Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act

An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Vic Toews  Conservative

Status

Report stage (House), as of Feb. 7, 2011
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment amends the International Transfer of Offenders Act to provide that one of the purposes of that Act is to enhance public safety and to modify the list of factors that the Minister shall consider in deciding whether to consent to the transfer of a Canadian offender.

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.

Votes

Sept. 27, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I agree with the member's comments. The government should be taken to task, essentially, for false advertising because it is promising that the bill is going to help public safety when the member and other members have just demonstrated that it is going to have the opposite effect.

They are already doing it. Conservatives are transferring fewer people since they have taken power. The numbers have gone down and they are allowing prisoners to stay, for example, in American jails where they are not being treated. They continue to become better criminals and basically they are ticking time bombs. When they get out of American prisons, they come straight back to Canada, and the system will have no opportunity to deal with them. They will get no training, no anger management and no supervision. They will be back out on the streets and that is going to be a danger to public safety, the exact thing Conservatives say they are trying to prevent.

On the issue of giving the minister more discretion, I share the member's concerns about this one hundred per cent because that is exactly what the government is doing. It is grabbing at straws. It uses every element it can to come up with a reason to circumvent this law and others.

It is not just this type of legislation. The Conservatives seem to want to push the envelope as far as they can to make the reality conform to their own ideology. As the member indicated, if the minister or his government, or their ideology dictate that they do not want to accept a certain person who would have been allowed back under the current rules that have worked well for 30 years, then they will simply use that as an additional reason not to bring the person back to Canada.

That is essentially what is going on here and there is no way that we should be allowing this particular minister or any minister in the government any more discretion or any more leeway than they have. As I said yesterday, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The act has been there for 30 years. It has worked well for 30 years. What is wrong with simply leaving what works intact?

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague thinks about an existing problem.

Let us suppose that someone has mental health issues, for example, is bipolar, and is incarcerated at the Archambault Institution in Montreal, Canada. This institution provides offenders with special attention and care, as well as the necessary medications. If this same prisoner was in the United States instead of the Archambault Institution, he would not receive any special attention, other than receiving some medication, without any real confirmation that they are appropriate for his mental condition.

I would like to know whether my colleague thinks that is right, or if he agrees that we should bring these prisoners back to Canada as quickly as possible.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I have to agree with the member. He is absolutely correct.

If we in the opposition started to communicate with our voters, we could negate whatever short-term advantage the government is getting out of these kinds of issues.

For example, there is an issue right now with respect to the prison farms. There are six prison farms in this country. Some have been operating for many years. I toured the one in Rockwood, Manitoba last week. The government is shutting down these six prison farms. When we explain that to the average voters in this country, even Conservative voters, they shake their heads in disbelief.

It is incumbent on us in the opposition to get that message out to the voters. I think they will start questioning the government on where it is going and where the common sense is in the government. It makes no sense to shut down prison farms. I think the member would probably agree with me on that.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Elmwood—Transcona has pointed out the incoherence of the Conservatives bringing this bill forward when there has only been one problem. The problem was judicial oversight. The judge simply was not convinced the minister had done his due diligence. That is it.

We are wasting time in this House of Commons chewing up debate time because the Conservatives are so thin-skinned and have reacted to one case where a judge did his job and the minister did not. That is why we are here.

I want to ask the member about the incoherence of the Conservatives. We have had Conservative members call the police a cult because the police disagree with them. The Conservatives have repeatedly refused to bring in a public safety officer compensation fund so that the families of firefighters and police officers who lose their lives would be taken care of. The Conservatives give the back of their hands to the firefighters and police officers. We have seen the Conservatives kiss the goons and thugs of the Colombian regime, and try to push this through.

It is rampant hypocrisy. What the Conservatives say they want to do on crime and what they actually do are two completely different things. It is incoherence. It is hypocrisy.

Could the member comment on the absolute hypocrisy of Conservatives on criminal justice matters?

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, it is even worse than that.

Three years ago the government hired Mr. Sullivan as its victims rights co-ordinator. His contract is up and the Conservatives are not renewing it, because he has actually criticized the government. This is their appointee as the head of victims rights.

The Conservatives claim they are solid on victims rights. He says they are not. He says they spend too much time worrying about and dealing with the punishment issues and do not spend enough time talking about victims rights.

This message—

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the debate is on Bill C-5.

The question that was just asked and the answer that is coming forward are not relevant to the debate. I refer to Standing Order 11(2). I would ask that the Speaker make sure the debate is focused on the bill we are actually talking about.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, regarding the point of order, I just want to say that on all of these bills at second reading we are discussing the principle of the bill. We are dealing with the government's approach to crime. This is a very relevant conversation and a relevant argument. I see no problem with the discourse that is being allowed at the moment.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, I have no hesitation in coming to the issue before us, a piece of legislation which I think is not even worthy of the debate this Parliament has undertaken.

Members will appreciate the fact that perhaps, unlike some of my colleagues in the House of Commons, I have spent a considerable amount of my career working to help Canadians in difficult situations get home. While all of those do not necessarily involve circumstances that are the most palatable, or something that on the surface may seem to be correct, appropriate and right, the reality is that my actions and those of my colleagues in the Liberal Party have always been governed by principle, by legislation that has been time honoured and treaties that have worked for Canadians as well as for our international reputation.

What the Conservative government is proposing today is really a deconstruction to facilitate more discretion for the minister to pick and choose who the minister wants to render or to bring home. The reality is that when we see this bill before us that refers to keeping Canadians safe, nothing could be further from the truth.

As many colleagues have mentioned already, when an individual is prevented by his or her government from coming returning home and getting proper rehabilitation, from a land in which the individual may have been guilty over there but not necessarily here, and in which the circumstances of the individual's incarceration does not lead necessarily to the individual's conviction here in this country, without reprogramming, without the opportunity to rehabilitate, we are opening up a Pandora's box and subjecting Canadians to certain harm.

On the question of harm, the Conservative government has not made the case for the bill. I truly believe it should not go beyond second reading for the simple reason there has not been one case with which the Conservatives can come forward on the question of recidivism. We do know that the government has spent a considerable amount of its time and the time of the courts dragging its heels preventing Canadians from coming home, forcing Canadians to hire lawyers and go to the Federal Court of Canada in order to get the government to act, to stand up for the rights of Canadians abroad.

Members will understand my surprise at this kind of arbitrary discretion given to the minister, not based on fact. It surprised me because the bill was introduced by the Minister of Public Safety. Where is the Minister of Foreign Affairs? This is a treaty of a transfer of offender. If I understand the role of the public safety minister, formerly known as the solicitor general, it is to ensure that there is an appropriate understanding between the two nations when it comes to a transfer. It surprises me that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of the proudest portfolios we have in our government, is mute, relatively silent, taking a back seat and, I would say, irrelevant in this process.

I want to talk a little bit about the experiences I have had with Canadians who have had difficulty returning home. I am not talking about the imbroglio years ago with which I had to become involved with respect to the return of someone like, for instance, Brenda Martin. The government, after dragging its legs, heels, whatever, decided at the last moment that it would spend $90,000 to bring her home, when all it had to do was press for the case. There is something far more important with that case as it applies to many others. I can cite for colleagues examples of where Canadians have found themselves in difficulty.

Often the transfer of offender treaty is a mechanism where we may disagree with the legal system of another country, but once the person's trial is over, the transfer mechanism can be triggered. This allows us a political but also a diplomatic way of ensuring the return of a person who has been ill-treated abroad because the person happens to be a foreign national, because the person happens to be Canadian, because the person has been subjected to shoddy police investigations there, where the person has been subjected to a rule of law in that country, good or bad, that may not, for instance, adhere to the principle, the concept, the very maxim of presumption of innocence.

This mechanism, agreed by most nations around the world, a transfer of offender treaty, has worked well for Canada since 1978. It was codified in 2004. It has helped Canadians and certainly improved Canada's standing internationally when it comes to reciprocal roles between nations. We do not always have to agree with the legal system of another country.

Let us understand why this legislation is here. Sine 2006, the Conservative government has taken upon itself to refuse to bring Canadians home. This is not done with a ministerial refusal but by finding excuses such as a CSIS review or subjecting a person to incarceration longer because the government cannot find a way of saying no, even though the approvals have happened to bring the Canadian back to Canada from the host country where the Canadian has been incarcerated. I will provide some examples.

Hundreds of Canadians can be detained or sentenced to incarceration in foreign lands. Of course, we know that some deserve to be behind bars, but there are other cases, as I have mentioned, that are not so clear-cut. A growing concern in recent years is that it seems when Canadians get in trouble abroad, there is often an automatic assumption by some officials and, yes, some politicians that the subject is guilty and should be left to his or her own fate.

This is a rather dim view that can be evidenced by the fact that the government approval rate of transfer of offender applications filed by Canadians serving sentences abroad has declined in recent years. It is down from 140 cases approved by Canada in 2005 to a low of 58 in 2006, 75 in 2007, and 108 in 2008.

I should point out that the slight increase in 2008 may be due to recent court rulings urging the government to lighten up on denying such requests. It is worth noting that in 2005 no transfer request was in fact denied. However, in 2008, 26 were refused and the refusals have drawn some attention and could support the view that the government is taking a new and rather heavy-handed approach to dealing with wayward Canadians.

In one court ruling a couple of years ago, Justice Kelen commented that the government should be taken to task on its transfer refusal. The court went as far as to state that contrary to the Minister of Public Safety's view, not everyone abroad constitutes a threat to national security. My goodness, there are 45,000 people incarcerated in this country. Are we to assume then that the minister thinks that all 45,000 are a threat to national security?

When we look at the facts underlying the reason the government has been motivated to bring this kind of legislation forward, they have nothing to do with what we are reading in it. It is not keeping Canadians safe. It is keeping Canadians in the dark. It is denying them a series of circumstances. It demonstrates to Canadians above all that the government is all about quick witty comments such as fairness at the gas pumps and keeping Canadians safe. It is a fraud. It is not true.

If the government is trying to go after a particular constituency to make a few people happy, that is great, but I can say that in my time I have dealt with people across the aisle, Conservatives, Bloc members, New Democrats, and when one of their constituents who may have supported them is in difficulty, there is never a question from a Liberal or most members of Parliament as to whether or not the person voted for a certain party before getting service. Giving discretion to the minister leaves us in a position where we are now going to subject the right of a Canadian to return, often in circumstances that are unbelievable, based on the whim of the minister.

We believe in the rule of law, not the rule of thumb.

It is extremely important for colleagues to recognize that this piece of legislation may be couched under circumstances that may allow the government to appeal to a particular constituency in this country. I can only say that I have met people who have been and are part of that constituency and it is a different thing when it is their son, their daughter, their aunt, their friend, their relative who is in difficult circumstances.

We have seen the government act in a way that is capricious and we cannot have a situation of picking and choosing Canadians we are going to help abroad. Nor is it lost on people how unseemly it is for individuals to have to take their cases to court because of a government that hides behind its royal prerogative to help or not to help.

The Conservatives campaigned a few years ago on a platform of standing up for Canadians. It is too bad they do not do it when it comes to Canadians abroad unless they are embarrassed into doing it, until they are forced to do it or because someone who happens to be well connected to their party made a phone call saying they ought to look at it.

There is the case of Mr. Kapustin, for whom the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism quite rightly went to bat, but there are hundreds of other Canadians like him. There is Brenda Martin. The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities went to see Bashir Makhtal in Ethiopia. It was very laudable, but there are hundreds of Canadians who find themselves now caught in a situation where the Minister of Public Safety wants to use some undefined, unspecified and very arbitrary decision-making power that is contained in this legislation to choose who is and who is not going to get the chance to return home.

I cannot think of a better example of why parliamentarians exist, and that is to prevent the unchecked power of cabinet and of the executive to make decisions based upon circumstances ill-defined, certainly in legislation.

We have every reason to worry about this. Canadians travel for many reasons such as business, education, tourism and volunteering at work. They should not commit crimes whether they are here or whether they are elsewhere around the world, we know that. However, we know that some, unfortunately, will.

We also know that Canadians may be convicted in the context where the presumption of innocence is ignored, where prejudice against foreigners, human rights violations and unsavoury policing techniques lead to convictions of innocent persons. We also know that sometimes harsher sentences are imposed on foreigners than on nationals, and I have a number of examples of experiences with this. The possibility of serving the remainder of a sentence in Canada, in my view and I think the view of what we have seen in practice, may alleviate these perceived and sometimes real injustices.

Should Canadians have the right to be transferred? If, indeed, the conditions of incarceration amount to what would otherwise be considered matters of cruel and unusual punishment, in this case and as this legislation from the Conservatives proposes, should they be at the mercy of the minister's whim in the evaluation of such critical and crucial decisions? I think not.

I ask Canadians to look beyond this bill before us called keeping Canadians safe. They should look at it and scratch back a bit of the surface. It is wonderful and we all want to be safe, but there is nothing that binds Canadians together more than recognizing that we believe in the ability of an individual to rehabilitate themselves.

We have an excellent correctional service system in Canada, of that I have no doubt. However, as I mentioned earlier, it is this transfer of offender treaty that allows many people, who would otherwise find themselves permanently in jail, incarcerated, tortured, deprived of the very basics of human rights because of a ministerial whim, to return to a country that has forsaken them.

This is not a question of making a point about good people and bad people. If they are jail in other countries, there is probably a very good reason for it. However, all too often we see there are extremely important examples of where people have been put in jail through no fault of their own.

What do we do with Mohamed Kohail, who just a few months ago was sentenced to death? That sentence, we hope, will be lifted at some point. What about William Sampson, a case which I was directly involved with, who was about to be executed? We worked with those countries and we worked to ensure that our relations with those other nations were paramount so that the life of the Canadian in this case, and we hope in the case of Mohamed Kohail, would be spared.

Canadians are languishing in jails around the world. The least they would expect is for Parliament to give a rubber stamp or a green light to a practice of saying that we may or may not like them, but we do not want to tell them why we may or may not like them.

My hon. colleague, the member for Hull—Aylmer, raised a question about a particular case. I know the case very well because it was one of an individual who is bipolar and who had done something obviously wrong, but at the end of his time in prison, half his sentence was served, the American government and the State of Florida said that he could return to Canada, that they had no quarrel with it. However, the Conservative government that said, no, that it wanted to keep him there. It knew he was bipolar and that he had difficulty. It knew he did not get treatment while he was in that facility, but it did not want him back.

The right of a Canadian to return is a right that cannot be compromised or changed by judicial discretion or ministerial indiscretions, and that is of great concern to members of Parliament on all sides of the House.

If I sound passionate, it is because I back up what I say with action. I call on the Conservatives to back off on this nonsense. There is no reason to have this kind of legislation. When Canadians, who I think are extremely intelligent on these kinds of things, have an opportunity to look at it, they will not be fooled. They will not be fooled by “keeping us safe” when it is in fact tantamount to making Canadians unsafe.

People who return from torture and squalor in another nation and have been kept there because of the discretion of the minister will not come back programmed to go back into society. Let us understand this. They are not folks who have committed an offence in Canada. They get off the plane, the boat, the train or whatever the case may be and they go into the general public.

Where is our public safety there? The government has to be clean. It cannot confuse messages to be cute, trendy or trite when all it is doing is potentially subjecting Canadians to more harm, while at the same time damaging the lives of individuals who did no crime in Canada.

We understand the transfer of offenders treaty. People commit serious offences in another country. After a period of time, the country agrees, through treaty, to send them to serve out the remainder of their sentence in Canada. People who have committed serious crimes in other countries will have to serve the remainder of that sentence in the Canadian context, and that is very important to stress. They will at least be in a Canadian facility so they can be directed in a way that they can get back on the streets and rehabilitate themselves.

We do not have something like dungeons in our country. We do not torture people in our country. We believe in the ability of people to reintegrate into society at some point. That is, after all, why we call it corrections. By allowing the minister to do this through misadventure, and by supporting an ideology, which I think under scrutiny most Canadians would not accept, is wrong. It is flim-flam and it is not standing up for Canadians but rather trampling on Canadians.

In my time as a member of Parliament, dealing with some of these cases, I have often thought it interesting when I visit someone who has been in jail and has been tortured. It is interesting and depressing to know that the person has only one link to Canada and that is a Canadian citizenship. People fought for our liberties in the Boer War, the first world war, the second world war and the Korean War. What our young men and women are doing in Afghanistan today is making our country proud. I think the last thing on their minds would be to see us compromising our framework of legal, democratic bodies of law that protect Canadians at an instant.

For the members of the government on the other side who have proposed the legislation, it is not only flawed, but it sends the wrong message. It does not improve Canada's image and it does nothing to protect Canadians. It does not do a service to those men and women who have given their lives and continue to make our country proud on a number of fronts.

We should talk to our police about Canadians who have returned and the importance for rehabilitation through our correctional services. Every person has the ability to change. Some may not, but if they have not committed a crime in Canada, we should give them the benefit of the doubt. The facts bear out. How many Canadians have returned under the transfer of offenders treaty and offended? Not one.

The argument made to justify this legislation is false, it is misleading and it is a fraud. I would suggest to all members of the House that this does not deserve the debate in committee. There are only a couple of amendments, including changing “must” to “shall” and giving the minister discretion that, in his or her opinion, the person should or should not return.

I do not think that discretion should be given. I do not think there is a basis for it. I do not think there is an argument for it. Anybody who takes the time to really consider what has been offered here must recognize that the facts speak louder than political or ideological rhetoric. I am convinced that we should not only leave well enough alone, but that the problem is not evident. As my colleague just said a little earlier, it is not broken, so let us not try to fix it.

I look forward to questions from members of Parliament, but I want them to know one thing. I would stand up for any Canadian requested by any member of Parliament from any party. I am here to stand up for Canadians. This is not an ideological issue. The Conservatives should come to their senses.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:05 p.m.
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Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich ConservativeMinister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Madam Speaker, the member said this was all about a whim. Bill C-5 is about ensuring the Minister of Public Safety may consider public safety as part of the decision making process for the transfer of offenders. The bill includes a factor that in the opinion of the Minister of Public Safety the offender's return to Canada would endanger public safety. It would allow the minister to consider, among other things, the safety of victims, the safety of the child and the safety of members in the offender's family, factors such as whether the offender was likely to continue criminal activity in Canada.

These are the principles on which the minister would base his opinion. It is far from being a whim, opinions such as an offender in poor health, or has co-operated with law officials or has acknowledged harm done to victims and communities. Those are the factors not whims that the minister would use in his discretionary power. These are sensible changes and they are about their commitment to protect the rights of victims or commitment to increase the responsibility of offenders.

There is nothing wrong with increasing the responsibility of the offenders. It is a part that the member does not speak to at all. When he speaks about the whim of a minister, it is not about the strength the minister has, it is about strengthening our commitment for the rights of victims.

I would like to know where he thinks that there is a not a responsibility of offenders. What about making our communities safer as a whole?

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not sure if the hon. member listened to my speech, but I find it kind of ironic that a minister of the executive of the Crown would ask for more discretion and more powers.

She is a member of Parliament. Part of the job of ensuring that Parliament functions for the benefit of Canadians abroad is to talk about facts, truth and to ensure that there is a balance to ensure every minister is accountable.

If the minister reads the legislation, and I encourage her to do that, it is “in the opinion”. It is up in the air. It is loosey-goosey, airy-fairy. Parliament will not give a blank cheque to that minister or his party. Nor should it give it to any other party that happens to be in power.

I know she heard about zero cases of recidivism, but if she has no confidence in Correctional Service Canada and, for instance, the United States department of corrections, which releases the Canadians into Canadian authority, to make an assessment as to the risk, the likelihood of harm of individuals, then why not just say it.

She should say that she does not believe in our correctional services or our border services. It is nice to talk about these things, but when we put them on the slightest scope of scrutiny, the minister's comments fall to pieces. The minister is basing legislation on nothing. The foundation is that it must be based on public safety.

If she is concerned about public safety, why would she not have a system that gives people the rehabilitation so they can get back on their feet and not reoffend? What the minister prescribes is a recipe for more danger and will make Canadians unsafe.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech. I found the minister's question disingenuous at best. As we all know the government, not only the current government but previous governments, has denied dozens of transfers. That has existed under the old act. The current act allows for that and it tells the minister what criteria must be given consideration.

What we have is a framework that has worked in all cases except one. In that one case now, in a typical Conservative case of absolute legislative overkill beyond belief, the Conservatives are now taking up House of Commons time for one case where the judge found that the minister had not done his homework, had not done his due diligence.

Therefore, the Conservatives craft this up on the back of a napkin, throw it into the House and with the due disregard for democracy that we have seen through the numbers of prorogations over the last few years, we see another middle finger given to Canadians generally. A bill is brought in, even though the need for it comes from one case where a judge, quite rightly, found that the minister had not done his homework. Now we are spending parliamentary time working through this.

I know the member has long experience in this regard and has intervened a number of times. What does the member think is behind this Conservative attempt to eat up parliamentary time? What does he think of the Conservatives' hypocrisy on crime issues? For example, this week a Conservative member called police officers and chief of police a cult because they disagreed with the Conservative government.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, what the hon. member is asking me is interesting. In fact, it is appalling and shocking that we would hear this from a Conservative Party, attacking police in this country

As members probably recall, on a number of cases, whether it was child exploitation, whether it was dealing with people who evade police, or whether it was dealing with ensuring that the forward-looking infrared cameras on police helicopters were used to detect signature places that might be marijuana grow ops, I have always received the support of law and order police associations across this country, and I am proud of that. However, I am absolutely shocked that people who profess to be in favour of law and order have attacked the very people who are standing up for us. There is a consistency and a pattern here. It is not about keeping Canadians safe. It is, “If you don't agree with me, I'm going to scandalize you; I'm going to be involved in name-calling”.

I think the Conservative Party and some of its members ought to grow up and recognize that there are people in this country who, day in and day out, are giving their best for this nation. They also do it recognizing that if they find themselves in difficulty, and I have met many police whose children, friends and relatives find themselves in difficulty, they need to know that their government is going to stand up for them, regardless of what party, regardless of the politics.

Why is this bill here? This bill is here to try to deceive people. It is not even well written. It would give the minister all sorts of powers. It is a power grab against innocent defenceless Canadians. Shame on that government for introducing it.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member this. As part of the international treaty, if we refused to bring a whole bunch more Canadians back, because of this bill, could the Americans then refuse to reciprocate and not take their people back, so that we would have a lot more dangerous American criminals in our prisons?

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Yukon raises a very critical point. If Canada is going to walk away from, change, modify, circumscribe or subject its legislation, its legal framework of treaties with other nations, to the whim of not only the Minister of Foreign Affairs but the Minister of Public Safety, this is an embarrassment of tremendous proportion. I could not even possibly understand or even delve into what this does, in terms of ramifications. Are the Americans, the Australians, the Brits, the Europeans now to say that Canada's position on law and order, on the question of treaties, is based on which way the wind is blowing?

We know the current government is going to spend a considerable amount of time fighting Canadians when they have made the request to return home through the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. Consistently those courts have said, when it comes to the transfer of offenders treaty, that these people do not present a breach or a threat to national security; they are simply exercising the rights that all citizens within those treaties in both bilateral nations have. For that reason, I think it is really incumbent on Canadians again, when they see this little thing under here that says “keeping Canadians safe”, to know that it is not.

We have to ensure that legislation fits the bill to ensure Canadians can be given a modicum of protection. This legislation goes in the wrong direction. It is not even unintentional. It is very intentional. It is meant to deceive. The Liberals have called this for what it is. It is a fraud.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the member for Pickering—Scarborough East and I am quite interested by his comments. I do think some of the comments have been a little bit more torqued up and partisan, to be honest, than what I would have expected. But one of the things I really question, from the comments from the member, is that this is a bill that has an interest in putting public safety at the forefront of this legislation. Should it not be that the minister has that kind of discretion to stand on the side of Canadians and victims of crime to protect them when in certain circumstances they—