Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Issue 20 - Evidence for June 6, 2012
OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which
was referred Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and
the defences of property and persons), met this day at 4:15 p.m. to give
consideration to the bill.
Senator Bob Runciman (Chair) in the chair.
[Editor's Note: Some evidence was presented through a Mandarin interpreter]
The Chair: Good afternoon and welcome everyone, including members of
the public who are viewing today's proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the CPAC television network.
Today we are continuing our consideration of Bill C-26, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons). This
bill was first introduced in the House of Commons on November 22 of last year.
The summary the bill states that it:
. . . amends the Criminal Code to enable persons who own or have lawful
possession of property, or persons authorized by them, to arrest a person
they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property,
within a reasonable time. The bill also amends the Code to simplify the
provisions relating to the defences of property and persons.
Bill C-26 was referred to the committee by the Senate on May 15 of this year.
This is our fourth meeting on the bill. We will be concluding our public
hearings and proceeding to clause-by-clause consideration after today. These
hearings are open to the public, also available via webcast on www.parl.gc.ca.
You can find more information on the schedule of witnesses on the website under
Our first panel begins with David Chen, Owner, Lucky Moose Food Mart and his
lawyer, Ms. Chi-Kun Shi. As many of you may be aware, Mr. Chen was involved in
the very high profile incident at his store in Toronto in May 2009. Joseph
Singleton and Marilyn Singleton were also involved in a well-known case that
occurred on their property in Taber, Alberta in May 2010. Mr. Alex Scholten is
the President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, which represents
over 31,000 members across Canada, including major chains and independent
convenience store operators, gas vendors and food retailers.
I assume the three groups have opening statements or comments you would like
to make at the outset.
Chi-Kun Shi, Lawyer, as an individual: Honourable senators, I will
focus my submissions on clause 3 of Bill C-26, which amends section 494(2) of
the Criminal Code, or the so-called "citizen's arrest provision." I am a lawyer
and spend most of my practice in civil litigation, far away from the criminal
courts. However, in 2009 I became involved in the public discourse about a
citizen's right to arrest after Mr. Chen's incident. I had the opportunity to
speak to many store owners and debate issues in an open forum and with the media
in both the English and Chinese languages.
Throughout these discussions, two points emerged. First, that Canadians
categorically reject a law that protects a criminal and condemns the victim. It
offends their sense of right and wrong. Second, that Canadians are concerned
that citizen reactivism is incompatible with our government's role in our lives.
The proposed amendment to the Criminal Code before the committee today — in
particular clause 3 of Bill C-26 — has fundamental implications as it attempts
to recalibrate not only the competing rights between criminals and victims, but
also the perceived competing roles of government and citizenry in the protection
of our communities.
I should state outright that I support these amendments as a sensible first
step of hopefully more that Parliament will take to further recalibrate our law.
The proposed amendment eliminates the current unworkable restriction which
limits the citizen's arrest to the very narrow window of time when criminals are
in the process of committing the crime. In Mr. Chen's case, because he arrested
the shoplifter an hour after the crime was committed, the police denied him the
citizen's arrest defence.
What took place after that was dramatic. The system turned the essential
elements of an arrest, any arrest, into serious charges of kidnapping and
forcible confinement and turned the victim into a serious alleged criminal. The
laying of serious charges immediately triggers penal consequences.
In Mr. Chen's case, he was held overnight in jail and had to go through a
bail hearing in court the next day before he was released. Most shoplifters will
not spend a night in jail even if they are convicted.
Therefore, the Criminal Code imposes harsher penalties on illegal citizen's
arrest than on shoplifting. Bill C-26 will not change that.
I submit therefore, that more must be done to address this imbalance between
how we treat a criminal on the one hand, and the store owner who is only trying
to defend his livelihood. Serious considerations must be given to further
amendments in order to provide victims of crime more space between undertaking a
picture perfect legal citizen's arrest and suddenly becoming an alleged
kidnapper. Another way to provide the victims of crime more protection is
through the enforcement stage.
Although rarely invoked, Parliament does have the ultimate executive
authority over the implementation of the Criminal Code. It should be more
willing to exercise this authority in order to provide leadership, at the
prosecutorial level, to the provinces and extend support to victims who find
themselves caught by a system that can still turn against them on a dime.
During many debates, opponents of rights of citizen's arrest characterize it
as "vigilante justice." Essentially, these opponents equate citizen's activism
with anarchy. To some extent, the Criminal Code's harsh treatment of store
owners also reflects this view. It reflects the government's unease about
trusting Canadians to participate in the safeguarding of our communities. The
debate surrounding citizen's arrest is an opportunity to re-examine the role
that every Canadian should play in our community, and the partnership that we
must engage in with our government in order to build a strong Canada.
I will always remember a store owner who told me that after he caught a
shoplifter and waited for the police to come. He was more scared than the
shoplifter as to what the police may do to each of them. This is wrong and it
In Chinese, the word "democracy" is made up of two characters: One that means
"citizen" and another that means "decide." Bill C-26 is a step in that right
The Chair: Mr. Chen, do you wish to make a statement?
David Chen, Owner, Lucky Moose Food Mart, as an individual: My name is
David Chen. I am the owner of Lucky Moose Food Mart. When I found someone was
stealing from me, I had to call the police to come and arrest those shoplifters,
but sometimes the shoplifters might run away.
Usually, they are repeat offenders and come to my store. They know as soon as
they run away that the police will have a hard time finding them, locating them.
Under the circumstances, usually if we have to call the police and wait for them
to show up, if the thieves should hit us or kick us, the owner of the store or
the employees may use some kind of non-excessive force to stop the kicking and
hitting by the shoplifters. We believe the law should be on the side of the
employees and owners of the stores because the shoplifters are the offenders,
the criminals. Only by doing so can we ensure that the owners of the stores, the
employees and the associates of the stores can be truly protected by the law and
that the shoplifters will not run rampant without any associated criminality.
The current version of the criminal law says that when there is a
confrontation between the owner of the store and the shoplifter, the interest of
the shoplifter is much more protected than the interests and the rights of the
shop owners. Therefore, the shop owners may have to spend a lot of time and
money on the defence. If you do not want to spend too much money or time on
this, then the shop owners will have to suck it up, basically.
This created a lot of inconvenience and hardship on the part of the shop
owners and the shop associates. Those shop owners who have such an experience,
when they encountered situations, they sometimes let it go because it is not
worth the time and effort to do anything, and they will just write off the
merchandise that has been stolen. Then, as a result, there will be more and more
thieves and shoplifters coming to their shops to shoplift and steal.
The shop owners face shoplifters very often in their day-to-day operation
because we face a lot of customers. It is hard for us to swallow the fact that
they come and repeatedly steal from us. If this is the way it goes, we simply
cannot run a business.
Let me give an example. If someone comes to your house and steals an apple
from you every day, one of these days you will be angry over the fact that one
apple is stolen every day from you. I have a customer. He stole something
yesterday and came to the store again today. I told him that we know he stole
something from us yesterday, and he said, "Well, I did not steal from you today,
so what are you going to do about it?"
Every day we have to face such challenges and difficulties, so we hope this
can be resolved as soon as possible. I thank you for your attention.
Joseph Singleton, as an individual: We would like to thank the
committee for the invitation to appear before you. We feel honoured to be part
of helping to change laws for all Canadians. As a homeowner who has been the
victim of a break and enter and then later charged with assaulting the intruder,
I am glad to see our government is taking steps to protect the rights of
Though I welcome the amendments to the current Criminal Code through Bill
C-26, I feel that undefined grey areas still exist. Concerning the proposed
citizen's arrest and self-defence amendments, an individual's instinctive
reaction has not been addressed. It must be expected that, upon hearing a
startling noise or seeing something out of the ordinary, a concerned citizen or
homeowner would instinctively investigate to protect their property, to quell
curiosity or for no other reason than to eliminate frivolous calls to police.
Also, these citizens and homeowners would instinctively arm themselves with
something for self-protection. This may not necessarily be a firearm but rather
anything nearby at the time: a golf club, a baseball bat, a broom, et cetera.
These instinctive acts would most certainly be expected of those homeowners
residing in a rural community since, more often than not, they would encounter a
predatory animal rather than a person.
With respect to self-defence, is this homeowner then regarded as the
aggressor when confronting a suspected criminal? Would a cause-and-effect rule
then be the determining factor in charges being laid against the homeowner,
whereas upon seeing the homeowner holding something, the suspected criminal uses
force against the homeowner, leading the homeowner to use greater force to
I feel that grey areas such as these need to be refined to prevent homeowners
and citizens from being unjustly charged and prosecuted for merely protecting
themselves, their family and their property. As my wife Marilyn and I lived
through this unjust persecution firsthand, we realized the great financial
hardship and emotional stress caused by these very serious assault charges. The
rights of the homeowner must be put first and foremost above those of the
criminal, as the homeowner did not set out to do anything wrong and the criminal
We did not receive one bit of negative feedback from anyone in our community
but rather comments of disgust at a system that would charge a person for
protecting his family and property. We also heard numerous comments of "the laws
are wrong and need to be changed" from everyone — from the average person on the
street to respected members of the community to law enforcement officials.
I look forward to seeing Bill C-26 passed into law, and hopefully our police
and prosecutors will be able to use these new amendments to prevent the courts
from having to figure it out, as the costs are quite enormous and lead to the
victimized homeowner accepting a plea bargain for fear of financial ruin.
Canadians must be able to feel safe in their homes. I am confident that our
government holds this feeling of safety in the highest regard.
One of the hardest things I ever had to do was answer questions from my young
grandchildren and try to explain why their grandfather was in trouble for
protecting their grandmother. When even young children can see the laws are not
right, it is definitely time for change.
Marilyn Singleton, as an individual: At the time of our home invasion,
I would never have dreamed that Joe would have been charged for possibly saving
my life. If he had not taken action, it is possible he would have had to explain
to our children and grandchildren why he did not protect their mother and
grandmother. He would have blamed himself for not reacting.
I am thankful he was able to stop the intruder from possibly ramming through
our garage door. Living through months of dealings with lawyers and the courts
has left me disillusioned with the legal system. I watched repeat offenders get
off with slaps on the wrist while our lives were turned upside down by a system
that would prosecute the innocent, victimized homeowner. The emotional stress
and the financial strain are factors we have to live with even today.
My hope is that the laws regarding self-defence will protect every Canadian
from having to experience the injustice we went through.
The Chair: Thank you both. Mr. Scholten?
Alex Scholten, President, Canadian Convenience Stores Association: My
name is Alex Scholten and I am President of the Canadian Convenience Stores
Association. Our association represents and advocates on behalf of the more than
25,000 convenience store operators in this country. That would include all
levels of the industry, from the chains down to the mom-and-pop corner stores we
Our association very much appreciates the opportunity to speak before this
honourable committee on the changes proposed to the citizen's arrest provisions
found in section 494(2) of the Criminal Code.
Convenience stores are the true definition of small business in Canada. As an
industry, we employ over 185,000 Canadians, but as individual businesses, each
store employs on average only about seven people. Rarely are there more than two
employees working at any one time, and most convenience stores simply cannot
afford to or are not profitable enough to justify employing more people at once.
Our association does annual benchmarking surveys on the industry, and we have
found that the average convenience store net margin before taxes is between 1
and 1.5 per cent. These are extremely tight margins to operate under. As a
result, convenience store retailers do not have the resources to pay for trained
loss prevention officers or private security guards in order to combat
shoplifting or theft. The owner-operator typically works very long hours just to
make ends meet.
For ordinary Canadians, the likelihood of your property being stolen is
fortunately not an everyday occurrence, but for convenience store owners, it is
a constant preoccupation.
By virtue of the long hours of operation and the number of customers that we
serve daily — over 10 million Canadians visit convenience stores on a daily
basis — shoplifting and theft arise constantly. The Retail Council of Canada
estimates that losses due to theft at small businesses, like convenience stores,
are approximately 1.5 per cent of net sales. In case you were paying attention
to my previous number on the net margins, it is about the same as what the net
margins are for owners and operators.
Given the extremely small profit margins, convenience store owners must be
diligent and aware of everything that is happening in their store in order to
prevent theft and remain profitable, which is not an easy task for a limited
number of employees.
As an association, we do not encourage convenience store owners or their
employees to take the law into their own hands. The police must be the first
line of defence. However, the police are not available at every street corner,
and shoplifting is certainly not a high-priority offence. Therefore, retailer
involvement is very likely.
Given that it is often a matter of their economic survival, retailers will
protect their property from being stolen by taking matters into their own hands
and making a citizen's arrest and detaining a shoplifter until police arrive if
they have no other satisfactory alternative. The existing citizen's arrest
provisions are too narrow to prevent the victims of shoplifting or theft, the
retailers, to become re-victimized, as illustrated by Mr. Chen's case. We do not
want to see hard-working small business owners re-victimized, as Mr. Chen was,
and our association strongly supports the modest changes proposed to the
citizen's arrest provisions found in Bill C-26 to allow citizens some leeway.
The Chair: Thank you. We will begin our questions. We have until 5:15.
Hopefully every member of the committee will be given an opportunity to ask a
question or two. We will begin with the deputy chair of the committee, Senator
Senator Fraser: You are telling me to be brief.
Thank you all very much for being here. Your testimony is very important for
us to hear, and I know we are all very grateful to you for having made it to
Ottawa to speak to us.
My first question would be for Ms. Shi. As I understand Mr. Chen's case, Mr.
Chen's famous case — you are really about as famous as is possible for a shop
owner to be in Canada, Mr. Chen — the key reason why he was charged with assault
and forcible confinement was because after he and his friends had apprehended
the shoplifter they had to do something. So what did they do? They tied him up
and put him in the back of a van, and indeed the van was starting to drive off
at the point that the police arrived.
Is it your understanding that, under this bill, that conduct would be legal?
Ms. Shi: That is an excellent question, and unfortunately the answer,
I believe, is no. When Mr. Chen was first charged, the police accounting as to
why they would charge him was really based on the fact that the arrest was made
an hour late. I always thought that was the point. As Mr. Chen's advocate
outside the criminal court — I did not handle his criminal proceedings — the
focus of our lobbying was: How can it be that you can arrest someone an hour
later? Then, at Mr. Chen's trial, which I attended, the prosecutor's focus was
on the issue of excessive force.
Throughout the hearing, there was a lot of evidence and debate as to whether
excessive force was used. I sat there and listened to it myself asking always,
every step of the way: What would the police have done?
If when trying to arrest someone that person starts running away, you will
chase, no? If you have a cruiser available, the cruiser will chase. When you
catch that person and that person is kicking and struggling, you will put the
handcuffs on. In Mr. Chen's case, they used some twine because they actually do
not dream about apprehending people in their daily routine and have no
handcuffs. After you put the handcuffs or twine on and the person is still
struggling, what do you do? If you leave him struggling on the street, he could
bang his head, get hurt, hurt someone else and they will be held to pay too.
What did they do? One of his store employees had just returned after delivering
goods and hence the van was there. They put him in the van. They meant to drive
him to the store and wait for the police.
I cannot for the life of me understand at which point the force was excessive
in the sense that police would not have done it. Police are supposed to be
highly trained professionals and we are supposed to trust law enforcement
It is of comfort to us in the end the system did acquit Mr. Chen. However,
the question remains why he was charged to start with and what he had to go
through to clear his name.
Senator Fraser: You do not think this bill addresses that issue?
Ms. Shi: No. I think until law enforcement's attitude changes, there
is, as Mr. Scholten pointed out, still a lot of grey area. That is why in my
submissions I point out — I know it is a rarely used authority — that perhaps
Parliament ought to be more active and proactive in signalling to provinces, the
Attorneys General of provinces, that they should have a policy about dealing
with these situations that are more in line with Canadian values, our basic
morality about right and wrong.
The other point I would like to add on this issue is the fact that Mr. Chen
was charged with assault, concealed weapon — the box cutter that he uses every
hour to open cartons — forcible confinement and kidnapping. The forcible
confinement and kidnapping, I believe, was simply dropped without Mr. Chen ever
being tried for it. I have never heard from the Attorney General's office as to
how this came about that he was charged with such serious offences and yet were
then just dropped. I did not hear that they unearthed any new evidence that made
them change their mind. If there was no new evidence and the existing evidence
was not sufficient to take it to trial, why was he charged to start with? There
has never been any accounting. Those charges are important because those charges
were the ones that led to his not being able to be released from the police
station after he was charged and having to spend a night in jail. As I pointed
out, that is a heavier penalty than most shoplifters would get after being
Senator Fraser: On the second round, I would like to put the same
question to Mr. and Ms. Singleton. Do they think that this bill would protect
their actions when they were confronted with a terrible situation? I know you
will tell me that I do not have time now.
The Chair: I appreciate your cooperation.
Senator Di Nino: Welcome to all of you. It is a pleasure to have you
appear before us.
I will address a question to the Singletons, if I may. Throughout the bill,
we talk about the fact that the enforcement of laws is still the primary
function and responsibility of police. Do you agree with that premise?
Mr. Singleton: Yes, I do. In our situation, the first thing that we
did was to phone the police. Yet, it took approximately 20 to 30 minutes for the
police to arrive at our house. I was not intending to mete out any vigilante
justice or anything like that. I had merely stepped outside of our house, after
hearing a noise, and seen the criminal in his vehicle. I told him to stay where
he was and that the police were coming. He decided to flee and, in doing so,
smashed into our car, then put his car into drive in what I believe was an
attempt to ram through our garage door to escape. My wife was on the other side
of the garage door calling 911, not knowing what was going on outside. I was in
fear for her life, which is why I took the actions I did to stop him.
Senator Di Nino: Your first reaction, though, was to phone the police
because it is their job, and we should get them to do this?
Mr. Singleton: Exactly.
Senator Di Nino: Mr. Chen, how big is your store?
Mr. Chen: Five thousand feet.
Senator Di Nino: How many employees do you have?
Mr. Chen: Only 11.
Senator Di Nino: How many days a week do you work?
Mr. Chen: Seven.
Senator Di Nino: I believe you acted because the offender was a repeat
offender; is that correct?
Mr. Chen: At the time, he was going to escape. I told him to stop, to
wait for the police. He started kicking and beating us, and we started to bind
him, tie him up. We have a wagon, and we did not think it was safe to leave him
on the street. Therefore, we put him in the wagon.
The previous day, we had a similar situation. We waited for four and a half
hours. The police came, and it was too late. On that day, I did not know how
long it would take the police to arrive. I could not wait for four and a half
hours because we simply cannot afford that.
Senator Di Nino: You did phone the police first?
Mr. Chen: Yes.
Senator Di Nino: Mr. Scholten, in your comments, you talked about the
modest change to the Criminal Code. Do you think that the changes that we are
making will help to protect the individuals who act in protection of their own
property, families and themselves better than the current Criminal Code does
Mr. Scholten: Absolutely. I think Mr. Chen's case is an excellent
example of that. Any additional flexibility given to convenience store owners or
any shop owners would be a welcome change. I think it does certainly help.
Senator Baker: Thank you. I want to congratulate all of the witnesses
for their excellent presentations, and I especially want to congratulate Mr.
Chen for his actions and for making this law a reality because now this law will
be known as the "Chen Law." That is normally the way we interpret the laws as
being the reason for the amendments.
I am puzzled. I would like to ask a question of your lawyer, Mr. Chen. Ms.
Shi, you mentioned that you are a civil litigator.
Ms. Shi: Yes.
Senator Baker: As I recall, you have also been involved in other cases
that are not just civil. You have been involved in some famous cases.
Ms. Shi: Uncivil cases?
Senator Baker: Partially criminal, having to do with the deportation
and so on of people facing serious criminal charges.
Ms. Shi: Yes.
Senator Baker: I congratulate you for your record on that.
Ms. Shi: Thank you.
Senator Baker: Here is what puzzles me about this: The offence for
which Mr. Chen was charged is what we define as "hybrid" in nature.
Ms. Shi: Yes.
Senator Baker: In other words, it could be prosecuted by indictment or
as a summary offence — a serious offence or a less serious offence. Now, the
Criminal Code says — we have passed these amendments to the Criminal Code over
the years — that when someone's identity has been established at the police
station, when the police have told them why they were arrested and they know who
they are and where to get them, they are released. That is what the Criminal
Code says. If the officer making the arrest does not release the person, then
the superior officer must release the person when the superior officer is told
by the arresting officer that the person is still detained.
It is only in matters of identification or in what are called "exigent
circumstances involving other matters" that a person is held until the next day,
and then the law says that you go before a judge within 24 hours. Then normally,
with hybrid offences, the judge releases the individual on certain conditions.
Why was Mr. Chen held overnight?
Ms. Shi: My understanding was that, because the charges were so
serious — specifically, the kidnapping and the forcible confinement — that he
was not released from the police station and instead held overnight in a jail
cell and released by the bail court the next day.
That is why I say that it is so important to improve the situation at the
enforcement level. The law could never be black and white. If the law were black
and white, we would not need judges. A computer could just spit out one plus one
equals two. There will always be gray areas that require discretionary powers.
It is so important, at the front-line, enforcement level, that police officers
and the Crown understand that these store owners are not the enemy. They are
often people who really do not know what else to do. Until we have an answer to
the fact that the police cannot realistically get there in time to catch
criminals, we should be a lot more sympathetic if the store owners do try to
defend themselves and their property.
Senator Baker: What do you answer to someone who says to you, "Well,
this new law that has been created for a citizen's arrest goes beyond the powers
of the police in the next section of the Criminal Code, 495(2), which says that
the police can only arrest someone who is found in the commission of the
offence, while the offence is taking place"? What do you answer to those people
who make that claim that perhaps this law goes too far?
Ms. Shi: My answer to that is that the police are not the victims. The
right to the property belongs to the person. If we have rights to our property,
we must have the right to defend it.
The nature of the positions is totally different. Police are doing a job. In
a sense, they are our agents. We hire them to protect us. However, the right to
defend, ultimately, in my respectful submission, must belong to the people. I
think it is possible that some police officers forget that. They think that the
right to protect property belongs to them, that we work for them instead of the
other way around. That is why they take a dim view, when they see people like
David taking proactive measures; they see it as an encroachment.
In my view, however, the police and citizens have to have a partnership. We
must, as citizens, participate in the safeguarding of our community. Communities
can never be safe without active participation of the citizens themselves.
Shoplifting is a perfect example. Do we really believe that we will ever have
the resources to have the police get there to catch a thief in the act?
The Chair: We will have to move on, Senator Baker.
Senator Baker: Good answers, Mr. Chair.
Senator Boisvenu: First, I thank you very much for your evidence. In
my youth, my father had a corner store for seven or eight years, to raise eight
children. One day, for a case of beer, a group of thugs beat him up and left him
half dead. I understand very well, Mr. Chen, your concern; you wish that when
criminals decide to commit this crime of theft for peanuts, the law says that
this criminal put himself at risk, that the private owner has the right to
defend himself and that the reasonable doubt must be in favor of the owner, in
our justice system, not in favor of the criminal. I think we should shift the
onus of proof in that situation.
You said at the beginning, Ms. Shi, that you thought this bill was very weak,
you said it twice. I will ask you a very open question: what kind of rights
should we give to those owners who often work alone at night in their store, and
who have no other choice but to defend themselves because the police cannot be
in each corner store? What would you propose as far as giving rights to those
Ms. Shi: I would propose that there has to be change in not just the
written law but in the values and in our attitude. Again, I go back to the
enforcement stage because there will always be grey areas that, philosophically,
the enforcement front line officers and Crown attorneys must recognize that the
Criminal Code must never take the side of a criminal. If we have to choose as a
society, we should always take the side of the victim instead of the criminal;
otherwise, people simply lose faith in our justice system. In David's case, I
was honoured to have been invited to so many talk shows and, as result, had
conversed with so many Canadians. Their views are very simple. They said the law
has been turned upside down. Everything has been turned upside down in David's
I doubt that the law could ever be written to such a point that this could
never happen. However, it is more in its implementation that we could make sure
that the justice system represents Canadian values, and I go back to the point I
discussed earlier. I know it is rarely used, but the federal government does own
criminal prosecutions, and although it overwhelmingly, most of the time,
delegates that authority to the provinces, it does have the ultimate authority
by reason of its legislative authority. It owns the executive authority of the
Criminal Code. Perhaps it is time that the federal government considers
filtering down to the provinces and to the police these values more often and to
take a more proactive approach as to how the Criminal Code is implemented.
Senator Angus: Good afternoon, all of you, and thank you for coming.
Congratulations on your very good evidence. I have a lot of questions, but I
will start with you, Mr. Singleton, to let you tell the rest of your story. We
did not get all the facts. Obviously, there was something going on with this
criminal outside, and it was in a car, but had he been in the house taking
Mr. Singleton: Yes, my wife and I came home after an evening out.
Approaching our house, we noticed the lights on in the house. I asked my wife if
we had left them on, but we were unsure, second-guessing. As we approached
closer, we noticed the vehicle in the driveway. Again, we thought it must be
someone we know. It is a small community we live in. Maybe we left the door
unlocked and there are houseguests waiting for us when we get home. We parked
behind the vehicle. It was in our driveway because it was blocking entrance to
our garage, opened the overhead door and entered through the garage overhead
door. On the way in, something in the back of your mind — "what if." I have a
little chopping block for chopping kindling for the fireplace. I reached down
and grabbed my hatchet. We entered the house through the garage, took a couple
steps in and noticed the house was upside down, turned around immediately. I
pushed my wife back in the garage and said "Phone the police. We've been broken
into," and then, like I say, she's on the phone to 911. I heard a noise outside
and went out to look and seen the person in the vehicle.
Senator Angus: He has been in the house but got out when you were
coming in through the garage.
Mr. Singleton: Correct. There were actually three of them in the
house. The police apprehended two as they had gone to get a pickup truck, were
heading back to our house to load up, I guess. Caught them just a hundred metres
or so from our house, and like I said, I used force to stop this person from
possibly ramming through our garage door and injuring or killing my wife. The
criminal ended up running away. I basically let him run away, and later — it was
actually five months later — I was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and
assault causing bodily harm.
Senator Angus: Did you harm him?
Mr. Singleton: Yes, I did.
Senator Angus: With the axe.
Mr. Singleton: With the blunt end. I was wise enough to turn it
around. I did not want to kill the person. I had to stop that vehicle from
potentially crashing through our door.
Senator Angus: Listening to you telling it, it is a frightening
experience. I can only imagine what it is like.
You mentioned the law needs to be clearer. There are nuances. In your view,
does this bill do the trick, or does it not go far enough?
Mr. Singleton: I would like to see this bill passed. It is a very good
start, but I think we always have room for improvement. As we learn new things
and as things progress, definitely there is always room for improvement. I would
like to see way more onus and latitude given to homeowners and business owners.
Like I said, we are not the ones that set out to do anything wrong. It is the
criminals that set out to do something wrong. We are merely protecting ourselves
and our property.
Senator Angus: Thank you.
Ms. Shi, are you the lawyer representing Mr. Chen or just a friend?
Ms. Shi: I am a lawyer by profession, and you can say I represented
Mr. Chen outside the criminal courts. I was his advocate, and I made many
statements in public, went to many discussions and wrote open letters to all
three levels of government on his behalf. The only thing I did not do for him
was to represent him in the criminal court because I do not do criminal cases.
Senator Angus: You probably helped find a criminal lawyer to represent
Ms. Shi: Yes, my ex-husband.
Senator Angus: I am sure he did a great job.
A lot of lawyers have come here and told us that this law on self-defence and
citizen's arrest is one of the oldest laws on our books. It goes back to the
laws of Upper Canada in 1830 and has been on the books.
It is very complicated, we are told. It has been interpreted by the
jurisprudence over the years and has a meaning to lawyers, who can read it and
understand what it means. If we tinker with it, we are being told by lawyers
both from the prosecution and defence bar that it will create more nuances and
uncertainty rather than the clarity, which all of you folks are seeking. Of
course, if you can believe the minister, it is also the intention of the
government. As a very clear thinker and good attorney, what is your view? You
said it is an excellent first step. In your opinion as a lawyer, is it clear?
Ms. Shi: I think that it will never be totally clear. No law is ever
totally clear, otherwise I would be out of a job and so would judges; we would
replace the justice system with computers. However, I would turn this attitude
of saying, "It is so old, don't tinker with it" around by saying, "It is so old
that we need to look at it and update it."
These cases illustrate on the ground level where the law is supposed to work
for the people that it is not working. The fact that Crown attorneys who are not
affected in a personal way by it want to keep it is no reason to have it. It is
not working. Even with the amendment, as long as the attitude of front line
enforcement people see store owners as the bigger menace than the shoplifters we
will always have a problem.
The Chair: We will have to move on.
Senator Jaffer: I want to thank the chair and the steering committee
for enabling Mr. Chen to speak in his mother tongue. In the 11 years I have been
here I have never seen that and it is amazing. Thank you.
I have a question for Mr. Chen, Mr. Singleton and Ms. Singleton.
Mr. Chen, once this law is in place, do you feel that you will be able to
make a citizen's arrest and not feel that the police will arrest you?
Mr. Chen: No.
Senator Jaffer: I have a question for your lawyer, Ms. Shi. The angst
I have about the bill — and I agree changes will have to happen as we will also
be out of jobs because we look at these bills — is that section 494 of the code
says anyone may arrest, without warrant, a person whom he finds committing an
How do shopkeepers know whether someone is committing a summary offence or an
indictable offence? This law is giving the wrong sign that you can arrest, but
it is my understanding that you can only arrest for an indictable offence. How
does a shopkeeper know the difference?
Ms. Shi: I understand that clause 3 of Bill C-26 endeavours to amend
section 494(2), rather than (1).
Senator Jaffer: 494(1) says it has to be an indictable offence.
Ms. Shi: Yes, it is indictable offence and that is not something that
the store owner sees every day; mostly they see shoplifting. I hope that it is
something most of us will not have to come across. The law is pretty clear in
that anyone can arrest another person who is committing a serious offence, such
as murder or rape. However, the problem is in (2) where they say in the old act
that in order for the store or property owner to arrest someone who he finds
committing a criminal offence in relation to that property, it must be done
while that offence is being committed. In shoplifting, you can have a great
philosophical debate as to when that is committed. When the person is in the
store taking the stuff, they have a chance to pay before leaving. Once they have
left the store they are finished committing the offence and you cannot catch
Senator Jaffer: It is covered well; it says "in a reasonable time." It
will cover the situation. My question is still that to arrest without a warrant;
it has to be an indictable offence. How does the shopkeeper know the difference?
Ms. Shi: Section 494(2)(b) allows arrest for offences that are
not indictable as long as the offence is in relation to property. It does not
have to be indictable.
Senator Jaffer: In relation to property. However, I am talking about a
person, such as self-defence as in a case like Mr. Singleton's. That still needs
to be an indictable offence.
Ms. Shi: I believe that is covered under the clause where they say the
person is not guilty of an offence if they use reasonable force.
The Chair: We have three or four minutes. Please keep that in mind.
Senator White: Thank you for your presentations. Policing in Canada is
developed on a number of principles and one of those sets of principles is
called Peel's principles that come from the United Kingdom, and most
commonwealth countries follow them: The people are the police and the police are
the people. Many police services have this on their websites, including the New
Westminster Police Service, Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police and
Ottawa Police Service. The police will use that — because I know that I did — to
say that meant we have a relationship with the public. However, it also means
that the public have a relationship to act upon evidence and information as if
they are the police, and I would argue they have a responsibility.
All that to say, Ms. Shi, that when I look at the legislation I think it
takes the necessary steps toward understanding Peel's principles; the police and
the public are one and the same, often. I believe this will result in training
that will be necessary for all police officers, and I can guarantee for all
prosecutors in this country in cases like Mr. Chen and Mr. Singleton. Why do you
think it will be ignored by the police and the prosecutors in the future?
Typically legislation of this nature, that can impact Canadians at this level,
will result in a high level of immediate training so that we do not find
ourselves embarrassed as a police agency or government in charging people when
they should not be.
Ms. Shi: I hope you are right. My anxiety came from the fact that
after the government proposed the bill in the House of Commons I went on many
media interviews. I was calling for the police and the provincial attorneys
general to come out and indicate what they would do differently. I did not hear
from them and have never seen them on any of the shows. I understand from the
hosts that when they invited me they also invited these different levels of law
enforcement. They did not come on those shows to explain to the public what will
change for them and that is where I have anxiety. In this forum, as I have the
opportunity to contact the federal level of government, I am calling upon it to
use its authority to make sure we change it.
The Chair: Was there ever an approach from the Crown or police to get
an appreciation of why they did not exercise their discretion — not in the
public interest — to continue to prosecute? Was there an approach and answer
Ms. Shi: Approaches were made. I personally wrote open letters to all
three levels of government and did not hear from the provincial government. The
only response I ever heard from the Toronto Police Service — before the House of
Commons introduced these amendments — was in the early days of Mr. Chen's case.
The Toronto Police Service indicated the charges were fine, the law was fine,
and that store owners should just be very careful about how they arrest thieves.
That was the answer given, and as far as I can recall, the only response and
comments I have ever seen from the provincial or the city level of government
The Chair: With your advice and submission about the rarely invoked
parliamentary authority, you are talking about encouraging greater discretion by
the police and the Crown. Is that what you are referencing here or something
Ms. Shi: Yes, that is what I have in mind. I know that, for example,
the provincial Attorney Generals would often develop and have policies
established for Crown attorneys as to how to approach certain types of cases,
and that could be a good place to start.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have gone a little over schedule,
but this has been a helpful and informative panel, and we very much appreciate
your appearance here today.
Honourable senators, our second panel witness is Ross McLeod. He is President
of the Association of Professional Security Agencies. This is a national
association that counts 18 security companies in its membership representing
more than 30,000 security practitioners. Its mission is to enhance the image of
the security practitioners industry across Canada through the maintenance of
professional standards and adherence to a strict code of ethics. Mr. McLeod, the
floor is yours.
Ross McLeod, President, Association of Professional Security Agencies:
I am happy to be here representing APSA, the Association of Professional
Security Agencies. Our member agencies employ over 80 per cent of all licensed
security guards in the province of Ontario. I am the CEO of an innovating
security company for the past 30 years. As APSA, we are grateful to have been
included in the stakeholder side of the process from the outset some time ago.
We are happy to see that one of our concerns about the evolving role of
technology in the detection, tracking and apprehension of criminals has been
widely discussed in these proceedings.
APSA welcomes Bill C-26 as a timely effort to update the language that is
many generations old. The easing of the time tension between detection of crime
and subsequent apprehension of the perpetrators will make the private agent's
task a little more manageable and ultimately safer.
During these proceedings, Senator White suggested that you might look at the
charge of assault to resist lawful arrest by police to include a security guard
or private citizen. This is an interesting suggestion by an experienced law
enforcement expert that merits further consideration.
In reading the proceedings to date, we see much intelligent debate between
excellent legal scholars about the implications, positive and perhaps negative,
around the subtle changes in Bill C-26. We leave these matters to other experts.
We would like to gently, and with respect, speak to some stereotypes and
shibboleths that occasionally pop up in some contributions.
The term vigilantism has been introduced by more than one contributor. This
is a hot-button term that is less than helpful in these discussions. We have
very little history and less culture of vigilantism in Canada. We might agree
that vigilantism is often found where the writ of government runs thinly, if at
all, and a cynical belief takes hold that citizens are on their own.
I would suggest that our many layers of government in Canada obviate that
feeling. Where the evolution of modern society has led to a slow-to-no response
by police to low-level crimes, the rise of the private security industry has
helped to fill these voids and preserve a good working relationship with
government authorities. Thus, a robust, regulated security industry is one
inhibitor to vigilantism.
Some contributors have characterized the private security industry as
unaccountable. This is far from the truth. We have a licensed and regulated
industry in all provinces. Our SIU-type body is the public police, who charge
our members if their investigations warrant it. Our government registrars, given
compelling evidence, try and sanction individual guards and agencies with a
range of fines leading to expulsion from the industry. Our insurance
underwriters chart and score every claim against us, year to year, raising
premiums and eventually denying insurance coverage in an industry where such
coverage is compulsory.
Thus, the unaccountable stereotype is both untrue and unhelpful. If some
would like to see us brought under the Charter, as some decisions in Alberta
have held, that may indeed evolve across the country. We do not fear or avoid
The private security industry has no design or ambition regarding core
policing functions, which are the heart and soul of public policing in Canada.
However, the cost of public policing in the context of a severe and prolonged
economic crisis in Europe and North America is something most major cities are
grappling with. It is easy to see that the growth of our industry will continue
as we create public-private partnerships with police to handle and assist with
non-core functions that were accreted to public policing over a previous
generation of economic expansion.
In this context of the increasing integration of private and public
enforcement, Bill C-26 is a small but positive step.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McLeod. We will begin the questions with the
deputy chair of the committee, Senator Fraser.
Senator Fraser: Welcome to the committee, Mr. McLeod. As I gather, you
have been looking at our proceedings and you are aware that your industry has
come up quite a number of times. I noted with interest that you said that you,
the industry — you used the word "we" — does not fear or avoid the possibility
of being brought directly under the Charter.
Can you tell me what would be current practice, or what would most frequently
be current practice, in relation to the Charter? In particular, would private
security agents who do apprehend someone normally read them their rights?
Mr. McLeod: Yes.
Senator Fraser: At what point? Immediately?
Mr. McLeod: As soon as we have them under control, which, as a
practical matter, usually means in restraints. At that point, we advise them of
their rights. That is in Ontario. Things may be changing a little bit in
Alberta. I am not completely up to date on that.
They are advised of their rights and held, of course, for the imminent
arrival of the police. When the police arrive, as we have seen in their previous
testimony to this body, they start their investigation de novo, from that
Senator Fraser: You are obviously most familiar with Ontario.
Mr. McLeod: Yes.
Senator Fraser: In Ontario, is reading of the rights a legal or
regulatory requirement, or just industry practice? Also, do you know what the
practice or regulatory requirements would be in other jurisdictions?
Mr. McLeod: In Ontario, it is not regulatory; it is a practice that is
now part of the training curriculum that all guards have to go through and pass
in the province.
In terms of other provinces, my information is only anecdotal. I believe it
to be the same, with the exception of Alberta.
Senator Di Nino: Welcome, Mr. McLeod. Thank you for your short but
very clear statement.
In your first paragraph, you say you employ over 80 per cent of all licensed
security guards in the Province of Ontario. What is the percentage across the
Mr. McLeod: Of our membership?
Senator Di Nino: Yes.
Mr. McLeod: We are only in Ontario, but amongst our membership in
Ontario, we have all the major agencies. Those are the big multinationals, on
the order of G4S, Securitas, Garda and some of the very large Canadian
operations. We do have representation, if you wish, in other provinces through
those multi-city operations.
Senator Di Nino: Let me finish with this and then I will go to the
other areas. What sort of standards are there, and who regulates or licences, or
who are the other 20 per cent accountable to?
Mr. McLeod: All licensed personnel are accountable to the same
registrar, which is a position housed within the Ministry of Corrections. It is
similar across the country in each province. Each province has a registrar. All
the provincial registrars have a national association, and there is a very
active movement now — that our association is helping — to harmonize training
standards across the country and to bring it into a national standard to ensure
the portability of licences across the country.
Senator Di Nino: What you are telling me, then, is that the regulators
would oversee that the training is appropriate, that the licensing is there, and
that any remedial action or measures would then be available through other
regulators in other provinces, if they do not belong to your organization — or
to regulators in other provinces?
Mr. McLeod: Yes. They have their own investigative unit made up of
seconded OPP officers in this province, who do investigations, and they hold
quasi-judicial trials as a result of complaints from the public, et cetera. That
is where they can administer sanctions, fines or cancellation of licences.
Senator Di Nino: You have basically similar standards across the
country, as far as you are concerned?
Mr. McLeod: Yes.
Senator Di Nino: You are only in Ontario. What is the situation across
the country? Are there other associations or organizations? What is the
percentage of employees of the agencies that are under some jurisdiction, or are
they all pretty well individual contractors?
Mr. McLeod: There are some other provincially-based associations.
There is one in British Columbia that I am aware of. I believe there is one in
Nova Scotia. That is about all I know.
Our association has a mandate from its members this year to try to establish
branches across the country in concert with this movement of the registrars to
harmonize the training and exam standards, nationally.
Senator Di Nino: This is my last question. You are of the opinion
that, across this country, other associations and the regulators all work
together to ensure that standards, although they may not be national, are of a
high enough quality that those practising as security personnel, under the
definition of your organization, are basically of the same quality in respect to
be able to carry on their duties; is that not correct?
Mr. McLeod: Yes. That is definitely the mandate and the goal.
Senator Baker: I have a couple of short questions.
You mentioned, Mr. McLeod, that you were the CEO of an innovating security
company for the past 30 years. What do you mean by that?
Mr. McLeod: When I came into the industry 30 years ago, arrests by
private agents, in contradistinction to public agents, which are peace or police
officers, were virtually nonexistent. I, as an entrepreneur and an academic, was
aware that the public really wanted community policing. They wanted uniformed
personnel to stay in their communities, get to know the people in the
communities, and to remediate what is pretty low-level stuff that is very, very
low on the police list of calls. I set about to create, if you wish, an enhanced
security officer who would have the training and would understand the legal
basis of authority to actually do this. There was a lot of R & D involved, a lot
of lawyering of the concept. There was a lot of outreach to the police who, in
the early days, 30 years ago, when my people started making arrests, reacted,
because they had never seen this before, by arresting the arresters and
releasing the arrestees.
There was a period of two years of my travelling around every division of the
Toronto Police Service, plus the OPP and a little bit in Ottawa. On their
ongoing education day, I would be invited to speak and show some film and talk
about our project and explain how it was lawful. Eventually, if not enthusiastic
sign-on, we got a grudging admission that it was lawful, and they stopped
arresting our people and towing away our vehicles. We moved on from there.
In the past 30 years, my little company of 500 souls has arrested over 65,000
people in this country. No one has been killed. No one has been seriously
injured, and against the dire predictions, we have not been litigated out of
business. There is a business model. There is an insurance model. Law
enforcement can be run like a business and it can make money.
Senator Baker: When you say "security agencies," does that include
people who make arrests in department stores, grocery stores and so on?
Mr. McLeod: Yes. Yes, that is the area of loss prevention.
Senator Baker: In most of the cases we see — and we read about the
judgments that are made — usually the Crown, in convicting on those offences,
has not just the police officer but the security person as well with a tape
recording of what took place in the store, at times. It seems to me, from
reading those judgments, that rights to counsel, as you say, are given initially
by the security person making the initial arrest, telling the person why they
are being arrested and they have rights to counsel. Then the police do it all
over again when they come, as you state. However, the actual evidence is pretty
solid in these cases of arrests made by your security personnel. Would you
Mr. McLeod: Yes. We are happy to see that one of the issues I put
forward was listened to. Even before this bill was drafted, when preliminary
discussions were being held here amongst government lawyers, I was invited in
and really beat the drum of technological change, because it is ripping through
our industry. It is ripping through policing. CCTV is become pervasive,
particularly in retail environments such as shopping malls. Now, or very soon,
you will not be able to go anywhere except a washroom in a shopping mall without
being on CCTV. If we are going to do a contentious operation, we rig our people
with CCTV so that we are constantly under the red eyeball as a protection
against opportunistic allegations of improper conduct or excessive use of force.
Mind you, my program 30 years ago was before the ubiquity of CCTV. The CCTV
that was there was expensive and extremely unreliable, and it was not done in
shopping malls. We started in housing projects. It was a little less cut and
dried than it is now; but that was then, this is now, and moving forward to the
future, we will have more and more of this electronic evidence, and so I think
there will be less and less grey areas.
Senator Baker: Pretty solid stuff. Thank you.
Senator Angus: Good afternoon, Mr. McLeod. Thanks for coming.
We have heard evidence here on this bill from a number of different points of
view, and one has been the legal bar. Without suggesting that they all said
identical things, one of the messages that I heard was that this law will create
more confusion than it will solve and it will give maybe more power to private
citizens than to the police and that those kinds of private citizens fall into
the category of you and your people in the private security business. It made me
start thinking how that must not sit too well with you. Here is a good chance
for you to tell us your view on that.
Mr. McLeod: I have read every word of the proceedings that have been
going on here and was a part of the earlier parliamentary proceedings. I am
getting a little fed up with the straw man of unaccountability and vigilantism.
They do not believe it; we do not believe it, but I guess some people have to
keep saying it as part of their mandate as association heads or whatever.
It is absolutely true that any changes in these laws of self-defence and
citizen's arrest will be most important to the private security sector because
we are the ones who do this for a living. However, we are also the ones under
the constant glare of those very legal associations. Many of them make their
living off suing us and others make their living off defending us. Will it make
more work? It might, but it will certainly not be the biggest gift to the bar
that came down the pike.
Reading it carefully and looking forward and listening to the evidence, I do
not see any big changes coming. I keep asking myself if we should change our
training program. Our training programs are very conservative. Even if we
thought we had some extra little modicum of power, we would not use it just
because it is uncharted territory. We do not want to go there. We are quite busy
enough with the territory we have to work with now.
Senator Angus: We heard a story about how people like you have
contracts with these department stores, and you have agents up, say, in the
fourth floor, and they are in contact with someone down on the third floor and
they get a walkie-talkie or a communication saying there is a shoplifter down
here and he or she has taken some merchandise. The person from the fourth floor
goes down and arrests the person when they actually never saw them doing the
shoplifting, and this was put to us as being a potential problem. Do you have
experience with that and do you have a comment on that?
Mr. McLeod: Absolutely. This is where technological change comes in.
The environments we deal in today, the retail environments, would have been
science fiction 170 years ago.
As an example, Agent A is in a security room watching people at the small
items of great value, like razor blades which are $35 in a small package,
watching someone steal these things, select them, remove them, conceal them, in,
say, a booster bag, which will not set off the RFID recognition technology. A
gets on to B on the radio or texts B and says, "I have got the camera on someone
who is doing this." B takes up the position. Who saw the theft? It almost gets
philosophical, but it is very interesting. A saw the theft. The camera saw the
theft, and the camera is eternal evidence to that theft. Can we have better
language? Yes, we can. Has anything changed? Not really. The camera is just an
extension of the eyes of A. The cameras are so sophisticated now that the RFID
tags of those small items of high value, in a food store or a Walmart, are
queued to the cameras. As soon as someone opens the door to remove the expensive
item, the PTZ cameras know that, and they zero in. In telephoto, in living
colour, in high definition, there is the person taking the stuff and putting it
into a bag that has been created for the concealment of that item to get past
the Sensormatic scanner. We have it in living colour for the police to review.
It is a very low-priority call for the police, and it is frankly a pain. Down
the road, they are going to give up. Even though now they say that they are not
going to do it, they are going to do it. When they arrive at the scene, they
usually have a very high-level security officer who will probably join their
ranks in the fullness of time, and they have wonderful evidence that they can
rely on. Things are getting better.
Senator Angus: Just for the record, what are RFID and PTZ?
Mr. McLeod: RFID is Radio Frequency Identification Tag. That is that
little bump on the back of something expensive that, if it is not deactivated at
the point-of-sale, as you go out of the store —
The Chair: Just give us a definition, please.
Mr. McLeod: PTZ is Pan, Tilt and Zoom. It is a camera that you can
operate with a joystick, or, if you tag something, it will just follow the tag
all around the store.
Senator Fraser: What is a booster bag?
Mr. McLeod: The booster bag is a bag that is lined with a medium that
will block the signal from the RFID tag in the Sensormatic. Tinfoil will do it.
Senator Fraser: I hope no shoplifters are watching this.
Mr. McLeod: That is an old trick. We only talk about the stuff that is
old and known to everyone, pretty well.
Senator Angus: We had a chair on another committee for years who, if
any witness used an acronym like PTZ or RFID or XLQ, would make them pay five
bucks. As inflation came along, it got up to 10 bucks, and it worked fairly well
because Senator Banks was that senator.
The Chair: I will keep that in mind.
Senator Jaffer: I found your presentation very interesting. I have a
question for you about training. Do you do ongoing training of the people who
work under you in your organization? In this new bill — you will be sick of me
asking the same question — the arrest is supposed to be a citizen's arrest on an
indictable offence. Do you do this kind of training for people who work for you?
Mr. McLeod: Yes, we do. What we and other larger companies do is
stream all of our employees into various streams — level 1, 2, 3. Some companies
will have as many as 10 levels. Level 1 is very basic function, sort of a
gatehouse, raising and lowering an arm, handing out parking permits. You have to
get up to level 3 and take additional training and use of force. Before you can
take use of force, which involves batons and handcuffs, you have to take a
certificate course, which is non-violent crisis resolution — how to talk your
way out of these things and de-escalate before the use of force. Only a level 3,
someone who has those tickets and renews them annually, can make arrests.
Senator Jaffer: How long are your courses?
Mr. McLeod: They range from four hours to a day.
Senator White: Thank you very much for your presentation, Mr. McLeod.
I echo your comments when it comes to legislative changes that might come along
that would improve or increase the level of accountability of security guards. I
do agree that the security industry will pick up the slack where policing has
not been able to do so. In the future, I think that gap will widen.
I have heard you talk about Ontario. I would argue that Ontario has one of
the greater levels of oversight, accountability and legislation in the country
that I know of, and I have lived in a few of the provinces. What would you say
to a national level of legislation that included requirements and mandates when
it came to training, accessibility and responsibilities? I know you are talking
about agencies across the country that you deal with, but I can tell you that
they are not all what we have in front of us today. I have seen some of them in
action, and I am not always impressed. Where do you think, from a national
standard perspective, you or others that you are dealing with would sit?
Mr. McLeod: I would agree that a national standard would be a good
thing. APSA is working with the Police Sector Council. You will probably know
Geoff Gruson of the council.
Senator White: I am on the council.
Mr. McLeod: Sorry. He has spent the last two years working with the
provincial registrars of the private security industry on this project, which I
understand is federally mandated to harmonize nationally so that licences will
become portable. We are working alongside him. There is a great interest amongst
some of the key registrars like Ontario to add on legislation regarding the use
of force in addition to the basic course. I have an interest in adding on a
higher level of certification for private agents who would work in
public-private partnerships with police. All of this is possible. There seems to
be a political will, and, in fact, the bandwagon is rolling. I would concur that
this would be a good thing. It would forever put to rest that bugaboo about
improperly trained guards.
One caveat is that the private security industry is much larger and broader,
in both numbers and scope, than public police. Our assignments range from the
mind-numbingly trivial to the incredibly sophisticated. You often find us
getting tarred with the stick of mind-numbing. Everyone loves to laugh at
Mall Cop. I have seen the movie twice, and I still laugh. I prefer the
television show "Republic of Doyle," where the private agent enjoys an intimate
relationship with the public agent, but that is another story.
The Chair: We very much appreciate your extensive knowledge and
enthusiasm, but I have a number of other senators and a timeline that we have to
Mr. McLeod: Sorry; I digress.
Senator Chaput: I have a brief question. I understand that you are a
regulated industry. There are some training centres across Canada, and you are
talking about national standards. What is your relationship like today with the
police? Do you see this becoming, at some point in time, a partnership?
Mr. McLeod: Yes, absolutely. The relationship is really a good one.
There are various levels. There is the rhetoric of our industry association,
which I am responsible for. There is the rhetoric of the police associations,
which has its own agenda, and I respect that. The everyday working relationship
with the police is an excellent relationship because they, notwithstanding what
the associations say, do not want to do that mind-numbingly simple, stupid work,
and they are happy to have others do it, with lesser pay and lesser training.
They want a clean handshake that does not waste their time or tie up their
resources. There is a great spirit of cooperation. I see this increasing going
forward. We can look at other jurisdictions where it is farther advanced than we
Senator Unger: Thank you, Mr. McLeod. In your handout, you say:
In reading the proceedings to date, we see much intelligent debate between
legal scholars about the implications, positive and perhaps negative, around
the subtle changes in Bill C-26. We leave these matters to other experts.
Are you satisfied with the provisions in Bill C-26? What are your thoughts
Mr. McLeod: Yes, I am. I just want to give a nod to people who do not
agree with me or people who have fears that there will be consequences that we
cannot see. We go forward on case law, and I think that that will take care of
any little bumps that are concerns. Therefore, my industry is totally in favour
Senator Unger: With respect to the many years of case law upon which
many decisions are based or, certainly, researched, you are not concerned about
this upsetting the apple cart?
Mr. McLeod: I do not think all that case law will be out the window.
There will be changes and tweaking on the go-forward, but nothing dramatic. I do
not see a game changer here.
Senator Unger: Thank you.
The Chair: I am intrigued by your optimism about police cooperation
and working together. My experience is that the police associations tend to be
reluctant about giving up any turf, and, as you know, they are very politically
active, unlike the chiefs' associations and others who do not get engaged in
political commentary or elections. Are you seeing a change in attitude there as
Mr. McLeod: Yes, and out in the blogosphere and on LinkedIn, people
are seeing the straws in the wind. You may be aware of what is going on in the
United Kingdom where, holus-bolus, they just moved $4 billion worth of contracts
into the private sector, in a very ill-considered clumsy way, I think, but they
have privatized whole areas of policing over there. When you walk into a police
station now in London, you will see someone sitting there in a police uniform,
and it says "Securitas" on their jacket. I think that is the wrong way to go. I
think there are better ways.
I think we can protect the brand, and, at the end of the day, that is what a
lot of the associations are concerned with. They are concerned with protecting
the public safety brand, and I think there are ways to do that intelligently
while we construct public-private partnerships. However, all of Europe and North
America is under the financial gun, and that will not go away, so something has
to give. I just hope we can do it intelligently in this country, as opposed to
the way they did it in the UK.
The Chair: I appreciate your appearance here today. Just before we
adjourn, I remind honourable senators that tomorrow we will meet in the usual
room in the East Block and deal with clause-by-clause consideration of this
bill. Then we will begin our examination of Bill C-310, which is an act to amend
the Criminal Code dealing with trafficking in persons.
That being said, the meeting is adjourned.
(The committee adjourned.)