House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

December 6th, 2001 / 1 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this morning, I have been listening carefully to the debate about this very important bill. When I heard what the Bloc Quebecois member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had to say, I decided to speak to the bill myself, given its importance.

The House will understand that this is an issue which the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has followed closely and on which he has done a considerable amount of work. He advises and informs the Bloc Quebecois members on this topic. I listened to him earlier and several things that he said about Bill C-44 caught my attention. I am thinking of such things as all the legislative measures that the government has put in place to fight terrorism, and the atmosphere that has been created as a result.

I simply had to speak because this is an issue that is terribly important to me, since it touches on key concepts, on the criminal code and related legislation. It is important for the legal system of Canada and of Quebec. I therefore decided to rise and speak.

As my colleague said, this is a very important bill, which will influence our justice system for years to come. To give a bit of context, it must be recalled that the government began by introducing Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. This bill gave various powers to ministers, including the solicitor general and the Minister of National Defence, with respect to arrests without warrant, very broad electronic eavesdropping, and so forth. It is a very complex piece of legislation, whose principle we agreed with, and we thought we should support it. That is what we did.

But we had such major reservations that, in the end, we voted against the bill at third reading. At the time, we thought that this was the government's anti-terrorism measure. Surprise, surprise. We see that Bill C-35 contains all sorts of clauses giving increased powers to the RCMP, special powers to peace officers during visits by foreign heads of state. So there is another anti-terrorism measure.

Then came another such measure—this is basically how Bill C-44 came about—it was Bill C-42. Bill C-42 is highly complex. As we said earlier, it is about a hundred pages long. Once again, more powers are given to ministers, the solicitor general and the Minister of Defence. Interim orders may be taken and military zones may be created. This is another legislative measure to combat terrorism.

That is when we said “This is too much, this is going too far”. We cannot even support Bill C-42 in principle, because it disregards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and gives far too broad powers to one single man or woman. We need to examine this more closely. We need to take time to study the whole issue.

Once again, the government is rushing us. The government is gagging us. It introduced motions to study all of these bills quickly under the pretext that we had to meet international requirements.

According to the government, Bill C-42 responds to important international requirements. Is this not strange? When the government realized that it was not able to rush the bill through before the holidays, is it not strange that it managed to limit to one page what had to be passed by then? It is as though all of the rest of Bill C-42 confirmed what we on this side of the House have been saying all along: the events of September 11 were a pretext for this government to turn upside down a number of statutory approaches.

The events of September 11 have provided the government with the opportunity to grab the powers it has always dreamed of, but lacked the political guts to.

This is so much the case that they have taken what was important on the international scene and put it into a bill to be called Bill C-44, the provisions of which fit on an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.

These important provisions concern air travel, and I will be returning to that later.

What is of concern to me is the improvisational approach the government, which claims to be a responsible government, is taking at present. It is improvising legislation of great importance, seemingly not knowing where it is headed.

This is so much the case that, at one point, the government imposed a gag order for Bill C-36, and the next day we were forced to adjourn at 4 p.m., or maybe it was 5 or 5.30 p.m., I do not remember, because there was nothing left on the order paper. There was nothing more to look at. That shows lack of vision, not knowing where they are headed.

This improvisation goes back to the very start. For weeks on end, the response from the other side when opposition members, particularly the official opposition, were asking the government whether there ought not to be anti-terrorism legislation in Canada, was that it was not needed, that we already had all the legislation required.

Then overnight, two weeks later, a complex bill was introduced; a week later, another; a week later, yet another. Today, the government came up with a bill that we absolutely must pass before Christmas, one that is going to be divided in two. When it comes down to it, it all boils down to one clause.

I feel the government does not know where it is going. This is dangerous when something as important as rights and freedoms are concerned.

The objective we have always tried to attain, with bills C-36, C-35, C-42 and now C-44, is to strike a balance between national security and individual and group rights. This is hardly complicated.

We have an international reputation, and deservedly so, of being a country where rights are preserved. At least, that reputation used to be deserved. We have case law, lawyers to apply it, judges who bring down good decisions. There are some very important elements on which to focus, to invest. It is a good thing for the country, in a way,to live in a place where that balance can be sought.

In all these bills, including Bill C-44 currently before us, we have always been able to draw on the expertise of lawyers, people who for years have worked with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with individual and group rights. There are even experts among the Liberal government members, including the member for Mount Royal, who claims to be—and I think it is true—a great defender of individual and group rights.

They all, including the member for Mount Royal, criticized bills C-36, C-42, and C-44 now before us.

I read in the papers that the member for Mount Royal criticized Bill C-42, which is in a way the starting point for Bill C-44. He said it was problematic because it upset the balance between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The executive is being given more powers. He says he will oppose it.

I should be rejoicing, but I will not be. Why? Because the member for Mount Royal said the same thing about Bill C-36.

Once the steam roller passed on the other side, he did what the majority of Liberals did, he voted in favour of Bill C-36. But those who appeared before the committee, the civil liberties union of Canada, the great and true defenders of individual and group rights continues to condemn this bill, which will come into effect one day, because it has been passed by the House.

I have no illusions about Bill C-42 and Bill C-44. However, I must say that the government opposite has a knack. It has a way of getting many people to swallow affronts. It has a magic potion that makes people accept things they would otherwise reject. It worked with us at first and second reading of Bill C-36. But it did not work afterward, because we saw them coming from miles away.

However, this way of doing things may work with the public as long as it does not see the real impact of the legislation. This is the case with Bill C-44.

The government tells us “We moved an amendment in committee, with the result that the privacy commissioner agrees with the whole thing. Things are fine. There is no problem”. Still, when I look at Bill C-44 and at the amendment, I am very concerned.

What is Bill C-44? It is an act which, once in force, will allow the government to provide information on air travellers. This information will not only include names, addresses and passport numbers: it will be much more detailed. The government says that, thanks to this amendment, the privacy commissioner agrees with the legislation and there is no problem, since everything will be secure. I will read the amendment.

No information provided under subsection (1) to a competent authority in a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by a government institution, within the meaning of section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless it is collected for the purpose of protecting national security—

I have no problem with that.

—or public safety.

This is where I have a problem. Public safety is a very broad concept. What is public safety? For example, could a department such as Human Resources Development Canada get from the United States information relating to a monetary issue, for reasons of public safety?

It will be up to the courts to interpret this provision. But in the meantime, how will this provision be applied? Will there be abuse? We must never forget that, to fully understand the meaning of this bill, it must be examined along with all the other acts that will come into effect at the same time. We need all the pieces of the puzzle to fully understand the scope of the government's anti-terrorism legislation.

This is worrisome. I cannot see how this amendment can reassure the privacy commissioner, particularly since the governor in council will define through regulations the information that travellers will have to disclose to the government. The government had promised us that we would have the regulations.

As the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel has said on numerous occasions, we asked for copies of these regulations. We asked for the information. The government always stalled.

At some point, we felt that we could not wait any longer, that we wanted something in our hands. It sent us a summary of what might be in the regulations. As everyone knows, a summary is always the minimum. When we see the actual regulations, it is clear that the government added little things that it never told us about. It is clear even from the summary that a lot of information is required, even a passenger's social insurance number, telephone number, itinerary, everywhere he has travelled. This is far-reaching.

Using public safety as an excuse, a minister can ask the United States for this information. In other words, it will be possible for someone to invoke public safety and do indirectly something that is outright illegal in Canada. This is using the events of September 11 for highly political ends.

The more we look at the legislative measures, such as Bill C-36, Bill C-35, Bill C-44 and Bill C-42, the closer we get to a police state. That is what is disturbing. I am not saying that this will happen tomorrow morning, but all the ingredients are there to set the stage for a rather ugly situation, a way of doing things which is foreign to Canada and to Quebec. I do not want to live in such a country.

Everyone knows our party's platform. This shows once again that it is high time that Quebecers cast off this central authority, which shows unbelievable arrogance in passing legislation as important as this.

The principle of the bill is understandable, as is the fact that we must have legislation to comply with certain international obligations and with American legislation. The Americans have the right to pass the laws they wish when it comes to their country's security. If they want to allow our carriers to land in their country, I understand that we do not have a big say.

This is why we will support Bill C-44. However, this is another example of the way the government really thinks. It uses an obligation to give itself even greater powers and to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. This flagrant lack of political courage needs to be stressed. But we should stress even more the ad hoc attitude this government has shown throughout the whole process by introducing piecemeal legislation to deal with terrorism.

The opposition would probably have had cooperated fully with the government if it had proceeded through a single bill. However, to do so you must know what you want to do. This may be where the problem lies: the government does not know where it is going, which explains why it deals with such an important issue in a piecemeal way. This is very concerning, because this approach will taint the legislation as a whole and the Canadian way of doing things.

I conclude by saying that we will support Bill C-44 reluctantly, considering that its object is to meet certain obligations. But the government should get its act together and deal with such an important issue much more seriously.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the hon. member from the Bloc with great interest. I note that during his remarks he talked about the government's piecemeal approach and the fact that the bill was originally an omnibus bill.

The government then hived off the one clause dealing with aircraft passenger lists, making them available to the Americans to reassure them that we were interested in their security as much as they were.

Looking at the bill from the government's perspective, there might be an appearance of a contradiction in the sense that most of us have been critical of government when it brings forward omnibus bills. Yet my colleague from the Bloc sounded as though he was a bit critical that the government brought forward one specific part when it carved off one clause of the bill.

I believe I understood what the member was saying. When we talk about the government's piecemeal approach to dealing with the security issues that have become so evident in the aftermath of the horrendous attacks of September 11, my position and that of the coalition is that we are talking about an overall vision and communicating that vision to Canadians.

The government should be bringing forward a comprehensive plan on how it will address all issues that are inherent in the security of our people, our country and the North American continent.

Far be it from me to answer my own question, but if I understood the member correctly he was critical of the piecemeal approach. I believe he was supportive of the government's focus when it brought forward clear legislation so that we could understand the single issue before us. We could vote on the good or the bad in the legislation rather than be confronted, as we have often been in the past, with an omnibus bill where some parts are good and some parts are bad. We would support some and oppose other parts. Then we would have to come to a very difficult choice of whether to support the bill or to vote against it.

Would the hon. member care to elaborate further on what he meant when he talked about the government's piecemeal approach to addressing the important issue of continental and national security?

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be a little bit clearer. The Bloc Quebecois and, I believe, Quebecers and Canadians as a whole, would have liked to hear the government say: “This is what we intend to do to fight terrorism. A bill will deal with an issue, and another one with another issue. Bill C-42 will be about this and that”. We would have liked the government to explain the approach on which is based the anti-terrorism legislation we are going to pass.

This does not mean that everything should be put in a single bill. I agree with the member who said that an omnibus bill always contains elements that are frightening or that we would like to oppose, and others elements that are interesting and we would like to support.

Right now, we are in between: we do not know what to do and we feel the government tried to slip us a pill we did not want along with something we did. I have always been against such an approach. I have always said that the government should not proceed in such a way and I still hold that view.

We would have liked the government to show the political courage it seems to lack and spell out everything it wanted in terms of the legislation to fight terrorism.

I can immediately say that if we had been shown Bills C-35, C-36, C-42 and C-44, and if I had examined them with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, we would not have supported Bill C-36 at second reading, because it went too far, because it was not consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and because it lacks the proper balance between national security and individual and group rights.

The government decided to introduce Bill C-36 first, and then Bill C-35. Still later, it came up with Bill C-42, which was supposed to be extremely important and which had to be passed in a hurry before the holiday season. Suddenly, we found out that the only very important part in this 100 page bill could hold on a single 8½ X 11 sheet of paper.

What are we to believe in everything this government is saying? This is called a piecemeal approach.

I congratulate the government on this initiative to have the minister remove a clause from the bill and introduce new legislation, Bill C-44. I agree with the splitting of this part, which will allow us to support it, although not wholeheartedly as I was saying earlier on Bill C-44, but in general. My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel made a very eloquent speech in this regard.

We will indeed support this bill, even if we might add that the government has gone too far and that it is not abiding by the promises it made regarding the regulations. We will support it because life has to go on, particularly since many people deal with the United States in Quebec and in Canada. A lot of people travel, et cetera. On January 18 or 19, there would be a problem if we did not have legislation. Therefore we are going ahead with this.

But the government might be going too far. For the rest of Bill C-42, when the debate will be held, when all of that will be examined in committee, we will realize once more that it is really going too far and that we have to analyze all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the government's approach to the fight against terrorism.

I sincerely hope that there will be opposition members, who have done an excellent job on these rights, as well as some government members, such as the hon. member for Mount Royal, who told reporters before the bill was passed that it made no sense and he would be voting against it, but yet when the time came to vote, he stood up and voted the same as the rest of the government.

I trust they will be logical in their thinking, and will not yield to the government's pressure, the pressure it puts on every time it introduces bills of this kind.

I think I have been sufficiently clear this time on how I see things, and I believe I am not alone in my views. I think this is what the public wants, and it deserves to have the government act according to its wishes.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, has my colleague from the Bloc or his party taken a position on whether there should be reciprocity with respect to the provisions the Americans are demanding from us, namely giving up all this information?

Should there be a similar provision in the bill that the Americans must provide us with information about their passengers?

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the experience of other countries needs to be looked at. If it is important for the U.S. to have this information before allowing planes to land there, if it is important for them to have names, addresses, phone numbers, SIN numbers and goodness knows what else, perhaps thought would have to be given to requiring the same of them.

The hon. member will understand that I have not, personally, examined that approach. The member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel is our critic and expert in this field. This would certainly be a highly pertinent question, particularly for an overall view. This is a bill that is even more complex, because it is Bill C-42 in its entirety. This is a question my colleague is going to be able to answer readily.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I will utilize all my time, but listening to the debate today I thought it would be a good opportunity to participate in the larger issue of the way the government is conducting the business of the House in its so-called fight against terrorism.

As I said to my colleague from the Bloc during questions and comments, I found myself agreeing with his overarching statement that one of the problems we in the House, let alone Canadians out in the real world, have with the government's approach to the war on terrorism is the way it is bringing in legislation.

We all recognize that while the legislation is hurried it must be done properly. There is not only a great need for the government to bring forward thoughtful legislation that will stand the test of time. It must allow the legislation to be open to amendments from all parties in the House. It must listen attentively to representations by people and organizations out in the real world who would ultimately be affected by the legislation we pass in this place.

Unfortunately what we have seen in the last two months or so, as my colleague was saying, is Bill C-36, the so-called anti-terrorism legislation; Bill C-35; and Bill C-42. Bill C-44 which we are debating today was hived off Bill C-42 because of the sense of urgency that the clause needed to be passed before the House rose for mid-winter break.

It is this approach that is causing consternation and concern among all opposition parties and to a certain degree the Canadian public. The government has not communicated an overall vision of what it intends to do to address the issue. It is encouraging the Canadian public to get back to business as usual.

We want to minimize the economic impact of the war on terrorism and the aftermath of the horrendous attacks. We all understand that. However the world has changed forever. People outside the Ottawa bubble recognize that at least as much as we do and possibly more. The world is not the same place. Canadians are looking to the government for leadership.

The government is bringing bills before the House one at a time. We in the opposition are expected to assist the government in making sure the best possible legislation is ultimately put into law, or at least sent to the other place for the Senate to consider. While we struggle with this it is extremely difficult if we do not understand the government's overall vision and exactly what it intends to bring forward.

As a number of individuals said prior to my remarks, we might react quite differently to legislation if we could see it within the overall context of what is coming down the road. We might be more supportive or more opposed.

We have no idea what bills the government may introduce between now and when the House rises next week. We do not know what it will bring forward in late January or early February to address different facets of the huge issue of terrorism and try to make our country, society and people safer and more secure.

As the previous speakers have said, we are supportive of the fact that the legislation before us today, Bill C-44, is very simple in nature. We are concerned about the lack of vision and foresight that the government continually exhibits and what that elicits in the minds of the public. It is not very comforting for the people of a country, who are looking for leadership, to see this piecemeal approach wherein legislation is very hurriedly brought in and then amended by the government amends.

In the case of Bill C-36, there were somewhere in the order of 100 amendments, the vast majority of which were brought forward by the government. Those types of procedures send a very clear message to Canadians that the government is not in control and that it does not have a clear plan. If it did, it would not have brought the bill forward and before it was barely in the House start looking at possible amendments, tearing it apart and rejigging it.

With Bill C-42, the government brought the bill forward, then rushed around and talked to all the opposition parties to see if there was some way the bill could be shuttled off to committee right away so the committee could hive off the clause that was needed right away. The government had some concerns about that because it wanted to adequately debate Bill C-42 on the floor of the House.

When the government ran into resistance with that, it then thought it could perhaps get unanimous consent to carve off one piece of the bill, submit it as new legislation in the form of Bill C-44 and then rush it through the House. That type of activity by the government is far from comforting or reassuring to Canadians, let alone to Americans.

I can well remember rising in my place to speak shortly after the House reconvened in late September. I believe it was the September 18, if memory serves me correctly. In my remarks at that time I suggested that it was incumbent upon the government to communicate to the Canadian people and Americans a vision of what it intended to do to make our country, and indeed our continent, more secure. Sadly, over two months have passed since the House reconvened and we have not seen that type of vision or comprehensive plan put forward by the government. We have not seen it communicate its plan is to Canadians and Americans or North Americans as a whole.

Instead, as my colleague from the Bloc just said, the government has brought forward one piece of legislation at a time thinking it could perhaps plug the problem with airline security, or airport security, or passenger lists or some potential problem at a seaport. I believe it is this piecemeal approach that is of great concern to the Canadian people. It does not send the proper message to Canadians or Americans that the government knows what it is doing on this all important issue.

My colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley who spoke earlier on this legislation has done an incredible amount of work, not just in the last couple of months but in the last few years on the issue of border management. The issue of trade corridors is obviously of huge importance to her because her riding is very close to the U.S. border.

Cross-border trade is a big issue, not only to all Canadians but to the Americans as well. Eighty per cent of our trade is with the Americans and one-quarter of theirs is with us. However it also is a huge issue for her and to people of her riding. She has done an incredible amount of work on this very complex issue of border management, even prior to the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11 and the fallout those attacks.

Unfortunately what we are witnessing now is a tightening of security at the U.S. border. The coalition has argued that that tightening of our entry points should be on a continental perimeter rather than restricted only to the American-Canadian border. I know this is of grave concern to local politicians. The mayors and councils of the cities closest to the U.S.-Canada border have become quite involved because they have recognized the fallout. Whether it is Quebec and the New England states, or the Windsor border area of Ontario or at different points across western Canada, this problem has affected the vast majority of Canadians, and we want to see it solved.

That is why my colleague, on behalf of the coalition, put forward more of a comprehensive plan, or a vision, on greater border management and security. One of the facets of the plan is a binational or bilateral agency to exchange freely information between the United States and Canada by setting up a databank computer system. By doing that our systems would be fully integrated and both countries would know exactly what was going back and forth across the border. We would then have the reassurance that both countries would know what is going on.

I am reminded of the example I used when I spoke to the issue back home in my riding of Prince George--Peace River during the November break week. I was talking to some Rotary clubs and chambers of commerce in the riding. I made the comment about the banks designing a bank card which could be used almost everywhere in the world. People could go to an international bank, put in a bank card and get money out in local currency. That truly is amazing when one thinks about it. If the banks could design something like that, then surely to goodness two countries with so much at stake, as Canada and the United States have on the issues of security and safety for our citizens, could design an integrated computer system and establish an agency to monitor that system. By doing that, both countries could feel comfortable in knowing who and what goods were travelling back and forth across our common border.

I commend my colleague for the work she has done on this issue and I commend our proposal put forward by the coalition on November 1. I know that she has had discussions with some Americans and American agencies on this issue and that the vision of a new way of managing the border between the U.S. and Canada has been relatively well received. It could bear some great fruit on how we approach this.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the member, given his experience and how he has seen the Liberal government manage debate in the House since the last election, should Quebecers and Canadians feel reassured when the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of National Defence all tell us, about different bills that we have seen, Bills C-36, C-42, C-35 and C-44, “All you have to do is propose amendments in committee and you will then have the to opportunity to amend these bills”?

Should people feel reassured when those ministers and the Prime Minister himself make such statements?

Aeronautics Act
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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois for his comments and his question. Obviously what we have seen transpire is of great concern to the very basis of democracy in this place. We have seen the government utilize time allocation and closure more than any previous government. That in and of itself is of great concern.

We saw the way the government handled Bill C-36 even though concerns were expressed, not only in this place, but in committee, by organizations from coast to coast, by every province and territory and by the average Canadians, about the potential for abuse in the area of civil rights and liberties. The government rammed the legislation through the House in the most undemocratic way possible with the use of time allocation. It shut down debate and, as my hon colleague alluded to, it shut off debate on amendments. There were some potentially excellent amendments brought forward by opposition parties which were never debated on the floor of the House. Some of the amendments were never debated in committee, despite the assurances of the Minister of Justice that we would have adequate debate and that there would be lots of time taken to ensure that we did it right. That was a very sad day for democracy, for Canada and for parliament.

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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as members will recall, Bill C-24 was introduced on April 5 and received approval at third reading on June 13. The bill has now been passed at third reading with amendments by the other place.

The amendments made in the other place do not change the essential nature of Bill C-24. As members will recall, Bill C-24 is intended to strengthen Canada's ability to deal with organized crime and to make a number of related changes to improve our law enforcement capability.

As passed by the House in June, the bill included four main elements, all of which are attained in the bill as amended by the other place. Very briefly, the four elements are: first, a new enhanced definition of “criminal organization” and the creation of a number of new offences targeting involvement with criminal organizations; second, measures to improve the protection from intimidation of people who play a role in the justice system; third, the creation of an accountable process to protect law enforcement officers from criminal liability for certain otherwise illegal acts committed in the course of an investigation; fourth, the broadening of powers to forfeit and seize proceeds of crime and property that has been used in a crime.

As I have indicated, these elements in all of their essential nature remain in the bill as amended. Rather than change the essential nature of the bill, the amendments made by the other place make enhancements to the bill. In particular, the amendments provide enhancements to control and accountability under the law enforcement justification for certain otherwise illegal acts committed in the course of an investigation. These amendments were made by way of two motions which were carried in the other chamber.

Members of the House will recall that an essential condition of the law enforcement justification is that it can only apply to designated public officers. Both motions to amend Bill C-24 that were made and carried in the other place relate to this designation requirement.

The designation requirement is a key aspect of control and accountability under the scheme. Under the requirement the responsible minister has a “competent authority” and must turn his or her mind to the need for and qualifications of the particular officers who are proposed to have this special jurisdiction and justification under the criminal code. The minister will be accountable for these decisions with respect to designation.

As originally passed by the House, Bill C-24 allowed the responsible minister to designate individual public officers or groups of public officers. In the other place it was pointed out that allowing for group designation instead of just for the designation of individual officers may undermine to some degree the key ministerial control and accountability function. It was suggested that greater control and accountability would be achieved if ministers were required to exercise this function with respect to each officer. This would directly require the minister to turn his or her mind to the essential characteristics of each officer in respect of the appropriateness of and eligibility for designation.

Members in the other chamber evidently agreed that allowing only for individual designations would be preferable. A motion was carried that eliminated authority for group designations in the number of places where it appeared.

Upon full consideration of this change, I believe the House should fully support it. The change enhances the control and accountability mechanisms under the scheme. Although these mechanisms already were strong, it is appropriate that they be made stronger by requiring individual consideration of each officer for whom designation is proposed.

Further, the change will not undermine the effectiveness of the scheme. While there may be some additional administrative burden in requiring that designation be done on an individual basis, this is a small and acceptable price to pay for enhanced control and accountability.

The additional motion to amend which was carried in the other place relates to the function of civilian oversight for police officers. It has been pointed out previously that the control and accountability mechanisms directly incorporated in the law enforcement justification scheme are in addition to, not a replacement for, existing control and accountability over law enforcement officers in Canada. Among the ways that this currently takes place in Canada is through the work of the bodies established for the civilian oversight of police. Such bodies are widely employed in this country.

The exact manner in which they are constituted and function can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Nevertheless effective methods of civilian review of police conduct, most notably through jurisdiction to receive and consider public complaints, is well established in Canada.

Nothing in Bill C-24 removes or undermines the role of civilian oversight. It is fully expected that civilian oversight bodies established in the various Canadian jurisdictions can and will play a role in reviewing the conduct of police officers under the law enforcement justification in the same manner as they currently play a role in reviewing law enforcement conduct.

Some have argued however, that because of the nature of the law enforcement justification and the absolute need to guard against abuse, we should make it a condition that civilian oversight bodies must be in place with respect to any enforcement officers sought to be designated under the scheme. As it has been suggested that civilian oversight bodies have an important role to play in relation to the law enforcement justification scheme, it has in turn been argued that we must ensure prior to designation that this role can be carried out. In situations where this civilian oversight capacity does not exist or where it may conceivably not exist in the future, although it is certainly not a trend to eliminate civilian oversight in Canada, perhaps the special authority granted by the law enforcement justification should also not exist.

Members of the other place evidently accepted these arguments. A motion to amend Bill C-24 was carried. It adds two subsections to proposed section 25.1 of the criminal code.

The first new subsection, subsection 3.1, provides that a competent authority may not designate a member of a police force unless there exists a public authority composed of persons who are not peace officers who have the power to review the conduct of the officers proposed to be designated. This achieves the condition on the scheme that I have discussed, that a civilian oversight authority must be in place to allow designation.

The second new subsection, subsection 3.2, allows the governor in council or a lieutenant governor in council as the case may be, to designate a person or body as a public authority for the purpose of the other added subsection and provides that this designation is conclusive evidence that this person or body is such a public authority. This will avoid any uncertainty of the existence of civilian oversight and avoids collateral attacks on the competence of the oversight bodies.

These are changes that the House can and should support. It is vital that the law enforcement justification scheme be subject to review and we can rightfully anticipate civilian oversight bodies will play an important part in this review. In order to assure the House and the Canadian public that this civilian oversight review capacity is in place in relation to the law enforcement justification, it is appropriate to make it a condition of the scheme.