House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pre-clearance.


Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague makes a good point with respect to the application of our constitutional framework in Canada. However, as much as it is fair to talk about some of the issues that are going on in the United States, it is a little irresponsible to go too far in trying to suggest things about the United States that would compare it to other extreme things going on in the world.

At the end of the day, the United States has a robust judiciary, a system of rule of law, and strong institutions that are there even to insulate against decisions of an executive, with which members here may or may not agree.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Surrey Centre.

I am happy to speak about pre-clearance, and what it means for my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul. Every time I am at home, I see more trucks on Winnipeg's roads heading to CentrePort. These are signs of growth, trade, jobs, and these jobs are, many of them, in my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul.

My good friend and fellow Ukrainian Canadian, the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, has stressed how important it is to make our border thinner. The Prime Minister has worked with our American neighbours to bring our two countries closer together.

During her recent meetings in Washington, the foreign affairs minister stressed that making trade easier with Canada was a priority, including extending pre-clearance for product shipments. She is quoted in The Canadian Press as saying:

Our conversations focused on ways to make that border thinner. We talked about pre-clearance for cargo as an area that we might want to be working on, going forward.

Right now, Canada hosts 15 international pre-clearance stations at its airports. A Canadian government spokesman said:

Any U.S. pre-clearance activities in Canada have to be carried out in a manner consistent with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

U.S.-Canada trade is very significant for Canada. U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totalled an estimated $662.7 billion in 2015 and exports were $337.3 billion, with imports at $325.4 billion. U.S. goods and services have a trade surplus with Canada of only $11.9 billion in 2015.

Looking at Manitoba trade exports, who was our number one partner? The United States, of course, with $16.291 billion exported to the United States while we import $9.527 billion worth of products.

Therefore, it makes good sense for Kildonan—St. Paul, for Manitoba, and for all of Canada to look at ways to make our relationship with the United States better.

I am very proud to say that our current Prime Minister had a very successful mission to Washington where he was able to make renewed friends with the new President, and in fact, talked about a number of issues including how we can enhance trade between our two countries, an issue that the President and our Prime Minister both recognized as having benefits for both countries.

Today, I want to focus on what more open borders will mean for businesses in my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul. Winnipeg's James Richardson Airport has had U.S. pre-clearance for many years, and in the last decade the increase in cargo pre-clearance has made a huge difference for Manitobans.

Also in my riding is Palliser Furniture, which produces outstanding furniture, and the owners and many of the workers at Palliser live and work in my riding. This is a growing company that has grown through Canada's policy of free and open trade. As our government moves to ratify the Canada-Europe and Canada–Ukraine free trade deals, it is possible that in the future I will be speaking about Palliser's location in Kiev and Warsaw.

In Winnipeg, we built CentrePort, North America's largest inland port. CentrePort is a hub that connects our local businesses with their partners all over the world through air, road, and train systems.

Our open trade policy means that CentrePort has been rapidly growing. At 20,000 acres, there is a lot of room for more investment. In the last year, CentrePort has seen several new developments, including the announcement of a new $25 million grain handling facility, and a partnership with Mexican business and government leaders to bring investments to Manitoba.

All of this growth has meant that CentrePort has had to expand its existing infrastructure, water, telecommunications, and natural gas, so there can be new opportunities for businesses and to create new jobs for all of the new workers.

In fact, new needs of CentrePort are roads and infrastructure. Particularly important for my riding is the Chief Peguis Trail, and I encourage the Conservative government of Manitoba to come to the table, to take our generous offer of building infrastructure in Manitoba to create jobs and new investments in Manitoba, like other western provinces where more infrastructure is needed.

Trading hubs like CentrePort are important because they keep our connections strong and our economy moving. In Manitoba, almost 40% of our economic activity is the result of trade with American partners. As a manufacturing hub, we export over $16 billion worth of goods every year. In fact, Manitobans trade almost as much with international partners as they do with Canada's other provinces. This has made Manitoba a centre for trade, which connects our world-class trade infrastructure with our world-class manufacturing.

One of its most interconnected imports is busing. In fact, many of us and our constituents ride those buses every day, with components that are built in Winnipeg. For example, New Flyer Industries, a highly innovative and dominant player in transit bus and motor coach manufacturing, employing over 4,800 people, produces buses and components for both Canadian and American jurisdictions. Buses and parts are built in Winnipeg and Minnesota, and provide stable, middle class manufacturing jobs on both sides of the border.

Manitoba is also famous for its aerospace sector. Winnipeg's connection to aerospace is so famous that its hockey team is called the Winnipeg Jets. It has the largest aerospace sector in western Canada and the third largest in the country, with companies like Boeing, StandardAero, and Magellan, with major plants in Winnipeg. These are high quality, middle class jobs. Aerospace workers are expert manufacturers, and build some of the world's most complicated machines. Annually, Manitoba imports over $660 million in jets and turbines, and exports over $550 million in aircraft parts, which is over $1 billion in trade.

The aerospace industry nears $2 billion in revenue each year, and directly employs over 5,000 Manitobans. Beyond the numbers, Manitoba's aerospace industry means a lot for Canadian innovation. In Winnipeg, General Electric and StandardAero, both U.S.-based companies, took advantage of Manitoba's unique weather and opened a $75 million cold weather testing facility. It also employs some of the brightest engineers.

Winnipeg is also home to the Centre for Aerospace Technology & Training. Once again, thanks to international partnerships with Red River College, StandardAero, and the federal and provincial governments, the Centre for Aerospace Technology & Training prepares Canada's middle class for the future.

We all know that manufacturing has been changing in a big way. Students use the latest manufacturing technologies, like 3D printing, to prepare for long-term, stable manufacturing jobs. For manufacturers in my province, improved pre-clearance means less lineups, a more efficient use of time as they travel across the border, and less traffic holdups. It is making it easier for people and cargo to cross the border.

As I have already said how important open borders are in my province, I am proud that pre-clearance will create more jobs for all Canadians.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is kind of interesting about Bill C-23, as we move forward and talk about it today in the House, is the fact that we already have pre-signed agreements that were put in place with the United States that are not being lived up to.

This is a question I often get not only from constituents of mine but also in the United States when I go to Washington and meet with others in Congress and senators. They raise the fact that they have issues with the NEXUS fast track and a series of different programs.

Regarding the current agreements we have, and the fact that they were later altered unilaterally, we still do not have answers to some of those programs, such as NEXUS and permanent residents, now that they were taken out of the program as well other programs, like fast track, and now that the Trump administration is coming in.

Why would we enter into new agreements at a time when we cannot keep the existing agreements with the principles of why we signed them to begin with?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it illustrates the fact that it is absolutely essential that we maintain strong links with our trading partners. In doing that, there have been numerous ministers taking trips across the border to meet with their counterparts, including, and most formally, our Prime Minister. He made the trip to Washington and began a good relationship with the Trump administration and with the President himself.

It is important that we continue the dialogue. We are not going to enhance trade or our relationship by taking a closed, inward look. It is important for Canada that we maintain an outward looking view, and that we continue to reach out to our neighbours to the south.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member is related to the position that is being taken by the NDP.

In the event that we are not meeting the U.S. requirements for pre-clearance in Canada, and we are not going to expand but in fact close it down, what does the member think about the millions of Canadians who will then be inconvenienced when they go across the border to the United States?

They will not be able to go to some of the airports in the Untied States that do not have clearance, and basically, will wait hours to do what they could have done in Canada in a very short amount of time.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, part of the issue here is that sometimes we play politics, which leads to misunderstandings and raises fears that are unjustified.

We are looking at a system that is going to enhance the ability of people to cross the border in a way that is going to respect our Constitution, our laws, and in a way that will allow people to go into the United States more efficiently. This will enhance tourism, create small businesses, and build the bridges stronger than they are even now.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech and the question that followed.

The Liberals seem to have fallen back on the argument that it is okay because it is already happening. They are accusing the NDP of wanting to close the borders. Seems like the politics of fear to me.

Here is the truth. If pre-clearance is already happening, if it is working well, if the goal is simply to expand the pre-clearance process to other airports, train stations, and ports, and if the government wants reciprocity, which would mean posting Canadian officers in the United States, then why give American officers so many additional powers?

For example, they will be allowed to do strip searches without a Canadian officer present, carry firearms, and interrogate and detain Canadians and permanent residents who choose to leave the pre-clearance area.

If the system is already working well, can my colleague explain why additional powers should be granted?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Conservative government of past for the good work that it did which we are building on. These kinds of relationships take a lot of years, a lot of meetings, and a lot of hard work. A system was established that is working well. There is no indication that we have actually seen a negative turn. There is speculation that the present government in the U.S. has an agenda very different from ours, but when it comes to actual facts, our Prime Minister had a very positive and productive meeting with the President of the United States. In fact, deals were made and a commitment to work together was made.

This is a positive step. It is one that we should be celebrating. Until we see something different, we should all celebrate the expansion of pre-clearance for both parties.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Surrey Centre. The member will have approximately seven minutes, but he will be able to continue his discussion once Bill C-23 comes back up for discussion.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-23.

During these debates, we have heard much about the tremendous benefits of pre-clearance, both in terms of the operations that are currently in place, as well as future opportunities that will be available once the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearance is ratified on both sides of the border.

It is clear that pre-clearance works. As we have heard, air pre-clearance is a huge success story. Since its early beginnings at Toronto Pearson International Airport over half a century ago, pre-clearance has made clearing customs easier for millions of air passengers heading from Canada to the U.S. It has opened new markets for business and tourism by making it possible for airlines to fly directly to smaller U.S. airports that do not have their own customs operations on site. This also decreases the costs for Canadian passengers who fly to those cheaper airports.

It has helped to increase in-transit traffic, helping to make Canadian airports and carriers more competitive. It has added an important layer of security to cross-border traffic as threats are dealt with at the point of origin rather than being allowed to transit. In fact, I personally use the pre-clearance areas when travelling to the U.S., and find it easier and more efficient than going through a customs facility in the United States.

As we have heard, the agreement in principle reached in March 2016 will allow for the expansion of pre-clearance operations into other modes of transportation. Furthermore, it will allow for expansion of airport pre-clearance to new locations in Toronto and Quebec City, and it will enable pre-clearance to be conducted at rail locations at Montreal's central station and of course Vancouver's own Rocky Mountaineer.

This expansion is a long time coming. Industry and government stakeholders on both sides of the border have pushed for these changes for many years because they know the enormous economic and security potential of pre-clearance. Understandably, those outside the air transportation sector want to be able to reap the same benefits in their marine, rail, and land transport sectors. In fact, we already have concrete numbers that illustrate the benefits of pre-clearance in other transportation modes, including through two truck cargo pilot projects as well as a number of informal pre-inspection sites currently operating along the west coast.

We look forward to opportunities under this new agreement to streamline our border crossings to ensure that we maintain strong economic growth and trade with our great friends and neighbours in the United States. This includes exploring the terms and conditions necessary for cargo pre-clearance, and identifying opportunities to pilot this approach.

As for pre-inspection on the west coast, it is currently conducted by U.S. pre-clearance officers at five sites in British Columbia: first and foremost, Port Metro Vancouver, Prince Rupert ferry terminal, Vancouver's central rail station, Sidney ferry terminal, and Victoria ferry terminal. Port Metro Vancouver is a great example of the economic importance of efficient and effective border management. The cruise ship industry produces a huge economic benefit to Canada with Port Metro Vancouver contributing some $420 million a year to the economy and employing some 4,500 people locally.

Port Metro Vancouver is the main hub for cruise ships heading to Alaska for a number of reasons, including being the only port to offer inside passage along the west coast of B.C. to Alaska. During high season, U.S. customs and border protection officers work out of the port, processing passengers as they board their cruise ships to Alaska. Both nations benefit from these operations. Canada remains a key port for these cruise ships which bring hundreds of thousands of passengers to Vancouver every year. The U.S. can secure its borders and allow smaller Alaskan communities with no post-clearance services to remain part of these cruise ship itineraries. This is a win-win arrangement and one that will benefit from regularized pre-clearance operations.

Rail transport is another important mode that will benefit from expanded pre-clearance. For example, Vancouver's central rail station is the hub for regular Canada-U.S. rail service provided by U.S. Amtrak. The Amtrak service runs two trains per day with passengers undergoing primary immigration inspection in Vancouver.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

5:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Surrey Centre can resume his speech when Bill C-23 comes before the House again. He will have five minutes and 30 seconds left for his speech.

It being 5:38 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from November 29, 2016, consideration of the motion that Bill S-217, an act a amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-217. As we have heard, this bill, which proposes changes to certain bail provisions under the Criminal Code, was introduced in reaction to the senseless shooting of a police officer in St. Albert, Alberta.

Words fail to express the sadness felt by all Canadians when a police officer is killed in the line of duty.

Constable David Wynn's family suffered an unimaginable loss, and I want to offer my sincere condolences to Shelly MacInnis-Wynn, her three boys, and the entire RCMP community.

As a former member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I have studied the many challenges facing first responders in the line of duty. We must ensure that all Canadians are protected by our criminal justice system.

While I support the bill's laudable objectives, I am unable to support Bill S-217, as I believe it would interfere with the proper functioning of our bail system by eroding at the independence of the crown and adding further delays in our courts.

Constable David Wynn tragically died and Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond was seriously injured after being shot by Shawn Rehn. Rehn, who killed himself after the shooting, had a lengthy criminal record, including crimes of violence and failure to comply with court orders. Months before the shooting, Rehn was arrested. He was not, however, detained in custody at that time. There was no crown counsel present at the bail hearing and the court was not made aware of Rehn's criminal record.

Clearly, it is important that those who preside over bail hearings have all of the relevant information before determining who should be detained in custody prior to trial.

As we know, in response to Constable Wynn's murder, the Alberta government did a comprehensive review of the entire bail process in that province.

Last April, the Alberta government released a report entitled “Alberta Bail Review: Endorsing a Call for Change”. This report, produced after consultation with key stakeholders, makes over 30 recommendations. The recommendations range from operational changes to resource allocation. Notably, the Alberta report does not call for the legislative changes proposed in Bill S-217. The report recognizes the complexity of both the problem and the solutions and the importance of engagement with stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

Here in this House members will recall that the Prime Minister has asked the Minister of Justice to conduct a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, including the bail system. Specifically, the minister has been asked to strengthen bail conditions in cases of domestic assault, with the goal of keeping victims and children safe. The minister has been working diligently on these important priorities for over a year now and is continuing to work on their implementation, in collaboration with our federal, provincial, and territorial partners and criminal justice stakeholders.

As part of this strategy, the minister has completed a series of round tables in nine provinces and territories where reforming bail procedures is a subject of concern for many stakeholders. While public safety of course remains a top priority, major concerns have also been raised about the efficiency of our courts.

I understand that similar concerns have been raised before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which is also studying delays, and I look forward to reading the final report.

Let me turn to the bill itself. Bill S-217 proposes two changes to the Criminal Code bail regime.

First, under clause 1, it proposes to modify the grounds for detention under subsection 515(10) of the code by adding specific consideration of the accused's record to the third ground for detention. Under this ground, detention is justified when it is necessary to maintain confidence in the administration of justice. It is not clear why this consideration would be specified under the third ground, which provides a discrete basis for denying bail. The accused's record is already considered under each ground for detention and at multiple junctures in the bail process, both under the primary and secondary grounds. This amendment would therefore cause duplication and unnecessary confusion in the already established bail provisions, and it would benefit no one.

Second, clause 2 of Bill S-217, the one that has garnered the most attention, proposes an amendment that would mandate prosecutors to lead specific evidence, evidence of the accused's personal record, outstanding charges and breaches. Prosecutors would be required to lead evidence to “prove the fact” of a prior record, prior offences against the administration of justice, or outstanding charges.

This a higher evidentiary burden than is currently required. In other words, the bill could make it more difficult to detain an accused person in custody rather than under the existing provisions of the Criminal Code.

For instance, formalizing the evidentiary process could result in prosecutors having to call additional witnesses or lead additional affidavit evidence at every bail hearing. We know that the bail system simply cannot operate effectively in this way.

The bill process strives for accuracy in decision-making, but because of the volume of cases currently before the courts, the process also places a premium on efficiency, expediency, and flexible rules of evidence.

We must trust that crown attorneys will call the relevant evidence that they determine is needed and relevant and in the manner that they choose. The Criminal Code does not dictate what evidence a crown attorney should call. To do so raises the issue of crown discretion and independence, an essential feature and constitutional principle within our criminal justice system. Mandating crown attorneys to lead specific evidence would arguably encroach on this discretion. They must act independently in carrying out their responsibilities as officers of the court, as quasi-judicial officers of the court.

Of equal concern is the potential for these amendments to make it harder for prosecutors to quickly and efficiently prove past criminal activity. It is unclear how clause 2 would be interpreted. It could result in the presiding justice at a bail hearing scrutinizing the prosecutor's decision as to whether to introduce certain evidence and how it is introduced. This could potentially compromise trial fairness and the effectiveness of the bail hearing. At the very least, an amendment of this nature would require consultation and engagement with prosecutors who exercise their discretion ethically and professionally every day in bail courts across this country and who benefit from the current flexibility in the rules of evidence to ensure the best case is presented.

It is essential that our police and the public are kept safe from accused persons who belong in custody prior to trial. This requires that the courts, police, and crown attorneys have the relevant information about the accused, the victim, and the circumstances of the offence in a timely way. This cannot however, be accomplished with piecemeal legislation such as the one currently before the House. It requires a comprehensive strategy for bail reform and consultation with stakeholders who work with these provisions every day.

To summarize, the impact on the effectiveness of the criminal justice system has to be considered when any amendment to the Criminal Code is proposed.

The Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized the importance of bail hearings being held expeditiously and the rights of individuals to reasonable bail. This flexibility is an important factor to keep in mind when considering the amendments proposed in the bill. It allows the prosecutor in a bail hearing to lead evidence that is credible and trustworthy, but that might not otherwise be admissible according to the usual rules of evidence at trial. This includes evidence of prior criminal activity, outstanding charges, and administration of justice offences.

The Supreme Court has also repeatedly emphasized the independence of prosecutorial discretion, itself a fundamental principle under our Constitution. By removing that discretion of the crown to determine which evidence it will lead at the bail hearing, the bill arguably undermines that principle.

As a former federal prosecutor, I know that my fellow prosecutors benefit from the flexibility in the rules of evidence at bail hearings to ensure that the correct evidence is put before the justice quickly and efficiently. Victims of crime also benefit from the timely disposition of cases.

While I cannot support the bill, I do want to thank the sponsors of it for all of the work that they have done. Reform of the criminal justice system benefits from the input and involvement of as many Canadians as possible.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-217, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody). It has also become known as Wynn's law.

I would remind the House that this bill was named in honour of Constable David Wynn, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in Alberta, another senseless loss of a police officer that in this specific case was absolutely preventable.

I want to thank my hon. colleague, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for introducing the bill, and for what he has contributed to the debate.

I personally attended the funeral of Constable Wynn. He died in the line of duty while I was a serving member of the Medicine Hat Police Service. I remember that we in the policing community, along with most of this nation, were shocked and outraged by, yet again, another failure of our justice system to protect our communities.

The amendments proposed in Bill S-217, as passed in the Senate, are intended to mitigate similar situations from happening in the future. The man Constable Wynn was attempting to arrest was out on bail, despite having over 30 outstanding charges before the courts, and a lengthy criminal record of over 50 convictions.

What is significant in this case, however, is that none of these previous convictions and outstanding charges had been mentioned during his latest bail hearing, allowing him to be released from custody yet again.

Bill S-217 amends section 515 of the Criminal Code to expand the grounds for detention and custody to include the fact that the accused has previously been convicted of criminal offences or is awaiting trial on other charges.

It also amends section 518 of the Criminal Code to require the crown to lead evidence of the accused's criminal record and outstanding charges at a bail hearing. Currently, across most jurisdictions in Canada, criminal records are routinely introduced at bail hearings. At issue, however, is the fact that the introduction of these records is not mandated or required by law. By simply changing the wording of section 518 of the Criminal Code from may to shall, Bill S-217 ensures that justices will have the information they need to make an informed decision on bail hearings.

During previous debate on Bill S-217, and heard earlier in my colleague's previous comments, the Liberal government has expressed some concerns. In its view, ensuring that decision-makers in the bail process had relevant information is not a simple task.

The Liberals say it is difficult because it requires up-to-date information management systems and fully trained prosecutors, police, and justices. They were concerned that the bill would create policy and legal implications that could result in a bail system that would not function properly for anyone. They also believe that the proposed changes would ultimately impart delay and confusion, and would likely have unintended legal and operational consequences for the bail process.

In an effort to alleviate and address these concerns, I rely on my 35 years of recent policing experience in order to bring operational real life knowledge to this debate.

It is important for members of the House and the Canadian public to understand the basics about the release of an accused person from custody pending trial, commonly known as bail. The present philosophy of the release provisions in the Criminal Code is that accused persons should not be held in custody except in unusual circumstances.

In simple terms, the release pending trial of an accused person is generally affected in two separate and distinct ways. First, depending on the offence and circumstances, an accused may be released prior to his appearance in court by the police, unless police officers have yet to establish the identity of the person, need to secure or preserve evidence of or relating to the offence, or they must prevent the continuation or repetition of that offence or the commission of another offence, or they believe on reasonable grounds that the person being released from custody will fail to attend court.

If the officer is content that the above have been satisfied, depending on the seriousness of the offences committed, the officer has various release avenues available to compel the accused's attendance in court.

On the other hand, there are basically four instances where police officers cannot release an accused, and it would be wrong to suggest they do so using their own release powers. These include where an officer believes it is necessary in the public interest not to release, and where the accused does not fall into certain categories of offences such as serious criminal offences punishable by imprisonment for more than five years. The other two circumstances relate to warrants without a release endorsement and warrants for serious offences committed in other provinces.

In these circumstances, an accused may be released as a result of a judicial interim release having been held by a justice or a judge as defined in the Criminal Code. The term judicial interim release simply means that a justice gives judicial consideration based on the facts and law to allowing the right of the accused not to be detained in custody prior to his trial. This is one of the most important areas where a justice must exercise judicial discretion. In all matters involving judicial discretion, a judge is independent of the crown and the defence.

For most accused persons held in custody by the police, this is their first appearance before a justice and it is the key stage in determining their status respecting release or detention. The justice will consider all facts presented by the crown and the defence and render a decision. During a bail hearing the justice currently may take into consideration any other charges that the accused is already facing.

Some of the considerations that are relevant for a justice in determining the issues of release have to do with the accused's record. The fact that the accused has a record does not necessarily in itself order detention. It is only relevant if it relates to the charge before the justice. Other issues include whatever charges the accused might be facing. Does the individual have previous offences for failing to appear or violating bail release conditions? Is the individual already detained in custody in respect of another matter? What is the gravity and nature and danger of the charges the individual is currently facing?

There are two basic grounds for a justice to consider for detention. The primary ground is: is it necessary to ensure the accused's attendance in court? It is only after after the justice rules on the primary ground that he may go on to consider secondary grounds. The secondary grounds are: is it necessary in the public interest or for the protection and safety of the public, which includes the probability that the accused will commit another offence or interfere with the investigation?

Public interest involves many considerations, not the least of which is the public image of the criminal justice system; the apprehension and conviction of criminals; the attempts at deterrence of crime; and, ultimately, the protection of Canadians who are socially conscious and law-abiding. This cannot be overemphasized too strongly. Much has been written about the attitude of citizens concerning accused persons being released and subsequently arrested on allegations of committing further offences.

It is important to note that as a matter of good practice, the police agency will always provide the justice with all relevant information, as indicated above, which should be considered at a bail hearing. In my experience, these records are readily available to police through various national, provincial, and local information management systems. Apparently unknown by the Liberal government, these systems that the justice system and law enforcement agencies rely upon are current and up-to-date, as lives depend on them. Anything otherwise would be irresponsible.

Further, the suggestion that changing the wording as proposed in Bill S-217 is not a simple task as it would require fully trained prosecutors, police, and justices diminishes the already proven proficiencies with which these professionals currently perform these tasks now on a daily basis.

I am of the belief that Bill S-217 would strengthen the criminal justice system and protect the lives of law enforcement and Canadians through the requirement of ensuring justices have all relevant accused record information to make informed decisions on public safety. I fully support this excellent bill and encourage all members of the House to do the same.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-217, which was introduced by a senator and is now being debated here in the House, as we continue our study and consider passing this bill to amend the Criminal Code. We became quite accustomed to changes to the Criminal Code under the previous government. I want to thank my NDP colleagues who worked so hard examining this issue.

First of all, I want to offer my condolences, as most members have done, to Mr. Wynn's family. Constable Wynn was regrettably killed by someone who had been released on bail while awaiting trial. It is in this context that we are debating Bill S-217; we are trying to correct the flaw that made it possible for the accused in question, who had committed very serious crimes, to be released pending trial, at which point he sadly committed the acts we are all well aware of now. I therefore want to offer my condolences to the family.

I would also like to say that the NDP will be supporting Bill S-217 at second reading so that it is studied in committee. It is our role as legislators to thoroughly study issues, not just in the House when we give our speeches, but mainly in committees, where we study proposed legislation in depth.

In this case, we will focus mainly on the effects of this bill on our judicial system. It is important that this be studied by a committee; as such, we will support this bill at second reading so we can consider the wealth of evidence related to the issue.

Many people are concerned about the proposed legislation. Naturally, police forces are very concerned and expressed their concerns when the bill was before the Senate. The legal community is also very concerned by this issue because the bill would add a step prior to the release of an accused person awaiting trial.

Many people are concerned about this, which is why it is important to have an in-depth study in committee to determine the repercussions of this proposal. For example, some experts say that this could slow down the process. We certainly do not want that, especially when the justice system is already so slow when it comes to hearing crown prosecutors and defendants. There is already a backlog in processing court cases across Canada. It is important to address this issue because it could affect the length of proceedings.

This could have repercussions on the work of police, who are extremely important people in our communities. Crown attorneys could also be affected. I am therefore in favour of Bill S-217 and I think we will have the opportunity to look at its impact.

There are other issues that I wanted to raise and that could help inform the committee members. It will be important to ask the experts to address the issue of presumption of innocence, which is the foundation of our current system.

That is why accused persons are released in many cases. Of course, they will appear before a judge at some point, and that is when the crown and the defendant will present their arguments. In the end, it is up to the judge to determine whether the person is guilty or not.

It is important to consider the fact that, in our system, everyone is presumed innocent until a judge determines otherwise. This issue must be discussed because there is no need to keep people in custody until they have been found guilty of a crime. Since there are hundreds of crimes set out in the Criminal Code, it would not make any sense to keep everyone who has been accused of a crime in custody awaiting trial.

There are mechanisms in place to allow accused persons to go free because not all of them are a danger to the public. As I said, there are hundreds of crimes. There are economic crimes, fraud. The judge analyzes each situation and makes a decision on a case-by-case basis. Allowing accused persons to go free while they await trial does not always present a danger to the public.

We need to look closely at this situation, so as not to put too much of a burden on our justice system and our prisons. Keeping more accused persons in custody for longer periods will not be without consequences. In this debate, it is important to keep in mind that every accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, we need to give judges the discretion to decide whether the accused constitutes a danger to the public and the community.

In the case before us, the situation is profoundly sad, because the individual released had been charged with several serious crimes and then went on to reoffend by committing an even more serious crime.

Mechanisms exist that give judges the discretion to say that an accused person constitutes a danger to society and must remain in custody awaiting trial. Judges should have that discretion.

If our policies and our laws are too restrictive, we will be removing the judges' discretion to make that decision. Judges are in the best position, because they are the ones who speak directly to the accused and take all the facts presented to them into account.

There certainly is a need for an ideal mechanism, as laid out in Bill S-217, to take into account the accused's criminal record, including previous convictions and failures to appear in court. That can help the judge determine whether the accused is at risk of failing to appear again. If the accused does not appear in court when required to do so, an arrest warrant must be issued. There are consequences for that.

As we debate this bill, it is extremely important to keep in mind that judges must have as much discretion as possible to make informed decisions based on the facts of a given case. They are the judges. There is a reason we call them judges. They are the ones who judge whether accused individuals should be detained in custody or whether they can be released while awaiting trial.

In this debate, I want all of us to think about giving judges as much discretion as possible because they, not we in the House of Commons, are in the best position to evaluate each case based on the facts before them and to decide whether to release the accused or detain them in custody.

My time is up, but I hope to see the next installment of this debate in committee very soon.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak in support of Bill S-217, also known as Wynn's law. I want to congratulate and commend all of the hard work of my colleague the member for St. Albert—Edmonton in advancing this bill, as well as the comprehensive case that the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner made earlier based on his long experience as the chief of city police. Our advocacy speaks volumes to both the family of Constable Wynn and the thousands of other families who have lost loved ones to previously convicted criminals.

For most Canadians, Saturday, January 17, 2015, was just a normal day. We were doing errands, visiting with family and friends, or going to work, but for the Wynn family, it was a day that changed their lives forever. It was the day Constable David Wynn was stolen from them. As we all know by now, in the early morning hours that day, Constable David Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond were patrolling in St. Albert, Alberta, checking licence plates outside of a casino. After finding one flagged as connected to an outstanding arrest warrant, they went into the casino to arrest Shawn Rehn.

A career criminal with a dangerous past, Rehn had several warrants out for his arrest, one having only been issued a few days earlier. He had at least 100 offences dating back to 1994 and many of those charges included confrontations with police officers. Since 2010, Rehn had been sentenced to a total of 10 years in jail for offences that varied from possession of a prohibited firearm, to breaking and entering, and theft, yet he was not serving time in prison. He was walking the streets. He turned from career criminal to murderer in four seconds, all because of a loophole, a loophole that we, as legislators, can fix before this happens again.

We can and we must do more than express sadness, as our Liberal colleagues said earlier. We must act so we can stop this from happening again, because there is no question that Constable Wynn's murder was preventable. Rehn should never have been given bail, but in September 2014, after an arrest on several charges, which included possession of a prohibited weapon and an outstanding arrest warrant for failing to appear in court, he had been released on $4,500 bail.

During the hearing, there was no mention, no consideration of Rehn's lengthy criminal past, no mention of how, in 2009, Rehn attacked an ex-girlfriend. He choked her, ripped out her hair, and broke her collar bone. He forced that girlfriend and her infant daughter to sleep in a room with him while he held a loaded gun, because he was feeling paranoid. Was this recounted during his bail hearing? No. Neither was the fact that he was subject to a lifetime firearms ban, that he posed a flight risk, and that he had demonstrated over and over again complete and utter disregard for previous court orders.

This bill makes sense. It seeks to amend section 518 of the Criminal Code, which says that a prosecutor “may” lead evidence of a bail applicant's criminal history. This bill would change the word “may” to “shall”, making it mandatory for prosecutors to lead with any evidence relevant to accused criminals' pasts.

The bill would further amend the same section to include previous convictions, outstanding charges, and failures to appear as criteria that may be considered to deny an accused bail. Wynn's law would protect everyday Canadians. It would protect all of us and law enforcement officers from those who should not be out on the streets, like Rehn, by ensuring informed decisions can be made, enabled by knowledge of the criminal record of an accused. It is common sense and it is just.

This bill has received overwhelming support from communities all over Canada. The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, and the former minister of justice and attorney general of Alberta, Jonathan Denis, who was in cabinet at the time of Wynn's murder, all support this bill. It easily passed the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee unanimously. Then the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming majority. Rank and file law enforcement officers have given their support to this legislation, but incredibly, inexplicably, the Liberals do not agree and vowed to vote against this life-saving bill.

In November, the member for Charlottetown, when he was parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, said Wynn's law would “unnecessarily complicate and lengthen the bail process” and remove discretion from the crown. The Minister of Justice has also said, “The measures that are articulated in this bill are measures that are in place at this time”, but they are not. This just is not the case.

Of course, many prosecutors do present criminal history at a bail hearing, but some do not, and that is the problem. That is the problem we can fix.

Bill S-217 would not impose any undue burden or complications on the crown or on law enforcement. It would not infringe on the discretion of a judge or justice of the peace at a bail hearing to make a determination on the question of bail. Decisions would still be made based on the specific facts and circumstances of the individual case, with a complete picture of the accused and the risk to Canadians.

This is not about politics. It is about a life that could have been saved and many others that could be saved as a result. I urge my colleagues opposite to do the right thing and support this bill so that another mother does not have to explain to her kids that a loophole helped kill their dad, that a preventable measure could have saved a life.

RCMP officers and all levels of law enforcement and first responders serve Canadians selflessly 365 days of the year. My mother-in-law, Dianne Saskiw, worked in the Two Hills RCMP detachment centre for almost 40 years. She has seen first hand the officers' brave and compassionate dedication and sacrifice and the important role of RCMP officers in Alberta's rural communities. Here in the House of Commons, it is incumbent on us to ensure that there are safeguards in place to protect those who choose a life of service and risk to themselves for all Canadians.

Constable Wynn's widow, Shelly MacInnis-Wynn, has been a tireless champion of this bill. On behalf of all Canadians, this strong woman is advocating for the successful passage of Wynn's law. Her determination and her courage are unwavering. Last summer, Ms. MacInnis-Wynn gave powerful and emotional testimony at the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee. She asked those present to close their eyes for four seconds. She said:

In those four seconds, a constable was taken away from his community, a husband was taken away from his wife, a father was taken away from his three sons, and a son and a brother was taken away from his mother and sisters—in four seconds.

Every day I wake up wishing that I could take those four seconds back, but I can't. There is nothing I can do to change that.

Every day I have to live my life alone, not have Dave by my side enjoying the moments we were supposed to have together as a family and as husband and wife.

Every day his children have to experience new things and new milestones without their dad.... They don't have any more chances to make new memories.

Changing this one simple word could save a lifetime of happiness for somebody else, and that somebody else could have easily been you. Dave was the unfortunate one that happened to be there that night, but it could easily have been anybody else.

Four seconds represents the time when Ms. MacInnis-Wynn went from being a wife to a widow. In four seconds, her world was shattered. In four seconds, a sister lost a brother, parents lost their son, a wife lost a loving husband, and three young sons lost their hero. All of their lives changed forever.

It will take less than four seconds to stand up and vote yes for Wynn's law, less than four seconds to vote for a law that would prevent future senseless murders and that would protect innocent Canadians everywhere. On behalf of the people of Lakeland, I urge my colleagues to do so.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise today to speak to Bill S-217, known as Wynn's law.

I would like to start by offering my sincere condolences and sympathies to Constable David Wynn's widow Shelly MacInnes-Wynn, and her entire family.

I would also like to thank the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for his tireless work on Wynn's law. He has done an incredible job.

When Constable Wynn was shot and killed in the line of duty, it pointed to a dangerous loophole in the Canadian justice system. His killer Shawn Rehn was a career criminal who was out on bail. His killer was granted bail despite the fact that he had more than 50 prior criminal convictions, 38 outstanding charges, as well as arrest warrants for failing to appear in court. That is incredible. It seems unreal that an accused with this type of criminal record would be granted bail. However, we now know that his extensive criminal history was not brought to the attention of the person presiding over his bail hearing, which is shameful. While it is common practice that the prosecutor provide a judge or justice of the peace with the bail applicant's criminal history, it is not legally required. It is difficult to imagine that Shawn Rehn would have been granted bail had his full criminal history been disclosed.

It is an absolute tragedy that Constable Wynn had to die. His death could have been prevented. This tragedy points to a serious loophole in our Criminal Code that must be addressed. The safety and security of Canadians should be the priority for any government. We cannot go back and prevent the death of Constable Wynn, but we can respond in the present by closing the loophole that led to his death. I believe that Wynn's law is the logical response to this tragic event. Wynn's law would require prosecutors to disclose a bail applicant's criminal history at a bail hearing. It is very simple. It would also mandate that failures to appear in court must be disclosed. This legislation introduces a simple measure that has the potential to save lives and increase public safety.

My constituents in the neighbouring riding of Edmonton Griesbach have been very vocal in their support of this bill. At community events, many have told me that they strongly support passing this legislation. I have also received written feedback from hundreds of constituents with respect to Wynn's law. I would like to share some of the feedback that I have received from my constituents on Wynn's law.

Doris wrote, “It's only common sense that previous charges be included in bail hearings, especially in cases where [there is] a long record of breaking laws and ignoring court dates.”

Stanley wrote, “It will help stop innocent lives [from] being taken by dangerous criminals. Plus a lot of lives could have been saved if this law had been in effect long ago.”

Jeanne wrote, “I find it 'criminal' not to pass this law. Shame on the Liberals! Do the right thing!”

Cathy wrote, “Wynn's law is a must!!!”

Susan wrote, “Judges can't make proper decisions without full disclosure of a criminal's history. Get this law put through. Police and public safety should always come before a dangerous criminal.”

I cannot stress enough to the House that these are real people with real feedback. I am speaking for them.

Bob wrote me to say, “This [Constable Wynn] could be any one of us. The judge definitely needs to be aware of a criminal's past history in order to bring about a fair judgment”.

Wendy wrote me to say, “Judges need full disclosure of the criminal's past in order to make a decision that is best for society, not for the criminal”.

Daryl wrote me to say, “Not passing this law is irresponsible and an insult to law-abiding citizens”.

Herb wrote me to say, “Wynn's law should be passed immediately”. I hear Herb.

Glen wrote me to say, “[Wynn's law] should have been done years ago”.

Al wrote me to say, “[Wynn's law], it's a no-brainer bill”.

Perhaps that last comment summarizes it the best. Wynn's law is common-sense legislation. Our judges and justices of the peace cannot be expected to make a fair ruling at a bail hearing without all of the relevant facts.

Again, Wynn's law is a no-brainer. My constituents get it. Canadians across the country get it. Why do the Liberals not get it?

It is time the Liberal government put the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians ahead of criminals.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise to speak to Wynn's law as well. I would like to thank the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for bringing the bill forward. He has been a tireless champion on it, and has worked with me in my riding as well to raise awareness of the issue. I would like to thank him for all his efforts.

This issue hit us pretty close to home in northern Alberta. I will start by backing up a bit. We all remember the events that took place in 2005 in Mayerthorpe, where four police officers were gunned down. That was right near my riding. That was something that rocked the nation at the time, so the day that David Wynn was killed brought back all those memories.

I know my own communities were reeling with those memories. We all thought those days were behind us, that we were not going to see another police officer fall in the line of duty in northern Alberta again. However, there we were a few short years later, and another fallen officer. I remember the day well when we heard on the radio that a police officer had been checking licence plates in the parking lot at the casino, and that had led to him being gunned down.

For me, that was an introspective point in my life. I thought about my time as an automotive mechanic. I was working in Barrhead. I thought that guy probably went to work today thinking it was just another day of work, the same as I did. I am sure he kissed his wife goodbye, and said goodbye to his sons, but never thought he would not see them again in the evening, or whenever he got off his shift. That is a powerful feeling. He was of a similar age to what I am now, and I know the feelings I have every evening when I come home and see my kids. David Wynn is a real story of humanity. The fact that he chose the career as a police officer to protect his community is profound.

I would like to thank all those who stand in the line of duty, protecting our communities and working hard every day. Some of my colleagues with whom I sit here have done that as well. I take my hat off to them. Through the process of the bill progressing, I have had an opportunity to chat with the member for Yellowhead, who is a former police officer. He worked in the RCMP for over 25 years. He has some great stories about protecting communities and things like that. He also says there are some more ugly sides to it. The bill we have before us today, termed Wynn's law, elicits those feelings of the times when we really see where our police force members put their lives on the line, quite literally.

I remember just sitting in my vehicle that day. I heard it over the radio on my drive to work in the morning. I remember thinking, what are we going to do next? How do we solve a problem like this? For me, at the time it seemed beyond my grasp to see how we would solve an issue like this. There are people out there for whom there seems to be no solution.

Today, we cannot reverse the actions of this individual. We cannot reverse the life taken, but we can, in honour of his memory, stand up in this place. That is one of the huge privileges we all have as we stand or sit in this place. We have the ability to see wrongs of the past, and issues that have places and areas in law where we can actually make a big difference. I know this is one of the things I continually say whenever anyone asks me why I pursued becoming a member of Parliament, it is to make a difference, to do something good in the world.

Bill S-217, in light of the situation around it, entitled “Wynn's law” is, to me, the whole reason why we are here today. It is to solve some of these problems we see in the world, to make the world a better place, and work to close a loophole.

I am sometimes frustrated by lawyers. The very first time I met the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, I asked him what he did, and he told me he was a lawyer. I said that we need more rule of law and less rule of lawyers. However, there are times when having a keen legal mind on some of these things, and seeing how we can, through the rule of law, solve some of these problems in the world, is much appreciated.

I typically see things from 30,000 feet, in broad strokes. With this particular bill, just a change of the word “may” to “shall” could make all the difference. It could make the difference between someone being out on the street and later killing someone and someone being kept incarcerated so that he or she is not out on the street gunning down police officers. That, to me, is profound.

I take my hat off to the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for even knowing about this in the first place, although I will say that if members need to know anything, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton is a walking encyclopedia. There is no doubt about that, particularly when it comes to this place. If members want to know the name of the riding a member represents and how many votes that person won by, they should ask the member for St. Albert—Edmonton. He will tell them lickety-split. There is no doubt about that. It is no wonder he would come up with such a profound bill in this place. He knows the workings of this place well. He has been at it a long time. I take my hat off to him.

I am fairly emotionally attached to this whole issue, but I was at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with it. At the time, I was not even considering being elected, but now that I am here, I am very happy to be standing in this place and arguing in defence of Wynn's law. It is a concrete action that could be taken to do two things: to recognize the sacrifice of Mr. Wynn and to make sure that it does not happen again.

We know that after the fallen four in Mayerthorpe happened, we all said, “Never again”, and we honoured their memory. There is now a national memorial in the town of Mayerthorpe that I drive by often. However, the passing of David Wynn struck just too close to home.

I plead for everyone to support the bill. I think it is a bill that is long overdue. It is a monument to the hard work of the member for St. Albert—Edmonton but would also be a monument to David Wynn, who lost his life on that fateful day.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me just say at the outset that I want to acknowledge the hard work of Senator Bob Runciman in championing this bill in the Senate, as well as my predecessor, Brent Rathgeber, who introduced a similar bill in the last Parliament.

The essence of Bill S-217, known as Wynn's law, is about changing one word in the Criminal Code, one word, to change a loophole that cost Constable David Wynn his life when he was murdered, a loophole that imposed a life sentence on Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond, who forever will have to live with the consequences of being shot at close range.

Constable David Wynn should be with us today, but he is not, and Auxiliary Constable Bond should not be living a life sentence of hell, but he is. The change of one word in the Criminal Code could have made all the difference, and that one word change is to change “may” to “shall” in section 518 of the Criminal Code to make it mandatory for prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants.

The criminal history of bail applicants is always relevant and material to determine the question of bail. It is always relevant and material because without such information, it is not possible for judges or magistrates to properly exercise their discretion as to whether someone should be kept behind bars or let out on to the street, and yet, section 518 of the Criminal Code provides that it is discretionary whether this information is brought forward. It simply does not make sense, and Wynn's law would fix that.

There have been some who have said that Wynn's law is unnecessary because the criminal history of bail applicants is almost always put forward. I say to those critics that simply is not good enough. It is not good enough for Constable Wynn, who is no longer with us. It is not good enough for Constable Wynn's family, who lost a husband, a father, and a brother. It is not good enough for my community of St. Albert, which lost a brave constable who ultimately gave his life to keep my community safe. It is not good enough for Auxiliary Constable Bond and his family, whose lives have forever been changed.

It simply is not good enough that the criminal history of bail applicants is almost always put forward. The criminal history of bail applicants must always be put forward so that what happened to Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond never happens again.

Some critics of Wynn's law say that it would cause delay in our justice system. I say how could that be, given that such information is a keystroke away and, at most, a phone call away?

In closing, let me say that we must never forget Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to close this fatal loophole in the Criminal Code. We owe it to Constable Wynn, and we owe it to Auxiliary Constable Bond, and we owe it to Canadians.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Some hon. members



Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Some hon. members