An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody)


Frank Caputo  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of May 19, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-274.


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

This enactment amends a provision of the Criminal Code that governs judicial interim release to provide that an accused who is charged more than twice with certain indictable offences while subject to a summons, appearance notice, undertaking or release order must be detained in custody unless the judge or justice is satisfied that exceptional circumstances warrant their release.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2023 / 4:50 p.m.
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Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, any time that we can tighten up bail, this is something we need to look at in this House. Clearly, Canadians of all political stripes of all occupations and socio-economic statuses are telling us and begging for us to do this. Therefore, when my colleague asks why we should be doing this, that is the reason. It is also the reason I brought forward Bill C-274 and Bill C-313, which I really feel fell on deaf ears with the Liberals.

I again come back to this: When we talk about passing this so quickly, why did we not debate it before we left for summer? Why did it take 246 days to bring this legislation forward after the premiers wrote their letter?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2023 / 4:40 p.m.
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Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I will be splitting my time with the member for Langley—Aldergrove.

Before I begin, I want to recognize one of the people in my community of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. That would be one Ethan Katzberg, whom I met about a year ago. Over the summer, Mr. Katzberg became the world champion in the hammer throw. This is an incredible accomplishment for anybody, but more so for somebody of his young age. He is in his early twenties. We are so proud of him. Under the tutelage of Dylan Armstrong, a medallist in the Beijing Olympics, Ethan has really made Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo proud. I thank him for his contribution and congratulate him.

I also want to recognize a young man who passed away over the summer. His name is Reid Enzo Ross Davidson. I believe he has a relative who works on the Hill here. He was the grandson of somebody I look up to immensely, Enzo Lizzi, who is a pillar of our community in Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and also a pillar of our Italian community. I wish his family, Michael and Lisa, and his partner, Georgia, condolences through what would be a difficult time. Mr. Davidson was only 24 years old when he passed after a motor vehicle accident.

To me, one of the critical elements that we should be focusing on here is the number 246. By my math, and I was never really good in math, it has been about 246 days since the premiers asked the government to act on bail. We are just now debating this bill at second reading. The NFL playoffs came and went; we had a Super Bowl champion crowned and a new season started in that time. Hockey playoffs came and went. The Stanley Cup was awarded. This actually happened even before we found out that the Prime Minister himself admitted to staying in a $6,000-a-night hotel when he went for the Queen's funeral.

That is how much time has passed. In fact, between the time that the Liberal government tabled the legislation and the time that the premiers had written their letter, it was about 112 days by my math. It had really reached a crescendo at the point when the premiers were begging for bail reform.

The Minister of Justice tells us that they are ready to move lightning fast to get this done and that when there is a problem, Liberals act. Members will have to forgive me for asking this: How long does it take for Liberals to act? Is it 246 seconds, 246 months or 246 days? What is it?

How many police officers need to get hurt on the job for Liberals to act? How many shopkeepers need to have things stolen from them or to be the victim of a robbery? How many women need to be the victim of intimate partner violence at the hands of somebody who should not be on bail? I once heard someone, a Liberal, say they could look at one's calendar and tell me one's priorities. Let us look at the Liberal calendar.

For 246 days, this issue has languished. I remember that it was over the Christmas break last year when the then minister of justice told us there really was not a problem with bail. Constable Pierzchala was killed, allegedly by somebody who was on bail at the time. I expected that the government would return with bail legislation. If we want to talk about common sense, that would have been the common-sense thing to do.

Sometimes there are inflection points in society, and the expectation is that government will act. However, the Liberals came back and told us there was nothing to see, the system was working as it should and dangerous people would be detained. Unfortunately, the premiers did not agree. More importantly, Canadians do not agree.

The issue with bail, in my view, has really come to a head. I receive letters. I believe many of my colleagues receive letters.

Not too long ago, I was in my colleague's riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, and we had a public forum about bail and crime. I was amazed to see that crime was so out of control that, in a small community of about 4,000 people, customers were having to press a buzzer to be allowed into a store because there was such a concern.

My colleague in the NDP, in referencing what the hon. Leader of the Opposition said, said that people are just being arrested for shoplifting, and it is no big deal. Sometimes that shoplifting is very expensive. My colleague should tell that to a person who runs a small store and is losing a couple of thousand dollars a month of their livelihood. That is $24,000 a year. That might be the difference between making a car payment, being able to afford a mortgage or putting food on the table and not doing so.

When people trivialize the import of some crimes, saying that they are not serious offences and are just breaches, with all due respect, I would say that breaches of court orders are serious offences. The court has said something, and somebody is willfully and deliberately saying they think otherwise and are going to choose otherwise.

This is obviously a subject I am passionate about; it is something I dealt with a lot formerly as a Crown prosecutor, as well as something I taught. That is why, when I was first elected, I promised to bring in a private member's bill on bail, which I did almost immediately in Bill C-274. It essentially said that if offenders have three indictable offence allegations with penalties of 10 years or more, the offenders will be presumptively detained, except in exceptional circumstances. The reason for this is that exceptional circumstances are often why legislation is found to be unconstitutional for outlier cases. We build in what is called a “safety valve”; in doing so, we make the legislation constitutional. Bill C-274 talked about three serious allegations at different points in time.

Then there was Bill C-313, which was another private member's bill. That bill was in direct response to the alleged killing of Constable Pierzchala. It proposed to change the reverse onus. This is the way I see it. We are talking about reverse onuses; people have gone into what a reverse onus is, so I am not going to get into that. What we are attempting to do right now is to expand the reverse onus.

There has been widespread discussion about supports, but I believe the next step for Parliament to take is to discuss changing the nature of the reverse onus, and here is why: Let us say that we have a medication that is supposed to be working and has been working to varying degrees, but we want to apply it in a more widespread manner and hope it works better. To me, that is what we are looking at with the reverse onus, which we hope works, as opposed to changing the treatment in itself. Perhaps we have to get to the target of the reverse onus, because right now, from what I have seen, the reverse onus is not necessarily doing what it is supposed to do. That is something I encourage Parliament to consider as we move forward.

I want to acknowledge another constituent of mine. Mr. Glenn Fieber passed away at 84 years of age. I went to school with his children. May eternal light shine on Mr. Fieber. I extend my condolences to his family.

The last person I wish to recognize is Mr. Ron Maguire, another person from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo who passed away recently. He was known as Mr. A&W because he started working at A&W and then built up A&W restaurants. He received the key to the city and the Freedom of the City. My condolences go to his wife, Lynne, and his daughters, Kristi and Robyn.

It has been a pleasure to talk about bail and bail reform. I hope we can continue to have reasoned discussion in hopes of making Canada safer.

December 5th, 2022 / 11:40 a.m.
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Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you.

I thank my colleague and friend, Mr. Anandasangaree, for that.

Minister, I know we just talked about bail. I do have Bill C-274—and, for Mr. Bachrach's reference, that is a bill on bail that would target only the most serious of offenders.

Minister, have you reviewed that bill?

Public Complaints and Review Commission ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2022 / 12:35 p.m.
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Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. Today, we are here debating Bill C-20, an act that would establish the public complaints and review commission and amend certain acts and statutory instruments.

First, I want to recognize a first-year law student at Thompson Rivers University where I used to teach. I want to thank Najib Rahall, who is about to start contracts class, which I appreciate. He is now in Hansard. I thank him for turning in my wallet this weekend. He is taught by my friends Professor Craig Jones, K.C. and Professor Dr. Ryan Gauthier. I am sure he is also getting a first-class education.

I also want to recognize somebody else who is a constituent. He was also a colleague at the bar and at my work, maybe even taking my position as a Crown prosecutor. I want to recognize my friend, Anthony Varesi, on his new book on Bob Dylan. It is his second book. He wrote the first one in law school. I am not sure how he did that.

On the matter at hand, it seems the Liberals have been discussing this issue well before I arrived at Parliament. From what I can see, this matter has been discussed for about seven years. The bill was first tabled in the 42nd Parliament and died in the Senate. It was then tabled again during the 43rd Parliament. We all know what happened at that point. Despite Canadians clearly signalling they did not want to go to the polls and despite the fact there was a lot of work to be done, the Prime Minister coveted majority government and, with all candour, let that get in the way of the work of the House.

Having been here for a year, I am still learning, but what I can see is that there is a lot of work to be done. The work on this bill in the 43rd Parliament was interrupted by what amounted to a small seat change in hopes that the Prime Minister would get what he wanted. He was ultimately denied that, but there was a seat shuffle, and I am proud to stand here on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo as part of that seat shuffle.

Now we have this bill tabled a year into the government's mandate. As I was preparing for this speech, I reflected on why it took the government a year to do this. The election was about 14 months ago. I am wondering whether this was a priority. In fact, I asked my Bloc colleague a question about this. This is an important matter to discuss.

Canada has what amounts to the longest undefended border in the world. I have had countless interactions with the RCMP and with CBSA officials, some of them in my personal capacity and others in my professional capacity. These interactions likely number into the hundreds, and all but one have generally been cordial or favourable professional interactions. That is why we are here, because not all interactions and not all things go as they should both personally and professionally.

I will take a moment to recognize the work of peace officers, civilian members and staff with the CBSA and with the RCMP. In my riding, there are detachments with the RCMP, like Clinton, 100 Mile House, Clearwater and Barriere. There are three detachments also in Kamloops, being Kamloops City, Tk'emlups rural, which is situated on the traditional land of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, and Kamloops traffic. All of these detachments cover 38,000 square kilometres of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I am grateful for the sacrifices of those who put on the uniform to keep us safe, with their backup officers often being an hour away through staffing or resource difficulties. They are there to keep people safe whenever they are in that area. These members see terrible things.

I was speaking to a bill I authored, Bill C-291, last week. I authored the bill and it was sponsored by the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, and I thank him again for doing so. The bill proposes to change the definition of “child pornography” to “child sexual abuse material”, because what is occurring is not pornography, it is sexual abuse, and we should be calling it what it is.

One of the things I pointed out was that police doing this job were often at a constable level and they were reviewing horrendous images, images of unspeakable horrors. Usually, in my prior work, I did not have to view this sort of evidence, but police officers did, and they are not paid enough to do so, frankly, given the work they do. I thank them for that.

Let us face it, most peace officers, people and frontline workers doing the job just want to make it home. They do not want to hurt anybody. A lot of police officers I know would love to go through a shift without having to arrest anybody. That is often not something most police officers do. At the end of the day, people in the RCMP and CBSA have a mandate to keep us safe. They are expected to do more with less resources. While this is not always fair, it is the reality of our situation.

When it comes to our frontline officers and workers, we expect leadership. We expect them to engage professionally, to do their jobs, to be equipped and to be professional in all that they do. I wish I could see the same from the RCMP commissioner at this time. It seems to me that the commissioner is not always modelling that professionalism, being vulnerable to inappropriate influence from the former Minister of Public Safety. It is ironic that Bill C-20 talks about the overseeing of frontline officers, mainly constables, but I question whether senior Mounties or, in this case, the senior Mountie is herself immune from the oversight that is required.

I point to what the member for Kildonan—St. Paul said in committee in questioning the minister. I will do my best to paraphrase her, because I cannot be nearly as eloquent as the member. She noted that the commissioner was either influenced by the government or completely bungled the investigation into the mass shootings in Nova Scotia, a terrible incident, She asked why she had not been fired. This is the professionalism, oversight and leadership that Canadians want.

At the end of the day, we are here to talk about who oversees the overseers. This came up when we were debating Bill C-9 at committee in the past week or two. That bill proposes changes to the Judges Act that are long overdue.

Before I came to Parliament, I was unaware that there was no independent oversight for CBSA. Let us not forget that these are frontline peace officers. Oftentimes and typically, they will be people's first human point of contact once they get off the plane or at a land or sea border crossing. The provisions would require the RCMP commissioner and the CBSA president to respond to interim reports, reviews and recommendations within legislative timelines. This is quite important because we require, in my view, a consideration of some measure of independent oversight.

Most people here know that I come from a legal background. In my world view, the rule of law is obviously sacrosanct. Sometimes, we can have heated debates in this place, as we should, about how that should manifest itself. We may agree to disagree, but at the end of the day I think we can all agree that the rule of law is important. In fact, it is written into the preamble of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the courts, the rule of law is maintained in two ways, typically through an appellate function but also through ethical guidelines, for instance, the ethical guidelines that are being revised in Bill C-9. The overseers are overseen on legal matters by these two mechanisms.

The one question I do have when it comes to Bill C-20, and this came up in Bill C-9, is the question of consultations. I believe my colleague for the NDP raised this. I am not sure what, if any, consultations were done, but this obviously needs be explored at committee, if the legislation successfully passes on second reading. Let us face it that governments of all stripes often fail on these issues. We have seen it on the extreme intoxication bill. I call on the government to make this a priority.

CBSA has extraordinary powers, detention, arrest and search. These are sweeping powers where charter rights are often diminished. This bill would replace the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP with the complaints and review commission.

Let us examine the backdrop in which peace officers within the RCMP and CBSA are expected to do their job. It is important to evaluate that backdrop as we consider the independent oversight for peace officers doing their job.

My constituents frequently complain to me about what they have termed, and others have termed, catch and release. I hear about this from police officers from across the country. This is why I put forward Bill C-274, because our bail system must be reformed.

I have compassion for police officers doing their job and arresting the same person again and again, only to know that this person will be released shortly.

The government, though it is dealing with the oversight issue in Bill C-20, has not addressed key bail decisions in the last few years, which has led to a catch-and-release system. It is in the interest of all Canadians that the government do so.

There has been a 32% increase in violent crime since 2015. This is not lost on this side of the House. We have Bill C-5 and Bill C-21. The word “victim” is not in either piece of legislation.

It saddens me to say, and I am surprised to be saying this, that drive-by shootings can now result in a community-based sentence. That does not feel right in my heart, but, more important, from a legal perspective, it is not logical.

The Regina v. Nur decision struck down mandatory minimums for section 95 of the Criminal Code, possessing a restricted firearm with readily available ammunition, in this case a handgun. In that instance, the Supreme Court of Canada said that the appropriate sentence, as I recall, would be 40 months in jail.

That is what it said the appropriate sentence would be for a relatively young man. I believe the accused in that case was 19 or 20 years old. We are here debating, not long after Nur was struck down, whether that should actually result in a jail sentence when our highest court, which has frequently struck down these cases, said that this should have been 40 months in jail.

On the one hand, we have Conservatives who have often advocated for mandatory minimums. It was the Harper government that passed many of the mandatory minimums. On the other hand, we have, across the aisle, people who say that there should be no mandatory minimums.

I would advocate for a middle-ground approach, one that has mandatory minimums that operate in a constitutionally compliant manner. I have stated this to the Minister of Justice, that this is the appropriate middle ground. Unfortunately, he did not heed my exhortation to do so.

Police and CBSA officials are operating within an environment that has 124,000 more violent crimes than last year. This would make up almost my whole riding. Canadians are tired of this. Also, there were 789 homicides in Canada last year and 611 in 2015, which is a 29% increase.

Police and CBSA are in situations in which gun crime is a concern. I recall reading in the news a couple of years ago about a shooting of a teenager who was innocently driving with his parents. There was a person in my riding, a case of mistaken identity, who was shot down at a hotel. This is the situation our police are operating within. These were sons, brothers and friends.

There has been a 92% increase in gang-related homicides since 2015, yet when we come to the House to debate legislation on public safety, the debate is whether or not to relax these types of penalties rather than make them more stringent so that gang-related homicides would ultimately go down rather than up.

If members ask anyone in the system, I anticipate they will tell them that organized crime is so difficult to investigate. That is why they call it “organized”. There is intimidation, often a layer of distancing, money and organization.

If I were a police officer or a CBSA officer, I would be concerned with the proliferation of firearms. I remember one of the first cases I dealt with which involved now staff sergeant Kelly Butler, one of the best police officers I have encountered. She pulled a vehicle over and what was revealed inside the driver's jacket was a loaded sawed-off shotgun. I remember holding that firearm when it was in evidence. The firearm was illegal. The stock and the barrel had been cut off, so it was probably about 10 to 12 inches long. That is the environment our peace officers and CBSA officers are operating within.

Our border is porous, and there is a concern of what to do about it. The public safety minister has earmarked, as I recall, $5 billion to target law-abiding gun owners who are not accounting for crimes. Bill C-5 and Bill C-21 will be targeting that. Where could $5 billion be spent when it comes to our border and enforcement of illegal guns? I ask that question rhetorically because I have some pretty good ideas.

There has been a 61% increase in reporting sexual assaults since 2015. I have two bills on sexual offences. We obviously had the #MeToo movement in that time, which is always important. My wife was telling me that she saw a sign recently that said, “No means no”, but we have to go one step further and say, “Only yes means yes”. Only consent itself is consent.

To conclude, this proposed act would create an obligation for the RCMP commissioner and CBSA president to submit an annual report to the Minister of Public Safety. The report would inform the minister of actions that the RCMP and CBSA have taken within the year to respond to recommendations from the chairperson.

This is great, but one thing I learned in my first year in Parliament, while sitting on the veterans affairs committee is that, just because a recommendation is made, does not mean it will be acted upon. My hope is that, when these recommendations are made, they will actually be acted upon, otherwise they are worth nothing more than the piece of paper they are written upon. It is easy to use words, and we have frequently said that, but I call on the government to act.

JusticeStatements by Members

October 19th, 2022 / 2:10 p.m.
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Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, our system of bail in Canada is broken. It is just not working.

This government's failure to address Supreme Court of Canada decisions has created a catch-and-release system. This complaint is heard throughout Canada and in my home riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. Random attacks have become a prominent issue in cities like Vancouver and Toronto. Shockingly, the violent crime severity index is up 45% in Kamloops over the past five years. Mayors and citizens want this government to address prolific offenders.

My private member's bill, Bill C-274, addresses the issue of prolific offenders and goes a long way to ending catch-and-release. It targets the most serious of offenders while still maintaining judicial discretion.

It is time we act to make our communities safe. Will the Minister of Justice act or will he sit on the sidelines?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

May 19th, 2022 / 10:05 a.m.
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Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-274, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody).

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. This bill addresses a central issue when it comes to street crime affecting Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and all areas of Canada. It responds to the decision in Regina v. Zora from the Supreme Court of Canada, which dramatically altered the bail landscape and made bail essentially a given.

This bill would permit the courts to detain somebody who is alleged to have committed three indictable offences, serious offences. That would make the person presumptively detained, except in exceptional circumstances. I am confident that this bill would help protect Canadians in a balanced and nuanced way. I thank my seconder, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)