Mr. Speaker, I would like to say at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.
This debate today is about Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts. Bill C-32 is an omnibus bill that changes the Criminal Code in a variety of ways. I want to start out by saying that I wish, by way of talking about amendments to the Criminal Code, that we had before us those amendments to the Criminal Code for which we have been lobbying for such a long time. It would have been great if today, on April 28, the national day of mourning for workers killed or injured on the job, we could have begun a debate on amendments to the Criminal Code which would have incorporated some kind of criminal penalties for corporations that behave in ways that lead to the death or injury of workers. Of course I am speaking of the cry for such legislation that came out of the tragedy of the Westray mine disaster over a decade ago.
Let me begin with that. I know the government has indicated in the past that it intends to bring forward amendments to the Criminal Code along the lines of what came out of the Westray mine disaster inquiry, but we are not sure exactly what it is the government has in mind. We understand that this kind of legislation might be coming forward in May. May is not long off. I would certainly urge and I am sure my other NDP colleagues would urge the government to bring in that legislation in May. Let us have a look at it. Let us see if it is good enough, and if it is not, let us get it into committee and make sure that it is good enough by the time it comes back to the House at third reading.
In the legislation that we actually have before us, Bill C-32, we do have amendments to the Criminal Code that are relevant to the question of protecting workers. For instance, Bill C-32 contains amendments to the Criminal Code having to do with more legislated protection for on duty firefighters and first responders from criminal acts.
Bill C-32 institutes harsher penalties for Canadians who protect criminal businesses such as drug labs or grow operations with traps that would likely kill or injure a person. The proposed maximum sentence of 10 years in prison increases to 14 years if injury occurs and to a life sentence when a trap kills someone. This change was strongly supported by the International Association of Fire Fighters, the IAFF, which has lobbied the government for a number of years now to have just this kind of amendment made to the Criminal Code.
Certainly we in the NDP support the government in bringing forward this amendment. We know, for instance, that in the recent budget there was one other change for which the firefighters had lobbied for a long time, one having to do with the changes in pension accrual. It would seem to me that we at least have something to celebrate in terms of the things for which the firefighters have been asking for a long time.
I remember rising in the House a year ago this week when the firefighters were here and saying that if we are all for it, if the firefighters come here year after year to lobby individual members of Parliament and nobody is against it, why does it not ever happen? I remember saying that to the then minister of finance, now the aspiring Liberal leadership candidate and prime minister. At the time, members on this side of the House and perhaps even members on that side of the House in chorus agreed with me. If all members of Parliament think something is right, then it should happen. It took a long time, but at least it finally happened. We hope the other things for which the firefighters are lobbying this time around will happen at some point. I hope it will not be too far into the future. That is what we have before us here in these amendments to the Criminal Code: more legislated protection for on duty firefighters and first responders from criminal acts such as the setting of booby traps. We certainly support that.
Bill C-32 clarifies Canadian law, which generally recognizes that anyone may use reasonable force to prevent a serious crime. The amendment brings Canada's laws in line with international law by recognizing that everyone on board an aircraft is explicitly authorized to use force to prevent a criminal act that endangers the safety of the aircraft or other passengers. Again this sounds like something that is certainly supportable.
The bill would also modify section 117.04 of the Criminal Code to ensure compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I will not go into the details of how this section of the code is made charter compliant, but certainly anything which will make our laws more compliant with Canada's basic law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is something to be welcomed. There may be some discussion of that in committee, I do not know, but certainly in principle we support that.
Bill C-32 would amend the Criminal Code to allow the civil enforcement of all restitution orders, thus making it easier for people to collect restitution, money that was to be paid to them following an offender's conviction. Currently these orders can be enforced only by civil court action if the order is separate from the sentencing order. This is something that has deserved attention in the past and we certainly welcome the attempt by the government to deal with this particular problem. We would welcome more exploration at committee stage to see if more can be done to make it easier for people to obtain restitution.
Bill C-32 also adds a new clause to section 160 of the Financial Administration Act to create exceptions to the offences of intercepting a private communication and of disclosing its content. This, as I understand it, is to allow information technology managers in government and the private sector to use intrusion detection systems, otherwise known as IDS, to screen suspicious electronic communications and to detect attacks on computer systems by hackers, viruses, worms, et cetera. To address privacy protection concerns, we are told, the government will impose limits on the use and retention of private communications harvested through IDS. Treasury Board will issue standards to ensue that the application of IDS technology across all government departments is consistent and complies with the Privacy Act and the charter. This is good to hear, but I think one of the things we will want to hear more about in committee is this whole question of privacy. I would personally recommend that the privacy commissioner, if he has not already done so, certainly should be taking a look at the bill and giving us his best judgment as to whether or not this is an acceptable intrusion on the privacy of Canadians.
All in all, let us get the bill to committee and let us see if we can improve it in some respects. As I have said, we welcome the changes, particularly with respect to protection of firefighters and other first responders and the section having to do with the strengthening of restitution orders.