An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Bill C-55)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, let me get to one point in the time I have for a question. It is related to the overly broad definition of “police officer or other person”.

The reason this issue was put forward by the Canadian Bar Association was actually to get it right. This is not to say that there are not other places in the Criminal Code where we find that definition, but in this specific instance, which is a quite extraordinary intrusion of the state into the personal lives of its citizens, it is trying to make it clear that not just anybody can do this, and that even within the police force, as the Canadian Bar Association letters to the committee pointed out, certainly “Special training and oversight are necessary for police officers who have such potentially intrusive power.”

It is basically suggesting that maybe it is not the cop on the beat who gets warrantless wiretap permission in exigent circumstances. Those same persons, by the way, should be capable of saving their notes from the case. Handwritten notes are all that are required to memorialize why they thought there were legitimate grounds to seek this extraordinary power of intruding into people’s private lives.Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her statement.

I read all of the testimony given in committee, and, as I said earlier when I addressed the House, the minister answered my colleague’s questions. Nevertheless, some serious questions remain concerning this bill.

Does my colleague agree with me that the changes brought about by today’s amendments would improve the bill?

Françoise Boivin: Mr. Speaker, I will answer the question as follows.

When we looked at the definition of police officer or when we had queries about the contents of reports, we understood that much of this falls under provincial jurisdiction. Therefore, I think we have to focus on the answer to be given to the dictates from the Supreme Court of Canada.

This does not mean that we cannot study the other aspects in greater depth, but they give rise to other problems. I personally do not have a clear-cut answer as to whether using the amendment creates more problems than it solves. That is what was raised by this type of amendment.

Regarding the R. v. Tse case, it would be preferable to leave the text as it stands. Later on, other steps will perhaps have to be taken in terms of wiretapping or interception. However, on the basis of R. v. Tse, the response is more than appropriate.

There are still questions about closing the definition of “police officer”, as my colleague wants to do. Witnesses told us that this would cause some problems. In some places, the situation is perhaps not described in the same way, but there is already a clear picture of this other person who keeps the peace.

Regarding the fact that time is limited, I think that the government will have to take the blame, because it is the government that is pushing for this exercise to be carried out so quickly. That being said, the only question the House must ask is whether the response to the principle requested by the Supreme Court is appropriate. The answer is simply: yes. Unfortunately, what is left leads to too many other questions.