Hon. Lucien Cardin (Minister of Justice):
Mr. Speaker, in spite of the quotations the hon. member has just put on the record I cannot give any more specific answer than the one I gave the other day, to the effect that I did not think it would be useful to have this matter referred to a parliamentary committee. The reason is that the whole question of wire-tapping is being studied, not only by the department but by a commission of inquiry in British Columbia, and will no doubt also be part of the study made by a commission on crime.
The hon. member referred to wire-tapping as a "dirty business." I would prefer to refer to it as a very difficult problem. I think no one would contradict the stand taken by the hon. member in connection with the protection of civil rights, the independence of individuals and the right to carry on conversations without being overheard. However, I think the hon. member will also realize that an important aspect of our life is the prevention of crime, and national security.
This is one of the problems that government has to resolve. It is a two-edged sword and the question of wire-tapping is not an easy problem to resolve. Wire-tapping is only incidental to a whole series of electronic devices in this area. I feel it is not something with regard to which a decision can be easily or lightly reached.
[DOT] (10:20 p.m.)
I believe that the study which will be undertaken in British Columbia will be useful to us. The studies which are now going on in the department as a result of the suggestions made during the meeting of attorneys-general a year ago have also been very useful. However I think the hon. member for Winnipeg North will appreciate fully the difficulties involved and the necessity for coming up with a solution which will in fact bring protection to honest citizens and at the same time permit the government to prevent crime and to
DEBATES February 9, 1967
protect our national security. This is what we are trying to do.
Topic: CRIMINAL CODE-POSSIBLE AMENDMENT RESPECTING ELECTRONIC LISTENING DEVICES