Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise again in the House today and to speak to Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts.
The first point I wish to make is to say how pleased the Minister of Justice and I have been with the level of support expressed by parliamentarians of all parties with respect to this bill.
Bill C-32 contains some key proposals that aim to sufficiently protect Canadians from new threats. It also seeks to make some technical amendments that are less substantial in nature but nonetheless very important to ensure our criminal laws are clear.
I will begin by focusing on the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with the offence of setting traps likely to cause death or bodily harm to a person.
Law enforcement agencies and other organizations such as the International Association of Fire Fighters have been voicing their concerns for some time now about the presence of deadly traps, often hidden in homes. Police officers, firefighters and other first responders have indicated a sharp increase in the use of traps by criminals to protect their drug production activities against their rivals and law enforcement officers.
First responders have provided as examples cut away floors close to doors and windows, weapons such as crossbows and shotguns that fire when a door is opened, and incendiary devices designed to destroy evidence of drug production activities.
Since these activities are regularly concealed, often in homes, first responders face unusual risks when responding to emergency calls. These traps constitute an unacceptable additional risk for first responders. The setting of traps has become a serious problem associated with criminal activities involving organized crime. It has become necessary to provide proportional sentences to adequately punish those who use these deadly traps to protect their criminal activities.
During the examination of Bill C-32 before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, witnesses were heard from the government and the International Association of Fire Fighters. They provided parliamentarians with a closer understanding of the realities of the problem and how to best address it.
Bill C-32 proposes that the current traps offence provision be rewritten in many respects. To begin with, the bill seeks to create a new offence with a tougher sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment for any person who sets a trap in a place used to commit another indictable offence.
If the setting of a trap causes bodily harm to a person, the maximum imprisonment sentence increases to 10 years, but when the trap is set in a place that is kept or used for committing another indictable offence, the possible maximum sentence will be 14 years imprisonment.
In cases where a person's death is caused by a trap, the maximum sentence of life imprisonment could be imposed. Aside from these cases, those who set traps, regardless of the location, will continue to face a prison term of five years.
The purpose of these amendments is to ensure that those who, in order to protect their criminal operations, set traps that could cause death or bodily harm face severe sentences reflecting the seriousness of the offence.
Emergency personnel, such as firefighters and police officers who must respond to situations at apparently safe locations will be provided protection consistent with the danger posed by the setting of traps.
I believe, and I have heard this view expressed by many hon. members of Parliament, that it is unacceptable for criminals, especially those involved in organized crime, to set traps that are intended to injure or kill anyone who enters a building or a place, such as a farmer's field in order to protect their criminal operations.
These traps are set with a complete disregard to the danger that they pose to innocent people, whether they are first responders such as firefighters, landlords inspecting their property, or any person who happens upon the trap.
I will now turn to the set of reforms that address a threat of a different nature. I am referring to the need to ensure the protection of computer networks from cyber attacks.
Bill C-32 proposes amendments to the Criminal Code and the Financial Administration Act to allow the use of intrusion detection systems to protect computers or the data that they contain. An intrusion by a hacker could result in the theft of private or classified information and a virus attack could disable a vital network and destroy important data.
The amendments proposed in Bill C-32 intend to clarify that persons using these types of network security measures are not breaking the law.
These amendments are important not only for the private sector but also for the government. The government has the responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect from cyber attack the information that it is entrusted with, as this information impacts on the privacy of all Canadians.
As a result of comments made by the former privacy commissioner and the Canadian Bar Association with respect to the need to ensure that the application of the provisions will not be overbroad, the government introduced a motion in committee to amend the provision in a way that provides greater clarity in specifying what is meant by quality of service.
I would like to point out that the intrusion detection amendments in Bill C-32 are similar to the provisions that already exist to ensure quality control in the communications industry. The exception that is being created will be restricted to persons using protective measures for the legitimate management of the quality of service of the computer system or for protecting the system against computer related offences.
I believe that all hon. members share the concern of the Minister of Justice, and indeed the government, that as parliamentarians we should always ensure that the government and the private sector have the proper tools to protect computer systems from cyber crime. This is exactly what the amendments to the Criminal Code and the Financial Administration Act included in Bill C-32 would do.
As for the small number of technical amendments that are proposed in Bill C-32, I will highlight the key clarification amendments.
As I mentioned at the outset, these amendments are important to eliminate certain legal uncertainties. The government regularly recommends such amendments to maintain the quality and clarity of our laws.
Bill C-32 proposes to clarify the law with respect to the use of reasonable force on an aircraft in flight. Following a review of Canada's laws in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the government found that further clarity was needed with respect to the use of reasonable force that can be used on board an aircraft in flight outside Canadian airspace.
The amendments proposed in this bill would specify in the Criminal Code the application of the Tokyo convention, which would allow any person on board an aircraft to use reasonable force to prevent the commission of certain criminal offences which could endanger the safety of the aircraft or the people on board.
Other technical amendments are needed to ensure that correct references are made to section numbers and to ensure that consistent terminology is used, particularly between the English and French versions of the Criminal Code and related criminal statutes.
Bill C-32 contains a number of worthwhile amendments that are needed to put proper protections in place, and to ensure an efficient and proper application of our criminal law.