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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 12 - Evidence, June 18, 2009 - Morning session


OTTAWA, Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met this day at 10:50 a.m. to consider Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants).

Senator Joan Fraser (Chair) in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. We are continuing our study of Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants). To start us off this morning, we welcome representatives from police forces. Our witnesses are Michel Aubin, Director, Federal and International Operations from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and, from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Todd Shean.

[English]

Thank you very much for being here, gentlemen. We are glad to have you. Mr. Shean, please proceed.

Todd Shean, Representative, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: Thank you. My name is Todd Shean, and I am the Director General for the RCMP's Drugs and Organized Crime Branch. I appear before you today as a representative of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, CACP. I am a member of the committee on organized crime with the CACP.

The organized crime committee seeks to enhance cooperation among law enforcement agencies at home and abroad. It promotes innovative law enforcement initiatives and advocates for public policy and legislative change. On behalf of the Canadian law enforcement community, I thank you for providing us with this opportunity.

[Translation]

The committee has invited me to discuss the proposed legislation that would provide the justice system with new tools to fight street gangs and other forms of organized crime.

[English]

The CACP welcomes Bill C-14. It is a long-awaited legislative response to the phenomenon of murder and other acts of extreme violence committed by organized crime.

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss more generally the current organized crime situation in Canada and what the future holds for us in this respect if we do not find a solution. I would like to share some thoughts about two extreme situations that we seem to be experiencing in the fight against organized crime in Canada.

Police services are constantly being challenged to adjust to the following two contrasting trends in today's criminal world: increasing violence between gangs and increasing infiltration into the legal economy by organized crime. Both of these trends are occurring within different contexts in each province and alliances between members of organized crime do not respect borders.

The first trend observed by police officers is associated with the increasingly violent and unpredictable nature of organized street crime. In that context, trafficking and use of firearms is becoming more common in certain regions of Canada, thus increasing the risks to citizens and police officers.

Conversely, the leaders of large criminal organizations seem to be trying to step back. These high-level actors in organized crime are becoming more strategic. They are trying to pass themselves off as businessmen and investors in addition to learning more about how to protect themselves following each major investigation. Thus, certain elements of high-level organized crime are currently seeking to take advantage of growing partnerships between criminal organizations, of globalization and of the difficult economic situation.

While Bill C-14 includes measures that we wholeheartedly support in terms of fighting violence associated with organized crime, we believe that our economies and free enterprise must be protected against increasing attempts by the higher echelons of traditional organized crime to enter the market place as economic actors, but according to the rules of the criminal underworld. These senior organized crime figures operate by intimidating rivals, taking over contract awards and acquiring monopolies. In the medium to long term, these practices will certainly undermine the economy and will also discourage good investors, particularly during difficult economic times. Organized crime's infiltration into various market economies is therefore a matter that deserves our concern.

[Translation]

Many sectors of the economy are already at risk, including construction, trucking, landscaping, equipment rentals, towing, sports teams, et cetera.

[English]

The challenge is to find legislative tools and methods to curb this phenomenon, which requires large amounts of police resources over very long periods, sometimes with mixed results. Without taking into account the extensive delay in even detecting this sort of operation, members of organized crime know how to protect themselves from long police actions by covering the trail of their dirty money.

I would now like to point out two aspects that could support our efforts. First, we need to discourage support for organized crime by facilitators, such as certain lawyers, notaries, accountants, tax professionals, real estate brokers and foreign exchange dealers, who have been corrupted by members of organized crime or who fail to report law-breaking. Second, we need to encourage partnerships between the various law enforcement and regulatory organizations in sharing information.

[Translation]

Whether in terms of financing or in terms of intelligence on members or supporters of organized crime within various corporations or professional associations, we need the cooperation of revenue agencies to fight fraud against governments and the cooperation of the numerous organizations victimized by identity theft, et cetera.

[English]

Even in the field of intelligence sharing between police services and organizations, partnership is an unavoidable reality that can greatly strengthen the fight against organized crime. We need the support of all organizations concerned with organized crime, and we must find ways to make joint work easier while respecting existing laws and missions.

[Translation]

Partnership against organized crime must therefore be considered much more broadly in terms of intelligence and information sharing.

[English]

These two aspects deserve consideration and appropriate responses in order to deal with the threats posed by the advances of organized crime, to say nothing of pre-existing problems of, among other things, the complex and continually increasing requirements for disclosure of evidence.

In closing, Canadian law enforcement is committed to tackling organized crime. We need new thinking in the judicial process, new policies and guidelines to support these efforts.

[Translation]

On behalf of the CACP's organized crime committee, I am confident that we can respond to the growing sophistication of criminality and that, together, we can strike the right balance in our legal and legislative structures.

[English]

Honourable senators, I would like to thank you again for inviting me to appear today. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.

Michel Aubin, Director, Federal and International Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Good morning and thank you for inviting us here today. My name is Michel Aubin. I am a director within the Federal and International Operations Directorate of the RCMP.

As a leader and partner in the fight against organized crime, the RCMP supports Bill C-14. Organized crime is very much present in our communities across Canada. Many of these organizations have become transnational in scope and more sophisticated in their operations. What has not changed is organized crime's reliance on intimidation and violence as tools of the trade, particularly among street gangs.

Organized crime groups have also escalated their use of violence in fighting for territory and shares of what have become very lucrative illicit markets. As a result, organized crime members have started to wear body armour, bullet- proof vests and have modified their vehicles with armour plating. Acts of severe violence and the fact that gang members are going to extreme lengths to prepare themselves for battle is alarming. As these gangs fight it out on Canadian streets, innocent bystanders are victimized. Many have lost their lives.

Organized crime is also becoming efficient at exploiting and victimizing people, subverting legitimate business and attempting to corrupt parts of the judicial process. Criminal groups willing to use violence and intimidation let few people stand in their way, including members of the judiciary, police officers and, certainly, witnesses to crime.

Whether it is a fear of reprisal or adhering to an unwritten code of criminals, witnesses often refuse to testify when they take the stand. This happened recently in British Columbia during the trial of two top members of the Independent Soldiers gang. Witnesses were reluctant to provide details of the incident, with one flatly advising the Crown prosecutor that he would not provide details because he was looking out for himself.

However, police, law makers and we as a society are not powerless against organized crime. Recent high-profile arrests around the country have illustrated that. We believe at the heart of any effective strategy are knowledge and foresight into criminal activity and effective laws. Criminal intelligence is key to accurately assess threats and investigate key criminal groups on a priority basis.

To that end, the RCMP adopted an intelligence-led approach several years ago. Through strategic and tactical criminal intelligence work, the RCMP, along with other Canadian police services, has been assessing the evolving nature of organized crime. We have established enforcement priorities to address the most pressing problems and guide our investigations.

Further, honourable senators, I can inform you that, as we speak today, a conference is ongoing by senior police officers across Canada on the very issue of bridging the gap between intelligence and operations, as well as looking at how to be more strategic in our fight against organized crime based on the resources we have. Both Mr. Shean and I left that conference and are to return after our testimony.

The RCMP is working hard to target the realities of organized crime in the 21st century — realities that are complex, widespread and well entrenched in many of our communities. There is more to do, and we will never completely eradicate organized crime in Canada as long as money is to be made in illegal markets. However, we can disrupt their activities, target their proceeds and discourage crime groups from exploiting and threatening Canada's financial integrity and border security.

Organized crime has changed significantly over the past 10 years. Criminal organizations are aware of police techniques, the level of violence has increased and the globalization of organized crime is a reality. The fact that intimidation and corruption of witnesses are becoming more common when trying organized crime members is a challenge we must also take into account as part of the new reality. Consequently, with the evolution of organized crime comes the need for amended legislation in order to effectively address this threat.

Honourable senators, we see Bill C-14 as an important legislative tool to help keep Canadians safe. I thank you again for inviting me to appear today, and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Senator Nolin: Mr. Shean, in your remarks, the first sentence of the fifth paragraph concerns me. You say, "I would like to take this opportunity to discuss more generally the current organized crime situation in Canada, and what the future holds for us in this respect if we do not find a solution.'' I am all for finding a solution. Does one exist? We are in the business of trying to make good laws and trying to not let ourselves fall into the easy solution.

[Translation]

Everyone wants a solution, for sure, but is the bill before us today the solution or part of the solution? That is my question.

[English]

Mr. Shean: I would say that the bill is part of the solution. Mr. Aubin and I have appeared before parliamentary committees, and Mr. Aubin has appeared before other parliamentary committees without me, with respect to different aspects of the law. This bill in particular is part of the solution that we require as law enforcement in our fight against organized crime. We have highlighted other components to parliamentary committees, such as lawful access and disclosure laws. We mention here information sharing. The law enforcement community continues to voice our requirements to Parliament and to the Canadian citizens. This component of law is part of that solution. We say today that it is a step in the direction of assisting law enforcement to deal with organized crime in Canada.

Senator Nolin: Both of your remarks alluded to the judicial system. I am quite concerned by that because I am a lawyer myself. I do not like people throwing accusations around without being specific. Mr. Aubin, when you say that they corrupt parts of the judicial process, and when you, Mr. Shean, refer to lawyers and notaries, try to be more specific in how Bill C-14 will prevent that. Could you explain further, please?

Mr. Shean: Bill C-14, as we indicated earlier, is part of the solution, but I can give you concrete examples — I will not go into specifics — where organized crime will utilize the offices of lawyers to host meetings. Organized crime looks to infiltrate the different areas. The judicial aspect is but one part of the process. As we explained, there is the intelligence-gathering process that continues throughout our investigation, the investigational process, the judicial process that we go through and the correctional process at the end of it all. That is the continuum spectrum to attack organized crime, but the judicial process is part of the issue as well.

Senator Nolin: I presume that you have looked at and read Bill C-14 in depth. Bill C-14 proposes a new section that we have discussed at length. It is clause 8 of the bill, creating a new Criminal Code section 244.2. Mr. Aubin, can you tell us how frequently this happens in Canada?

Mr. Aubin: I do not have the bill in front of me.

Senator Nolin: It is important that we look at the text.

The Chair: It begins at the bottom of page 3 of the bill, and it has to do with discharging firearms.

Senator Nolin: I am not trying to cover all the proposed new sections surrounding this. I know other colleagues will dig into that. I am setting the table for them.

Mr. Aubin: I am at the clause here.

Senator Nolin: I want to know how frequently that crime — discharging a firearm, recklessness — happens in Canada.

Mr. Aubin: I do not have hard statistics right now, but I can tell you it is happening much more frequently than 10 or 20 years ago. The reality is that organized crime across Canada has a plurality in its forms and shapes. When looking at the issues of street gangs, street gangs rely on weapons and violence. It is a common occurrence. It is not limited to the big centres such as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. We are now seeing it in other centres around Canada, such as Halifax and Winnipeg. Firearms being shot in various residential communities is a common occurrence, and police law enforcement is reporting it.

Senator Nolin: Your answer to my question is that it is happening within the environment of organized crime — or criminal organizations to use the expression of the code.

Mr. Aubin: Absolutely.

Senator Nolin: This proposed new section, as you know, covers something larger than just criminal organizations. That is why I asked the question. I heard your answer on criminal organizations. Talk to me about other than criminal organizations.

Mr. Aubin: Unfortunately, I do not have those statistics with me now. I can only answer this morning in relation to organized crime.

Senator Angus: Thank you for coming. I assume you have been following our deliberations here and know the issues. Following on Senator Nolin's questions, a fair amount of talk has taken place about drive-by shootings. I am assuming that is not part of organized crime, although perhaps you will tell us even drive-by shootings are now organized and part of international gangs. What is so special about them?

Mr. Shean: Some of the phenomena that we are seeing — and I recognize we see much of it on the streets in British Columbia — are organized street gangs that are involved in the drug trade. They are vying for territory, perhaps trying to eliminate competitors, for a number of reasons. These drive-by shootings are occurring in these types of situations. Yes, they are occurring within the organized crime realm.

Senator Angus: On another subject, you mentioned the tools that this bill provides to assist in curbing organized crime, principally.

We have had discussions about issues with respect to extending murder to first-degree murder in certain circumstances; the creation of three new offences; the duration of the recognizance period; and sentencing, the provision of mandatory minimum sentences in some cases.

Could you address that last item and tell us how, in your view, that would deter organized crime?

Mr. Aubin: I am not legally trained, nor do I specialize in sociology. However, from a policeman's perspective, when we encounter criminals in our experience, there are criminals for whom, when they are caught and go through the system and through corrections, there is a potential for rehabilitation. Policemen and policewomen do recognize that.

When we are dealing with organized crime, in my experience — and I do have practical experience — for the most part, we are talking about individuals who are committed to their organization and to criminality in the same way that you are committed to public office and we are committed to law enforcement. Rather than deterrence, for us, it is more an issue of public safety. That is why we investigate these individuals. Many times, we have to redirect our focus from large-scale investigations of high-end organized crime groups to focus on individuals who are at the street-gang level and are committing these murders or drive-by shootings. Because of public safety issues, we have to direct our attention there.

Mr. Shean: As Mr. Aubin indicated, we discussed this at our meeting this morning. Just as we get up in the morning as police officers and senators, organized crime figures get up in the morning as organized crime figures looking for a way to further their criminal organization. Rehabilitative matters are included there, but some people are committed to a life of crime.

Senator Angus: You are saying that it is a helpful tool for you to have these compulsory minimum sentences.

Senator Bryden: I did not think they said that.

The Chair: Perhaps you could rephrase the question: Is it helpful to have mandatory minimums?

Senator Angus: I thought I was in the middle of my questioning, but I defer to the chair.

Senator Bryden: I apologize.

Senator Angus: I understood your evidence to be that this bill is helpful; it is a useful tool; it adds new arrows to your quiver in dealing with these terrible crimes. I listed what I consider to be the four elements that are in this bill, and the last one was these sentences.

The mandatory minimums are confined to certain specified crimes. Nonetheless, concerns have been expressed here. This criterion of safety is a new one for me. It has not been mentioned. In other words, you like those types of sentences because you get these people off the street and put them away and keep the public safe from them. I am paraphrasing.

It has been suggested here that possibly there will be circumstances in some of these designated new offences where you could sweep in people where the judge's discretion would have been better. Do you understand my point?

Mr. Aubin: I understand your point. I am not evading your question.

Senator Angus: I am not insinuating that.

Mr. Aubin: In our experience, when it comes to organized crime including street gangs and so on, we are facing individuals who are committed, for the most part, to criminality. That is their reality. From our perspective, it is a matter of public safety. If these individuals are committed to criminality, our perspective is that these people have to be taken off the streets. We have to protect Canadian citizens. If the legislation provides a sentencing guideline that allows this public safety issue, we are behind it from that perspective.

Mr. Shean: As we said in our opening remarks, both the CACP and the RCMP are supportive of this bill.

Senator Angus: You are not concerned that these mandatory minimum sentences might have some unintended consequences other than the public safety one?

Mr. Aubin: Again from practical experience, I will put it this way: When we are looking at organized crime, when law enforcement is bringing cases to the prosecutors and to the courts, we are bringing them under the auspices of organized crime. We have evidence to believe these individuals are criminals and members of a criminal organization, as compared to an individual who is involved in criminality. For us, there is a clear distinction, and the challenge in bringing cases before the courts under the auspices of organized crime is more complex and comprehensive. When we are bringing cases under the auspices of organized crime, it is clear to us that the action of the individual was in furtherance of a criminal organization.

Senator Angus: I understand that.

Did you want to add something?

Mr. Shean: On the heels of that is the evidence that we must adduce to prove the criminal organization as such.

Senator Wallace: Thank you for your presentations. In particular, as someone who has not stood in your shoes and lived the reality that each of you have in providing protection for ourselves and everyone in this country — it is refreshing — I think it is important that we do hear the reality of what are you encountering on the streets and what the criminal concern is that we have in this country. In particular, it is important to be able to tie that back to Bill C-14 and for each of us to pass our own judgment on how well Bill C-14 will address the real criminal issues that you so clearly described.

As you point out, a number of tools are needed to do your job. Bill C-14, which I will come back to in a moment, is one of them, but partnerships and issues of rehabilitation of criminals are part of it, I am sure. It is not just one size fits all in dealing with a complex situation and problem.

I do not want to repeat everything that Senator Angus had to say, but the issue of mandatory minimums has received considerable discussion around this table. I want to ensure that I am clear on what your practical experience has been with mandatory minimum sentences.

I have been left with the impression that some would be of the view that mandatory minimums do not create a deterrence of commission of future crimes; and that if mandatory minimums have the effect, which I assume they would, of increasing the sentence that a convicted felon may otherwise have, there is no benefit or advantage to the public in having them removed from the streets for that additional period.

What comment you would care to make around those two issues?

Mr. Shean: I hope this is the proper approach in answering this question. Just prior to my arrival as the director general of the Drugs and Organized Crime Branch, I was the officer responsible for a police service in Codiac on the eastern coast of New Brunswick. We police the jurisdictions of Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview. We brought in a crime reduction strategy that identified the people who were doing the most harm in our community.

We specifically looked at the people doing the most harm in our community, and we paid them the particular attention that we felt they required, over the span of a year or two years. Those were the people who were committing crime every day. The statistics bore out. We were specifically targeting property crime and significantly reduced the amount of crime. I am taking this to a smaller level, but I am showing what can happen when you deal with the proper people in the proper fashion. When they were not on the streets committing crime, we significantly reduced the level of property crime within our communities.

The Chair: I do not quite understand. I hope you do not mind, Senator Wallace. You targeted them when they were not allowed to be on the streets. Does that mean you arrested them and had them convicted, if possible, on little things? How did you keep them off the streets?

Mr. Shean: We would identify the persons in our community who were committing daily crime through our intelligence and pay particular attention to them. We followed what they were doing on a daily basis because if they were committing crime every day, most times they were subject to some form of court or probation order. It is not punitive, it is to rehabilitate. However, if they are not following those orders, we would hold them accountable for that. It impacted the level of crime in our community when we paid that particular attention.

Mr. Aubin: Minimum mandatory sentencing is a deterrent. Criminals involved in high-level criminality who were trafficking cocaine, for example, when they found out they could traffic marijuana, that the risks were lesser in sentencing, they purposely moved to marijuana to get away from the risks involved with trafficking cocaine.

Then you have members of criminal organizations that believe in the membership. They want to remain part of that club no matter what it takes or what they have to do; deterrence is not an issue for them.

It is a public safety issue. Deterrence does have an impact for some. We have seen it on both sides. At the end of the day, we are looking at the issue of public safety when we talk about organized crime.

Senator Wallace: As you said earlier, there is not a one size fits all solution with all of this. What deters or impacts some may not deter or impact others. It is a question of looking across the full spectrum. This is obvious from your response to a number of questions and your presentation. However, the fundamental question that each of us has in considering Bill C-14 is whether, as law enforcement officials, you absolutely believe Bill C-14 is a tool you need in order to better protect the safety of Canadians.

Mr. Aubin: On behalf of the RCMP, the answer is yes.

Mr. Shean: On behalf of the CACP, which I represent here today, yes, we are supportive of the bill.

Senator Baker: The former Constable Shean is in case law successfully taking drugs off the street in New Brunswick. I want to congratulate him for that.

I listened carefully to what you said here today to the committee, and I came to the conclusion that you are suggesting we change legislation to do three things. First, to change the law so that it would be an offence to intimidate judges, officers of the court or persons in public office. That is what I got from both speakers. Second, put limits on the disclosure requirements in law so that you do not have to meet the Stinchcombe requirements in your gang-related and criminal organization charges. Third was lawful access, which was sort of couched in a remark. I presume you are talking about the interception of private communications.

Mr. Shean: That is correct.

Senator Baker: You are asking for legislation or amendments to this legislation to accomplish those three things. Have I determined what you were saying correctly?

Mr. Aubin: In relation to intimidation, we are referring to the reality that organized crime today uses intimidation as part of its arsenal. It does not stop at the doorstep of the judiciary. We see intimidation of witnesses, victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, government officials, et cetera.

In relation to disclosure, everyone recognizes that law enforcement works with the Stinchcombe decision, and we have been working with it. In doing large scale organized crime cases, it now presents law enforcement with a mammoth challenge to introduce to the court all evidence gleaned in a timely fashion, which is an obligation that law enforcement has. For example, in one Montreal case in 2006, we had approximately 1.5 million intercepted conversations. Preparing disclosure for court, one must question whether we need to translate 1.5 million or even 13,000 transcripts.

Limits need to be there from a law enforcement perspective because it becomes extremely demanding on law enforcement resource. Our capacity in dealing with other investigations is thus reduced. We must look at what is introduced in the courts. We are not saying that we do not have to meet the obligation, but it is a matter of providing more of a framework.

Mr. Shean: The point is about what is relevant disclosure. That is the key question for the law enforcement community. What is deemed relevant disclosure versus the bulk gathered?

Mr. Aubin: With respect to lawful access, senator, our legislation was written at a time when not as many communication devices and methods existed. It is a challenge currently for law enforcement to try to keep up with organized crime that uses all the new techniques and devices. Many communications carriers are based in Canada, the United States and elsewhere. Organized crime is aware and takes advantage of these techniques. We need to ensure the legislation allows us to stay abreast of organized crime to be able to intercept them or to get the evidence we need. That gap needs to be addressed.

Mr. Shean: We are not asking for greater enhancement of the powers we already have. We are asking for the laws to keep pace with the technology that we are seeing utilized by criminal organizations today.

Senator Baker: Parliament and this committee have supplied you with a new section 487.01 of the Criminal Code. I do not know if you are familiar with it because you have been in high offices recently. You are nodding your heads that you are aware of it. That allows you to do anything you want that is not provided for in any other law in Canada. You can do sneak and peaks. Do you know what those are? Go into someone's house for a period of a year, off and on, simply to see how things are going.

We passed that law to give law enforcement that kind of authority that you are now requesting. We also allow disclosure now on CDs instead of hard copy. You are saying that that is not sufficient. We need to amend the law in those three particular areas. Therefore, you would not be adverse to us, say, introducing an amendment to this legislation to accomplish one of these items — you do not have to answer that question.

Are you talking about when new technology comes out, having a requirement in law that the person or company introducing the technology will provide a means whereby they can regulate or monitor what is happening with that technology?

Mr. Aubin: That is part of the answer. I am probably not the best person in the RCMP on this subject. We have individuals who specialize in that area and could provide more comprehensive testimony. However, one of the challenges is that when they bring out new devices and techniques, we do not have that back-door access. We have to research it and uncover it, and — excuse the expression — we are behind the eight ball.

Senator Baker: I think you are well ahead of the game.

Mr. Shean: One has to be clear that for all those different aspects, we seek judicial authorization. We go to a proper authority and seek that permission. We are asking for those authorities, but we will always seek judicial authority to obtain the authority to do those types of interceptions.

Senator Bryden: Mr. Shean, I come from the Moncton area. That is my airport, and I have watched the growth of that city. I am interested in your answer to Senator Wallace in relation to crime prevention. You gave an illustration of what you did in the Moncton area with Codiac. I did not catch all of it. It sounded to me as though you actually dedicated certain activities and certain personnel and so on for the purpose of reducing the amount of crime that would happen in the community. Could you be more explicit about how did you that?

Mr. Shean: Yes, I can, senator. I hope the example hit the mark there. This is something that actually started in the U.K., and it took hold in some parts of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. I saw that and brought it into it Codiac. It is very much intelligence-based. You have to engage your whole police office. You gather the intelligence or the information that is in your community. Your intelligence analysts within your office churn that intelligence over to identify the people. In this particular area in Codiac, we were focusing on property crime and the people in our community who were hurting us the most every day in the area of the property crime. We got to know them intimately. In the presentations I would give, I would say that they raised their hands and identified themselves. They were begging for our attention, so they got it, and they got it in spades. We would identify, on a bi-weekly basis, the persons who were doing us the most harm, and then we would pay them particular attention.

Senator Bryden: In what way did you pay them particular attention?

Mr. Shean: We would determine if they were under any type of court processes, if their probation orders required them to be in school or counselling, whatever processes they were involved in to ensure they were abiding by the rules imposed upon on them by a competent authority. If they were not, and we knew they were committed to a life of crime, we went out there and tagged along with them, without them knowing, and would in many instances catch them in the act. We knew them as well as they knew themselves.

Once we had them in the criminal realm, we would work with our partners, with probation and the prosecutors, and then we started to engage our other government partners. The goal was to break that cycle so the person would not return and we would have to deal with them again, although unfortunately, as we shared today, we did see some that would repeat. We would work with the probation officers. As we know, a probation order is not punitive but is supposed to be rehabilitative. If the person during the course of our investigation had a substance abuse problem, we would identify that to the prosecutors to see if the probation order could ensure that that was part of the rehabilitative process to try to break that cycle. If the issue was education, housing or mental health, we would bring those partners in to break that cycle. That was the process we implemented, and the success was demonstrated through the reduction we had in those types of crimes.

Senator Bryden: What was the level success? Were property crimes down 10 per cent, for example?

Mr. Shean: I forget the exact numbers, I apologize, but it was dramatic to the point that it impacted our calls for service, and it allowed our officers to be more pro-active in the area of impaired drivers. We had more time to investigate other crimes because we were not dealing each and every day with the crimes being committed by these people who were harming us on a daily basis because we would receive those calls for service.

Senator Bryden: Is that still ongoing?

Mr. Shean: Yes, it is.

The Chair: I gather your statistics were available, and I wonder if you could send them along to the committee. That would be very interesting for us to see.

Mr. Shean: I certainly can. Codiac was always proud to share what we had.

Senator Bryden: Mr. Aubin, are there gangs in prisons and in correctional institutions?

Mr. Aubin: Yes, there are. It is a reality, unfortunately. In Western Canada, a number of gangs in fact have found their roots in our correctional services, whether provincial or federal. They are mainly First Nation gangs, and we are seeing a schooling happening there. Adhesion and membership is happening. They go out in the communities, and they are come back into the jail system to keep the gangs going in the jail system as well.

In fact, yesterday one of the provinces at the conference was reporting that intelligence leads believe that some gang members are purposely getting themselves caught by law enforcement so they can be sent to the gangs to bolster their numbers within the correctional services. This is intelligence brought to our attention no later than yesterday afternoon.

Senator Bryden: Mandatory minimum sentences are mandatory and minimum, so there is no discretion once the person is convicted and the person ends up serving that sentence. A first-time offender is in for five years, for example. It has been suggested that if the one were a first-time criminal when one went into the institution, one would be a professional criminal by the time one came out. As you have said, that situation feeds the criminal activity that is within the various institutions and the various institutions then send their soldiers to recruit. For that reason, among others, some thoughtful people think that the mandatory minimums, rather than being an answer, are a problem.

Mr. Aubin: I will not deny the cycle. It is true that that does happen with some street gangs. I can tell you — and Correctional Services of Canada would be able to answer better — that these institutions recognize this problem and have a strategy in place called the exit strategy. For those who enter the correctional system and want to exit street gangs, a process is in place there to allow them to extricate themselves from the group and receive the support and training they need in order to return to communities in a non-criminal way or not engage in criminal activity. I cannot speak to the success of that strategy, senator, but I can tell you that it does exist.

Senator Bryden: If they can intimidate judges and so on, they presumably can intimidate one single guy who is in there about whether he participates in a program such as that. You have no indication as to the success of the program. It is nice to know one exists, but it would be nice also if it works.

Senator Milne: We heard yesterday that the word "reckless'' is a fairly low standard in criminal law. My concern is about the part of this bill that deals with drive-by shootings and uses the word "reckless'' in both clauses at the bottom of page 3. Clause 8, proposed new sections 244.2(1)(a) and (b) use the word "reckless.''

When Senator Watt was here yesterday, he asked if the use of this word does not cast too broad a net or set too low a standard for proof in criminal law. What would this mean to Aboriginal youth, say, someone between 16 and 18 years of age? Apparently, Aboriginal youth are taught to shoot using BB guns or pellet guns. If they make a mistake and shoot it off the wrong way, they can be clapped into jail hundreds of miles from their reserve for a minimum of five years.

Mr. Aubin: Senator, I am not legally trained, so I want to couch my answer. From a policeman's perspective, I would face that situation by looking at it from the perspective of who intentionally discharges a firearm while being reckless. The intention is important. That is, whether that person did it with the objective of shooting or aiming at a population in general or at individuals in general, as compared to someone being in a remote area either to fish or to hunt and an accident occurs. That is where the word becomes key to me of whether or not I would advance a charge to the prosecutor.

Senator Milne: That is a little reassuring on the use of the extra word.

Will this bill help you a great deal? We have also heard that a former B.C. Attorney General said, "We support what the federal government is doing, but they have to go further. We have nobody to prosecute. The reason we have nobody to prosecute is nobody helps the police, and the police are stymied by the laws they have to operate under.''

Do you see this bill actually helping you?

Mr. Shean: We see this as a continuum of work toward a continual solution or to assist us in our fight against organized crime. We see this as providing assistance, to us yes.

We have shared today some of the other components that face us as law enforcement. We have discussed lawful access and disclosure. Those are other components that we will continue to discuss and share with parliamentarians to provide us with the further assistance that we need, but this is a piece of that puzzle. That is how I would term it.

Senator Milne: A certain body of thought out there says most of the crimes covered in this piece of legislation are already covered under the Criminal Code. The only thing this does is apply mandatory minimum sentences.

Is there any reaction to that?

Mr. Aubin: I really do not want to get into the legal side because that is not my training.

Senator Milne: That is fine; I am not a lawyer, either.

Mr. Aubin: The way we see it, the legislation addresses realities. We see street gangs as part of the organized crime grouping. The actions that are happening with them are addressed.

In this case, we are looking at individuals who are discharging firearms. We have seen this in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and so on. They are out there discharging firearms in a community and aiming in a general direction, but many people are around, many potential victims. This type of situation is a reality, and it needs to be addressed. From that perspective, this legislation addresses that issue when it comes to the realities of organized crime.

Senator Milne: What is your opinion of the part of this legislation that deals with peace officers and, hopefully, improving their safety?

Mr. Shean: As Mr. Aubin has pointed out, peace officers who go to work this morning to deal with gangs on our streets in Canada are wearing bullet-proof vests and are driving armour-plated vehicles with bullet-proof glass. They are there to protect their territory and, perhaps, recoup more territory.

For the police officers working in that environment each and every day, we are seeing that counter-surveillance is being done on them. Those police officers going to work every day are not equipped with the types of vehicles that the gangs that they are following have in some instances. We are working in that type of environment. The danger to police officers is increased because of the gang situation on our streets.

Senator Milne: Do you see this bill actually helping that situation? The judge can order the defendant to enter into a recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of 12 months. If they were convicted previously, however, the peace bond is for not more than two years.

Mr. Shean: That draws you back to my crime reduction analogy. If there are certain things that that person is required to do under the law now, then they are required to do it. This legislation gives law enforcement another avenue to ensure that if something was ordered by a court, it is respected. That is why it has been done. This provides us some further assistance.

Senator Campbell: No one goes out to a shoot-out in a smart car. We should consider this idea of gangs. I listened carefully to you. We are a gang who have joined together for a common purpose. Our common purpose, however, is not illegal.

Disclosure is a whole different ball of wax; that is something else we need to deal with. Targeting is nothing new. Would it be fair to say that targeting, while effective, is increasingly resource-dependent? I am not talking about going after a bunch of dirt balls that are breaking into houses; I am talking about targeting a bunch of guys who are a company, a gang. That is resource-dependent.

Mr. Shean: Resources are a big part of it, but I think Mr. Aubin would agree that one of the biggest components is that we have the necessary intelligence so that we know the group that we are looking for, inside and out. Once you know the group that you are going after, then you know how to better resource yourself. You know what you are up against. It is important to know them as well as you can. That intelligence component is key.

Mr. Aubin: Basically, as Mr. Shean said, intelligence is critical to us. We have a certain amount of resources available to us for law enforcement, and we have a number of criminal organizations out there as per the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, CISC, threat assessment; and they are growing.

We must be strategic. When we are being strategic, we are looking at the organizations that are inflicting the most harm on our communities. Sometimes, that means we have to direct our attention to those that are committing the violent crimes on our streets. That does not detract from the fact that we have organizations that are attacking our economic infrastructure.

Senator Campbell: In British Columbia, we have a whole bunch of gangs, for example, First Nations gangs and the Red Scorpions.

Senator Joyal: On a point of order, I hope you are not alluding to all First Nations.

Senator Campbell: No, no, I mean the UN gang. I was not alluding to First Nations. I was alluding to specific criminal organizations.

Senator Joyal: I want to ensure that no one is confused.

Senator Campbell: You know me better than that, I would not do that. The difficulty is that these gang members are arrested and then released. The next thing you know, the police are responsible for protecting the public, so we end up doing surveillance on the very people we release to ensure they do not cause harm to the public.

What is the answer to that? Is it contained in this bill? Will that minimum sentencing stop this process?

Mr. Aubin: When you were mentioning being caught and released, what is the context?

Senator Campbell: Let us say, for example, that I get picked up with 27 guns in the back of my car, and I get bail.

Mr. Aubin: From a law enforcement perspective, it is a significant concern for us that that person has been released into our community. Yes, in terms of protecting the public, we do have to direct resources on that individual.

Senator Campbell: Within this bill, there is context with respect to provisioning upon release of what you have to do. Will that help?

Mr. Aubin: It is significantly a step in the right direction. As Mr. Shean has mentioned, that is when we pay attention to those individuals, if they are breaching the conditions of their recognizance. Then we have to move in and address it.

Mr. Shean: I have had some exposure to what the U.K. does on that particular aspect, and they do pay attention. Once you have been arrested, you enter the correctional institution, and when you are released, you are not forgotten; you are followed through.

As we have shared today, if you are part of that criminal organization and if once you are released, you continue in that criminal organization, then any tools that we have as law enforcement are of benefit to us.

Senator Campbell: There is some concern that someone could be caught up in these proposed new sections where exceptional circumstances come into play. Would you support an amendment that allowed judicial discretion that would permit a judge to impose a lesser sentence where exceptional circumstances exist?

Mr. Shean: I do not know if this will be a direct answer to that question. In any case that we present before a court, we present all the facts that surround that particular case, and then it is a determination of the court.

We are probably treading into areas that are more legal. That is not our area of expertise. Our area of expertise is to gather the facts and present them to a competent authority.

Senator Campbell: You support this bill.

Mr. Shean: We do.

Senator Campbell: You say that it is up to the judge. If the judge has no discretion, then there is no option there. I am simply asking whether there could be a clause entered in here that says that judges may impose a lesser sentence where exceptional circumstances exist. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, someone will go down, but circumstances may exist where the judge should have some discretion.

Mr. Aubin: As a member of the law enforcement community, as much as we want to have the tools or need the tools to address organized crime, if exceptional circumstances exist, the means should be there to allow that to be addressed. We do not want someone, who is a victim to a certain extent, although a participant, to be sentenced to a period longer than necessary.

Senator Campbell: You would be able to support an amendment that permits exceptional circumstances.

I am with you; I want the bad guys to go down. However, in the process of doing that, some discretion must be there to ensure that they are the bad guys in every single case. We know how difficult that is.

The Chair: Senator Campbell, it is not that this is not important, but time marches on. Senator Wallace has a very brief supplementary.

Senator Campbell: I never did get an answer, by the way.

The Chair: You sort of did. If you check the transcript, I think you did.

Senator Wallace: Following up on Senator Campbell's question and the need for discretion, in particular, discretion by those who have all the facts that relate to a particular crime, is it not true, however, that as law enforcement officials, you have the information that goes to the Crown prosecutor? The Crown prosecutor has that information, and the Crown does have flexibility and discretion as to what charge will be laid for a particular incident.

Mr. Aubin: When it comes to organized crime, a great deal of consultation is done with the Crown. In some jurisdictions, it must be approved by the Crown. There is a delineation. With organized crime, the amount of evidence that must be tendered to bring us across that threshold is quite different from a case of homicide or shooting it up on the streets. There is a clear delineation, and, in that decision of whether we will proceed with organized crime, there must be an abundance of evidence to clearly show that the individual who committed the offence did it for the benefit of the organization.

Senator Wallace: On Senator Campbell's point about exceptional circumstances, is it not true that, when considering what charge is to be laid, if those who lay the charge believe those exceptional circumstances exist, they do have discretion as to what charge would be laid? It may be that a charge under Bill C-14 may not be the one applied.

Mr. Shean: If you take it to one of it simplest forms, it is the facts set. You have to gather the facts of that particular situation, and then that will determine where it will take you. It is difficult to say until you are facing exactly what happened and, as we said earlier, whether it was intentional or whether it was accidental. It can take you in many different directions, depending on the scenario you face as a police officer.

Senator Dickson: I would like to express my appreciation and support for the work of the RCMP and local police force authorities, particularly in Nova Scotia, and — I do not like to say this — in my home county of Colchester, and my birth place of Cape Breton, in recent activities as far as drug trade is concerned, the move away from property crime to the drugs successfully. I do not know whether you are familiar with the Colchester example, most recently, and the one in Cape Breton with the OxyContin, where it is the same as going to McDonald's to get a coffee.

With respect to the Moncton program, how would it work dealing with the OxyContin program in Cape Breton, which is atrocious?

The Chair: May I observe, Senator Dickson, that although this is truly fascinating, it is a long way from the precise content of this bill.

Senator Dickson: It is not really.

The Chair: I am suggesting that we keep the debate as concise as we can.

Senator Angus: Universal as opposed to parochial.

The Chair: No, parochial cases are valid, but it should be concise.

Mr. Shean, you had a question from Senator Dickson.

Senator Dickson: Does it work or does it not? What is your experience?

Mr. Shean: Again, just as we talked about a particular case, I was familiar with how my particular area worked.

It is difficult for me to answer without actually being in that particular scenario and knowing how their police service is constructed and what community groups are involved.

A crime reduction initiative is a good initiative, but it must be looked at by those particular areas. The best response would come from the chief of Cape Breton to determine how it would apply in his particular area. It is difficult for me to answer without knowing the specific area. I knew mine quite well.

Senator Dickson: In your role now as the director general for the RCMP's Drugs and Organized Crime Branch, you could probably look at the records and get back to us as to whether in other places in Canada there are programs in relation to drugs, such as the one you mentioned in relation to property in Moncton.

I am raising it because of the succinct and forceful arguments that Senator Bryden made yesterday insofar as rehabilitation and other approaches other than as suggested in this bill.

Mr. Shean: Various programs exist under my umbrella, as the director general of Drugs and Organized Crime Branch, that deal with drugs in our communities. Awareness programs do exist within the RCMP that could assist in those situations.

The Chair: Any information that you could provide to us over the summer would be helpful.

I am jumping ahead a bit here, and to a certain extent I think Senator Dickson is as well. As you probably know, we have quite a flood of anti-crime bills working their way toward us, so this information will be extremely useful for our work on more than one bill, and may be more pertinent to other bills than to this one.

In any case, in responding to Senator Dickson's question, more information with a little more time taken to prepare it would be more useful to us than a one-liner tomorrow morning.

Mr. Shean: I am very proud of the work our drugs and organized crime group does. They are proud of their work as well and will be very happy to share. I will ensure that something is prepared for you to demonstrate what we do in that area.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Joyal: I would first like to apologize to Senator Campbell.

Senator Campbell, your track record in downtown Vancouver with the Aboriginal people is very well known. I misunderstood. Perhaps my Aboriginal sensitivity is too acute. I sincerely apologize.

Senator Campbell: No harm done, Senator Joyal.

Senator Joyal: I would like to return to the issue raised by Senator Nolin in his opening question. On page 3 of your remarks, Mr. Shean, you say, ". . . we need new thinking in the judicial process, new policies and guidelines to support these efforts.

This is your conclusion. Your conclusion is not mandatory minimum sentences or more people in prisons. It seems to be generally in sync with the present code with respect to penalties. Considering the sophistication of organized crime now, involving, as you said, the legal, accounting and judicial professions, and the shrewdness of those who are at the head of the criminal organizations that you are fighting, the simple approach of instituting harsher prison sentences will not achieve the result you desire, which is to eliminate criminal organizations.

Could you elaborate on your suggestion that new thinking in the judicial process and new policies and guidelines would be helpful? In other words, what do you expect we can provide you with that would make your job more efficient?

Mr. Shean: We discussed that earlier. We are supportive of this bill, and we spoke of the new thinking in the criminal world. We discussed lawful access, which is important to the law enforcement community, and the issue of disclosure and what is relevant disclosure.

A representative of the CACP from the Sûreté du Québec said that it now takes 10 times as many officers to investigate a case as it did a few years ago because of the different laws and the sophistication of the criminal organization.

We spoke earlier this morning of intelligence, the importance of information, the importance of sharing that information, and what the Canadian law enforcement community is doing to ensure that it is shared. Different government agencies have to work together as well to ensure that that information is shared for the safety of Canadian citizens.

When we speak of new policies, guidelines and procedures required, those are some of the tools that we believe require some new thinking.

Mr. Aubin: Many criminal organizations operate internationally. It is not only that they are selling their wares in other countries but that their organizations are either connected to organizations in other countries or are establishing cells in other countries that may not have the same level of legislative structure and law enforcement as Canada, and they are taking advantage of that situation.

Globalization presents challenges for law enforcement in sharing information on a global scale. We need the legislation to do this. These are our realities.

Senator Joyal: Do you believe that we should go a step further and provoke the organization of a national conference, the objective of which would be to explain the difficult context in which you find yourself with organized crime, which, as you said, needs more resources and a more sophisticated approach? As you said in your brief, it also requires a much broader awareness among various professional groups and economic leaders.

You referred to the construction and trucking industries. Even boards of trade would have to be involved in order to make their members aware that they are targets for those criminal organizations and to educate them on how to prevent that from happening. We need education that goes far beyond putting people in prison for two or three years more.

It seems to me that the approach of putting people in prison is a very primary one, especially when dealing with criminal organizations.

Mr. Aubin: In terms of a global approach, various public policy and senior justice bodies exist. I am thinking of the National Coordinating Committee on Organized Crime, which is transnational. The Department of Justice Canada and provincial ministries of justice are working through a body called Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials, CCSO, which deals with legislative needs for law enforcement.

In terms of sentencing provisions, without getting into a discussion on minimum mandatory sentencing, from a law enforcement perspective, we are dealing with criminals. Whether they are operating on a local or international scale, they are committing criminal acts and are a threat to our society.

Senator Joyal: I am not saying that we should not have sentences. I am saying that focusing on sentences alone is only the bottom of the iceberg. The important priority is awareness. When the judicial system and the accounting and legal professions are caught up in this, those people must be made aware of what is happening. It seems to me that that would be much more effective and is the priority we should be addressing.

Mr. Shean: There has been representation in different areas. In my role as the director general of the Drugs and Organized Crime Branch, I am working on exactly that objective, a comprehensive awareness strategy. Mr. Aubin's and my backgrounds are in proceeds of crime. We have worked a great deal with the legal community. These high- level, sophisticated communities need professionals to run their criminal organization. They need financial assistance to deal with the sums of monies and the intricacies of the financial system with which they deal. We have worked in that area in order to educate them as to what signs to look for.

We have seen many changes with realtors now. In one of the provinces, someone was telling me that when you buy a piece of property, realtors ask different types of questions now that they would not have asked in the past. There is an educational process out there for them to recognize that organized crime does exist. Someone showing up with a suitcase full of money is not normally the way that business is conducted. That educational process and awareness process is an important component in our fight against organized crime. It is recognized and is one of the objectives on which we are working. We are now doing that in some areas, but I believe we can expand that.

The Chair: In the interest of fairness, including fairness to our next witnesses, I will thank these witnesses very much indeed. It has been extremely interesting and helpful. Who knows, we may be seeing more of each other over the coming months. Thank you so very much.

Our next witnesses are from Statistics Canada, from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. We are very glad to welcome Lynn Barr-Telford, Director; Craig Grimes, Senior Analyst, Courts Program; and Mia Dauvergne, Senior Analyst, Policing Services Program.

Thank you very much indeed for being here. I see you have a presentation. Ms. Barr-Telford, since you will be the one doing the major part of the speaking, the floor is yours.

Lynn Barr-Telford, Director, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada: Thank you for the opportunity to present to the committee this morning on Bill C-14.

Statistics Canada does not take a position on the proposed amendments. I will present to you data on gang-related homicides and on assaults against peace officers that may inform your discussions of the bill.

Please note that the data sources are clearly indicated on each slide, as are pertinent notes about the data. At the end of the deck, you will also find some supplemental information on drug trafficking and production offences, and on incidents involving organized crime. This is for the consideration of the committee.

The bill covers amendments for which we have not included information in this presentation. We do not have information relating to the extension of the duration of a recognizance. Also, we have not included data on firearm- related offences because it is very difficult to speculate which Criminal Code offences police are currently using in cases involving the reckless use of a firearm.

My colleagues, Mr. Craig Grimes and Ms. Mia Dauvergne, will assist me in answering any questions you may have. I will ask you to please turn to the first slide in the presentation deck.

The first several slides provide information relating to murder committed in connection with a criminal organization. The charts here show the number of gang-related homicides and the number of homicides not related to gang activity over the last decade. By "gang related'' we mean whether or not the police identified the homicide as involving an organized crime group or a street gang.

In 2007, police reported a total of 594 homicides in Canada. Of these, police reported 1 in 5, or 117, as being gang related. Gang-related homicides have been increasing since this information was first collected in 1991; you can see that increasing trend over the last decade in the chart on your left. This upward trend contrasts with the trend in the number of homicides that were not gang related, shown on the right.

Also, Canada's overall homicide rate has been on a general downward trend since the mid-1970s. Firearms are used more often in gang-related homicides than in other types of homicides. In 2007, 69 per cent of gang-related homicides were committed with a firearm, 8 in 10 of which were handguns. Among those homicides that were not gang related, 20 per cent were committed with a firearm; 54 per cent of which were handguns.

The next slide shows the breakdown of gang-related homicides by the type of violation. That is, whether it was considered by police to be first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter. The homicide survey, which is the source of this data, is a police survey; it is not a court survey, so this does not necessarily reflect any subsequent decisions of the Crown or the courts. You can see in this chart that the majority of gang-related homicides were recorded by police as being first-degree murder, about three quarters in 2007.

The next two slides indicate where the gang-related homicides occurred. The first is a regional breakdown. Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec had the highest number of gang-related homicides, followed closely by Alberta.

If you turn to slide 5, each year, approximately 80 per cent of all gang-related homicides occur in one of Canada's 27 census metropolitan areas, and most of these are in the 9 largest. These cities accounted for three quarters of all gang- related homicides in 2007. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver had the highest number of gang-related homicides and together accounted for 53 per cent of all gang-related homicides in 2007.

Turning to the next slide, we will look at youth accused of gang-related homicide. In 2007, in total, 74 youth were accused of homicide. Homicides where youth are accused often involve gangs. In 2007, 105 persons were accused of a gang-related homicide; 34, or 32 per cent, were youth. For comparison, among all persons accused of homicide, youth accounted for 14 per cent.

Due to small numbers, the rate of youth accused of gang-related homicide does fluctuate year over year. However, you can see from the graph on your left that this trend and rate has generally been upward since 2002.

On slide 7, we make a transition to another of the amendments under consideration in Bill C-14: The creation of new offences with respect to assault of a peace officer. In 2007, police reported just under 9,800 incidents of assault against peace officers, and this was up from just over 6,300 a decade ago. You can see from the graph on the left that the overall rate of assaults against peace officers has been on a general upward trend over the last decade but has been more stable recently.

Most reported incidents of an assault against a peace officer also involved another violation; 70 per cent in 2007. The chart to the right shows some of the more common of these violations. In the table below, we have separated reported assaults against police officers from those against other peace officers. You can see that most of these assaults were against a police officer.

The next few slides provide some information on how the courts process cases with at least one charge of assault of a peace officer. Consistent with what we just saw from the police data, most court cases with a charge of assault of a peace officer also have other charges in the case. In fact, 90 per cent of these cases have multiple charges, compared to about 60 per cent for court cases as a whole. These cases tend to have several charges involved. The average is five, compared to an average of three for court cases a whole.

The chart shows some of the more frequently associated charges in cases with a charge of assault of a peace officer. For example, almost one third also had a charge of obstructing a peace officer, and one third had a charge of escape or being at large without excuse.

If you turn to slide 9, not only do these cases look different from cases in general in their number of charges, but they also look different in their conviction rates. Cases with at least one charge of assault of a peace officer have relatively high guilty findings and relatively high guilty plea rates. They have especially high findings of guilt on more than one charge in the case; and when the charge of peace officer assault was the most serious charge, the proportion found guilty remains relatively high. Two thirds of the time, the charge of peace officer assault was one of the charges found guilty in the case. In comparison, most guilty violent cases have a single guilty charge; 58 per cent in 2006-07.

If we move on to slide 10, we see that cases with multiple convictions tend to be sentenced to custody more often. This is also true for cases with at least one peace officer assault charge. Forty per cent of these guilty cases were sentenced to custody on the most serious charge in the case. In comparison, custody was used in 32 per cent of guilty cases overall. When a peace officer assault charge was the most serious charge in the case, 38 per cent resulted in a custody sentence, which is similar to the use of custody in guilty cases of serious violent offences.

The average sentence length imposed in guilty cases involving officer assault was 107 days, which is between the average for guilty common assault cases at 51 days and for major assault cases at 166 days. The data suggest that these cases are treated relatively seriously by the courts, but it is difficult to conclude that this is simply because of the presence of a peace officer assault when so much else is happening in these cases.

The remaining slides in the presentation package are left for the committee's consideration. This concludes the presentation.

The Chair: I am trying to grasp all of this. On page 10, average custody length is not average sentence. There is a difference, correct?

Ms. Barr-Telford: It is the average sentence length.

The Chair: Is it length of time served after deducting parole and all of that?

Ms. Barr-Telford: It is the length of the sentence imposed.

The Chair: Average custody length is the length of the sentence imposed.

Ms. Barr-Telford: That is correct.

The Chair: An average custody length of 3.6 months means an average sentence of 3.6 months.

Ms. Barr-Telford: That is correct.

Senator Wallace: Thank you very much for the presentation. As the chair is, I am trying to absorb all of the information, but it is very useful.

Without getting too far down into all of the numbers, I am left wondering what this tells me. What is the picture this is presenting? Let us look at the first slide, as an example: Victims of homicide in Canada that relate to gang-related homicides. When we look at the last 10 years, the overall level of victims of homicide is virtually unchanged. However, gang-related homicides are up four-fold over what it was 10 years ago. There is obviously a heavy trend there.

Again, as I go through each of these, it is not a surprise, given the other evidence we have heard, that gang-related offences and homicides are dramatically on the increase in this country. It is difficult, to put it mildly, for those impacted by it. The same is true with peace officers; it is alarming to see the rate of increase of assaults on peace officers. Considering all of that, it is in response to those statistics and that experience that I believe Bill C-14 appears before us. However, I know you are not here to express on opinion on Bill C-14.

I might just ask you again to restrict your comments to the statistics you provided. Are there any other significant observations you would make? We can compare columns of numbers, but what does this tell us? Is there anything you would draw from this that we should be thinking of in considering the appropriateness of Bill C-14?

Ms. Barr-Telford: With respect to gang-related homicides, the key messages here are that we have seen an increase in the number of gang-related homicides and the rate of gang-related homicides. At the same time we have seen a decrease for homicides overall since about the mid-1970s. However, we have seen an increase in gang-related homicides.

Having said that, there were 117 gang-related homicides in 2007, but it is still a low proportion of overall violent crime, to put that into context.

As I noted, we have also seen a higher use of firearms with respect to gang-related homicides. In 2007, 69 per cent of gang-related homicides were committed with a firearm, most of which were handguns. For comparison, it is 20 per cent for homicides that were not gang-related. That is 69 per cent versus 20 per cent. That is another of the observations the data provides.

As we mentioned, police have indicated that the bulk of the gang-related homicides, from a police perspective, are investigated as first-degree murder. That is another observation.

We have also taken a look at where the gang-related homicides tend to occur in Canada. Regionally, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have the highest numbers of gang-related homicides. We have also seen Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver as having the highest number of gang-related homicides. Together, these three cities account for 53 per cent of all gang-related homicides in Canada.

The other observation in this presentation about gang-related homicides is the involvement of youth overall. Of the accused, those for which we have an accused identified in gang-relate the homicides, 32 per cent were youth. Generally speaking, for homicide overall, youth account for 14 per cent. Those are the key observations from the data on gang- related homicides.

Senator Wallace: Again, I am not asking you to express a professional opinion on this; I realize you provided us with data. However, all of us are members of the public, and all of us have families and friends; we want our cities in this country and all of our communities to be safe.

As a citizen of the country, when you look at these statistics and see the significant increase in gang-related homicides, higher use of firearms, the dramatic increase in first-degree murder and the dramatic impact this is having on our larger cities and life in our cities, does that suggest to you that probably some very significant action is required from government, from parliamentarians, to address that; and for law enforcement officials to be given assistance in dealing with that on-the-street reality? Would that be unfair to ask?

Ms. Barr-Telford: All I can answer on that is what we have seen in the trends in the data. As I noted at the beginning, Statistics Canada does not take a position on the proposed amendment, so it is difficult for me to do that. However, I can provide you with some context.

We had 170 gang-related homicides in 2007. That number is up; we have seen gang-related homicides increasing since we started collecting that information.

In total in Canada, we had 594 homicides in 2007. We saw a decrease in the overall homicide rate, but we have also noted that homicides in Canada are a relatively rare occurrence. They make up a fairly small percentage of overall crime in Canada. That having been said, we have seen increases in the gang-related homicides in the numbers.

The Chair: Let me say for the record that we understand that you are here to provide us with the results of Statistics Canada's work and not to provide individual opinions.

Senator Milne: I am interested in slide 6, on youth accused of gang-related homicides. Even though the hard numbers have shot up drastically — as have the hard numbers of total gang-related homicides — I notice the percentage has not. In other words, the percentage of youth involved in gangs is probably staying fairly constant, as an analysis of gang make-up. Am I correct when I read it that way?

Ms. Barr-Telford: You are correct. I believe you are reading the far right-hand column of the table. You can see that in 1997, 32 per cent of the accused were youth, and similarly in 2007. One thing that we have noticed is homicides where youth are involved often do involve gangs.

We do see some ups and downs in those percentages, as you can see. We are talking about relatively small numbers overall when it comes to youth being involved. One of the reasons you see a bit of a spiky trend within the rate, for example, is due to those small numbers — and they do tend to fluctuate.

Senator Milne: What you have just said is telling me that homicides among youth as a whole have drastically gone down.

Ms. Barr-Telford: We have some information on youth as a whole; perhaps we can find the rate of youth as a whole. We did bring some supplemental information with us here.

In 1997, the rate per 100,000 for youth as a whole was 2.29 per 100,000 population; in 2007, it was up to 2.86. Again, this number does tend to fluctuate because we are talking about small numbers. We do sometimes see some ups and downs within that trend. That is what you see in the graph on the left.

When we look at those accused of homicide overall, youth account for 14 per cent of the accused. When it comes to looking at those accused of gang-related homicides, youth account for 32 per cent.

Senator Milne: That is interesting. On the side 7, you talk about police-reported assaults against police and public peace officers. How do you define the difference between police and public peace officers? Since you have separated them out here, there must be some definition.

Mia Dauvergne, Senior Analyst, Policing Services Program, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada: The public peace officers would include bylaw officers, correctional officers, people whose responsibilities are related to the enforcement of the law but are not categorized as police officers.

Senator Milne: You are talking about prison guards being included in there, but not firefighters.

Ms. Dauvergne: That is correct.

Senator Baker: Are you saying that the total number of homicides per population rate has actually gone down?

Ms. Barr-Telford: That is correct. We have seen a general downward trend in the overall rate of homicides since about the mid-1970s.

Senator Baker: Does Canada, to your knowledge, stand out compared to all other countries in that our crime rate has actually gone down over the years in this particular area?

Ms. Barr-Telford: Homicide is one of the offences that we can compare country to country. They tend to be recorded very similarly. Compared to the United States, for example, our homicide rate is about one third of theirs. It is comparable to Australia, New Zealand and some European nations.

We find countries such as Turkey, the United States, Germany, Sweden and Finland have a higher homicide rate than Canada. New Zealand and Australia are more comparable, and we have a higher homicide rate than countries such as Japan and Hong Kong.

Senator Baker: The important point we are trying to get at here is the actual trend in homicides, which is down in Canada over the years. Do you know if the trend in the United States and other nations is similarly down in this particular area?

Ms. Dauvergne: The United States are seeing a similar decline. I do not have information on the other countries. I could certainly look into that.

Senator Baker: You also say that the numbers of gang-related homicides are up. The overall homicide rate is down, but the percentage of those homicides that are suggested by the police to be gang-related is up. I say "suggested'' because you have no actual figures on that; the police are alleging that these are gang-related, is that correct?

Ms. Barr-Telford: These are recorded according to the police information, yes.

Senator Baker: Do you have any figures on the number of convictions of homicides that were related to criminal organizations, namely gangs?

Ms. Barr-Telford: No, we do not.

Craig Grimes, Senior Analyst, Courts Program, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada: The information in the courts' database is a function of the information gathered by the court registry. It does not have any information about the characteristics of the accused's affiliations.

Senator Baker: It will in very short time because we have now put it into the law and have identified the offence as it relates someone being connected to a criminal organization. Perhaps, in the future, you will see those numbers come up.

Of course, those of us who read case law know that not very many cases are ever prosecuted where someone is found guilty and belonging to a criminal organization; here and there, maybe a half a dozen of them over the years.

You say that for those accused of an offence, there is an 81 per cent conviction rate. Do you know the disposition of the remaining 20 per cent of those cases? Was there a breakdown of judicial stay of proceedings versus Crown initiated stay of proceedings, or was there a finding of innocence before the courts?

Mr. Grimes: Some information is available on that. In terms of the other dispositions, we have information on stays, withdrawn, dismissed, discharged, acquittals and other decisions.

Senator Baker: What does it look like generally? Were the majority declared innocent at trial, or were some of the cases simply stays entered?

Mr. Grimes: Are you referring to the remaining 20 per cent?

Senator Baker: Yes.

Ms. Barr-Telford: Are you asking about offences generally, or about these particular cases?

Senator Baker: I am referring to your chart that states that 80 per cent of those who were accused were charged with a crime related to the assault of a police officer.

Mr. Grimes: I do not have a breakdown of the other dispositions with me, but I could provide that information to the clerk of the committee.

Senator Baker: I ask for a breakdown because the committee will deal with a bill shortly, and this is very interesting information in that it deals with people held on remand in prison. We know that roughly 20 per cent of those people who are charged and brought before the court are found guilty and that 20 per cent are either stayed or found innocent. Do you have any figures on the numbers of people held on remand or who violated their conditions of bail and were held prior to sentencing?

Ms. Barr-Telford: We have some information on remand and remand trends. This information typically comes from our corrections data. We have looked at the custody population on remand versus the sentence custody population. We do not have that information with us today, but we have looked at it with our corrections data.

With respect to the courts data, we do not have information on remand within the courts information, but, certainly, we have some information within our correctional data.

Senator Baker: Concerning your lack of information on the numbers of convictions for gun-related offences, your brief explanation at the beginning was that you cannot provide that figure because you do not know for certain whether the firearm offence was prosecuted by another section of the Criminal Code that did not deal with firearms. Is that the correct reason?

Ms. Barr-Telford: In my opening remarks about Bill C-14 and the proposed creation of the new offence for reckless use of a firearm, I was indicating that in cases of that offence it is difficult to tell within our existing information which offence police might use under those circumstances. That is not to say that we do not have a fair amount of information available on the use of firearms in the commission of violent crimes, for example. We provided copies to the clerk of the committee with a recent analysis conducted by the centre on firearms and violent crime. We looked at trends in overall use of firearms in violent crime, for example. What I referred to in my remarks was specific to the amendment within the bill.

Senator Baker: Have you provided information on the numbers of charges or convictions on the careless use of firearms or on criminal negligence causing bodily harm, per section 221 of the Criminal Code, by use of a firearm; or by discharging a firearm in a reckless manner, per proposed new section 244.2 of Bill C-14; or assault with a dangerous weapon, per section 267(1)(a); or possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace, per section 87? These same offences are repeated in Bill C-14. Do you have any statistics on the careless use of a firearm, for example?

The Chair: That was my question.

Ms. Barr-Telford: We have with us some information on the counts of those particular offences.

The Chair: Are you referring to this document before us? If so, you can refer us to the page number.

Ms. Barr-Telford: It is not within that document. We have some extra data that we are more than happy to provide to the committee after the fact.

Ms. Dauvergne: There are two ways in which we can look at the involvement of firearms through the police-reported data. One is to look at the characteristics of a particular incident to determine whether a firearm was used to commit a particular violent crime. That report focuses on such information. If manslaughter or a robbery is committed, was a firearm used in the commission of that offence? The report addresses that.

The second is information, not contained in that report, on whether there was a firearm-related charge. For example, did someone point a firearm or discharge a firearm? That is a different way to look at the involvement of a firearm in an offence.

Ms. Barr-Telford: Certainly, we can provide that information to the committee.

Mr. Grimes: The court data is broken down by statute, section, subsection and paragraph to provide the information.

Senator Baker: Data on section 86(1) of the Criminal Code would be most useful on the careless use of a firearm.

Mr. Grimes: I can provide a breakdown of the firearm offences for the committee. Would you like information on charges, cases and convictions?

Senator Baker: We have a bill coming before the Senate soon that deals with people on remand and the credit given to someone who is on remand if they are found guilty. The problem, as you have pointed out, is that perhaps 20 per cent of those on remand are innocent. No provision exists in the proposed legislation for those who are found innocent. That is why I need to know the actual numbers and whether an appropriate amendment should be proposed to the bill.

The Chair: All data would be gratefully received, obviously.

Senator Baker: These figures are pertinent to the proposed legislation.

Senator Angus: Not this bill.

The Chair: These figures are pertinent to the work that this committee can reasonably expect to be doing. Over the last couple of days, I have asked other witnesses to do some summer homework for us. I guess today's witnesses have been added to that list.

Ms. Barr-Telford: We would be more than happy to do that.

The Chair: As we try to gear up for a significant number of justice-related bills, data can be most helpful.

Senator Bryden: Do you have any statistics on the use of handguns versus the use of long guns in homicides?

Ms. Barr-Telford: Yes, we have that information.

Senator Bryden: Does it relate to use in homicides?

Ms. Barr-Telford: Yes. We have statistics on the use of firearms, which we brought with us. Ms. Dauvergne is looking up the information. A person is equally likely to be stabbed as shot in the commission of a homicide. In looking at firearms, we have seen a cross-over trend of the use of rifles and shotguns going down and the use of handguns going up. That cross-over happened about the early 1990s, so we have some information.

For example, with respect to 1997, 51 per cent of firearm homicides were committed with a handgun versus 40 per cent with a rifle or shotgun. This is data on firearm homicides. Ten years later, we see that 67 per cent of firearm homicides were committed with a handgun versus 17 per cent with a rifle or a shotgun.

Again, we will provide this information to the committee.

Senator Bryden: Did you mention stabbings?

Ms. Barr-Telford: Yes.

Senator Bryden: I have noticed over the last number of months that the news dealing with attempted homicides has at least as many or more cases of stabbing than of shooting — at least in the Maritime provinces. What does that say?

Senator Milne: The figures are here for the U.S. on guns versus non-firearm homicides. It is also here for Canada.

Senator Bryden: It would be helpful if you can supply that information. Maybe it is simply that it was not reported if they were killed with a knife.

Ms. Barr-Telford: We do record the weapon. Homicide victims are at equal risk of being shot or stabbed. Each method accounts for about one third of homicides.

Senator Milne: What about the other third?

Ms. Barr-Telford: It is other types.

Senator Milne: It is poison and others.

Senator Bryden asked my question. I find the statistics in this periodical, Juristat, and your presentation fascinating. It is excellent, and I thank you for providing it to us.

The Chair: It really is helpful.

Honourable senators, after I liberate these witnesses, I will ask all of you to stay for a few minutes for an in camera session to discuss the future consideration of this bill — not for votes. It should not take long.

Ms. Barr-Telford, Ms. Dauvergne and Mr. Grimes, thank you very much. As usual, the work of your centre is enormously helpful.

Ms. Barr-Telford: Thank you. We will provide the committee with the information that we said that we would send to you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We shall now proceed to an in camera session.

(The committee continued in camera.)