House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was dna.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification, and to recommend to the House that this bill be given second reading and referred to committee.

This bill is highly technical. It is necessary, however, to make these technical changes so that we can proclaim former Bill C-13, which was passed in the last Parliament with all party support.

Many members are familiar with the background of this bill because they were here when Bill C-13 was passed, but I will provide a brief background for the benefit of new members.

The National DNA Data Bank, which is operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, began operating on June 30, 2000. Basically, it compares DNA profiles of convicted offenders with DNA profiles found at crime scenes. It now contains almost 100,000 profiles from convicted offenders and about 30,000 profiles from crime scenes. The data bank has assisted almost 6,500 police investigations.

In 2001, federal and provincial prosecutors and officials identified a number of deficiencies in the legislation. The Uniform Law Conference, which includes representatives of the defence bar, passed resolutions calling for high priority to be given to remedying seven problems.

The government launched public consultations in the fall of 2002. It was only in May 2004 that former Bill C-35 was introduced to correct the problems that had been identified. The bill died on the order paper when the election was called and was reintroduced as former Bill C-13 in October 2004.

I believe it would be fair to say that while all parties supported the DNA data bank and the changes proposed in the former Bill C-13, many members wanted to make more extensive changes.

There were negotiations among the parties to develop a package of changes that could secure unanimous support for the bill. In May 2005, three key amendments to the bill were adopted.

First was extending the retroactive scheme to cover persons convicted of one murder, manslaughter or sexual assault. I recall that our party, in opposition, was particularly keen in bringing that issue forward.

Second was creating a category of very violent offences where the court would have no discretion to refuse to make the DNA order. Again, this was another initiative of the party that I am in, which made that recommendation in the last Parliament.

Third was extending the definition of secondary designated offences to cover all offences under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that are punishable on indictment by five years or more.

The bill then moved with lightning speed and with all party support through the House and the Senate because of an impending confidence vote on the budget.

The provisions of former Bill C-13 that came into force upon receiving royal assent were those dealing with the expansion of the retroactive scheme, which makes about 4,400 more offenders eligible to be sampled, the procedure for dealing with DNA orders that appear on their face to have been improperly made, and the procedures for dealing with moderate DNA matches.

The major amendments that have not yet been brought into force are the following.

First is allowing courts to make DNA data bank orders against a person who has been found “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder”.

Second is adding Internet luring of a child, uttering threats, criminal harassment, and “criminal organization” offences to the list of designated offences.

Third is moving “robbery” and “break and enter into a dwelling house” and child pornography related offences from the list of secondary designated offences to the list of primary designated offences.

Fourth is creating a new sub-category of the primary designated offence list of 16 extremely violent offences for which the courts will have no discretion whatsoever and must make the order.

Fifth is expanding the definition of secondary designated offences to include all offences that are punishable by imprisonment for five years or more.

Most members will agree that these are significant changes that will enhance the ability of the police to use the data bank and to protect Canadians from criminals.

Why, then, are they not yet in force? Federal, provincial and territorial officials, who were preparing for the proclamation of the remaining provisions of Bill C-13, identified a number of serious technical problems that should be corrected prior to proclamation and certain procedures that should be modified to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The former government, therefore, introduced Bill C-72 in November 2005 to make the necessary changes. However, that bill died when the election was called.

Officials have continued their work and they have identified more changes that would clarify Parliament's intent in passing former Bill C-13 and the procedures that should be modified to make the DNA legislation more effective.

As a former provincial crown prosecutor, I know how important it is to have clear procedures set out in the Criminal Code if legislation is to be effective. I am pleased that my department took the initiative of holding a two day meeting with prosecutors, police, forensic scientists and correctional personnel to go over Bill C-13 with a fine tooth comb.

Bill C-18, the present bill, proposes about a dozen changes that were not in the former Bill C-72, and those changes flowed directly from that meeting. Bill C-18 proposes no changes in the underlying policies or procedures already adopted by Parliament. It contains mainly drafting changes, such as the creation of 10 new forms. These changes are not dramatic and they will not grab the headlines, but they will be welcomed by the people in the field who need to make what Parliament passes work.

Bill C-18 also contains some substantive changes that I believe will be supported by all members of the House. In particular, it would add attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder to the offences covered by the retroactive provisions. These are very serious offences that indicate an elevated risk of reoffending and are punishable by life imprisonment, a higher punishment than for the sexual offences that are already included in the retroactive scheme.

It would also permit the Crown to apply for retroactive DNA data bank order where the offender was convicted prior to June 30, 2000 of one of the listed offences and is still under sentence for that offence, rather than requiring that the person be serving a sentence of two years or more.

There are a few cases of persons who, prior to June 30, 2000, received multiple consecutive sentences for various offences, including some of the offences that make an offender eligible for retroactive sampling and who are still under sentence. Although the court clearly considered them to be serious offenders, it did not impose a sentence of two years or more for any one of the relevant offences. It would also allow a DNA order to be made within 90 days after the sentence is pronounced.

It is believed that the main reason orders are not being made in many cases where they are already authorized is that prosecutors are extremely busy and are forgetting to remind the court to consider the issue. This would give both the prosecutor and the judge the time to review the files and, if the matter was simply missed, to have a hearing where the prosecution and the offender can present their arguments to the judge, who will decide whether to make the order.

It would also make it an offence to fail to appear for DNA sampling. It is expected that having a specific offence will better emphasize to the offender the necessity of appearing for sampling and so increase compliance with DNA data bank orders. It would authorize any police force that arrests the person for failing to appear for a DNA sample to take the sample.

It would be very expensive if offenders arrested in one province had to be sent back to the province where the order was made to have the sample taken. It would permit a police agency that has been authorized to take a DNA sample to authorize another police agency to take the sample if that would be less expensive. The police have been hampered in their efforts to execute the orders where the offender has been incarcerated outside its jurisdiction or been conditionally released but resides outside its jurisdiction.

The procedure to have the order transferred to a court having jurisdiction and obtaining another order are time consuming and use up resources unnecessarily.

There are also some changes being made to ensure that the National DNA Data Bank can communicate with the forensic laboratories and with its international partners more effectively.

Parliament certainly wanted to encourage these exchanges, but the amendment, as passed in Bill C-13, is not as clear as it should be. As well, the National Defence Act is being amended so that the DNA regime applicable to the military continues to mirror the civilian regime.

There are many other technical changes of this nature in the bill and I am sure that when the bill gets to committee for detailed consideration, officials will explain them all. I trust this is sufficient, however, for members to realize that the changes proposed by this bill will be very helpful to law enforcement, prosecutors and judges who have to use the legislation on a daily basis.

Passage of this bill will allow for the proclamation of the rest of former Bill C-13 and should ensure that it is implemented smoothly.

It is, of course, not the end of the changes to the DNA legislation. As members are aware, the five year parliamentary review of the DNA legislation should have begun by June 30, 2005. Officials of my department, the Department of Public Safety, the RCMP and the National DNA Data Bank are ready to assist the committee as soon as it is mandated to commence the review.

The delay in beginning the review is not entirely unfortunate. The committee will be able to consider such issues as making the taking of a DNA sample automatic upon conviction, or even more variations in light of the strong endorsement of the existing legislation by the Supreme Court in R. v. Rogers, which was decided in April of this year.

Rogers was primarily a case involving the ex parte nature of retroactive hearings, but Rogers also challenged the constitutionality of the scheme.

It is useful to consider the Supreme Court's detailed reasons upholding the constitutionality of the legislation. I want to quote from this because it is important for our discussions. The Supreme Court stated:

There is no question that DNA evidence has revolutionized the way many crimes are investigated and prosecuted. The use of this new technology has not only led to the successful identification and prosecution of many dangerous criminals, it has served to exonerate many persons who were wrongfully suspected or convicted. The importance of this forensic development to the administration of justice can hardly be overstated. At the same time, the profound implications of government seizure and use of DNA samples on the privacy and security of the person cannot be ignored. A proper balance between these competing interests must be achieved within our constitutional framework.

The court continues to state:

For reasons that follow, I have concluded that the collection of DNA samples for data bank purposes from designated classes of convicted offenders is reasonable within the meaning of s. 8 of the Charter.

That is the section of the charter dealing with the protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The court continues to state:

Society’s interest in using this powerful new technology to assist law enforcement agencies in the identification of offenders is beyond dispute. The resulting impact on the physical integrity of the targeted offenders is minimal. The potential invasive impact on the right to privacy has carefully been circumscribed by legislative safeguards that restrict the use of the DNA data bank as an identification tool only.

The Supreme Court continues to state:

Unlike the warrant provisions, the DNA data bank provisions do not target suspected offenders in respect of particular offences. Rather, they target offenders who have been convicted of different categories of offences. They do not provide for the gathering of evidence for use in a specific prosecution. Rather, they provide for the collection of samples solely for the purpose of creating DNA profiles for inclusion in the data bank. In any future investigation, a comparison between DNA evidence obtained at a crime scene and the data bank DNA profile will either serve to exonerate or identify a suspect. However, if a crime scene DNA profile matches an existing profile in the data bank, the sample is not released. Usual investigative methods, including DNA warrants, must be resorted to in order to gather evidence in pursuit of the investigation.

The court continues to state:

In my view, in considering the purpose of the DNA data bank provisions, the appropriate analogy is to fingerprinting and other identification measures taken for law enforcement purposes. The purpose of the legislative scheme is expressly set out in s. 3 of the DNA Identification Act, “...to help law enforcement agencies identify persons alleged to have committed designated offences, including those committed before the coming into force of this Act.”

The court continues to state:

The DNA data bank provisions contained in the DNA Identification Act and the Criminal Code are intended to put modern DNA technology to use in the identification of potential and known offenders. The DNA Identification Act is a modern supplement to the Identification of Criminals Act.

I am sure the committee will undertake a full review of the DNA legislation and it will want to consider carefully the implications of this judgment. I hope all parties on the committee will be able to come to an agreement as to the best way to proceed so as to protect Canadians while continuing to respect their charter and privacy rights.

However, we do not know when the committee will be struck, start its hearings or make its recommendations. I am speaking of the committee that will do the entire review that Parliament mandated a committee to do. We should not wait for this longer and broader process to implement changes that are generally acknowledged to be needed right now.

Therefore, I am pleased to recommend that Bill C-18 be given a second reading and sent to the standing committee for its review.

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his speech. I can assure him that we will be very diligent when reviewing this bill. We are quite aware that this is an important tool for the police. The Bloc Québécois—and I am sure all members—has always been concerned with maintaining the balance between protecting privacy in certain circumstances and carrying out investigations with due diligence.

I would like the minister to provide a bit more information about one aspect of this bill, that is the RCMP's prerogative to release information about criminal investigations in general. I thought it was possible for the RCMP to release information about offences subject to collection orders, thus the list of the 16 most serious offences, those we refer to as primary offences.

To whom would this information be provided? Who would be the recipients? Should the bill not contain an additional guideline in this matter? Should we not be concerned about releasing this extremely intrusive, confidential and private DNA information too widely? To what extent is the scope of this section being broadened?

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think we are getting into some of the more technical areas on which I am not qualified to answer appropriately. I can indicate that, as with the fingerprinting regime where individuals are required to provide fingerprints upon being charged with an indictable offence, the DNA situation is much more restrictive. It only applies to individuals who have been convicted.

The Canadian scheme differs radically from the British scheme where individuals are required to give DNA sampling upon being charged. That has resulted in serious cold crimes being solved. In Great Britain, for example, suspects in so-called property offences, break and enters, are required to provide a DNA sample upon being charged. Many other so-called violent crimes have also been solved.

The potential for DNA is immense. I note that the Canadian bill is very restrictive, not only in respect of the offences, but it only occurs in respect of conviction upon those offences and there is discretion on the part of the judges in some of these cases to even at that point refuse to order DNA. I also note that there are restrictions on how police can provide this information, but I think that is an idea that needs to be explored further in committee. I would suggest that the member take that to the officials at committee.

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister would know that a lot of people in this country who have family members who are missing are very concerned about the identification of these persons. I know there are some challenges with respect to using the DNA identification process. In fact, there are current private members' bills that raise the situation. I would think that most of us are very empathetic to people whose relatives are missing.

Would the Minister of Justice take this opportunity to go over some of the issues and challenges that would be addressed with a missing persons matching situation?

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member is right that it is a challenging issue.

I know that the prior government identified certain concerns with respect to that type of a data bank of missing persons. There were some issues about whether or not that was properly within the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government and the federal Parliament. I take the position that it is within the federal constitutional jurisdiction of Parliament. I am looking forward to having that discussion in the context of another bill.

I know there are challenges. I can tell the member that I am quite sympathetic to that issue. Whether it is a private member's bill emanating from the opposition benches or government benches, my department is certainly prepared to look very seriously at that and assist in accommodating such a bill.

In the context of this particular bill however, it would only complicate the issue and delay passage of what are essential amendments to the bill that was passed by Parliament prior to the last election. The government did not want to raise that particular issue that the member for London West has raised in the context of this bill. Whether it is raised in the context of a separate private member's bill or in the overall review, that is something Parliament should look at very seriously.

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will apologize in advance if the minister addressed this point in his opening comments, but I came in a few minutes late.

Bill C-18 makes provision for retroactive gathering of DNA samples from individuals who have been accused and convicted and are currently serving sentences. They would be quite lengthy sentences because the individuals would still be in custody. For people who have been convicted of those offences the bill would allow for a sample to be taken from them now, when it would not have allowed it under the existing law.

Does the minister know how many convicted individuals are still incarcerated who would be subject to the changes that he is proposing? Is it the intent of the government that samples would be taken from every single one of those individuals?

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important point and a good point.

We know that the bill back in May 2005 did extend the retroactive scheme to cover persons convicted of one murder, one manslaughter, or one sexual assault, which prior to that was not included. Those were included in that.

I stand to be corrected here but it is my understanding that the only substantive amendment in respect of retroactive changes to allow the authorities to take DNA samples deals with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They are very serious offences.

I am not certain of the number of persons presently incarcerated. I do not anticipate it being a very large number given, generally speaking, the murder rates in Canada.

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank the minister for participating in a round table in Oshawa in the summer. One of the comments I got back from the community leaders was about how well he listened and also his commitment to improving victims' rights.

I wonder if he could expand on the bill and how it relates to victims' rights.

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, technically it does not address the issue of victims' rights, but indirectly every time a wrongdoer, an offender is prosecuted and has been brought to justice because of DNA, I think that supports victims' rights and it is important from that point of view.

However, as was mentioned earlier by one of the opposition members, the whole issue of missing persons, for example, is an important element that we need to address. Also important is DNA being able to exonerate individuals who in fact are innocent. DNA assists in that exoneration process. If we can speak for a moment of people who are victims of a proceeding in that sense, who have been wrongfully convicted or wrongfully accused, DNA is one of the most effective ways of proving that the individual is not implicated in a particular crime.

I appreciate the opportunity that I had to be in Oshawa to participate with my colleague's constituents in a very informative discussion.

Generally speaking, I view the expansion of these DNA sampling authorizations to be important simply as one more tool by which the police can apprehend suspects and convict them. I believe though, at the same time, the bill is carefully balanced to ensure there is not a transgression of anyone's individual charter rights. Whether the bill goes far enough in that respect, again I would point the member to the Rodgers case that sets out certain guiding principles. I think I would also point to the experiences of other countries, primarily Great Britain, which has a much broader right to take DNA and at the same time has certain safeguards in place. It obviously does involve some balancing that needs to take place.

I believe that these are very good initial steps, but I do not think that we should stop at this point.

An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification. Bill C-18 impacts the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act.

I, along with many in this chamber, was a member of the House when the DNA Identification Act was created in 1998. The act came into force on June 30, 2000.

Section 13 specifically provides that within five years of the coming into force of the act a review of the provisions and operations should be undertaken by a committee of the House, the Senate, or by both. This review has not yet taken place and the current Minister of Justice by letter earlier this year states that the review “should begin as soon as possible after this bill receives royal assent”.

I believe for many reasons that the review should happen as soon as possible. I would like to know from the minister if his assurance for the mandated review really means only after more of his so-called law and order bills come before the House or if the review can take place within the next year in a reasonable amount of time. Where exactly is the review on the list of priorities of the minority government?

In a letter which I believe was sent to all members of the justice committee, the minister identified various issues he wished to be discussed and they are important areas for discussion. Among them are: having only one list of designated offences; the scope of judicial discretion with respect to making an order; taking DNA under the Identification of Criminals Act; international sharing; the one I just mentioned moments ago, kinship analysis; volunteer samples; victim samples; and exoneration.

The current Minister of Justice whom we have just heard from has urged that the amendments in Bill C-18 are needed to give the benefits of changes made under the former government's Bill C-13 passed recently. Former Bill C-13 was adopted on May 19, 2005 and only some parts of Bill C-13 are currently in force.

For people who may have not been part of that legislative process, it may be useful to set out the purpose of the DNA Identification Act. Section 3 states:

The purpose of this Act is to establish a national DNA data bank to help law enforcement agencies identify persons alleged to have committed designated offences, including those committed before the coming into force of this Act.

The principles of the act are contained in section 4 and include:

(a) the protection of society and the administration of justice are well served by the early detection, arrest and conviction of offenders, which can be facilitated by the use of DNA profiles;

(b) the DNA profiles, as well as samples of bodily substances from which the profiles are derived, may be used only for law enforcement purposes in accordance with this Act, and not for any unauthorized purpose; and

(c) to protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves, safeguards must be placed on

(i) the use and communication of, and access to, DNA profiles and other information contained in the national DNA data bank, and

(ii) the use of, and access to, bodily substances that are transmitted to the Commissioner for the purposes of this Act.

The use of DNA analysis in solving crime has emerged as one of the most powerful tools that is currently available to law enforcement agencies for the administration of justice in our land. This has taken place in just over a decade. Actually it is remarkable. Its impact is akin to the introduction of fingerprint evidence in court over 100 years ago.

In the science of police investigation, DNA evidence is a major enhancement for the safety of Canadians. What is the value of DNA to public investigations? We should know that biological samples collected from a crime scene can either link a suspect to the scene or rule the suspect out as a donor of the DNA. Evidence from different crime scenes can be compared to link the same perpetrator to multiple offences, whether they occurred next door, across the country, or halfway around the world. It can also identify a victim through DNA from close relatives.

DNA is referred to often as the blueprint of life. It is a fundamental building block of a person's complete and entire genetic makeup. DNA is found in virtually every tissue in the human body. Experts tell us that the DNA in a person's blood is the same in the skin cells, the saliva, the hair and other bodily parts. Highly discriminating other than with respect to identical twins, it is a powerful tool for identification. Every person's DNA is unique to them, again with the exception of identical twins.

The DNA molecule itself can last significant environmental challenges. It is very stable. This enables the forensic experts to obtain new information from very old biological evidence, or establish important data from very badly degraded samples, which can occur when say a body is found or a crime scene is unearthed long after the fact of incidence.

The stability of the molecule and the fact we have very discriminating features of individual DNA and the accuracy of the analysis techniques that the current DNA people use make this a very efficient and strong human identification technology. It is a most vital component of most of our police investigations today of a very serious nature.

I should state that the national data bank respects the considerations, as it should, of the genetic privacy of individuals and follows strict guidelines as specified in the DNA Identification Act. The biological samples that are collected from convicted offenders and the resulting DNA profiles can only be used for law enforcement purposes. Thus, the National DNA Data Bank assists the law enforcement communities in solving crimes by linking crimes together where there are no suspects, by helping to identify suspects or conversely by eliminating suspects where there is no match between the crime scene DNA and the DNA profile in the national data bank. Further, it assists in determining whether a serial offender is involved.

By statute, the national data bank, which is located here in Ottawa, is responsible for two principal indices. The first is a convicted offenders index, which is an electronic index that has been developed from DNA profiles, collected from offenders convicted by designated primary and secondary offences identified in section 487.04 of the Criminal Code. I believe, as of mid-May 2006, the convicted offender index had nearly 100,000 entries.

The second is the crime scene index, which is a separate electronic index composed of DNA profiles obtained from crime scene investigations of the same designated offences addressed under the act. Thus we have several thousands, as the minister said, of the DNA samples from convicted offenders, which are included in the National DNA Data Bank along with the samples from various crime scenes across the country.

Large numbers of police officers from every province and territory jurisdiction in Canada have been the recipients of specific and proper training on how to collect and forward the DNA samples, which are then sent to the data bank in Ottawa for the proper analysis.

We know that the National DNA Data Bank has recorded over 5,200 crime scene to offender matches and more than 750 crime scene to crime scene matches. As everyone should appreciate, this developing science has to be managed very appropriately and properly to safeguard people's constitutional rights.

We have had, though, over the last number of years continuous consultations with provinces and territories and the public at large. They all have been instrumental in developing the amending legislation over the last couple of bills. Again, under the former Liberal government in Bill C-13, changes were made to improve the public safety and the approach of the bill continued to respect the constitutionally protected rights of individuals and their privacy interests. This is the problematic challenge area of concern for many.

When the bill was before committee the last time, the Privacy Commissioner was there expressing some concerns. It is right that these types of debates happen. That is why it is totally necessary we have the overall review and, hopefully, that will not be delayed.

Under the act, we currently have both primary and secondary designated offences. The primary designated offences are considered the most serious criminal offences. They are, for example, sexual offences, murder and manslaughter. The significant but relatively less serious offences would come under the threshold of secondary designated offences in the act. Two examples that have been shown would be assault and arson.

For people to understand the practical difference, a judge who convicts a person of a primary designated offence is required to make an order for the collection of the DNA sample from the offender, unless the offender can convince the court otherwise, under a specific section, subsection 487.051(2) of the Criminal Code. It is usually mandatory unless there are strict criteria.

With a secondary designated offence, and this is the difference, a DNA sample collection order may be granted if the court, upon application of the Crown, is satisfied that it is in the best interests of justice to do so. It should be noted that if a person was convicted or discharged of any designated offence after June 30 of the year 2000, but the act was committed before that date, then the same criteria for granting an order under the secondary designated offence would apply.

Bill C-13 moved a number of previously listed secondary designated offences and the new offence of Internet luring of a child to the primary list. Also Bill C-13 proposed additions to the list of secondary designated offences. Examples of certain offences that moved to the primary list included child pornography and robbery.

Bill C-13 also made changes to the National Defence Act to ensure that the military justice system would remain consistent with the civilian justice system.

The former Liberal government also introduced Bill C-72 in November 2005, less than a year ago. That bill had a series of amendments to help implement the DNA data bank references that were endorsed by Parliament under Bill C-13, which I have just discussed. These technical amendments were to clarify definitions and procedures for obtaining a DNA data bank order and for sharing information. There was a provision to help DNA data bank orders to be carried out, even when, for logistical reasons, it may not have been possible to take the sample at the precise time as set out in the original order.

Bill C-72, which also died when the government fell last year, would have also simplified the procedure to destroy samples taken from those convicted of an offence not intended to be included in the DNA data bank. This is a whole specialized area. There is a lot of concern about whether samples ever really get destroyed or whether we just do not do the matching any more and we lose the ability to match properly.

Among other issues, Bill C-72 was to allow for hearings by video to reduce costs and security associated with two party and greater numbers of offenders eligible for a retroactive sampling as a result of Bill C-13. Therefore, Bill C-72 essentially picked up on some of the issues identified by the stakeholders during the consultations on the implementation of Bill C-13 and also from the committee debate. It was intended to have the technical amendment made under Bill C-72 come into force before the coming into force of the unproclaimed provision of Bill C-13 in order to increase the efficiency of the data bank system and reduce costs.

This has been a somewhat dry and truncated history of the legislation, but it puts us where we are today with the sections.

Bill C-18, introduced by the government based on the work of the former government, is supposed to represent a reincarnation of Bill C-72. Upon looking at the bill, amended forms, which were not ready for Bill C-72, have now been included in Bill C-18. As mentioned previously, we are now further behind the overall review of the legislation. We are again being asked by the Minister of Justice to do the technical amendments before the broader policy and review.

Bill C-18 has some substantive provisions also. I am not going to go through all of them today, that is what we have committee for, but I will give an example. It will make it an offence to fail to appear for DNA sampling. This is similar to the situation in the code where we have an offence for failing to show up for fingerprinting. This seems entirely logical to me. It also proposes to add attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder to the offences covered by the retroactive provisions.

Also, there are simple, or not so simple, procedural changes in Bill C-18. Examples of these amendments include allowing a DNA order to be made within 90 days after the sentence is pronounced and allowing the law enforcement agency authorized to take a DNA sample to authorize another law enforcement agency to do it on its behalf when the offender has moved or been incarcerated outside of the jurisdiction. This would save time and money. As opposed to moving the offender back and forth, we would do the sampling in another jurisdiction, as long as all the orders had been properly made.

These are practical amendments that would assist in an efficient process and rectify some of the on the ground problems that are being experienced by people who have to deal with the various systems, from the justice system courthouse, all the way to the analysis here at the data bank.

For the most part, Bill C-18 is an enhanced version of previous government bills. Since we have last had the occasion to discuss DNA legislation, the Supreme Court of Canada, in R. v. Rogers, has held, among other things, that the collection of DNA samples for data bank purposes from designated class of offenders is reasonable, reasonable as an infringement in our constitutional sense of the word.

In conclusion, I believe it is very appropriate to send the bill to committee for careful consideration. I will restate that I also think it is very appropriate that the House, our Parliament and some of the committees consider a full review so we can have a proper discussion about further emerging areas that need to be addressed, not only those outlined in the Minister of Justice's letters, but maybe some of the concerns of some of the other stakeholders. I think that would be a useful thing to do.