House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was arrest.

Topics

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the more I hear the input of members, the more I understand that this bill seems to try to put into legislation what the courts traditionally have thought of as being factors and other considerations but not factors or considerations hat may cause someone to be charged with an improper arrest.

In the simple case of Mr. Chen, which is a very vanilla case, someone robbed him. He was not able to apprehend that person and hold him for police at the time. However, that person returned to rob him a second time. He was identified, chased on his bicycle, stopped and held for the police. Mr. Chen was charged under the application of the current Criminal Code.

If we had to make a change to the Criminal Code to ensure that Mr. Chen would never be charged again for the same act, what would the change be?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is the $1,000 question. I thank my colleague for his question, and I will try to be brief in my reply.

If we remove sections 34 to 42, Mr. Chen would not be able to benefit from the presumption of self-defence because Mr. Chen was not attacked. That settles the matter of sections 34 to 42. I do not understand why these clauses are being proposed; they should not be there.

Let us now discuss the heart of the matter, section 494. I concur with my colleague that we have to find a solution to the problem. This section states that a person authorized by the owner—we are talking about the man in question—“may arrest without warrant a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property”.

We need to find a way to say that he may make the arrest, within a reasonable time, after the offence is committed. This has not been studied or analyzed. If someone leaves the convenience store with a case of beer without the owner or clerk seeing him and, in the next few seconds, that person realizes that a case of beer is missing, goes outside and sees the perpetrator, then I believe that he could make the arrest, even though he did not see the offence being committed. We must find a way to rewrite section 494.

My colleague is quite right to say that we have to avoid such legal mistakes, if we can call them that. Above all we must not introduce piecemeal legislation that addresses individual issues.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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4:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the many cogent points put forward by my hon. colleague. It is fair to characterize this bill as comprising three parts. The first part deals with the situation that many Canadians were very appalled to see involving the circumstances that happened to Mr. Chen.

The first part of the bill would enlarge the time period in which someone can make a citizen's arrest. We know the current Criminal Code says that a citizen's arrest can be made during the commission of an offence. The first amendment would enlarge that period to be within a reasonable time, which I think most Canadians would find reasonable. The next two parts have to do with the government rewriting the sections on defence of property and defence of person.

I think we can all agree in the House that the first part of the bill is merited and should proceed but that the second and third parts require careful and considered study. Would he agree that we can support sending this bill to committee so that it can examined in a cautious manner what kind of amendments may be necessary to the Criminal Code to deal with the second and third parts of this bill?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is correct. There are two things. First, there is no need to touch sections 34 to 42 on self-defence. The courts in all of the provinces and the Supreme Court of Canada have issued rulings; there is jurisprudence. Lawyers who have even the briefest introduction to criminal law in the first year of law school learn the definition of self-defence. There is no need to amend these sections.

Second, there is defence of property, which is less clear. Defence of person is self-defence, but I agree with my colleague that when we talk about defence of property there are some grey areas in section 494. At least we will have focused the debate on subsection 494(2) of the Criminal Code. I admit that it is not clear.

If I had had to defend that individual, there would have been a trial, even though we know that you can arrest without a warrant a person you find committing a criminal offence, as is written in the bill. A citizen must witness the offence; he must be there. He has the right to arrest someone he finds committing an offence. The rest, only peace officers may do. But if they do not come, even after being called three times, what does someone do when the thief is drinking a beer on the corner? That is where the public is right. When the committee studies section 494, it will no doubt find a solution. However, we must not be touching sections 34 to 42 on self-defence.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member has really helped to move this along a fair bit.

After seeing how this pattern is working out, it strikes me that the government bill before us is not one which has been crafted with due care and diligence. The Department of Justice and legal experts are there to help the government in crafting these things. There are representations by the government and the minister, photo ops by the minister and the Prime Minister, and yet the bill fundamentally does not work. It is problematic.

I wonder whether the member shares my concern that maybe this whole idea of photo ops and bills that do not work has more to do with getting another picture for the government's ethnic strategy rather than delivering legislation, because the government wants to continue to say it is tough on crime without actually delivering legislation on crime.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. They might seem to be tough on crime, but they only needed to amend subsection 494(2). They did not need to touch sections 34 and on. That is what irritates me. Bill C-60 was introduced to deal with a specific problem and that is fine. But at the same time, they are trying to meddle in every court decision ever made on self-defence. My colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has said before that bad laws make good lawyers rich.

If Bill C-60, which amends sections 34 through 42, is passed as-is, lawyers will be laughing all the way to the bank just because they can exploit the wording of this incomplete bill. Let us fix section 494 now and deal with the rest later.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, Status of Women; the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis, Public Safety; the hon. member for Richmond Hill, National Defence.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, a number of us have been waiting for Bill C-60 to come forward, at least we were hoping it would, although, as my remarks may show, it was never clear that the self-defence provisions of the Criminal Code, which the bill would purport to fix, were really broken. However, it does provide for a very interesting debate, at least for those of us who are interested in some of the micro details of the Criminal Code, especially as they relate to the common law.

As colleagues have already pointed out, on one level the bill was drafted to address a situation that arose in a Toronto Criminal Code prosecution. It is one that I got involved with on the street, as a number of publicly elected people did at the time because of the nature of the facts. I can say that the proposed new wording for subsection 494(2) is a reasonable attempt to address the fact sequence in that case. I am not sure that an amendment actually is needed, but I respect the intention of that portion of the bill.

The rest of the bill quite surprisingly purports to codify the common law provisions of self-defence and put them in the Criminal Code. I was not aware that these provisions were broken. I always subscribe to the adage that if something is not broken, we should not try to fix it. I am getting the impression that is what is going on with the other aspects of Bill C-60.

Let us go back to the first set of issues involving subsection 494(2) and the unfortunate events surrounding the shoplifting and attempted shoplifting at the Lucky Moose supermarket. That is a real business in the heart of downtown Toronto and is owned by a very fine gentleman, a proprietor and small businessman who is very hard working, as are his employees.

He was confronted by a shoplifter. The particular shoplifter is known to almost everyone who works there. He is a repeat offender and has a record longer than my arm. He is so notorious as a thief that his picture has been placed throughout the neighbourhood on lamp posts. His modus operandi involves going into an area with his bicycle, parking it, stealing something, getting on the bike and whisking away. As I say, he has a very lengthy record. He is before the courts now and probably will be for the foreseeable future, so there is no point in my saying much more than that.

The store involved is one that puts merchandise out front. Sometimes it is vegetables, fruit or flowers. Canadians in large cities will be very familiar with that format of a grocery store or supermarket.

What happened on that particular day was that the thief showed up once, stole merchandise, left in the way I described on the bike, and showed up again later. At that point he was recognized and the shop owner and his employees took steps to apprehend the guy, knowing that he had already stolen once and was preparing to do it again. The guy was apprehended. The outcome was shocking and really quite sad to me and many other people in that the shop owner was charged.

A few weeks ago the court case ended with the charges being dropped. In the meantime, the unfortunate proprietor had to undertake a defence. He had many people in the community supporting him. He had a good legal team. The sad thing was that this law-abiding citizen suddenly, in the course of defending his business, became an accused criminal.

This bothered me a lot at the time. Because it was before the courts there was not a whole lot any of us could do. We just hoped for fair treatment in the courts. That eventually happened, but at what cost to this law-abiding businessman in our community?

In my view, the whole story from start to finish should have been about that businessman, Mr. Chen. It should have been about him and his business and its place in our community, but for reasons I really cannot explain and none of us could, it was not about that. The police changed the story. The police turned him into an alleged criminal and it became a story about the powers of arrest by police versus the citizen. That was just wrong.

I do not know what part of the system went wrong, but I am not alone in saying that whatever went on in the days that followed that event, it did not happen properly. In my view, it was not even in accordance with the law as I read it. I think the police and the prosecutors made a mistake in forcing Mr. Chen to defend himself. I can only say that the police and the prosecutors were doing more to defend their own powers of arrest than they were to protect Mr. Chen and his business.

I say that sadly because in Toronto we have a very good police force. Its motto is “To Serve and Protect”, but one can only ask how much did it serve and protect Mr. Chen in this case. The police turned him into the alleged criminal and it took him a year to clear his name.

Was there a need to change the law? I do not think there was, but I can see the argument that there was. It is quite a normal reaction to say that if the existing state of the law is interpreted by the police as this, we have to change the law. I understand where that is coming from. I am just not sure that the police had the law correctly.

I did a bit of research, and needless to say I had a bit of help doing it. In looking at the law, of course it is related to the common law in that the powers of arrest that citizens have are buried in the common law. They exist. They are real. They are not a fiction. The Criminal Code does not say citizens have the power of arrest. The common law says that citizens have the power of arrest. In fact, citizens had an obligation to effect an arrest in the old days and if they did not make the arrest, they could be fined. Even though we do not fine people now for not making citizens' arrests, the powers are still there and they are referred to, at least indirectly, in our Criminal Code the way it has been worded up to now, and members should keep in mind our Criminal Code is over 100 years old.

In common law, the power of a private person to arrest is limited to treason or a felony that has actually been committed or attempted, or where a breach of the peace has been actually committed or is apprehended, and larceny, theft. Stealing is a felony in common law.

There was no power to arrest for a simple misdemeanour where there was no breach of the peace and where it was not necessary to arrest the offender to prevent the renewal of the act. Members should please recall, as I go through this, that the thief in the real life situation showed up again, apparently to steal again, with his bike, the same modus operandi, the same routine. He showed up again and that is, I repeat, a renewal.

For people who are interested in history, in 1892, the old system of misdemeanour and felony was wiped out and replaced in our Criminal Code and in the British system. However, abolishing the distinction between felonies and misdemeanours at that time had no effect on the principles of arrest without warrant in the common law, at least for breach of the peace.

Section 8 of the current Criminal Code permits all of the common law defences to be used. Citizens should take some comfort in knowing that all of the common law defences that we have had for hundreds of years, going back to the Magna Carta, still exist in the Criminal Code unless they have been explicitly removed, and case law across the country has confirmed that, similar to other jurisdictions.

I will read the current state of this as best I could research it. In the case of a breach of the peace, there is a power to arrest, without warrant, on the part of a citizen where:

(1) a breach of the peace is committed in the presence of the person making the arrest; or

(2) the arrestor reasonably believes that such a breach will be committed in the immediate future by the person arrested although he has not yet committed any breach; or

(3) where a breach has been committed and it is reasonably believed that a renewal of it is threatened.

I just referred to my research here, that is the case of R. v. Howell, which was a British Queen's Bench case.

However, the court dare held that there must be an act done or threatened to be done that either actually harms a person or, in his presence, his property.

In the Lucky Moose supermarket case, there was property and a threatened new breach of the peace, which was the taking, the theft, the larceny in relation to the property of Mr. Chen. That particular line of reasoning does not appear to have shone through in this particular court case but I believe it should have. I believe the prosecutor should have known that. I believe the police should have been told that. Mr. Chen should not have been charged.

In any event, he was charged but, fortunately, the judge who presided, in the end, made the right decision or decisions and we in Toronto have all gone on with our lives.

However, I found two things regrettable. One was the lack of appreciation of the prosecutors and the police of these of common law provisions. If that is the state of the art and our police and prosecutors do not know these common law defences and common law provisions that citizens have been basing their lives on here in our jurisdiction and under our Constitution for over a century, then maybe it is time to rewrite the code. We will write it down for them so they can read something and be satisfied with it.

However, I do regret that all of this transpired when I believe Mr. Chen had a very clear legal case that should have been made. I could not help but think that the police were trying to make the point that arresting people was their job, not the citizen's job. Yes, it is their job to do law enforcement, and they do a very good job of it across the country, but they should never place the citizen in a secondary or second-class role. Citizens, for whom the police work, should always be number one. This particular shop owner, Mr. Chen, up to that point in time, had not done anything wrong. He was just defending his own business. I do not know how the police did not see that. I hope the police understand my words as not being critical of their ongoing work on behalf of all of our communities, but their work in connection with prosecutors ought to be well based on the law.

This legislation seems to be a fix for the section of the Criminal Code that pertains to the facts of this case. Even though I do not feel that it was necessary, I accept that we can amend the code for that.

Accompanying this statutory amendment is a whole rewrite and codification of the law of self-defence under the Criminal Code. As I said earlier, if it is not broken, why are we trying to fix it?

I read one of the sections and it bothered me a bit. I will read the relevant words:

A person is not guilty of an offence if

(a) they either believe on reasonable grounds that they are in peaceable possession of property or are acting under the authority of [some who is]...;

(b) they believe on reasonable grounds that another person...is about to enter...the property...;

(c) the act...is...for the purpose of...preventing the other person from entering the property...;

(d) the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.

There are many private properties In a big city. I cannot imagine all of the complications that will arise when we codify this and try to figure out what is reasonable and what is not, how much force someone is allowed to use before somebody steps off the public sidewalk, where the property line is, is it an individual or a corporation that owns the property, is it a condominium corporation, is it a landlord or is it rented property.

The government has not explained why it feels the need to rework and codify these common law provisions in the Criminal Code. The danger in doing it are that it will codify a part of the common law but not all of it or it will go too far, or it will not think of every fact situation in having codified the part of the common law that seems to be working reasonably well generally for us. By codifying it, the government is preordaining and structuring a result involving a sequence of facts that nobody ever thought of. We would then have to amend the code again because nobody ever thought of that particular set of circumstances.

I will be looking for answers from the government. It really has not stated why it felt it was necessary to write these new sections, to codify the common law self-defence provisions in the Criminal Code.

The minister said that the list of factors codifies well-recognized features of many self-defence situations and will help guide judges and juries in applying the new law. Is it new law or is it just old law codified? The government should tell us what needs to be fixed before we walk down this road of codifying something that has worked pretty well for us under our Constitution the right of self-defence. Everybody has a pretty good gut feeling for what it is and it has worked for us for over 100 years, maybe even 200 or 300 years.

I will be looking for those answers in the debate and I will be scrutinizing this bill very carefully at committee.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know my hon. colleague said that he was seeking answers to why the government has added what appear to be unnecessary provisions to this bill. I will suggest a possible answer for him and I would like his comment on it.

The issue that spawned this was when Mr. Chen arrested someone after the commission of an offence but within a reasonable time. My colleague from Trinity—Spadina quickly drafted a private member's bill, Bill C-565, which dealt exactly with that scenario. It would have amended the Criminal Code to permit a citizen to arrest someone, not only during the commission of an offence but within a reasonable time. Had we stopped there, the problem would have been solved.

However, if the government had adopted that common sense solution, it would have given the New Democrats credit for fixing the solution, which it could not tolerate. Instead, it had to draft a bill to add two further and unnecessary aspects to this bill, which is to radically alter the way we deal with self defence of person and property in this country.

I would submit for my hon. colleague that the reason the government did this was that it did not want anybody else in this House, be it the Liberal Party, the New Democrats or the Bloc, taking meaningful measures that protect community. In the government's view, it is the only one that can do that. Of course, Canadians know that is not the case.

Could my hon. colleague comment on that as being a potential theory as to why the government added two very unusual aspects to this bill that were not called upon by the situation of Mr. Chen and which cause more confusion than any solutions they offer?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I kind of agree with the hon. member as he described the lead-up to this. However, I am trying to put rationale to this initiative of the government to codify and legislate in relation to defence of property. I am speculating wildly, and forgive me if I am wrong, but the only thing I can think of is that the Conservative Party is a right wing party that has tried and failed and cannot find a way to put into our Constitution the area of property rights. A lot of people have sympathy for that type of initiative without defining it.

This is coming at us right out of the blue. I think it is the Conservatives' way of putting into statute something that enters into that envelope of protection of property rights. The only thing I can think of is that codifying self-defence provisions in the Criminal Code in relation to property, because they specifically mention it here, is their way of nudging that thing and pretending to be doing something in the envelope of property rights. That is about the only reason I can put on this, other than that I draw a blank. If I am wrong, I hope I am forgiven.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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4:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do note that the current Criminal Code does actually refer to “defence of person” and “defence of property”. In fact, section 38 is entitled “defence of property” and section 34 of the current Criminal Code deals with the common law defence that allows someone to repel an assault with reasonable force. I am not sure that is the answer.

When my colleague from Trinity—Spadina went to visit Mr. Chen and quickly drafted legislation that would solve the problem that Mr. Chen and all the small business owners across this country faced, what did the government do? Did it move that bill forward to fix that problem and stand up for the shopkeepers and small business owners of the country? No. The government sent the Prime Minister in to do a photo op with Mr. Chen, and then it went to the trouble of re-drafting sections of the Criminal Code that were not raised by this issue.

In the case of Mr. Chen, the issues of “defence of property” or “defence of person” were not raised. The only question we were talking about there was when is the appropriate time for Mr. Chen to make a citizen's arrest. Of course, he was charged, to Canadians' shock and horror across this country, because he made the arrest when the criminal returned to the store to hit him up again.

I would like my hon. colleague to comment on the scenario that the government simply does not want Canadians to know that parties on this side of the House also take community safety very seriously and propose very meaningful and helpful policies and bills to help achieve that goal.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the government is not the only party in the House that has spent time on this file. I personally have spent quite a few hours on this file both downtown, in my office, on the phone, et cetera.

However, I would respond with one caution, and that is this. In attempting to codify, to define the common-law rights of self-defence in the way it has, by putting conditions and provisos in particular circumstances and situations, the government may actually be shrinking the rights of self-defence without knowing it. This is what we have to turn our minds to. In my view, it is an unnecessary Criminal Code amendment. The rationale for it is yet unclear.

I am looking forward to hearing those answers in due course.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to chat for a minute about how the bill impacts the small businesses in the community of Vancouver Kingsway.

Vancouver Kingsway is a commercial centre made up almost entirely of small businesses. Up and down Kingsway, Victoria Drive and Nanaimo Street, thousands of small businesses are operated by families and individual proprietors who employ Canadians. They are the real drivers of the Canadian economy. Whether run by Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino or South Asian families, the people in these businesses have told me that they are having difficulty staying afloat. In many cases, the HST has really hurt their businesses. Now we see the issue of them being subject to charges under the current Criminal Code for defending their own property.

I believe all of us in the House agree that we need to make changes to the Criminal Code. Does my hon. colleague agree with the New Democrats that we should split off the sections of the bill, which he finds controversial, and I agree with him, about defence of property and defence of person and pass the part of the bill that extends the right of someone to conduct a citizen's arrest within a reasonable time of the commission of the offence and, at all times, restrict that person to reasonable measures so the person is not justified in committing an assault on the alleged criminal? In his view, would that be a better approach to dealing with this matter?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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March 7th, 2011 / 4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can agree with him that it might be a good approach. I cannot bind my colleagues in the House or at committee, but it is one approach to getting rid of the whole truckload of potential issues involved in codifying the self-defence provisions of the Criminal Code.

My friend mentioned small business owners. There are thousands of them across the country, all of whom deserve the respect of police and Canadians in their communities. I am also thinking of other scenarios where there are big companies, firms and corporations and security guards, some of whom are armed. There are implications for those scenarios and personal property scenarios that we will have to think about now.

The average citizen is probably quite happy thinking that he or she is okay with his or her rights of self-defence. However, now the government must codify and change it. Therefore, we must think it through to ensure that we get it right for the ordinary citizen, whether he or she is dealing with a small shopping store, a big shopping mall, the big corporate-owned plot of land or the big corporate-owned ranch scenario, when it comes to trespassing and defence of property. I am suspicious that all of this is unnecessary.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
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4:45 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to the citizen's arrest and self-defence bill. As we know, a good portion of the bill, and the part that I want to talk about today, was originally put forward as part of a private member's bill by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina.

I support her idea to enhance the ability of small businesses to protect their property through the mechanism of citizen's arrest. As a small business owner myself, I know all too well the enormous challenges that small businesses face across Canada.

I support passing the amendments to section 494 of the Criminal Code in the bill dealing with citizen's arrest to permit arrest without warrant and within “a reasonable period” rather than the present wording, which requires an arrest contemporaneous with the event. This change was originally introduced by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina in her private member's bill as a result of an incident at a convenience store in Toronto, the Lucky Moose. The name of that store is well known, although it sounds like it should be a store in Thunder Bay—Superior North. The owner apprehended an individual, who had stolen an item from the store, some time after the theft had taken place. The amendment to section 494 has been supported, in principle, by chiefs of police across Canada, prosecutors and defence counsels.

Bill C-60 proposes compressing sections 34 to 42 of the Criminal Code, which deal with the defence of a person and property, into two new parts. The stated rationale is to clarify the laws on self-defence and the defence of property so Canadians, including the police, prosecutors and the courts, can more easily understand and apply the law.

The legislation would expand the legal authority for private citizens or persons with small businesses to make arrests within a reasonable period of time after they found a person committing a criminal offence either on or in relation to their property, ensuring the proper balance between the powers of the citizens and the powers of the police. It would also bring much needed reforms to simplify the complex Criminal Code provisions on self-defence and defence of property and clarify where reasonable use of force would be permitted in relation to the above.

The amendments to Criminal Code subsection 494(2) on citizen's arrest would authorize a business person or other citizen to make an arrest within a reasonable period of time after he or she found someone committing a criminal offence that occurred on or in relation to his or her property. This power of arrest would only be authorized when there were reasonable grounds to believe it would not be feasible in the circumstances for the arrest to be made by a police officer.

It talks about reasonable use of force. The legislation would make it clear by cross-reference in the Criminal Code that the use of force would authorized in a citizen's arrest, but there would be limits placed on how much force could be used. In essence, the laws permit the reasonable use of force taking into account all the circumstances of a particular case. To be clear, a person will not be entitled to use excessive force in any citizen's arrest. That will continue.

There are some important considerations for us to take into account. A citizen's arrest is a very serious and potentially dangerous undertaking. Unlike a police officer, a private citizen is neither tasked with the duty to preserve and maintain public peace or, generally speaking, properly trained to apprehend suspended criminals. In most cases, an arrest might consist of either actually seizing or touching a person's body with a view to detaining him or her or using words where the person submits to the arrest. A citizen's arrest made without careful consideration of the risk factors may have serious, unintended physical or legal consequences for those involved.

When deciding if a citizen's arrest is appropriate, a small business people, or other citizen, should consider the following things: whether a peace officer is available to intervene at that time instead and their personal safety, or that of others, that might be compromised by attempting such an arrest. They should report information about the crime to the police instead of taking action on their own whenever possible. They should have a reasonable belief regarding the suspect's criminal conduct and ability to identify them. Last, they can and should turn over the suspect to the police without delay once that arrest is made.

Let us look at the current laws in this regard.

Under section 494(1), people may arrest a person whom they find committing an indictable offence, or a person, who on reasonable grounds, they believe has committed a criminal offence and is escaping from, and is freshly pursued by, persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person.

Section 494(2) of the Criminal Code, which is the provision proposed to be expanded by the bill, currently provides that anyone who is either the owner or in lawful possession of or has been authorized by the owner or the person in lawful possession of that property may arrest a person if he or she “find committing” a criminal offence on or in relation to that property.

“Finds committing” means situations where the accused is caught in the act, committing that offence. This concept extends to take into account a situation where the accused has been pursued immediately and continuously after he or she has been found committing the offence. Also, the existing law requires that when a citizen's arrest takes place, the individual must be delivered to a peace officer without delay.

Let us talk about self-defence and the defence of property as it relates to the proposed amendments. The new Criminal Code provisions are being proposed to clarify the laws on self-defence and defence of property so Canadians, including the police, the prosecutors and the courts, can more easily understand and apply the law. Clarifying that law and streamlining statutory defences may assist prosecutors and police in exercising their discretion not to lay a charge or proceed with a prosecution.

Amendments to the self-defence provisions would repeal the current confusing law and create one new self-defence provision. It would permit people who reasonably believe they or others to be at risk of the threat of force or acts of force or damage to their property to commit a reasonable act to protect themselves, their property or others.

As I said before, I am a small business owner and I know all too well the huge challenges of many kinds that small businesses across Canada face. Therefore, I would like to raise some of the reasons that are collateral and that bear on the need for small business people to feel more empowered by the Government of Canada and to make their businesses more viable. They are struggling. Small businesses across Canada today, the small economic engines across Canada, are struggling through our recession because of a lot of red tape and a growing tax burden as we shift taxes off of large corporations and onto small corporations.

Small business people are straddled with usurious credit card merchant fees. I and my party have talked about this issue, again and again, the need to get banks and credit card companies off the backs, out of the pockets, the bank accounts and the wallets of small business people across Canada.

Small business people pay fees to the credit card companies that are above and beyond what it costs them to provide average Canadians with the service that is required. Small business people are left with no choice but to pay those usurious fees because they cannot run our businesses without those credit cards. So far the government has not gone to bat to protect small businesses from usurious credit card companies and banks.

Another challenge that small businesses face is a government which has been constantly shifting tax burdens, tax responsibilities off large corporations and onto the backs, not only of average Canadians, but onto the backs of small- and medium-size business firms.

In the late 1970s, the marginal corporate tax rate on large corporations in the U.S. and Canada was the same, at 36%. Today it is still 36% in the United States, but through the Mulroney years, the Chrétien years, the Martin years and now under the current government, those taxes have been reduced. They are soon to be 15% and the government, through the HST, is shifting them onto average Canadians and the burden of collecting and doing the paperwork for that will fall on small businesses.

It has also been shifted through things like the EI premiums which are about to increase again, increasing the cost to Canadian workers and Canadian small businesses.

Despite the fact that small businesses are usually locally based and invest and hire in their local communities, governments, and the current government especially, have favoured large corporations with across-the-board tax cuts, whether they make sense or not, whether they result in investment in Canada or not, whether they keep jobs in Canada or not.

When the NDP government came in 11 years ago in Manitoba, it made a promise to take the tax burden off small businesses because it understood that it is small businesses which are creating jobs. In fact, 80% to 90% of all the jobs created in Canada for many decades have been created, not by big businesses, but by small businesses. The Manitoba government kept its promises and reduced the provincial corporate tax rate on small businesses from 11% down to zero. The government and small businesses in Manitoba have demonstrated through growth, prosperity and job creation, that this has been the economic engine which has made Manitoba the most prosperous province in Canada today with balanced budgets, high employment and weathering the recession almost without even noticing it.

Small businesses in our communities take many forms, from mom and pop convenience stores on the corner all the way up to significant engineering and consulting firms and software developers. In fact, 76% of small- and medium-size businesses earn revenue between $30,000, all the way up to close to $500,000 a year. Now, $30,000 may seem small to us, but it is important to a family that uses it to grow its business and support its children. Small businesses are major economic engines, pint-sized engines which jointly drive the economy of Canada and are growing, not shrinking, and staying, not leaving the country or leaving town, and adding jobs, not cutting jobs.

It is about time that our small businesses got more help and more respect from a government that is happy to hand out billions of dollars in senseless, unnecessary tax cuts to oil giants, big banks and big insurance companies.

Small businesses represent almost 98% of the total number of business establishments in Canada. That number comes from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. Small- and medium-size businesses employ 55% of all the working individuals in Canada.

Service jobs are important. Government jobs provide important services across the nation. Union jobs in large companies are important to our economy. It is true that many of the dollars generated by large corporations do trickle down to small businesses in the community. But, to reiterate that number, over half of the direct jobs in Canada are jobs that relate to small- and medium-size businesses.

Small- and medium-size businesses are taking the lead on research and development in Canada, which is something we desperately need if Canada is to address our perennial shortfall in productivity and competitiveness.

Large corporations in Canada spend a piddling 0.8% of their revenues on research and development. Small- and medium-size firms spend an astounding 5.8%, almost 6%, of their revenues on research and development.

I am an evolutionary biologist and the best evolutionary strategy through a billion years was a main gene pool with outlier populations. It is in those outlier populations where progress, where evolution occurs, feeding that genetic material into the main gene pool.

Similarly, small businesses are the places where the new ideas come from. Steven Jobs and Bill Gates at one time were small businessmen. Look where some of these small businesses can go. We need to support them and help them.

Small businesses are exporters. They play a big role in keeping Canada a trading nation. Over 85% of all Canadian exporters are small- and medium-size businesses.

These facts and statistics show how vital small- and medium-size firms are to Canada's economy and to the future of every Canadian and every member of Parliament. We work for the Canadian taxpayers and increasingly, the Canadian taxpayers are average Canadians and small- and medium-size businesses.

Small- and medium-size businesses create jobs right here at home. They inject dynamism into the Canadian market, which we desperately need and they invest their revenues back into our communities. They do not export those investment dollars back to the United States. They do not pay them out in ridiculously over-the-top, obscene CEO salaries which then get stuffed into tax shelters in the Caribbean and in Panama.

Canada needs to do more to support our small- and medium-size firms. We should be encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit which in the past has driven so many Canadians to take a chance on a great idea and see where it goes.

Whether in Thunder Bay, Geraldton, Longlac, Marathon, Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Red Rock, and so on, in my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North, we need to help and grow our small businesses, particularly given the role that the government has played through NAFTA, softwood lumber and non-help in the recession to our forest industry in northwestern Ontario. To a large extent, it is small businesses which have hung on bravely and are saving us.