Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-13, which has been introduced by the government. In this day and age, political discourse is often focused on the respect of human rights and freedoms, and I agree with that. We have taken part in some debates that illustrate this, the one on same sex marriage in particular.
It is also important to note that individual rights encompass individual security. In a society based on rule of law, such as ours, the right to personal security is essential. If this is to be more than merely theoretical, and to exist in reality, it is important to provide law enforcement bodies with the tools necessary to fight the crime that so often harms our communities.
The Bloc Québécois will be supporting Bill C-13. We feel that it will provide police officers with more effective investigative tools, which should permit them to resolve more crimes.
Members have examined this bill with care and will have realized that it makes some rather technical amendments to legislation already in place. When the bill is examined in committee, the Bloc Québécois will ensure that the changes proposed represent real improvements to the existing system of DNA testing. In addition, the Bloc Québécois will ensure that the RCMP has the funds to accommodate the expansion of the DNA bank this bill will bring about.
To make a small aside, it is all very fine to announce measures, measures we support, but there must be money attached to them. As hon. members are aware, the RCMP has decided—for financial reasons, or so we are told—to close detachments in numerous locations in Quebec. There has been much opposition to this, from mayors, municipal counsellors and reeves, backed up of course, as is only natural, by myself and my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois.
It does not, therefore, make any sense to talk of increasing the responsibilities, as well as the operating costs, of a police force, the RCMP, while making cuts here and there, including cutting police detachments scattered outside the urban centres.
And so I hope the government will reverse its decision to close these detachments. I believe my hon. colleague's riding of Joliette is affected by the RCMP detachment closures. I know that the mayor, municipal officials and prefect have made him aware of the situation. It is the same in Saint-Hyacinthe. I hope the RCMP will reverse its decision. If it wants to fight crime effectively, the force must be present throughout the area.
Having finished my aside, I return to Bill C-13, which takes up for the most part the provisions of Bill C-35 from the last legislature, the bill to which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice has referred.
Bill C-13 amends the provisions in the Criminal Code respecting the taking of bodily substances for forensic DNA analysis and the inclusion of DNA profiles in the national DNA data bank. It also makes related amendments to the DNA Identification Act and National Defence Act.
I have five minutes left. That is a very short time to address such a technical bill. That is why we are going to examine it very seriously in committee.
Bill C-13 makes other amendments, which ought at least to be listed in the parliamentary record of debates. It adds offences to the list of designated offences in the Criminal Code for which a judge is required to make an order for the collection of a DNA sample from the offender, unless the offender can convince the court otherwise.
It adds offences to the list of designated offences for which an order for the collection of a DNA sample can be made if the prosecutor so requests and the court agrees.
It provides for the making of DNA data bank orders against a person whohas committed a designated offence but who was found not criminallyresponsible by reason of mental disorder. This ties in somewhat with the subject matter of Bill C-10, which we are also working on.
It creates new provisions for the making of DNA data bank orders against a person who committed one murder and one sexual offence at different times before June 30, 2000, when the legislation on the DNA data bank came into force.
It provides for the review of defective DNA data bank orders and for the destruction of the bodily substances taken under them.
It allows the destruction ofthe bodily substances of offenders who are finally acquitted of a designated offence.
It compels offenders to appear at a certain time and place to provide a DNA sample.
It allows for a DNA data bank order to be made after sentencing.
Finally, it makes related amendments to the National Defence Act to ensure that the military justice system remains consistent with the civilian justice system.
So, this bill proposes many things. I must say that we are somewhat uncomfortable with the retroactive provisions included in this legislation and we hope they will dissipate with the review in committee. Obviously, any retroactive provision, particularly in the criminal justice area, raises serious issues relating to rights and freedoms and to the charters, whether it is the Quebec or Canadian one. In this regard, we are anxious to hear the witnesses and experts, who will tell us whether the bill does indeed respect the charters.
We also wonder why the bill adds participation in the activities of a criminal organization to the list of secondary designated offences, that is to the list of offences for which the taking of a DNA sampling is not mandatory, but optional. We wonder why such offences were not included in the list of primary designated offences. This is an issue on which we want to get an answer as quickly as possible.
All to say this is a very technical bill and it requires a thorough study of its provisions. At this stage, the Bloc Québécois supports its referral to a committee. We will work very seriously, as we always do, to ensure that, on the one hand, enforcement agencies have the necessary tools to fight effectively criminal activities in which the public is all too often the victim, and, on the other hand—and this is important in a society such as ours—to ensure that the rights and freedoms of the accused are respected. As I said earlier, the whole issue of retroactivity will also have to be thoroughly examined.