House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liability.


Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

November 20th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

National Horse of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

moved that Bill S-22, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada, be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce Bill S-22, the national horse of Canada act, in the House today. This is a Senate bill that prioritized my own bill, Bill C-311, which had first reading on March 28.

The bill recognizes the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada. I should note that the Senate bill has been amended to use the more widely recognized Canadian horse spelling in its English version. This reflects the wishes of many horse breeders who support the bill.

The recognition of this horse is historic and symbolic in importance. It also is of economic importance to many horse breeders throughout Canada. Once faced with extinction, this horse has rebounded thanks to dedicated breeders. National recognition will enhance its marketability and ensure its continued survival.

This sturdy little Canadian horse has played a role in Canadian history since its arrival in 1665 in New France from the stables of Louis XIV. For over three and a half centuries it has tilled our soil, carried Canadian soldiers into battle and has adapted well to Canada's harsh conditions. It is known for its strength, endurance and determination, in short, a fitting Canadian symbol. I urge support for the bill.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

National Horse of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions that are quite different but which both relate to the same topic.

The first petition has to do with the bioartificial kidney. None of the petitions I have here are from my riding but they are part of a petition that was initiated by Ken Sharp in my riding.

The petitioners support research into the bioartificial kidney, which is an implant that would replace dialysis or kidney transplant for those suffering from kidney disease.

The petitioners call upon parliament to work in support of the bioartificial kidney which will eventually eliminate the need for both dialysis or transplantation for those suffering from kidney disease.

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, which also has to do with kidney disease, has to do with a change in the name of our national institute devoted to kidney research. At the present time the institute is called the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.

My constituents call upon parliament to encourage the Canadian institutes of health research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract disease. I have already spoken with Diane Finegood, the director of this institute.

National Horse of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my final petition concerns the clawback of the national child benefits supplement. This supplement provides money directly to families with children living below a certain income level. Its objectives are to reduce the level of child poverty. All but three provinces have chosen to clawback the supplement.

In Ontario the benefit is deducted from the payments to all families in receipt of either Ontario works or the Ontario disabilities program.

My constituents call upon parliament to oppose the clawback of this national child benefit supplement from families on social assistance. They urge the Government of Canada to change federal legislation relating to the clawback.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There are two motions in amendment on the notice paper relating to the report stage of Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

Motion No. 1 could have been proposed in committee. Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 76.1,(5) it has not been selected.

Motion No. 2 will be debated and voted on separately.

I shall now propose Motion No. 2 to the House.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC


Motion No. 2

That Bill C-35 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Mr. Speaker, clause 5 of Bill C-35 before us is inappropriate.

Let us talk so that people can understand us. Bill C-35 is aimed at modernizing the legislation on foreign missions in Canada and the organization of international meetings. The Bloc Quebecois voted for it at second reading.

In this bill that amends an act that is already substantial, the government is introducing three sub-clauses that, totally out of the blue, will give the RCMP with no constraint, specifics or other directions whatsoever, powers that have all been opposed by all the witnesses. In fact, witnesses all said this was not a simple matter of codifying the common law, as the department and the minister claimed, but of increasing the powers given to the RCMP.

We are convinced these sub-clauses have no place in the bill. It is not that we are against the establishment of safety perimeters, but to say, as the bill does, that the RCMP may establish them as it sees fit makes no sense.

What we see here is that the rights and freedoms of citizens are affected and there are no controls such as those that were set in other countries. Either this clause on perimeters should, for example, be a temporary provision, or else the government should include very strict controls regarding how these perimeters should be defined.

What about the rights of citizens? The situation was so uncomfortable in committee that even government members proposed a resolution, and it was adopted with an amendment with which we did not agree. But it is a resolution that says in a different manner—it is not yet before us, but it will be—what witnesses said and what we are saying.

I feel all the more comfortable defending our amendment to delete clause 5 of the bill since many, if not all government members on the committee would have agreed to have these provisions go elsewhere, for example in the RCMP act or, after a review, to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, where some limits could have been established.

Clause 5 of Bill C-35 must absolutely be deleted, because it institutionalizes security perimeters in the legislation, without setting any controls for the RCMP in that regard. It is so imprecise that it could lead to abuse and go against fundamental liberties.

What about the rights of people whose homes are located inside the perimeter? The bill is silent on this issue. What about the obligation to identify oneself when a perimeter is established? The bill is also silent on this. These are just two examples, but there are many other situations.

Such provisions generate concerns. These concerns are magnified by the existence of Bill C-36, since we do not know what it will look like in the end, but we do know that it gives increased powers to police forces, for a time which, even though limited, is still significant. In other countries where the establishment of perimeters is provided in the legislation, controls or restrictions have been included, but there are no such controls in Bill C-35.

None of the witnesses who appeared before the committee supported this clause. It seems obvious to us that it should be deleted from Bill C-35. This does not mean that the RCMP will not be able to secure a perimeter, but it will have to do so using the powers it already has. It will have to take into consideration the fact that the Hughes Report into the APEC notes, for example, that protesters have the right to be heard by the people who are inside the perimeter and to whom they have come to deliver a message.

For all these reasons, we consider it fundamental and essential that these provisions be removed, particularly so because we do not feel that this reassures the international community at all; it only increases the concern for security matters during international meetings.

I should point out that the Bloc Quebecois supported this bill at second reading because we felt that the Foreign Missions Act should be modernized. However, clause 5 has nothing at all to do with the modernization process. Quite the opposite, it adds a certain inaccuracy to the bill and modifies an act that is essential to reassure Canadians and to make sure that Canada and Montreal play the role they should be playing on the international scene.

We agree that the existing legislation should be modernized, because it is outdated, but it is imperative that clause 5 be deleted. At one time, we thought it would be, because it is useless.

I asked the foreign affairs minister whether this clause was needed for public order and security purposes when we host the next G-8 meeting, and he answered no. So why the rush? Why are we amending three subsections that will become four, and why do we have four subsections on the RCMP in a 120 page legislation? It is absurd.

The upcoming resolution will confirm that members of the committee are uneasy about this, and I appreciate it, because they have been more or less coerced into passing this bill. I hope it will never be voted into law; although we had indications otherwise I hope the bill will be passed without clause 5.

Witnesses who appeared before us have emphasized not only the human rights issue, but also enforcement problems for the police.

In Quebec, we have the French civil law, but the common law prevailing in the rest of Canada is special in that it is defined by all the judicial precedents.

Witnesses have told us repeatedly that, to carry out their functions, police officers do not have the opportunity to know exactly the rights they have or do not have. Therefore, the bill makes their task more difficult instead of clarifying for them the way they should provide security.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.



Aileen Carroll Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I too have joined my hon. colleague in working as a member of the committee to hear witnesses and attempt to clarify the intent of the government in bringing forward the bill at this time.

While the amendment that has been brought forward deals strictly with one aspect of the bill, it is important that the clause be referenced within the larger context of the bill. It is clear by the name of the bill that it deals with foreign missions and international organizations. It would require us to extend to international organizations and meetings of international bodies and heads of state the same protections through the Vienna convention on diplomatic immunities that are enjoyed by our permanent foreign embassies in Canada.

The reason for doing that is clear. It is to provide reciprocity with what is given and made available when these meetings occur in other countries.

There were technicalities that had to be addressed. We were looking to provide this kind of protection and safety for organizations and meetings which are non-treaty based. In the past those that were treaty based such as the United Nations already enjoyed the privileges and perquisites of diplomatic immunity. When we did this by bringing the act forward it was necessary to look at what else occurs when we hold such international gatherings in Canada.

At the outset we incorporated the need to extend diplomatic immunities to the people attending, both for their protection and for consistency with other countries. At the same time we cannot keep our heads in the sand. We are cognizant of what has occurred in the past in Seattle, in Geneva and recently on a smaller scale in Canada. We must provide clear safety. Safety falls within other dimensions and triggers the need for police activity and preparedness. That is why section 5 of the act would be amended by clause 10 of Bill C-35.

In the past the power necessary for the RCMP to take the lead and work in conjunction with provincial and municipal police forces has existed in common law. By bringing that power within the ambit of Bill C-35 we would put it into statutory format. We would make clear in statute what previously existed in common law.

In preparing for meetings of international organizations such as the G-8 there would then be no confusion, as might have existed in the past, on the part of any of the police forces that work in conjunction to prepare, make plans and take the necessary precautions. The clarity is now there. It is within a bill that deals with all these dimensions.

In many ways the bill would clean up what might have been confusing in the past. Some members of the committee wondered why we were dealing with diplomatic immunities and statutory laws concerning police powers within a foreign affairs bill. It is because the whole thing is seen as a composite.

We listened to witnesses who had reservations. I have rarely been on a committee where there was 100% unanimity from all the witnesses. As my hon. colleague across the way pointed out, the committee passed a resolution this morning to express its concerns to the government. I felt as did most members of the committee that it gave a balanced reply. Our bill will now move forward.

A lot of hard work went into the bill, not just by witnesses but by all of the members around the table. There was good questioning, good thought and good preparation. It is always a pleasure to see members of parliament take the task of a standing committee very seriously. I thank all of my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, of course our position is that the bill is ill-timed and had little legitimacy in its entirety before September 11, but certainly none thereafter. This amendment tries to, in part at least, scrap the bill. In that respect we would support the amendment.

The reality is that the case the government has tried to make with the bill is very weak. In fact, the member who just spoke was quite wrong. Several people who testified at our committee attested to that fact. They did not see why there would be a compelling need for us to bring people into this country, give them immunity, yet they could potentially be security risks in advance of their coming. It is one thing to let people in who are security risks. It is quite another to then say that once they are here there will be no consequences to them of the laws of the country. Those are things which fly in the face of the realities of the security agenda of which the government claims to be in pursuit.

Let us talk for a second about some of the myths around the bill itself. The government is saying that it is trying to keep up to other countries. Our investigation has shown that other countries do not go to the extent we do to extend diplomatic immunity. In fact, we go well beyond the Vienna convention.

The Vienna convention of 1961, in which Canada played a very important role, does not require us to extend complete diplomatic immunity beyond senior diplomatic staff. Yet Canada has extended complete immunity well beyond the requirements of the Vienna convention.

Increasingly, under this government, we have allowed people to benefit from complete diplomatic immunity who would not be entitled to it in the United Kingdom or in the United States of America. As a matter of fact, the direction of a few of our allies is quite the opposite to that of our government. Their direction is to stiffen requirements and to monitor more greatly and more efficiently the missions which go to their country. They certainly do not, in a broad based way, extend diplomatic immunity to visitors to their countries, as this government is proposing to do under the bill.

Under the bill, the government is trying to broaden greatly the extension of diplomatic immunity to visitors to our country for international meetings and then to legitimize the increased use of the RCMP to police such events. In other words, in the absence of the extension of diplomatic immunity, the case for broadening the powers of the RCMP would be somewhat weakened. In so doing, the government is extending more greatly the risk to Canadians that people who commit criminal acts in our country would not be responsible under Canadian law to bear the consequences of such acts. Even people who come to our country for a few days as part of a delegation would be placed above Canadian law.

Many members of the House and many Canadians are familiar with the tragic situation of Catherine MacLean, who died some months ago as a result of a drunken Russian diplomat who could not be prosecuted under Canadian law. There are many other such cases. In fact, we are aware now of over 90 cases in the last five and a half years where people, whom this government has made immune or above Canadian law, cannot be prosecuted. We see that as a problem.

Yesterday the minister said that it was not a problem. He said that the member for Cumberland--Colchester was creating a false impression that diplomats were running around breaking the laws. That is the right impression. Good for him for creating that impression because one case in every month people in the diplomatic corps are given immunity in this country, while Canadian victims are left behind when those crimes are committed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has asked that immunity be waived numerous times and that is good. However, it is very rare that diplomatic immunity is waived. It would be better for the department to make sure it limited the scope of diplomatic immunity to the Vienna convention in the first place so it would not have to ask for forgiveness. Instead foreign delegations would have to ask for permission. In other words, the diplomatic immunity that the government has been extending far too broadly has resulted in Canadian victims of crimes committed by people in foreign delegations.

The members opposite sneer at times but they should recognize that the definitions under the Vienna convention and the compromise that was reached in 1961 was called the Canadian compromise. The Canadian compromise said that diplomatic immunity would not be extended completely and full to all members of missions. Certainly there was no reference to visitors of delegations to countries for a couple of days. Instead it said that diplomatic immunity would be limited. It would be complete for senior staff and partial for people who were not in the senior staff.

Our practice, under this government, has been to broaden the application of diplomatic immunity. The consequence is that people who should not be put above the law are. If they will not come here from foreign countries for international meetings without diplomatic immunity maybe they should not come. Maybe the reality is we do not need to extend complete diplomatic immunity to host meetings. We just hosted a G-20 meeting. I do not recall people saying they would not come here because they were not put above the laws. I do not hear a hue and cry from anyone.

We have talked to numerous people in other countries who say that Canada already is a much better host and has a reputation for being a tremendous host for these international meetings than most other countries in the world. When I ask them why Canada is extending diplomatic immunity more broadly, they do not know or understand. There is no hue and cry from them for us to develop a tourism industry based on putting people above the law.

The bill in its entirety is ill-timed and was ill-timed before September 11. Certainly since September 11, it has no place in this House.

The member from the Bloc has raised concerns by way of her amendment. She has asked that clause 5, which references broadening and expanding the role of the RCMP, be deleted from the bill. The difficulty is this.

The RCMP mandate is broadened because of the extension of greater diplomatic immunity under the bill. The extension of greater diplomatic immunity means that the RCMP is given authority under clause 5 to police events where immunity is present and relevant. If the diplomatic immunity was not so broadened, then the powers of the RCMP would not be so broadened. However the reality is that under this bill the greater extension of diplomatic immunity permits the RCMP to prevail where such was not the case before.

The concern we have is this disregards the report of Justice Hughes which followed the APEC spectacle, pepper on my plate, et cetera and Jean Carle attempting to manipulate the RCMP. In his recommendations Justice Hughes said that he wanted to see it codified that the RCMP would not be at the beckon call of the government, that it would be depoliticized. Yet the bill broadens the RCMP powers more widely than is currently the case. There is no reference whatsoever as to how we would keep this government or any future government from meddling with the operations of the RCMP.

What we have is a case of broadening the RCMP powers, while at the same time refusing to separate political influence from such broadening. What that means is by passing this legislation, the government broadens its ability to influence the conduct of the RCMP at many more events than is currently the case. That flies in the face entirely of the $7 million that taxpayers were required to spend to compile the Hughes report. It flies entirely in the face of what I believe that most Canadians would like to see happen.

There are numerous other problems with the bill, but certainly the amendment itself in a small way would limit the damage that would occur as a result of the bill be passed.

In closing, had the amendment by the member for Cumberland--Colchester come forward, and it would have been great if it had, it would have supported what the minister himself said last year after the death of Catherine MacLean. He committed that his department would report, not half yearly but quarterly, any infractions or violations of diplomatic immunity. That reporting has not taken place, but the minister committed to it. By adopting that amendment, we would simply be allowing the minister to keep his word. As it is, the minister's word has been broken and the committee voted to do that. That is a shame.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to speak to the bill today. Like so many bills, they sneak up on us and catch us by surprise. I thought this was fairly innocuous when I first heard about it. However, the more I learn about it, the more I realize that it is not innocuous. It is quite profound and should be reconsidered totally.

I moved amendments in committee and I tried to move amendments in the House, but even those amendments are short of what they should have been.

A paragraph from a precis on Bill C-35 states:

The current Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act fails to recognize those organizations which are not created out of an international treaty, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (AEPC), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), or the G-8. As such, these organizations are not entitled to the benefits given to organizations established by treaty.

In other words, they are not subject to immunity. Why would they be? Why do people who come to Canada for these meetings have to be subject to immunity? Why are we granting people immunity from our laws?

The amazing thing is that while we are considering Bill C-35, we are also considering Bill C-36, which restricts the rights of Canadians. We are restricting the rights of Canadians, reducing their civil liberties and increasing the policing powers on Canadians. At the very same time, we are granting immunity to a whole new group of people from foreign lands. It seems to be totally ironic, inconsistent and contradictory that we would nail Canadians but release foreigners from any obligations to obey Canadian laws.

The more I read this, the more I realize the impact of the bill. I have come to conclusion that we had better put the brakes on this and stop and think about this some more.

There are so many issues in the bill that go against Canadians and restrict them, yet at the same time free up people who come to Canada for meetings. While here, they are not required obey our laws. It makes no sense. Why are we holding Canadians responsible but saying people can come to Canada and there is no obligation for them to respect our laws?

It is disrespectful to Canadians, especially since we are considering at the same time Bill C-35 and Bill C-36; one that restricts Canadians and the other that allows more freedoms for foreigners.

I proposed a simple amendment in committee and in here. It was turned down in committee and for some reason it was turned down in the House as being an allowable amendment. The amendment would have required the minister to report to parliament once or twice a year on those foreigners who had claimed immunity from civil or criminal actions in Canada.

What a simple and sensible request. If people claim immunity to get out of obeying our laws, all we ask is that this be reported every year. I do not understand why it has been turned down. The minister effectively acknowledged that it was necessary when he said that he would personally commit to report regularly on his website.

The report would include who used immunity or the number of immunity claims made in a period of time. The minister acknowledged the need was there, but he did not allow it into the legislation. Why? The only thing I can think of is he and his department want the flexibility to back out of this commitment. Probably when we will really want it, the commitment will be taken away because it is not in legislation. It is a commitment by the minister, not by the government. It is not a commitment to parliament, it is just an agreement.

If he agrees that it is necessary enough for him to say that he will produce this report, why is it not necessary enough to put the amendment in the bill that would require the government to report every year, or twice a year, listing those who claimed immunity under these laws? It makes no sense that the minister would say on one hand that it was necessary but on the other hand not allow it to be put into legislation.

This minister will not be the minister forever. He will probably be in another position in two or three years' time. He may not be in government; he may be in the opposition. There will be another party over there with another foreign affairs minister who has no obligation to produce this list. This is an obligation by this minister and it ends when the minister ends his term as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is wrong.

It is disrespectful to say to Canadians that we will restrict their rights but we will give an unnamed, unidentified wide group of foreign visitors to Canada total immunity from our civil and criminal laws. If this amendment had been in place and there had been a report on diplomats who had claimed immunity, the Russian diplomat who was involved in the terrible crash that killed Catherine MacLean would have been in the public record for repeat offences. Chances are that Catherine MacLean would be alive today had this diplomat been publicly named as a repeat offender, which I understand he is.

That is why I am saying the amendment is so important. Although I respect the wisdom of the Chair, I am disappointed that the amendment was not allowed in the House. It was allowed in committee but it was defeated by the Liberals even though many of them supported the amendment in principle.

The amendment I proposed is only asking for transparency. It is asking for common sense. We must know the people who are claiming immunity from both our civil and criminal laws. That is not a lot to ask. The amendment should be considered. Even at this late date the government should reconsider it and put the restriction or the condition back in the bill.

It says that the government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs would report to parliament once a year and list the people, not the diplomats, who are claiming diplomatic immunity from our civil and criminal laws. If some individuals came to Canada for one of these meetings, not some officials but some assistants, and they did damage to property, there would be no action or ability to take action against them for compensation or restitution or anything else. There would be no restitution or justice if they harmed a family because they could claim diplomatic immunity.

The bill has been expanded dramatically to cover people and organizations that are not even named. We do not know who they are or who they will be. That would be decided upon application and we would never know in the House who those people are.

Currently they are people and organizations under the Vienna convention but we even go beyond the Vienna convention. The bill goes into unchartered waters and we do not even know what organizations they will be. This is a very serious subject because it deals with potential criminals that now do not have to obey our laws. It is amazing that we are passing a law which says the laws do not have to be honoured. It does not make sense and it has expanded dramatically now to cover people we do not even know.

I do not know where we can go with this. We are opposition members that know it is wrong. The Liberals know a lot of this is wrong and they have even turned down simple amendments. However we will continue to speak against it. We will continue to try to get the government to make changes that are appropriate. Even at this late date we will continue to press the government and do everything we can to demand that it respect the rights of Canadians.

It is amazing that people in Canada say we are prepared to give up some of our civil liberties in the interest of the anti-terrorism effort. We are prepared to make allowances we have never had to make before. Canadians are prepared to do that. We are demanding a lot of Canadians and we are not asking anything of these foreign visitors. Do we not at least owe Canadians the right to know the names of other people who come to Canada who are allowed to circumvent and not obey our laws?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, growing up in small town Saskatchewan the RCMP was a strong symbol of authority. As young children we knew that if we were to get in trouble the RCMP would be there to correct it. We also knew that if we were not breaking the law or doing anything wrong we did not have to fear the RCMP.

Other countries did not have quite the same situation. I remember as a university student being challenged over one Christmas holiday to see if I could read the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I managed to get through it and got a picture of the viciousness of a regime where the government controlled the police force and used it to its own ends. Governments move consistently to bring all things under their control and to have greater control. Its goal is to expand itself.

The legislation concerns me not for what it addresses but for what it misses. It begins by ignoring the recommendations of the Hughes report, a $10 million report that called for the separation of police and politics.

The Hughes report revealed the extent of political involvement that took place at that APEC conference. Mr. Carle from the PMO was clearly influencing the RCMP's conduct and was directing police activities. The commissioner of the RCMP continues to be at the deputy minister level. Problems arise when police and politics get tied too tightly. My concern with the legislation is that rather than severing those ties it more tightly ties the RCMP to its political masters. Clause 10.1 states:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference in which two or more states participate, that is attended by persons granted privileges and immunities under this Act--

Subclause 10.1(2) states:

For the purpose of carrying out its responsibility under subsection (1), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police may take appropriate measures, including controlling, limiting or prohibiting access to any area to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances.

We already had problems in Canada and the APEC conference was one example where those problems arose. I will talk a bit about another situation where we have an example of the abuse of the relationship between the police and state powers.

Farmers in western Canada were being squeezed tightly by lower prices in the early 1990s. Prices were dropping and the prices in the United States at that time were considerably higher. A number of farmers in desperation decided that they needed to try to do something about it.

Dave Sawatzky was a young farmer from Gladstone, Manitoba, who needed to pay his bills. In the early 1990s he had a growing need for cash on his farm. Between that and his exasperation with the grain handling monopoly in Manitoba it prompted him to begin hauling wheat to the United States.

The book Jailhouse Justice , written by Don Baron, states:

He started with grain from his own farm, then began hauling for friends and neighbours and returning with their needed cash. He was soon being offered more grain by grateful growers than he could handle going day and night. He hired other trucks and moved about 600 truckloads in 1993 and 1994, crossing at Manitoba border points. At times he was buying grain from farmers and hauling it. Some observers say now that at least a dozen farm families would have lost their farms without Sawatzky's efforts. To say nothing of his own farm.

He moved 600 loads of grain in 1993 and 1994. This movement began to build up as dozens of farmers joined in trying to get a decent price for their product. The reaction was interesting. Early on the Canadian Wheat Board issued a press release in which the chief commissioner said there was nothing that the Canadian Wheat Board could do about it.

It was interesting that as more farmers began to haul wheat there was a change in that attitude. The wheat board became concerned and felt it needed to stop this movement of grain. It began to work under the auspices of the agriculture minister and the minister responsible for the wheat board at the time, who then began to bring in some other government departments. It began to involve the customs division, the RCMP, as well as the justice department. Soon producers were being charged with illegally exporting grain as the full weight of the Canadian government was used against them.

The way the situation worked was that farmers would go to the United States with their loads of wheat. They would come back to the border and they would be ticketed at customs. They would get in their vehicles, drive their own trucks away from the border and then the RCMP would be called to arrest them.

By 1995 there were 100 farmers supporting Mr. Sawatsky. In May 1996 Judge Arnold Connor ruled that the permits were not required at all. The government took massive steps to try to stop the farmers and did it illegally. To this day that was an illegal action. The Canadian Customs Act which was used against the farmers did not require an exporter to provide customs officers with a permit to take grain across the border. It was on these grounds that farmers had been challenged.

I would like to read from Jailhouse Justice , another example of what happened a month earlier to a farm family:

The headline screamed out the astonishing news, “Farm Family Terrorized in Middle of the Night”. And the news release went on, “Armed men entered the home of Norman and Edith Desrochers...very early in the morning of April 10th (1996). Edith was just home from the hospital after major surgery. The intruders marched across the kitchen floor and disconnected all the phones. The Desrochers could call no one for help. Yet other intruders were in their farmyard taking one of their trucks”.

That news release went on, “These were not gang members, not the Mafia, but five RCMP officers and 10 Canadian Customs employees. Mr. Desrochers had exported his own grain a few days earlier without permission from the Goodale Wheat Board. This permission would have cost him thousands of dollars because he is a Western farmer, but it is free of charge to farmers outside the Wheat Board Area”.

The word was soon out that this furious assault began in the 5:15 a.m. pre-dawn darkness. Mounties and Customs officials entered the farm at Baldur in south-west Manitoba, where the Desrochers had farmed for years and had raised daughters Coreen and Monica and sons Clayton and Jeffrey. The intruders came in without knocking, triggering a time of terror for the occupants.

One well-read and perceptive supporter of these growers soon reported an almost unheard-of-twist--the Desrochers' search warrant had been altered to read “by day or night”.

Yes, this family had suffered the shocking and terrifying experience of a late night police raid on their home. That invasion and intimidation was carried out...because Norman had been involved earlier in challenges to the Board's tight grain monopoly. He and other growers had sold their own grain. And they were convinced the government board wanted farmers like them jailed.

This brutal attack was caused by political interference. The Canadian Wheat Board and the Canadian Wheat Board minister overreacted. Justice officials overreacted or were manipulated and farmers were intimidated and persecuted. RCMP and customs and revenue officials ended up being used by cabinet ministers against normal Canadians trying to live their lives and make a living.

These were not the only farmers who were punished by these immoral actions. Probably the most notable example of that involved a farmer named Andy McMechan who had been hauling barley to the United States. Again Jailhouse Justice states:

—his need for revenue became critical and his saga returned to the media. He again defied Ottawa's monopoly and in March '96 hauled grain to the U.S. without an export licence. On his return to the border crossing, a Customs officer and three RCMP offers met him. His tractor was ordered confiscated. He refused to give it up.

The next day he and a neighbour hauled 1500 more bushels across the border to his farm in N.D. Again when he returned Customs and RCMP officers were waiting. Andy explained what happened next. “I sat there for 15 minutes and no one came out, so I left and went home. About 9 p.m. that night I was arrested at home for theft over $5,000--”

Mr. McMechan was put in jail. He spent 155 days in jail in 1996 from July 9 to December 10 for selling his own wheat. He experienced more than 50 strip searches while in prison.

My concern this morning is that these farmers clearly did not want to be law-breakers. People who are trying to make a living are put in prison, strip-searched, raided in the middle of the night and harassed. They are driven to bankruptcy and fined exorbitant amounts. This is an example of a bureaucracy gone crazy and the bill continues that.

For that reason I think we need to scrutinize, amend or, if at all possible, defeat the legislation.