Nunavik.
Lucien Bouchard's PQ government has put several million dollars into the construction of Raglan's building at the Rouyn-Noranda airport.
Now, the Government of Quebec and the City of Rouyn-Noranda want to extend the airport's runway by 1,000 feet at a cost of several millions of dollars so that they can stop contributing to the economic development of the Val-d'Or regional airport, which is located a mere 15 minutes away from the Rouyn-Noranda airport.
Once again, Quebec's PQ government, through its regional minister, Rémi Trudel of Rouyn-Noranda, is riding roughshod over the economy of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. It no longer wants the Raglan mining company to contribute to the economy of Val-d'Or.
Statements By Members
May 12th, 2000 / 11 a.m.
Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC
Mr. Speaker, we now have scanners that can detect the smallest amount of drugs. When I spotted a scanner at Joyceville Penitentiary I knew what it was. They told me it cost about $60,000, but I figured this was a good investment as we could confiscate the drugs. They told me “Oh, no, we do not confiscate the drugs. When we find somebody who brings drugs inside the prison we send them back home and then they can try again 24 hours later”.
That is like someone getting caught while driving impaired and when they blow over the legal limit the RCMP tell them to turn their car around, go home and try again tomorrow.
They also told me there is another choice. The visitor carrying the drugs can still go on with the visit, but must be accompanied by a guard.
This week's lesson for the solicitor general is, we might reduce the drug problem in our prisons if the guards could at least confiscate the drugs. Then they could let the prisoners have plenty of time to visit with their buddies while their buddies are doing five years for illegal drug smuggling.
Samuel De Champlain
Statements By Members
Hec Clouthier Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON
Mr. Speaker, nearly 400 years ago, in 1603, Samuel de Champlain began years of exploring and mapping eastern Canada from the St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes.
In 1613 Champlain lost one of his navigational instruments, an astrolabe, near Cobden in my great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. Over 200 years later that astrolabe was found by a local farm boy and is now on display at the Museum of Civilization across the river in Hull.
In 1632 Champlain published a detailed map of Canada as it was known at that day and it has been acknowledged as a masterwork of Canadian cartography.
The great love I have always had for making discoveries in New France made me more and more eager to travel this proud country so as to have a perfect knowledge of it.
Nearly 400 years later that spirit of discovery is with us today in the form of students who are visiting from Champlain Discovery School in Pembroke. I salute these young students who will be our celebrated cyberspace explorers in the 21st century.
Statements By Members
Ghislain Fournier Manicouagan, QC
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate Professor Masoud Farzaneh, an internationally renowned expert in atmospheric icing and high voltage. A professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and holder of the atmospheric icing chair, Mr. Farzaneh was recently made a member of the U.K.'s Institute of Electrical Engineers.
He is one of a very small group of researchers in Quebec to have achieved this distinction. He belongs to ten or so national and international professional associations and has more than 250 scientific publications to his credit.
Mr. Farzaneh is presently holder of the CIGELE chair, in which ten or so partners are involved, including Hydro-Québec.
Bravo to Professor Farzaneh for winning this honour. His achievement reflects on the entire academic community of Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean.
Canada Health Day
Statements By Members
Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and all Canadians that May 12 is Canada Health Day.
Canada Health Day is held each year on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and is jointly sponsored by the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Health Care Association.
To draw attention to the celebrations in 2000, a new theme has been developed for the campaign “Healthy Beginnings: Child Health in the New Millennium”. This theme underscores the importance of the first five years of life in the development of healthy children.
Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of scientific information on what children need to get the best possible start in life. We now know that the first five years are crucial to the development of a child's ability to think, love, trust and develop a strong and positive self image.
Let us join together in wishing an excellent Canadian Health Day to the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Healthcare Association.