Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act (Bill C-26)

Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his presentation of Bill C-26.

Some members of the House will know that I had hoped to present an amendment to the bill this morning to deal with the section dealing with citizen’s arrest and creating the new possibility of arrest within a reasonable time. This is section 35.3 of Bill C-26, which would seek to amend the existing Criminal Code subsection 494(2).

My question is on this specific point. The concern shared by many, but particularly put forward to committee from the Canadian Bar Association, is that this opens the door to a potentially greater role for private security forces instead of the police and that it creates the opportunity for people to go after someone long after the event. How is the average citizen to know what a reasonable time is? This opens Bill C-26 to considerable abuse.

I would ask my hon. friend why it was that we could not have deleted this one section that opens the door to some mischief that is not necessary for the overall purpose of the act?

Robert Goguen: Madam Speaker, first and foremost, there has always been a concern with vigilantism.

The issue of reasonable time is there because in certain circumstances the police cannot react rapidly, because of distance or where the incidents happen or possibly because they are responding to other emergency situations. One has to remember the number one responder to crime situations will remain the police. No citizen’s arrest will be deemed reasonable unless in the person’s mind it was not possible for the police to respond in a timely fashion.

As I said before, we have probably the best judiciary in the world. It will certainly not struggle with the issue of what is reasonable time given the circumstances of one particular event.