Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in what time is left to speak to Bill C-426.
I know the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is a respected criminal law lawyer who has had a long-standing interest in protecting journalistic activity. I expect that one of the purposes of the bill is to codify or cement current conditions and current common law protection to ensure they are not eroded either through legislation before us or perhaps by subsequent case law.
I agree with the hon. member that there is a very important public interest in ensuring that journalists are free to pursue truth, to expose wrongdoings, to look into avenues and to keep public officials accountable. There is also an extremely important public interest in pursuing truth in another arena, and that is in the context of legal proceedings, especially criminal trials where the innocence and liberties of a person are at stake.
There is thus the potential for the pursuit of truth by the journalistic context to clash with the pursuit of truth at trial. The courts have tried to address this tension. They have done so by applying a sophisticated balancing test between protection of freedom of the press and the state's interest in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity.
The issue before us is not the importance of journalistic activity in their pursuit of truth. Rather the issue is whether the provisions of Bill C-426 bring greater clarity to the law without unduly compromising the pursuit of truth in civil and criminal proceedings. Therein lies my concern with Bill C-426. I do not feel it does address the serious operational and policy problems.
For example, the reality is that search warrant provisions, which are already contained in the Criminal Code, are an extremely important tool in the investigation of crime. By attempting to shift these provisions into the Canada Evidence Act instead, a serious flaw would be created by the bill not clarifying the current law.
Clearly it is beyond the scope of Bill C-426 to consider amendments to the Criminal Code to modify search warrant—