I thought I had done so, Mr. Speaker. If I did not, I apologize. I believe I was referring to my friend from Edmonton in the third person.
During this type of sting operation it is frequently necessary for the police to sell small quantities of drugs to traffickers to establish credibility and further investigations. These techniques already exist but at present have no specific legislative basis and consequently are open to legal challenge. The bill would ensure the police have an appropriate statutory basis on which to mount operations against drug traffickers in a manner consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I know an hon. member has argued such authority already exists for all police services under section 18 of the RCMP act and he asked why we need this new provision. The answer is simple. First, section 18 of the RCMP act applies only to the RCMP and not to any other police service. Second, section 18 of the act does not provide a clear statutory authority to the RCMP for mounting undercover drug operations.
It only imposes a duty on the RCMP alone to enforce the law using powers that already exist under other statutes such as the Narcotic Control Act. Clearly there is a world of difference
between this broad statutory obligation and similar obligations in provincial police acts and the specific authority needed by all police services, federal, provincial and municipal, to carry out sting operations, an authority provided for in this bill.
It is also important to note that the police enforcement regulations contemplated in this bill build on the existing narcotic control regulations and the food and drugs regulations. Both sets of regulations authorize police officers to possess narcotic and restricted drugs when directly related to police work.
What is new is that the bill removes ambiguity that exists in the current legislation and gives police services a firm and clear statutory base for carrying out undercover drug operations.
Again, we are not acting in haste here. The text of new police enforcement regulations have been published in the Canada Gazette, part I, to allow time for consultation and comment from all interested parties. Consistent with this, I am also pleased to announce that the solicitor general has provided to his provincial and territorial colleagues a discussion paper on the enforcement provisions of Bill C-7. This paper was also made public to members of the House and to the public. The paper outlines the policy underlying the new police enforcement regulations that will be made pursuant to this act.
Again, this is an example of a government committed to consultation and the careful and methodical development of legislation that answers the needs and concerns of all stakeholders. That is how the government does business and how it should do business.
There have also been concerns that Bill C-7 may permit an unwarranted intrusion by the federal government into provincial areas of jurisdiction, in this case the conduct of provincial and municipal police anti-drug operations. That concern is without foundation. Bill C-7 expressly recognizes that both the federal and provincial governments have clearly defined jurisdictions in the area of drug enforcement. The authority of the provincial ministers responsible for policing over provincial and municipal police services is expressly stated in the bill.
Domestic issues aside, the bill is also important in that it will allow us to fulfil our international obligations. Canada is, after all, a signatory to three UN international conventions designed to counter substance abuse and drug trafficking: the single convention on narcotics drugs, a convention on psychotropic substances and the convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs substances. These international conventions are crucial in the fight against drug traffickers.
Drug trafficking is an international problem requiring international action. We need only look at reports such as the RCMP national drug intelligence estimate to realize how true that statement is. Money laundering through international banking systems, illegal drug routes criss-crossing the entire world and drug production centres ranging from South America to the Middle East all emphasize that international co-operation and co-ordination are necessary to effectively fight drug trafficking. That is why it is important Canada fulfil its international obligations to the best of its ability.
The bill will give our police services the tools they need to do their jobs properly and to ensure they are at least as effective in their anti-drug operations as their counterparts in other countries.
Aside from providing the police with a statutory basis for carrying out undercover drug operations, the bill also provides three other measures that will assist the police in their anti-drug activities. First, the bill will provide for controls on the import, export, production and distribution of controlled substances while at the same time allowing for the use of substances for medical, scientific and industrial purposes.
Second, the bill will provide a control on the import and export of precursors, which are chemical substances used to produce controlled substances.
Third, the bill will provide for the forfeiture of any property used to commit such offences and for a comprehensive search and seizure mechanism consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I hope in my remarks during the past few minutes that I have made it clear the police enforcement provisions of Bill C-7 are a carefully considered set of measures designed to give police the powers they need to do their job properly. The provisions do not embody any new and exceptional powers, contrary to what has been suggested in the Chamber. The provisions do not infringe on provincial jurisdiction, contrary to what has been suggested during the course of the debate. The provisions are subject to consultation and review. They balance the needs of the police against the interest of the community as a whole.
In short, it is modern legislation designed to respond to the demands of a modern world. Our police services deserve all the support we can give them, particularly when it comes to fighting drug traffickers. In the past we have shown our support through the passage of the proceeds of crime amendment and the Seized and Restrained Assets Management Act. Speedy passage of Bill C-7, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, would both complement the previous two pieces of legislation I have mentioned and be a further demonstration of our commitment to support the police in their fight against the drug trade.
Therefore I have much pleasure in inviting my colleagues on all sides of the Chamber to give their unfettered support to this excellent piece of legislation as expeditiously as possible.