Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.


Rob Nicholson  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in R. v. Tse, safeguards related to the authority to intercept private communications without prior judicial authorization under section 184.4 of that Act. Notably, the enactment

(a) requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4;

(b) provides that a person who has been the object of such an interception must be notified of the interception within a specified period;

(c) narrows the class of individuals who can make such an interception; and

(d) limits those interceptions to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code.


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.


March 20, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.

May 6th, 2014 / 12:05 p.m.
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Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

It should be amended, in that sense.

Thank you, Ms. Guthrie.

I will go back to you, Mr. Fraser.

Could you specify the type of amendment you would like to see to section 487.0195(1), when it is done without authorization or voluntarily? Should people have to be informed in those cases only?

It reminds me of the time when our committee was studying Bill C-55 about electronic surveillance. Perhaps other members of the committee will remember. The Supreme Court said that there was a deficiency in the Criminal Code in that respect because people never knew when they had been subject to electronic surveillance.

What is being said today is all well and good, but a number of cases will not result in charges at all. Information may be circulating anyway. Should there be specific provisions for all the cases in which charges have been laid? In those cases, we would end up knowing because the Crown would be forced to disclose the information. What kinds of provisions should we include in Bill C-13 to make sure that people are informed, within a reasonable timeframe, that they have been under electronic surveillance? If I remember correctly, I think that a period of 90 days was considered.

Should there be an automatic notification so that people find out that their information has been circulated, whether or not it came after a warrant?

May 21st, 2013 / 9:35 a.m.
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Michael Blais President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Chairman and ladies and gentlemen.

First, permit me to express the Canadian Veterans Advocacy's satisfaction that the government has fulfilled their pledge to harmonize war pensions and allowances with the recent SISIP legal decisions.

By definition, those requiring this allowance are experiencing substantial economic duress, and the end of the clawback is certain to have a definitive impact on their financial quality of life. Accordingly, we would acknowledge the government's efforts on these proposed changes.

There are issues, however, that I would like to address today: the harmonization of war pensions and allowances; retroactivity with the SISIP decision; the financial criteria of the allowance; and the allowance's legislated exclusion of thousands of disabled veterans who served this nation in Korea after World War II—veterans who are disabled, veterans who are clients of Veterans Affairs Canada and who, having reached the age of 55 for the ladies or 60 for the men, meet the allowance's age requirements.

The first issue is of great importance, and as no decision has been rendered on the earnings loss benefits retroactivity, I would have you consider both issues, as the war pensioners' allowance legislative changes have been motivated by this government's efforts to harmonize these problems with the SISIP decision.

I am a member of the SISIP class action. I have been a victim of this unjust clawback for 20 years. As such, I cannot tell you how important the issue of retroactivity is to me and my colleagues. Those who have sustained a similar financial discord as a consequence of reductions to their war pensioners' allowance or the earnings loss benefit must be accorded the same level of respect and retroactive compensation as was applied through the SISIP decision if the principles of harmonization are to be attained and—equally important—if justice is to be served.

The second issue is the allowance's financial criteria as they reflect on the establishment of a harmonized foundation determining precisely what level of annual income is required to ensure veterans are accorded the basic tenets of life, such as shelter, food, and clothing. The ELB and the SISIP programs have been harmonized. The poverty threshold has been clearly defined. Yet this threshold has not been applied to the war pensioners' allowance criteria. Consequently, the economically unrealistic financial threshold has been perpetuated, one that denies veterans who, when assessed under the new SISIP or ELB poverty threshold standard and benefiting from the non-inclusion of their Veterans Affairs Canada disability award, would be deemed eligible for this allowance.

The third issue, the exclusion of veterans who served in Korea after World War II is growing particularly problematic. At this time as a nation, we must be cognizant of Canada's military history since the cessation of hostilities in Korea. We must acknowledge, not dismiss, the commitment of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have served at sea, in the air, or on the ground for prolonged periods in Europe during the Cold War and/or on dozens of United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization-sponsored special duty areas. These men and women may not have experienced the same number of catastrophic casualities or fatalities as the nation has sustained in open conflict. However, these multi-generational, high-stress operational deployments have been plagued by a plethora of non-combat injuries very similar to what we have borne witness to in Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. The sacrifice these veterans have made on behalf of this nation cannot be dismissed or ignored. Canada's obligation to them must be fully embraced, not discredited through exclusionary protocols.

The budget implementation plan also includes provisions to include the Last Post burial fund allowances to approximately $7,400. This is a positive development, yet regrettably does not address the restrictive issues that have resulted in an unreasonable denial rate of 67% or an exclusionary policy that denies eligibility for a dignified interment to veterans who served in Korea after World War II.

The $12,000 threshold, when put in the context of the government's harmonized ELB, insists its poverty-level determination does not reflect the economic realities impoverished veterans are confronting, and we would encourage the committee to take advantage of this opportunity to amend the Last Post burial fund threshold to respect and reflect the standards the government established and legislated through Bill C-55.

Equally important, the deceased veterans disability pension must be excluded from the Last Post burial fund's means test, as it has been excluded from SISIP and ELB and the war pensioners' allowance. The issue of inclusion of veterans of all eras is similar to our position that we have identified through the war pensioners' allowance, and as an advocacy, our position is resolute: one veteran, one standard.

Thank you.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 4:45 p.m.
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Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated my colleague's comment. He could perhaps tell the member for Winnipeg North that, in fact, Bill C-55 was a response to an attack on sections of the Criminal Code that were amended in an exaggerated fashion. The response, given in the form of Bill C–55, met the Supreme Court's criteria. Moreover, as I said earlier, it was a slightly more prudent way of responding in terms of human rights.

We now have Bill S-7 before us, and it will probably be challenged. We will be forced to return with a bill that complies with the Supreme Court's requirements.

Indeed, it would seem that the NDP is the protector of the rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would ask the member to comment on that. The Liberal Party no longer seems to understand the charter, or may have forgotten it; I do not know which is the case. Perhaps my colleague can shed light on this.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 4:40 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the point is that when we do the comparison between Bill C-55 and Bill S-7, both of them deal with individuals' rights. Both of them deal with issues related to the charter.

On the one hand, as the party that introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada a number of decades ago, we are very sensitive to the importance of individual rights.

Bill C-55 deals with wiretapping. This particular bill deals with investigative hearings. Both concerns were in regard to individual rights.

When it came time to vote on Bill C-55, every member of the House voted in favour of it. In the case of this particular bill, the NDP will be voting against it. The same arguments the NDP used to vote against it here in principle could have been used for Bill C-55. My question is this: why the inconsistency?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 4:40 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I bring in the comparison once again in regard to Bill C-55 and Bill S-7.

Bill C-55 deals with wiretapping. I quote what a judge indicated, and this is a Supreme Court of Canada ruling:

Section 184.4 contains a number of legislative conditions. Properly construed, these conditions are designed to ensure that the power to intercept private communications without judicial authorization is available only in exigent circumstances to prevent serious harm. To that extent, the section strikes an appropriate balance between an individual's s. 8 Charter rights and society's interests in preventing serious harm.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

Bill C-55 satisfied the Supreme Court's demands word for word. For once, the government resisted the urge to go too far. It chose individual rights over all-out accessibility and going after people who might be dealing with certain situations.

So, with Bill C-55, the government showed tremendous restraint. The same cannot be said about Bill S-7.

My colleague from Toronto—Danforth and his colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security did a great job examining Bill S-7 and highlighting how the arrest provisions, which the government would like to see as preventive, were vague. This certainly leaves us wondering. Someone could be accused of being directly or indirectly linked to an act, even though that person may be innocent. As everyone knows, when a tragedy occurs, at some point, well-meaning people see things that might not necessarily be there. Some people might find themselves in truly tragic situations, with extremely vague rights.

The NDP members asked the government another question. I encourage my hon. colleague from Winnipeg North to consult the evidence from that committee and he will see that the Conservative member replied very clearly that, on the contrary, the government wanted to keep this as vague and as broad as possible.

In terms of arrest, detention and interrogation, when people who have been arrested do not know what is going on or what they are alleged to have done, we need to err on the side of caution, while still thinking about public safety. These two aspects can be reconciled in a legal manner that respects our charter.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 1:45 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will pose a question to the member in regard to his reference to human rights.

As we all know, it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who brought home the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for all Canadians, a document that has been valued greatly by all Canadians ever since.

Bill C-55 was a tool that allowed for wiretapping situations without a warrant. Bill S-7, the bill we are debating today, is a tool that would allow for investigative hearings. In that regard both bills, in essence, will have impact on individual rights. Both those bills had an opinion from the Supreme Court saying that they are indeed within the Constitution, yet on the one hand we had the NDP supporting one bill, that being Bill C-55, and opposing the other, that being Bill S-7. Both bills will have an impact on individual rights, yet the NDP somehow voted in favour of one while it is going to be voting against the other.

I agree that the Conservatives have done a disservice with their cuts, which will have an impact on the research that could be done in combatting terrorism. However, I would ask the member if he would—

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 1:30 p.m.
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Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. This is a very important debate because the one thing we all share in the House is an abhorrence of the senseless and cruel violence we saw in Boston and elsewhere. We know where the Conservatives are coming from. Their agenda has always been clear.

The issue I have is that earlier I heard the Liberals compare Bill S-7 to Bill C-55. For the last two days, the Liberals have been saying that if the police ask for tools, we should give them the tools. One of the problems with that is there has to be judicial oversight. When we look at Bill C-30, which the Conservatives brought forward and was a widespread bill to allow all manner of intrusions into people's online private interests without warrant, based on the supposition or desire of a police authority, we see Canadians rejected it because it was an unnecessary tool, yet the government came back with Bill C-55, which narrowly defined wiretap provisions under judicial authority.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks the Liberals think it is okay to have judicial authority and review on wiretaps but allow people and their relatives to be held without warrant without any kind of oversight provisions that we consider important.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 1:15 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have heard a number of NDP MPs articulate why they oppose this legislation. I want to bring up Bill C-55, and members will see the relevance to my question.

During my comments on Bill C-55, I stated that:

Section 184.4 contains a number of legislative conditions. Properly construed, these conditions are designed to ensure that the power to intercept private communications without judicial authorization is available only in exigent circumstances to prevent serious harm. To that extent, the section strikes an appropriate balance between an individual’s s. 8 charter rights and society’s interests in preventing serious harm.

On that particular second reading debate, when we were talking about individual rights, it was interesting that on March 20, 294 members of Parliament voted in favour of it.

Does the member see some relevance in terms of individual rights and how the Supreme Court back then made the suggestion about the wiretapping, and equally, in 2004, the Supreme Court made reference to the investigative hearings as being within the Constitution? In fact, we now have the same type of law enforcement officers and experts saying that as in the other situation, it is a tool for investigations. This is another tool to assist in combatting terrorism.

Why would the NDP would vote one way—

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2013 / 5:55 p.m.
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Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour, as always, to rise in the House and represent the great people of Timmins—James Bay, who put their trust in me to address issues in the House.

Today on the Hill outside Parliament, I was reminded why I love this country so much. I think of Parliament Hill, that great public space where people go to demonstrate, play drums, play Frisbee and, yes, smoke pot to draw attention on 4/20. This is a public space and in that great public space today, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people gathered in support of the people of Boston. It shows that, fundamentally, we are a world community and care for each other in those moments. I watched the crowd go off to the sounds of Sweet Caroline, one of the great songs I used to sing at weddings, but that is another story.

I thought of Fenway Park in Boston, where Neil Diamond showed up and sang Sweet Caroline, showing that Boston has great spirit and that senseless violence will not deter us from being a civil society. Whether it is the horrific killings in Boston or the crazy gun nuts in Newtown or Colorado, a fundamental principle of our society is that we are not going to let them win by growing in fear and undermining the basic principles on which our society has been based. That principle is based on the right of citizens to be protected from terrorists, but also from arbitrary arrest and detainment. That is the principle for which the House of Commons stands.

It is unfortunate that, as we saw the great outpouring of goodwill on the Hill, we see this debate being brought forward again in the House. I refer to The Globe and Mail editorial that stated:

The two-day debate in Parliament on the Harper government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation smacks of political opportunism, and it is regrettable that it will take place. The debate politicizes the Boston Marathon bombings....

It goes on to say:

More worrying is the fact that there are aspects of the proposed bill that raise questions about balancing civil liberties with the need to protect citizens. A wise course of action would be to postpone the bill’s final reading so that any emotional fallout from the Boston bombings doesn’t colour an important debate about public safety in Canada.

It is incumbent upon us when we see this political opportunism in the face of such tragedy that we do not just bend with the wind when the Conservatives say to bend. Our colleagues in the Liberal Party bent long ago on this issue. We need to raise the fundamental issues that are facing Canadians. We are talking about legislation that takes away basic fundamental rights: that people can be detained without trials and be made to go before special investigative judges without the right to remain silent. Those are fundamental principles.

If Parliament is going to undermine those basic rights on which democratic freedoms are based, there have to be some damn good reasons for it to take place. These original measures were brought forward by the Liberal government in the post-9/11 era. In the horror after 9/11, many people said that our traditional freedoms were outdated, that in the 21st century, torture, rendition and detention without trial were what we needed to do to protect society.

We saw many abuses of citizens' rights in the public realm under this sense of fear and panic, and the Liberal government at the time went along with that George Bush analysis and brought in the provisions that are being brought back. However, even at that time they were so unpalatable to the Canadian public that it had to guarantee there would be a sunset clause, that they would only be in effect for a period of time. Within that period of time, those provisions were never found to be necessary; not once. Yet the Liberals still want to break the promise they made to Canadians when they said they would sunset these clauses because they were such a threat to basic democratic and legal rights.

Now the Liberals are saying, “Let us do it; let us forget that sunset clause; let us forget the debate that happened in 2007 when the House of Commons said that those kinds of provisions would take away from people the fundamental rights of legal protection”. The House of Commons rejected that in 2007 and the Liberals voted with New Democrats. Now they are going back to where they wanted to be.

This is the party that always wraps itself in it. It was them; they represented the charter. However, these are fundamental charter issues.

They used the word "terrorism". It is certainly a very loaded word and a very dangerous issue we are facing. However, the issue with this bill is that, as parliamentarians, we have to make sure due diligence is done so that innocent people will not be drawn up into this net.

It was really telling that we brought forward a number of amendments to try to fix the bill and to work with the government to fix the bill, yet the Liberal members brought zero amendments. They just went along to rubber-stamp it. One of the motions we tried to bring forward was the issue of recognizance with conditions, where a person could be held by preventive arrest based on the word of a peace officer. That person could be held without a warrant and without charges. A person who knew somebody who may be a threat could also be held.

We tried to clarify the language so that we were really clear about what was intended, so that it was terror suspects and not just average citizens who were out there protesting in the streets or would get caught up in a sweep. The government refused that amendment, because it said it wanted a broad sweep. That is something that my hon. colleagues in the Liberal Party are supporting. They are saying that would pass a charter challenge. I certainly do not think so.

What preventive arrest and recognizance with conditions really mean is that we have to look at where it has been done. In the post-9/11 era, Maher Arar was arrested without any real evidence, went through rendition and was tortured. That was done under the nose of the then Liberal government, which thought that was the price we had to pay for freedom. We found out later that Maher Arar was completely innocent.

The Liberals are saying this does not mean that, if individuals serve a meal in a restaurant to a supposed terrorist, they will be arrested without a warrant. That is a ridiculous example. A more telling example would be to look at England during the 1970s and the horrific bombing campaigns that hit London and Birmingham. The Parliament at that time felt it had to get rid of the basic principles of habeas corpus and detention and trial. They arrested numerous innocent people, including Annie Maguire, whose story I have already mentioned today. She was just a housewife.

Not only Annie Maguire but seven members of her family were put in jail for 15 years based on no evidence, because they were thought to somehow be associated with people who were terrorists. The people they were associated with, their cousins, were innocent. We saw that a great miscarriage of justice was done with the Guildford bombings. People's lives were ruined, but it was considered okay at the time because they were all a threat. The crime then, of course, was that they were Irish in England.

However, civil society is based on the rule of law. It is based on ensuring that those situations do not happen.

I want to just talk about the term "terrorist". I was called a terrorist. I was denounced by the government of Mike Harris as an eco-terrorist because I was standing up against a massive garbage dump that many of the frontbenchers supported. As a citizen, when I was speaking up and protesting, I was being called an eco-terrorist. We see that the government uses that word all the time. If a person does not like a pipeline, he or she is an eco-terrorist.

What about all the young aboriginal activists who are on the streets? What about the people at the G20, who came from all over and got off the buses to participate in their demonstrations at the G20, which is their fundamental right? Under this law, a peace officer could believe that these people are possibly thinking of terrorist activity, and they could be held in detention for 24 hours without charges. Then, the peace officers could decide whether to let them go.

We saw what happened at G20 and that is exactly what they were doing. They were detaining people. They were kettling people. Of course, they missed all the bad guys who were running up and down Queen Street with black masks on. I do not know how they missed them, but they managed to run from Queen and Spadina all the way up Yonge Street, and a lot of innocent people were detained.

We have to be careful and we have to define exactly what we mean.

If police officers or people in authority are allowed to decide that they do not like a person and they think he or she poses a threat, then that person could be detained without a trial. In this bill, a person could be held for 12 months without a conviction.

The government says it needs this. However, in the years that these provisions were in effect, they were never used once. Under article 495 in the code, already, an order can be brought to have people appear before a judge, and a judge already has the ability to detain them, without releasing them on bail if he or she feels they are a threat. Those powers already exist.

We are talking about new powers that are much more arbitrary, that are much more subjective, that allow for people to be picked up and held without charges. That is a fundamental threat.

I would like to quote Paul Copeland, a lawyer with the Law Union of Ontario, who said in his opinion the provisions we were examining in committee would unnecessarily change our legal landscape in Canada. He said we must not adopt them. In his opinion they are not necessary. Other provisions of the code provide various mechanisms for dealing with such individuals.

It is unfortunate that within the opposition, the Liberals did not think to even challenge, not even clarify. There are some other amendments that are very much needed but that the government refused. For example, Bill S-7 is a law of general application. It cuts right across. The Young Offenders Act does not supercede Bill S-7. That is very concerning.

What happens to people who are under 18? Can they be detained? Can they be held? That happened in the case of Annie Maguire in Ireland. To say it would not happen is absurd. It has happened. Canada has legal obligations under the international Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect children.

The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children proposed amendments to the bill to ensure that the implementation for children under 18 would consider the convention on the rights of children, including detention as a last resort. The government did not accept those amendments, and neither did the Liberal Party. That is serious.

What we are told here, and I have been here for a number of years, is that we are soft on this. What I find the government is soft on is the basic principle of the rule of law. If someone says “Hey, let us get rid of the rule of law; it will be more effective”. Certainly it would be more effective. Totalitarian states are always very effective in a certain thing because they do not have the rule of law.

We are different because we have the rule of law. I will point to Bill C-30 in this last Parliament, where the government came in with massive provisions to allow it undefined legal authorities to demand personal information on Internet users and cell phone users without warrants. The government thought that was perfectly okay. It needed this, and if we did not support it, then it said we were soft on child pornography.

What an ugly statement, considering the fact that the one who came forward, who was very soft on child pornography, was the architect of the whole Conservative revolution, Tom Flanagan. Tom Flanagan was soft on child pornography.

However, average Canadians who wanted to protect their privacy rights were attacked by the government. The other provisions within Bill C-30 at that time were forcing telecoms to put in spyware so that they could track people whenever they wanted.

My colleagues in the Liberal Party said nothing about it, because those were actually provisions that were brought forward under the Liberals.

At that time we saw a huge backlash, publicly. It was very impressive. Canadians care about their privacy rights. Canadians are not soft on child pornography. Canadians are not soft on terrorism. However, they were not going to sit back and allow the government to undermine basic rights, including the issue that if individuals are going to wiretap, they need warrants.

Recently we have seen the government come back with Bill C-55, which is on wiretap provisions. The government recognized the need to have warrants.

None of this precludes the issue that already within the court system of this country, if officers believe a life is danger, they can act. They can act without a warrant. That is a reasonable provision. If something is an emergency, if a child's life is at stake, they can act and they can then explain to the judge.

However, we are talking about something different. We are talking about someone who feels that a bunch of young activists from Montreal who come to Toronto for the G20 and get off the bus could be up to no good, and it is perfectly okay to grab them and put them in detention for 24 hours and then decide to maybe let them go. Maybe the demonstration will be over by then.

CSIS has been keeping tabs on young, aboriginal activists. Will they be drawn up in this because CSIS wants a broad sweep? Those were their terms: they wanted a broad sweep.

I tell people back home to really reflect on what the House is being asked to push through. The provisions of law have served us for hundreds of years. They are not arbitrary. We did not just come up with them. They exist because we have seen the abuse of civil rights. We have seen the abuse of individual rights, and we need the clear rule of law.

Even in the case of terrorism, we in the New Democratic Party say that we need the tools. If the government wants tools to go after cyber-terrorists, it should bring in a bill that goes after cyber-terrorists, but it should not bring in a bill that allows it to grab any information on anybody it wants at any time just because. Just because is not good enough.

I find it unfortunate that in the wake of the Boston bombing, that incoherent, horrific act, the government has been widely seen to be trying to force this through. It is wrapping itself in the grief of Boston to push through a bill, with its friends in the Liberal Party, that is undermining the basic rights of Canadians without having ever proven just cause.

In the years these provisions existed under the Liberals, before the Liberals agreed to a sunset clause, they were never used. We see that within the Criminal Code we have numerous provisions to give police the powers they need to go after the bad guys.

We as parliamentarians do not need to be frightened, told by the Conservatives that we all have to jump when they say jump, otherwise we are soft. We are not soft, and we are not soft-headed, unlike our colleagues over in the third party. We stand for the rule of law in this country, and if the government tries to fundamentally alter the political landscape of this country, it needs to prove it.

Second, it needs to stop politicizing it so that when amendments are brought before the committee to ensure, for example, that children are not drawn up in this wide sweep, the Conservatives will say that it is reasonable and that they will protect children.

We asked for amendments to clarify what are terrorists so that a guy in a uniform is not just picking some kid out of a crowd because he looks like he is about to do something. That is not the rule of law. That is what exists in totalitarian countries, and it is the difference between us and them.

Paul Calarco, of the national criminal justice section of the Canadian Bar Association, put it very clearly at committee. He said:

There is no question that the prevention of terrorist action is vital to preserving our society. This requires effective legislation, but also legislation that respects the traditions of our democracy.

Unfortunately, the bill fails to meet either goal.

The issue is the investigative hearings. Someone could be brought before a special judge, and the right to remain silent, which is a fundamental principle, would be taken away without any justification, without a necessary explanation as to why the individual was being stripped of these rights. It would just be on the subjective word of a legal authority.

As well, there is recognizance with conditions and preventative arrest, not just of the people who are suspected but of people who may know them, people who may be their relatives. A peace agent could arrest an individual without a warrant if he or she believed it was necessary and could hold the person for 24 hours. People could then be held for up to a year.

It is incumbent upon us, in the aftermath of this horrific and senseless act in Boston, to say that in civil society, we will not give in to knee-jerk reactions. We will not give in to fear. We will stand with the victims, but we will ensure that they are not used to undermine the very basis of what makes us a civil and progressive and democratic society.

April 22nd, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Thank you.

I understand what you're saying in this regard. Because section 130 speaks specifically of the peace officer, it is because of the fact that it is where it lists these. Therefore, all that one could do at that particular point in time was to try to make a change there. It is Bill C-55 that is seeking to define a police officer in the code in response to the Supreme Court's constitutional analysis of other professions that have certain powers that only police officers should have. There is a discussion, however, that's not in that part. I believe that is in part VI of the code, so that definition only applies there.

Again, I suppose one has to look at the knowledge base of the judges in question who are going to look at it and ask if this is similar. They can make decisions as to what might be an aggravating circumstance when they are going to make their judgments, but this is simply saying that for this case, and for these particular circumstances for these types of officers, there is no question that they must consider it the aggravating circumstance.

I hope that answers that part of the question.

April 22nd, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Jennifer Stoddart

Yes. Thank you, honourable member. These four priorities are just an in-house way—the suggestion came from the personnel—to organize our work because we're constantly bombarded with so much. As you say, there are new technologies and new issues. So what do we decide to prioritize all the questions of privacy that come up? We chose these four.

I'll just, off the top of my head, give you a recent example of each of these. The work can be either prioritizing a complaint or prioritizing an educational vehicle, either a video or publication or a new part of our website, or it could be holding a conference or a publication or a position on draft legislation. So it's the range of all these different vehicles.

As for identity integrity, the example I'll give is that we're soon to release a study on the implications of IP addresses. If you remember in the discussions over the last few years, particularly about draft legislation that has been withdrawn at this time, there was a debate about what you could find out from an IP address if the police had warrantless access to an IP address. Was it just like reading a phone book in the good old days? I don't know if you remember that debate.

In our laboratory we did an online study of what you could find out using IP addresses. We hope to publish that within the next few weeks. To give you a preview—and I think this is going to demonstrate why we kind of stuck to our position that an IP address is more than an old-fashioned phone book—unlike a phone book it leads to other things, other activities and other actions that you may have taken on the web.

In terms of new technology, my goodness, there is a tonne of that. In the coming year we are going to increasingly look at facial recognition analysis. One area that's fascinating and chilling that we've been following for several years in new technology is unmanned aerial vehicles, which we know as drones. How many drones are in Canada? What is the use of them? What are the rules around them? What could go wrong in the use of drones? What are the privacy implications?

As for genetic information, we've funded several studies through our contributions program. We've had some studies done for ourselves. Perhaps the most recent thing we have done is examine draft legislation proposed by Senator Cowan, I believe, before the Senate, Bill S-218, an act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination, which is an issue we've been following for some years.

National security has been a huge file for us over the years. I'll talk about the work we did—I was out of the office and the assistant commissioner appeared—to support the recent Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, to implement the Supreme Court decision on cases and conditions for warrantless access.

That's a smorgasbord of what we do.

The House resumed from March 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

The Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 19th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
See context


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will not do this often but they need to be given credit where credit is due. To be honest, the Conservatives sometimes get things right. Not often, but if they will allow us to vote in favour of their Bill, then we are going to do so. We are therefore going to support the Conservatives’ bill at third reading. I believe that the bill is balanced, as I have said before.

My colleague from Gatineau, who has been working very hard as a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, has carefully studied the bill, which shows a great deal of prudence, respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is constitutional and responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Tse. We will therefore support this bill.

I do not know how much time I have left, but as my colleagues know, I could go on for hours.

In that respect, I would like to go back to a few quotes made during this study in committee. If memory serves me correctly, two meetings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights were spent on Bill C-55. The study in committee was peaceful and went well.

I would like to list the NDP members who are on this committee. There is my colleague from Gatineau, who does an excellent job, and my colleagues from Brossard—La Prairie, Brome—Missisquoi and Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, who have also done excellent work, as always.

In the justice committee meetings, a few witnesses mentioned why they supported this legislation. For example, the Criminal Lawyers' Association was in favour of this bill. It generally supports modest, fair and constitutional legislation. That is what its representatives said. Bill C-55 does an admirable job of incorporating the comments of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Tse. However, they said that there were some parts that the committee could have perhaps spent more time on. They also mentioned that Bill C-55 was a positive legislative measure, as I just said, and that it seeks to find a better balance between protection of the public and protection of privacy, which we think counts the most when it comes to Bill C-55.

There was also a brief presented by the Canadian Bar Association at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that stated:

The CBA Section supports the proposed changes in Bill C-55 to [finally] comply with R. v. Tse, but recommends further limits on s. 184.4 interceptions.

The Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 19th, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, which has been introduced in response to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Tse.

This bill is now at third reading and the NDP will support it. The bill finally corrects a number of previous errors. In response to the Supreme Court's decision in R. v. Tse, it amends the Criminal Code to provide for safeguards related to the authority to intercept private communications without prior judicial authorization under section 184.4 of the Code. The bill makes three provisions in particular.

First, it requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the attorney general of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4. Second, it provides that a person who has been the object of such an interception must be notified of the interception within a specified period. Third, it narrows the class of individuals who may make such an interception and, lastly, limits those interceptions to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code.

We are genuinely pleased that the Conservative government has finally introduced Bill C-55. I say "finally" because the government has dragged its feet on this matter.

This bill refers to the obligation set by the Supreme Court, which revealed a deficiency. There was an imbalance between the right to privacy under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the right to security. There was thus an intrusion of privacy. That is why this bill now strikes a balance between the right to privacy and the right to security.

We now have accountability. Now no one may engage in wiretapping at will, without being accountable. A person who has been wiretapped must be notified within 90 days. Why is this aspect important? Now if an individual who has been wiretapped believes that his or her right to privacy under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been violated, that individual may institute legal proceedings against the individuals in question and seek redress. That will help limit overzealous peace officers.

In addition, the number of individuals who may conduct wiretap will now be limited, a fact that also helps strike a balance.

However, the bill is also a response to a total failure by the Conservative government after it introduced its infamous Bill C-30. That bill constituted a direct attack on people's right to privacy and certainly violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was also drafted by the Conservatives in a wholly improvised manner.

It is very important that the NDP remind the Conservatives how crucially important and even essential it is for them to scrutinize all new bills they table in the House of Commons in future. Those bills will have to be well analyzed and checked, and reviewed by lawyers to be sure that they comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada.

As a result, the Supreme Court will not be required to hear lengthy and costly cases that waste the precious time of all Canadians. That is essential, and I want to recall that point so that the Conservatives learn a good lesson from it.

It is very important to go through all the stages in a democratic process properly. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have a bad habit of wanting to do everything at lightning speed without due regard to the democratic process.

I need only recall its bad budget implementation legislation, Bills C-38 and C-45, omnibus bills of 400 pages each that prevent us from doing our democratic job and from getting to the bottom of things, just as the notorious Bill C-30 did.

In that case, the bill does not make it through the process to committee stage and is neither examined nor evaluated. If there are any deficiencies or aspects that do not comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or are unconstitutional, we wind up with a botched job and have to turn to the Supreme Court to assert our rights.

That is why the judgment in R. v. Tse is important. I hope it will finally teach the Conservative government a lesson so that it acts in a systematic and democratic manner in future in order to ensure compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada.

I will go into slightly greater detail on the subject of Bill C-55. This bill requires that an individual whose private communications have been intercepted in situations of imminent harm be notified of the situation within 90 days, subject to any extension of that period granted by a judge. The bill would also require annual reports to be prepared.

The preparation of annual reports on interceptions of telephone surveillance is truly important in determining whether abusive wiretap has taken place and in being able to monitor such wiretaps. The requirement to prepare an annual report will help keep an eye on all that. The reports will also enable other authorities, such as the Office of the Auditor General, to monitor what is being done in that regard to ensure that the act and the spirit of the act are complied with, that there are no abuses of justice and that the privacy of Canadian citizens is respected. Annual reports must be prepared on the manner in which information intercepted under section 184.4 is used.

These amendments would also limit the authorization that police officers are granted to use this provision. As I mentioned, all peace officers currently have access to it. Its use would thus be limited to the offences set out in section 183 of the Criminal Code.

It is very important that there be accountability for this wiretapping. We know that there may be threats or moments when a security breach can suddenly call for warrantless wiretaps. At that point, however, there must be accountability because there must be no serious abuses or violations of citizens' privacy.

On that point, I consider it important to note again that the NDP believes it has a duty to ensure compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that public safety is not undermined.

To sum up, it is important to remember that this new bill is no more than an update of wiretapping provisions that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. The court also set new parameters for the protection of privacy.

We believe that the bill meets the standards, and that Canadians have good reasons for apprehension about the Conservatives’ bill with respect to privacy. As I said, their track record in this area is not very impressive. Fortunately, this bill brings balance to the earlier imbalance. We must continue to be vigilant, however.

The NDP will continue to be vigilant with respect to the Conservatives’ bills. In the past, we have seen abuses. We saw abuse in the infamous Bill C-30. We have also seen the familiar dichotomy that the Conservatives love to present, whereby everything is either black or white, but there is no grey, so that is completely false. Bills must be referred to committee for study.

I am happy that my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou has returned to hear my comments, because he quite rightly mentioned just now the importance of committee work, and how essential committee work is to a sound democracy. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Like my hon. colleague from Beauport—Limoilou, I know how very important this little-known work is. We meet with experts, and we propose amendments and additions to bills to ensure that they are as close to perfect as possible, that they respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution, and that they will be worthwhile and improve the well-being of Canadians in our wonderful country.

In closing, we find Bill C-55 well constructed. We appreciate it, because it finally brings balance between privacy and the need for security. That does not mean that we support all of the Conservatives’ bills. On the contrary, they have introduced abusive and infamous bills in the past. Bill C-30 was a horror—need I say again— because it was an absolute threat to people’s privacy. It was a purely conservative bill in the ideological sense of the term. It was an ideological vision.

I know that members who sit on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights criticized Bill C-30 repeatedly. I further believe that my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou was a member of the committee at the time. No, not quite. However, I know that other colleagues, for example my colleague from Gatineau, worked very hard to criticize the infamous Bill C-30, which was a genuine threat to privacy.

Bill C-30 regrettably demonstrated that the Conservatives can often say outrageous things. Truly outrageous things were said in the House when Bill C-30 was introduced. There were incredible dichotomous comments such as “either you are in favour of security and safety or you are on the side of the pedophiles”. It was a horrible speech with no room for grey areas or other comments. After all that, they backed down on Bill C-30 and introduced a bill that made sense—Bill C-55. I do not often congratulate the Conservatives. They should make the most of it today.