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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Many sectors of the economy are already at risk, including construction,
trucking, landscaping, equipment rentals, towing, sports teams, et cetera.
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
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.
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.
Partnership against organized crime must therefore be considered much more
broadly in terms of intelligence and information sharing.
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.
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.
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
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.
Everyone wants a solution, for sure, but is the bill before us today the
solution or part of the solution? That is my question.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Senator Bryden: Mr. Aubin, are there gangs in prisons and in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ms. Barr-Telford: It is the length of the sentence imposed.
The Chair: Average custody length is the length of the sentence
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ms. Barr-Telford: Certainly, we can provide that information to the
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
The Chair: All data would be gratefully received, obviously.
Senator Baker: These figures are pertinent to the proposed
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
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
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
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
(The committee continued in camera.)