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House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was gst.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is now known that the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of the principle of this bill. We obviously recognize that any provision in the Criminal Code that facilitates the administration of justice is a positive thing.

This bill will contribute to the administration of justice, because it will provide additional guarantees with respect to sentencing.

Mr. Speaker, I believe you were a member of this House a few years ago when a heinous crime was committed against a young girl named Manning. There were a few difficulties at the trial because the way in which the bodily substances had been collected for establishing guilt was called into question.

If memory serves me correctly, we passed at first, second and third readings, in 48 hours, a bill on the creation of a national DNA databank and the administration of evidence in the case of DNA samples. It was done quite quickly. Public indignation was extremely high. At around the same time, in 1995, 1996, or 1997, we discovered with horror the influential power of organized crime.

I will turn 42 tomorrow. Imagine that. I must stop saying I am 41, with a birthday coming tomorrow.

I did not grow up hearing as much about organized crime as the member for Mercier, who has clearer memories than I of the commission of inquiry into organized crime. People came to know more about it, or at least people a little older than me, because of the CIOC. Things calmed down for a while, and then by the mid-90s our communities began to realize how much power organized crime again had.

We know that three conditions are required for organized crime to flourish: a relatively rich society, a society with well-developed means of communication, and a society where there are guarantees of rights. As far as communications are concerned, we know that ports, highways, and airports are unfortunately often the focus of those engaged in smuggling.

So where is the link between that and Bill C-35? It used to be possible for a judge to issue a warrant for collecting bodily substances from an inmate or accused. This would provide DNA profiles to be kept in a national data bank under RCMP responsibility.

The way DNA profiles were assessed, and the way they were taken, was governed by the category of offence. There were two categories of offence. The first was primary designated offences, where it was virtually automatic for a judge to order a DNA profile. This category of offence includes generally extremely serious offences under criminal law.

Now section 487.04 of the Criminal Code lists the offences, including those for which a DNA profile may be ordered.

The new bill adds to these sexual exploitation of person with disability, and causing bodilyharm with intent—air gun or pistol.

Also added are: administeringnoxious thing with intention to endangerlife or cause bodily harm; overcoming resistanceto commission of offence; robbery; extortion; breakingand entering a dwelling-house; and finally, intimidation of ajustice system participant or journalist.

Hon. members might recall that we had three bills to fight against organized crime. Bill C-95 was very important. I was the first member of Parliament to introduce an anti-gang bill. On August 9, 1995, in my riding of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, a car bomb went off on Adam Street, right across from the Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus church. A young man, Daniel Desrochers, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, was killed. That is why we started looking for the best means to dismantle organized crime.

The first piece of legislation we had against organized crime offences was Bill C-95, which was introduced by the then justice minister, Allan Rock. I think I am allowed to name him, since he is no longer a member of Parliament. The main offence that was mentioned in Bill C-95 was the criminal organization offence. If five or more persons were part of a group, or if these five persons had committed five indictable offences in the last five years for which the maximum punishment was imprisonment for five years or more—the three fives rule—we had a criminal organization offence.

Do you know what happened? Major gangs such as the Hells Angels, the Bandidos and the Rock Machines started spinning off satellite criminal groups. They recruited people who did not have a criminal record but who joined gangs in order to get their badge. It became extremely difficult for the Crown to lay charges under Bill C-95.

Bill C-95 was all the more difficult to administer because, a few years previously, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling, the Stinchcombe decision. This extremely important criminal law ruling imposes obligations on the Crown.

As we know, criminal investigations may last three, four, up to seven years. The process is an extremely long one. Under the Stinchcombe ruling, the Crown must disclose all of the evidence it has against the accused. That meant that a police officer involved in shadowing during an investigation, in a bar for example, had to table the notes that allowed the investigation to progress.

The Stinchcombe ruling was extremely controversial. Of course, coming from the Supreme Court, it created new law. The attorney general could not appeal the ruling. It made it very difficult to bring investigations to an end, and it thus became necessary to further refine the administration of evidence and hence the gathering of DNA samples.

So, we got Bill C-95. Then came Bill C-24 and Bill C-36. There was a lot of legislative activity in criminal law. Today the three fives rule has been simplified. An organized crime activity is described as three persons engaged in certain offences.

The new bill refers to journalism. Quebeckers or even people in the gallery might remember the attack on the journalist Michel Auger in the parking lot of the Journal de Montréal .

Mr. Michel Auger, a crime reporter, was victim not only of intimidation but of an attack on his life. As a matter of fact, it is the former member for Berthier—Montcalm, Mr. Michel Bellehumeur, now a Quebec court judge, who had suggested that bill include a reference to the intimidation of not only members of Parliament, police officers, judges and commissioners, but also journalists.

We want to see Bill C-35 go to committee as soon as possible.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion to send Bill C-35 to committee before second reading.

Bill C-35 contains a number of technical and remedial amendments to the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act intended to clarify and strengthen the present law which governs the taking of bodily substances for purposes of the national DNA data bank.

I intend to focus my remarks today on those amendments that will address a particular problem that has been identified by the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who manages the DNA data bank on behalf of Canadians.

Great care was taken in the initial design of the DNA data bank legislation to carefully balance the protection of society achieved through the early detection, arrest, prosecution of offenders using DNA technology and the privacy rights of individuals on the other hand. Up until now, under the Criminal Code, judges have only been authorized to make DNA data bank orders against offenders convicted of a specific designated Criminal Code offence.

A DNA data bank order made by a judge under the Criminal Code authorizes the police to take samples of bodily substances from a convicted offender for the purposes of the data bank. After the samples are collected, the police forward them along with a copy of the judge's order to the national DNA data bank in Ottawa.

Under procedures established by the commissioner of the RCMP, before the samples of bodily substances from a convicted offender are subjected to a forensic DNA analysis, the DNA order is examined again to verify whether it in fact relates to a designated offence. However, since the DNA data bank legislation came into force, almost four years ago, over 400 DNA data bank orders have been made against persons who on the face of those orders appear not to have been convicted of a designated offence.

These are referred to as facially defective DNA orders. In essence, there is a mistake on the face of the document which shows the order of the court. The biological samples that accompany these defective DNA data bank orders have not been analyzed by the data bank. To have processed the samples could have violated the privacy of those persons and undermined the integrity of the data bank.

The commissioner of the RCMP should be congratulated in this case for having respected the intent of Parliament by carefully examining and screening the data bank orders submitted to him.

There is now a need to create a procedure to determine whether the errors on the face of these orders are merely a clerical error which can be corrected or whether they are clearly cases where the court lacked authority to make the order. In the latter case, there is a need for the DNA Identification Act to provide clear authority to the commissioner to destroy the bodily substance obtained under these orders.

I want to say a few words about the procedure set out in the proposed legislation which will ensure that only those DNA samples that have been taken in conformity with the law are analyzed.

First, one observes that there is now a duty imposed on the commissioner to review the information transmitted to him, along with the DNA sample taken from a convicted offender, to ensure that the offence referred to in the DNA order is a designated offence.

Second, if the commissioner is of the opinion that the offence referred to in the DNA order is not a designated offence, he is required to retain the DNA sample and to communicate with the attorney general of the province, where the order was made, to initiate a review of that order. The attorney general of the province is responsible for the prosecution of Criminal Code offences in that jurisdiction and will review the order and the court record to determine whether the offence referred to in the DNA order is in fact a designated offence. A defective order will have to be revoked by the court of appeal for that province and in that procedure.

If the attorney general is advised that the DNA order has been revoked, the commissioner will have a duty to destroy the DNA samples that accompanied the original order. In a case where there was just a clerical error in the drafting of the order and the commissioner receives a corrected DNA order in which the offence referred to is a designated offence, he can proceed to analyze the DNA sample and to include the offender's DNA profile in the convicted offenders index in the national DNA data bank.

Under the DNA Identification Act, DNA profiles of convicted offenders that have been placed in the convicted offenders index are compared with the DNA profiles derived from biological substances found on or in something related to the commission of an unsolved designated offence. Where there is a match the local police are advised of the identity of a suspect.

In closing, I also wish to indicate my support to adopt the bill here prior to second reading and send it to committee. I note there is substantial support around the House for this. In the context of the time we have now, I suppose I could say we had better hurry, but I am sure when the House has an opportunity to deal with this bill again, it will receive prompt disposition and passage.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I have the distinct pleasure today of sharing a great Canadian success story. It is a story that combines justice, innovation and worldclass technology.

It is a story that highlights unique Canadian know-how and strong Canadian leadership. It is a story that affects all Canadians and reaches well beyond our borders.

This is a story about the administration of justice and the most powerful investigative tool ever discovered. It has solved hundreds of serious crimes in just the last few years and kick-started some of the most difficult criminal cases facing Canadian police. It helps protect Canadians from violent criminals and sex offenders.

This is the story of forensic DNA evidence and the ways in which it has revolutionized criminal investigation and prosecution.

More powerful than fingerprints, DNA serves as a silent but credible witness, convicting the guilty while protecting the innocent. When properly handled and properly profiled, it offers foolproof evidence.

This is a story that illustrates the power of science. It is a story of Canadian innovation that is putting science to its best use through the national DNA data bank.

DNA is the fundamental building block of our entire genetic makeup. With the exception of identical twins, every person's DNA is unique.

Using modern technology, DNA can be extracted from a small biological sample, such as a few drops of blood, the root of one hair or by swabbing the inside of the mouth. The sample is analyzed, creating a DNA profile that can be used to identify a person. That profile, in turn, can be compared to an unknown DNA profile drawn from a different biological sample. If the profiles match, the two samples come from the same person or from identical twins.

At the forefront of forensic DNA science is the nation DNA data bank, formed as a result of legislation passed by the House six years ago. The data bank is recognized worldwide for the quality of its work and the professionalism of the scientists who work there.

Since it opened in June 2000, the data bank has helped solve almost 120 murders and over 300 sexual assault cases in communities from coast to coast to coast. It has played a pivotal role in helping police solve 250 armed robberies and almost 900 break and enters. The national DNA data bank has provided critical evidence leading to convictions in more than 1,700 serious crimes.

The power of DNA evidence is so well entrenched that we now almost take it for granted. It is remarkable to realize it was only 15 years ago that DNA typing methods were introduced into criminal investigations and trials in Canada.

The first conviction directly tied to DNA evidence came in 1989 in the case of a vicious sexual assault. The so-called McNally case transformed the administration of justice in Canada and paved the way for the introduction of the data bank just over a decade later. The evidence developed by the RCMP in a lab in the McNally case, was so compelling that it convinced the accused to change his plea to guilty.

Although the RCMP started using DNA analysis successfully in 1989, there was no coordination at the national level to help police take full advantage of steady advances in the technology.

In 1996, the Department of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice embarked on nationwide consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including the provinces and territories, police associations, privacy advocates, legal experts and victims groups.

Confirming the Government of Canada's commitment to combat crime, and particularly violent crime, Bill C-3, the DNA Identification Act, received royal assent in December 1998, and was proclaimed in June 2000. With royal assent, the RCMP committed to build a national DNA data bank and to make it operational within 18 months. The project was completed on time and under budget.

The nationwide consultations that contributed to the creation of the data bank also stressed the need to balance a suspect's right to privacy with the need for police officers to collect evidence.

The legislation imposes strict procedures to govern the handling of DNA profiles and biological samples to ensure the privacy interests are protected. Information collected by the national DNA data bank is used for law enforcement purposes only. The bill continues all of those protections.

Some members of the House will also know that the national DNA data bank advisory committee oversees the operation and offers advice to the commissioner of the RCMP.

The data bank is one component of the national police services administered by the RCMP for the benefit of the entire Canadian law enforcement community. The data bank currently employs 26 people and operates with an annual budget of $3.1 million.

The value of DNA to police investigations is remarkable. Biological samples collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to that scene or rule out the suspect entirely. Evidence from different crime scenes can be compared to link the same perpetrator to multiple offences, whether the crimes took place locally, across the country or halfway around the world.

Canada's national DNA data bank has been recognized as one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world. The national DNA data bank relies heavily on robotic technology. Combined with a worldclass inventory and sample tracking system, personnel can process more samples in less time and at a significantly lower cost than other similar operations.

Moreover, the facilities in other countries require enormous cold storage containers to maintain the quality of DNA samples awaiting processing. The Canadian system uses specialized blotting paper that stabilizes the DNA and allows it to be stored at room temperature in secure cabinets.

Although there are fewer numbers of samples in the Canadian national DNA data bank compared to its counterparts internationally, our data bank has realized success much earlier than many. Compared to DNA banks, such as the Florida state wide data bank, the Canadian bank has seen more matches per sample.

The national DNA data bank consists of two primary databases. The first is a convicted offender index and includes profiles from individuals convicted of certain serious Criminal Code offences. The second is the crime scene index which houses DNA profiles generated from crime scenes.

There are currently more than 57,000 profiles entered onto the convicted offender index and more than 14,000 on the crime scene index.

An offender “hit” occurs when a biological sample from a crime scene is sent to the data bank and the resulting DNA profile matches one in the convicted offender index.

A forensic “hit” occurs when a crime scene DNA profile is sent to the crime scene index and matches a profile from at least one other crime scene.

The data bank's success is based on a simple formula. The more profiles entered into the two indices, the more hits generated to help police investigators solve serious crimes.

One such “hit” solved the vicious 1992 murder of a convenience store attendant in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

I would like to conclude my remarks by reminding the hon. members across the way, who are so enthusiastic about the bill, that the national DNA data bank serves as one of the most powerful law enforcement tools available to Canadian police and courts.

Members will recall that more than 1,700 serious crimes have been solved over the last four years as a direct result of evidence generated by data bank scientists.

Even more encouraging is the fact that, as the national DNA data bank approaches full capacity, its impact will increase even further as greater numbers of samples are processed.

Enhanced automation and robotics will help scientists process even more DNA samples in a shorter period of time. New technology will help position the data bank to better respond to various types of forensic investigation, including mass disasters.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

The Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

In my opinion the yeas have it. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

(Motion agreed to and bill referred to a committee)

The House resumed from May 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-33, an act to amend the Fisheries Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Hillsborough P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for allowing me to rise in the House today to speak on this issue. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I appreciate the opportunity to add my thoughts to what has already been said earlier on this bill by the minister and to show my support for Bill C-33.

I would also like to add my thanks to the members of the standing joint committee, co-chaired by the hon. member for Surrey Central, for their interest in this issue, and their very hard work and efforts in bring their concerns forward.

I have carefully read about and listened to the committee's concerns. They have done a lot on this issue, as has been stated in the House by the minister and I believe others. That committee has reported to Parliament and its report, issues, concerns and recommendations have been taken very seriously.

Specifically, the committee has made a case for the need for greater clarity and certainty in the Fisheries Act. That, it is my submission, is exactly what Bill C-33 would do. It would provide greater clarity and certainty on matters of legislative authority with respect to regulations that govern Canada's aboriginal fishery. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has listened and the government is responding.

The bill would expressly provide that the governor in council could make regulations respecting the method of designation where a licence was issued to an aboriginal group. It would expressly provide that breach of a term or condition of a licence issued under the Fisheries Act would be an offence.

The bill proposes a number of amendments. It would amend the Fisheries Act to expressly make compliance with licence terms and conditions a requirement under the act. It provides that the terms and conditions of prescribed licences issued to aboriginal organizations prevail over other regulations. It defines for greater certainty the term “aboriginal organization”. It would permit the governor in council to prescribe an entity as an aboriginal organization. It provides express regulation making authority for designation provisions.

What we are offered today is an opportunity to clarify the Fisheries Act. Before we act on this opportunity, I would like at this time to highlight the government's longstanding, and I should add ongoing, efforts to strengthen the involvement of aboriginal groups in the management of fisheries on all three of our coasts.

Over the years many programs and initiatives have evolved to allow the Government of Canada to negotiate with and work cooperatively with aboriginal groups in the management of a regulated fisheries.

As everyone in the House knows, in 1990 the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling in the Sparrow decision. In that case the Supreme Court found that where an aboriginal group had the right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, it would take priority after conservation over other uses of that resource. The court also indicated the importance of consulting with aboriginal groups when their fishing rights might be affected.

In response to this decision, DFO launched the aboriginal fisheries strategy. Among other things, the strategy provides aboriginal groups with an opportunity to participate in the management of fisheries, thereby improving conservation, management and enhancement of the resource.

I would like to step back and talk about the aboriginal fisheries strategy. When the Sparrow decision came down, followed by the other decision on the east coast, the Marshall decision, there were certainly questions raised as to how these particular court decisions would be handled by society in general.

There was a certain feeling in the fisheries community, and I guess society as a whole, that we would have chaos in the fisheries industry. The principles of the fisheries industry as they are governed, conservation of the resource, sustainability of the industry and the whole precautionary principle would give way, and we would have chaos and things would be very troublesome.

That is not the case. This has been going on for quite a few years now. I am a little more familiar with the issues on the east coast rather than the west coast. I applaud the people who implemented the strategy. In my opinion, this is a strategy that has worked. As everyone in this House knows, not everything in Ottawa works; however, this strategy has worked. I want to congratulate everyone who was involved in the implementation of the strategy.

On the east coast we have, I believe, 34 native bands. There are presently agreements with 32 of the 34 bands. Unfortunately, with respect to one band, in the dying days, March 31 to be exact, the agreement just did not come about. It is a little unfortunate but again, 32 of the 34 bands have signed agreements.

In each case, the band has been given access to the fishery. It has been done on a coordinated basis and these principles of sustainabilty of the resource, conservation of the resource, and the sustainability of the industry have been adhered to.

Again, everything is not perfect. There have been a few problems along the way. As recently as last week, I talked with the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association. I asked him specifically if in his experience the program had worked. He was very unequivocal. He said that it had definitely worked. He had nothing but good to say about the way this program had been implemented in that province.

Looking back, it has been a real credit to the officials in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans but also, and perhaps more importantly, to the band chiefs who negotiated these agreements.

My province, I believe, has 28 lobster fleets and two snow crab fleets. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would have many times this amount, probably in the hundreds. I do not have the exact number. When a community, whether it is native or non-native, has three or four lobster fleets and maybe a snow crab fleet, or another fleet, it not only provides employment and economic development, but it also enhances the whole economic and social fabric of that community.

The coastal communities on the Atlantic coast rely on these fishing fleets, and the native communities are no different than the non-native communities. So with four or five lobster fleets and a snow crab fleet, they need gas, they need workers, and they need people to make repairs. There is the whole issue of the sale and marketing of the products. Name it, it is there. We can see the economic development opportunities that flow from this strategy, which again I applaud.

To turn the page, and keeping pace with change in recent years, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has renewed the strategy. Part of this renewal has included the development of two programs introduced last year that continue to increase the opportunities for first nations communities involved in our fisheries industries.

First, the aboriginal aquatic resources and ocean management, AAROM, program supports aboriginal groups in areas where DFO manages the fisheries and establishes aquatic resource and ocean management bodies. It enables these bodies to obtain access to skilled personnel and related support that allows them to participate effectively in decision making and advisory processes.

The second initiative is the aboriginal inland habitat program. That program shares the same objectives as the AAROM program but focuses on fish habitat management in inland provinces. This program facilitates the engagement of inland aboriginal groups in activities of fisheries and oceans in the fish habitat management program, and of course we are talking about aquaculture and fish farm management.

It encourages new collaborations among aboriginal groups and helps us build established working relationships. It is not part of the policy discussions, but I would hope that what happened on the Atlantic coast, with the inclusion of the native bands and the established fishery, that it would serve as a template for other industries, perhaps forestry or similar court cases that come down giving native groups rights, albeit limited, to some of our timber resources. That is also something that I think the government and perhaps our aboriginal leaders should consider. I really think this is a program that has worked and should be emulated in other areas.

Very recently the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced new initiatives for aboriginal fisheries mentoring and training. The at sea mentoring initiative will help Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and in the Gaspé region of the Province of Quebec to further develop skills to fish safely and effectively in various fisheries.

Again, we can see some of the challenges and dilemma of this program. In certain instances people are now fishing who did not fish before. It is not something that one can just go and do. One has to be trained. There is experience involved. It takes time. This program that I reported recently talks about some of the initiatives that the minister is taking to enhance the level of training and skills that our aboriginal fishers will need to have when they utilize the licences that are presently owned by their aboriginal communities.

It will assist the first nations in diversifying the catch in the inshore fishery and improving overall fishing skills in the mid-shore fishery as well as learning vessel maintenance.

There are always going to be challenges and it is never going to be perfect. I see the two programs that I just talked about adding two new layers to the existing program which has been so successful.

At the same time, the minister announced a new fisheries operation management initiative that will support first nations in learning more advanced skills to manage the communal fisheries assets with the objective of maximizing benefits not only for the fishers but also for the coastal communities. I want to reiterate how important that is.

Both of these initiatives respond to the training, the mentoring and the management expertise requirements identified by the first nation communities. In addition to helping aboriginal groups develop skills and capacity, we have increased their access to the fishery and we have signed multi-year fisheries agreements with 32 first nations.

Clearly this government continues to do its utmost to ensure that aboriginal Canadians can participate fully in the fisheries, with conservation and sustainability being the top priorities.

Despite all of these positive initiatives, as everyone is aware, certainly people who follow fisheries issues, the management of fisheries is extremely complex. We see that in what is going on off the coast of Newfoundland as we speak. There is nothing simple about the management of fish. Issues around treaty and aboriginal rights add to this complexity, but I believe they are being handled in a good manner.

As I first said when I rose, we certainly very much appreciate the committee's concerns around clarity. We are taking actions to address the issues that it has raised. I should point out also that there has been considerable consultation with aboriginal fishing groups and other fishing groups and I understand that the bill has received broad support from all concerned.

It is clear that Bill C-33 fulfills commitments made to the standing joint committee and addresses the issues raised in its reports. The bill proposes greater clarity and certainty on existing legislative authorities, a key component in an orderly and properly managed fishery.

I urge all members of the House to join me in supporting Bill C-33, which I consider a very important piece of legislation.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the parliamentary secretary and certainly agree with the thrust of the bill. The parliamentary secretary talked a fair bit about the Marshall decision, the Sparrow court decision and others that have had quite an impact on the regular commercial fishery.

In one of the ports in my riding and in regard to the allocation under the Marshall decision, although it was the right thing to do, and the intent was right, under that intent and after a certain period of time the aboriginal community was supposed to be fishing on its own on the water and not leasing out its operations to allow somebody else to fish. That is not exactly what happened. The fact of the matter is that some leasing is still going on so the full intent has not been exercised.

As well, I have heard a rumour, and I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could tell me whether the rumour is right or wrong. The rumour was that there would be two more allocations of fishing licences made in an area that is already tight in terms of the fishery and conservation. In my view, we are not supposed to be issuing additional licences. I would expect that the aboriginal community would have to wait until such time as those licences would be available.

I will ask the parliamentary secretary this for greater clarity and certainty in terms of where we are at relative to the Marshall decision. The fisheries committee provided the Department of Fisheries and Oceans some time ago with quite a list of questions and has never received any answers relative to the Marshall decision.

Can the parliamentary secretary assure me that no licences will be granted unless they can be purchased in order to be turned over?

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my learned colleague for this question. He certainly is very knowledgeable on this issue. He has lived it, not only in his district of Malpeque, Prince Edward Island, but also as a former chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Ocean, which has spent quite a bit of time studying this issue.

He raises some good points, but I think he does agree with me that from a global context, although everything is not perfect and this implementation has not been perfect, by and large the whole implementation of the Marshall initiative by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has worked reasonably well. It is not perfect.

The hon. member raised one point about the whole issue of aboriginal persons on the water. Again, that is one of the programs on which I just reported about seven minutes ago. The minister announced last year that the department is trying to upgrade the skills and training of the aboriginal fishers so that they will better trained in the whole process of fishing. My colleague knows that we cannot take what we call a landlubber and put him at sea or the next thing we know we are going to have problems. People may think that fishing is easy. It is not an easy occupation. It is a hard occupation and it is a dangerous occupation, and one has to be trained to do it.

What has happened on the east coast is that a lot of fishing families have been at it for eight generations. A lot of the Acadian families started in the 1600s, so for them it has been 10 and 12 generations. A lot of these men--although a lot of women go to sea now--were trained by their fathers. A lot of them started as young men and have learned their training at sea. Again, that is the program the minister announced and it has been a good program.

He identifies in his comments the whole issue of the acquisition of licences, and the learned member is correct that the department, to meet its requirement under the Marshall initiative, is supposed to get two additional licences on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. The department has tried its very best but one of the problems, because of the acquisition by DFO of a number of these licences over the last number of years, and perhaps because fishing has been relatively good--although there are parts of Prince Edward Island where the lobster fishery, especially on the strait side, has not been good, but in the district that I call LF24 it has been relatively good--is that it has driven up the price of these licences pretty high, as my learned friend knows very well, and that has caused problems in acquiring these last two licences.

My learned friend is right. It would be better to have them spread out across the north shore. Hopefully that will take place.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for my hon. colleague. The second one is basically about why there are only these small technical amendments in this act. There have been calls for amendments to the Fisheries Act for many years. We have a number of issues that have come from my riding, and the chambers of commerce nationally and the national Federation of Canadian Municipalities have been calling for certain reviews, so I question why there are only a few small technical amendments in this act.

My first question is related to whether the member can explain how this act, which came from parliamentarians, helps to fulfill the democratic deficit. As he knows, that is one of the most exciting things since the new administration came into place. The House has changed dramatically with free votes by the members, at least on this side, and there has been a whole change in tenor. If he remembers, when we first started this Parliament virtually all the debate from the opposition on all sides was related to how undemocratic this place was, and we do not hear a word of that anymore. It is a great empowerment of committees in Parliament and I find it exciting that we will be going into some free votes in a couple of minutes.

I wonder if the member could respond to those two questions: first, how this was actually an initiative of parliamentarians, responding to parliamentarians; and second, why there are not a lot of the other initiatives that people have been asking for in regard to the Fisheries Act.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the second question first. Yes, this issue arose from a court case on the west coast of Canada. It was referred to the standing joint committee. The standing joint committee put a lot of good work into the whole issue and shared its concerns with the Minister and Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The minister and the department responded very quickly, which I thought was appropriate. Again, as I pointed out previously, the amendments to the Fisheries Act have broad support, both within the native fisheries organizations and within the non-native fisheries organizations. I guess in hindsight this is the way the system should work, and I am pleased to be part of it on this particular issue.

On the other issue, my learned friend brings up a very important point on the whole review and modernization of the Fisheries Act. I am not sure my learned friend is aware, but some of the provisions of the Fisheries Act that are there now were, I believe, enacted in 1867 and are there without amendment. It is a very ancient act. There are a lot of unusual provisions. It probably does need a review. I have concerns that should be addressed in the Fisheries Act, but likewise every fisheries organization from coast to coast to coast has concerns.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the parliamentary secretary, but it being 5:29 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-12.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from May 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code (no parole when imprisoned for life), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-221.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from May 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-452, an act to amend the Criminal Code (proceedings under section 258), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-452 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)