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 sudan.

Topics

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

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the former chair of the justice committee, I know the hon. member is very well versed in these issues, certainly more so than I.

Seeing she has a lengthy background with the issue of the sensitive subject of collection of DNA, why does she think that nowhere in Bill C-18 does it raise the thorny issue of what we call Lindsey's law? I note the summary is long and comprehensive. It is one full page when usually summaries are one paragraph.

I know many people throughout the recent years, from both sides of the House, have tried, through private members' business, to get the concept of Lindsey's law to the House for debate and, hopefully, for implementation. It seems like such an eminently reasonable thing to a layperson If people lose a loved one or a child is abducted, if parents want to voluntarily have their DNA listed and filed and it would be a great aid to the law enforcement offices that may need to compare DNA for identification for that lost loved one, why should there be obstacles?

In a bill as comprehensive as this, that touches on virtually every aspect of the privacy associated with the collection of DNA, could she expand perhaps as to why the government was reluctant to include such a reasonable thing as Lindsey's law?

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

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, although I spent a few years as the vice-chair of the justice committee in 1993 and only chaired the committee in the absence of the existing chair at that time, I did so many times. Unfortunately, we were not dealing with DNA legislation, so I actually look forward as a member of the current committee that we will have a look at this and do the visits that some former members of the committee did at the DNA databank.

When visiting the databank, what is very dry and more difficult to understand about the technical way in which this series of bills operates is that when hearing from the experts and those administering the system, they apparently will show all the technical reasons for privacy that surround the operation of the databank.

This exact question is the one which I posed to the Minister of Justice a couple of minutes ago as the first question on this bill. I can tell the House that in his response he was not giving a lot of information out other than saying his department is currently looking at this.

I know there is a private member's bill which was originally put forward by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who is now a minister of the current government, known as Lindsey's law. We hope that the current government will look at all of the concerns that will be raised around the technical reasons surrounding what the challenges are and whether these can be dealt with through protocols.

I hope I am being clear enough for the member. For instance, if somebody gives a voluntary sample and it matches up with an existing crime scene, there is an incriminating situation that never was intended as it was supposed to be for a match for someone who was missing. There are privacy situations and protocol situations around this.

I do not think any member of the House would be trying to block what is called Lindsey's law because we know the sorrow and non-closure of an issue when a child is missing. The current minister may find out through his technical discussions with the experts who have to deal with it that there may in fact be some challenges to be overcome. I personally hope that these challenges can be overcome because there needs to be some efforts made to assist people with their very real anguish in that situation.

I know it is one of the listed items in the review. It is very important we have this review, but in the meantime the Minister of Justice should work inside his cabinet to push all of the appropriate departments in getting this done so people can have closure.

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

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, further on this subject of DNA, I am wondering if my colleague is aware that one of the most frequent times the subject of DNA comes up for most members of Parliament is in immigration case work. More and more frequently, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is requiring families to produce DNA evidence to allow families to sponsor, for instance, a child from overseas.

In my own experience, I have found this to be an almost insurmountable barrier for the reunification of families associated with immigration cases, in that the fee is about $900 for DNA testing. Most of the recent immigrants to my riding in the inner city of Winnipeg are from East African countries where the average family income is $200 or $300 per year. Even if the applicant family is in Canada, wants to bring over a child, and has to prove with DNA evidence that it is in fact that family's child, the newcomers in Canada have a heck of a time coming up with this fee.

In the context of talking about the DNA registry and Canada coming to terms with DNA as the single most important identifier that we can point to, is the member aware of this burgeoning problem associated with DNA identification, and is she finding in her own riding that more and more Canadians are being stymied and frustrated with reuniting families by virtue of this near impossible test?

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

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have encountered over a number of years situations where DNA testing has actually helped my constituents, people who have come often as refugees fleeing from other countries. I know east Africa was mentioned. I am thinking of one case where a family had a number of children, but because of the refugee situation and civilian strife in their country of origin, they left without any documentation that most people would have to identify their children such as passports and birth certificates.

Some people leave under military situations where they are running away from guns and crossing borders with barely anything other than the clothes on their backs. DNA has been utilized successfully in cases in which I have been involved. Parents were able to identify children who somehow got separated from their families while fleeing. It was one way in which the former government did find a way of reuniting families.

I do understand the point that it is expensive, but it does give certainty and actually helps solve the situation. It is a solution for those families. It brings them together and in a way has helped develop the family reunification objectives of our Immigration Act.

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

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will support this bill in principle, that is, we want police forces to have the tools they need to solve investigations quickly. During investigations, the police may need to collect DNA samples. We also understand the need to have a DNA data bank managed by the RCMP. We will therefore vote in favour of sending this bill to committee after second reading, and we will raise a number of questions.

We feel it is our duty to do so, especially since, in the very recent past—just now, actually—the RCMP's actions were not beyond reproach regarding the collection and sharing of information. In our opinion, there must be extremely firm guarantees that the appropriate recipients of such information will be correctly identified.

Since 1998, the Bloc Québécois has supported these measures. In 1998, we began voting on the first measures concerning the collection of DNA samples. Furthermore, we supported Bill C-13. This is really a question of judges having the ability to impose an order that will be mandatory in some cases, but optional in other cases. This will allow something extremely intrusive in terms of human rights, that is, collecting DNA samples.

We understand fully—and the minister was right to point it out—that when an individual is imprisoned and convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code, it is not unreasonable to ask for a DNA sample.

I will close by sharing our questions on this matter. Bill C-13 deals with the primary designated offences that involve the most violence and relate to sexual assault, and I will name them. There are 16 cases where the courts must issue mandatory orders to take DNA samples. The DNA information is kept in a data bank that is managed by the largest police force, the RCMP. Sampling is mandatory in the following cases: prostitution, living on the avails of prostitution, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, etc. This list of primary designated offences also includes offences such as breaking and entering a dwelling house and participation in the activities of a criminal organization.

Section 467 of the Criminal Code was created in response to the conflicts between outlaw motorcycle gangs in major urban centres. A new offence was added to the Criminal Code: gangsterism, which consists in committing an offence for a criminal organization. Now, in cases of luring children using the Internet or procuring, the Crown must prove that the mandatory sampling order will better serve the interests of justice. In the case of secondary designated offences—all crimes punishable by more than five years in prison—the prosecution must request an order and demonstrate that it is in the interests of justice.

The Bloc Québécois was in favour of all these provisions that would give the police additional resources, because we voted in favour of Bill C-13.

One aspect of Bill C-18 that might warrant further discussion is the fact that, in addition to the existing provisions, the government wants everyone who has been convicted since 2000 of conspiracy and attempted murder to be included in the national DNA data bank.

Obviously there is some grey area. Conspiracy corresponds to a fairly broad provision in criminal law. There are situations where conspiracy leads to the commission of criminal acts, but conspiracy in and of itself is closer to plotting than actually committing the criminal act.

I asked the minister a question earlier, but unfortunately he was unable to provide an answer. Our question is on a provision in the bill that will allow the RCMP—the entity in charge of administering this data bank—to use the information, and thus the DNA.

This data bank has two major indices. The first index includes DNA samples of people who have indeed been convicted of one of the 16 designated offences I mentioned earlier. As far as the second index is concerned, it has to do with scenes of crimes, including unresolved crimes. I will give you an example. A murder occurs on a property and the guilty party is not identified, but there are traces of blood, bodily fluid and other substances. The RCMP collects samples and they become part of the crime scene index. Even when no suspect is identified, there is still anonymous information left by DNA, bodily fluids and blood.

This information is found in two major indices. I was somewhat surprised to see that Bill C-18, if passed in its current form, would allow the Commissioner of the RCMP, Mr. Zaccardelli, to use DNA information for all criminal investigations and offences.

I hope the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities shares my opinion, but, at the risk of repeating myself, I maintain that we must be extremely careful when it comes to distributing personal information. The RCMP is not above reproach. That is why we will leave the parliamentary committee to do its work.

I have read the O'Connor report on the Arar case and it is clear that the RCMP was given a lot of power. It can even respond to requests from other countries and both parties may want to share information.

In investigating an offence that is not necessarily on the list of 16 designated offences that I was talking about, if there is information to do with the DNA of bodily fluids and blood, in other words a genetic profile, the RCMP could distribute this genetic information, affecting potential suspects, to different police bodies and to independent investigators. Obviously we are concerned.

Once again, I recognize the importance of Bill C-18 . In 1998, the Bloc Québécois agreed to the creation of a data bank. We even collaborated on Bill C-13, which was passed unanimously, but we have always expressed reservations concerning the extent to which the information may be shared. This is very important for genetic profile information, and it makes a significant contribution to resolving criminal investigations.

In the absence of a perfect match, Bill C-18 would also enable the RCMP commissioner to communicate similar genetic profiles to foreign authorities.

This is extremely important. Since Bill C-13 was passed, the international communication of profiles has been limited to the validation of DNA samples found at crimes scenes outside of Canada. In such cases, the information in the profile is communicated to police authorities in countries that request it. If there is no match—if the DNA sample is not validated—all the RCMP is authorized to say, according to Bill C-13, is that the DNA profile requested for validation does not correspond to any information in the current data bank.

Bill C-18 takes this a little farther. It would permit identification by DNA profile in the communication of possible matches. This may seem very technical, but it is not just technical. This is about the concerns and the balance we have to have. We accept that convicted individuals who have harmed a person or property and been imprisoned may be subject to an RCMP investigation. However, we are not prepared to say that all foreign police forces can have access to the information in the data bank, even if a suspect has not yet been identified.

These are the issues the committee will discuss. I will take a break for member statements under Standing Order 31, and I will continue my speech after oral question period.

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

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hochelaga will have eight minutes after oral question period to conclude his speech.

Conservative Party of Canada
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, democracy is alive and well in the Vegreville—Wainwright constituency and in the Conservative Party of Canada.

Despite the fact that the last election was only eight months behind us, I was challenged for the nomination. No member of Parliament really likes a nomination challenge, but I fully support the right of party members to do just that.

This commitment to the democratic process is something we simply do not see in the Liberal Party, where Liberal MPs are being protected from nomination challenges.

I thank all 2,100 members who got involved in the process for caring enough to come out and vote. I also thank the members of the board of directors of our EDA, who worked hard to make the process work.

Finally, I commend all Canadians who buy a membership in any political party and get involved in democracy at the grassroots level. To them I say that they are the true protectors of democracy in this country and I thank them for that.

World Sight Day
Statements by Members

October 3rd, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to host World Sight Day 2006 on Parliament Hill. World Sight Day is on October 12. We will mark the occasion tomorrow afternoon.

My office has been working closely with Christian Blind Mission International, CBMI, whose office is located in my riding. It was after having spoken with its leadership that I decided to include Braille on my business cards.

Vision 2020: the Right to Sight is a global initiative of the World Health Organization, along with national governments and organizations. This initiative aims to eliminate unnecessary blindness to give all people, including those in developing countries, the gift of sight.

My office has issued the invitations. I hope that everyone will take the time to learn more about World Sight Day with CBMI, CNIB, Operation Eyesight, the World Blind Union and other members of the Canadian coalition.

Culture
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, culture is what enables humankind to create a framework for itself and for its development. It helps us to think for ourselves. Culture is key to having a sense of belonging to a community. It represents the essential fibre of Quebeckers, influencing our thoughts, words, actions and daily life, and enabling the development of individual members of the community.

Given its ideology intended to smother and stifle our museums, theatre, cinema, and creators, the Conservative government is undermining Quebec's hopes for the survival of its culture, here and around the world.

I would like to remind the House of a simple fact. Because it is culture that embodies the history and pulse of a society, soon, in a sovereign Quebec, culture will become both a major challenge and a collective priority.

Volunteerism
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians value the importance of the non-profit and voluntary sector in providing social, cultural and recreational benefits. The size of its contribution to Canada's economy and job market is enormous at 6.8% of the nation's GDP, more than the mining, oil and gas sectors combined.

In Sault Ste. Marie, the non-profit sector is valued at $78 million and employs more than 1,400 people, but the Conservative government does not get it. It says volunteers are a “non-core priority”, with $200 million in cuts, including the national volunteer initiative serving 161,000 non-profit agencies.

The Muttart Foundation from Alberta says that the cuts hurt the vulnerable and create social deficits that will cost more than $1 billion to repair.

If the Conservatives keep this up, it will not be long before the Conservative government is deemed “non-core” by the people of Canada.

The Environment
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, our new Conservative government agrees with the environment commissioner's recent recommendations pertaining to the need for a coordinated and measurable approach to climate change. Our new Conservative government also looks favourably on her recommendations for accountability.

The new Government of Canada will develop a comprehensive and inclusive approach that involves all sectors of industry. It will also work closely with the provinces and the territories as well as key stakeholders.

Canada's new government has already taken a number of actions: a systematic categorization of chemical substances; a tax credit for public transit riders on the cost of their monthly passes; $1.3 billion in investments in public transit infrastructure; and a commitment to 5% average renewable content in Canadian motor fuels

Our environmental agenda will include achievable, affordable and practical measures to clean up the environment and protect the health and well-being of all Canadians.

Hungarian Canadians
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, October 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution, after which upwards of 40,000 people fled to Canada for freedom and opportunity.

Tomorrow the National Arts Centre will open a photo exhibit celebrating the contribution of 50 Canadians of Hungarian origin.

Photographer V. Tony Hauser has captured the essence of these exemplary Canadians and their contribution to the arts, business, media, sports and politics, including two of our colleagues, the member for Scarborough Southwest and the member for Kitchener—Waterloo. I would be remiss not to mention my much better half, Catherine, who is also included in the group.

Also, tomorrow morning, with the help of the National Capital Commission, the Canadian Hungarian community will unveil a monument in honour of those who lost their lives for freedom and in gratitude to Canada and to the Canadian people.

Canadian Forces
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday evening, September 30, Corporal Keith Mooney of St. Mary's, Newfoundland, received a hero's welcome in his hometown on his triumphant return from Afghanistan. A large motorcade, followed by a packed community hall, welcomed Corporal Mooney back to his roots in St. Mary's Bay.

Recovering from severe shrapnel wounds, Corporal Mooney spoke to the people about his experience and about his comrades who had died in an effort to bring peace and democracy to that faraway land. He told us about the success of our Canadian soldiers and the all important difference they are making in that wartorn country, especially in the lives of the children.

While he was delighted to be home again, Corporal Mooney said that if a request came for him to return to Afghanistan tomorrow, he would do so in a heartbeat.

They are winning the fight and our continued support is needed.

When given the opportunity to speak, I thanked Corporal Mooney and his comrades and assured him that the military has the government's 100% support for this mission.

Corporal Keith Mooney's family and community are proud of him. His country and his government is proud of him. God bless him and we welcome him home.

Quebec Intercultural Week
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight the fourth edition of the Semaine québécoise des rencontres interculturelles, which takes place from October 1-8, 2006, with the theme “A thousand faces, our future”.

This week provides an opportunity to seriously reflect on our citizenship values, particularly in the context of Quebec, and on the invaluable contribution of immigration to Quebec society.

This is also an opportunity for us to take a closer look at the situation of our fellow citizens who contribute to the vitality of our communities. We must acknowledge the difficulties associated with their full integration. We must applaud their success and recognize that we could make better use of their education, experience and their desire to succeed with us.

We would like to work together on initiatives to make immigrants feel more welcome. I hope these intercultural meetings will be used to support and encourage activities in our communities that promote their development.

Peter Naglik
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we all know that moments of sudden tragedy can arrive that seem to stop the world for a moment and which remind us starkly of what really matters in life: the eternal things like faith and friendship.

Such a moment arrived for many members of this House last Friday when we learned that a dear friend and colleague, Peter Naglik, was tragically taken from us in a car accident.

Peter was well-known to many of us through his lifetime of service to his province and country through the democratic process. He was a stalwart advisor and speech writer in both the Ontario provincial parliament and this House where he served many MPPs and MPs, including former Premier Harris and the current Minister of Public Safety.

He brought his gentle spirit and special élan to dozens of campaigns as one of the leading conservative activists of his generation.

There are members of this place whose election would have been impossible without Peter's dedication and professionalism.

As all who knew him can attest, Peter was a man of deep conviction and enormous kindness. We are consoled only by the knowledge that he lived and died with a strong Catholic faith.

We mourn his passing with his family, his beloved Rossana and her daughters, Rebecca and Leah.

Requiescat in pace aeternam, Peter.