Mr. Chairman, the hon. member has told me that he and his colleagues in the Reform Party support this bill. I hope he has a better understanding than he has indicated of how the bill is going to help.
When you have a medical problem you go to a doctor. When you have a legal problem you go to a lawyer. When you want to know what will help the police in what they are doing to combat crime on the streets you go to the police. That is what we did. We went to the police.
I spoke with Chief Duchesneau, the director of the Montreal Urban Community Police Department. I met with Chief Richard Renaud from Quebec. I met with a dozen chiefs of police and directors of police departments three weeks ago in Hull. I talked with police forces about their needs and about the changes that could be made to the Criminal Code to give them better tools to fight organized crime. Most of the measures contained in Bill C-95 were proposed by police officers. They have been working with us for months to find ways to deal with this problem.
The police themselves think that these measures will improve the law and help us arrest and prosecute those responsible for the murders referred to by the hon. member.
We did not develop these proposals in a vacuum. We did not develop them in the absence of practical advice from the police on the street. We worked very closely with the police community in devising these measures. We have given the police tools that will help them.
The hon. member asks how and he referred to wiretaps. Far more than that is given by this bill. It is permitted to seal up information on which warrants are obtained in order to protect the confidentiality of informants, in order to protect the lives of informants, in order to make it easier for police to derive information from third parties to help them in their war on organized crime.
It is provided that, under certain circumstances, with court order, investigating officers can get access to income tax information in the course of investigating organized crime. That is a rare event. To the present, Revenue Canada and Finance, because of the traditional confidentiality of income tax information, has permitted access to investigating officers only in a limited category of cases. We propose to expand that to include the participation offence in organized crime.
The legislation will permit the seizing not only of the proceeds of crime but any property used to help commit organized crime, including real estate if it is fortified or modified to enable or facilitate the commission of those offences.
The legislation provides for stern, stiff prison sentences for those who engage in organized crime. Let me make that point clear so that the hon. member sees the full force and effect of these provisions.
Not only the leaders that the hon. member for the Bloc was asking about, but members and even strangers to the group who are enticed for cash, for example, to transport, to store or to place explosives on the part of a criminal organization, these stiff sentences will stand in the way of anyone who is complicit with organized crime.
The onus on bail applications for those arrested on organized crime offences are reversed. The court in sentencing for organized crime offences and for explosives offences committed in connection with organized crime are required not only to impose the stiff sentence but required that it be served consecutive to any other sentence the person is then serving or to which they may be required to serve as a result of other infractions.
The police, with the authority of the attorney general of the province, will be given the powerful tool of seeking a judicial restraint order where there are grounds on which a judge can conclude that there is a reasonable basis to fear that someone will commit an organized crime offence.
That is determined on the civil balance of probabilities and not the criminal beyond a reasonable doubt. The court will be empowered to make an order limiting the liberty of that person, requiring that person to comply with conditions that are appropriate, that may, for example, prohibit one member of such a group from communicating with others.
These are powerful and important tools that the police welcome. If the chiefs of police believe that these tools will assist in their efforts against organized crime, if those who are on the ground dealing with these problems day after day who have developed expertise, who have experience, believe that these tools are powerful and useful, to be a first step, to be the first phase, establishing a framework to which can be added more in the months and years ahead, then I say we should conclude that not only in our own judgment but based on the advice of those who know from their own experience that this bill is going to make a difference out where it belongs, in the real world.
Before I conclude, in answer to the hon. member's question, he referred to registering guns. In a pattern that has become all too distressingly familiar over the years, as he has returned with his remarkable attachment to his opposition to any form of gun control, the hon. member seeks to instil the hysterical reaction which he seeks in others by overstating his case.
The hon. member knows full well that if someone fails to register the garden variety .22, we have provided not in the Criminal Code, but in the firearms act, for a remedy which falls far short of the draconian consequences to which he has referred. The hon. member takes a hypothetical case and attaches to it the most extreme result.
I think the country is on to his pattern of activity by now. Just in case there is anyone out there who has not seen the hon. member at work in the past on this subject, for the record it should be noted that he has once again misstated the case in order to encourage over reaction to legislation that he has been opposed to from the outset because he just does not like gun control.
As I say, it is regrettable he is so out of step with the vast majority of Canadians. I guess that is something he is going to have to live with.