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Evidence of meeting #34 for Public Safety and National Security in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was factors.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Roger Préfontaine
Mary Campbell  Director General, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Michel Laprade  Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Correctional Service Canada

October 20th, 2010 / 3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Good afternoon. Welcome.

This is meeting number 34 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, on Wednesday, October 20, 2010.

Just before we go to Ms. Mourani, I want to say that today we are here to begin our study on Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act. I'll introduce our witnesses in a moment.

As far as a little bit of business for our committee is concerned, it's been passed on to me from the clerk that we would like to establish a date by which all witnesses could appear on Bill C-5. By the end of today's meeting, we will have heard from the department, so on November 17 we would begin again on Bill C-5.

In the opinion of the chair, the clerk, and a few others, it's very important that you submit your lists of witnesses on Bill C-5 if you have any. Hopefully by November 17 we would be able to hear some witnesses in the first hour, and perhaps even consider clause-by-clause, depending on how many witnesses we have. If we feel we are going to need some more time, that's one thing, but please get your witnesses in.

Now, Ms. Mourani, do you have a point of order or what?

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

No, Mr. Chair. I just want to make a comment before we go to the witnesses. I received some disturbing news today. One of the witnesses, whose name I gave to the clerk, has refused to appear before the committee for the scheduled hearings on the G20.

The witness in question is responsible for Ontario's Correctional Services. We submitted his name and contact information. According to the clerk—Mr. Préfontaine can correct me if I'm wrong—this gentleman is refusing to come and testify. I'm wondering if the committee can subpoena him to testify. Much of the testimony that we will hear will centre on Ontario's two provincial detention centres.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right.

Do you want to speak to this...?

I have a good idea, but I'm not a hundred per cent certain to whom you are referring. Generally speaking--

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Préfontaine could give you his name.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

This is in regard to another study. What we will do is attempt to do that again and we will explain to him the importance of attending. It may have been the date, or it may have been another issue, but we will explain to him that if he is unavailable on that day, we will expect him on another day. If we get another refusal on that, then we'll come back and go through it, but--

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

If that is the case..., I mean...

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

That means to give us a little time on this, because this is the first that I have even heard that he was unable to attend. As these things go, I'm not sure of his reason for not attending, but if I have to, I would talk to him as well, find out what the reason would be, and see if we can get another date.

All right? We'll follow this up. I will follow it up.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

If I may, Mr. Chair--

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Go ahead.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

--I think this is not a question of his not being able to attend but of refusing to attend.

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

C'est ça.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

That's the difference. If it's that, can we give you the recommendation that you subpoena him if he continues to refuse...?

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Well, we'll try him again. We'll discuss at a later--

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Chair, I understood Mr. Préfontaine to say, based on information received from a third party—and Mr. Préfontaine could confirm this today—that the gentleman didn't say he couldn't come because of a scheduling conflict. In fact, Mr. Préfontaine gave him five dates to choose from. The gentleman said he didn't want to come and testify. He is flatly refusing to come and hasn't given us any explanation for his position. This is very serious, Mr. Chair.

I'd like this gentleman to be subpoenaed, to be compelled to testify before the committee. Much of the testimony will focus on the conditions in the two provincial jails, that is the one for female inmates and the one for male inmates. One way or another, this person is going to testify. You can be sure about that!

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Go ahead, Mr. Holland.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

There is another option before actually issuing a subpoena. The gentleman can be informed that if he refuses to testify, the committee will undoubtedly have him subpoenaed, that he has a choice to come voluntarily and if he doesn't he will be subpoenaed. If the situation is explained to him this way, surely he will make the right choice.

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Can Mr. Préfontaine tell us exactly...?

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Go ahead, Mr. Préfontaine.

3:35 p.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Roger Préfontaine

Mrs. Mourani, I issued an invitation to Mr. Small, the Assistant Deputy Minister, Adult Correctional Institutions for Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Early this afternoon, someone in his office called me to say that Mr. Small was declining the invitation. That's all.

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

I see. Then a subpoena is in order, Mr. Chair! We have five days and not much time to waste. The gentleman must testify! Therefore, I'd like him to be subpoenaed.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Did I know about this before?

3:35 p.m.

The Clerk

No.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Then how did they know about it?

3:35 p.m.

The Clerk

Because I informed Madame Mourani's office that one of their witnesses was declining. That's why.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Okay. I can follow this up again. I was unaware of this. We will follow this up again and perhaps at the next meeting discuss where we want to go from there, but I would like to explain it to him and see what his response is.

Go ahead, Mr. Davies.