Budget Implementation Act, 2006

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Jim Flaherty  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 amends the Excise Tax Act to implement, effective July 1, 2006, the reduction in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the federal component of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) from 7 to 6 per cent. It also amends the Act to provide transitional rules for determining the GST/HST rate applicable to transactions that straddle the July 1, 2006, implementation date, including transitional rebates in respect of the sale of residential complexes where transfer of ownership and possession both take place on or after July 1, 2006, pursuant to a written agreement entered into on or before May 2, 2006. The Excise Act, 2001 and the Excise Act are amended to increase the excise duties on tobacco and alcohol products to offset the impact of the GST/HST rate reduction. The Air Travellers Security Charge Act is amended to ensure that rates for domestic and transborder air travel reflect the impact of the GST/HST rate reduction. Those amendments generally apply as of July 1, 2006.

Part 2 implements income tax measures proposed or referenced in Budget 2006 to

(a) reduce personal income taxes;

(b) increase the child disability benefit;

(c) increase the refundable medical expense tax credit;

(d) eliminate capital gains tax on charitable donations of publicly-listed securities and ecologically-sensitive land;

(e) reintroduce the mineral exploration tax credit for new flow-through share agreements entered into before April 2007;

(f) expand the eligibility criteria for the disability tax credit;

(g) expand the list of expenses eligible for the disability supports deduction;

(h) expand the list of expenses eligible for the medical expenses tax credit;

(i) clarify the eligibility of home renovation and construction expenses for the medical expenses tax credit;

(j) double the amount of disability-related and medical expenses that can be claimed by a caregiver;

(k) introduce a tax credit in respect of adoption expenses;

(l) introduce a tax deferral for shareholders of agricultural co-ops;

(m) reduce corporate income taxes;

(n) eliminate the federal capital tax; and

(o) extend the carry-over period for non-capital losses and investment tax credits.

Part 3 amends Schedule I to the Excise Tax Act to repeal the excise tax on clocks, items made from semi-precious stones and items commonly known as jewellery, effective May 2, 2006.

Part 4 amends the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act to facilitate the establishment of taxation arrangements between the government of specified provinces and interested Indian Bands situated in those specified provinces. It also amends the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act to provide transitional income tax measures consistent with negotiated agreements.

Part 5 amends the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001, the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and the Income Tax Act to harmonize various accounting, interest, penalty and related administrative and enforcement provisions. These amendments will apply based on an implementation date that is the later of April 1, 2007, and Royal Assent. It also amends the Excise Tax Act to confirm that debt collection services that are generally provided by collection agents to financial institutions are not financial services for GST/HST purposes and are therefore taxable for GST/HST purposes.

Part 6 enacts the Universal Child Care Benefit Act to assist families by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support to a maximum of $1,200 per year in respect of each of their children who has not attained the age of six years. It also makes consequential and related amendments to the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Children’s Special Allowances Act and the Old Age Security Act.

Part 7 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to determine the amount of the fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and the territorial formula financing payments to each of the territories for the fiscal years beginning after March 31, 2006 and to authorize the Minister of Finance to make an additional fiscal equalization payment to British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and to make an additional territorial formula financing payment to Yukon and Nunavut, for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2006.

Part 8 provides for a total payment of $650,000,000 to the provinces and territories for the fiscal year 2006-2007 in respect of early learning and child care. It provides for payments to the territories for the fiscal year 2006-2007.

Part 9 authorizes the Minister of Finance to enter into an agreement to provide protection to mortgagees in respect of mortgage insurance policies that are provided by a mortgage insurer that is approved by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to sell mortgage insurance in Canada. It also fixes the maximum amount of such protection and determines how that amount can be changed.

Part 10 extends the sunset provisions of financial institutions statutes by six months from October 24, 2006 to April 24, 2007.

Part 11 amends the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, Public Service Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act to change the existing formula by which adjustments are made to a contributor’s annuity.

Part 12 enacts the Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts Act, the purpose of which is to create the Corporation for the Mitigation of Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts. The corporation will provide contributions to regional organizations that will fund projects that mitigate the existing or anticipated socio-economic impacts on communities in the Northwest Territories arising from the Mackenzie gas project. The Part also provides that a payment of $500,000,000 may be made to the corporation and adds the name of the corporation to the schedule of certain federal Acts.

Part 13 amends the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Agreement Act to permit the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to carry out its purpose in Mongolia and to allow the Governor in Council to amend, by order, the schedule to that Act. It amends the Freshwater Fish Marketing Act to increase the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation’s legislative borrowing limit from thirty million dollars to fifty million dollars. It also amends the Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act to create share capital for the Public Sector Pension Investment Board

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

February 27th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

But that doesn't correct anything in Bill C C-13. It simply expands the use of it.

February 27th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Okay, but Bill C-13could have been proceeded with for domestic purposes?

February 27th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

But Bill C-13 didn't address that issue.

February 27th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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Senior Legal Counsel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

David Bird

That's one of the Bill C-18 changes, so it changes that.

Another change, which the RCMP asked for, was to deal with this issue of moderate match reporting, which it didn't have the authority to do under the DNA Identification Act as it was written prior to Bill C-13.

February 27th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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Senior Legal Counsel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

David Bird

I'll do my best.

When Bill C-13 first arrived, its purpose was really to deal with the problem of what we call non-designated offences being sent in by courts. Those offences were kept in the data bank unanalyzed, but undestroyed, because we had a valid court order. But on the face of it, they looked defective to the Commissioner of the RCMP, and he didn't want to put offences into the data bank that didn't qualify, and he had no real way to deal with them. So a number of amendments were brought in to allow the commissioner to send those cases back to the attorney general of a province for review. Part of that was to allow the attorneys general to seek advice from the courts--in other words, to have the order quashed and dealt with.

After consultation with the attorneys general, they were of the view they could give advice to the RCMP commissioner without having to go back to a court to quash all of these orders. They said, in their opinion, if they confirmed the opinion of the commissioner this was a non-designated offence, the commissioner should be able to destroy it based on that advice.

So that change was put into the legislation.

The other issue was to deal with—

February 27th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, gentlemen and madam, for being here.

Mr. Bird, I'll go to you first, because we didn't get to ask this question at the last session when the minister was here. We're being told that Bill C-13, now chapter 25, has not been put to use because of technical purposes, and that Bill C-18 corrects those. I don't see that. I don't see where Bill C-18 does anything to advance Bill C-13, so could you point out to us where it does that?

February 27th, 2007 / 9:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Did you take into account the fact that in Bill C-13's proposed subsection 487.051(2), which removes the judicial discretion to determine whether or not on conviction a DNA sample should actually be removed, would increase, obviously, the number? Had that been taken into account in your business case?

February 15th, 2007 / 10:20 a.m.
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Senior Legal Counsel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

David Bird

Thank you, Minister.

I should clarify that there are two aspects to international DNA exchanges. One is at the request of Canadian law enforcement agencies, who would ask that the crime scene DNA profile they've derived, and for which they have no suspect or answer, would be sent abroad for comparison with international profiles. This would be sent through Interpol to any country the investigating law enforcement agencies had asked or requested the RCMP to send it to—subject to the conditions we explained. They would only be permitted to use that profile for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence. They'd have to agree to that particular condition.

At this time, internationally, this is the only way to send a DNA profile—and only the DNA profile, not the sample or the stain that could be analyzed for all the other genetic propensities. These are the 13 loci that were derived, or nine, in some cases, with the RCMP labs, that are sent abroad for comparison. All they would have would be those double numbers that you saw on your tour yesterday. It would be the two, or sometimes only one, at each of those sites they send, those alleles. The foreign country to which it was sent by the RCMP through Interpol would then be able to respond back as to whether or not they have a match with their database for their investigative procedures. This would then be referred to the law enforcement agency, which would use the normal means of communication to identify what information in their investigation matched the foreign information. This would not be done through the national DNA data bank, but directly between the two law enforcements agencies involved—the one in the foreign country and the RCMP.

With respect to foreign requests, when they send a DNA profile here for a search, only now are we able to tell them whether or not we have a match, as a result of the changes in Bill C-13 . We could not tell them and give them a copy of our DNA profile at all. It would simply say, yes, we have a match, are you interested in the personal information? Then they would have to agree to accept the personal information we have through the criminal records section of the RCMP that identified the person. That information would then be subject to the same international Interpol agreement, and we would insist that the information only be used for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence.

The problem in many cases is that we don't know whether we have a match, because different systems are used abroad to analyze DNA. They use what we call different analysis kits. Kits are, as I understand them, and I'm not a technical expert, designed so that certain enzymes in those kits produce the DNA profiles from specific engineered zones in the DNA. Certain countries use different zones than we do. In many respects, all we can do is find out that we have a match at three, four, five, or six of the zones of our normal 13, and we don't know whether they match the rest. So in regard to our international exchanges, there is a great propensity for us not to be in a position to tell them definitively whether we have a match, unless we send them the other profiles so they can potentially re-analyze them or examine their information to determine whether we in fact have a match.

So what we're proposing in Bill C-18 is to allow us to do what we can now do domestically in Canada under Bill C-13 , which is to actually send them a profile and ask them if it really matches theirs, or if the profiles are potentially the same because they're close. We'd ask, did you make a mistake in your analysis, or did you report a number inversely and get them mixed up? Then we could say, there was a clerical, technical, or scientific error, and would you re-analyze them? They might be dealing with a mixture of samples. Which profile were they reporting on in their crime scene? Was it correct in their crime scene? There may be a number of reasons, such as a degraded sample that didn't amplify as strongly as it might have. It's for that kind of reason we want to be able to send a profile abroad. We can now do that domestically under Bill C-13 , and we're simply asking for the same power to do it internationally, to ensure that in the many cases that might arise internationally, we can be certain we have a match. Once we know there's a match, we would then go to the normal rules we have in place.

That's all the information that would be sent; it wouldn't be any other genetic information. The sample wouldn't be sent. They wouldn't be able to do a separate analysis, other than what they have on their own files and in their own labs. They would only have this information saying there's the potential of a probable match, and we want to show you our profile to see whether or not it matches yours. The people doing this comparison would not know the personal information; they would not decide to send any personal information about the individuals that we have until they've concluded there is in fact a match that could be sent abroad.

February 15th, 2007 / 10:15 a.m.
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Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Greg Yost

If you're referring to the national DNA data bank, they receive the blood samples on those nice clean cards and they put them to the robotics, and they usually have them uploaded within a week. They have no backlog. Their capacity was originally set for 30,000 and they're receiving about 18,000, so they have excess capacity at the national DNA data bank. Clearly, if we begin to get more samples coming in, there will be some extra costs, but they have the equipment, etc., so that's not a problem.

The issue, and I'm certainly not the expert, and I'd certainly want to defer to Public Safety on this one, is at the forensic labs where they're doing the crime scene work. When Bill C-13 as amended by Bill C-18 comes into force, we hope the scope of things that are considered as designated offences will be greatly expanded, because all of those offences punishable by five years become designated offences. They're secondary, but that's still sufficient.

The police could, if they had the resources, go out and get many more samples and submit them to the labs. If the labs had more resources, they could analyse them and produce more leads. You heard yesterday of the efforts being made by the RCMP to reorganize, etc. There is definitely a seemingly insatiable demand for more DNA analysis to be done, but there is a very limited supply of people who are capable, who have the training, and who are able to do that.

On the convicted offender side, we're quite confident that Bill C-13 will be handled within the resources of the national DNA data bank. It will present challenges to the forensic labs.

February 15th, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.
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Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Greg Yost

I'll take a shot at answering that. The original legislation required that the DNA be taken as soon as a sentence was pronounced, which rapidly turned out to be inefficient, ineffective, with police having to be around at all times. It simply could not be done.

Bill C-13 contains in it a provision to allow the judge to set a time and place for the hearing. One of the improvements that the committee of officials suggested, and which is now to be found in this bill--it was actually in Bill C-72 as well--is a right to issue a warrant for a person's arrest. We also have introduced a new provision in this Bill C-72, which will allow the police department that is authorized to do it to authorize any other police department to do it on their behalf. So if the Toronto police were authorized and the person was picked up in Vancouver, we don't have to bring him back to Ontario; they can authorize him over there. This, we think, will make it a lot easier to collect the DNA.

Normally the orders are made to peace officers of a province because that's where the provincial court judge has authority. Some have apparently been making it through just a specific police department, but this amendment will cover all of those problems.

February 15th, 2007 / 9:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

That's good to know.

I think you started off, and I may have missed the translation, by asking what is the rush for moving forward on this. It's not so much a rush as it is basically to get a piece of legislation in place that will help us to proclaim the previous legislation that was passed. As you know, because you were in Parliament, a bill was introduced to try to correct and bring into line some of the provisions from the old Bill C-13, but because of the election, we lost that.

In any case, it seems to me this is a well-thought-out bill. I think it has to be taken in the context of the technology and science in this area moving very quickly. I think most people would recognize this is a very important tool for our law enforcement community to have, and I think it works out well for the individuals who might be wrongly charged or wrongly convicted, so to that extent it has....

Now, in terms of the designations between primary and secondary offences, first of all, I can tell you that 172 new offences have been added. It's an attempt—and it's never a perfect attempt—to separate out the crimes or offences in terms of seriousness. It's never a perfect match, as I know from having tried to work with amendments to the Criminal Code over the years. Obviously within the primary designated offence list you have some of the most serious crimes in the Criminal Code, and there are two categories within that.

But again, it was an attempt basically to get a new law on the books without precluding a review. You'll notice in my later comments that I said, please, if you want to take this up and have a look at it, I would certainly welcome any improvements, because this is not the last word on DNA, I can tell you that. In coming forward with these amendments when the technology and science are changing so rapidly, we can appreciate that times change and that the bills have to change--just as when Bill C-13 originally came in, we knew it had to be changed.

So I certainly look forward to any input—

February 15th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I apologize if there was a bit of a mix-up. I had this on my schedule for 10 o'clock; this actually works out better. I'm now subject to House duty. This is a function that I didn't have as House leader or whip. I was always impressing upon others the importance of House duty, and now I have it myself. So this will work out very well.

I'm glad to be joined here by two colleagues who are experts on this particular piece of legislation, and I'm glad to have them at the table with me.

It's a pleasure for me, Mr. Chairman, to appear before you today to discuss a bill that addresses concerns that we all share about how to make better use of DNA to assist law enforcement, a bill that has been supported at second reading, I'm pleased to say, by all parties within the House.

As members are aware, the last Parliament passed Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act. As introduced, Bill C-13 included an expansion of the retroactive scheme to include persons convicted of a single murder and also of a single sexual offence committed at different times. There were some additions to the list of primary offences, including robbery and break and enter of a dwelling, and some additions to the secondary offence list, including criminal harassment and uttering threats.

Bill C-13 was the first opportunity Parliament had to consider the DNA scheme since it had come into force in June 2000. It was always recognized that the DNA legislation, which was pioneering, would have to be revisited in light of experience with its provisions, judicial considerations of the legislation, and developments in the rapidly developing DNA science and technology. Indeed, the legislation itself required a parliamentary review within five years, and I will come back to that point in a minute.

Even though Bill C-13 was never intended to replace the review, the hearings were quite extensive. Major amendments were made to the bill in committee that greatly extended the reach of the DNA databank provisions, including creating a new category of offences where judges would have no discretion and including all offences that are prosecuted by indictment and are punishable by five years under the Criminal Code as secondary designated offences.

The fact is, Mr. Chairman, most of Bill C-13 is not in force. There are technical glitches that must be addressed before it comes into force to make its provisions more effective in carrying out Parliament's intention.

The previous government recognized the need to make changes and introduced Bill C-72 in November 2005. Bill C-72 died on the order paper, and we have now introduced Bill C-18 to make the changes proposed in Bill C-72, along with other technical improvements in the legislation that were identified by federal and provincial officials after Bill C-72 was introduced into the House.

Bill C-18 is complicated in its drafting because some sections amend the former Bill C-13, so that when Bill C-13 is proclaimed, the new provisions will work better. I'm pleased to have the officials here with me who will be able to answer any questions you may have on how these two bills will work together.

To assist the committee, my department has prepared an unofficial consolidation to show how the Criminal Code DNA provisions will read if Bill C-18 is passed and then Bill C-13 is proclaimed, and I have provided copies to the clerk. There's also an excellent summary of the bill, including its background, which has been prepared, I understand, by the parliamentary information and research service.

Colleagues, as members know, DNA has had an immense impact on our criminal justice system. It has exonerated many people who were innocent but were convicted on the basis of witness testimony and circumstantial evidence. It has led to thousands of convictions where accused, who might have been able to go undetected in the past, are identified through DNA matches to known persons, thereby giving police the lead they need.

Moreover, cases in the past that might have gone to trial with the defence casting doubt on the accuracy of the victims' and other witnesses' recollections of events now are resolved by a guilty plea because the defence knows it cannot explain away the DNA evidence or cast doubt on the reliability of the science.

In the late eighties and early nineties, prosecutors began to use DNA, but it was only in 1995 that the Criminal Code first allowed for a judge to compel a person to provide a sample for DNA analysis, a provision that was unanimously upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.

It was in 1998 that Parliament passed the legislation necessary to take DNA samples from convicted offenders and to create the national DNA data bank to compare those samples with DNA samples found at crime scenes. I understand that members of the committee were able to tour the national DNA data bank yesterday. I'm sure you were impressed by the facility, and especially by the dedication and professionalism of the staff. It is certainly a most cost-effective institution, of which all Canadians can justly be proud.

The effectiveness of the data bank depends on the number of profiles in the convicted offenders index and the number in the crime scene index. The passage of this bill, and the subsequent proclamation of Bill C-13, will increase the number of samples in the convicted offenders index in a number of ways.

Firstly, it will create a new category of 16 extremely serious offences for which a judge will have no discretion not to make the data bank order. There are cases where persons convicted of these offences have not been required to provide a DNA sample for analysis.

Secondly, this bill will move some offences—most importantly, break and enter into a dwelling place and all child pornography offences—from the secondary designated offence list to the primary designated offence list, so that there will be a far greater likelihood that an order will be made.

Thirdly, this bill will add many more offences to the secondary designated offence list, including offences under the Criminal Code and under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that are prosecuted by indictment and that have a maximum sentence of five years or more.

Fourthly, it will provide many procedural changes to make it more likely that an order will be executed, for example, by allowing a judge to set a time and place for a person to appear to provide a DNA sample rather than having to do it at the time of sentencing, and providing for a warrant to be issued for the person's arrest if the person fails to show.

Fifthly, persons who are found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder will be brought within the scheme.

Sixthly, a new procedure will allow a judge to set a date for a hearing to consider whether to make a DNA order within 90 days of imposing a sentence. This is intended for the situations that inevitably occur in our busy courts, where a trial is concluded and a sentence is imposed but nobody remembered that a DNA order could be made in the particular case.

We cannot be certain how many more samples from convicted offenders will be submitted to the data bank for analysis and for uploading to the convicted offenders lists as a result of these changes. Much depends on the courts, prosecutors, and police. We trust they will use the new provisions to the fullest extent.

It seems certain, however, that these changes will at least double, and could triple, the number of samples coming in. I believe this legislation will have a similar effect on the number of samples being uploaded to the crime scene index. Certainly, the changes to the definitions of primary and secondary designated offences mean that samples from many more crimes could be uploaded, because the DNA data bank only uploads samples from those crime scenes involving a designated offence. For example, it will be possible, when the legislation comes into force, to upload samples from drug offences.

However, as I believe members are aware, the forensic DNA laboratories across Canada are struggling to meet the workload they now have. The advances in DNA technology mean that scientists can now extract DNA from small samples, such as the saliva that moistened glue on an envelope. Since police do not know which items found at a crime scene may have DNA, they may want dozens of items analyzed—chewing gum, beer cans, cigarette butts, clothing and sheets—in the hope of finding the one that has the offender's DNA.

Crime scene analysis is a labour-intensive process. Every step of the process has to be meticulously documented because the successful prosecution of an offence based on DNA evidence will require the police and the lab to show they did not mix up the samples or allow contamination of the sample. This is not work that can be done by untrained personnel or that lends itself to robotics. Accordingly, there is an almost insatiable demand by the police for DNA analysis and there is a limited supply of persons competent to do the crime scene analysis.

In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I would make two observations.

First, I believe it is urgent that Parliament pass Bill C-18 so that we can begin to feel its benefits. Certainly it may be possible that more extensive changes, then, are proposed in either Bill C-13 or Bill C-18 and can be made, particularly in light of the endorsement of the DNA legislation by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Rodgers case last April. However, such changes should be made after a full hearing of all the stakeholders and should not be grafted onto Bill C-18.

My second observation, Mr. Chairman, deals with how we might consider major changes to the DNA system. As members know, Parliament was supposed to have begun the parliamentary review no later than June 30, 2005. We are now more than 18 months past that date. Bill C-13 was intended to address the problems in the system identified in the first two years of the operation of the DNA data bank. It followed consultations undertaken in 2002, and at that time the consultation paper specifically stated that the consultations led by the Department of Justice in cooperation with the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada are part of the government's ongoing commitment to review and refine existing laws in response to evolving experience and stakeholder feedback. They are intended to support a parliamentary review scheduled for June 2005.

Many respondents to that consultation made it clear they wanted the whole system rethought and looked forward to the parliamentary review. The Canadian Association of Police Boards, for example, before answering the 12 questions in the consultation paper, stated:

The CAPB believes that at this juncture, the core issue is whether the incremental approach, such as is signalled in the consultation paper, remains appropriate, or whether legislators should instead be considering a much more comprehensive and wide scale use of DNA testing and collection.

How can we best advance the consideration of a comprehensive review that the CAPB and many others have been waiting for? Officials of the Department of Justice, the Department of Public Safety, the RCMP, and the national DNA data bank have all been ready for the beginning of the hearings since 2005. I understand they had prepared a discussion paper on the issues and a series of questions. Of course, Parliament was dissolved before the committee was able to conduct the review and the paper prepared by the officials has languished ever since. The paper could be quickly updated and form the basis of a consultation by the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Safety. The consultation could probably be completed by September, and the results of the consultation would form the basis for recommendations by government on how to change the legislation. Hearings on those recommendations would allow for a focused review on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system to begin late this year or early in 2008.

As always, I would appreciate the views of the committee on whether this would be an appropriate way to proceed.

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear again before this committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2Government Orders

October 26th, 2006 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with my colleague from Edmonton Centre.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to rise and speak on behalf of Bill C-28, the budget implementation act, which, as the title indicates, is designed to implement certain measures outlined in our budget 2006.

On January 23, Canadians voted for change: a change in government, a change in fiscal accountability, and a change in fiscal management. These are changes to the benefit of all Canadians.

With that change came the direct support for our new government's five priorities. These priorities were outlined in the Speech from the Throne as well as in budget 2006, delivered by the finance minister on May 2.

On June 22, Bill C-13, the first budget implementation act, was given royal assent and many of our fiscal promises were fulfilled. These measures included reducing the GST from 7% to 6% and introducing a $1,200 per year universal child care benefit for parents of children under the age of six.

We introduced other tax cuts as well, tax cuts that Canadians have not seen before. Our first budget cut taxes by an incredible $20 billion over two years. Yes, $20 billion over two years. Our budget offered more in tax cuts than the four previous Liberal budgets combined.

Canadians are very happy with our budget, and I am happy to say that not one of the opposition parties opposed our budget when it came to a final vote, not one. They grumbled at first, but then they studied our budget and saw the great benefit of our government's budget to Canadians. In the end, they did not oppose it, so our budget has the support of Canadians and of the opposition.

I am pleased to be here today supporting the second budget implementation act, Bill C-28. We want to keep rolling out the tax cuts for Canadians and, in doing so, show Canadians that when we make a promise, we keep it.

The action taken with Bill C-28 will cut taxes for pensioners, families, students, users of public transit, and each and every worker in Canada. These measures will make a real difference to Canadians by focusing on their priorities, priorities like lowering taxes for working families, assisting small and medium sized businesses achieve real growth, and helping tradespeople, students, families and seniors.

In short, Bill C-28 delivers on our budget and delivers real tax relief for Canadians. This government recognizes that Canadians pay too much tax. As a colleague of mine previously reported, according to the Fraser Institute, while the average family's income has gone up 1,100% since 1961, its taxes have shot up a whopping 1,600%, outstripping the growth in income.

As I mentioned, this is a new government with a new respect for our fellow Canadians. We need only look at the measures in Bill C-28 to see exactly how we are putting more money back into the pockets of hard-working taxpayers.

Working Canadians are the foundation of Canada's economic growth. However, choosing to work also means additional costs, costs for everything from uniforms and safety gear to computers and various supplies. For some, particularly low income Canadians, these additional costs can impose a barrier to joining the workforce. For others, work related employment expenses are another factor that limits the rewards of their hard work.

In recognition of this, budget 2006 introduced the Canada employment credit, a new employment expense tax credit for employees' work expenses. A credit on employment income of up to $500 will be provided effective July 1, 2006. The amount of employment income eligible for credit will rise to $1,000 effective January 1, 2007.

Budget 2006 also recognizes that creating an environment for more and better jobs and for strong economic growth depends on having a competitive tax system. The engines of our economy, our wealth creators, are businesses, both small and large, and they should not have to face the heavy burden of overtaxation. The businesses that feel this burden most are small and medium sized businesses. They create jobs and are the backbone of our country's economy.

In my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, small and medium sized businesses are essential. They are the economic backbone of my riding: farms, farm equipment retailers, manufacturing, industry, pharmacies, grocers, et cetera. Without their success, ridings like mine would struggle. Many of us are employed by them. Small to medium sized business is responsible for the majority of all new jobs created in Canada. Whether we live in an urban riding or a rural riding, all of us turn to small businesses for services, and our future economic growth will depend a great deal on their success.

An important way that Canada's federal income tax system supports the growth of small businesses is through a lower tax rate on the first $300,000 of qualifying income earned by a Canadian-controlled corporation. This helps these small businesses retain more of their earnings for reinvestment and expansion, thereby helping to create jobs and promote economic growth in Canada.

With the passing of Bill C-28, and effective January 1, 2007, the threshold for small businesses will be increased from $300,000 to $400,000. In concert, the 12% rate for eligible small business income will be reduced to 11.5% in 2008 and then down to 11% in 2009. It is estimated that these changes will reduce government taxation on these businesses by $10 million in 2006-07 and $80 million in 2007-08.

There is more.

Hon. members from all ridings know that Canada is facing a serious shortage of tradespeople: carpenters, plumbers, electricians, cooks and others. Our government is taking action to encourage apprenticeships and to support apprentices in their training.

Specifically, we will help companies hire apprentices with a new apprenticeship job creation tax of up to $2,000 per apprentice. We will create a new apprenticeship incentive grant of $1,000 per year for the first two years of a red seal apprenticeship program and other programs.

Through these actions, our Conservative government will be investing more than $500 million over the next two years, which will help approximately 100,000 apprentices.

We will also help apprentices and tradespeople with the heavy burden of buying the tools they need to do their jobs. Our government will invest $155 million over the next two years for a cost of tools deduction, which will help approximately 700,000 tradespeople in Canada.

In regard to our seniors, members will no doubt agree that some seniors struggle to live on a small fixed income. As I travel throughout my riding, I often hear seniors ask, “Why does the government not do something to help seniors, those of us on a fixed income?” I am always pleased to state that this is exactly what we are doing. We are providing real tax relief to seniors.

The most important measure involves a doubling to $2,000 from $1,000 of the amount on which the pension income credit is calculated. A deduction for the first $1,000 was introduced in 1975, but since its introduction the amount has remained unchanged. That is unbelievable.

It took our new Conservative government to do something for our seniors to rectify this problem. We recognize and understand the difficulty faced by seniors on fixed pension incomes. To provide greater tax assistance to those who have saved for their retirement, budget 2006 increased to $2,000 the maximum amount of eligible pension income that can be claimed under the pension income credit, effective for 2006 and subsequent taxation years.

The measure will benefit nearly 2.7 million taxpayers receiving eligible pension income, providing up to $155 per pensioner, but not only that, it will remove approximately 85,000 pensioners from the tax rolls. This is real action to the benefit of our seniors.

In regard to Canadian families, they are the very foundation of our society and they play a vital role in the development of our communities. This is why it is important that we reduce their tax burden as much as possible.

One of the ways we are doing this is with the children's fitness tax credit. The health and fitness of our children is very important. As the government, we want to promote physical fitness among children and we want to do it by supporting families directly.

We take families seriously and we take physical fitness seriously. Budget 2006 provides a children's fitness tax credit effective January 1, 2007. The credit will be provided on up to $500 of eligible fees for programs of physical activity for each child under the age of 16.

I am the father of five children. They are involved in fitness activities such as soccer, basketball and highland and Celtic dance. I am pleased to state that finally we have a government that listens to families, that works together with families and that helps families with their real expenses. This is a great tax credit for families. It encourages and supports physical fitness and it is my sincere hope that the opposition parties will support it.

Lastly, I would like to highlight what we are doing for students. We believe that our post-secondary students need to be supported in their hard work in pursuit of academic excellence. Currently, the first $3,000 in scholarship, fellowship and bursary income received by a post-secondary student is not taxed, but any amounts above $3,000 are taxed. Students do not need this. They do not need to be paying tax on scholarships, fellowships and bursaries. They need to use that money toward their education.

I am very pleased to highlight that our new government understands the financial challenges that post-secondary students face and that we are on their side. We want them to succeed in their studies by alleviating financial pressures, which is why Bill C-28 proposes a complete exemption for scholarship income received by students.

Budget 2006--

An Act to Amend Certain Acts in Relation to DNA IdentificationGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2006 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification.

Bill C-18 is largely a technical bill but it builds on some initiatives from the last Parliament before it was dissolved when Parliament passed Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act. This was the Liberal government's original DNA data bank legislation. There was some keen interest to have this legislation passed quickly and efficiently for a couple of reasons.

There were a number of high profile people being detained in penitentiaries who were about to be released, and without this legislation in place they would have been able to have left the penitentiary without giving a DNA sample.

DNA samples are very helpful to law enforcement to solve crimes and to prevent crimes. That was one of the imperatives that led to a very speedy passage with all-party agreement in the House and I think all-party agreement in the other place and royal assent in the last Parliament. It was done very quickly.

There were amendments made at the committee level that were quite complicated. I think in the rush to get the bill through, there were some slip-ups in some of the language in the bill. This bill is designed to correct some of those technical problems with original BillC-13.

Bill C-13 in the last Parliament was a very good example of how parliamentarians of all stripes in the committee worked together. The Liberal government had a minority government at the time, but at committee we worked together to make changes to the bill, which I think improved the bill and helped its speedy passage through the House of Commons and the other place.

To give some background, before the bill came to Parliament and to committee, the RCMP were reporting that only about 50% of the DNA samples that were meant to be going to the RCMP DNA data bank were actually getting into the data bank. This was a cause for concern by myself and others. At the time I happened to have the honour to serve as parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, so it was an issue that I took up with the justice department and others. I could not quite understand why only 50% of the DNA samples were finding their way into the DNA data bank.

It turns out that the way the law was written, the judges had discretion as to what DNA would be passed on to the DNA data bank and what DNA would not be passed on to the DNA data bank. I found this quite puzzling because I could not ascertain under what circumstances the judge in his or her wisdom would decide that it was not in the public interest to pass the DNA of a convicted person to the DNA data bank.

In fairness to all concerned, following the establishment of the DNA data bank, there was some confusion among the crown prosecutors and judges. The DNA order has to be an order that is presented to the trial judge asking the judge to order that the DNA sample be taken and passed to the DNA data bank and there was a lack of communication or a lack of education on what DNA had to be passed over to the RCMP DNA data bank.

As I recall, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice mounted a program to get the word out to the judiciary and to the prosecutors that this order had to be prepared by the crown prosecutors and presented to the judge before the DNA could be taken and submitted to the DNA data bank.

When the bill was sent to committee, these questions were asked. As a result of a lot of collaboration among all parties, the Bloc Québécois, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the NDP, we made some significant amendments to the bill.

We started out with a very long list of crimes where the judge would not have any discretion, where the DNA would automatically have to be taken and sent to the DNA data bank. There was much discussion around this point with the Department of Justice. The view was that there was a possibility if we included all crimes, this would be challenged under the charter and the good parts of the bill would be tossed out with the parts that would be turfed out in any sort of challenge under the charter.

At committee we put a little water in our wine and we said that for the most heinous of crimes there had to be no discretion, in the judgment of the committee members. For acts such as murder and rape, what the bill did when it was amended was it removed any judicial discretion so that the DNA automatically had to go to the DNA data bank.

That was a very proud moment for me. It really pointed out that even though there was a lot of discussion that the minority Parliament was not working at a certain level, I felt that at the committee level, certainly at the justice subcommittee level, there was a lot of good cooperation. I think we improved the legislation in front of the committee. We did some other work with respect to child pornography. Subsequently Parliament was dissolved and we had an election. But for Canadians this committee was working very well.

I was very proud that we were able to pass Bill C-13 which received royal assent. There were some technical matters which came to light through the Department of Justice later and that is what the current bill is meant to reflect. Bill C-13 was a follow-up on our Liberal government's commitment to law and order to give the police the tools they need to fight crime.

That is why I am sorely disappointed that the Conservative government is seeking the scrapping of the gun registry. We know the gun registry is working very efficiently, very effectively. Yes it is true that it cost too much to develop, but those are sunk costs. Anyone who knows anything about economics or finance knows that once there is a sunk cost there is not really much point in going back and analyzing what to do about that cost because it is historic. The question before us is whether the gun registry performing today a useful purpose, and the answer is a resounding yes.

For example, law enforcement officers are making something in the order of 6,000 inquiries per day on the gun registry data bank. Do law enforcement officers have the time to sit around and tinker away on the computer if it is not relevant information for them? They are very busy people. They have many different competing priorities. They have to decide which call to take. They have to rationalize that. Do we think they sit at a computer keyboard and tinker around for the fun of it? Of course not. We know for sure that especially in domestic violence situations the police find this to be a very useful tool.

Does it mean if they go to the gun registry and the registry shows that there are no guns registered at a particular residence that they can stroll in and be happy campers and not worry? Of course not. Police officers across Canada are not so naive, but by the same token, if they go to the gun registry data bank and discover there are guns in that residence, it helps them establish their modus operandi of how they are going to approach that situation.

I will give another example of why DNA and the gun registry are so important in terms of law enforcement. The gun registry supports something in the order of 7,000 or 8,000 affidavits to date that they have signed which has helped crown prosecutors obtain convictions. The gun licensing component of the Firearms Centre screens out many individuals who would otherwise like to have a gun but because of certain instabilities or criminal records in their past, they are precluded from owning a gun. In fairness to the Conservative government, it is not suggesting that we ban or do away with gun licensing, but it is making a serious mistake with respect to the long gun registry.

The other myth I would like to focus on again today is that some would argue that long guns are not involved so much in criminality, that they are owned by people in rural parts of Canada. The facts are just the opposite. Long guns are involved in more homicides and suicides in Canada, or in just as many as are handguns. Handguns are more of a problem in the urban centres and long guns are a problem in the rural parts of Canada.

I certainly will be supporting the DNA bill because Bill C-13 was very important in terms of law enforcement and law and order in Canada. This bill tidies up some of the language, some very important language, so that the bill can be that much more effective.

I will expand a bit on Bill C-13 and the list of those offences which the committee and ultimately Parliament and the other place approved in this legislation. The offences that were put on the list of those where a judge would have no discretion with respect to the DNA that would have to go into the DNA data bank, we included crimes like murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault. Internet luring of children, child pornography and organized crime offences were also added to the list of designated offences for a data bank order. This is absolutely necessary so that the DNA can be used by law enforcement agencies to either solve crimes or prevent crimes.

I was very proud of the work of that committee. Now I am very happy to speak in support of this bill because it makes the technical changes that are needed to make the original bill even more efficient and more effective.

By way of example, Bill C-18 makes it an offence to fail to appear for DNA sampling. It is an important part. The court can order a DNA sample, but if the individual does not appear, how could one possibly get a DNA sample? There are sanctions for not appearing for a DNA sample.

The Conservative government, and frankly I support what it is doing here, has also added some additional heinous crimes to the list where a judge would have no discretion but to send the DNA sample to the DNA data bank. Those offences include attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Those also are covered by the retroactive provisions which apply to offenders convicted of a single murder, sexual offence or manslaughter prior to June 30, 2000 when the legislation that enabled the creation of the national DNA data bank came into force.

It sounds like a lot of gobbledygook, but in fact these are very important technical changes and I am hoping the House will support them. The purpose of the bill is that the government is trying to capture as much DNA as possible to get into the data bank so that law enforcement can use that DNA to fight crime and to prevent crime.

Another example of one of the technical fixes to the legislation is that it ensures information provided by the national DNA data bank can be used to investigate all criminal offences. It may sound somewhat obvious, but if it is not written in the legislation, then someone will argue that the DNA could be used to investigate certain offences but not other offences. It makes this particular point crystal clear.

I will go back for a moment to the list of crimes where the judge has no discretion. The committee at the time had somewhat of a debate on that issue. Frankly, I support a certain level of judicial discretion but if, for whatever reason, the Parliament of Canada believes judicial discretion is not being exercised in a way that is appropriate in the judgment of parliamentarians, then I think it is quite appropriate for Parliament to remove that judicial discretion.

This is not for petty crime where the DNA must go to the data bank. This is not for shoplifting, nor is it for someone who is caught speeding. This is for murder, rape, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and a whole list of other heinous crimes. I think it is quite appropriate that judges are required without discretion to ensure the DNA goes to the DNA data bank.

Another example of one of the technical amendments to this bill that is before us today is to simplify the procedure to destroy samples taken from those convicted of an offence not intended to be included in the DNA data bank. Again, it is somewhat a procedural but an important procedure so that samples can be destroyed if they are not intended to be included in the data bank.

When we get into DNA there is often this debate, a debate we had in committee as well, about the privacy issues of Canadians. Privacy is an important aspect that we need to consider as parliamentarians.

I do not pretend to reflect the views of all Canadians on this point, but if someone wants to take a follicle of my hair and put it into a DNA data bank, frankly, I say go to it. However, I understand and respect that some people might see this as impacting their privacy, which is why the legislation that we bring before Parliament needs to be mindful of those considerations. We need to ensure that only DNA that is required by legislation and that meets certain tests of Parliament is actually proceeded with.

Another example of one of the technical changes in this bill is to help to ensure that the DNA data bank orders can be carried out even when, for logistical reasons, it may not be possible to take the sample at the precise time set out in the order. Again, this is somewhat procedural. Unfortunately, there is a whole body of jurisprudence and lawyers who will try to find reasons why their client should not be required to submit a DNA sample. They might say that they could not comply with the order in the timelines provided in the order.

This provision makes it clear that even though it is not at the precise time that is laid out in the order, the DNA must be presented.

It also clarifies definitions in procedures for obtaining a DNA data bank order and for sharing information with international law enforcement partners. There is a whole range of sharing of information that goes on between Interpol and other law enforcement agencies around the world and one has to be mindful of the privacy concerns of Canadians. This amendment makes it clear what the rules are for the sharing of that sort of information.

I hope the House passes this bill. It would be helpful to our law and order agencies to prosecute and prevent crimes. I am sure our party will work with all sides of the House to ensure the speedy passage of this bill. I will be supporting the bill and I hope others will as well.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts in Relation to DNA IdentificationGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2006 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure today of speaking in favour of sending Bill C-18 to committee.

As has already been stated, the National DNA Data Bank is a great success. I understand that the DNA data bank came in on time and on budget. It works closely with the forensic laboratories, not only those of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but also with the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto and the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale in Montreal. In turn, the laboratories work closely with local law enforcement.

Biological samples from convicted offenders are collected by police who have been specifically trained to do so. These biological samples include blood, which is the preferred substance to analyze and accounts for more than 98% of samples submitted for analysis. Buccal swabs and hair provide the other 2%.

The convicted offender biological samples are collected and submitted to the National DNA Data Bank to be processed into DNA profiles. This profile information is then entered into the combined DNA index system, or CODIS, a software package that stores and compares the profiles. CODIS was developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice and provided to the NDDB at no cost. The software is the universally accepted standard for forensic laboratories, which allows the NDDB to participate in the sharing of information consistent with signed international agreements.

The police and forensic scientists also attend at crime scenes. When they find DNA and they have a suspect, they can apply to a judge for a DNA warrant to confirm or disprove that the crime scene DNA and the suspect's DNA are the same.

Every day suspects are being cleared by DNA. We must not underestimate the benefit that this provides to the Canadian justice system. It is unimaginable now, in a case such as that of Steven Truscott, that DNA would not be used. Avoiding a miscarriage of justice is vital to maintaining the confidence of Canadians in the justice system.

When police do not have a suspect but they have DNA, the forensic laboratories analyze it and upload the DNA profile to the crime scene index, which is a separate electronic database. The NDDB retains this electronic information as well as basic details such as the date, location of donor laboratory and a unique number identifier that allows information to be compared by the donor laboratory in the event of a future match.

The hits that the NDDB generates can be to a crime scene where the DNA profile has been in the crime scene index for many years. Of course, the match is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning and police must follow up on the match and build their case. Depending on where the DNA was found, there may be an innocent explanation. However, there is also the potential for convicting an offender years later.

The collaboration of the laboratories has had great benefits for Canada. The more crime scene samples that are uploaded to the data bank by the forensic laboratories and the more convicted offender samples there are in the data bank, the more successful the entire DNA system will be. According to the latest annual report of the national DNA data bank, there were only 25 forensic hits in the first fiscal year that the data bank was open. In 2005-06 there were 2,323 forensic hits, almost a hundredfold increase.

The National DNA Data Bank continues to increase the pace at which it makes forensic matches. In the past six months, it has provided police with investigative leads in some 50 murders, 18 attempted murders, 110 sexual assaults and 80 robberies.

Let me give a real life example of the value of one of the DNA matches. This case is taken from the 2005-06 report of the National DNA Data Bank.

On April 23, 2002, the family of a 29-year-old man reported him missing in Dawson Creek. Police determined that he was last seen nine days earlier at a local pub with two unidentified men. The two men were tentatively identified and associated to a nearby residence. When police arrived at the residence, however, it was abandoned.

Finding bloodstains in several places throughout the home, police suspected foul play and sent the evidence for DNA analysis. They also obtained biological reference samples from the missing man's parents to help with identification. The RCMP forensic laboratory services completed the analysis and confirmed that some blood at the residence matched to the missing man, and there was also blood from another unknown person.

The unknown DNA profiles obtained from the crime scene were uploaded into the National DNA Data Bank's crime scene index. Unsure of the man's fate, police continued to follow all clues to find him and his assumed assailants. In their pursuit of the two men last seen with the missing man, police were led to an abandoned vehicle in Mayerthorpe, Alberta. Several blood soaked household items were found in the vehicle, along with the missing man's knapsack. These items were sent to a regional forensic laboratory for analysis. A comparison of the crime scene DNA profiles with that of the missing man yielded match. This supported the evidence that the police were dealing with a homicide and not a missing persons case.

Shortly after, a man walking down the street in Saskatoon was violently assaulted by two individuals who were apprehended and charged with attempted murder. DNA collection warrants were executed for the suspects in this case. The NDDB linked the DNA profile of one of the suspects in Saskatoon to the unknown DNA profile from the abandoned residence in Dawson Creek.

It was confirmed that the missing man left the pub with the two suspects and proceeded to the residence. An argument had ensued and the victim was stabbed to death and dismembered. During the attack, one of the suspects cut himself, which became the key clue that allowed the NDDB to link the suspects to the crime scene. The suspects in Saskatoon were charged and convicted of second degree murder.

Undoubtedly, the early apprehension of offenders such as these made possible by DNA matching has prevented thousands of crimes. Truly, DNA makes an almost unequalled contribution to the safety and security of Canadians.

As an aside, I am rereading a classic by Truman Capote titled In Cold Blood. It would have been interesting to see in the novel how DNA would have affected that case.

In the last Parliament, relatively modest improvements to the DNA system were presented to the government in Bill C-13. The standing committee held extensive hearings and considered a wide range of issues. Major amendments were adopted by the House standing committee on May 5 and 10, 2005. The amendments reflected a compromise that secured the support of all parties for its passage. The bill was then adopted by the House on May 12 and because of the impending budget vote, rushed through.

The provisions of the bill 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, for example, defective orders, and the procedures for dealing with moderate DNA matches came into force on royal assent. Because of the rush to have the bill passed, the normal opportunity to scrutinize the amendments, consider necessary consequential amendments, determine the full implications of the changes and make corrections at report stage on third reading or in the Senate were not available. The bill as passed, therefore, contains serious problems that should be resolved prior to proclamation.

In the minister's speech, he set out the many important provisions of Bill C-13, which are not yet in force. Undoubtedly, the most important are the changes in the definitions of primary and secondary designated offences. When they come into force, there should be a great increase in the number of offenders who are ordered to provide a DNA sample and the number of crimes for which DNA profiles can be uploaded to the crime scene index. As we know, the more profiles in the data bank, the more matches it will generate.

It is therefore important that we give this bill thorough but swift consideration. I do not believe that there is a real divide on this bill in the House, just as there was not a real division over Bill C-13. All of us want to make as much use of DNA in solving crimes as we can while respecting the charter and privacy rights of Canadians.

I also believe there is a desire to proceed soon to the full review of the DNA system that was often alluded to in the debates and hearings on Bill C-13 as being the proper forum for consideration of major changes.

For example, in the United Kingdom, the Forensic Science Service in 2004-05 reported that it had 40,000 new detections, including 165 homicides, 100 attempted murders, 570 rapes, 5,600 burglaries and 8,500 auto crimes. The laws under which it operates are far different from ours. The British take DNA at the time of fingerprinting and keep DNA profiles regardless of the outcome of the criminal prosecution just as we keep fingerprints but not DNA.

In Canada, by contrast, DNA orders can only be made against a convicted offender for a limited number of offences and judges retain the discretion to refuse to make the order.

Bill C-18 does not change these fundamentals of the Criminal Code DNA provisions and the DNA Identification Act. As I have said, the five year parliamentary review, which has yet to begin, is the proper forum for considering far-reaching changes. Bill C-18 is limited to technical improvements to the existing system.

I would like to conclude with just a few words about the attitude of the courts to DNA. I believe it has been evolving rapidly as the courts become ever more aware of the benefits of DNA and the certainty it provides in identifying perpetrators. The minister has already spoken of the ringing endorsement of the present legislation by the Supreme Court in the Rodgers case

While Rodgers was a case dealing with the retroactive provisions of the DNA bank scheme, there can be little doubt that the existing scheme is in its entirety constitutional. I am informed that over the past five years there have been dozens of challenges to the DNA legislation at the trial court level and appeals to the courts of appeal of almost all provinces.

As the Ontario Court of Appeal held in a case called Briggs, the state interest in obtaining DNA profile from an offender is not simply law enforcement by making it possible to detect further crimes committed by this offender. Rather, the provisions have much broader purposes, including the following: to deter potential repeat offenders; promote the safety of the community; detect when a serial offender is at work; assist in the solving of cold crimes; streamline investigations; and, most important, assist the innocent by early exclusion for investigative suspicion or in exonerating those who have been wrongly convicted.

I believe we, in the House, recognize the benefits of DNA evidence and we should do everything we can to foster its use. In the short term, I believe we must pass Bill C-18. In the long term, we must work together, through the parliamentary review, to determine the best possible system for Canada and then proceed to make whatever changes the committee may suggest.

I am pleased to urge the House to pass Bill C-18 at second reading.