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

Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Gatineau for her excellent speech. I share all of her concerns. I cannot support this bill because I find that it creates a system with serious problems with respect to citizen’s arrest.

However, I do agree that the amendments improve things. The bill as it is now is better than it was at first reading, but I now have more concerns. I cannot support this bill because of citizen’s arrest.

Why does my colleague now think that she can agree to this bill?

Françoise Boivin: Madam Speaker, I had this thought: it is perhaps because I have had the benefit of participating in all the committee meetings, listening to all the witnesses, thinking things through, knowing what the Criminal Code looked like before, and seeing what has become of subsection 494(2). When I say that I am reasonably satisfied, it is because the bill does not make things worse.

If I had one comment to make to my colleague, who is also a lawyer, it would be to tell her to think of the bill in this light: it does not make section 494(2) worse in terms of citizen’s arrest. It creates a number of criteria to which I have no fundamental objection. I do not think that it is awful; it is simply a little vague.

What does the bill mean where it says, “make the arrest within a reasonable time”? For a government that wants to replace judges more often than not, it is again a case of leaving it up to the court to decide what a reasonable time is and believing, on reasonable grounds, that arrest by a peace officer was not possible.

The wording is, notwithstanding, sufficiently serious given the types of cases that will arise and considering the fact that it has been confirmed that these are not situations that occur frequently. The fact that the bill also refers to “a person authorized by the owner” indicates that it cannot be just any old person. Once again, the other criteria must be met.

If we vote against Bill C–26 because it is not perfect, we will be depriving ourselves of an extremely important tool. I would like my colleague to think about that before it comes time to vote.