Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, on Bill C-72. I will not read the entire bill, but, for the benefit of those listening, I want to read the bill summary:
This enactment amends the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act to facilitate the implementation of An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act—
It makes technical changes to those acts and addresses five points:
(a) allows a court to require a person who is given notice of an application under subsection 487.055(1) of the Criminal Code and who wishes to participate in the hearing to appear by closed-circuit television or a similar means of communication;
(b) allows samples of bodily substances to be taken as soon as feasible after the time set by an order or a summons for the taking of the samples or, if no such time is set, as soon as feasible after the day on which an order is made or after an authorization is granted;
(c) requires the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to destroy the bodily substances collected under an order or authorization and the information transmitted with it if, in the opinion of the Attorney General or the Director of Military Prosecutions, as the case may be, the offence to which the order or authorization relates is not a designated offence;
(d) enables the Commissioner to communicate internationally the information that may be communicated within Canada under subsection 6(1) of the DNA Identification Act; and
(e) allows the Commissioner to communicate information for the purpose of the investigation of criminal offences, and allows the subsequent communication of that information for the purpose of the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences.
Bill C-72, which seeks to clarify Bill C-13, mainly focuses on the taking of samples of bodily substances. Bill C-13 was passed as a result of negotiations among all the parties in this House, including the Bloc Québécois. It was a compromise that was passed unanimously in order to give ensure the taking of samples of bodily substances after certain crimes.
Bill C-13, which received the unanimous consent of the House, is currently being considered by the Senate at first reading stage.
What does Bill C-13 have to add? That is an important question. I will explain how DNA samples could be taken before we had this bill. Previously, an order authorizing the taking of DNA could be issued when the offender was convicted of a designated offence. These designated offences were divided in two categories: primary offences and secondary offences. As long as Bill C-13 is not in effect—I mentioned earlier that is under consideration by the Senate—the list of primary offences will be limited and will include serious personal injury offences such as murder, aggravated assault or sexual assault, while the list of secondary offences will include crimes against persons as well as crimes against property causing danger to human life such as robbery, break and enter, assault or arson.
In the case of primary offences, that is the most serious cases, the collection order is virtually automatic. The judge is required to make an order for the collection of a DNA sample from the offender, unless the offender can convince the court that this would have an effect on his privacy and safety markedly out of proportion with the protection of society. On the other hand, for secondary offences, the sample will be ordered on request from the Crown provided it can convince the judge that this is necessary in the interest of justice. That is the way things are at present.
Put more succinctly, in serious crimes such as murders, aggravated assaults and sex crimes, the order has been virtually automatic until now, unless the accused has been able to prove that his privacy and safety were affected. For secondary offences, the order was made in response to a request from the Crown.
When Bill C-13 comes into effect, these rules will be substantially changed.
Bill C-72 applies Bill C-13. For better understanding, we need to know that Bill C-13 divides offences into two categories: primary and secondary, and provides lists for each. These are, therefore, list A and list B, and DNA samples are handled differently for each. The A list contains the most violent offences. Under Bill C-13, the judge is obliged to order that a sample be taken as soon as the individual is found guilty of one of the offences in list A. There will be no discretion. I will read that list of offences. It is important for those listening to us to hear them.
These offences are: living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18; murder, manslaughter; attempted murder; assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm with intent; discharge of compressed air gun with intent to endanger life; administering a noxious thing with intent to endanger life or to cause bodily harm; overcoming resistance to the commission of an offence; aggravated assault; unlawfully causing bodily harm; sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm; aggravated sexual assault; kidnapping; robbery and extortion.
Therefore, in the context of C-13, these 16 offences will become primary designated offences for which a judge will be required to order a sample be taken following an individual's conviction.
Bill C-72 adds something. Under C-13, the judge must order a sample on conviction, while under C-72, bodily substances may be taken as soon as feasible after the time set by an order or a summons for the taking of the samples or, if no such time is set, as soon as feasible after the day on which an order is made or after an authorization is granted. That clarifies matters. Once an individual is convicted, a number of steps follow in a process. So this clarifies things and tells us that the sample will be taken as soon as it is feasible after the moment set by an order. Accordingly, once a charge has been laid, the sample may be taken. It will be mandatory in the case of the 16 offences I listed, the primary designated offences contained in list A.
In list B of the primary designated offences, the sampling order is almost automatic, unlike in the case of list A, where it is automatic. The judge is obliged to order DNA sampling, unless the offender can show that the sample would have an impact on his personal life or safety that would far outweigh any protection it would afford society.
List B includes some 20 offences for which the judge must authorize the sample unless the accused convinces him otherwise. The list includes sexual assault—except for aggravated sexual assault; hostage taking; breaking and entering a dwelling-house; intimidation of a justice system participant or journalist; attack on premises, residence or transport of an internationally protected person; attack on premises, accommodation or transport of United Nations or associated personnel; explosive or other lethal device; participation in activities of a criminal organization; commission of offence for a criminal organization; instructing commission of offence for a criminal organization; luring a child; child pornography; sexual exploitation of a person with disability; procuring; and offences historically of a sexual nature, in other words offences that have been replaced by modern crimes, including indecent assault.
For the primary offences mentioned in list A there will be an automatic requirement to take a sample. For the offences in list B, unless the accused manages to prove that this infringes upon his privacy, a sample will be taken. Furthermore, some secondary offences that are non designated offences in the primary categories are punishable by a maximum of imprisonment for five years.
Under the secondary offence system, the judge can authorize the taking of a DNA sample if the Crown proves it is in the interest of justice.
That means in 200 offences where a DNA sample is taken a series of 16 will be mandatory, as will a series of 20, unless the accused manages to prove that this infringes on his privacy and safety. As for the secondary offences, if ever the Crown proves it is in the interest of justice to proceed, DNA tests will be mandatory.
Clearly, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-72. It clarifies Bill C-13 and allows, once and for all, for criminals not only to be able but to be required to give DNA samples, samples of bodily substances, so that we can confront them with their crimes.