Evidence of meeting #55 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was evidence.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Today, we move to clause-by-clause consideration of the Senate public Bill S-217, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody).

Before we begin the clause-by-clause, though, the clerk has asked me for 30 seconds of our time to look at paying the witnesses who testified before us, so I'm going to turn it over to the clerk to ask for approval of the budget, basically.

Do you want me to just read it out? Basically, it's a budget of $12,200 for witnesses and $1,500 for miscellaneous, so it's a total budget to approve of $13,700 for our study of S-217.

Does everybody have a copy?

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Is everyone okay with approving this?

Mr. Falk.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

I just have a point of clarification. You indicated we were paying witnesses. Are we paying them, or are we just in fact reimbursing the expenses?

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

We are reimbursing the expenses of witnesses. That's an excellent clarification.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Well, you're all lawyers. I wanted to be sure.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Precision is absolutely the key. I completely agree.

Is everyone okay with adopting the budget?

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we will turn our heads to S-217. I would like to welcome Laura Hodgson, who is the counsel for the criminal law policy section of the Department of Justice and is here to answer any questions we may have.

We'll now move to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

Mr. Bittle.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a motion that this committee report back to the House and recommend not to proceed further with this bill.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

The motion is received.

Mr. Bittle, do you want to speak to your motion?

May 9th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Yes, please.

First, I'd like to commend Mr. Cooper on this bill. I was impressed with the intent and the passion and commitment he's put forward on this, so much so that I voted for this bill despite the government's opposition to it when it first came through the House on second reading. I know a number of my colleagues on the Liberal side of the House, including some members of our committee, did the same thing, because the intention of the bill is noble. There are issues with the bail system in this country, and an attempt to reform the bail system is a noble objective.

That being said, I came to committee with an open mind, to listen to the witnesses and to hear evidence on the effects and impacts of this bill. Going into it, I knew there would have to be some changes. I had hoped we could make some changes to make this bill palatable and to make this an effective piece of legislation. However, listening to the witnesses and hearing from them one after another, I was immediately left with the impression that this bill misses the mark unfortunately. It will have the opposite impact of making the bail system worse, and it will lead to significant delays.

I'd like to briefly go through what some individuals—the witnesses that we heard—discussed. The first one, Mr. Michael Elliott, who is president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations, supported this bill. After examination, he asked himself whether it would slow down the system, and answered yes. That's a supporter of the bill.

Mr. Rick Woodburn is president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel. Crown counsels are individuals who want to see criminals in jail. They want to see the right people go to jail: that's their job.

He said of the tragedy that brought forward this bill, that it was “human error: [the constable dealing with the bail matter] failed to put the record before the court...It is not something we normally do. We put the record before the court. It's important. That's meat and potatoes; it's the first thing we're trained to do.”

He went on to say of his concerns about Bill S-217, that “bail hearings will double and triple in time. And it's not necessary.” He said that S-217 “will add nothing to bail hearings, but it will take away a lot,” and that if “bail hearings expand and take longer, other matters will fall like dominoes, and it will end up having the opposite effect.”

Rachel Huntsman, on behalf of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said that this bill “may cause confusion, create added delay, and impose challenges upon a bail system that is already operating at full capacity. Instead of strengthening the bail provisions, we fear that these amendments may create a result counterproductive to what the bill is hoping to achieve.” She said of the bill that this amendment is not necessary.

Detective Superintendent Dave Truax from the Ontario Provincial Police added that this bill would cause a challenge for Canadian law enforcement agencies.

Dr. Cheryl Webster, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said that legislation can't change human error, which is what caused this tragedy. She said it seemed to her that “this bill will very likely only add volume to an already exploding problem.”

Ms. Nancy Irving, who has done some incredible work looking into this tragedy and how to improve the bail system in Alberta, said, “I share the concern that this new language could turn bail hearings into mini-trials.”

I tried during many of my questions to ask witnesses for amendments or potential amendments to make this bill an effective tool for law enforcement and for crown prosecutors. The response we received from witness after witness was that they couldn't propose anything, and that even minor changes—minor or major amendments to this bill—would have negative impacts on the justice system. My fear is that this bill will have the opposite effect and could in fact make Canadians less safe.

It could do this in terms of significant delays, which the Supreme Court has ruled on, especially in the Jordan case, which we've talked about. This may see more people out on the street who should be in jail, and that's not something I want to see. Despite the good intentions of the bill, I'm concerned that this bill may put Canadians at risk, and unfortunately, I can no longer support Bill S-217.

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you, Mr. Bittle.

Mr. Nicholson.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

I only speak on behalf of my colleagues who will perhaps have something to say afterwards. We don't support shutting down this bill. This bill was introduced for a very legitimate reason. It's one that remedies the problem that was faced, particularly in this case. I hope members are not going to vote in solidarity on the other side of this. I appreciate that my colleague, Mr. Bittle, is proposing this. I hope they will consider what we heard.

It was pretty compelling testimony by Shelley Wynn about what happened to her husband. My colleague says that it puts certain Canadians at risk. Well, I know the Canadians who are at risk. They are called victims, victims of crime, the people who become the target of these people who should be detained, but aren't detained.

That is one of the disappointments if this thing does not go forward because I think it's very important, when we study the criminal justice system, to make sure that we are looking after victims of crime. I appreciate that the system has to work on everybody's behalf, but how can we better protect law-abiding Canadians, how can we prevent victimization? This is a step in the right direction. I believe this was well thought out by my colleague, Senator Runciman, as well as by my colleague, MP Michael Cooper. They have thought this thing out, and they are remedying something that is a gap that could be, I believe, very easily filled.

Now people say, “Well, you're going to slow down the system.” Well, I have news for you. If somebody is up on a first offence, very quickly the courts can be informed that the individual has no criminal record and hasn't breached any bail provisions. There is no slowdown at all on that. In the vast majority of cases, that information is before the courts. It's before the justice of the peace, the court, whoever is handling that. There is no increase on this. We're trying to catch those times when it doesn't happen.

Now, are there times when it will be slowed down? Yes, I can believe that. For instance, you get somebody—and we've had examples of these people here—who has had 38 or 52 convictions, and they have continuously breached their bail provisions. I have no doubt that it might take you half an hour just to get all that information before the court. Then you would say, “Well, you slowed down the process.” I know we slowed down the process, but we have made the process safer by making sure that the judge, the justice of the peace, or whoever handles these cases, depending on the province, has that information. So, when people say that in some instances it will slow down, yes, right. If this individual has a long, bad record, I think we can handle it. The courts can handle it. We can slow it down long enough to make sure that everybody has all the information on the individual because what we want to do, ultimately, is better protect the public of this country. We want everybody to have a fair hearing, but if you're one of those individuals who continuously breaks the law or has been charged or has had convictions, it seems to me that that is something that should be before the courts.

I appreciate that trying to get this information 30-40 years ago was very difficult. It was very time consuming, no matter who was before the court. Well, that was the 1980s. This is not the 1980s anymore. We can have this information in seconds, and this information is something that should be before the court because we can better protect the people who need protection in this country.

To that challenge here—that somehow this poor fellow has 30 years of convictions and we tell about all the times he's violated bail—I say tough luck. It's something that should be before the court, and they should know every single word of it. If it takes an extra half an hour to read the individual's record into court, good, because I think we're all better off for that.

I say to my colleagues across the room, “Think about the victims. Think about possible victims. Think about somebody like Shelley Wynn.” I don't think I heard any synopsis of her testimony, but her testimony was very riveting, important, and emotional.

If a law like this had been in place, her husband wouldn't have been killed. This matter was before the court. This is the kind of information you have to have.

I say to my colleagues across, we don't always vote unanimously on all these different things, and I would hope that some of them would have a look at this and say, yes, this makes a lot of sense. This makes sense, this is the age in which we live, and information like this should be before the court, and if it's not before the court, then the whole system can be called into question.

It erodes people's confidence in the criminal justice system when they hear something like this, that this information wasn't before the court or it wasn't considered.

Do you want to have confidence in the criminal justice system? Do you want to better protect Canadians? If you want to stand up for victims, this is a perfect example of what we can do. I'm urging my colleagues around this table to do the right thing and to support this.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Mr. Cooper.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is with disappointment to learn of the government's intention to kill Bill S-217. It is not lost upon me that no mention was made of Shelly Wynn and her testimony. No mention was made of the former attorney general of Alberta. No mention was made of the evidence of John Muise, who has extensive experience as a Toronto police officer, and who served on the Parole Board. No mention was made of all of the associations that represent the front-line police officers who put their lives on the line every single day to keep our communities safe and who bear full support of this legislation.

What we did hear at the justice committee was a lot of MPs searching for every excuse to try to kill this bill. There were two arguments that were put forward, in essence, in opposition to this bill, both of which are equally flawed. One was the suggestion that it would increase the evidentiary burden. Mr. Woodburn tried to make that argument as a prosecutor. He tried to lead this committee into interpreting the bill to change the standard of proof by saying that the crown “shall prove”, as opposed to “may prove”. Of course, Mr. Woodburn conveniently ignored the fact that the legislation says no such thing, and members on that side ignored that fact, and continued to ignore that fact even when it was pointed out that the bill provides that prosecutors “shall lead evidence to prove”.

By contrast, the bill does nothing to change the standard of proof which is provided for at section 518(1)(e), which provides that a judge or justice of the peace may accept evidence that is deemed credible and trustworthy. Of course, the case law is very clear that evidence from a police agency or from a police department is credible and trustworthy evidence, and that would encompass the CPIC record. Frankly, that argument is baseless.

It comes down to this argument of delay by requiring the crown to lead evidence of the criminal history of someone seeking bail. We heard at committee from none other than Mr. Woodburn, who said that this was the bread and butter of prosecutors. It's what they do every day. It's the first thing they learn. Indeed, I challenge any member of the committee to cite any credible evidence put forward before the committee as to a scenario when the criminal history of a bail applicant should not be presented. There was no evidence. There was no credible evidence. There was no credible example provided for, and there was no credible example because such information is always relevant in material. Indeed, it is impossible for a judge or justice of the peace to exercise their discretion without such information. That's, in essence, all this bill does.

Yes, there were some aspects of the bill in terms of the language that arguably needed to be tightened up. Based upon the evidence, I was prepared to work in a co-operative fashion to bring forward amendments to clean up some areas of the bill that needed to be amended. However, on the key question of whether evidence shall be presented at a bail application hearing, the essence of the bill, that was not in question in terms of the evidence before the committee. I would reiterate the point that Mr. Nicholson very astutely made in terms of when we talk about delay. Who are we talking about? Which bail applications are we talking about?

If an individual has no criminal history and is charged and appears and there's a contested bail hearing, there is no delay because there is no criminal record, but when you have someone like Mr. Rehn, who had a criminal record longer than my arm, shoot and kill Constable Wynn, yes, there will be some delay. Yes, there will be a need for a thorough analysis, for due diligence, for a need to provide voluminous information on that criminal's history before a judge or justice of the peace so that judge or justice of the peace can properly exercise their discretion, including keeping the public safe.

Frankly I was disturbed by the attitude about efficiency on that side and perhaps on other sides. We heard this over and over again. I would submit it is precisely that lax attitude that contributed to Constable Wynn not being with us today. It was an example of a bail hearing that was rushed, unfortunately. Let's process the application without the evidence in front of us, and what were the consequences? They were fatal, Mr. Chair, and that is absolutely untenable.

It is unacceptable, and in terms of delay, the irony is not lost on me and it shouldn't be lost on Canadians. These Liberals would talk about delay in the context of the murder of Constable Wynn and trying to fix the bail system, when they have stood in silence as their Minister of Justice has failed to do her job, a Minister of Justice whose conduct has been nothing short of negligent in failing to fill one of her core responsibilities, and that is to fill judicial vacancies in a timely manner. We have a minister who gets up in the House of Commons and pats herself on the back as we have a near-historic number of judicial vacancies. We have judicial advisory committees that are almost half vacant and have been almost half vacant since October. We have murder cases, sexual assault cases, child abuse cases thrown out of court, and the minister says she's proud of her record. We have thousands of cases at risk, and the minister can't even appoint judges.

These Liberals talk about delay. The irony is not lost, and I can tell you that as the member of Parliament for St. Albert—Edmonton and as the deputy justice critic, we're going to keep fighting for this bill regardless of the outcome of the vote this day because the stakes are too high. What happened to Constable Wynn should never have happened, and this law, if it could be passed, would help prevent such an incident from happening again.

Thank you.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Mr. Fraser.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to start by saying that I recognize that this was a good-faith effort to bring this bill forward, and obviously thank Senator Runciman and Michael Cooper for sponsoring it in the House and bringing it forward. I supported this at second reading, and support the comments of Mr. Bittle. I supported it at second reading because I saw some problems with the bill, but I thought there were some aspects to it that would be good, and that we could actually make right to improve the effectiveness of our bail system. Just as there was a good-faith effort to fix a problem that we recognized in the case of Constable Wynn, I hope that those proponents of the bill will also understand that there's a good-faith effort on members of this committee to do what they believe is correct and right based on the evidence and the testimony that we heard here at committee.

I knew there were a number of problematic provisions with the bill, but the central element of the bill, as I understood it from Shelly Wynn, and from discussions with colleagues, was about the provision of changing the requirement from a permissive “may” to a requirement of “shall” lead evidence for the prosecutor.

Throughout my thinking and my deliberations on this bill—and I can tell you that I've arrived at my conclusion independently and on my own, thinking about the evidence that's been presented here at committee—the principle of doctors came to my mind, and that is, “Do no harm.” That is, I think, a responsibility that this committee, which is changing the law on people's liberty, should take very seriously: “Do no harm.”

My conclusion, at the end of hearing the evidence and thinking about this, is that despite the good-faith effort to fix a problem, this bill, even with some changes, would still, if we changed “may” to “shall”, have the opposite effect and have the opposite intention, and would actually lead to more people out on bail who should be behind bars, and therefore make our streets less safe, not more safe. That's the reason that I support the motion.

I want to go through some of the testimony we heard. By the way, we heard testimony, of course, from Shelly Wynn, which was compelling testimony, I grant that, but we also heard from experts in the field. We heard from the Canadian Bar Association. We heard from the Ontario Provincial Police and Newfoundland police. We heard from prosecutors. Mr. Cooper mentions Mr. Woodburn, who was here representing crown counsels across the country. He wasn't here as an individual. As well, we heard from defence lawyers. For all of those organizations to come to the same conclusion and give us evidence based on the same rationale is compelling to me, and convincing to me, and persuaded me that this bill would do harm if we passed it. Therefore, despite supporting it at second reading, thinking about it, and honestly coming to a good-faith conclusion on my own, I've decided that this bill should not be proceeded with. That's why I'll be supporting Mr. Bittle's motion.

I can say one further thing on delay. My friends across the way do mention, of course, criminal records that should be presented, as well as failures to appear. There's another element to this. In fact, if you go back and look at some of my questioning, it was about the circumstances of offences. Evidence would need to be led on that in every instance. Even a first-time person before the court, who has no criminal record, would take longer than usual because the evidence of the offence would have to be led as evidence to show whether the circumstances rose to the problem of the public losing confidence in the system. That's every case now. There would need to be, we heard some people say, a mini-trial on the circumstances of the offence, when normally the crown in that circumstance would never ever rely on that third round of bail to detain someone, but they'd be required to produce that evidence anyway. If they didn't have it, I suppose, then they wouldn't be able to meet their burden. And what would happen then? The person would be let out on bail, perhaps without a clear plan for securing his or her release.

That, in addition to the uncertainty this would create by adding new terms that are undefined and untested by the courts, would lead to further litigation of our bail system entirely, and with mini-trials, it would create backlogs in the system. In light of the Jordan decision, we know that delays are now a very difficult situation that this country has to come to grips with.

Concerning the mention of judges, I know that the Minister of Justice has appointed I believe now 56 judges, and there will be many more to come. I recognize that there is a problem, if our judicial system is not filling vacancies in a timely fashion, but I believe the need is being fulfilled by the minister. Of course, there are always things that can be done better and more efficiently.

I think I'll leave my comments at that, Mr. Chair, and reaffirm my position that this bill would do harm. We are required as a committee to study and deliberate on the evidence we heard. That is what I believe I am doing. I cannot support a bill that would have the opposite effect and would actually make our streets less safe.

Thank you.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you, Mr. Fraser.

Mr. MacGregor.

4 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First of all I want to thank Mr. Cooper for his passionate defence of this bill. I certainly appreciated his reaching out to me in a phone conversation to talk about some of the finer details of the bill. I too voted for this bill at second reading because I agreed with the principle. I don't think there's a person in this room who denies that what happened with Constable Wynn and Shawn Rehn wasn't a good thing. It was a problem. It's a failure in the way things currently operate.

I too have independently given my full and legitimate consideration to this bill and to all the witness testimony we've heard and the briefs that were submitted. I've also consulted with caucus colleagues who are expert lawyers and with people outside of the caucus in the legal community as well. Weighing what I have seen, witnessed, and read, the evidence in my considered opinion is stacked against this bill.

I do want to say, however, that what happened to Constable Wynn does not.... We can honour his memory. This does not have to be the end of the road for honouring his memory. I sincerely think that what happened in this particular issuance does not warrant a legislative solution. I think we've heard from many witnesses that there is plenty of room for administrative solutions, whether it's through more resources for our justice system, making sure police records are timely and up to date in every part of this country, or even giving more educational opportunities to crown counsel to learn from this opportunity. I don't think we should end the road at this particular issuance.

Now, the Minister of Justice has met just recently with her provincial colleagues. I'm glad to see that this meeting has finally occurred, that the Liberal cabinet has finally acknowledged the crisis that is in our justice system, because the Jordan decision was a long time ago. I think Mr. Cooper's criticisms of the justice minister are valid; I share many of them. There have been vacancies in our courts for far too long. The legislative agenda of this government, particularly with justice bills, seems to be in tatters. It has taken 18 months to get bills forward on marijuana legalization, on impaired driving laws, and the zombie provisions of the Criminal Code. I have to ask myself what the cabinet, particularly the Minister of Justice, has been doing all that time, because there are some very important bills sitting on the Order Paper that have not yet come to second reading debate.

If I may impart some advice to my Liberal colleagues, the next time you have the opportunity to speak to the cabinet, say that there are several very important justice initiatives that can wait no longer; that we need to see properly funded resources for our justice system, whether it's in legal aid, appointing members to the bench, or providing for more administrative services in courtrooms.

We also need, though, to see this legislative agenda put forward so that we can start debating it, because if you look at the remaining timeline we have in Parliament, June 23—the last possible day we have to sit until September—is fast approaching. I would say that it's time to roll up our sleeves and really get to work on some of these pressing issues.

While I will not be supporting Bill S-217, then, don't think for a minute that this is the end of pressuring this government to get to work on these outstanding justice issues.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you, Mr. MacGregor.

Everybody is going to get a chance to speak, and as much as you want.

Ms. Khalid.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I do, along with all of our colleagues, want to commend Mr. Cooper on his great efforts in bringing light to this very important issue.

We heard some very compelling testimony from Madam Wynn with respect to what she suffered, and my heart goes out to her and others who have suffered at the hands of this issue. However, we, as legislators, often find ourselves in a very difficult position where we have to separate our emotions from something that would affect the country nationwide.

We heard testimony that this was an error or a mistake, and we can't legislate away mistakes. There has to be a robust solution to this. I am very much in favour of having a review of the whole bail system and seeing how we can improve it administratively, and how we can improve efficiencies.

Although the intention is very great and noble, I don't think this bill achieves the effect of reforming the bail system, so I too will be supporting the motion presented by Mr. Bittle.

Thank you.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you.

Mr. Falk.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I, too, just want to express my disappointment in the motion that's before us to terminate moving ahead with this bill. I think it's a bill that has been well thought through. I think were some amendments that would have been tendered in the event that we would have an opportunity to proceed with clause-by-clause.

It was mentioned earlier that there were no amendments suggested by any of our witnesses, and I think that's not entirely accurate. I think some of them did suggest that they had trouble with the terminology “to prove the fact”, and there's an amendment that would address that. I think there's a response to that particular testimony; there were amendments that would have made the bill stronger.

I take comfort in the fact that this bill was through the Senate already, and that the Senate did their due diligence on it. The Senate sent it along to us, and Mr. Cooper took up the cause here on the House side of government. I think the Senate did a good job. I think Mrs. Wynn's testimony was very compelling. It was very emotional, and I would agree with Ms. Khalid that emotions aren't enough to change laws. We need something more substantive than just emotional testimony to warrant changes to our Criminal Code, and I think there was much more to it. I think there was a deficiency in the existing law. Emotions, perhaps, allowed us to see the flaw more clearly and see some of the impacts of that flaw.

We didn't hear from a broad variety of witnesses about other situations where similar decisions were made that didn't result in the consequence of a homicide, of someone being murdered. I'm sure there are numerous victims who have been victimized because somebody somewhere along the line didn't produce the evidence to a justice or to a judge that would have prevented someone from being released on bail. I think the flaw in the existing legislation is the word “may”. That's primarily what this legislation seeks to change, and it has been identified here today in several different ways. It has been called a human error. It has been called a mistake.

I don't think it is a human error or a mistake because the word “may” is there. When “may” is there, people have a choice to make. They may do it, but they may choose not to. So, if they choose not to, has a mistake been made? Has there really been a human error? I would suggest not. It's a choice that has been made. If we change that word from “may” to “shall” and it doesn't happen, now there has been a mistake made. Now there has been a human error.

The testimony that we heard from different witness groups seemed to be lopsided in favour of reducing the onus that changing that terminology would place on any group of people and that could have negative consequences for themselves or people within the association they represent. However, I think it's our responsibility to victims and to potential victims to make sure that we are providing a Criminal Code, a process, that is fair to them and that is fair to the accused. I think we've heard from the previous comments here that the only time delay would be when really lengthy rap sheets are presented. That would perhaps cause a bit of a time delay, but it would be a justified time delay. I think the changes that this bill seeks to make in our Criminal Code are necessary. I think they're good, and as we heard from many of our witnesses, it's happening anyway. We're doing it anyway. To that my response would be that if we're doing it anyway, then let's just say we're going to do it. Let's say we shall do it because nobody said it wasn't a good idea to lead the evidence. Nobody said that we shouldn't do it. In fact, they almost always said that it was happening anyway.

In this case, there was a mistake made, and I get back to my point. There was no mistake made because we gave them the option when we had the word “may” in there. I think it's important to change the word to “shall”, and in essence, that's really what this bill is doing. It is changing the mandate to “shall” from “may”. If we're going to do that, and if it doesn't happen then, then a mistake is made, and there's a matter of accountability.

I think that's the part that frightens the people who said we're fearmongering here, that this would create some kind of erroneous burden on people from a time perspective and from a workload perspective. I just don't think that's a warranted criticism.

I'm disappointed. I won't support the motion. I'll vote against the motion, because I think it's a bill that has been well thought through. There are amendments coming to address the concerns inside the bill.

I would urge my Liberal colleagues and my NDP colleague to reconsider their position. I think it's a good bill. I think it's been drafted very well.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Mr. McKinnon.