House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Supply
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from November 14 consideration of the motion, as amended.

Privilege
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the question of privilege in the name of the member for Bourassa.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Privilege
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion lost.

It being 6:01 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

moved that Bill C-329, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (arrest without warrant), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, right off the bat I want to make sure that a couple of things are understood. When I was listening to the television not too long ago one of the Liberal pundits was having quite a fit because the member for Wild Rose was going to get up and suggest such a thing as arresting without a warrant. Apparently she did not realize there is already a section in the Criminal Code that deals with arresting without a warrant. It is already there. This is just an attempt to amend that section and to strengthen it, to provide a tool in the toolbox that the police need so desperately in order to do a better job in their mission of providing better safety to our communities.

A major amendment to section 495(1) needs to be made. My bill would amend that section by adding the following paragraph:

(b.2) a person who wilfully fails or refuses to comply with a condition of parole or of an unescorted temporary absence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has breached or is about to breach such a condition; or

Maybe I should clarify that. Currently, paragraph (b) states that a peace officer may arrest without warrant “a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence, or”. My bill would strike out the word “or” and would add the following after paragraph (b):

(b.1) a person who has committed the offence described in subsection 733.1(1) or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has committed or is about to commit the offence;

(b.2) a person who wilfully fails or refuses to comply with a condition of parole or of an unescorted temporary absence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has breached or is about to breach such a condition; or

This is probably the fourth time I have introduced this bill and it has always died on the order paper, which very possibly could happen again. I also believe it is such an important measure that needs to be taken that perhaps we might rush it a little bit and it could pass through this place without any hindrances.

The purpose of this bill is simply to give a peace officer the power to arrest without a warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order binding that person, or a condition of that person's parole.

This bill was prompted by a resolution of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in response to the controversial 1997 Supreme Court decision, R. v. Feeney. Everyone knows about that case. A similar resolution was also proposed by the Canadian Professional Police Association. This suggestion has been brought forward by police officers across the country for quite some time.

Current provisions of existing legislation and policies of Correctional Service Canada do not permit the timely arrest and detention of parole violators. Presently, the police can only notify parole officers when they believe that a person is in breach of a probation order. With a time delay, further crimes could be committed and are often committed. The bill I am presenting would remedy that situation. I think all members in the House would agree that we do not need people who are out on parole committing further crimes.

Let me give some practical examples. One example is if a person who has been convicted of rape is released on parole, one of the terms of his parole is that he is not to go within 1,000 feet of the victim of that rape. When on parole the person convicted of this offence goes to the home of the victim, stands outside, walks back and forth and intimidates that person. The person calls the police. The police react by going to the victim's home. They see that the terms of the parole are being breached, but they do not have a warrant to arrest and therefore, they must go away to try and get a warrant.

To further add to this situation, it may be the time of day. If it is during the night, a warrant may be impossible to get, or if it is in a rural or remote area, the problem is tenfold.

What I am saying is that the officer who observed that parolee breaking the condition of his parole by being within that 1,000 feet restriction should be able to arrest without warrant immediately, take the possible victim out of danger and hold the parolee until such time as the parole officer is contacted.

A second example is when someone has been convicted of murder and part of the terms of his parole is that he have no contact with the witness or witnesses who testified against him. However, in this situation the parolee goes to the home of the witness, which is an intimidating situation. The witness calls the police and asks the police to act. The police come but cannot act without a warrant. The police realize when they get there what the situation is but they cannot do anything until they get that warrant. Once again, I revert to the idea that it might take several hours or even days and by that time it could be too late.

A third example is when someone has been convicted of assault of a spouse or a child and part of the terms of the parole is that he or she must stay away from the spouse or child. However, in this situation the parolee intimidates the spouse or the child. The police are called but once again they are unable to take any action since the police cannot act without a warrant.

The bill simply would rectify all these situations and allow a police officer to make an arrest without having to get a warrant. That is called prevention, preventing further crime.

Every member and every party in the House have said time and time again that we need to strengthen the Criminal Code to allow the police to operate, to help them prevent further crimes. I think everyone would agree that is extremely important.

Over the past 12 years there has been a continuous and relatively consistent message for the government to rectify this situation. I have been here for those 12 years and I know that is true, but nothing has been done. On examining the government's response, there seems to be three main objections to giving the police this authority.

The first objection the government always seems to mention is the belief that granting such authority to the police would in some way affect the delegation of authority of the National Parole Board to issue a suspension warrant.

What is being proposed by my private member's bill would not have any such result at all. The police should have the authority to arrest without warrant a person found breaching a condition of his or her parole. After making the arrest the police would be required to contact the CSC duty officer, or the supervising parole officer if he or she is available, who would make the decision whether or not to issue the suspension warrant. The suspension warrant would authorize the continuance of the arrest and would permit the police to deliver the person to the nearest correctional institution.

If the authorized correctional authority determined that the public had not been placed at undue risk by the breach, a suspension warrant would not be issued and the police would release the person unconditionally.

As I see it, an offender's compliance, that is, his following his release conditions, is probably one of the first steps toward demonstrating an intent to become a responsible citizen and change his way of doing things.

Non-compliance with a condition, however, creates an undue risk to the community which remains until it is addressed by the proper authorities. This kind of risk must be acted on immediately. Any delay in acting upon this undue risk could cause some person somewhere to become another victim of that particular person.

The second objection quite often given by the government when these items are talked about is it feels that giving the police this authority would significantly increase their workload. That is not true at all. Currently, if the police find a person in breach of a parole condition, they must let the person go on his way and report the contact to the CSC duty officer of the supervising parole officer. If a suspension warrant is issued, the police have to find the offender again and then execute the warrant and hopefully, it is not too late.

That has been made even more complicated recently due to the legislative requirements arising from the Feeney decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. If the police or parole authorities believe the offender can be found in a residence, they must obtain a special form from a justice to permit the execution of the warrant in the dwelling.

Personally, I think the adoption of this bill would increase the number of apprehensions for violations, thereby decreasing the number of new offences. Cost savings would be achieved by not having to prosecute the offender on new charges if he or she were arrested and suspended for a conditional release violation. More important, fewer people would be victimized.

The third objection I often hear from the government is that the police might abuse this authority and needlessly harass those people on parole who are trying to become responsible citizens. There is no basis for that suggestion whatsoever.

The police are continually expected to do more with less. Resources are stretched to the limit. The police do not have the time or the inclination to actively supervise the parole population. That job is for the parole officer. Usually the police only get involved with those individuals as a result of a complaint or simply a chance meeting.

Every parent in the country would be happy if they knew the police could immediately arrest a released pedophile who was seen near a playground or a school yard, because he was in violation of his parole and was not to be near children. That might give parents a lot more comfort than the way it is now in the Criminal Code. I am saying in the Criminal Code because I know of some jurisdictions that may allow the police to detain these individuals, but it is not in the Criminal Code. The purpose of this bill is to get it in there in order to give the police an extra tool when they are doing their job of protecting society.

The court decision in Feeney has been roundly criticized. It has been noted that in recent years the courts have begun to slowly chip away at the section 8 guarantee in the charter regarding the warrant in the search and seizure area, which is pretty well indicative of society's commitment to community values and to major crime control.

There are currently some sections of the Criminal Code that allow for an arrest without a warrant. A car could be searched under certain circumstances without a warrant, or a suspicious vehicle could be stopped and searched without a warrant.

A number of incidents have occurred by people on parole or on probation simply because the police have been left defenceless and unable to prevent those individuals from committing a crime.

I want to emphasize that one more time. There is not one party in this House that has not continually said we must do more to prevent crime. That is exactly what this private member's bill will do. This private member's bill was put together because of the possible and potential victims in our land, and because of the people who are on parole and probation violating those conditions. Once they are seen and once they are spotted by the police, arrest without warrant makes completely good sense. Let us think of the victim, not the criminal.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Wild Rose for bringing this important bill forward.

He mentioned quite a few scenarios of some of the people who could be protected if the police were given this power. It is not a parole issue, but I often think of people who have restraining orders against them, who just walk right through those restraining orders and harm someone they know and have some kind of vendetta against.

He also talked about children. He and I worked together recently on a private member's bill to raise the age of sexual consent in Canada. Sadly, that was defeated, but that fight is not over. We will continue that another day.

I would like him to expand on the fact that the main focus of what he is proposing here is to protect Canadians. We all know that the first and foremost job of any government is the security and safety of the citizens of the country. Could he expand on some of the scenarios where he sees that this piece of legislation would help protect Canadians?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, what I have seen and what I have been told by different police officers all across the country is frightening. Those who have endorsed the proposition through the Canadian Police Association and other organizations to do something about giving the police the authority to stop crime before it happens is phenomenal.

The most frightening scenario that I have heard is police officers saying that it is sad when they see an individual in a schoolyard area or a park, whom they know has been ordered to stay away from children. They have been ordered not to be there. That is frightening.

Let us give the police the authority to arrest him on site and contact the parole officer after. Do not let him go on his way while the police spend time hunting down the parole officer or reporting it to CSC. That is what they want to be able to do. In some jurisdictions, I know that they do that. They are probably doing it illegally because it is not allowed in the Criminal Code.

All I want to do is protect the police officers from being harassed by a government that fails to recognize that arrest without warrant is sometimes essential. I believe that could be extremely essential and that is being reported to me by many police officers.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, the member for Wild Rose has been working on justice issues for the 12 years he has been in the House, which is quite a lengthy session. Before that he worked with children as a school teacher. He is a citizen of Canada now but he was born in the United States. He has quite a history of standing up for people who do not have enough strength to stand up for themselves in some cases.

The issue of this private member's bill, which he just mentioned now, is the fact that it is really not changing what gets done. What he is asking for is a change in the order or precedence where somebody who is seen to be breaking parole can be taken into custody and then the due diligence is followed up after that. However, getting that person away from a dangerous situation where the public is at risk is the idea.

I would like him to explain a little more about the fact that it is not really asking for a huge amendment in the Criminal Code. It is just asking for a different order of precedence when it comes to taking these people back into custody.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, in paragraph 495(1)(b) of the Criminal Code it simply explains that there are circumstances when police officers have the authority to arrest without warrant. However, it does not provide any opportunity for an officer to arrest someone who is in violation of a parole or probation order, whether it be to stay away from the spouse, from an area, out of the bars or whatever the case might be. When that parolee or individual who is on probation is spotted and reported, the police must first, under the law, contact CSC and a parole officer.

It might be that they are able to do it very quickly, but if it is late at night, it is not going to be very quick or if it is in a rural area or a remote area, I can guarantee it will not be quick. My question is, before the police can properly respond to that situation with a warrant, how much damage would already be done?

Unfortunately, there are too many cases like that where people have reoffended because the police were not able to act. The law would not allow them to. Let us give them that tool. They want to do their job to the best of their ability. They want to protect society, so let us give them all the tools that they need to do that job.

I want to emphasize once more, there is not one party, not the Liberals, not the Bloc, not the NDP, and not the Conservatives, that I have heard say that the best solution to a lot of our problems is to look for those things that can prevent crime. The police believe extensively that this would be a major prevention and would be essential to the safety of our citizens.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

November 15th, 2005 / 6:25 p.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the amendments to the Criminal Code proposed by the hon. member for Wild Rose in Bill C-329.

The bill summary tells us that the purpose of this enactment is to give a peace office the power to arrest without a warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order binding the person or a condition of the person's parole.

As you know, Madam Speaker, the Criminal Code already contains provisions that enable the police to arrest persons without a warrant. It might be instructive, however, if we took a few moments to review these provisions.

Subsection 495(1) of the Criminal Code provides the police with the power to arrest without warrant a person whom first, the officer believes on reasonable grounds has committed an indictable offence, which would be in the past; second, who the officer believes on reasonable grounds is about to commit an indictable offence, which would be a future offence; or third, one who is actually committing a criminal offence, which would obviously be in the present.

However, this power of arrest without warrant is circumscribed by subsection 495(2) of the Criminal Code. Here is what subsection 495(2) provides:

(2) A peace officer shall not arrest a person without warrant for

(a) an indictable offence mentioned in section 553,

Theft where the alleged value of the subject matter of the offence does not exceed $5,000 would be an example of such an offence. It continues:

(b) an offence for which the person may be prosecuted by indictment or for which he is punishable on summary conviction, or

(c) an offence punishable on summary conviction,

in any case where

(d) he believes on reasonable grounds that the public interest, having regard to all the circumstances including the need to

(i) establish the identity of the person,

(ii) secure or preserve evidence of or relating to the offence, or

(iii) prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence, may be satisfied without so arresting the person, and

(e) he has no reasonable grounds to believe that, if he does not so arrest the person, the person will fail to attend court in order to be dealt with according to law.

In other words, while the Criminal Code authorizes the police to arrest a person without an arrest warrant in circumstances that would allow a peace officer to reasonably believe that the person is connected to the commission of a criminal offence, it also places reasonable limits on that authority.

Reading subsection 733.1(1) of the Criminal Code, the offence of failure to comply with a probation order, and paragraph 495(1)(a) together, it is clear that a peace officer already has the power to arrest without a warrant a person who has committed the offence described in subsection 733.1(1), or who on reasonable grounds he believes has committed or is about to commit the offence. This would appear to make the proposed new paragraph 495(1)(b.1) redundant.

The new paragraph 495(1)(b.2) of the Criminal Code proposed by Bill C-329 would authorize police officers to arrest without warrant persons who fail to comply with a condition of parole or unescorted temporary absence.

Members should know that non-compliance with a parole condition or a condition attached to an unescorted temporary absence is not a criminal offence. The law is clear. If the act which constitutes the parole violation is in fact the alleged commission of a criminal offence, then section 495 would authorize the arrest without a warrant.

This proposed legislation would give the police the power to arrest without warrant for a mere curfew violation or some other matter which is not a criminal offence and then prevent the release of that person.

What is being proposed here is arrest without warrant for conduct which is not a criminal offence, followed by imprisonment without trial. Just what is to become of that person is not clear. I suppose that the individual would have to apply to the courts for a writ of habeas corpus to secure a release.

These are matters addressed under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and essentially such conduct should lead to the cancellation of the unescorted temporary absence and the issuance of an apprehension warrant, and where the police officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that such a warrant is in force, he or she may arrest the person without warrant and remand the person into custody.

Similarly, when an offender breaches a condition of parole or statutory release, the person's parole or statutory release may be cancelled and a warrant of apprehension may be issued, and where a peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that such a warrant is in force, he or she may arrest the person without warrant and remand the person into custody.

The supervision of offenders on conditional release is a function assigned solely to parole supervisors under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The decision to suspend the conditional release for a breach or to prevent a breach under the CCRA rests with the correctional authorities and the National Parole Board.

When conditional release is suspended, whether for a breach or to prevent a breach, then and only then is there a warrant issued for the arrest of the individual. The proposed Bill C-329 would conflict with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and its underlying principles.

I suggest the proposed legislation is misdirected and ineffectual as a legislative proposal. The bill is unnecessary. It would not contribute to enhancing the safety of Canadians or making the criminal justice system more effective.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-329 was introduced in first reading by the Conservative member for Wild Rose on February 1, 2005 and put on the priority list on June 20, 2005. This will be its fourth appearance in the House of Commons since 2001.

Bill C-329 amends the Criminal Code in order to give peace officers the power to arrest without a warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order, or a condition of parole or unescorted temporary absence.

I should point out to begin with that arrest without warrant by a peace officer is already in the Criminal Code, so this is nothing new.

At the present time, the Code allows a peace officer to arrest without warrant a person who has committed an indictable offence or is about to commit an indictable offence. He must have reasonable grounds to believe the person has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence. A peace officer can also arrest without warrant a person who is in the process of committing a crime or one in respect of whom he has reasonable grounds to believe that a warrant of arrest or committal is in force. This is all set out in subsection 495(1) of the Criminal Code.

Bill C-329 proposes to broaden the list of situations in which an arrest may be made without warrant. The first condition added is if a person is in breach of a probation order; second, if a person wilfully fails or refuses to comply with a condition of parole; third, if the person wilfully fails or refuses to comply with a condition of unescorted temporary absence

Bill C-329 therefore allows a peace officer to arrest without warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order, or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has committed or is about to commit the offence. A peace officer may also arrest without warrant a person who wilfully fails or refuses to comply with a condition of parole or of an unescorted temporary absence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has breached or is about to breach such a condition;

The Bloc Québécois continues to believe in and support the principle of rehabilitation. Probation orders, unescorted absences and parole orders are effective means of rehabilitation that have proven their value.

The Bloc recognizes that rehabilitation measures have sometimes failed and allowed offenders to commit new crimes. We still believe that society has no choice but to promote measures to return people who have broken the law to society. There is always an element of risk associated with rehabilitation. The aim must be to lower the risk at all times, knowing full well that it will never reach zero.

The justice system will never be perfect. Judicial errors occur, for example, such as the one involving David Milgaard, who was sentenced at 17 to life in prison for a murder he did not commit.

The system's failings must not lead us to throw the baby out with the bath water. We have to resist the temptation to reject the system's basic principles, such as rehabilitation. Instead, we must increase guarantees of security, surveillance methods and instruments of action in order to strike a balance among public security, the need to promote rehabilitation and the importance of maintaining public trust in the judicial system.

To ensure this balance, offenders authorized to move about in the community must meet all the conditions set for them either by a judge or by a parole commissioner. The system's credibility and the public's trust depend on the ability of the police to have the conditions met. So peace officers must have the means necessary to intervene quickly when parole conditions have been violated.

Bill C-329 will give peace officers the power to prevent offenders from violating their conditions of parole, probation or absence and to return them quickly before a judge when they have violated one of the conditions of release.

It is therefore in this perspective that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of Bill C-329. It represents, in our opinion, an important surveillance and intervention instrument that will better protect the public, give a measure of credibility back to the judicial and correctional system and still permit recourse to the rehabilitation measures the Bloc believes in.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe the bill before us this evening, Bill C-329, is an attempt on the part of the mover of the bill to shift responsibility with regard to enforcement of provisions that are imposed upon people who have been accused or have been charged and are either out on bail conditions, recognizance or, if convicted, on parole.

We have an existing system for how this works. I think we have to look at the law from that perspective and recognize, I suppose, historically, if I can start from that vantage point, that for more than 400 years, arguably as far back as the Magna Carta, society has looked very closely at how we treat individuals within our society and when we require our enforcement officers, whether they be police or other agents, to have the judicial authority to apprehend someone or to actually conduct search and seizures of property.

We have a lengthy history of doing this and it is a constant balance. I believe what is being attempted here is to shift that balance somewhat. The provisions of the bill, as it stands now, would be to implement in the Criminal Code additional authority for our regular police officers to charge, apprehend and arrest without warrant individuals who had breached the terms of their conditions of release on parole.

The argument that we hear being made to support the purpose of this bill and its passing into law is that police officers need this authority. I think we have to stand back, look at that and say that there is other legislation, specifically the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, that already empowers agents in those agencies to enforce the provisions of that act.

The argument we hear against that is that it is just not working very well. My answer to that is an amendment, not to the Criminal Code to shift authority, but an amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. I think there may be some merit to considering that.

We have certainly seen a number of cases in the country where individuals, either charged or convicted of crimes, who obviously were not benefiting from the restrictions they were supposed to be functioning under and in fact were abusive of those conditions or terms of release and were ignoring them or breaching them on a regular basis. I therefore believe there are strong arguments for tightening this up but the tightening up should occur under that legislation rather than the Criminal Code.

When we go back to look at our long history of determining people's rights to security of the person, that is, from unreasonable arrest, we put quite clear restrictions on when police officers and enforcement officers under the Criminal Code can apprehend without an arrest warrant. What I believe we would be doing under this bill is interfering with the role that we have imposed on agents, whether they be parole officers or agents at the provincial level who enforce these conditions, and leaving to them, which is what I believe we should do, the authority to enforce. If it is not working that well, then we should amend that act and provide them with additional authority.

My final point is on the existing provisions within the Criminal Code. We have heard a bit of it this evening about the need to add this additional authority to our police officers for them to be able to prevent crimes from being committed by individuals who are out under bail conditions, recognizance or on parole. Subsection 495(2)(d)(iii) of the Criminal Code has a specific provision that allows police officers to arrest without warrant when it would “prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence”.

If police officers have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence is being committed or will continue to be committed, under the existing Criminal Code, they can arrest without a warrant. With regard to prevention, the code already has those provisions in it. This to some degree would be duplicitous. More important, and I come back to the essential point, this enforcement to deal with people who abuse their bail or parole conditions should be left under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to the officers and agents who are responsible thereunder.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to the private member's bill that my colleague from Wild Rose has introduced. I will start off by condensing the purpose that we, as legislators, have to ensure that the safety of Canadians is utmost.

It is tragic that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have fallen down on that job and have provided us a legacy of being soft on crime. It has left Canadians at risk. To compensate for the Liberals philosophy of not doing their jobs, my Conservative colleagues and I have had to create a number of justice related private members' bills to address the concerns of Canadians and the concerns of safety.

Today, we are looking at one of those examples, Bill C-329, an act to amend the Criminal Code, to arrest without warrant. My hard-working colleague from Wild Rose has been pursuing a number of different private members' bills over the last 12 years. I want to give him the credit he deserves.

For 12 years we have been in an environment like the one we heard a moment ago from the parliamentary secretary. He read a prepared script from the government in which it said that it was sorry but it would not arrest people. Even though people are going down the road into a crime cycle, even though they will commit crimes, there is no indictable offence so they will not be arrested. That is the legacy. The member for Wild Rose has shown patience in putting up with that for 12 years.

I will share some examples of where the Liberals have fallen down on the job. I hope members of the House will support the hon. member for Wild Rose because he has done an incredible job.

The purpose of Bill C-329 is to give a peace officer the power to arrest without a warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order or a condition of the person's parole. The bill was prompted by a resolution from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in response to the controversial 1997 Supreme Court decision, Regina v. Feeney. A similar resolution was also prepared by the Canadian Professional Police Association.

I would like to refer to the Feeney case. It involved the bludgeoning murder of an 85 year old B.C. man. The police, suspecting that Feeney was the culprit, went to the window of the trailer Feeney used as a residence. Unable to arouse Feeney, the police entered the trailer and found him sleeping. The police seized blood-soaked clothing and other evidence of the offence and arrested him for the murder. Feeney was convicted, based in part on the evidence seized after the police entered the trailer. One of the issues confronting the Supreme Court of Canada was the admissibility of the blood-soaked shirt and other evidence seized in the trailer.

The court overturned its previous decision and held that in order for the police to enter and search a dwelling to search for and to arrest a person, prior authorization, a warrant, was required.

The question we asked is, are those reasonable limits? The person who was convicted was involved in a bludgeoning murder, beating a person to death, an 85 year old man in B.C. and Feeney's conviction was overturned because the police did not have the authority to look in that trailer. I do not think those are reasonable limits and I think most Canadians would agree. I think most Canadians agree that we need to give police appropriate authority.

Existing legislation in policies of Correctional Service Canada do not permit the timely arrest and detention of parole and probation violators. Presently, the police officers can only notify probation officers when they believe that a person is in breach of an order. With a time delay, further crimes are often committed.

The bill would remedy this situation and give law enforcement more tools to deal with repeat offenders. The government has indicated that this is something that needs to be changed, but it continues to dither and not take real steps to address the problem. The Liberal government lacks any genuine concern and action on victims' rights.

Preventing crime and protecting victims means reducing the opportunities for people to commit new crimes. We must change the law to tell parole and probation violators that the days of the law turning a blind eye to crimes committed while they are on parole are over.

From now on, crime prevention should include the ability of law enforcement officers to make arrests without warrant. The controversial decision of Regina v. Feeney is an example of where the courts are making significant decisions and leaving it up to parliamentarians to enact legislation to protect our communities, and that is what we have to do today.

I would like to highlight another example where the courts have made decisions to do with probation and Parliament needs to act, and that is the Shoker decision. I was at a B.C. probation officers forum about two weeks ago and this came up. They are very concerned about their ability to enforce conditions of release. The conditions of release are not meaningless. We have heard from the parliamentary secretary that they are not enforceable. If they are breached, it is not a criminal offence. These conditions are put upon release to ensure that criminals do not start down this crime cycle.

This is the Shoker story. He was convicted of break and enter with the intention of committing sexual assault after he broke into a home in Abbotsford at midnight of September 7, 2003. While naked, he attempted to climb into the sleeping woman's bed. The victim, who was married to an RCMP officer, jumped out of bed screaming and called 911. Her husband then arrived and arrested Shoker.

Shoker, who has used heroine, speed, cocaine and marijuana, said that he was not thinking straight because he was on drugs. He was sentenced to 20 months in jail and two years' probation. He had earlier lost his driver's licence to an accident caused by his drug impairment and a psychologist testified that Shoker showed a lack of insight into the seriousness of his substance abuse problem. He was previously charged and acquitted of entering the home of another sleeping woman and pulling the blankets off of her also.

Last year the B.C. appeal court ruled the probation condition that offenders abstain from drugs or alcohol and also to require that offenders undergo periodic urinalysis, blood testing or breathalyzer tests were unconstitutional. That condition appears on thousands of probation orders across our country. Now that cannot be enforced. Offenders cannot be forced to submit to urinalysis or blood tests to determine whether the offender, who is out on release, is going down the crime cycle.

The B.C. appeal court deleted the probation condition requiring Shoker to supply body samples on request because it concluded that there were simply no safeguards in the Criminal Code that would prevent authorities from demanding and seizing the offender's bodily samples arbitrarily.

Back to the comment made by the parliamentary secretary. Are these reasonable limits? I do not believe they are. It is not reasonable to allow somebody, who is going down a crime cycle, to start into drugs, or pornography or whatever it is that drives them into their crime cycle. If these people are released with conditions, the conditions have to be enforced.

This is what the hon. member for Wild Rose is saying. The police know these people. They deal with them. They know them by name. The police need the authority to intervene when they know people are going down these crime cycles. If it is 2 o'clock in the morning, it is not practical to try to make contact with a probation officer. The member is saying to give the police the authority to remove that person if they are in a crime cycle. The police know it.

It is a good bill. The member has been trying for four sessions in Parliament and we still have the same opposition, the same excuses to protect the criminals and not the victims, not Canadians. It is our responsibility to create good legislation. Bill C-329 is good legislation and I encourage every member of the House to support it.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to join in this second reading debate on Bill C-329, an act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada.

This bill would empower a police officer to arrest without warrant a person allegedly in breach of a probation order or an offender who is alleged to have breached a condition of conditional release such as parole or temporary absence.

From a federal perspective, our concern lies with the power of arrest without warrant as it applies to federal offenders on parole or temporary absence.

I am aware that this matter has been before the House on a number of occasions before I came here. Therefore, the details of this fairly simple and direct proposal have been discussed a number of times by previous speakers in the course of previous debates.

There may not be much to be said with regard to the specifics of this legislation, but I do want to view it from a broader perspective and give it the attention it deserves.

Many of our constituents across the country, certainly those from Dartmouth--Cole Harbour, have strong opinions on the way the criminal justice system should work. I welcome this bill as a basis for the discussion of some of the legislation that frames the system. I would like to outline for fellow members and for interested Canadians who may be following this some of the background that I think should be considered each time reform of the laws governing criminal misconduct is undertaken.

The Criminal Code of Canada is the focus of the amendments that the hon. member for Wild Rose proposes to amend. This represents but one of many interrelated statutes that have evolved to guide us in our daily conduct and to exact accountability when societal norms and values are violated.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Income Tax Act, the Fisheries Act, the Narcotics Control Act and the Official Secrets Act are just samples of the federal statutes that exist to control behaviour and to exact accountability when their provisions fail to deter.

Also, in the consideration of Bill C-329, the provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act are certainly relevant. This is because the measure before us would undermine that legislation.

I believe it is important that the record of the debate on this proposed legislation shows the course followed by most apprehended offenders, from the point of commission of an offence to the determination of their penalty.

In a typical case, an individual may be arrested by a police officer who, although operating in accordance with local policies and procedures, is ultimately answerable to a provincial government. Each province, through the provisions of our Constitution Act, exercises responsibility for the administration of the Criminal Code and related federal statutes as well as any ancillary laws that I have mentioned.

The case would then proceed within the provincial jurisdiction to a crown attorney, who takes the facts to court. If the judge determines guilt and the sentence is a fine, probation or incarceration for less than two years, the offender will remain in the provincial purview. Should the sentence be of two or more years' duration, however, he or she will become the responsibility of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and the administration of the sentence will fall to the Correctional Service of Canada and, finally, the National Parole Board.

Most of those convicted will at some stage encounter one or more voluntary organizations which often assist in the supervision of those who are conditionally released and offer assistance in preparing offenders for their reintegration back into the community. Most offenders will serve the last days of their sentences in the community, whether subject to the conditions of parole or statutory release.

Under the provisions of this bill, every one of them would in this period essentially be subject to arbitrary arrest. That is the concern. By supporting supervision by police as proposed by this bill, we would be sanctioning the detention of those on conditional release for actions that would not result in arrest for any other Canadian.

I join other speakers by reiterating that our police have power to detain anyone they encounter who they believe to have broken any law or to be a danger to themselves or others. Section 31 of the Criminal Code authorizes the arrest without warrant of anybody who has committed a breach of the peace or who, on reasonable grounds, is believed to be about to engage in a breach of the peace.

I do not know how much more we believe the police need to carry out their duties. We all want the police to have the appropriate powers to carry out their duties and this bill addresses that. The question is, how much do they need? Therein lies the difference.

The system is not simple. From municipal to provincial jurisdiction, from the correctional agencies of the federal system to the voluntary sector, it is important that we keep in mind the number of diverse players in criminal justice.

The vast majority of offenders will serve the latter portion of their sentences under supervision in the community. There may be some who require more control or more assistance and perhaps more vigilance on the part of those who are entrusted with their supervision.

These supervisors have the power to end release programs if it is likely that an offender will reoffend. They will issue a warrant of apprehension where a breach of a condition of parole or temporary absence has occurred or where it is necessary to prevent a breach or to protect society. The supervisors are available to issue a warrant 24 hours a day and will often do so in collaboration with police. Moreover, as I said, police already have the power to arrest without warrant an offender they see committing a criminal offence.

Given the complexity of the criminal justice system, the amendment of one act necessitates the adjustment of related acts, and changes in one sector of responsibility may affect all other sectors. Therefore, I believe that the resources of the House and the committee system might better be employed in an effort to make considered, coherent and comprehensive reforms rather than a single adjustment to one act.

I appreciate the efforts of the hon. member for Wild Rose. I recognize that in general terms a private member's bill might well be a suitable beginning to necessary reform. I must nonetheless, however, offer my opinion that every attempt should be made to address all possible issues arising from this proposal within a deliberate consultative process before that action is taken involving the House.