House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was person.


Comments by Member for HochelagaPoint of Order

10:05 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday during members' statements, I spoke without thinking when I described the government's unfair assessment of the actions of the Bloc Québécois regarding justice matters. I used some language that was quite likely unparliamentary.

Members know that I am committed to this institution and to decorum. I apologize and I withdraw my remarks.

Comments by Member for HochelagaPoint of Order

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for his apology.

The House resumed from April 17 consideration of the motion that Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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10:05 a.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions). This bill raises some very important issues and fundamental questions about our justice system and our respect for civil liberties and human rights. I believe that this legislation compromises key principles of our justice system.

I want to begin with a quotation cited by Yusra Siddiquee, a representative of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, when he appeared before the Senate committee studying this bill. He quoted Justice Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada, who said:

The danger in the “war on terrorism” lies not only in the actual damage the terrorists can do to us but what we can do to our own legal and political institutions by way of shock, anger, anticipation, opportunism or overreaction.

It is important to keep this in mind. We have to remember that these provisions and ones similar to them in many other countries grew out of the period immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, a period when all of us were concerned for our security and anxious and fearful.

There are two major provisions in the bill before us, one for investigative hearings and the other for preventive detention. These were part of the Anti-terrorism Act that was passed in the period immediately following September 11, 2001. In that original legislation, these particular provisions sunsetted after five years.

Under the terms of the sunset clause, the provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act relating to investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions were set to expire on March 1, 2007 unless extended by a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament. A government motion to extend the measures without amendment for three years was defeated in the House of Commons on February 27, 2007 by a vote of 159 to 124, and the provisions ceased to have any force or effect.

That was the right decision. I am glad that the House took that decision. Now the government has reintroduced these provisions in this new legislation and that is the wrong decision. Both of these measures fundamentally compromise key principles of our justice system.

Let us consider first the provisions for investigative hearings. These provisions force someone to testify before a judge if he or she is suspected of having information about terrorist activity that has already occurred or that might occur. This provision directly compromises the right to remain silent, one of those fundamental principles of our justice system.

The refusal to testify at an investigative hearing can lead to one year of jail time. This can also reduce the right to silence for persons who are questioned by the RCMP or CSIS, in that if they are uncooperative with a police investigation, the possibility of having to go to an investigative hearing can be used to compel cooperation and compromise their right to remain silent.

Not everyone who chooses to remain silent is guilty. People may have very legitimate fears and concerns, such as fears and concerns about their own personal safety, for instance. Given the broad definition of terrorism in the Anti-terrorism Act, this provision is a problem, and the definition has come in for criticism over the years as well.

Many members who support this bill have said in debate that these are extraordinary measures that will be used in only the most serious of circumstances. I appreciate what RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell said before the Senate committee. He stated:

First, and most importantly, the RCMP recognizes that these provisions were intended for extraordinary situations and, as such, we approach them with restraint.

My preference would be to not go down that road until it is proven clearly that the measures already at our disposal are not effective in dealing with the challenges of terrorism faced in our country. Those good intentions are noble, and I believe the commitment made by the assistant commissioner is sincere, but as the expression goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

These provisions represent a very serious departure and in reality could be used against people who are legitimately protesting or are viewed as dissidents by our society. They could be used to harass or even imprison such people.

This provision also puts a judge in the position of having to oversee an investigation. This is not the practice of our justice system and is not something that most judges have any experience with. This is a major departure, since investigations in our system are undertaken by police authorities.

Jason Gratl, the president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, put the concern this way:

The primary difficulty with investigative hearings is that they distort the functions of the judiciary and the Crown. In essence, the course of order-making power of the judiciary is brought to bear on an investigation. That power places prosecutors in the role of investigators, which is unlike their usual role. It also places the judiciary in the position of presiding over a criminal investigation.

The other provision, preventive detention or recognizance with conditions, is the other key part of this bill. Again, this compromises a key principle of our justice system: that one should be charged, convicted and sentenced in order to be jailed.

This provision would allow the arrest and detention of people without ever proving any allegation against them. It could make people subject to conditions on release, with severe limitations on their personal freedom, and again, even if they have never been convicted of any crime.

Jailing people because we think they might do something criminal is very problematic, to say the very least, and it is easily apparent how such a measure can be easily abused. It is very similar to the provisions of the security certificate legislation in our Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Under that legislation, five men remain either in jail or subject to incredibly strict release conditions, house arrest conditions, even though they have never been convicted of any crime in Canada.

Hassan Almrei remains in jail at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, a double maximum security prison. He has been there for almost seven years now, ever since just immediately after September 11, even though he has never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.

Adil Charkaoui, Mohamed Harkat, Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammad Mahjoub are prisoners in their own homes, guarded by their spouses and others. These situations are very unjust. It is wrong for this to be included in the immigration legislation. It is wrong to include this same kind of measure in our anti-terrorism legislation.

These measures open very serious files on individuals, files alleging that they have some connection to terrorism. These files are opened on people who have never been convicted of any crime. They can be based on allegations that have never been proven. How do they defend themselves in such circumstances?

In this corner of the House, we believe that the Criminal Code is the best way to deal with issues of terrorism. The NDP justice critic, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, in his minority report on the Anti-terrorism Act review, said the following:

There is no act of terrorism that is not already a criminal offence punishable by the most stringent penalties under the Criminal Code. This is obviously the case for premeditated, cold-blooded murders; however, it is also true of the destruction of major infrastructures.

Moreover, when judges exercise their discretion during sentencing, they will consider the terrorist motive as an aggravating factor. They will find that the potential for rehabilitation is very low, that the risk of recidivism is very high and that deterrence and denunciation are grounds for stiffer sentencing. This is what they have always done in the past and there is no reason to think they will do differently in the future.

I can think of no offence related to terrorism that is not already included in the Criminal Code. I can think of no circumstance of a crime committed as part of an act of terrorism that would not be dealt with in the strictest, toughest way by our courts.

For instance, counselling to commit murder is already an offence under the Criminal Code. Being party to an offence is also a crime.

The crime of conspiracy is well established under the Criminal Code and deals with the planning of criminal activity. Let us be clear. In the conspiracy category, no crime actually has to be committed for someone to be found guilty of conspiracy under the Criminal Code.

We also have hate crime legislation that outlaws the promotion of hatred against a particular group.

It should also be noted that peace bond provisions already exist in the Criminal Code and can be exercised when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person's life or well-being is threatened by another person. This provision has similar power to preventive detention, but more significant safeguards are built into the Criminal Code provision. No one has demonstrated to my satisfaction that this existing provision will not meet the needs of dealing with terrorist activity.

As Denis Barrette, spokesperson for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and la Ligue des droits et libertes has said:

—Canadians would be better served and better protected if the authorities rely on the standard provisions of the Criminal Code. The use of arbitrary powers and the lowering of the standard of proof are no substitute for police work carried out in compliance with the rules. Indeed, these powers open the door to miscarriage of justice and the significant likelihood of damaging the reputation of individual citizens...

If our police and intelligence authorities do not have the resources they need to investigate potential terrorist acts and to charge those responsible, then we should review their needs immediately.

We cannot consider the bill without considering the question of racial and religious profiling. Racial and religious profiling is a problem in terrorism related investigations and prosecutions. It is a reality for many Canadians, especially those in the Arab and Muslim communities, but also to other people in other racial minority groups.

The provisions of Bill S-3 do nothing to reduce such concerns or to protect Canadian citizens from such profiling. We have to struggle with the experience of Arab and Muslim communities in Canada in the post-September 11 period.

Imam Zijad Delic, the national executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and formerly the Iman of the mosque in my community, brought some of the concerns of Canadian Muslims before the Senate committee. He noted their position that the Criminal Code could deal fully with terrorism-related crimes and that it best balanced security with human rights. He also noted that ensuring all Canadians participated fully in our society without having to be regarded with suspicion was very important. He said:

Education, engagement, participation and institutional integration through inclusion are far better alternatives....moving forward with good faith will create the atmosphere of trust, cooperation and engagement we need to make progress.

He also made a very direct plea at the committee when he said:

On policies and practices, profiling Canadian Muslims is an issue on which the Government of Canada and Canadian Muslims differ significantly. Muslims cannot accept that we are profiled as a security threat to our own country. If government policy is not engaged in profiling, its actual operational practices speak differently, as evidenced by many cases in Canada. Please do not give our law-and-order people more power without appropriate accountability....Canada does not need laws that will prevent its citizens from feeling accepted, embraced, safe and secure. Canada needs to rethink its approach toward this bill and to focus on bridge-building between government and the many communities and groups that make us the unique mosaic we are.

There is an important message in his statement. We must pay clear attention to the effect that legislation like Bill S-3 and its extraordinary provisions have in our communities, the effect that it will have on some law-abiding, honourable Canadians. If the legislation increases their insecurity, if it does not promote their safety, how can we believe that somehow it adds to the overall protection of Canadian society?

J.S. Woodsworth, the first leader of the CCF, once said, “What we desire for ourselves we wish for all”. We would be well advised to struggle with the meaning of that in the context of developing anti-terrorism and security measures that are experienced positively by all those Canadians who seek peace and justice, respect the law, promote values of equality and oppose terrorism.

I should point out that the NDP has a proposal to address racial and religious profiling in Canada in Bill C-493, which I tabled in the House. The original version of this bill was tabled by the member for Vancouver East and after consultations with members of the Arab, Muslim, black, aboriginal and South Asian communities, it was revised and re-tabled as Bill C-493.

That bill states that enforcement officers from the RCMP, Canada Customs, Canada Revenue Agency, the immigration department, Canada Border Security Agency, those operating under the Aeronautics Act or CSIS must not engage in racial or religious profiling. Those agencies must collect data to ensure this practice is not engaged and must put in place explicit policies and procedures to prevent it and to respond to complaints. They must also undertake an analysis of racism and how it functions in the context of the particular agency.

Racial and religious profiling is hugely detrimental to the stability and success of Canadian society. It must not be tolerated in any form. We must be explicit in our condemnation of it and ensure it is prohibited in law.

Denis Barrette also stated at the Senate hearings on Bill S-3:

These laws are used in emergencies, where fear and panic are at the forefront—somewhat like what happened at the time of September 11, 2001.

Fear is never a good adviser. It is rather in moments of peace and quiet that the importance of preserving rights and freedoms should be rationally assessed. It is obviously important to defend them in difficult times, but we must plan for how to protect them in difficult times.

It is easy to protect rights and freedoms in peaceful times. We must provide for the unpredictable and ensure that, in a moment of panic, legislation does not result in innocent victims because it was poorly conceived or because it was dangerous or useless.

I say clearly that I am opposed to Bill S-3 and the revisions it makes to the Anti-Terrorism Act, to reintroduce investigative hearings and preventive detention. We should instead let the Criminal Code of Canada do the job, a job it is fully capable of doing. We must also ensure that our police and intelligence authorities have the resources they need to carry out their investigations effectively and with respect for all Canadian citizens for human rights and for civil liberties.

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10:20 a.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for my colleague across the way.

What happens when an individual is a suspect and then ends up being found not guilty? What happens then? Does the bill provide for any compensation or anything else? What happens to that person who was labelled and whose reputation was tarnished by accusations that turned out to be untrue?

Could the member tell me, and everyone listening today, whether there are any provisions in this bill that provide something for those individuals who were suspected and turned out to be innocent?

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10:20 a.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure the legislation provides anything in that regard, and this is a serious problem. The legislation opens the door to people being subjected to extreme penalties, like detention, like having severe limitations put on their everyday activities, based on allegations that have never been proven in a court of law. That is one of the most unjust things a society can do to anyone.

The fact one can have allegations that are never tested by our rules of evidence, that are never tested in a court of law and that this can determine whether a person is free to move in society is extremely unjust.

Yesterday during the debate, we heard one member talk about his experience in a standing committee. I believe a representative of CSIS brought in an example of the kinds of dossiers it had on some people who were of concern to it. The member described this as being a very significant document, which outlined many very serious concerns. He said that he found it very disturbing.

He said that he put a question to a representative from the Civil Liberties Organization. He asked if the person wanted to live next door to a person like that. He said that the answer was no, that the person did not want to next door. I would have to look at the context of that discussion and question.

However, if I were to answer that question, I would consider the document provided to be a large dossier of allegations and until the day it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, that person deserved to live in my neighbourhood, or anybody else's neighbourhood. When we begin to make judgments about our fellow citizens, based on unproven allegations, we have gone down a very slippery slope to a place where I think most Canadians would have very serious concerns about human rights and civil liberties in our country.

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10:20 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Burnaby—Douglas on his speech. I know that he is a parliamentarian who always prepares his speeches carefully.

This bill raises a number of concerns. In fact, it is giving grey hair to all the parliamentarians in this House who are concerned about human rights.

We are discussing provisions that the House did not vote for and that someone is trying to bring back to life. I would like our colleague to tell us how many objectionable provisions there are in this bill in terms of the major constitutional guarantees provided by the charter, for example, the presumption of innocence and the right to remain silent.

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10:20 a.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Hochelaga is absolutely correct. Those of us who are concerned about civil liberties and human rights in Canada are very concerned about the legislation, and it causes significant worries for us. We have to be very clear.

The House did something proper, at the time the provisions were about to be sunsetted, in voting down an extension of these provisions. It is very clear that there has been no demonstrated need for them in Canada. We have good Criminal Code legislation that makes it very clear. Any of kinds of criminal activity associated with terrorism are of the most serious kinds of crime and they have some of the harshest penalties associated with them. The Criminal Code provides for processes of long-standing that balance the need to protect individual freedoms and the security and the needs of the state. There have been many years, centuries even, of jurisprudence to get us to that point in Canada, where we have a system that balances those concerns. It is very important we show respect for that system.

I am not convinced extraordinary measures have been necessary. In fact, they have never been used when they existed in that five-year period. It does not seem they have been part of what has been necessary to protect us in the circumstances that exist in the world today. We have to be vigilant about these kinds of provisions that would take us to a different place, that would suspend some of the basic rights that we have.

I think if we told many Canadians that we currently had someone in jail in Canada for seven years who had never been charged or convicted of a crime, they would find it unbelievable and shocking and would want to know how that was possible in Canadian society. However, we already have this with the security certificate legislation and with the situation of Mr. Almrei, who is in the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre. This is a very draconian legislation and is currently being used in Canada.

Despite assurances that extraordinary measures are not to be used or are only to be used in very extreme or difficult circumstances, here we have someone who has been detained for that period of time without any possibility of being released. It looks very bleak in that sense right now, given the extension of the legislation.

We have to be very vigilant about our commitment to human rights and civil liberties, to the principles of the charter and to ensure we judge this legislation in that light before it comes to a vote in the House of Commons.

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10:25 a.m.


Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me the speaker is raising unnecessary concerns that these provisions will somehow be abused. In fact, there are many safeguards with respect to the recognizance conditions.

First, I should point out that the consent of the Attorney General of Canada or the attorney general or solicitor general for the province has to be obtained.

Second, it is only if the person refuses to enter into the recognizance that her or she can be incarcerated, and that is an important point. Also, the person who enters that recognizance has the right to apply to change or to vary the conditions under the recognizance order.

It seems to me that many of the concerns he has raised are unnecessarily raising fear among Canadians that this will somehow be abuse.

Would he respond to those comments?

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10:25 a.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, why would we put someone in jail who has never been convicted of a crime in Canada, which is what this provision would do? Why would we put extreme limitations on people's personal freedoms when it has never been proven that they have committed a crime or posed any threat to Canadian society?

The problem with the legislation is that it takes those kinds of cases out of our usual justice system and makes an exception. It basically says that allegations have been made against a person, even though nothing has been proven in a court of law that the person has actually done anything, and we need to restrict the person's freedom in order to protect society.

We already have the possibility of doing that under the Criminal Code. Conspiracy is a crime under the Criminal Code, as is plotting a criminal activity. We should use those provisions and subject the person to the rigours of the Criminal Code, and the state to the rigours of the Criminal Code in those instances as well.

I see no excuse for short-circuiting that process. No one has been able to show that this has been necessary in the five years since September 11. We have charged people with offences related to alleged terrorist activity but we did not use these kinds of provisions to do that.

I think it is very dangerous to have this kind of extraordinary sweeping provision on the books when we already have legislation in the Criminal Code that can deal effectively with any situation that might arise and also balances the need for security and respect for human rights and civil liberties in Canada.

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10:30 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to mention that yesterday marked the departure of the head of parliamentary interpretation, Monique Perrin D'Arloz, who worked at the House of Commons for 35 years. On behalf of all parliamentarians, I want to thank her for being our voice. I attended the reception in honour of her departure. I thank her for being so dedicated to all the members of this House.

It is rather troubling to talk about Bill S-3. To understand this bill, you have to start with the 2001 terrorist attacks, which showed us that there was a connection between civil societies and terrorism. There were many expressions of solidarity from Canada. In his memoirs, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien talks at great length about the close historical relationship between Canada and the United States. President Kennedy once told John Diefenbaker, “Geography made us neighbours. History made us friends.” We have a special relationship with the United States that sometimes has advantages and sometimes disadvantages.

All Quebeckers and Canadians were shocked and saddened to see the twin towers collapse, because they felt for the people involved.

Nevertheless, a few months later, Anne McLellan, who would become the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, but was then the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, acted with some haste. Certainly, those were troubling times. No one in this House wants to minimize the events of September 2001.

But now we have had time to look back on things. The Anti-terrorism Act that was introduced was studied, clause by clause, by a special legislative committee. If I remember correctly, our colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel and the current defence critic, the member for Saint-Jean, represented the Bloc Québécois on that committee.

There was a certain collective anxiety and very strong pressure from the Americans, who had passed the Patriot Act. I do not want to talk about that American legislation, which goes much further than the Canadian legislation, but there was a sort of collective psychosis that may have led us to ignore human rights and major civil liberties a little too easily.

That does not mean the Bloc Québécois is minimizing the risk terrorism presents to society. The Bloc Québécois has long been interested in the entire issue of organized crime. An entire generation representing this House followed the work of CIOC. I was eight when the work of CIOC began, but others will remember quite clearly the tainted meat scandal. Many Quebeckers followed the CIOC proceedings. This was an opportunity to see that organized crime was not just a theory, but that it had taken root in the community.

Then there was a period of calm. In the 1990s, unfortunately, organized crime began to run rampant again, especially in large cities like Montreal. There was a fierce battle over the drug market. In my riding of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, this battle resulted in the car bomb attack that took the life of young Daniel Desrochers on August 9, 1995. This led us, and all parliamentarians in this House, to wonder how effective the measures in the Criminal Code were for dismantling major organized crime networks.

Today we are going a little further: we have to deal with terrorism.

Terrorism, in its contemporary form, attacks civil society through what are called undifferentiated attacks. It can be bombs in a subway, where groups, not individuals, are the target. When public buildings are attacked, no one in particular is targeted. Civil society is under threat. It is more serious and more difficult for law enforcement agencies to foil, investigate and dismantle terrorist networks that have a much broader scope than organized crime ever did.

I recently read a piece by Charles-Philippe David, the brother of the leader of Québec solidaire. He wrote that the driving force behind terrorism in the 21st century has largely, but not exclusively, been based on religious considerations. No country is safe from terrorism, but some countries are targeted more than others. In political science and history classes, we learned that the United States was the world's police officer. Their interventionist international policy obviously makes them a bigger target.

I do not want to leave out an important component of the historical background. Shortly after 2001, the Liberals introduced a bill that the Bloc Québécois did not support. There was a lot of pressure at that point in time. The Bloc Québécois did not support the bill because we questioned how effective it would be. We did not want to downplay the potential for a terrorist attack. We knew that it was a real possibility, and we wanted emergency measures and plans to be in place. I know that the civil protection people were working on this. However, we did not believe that the measures proposed at that time were the right ones.

For example, there was the possibility that people might be arrested without charges. And that goes against a fundamental principle of our justice system. When we want to bring people before the courts, we have a constitutional obligation to present evidence in order to charge them. If it is a serious matter, we proceed by way of indictment so that we can bring the entire justice system into play, with a defence lawyer and a crown prosecutor. We present the evidence. If it is a very serious matter, we proceed with a jury, and a trial will follow.

Former minister McLellan's bill twisted the administration of justice in two ways. When Anne McLellan's bill was introduced in the House, it contained a sunset clause. At the time, we were told that the provisions of the act would expire after a certain period of time, following which a parliamentary committee would study them and we, as parliamentarians, would decide whether it was appropriate to extend them. I would point out that the House did not consider it appropriate to extend provisions in the Criminal Code concerning sections 83.28, 83.29 and 83.3. Accordingly, we voted against it, and most members of the House decided to allow the provisions to expire. The feeling was unanimous among members of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. If I remember correctly, the Liberals were divided and the government was unanimous.

What are we concerned about? First, we are concerned about the so-called investigative hearings. This is all based on allegations. No charges have been laid, nobody has been convicted; nobody has even been put on trial. The government is getting ahead of the justice system and once again, it wants us to support sections 83.28 and 83.29 of the Criminal Code. These are what they call investigative hearings.

Let me explain because this is somewhat technical and I would like our fellow citizens to understand what it is all about. A peace officer—a police officer to put it simply—may make an application to a provincial court judge—in Quebec, warrants are issued by provincial court judges—or a superior court judge with the prior consent of the Attorney General. It is correct to say, as our friend did earlier, that the consent of the Attorney General is required for an order for the gathering of information to be issued.

A peace officer or his agent may go before a superior court judge or a provincial court judge and explain that he would like to gather more information on a given individual because he has reasonable grounds to believe that the individual in question may have terrorist connections.

I remind the hon. members that we are talking about information in a context where no charges have been laid and no trial held, and that such an approach is totally arbitrary. The individual is required to appear before a judge. Hopefully, he or she will be notified in writing. The individual would be ordered, for example, to report to the Montreal courthouse next Tuesday, at 10 a.m., for an examination and to face justice. We are talking about an examination before a judge, where the individual will be required to answer questions. He or she may not refuse to answer.

In addition, the general principle whereby one has the right not to incriminate oneself does not apply under sections 83.28 and 83.29. The only exception, of course, is a person who has privileged information, for instance someone working for Criminal Intelligence Service Canada. These people are never required to disclose privileged information, the same way that police officers are never required to divulge their sources.

So, the examination is held before a judge, and the individual is required to answer the questions. Naturally, one might want to trivialize this. I heard earlier a government member say that the Attorney General was certainly necessary and that the person has the right to counsel. But do members not realize that we are talking about a situation where no charges have been laid against the person, yet he or she had to undergo questioning before any formal judicial process has been initiated? That is worrisome.

I must remind the House that this is similar to what happened with security certificates. That is another issue, but it follows the same logic. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration along with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada can sign a certificate ordering that an individual be arrested, tried and convicted, without having any access to the evidence that led to his or her arrest.

At the time, it was my colleague, Michel Bellehumeur, member for Berthier—Montcalm, who is now a member of the judiciary, given his talent and experience, who had raised this issue. When we of the Bloc Québécois said this was somehow detrimental to justice and showed a lack of respect for fundamental freedoms, at the time, the Liberals refused to accept our arguments. The case went before the Supreme Court of Canada and, in January 2006 or 2007, the whole thing was of course declared unconstitutional. The government had to go back to the drawing board and introduce another bill. But we are not satisfied with that bill, because it designates a kind of amicus curiae, a friend of the court, who would have access to the evidence. Yet that friend of the court, who would be defending the accused, cannot share the evidence with his or her client.

Thus, we see some logic that is completely twisted and completely inexcusable with regard to some major constitutional guarantees. I would be willing to bet on this, even though I am generally quite cautious. I am not a man of great wealth, which is why I tend to be cautious. But I would be willing to bet that these provisions will find their way to the Supreme Court of Canada and that the government will lose again regarding the drafting of this bill.

It would be even more surprising given that sections 83.28 and 83.29 of the Criminal Code have never been invoked. Law enforcement organizations never used these sections once over a six or seven year period, that is from the time they were passed until the day of the failed vote to extend the sunset clause.

Why? Because there are other provisions already in the Criminal Code. As we learned in our law courses, pursuant to section 495 of the Criminal Code, a peace officer may arrest an individual and bring him before a justice of the peace if there are reasonable grounds to do so. Naturally, there must be some basis for this action. In fact, anyone can do this. For example, if I have reason to believe that my neighbour will rob a bank, I can go before a judge and lay the information. This person may be summoned to appear and may have to enter into a peace bond.

Naturally, these provisions apply to the issue of terrorist networks. We could not understand why we needed a new law when such provisions were already in place.

As for investigative hearings, they provide a means of obtaining information about individuals who have not even been charged. They may be brought before a judge and undergo an actual examination, even though they may have legal representation, without ever having been charged.

The second clause of Bill S-3, which seeks to bring back the two clauses which expired after the vote in the House, pertains to section 83.3 of the Criminal Code, which deals with recognizance and preventive arrest and detention.

The scenario is as follows. Again with the consent of the Attorney General, who is generally the Minister of Justice, a peace officer who believes that a terrorist act will be committed can require that a person sign a recognizance with conditions or ask that the person be arrested, if necessary, to prevent a terrorist act from being committed. This peace officer will lay an information before a provincial court judge. The judge will order the person to appear if the judge is convinced that this is necessary. According to the bill, the person will have 24 hours after the information is laid to appear. A show-cause hearing will then be held to determine whether or not the person should be arrested or whether conditions should be imposed on the person. Generally, these conditions pertain to the person's movements and contacts with certain people.

In short, the difference is that this person can be formally arrested.

It is true that the Criminal Code already contains section 810, which, if memory serves, was adopted when we studied the first anti-gang bill. The Bloc Québécois won that battle, which resulted in an anti-gang law. I clearly remember that at the time, senior officials wanted to bring down organized crime using the conspiracy provisions. They had a hard time understanding that we were facing a new situation where people were very well organized into networks and formed a veritable industry that terrorized big cities like Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.

Consequently, there are already provisions whereby individuals can be required, preventively, to keep the peace or not have contact with certain people. For example, in cases of sexual assault, the person must not be allowed to have contact with victims. Here, though, we have a situation where people can be arrested preventively, without being charged or tried.

Clearly, this bill is rather disturbing. I do not believe that the Bloc Québécois can support this bill, and we invite all members to reject it.

I will close by saying, once again, that the Criminal Code contains everything needed to intervene; we do not need these provisions.

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10:50 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from the Bloc for his intervention.

The concerns that we have had on this side have been about due process. We have heard from the government and others regarding due process, suggesting that all is well and that the Conservatives have the right balance somehow. They have taken a piece of legislation, which they believe was riddled with problems, but nonetheless, enough was done to repair the concerns.

I am particularly concerned about due process, the provision of evidence and what happens when someone does give a statement and what happens to that.

I would like the hon. member's take on the concerns he might have as a member of Parliament, as a legislator. Does he believe that the balance is right? We have certainly heard from his speech the concerns he has, but could he elaborate on that, particularly concerning evidence and due process?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, we do not believe this bill is balanced. First, as we have said, there are at least two constitutionally recognized rights being ignored in this bill, namely the right to remain silent and the right not to self-incriminate. When we start talking about preventive arrests, there is little room for those rights to be respected.

We also do not understand why these provisions are needed when sections 495 and 810 of the Criminal Code already include everything we need to lay charges when necessary.

This is not a balanced bill. It only addresses the allegation stage. There is no room for proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, which is generally the threshold in criminal law. There is reason to be worried about the potential adoption of these provisions.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague and I am very proud that he is taking an interest and trying to uphold the rights we have acquired over the years.

I know that my colleague is very young, so he likely does not remember that an entire society, Quebec's francophone society, was put on trial in October 1970. I was 20 years old, six and a half months pregnant, and I was a victim of and witness to the war measures unjustifiably instituted simply because a few people had misstepped and committed crimes. But an entire society was put on trial and things went too far. Hundreds of people were unjustly accused, without even being told what they were accused of.

This experience traumatized me for a long time. Now, when I hear about provisions that could infringe on rights and muzzle me, I have to question whether they are appropriate or legitimate. I wonder if my colleague thinks the government wants to include these provisions in the bill so that it can move forward with its right-wing agenda, its right-wing ideology.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. It is true that I was eight years old in 1970. I vaguely remember it. We can remember certain things, even from when we were eight. My parents also told me about the tanks on the streets of Montreal at that time. And they certainly remember the artists, the people who were targeted for arrest.

Imagine that in 1970 we suspended habeas corpus, a provision of the law whereby people cannot be arrested without a warrant. The Charter did not exist then; there was only the Canadian Bill of Rights. As for all of the abuses described by my colleague, which were traumatic for both individuals and society, we were not protected because there were not enough legal rights.

Even though there are charters in Quebec City and Ottawa, they still want to regress in terms of ensuring human rights. My colleague is right in making this comparison, and yes, we should be worried.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to applaud my colleague's eloquence. As a new member elected in 2006, I have looked to him as a model. I am inspired by his very clear way of explaining the issues surrounding such an important bill—a bill the Bloc Québécois will not support.

I am not an expert in legal matters, but what I would like to understand is, does this bill include a section or a clause that explains what happens to the individual, the man or woman, who is under suspicion, is taken in for questioning and who is thereafter stigmatized and labelled and suffers the consequences because the community knows about it, even though the suspicions or allegations against that person turn out to be unfounded? What does this bill say about that? I would like my colleague to explain that. What is there in this bill for an individual who was under suspicion and turned out not to be guilty?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

In the case of preventive arrest, during the judge's questioning, an individual can find out on the basis of which allegations he or she has been brought before the judge. The member is right: this bill, combined with what we know about the security certificate process, means that individuals will not have access to the evidence or to the normal process that is supposed to be followed for a trial. The only way for an individual to find out what he or she is accused of is through questioning, through interaction with the judge who questions him or her.

Amateur SportsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is that time of year when Canadians are enjoying the excitement of the NHL playoffs.

I would like to draw to the attention of the House a local hockey organization that is working to provide amateur athletic sports programs to persons with developmental disabilities.

The Cambridge Ice Hounds began in September 2006 and has grown to over 35 participants, making Cambridge the centre of one of the most successful special hockey programs in the province.

As well, congratulations go to the Galt Minor Hockey School for celebrating its 40th year of operation. Believed to be one of the oldest in Canada, it started in 1967 with an enrolment of 40 kids and has since grown to over 12,000 registrations.

Finally, congratulations to our local athletes of the year at their respective universities: Anthony Maggiacomo, Wilfrid Laurier; Carly Cermak, McMaster; and Lindsay Carson, University of Guelph.

Congratulations, Cambridge. Go, team.

Peace it TogetherStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the House a non-government organization in my riding which, though small, does great work.

Peace it Together, as the organization is called, is run by an Israeli and a Palestinian. It began in 2004 as a summer camp, but its success is such that it now functions all year long bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and Canadian youth in a safe environment in B.C.

The youth interact, build bridges of understanding and learn the skills of conflict resolution. They confront the difficult problems they face back home in the Middle East as they forge common bonds and goals. The Canadian youth act as a buffer and they learn about the reality of hate and the solution of negotiation. The youth use film, multimedia and dialogue as their tools.

This group has no government funding. The group needs it urgently because there is a huge demand to expand the program. We all know that the youth of today can be the peacemakers of tomorrow given the right help, yet the government has refused to meet with this group. What a shame.

Robbert FortinStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were saddened to learn of the passing of poet Robbert Fortin on April 14, 2008.

This great Quebecker, poet, painter and engraver had a magnificent career—especially as a poet—which saw him earn the grand prize at the Salon du livre de Toronto in 1996 for his book Peut-il rêver celui qui s'endort dans la gueule des chiens and the award of excellence from the Société des écrivains in 1998 for his book entitled Je vais à la convocation, à ma naissance. In 2006, he published his tenth collection, Les dés du chagrin.

He was a member of the Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois and senior editor, with the publishing house Éditions de l’Hexagone, of the poetry collection L'appel des mots, dedicated primarily to Quebec poetry.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to extend deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of this great poet, Robbert Fortin.

Foreign TakeoversStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, since 1985, more than 12,000 Canadian firms, or the equivalent of over half our manufacturing sector, have become foreign owned. In Hamilton, steel giants Stelco and Dofasco were sold off, as were other Canadian icons, like Molson, Labatt and the Montreal Canadiens. When ownership leaves Canadian hands, jobs often follow.

But last week, we found out that it is possible to stand up for Canadian interests and stop these takeovers. We almost lost cutting edge space technology that was designed to protect our Arctic sovereignty and monitor climate change because the previous Liberal government privatized it, but pressure from NDP MPs and average Canadians blocked the corporate buyout that would have handed vital Canadian space technology to a U.S. weapons contractor.

The industry minister rejected the deal for not providing a net benefit to Canada. Unfortunately, this is the exception, not the rule. Since 1985, not a single foreign takeover had been rejected and 87% had been approved without even being reviewed.

It is time for real leadership. The minister has announced that he will consider a new national security test for takeovers, but why can he not enforce an economic security test as well? He owes it to hard-working Canadians to ensure that decent paying jobs are not put in jeopardy by foreign takeovers.

Prostate CancerStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, governments can and should do more to fight prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer among Canadian men.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, this year it is estimated that almost 25,000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,300 men will die of it. On average, 475 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every week. On average, 83 men die of prostate cancer every week. That is 11 men a day.

The Motorcycle Ride for Dad is Canada's biggest annual motorcycle event dedicated to fighting prostate cancer through research, education and awareness. In 19 cities across the country, from St. John's to Vancouver and all points in between, Canadians on motorbikes will raise money and awareness to help fight this terrible disease.

I encourage anyone who can to visit and join me on this ride.

On behalf of Parliament, I want to thank all the volunteers, the donors and sponsors for making this event the incredible success it has become. We hope that 2008's ride will be the best yet.

Lucien and Adrien BosséStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is not every day that people have the good fortune to celebrate their 80th birthday together. But twins Lucien and Adrien Bossé from Saint-François-de-Madawaska, born April 12, 1928, are doing just that.

They each have their own way of sharing their memories. They both like to say that since they were identical twins, they confused more than one person. They would change places to fool their teacher and had fun playing tricks on people.

The twins grew up and took different paths, but always remained close. Lucien had many careers. He worked in construction, for example, at Nadeau & Nadeau and as a cabinetmaker. He also enjoys doing volunteer work in his community. As for Adrien, he enjoyed a long career as a barber and later worked for Nadeau & Nadeau. He is also involved in various activities in his community.

On this unique and joyous occasion, the citizens of Madawaska—Restigouche join with me in wishing both Lucien and Adrien Bossé a very happy 80th birthday.

PhilippinesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Philippines faces serious human rights challenges, notably the ongoing extrajudicial killings and the apparent culture of impunity. Canada raised these concerns on April 11 during the Human Rights Council's universal periodic review of the Philippines.

Canada also encouraged the Philippines to ensure that its security forces are aware of human rights and their responsibility to protect human rights defenders.

Canada is encouraged that the Philippines has expressed its commitment to end extrajudicial killings through undertaking initiatives such as Task Force Usig, the Melo commission, and the visit of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. We also commend the laudable role of the Supreme Court in the preservation of human rights and in the pursuit of justice.

We encourage the Philippines to work at implementing the recommendations and to make progress on convictions. Canada supports the Philippines in implementing measures to promote and protect the human rights of all Filipinos.

Science FairStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, for the fist time, a record number of students will be representing the Outaouais region at the Science Fair's national finals to be held in Montreal from April 17 to 20.

Four of the eight projects selected at the Outaouais finals were presented by students from high schools located in my riding of Gatineau: Célyanne Couture, Milène Paquin, Talia Losier, Émilie Courchesne and Émina Alic from the Polyvalente Nicolas-Gatineau, and David Gagnon from the Polyvalente Le Carrefour.

The top prize went to Émina Alic, a grade 10 student enrolled in a math and science concentration, for her science popularization project entitled “The hidden face of cosmetics” dealing with the dangers associated with these products.

It is with great pride that the Bloc Québécois joins me in congratulating everyone of these students for their drive, creativity and contribution to this major event. They own the future.