Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the amendments to the Criminal Code proposed by the hon. member for Wild Rose in Bill C-329.
The bill summary tells us that the purpose of this enactment is to give a peace office the power to arrest without a warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order binding the person or a condition of the person's parole.
As you know, Madam Speaker, the Criminal Code already contains provisions that enable the police to arrest persons without a warrant. It might be instructive, however, if we took a few moments to review these provisions.
Subsection 495(1) of the Criminal Code provides the police with the power to arrest without warrant a person whom first, the officer believes on reasonable grounds has committed an indictable offence, which would be in the past; second, who the officer believes on reasonable grounds is about to commit an indictable offence, which would be a future offence; or third, one who is actually committing a criminal offence, which would obviously be in the present.
However, this power of arrest without warrant is circumscribed by subsection 495(2) of the Criminal Code. Here is what subsection 495(2) provides:
(2) A peace officer shall not arrest a person without warrant for
(a) an indictable offence mentioned in section 553,
Theft where the alleged value of the subject matter of the offence does not exceed $5,000 would be an example of such an offence. It continues:
(b) an offence for which the person may be prosecuted by indictment or for which he is punishable on summary conviction, or
(c) an offence punishable on summary conviction,
in any case where
(d) he believes on reasonable grounds that the public interest, having regard to all the circumstances including the need to
(i) establish the identity of the person,
(ii) secure or preserve evidence of or relating to the offence, or
(iii) prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence, may be satisfied without so arresting the person, and
(e) he has no reasonable grounds to believe that, if he does not so arrest the person, the person will fail to attend court in order to be dealt with according to law.
In other words, while the Criminal Code authorizes the police to arrest a person without an arrest warrant in circumstances that would allow a peace officer to reasonably believe that the person is connected to the commission of a criminal offence, it also places reasonable limits on that authority.
Reading subsection 733.1(1) of the Criminal Code, the offence of failure to comply with a probation order, and paragraph 495(1)(a) together, it is clear that a peace officer already has the power to arrest without a warrant a person who has committed the offence described in subsection 733.1(1), or who on reasonable grounds he believes has committed or is about to commit the offence. This would appear to make the proposed new paragraph 495(1)(b.1) redundant.
The new paragraph 495(1)(b.2) of the Criminal Code proposed by Bill C-329 would authorize police officers to arrest without warrant persons who fail to comply with a condition of parole or unescorted temporary absence.
Members should know that non-compliance with a parole condition or a condition attached to an unescorted temporary absence is not a criminal offence. The law is clear. If the act which constitutes the parole violation is in fact the alleged commission of a criminal offence, then section 495 would authorize the arrest without a warrant.
This proposed legislation would give the police the power to arrest without warrant for a mere curfew violation or some other matter which is not a criminal offence and then prevent the release of that person.
What is being proposed here is arrest without warrant for conduct which is not a criminal offence, followed by imprisonment without trial. Just what is to become of that person is not clear. I suppose that the individual would have to apply to the courts for a writ of habeas corpus to secure a release.
These are matters addressed under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and essentially such conduct should lead to the cancellation of the unescorted temporary absence and the issuance of an apprehension warrant, and where the police officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that such a warrant is in force, he or she may arrest the person without warrant and remand the person into custody.
Similarly, when an offender breaches a condition of parole or statutory release, the person's parole or statutory release may be cancelled and a warrant of apprehension may be issued, and where a peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that such a warrant is in force, he or she may arrest the person without warrant and remand the person into custody.
The supervision of offenders on conditional release is a function assigned solely to parole supervisors under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The decision to suspend the conditional release for a breach or to prevent a breach under the CCRA rests with the correctional authorities and the National Parole Board.
When conditional release is suspended, whether for a breach or to prevent a breach, then and only then is there a warrant issued for the arrest of the individual. The proposed Bill C-329 would conflict with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and its underlying principles.
I suggest the proposed legislation is misdirected and ineffectual as a legislative proposal. The bill is unnecessary. It would not contribute to enhancing the safety of Canadians or making the criminal justice system more effective.