February 14, 1994

BQ

Yvan Bernier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé)

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what the member opposite had to say, but I am not sure I understand his point of view. So, I would like to give him the opportunity to go over it again, just to make sure I understand what he is saying. From what I gathered, the strengthening measures proposed in this bill would be, as far as the hon. member is concerned, one way to put an end to what he called foreign overfishing outside the 200-mile limit, on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks east of Newfoundland. However, I must remind him that the nose and tail of the Grand Banks in Newfoundland are outside the 200-mile limit and consequently not under Canadian jurisdiction. The strengthening or controlling measures put forward in this bill will not help to solve the issue.

I would now like to address another issue. According to the hon. member, foreign fishermen use smaller mesh gear than the Canadian industry and harvest smaller fish. I would like to point out that the Canadian groundfish industry, the cod industry, is very different from the European industry. The two industries are very different because fish consumption in Europe differs from our own. Whereas here, in Canada, when we eat cod, we usually want at least an eight-ounce filet as a main course, the smaller cod harvested by foreigners-what they call cabillaud for fresh cod in France-is usually served as a first course.

I just want to call your attention to the various customs and ways of eating fish throughout the world. Some people may think they are right while their opponents are wrong, but what they believe should not contribute to an escalation of violence. To make sure that what we believe is true does not clash with what our opponents think is true, I came up with a draft amendment this morning. I urge the hon. member to reflect on this and to reconsider his position.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Herb Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Dhaliwal

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for bringing those questions forward. I would like to inform him that the minister of fisheries will be in Brussels from the 15th to the 17th to discuss overfishing beyond the 200-mile limit with the NAFO organization. This law does not deal with beyond the 200-mile limit.

As the minister has repeatedly stated in the House we are very concerned but we want to work within the international laws, both through the UN and NAFO to ensure conservation beyond the 200-mile radius on the high seas. We have to comply with the international laws on the high seas but we will work very hard to change that. The minister has indicated in the House many times that he has serious concerns about overfishing beyond the 200-mile radius but we must work within the international laws.

We are very confident that through NAFO and the United Nations we can get greater conservation. Right now the minister is informing NAFO to take the same action that Canada has. We have a moratorium on the cod in 3NO. The same type of conservation we have inshore can be had offshore as well as on the high seas.

In terms smaller mesh nets it is not a question of values or truths, it is a question of conservation. We want to ensure we have good conservation practices and that is the reason it is mentioned.

The hon. member understands the serious problem of fishing beyond the 200-mile radius and that we have to work within the international law. If we are not able to do that, then we have to take tougher decisions. This government is willing to do that the same as was done on the Pacific treaty commission on the west coast. We have told the Americans that equity must be on the table and that we are not willing to discuss management of the salmon until we discuss equity which has not been discussed and put forward each time it is brought forward.

I thank the hon. member very much for the question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

John Cummins

Reform

Mr. John Cummins (Delta)

I do not have much difficulty with the disabling force. It is necessary and we have to take strong action to protect our fisheries. However I am concerned about the provision dealing with the use of force against fleeing suspects.

Fisheries officers are peace officers and they do carry weapons and have occasion to use them. On the west coast, and I am sure on the east coast of this country we do at times have problems with poaching. Poaching is an exercise which takes place at night and as a rule in secluded areas. Fisheries officers quite often can get into predicaments where weapons may have to be produced.

The difficulty with this legislation as I see it is that in such a circumstance if a weapon is produced and shots are fired and someone engaging in illegal activity is shot, the fisheries officer not only will have to deal with the trauma and horror of having shot someone, but he will also have to deal with the horror of interrogation by the system he represents.

I would like my friend the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to comment on that please.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Herb Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Dhaliwal

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that question. I would like to bring to his attention that this deals with foreign vessels and the use of force against foreign vessels. This does not in any way talk about Canadian vessels. We can arrest Canadian vessels when they come into port. We do not need to use force against them. This deals with foreign vessels.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

John Cummins

Reform

Mr. Cummins

Mr. Speaker, I should have prefaced my remarks and probably forewarned the parliamentary secretary that my question was to be directed to him, but as I stated I do agree with the disabling force portions of the legislation. I do not have any difficulty with that and I understand that this disabling force will be used only against foreign vessels.

My concern is with the provisions for use of firearms with suspects fleeing from arrest. As I indicated fisheries officers are police officers. They do carry weapons. In instances in which poaching is going on it occurs at night as a rule and in secluded areas. Weapons have been produced and people have been shot. Sooner or later by the law of averages someone could end up dead.

The problem as I see it is that these are very trying times when these sorts of things happen. These police officers or fisheries officers are working alone or with a very small group of people in very isolated areas. Things happen quickly in the dark of night. Yet if someone is killed these people not only will have to live with their actions but they will also have to deal with an interrogation and possible court appearance. They will be taken to task by the very people who are supposed to be their bosses for enforcing the law of the land. I find that rather curious.

Could the parliamentary secretary please comment on that particular aspect of the law.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Herb Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Dhaliwal

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

This legislation creates a number of restrictions which outline in detail when force can be used. If anything this legislation will deter the use of weapons. With respect to the situation the hon. member talks about in which someone might be shot, this legislation reduces the times where firearms can be used by the police and enforcement officers. This is very good legislation and will reduce incidents such as the hon. member has brought forward.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast)

Mr. Speaker, the government has tabled a very important and in my opinion a somewhat problematic piece of legislation. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this legislation from the point of view of a police officer with 22 years experience on the force. As a policeman I have experienced what it means to have to make that judgment, the judgment that all police officers fear, whether or not to use deadly force. I also believe that attention must be paid to public opinion as it relates to criminal justice matters.

Before I speak to this bill I would like to interject a few appropriate words for what is in effect my maiden speech in the House. I would like to congratulate the Deputy Speaker on his appointment and the election of the Speaker of the House. I have not taken the time to offer my thanks to those people who made my presence in this House possible nor introduced the community of Calgary Northeast. I hope the House will permit me a few moments for this purpose.

I am indebted to all those people who played a vital role in my election. The first are my campaign volunteers who sacrificed so much time, gave so much effort and demonstrated such a civic commitment. They deserve the highest praise and I thank them all.

I would also like to express my sincerest appreciation to my wife Margaret and my three children, Laura, Mitch and Jason. Their love and support have provided a source of strength that is unfailing and which I depend on from day to day. I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to all the good people in my riding of Calgary Northeast.

Calgary Northeast is a riding as diverse as any in Canada. It is made up of people from all ethnic groups, religions, educational and work backgrounds. During my campaign I was fortunate enough to have spoken to and received valuable input from a great many constituents. I am proud to claim the support of many new Canadians, first and second generation immigrants who have contributed so much to my riding.

Calgary Northeast is an economically diverse riding. Jobs come from service industries as well as oil and gas. Because the riding is so diverse both demographically and economically it is especially noteworthy that the people of Calgary Northeast are united in their desire for real, fundamental and lasting reform. They expressed to me their disillusionment with politics, politicians and business as usual in Ottawa and they urged me to communicate in Ottawa the need for political, economic and judicial reform.

Crime is a constant and growing concern in my riding as it is in many other communities across Canada. I am pleased to see the government is addressing the issue of judicial reform.

However, in Bill C-8, the bill to amend the Criminal Code provision dealing with the use of deadly force, I am concerned that the government has its priorities backwards. I have some real misgivings regarding this bill and I shall now turn to those reservations.

As I previously mentioned the criminal justice system is an area in which my constituents have expressed passionate opinions. Communities all over Canada have become concerned and

alarmed at growing crime and the apparent inability of the judicial system to adequately respond to and prevent crime.

Canadians are concerned about the safety of their families and they have reason to be concerned. Rates of violence across the country increase yearly and are reported daily. Confrontations between police officers and law breakers, many of whom are increasingly well armed and aggressive, are becoming more and more frequent.

Historically, the public has felt secure and satisfied with Canada's police forces and their handling of crime and criminals. However, in response to a charter case heard before an Ontario court, a case prompted by an incident that was more of a political problem than a procedural one, the government is tabling a bill that seeks not so much to address a problem with police as an artificial problem created by charter arguments.

In an Ontario court case in which a suspect was shot, a charter argument called into question the breadth of the current law regarding the use of deadly force. The court found that the law was too broad, since in theory-and this is a part of the Ontario decision-doughnut thieves could be shot by police if they fled from the scene of a crime. A brief to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police stated that the current law was out of date and noted that a literal reading of the rule could justify a use of force which could cause death or grievous injury against a shoplifter.

In a news release earlier this month the government announced it intended to introduce more restrictions on the use of deadly force by police officers attempting to capture fleeing suspects. The release said that deadly force should only be the last resort.

While I agree, along with everyone in this House, I am sure, that police officers must be held accountable for their actions, especially when those actions include the use of deadly force, we must bear in mind that there is ample case law already on the books dealing with this issue. Stare decisis has long functioned as a mechanism by which the use of deadly force is judged.

Common law has held that in order to use deadly force a police officer must have reasonable and probable grounds. Of course, in some instances there have been errors in judgment made on the part of individual police officers but the law has provided a basis for consideration of whether or not those judgments were proper ones. The current law lets police officers who are forced to make instant life and death decisions rely on their thorough training, their knowledge of the situation and their assessment of danger.

Upon examining the proposed new sections of the Criminal Code contained in Bill C-8 I have to ask the following question. Will an officer who has felt the necessity to use deadly force still be given the same consideration, and will the same precedent apply during an examination of an incident? Or will this revised law open up the door for consideration of external issues surrounding each incident, issues that do not bear directly on the decision to use deadly force?

The court case that caused the present law to come into question was precisely that sort of occurrence. As a police officer I dread any law that might have the effect of forcing officers to weigh political implications of the use of force in situations in which officers feel that either they or the innocent public are in imminent danger. Will this new law force such detailed examination by police officers? Will it place the onus of defence, not unlike criminal defence, directly on our police officers?

I believe the Canadian people want the police to have greater authority in dealing with crime and criminals, and less legal charter based restrictions upon their ability to defend the public. Will this law force a police officer who would already be suffering enormous trauma after having been forced to use deadly force to undergo an equally traumatic political defence of his actions?

Instead of giving police the authority and freedom that they need to properly defend our communities, are we ironically constraining them with the very charter which is supposed to protect law-abiding Canadians and their families?

If the law does not give a degree of latitude to officers, if the law constrains the freedom of police officers to make instant decisions backed up by training, dedication and common sense, then that law actually puts the lives of police and innocent bystanders at risk for the sake of protecting fleeing dangerous criminals.

Do Canadians want their police officers to have the freedom and authority to perform their duties even if that means having, in some tragic situations, to use deadly force?

I believe the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Does the public feel the need for a law that would restrict police officers, put more onus on the police and less on criminals? The answer to that would be a resounding no.

I understand that a court has issued a challenge to the current law, and I realize that some laws deserve to be challenged. But I am not sure this is one of those situations. Canadians have had enough of special interests groups that come up with government funded challenges to good, tested, working law simply because our charter gives them an opportunity for 15 minutes of fame. Laws should come from people, not from the courts, whose only role should be interpretation. Our police are finding themselves increasingly unable to perform their duty to serve and protect the public. Is the House aware that in some jurisdictions police officers are issued firearms but must keep them locked in the trunks of their cars?

Similarly, federal fisheries protection officers, although armed, are prohibited from making arrests. They are instructed to observe, record and report a crime but may not take action to stop it.

The public is enraged every time a police officer is killed in the line of duty. The public is enraged every time an innocent child is killed or molested. The public is enraged when the courts grant asylum to the likes of Charles Ng.

These are clear messages and the government is not heeding them. Instead it introduces a bill which casts doubt on legitimate use of force by police. This reflects very misplaced priorities indeed.

In closing, this bill is court inspired rather than people inspired. The court decision it stems from has no basis in common sense. When was the last time anyone heard of a doughnut thief or shoplifter being summarily executed by police? What nonsense. The cliche holds true: hard cases make bad law.

Further, as my hon. colleagues will point out, there has not been adequate bottom up consultation with those whose lives will be directly affected by this bill.

Last, why has the government chosen to make its first priority in criminal reform a restriction on police and not on criminals?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Morris Bodnar

Liberal

Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his speech. It was clear and certainly put his point across.

I would like to ask him two question with respect to points he raised. He is concerned that police may not be protected sufficiently by the proposed legislation and made a reference to consultation not being adequate or at all. My first question of two is whether the member is aware that there has been considerable consultation with the provinces and with different police groups within the last year with respect to this legislation?

Second, the hon. member criticized the proposed legislation and commented that there should be a requirement for an increased degree of latitude for police officers, et cetera, but he made no concrete suggestion as to what changes should be made in the proposed legislation. What changes would the hon. member make to the legislation that is being proposed?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Hanger

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

It is important to point out that historically there has been case law, founded in common law, supporting police officers in these situations. I believe there have been several cases in Canada where police officers have shot individuals and have been exonerated through the courts for their actions.

The concern is that now every time a situation occurs in which a police officer has to use deadly force he will be evaluated totally on a charter basis. What other issues could be brought into such situations? Are there going to be political ramifications if a community says: "We feel that he erred in his judgment prior to the incident" or "Police in general have not been handling themselves properly in the community and as a result certain individuals feel they are being picked on?" Are these points going to be brought up in the hearings of police officers? That is my question.

I would like to have these matters specifically addressed by the minister. That has not happened thus far.

I am aware that the Canadian Police Association has been addressed and two submissions have been forwarded over the last two years. I realize that this legislation is part of what the Conservatives started. Again, let us be realistic. The Canadian Police Association and its representatives are rather on the political side themselves. Many of their arguments have been presented on that basis.

I think if we go into the practical evaluation of this piece of legislation that we will find that many police forces have not discussed this matter and have never heard of it. This is news to them even to the point of reading about it in the news. An honest evaluation and practical discussion about how this will affect policing has not been done.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Judy Bethel

Liberal

Ms. Judy Bethel (Edmonton East)

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the police services in general, and certainly the Edmonton police services, are in favour of this particular amendment because it clarifies the situation for police officers and thereby makes it easier.

I am wondering if the hon. member has any comment. I would be interested to know how his Calgary police services feel about this particular bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Hanger

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question.

I would like to inform the hon. member that certainly the chiefs of police of all the police departments in the country undoubtedly have been consulted. At least there has been a brief presented to them. I have not seen the replies that came back from all those departments or from the chiefs for that matter. Often these matters are just discussed at an association level.

I did consult members of the Calgary police department. Let me state that I am not a police officer. I would like to correct the statement that I made earlier. I am a former police officer. Yes, the matter has been discussed but only after seeing it in the news.

The use of deadly force again is an issue that should be thoroughly discussed not only at police association levels-I think we should move away from that-but on the level of public debate. The whole matter should be presented for the people to

really analyse and then tell Parliament what they would like to see as a piece of legislation that would make police officers most effective in defending their rights in society.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Shaughnessy Cohen

Liberal

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Calgary Northeast on his maiden speech.

I point out to him that this legislation was not undertaken without consultation with police forces. I would seek to correct what I think is simply an error in his address when he indicated that front line police officers were not consulted. It is indeed the purpose of the Canadian Police Association to represent front-line officers and not to represent chiefs of police. In fact those officers have been consulted through that association and support has been given.

I would also like to comment that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is in place for the benefit and for the protection of all citizens of this country. The fact that the charter does not produce results with which members opposite may from time to time agree or disagree does not make it any less a valuable tool.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Hanger

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question and for her congratulatory remarks.

It is interesting when we talk about the charter and its effects on law. Certainly there has been an analysis done by many people. I believe there is one that is presently in circulation that was completed by an RCMP officer and chief superintendent. He clearly points out the shortfalls that have occurred over the last 10 years to allow police to effectively police.

In fact in his opening statement his analysis was that the charter has literally forgotten about truth and in effect has directed the investigations police do on the basis of how well the investigation is done. The courts have analysed it in this way. They are more concerned about how well the investigation was done as to whether or not it violated the rights of an accused rather than seeking the truth. I think this is where the breakdown has occurred.

As we get more into the discussion of this particular piece of legislation we are going to see exactly what the charter has done to policing across the country because we are talking about that very thing. It is how police handle themselves and the law in protecting the people. The reflection I am getting from the community is that they realize the hands of police are tied, they cannot do anything about it and want something changed in that area.

As for the consultation process with front line officers through the Canadian Police Association, I will rise to that particular challenge and say that we should talk to individual officers on the street. If it comes out of the association per se, then that is a politicized statement of the police associations and not rank and file officers in this country. I think police should be consulted on a rank and file level and not through some association.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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?

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville indicated earlier that he wished to rise on a question of privilege. Is that correct?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Jag Bhaduria

Liberal

Mr. Bhaduria

Mr. Speaker, I will make my statement tomorrow morning.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Morris Bodnar

Liberal

Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn)

Mr. Speaker, I am sure I will get the questions, which I have just asked, in reverse.

Bill C-8 poses a very interesting question to all of us. Generally in drafting such legislation and granting powers to whatever body, whether it is a police force or any other force, we must be very vigilant in making sure that the intent we wish to be carried out does not go to far. The Minister of Justice must be complimented for bringing forward legislation with restrictions so that it does not go too far and the intent of the legislation is carried out.

As we know, the intent of this legislation is to provide for the legal protection of police officers. It is not there for any other purpose. It is to provide for the protection of police officers, persons lawfully assisting police officers and those who use force that is intended or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm to fleeing suspects who pose a threat of imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm. That is the purpose.

In drafting such legislation we have to look at the values in our society and what we need in our society. What we do need in this society is a prevention of crime and the control of criminals but it has to be within certain prescribed rules. Unless those rules are in place we will end up with a situation in which different members of society can run a little footloose and fancy free if the rules are not in place. For this reason we do require rules.

What should these rules do? They are laws that have to be fair. Fair is a very loose word to use. Then we go on to say that it must strike a balance. What is a balance? It has to be a balance between the rights of the fleeing suspect and the ability of police officers to protect themselves and the public.

This is what has to be dealt with in the legislation that is proposed. It is very important that this be drafted carefully because we are not dealing with just a minor matter. We are not dealing with some minor legislation. We are dealing with giving the right to kill. That is what we are doing. We are dealing with

the most serious of force. We are dealing with the granting in certain circumstances a right to cause the death of an individual.

We cannot allow such a right to be put in place without restriction which describe the conditions under which that right can be utilized. In drafting such rules we cannot avoid common sense because common sense obviously is required. We must rely on it in the drafting of the legislation.

It is quite important in drafting such legislation that we look at what we want to do. Of course, we do not want to cause agony for police officers and we do not want to cause them to have undue concerns. We do not want police officers to feel that they are restricted in their enforcement of laws. We understand that police officers have to make split second decisions. Sometimes they do not even have that much time to make a decision.

However the rules still have to be there so that police officers can, after having thought through this legislation, be able to make that automatic decision as to what to do in the circumstances. They have to know in that split second or less what they are doing because in training they know what their parameters are.

That is what is so important about this legislation as well. It has clarified to a large extent what police officers or peace officers can do. If it clarifies it for them then they know what they can do and where they can go.

It is so important in such legislation to have certain restrictions so that a police officer can understand what can be done and what cannot be done. Perhaps the legislation is not perfect, perhaps it needs some modifying and perhaps we can foresee certain problems that arise with this legislation but that can perhaps be cleared up in committee with a few alterations.

However, the general intent of the legislation is good. The intent is one of protecting the law enforcement people. We must go through it. It has been gone through by a number of members in the House already. However, there are certain aspects that have to be looked at.

Of course there are restrictions because the law as it is proposed in subsection 4 says that the police officer or peace officer is justified in using force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm. As I have already indicated, the most serious of matters is taking a person's life or causing grievous bodily harm. That is not just bodily harm. It is grievous bodily harm in many cases causing permanent disability, et cetera.

Under what circumstances can a peace officer do this? It has already been enunciated that such a peace officer must be proceeding lawfully to arrest. That is not an undue hindrance on a peace officer because peace officers know when they can arrest and they know when they cannot. They know under which offences they can arrest. They know under which offences they can arrest without a warrant. They know where they require a warrant, et cetera. That should not be a problem to a peace officer.

Second, the offence for which the person is to be arrested is one for which that person may be arrested without warrant. Again that should not be a problem for a trained police officer to determine.

Third, consider when the person to be arrested takes flight to avoid arrest. That is a fairly obvious one where the police officer is trying to arrest the individual and he turns and starts running or the police officer announces that the person is under arrest and the person all of a sudden turns 180 degrees and is literally in full flight.

One has to question this situation. What if the person does not know the police officer is trying to arrest him? We get into these special exceptions depending on the facts of each individual situation as it arises. Again, that is a matter that can be dealt with in our court system. The courts have generally and very reasonably set out additional rules if they are necessary. The legislation is not sufficient.

The fourth aspect is with regard to the peace officer or other person using the force who believes on reasonable grounds that the force is necessary for the purpose of protecting the peace officer, the person lawfully assisting the peace officer, or any other person from imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm.

I must admit I have some sympathy with the hon. member from the Bloc who spoke previously indicating concerns with the wording of future. There has to be a concern. What does future mean? What does future death mean or future grievous bodily harm? Does it mean tomorrow? Does it mean 10 minutes from now? Does it mean six months from now? Does it mean a year from now? How imminent does that have to be? It does distinguish between imminent and future death.

That is a matter that perhaps can be looked at in committee. Of course the flight cannot be prevented by reasonable means in a less violent manner.

That is reasonable too because through experience I am sure that all know that police officers do not want to cause deaths of individuals. They will use precautions. They will take whatever steps are necessary. They will fire in the air. They will yell at the person. They will radio ahead for someone to get the person who is headed in a particular direction.

Generally the flight cannot be prevented if such drastic action is taken but a provision like this is important in case there is one police officer who decides otherwise.

I suggest there are concerns once we get into the other subsection dealing with the penitentiary provision for the peace officers in the jails. I will raise these simply as food for thought for some members.

The subsection deals with peace officers being justified in using force that is intended or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm against an inmate who is escaping from a penitentiary. Then it says if the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that any of the inmates of the penitentiaries pose a threat of death or grievous bodily harm to the peace officer or any other person.

That is a strange section. When a guard comes to work in the morning in a penitentiary he has to think who is being held in custody. Is there any person in custody who poses a threat of death or grievous bodily harm to anybody? If that person is even sitting in the special handling unit or in secure custody, if that person is within the penitentiary, that allows that guard to shoot a person who is escaping from the prison even though that person may not be an immediate threat.

That is a matter that has to be looked at. That section appears to give a right of stopping an escaping inmate simply on the basis of who is in the prison population, even though the person in the prison population may not be doing anything.

That is something that has to be looked at and that is why we look at this legislation. It would be quite unfair if the guard decides there is a person who would pose a problem, who may cause bodily harm, and he decides he can fire at that person who is escaping and then finds out that that person was released during the day and is no longer in the jail. All of a sudden the provision does not apply to him. It could be just as unfair the other way.

If the intent of that subsection is to allow a peace officer to cause death or grievous bodily harm through an escaping inmate when no other reasonable means that are less violent are possible then it should be said in that clause rather than having the cumbersome procedure that is available.

I support the legislation because it is so important to peace officers. The clearer the legislation, the better the legislation.

The amendments to the section before the House clarify to a large extent what peace officers may wish. It certainly places restrictions on them, but at least they know where they stand with the legislation. If there is something that is not clear and can be clarified, that can be dealt with further in committee.

I would suggest that for once we have legislation that police officers can look to. They can read it and say here are the circumstances in which we can do something and here are the circumstances where we cannot. Once they have that, it will help them react much quicker and much better in emergency situations. When that is the case we will have much better police officers.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast)

Mr. Speaker I have a question for the hon. member, recognizing that the hon. member is steeped in the traditions of law and is familiar with many charter cases that he undoubtedly has handled.

Several times in his presentation he mentioned "if the intent". That is my point in questioning this law, the fact that the charter will come into play. If the intent is unknown then we will be subject to all kinds of wrangling. The police officer will not have the traditional support of the common law principles in case law. He will be subject to the introduction of other questionable material and the case may go in another direction.

Will the hon. member please comment on exactly what he means when he tells this House that now police officers can be satisfied that they have some definite rules to follow. That is not the case if we do not have any case law to fall back on.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Morris Bodnar

Liberal

Mr. Bodnar

That is true. Until we have some case law to clarify particular matters, at times we will have to rely simply on the legislation so that we can interpret the legislation.

Let us not forget that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not change the common law. To commit an offence one still has to commit a particular act and a person must have a particular intent. That has never been changed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If a police officer runs into problems under this section and at any time is charged with a criminal offence, the police officer has the same protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as any other individual.

I can advise the hon. member that police officers are just as insistent on having the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as any other member of society.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Hanger

Taking it one step further, if we are going to be looking at a piece of legislation such as this, it must answer the concerns of Canadians. Are Canadians happy to see more restrictions placed on police officers?

I do not believe they are. They have made that clear right across this country. We are going to be answering as parliamentarians many, many questions relating to crime and the way things are going with regard to criminal offences in this country. I do not see this legislation fitting the bill.

How will this member address those particular concerns of the Canadian people when in fact it is not going to serve them in a more efficient manner?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Permalink
LIB

Morris Bodnar

Liberal

Mr. Bodnar

That is an interesting comment made by the hon. member, that this may not fulfil the wishes of the public. One has to question what the public wants.

The public wants efficient police enforcement. It wants people brought to justice when they should be and it wants individual rights protected. The public does not want police officers brandishing firearms and firing in every direction for any reason under the guise of protection. That would not happen. I am not saying police officers would do it, but individuals may. That would not happen. We want good enforcement. That is why we need a balancing. That balancing is between the protection of individuals and police enforcement and bringing people to

justice. That is what the Canadian public wants. The Canadian public will get it with this legislation.

It will get it within this legislation which I suggest to the hon. member police officers will support once it goes through the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Permalink

February 14, 1994