Mr. Speaker, Bill C-27 will receive the support of our caucus. We think there are measures in the bill that are going in the right direction.
I have some real concerns about the ability of Canada to enforce laws against offences committed outside our jurisdiction. Because of that concern I am prepared to recommend to my caucus that we support the amendment that has been placed before us which we are debating today.
What are some of the reasons for supporting this amendment and really what is the amendment to do? The amendment will strike from the bill sections 4.2 and 4.3.
Section 4.2 states:
Proceedings with respect to an act or omission that if committed in Canada would be an offence against section 151, 152, 153, 155 or 159, subsection 160(2) or (3) or section 163.1, 170, 171 or 173 shall be instituted in Canada only if a request to that effect to the Minister of Justice of Canada is made by:
(a) any consular officer or diplomatic agent accredited to Canada by the state where the offence has been committed; or,
(b) any minister of that state communicating with the Minister through the diplomatic representative of Canada accredited to that state.
Proceedings referred to in subsection 4.2 may only be instituted with the consent of the Attorney General
This means the attorney general of the province in which the individual the charge is being initiated against lives.
First of all, what this would entail is an intrusion by the Justice Minister of Canada into what is normally the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces which is to initiate criminal proceedings. It would give the justice minister an overwhelming say in the prosecution of offences under the criminal code. We would see a division of powers. I should say we would see an attack on the division of powers. In fact, there would be a collapse of the division of powers between those who make the law in this country and those who are supposed to enforce it.
All of a sudden we would have the justice minister being the key figure not only in making the law but in initiating any criminal proceedings and prosecution under the law. I think that is wrong and we have to be very aware and cautious of allowing that kind of collapse between the division of powers that exist in a democracy.
Second, I have great concern that we are going to be able to successfully prosecute an infraction that occurs in another country. How will we do it? How will we get the evidence into this country to successfully prosecute? If the justice minister is going to be the one who decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal prosecution are we going to look at the same delays that we now see when individuals apply to the justice minister under section 690 of the Criminal Code, those who feel that there has been a miscarriage of justice occur? We have had 690 application after 690 application presented to the justice minister and in some cases it has taken years for him to assess the fresh evidence and make a decision.
We just saw two cases that have been hung there for years and finally decided upon by the justice minister. One was the King case and the other was the Beaulieu case. We still have a case that has been outstanding for at least four years, a 690 application that the justice minister is still looking at, the delay for reasons unknown.
Are we now going to say the justice minister has to decide on all these cases that might be coming forward as a result of the creation of this new law? It is absolutely wrong. Not only that, the justice minister can only move on complaints not if they come from you or me, Mr. Speaker, who might be over there and happen to witness a crime. No, they have to come from a consular officer or a diplomatic agent accredited to Canada. Therefore, if you or I are over there and happen to see an offence committed by some individual against a child, we cannot bring this to the attention of the authorities here. We cannot even bring it to the attention of the justice minister.
According to this legislation, we have to bring that to the attention of the justice minister through a consular officer or a diplomatic agent accredited to Canada by the state where the offence is being committed or, if we cannot do it that way, by any minister of that state communicating with the minister through the diplomatic representative of Canada accredited to that state.
Do members know what that is setting up? It is setting up a situation that looks good, that we are taking some action against these child sex tourists, people who would go to another country and involve themselves sexually with children.
I will say five years from now if the justice minister is still around and we ask him how many successful prosecutions or otherwise have been registered in this country as a result of this legislation, it will be very close to zero. Why? Because of the narrow restrictions that are being placed on any successful prosecution. It is not just the fact that it is going to be difficult to produce evidence. Are we going to bring the victim over here? Are we going to bring witnesses over here at enormous cost? How are we going to do it?
That is part of it. Once the complaint information has gone through this very narrow restricted channel and the justice minister says to the attorney general of the province in which that accused person or the targeted person lives "go ahead and charge this person" it is wrong. It is not going to work.
It is another attempt by this government to create a smoke screen that it is going to get tough in an area that is very difficult to handle and that is frowned on and creates revulsion in the minds of every decent thinking Canadian.
We are prepared to support this bill in the hope that we are wrong in our estimation of the difficulty that is going to be presented toward any successful prosecution. We are prepared to support this bill. But I am not prepared to support that part of the bill that gives the justice minister the final say on prosecution under this statute. Why should be trust the judgment of the justice minister when a lack of sound judgment and common sense runs like a current through a host of the legislation that he has brought forward and other decisions that he has made?
How can we trust the judgment of a justice minister who grants victims the right to make written impact statements in Bill C-41 and takes away that very right in Bill C-45? How can we trust the judgment of a justice minister who tells this House that he consulted on a regular basis with the attorneys general of the
provinces when putting together Bill C-68 and we had those attorneys general appear before the committee and say that there was no consultation at all? How can we trust the justice minister? How can we trust his judgment?
I support the amendment to strike from the bill this special power granted to a justice minister whose judgment over the last three and a half years has proven to be unsound and lacking a basis in common sense.
I cannot support the justice minister's having this kind of power and it is not unlike the kind of power he has given himself in many bills through orders in council. He will not get my support in this area for this kind of authority and power that could stymie any successful prosecution or any complaint from going beyond his office or beyond his desk. I will not support it.