Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Minister of Justice. It arises out of several unfortunate occurrences in recent weeks in different parts of Canada, one of them in Ottawa within the last few days.
Has the government made any plans to cooperate with the provincial and municipal authorities in order to check the series of crimes of violence reported from many centres in Canada?
More specifically, has the Minister of Justice considered the advisability of having a conference with the provincial attorneys-general, either at the time of the dominion-provincial conference, or at some other early date, to consider ways and means of coordinating the work of crime prevention and detection?
Has the minister under contemplation any amendments to the criminal code in respect of this problem, and if so, will a bill for that purpose be introduced at this session?
Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Minister of Justice): Mr. Speaker, I received notice of the question only a few moments ago. There is better than plans; there is actual cooperation. I would not attempt in just a few moments to describe all the points of contact and cooperation, but I might indicate some of the highlights which occurred to me when I read the question.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is in charge of the provincial police work in six of the nine Canadian provinces-Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. My information from the commissioner is that during
the war years there have been fewer crimes of violence than there were during the thirties in those provinces, and that there has been no noticeable increase in such crimes since V-E-day.
In the other provinces the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have always stood ready to render to municipal and provincial police authorities all such assistance as is from time to time requested by the attorneys-general of such provinces.
A police bulletin, issued weekly by, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, goes to all provincial forces and to those of incorporated cities and towns throughout Canada. It features all available information considered to be useful in the prevention and detection of crime. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police laboratories, fingerprint records and other records dealing with criminology, their analysts, ballistics experts, bandwriting experts-in a wrord, all their facilities and personnel, are at all times available to all the other police forces in Canada.
In reply to the second question I would say that there are many problems dealing with the administration of justice which it is planned to discuss with the attorneys-general at the dominion-provincial conference, if possible; and if it does not prove to be possible at that time, then as early thereafter as may be convenient to them. This, I may say, is one of those several problems.
My reply to the third question would be that the matter of this outburst of crime and violence has received the attention of the government as well as that of the press throughout the country. On more than one occasion the matter has been discussed by me with my colleagues, and a special committee of the cabinet has been constituted to help me in the preparation of a measure felt to be proper to deal with the situation. It is regarded as one of some urgency. As there is considerable material already before the house, consideration is being given to the question whether or not there will be an order in council, operative only up to such time as legislation can be assented to, or in any event not to be operative after the end of the session if legislation is not assented to; and accompanied at the earliest possible moment by a bill to amend the criminal code in that regard.