Evidence of meeting #91 for Public Safety and National Security in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was expungement.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Kathy Thompson  Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Talal Dakalbab  Chief Operating Officer, Parole Board of Canada
Serge Côté  Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Angela Connidis  Director General, Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Jean-Marie David

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Ms. Damoff.

Mr. Paul-Hus, you have five minutes.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I have a question about information sharing. We currently don't understand this bill well, especially with respect to other countries. I will proceed in stages.

First, with respect to co-operation and information-sharing agreements with our international partners, could you confirm that crimes committed by Canadians, regardless of the nature of these crimes, are part of the exchange of information?

3:40 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Kathy Thompson

I will ask my colleagues from the RCMP to answer your question.

3:40 p.m.

C/Supt Serge Côté Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Thank you for your question.

I would first like to ask for some clarification regarding your question.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I will proceed in stages. First of all, I want to know, with respect to information on Canadian citizens with criminal records, regardless of the nature of the crimes committed, if this information is sent to foreign countries.

3:40 p.m.

Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

C/Supt Serge Côté

The RCMP has different information-sharing agreements with some foreign countries. We have agreements with the United States and others through Interpol and Europol.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Currently, because of the information sent, have travel restrictions been imposed on members of the LGBTQ community, which was previously considered criminal? Have these people been refused entry to some countries?

3:40 p.m.

Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

C/Supt Serge Côté

I can't give you the RCMP's position in this particular case, but generally the RCMP does not have the mandate to forward this information about country entries and exits, and so on.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

That brings me to the second part of my question. Given all this, and from the moment the records are expunged, is there a mechanism that will ensure that this information is passed on to other countries? Is there a way to do it, since it's not in the legislation?

3:40 p.m.

Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

C/Supt Serge Côté

The role of the RCMP and myself, as the director general of the National Criminal Records Repository, is to implement the decision of our colleagues from the Parole Board of Canada

Once a decision has been submitted by the board, we will have to notify the federal agencies and our police partners. With respect to federal agencies, people will be instructed to simply eliminate or delete this information from their records.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

When you talk about your partners, are you talking about Interpol, for example?

3:45 p.m.

Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

C/Supt Serge Côté

No. Our partners abroad aren't subject to these federal legislative provisions.

With respect to pardons, we advise our police partners that the Parole Board of Canada has issued a decision. We simply advise them, and it is up to them to decide whether or not to expunge this information.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

So, even if Canada establishes that the offence no longer exists, and it completely abolishes the decision taken at the time, other countries may consider that this offence still exists.

Do I have that right?

3:45 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Kathy Thompson

I would like to make a clarification. The agreements we have in place govern the sharing of information and databases. When the RCMP makes changes and deletes these documents, this information will no longer appear in the database. It is possible that, for one reason or another, a partner has a copy of the old database. We can't say absolutely that it is impossible, but the database that we will share with our partners won't contain this information, since it will have been expunged.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Meaning that there may be a small gap in the bill as it is currently worded, since this situation isn't mentioned anywhere.

3:45 p.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Parole Board of Canada

Talal Dakalbab

I would like to add that in the case of pardons and criminal record suspensions, the situation is the same today. We can't demand that other countries remove this information from their systems.

Applicants who have gone through customs in the past and whose passage was mentioned by customs officials normally carry with them the Parole Board of Canada decision. This document shows that their offence has been expunged or that they have obtained a pardon or a record suspension. This is usually how this information can be removed from the systems of other countries.

Be that as it may, we don't have the power to require these countries to remove it from their systems.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Right.

Clause 23 amends a detailed schedule of offences to be expunged. In Bill C-66, everything that needs to be expunged is made clear. That is why I would like to know what the purpose of clause 23 is.

3:45 p.m.

Angela Connidis Director General, Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

The schedule mentioned in clause 23 specifies which kinds of former criminal activity would be included and covered by this legislation. It's anticipated that there may be a desire in the future to add other activity to this act, where the criminal record can be expunged. This clause provides the mechanism for introducing that into the schedule.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Is it possible in this context that offences not related to the LBGTQ community be expunged?

Is it instead an open provision that makes it possible to expunge any other offence?

3:45 p.m.

Director General, Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Angela Connidis

Yes. The preamble of the act refers to the possibility of capturing activity that is considered a historical injustice, including those activities that are considered to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Mr. Paul-Hus.

Mr. Garrison, welcome to the committee. You have seven minutes, please.

December 11th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Having spent the entire last Parliament on the public safety committee, it feels a bit like home.

I have to say I have a particular interest, of course, in this bill as a gay man of a certain age. Apart from twists of fate, I could be in a position where I'd have to seek an expungement. I could have been one of those who suffered deployment discrimination because of this, or difficulties in volunteering with vulnerable people, or an inability to travel. I was very fortunate, and I'm not in that situation.

I thank the parties for getting this here expeditiously, but whenever people say this has happened rapidly, I just have to point out that people have been asking for this for decades. Parliament moving expeditiously is not the same thing as the process happening rapidly. There are those who have been working for an apology and expungement, and working for more than 10 years to try to get this to happen.

I have no criticism today of the officials, but I do have to say some consultation in the drafting process, or before the drafting process, may have helped allay some of the concerns that had been raised over the weekend by some of the groups that had been looking forward to this legislation. However, I don't believe that is the responsibility of anybody here.

I also have to say that I talked a lot with them over the weekend, and I believe this bill is drafted anticipating that there may be those concerns, and that they can be dealt with later because of clauses 23 and 24. I want to ask my questions in that context. I think the things that are perceived to be wrong are fixable. The example of the fee is one of the first ones that was raised with me because it's not explicitly addressed in the bill, and I thank officials for being very clear that the fee will be waived.

The first one of these concerns is the list of offences. The Prime Minister's apology includes a larger number of offences than those included in the schedule. He makes specific reference to bawdy house provisions and bathhouse raids, and those are not included in the schedule. I guess my question really belongs to the cabinet, which will have discretion to add, but it would seem to me that the list of offences ought to match those things that were mentioned in the apology.

I wonder if there was a reason, for instance, that bawdy house offences were not included in the bill, when they were included in the apology.

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Kathy Thompson

The three offences that are currently included—gross indecency, buggery, and anal intercourse—are the ones that were most clearly used to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ2 community, and it's for that reason that we included those as an initial start in the legislation. I think, as already mentioned by Angela, the act does provide, by schedule, that new offences can be added to the schedule provided they constitute a historical injustice.

I should just indicate that simply the fact that a crime is no longer a crime does not constitute a historical injustice. It may help contribute to the consideration of it, but just that in and of itself does not constitute a historical injustice.

We did look at bawdy houses. However, bawdy houses were intended to capture a broader range of sexual acts, including between opposite sex partners, and also often were targeting what was deemed to be immoral at the time, including sexual acts in brothels and sexual acts for which payment was being made for sexual services. We did not include these at this juncture.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Should cabinet make a decision to add to this schedule, as clause 23 says they may add by order in council, is it, by implication, true that they could remove offences by order in council from this schedule?

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Kathy Thompson

They can add offences to the schedule by Governor in Council, and they can define the criteria through order in council. I imagine the same is true for removing, but I'm just going to confirm that with Ms. Connidis.