House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was airports.


The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Markham Ontario


John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I cannot admit such a thing, because it is not true. We have in fact been proactive and receptive in connection with this matter, and this has been the case for some years.

The department has, moreover, notified Environment Canada, the Quebec department of the environment and the municipalities of Shannon and Donnacona of the results of analyses relating to the Jacques Cartier river.

We are all working together on this.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, excessive employment insurance premiums rob taxpayers twice: once on their paycheques and the other on their property taxes.

Excess EI premiums paid by municipalities and their employees means higher property taxes which are diverted into Ottawa's consolidated revenue fund. Property taxes were never intended for this purpose. Last year Ottawa siphoned over half a million dollars from Saskatoon's property tax base.

Why is the finance minister using EI deductions to double-dip into the pockets of commercial and residential property owners?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario


John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I honestly do not know what the member is talking about. Perhaps he could inform me and I will try to answer his question.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the newspapers report that the government wants to abandon its long-standing reservations concerning the American anti-missile shield project. According to the defence minister, this flip-flop is justified because of significant changes in the geopolitical situation.

Can the Prime Minister inform us of the government's official position on this matter?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario


Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has already replied to this question in the House. It is in the interests of Canada and Canadians to examine all proposals for the defence of Canada, in cooperation with our North American partners.

We are in the process of deciding whether to hold discussions on whether there is a reason to take action. We do not expect to take a decision any time in the near future, but the government never rules out possibilities that would protect Canada and increase protection for Canadians.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government whip is quoted as saying about Canadian Maher Arar:

We were astounded that the U.S. deported him. But now that he's in Syria, there's not much we can do for him

What is astounding is that the government told Mr. Arar's family to be patient for six months, that Canada was doing everything it could to get him home.

I ask the Prime Minister, if shrugging it off when a Canadian citizen gets shipped off to an authoritarian state, stripped of his rights, and tried in secret, is everything the government could do, then what would doing nothing look like?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario


Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, doing nothing might be when I spoke personally to the minister of foreign affairs of Syria about this, when our ambassador has attended regularly on Mr. Arar's behalf, and when we have made regular representations to the Syrian government.

Mr. Arar has been constantly in contact with our representatives. We are doing our very best. I took it to the minister of foreign affairs of Syria and said that if the Syrians had a case against Mr. Arar, they were to make that case in court and enable Mr. Arar to defend himself or to have him returned to us. As it is, they are now saying they intend to make a case. They are entitled to do this. We asked them to move as precipitately as possible and we will continue to protect his--

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, will the beleaguered Minister of Health acknowledge that the lifting of the World Health Organization travel advisory comes with a condition? Will she admit that the condition is enhanced screening of air passengers? Will she admit that it is precisely what she has repeatedly said was not necessary? And will Canada now accept that condition?

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta


Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have checked with the WHO and its travel advisory is unconditional. However, what Dr. Brundtland made very plain, as one would sensibly make plain in relation to any of these situations, is that simply because the travel advisory has been lifted does not mean that ongoing vigilance is not required.

Therefore, we must continue to be vigilant around community spread and we must continue to be vigilant around screening both in and outbound passengers. I have indicated that we will intense our screening procedures at--

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the health minister for showing up today.

I hope the minister will clear up confusion over the extension of the EI benefits relating to SARS. The Prime Minister has announced changes to EI caused by SARS related layoffs.

How will the minister determine that a layoff was caused by SARS as opposed to non-SARS related difficulties at a business? Will this just affect people who have been quarantined because of SARS and SARS patients or will it go well beyond that into the business community and again people who have been affected by the economics of SARS?

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Brant Ontario


Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to clarify for the hon. member two things.

First of all, the department acted expeditiously in waiving the two week waiting period for those who were under quarantine due to SARS. This allows them access to employment insurance immediately as opposed to waiting for two weeks.

Recently, the Prime Minister has been concerned about health care professionals and I think the whole House would join in congratulating Canadian health care professionals who have served us very well in this crisis.

For any who have not got the required hours to obtain special benefits, they will be provided with them.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Health--if I can get her attention, she is not going to get a Tony award for this--accused me of a “fabrication”, which is a word that I believe to be unparliamentary. I wonder if after consideration she would do the appropriate thing and withdraw that word.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe that this issue was raised yesterday. At that time, on behalf of my colleague, I responded. This was one of those matters in which the Speaker interpreted the issue. Today we have the right hon. member again substituting his interpretation for that of our Speaker. I have confidence in what the Speaker decides in these matters. I believe he did decide yesterday and if he ever decides otherwise, I believe it would be the Speaker who would inform us and not the right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The Chair indicated it would take the matter under advisement and get back to the House if necessary. I did not get back to the House because I did not regard it as necessary and I will give reasons now that the matter has been raised again.

Beauchesne's was cited by the hon. member for St. John's West in raising the matter yesterday. He referred to one of the citations and I will refer him and the right hon. member for Calgary Centre to citation 492, which states, “The following expressions are a partial listing of expressions which have caused intervention on the part of the Chair as listed in the Index of the Debates between 1976 and 1987”, and “fabrication” is one of them. It caused interventions, but it was not ruled out of order. The word also occurs in another list, where it has been ruled unparliamentary; at least fraud was, and fabrication was at citation 489 of Beauchesne's, which I believe is the one referred to the other day by the hon. member for St. John's West.

But I note that because of the inconsistency in the use of these expressions, at least in terms of the Chair's dealing with them, I did not think it necessary to intervene. I note that under citation 488 there is a list of expressions which have been ruled unparliamentary consistently by the Chair, and I note none of them were used, for example, “a bag of wind” or “inspired by forty-rod whiskey”. I am sure that no hon. member of the House would suggest that anyone, on either side of the House, was inspired by forty-rod whiskey, which would be unparliamentary and quite improper.

I rely on the various citations in Beauchesne's in reaching a conclusion that while the hon. member may take some offence at the language, and we all do sometimes at things that are said in the House, there is not clear authority for the Chair to say that this word or that word is unparliamentary based on the precedents that were cited to me and that are in Beauchesne's.

Accordingly, I am not inclined at this stage to rule the expression unparliamentary and demand that there be a withdrawal. I as much as indicated that yesterday, but I did indicate that I would review the situation. I did indeed review it and came to the conclusion it would not be necessary to get back to the House as I indicated. Now I have come back and have given my reasons and I hope the right hon. member is satisfied.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I of course accept the rulings of the Chair. I wonder why the Speaker said “at this stage”.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Because it was raised again. At yesterday's stage I had the same view, so my view on the matter is fairly consistent. Yesterday it was a guess because of what I heard and saw. Today it was considered opinion after reviewing the situation, so I say “at this stage” because it is the same as I thought yesterday. That is the way I feel about it, and that is the ruling I have to give, I am afraid.

International Transfer of Offenders ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.


Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

moved that Bill C-33, An Act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker,I rise today to speak at second reading of Bill C-33, the international transfer of offenders act. I am proud to sponsor the bill for a number of reasons, in particular because of the public safety and humanitarian objectives that the bill will further.

The current Transfer of Offenders Act came into force in 1978 following a United Nations meeting where member states agreed that international transfers were desirable because of increasingly greater mobility and the need for countries to cooperate on criminal justice matters.

The Transfer of Offenders Act authorizes the implementation of treaties between Canada and other countries, including multilateral conventions for international transfer of offenders. The Transfer of Offenders Act and the treaties serve essentially a humanitarian purpose. This is important. Imagine for a moment that a citizen of Canada is incarcerated in a country whose language and culture is foreign to him or her. Add to this an unfamiliar environment, a lack of contact with family and friends, food that is incompatible with the person's dietary requirements, unsatisfactory health and sanitary conditions and/or difficult conditions of incarceration.

It goes without saying that these factors increase the pains of imprisonment for offenders, and the hardships they face often translate into hardships for their families at home.

But there are other reasons for the legislation. The Transfer of Offenders Act serves an important public protection purpose. Offenders incarcerated in foreign states may be deprived of the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves in the absence of treatment programs in those countries, in the absence of a structured parole system, and in the absence of direct contact with family and friends in their home community. As a result, the chances of long term reintegration of these offenders, and ultimately of better public safety, are greatly reduced. This holds true even when offenders are incarcerated in a country with social standards and customs relatively similar to Canada's.

The Transfer of Offenders Act ensures that the offender does not escape justice. There is no free ride. When Canadian offenders are transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of the foreign sentence until warrant expiry, they arrive here under the supervision of the Correctional Service of Canada or of provincial correctional authorities who oversee their gradual and controlled reintegration into society. I think we can all agree that this is far better than simply deporting offenders back to Canada at the end of their sentence without any controls or supervision.

There is no doubt that most states wish to cooperate with one another on matters of criminal justice. All states attempt to deter prohibited conduct through the enforcement of criminal laws and penalties. Modern technology and global travel have led to increased opportunities for the commission of crimes in countries other than one's own. Therefore, states have a common interest in cooperating to prevent and respond to criminal conduct. This actually protects the sovereignty of states by preventing offenders from escaping justice, and this is exactly what the transfer of offenders scheme allows states to do.

Every year, about 85 Canadians are transferred to Canada under a treaty or a multilateral convention for the transfer of offenders. Since 1978, only technical amendments have been made to the Transfer of Offenders Act. Since then, more substantive issues have been identified. Policy issues relating to international transfers have expanded due to Canada's greater experience with treaties and legislative amendments brought about by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in 1992, Bill C-41 on sentencing in 1995, and Bill C-45 on sentence calculation reform in 1996.

As a result, my department consulted with 91 private sector and government agencies and then conducted a comprehensive review of the Transfer of Offenders Act. This resulted in proposals to amend the legislation that would reflect traditional international treaty principles, close identified gaps, ensure consistency with other legislative provisions, and improve efficiencies.

In recent years, statements of purpose and principles have been added to federal legislation for several reasons: to provide a clear indication of the intent of the legislation; to ensure parliamentary endorsement of the approach and policy behind legislation; and to aid in the interpretation of provisions.

Bill C-33 would do exactly that. It would specify that the purpose of the new international Transfer of Offenders Act is to contribute to the administration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community by enabling them to serve their sentences in the country of which they are citizens or nationals.

Over the years, Canada has promoted key principles to guide international transfers of offenders, and in particular, the notion of the offender's voluntary consent to the transfer. This notion is based on the traditional humanitarian objectives of treaties. The prospects for an offender's successful institutional adjustment, rehabilitation, and community reintegration would likely be compromised if an offender were forced to transfer against his or her will. Foreign states may also be less inclined to approve a transfer on humanitarian grounds if the offender has not willingly consented. This is why Bill C-33 would reflect this important principle.

The bill also contains the important principle that offenders are to be informed in advance of the terms and manner in which their sentences will be completed in Canada. It would also require that a foreign offender requesting a transfer to his or her home country be provided with information from that foreign state about how the sentence is to be served in that state. This would ensure that the offender's consent to the transfer is truly informed.

The current Transfer of Offenders Act makes provisions for the transfer to Canada of young offenders committed to custody, but not for young offenders on probation. This is inconsistent with the provisions which allow for the transfer of adult offenders both on probation and in custody. Bill C-33 would close this gap by providing for the transfer of young offenders on probation in the new act. Moreover, there is no provision in the current act that allows for the transfer of Canadian children. Bill C-33 would close that gap as well by providing for the transfer to Canada of children less than 12 years of age. The bill also specifies that children transferred to Canada would not be detained by reason of the foreign sentence. They would be dealt with in accordance with the law of the receiving province or territory. By widening the net, so to speak, the bill would further the humanitarian objective of the act.

The current act provides that Canada may enter into a treaty, international agreement, arrangement or convention only with recognized foreign states. The dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia highlights the problem of dealing with territories or jurisdictions not yet recognized as foreign states. Several years may pass before the jurisdictions are formally recognized as foreign states. In the meantime, Canada cannot enter into a treaty with them. Canadians incarcerated in these jurisdictions and offenders from these foreign entities do not have access to the international transfer process. There may also be instances where a treaty does not exist between Canada and a foreign state or where one has been negotiated but ratification is still years away.

However there are compelling reasons to return an offender to the home country such as harsh conditions of detention. Moreover, some foreign states may be less inclined to consider a formal arrangement with Canada but willing to negotiate less formal arrangements for the transfer of offenders on a case by case basis.

To provide access to international transfers in such circumstances, Bill C-33 would authorize the negotiation of administrative arrangements with a foreign state or a non-state entity. This would make the legislation more responsive to international developments. It would also allow Canada to bring its citizens home but always under the supervision of Canadian correctional authorities to oversee the offenders' gradual and safe reintegration.

The development of transfer agreements is beneficial to most offenders. To date, a limited number of states are bound by treaties and conventions on the transfer of offenders but the numbers are increasing and this is highly desirable. The main drive toward the international transfers of offenders is humanitarian. Serving a sentence in a foreign state increases its severity. An offender in this situation is likely deprived of contact with family and of the opportunity to reintegrate into society. This is not in the interests of the offender, the family or indeed the community.

Enforcement of a foreign sentence by the receiving state benefits the offender and both states involved. Objections to the effect that the enforcement of foreign sentences will infringe Canada's national integrity or that the foreign sentence will be improperly enforced in Canada are unfounded. These objections are fuelled by fear of the unknown rather than by informed policy reasons. The government and hon. members of the House should not allow such objections to stand in the way of the humanitarian effort that underlines Bill C-33.

Canada's Transfer of Offenders Act and associated treaties and conventions has been successful in achieving their goal and continue to be a permanent feature of the international relations between our country and many others. The progress made in this area is considerable. Since 1978, approximately 1,000 Canadians have been brought to Canada and more than 100 foreign offenders have been returned to their country of citizenship. The numbers are not large but that is because the notion of transfer of offenders is still relatively new and much is still being learned.

Let me say in closing that there is a clear need for legislative flexibility in Canada to further the humanitarian objective of transfers. There is a clear need for international cooperation in matters of criminal justice and there is a clear need for public protection with the safe and gradual reintegration of offenders into society.

Bill C-33 would respond to those needs by incorporating traditional international treaty principles, closing identified gaps and ensuring consistency with other legislative provisions. Bill C-33 would further contribute to these objectives by expanding the class of offenders who may be transferred and of jurisdictions with which Canada could enter into transfer arrangements.

For all these reasons, I urge the hon. members of the House to support Bill C-33 and see it through to completion.

International Transfer of Offenders ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, as you know, Bill C-33 was just introduced yesterday. Therefore everyone can appreciate that with only approximately 24 hours since the time we received a copy of the legislation until now there has been very little opportunity for the official opposition, as well as all political parties on this side of the House, to properly analyze this bill.

Yesterday as we were leaving question period, I was given a packet from the Department of the Solicitor General with a new bill in it. By 5 o'clock we found out that today we would debate a bill brought forward in the House this afternoon. This move on the part of the government, this move to force debate on a piece of legislation that was only introduced yesterday is indicative of the inconsideration on and disrespect that the government has for every other political party in the House and indeed for Parliament itself.

It is also, in my opinion, completely and totally irresponsible of a government to bring forward a bill in this manner. If the government were in fact serious about having a meaningful second reading debate on the international transfer of offenders act, it would have allowed at least 48 hours for us to effectively digest the contents of this legislation that is before us here today. I understand the rationale for this inconsiderate and irresponsible move. I understand that the government is void of any other meaningful legislation. In other words, the agenda of the government is empty.

Quite obviously the government is in neutral, as the member for LaSalle—Émard publicly proclaimed yesterday. It is something that we have all recognized and understood here in the House, that there was very little the government had on the agenda, very little vision and very few ideas that want to move the government on but it is something that has come from its own frontbench this time.

The front runner in the Liberal leadership race stated, and I quote yesterday's front page of the Globe and Mail :

--in recent times, a kind of complacency, a certain amount of drift, has set in. We've lost some of the energy and enthusiasm that Canadians are looking for.

This leadership hopeful, after months of silence on his government's agenda and his own plans for moving this country forward, was chronicling the government's lack of achievement and lack of recent achievement. Pointing to Ottawa's strained relations with the United States administration over the war in Iraq, the lack of focus on waiting lists in the health care system, the outbreak of SARS and a minister who was all over the map on the SARS file, the member for LaSalle—Émard said that these areas require immediate federal attention.

While this member accuses his own government of inaction and suggests immediate action, he knows full well that the Prime Minister is not prepared to step aside any time soon to allow the next leader of that government to attempt to move a government into some type of immediate action. We know that immediate action is not possible with the leadership we have in this country at the present time.

The member for LaSalle—Émard knows full well that we will remain in limbo for at least another 10 months. The Prime Minister has firmly and repeatedly confirmed that he is not prepared to retire until February of 2004. Until that time, regardless of who becomes the next Liberal leader, the government will remain in neutral. Neutral, in my opinion, is descriptive of the government's position on a whole host of issues. Most recently, SARS is the prime example.

Canada has an obligation to prevent the global spread of SARS by screening people at airports and developing a diagnostic test for the illness. Canada has not implemented comprehensive airport screening despite WHO recommendations to do so. It does not look like Canada will be doing anything much in the near future as the health minister has failed to recognize the scope of what could become and what perhaps is an international health disaster.

While the Liberal member for Hamilton East, another Liberal leadership hopeful, is classifying SARS as an epidemic and a national emergency, her colleague, the Minister of Health, is calling her statements and other cabinet ministers' statements irresponsible.

Another example of the government remaining in neutral was its position against the regime of Saddam Hussein, a position that led to our country developing a reputation of fence sitters and caused the irreparable damage to Canada-United States relations as the Liberal government first failed to unequivocally pledge or deny Canada's support of the allied liberation of Iraq to rid the country of Saddam Hussein and his deathly dictatorship. Ultimately the government denied our closest allies, our largest trading partners, our neighbours and our friends our full support. It appeared that as the United States started the reconstruction of Iraq, Canada was not prepared to assist with the rebuilding of Iraq without another resolution from the United Nations.

The Prime Minister just announced today plans regarding Canada's post-war Iraq contribution, including offers of military transport, police and experts in reforming the courts and prisons. A contingent of RCMP, justice and corrections officials will go to Iraq. Although this announcement was only made today, last week the RCMP was contacting police departments across Canada to prepare for a peacekeeping mission in Iraq. Apparently, according to one RCMP staff sergeant, this move was a proactive measure in the event of a formal request.

While I fully recognize and appreciate that the RCMP has an international training and peacekeeping division that is designed to help train and reform police in other countries and do not question its deployment to Iraq, I do question how we can afford to send provincial and municipal police personnel to assist it.

As I have stated on numerous occasions in the House, police resources across the country have been sorely depleted. This point was well emphasized just last month by the Canadian Police Association that called upon the government to provide increased priority funding for local, provincial, national, federal and trans-jurisdictional policing responsibilities.

Well over a year ago the Canadian Police Association appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice regarding the anti-terrorism legislation. During its presentation it said:

--we have serious reservations about the capability of Canada’s police and law enforcement officials to meet the increased demands of anti-terrorism requirements and sustain important domestic policing and law enforcement responsibilities...

To date, the government has never meaningfully addressed the Canadian Police Association's concerns.

As the Canadian Police Association points out in its fact sheet, the 2002 federal budget allotted several millions of dollars in new spending for national security. However only $576 million, spread over not one year but six years, was dedicated funding allotted to the RCMP. This amounts to approximately $87 million per year. Translated into human resources it allows for the hiring of only 446 full time employees for the RCMP over the next six years. Need I remind the government of its slash and gouging in 1993 of the RCMP that resulted in the loss of 2,200 positions, a loss that has never been recouped despite years of protests and years of requests for increased funding.

Last year the commissioner of the RCMP openly admitted that 2,000 RCMP officers were withdrawn from other enforcement duties to respond to the terrorism crisis. These officers were taken from assignments previously considered to be priorities, such as fighting organized crime, dealing with the rampant drug problem in our country and providing frontline policing in Canadian communities. Many of these jobs were left unattended or in the commissioner's own words, these files were “put on the back burners” while the RCMP attempted to apprehend terrorist suspects potentially using Canada as a staging ground for attacks against our closest neighbour.

According to the Canadian Police Association, of the complement of approximately 15,000 RCMP officers, 9,000 are assigned to municipal and provincial contracting responsibilities. Of the remaining 6,000, 2,000, or one-third of that force, taken from other law enforcement responsibilities, were reassigned to the terrorism file. Minimally, 2,000 additional officers are needed to service the deficiencies that are being felt the hardest, those deficiencies at the community level.

Members can therefore appreciate our apprehension in supporting provincial and municipal police personnel who are seconded to Iraq while our country is already so under-resourced; a situation that jeopardizes the safety and security of average Canadians.

As stated earlier, the government has nothing on its legislative agenda and therefore the House is devoid of anything really meaningful to debate.

While the House has little work to do, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has more work than it can handle. It looks like we will only get busier as we will be assigned Bill C-32 and Bill C-33.

Exactly a year ago I introduced a motion in committee that was fully supported and yet we have not allotted any time to review the status and the recommended amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

More than two years ago the subcommittee on the Corrections and Conditional Release Act of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in accordance with its mandate, held public hearings in Ottawa and in many other parts of the country. As well, the subcommittee visited correctional facilities of all levels of security across Canada and attended parole hearings.

In May 2000 the subcommittee tabled its report entitled “A Work in Progress: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act”. In October 2000 the Solicitor General issued a response calling the subcommittee's report:

A welcome addition to the information, research and knowledge currently available regarding corrections and conditional release in Canada.

Furthermore, the former solicitor general said:

The Committee’s review has emphasized that the corrections and conditional release system can be further improved in some areas....

The former solicitor general recognized that:

The Report echoes the submissions and testimony of offenders, victims of crime, members of the bar, offender assisting agencies, police, Crown attorneys, academics and countless others who are actively involved in the criminal justice system on a daily basis.

He indicated that the government intended to take action on 46 of the committee's 53 recommendations.

To date, none of the committee's recommendations have been implemented and the former solicitor general and the current Solicitor General have failed to meet the commitment of implementing the recommendations that came out of their very own committee.

I therefore requested that the Solicitor General, the Correctional Service Canada commissioner, the correctional investigator and the parole board appear before the justice committee to provide a status report on what, if any, recommendations have been implemented and to defend the inaction of those recommendations yet to be implemented.

The rationale for that motion is twofold. First, I strongly believe that the CCRA should be amended as recommended to address growing concerns regarding the safety of Canadians.

Second, and perhaps most important, I introduced the motion because I am concerned that the government and the Solicitor General are effectively dismissing the valuable work of this subcommittee as, I believe, is the Solicitor General's department.

In December of last year, when questioning officials from the department during supplementary estimates regarding when action would be taken to amend the CCRA, their response was that they would take action when we they were ready to take action. This really begs the question of who exactly is running who.

It was clearly apparent that the department was running the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General was not in control and was not running his own department. If he had been, the recommendations of the subcommittee, which were endorsed by the Solicitor General two and a half years ago, would have implemented immediately.

In the process of not running his department effectively, the former solicitor general demonstrated his disrespect for the members of the justice committee, who in good faith conducted a thorough review of the CCRA and, based upon expert testimony, made recommendations for improving the safety of this nation and the public safety of Canadians.

The former solicitor general also demonstrated that public safety was not and had not been a priority, nor had victims' rights even been a consideration from that department.

The Solicitor General's first and main priority is the rights of the offenders. That is a sad commentary on where we are in the justice system and the correction system today, and in the vision they have for this country and for corrections.

In my opinion Bill C-33 is nothing more that an affirmation that the scales of justice are unfairly balanced in favour of the offender.

Under clause 3 of Bill C-33, which the Solicitor General tabled yesterday and wants the House to debate today, it reads:

The purpose of this Act is to contribute to the administration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community by enabling offenders to serve their sentences in the country of which they are citizens or nationals.

In his press release, the Solicitor General stated that the Transfer of Offenders Act was more than 20 years old, and that it only authorized the transfer of offenders between Canada and recognized states. Furthermore, he states “this bill is significant from a humanitarian perspective. Conditions of confinement in some countries impose severe hardship on Canadians”.

If in fact that is what Bill C-33 is all about, that is, ensuring that Canadians are not subjected to inhumane treatment, we on this side of the House could support the bill. If the fundamental principles were that we needed to be sure that humanitarian efforts were in place to ensure that our offenders in other countries are in proper living conditions, we could support it, but that is not the purpose of the bill. This is not, as members will note from the purposes of the proposed legislation, what it endeavours to achieve.

The legislation is not only about allowing Canadian citizens in other countries to serve their sentences in more humane prisons, and, in some cases, to serve time in Canada's club fed, resort style prisons. It is not about being humane. It is about taking offenders from other countries and lessening the sentences they received in other countries. This is more about uncomfortable prisons than it is about inhumane prisons. This is more about resort style prisons than it is about the inhumane penitentiaries and prisons that we see in other countries. This is about reducing the sentences imposed by another country.

It is not only about where and the conditions under which they will be incarcerated. It is about the length of term of sentence.

Clause 14 reads:

Subject to subsection 17(1) and section 18, if, at the time the Minister receives a request for the transfer of a Canadian offender, the sentence imposed by the foreign entity is longer than the maximum sentence provided for in Canadian law for the equivalent offence, the Canadian offender is to serve only the shorter sentence.

This is because under clause 13 it reads:

The enforcement of a Canadian offender's sentence is to be continued in accordance with the laws of Canada as if the offender had been convicted and their sentence imposed by a court in Canada.

We have only had 24 hours to review the legislation, 24 hours to digest the meat and potatoes of what is in the bill, but what it is saying is that a Canadian citizen can go to another country, commit a crime, for which there could be a much more substantial penalty, and be transferred back home here to serve a much lesser sentence.

What this could amount to, in many cases, is immunity for Canadian citizens, which, in my opinion, is missing the mark and absolutely wrong. If Canadian citizens commit a crime in another country they should pay the price imposed by that country, not this country.

Under this government we are a country that is well-known for its bleeding heart justice system. The Liberal government is again more concerned about the rights and well-being of offenders than it is about the victims and the scars left on not only the primary victims but on the families of those who have been victimized.

In the Solicitor General's press release he says:

Society is best protected when offenders participate in correctional programs in Canadian institutions and communities, and when their release is supervised.

The essence of a great deal of what the Auditor General had to say in her report that was brought down a month ago was that she was very troubled by the lack of adequate programming and adequate offender treatment in many of the institutions. I think she highlighted many of the women's institutions in our country.

On the one hand, the Auditor General is concerned about the lack of rehabilitative programming and, on the other hand, the government says that it needs to get them back to prisons and penitentiaries in this country so that it can go on with programming and get the right type of programming for rehabilitation and reintegration.

Rehabilitation has more to do with preparing them to go back into society than it does to pushing them back into society. We have the Auditor General speaking out in a report and saying that we are pushing the individuals through our system far too quickly, that they are going out onto the street and not having the proper programs, not having the rehabilitative work that they should have had while they were in the institutions, and then we have the Solicitor General coming back and saying that we need to bring them back from other countries so that our programs can prepare them for society. We have a great contradiction.

No society is best protected when the offenders spend an inadequate period of time incarcerated to prevent others from being harmed and for their own rehabilitation to effectively occur.

The government is not interested in preventing Canadians from being harmed. It is not interested in putting in place severe penalties that will act as deterrents. It is not interested in restitution being made to the victims. The Liberal government is only concerned about treating offenders as poor, misguided persons who are not responsible for their crimes regardless of how heinous they may be.

The philosophy of the government is clear. The philosophy of the government is that mankind is inherently good and that the environment is what shapes people, the environment and only the environment that they are placed in is what warps them and turns them into whether they are contributors or end up being offenders. The government believes that if we turn the prison system into a very positive experience for them, they will be prepared to go back out into society and be upstanding citizens.

We on this side of the House recognize that the recidivism rate, the rate of reoffending is very clear. Many of the individuals who enter our prisons and penitentiaries leave having been educated but unfortunately for Canadian society they have only been educated on how to become better prisoners. I know there are some who leave and go on to succeed and go on to live good lives and contribute to society and we applaud them, but they are few and far between.

On the subject of victims I must point out that under clause 8 of Bill C-33 the consent of three parties is required before a transfer takes place: first, the consent of the offender; second, the consent of our country, of our government, of our nation; and third, the consent of the jurisdiction, the state, the country in which the offence took place.

When we go through the bill that we were given just last night, there is no mention of the victim. There is no consideration in the bill of the family or the individual who has been victimized. In other words, when a child is raped in this country and a foreign entity requests the transfer of the offender, the victim and the victim's family have absolutely no say in the transfer and therefore have no say in the parole assessment and decision.

The victim and the victim's family are never apprised when the offender is released back into the jurisdiction or the country that has transferred the offender to it. I see no provision in Bill C-33 to address this oversight.

In fact, subclause 10(4) clearly states in reference to young offenders who are being transferred:

(4) In determining whether to consent to the transfer of a Canadian offender who is a child within the meaning of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the primary consideration of the Minister and the relevant provincial authority is to be the best interests of the child.

In other words, when a 17 year old boy goes to another country and he rapes an 11 or 12 year old for which the punishment in that country may be fairly substantial, he would be transferred here and given the maximum sentence of three years.

What about the young victim in the other country? What is in the best interests of the victim? What is in the best interests of society or the best interests of our children who may become the next victims of that offender?

There are few people on the government side who are questioning about a 12 year old being victimized in a rape. We know there are many countries where the sex trade of young people, children, is a tourist trade yet people question whether or not such a victim could ever exist. There are many who do exist, many whose lives have been scarred, many who may never see their lives repaired to the point where they can contribute to society.

Where is the consideration for public safety? Perhaps those questions will be answered in due time, as will other questions that we have regarding Bill C-33.

In closing, I would like to point out another aspect of the bill that is in question. That is clause 38 which deals with transitional provisions, which reads:

This act applies in respect of all requests for transfer that are pending on the day that this section comes into force.

I want to read into the record one more time, the transitional provision, the point in time when the bill comes into effect.

This act applies in respect of all requests for transfer that are pending on the day that this section comes into force.

In other words, we have before us again a bill that will be retroactive. We have a bill which says that if there is an offender in another country, if there is an offender who is incarcerated and who has applied for a transfer to Canada, that immediately when this bill becomes law, we will ensure that the individual who is in the system will receive consideration and will be brought back to this country if all the points in the legislation are met. It is retroactive.

Why is it that when an act favours offenders it can be retroactive but when it does not properly favour the offender, it cannot be retroactive? We have a sex offender registry. We have people who are in prison in Canada at this time many of whom have committed heinous sexual crimes against young children. After years of asking Parliament and the government to move on a national sex offender registry, the government came forward with a sex offender registry that basically will have no names on it. The registry will not be worth the paper it is written on. The registry will not be a tool or a resource for law enforcement. Why? Because the government will not make the legislation retroactive. It will not go back and put on the registry those offenders who have committed a crime already. We will have it from the day that the sex offender registry becomes law.

However, when we are talking about the offender in another country, the government says “No, we will make it retroactive, we will make every offender able to apply, they will be able to come back home”. We have seen it with other laws as well such as the DNA data bank. The government has made it very clear there will be no retroactivity when it comes to putting the DNA into the database so that our law enforcement agencies can adequately enforce and fight crime and uphold the law.

At first glance, we cannot support this bill as it is unjustly balanced in favour of the offenders over the victims.

I urge the government to consider as a guiding principle the protection of society, to consider as the guiding principle what is best in the long term for society. I urge the government to build within the law an act that would satisfy the victims, all those individuals whose lives have been scarred from crime. When that happens, I can assure the government that we will stand with it and we will support bills of that kind.

Bill C-33, like many others brought forward by the government, will do very little to satisfy the concerns of society in this country.

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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I wish to designate Thursday, May 1 as an allotted day.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-33, An Act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

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3:55 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start my speech the same way my Canadian Alliance colleague did. How can the government be so lacking in respect? On top of the meagre legislative menu, we have been forced to prepare for second reading of a bill that was introduced yesterday in the late afternoon. This, to my mind, shows an enormous lack of respect.

As well, although I know it is not customary to speak this way in the House, the Solicitor General ought to listen to what the Canadian Alliance and we have to say. I find it unfortunate, and feel obliged to say so, that he is not here to listen to what we have to say.

I understand the situation very well, but this makes two instances of lack of respect, one—

International Transfer of Offenders ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order, please. I know the hon. member is new to this place. Reference must never be made to the absence of any member, ministers included. I would therefore ask him to take care.

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Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

I was well aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but it was disrespectful to us.

Now, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-33, An Act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences. I am pleased to speak as the Bloc Quebecois critic on matters relating to the solicitor general.

We are in favour of this bill—in principle, and I emphasize “in principle”. The aim of the bill is to establish procedures for transferring offenders to Canadian correctional institutions for humanitarian purposes, and we agree with this.

Nevertheless, we have reservations when it comes to implementing the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Despite the recent opinions of the Quebec Court of Appeal in this matter, the federal government has decided to sentence young people of 14 and 15 as adults. I will take a closer look at this a little later in my speech.

Naturally, we are in favour of bringing criminal offenders back here, when one considers the prison conditions in some parts of this planet. These transfers, therefore, should take place in a spirit of close cooperation among the countries signatory to the treaties and administrative agreements. These transfers take place within a specific and comprehensive administrative framework. The guidelines for implementation are specified in the present bill.

A standard agreement would be set up, with a quick, simple administrative framework for transferring persons found guilty of criminal offences in a foreign country. The same would be true for foreign nationals in Canada.

The aim of the bill is to facilitate the transfer of foreign offenders to their country of origin, and Canadians imprisoned abroad back to Canada, in a quick and simple way.

Modern means of communication and transportation clearly make it easier to set up an efficient administrative framework in order to achieve the humanitarian objectives of this bill. As access to means of communication and transportation become easier, crime also becomes more international and that is why we must find transborder methods to meet these specific needs.

Increasingly, criminal policy refers to social reintegration as the key factor in offence resolution, and that is why it is increasingly necessary and essential to transfer offenders to achieve this goal.

There are also humanitarian considerations when transferring an offender. So, the parties will take into account communication difficulties resulting from linguistic barriers, alienation from culture and local customs and the lack of family contact. All these factors have a negative effect on offenders with regard to their sentence.

We can, therefore, conclude that repatriating offenders holds a certain interest for both offenders and the government, as well as for society.

Respect for the sovereign rights of states must take precedence. That is why the consent of the parties is required under the bill. Convicted offenders must also consent to being transferred. Bill C-33 is therefore solely a procedural instrument. Furthermore, much of the bill deals with the congruency of sentences handed down abroad and those handed down in Canada. The Council of Europe adopted its Convention on the Transfer of Convicted Persons, in 1983, in Strasbourg.

There are various parallels between the Council of Europe's convention and the bill before us. First, there is the need for states to collaborate and, second, the need to ensure the social reintegration of offenders. I should add that the convention fully respects the national laws of each member state.

In fact, article 13 of the convention states that the sentencing state alone shall have the right to decide on any application for review of the judgment.

Earlier I mentioned that the Bloc Quebecois has some concerns about certain provisions of the bill. I am thinking of clause 18, which stipulates:

A Canadian offender is deemed to be serving an adult sentence within the meaning of the Youth Criminal Justice Act if

(a) the Canadian offender was, at the time the offence was committed, from 14 to 17 years old; and

(b) their sentence is longer than the maximum youth sentence that could have been imposed under that Act for an equivalent offence.

We do not support this provision. We believe that the chances are high that 14- and 15-year old adolescents are serving sentences that are far too heavy.

I mentioned that the Court of Appeal of Quebec gave its opinion in the case of the Government of Quebec's order regarding the reference concerning Bill C-7 on the youth criminal justice system. According to Quebec's Attorney General, the breaches of freedom and psychological welfare that result from criminal charges against a minor are exacerbated by the system that presumes subjecting youth to adult sentencing.

This procedure violates that presumption of innocence, guaranteed under paragraph 11( d ) of the Charter and recognized by the Supreme Court as a fundamental principle that is protected by section 7.

Paragraph 11( d ) of the Charter establishes the right:

to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.

Quebec's Attorney General also argued that the procedures involved would be similar to those used in declaring someone a dangerous offender, in that they cause similar harm.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act therefore violates the freedom and safety of adolescents, which contravenes the principles of fundamental justice because it does not specifically require that the factors that the court must weigh when determining whether an adolescent should be subject to adult sentencing must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. This is found in subsection 73(1) of the act.

The Attorney General of Canada argued that the new legislation, which is an exception to the adult criminal system, is in line with an approach that balances the interests of society and those of adolescents in such a way as to make the taking into account of the specific situation of adolescents a major consideration. In response to the question raised by the Attorney General of Quebec, whether the elements set out are indeed principles of fundamental justice, the five judges of Quebec's Court of Appeal agreed that they were.

On page 63 of this opinion, we read that the expression fundamental justice in the context of section 7 is not limited to rules of procedure, but includes substantial principles. This means that to withstand Charter scrutiny any psychological security violation must be fundamentally warranted not only procedurally but also in relation to the objective, in accordance with the basic tenets of our legal system.

The Quebec Court of Appeal judges added that there is a wide consensus about these elements because of the essential role they play in the Canadian legal system. Their vital importance has been recognized ever since the very first legislation on the subject-matter. Over time, the details were worked out to meet the particular situation and needs of adolescents more and more specifically.

I also want to draw attention to what Justice L'Heureux-Dubé wrote in the 1989 Supreme Court decision in R. v. M. (S.H.), 2 S.C.R., on page 446:

[This brief legislative history of] the provisions of the Young Offenders Act amply demonstrates that for nearly one hundred years Parliament has committed itself to the separate treatment and rehabilitation of young persons involved in the criminal process.

I read further:

The underlying philosophy has been from the beginning that it is in society's interest to assist young offenders “to strengthen their better instincts”. An attempt is made through the legislation to “prevent these juveniles to become prospective criminals and to assist them to be law-abiding citizens”.

Unfortunately, this government has chosen to ignore this legacy and expertise by doing away with the Young Offenders Act and replacing it with a piece of legislation that is pretty shaky in terms of its wording, as demonstrated by the Court of Appeal of Quebec, and questionable where its rehabilitation objectives are concerned.

The Bloc Quebecois took a clear stand against this new legislation, which disregards nearly 100 years of history and practice, and opens the door to challenges.

The Bloc Quebecois opposed the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and the Court of Appeal of Quebec recently proved us right. We will continue to be vocal opponents of this poorly worded legislation whose sole purpose was to clumsily reassure the public.

In the reference in question, the Court of Appeal of Quebec reviewed the provisions giving effect to the presumption of adult sentences for designated offences.

It is clear that the provisions of the new legislation on youth offenders broaden this assumption, in that it will now apply to adolescents aged 14 and 15. On page 67, the court said:

Although the presumption may be set aside and the court may retain greater discretionary powers with respect to the appropriateness of imposing such a sentence rather than an adult sentence, it is no less true that the legislator has clearly indicated in sections 62 and 72 that the usual sentence applicable to designated offences is that imposed on adults guilty of the same offences. It also sends a clear message to the population as a whole that, in general, adolescents are dangerous criminals if they are 14 years of age or older when they commit certain offences. In other words, applying adult sentences has the effect of stigmatizing the adolescent guilty of a designated offence.

I still remember my remarks on Bill C-7 on young offenders, when I wondered about the real purpose of the bill. I remember that I said the bill was clear on one issue, that Canada did not want young people any more, only adults.

They were presenting us with a bill that completely eliminated one segment of our population in order to comfort society and give it a false sense of security, by saying that there is no more juvenile delinquency, because it would be transformed into adult delinquency, much tougher and much more punitive.

I also asked myself why society was the intended target of this bill, when the true client group for the bill ought to have been young offenders. Did the government really believe that it could deal with juvenile crime by giving the public a false sense of security, when the real issue was to lower the crime rate among young people?

Bill C-7 had its objectives backwards. The government had completely forgotten whom this bill was for. Should we rehabilitate young offenders or should we give an illusion of protection to society by lowering the age at which adult law applies?

Now, in reading this bill, and clause 18 in particular, I realize that my questions are still valid.

The Quebec Court of Appeal has provided us with several responses that, it must be said, clearly rankle the Liberal government. The Court of Appeal was categorical. The imposition of an adult sentence is not essential to achieving the goal of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

On page 69 of the opinion, the Court of Appeal judges analyzed these provisions and concluded that, in this respect, clearly, the new legislation presumes that adult sentences be applied as a general rule. From now on, this legislation places upon minors the onus of demonstrating why an adult sentence should not be imposed.

The Quebec Court of Appeal added that Supreme Court case law is, however, clear. Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that, during sentencing, the onus is on the Crown to establish beyond all reasonable doubt the aggravating circumstances surrounding the commission of an offence. Paragraph 724(3)( e ) of the Criminal Code requires the prosecutor to establish, by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the existence of any aggravating fact or any previous conviction by the offender.

Subsection 72(2) of the new Youth Criminal Justice Act, therefore, violates the rights guaranteed under section 7 of the Canadian charter in that it places on the young offender the onus of proving the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, the lack of a previous record at the time of the exemption, as well as the other factors listed in subsection 72(1).

The onus should instead be placed on the prosecutor who wants the court to impose an adult sentence to show the fitness of such claims in terms of the factors set out in subsection 72(1), once a request has been made. The prosecutor should also have to prove the existence of facts justifying the imposition of an adult sentence. Once this has been done, the courts could decide whether to impose such a sentence on a young offender.

The judges add that even the presumption of this imposition is a violation of the rights to freedom and the psychological freedom of adolescents, which does not conform to the principles of basic justice.

However, the problem posed by various provisions of Bill C-33, under debate, is that the 14-year-old or 15-year-old adolescent who has been sentenced abroad automatically falls under this imposition provision, no matter what the circumstances.

Not only does the adolescent fall under the adult sentencing system, he cannot even propose any evidence to the contrary that would limit application of this presumption.

Automatic application of this presumption is discriminatory in that it creates different categories of adolescents. Some will therefore feel the effects of the presumption, and will present evidence to the contrary, and others will not be able to do so, since they were convicted in another country.

There is one interesting point to which I would draw your attention. At the time of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, the Government of Quebec followed the minimal rules for detention according to the rules adopted by the first United Nations Congress on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders, held in Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council in Resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of July 31, 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of May 13, 1977.

Among the preliminary observationswe read:

The following rules are not intended to describe in detail a model system of penal institutions. They seek only, on the basis of the general consensus of contemporary thought and the essential elements of the most adequate systems of today, to set out what is generally accepted as being good principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners and the management of institutions.

As well:

In view of the great variety of legal, social, economic and geographical conditions of the world, it is evident that not all of the rules are capable of application in all places and at all times.

They should, however, serve to stimulate a constant endeavour to overcome practical difficulties in the way of their application, in the knowledge that they represent, as a whole, the minimum conditions which are accepted as suitable by the United Nations

I would also draw your attention to one specific rule which addresses the treatment for children, It is 5.2, which reads:

The category of young prisoners should include at least all young persons who come within the jurisdiction of juvenile courts. As a rule, such young persons should not be sentenced to imprisonment.

This in an international principle we are in the process of reshaping to suit ourselves, in order to be able to work around it. It is inconceivable that someone could not be aware that this was what was being done. We must not lose sight of the fact that we are all answerable to the public.

I would like to know how the Liberal government could justify such a discriminatory and harmful application of these provisions regarding adolescents, without feeling any public backlash.

We cannot pull the wool over the eyes of the public like this just to please the government. The impact is far too great to be ignored. I would therefore ask the government to review certain provisions of Bill C-33 to allow for a fair and equitable application for everyone, including adolescents aged 14 or 15.

We have an established principle here whereby everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Yet, this principle of equality before the law would not apply in the present case. How would sentencing be determined when some of the criteria are not admissible?

Members must carefully study all of the provisions contained in Bill C-33 in committee. The scope of some of these provisions is enormous and they must be paid careful attention, which is what we will do in committee.

As I mentioned at the outset, we support the humanitarian principle of this bill, and as I have just demonstrated, we need to make the necessary amendments to ensure it is applied fairly and equitably and that it respects the principles of fundamental justice set out in the charter.

A second aspect that concerns me is that of the availability of resources. Individuals must not be refused a transfer simply because the entity that will hold them does not have the money needed for transportation and to accommodate them in a correctional centre.

Like the firearms program, we believe that the federal government must make a clear funding commitment that is appropriate, so that Quebec and the provinces can act accordingly when it comes to carrying out transfers.

Not only does the presumption that we are denouncing not meet the requirements of fundamental justice, it has negative consequences when it comes to reintegration. Clearly all legislative provisions from now on must respect the requirements of the charter, both in their implementation and in setting goals.

We must not wait for the courts to correct this glaring shortcoming. The decision must be a legislative one, and it is up to us as parliamentarians to rectify the situation before it gets any worse. This is one aspect of the issue that we can discuss in more detail in committee.

The bill proposes substantial amendments to current legislation in that it clearly states in clause 3 that the first objective is to contribute to the administration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community by enabling offenders to serve their sentences in the country of which they are citizens or nationals.

Bill C-33 then lists the conditions of application and mechanisms of application for this worthwhile objective.

I have had occasion to handle requests from constituents in connection with this purely administrative operation. In each case, the motivation behind their requests was humanitarian, health-related, or harsh conditions of detention.

The fact that this bill is directed towards facilitating of this administrative procedure is totally desirable and the Bloc Quebecois will be supporting the guiding principle. I must reiterate that we plan to study this bill thoroughly in order to make the essential adjustments to bring it in line with charter requirements, in compliance with the recent Quebec Appeal Court opinion.

Clauses 4 and 5 list the criteria for eligibility to make a request for transfer.

We feel the consent requirement set out in clause 8 is essential to the smooth operation of this procedure if it is to respect the principles of fundamental justice.

It is clearly stipulated that the transfer requires the consent of the foreign entity, Canada and the offender. Clause 9 sets out the rules governing the consent of Quebec and the provinces. It is specifically stated that consent must be given before any transfer for which Quebec and the provinces will be responsible.

I am returning to the necessity of having sufficient financial and human resources to make this transfer procedure efficient and timely. We will be addressing this in committee but we hope the minister responsible will commit to eliminating that uncertainty before long.

The assessment criteria are set out in clause 10 of Bill C-33. It is up to the minister to assess the factors related to the transfer. The primary one is whether the offender's return would constitute a threat to the security of Canada. The minister will also take into consideration the offender's intentions of residence, and finally whether family ties are sufficiently strong to warrant granting the request for transfer.

If a foreigner has been found guilty of an offence in Canada, the minister must also take into account the likelihood of the offender's subsequently committing acts of terrorism.

Subclauses 3 and 4 of this clause address factors relating to assessing requests from young offenders.

Clause 11 stipulates that consent or refusal of consent must be justified. The minister is responsible, under clause 12, for ensuring that the consent was given voluntarily.

Clauses 13 to 15 deal with the continued enforcement of offenders' sentences, with the purpose of complying with the criminal law of foreign countries.

Clause 16 sets out conditions for probation and the related equivalency.

As for clauses 17 to 20, they deal more specifically with the terms and conditions for the transfer of young people. The Bloc Quebecois is of the opinion that special attention ought to be paid to these, as I demonstrated earlier in my presentation. Expert advice can certainly enlighten us, especially in the context of the opinion of the Court of Appeal of Quebec.

The Bloc Quebecois will be vigilant when these clauses are considered at committee stage. We hope the minister responsible will make the necessary changes to ensure these provisions reflect charter requirements.

Clauses 21 to 29 have a more technical and mathematical side, in the sense that they set out the criteria for determining equivalent sentences for Canadian nationals abroad who wish to serve their sentences in Canada.

I am quite amazed that only one clause in this bill addresses humanitarian considerations. I would have liked such considerations to be at the heart of this bill. Once again, I think that at committee we will be able to determine the full scope of this clause.

Clauses 31 to 36 deal with procedures for increasing the number of entities participating in these exchanges. The final clauses amend other acts affected by the bill's provisions.

There is one more aspect that ought to receive our full attention. A number of provisions in the present bill deal with implementation of the transfer procedures in cases where a person has been declared not criminally responsible because of mental disorder.

I took an active part in the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights when it studied the Criminal Code provisions respecting such persons. The witnesses made it clear that these persons should receive particular attention in that their cases should be dealt with appropriately, and especially in a timely manner.

I believe that the provisions in the present bill ought to reflect the distinctive character of everything having to do with persons who have been declared not criminally responsible because of mental disorder.

I conclude by repeating our agreement in principle with this bill, especially with respect to the humanitarian motivation behind decisions to make a transfer.

However, I emphasize that the Bloc Quebecois will be closely following the work of the House and the committee, in order to ensure that there will be changes made in the provisions relating to adolescents.

These provisions must satisfy the requirements clearly set out by the Quebec Court of Appeal in its opinion on the reference concerning Bill C-7 on the youth criminal justice system.

As I mentioned earlier, offenders must be returned to Canada when the conditions in prisons in some parts of the planet are examined. These transfers must, therefore, be done in a spirit of close collaboration with the states that are signatories of administrative treaties and agreements.

In closing, I would remind the members that, according to the Quebec Court of Appeal, imposing adult sentencing is not necessary to achieve the purpose of the Youth Criminal Justice Act; for this reason, each provision of Bill C-33 must be carefully reviewed, which the committee will duly undertake to do.

The Bloc Quebecois will represent the interests of Quebeckers and Canadians, and especially the interests of our young people, during consideration in committee of Bill C-33.

We support the humanitarian principle behind this bill, but we have serious reservations about the specific applications of some of its provisions. We believe that the bill's humanitarian objective can be accomplished during consideration in committee, while protecting the rights of all individuals, in particular, obviously, of our young people.