Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill. It contains useful amendments to the Criminal Code. Moreover, those amendments are along the same lines as the suggestions the Bloc Quebecois has been making for a number of years regarding organized crime, in particular the new offence with regard to traps placed by organized crime to protect its illegal activities.
I think it is important to remind those who are listening that the bill not only proposes more serious offences with regard to an individual who places a trap that is likely to cause death or bodily harm to a person, but also contains provisions allowing the use of as much force as is reasonably necessary on board an aircraft to prevent the commission of an offence that would be likely to cause injury to the aircraft or to any person aboard.
The bill would also amend the provision dealing with the provision of information on oath in relation to weapons. It would also create an exemption to the offence of intercepting private communications in order to protect computer systems.
Bill C-32 would make other amendments to the Criminal Code. It would also amend the Financial Administration Act in order to authorize the federal government to take necessary measures to protect its computer systems. The bill would also amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Security of Information Act and the Criminal Code in order to make corrections which are basically technical but which are of interest nonetheless. In particular, the bill would make corrections in relation to equivalence between the two official language versions. You know how important it is—and I think you share this point of view—that the two languages be treated equally in federal institutions.
Therefore, this bill addresses several aspects. Clearly, for several of my colleagues—and I believe that the speech given earlier by my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, was rather eloquent in that regard—the new offence with regard to placing traps is somewhat symbolic, because it is in line with the amendments that we have asked for to fight organized crime.
Placing a trap is already an offence under section 247 of the Criminal Code. The proposed changes would make the provision more explicit and establish new offences. Currently, this section establishes a maximum five-year term of imprisonment for anyone who sets a trap with intent to cause death or bodily harm to persons, no matter where it might be.
This offence, with some minor changes, can still be found in Bill C-32. New offences are established. First, if a trap actually causes harm, there would be a 10-year sentence instead of the current 5-year sentence.
If a person sets a trap in a place used for a criminal purpose, the maximum sentence would be 10 years. If a trap set in a place used for a criminal purpose actually causes harm, the maximum sentence would then be 15 years.
Finally, if the trap causes death, wherever it is set, the maximum sentence would be life imprisonment.
The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot clearly explained how important this new provision is, especially when fields are used to grow marijuana or cannabis despite the efforts of both the public and the police. Such crops are taking over the land of farmers. They are a threat to the farmers, to their property and to their families. We have seen cases where a farmer realizes members of a criminal organization are growing cannabis in his fields. He faces a terrible dilemma: either keep silent to protect his family, which would make him an accomplice, or endanger his family, his life and his assets.
Sometimes, criminal organizations will leave a small envelope with money, so that the person will be indirectly guilty of being involved in this activity.
Consequently, a number of things must be done. The amendment concerning the placing of traps is one of them. However, as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot was mentioning, some elements should be added. The Bloc Quebecois has already proposed these elements, particularly with regard to membership in a criminal organization, even in a so-called passive way, so charges may be laid against these people.
The other measure we are also calling for concerns the reversal of the burden of proof. I think the member explained it well earlier.
That being said, I would like to put this in the context of consistency. The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot mentioned this earlier. In his region, citizens and stakeholders took action. Indeed, they created a committee to promote the Info-Crime line 1-800-711-1800, if memory serves. It is a little like 911. This time, it is 711.
People can anonymously report crimes that they witness. Police will do the work of gathering the evidence. At least, police forces will be tipped off. Often, this is also a way for a community to solve a problem. For example, a drug injection site in a neighbourhood can cause a whole lot of problems for families living in this neighbourhood, with regard to children's safety. It is not always easy for someone to call the police, to give one's name, to see the police car arrive at one's home, to see the officers get out and ring the door bell, while one's neighbour across the street has a drug injection site. Consequently, with this Info-Crime number, this can be done anonymously and confidentially. Then, police forces do their job and build the case.
In the region of Lanaudière, following what was done in Montérégie, particularly in the region of Saint-Hyacinthe, a committee promoting the Info-Crime line was also created. However, this has produced a number of results that are perhaps not as good as those the member has mentioned. Unfortunately, the number of fields taken over for marijuana production has certainly not been reduced by 80% in the region of Lanaudière, but it is obvious that this has had an effect.
I have a hard time understanding that while private citizens are tackling the problem, the federal government is letting the RCMP pull out. A report by RCMP internal management suggests that nine detachments out of 22 in Quebec be eliminated in order to concentrate the workforce in a few major cities.
In the Lanaudière area, for example, we have a detachment with four officers in Joliette. That is not a big detachment. On the RCMP website, we read that the Joliette detachment has 13 officers. I phoned, and I was surprised to learn from one the officers there that there are only four of them left. The tactic used by the federal government and the RCMP is rather simple. The officers are offered transfers to other regions. When they agree to a transfer, the position they are leaving behind is not filled. That is how the Joliette detachment, in the Lanaudière area, has been reduced to just four officers, when it should have 13.
Even those this detachment is too small, it does a crucial job backing up the municipal police in Joliette and elsewhere, and the Sûreté du Québec. The RCMP has the expertise to search premises and build cases, something other police forces are not in a position to do right now in the Lanaudière area.
Indeed, if the RCMP's administrative report is ever implemented by the Solicitor General in the Lanaudière area, it will be a disaster. If the area is looked after from Saint-Jérôme and Trois-Rivières, with no RCMP detachment locally, it will be a field day for those taking over farm land.
In this regard, the government is being inconsistent. Today, in Bill C-32, we are being presented with an initiative to protect the life of innocent people, but at the same time, the government is making decisions for reasons that make no sense, since the government is still raking in substantial surpluses.
This year, there is talk of a $7 billion surplus, which is more than double the $3 billion surplus that was announced.
It seems to me that, to be consistent, the government must ensure that the Joliette detachment and the other eight that could be closed not only maintain their personnel but have it brought up to the level where it should be. In our case, four is not enough. That number should be increased to 13.
The RCMP also does very important work with school boards to build files on drug dealers who use our schoolyards or the vicinity of our schools to approach kids who have just started high school or sometimes have not even finished grade school and transform them quickly into dealers themselves.
As you know, drugs are expensive. First they get the kids hooked on drugs. Then they tell them that if they start selling drugs in their school, they will make enough money not only to buy drugs for themselves, but also to buy some luxury items.
Without concerted action on the part of school boards, municipal police forces, the Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP, organized crime will make inroads into our schools. Also, as I mentioned, with regard to organized crime taking over farmland to cultivate marijuana, we will lose whatever gains had been made in the region of Lanaudière.
I would expect a minimum of consistency on the part of the government and more concrete assurances than what we have had these last few days. In a planted question asked by a Liberal member, the Solicitor General was not even able to give us the assurance that there would not be any follow-up to that report. All he said was that no decision had been made yet.
Fortunately there is an election coming. I think I can keep the detachment in Joliette at least until the election, and I will make it an election issue. In fact, I have launched a campaign directed at public sector decision-makers, including mayors, reeves, school principals and school board officials, to offer my support in order to keep the RCMP detachment in Joliette.
It is not that I want a federal presence in the Lanaudière area. But since we are paying too much in taxes to the federal government, we want our money's worth. As long as we pay taxes to the federal government, I expect to have the same services in the Lanaudière area as those provided elsewhere in Quebec and in Canada.
If the federal government were to decide that the RCMP presence is no longer required in the Lanaudière area and throughout Quebec, then the money should be transferred to us and I am sure the Sûreté du Québec, with an increase in staff, will be able to take over. However, as long as we keep paying taxes to Ottawa, as long as the people of Lanaudière keep paying taxes, we want to have access to the services paid for by our taxes, especially following any RCMP reorganization.
Now, the offences for placing traps are, as we have indicated several times, a step in the right direction, although we expected a lot more. As the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot pointed out, we will see how the upcoming megatrials turn out, and the Bloc Quebecois will come up with appropriate enhancements to the Criminal Code.
Let me now turn to the use of force on board an aircraft.
Under the current Canadian legislation, the use of reasonable force on board an aircraft to prevent the commission of an offence is permitted. It also explicitly recognizes that everyone on board any aircraft in Canadian airspace or on board any aircraft registered in Canada in flight outside Canadian airspace is justified in using reasonable force when he or she believes it is necessary.
The clauses introduced by the legislator in Bill C-32 do not create a new right since criminal law already recognizes an individual's right to use reasonable force to prevent the commission of a crime. However, as departmental representatives stated, the new provision makes this principle explicit and expands it.
We support the principle behind this provision for two reasons. First, we all remember the terrible attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. This showed us how vulnerable we are to violence in an airplane. Obviously, a plane is an enclosed space. First, there is the cockpit, with the pilots and a set of extremely sensitive technical devices; a group of people is confined in this enclosed space. Therefore, we must ensure that passengers have all means at their disposal to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Even if there is a slim chance that this clause may help prevent an attack, the victims must not become the criminals. It is common sense to ensure that the Criminal Code protects those individuals using force to prevent a crime. Furthermore, we support the principle behind this amendment since it aims to fulfill Canada's obligations under the Tokyo convention on offences and certain other acts committed on board aircraft.
The Bloc Quebecois always believes that clauses under a multilateral framework must be respected. This is true of the Tokyo convention, but we have encouraged the government to ratify all major international conventions. There was the Kyoto protocol, the International Criminal Court, and more generally, foreign affairs policy. Canada has not yet signed, however, the Cartagena protocol on biosafety.
As you know, in the whole debate surrounding the U.S. military action in Iraq, the Bloc Quebecois argued in favour of multilateralism, especially through the UN. We are pleased that the pressure we, the people of Quebec in particular, and the people of Canada in general, brought to bear resulted in Canada not joining the American government in this unilateral action. Members will understand therefore that signing a convention like this one is definitely in keeping with the directions the Bloc Quebecois is developing at this level as well as others.
Other provisions deal with how peace officers should apply for a warrant to search for and seize weapons, prohibited devices, ammunition, explosives, and related licences, authorizations or registration certificates out of concern for public safety.
For such a warrant to be issued, a peace officer must satisfy a justice that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person possesses these items and that it is not desirable in the interests of the safety of this person or of any other person for this person to possess these items. As we know, in a decision rendered in July 2002, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that the wording of section 117.04 of the Criminal Code violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section sets out the procedure for a peace officer to apply for this kind of warrant. The court approved the purpose of legislation, which is to prevent deaths and bodily harm, particularly in the context of family violence, but found that the section dealing with the application for a warrant did not afford sufficient protection to individual rights under the Charter.
The new wording of the section provides clarification. Members will understand that, while it considers that Quebec's Charter of Rights ought to have precedence over the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Bloc Quebecois nonetheless supports the principle of complying with the charters with respect to rights and freedoms.
Unfortunately, I have run out of time to address intrusion detection systems. Perhaps another time.
For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-32.