Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons)

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

Sponsor

Rob Nicholson  Conservative

Status

In committee (House), as of March 22, 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 Criminal Code to enable a person who owns or has lawful possession of property, or persons authorized by them, to arrest within a reasonable time a person whom they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property. It also amends the Criminal Code to simplify the provisions relating to the defences of property and persons.

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.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / noon
See context

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak to this particular issue about citizen's arrest and the events that precede it.

We are here today to look at an amendment to section 494 of the Criminal Code. In my opinion, we are righting a wrong by doing this. I fully support this idea and fully support this bill.

There have been several episodes in history where this has been looked at and analyzed as a way of fixing an issue that has arisen due to one particular case that was featured in the city of Toronto. That was the story of David Chen. There has been a lot of media attention around this situation and his particular circumstance. If I may, I would like to talk about that very briefly.

In his security videos and from his own personal observations Mr. Chen noticed a particular individual time and time again stealing certain merchandise. The perpetrator was known in the area for having committed certain crimes. As a result, he appeared very suspicious.

The perpetrator went to Mr. Chen's place of business and stole a particular item. He then returned a half hour later only to be confined by Mr. Chen. The police moved in right away, but they went after Mr. Chen, not the perpetrator. As a result, there were several charges laid that we have talked about in detail. I will get to that in just a moment. The important fact is that Mr. Chen made the citizen's arrest after the incident had taken place. Therein lies the meaning of this particular legislation, and I am sure many Canadians would agree, that a certain period of time be allotted to act upon this or that there is a reasonable amount of time allotted wherein one can make a citizen's arrest.

The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to allow private citizens who own or have lawful possession of property to arrest a person they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property within a “reasonable amount of time”. This power of arrest is permitted only in circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is not feasible for the arrest to be made by law enforcement officials. Therein lies the other part of this, which is to say that in the case of Mr. Chen, which is the example we are using, he was put in a position where he was called into action. There were no peace officers there at the time. Therefore, in the absence of law enforcement officials, his judgment call was to make a citizen's arrest on that particular person he felt would steal something from his business. I imagine most of us would feel that his acts are justified.

As a result of this action, therein lies the crux of this particular amendment, which talks to the reasonable amount of time one has to do this. Currently, the legislation deals with the acts or actions one may take in making a citizen's arrest within a specific period of time. Therefore, the emphasis is on the particular amount of time that one has to make a citizen's arrest.

If a person, having witnessed a crime wherein the perpetrator has left the scene only to return, in David Chen's case it was 30 minutes, feels that he or she must take action, I believe the majority of Canadians feel that making a citizen's arrest at that time is indeed justifiable.

This has been an issue since I believe September 27, 2009, when the minister originally mused about it. As a result, almost two years later we are now looking at the legislation being tabled as we debate it in the House.

There does not seem to be a tremendous amount of debate here as the government put this bill forward and the Liberal Party and the NDP have endorsed it. Of course there have been private members' bills from the Liberal Party, by my colleague for Eglinton—Lawrence, and also my colleague from the NDP in the riding of Trinity—Spadina reflecting this issue.

As many people can imagine, there are some concerns around the term “a reasonable amount of time”.

Every time we talk about legal issues and legislation that makes an amendment to the Criminal Code, we always talk about and sometimes consider what is a reasonable amount of time and actions that are deemed to be reasonable in a court of law. Therefore it is open to interpretation.

Because we are at second reading of the bill and by accepting this in principle, it would now be sent to committee to find out what is a reasonable amount of time and to flesh out some of the parameters around this piece of legislation.

There is a certain amount of ambiguity that constitutes what is a reasonable amount of time between when an act of violence is committed and when a citizen's arrest is made.

We know that some police officers have raised concerns in the past about this legislation. We certainly look forward to hearing what input they bring to this and I will get to a few examples in a few moments.

Many months ago this issue was moved on when we saw the situation with David Chen. Private member's Bill C-547 was introduced by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence. We now find ourselves debating a government bill but two years ago we were dealing with all kinds of amendments to the Criminal Code. How this issue did not manage to pop up in the debate over the two-year period is slightly questionable.

The amendments that are being made, whether they be mandatory minimums, whether they be Internet crime and things we have seen over the last little while, especially when it comes to mandatory minimums, there has been a lot of debate in the House regarding amendments to the Criminal Code.

I am not a lawyer, but nonetheless I have heard from many legal experts who have said that the Conservatives could have done all of this in a much shorter period of time if they had done the amendments through, say, four, five or maybe even six bills as opposed to the 15 to 20, in that range, that we currently have. This could have been done two years ago, or the Conservatives could have accepted my colleague's private member's bill at the time. That probably would have been the most prudent way to go. Nonetheless, we find ourselves in the House today debating this legislation.

I look forward to what will be talked about at committee. I talked earlier about the ambiguity surrounding this. In the circumstances, we do have a legitimate concern to be addressed, but nonetheless, the principle of the bill is a sound one, which is the ability for citizens to make arrests. The situation with David Chen in Toronto is really an illustration of why we are debating this and why, I assume, most members of the House accept the bill in principle.

The incident of David Chen took place in October 2010. At that time there was a lot of debate and it received quite a bit of notoriety from coast to coast to coast. As a result of that, the debate became apropos of the times. Citizen's arrest is something we talked about. It has not been as publicized as it is now. The David Chen video tapes became news everywhere. I am from Newfoundland and Labrador and it was a big story there as well. It was featured prominently. It was not just a local Toronto story. Therefore, the issue gained that much more weight as a result of it.

The Criminal Code allows for a citizen's arrest as it stands right now. The amendment to section 494 would address that, but where an individual is caught in the act of committing a crime on a person or property and a citizen immediately detains the subject, therein lies the current state of the Criminal Code which addresses a citizen's arrest. The provision allows for an arrest to occur without having to wait for law enforcement to arrive on the scene. There are several examples over the years that would address this. Certainly an amendment to section 494 would address the situation regarding a reasonable amount of time. There is no doubt in my mind that a reasonable amount of time, which was illustrated by the David Chen case, perfectly justified a citizen's arrest. I believe the time was 30 minutes after the first encounter.

Therefore, in that particular case, it illustrates that a reasonable amount of time would be justified by this amendment. However, to put the parameters around this particular piece of legislation requires it going to committee and I look forward to hearing the debate on that.

The bill would also expand the scope of a citizen's arrest to allow for such detention to occur within a reasonable amount of time. It is not clearly defined what constitutes the reasonable amount of time, which will certainly be debated. The bill states clearly that no individual is entitled to use excessive force in the process of detention of another individual.

There have been other groups and stakeholders who want to discuss this as well and I am sure they will be given ample opportunity once they arrive at committee. I implore all my colleagues to support this bill in principle and send it to committee.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my hon. colleague for having had the energy and eloquence to address some of the issues in Bill C-60.

He quite rightly pointed out that this is a bill that emanated from private members' initiatives, mine in particular, and the one by the member for Trinity—Spadina. It is important to say both parties because the Government of Canada—I am sorry, the Prime Minister's “SH” government responded with great tardiness. I notice that some people smile at that, but he wants it to be known as that.

It responded with great tardiness to a situation that was egregious. It was egregious because a repeated victim of theft by a convicted felon was penalized by the justice system. It is a government that constantly talks about its crime and justice agenda, but allowed Mr. David Chen and others like him to languish for the better part of 18 months while it did absolutely nothing.

Worse, it caused that individual to assume the costs of defending himself in court in order to prove something for the benefit of the government and the government mucked that up as well. Look at this piece of legislation. I wonder if my colleague would comment on that.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I think the member is a little angry. I want to congratulate him on his private member's bill. In the course of this debate a lot of it has been fleshed out over the course of time.

Another issue I noticed about this piece of legislation is we seem to have a little here and a little there when it comes to amendments to the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code seems to have garnered a lot of attention around here and in many cases justifiably so. The only problem I have is that sometimes we sensationalize these things to the point where they become overdone. Sometimes other pieces of legislation, whether it is with regard to crime or other social policy, get left behind, which is unfortunate.

My colleague talked about this particular piece of legislation and the principle by which we are accepting it. Senior police officers in Halifax have urged caution about the legislation. That is one thing we must bear in mind and that is why it should be sent to committee for further study. I look forward to that.

Again, I congratulate my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence on his role in all of this.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the member is aware, parts of this bill mirror the bill tabled by the member for Trinity—Spadina trying to address what occurred to one of her constituents, the arrest of Mr. David Chen.

My colleagues, including the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, have raised concerns and I am wondering if the member supports the concern raised by my colleague in the House to the effect that members would like this bill to go to committee for consideration and discussion, but that there is the potential for expediting the amendments to section 494 to address what happened to Mr. Chen and clarify the issues on the occasion of a robbery and one's property is impacted.

Does he believe that we should be exploring the separation of additional provisions not raised in the Chen case dealing with provocation, justification and claim of right?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member questions me often and does it to great effect, so I look forward to her question each and every time.

I have two things. The NDP addressed the situation in Trinity—Spadina, which is a good illustration of where this happened. I used to live in Trinity—Spadina near where the incident took place, so I know the area well.

We had several renditions of this private member's bill, including from my own colleague, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence and, I think, from the member for Windsor—Tecumseh. My colleague, a former professor, also spoke to this.

--courts pay attention to what Parliament says when they look for direction in law.

I think that was from the Minister of Justice, and—

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons).

I will summarize what the bill is all about. The bill amends the Criminal Code to enable a person who owns or has lawful possession of property, or persons authorized by them, to arrest within a reasonable time a person whom they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property. Bill C-60 also amends the Criminal Code to simplify the provisions relating to the defences of property and persons.

More succinctly, the bill significantly broadens the notion of self-defence and slightly broadens that of citizen's arrest.

I have had the opportunity to review some of the speeches about Bill C-60. One of my colleagues also talked about this bill.

It will come as no surprise that the Bloc Québécois supports sending Bill C-60 to committee. Today, we have heard that the scope of the bill raises certain questions. I will talk about the notion of self defence a little later. There are many questions about the problems that could be created by Bill C-60.

A Liberal member said that when an event gets a lot of media coverage, parliamentarians immediately want to solve the problem, which is quite commendable. Everyone in the House undoubtedly acts out of good faith when it comes to solving a justice-related or other problem. However, we must ensure that the scope of these laws does not give rise to other problems. That is what we fear with Bill C-60.

Two members introduced private member's bills to address citizen's arrest. In the Toronto area, the owner of a convenience store took the law into his own hands and was arrested. The public believed that the arrest made no sense because the owner of the convenience store had acted in good faith to protect himself and his property.

Bills were introduced in this regard. Then, the Conservatives introduced a bill on the same topic but with a much larger scope that also addresses the issue of self-defence.

For the Bloc Québécois, defending oneself and one's property, within reasonable limits, is a fundamental right. We do not see any problem with this. It is already permitted by law, but the law is too restrictive. Mr. Chen's case is a good example.

Bloc members support a legislative amendment that would enable honest citizens to defend themselves, their property and others. However, we do not want to implement a populist approach reminiscent of the wild west. No one here was alive during that time, but we have all seen movies in which people take justice into their own hands. Clearly, we do not want violence to escalate in such a manner or we could find ourselves in a situation where the lives of individuals and groups are endangered.

As legislators and as people who want to defend their families and their property, we do not want to create other, more serious problems and we do not want to contribute to an increase in violence. Certain provisions in the current bill could give rise, in the short to medium term, to situations that neither the public nor the police would want.

Bill C-60 was introduced in response to the incident in Toronto that I mentioned earlier. A business owner was arrested and taken to court for catching and detaining a man who had robbed him. This arrest of an honest citizen, who had repeatedly asked for police help without any response, outraged the public.

Two private member's bills were introduced immediately following this incident, and then Bill C-60 was introduced. Bill C-60 includes the vision of the political parties that introduced the private member's bills to address the issue of citizen's arrest. The Conservative government introduced a bill that seeks to amend the self-defence provisions of the Criminal Code.

Questions are being raised about the changes to the Criminal Code. The deputy chief of the Halifax Regional Police urged the federal government to caution the public about making citizen's arrests, because we want to prevent well-intentioned individuals from committing crimes themselves. He also pointed out that an arrest carries risks that a citizen has little chance of responding to as well as a police officer can. It is not our job to take on the role of vigilante. However, out of necessity, there are some situations in which citizens must be allowed to arrest someone who is in the process of committing a crime or harming property, a loved one or even a stranger. We even have a duty to intervene when we see someone in danger. We cannot stand by and do nothing, even if there is clearly a risk in intervening. It could jeopardize the life of the victim or our own life. Necessary force must be used. The changes made to self-defence with Bill C-60 could cause problems. Some situations that are currently illegal could become legal. We are not convinced that this would be desirable for the well-being of the community. Some situations covered by Bill C-60 were discussed by those who spoke before me, but I would like to give some examples.

There is a spat between neighbours: John is unhappy because he lent Jim his lawnmower and has not gotten it back yet. So he starts to threaten Jim and his family. He may even go as far as to threaten to kill them. Jim does not want to take any chances and decides to kill John before he attacks Jim or his family. When Jim is arrested, he tells the police that he could not guarantee his own or his family's safety because of the threats they had received. This may seem like an exaggerated, ridiculous example, but if we just look at what happens in court or read a newspaper, we will see a number of similar examples where people are trying to justify what they have done, even if their actions are unforgivable. How does one prove that John truly endangered the lives of Jim and his family? It will never happen, because one person killed the other.

Or consider this scenario: someone steals a pack of cigarettes from a convenience store. The cashier has a firearm under the counter and if he pulls it out, any number of things could happen: he could accidentally kill the man who stole the pack of cigarettes just by pointing the gun at him; he could say to himself that the man is a thief so he is allowed to take the law into his own hands and he decides to shoot; or the thief takes off and the other man decides to shoot and seriously injures or kills him because he wanted to stop him. We do not know whether he intended to kill the thief or not, but we do know that he pulled the trigger. I would remind hon. members that the man stole a pack of cigarettes. The shopkeeper may also decide to kill him because he has been robbed too many times and the police do not act quickly enough. So he pulls the trigger and kills the thief.

In either scenario, society does not win. Indeed, there is always a delicate balance that must be struck between going too far—even if one's intentions are good in proposing reforms that could have a negative impact—and taking action to protect one's property, one's family or unknown individuals. A balance must be struck. There is no doubt that the Criminal Code does have some shortcomings at this time, as we saw with the example of the shopkeeper, but the committee needs to examine certain things much more thoroughly.

In closing, situations like this often come up. When I was a teenager and still living at home, thieves broke into my parent's house. I was in the basement with my girlfriend at the time, and no one else was home.

When I woke up, I heard voices, so I knew there was more than one thief in the house. To scare them away, I told them I had a firearm. They ran away, but I definitely would have had a problem if I really had had a weapon and had decided to fire on them when they were running away across the lawn. That is why we must not go too far.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

I have a few questions for my colleague, who gave a pretty thorough summary of the bill before us.

I wonder whether my colleague would find it strange, if not deceptive, that the government, which waited for 18 months after it promised David Chen that it would look at an egregious situation, comes forward with legislation that not only looks at the issue of reasonableness, which, by the way, was already addressed by the court as it dealt with David Chen's case, but adds on to it a whole series of extraneous items that it says are absolutely important and crucial to understanding the concept of reasonableness in a citizen's arrest situation.

I would like the hon. member to give us an indication of whether he finds that the government took so long in order to come right up face to face with the prospect of not having to deal with it at all. This bill will go to committee but we do not know if the committee will be heard. However, David Chen will have expended a lot of energy, a lot of resources and a lot of money.

Does the member not think that the government should reimburse him for what he did in order to upgrade the criminal court's case study of situations like his?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

Let me come back to the famous delicate balance that is needed when it comes to self-defence. I concluded my speech rather quickly a moment ago, talking about my own experience.

The government is playing around with the issue of self-defence by removing the whole notion of necessity. Everyone knows we have the right to defend ourselves and that that is enshrined in the Criminal Code, but that only the necessary force can be used.

I want to come back to my previous example. The thieves were in my parents' house. I managed to chase them away by screaming “I have a gun”. It was not true, but they did not know that. Fortunately, they believed me. When I saw them running through the neighbour's yard, I noticed there were three of them. I was glad that I had not come out swinging and that I had not tried to fight with them. I was with my spouse at the time and I did not want to leave her alone.

However, if I had had a gun and had decided to shoot the thieves as they were running away through the neighbour's yard, I do not think I would have been using necessary force or that I could have argued that it was necessary to kill someone who had entered my parents' home. If the thieves had entered the room I was in and jumped me, or started hitting me or my spouse, I think I could have used necessary force in that case.

That is the difference. The problem lies in identifying what the government wants to do with Bill C-60.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must insist because the issue that caused the bill to come forward is essentially one of a citizen's arrest, in other words, the right of an individual to protect himself as well as his property but, most important, his property at this stage of the game. The government has come forward with legislation that unnecessarily deals with, as the member has noted, a series of issues even though the courts in the David Chen case addressed his issue, which was the reasonableness of the time and the continuity of the actions where, under any normal and reasonable expectation, someone would have found that David Chen actually did protect his property by using all the means available to conduct a citizen's arrest.

Under those circumstances, would he not think that the government is really trying to thwart the will of the courts?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member has hit the nail on the head. He has been here long enough to know that the Conservative government always tends to adopt populist measures, especially when it comes to justice.

It was easy, especially given the bill he himself introduced and the bill introduced by the NDP, to move very quickly to resolve the problem in the Criminal Code. We see that. That is why we agree with sending Bill C-60 to committee. There are changes we can make without unravelling everything.

However, to introduce this populist measure is to suggest that this is what people want and that the government will move forward with it without considering the consequences. In wanting to resolve a situation involving Mr. X, in this case Mr. Chen, the government is using a bazooka when all it really needed to do was to make a very quick change by passing either the bill introduced by my colleague or the one—

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons).

The genesis of the bill was the arrest of Toronto grocer, David Chen, who apprehended a man who had previously stolen from his store. Mr. Chen was arrested and charged with forcible confinement after the perpetrator of the theft was caught outside his store by Mr. Chen who effected what, in his mind, was a citizen's arrest.

Under the current provisions of the Criminal Code, a citizen may make an arrest only when a criminal offence is being committed or has been committed and the alleged criminal is in the process of fleeing. Eventually, the court, after a lengthy period of time and a large public outcry, found Mr. Chen not guilty due to a reasonable doubt being identified by the judge.

As I look at Bill C-60, it tries to amend subsection 494(2) of the Criminal Code to enable private citizens who own or have lawful possession of property, or persons authorized by them, to arrest, within a reasonable time, a person who they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property. This power of arrest would only be authorized when there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is not feasible in the circumstances for the arrest to be made by a police officer. It would also amend the Criminal Code to simplify the provision relating to the defence of property and persons.

We must be careful that the passage of this bill does not give the public the erroneous impression that individuals have the right to mete out any form of vigilante justice. The government has taken too long to introduce a bill on this issue, and when it came up with this wording, there are some issues around clarity. There is ambiguity. What are these things that need to be clarified? The ambiguity that is most concerning is what is meant by a reasonable amount of time between the act of violence that is committed on a personal property and when a citizen's arrest is made.

If this ambiguity is left unresolved it could lead others to inadvertently commit a criminal act. For example, let us say that we see someone breaking into our house or garage and stealling tools but we are not able to apprehend the person, if we were to meet that person next week in a park could we apprehend him or her then? What is a reasonable time? How does one get around it? If I see somebody breaking into my neighbour's house, what is my job as a citizen? Should I make a citizen's arrest? Where are the parameters? Those are the parameters of the citizen's arrest that are missing from this explanation or change to the act.

How do we ensure clarity? We need to have clarity so we do not have a repeat of what happened to Mr. Chen. Mr. Chen did what he thought was helping the police. He arrested the guy who was a repeat offender and because it was his personal property he thought he was doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the police arrested Mr. Chen and told him that he was doing the wrong thing.

I wonder how many of us would stop if we saw a theft taking place, take a picture and ensure the picture was correct so we could give it to the police do they could find the person. We know the police force is underfunded. It needs all the citizen help it can get. Where is this clarity that we are looking for? I know police officers have also raised concern about the legislation and I look forward to hearing those concerns. I would look forward to sending this bill to committee.

For a government that says it is a law and order agenda government, why did it take so long to bring about changes?

The member for Eglinton—Lawrence and the member for Trinity—Spadina both addressed this issue many months ago when they brought in a private member's bill. It was after they brought in the private member's bill that the government decided that it should get around to this issue as well.

I want the government to be smart on crime and to be alert on crime, not to make crime some election issue. These are crimes that affect citizens and that affect my daily life. I would like the government to clarify due process. How does the judge know what due process is? The judiciary should be given that clarity.

What determines a citizen's arrest? The police need to be given clarity so they do not repeat the mistakes that happened in Mr. Chen's case. If the police do not understand the interpretation of this bill, we will have another repeat of Mr. Chen's situation.

This is important for all of us. I will give an example that is very interesting. Spitting is not allowed on many streets, especially in Europe. People cannot spit on the street. Is spitting a crime? Do I take a picture? If I do take a picture, what do I do with it? How do I make a citizen's arrest? If I see a member's computer being stolen, what do I do about it? What is a reasonable time? When do I enforce it? As I mentioned, the police force does not have the wherewithal to arrive on time sometimes. It needs all the help it can get.

Therefore, when we are looking at making changes to that act, we should let the police do their justice job. If we are trying to apprehend a perpetrator and the perpetrator has a gun, what do we do? How do we protect ourselves? Yes, the police should do their job and, yes, the police cannot always be there, but when we are talking about citizen's arrests, let us be clear about what we want.

It is unfortunate that the government took so long. It is unfortunate that Mr. Chen had to go through this lengthy and costly legal process due to the ambiguity. I do not think the ambiguity has been clarified by what the government has introduced.

I hope the committee and its members will look at these concerns and that they will come up with a solution that provides clarity to the public, the police and the judiciary.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague on attempting to make the legislation relevant to the everyday experiences of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Chen was an ordinary citizen. He had the assurance of the Minister of Immigration that his situation would be rectified very quickly by the Government of Canada, or the SH government. He also had a similar assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

By his own words, we have the Minister of Justice's account that in late 2009 the governments of the various provinces were already coming to a conclusion with regard to this and yet the government did nothing.

I wonder whether the member will comment on why it took two opposition bills in order to prompt the government to action?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question brought me back to the fact that the Prime Minister went to Mr. Chen's store for electioneering purposes.

It was the member for Eglinton—Lawrence and the member for Trinity—Spadina who were the proponents of this private member's bill to move it forward.

I can only speculate that this was electioneering because if it was for the law and order agenda and I as a private citizen am not protected, it must be speculation time.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, I was listening with a little interest to what the member was saying and I reflect on her comment about the fact that the Conservative Party is tough on crime. We are tough on crime and that is why we have introduced this bill. This bill would take care of the people who wish to harm citizens or their property. We have introduced legislation to get rid of the three for one and two for one time served credits that criminals were taking advantage of. We have introduced laws that are tough on crime.

Would the member not just admit that the Liberal Party is soft on crime and would like to see as much leeway as possible given to the bad guys so they can escape prosecution? Would the member please state for the record that she is against prosecution?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am quite amused by this. If there is a three for one credit, I have to wonder whether the senators who were charged with fraud in elections will be going to jail and what time they will serve.

When it comes to Conservatives committing a crime, why is it that the government absolutely refuses to put them in prison or ensures that due process takes place? Ordinary citizens who commit crimes are put wherever and the Conservatives think they are being tough on crime. But when it comes to the Conservative senators, members and ministers who are implicated in fraud in elections, where will they be going?