Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, given the previous experience of the member of Parliament for Mount Royal as a minister of justice, and given that we do not have any tabled documents from the Department of Justice attesting to the fact that this legislation does conform to the requirements of the charter, would the hon. member give us some advice as to what the Minister of Justice should have done and can still do to ensure this legislation meets the requirements of our Constitution?


Hon. Irwin Cotler: Mr. Speaker, in the ordinary conduct of business, the Minister of Justice would have had to refer this matter to the constitutional experts within the Department of Justice. He would have asked them whether the suspect provisions that I have mentioned, or any others, comport with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have full respect for those officials in the Department of Justice. I have my doubts as to whether that question was even put to the officials. If it had been put to them, he would have received the response that those provisions were invalid.

I would ask the minister to refer those matters to his officials and at least suspend the application of Bill C-10 with respect to those provisions that are constitutionally suspect until that advice can be tabled before this Parliament.

If the bill goes ahead, we are going to see a series of constitutional challenges with respect to those constitutionally suspect provisions. This could have been avoided if the Minister of Justice had exercised due diligence. We are going to see additional constitutional challenges at an additional cost to the taxpayer, all undermining the integrity of our process.