Evidence of meeting #113 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was agreed.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Shannon Davis-Ermuth  Legal Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice
Tony Clement  Parry Sound—Muskoka, CPC
Arif Virani  Parkdale—High Park, Lib.
Matthew Taylor  Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Olivier Champagne

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you.

Ms. Khalid.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Thank you, Chair.

One thing that I always appreciate about this committee is that, for the most part, we're able to get through our work—working for Canadians—in a very non-partisan way and try not to slam each other for unnecessary reasons. I hope that we can continue that way. I understand that an election is coming, but that doesn't impede us from doing the important work that Canadians expect us to do.

I have a question for Mr. Cooper with respect to proposed subsection 139(2) for the offence that we're talking about right now.

If a person obstructs justice, say, for example, they run into a peace officer who gets very upset and charges them with obstruction of justice—please help me understand this—would you want them to go to jail for 10 years? Is that the case?

5 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

It would be up to a judge to make that decision, and as I reiterated—

5 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka, CPC

Tony Clement

Not more than 10 years....

5 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Of course, again, we didn't hear any evidence about the specific offence. It was just thrown into the basket along with terrorism offences and other serious offences. This speaks to what a mess this bill is, which is why we're going to be spending hours dealing with amendments, including all kinds of government amendments, to clean up the mess that is Bill C-75.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Wow.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

I will get to everyone, but again, I appreciate what you said. We try to be as non-partisan as possible. Let's try to continue that way.

Mr. Clement.

5 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka, CPC

Tony Clement

Chair, I just wanted to respectfully request a recorded vote on this, a roll call vote.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

That's fine. We will do that when we finish debate.

Mr. McKinnon.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

I want to assure Mr. Cooper that we consider all these offences as serious offences, irrespective of whether they're hybridized or not. Hybridization has nothing to do with the seriousness of the offence. It's about whether they, in the particular circumstances.... We want to give the prosecutors the latitude to elect to go to a provincial court, depending on what the circumstances of the case are.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Does anybody else want to intervene? If not we'll move to a vote on CPC-23.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 45 agreed to)

(On clause 46)

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Next we move to CPC-24 and clause 46.

Mr. Cooper.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This is an amendment dealing with the reclassification of an offence in the Criminal Code that is currently an indictable offence that Bill C-75 would make a hybrid offence. This amendment would maintain it as an indictable offence. It relates to compounding indictable offences.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Is there any discussion? Will vote on CPC-24.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 46 agreed to)

(On clause 47)

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Next we move to CPC-25 and clause 47.

Mr. Cooper.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Thank you, Chair.

This is an amendment dealing with the reclassification, or watering down, of an indictable offence that Bill C-75 makes a hybrid offence. This would maintain it as an indictable offence. This specific offence relates to corruptly taking reward for the recovery of goods.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Is there any discussion? We will vote on CPC-25.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 47 agreed to)

(On clause 48)

Next on clause 48, we have CPC-26.

Mr. Clement.

5:05 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka, CPC

Tony Clement

Thank you, Chair.

This offence involves a prison breach, which of course is a very serious crime that has impacts on public safety and security. I would opine and hope that members agree that this should remain solely an indictable offence.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much. Are there any comments? Not seeing any, we'll move to a vote on CPC-26.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 48 agreed to)

(On clause 49)

Next we move to clause 49. We have two amendments, and I'm just checking that they do not conflict.

The first one is Green Party-3, Ms. May.

5:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

This, of course, goes to a substantial part of Bill C-75, which aims to reduce the number of accused held in pretrial detention. What I'm proposing through this, of course, emanates from the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Morales back in 1992 that bail not be denied except in circumstances where there is a substantial likelihood of committing an offence.

Now, what we've seen since the early 1990s when the Morales decision came down is that, even though the crime rate has gone down, the number of people held in pretrial detention has gone up. What I'm trying to do with the amendment is to narrow the grounds on which a failure-to-comply charge can be applied to only those situations where the breach in question endangers public safety. I hope this will be met with support, because I think it speaks to the clear intent of government in much of what we find in Bill C-75.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Mr. Boissonnault.

October 24th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate the honourable member's amendment and the intent. I understand this would amend clause 49 to specify that only breaches of conditions that endanger “the safety of the public, including any victim or witness” would trigger an offence for failing to comply.

I have concerns with the amendment, and the most significant is that there would be no mechanism for enforcing compliance with the conditions of undertaking and release orders and the requirement for the accused to come to court. Where the safety of the public is not endangered, for example, where an accused does not appear in court as required, there is currently no alternative to criminal sanctions for deterring breaches of conditions and requiring that the accused come to court to answer to charges laid against them.

The amendment would leave a gap in the Criminal Code that would make it difficult for the criminal justice system to function effectively, potentially causing significant delays. As you know, our overarching attempt here and plan is to address the issues with delays according to Jordan. For these reasons, I oppose the motion.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Mr. Rankin.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

I'm inclined to support it, but I would like the perspective of the officials on the implications.

5:10 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Shannon Davis-Ermuth

The implications, as Mr. Boissonnault has stated, are essentially that right now in the Criminal Code, section 145 contains the offences for not following requirements to attend court, requirements to attend pursuant to the identification of the criminal's act to be identified and to follow conditions, but if there was a qualification put, and only some of the failures to comply with conditions and some of the failures to appear in court were covered, if they were breaches, there wouldn't be any mechanism to address those breaches.