THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts, met this day at 4:15 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator John D. Wallace (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Good afternoon and welcome, Senate colleagues, invited guests and members of the general public who are viewing today's proceedings on the CPAC television network. I am John Wallace, senator from New Brunswick, and I am Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Colleagues, today we begin our consideration of Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts. This bill groups together nine bills that have been dealt with separately during the Third Session of the Fortieth Parliament.

Bill C-10 was first introduced in the House of Commons on September 20, 2011, by the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Rob Nicholson. The bill underwent several weeks of consideration in the house before being introduced in the Senate on December 6, 2011. As part of its legislative process, the Senate refers the study of most bills to various committees in order to allow for a more detailed and thorough examination. Senate committees often invite individuals, experts, stakeholder groups, public servants and ministers of the Crown to appear before them in order to receive information that is relevant to the bill under consideration. Bill C-10 was referred to this committee by the Senate on December 6, 2011, for further study.

In order to complete our examination of the bill, this committee intends to hold extended and additional hearings. As a result, we have scheduled 11 days of public hearings, including all-day meetings during the week of February 20 to 24, 2012. These hearings will be open to the public and also available live, via webcast, on the parl.gc.ca website.

In addition to the ministers and departmental officials who are with us today, we will hear testimony from victims and their families, academics, legal experts, law enforcement specialists and youth advocates, as well as representatives of various associations, stakeholders and others working in the field of criminal justice. In total, the committee has invited approximately 110 witnesses. More information on the scheduling of witnesses can be found on the parl.gc.ca website under the heading "Senate Committees."

Before introducing our distinguished guests who are joining us today, I would first invite each of our Senate committee members to introduce themselves and identify the region that they represent.

Senator Baker: My name is George Baker, and I represent Newfoundland and Labrador.

Senator Joyal: Serge Joyal, from Quebec.

Senator Cowan: Jim Cowan, from Nova Scotia.

Senator Fraser: Joan Fraser, from Quebec, and deputy chair of the committee.

Senator Jaffer: Mobina Jaffer, from British Columbia.

[Translation]

Senator Chaput: Maria Chaput, from Manitoba.

[English]

Senator Lang: Senator Dan Lang.

Senator Angus: Senator David Angus, Montreal, Quebec.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Jean-Guy Dagenais from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Fraser: Linda Frum, from Ontario.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: Pierre Claude Nolin, from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Runciman: Bob Runciman, Ontario, Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu from Quebec.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you, colleagues. I would point out that Senators Nolin and Cowan, who are with us today, are not members of the committee, but, as senators, they do have —

Senator Cowan is ex officio? Sorry about that, Senator Cowan. We do not see enough of you.

Senator Cowan: You may get your wish.

The Chair: Indeed.

Senator Nolin is not a member of the committee, but, as are all senators who wish to, he is able to be here today since he has an interest in this topic. Welcome, senator.

As well, we have our clerk, Shaila Anwar, and our research analyst, Robin McKay, who do wonderful work for us.

To begin our public hearings today, I am very pleased to welcome our first panel of witnesses beginning with the Honourable Robert Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety. Accompanying Minister Nicholson from the Department of Justice Canada, we also welcome Catherine Kane, Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section. Accompanying Minister Toews from Public Safety Canada, I am also pleased to introduce Mary Campbell, Director General, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, and Larisa Galadza, Senior Director, National Security Policy.

Minister Nicholson, I understand you wish to make an opening statement, after which we will hear from Minister Toews. The floor is yours.

Hon. Robert Nicholson, P.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada: Thank you very much.

First of all, I would like to welcome Senator Dagenais. I think he will be a welcome addition to this committee. I have known him over the years and know of his interest in this area. I certainly wish him all the best, as everyone here does.

I am pleased to appear before this committee as you begin your analysis of and hearings on Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act.

[Translation]

I am happy to address the members of the committee as it begins its review of Bill C-10, the Safe Streets & Communities Act.

[English]

One of the greatest responsibilities we have as a government, of course, is to protect Canadians and to ensure that those who commit crimes are held to account. Canadians deserve to feel safe in their homes, and that means that violent criminals need to be off our streets. By moving quickly to reintroduce the safe streets and communities act, our government is fulfilling its commitment to hold criminals fully accountable, to protect families and to stand up for the victims of crime.

Last week I met with my provincial counterparts at the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety. My discussions there confirmed widespread support for the safe streets and communities act. My counterpart in Saskatchewan, Minister Don Morgan, said it best when he said this:

The point I’d like to make to everybody is that these are things that were asked for by most provinces when we went through federal-provincial-territorial ministers meetings earlier. When we had the discussions, nobody came and said, "Do not do it unless you agree to pay for it." Everybody said these are things we need to make our communities safe.

Since taking office, we have increased support payments to the provinces and territories by 30 per cent, or $12.7 billion. In Budget 2010-11, we announced transfer payments to the provinces and territories of $54 billion, an increase of over $2.4 billion from the previous year.

The fact is that the cost of crime on society far exceeds the cost of fighting crime. The Department of Justice estimates that the cost of crime on society is nearly $100 billion. The safe streets and communities act is targeted and specific legislation. Our experience shows that toughening sentences does not create new criminals; it just keeps the existing ones in jail for a more appropriate period of time. A major component of the safe streets and communities act goes after the source of the illicit drug trade, the drug traffickers. If you asked any parent, I am sure they would tell you that the last thing they want is for their child to become addicted to drugs. The sad reality is that that happens all too often.

Chuck Doucette, a retired RCMP officer and an expert in these gang wars, blames weaker sentencing, in part, for contributing to the problem. This is one of the reasons why the government has introduced this bill. Contrary to what some opponents say, we are not looking to go after substance abuse victims or experimenting teenagers. We are making no changes to the laws with respect to simple possession. In fact, the legislation we have introduced has a specific exemption to allow for the use of drug treatment courts so that those who are unfortunately addicted can get some help.

Another major component of the safe streets and communities act goes after child predators. No parent wants their child to fall prey to a pedophile. In fact, parents list abduction and sexual exploitation as two of three concerns facing Canadian children.

The safe streets and communities act introduces two new amendments to the Criminal Code. The first amendment corrects a gap and makes it a crime when two adults conspire to set up a child for exploitation. The second amendment makes it a crime to give a child sexually explicit material for the purpose of grooming that child for sexual exploitation. Any story on child pornography, whether it is about the pedophile who perpetrated the act or the one who watched it online, outrages each and every one of us. This is why we are taking steps to better protect children.

The safe streets and communities act will go after criminals who sometimes get to serve their sentence within the luxury of their own home. Our legislation will reform the Criminal Code to further restrict the use of conditional sentencing, or house arrest as it is often called. Criminals convicted of serious and violent crimes, like sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking, must serve sentences that reflect the severity of their crimes.

Lastly, the safe streets and communities act will better protect Canadians from violent and repeat young offenders. We are proposing fair and appropriate measures to better handle youth crime. These measures are balanced, effective and responsible. Our approach respects the rights of the accused without allowing these rights to take precedence over other interests, such as community safety.

Parliament has seen and debated all these measures over the course of the past four years. The Justice Committee has spent 67 days reviewing the components of this bill. That is 139 hours of discussion, 95 hours of debate, 261 speeches and 363 witness appearances.

I encourage all senators to work together to pass this bill expeditiously. By moving quickly on the safe streets and communities act, you are better protecting families and holding criminals accountable for their crimes against law-abiding Canadians.

Thank you very much. I believe my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, will say a few words.

Hon. Vic Toews, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety: Thank you, Minister Nicholson, and thank you, senators, for the opportunity to be here with my colleague to assist with your deliberations in respect of this bill, the safe streets and communities act.

The bill before you today contains a number of measures pertaining to my portfolio, including measures to help ensure that the corrections system actually corrects criminal behaviour, that victims have a greater voice in the justice system and that offenders are fully accountable for their actions. Law enforcement officials, victims' advocates, provincial governments and many other stakeholders have asked for the changes incorporated in the bill for many years. Our government is proud to be delivering for them.

Conservatives believe that investing in measures to keep Canadians safe is money well spent, and Canadians have provided us with a strong mandate to continue with the very good work that we have already completed. I want to thank the Senate for their work in assisting the house in the completion of that work.

This bill builds upon our record in several ways. First, the legislation before you today proposes amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that will enshrine victim participation in conditional release hearings and keep victims better informed about the behaviour and management of offenders. It will increase offender accountability by modernizing disciplinary sanctions and adding a requirement in law to complete a correctional plan for each offender. It will authorize police to arrest an offender who appears to be breaking their release conditions without the need for a warrant; and it will emphasize the importance of considering the seriousness of an offence in making decisions regarding parole.

Second, the safe streets and communities act also proposes amendments to the Criminal Code that will replace the term "pardon" with the more appropriate term "record suspension." It will require the Parole Board of Canada to submit an annual report to Parliament that will include statistics on the number of applications for record suspensions and the number of those accepted. It will extend the ineligibility periods for applications for a record suspension from three to five years for all summary conviction offences and from five to ten years for all indictable offences. It will ensure that those who are convicted of sexually abusing children never receive a record suspension. It will ensure that those who have demonstrated clear contempt for the law by incessantly committing serious offences are not eligible for record suspensions.

Third, the safe streets and communities act will amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act to recognize that the protection of Canadians is paramount. Bill C-10 will also help to protect victims by giving the minister discretion to deny a transfer when the offender has a potential to place the safety of a victim at risk. It will help to protect the safety of family members and children by giving the minister discretion to deny a transfer when the offender would put the safety of children at risk. As well, the bill before you today will provide that other considerations, such as whether an offender has participated in rehabilitation programs, may be considered in assessing offender requests for transfer to Canada. All in all, the legislation will help to ensure that Canadian offenders who request a transfer are treated fairly and equitably and that an appropriate decision-making framework is in place to consider those transfers.

There are many ways that Bill C-10 delivers on our government's ongoing commitment to build safer streets and communities for all Canadians. There are many ways that the legislation before you today delivers on our government's commitment to stand up for victims, including victims of terrorism. The bill will create a cause of action to allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism for any loss or damages that occurred as a result of terrorist acts committed anywhere in the world on or after January 1, 1985.

Amendments that were passed in the other place will further strengthen these important provisions in two ways: First, the amendments will lighten the burden of proof on victims of terrorism by creating a presumption of causation of damage; and second, the amendments will establish that a plaintiff’s Canadian citizenship or permanent residency would be sufficient for a court to hear a matter. This would be the case even where there is no other real and substantial connection between the action and Canada.

Our government is committed to ensuring that all provisions within Bill C-10 are as strong as possible, including those pertaining to victims of terrorism.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you, ministers. We will move to questions. My understanding, ministers, is that you are able to be with us for an hour.

Senators, please keep that in mind and keep your questions as concise as possible. There are many areas we want to cover, and we want everyone to have an opportunity to ask their question.

Senator Fraser: Ministers, welcome back to the Senate. It is always instructive for us to hear from you. My first question is to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Nicholson.

Minister, this bill includes a number of new or increased mandatory minimum sentences — a bit of a hallmark in a number of pieces of legislation you have sent to us. I am trying to figure out the interrelationship, if any, between the various mandatory minimums. For example, I am struck by the fact that if you grow six marijuana plants for the purposes of trafficking, which could be giving to your neighbour over the back fence, you can get a mandatory minimum of six months. However, a child sex offender can get as little as 30 days for making sexually explicit material available to a child. How do you settle upon the mandatory minimums? What is the underlying principle that determines the length of mandatory minimums?

Mr. Nicholson: Again, with respect to child sexual offences, we were very clear that it would be comprehensive in the sense that no matter what offence you inflict upon a child, you are looking at jail time. You will notice, though, that there is a wide range, depending upon the seriousness of the crime. Indeed, they are all serious, but they go up to life.

Senator Fraser: I am talking about minimums, though.

Mr. Nicholson: Again, there are minimums, as you point out, and there are maximums. It is important to point out that a wide range of discretion is given to the courts to have a look at this and gauge the seriousness of the individual crime. All of these crimes are despicable, but we made it comprehensive so that no matter where you get charged under the Criminal Code with respect to abusing a child, you are looking at jail time. Again, we give guidelines on the exact amount of that jail time. In some cases, it is up to life in prison and in some cases, 14 years. I think it is appropriate.

I point out that two new offences are in there as well that were not there before and have been added. These are the ones I mentioned with respect to giving sexually explicit material to a child, and for two adults, which covers a gap that was in the Criminal Code.

Again, I think this is appropriate, and I hope that you will get this passed quickly.

Mr. Toews: I think what the minister has said is absolutely correct. The reason these mandatory minimums are being brought in is to eliminate the possibility of house arrest for these types of offences. Whether it is one day or thirty days, the conditional sentence, or house arrest, is eliminated.

That was very important when I was the justice minister back in 2006, where we could not get stronger mandatory minimums, but as long as we had the mandatory minimums, those who perpetrate sexual assaults on children would not receive house arrest. This effectively eliminates the conditional sentence and then gives the court full jurisdiction to consider whatever sentence from 30 days to life imprisonment.

Senator Fraser: Yes, I understand that, at least I think I do. What I am trying to find out is whether there is, somewhere, a formula, a grid or a set of guidelines to establish what mandatory minimums would be appropriate in different circumstances. It seems to me that any sexual offence against a child is more serious than growing six pot plants.

Mr. Nicholson: I appreciate that most of our critics say "growing six pot plants." We are talking about people who are in the business of trafficking, the people who are in the business of abusing and taking advantage of people and endangering other people. Very often they are part of organized crime.

We do give wide discretion to the courts on these but, again, I will repeat it — I think I have said the line twice — we are not changing the laws with respect to possession. We are into the business of going after those who traffic, the people bringing drugs into this country, the people who are in the business of destroying other people's lives. I think we send a very clear message that this will not be tolerated and that there are serious consequences.

With respect to the abuse of children, I believe that any abuse of a child deserves jail time, and this bill is consistent with that. We had a look at all the mandatory minimums that were already in the Criminal Code in this area. As you can see, we have increased them, and in some cases we have created whole new offences.

Senator Frum: Ministers, thank you both very much for being here today.

I want to focus on the section that deals with child predators. There is often talk about the crime rate in Canada decreasing. Could you address whether that is true in the case of crimes against children?

Mr. Nicholson: It is actually not, senator. It is interesting that when I introduced the bill, people said that crime is going down. I said yes, but it is going up with respect to drugs and the exploitation of children. Yes, there are more offences with respect to child pornography and sexual offences against children. Drug crimes are up as well.

I do not go anywhere, when I sit down with those in law enforcement, where they do not tell me of the problems and proliferation, for instance, of child pornography and how the borders are, in a sense, ignored. This information is trafficked around the world.

One of the things that I have to congratulate our law enforcement agencies on is that there is greater cooperation now. It is less likely for these people to get away with this. Every so often you will see when one of these busts is made in child pornography, for instance, and you will see people arrested around the world. It could be 15 people in Canada or in Britain or 30 people in the United States. This is a direct result of the cooperation taking place between law enforcement agencies. This is exactly what must happen.

You are quite correct, particularly with regard to child pornography and sexual assault, that all of those are up in Canada, and that is very unfortunate. Again, this bill deals directly with those subjects.

Senator Frum: I suppose that one of the motivations behind this bill is to help restore Canadians' belief in their criminal justice system.

In fact, when one looks at the proposed mandatory minimums against child predators, it begs this question: What have the sentences been like up until now? If there has to be a mandatory minimum of six months for people who are creating child pornography, what kind of sentences were they receiving before or until now?

Mr. Nicholson: If you look at the existing Criminal Code, there are a number of mandatory minimums. One of the concerns that we had is we wanted to make sure that no one could plead guilty to another charge and then completely escape jail time. We do not think that is appropriate.

This is why you will see, when you analyze this bill, as I am sure you have, that it is wide ranging to cover all different types of abuse of a child.

Again, this is part of our responsibility as legislators. We do set maximums, and over the years various governments have set minimums to give guidelines to the courts. That is exactly what we are doing. We are providing guidance to the courts.

As my colleague points out, house arrest will not be an option. You do not get to go home after abusing a child under this and, again, I believe we give appropriate guidelines to the courts.

Mr. Toews: If I could add, I agree with the comments of my colleague.

Obviously there were some cases where child predators were receiving house arrest. This is simply not appropriate. We believe it is up to the courts, generally speaking, to make the determination as to what the appropriate sentence is, but in no case should that sentence involve house arrest.

Since we were dealing with mandatory minimums, I also want to clarify the suggestion that the Americans are moving away from mandatory minimum sentences. At the risk of comparing apples and oranges, first of all, every state that has a criminal jurisdiction in the United States has mandatory minimum prison sentences, including the death penalty in some cases. The point is, though, that the incarceration rate in the United States is probably four to six times the rate in Canada. What many of their jurisdictions do is they have mandatory minimums but they also have sentencing guidelines. If you look at a lot of the American judgments, the courts will say that the recommended guideline in this situation is five years, and then they look at the facts and go up or down from there. They have a very rigorous system of guidelines that are almost followed to the letter by the American courts. They actually have, in addition to mandatory minimum sentences, a very strict regime of mandatory guidelines, almost, that the courts follow literally without exception.

We do not have that. You will see, I think, our legislation stress the mandatory minimum. There is a much broader range in sentences in Canadian courts. What happens often is that lower precedents are accepted until it becomes a race to the bottom. What the mandatory minimums do is stop that race and say you can go low, but you cannot go beyond this point, effectively eliminating things like house arrest.

Senator Jaffer: Thank you, ministers, for joining us. There is a lot of talk about the protection of children, and I of course commend you for that.

I wanted to ask Minister Nicholson about Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I will read it:

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

For me, that indicates an obligation for all bills to be prepared in compliance with this principle.

Minister Nicholson, when you appeared before the Human Rights Committee on December 9, 2009, you stated the following:

As with other international human rights treaties, before ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols, federal, provincial and territorial laws, policies and practices were assessed to determine whether they complied with the convention and the protocols.

I would like to hear from you: Does Bill C-10 violate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and if so, how?

Mr. Nicholson: No, and children will be better protected under this. As I say, we came across gaps in the law where, for instance, two adults could be conspiring online to set up a child for sexual exploitation, and basically this was not covered under the criminal law. I was very pleased to ensure that this was included.

In addition, with respect to the act of giving a child sexually explicit material for the purpose of grooming that child so that the child thinks that this kind of activity is okay with respect to him or her, it was important to put that in there.

This is consistent with our overall approach. One bill we had was to better protect 14- and 15-year-olds from adult sexual predators. I was told of a case in Toronto where a 40-year-old from Texas had hooked up online with a 14-year-old girl. He had come to Toronto and sexually exploited that girl. There was nothing the police, the parents or anyone else could do about that. I remember promising them, about four and a half years ago, that we are going to change that and that we would better protect 14- and 15-year-olds from these adult sexual predators.

Yes, the bill is very comprehensive and wide-ranging. However, I have absolute confidence — and I am sure you will — that children will be better protected from these individuals with the addition of this bill. Thank you very much for that question.

Senator Jaffer: Minister, I am pleased with your answer. However, I would like to know if an assessment was done of Bill C-10 with the Convention on the Rights of the Child in mind. If an evaluation was done, can the committee get a copy?

Mr. Nicholson: I do not have any copies. I know that whenever bills are drafted within the Department of Justice, they take note and they analyze these things to ensure they comply with everything, such as the Canadian Bill of Rights. That is one of the things they do. Again, they are very careful in drafting these, because as background they sometimes have all these other constitutional documents. I have complete confidence in those who help us draft, under our instructions.

Senator Jaffer: I understand that you say generally it is done, but was it done in this case?

Mr. Nicholson: Again, this bill, as with all bills, was drafted in compliance with all constitutional and international treaties that this country has signed on to.

Senator Runciman: Thank you, ministers. I have a question for Minister Toews.

As a former corrections minister in Ontario, I was intrigued recently with the press release from the current occupant of that office, suggesting that this legislation will result in 1,500 new occupants of provincial lock-ups, at a significant cost to Ontarians. I know you recently held federal-provincial-territorial meetings. Did the minister explain the rationale of the way they arrived at those figures, and if they, in essence, hold water?

Mr. Toews: Predicting the future and the future impact of a bill is always very difficult. We rely on the expertise of our officials to give us some indication. We hear the rhetoric all the time, and we dismiss that outright. Clearly, in the case of Bill C-10 and other similar types of legislation, like the truth in sentencing legislation, we do not believe that the rhetoric is in any way warranted.

In respect of the Truth in Sentencing Act, which I think came into force in March of 2010, the prediction by my officials was that the federal population would rise from 14,000 prisoners to, today, 17,800. In fact, the real number today is approximately 14,800. It has been stable for the last three or four months. In fact, it dropped 63 in the last month.

How is it, then, that there was such an overestimation of prisoners? I think it is really a justification of the philosophy that we are putting forward, which is that we are not creating new criminals; we are simply keeping the guys who are always back out on the street, pressuring the system, the police, the courts, the sheriffs, the remand centres. These guys are staying in, so we will see that trickle effect in the Truth in Sentencing Act.

We also passed in that same bill the elimination of the two for one. In Manitoba, for example, 70 per cent of provincial prisoners are not sentenced. They are in remand, and they all take advantage of the two for one and three for one, which have now been eliminated.

We see those kinds of provisions, in fact, moving prisoners out of the provincial system, by and large, and into the federal system. The federal system still has not seen the tens of thousands that the opposition said would occur. We have seen about 800, which, I might add, is still technically under the occupancy that we had in January of 2010, which is 15,000. I authorized the construction of 2,500 new units, but that was for two reasons: some increase, but some very dilapidated old wings that do need to be replaced; and also to give us more flexibility in respect of gangs and the segregation of these individuals.

I have not seen the analysis by the Ontario minister, but I wonder where she comes up with a figure of 1,500 for Ontario alone. It is curious that she says it will cost us 1,500, so you have to build us a new jail for $900 million. At the same time, she is closing down three provincial jails and a 200-bed wing in another provincial jail.

The suspicion — and I have no reason to believe it is; it is just apparent — is that this is a case of the province shutting down old provincial facilities and then building a new facility and saying, "This is the impact of Bill C-10." I have not seen any statistics. I am skeptical of the figure of 1,500, given my own experience with my staff analysis. I do not take anything away from what they have done. It is difficult to predict, but I think we are on the right track.

Senator Runciman: I share your suspicion.

I have a question for Minister Nicholson with respect to judicial discretion. We have heard and read quite a bit about the removal of judicial discretion. If you could, I would like you to speak to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. What I see is the expansion of discretion, returning discretion to judges, and concerns with respect to the limitations that were placed on judges in terms of their concerns, if they had concerns, about a dangerous young offender going back out into the community and the added discretion that this act will provide for them.

Mr. Nicholson: You will remember, senator, that an important report came out of the province of Nova Scotia. It was known as the Nunn report. It identified a small group of what was described as out-of-control young people who were a danger to themselves and to the public. It pointed out the limitations under the law to detain an individual who is a danger to themselves and to the public.

If you look — as you will and as you have in the past — at the changes we have made to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, it is very specific and in no way takes away from — and I have made this point before — provincial programs and the provincial ability to help these individuals. We all want to help young people. We all want to get them back to living productive lives in society. However, some fine tuning needed to be done within the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and it certainly was identified by the Nunn report. A number of changes that we have made have been identified. Again, I hope that they will continue to have your support because, as I say, they are very targeted, very specific and very much needed.

Senator Runciman: Mr. Toews, related to the new powers that have been given to the Parole Board of Canada, and I am talking about the power to continue detention past the statutory release if the offender is considered dangerous, might you comment on that provision?

Mr. Toews: This is a series of amendments that, in fact, expands discretion. They can consider new elements in terms of getting a fuller picture of who the offender is before them so that things like the nature of the offence can then be considered rather than simply looking at the face of the record and saying, "Well, this is this type of offence, therefore this is how we proceed."

It is also reflected in our International Transfer of Offenders Act to allow the minister responsible to consider a broader picture to ensure that when we do bring these criminals back to Canada — and everyone wants to come back to Canada. There is no question about it. Very few prisoners want to leave Canadian prisons. I find it remarkable that I see maybe two or three applications a year, usually by Americans wanting to go finish off a sentence. Very few actually want to leave Canadian prisons to go home. Everyone wants to come home, and there are some reasons for that. Especially long-time organized crime figures who were serving long sentences in the United States knew that as soon as they came here, they would be out on day parole very quickly.

In addition to making changes to the law to ensure public safety, as the minister responsible for that act, I also have to have flexibility to ensure that public safety becomes the paramount consideration in returning these individuals who have been convicted lawfully in another jurisdiction.

Senator Baker: I would like to congratulate both the ministers on the job that they are doing in enunciating, putting forward and establishing government policy, as the government has proclaimed and as they proclaimed in the last federal election.

Mr. Nicholson: Thank you very much.

Senator Angus: Beware of Baker bearing gifts.

Senator Baker: Minister, I noticed you have a cold. Under this bill, if I were to offer you an Atasol 30 that has been prescribed to me, or a Tylenol 3 or a Tylenol 4, then that is trafficking because there is codeine in that pill, and there is case law to prove that it has been prosecuted in the past. If I did it twice and we were here, I would be subjected to a mandatory minimum of one year in jail. If I did it twice and the second time we were at the University of Ottawa campus, it would be a mandatory two years in jail.

The problem with that, of course, is that the mandatory minimum does in fact work where you have levels of gravity and seriousness within an offence: assault divided into many categories — assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm; dangerous driving, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, causing death; murder, second degree murder. There are various levels, but trafficking is trafficking.

The question becomes, if these mandatory minimums come into effect, which they will, then where is the fail safe here? Are we expecting the police not to prosecute when the trafficking is of a relatively minor nature? Trafficking is trafficking. Life imprisonment is your maximum for trafficking. Are we trusting the prosecutors to say, "We are not going to bring in the record of their first conviction in order to save someone from that mandatory jail term?" How is it envisioned in this legislation that these relatively minor offences, like me offering you an Atasol 30, does not make me end up in jail for two years?

Mr. Nicholson: Senator, first of all, with respect to trafficking, it is a question of fact in each particular case. In your interesting example, you are just trafficking or sending around pills that have codeine in them. I am not familiar with the actual medication that you indicated. Even with respect to the schools, you will see that there are provisions that exist within the Criminal Code that there must be a substantive amount. Now, most times, what happens is people say, "Oh, someone is trading a joint at the school." There are specific requirements in the Criminal Code that talk about, for instance, three kilograms.

Senator Baker: That is marijuana.

Mr. Nicholson: That is right, with respect to marijuana.

Senator Baker: There is nothing for codeine.

Mr. Nicholson: I am saying to you, senator, that the law is with respect to possession; but if you are into the business of trafficking, if you are into the business of selling, importing, exporting, if you are into the business of producing marijuana for the purposes of trafficking or manufacturing these things, then you will come within this law. I would suggest to you that if you have pills with codeine, be very careful as to what you do with those.

Senator Baker: We will follow it up with the officials.

Getting on to the second question that I wanted to ask you in light of the questions that were asked of you about the Youth Criminal Justice Act, what you are removing is the section with the head note, "detention presumed unnecessary." The presumption is that a youth, 18 years of age on their birthday, or less when the offence was committed, will not go to jail before they are convicted.

For adults, the presumption is there. Subsection 515(1) of Criminal Code says that a judge shall release somebody unless the Crown prosecutor provides reasons for not releasing, and then the next subsection says that they shall release with conditions unless the Crown prosecutor provides reasons. I am wondering what the logic is of removing the presumption for young people and not removing it for adults.

Mr. Nicholson: We have actually made changes with respect to bail. You will remember me here a few years ago with respect to actually reversing the onus regarding adult bail hearings for individuals who have been charged or have records with guns, et cetera. It is not universally the same with respect to that.

We are dealing with this very specific case that I identified for Senator Runciman in the Nunn report, where you might get a child, as there was in Nova Scotia, and there was nothing they felt they could do with the child who was released again and again and kept stealing cars until, unfortunately, someone was killed as a result. We are making changes with this.

If you have private members’ bills that you would like to introduce with respect to other aspects of bail for adults, I would be very pleased to look at those, but we are looking at all these areas. As you know, several years ago, I was already here with changes to the bail hearing with respect to adults, but this bill deals specifically with the challenges that were identified in the Nunn report, which I have shared with my provincial colleagues.

Mr. Toews: I think that you have to see the difficulties with the youth in the context of the specific statute. A number of precedents essentially bound the judges to a certain course of action when it came to bail.

Really, once you get into that kind of a precedential situation, the only way to remedy that, if there is a problem, is by legislation, and I think that is essentially what the report is doing. We hear all the time in Manitoba judges saying this individual, yes, stole a car, but they are not considered dangerous in the true sense of the word. They are out again and again until, as in the Nova Scotia case, someone is killed.

Senator Baker: I will pursue this with the officials.

Senator Lang: I welcome the witnesses and want to say that there is broad support among the Canadian public for this legislation. Over the last 20 years or so, more and more Canadians have started to realize that the justice system is being viewed by the offenders with very little respect and that there is little fear of any consequences. That is why I think we are here today.

I refer to a report from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics on Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2010, in which they generally report a modest decline in crime across the country. In the same report, which has not been publicized and should be commented on, maybe by both ministers, are the facts that the following offences have increased: child pornography offences by 123 per cent; charges for firearm offences by 11 per cent; drug offences by 10 per cent; criminal harassment by 5 per cent; and sexual assaults by 5 per cent. It is also noted, and various parts of the country have been affected, that there has been increased crime in Newfoundland, Senator Baker's part of the world, in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut and in Saskatchewan, where there is a substantial increase.

I would like to hear your comments with respect to this legislation and how it applies to the statistics that are coming forward that have not been publicized but I believe should be publicized.

Mr. Nicholson: Thank you, Senator Lang.

We are bringing forward this legislation because it makes sense to do so. Generally, I do not get into arguing with people about whether gun crimes are up 3 per cent or 5 per cent or 10 per cent. We identify problems when speaking with people across the country. We were very clear with the people of Canada on four different occasions that these are the directions that we will move in to better protect Canadians and to better stand up for victims in this country. I am very grateful, as are my colleagues, that the people of this country have responded in greater numbers on every occasion. This is part of our promise to the Canadian public that we will move forward on this.

You identify something that has been told to me. Nationally when I speak with law enforcement agents and people who work in the area of trying to protect children and when I have been at international meetings with my American, British, Australian and New Zealand counterparts, I hear the same thing: There is a proliferation and expansion of the exploitation of children through child pornography and child sexual exploitation. They all tell me this. I have had the discussion with Senator Dagenais before that this greater cooperation is absolutely necessary, and the laws of this country have to keep pace. Twenty-five years ago people were telling us that we did not need to consider the downloading of child pornography a crime and that we did not need a law. Well, it had to be considered a crime and we had to move forward with that almost 20 years ago. We have to update our laws to ensure that they respond to what happens out there.

People have told me that the people who bring drugs into this country are not the unfortunate individuals who become addicted. They are not the people who are experiment at a party. They tell me it is organized crime. These are sophisticated operations. This legislation sends out a message to them that there will be serious consequences for those involved in that kind of activity, such as bringing drugs into this country. It lets those individuals who are into the business of sexually exploiting children know that we are on to this by updating and modernizing our laws. We are sending out a message as well that there are serious consequences for those who sexually molest a child or are in the business of producing child pornography.

Again, we are part of a worldwide effort to do something about these issues. I am very pleased that we have this legislation before Parliament. I hope it gets passed expeditiously, as I said in my opening remarks.

Mr. Toews: I agree completely with my colleague's comments about the expansion of certain types of offences in certain parts of the country. The Criminal Code, though, has to apply across the board. I, as well, do not get too hung up on the statistics. I am more concerned about whether there is danger out there. If an individual poses a danger to the ordinary citizen, then that individual should not be on the street and should be dealt with in that way. I do not care whether the statistics demonstrate that crime is down 5 per cent or 3 per cent or 1 per cent or up 10 per cent; I am focused on danger, and that is what the legislation is focused on as well.

If you do want to get into statistics, you have to be very careful. We are dealing with police-reported crimes. When I started prosecuting many years ago, we had dozens and dozens of charges relating to bad cheques. No one gets prosecuted for bad cheques any more, that I am aware of. Suddenly, we see a huge decrease in property crime, but is anyone seriously suggesting that fraud does not occur in terms of commercial activities? This gets back to my colleague's analysis that we have to keep up with the times. We use credit cards rather than cheques, by and large.

The other important thing that Statistics Canada points out every five years is the victimization statistics. People say, "Well, this is just a victim's impression." No, these are very accurate statistics. In fact, the Americans measure their crime levels on victimization surveys, not on police-reported crimes. When we compare our statistics with the U.S., we are comparing apples to oranges and think that the Americans are much worse than we are. Well, we are using a totally different set of statistics, as a general rule — police-reported crimes as opposed to victimization surveys.

When you compare apples to apples, as the Vancouver Board of Trade did in a very interesting study, you see that the highest rate of property crime offences in the United States and Canada was in Vancouver; second, they said at that time a couple years ago, was in Winnipeg.

When you compare apples to apples, suddenly there is a whole different picture. I say, let us not talk about statistics; let us talk about danger. I want individuals to be safe on the streets during the day and during the night. If there is a danger to them, then that danger needs to be addressed. This legislation does that.

Senator Lang: One other area I would like to move to is the question of trafficking, which Senator Baker brought forward, and discuss the question of whether you can give a person a codeine pill and not be charged. I would like some comfort in knowing that will not happen. I believe it will not happen and that it is not trafficking. I would like to hear your comments on that.

Second, I would like to hear your comments on the requirement of six plants. I would like to hear this for the record. My understanding is that six plants can mean up to as much as $20,000 worth of marijuana on the street at any given time, depending on the value. Is that how that benchmark was arrived at? Perhaps you could explain further.

Mr. Nicholson: It is a question of fact in each particular case. With respect to the six plants, most critics of this bill will say that we are trying to lock up some poor fellow who has six plants in his kitchen, but they forget to mention that the individual must be in the business of trafficking. When law enforcement agents have talked about this, the guy might have cleared out 100 plants the day before and have only half a dozen left. Does that mean he was not trafficking or that this is not a serious matter?

Again, we have been very specific with respect to that, and it is a question of the facts in each particular case. If you are in the business of growing marijuana plants for the purposes of trafficking, you will be caught by this legislation, and I think that is appropriate. As I have been told by law enforcement agents, very often marijuana is the currency that brings harder drugs into this country. This is part of the exchange, and so we send out the correct message that these marijuana grow ops are a huge problem of safety and health. Again, this bill targets those individuals who get involved in that kind of activity.

The Chair: Minister Toews, to your comment that your focus is on removing threats from the street, obviously the idea is to provide enhanced protection to the public. It is obvious, too, that there is a need to do everything possible to prevent reoffending, which raises the issue of rehabilitative services and programs. I am wondering what you can say about the importance of rehabilitation services and programs and how that factors, if at all, into your considerations in your department's initiatives as they relate to Bill C-10?

Mr. Toews: For me, rehabilitation, training and mental health services are absolutely essential to the broader criminal justice system. I have worked very closely encouraging Corrections Canada to upgrade training, to get new agreements with the colleges and trainers and to get education. The only way we ultimately beat crime is by educating these individuals once they are in prison. I would like to see them educated before they get to prison, and so I am very pleased to see things such as Dr. Lloyd Axworthy is doing at the University of Winnipeg, sort of breaking down the barriers at that university, getting young Aboriginal kids in the downtown area to get that association with the university. This is very, very important. However, I will tell you, when we have those people in our prisons, let us not waste that time. I have said to Commissioner Head over and over and over again, "Let us strengthen our training and strengthen CORCAN." There are regulations and bureaucracy in the way that I think everybody recognizes are just impediments to getting training and work done. We are working on that, and so I see that as absolutely essential to the overall rehabilitation of individuals.

The other thing is mental health. What we have seen, essentially, is, in many ways, a breakdown of the delivery of the mental health system at the provincial level, where institutions were emptied and people were put out on to the street. The theory was a good one: that we provide these individuals with support and, therefore, they do not need to be in an asylum. I use that word in the best sense of that word, in the old sense of that word.

The problem is that many of these individuals do, in fact, need care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it is not good enough to have intermittent care. We really have to re-examine the whole issue of whether we made a mistake. I say that if we are going to put mentally ill people in an institution, let us work with the provinces to put those people into an institution that focuses on health rather than on penal consequences. I think we have a lot of work to do in that respect. I am proud of the work our government has done and of the amount of money we poured into federal institutions in that respect. I do not want to say that when we come here all we talk about is getting the bad guys off the streets. Certainly that is my primary obligation, but in terms of rehabilitation, we have opportunities that we should not waste when these guys — and most of them are guys — are locked up for a period of time.

[Translation]

Senator Joyal: My question is addressed to the two ministers we have the privilege of hearing this afternoon.

Minister Nicholson referred in his opening statement to the meeting of provincial ministers of Justice that took place last week, and in particular to the essential cooperation between the two levels of government to ensure the coherent administration of justice.

Minister Toews mentioned earlier that his department, the Department of Public Safety, had tended to overestimate the number of inmates who were incarcerated following the adoption of a certain number of bills.

[English]

You gave statistics that inmates are now at the level of 14,800, instead of 15,000 or 16,000.

Mr. Toews: Instead of 17,800.

Senator Joyal: In other words, I think it is fair to say that you and the provincial ministers are of the opinion that there will be an increase in inmates due to all the legislation — the bill adopted by Parliament in previous years, this one and maybe others that the government might want to contemplate.

Do you think that the overall impact of that legislation on the provincial budget for the administration of justice and, of course, for the maintenance of prisons will be serious? One can quarrel about whether it is $1 million, $1 billion, $900 million or $500 million. The Minister of Quebec mentioned $500 million. The Ontario Minister of Justice mentioned something close to $900 million. I know that some ministers in the Maritimes also have concerns. Would you be open to the idea of establishing a joint committee with the provinces to monitor the increase in inmates and the impact of that on provincial budgets, and also, at a point in time, to reopen discussions of a shared kind of bill, to have that level of cooperation that you expect to maintain with the provinces? You mentioned rehabilitation and mental institutions. They fall under provincial jurisdiction. Would you be open to such an idea, which is practical and which would alleviate the fear of your provincial counterparts that the cost of all those bills — not only Bill C-10, but all the other ones adopted in the past — would be meaningful? Would you share the statistics with them so that we have coherent cooperation between the two levels of government instead of both sides making political speeches to say no, to say yes, to say you got enough money and so on? We can debate on those grounds, but in real terms there is one taxpayer in Canada, and it is the same one who foots the bill. Would you be open to that idea, or is it something that at this stage you would prefer not to accept?

Mr. Toews: Actually, senator, I think that there is a lot of merit in that. I guess we could quibble about the structure of that, but that type of committee already exists in terms of sharing that type of information between the provinces and the federal government, because we recognize that it is a joint responsibility. As the Minister of Justice pointed out at the beginning of his comments, many of these changes were made at the request of the provinces. They recognize that there is an issue with respect to cost. We bear that cost in our constitutional sharing of responsibilities. That is something that happens.

Now, I have to point out that since we came to power there has been an increase of about $12.9 billion in transfer payments. We feel that we are being generous in that sense. We have not held the line at those types of transfers, as we have done with health care and with social transfers as well.

If a province comes to me and says, "Look, we have a certain increase in population because of the bill," then what you get into is the decision that if we have had an increase in mental health problems in federal penitentiaries because of their policies, do we then send them a bill and say, "We have to build new wings in our federal penitentiaries because of your provincial policies"?

It is a difficult issue to untangle all of this. I think we have been fair with the provinces, but I certainly agree with your proposition that we need to cooperate in terms of the discussion. That needs to continue, and I encourage my department to have that function with the provinces in order to monitor any increases or changes that are necessary.

Every year at the federal-provincial-territorial ministers' meetings we discuss these types of issues, and it is in that context that the Ontario minister said she needs a certain amount of money. We did not raise the issue that we need a whole lot of money for patients who come under essentially provincial jurisdiction, but a failure of that provincial health system has resulted in these individuals being here.

In my opinion, the better approach is to look at how we deal with the issue of mental health. We were not going to solve it by ourselves as a federal government in a penitentiary. I believe that we need a much more comprehensive approach to deal with the mentally ill.

The Chair: I regret having to interrupt you at this point. I just received word that the ministers are required back in the house immediately. As a result, that will be the end of the questions that we are able to pose to the ministers.

The good news is that we do have with us officials from both departments, some of whom are at the table now, and others are here as well. They are prepared to remain with us for an extended period and we will continue.

Senator Nolin: Officials cannot answer policy questions; is that right?

Mr. Toews: That is correct.

Senator Nolin: I have policy questions for the ministers.

Mr. Toews: We will have to make that arrangement some other time. We have a vote; I am sorry.

Senator Nolin: Are you afraid, ministers?

The Chair: I will come back and address that in a moment, Senator Nolin.

We will suspend and allow the ministers to leave and return to the house. On your behalf, I want to thank the ministers. It was very informative and helpful to us.

Colleagues, as I said before, the ministers were compelled to leave, but we do have numerous officials from both the Department of Justice and Public Safety with us. We have quite a contingent at the end of the table, and hopefully I have everyone in my introduction.

Catherine Kane, who I introduced earlier, is still with us. As well, joining her from the Department of Justice is Carole Morency, Director and General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section. We also have, again from the Department of Justice, Paul Saint-Denis, Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section. Welcome back, Mr. Saint-Denis. We have Paula Kingston, Senior Counsel, Youth Justice and Strategic Initiatives Section.

From the Department of Public Safety, we have Mary Campbell, who I introduced earlier; Larisa Galadza, Senior Director, National Security Policy, who remains with us; and we have added to the Public Safety group Mr. Daryl Churney, Director, Corrections Policy.

Given the many topics that Bill C-10 covers, obviously senators had great interest in this and wished to have an opportunity to speak and question the ministers. Just because of time, unfortunately, it was not possible. In that first round, committee members Angus, Chaput and Boisvenu unfortunately were not able to question the ministers, and we had our guest today, Senator Nolin, as well.

Without further ado —

Senator Nolin: I am not a guest. I am a member of the Senate. I am totally entitled to be here. I am not a guest. I am a member of the Senate.

The Chair: Yes. I apologize for improperly describing you, senator.

Senator Nolin: You may feel that I am a guest, but I am totally entitled to be here and ask questions and participate in the deliberations of the committee. I intend to do that.

The Chair: Yes, you are certainly entitled to do that. As we know, we have had the members of this committee who have put a lot of time and effort into this and a lot of thought, and I am sure that will be reflected in the questions that they will have for our witnesses.

Senator Jaffer: Chair, may I ask a question?

The Chair: Yes, Senator Jaffer.

Senator Jaffer: I am concerned that with such an important bill we would have two very senior ministers who had introductory statements, and you let them answer questions at length, so our time for questions was short. Having such an important bill and two ministers for less than an hour has really tied our hands on the questions we wanted to ask. Are we going to get the ministers back?

The Chair: It is a complex issue, obviously, with nine previous bills being included within Bill C-10.

Senator Jaffer: Exactly. That is just my point.

The Chair: What appears to be a simple question for the ministers in receiving those questions is not necessarily an answer that can be given concisely.

Senator Jaffer: That is just my point.

The Chair: If I could just finish. Because of that, I was giving the ministers the opportunity to answer the questions in a way in which they were comfortable. I believe we owe it to them. Had there been more time available, were they able to stay longer, we would have been able to continue. We have to work within some of the constraints we have. That was one we realized before today. We realized the ministers would be here for an hour. Each of the committee members was advised of that, and we have to deal with that.

Senator Jaffer: Why would we have two ministers at the same time? That is my question.

The Chair: We have two matters. We have matters that involve both of those departments. As well, we have Minister Kenney from Citizenship and Immigration. There are matters that touch upon his portfolio. He may well have been here today, but his schedule did not permit it, and he will appear at a later date.

That is the way we had to deal with this. It was a matter that was dealt with by the three-member steering committee, and we recognized that that was the reality of the appearances today.

Senator Fraser: I think I am not really breaking the seal of the confessional if I say that, in the steering committee, we knew that an hour would be a very short time. We tried to get more. The frustration is real, I think, for all members of the committee, as is often the case when ministers have to dash off for votes. In this case, I do not think anybody around this table is to blame for the situation in which we find ourselves.

The Chair: Quite frankly, senator, I do not believe anybody is to blame for it. The fact of the matter is that the ministers had a certain amount of time available. We knew that, and they had many matters they have to deal with, some of which compel them to return to the house.

I think we have talked enough about that. I wish there had been more time, but we worked with what we had. We will do our job thoroughly in the process.

Having said that, we now have with us officials from both departments. We should take full opportunity to question them, which I am sure you will do. Without further ado, we will begin with Senator Angus.

Senator Angus: Thank you, chair, and welcome to all of you officials. I think all or most of you have been before us.

As has been indicated, Bill C-10 comprises nine pieces of legislation on varying aspects of the crime and punishment issues that are before us. I guess it is fair to say, too, that both of those ministers have been in front of us before, and we have had opportunities to question them previously on these same provisions of proposed law.

First of all, it is true that there are nine pieces of legislation, all of which we have seen before?

Senator Fraser: No.

Senator Angus: Except for one?

Catherine Kane, Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice Canada: I believe the Senate committee has seen the drug-related reforms previously. You were about to study the child sex offence reforms this time last year but did not get that opportunity. You have not looked at the youth justice reforms. They were in the house only, in the other place. I believe you are familiar with the victims of terrorism act.

Senator Fraser: In one or two of its incarnations, that bill has been before this committee.

Senator Angus: This is what I thought. In any event, it is not unfamiliar territory. I can remember questioning and hearing all the same arguments of minimum sentencing and the like. It is all very interesting.

Let me ask why you folks decided to bundle all these bills into one big bill. I had a thing delivered to my office, and I am not exaggerating, that was this big. I said, "What is that?" They said, "That is the clauses of Bill C-10, of all these nine bills, in fact."

Ms. Kane: Senator, you are correct.

Senator Angus: I think this is what is known in the trade as an omnibus bill; is that correct?

Ms. Kane: We do not use the term "omnibus." It is comprehensive. It rolls together the nine bills that you mentioned, and hence the enormous size of the clause-by-clause briefing book, which is basically the same briefing books for all the nine previous pieces of legislation rolled together and reordered because the bill had to be reordered to some extent. The bill is a compilation of those previous bills, which reflects the commitment of the government to reintroduce them in a comprehensive manner, and that is why you have Bill C-10 in the shape that it is in now. There are some threads of common interest all about tackling crime and better protecting victims in that bill.

We use the term "omnibus" usually to refer to a bunch of miscellaneous provisions that we pull together over a period of time when there is no other legislative vehicle to make those reforms, so this is really not an omnibus bill; it is a comprehensive bill.

Senator Angus: I will accept that. I am sitting on this side of the table, and I am not being churlish; I really am intrigued. I actually made the effort to go through that document. We had a crane hired to bring it up to the ninth floor office. I thought to myself that we have been all through that piece of legislation. I have questioned it three ways to Sunday. I have heard psychiatrists and people from every John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Society in Canada asking me why could we not have at least kept that separate and whipped these things through. We were right on the verge of passing them.

I have been around here just coming up to 20 years. I find it really hard now to compartmentalize all this material in a comprehensive way.

Ms. Kane: Certainly all of my colleagues and I can help you sort out what is where and answer any questions. That is why there are so many of us. We are holdovers from the bills in their original state, so the experts on all of those are here.

Senator Angus: It is good of you to all come and be there for us, but as Senator Jaffer pointed out, it would have been easier to have one minister and deal with one thing at a time. We were not able to do that, and that is fine. I support the government very enthusiastically, but I am trying to understand why, from a practical point of view, we are in this situation.

I have a question. I do not think it is a policy question, and therefore I feel that it is in order. Let me put it this way: I understand that some or all of these nine bills were actually asked for and supported by the provinces and territories; is that correct?

Ms. Kane: Yes, that is correct. Many of the reforms that have found their way into this bill and the predecessor bills were the subject of federal-provincial-territorial discussions over several years. For example, the conditional sentence reforms were discussed with provinces originating over about six and a half years ago. There has been previous conditional sentence legislation. This is a follow-up, perhaps not exactly what the provinces and territories had discussed or recommended but certainly had their genesis there. Similarly, the youth criminal justice reforms, as the minister indicated, the genesis, a great deal of consultation, not just provinces and territories but stakeholders in general, and the implementation of many of the recommendations of the Nunn Commission.

As Mr. Saint-Denis will answer if there are drug-related questions, many of these issues in general are discussed at federal-provincial committees. We are guided by the input of provincial and territorial colleagues. We have a number of committees that meet regularly over the course of the year on various issues. We get provincial and territorial input on emerging issues, problems with implementation of the current law and so on. Those same issues are discussed at FPT deputy ministers' meetings and ministers' meetings where provinces continue to ask for additional reforms, as well as many of the reforms that have already been proposed or enacted.

Senator Angus: I just started addressing this legislation with an understanding, rightly or wrongly, that I want to clear up now on the record. Is it correct that the provinces and territories support the intent of all aspects of Bill C-10?

Ms. Kane: I understand that your committee may be hearing from some provincial representatives and that question may be better put to them. As Minister Nicholson indicated at last week's meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers, there was a great deal of discussion about this bill. The overall thrust was support for the vast majority of the provisions. Some provinces have particular concerns about aspects of the bill in terms of how they will implement them in the short term. They have called for collaboration with respect to the staggered implementation and so on. Much of that information was in the communiqué that came out of the ministers' meeting. However, I could not say that every province and territory would say that they wanted every single provision of this bill because that is not what I heard arising out of the aftermath of that meeting. There is general support for proposed legislation that responds to crime, public safety and protection of victims. All provinces are in agreement that those efforts need to be made.

Senator Angus: As I said, I approached it on the basis of an understanding that there was general support for the intent, not the cost of implementation, for example. I assiduously read all the daily newspapers and find that some provinces and territories are quite vociferously opposed. What parts of Bill C-10 are not acceptable, as far as you know, to the provinces and territories?

Ms. Kane: It is fair to say that there is no clear answer to what is acceptable and not acceptable across the board. Certain provinces have strong support for some provisions over others. For example, we know that the Quebec Minister of Justice of raised specific issues about two provisions in the youth justice part of Bill C-10: one related to lifting publication bans and the other related to whether there was a need to include protection of society as a principle in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He made it clear that those were his primary concerns. We could not say that he was 100 per cent in support of those provisions with those two caveats.

Other provinces have noted that they need to take into account the impact of implementation on the administration of justice, which is a provincial responsibility. They have highlighted particular provisions and have not indicated that they are opposed to them but rather that they perhaps will have short-term challenges in implementing them.

Senator Angus: That is helpful in the sense that it highlights the difficulties facing us, Mr. Chair. In the case of Quebec, which Senators Dagenais, Nolin and I as well as some senators on the other side of the table represent, there is an old tradition with which I do not agree. Quebec ministers refuse to testify with their officials before federal committees such as this one. They feel so strongly about these two concerns, which you just elucidated upon, that the Quebec Minister of Justice, the Honourable Jean-Marc Fournier, actually came here and expressed his unhappiness with the bill. Let us have no illusions — this is not something for which we have universal excitement.

The Chair: I would remind colleagues to keep questions as concise as possible. We want to get as many ideas and questions on the table as possible.

[Translation]

Senator Chaput: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Essentially, I am concerned by three main points in Bill C-10. There are others, but I would like you to explain to me how Bill C-10 deals with my three concerns; the first is the matter of victims. If I understood correctly, Minister Toews said: Keep victims better informed.

That is what I understood. I wonder if we would not do better to increase the resources available to victims. Does Bill C-10 deal with this concern? If resources were increased, this would encourage victims to go to the police. This would create a system that would better meet their needs.

My second concern is the absence of consideration given to the particular circumstances of young offenders. Several experts say that stiffer sentences have no deterrent effect on young people. Stiffer sentences do not change things, rather, the opposite happens. Young people are hardened. I would like you to explain to me how this bill deals with that issue.

Thirdly, I agree that we have to imprison criminals and that they should be punished. But I see a system based on imprisonment rather than on rehabilitation. I heard Minister Toews say some very nice things on the topic of rehabilitation and education. Does the bill really address those three issue, and if so, how?

[English]

Ms. Kane: Your question deals with three aspects, so three different people will respond. Ms. Campbell will begin with the provisions relating to victims and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Mary Campbell, Director General, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Thank you for the question about victims. Everyone at this table knows that victims have multiple needs, and diverse victims have diverse needs. One of the issues raised consistently by victims is access to more information about the progress of their case or the offender who has harmed them. Minister Toews is responsible for the area of victims in relation to offenders in the federal penitentiary system. We do not have responsibility for or any control over what happens to victims where the offender is in the provincial system. Bill C-10 contains several measures to provide more information to victims.

One measure focuses on the location of the offender. Sometimes victims are concerned if the offender is being transferred to a penitentiary that is closer to where the victim lives. They simply want the knowledge in advance, if possible, when that is going to occur because offenders are transferred for any number of reasons. Bill C-10 will allow that information to be shared with the victim, where the person is being moved in certain circumstances.

Another issue that officials and victims have been concerned about is parole hearings. Sometimes a victim will come to a parole hearing and the offender that they know or are familiar with was the offender when the crime occurred, which might be many years previously. They come to the parole hearing and have no idea what has transpired in the meantime. Has the offender taken programming? Have they made efforts to change their life?

They will get that information at the parole hearing, but there was a feeling that it would be more useful if they could get that information earlier on. Therefore, there are provisions to share that information with the victim while the offender is serving the sentence, again balancing that with any privacy or security issues.

In terms of providing more information versus more resources, again these are multiple means. Many of the victim services are provided by the provinces, so the federal system provides some resources. My office runs the National Office for Victims, for example. In this day and age, if we cannot get more resources we are always happy if we can keep the resources we have. This is certainly an area that is regarded as one that is extremely important in terms of resourcing.

To jump to your third point about the focus appearing to be more on punishment rather than rehabilitation, that may simply be a factor in terms of what matters are covered in legislation versus those that are covered in operation. The Corrections and Conditional Release Act speaks quite clearly to the importance of programming, rehabilitation, treatments and work release, as the minister mentioned. This is a large preoccupation for officials, so I would not take the absence of more of those references in Bill C-10 as meaning they are not regarded as serious.

I have spent the past two days meeting with corrections officials talking about a particular work program in the trades that would have offenders gaining trade skills and working as volunteers on the job. We are looking at serious renewal of the trades training for all offenders, male and female. We have a number of projects under way.

I wish we had all the resources in the world — the minister mentioned mental health — to address those needs. Correctional Services does what it can. I want to assure you that those programs are regarded very seriously, and there has been no diminishment of those programs.

Paula Kingston, Senior Counsel, Youth Justice and Strategic Initiatives Section, Department of Justice Canada: In response to your question about youth justice, it is very important to look at the changes in the context of what is in the legislation. The changes that are made are focused on repeat, serious violent offenders. For the most part they would target a small group of offenders, but really it is important to look at how the whole bill will still maintain the principles of a separate youth justice system that is based on rehabilitation and reintegration rather than a more punitive approach to youth justice.

During the committee hearings on this bill, a lot of concern was expressed about this moving the system in a more punitive direction, but I think it is important to look at it in context. For instance, the protection of the public is highlighted in the legislation as a principle. It is already in the Youth Criminal Justice Act and it names a number of factors that lead to protection of the public. Instead of saying that these factors lead to long-term protection of the public, it is saying that protection of the public is achieved by these factors.

The amendment actually states that the youth criminal justice system is intended to protect the public by holding young people accountable through proportionate measures by promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons, by supporting the prevention of crime, and by referring young people to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their offending behaviour. That is the change that addresses the protection of the public. It still retains all the specific principles that make a separate youth justice system.

Clearly rehabilitation and reintegration are key, and this section 3 statement of principles applies throughout the whole bill to all the legislation. Throughout the different stages of the bill, including sentencing, there are other separate statements of principle that have not changed that focus on reintegration and rehabilitation.

I would like to also say that the section 3 statement of principles really does emphasize the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration to a separate youth justice system. That is the basis of the system and that is not changing. In fact, that is being strengthened.

The Supreme Court of Canada, in the 2008case of R. v. D.B., found that a separate youth justice system based on a reduced moral blameworthiness of young people and the fact that they are still maturing and do not have the full maturity of adults is the reason for a separate youth system, that they are more amenable to rehabilitation and reintegration. That is actually a principle of fundamental justice recognized now under section 7 of the Charter.

This is extremely significant, and those provisions are reflected in the legislation. Those are included now, the specific reference. In addition to the statements about reintegration and rehabilitation, there are the additional statements about the reduced moral blameworthiness of young people.

There is a change in the sentencing principles to add specific deterrence and denunciation as possible objectives. The other sentencing principles are mandatory, that it must be the least restrictive measure and it must be proportionate, et cetera, but this will also allow a judge in a specific case, if they feel it is appropriate and still subject to those other principles, to add in specific deterrence. This would not be general deterrence, which would apply to other young people, but to this young person. For example, if there was an issue around repeat offending, that might be something the judge could take into account.

Also, none of the amendments affect the actual sentences in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. There are no changes to the sentences available.

The Chair: I will allow one brief question and will remind honourable senators that we are still in the extension of the first round. We will then follow with Senator Nolin, Cowan and Dagenais. If you could be very brief, I would appreciate it.

[Translation]

Senator Chaput: I will not ask any questions, I would simply like to make an observation. According to everything I have heard, if rehabilitation is so important, I dare say this means that you will be assigning more staff to rehabilitation. I expect this will be a priority, given the importance given to that measure.

[English]

Senator Nolin: I understand, Ms. Kane, that drug-related issues will be dealt with by Mr. Saint-Denis.

We have known each other for many years. I totally understand, Mr. Saint-Denis, that some questions may be of a policy nature and that you are not entitled to answer those questions, unfortunately.

[Translation]

Mr. Saint-Denis, I would like to ask you some questions solely on the clauses that concern the amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

[English]

Mr. Chair, I want to ask questions and refer to a document that is of public knowledge, an international document. I ask if I could have that document circulated to the members of the committee and of course to the witness.

The Chair: This relates to the matter before the committee?

Senator Nolin: Of course it relates to the matter.

The Chair: Do you have copies for all?

Senator Nolin: We have copies for everyone.

The Chair: Yes, have it circulated. Once you have done that, would you identify the document?

Senator Nolin: I will do that as soon as the document is circulated.

While the document is being circulated, you will find in the package three documents. The first document is a report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, both in French and English. That report refers to two peer-reviewed studies that are also included in your package, but only in English. I will refer to those three documents while questioning Mr. Saint-Denis.

Maybe before I ask Mr. Saint-Denis my question, can everyone look at the first page of the report? You will see the commissioners of that commission. If you look at the list of names, you will come to the conclusion that we are not talking about second-hand international officials; we are talking about former heads of government — Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, Ruth Dreifuss, then President of Switzerland, et cetera. You can see by the list of the 19 names that serious people decided to tackle a serious job.

I will come to you, Mr. Saint-Denis. It gives you the time to go through the document and refresh your mind if you have already seen it and, if not, to at least have a first glance at it.

The Chair: Sorry, senator, on that point, if you have questions that relate to this that you want to put to Mr. Saint-Denis that is fine. However, I do not want, if Mr. Saint-Denis is unfamiliar with this —

Senator Nolin: Let us ask him that question.

The Chair: The point is that we are not going to take time to have him read it while we go through that process. That would be the first question.

Mr. Saint-Denis, are you familiar in detail, or at all, with this report?

Paul Saint-Denis, Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice Canada: I am not familiar with it in detail. I was aware of the existence of the document but have not had the pleasure of reading it.

The Chair: Senator Nolin, that being the case, you can ask your questions. Again, we have time issues that we will have to deal with. If you have questions that relate to this, then you can certainly put those to Mr. Saint-Denis, keeping in mind that he is not familiar with the report. Whatever the source of your questions is, you can do that, but I would ask you to move along and again be aware of the time we have.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: Mr. Saint-Denis, I am going to read the text in English since the majority of my colleagues are English-speaking. On page 5, concerning principle number one, this is what it says: I am going to quote the text in English, and then I will ask you a question about it.

[English]

I am referring to principle number 1, which is on page 5, and I will ask Mr. Saint-Denis questions based strictly on the affirmation made by that principle relating to Bill C-10. It says:

Drug policies must be based on solid empirical and scientific evidence. The primary measure of success should be the reduction of harm to the health, security and welfare of individuals and society.

[Translation]

Mr. Saint-Denis, you were closely involved in the drafting of Bill C-10, or at least of clauses 30 and following that impact the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Can you state today that the first principle, which was the basis of the Global Commission on Drug Policy report, was respected in the drafting of Bill C-10 with regard to controlling illicit drugs?

Mr. Saint-Denis: This principle was developed by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. I should add that the United Nations have come up with other principles that are not only concerned with the use of statistics and empirical data to develop certain policies, but also with harm reduction considerations.

The principle set out in this document does not necessarily dovetail with other principles set out by other international bodies. That said, certain policies that came from the government were submitted to us and we implemented them. We found a way of implementing certain directives but unfortunately, I am not aware of the factors cabinet took into consideration to develop the directives concerning how we should approach mandatory minimum sentences.

Senator Nolin: Again, in the report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, on page 15 in English, there is a section entitled Law Enforcement and the Escalation of Violence. Both ministers spoke at length about protecting society and ensuring the safety of populations. I am not going to read the entire text because the chair would interrupt me, and with good reason.

This part of the text refers to three studies, two of which are to be found in the set of documents before you. Are you familiar with these studies that examine the implementation of repressive measures to control drug trafficking and the effect of these measures on the level of violence in cities?

Mr. Saint-Denis: No. Unfortunately, I must admit that I am not familiar with those studies.

[English]

Senator Nolin: Obviously, Mr. Saint-Denis is the expert in the Government of Canada on drug matters, and I totally accept his answers. Maybe, in the wisdom of the steering committee, you would want to explore, as a matter of principle, why those principles are so important. You would be interested to know that a former member of the Supreme Court of Canada, Louise Arbour, is a Canadian member of that global commission, so I am sure she would gladly accept your invitation. One of the authors of those two studies — Canadian studies — I am sure will be able to come and testify before the committee to inform you why more prohibition and increased penalties are not proper ways to go in terms of trying to have a safer environment.

The Chair: Senator, I have noted your comment. Again, members of the committee and, I believe, of both parties were aware that there were opportunities to provide suggested witnesses to the steering committee. We received a number, and we have dealt with the hearings on that basis. I do not recall this having been brought to our attention earlier, but I certainly note your point. I want to be as fair with you as I can, and I realize you put a lot of time and effort into this particular topic. I would say, though, that the issue we are here to discuss is Bill C-10. We have witnesses from the department here today. If there are specific questions relating to Bill C-10 that members of this committee wish to ask them, then that is what we will address.

The other point is that we did not have this report before today, and I think it is somewhat unfair to ask them to respond to that. If you have a question, regardless of what the source of your question is, that is your choice. I would not limit you, other than with the constraints we have on time.

Having said all that, we have these panelists for roughly an hour. That is what we scheduled and that is what they anticipated in coming here this evening.

We have Senators Cowan and Dagenais remaining in the first round of questioning, and in the second round we have four other senators.

Senator Nolin: I am finished.

The Chair: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Senator Cowan: I have two brief questions. The ministers referred to the experience in my province of Nova Scotia and the report of Justice Nunn. Was Justice Nunn consulted in the drafting of the provisions in this bill relating to youth criminal justice?

Ms. Kingston: No, he was not personally consulted, although the recommendations in his report certainly served as the basis for a number of the amendments. Justice Nunn did, however, appear before the Justice Committee.

Senator Cowan: I believe he is scheduled to appear, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Cowan: The ministers also referred to amendments. You will recall that in the house there were amendments proposed that the committee rejected. The government tried to introduce them at third reading, and because of some rules in the other place it was not permissible and was ruled out of order by the Speaker. Will those amendments in that form be presented here in the Senate and, if so, when?

Ms. Kane: Senator, there were government amendments to a couple of provisions. Some had to do with coordinating amendments, for example, between the drug provisions and a private member's bill that had been passed previously, and others dealt with other parts of the bill. I cannot tell you at the present time whether those will be introduced or not. I think it will depend to a certain extent on what witness testimony this committee hears.

Senator Cowan: Did I not understand the ministers to say that there would be amendments?

Ms. Kane: I did not hear them say that in their testimony today. Perhaps my colleagues can add more.

Ms. Campbell: I think Minister Toews referred to amendments, but I believe he was referring to the amendments in the bill itself. In terms of additional amendments to Bill C-10, like Ms. Kane, I would expect Minister Toews is very interested in the deliberations of this committee and will await the results.

Senator Cowan: You cannot tell us today whether amendments will be proposed to the bill that we have now before us?

Ms. Campbell: The minister will want to await the results of this committee. The time for amendments is normally at clause-by-clause consideration of the committee.

Senator Cowan: With respect, as the chair made clear in the beginning, there is a lot of pressure from the government to get this done and the ministers several times said they wanted it done expeditiously. The point is simply that we need to know what we are dealing with. If we were preparing for questions and discussion on a dot on the bill before us and then at some later date there will be some amendments that will change it, and it is expected that it will all be done quickly, then we may be wasting our time dealing with provisions that will be amended. Can you undertake to get back to us within a day or two to indicate what amendments will be proposed, if there will be amendments, and make those available to us?

The Chair: If I could respond to that, I believe, as Ms. Kane has said and as you know from past experience, senator, those issues of amendments are dealt with during clause-by-clause consideration. I believe what we have heard from Ms. Kane is that what occurs in these hearings will be followed closely by everyone, including the ministers. I think it is very irregular and inappropriate to ask that of these witnesses. As you know, we typically deal with those issues at clause-by-clause consideration.

Senator Cowan: With respect, chair, if the witnesses know, they will tell us. If they do not know, they will tell us that.

The Chair: I think they have answered that. I think they said they do not know.

Senator Cowan: That is fine.

Senator Angus: Maybe you will tell us about any amendments you will be proposing and send me a copy, please.

Senator Cowan: I would be happy to.

Ms. Campbell: We can certainly convey the concerns of the committee to the ministers.

The Chair: Thank you for that.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: This is the first time I have sat on the committee as a senator. I wore a policeman’s cap for more than 39 years, but I am going to try and make that transition tonight.

I listened to several speakers and to the two ministers. You spoke about the bill. You say that young people’s rights will be respected. Of course, you want better protection for families. You spoke about rehabilitation programs as well, and I understand that even though the bill provides for stiffer sentences, provision is also made for rehabilitation.

Am I to understand that pursuant to this bill not all young people will go to jail and that rehabilitation and reinsertion programs have already been developed?

We hear a lot of things and I think that this is the proper forum to ask that fairly simple question and to shed some light on the bill.

[English]

Ms. Kingston: In terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as you know, one of the bases of the separate youth justice system is rehabilitation and reintegration, and that is not changing. In fact, it has been strengthened because of the decision of the Supreme Court that raised to the level of a principle of fundamental justice the recognition of the reduced moral blameworthiness of young people, and part of that is on the basis that they are still maturing. They are more amenable, some believe, to rehabilitation and reintegration. In fact, that is why it is such an important basis of the system. Some of the changes in the legislation target repeat violent young offenders, but the provisions that deal with rehabilitation and reintegration are there. They are strengthened and they are for all young people.

Senator Fraser: I have a raft of questions, but I will try to limit myself to two. It may take me a while to get the questions put, but the chair will lose patience if we eat up too much time, so maybe longer questions can elicit shorter answers.

Senator Angus: He is a very patient chair.

Senator Fraser: Yes, thank goodness.

The Chair: Your question is?

Senator Fraser: My first question is on the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It is true there is now the insertion of the reference to moral blameworthiness, which I think everyone has been very pleased to see. I am trying to square that with the new provisions on publication bans where now, under this bill, even someone getting a youth sentence — that is someone who presumably has been judged to be not only chronologically but inside his or her head still a young, maturing person — could still be denied the protection of a publication ban. I wonder if there are studies, if work was done, if an assessment was done to assess how these two things would interact.

Ms. Kingston: That is a very good question. In fact, when you look at the way that the provision is actually drafted, what we have now in the Youth Criminal Justice Act is a very, very limited ability to lift the publication ban, and it is being expanded. Right now it is basically restricted to those who receive an adult sentence or where there has been an application for an adult sentence but a youth sentence was given.

The amendment in the legislation says that when a young person is convicted of a violent offence and receives a youth sentence, the judge must consider lifting the publication ban, but there is a test and the threshold is very high. It says that the judge must be satisfied that the young person is going to commit another serious violent offence and , that that the name go out because it is necessary to protect the public. How it ties in with your question is that he or she must specifically take into account the principles in section 3 and section 38, that is, the main principles of the youth justice system based on rehabilitation, reintegration, diminished moral blameworthiness, and the sentencing provisions as well. The main purpose of the sentence is rehabilitation and reintegration. The judge has quite a balancing act to do, but it is quite a high threshold.

Yes, there is a provision that allows for it, but I think it will be only in exceptional cases after the judge goes through all those considerations.

Senator Fraser: My second question is for Mr. Saint-Denis. How nice to see you again, sir. I bet you thought you would never have to be back here.

Mr. Saint-Denis: I did think that at one point.

Senator Fraser: This question has to do with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

In his presentation and in his remarks to us this afternoon, Minister Nicholson said several times that the portion of Bill C-10 concerning the changes to the drugs act is designed to go after people who are in the business of trafficking. Now, to my lay ear that sounds like a commercial venture: "The business of trafficking." I was caught up short because, if my memory is correct, the legal definition of trafficking in the Criminal Code includes giving or even offering to give a controlled substance. To a lay ear, "the business of trafficking" sounds as if we are talking about relatively high volumes. However, I was reviewing a study the other day that was done for the Department of Justice on cases of prosecution for grow ops. I do not have the study right in front of me, but my memory is that close to 10 per cent of those prosecutions involved fewer than 10 plants. One involved as few as two plants, which I do not think would constitute high volume.

Am I missing something in this new version of the bill, which we have contemplated so many times, that would orient it solely toward the kind of people that ordinary folks think of when you use the word "trafficking" or "trafficker" as distinct from what is actually in the Criminal Code? Have I missed something new here?

Mr. Saint-Denis: No, you have not. The provisions of this bill dealing with the amendments are virtually identical to the ones you saw before in Bill S-10 with one modification, which was brought into play in the House of Commons recently, and that was to subtract the production of one to five plants inclusively from the possibility of obtaining a minimum penalty where there were aggravating factors. The provisions in this bill tend to focus primarily on the business of drug offences, as you say and as the minister said, but not exclusively. The minister focuses on that, but the bill is wider than that.

Senator Fraser: I am sure the minister's intent has been clear ever since this bill was first brought in that he does want to go after traffickers, but the bill itself, as written, can capture way more than just big scale traffickers. It can capture quite small people.

Mr. Saint-Denis: It can; that is correct.

Senator Fraser: Have I been sufficiently short, chair?

The Chair: Yes, that was very good. I appreciate your conciseness.

Senator Jaffer: The minister said generally an assessment is done under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. What I want to know specifically is whether an assessment was done on this bill and if we as a committee can see that assessment.

Ms. Kane: Are you referring to a particular aspect of Bill C-10? This is a compilation of nine bills. Was it the youth justice provisions?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Ms. Kingston: Yes, as part of the process of preparing a bill for consideration by cabinet, we must do certain assessments making sure that it would be consistent with the Charter, with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that was done in this case as part of the preparation for cabinet. It was contained in cabinet documents, and the assessment is yes, it is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Senator Jaffer: Would we be able to see a copy of that?

Ms. Kingston: I can check on that, but I think it was part of a cabinet confidence.

Senator Jaffer: My other set of questions is on mandatory minimum sentences. Have there been any assessments done as to the effectiveness of mandatory sentences?

Ms. Kane: There are various research reports on mandatory minimum sentences and none of them are entirely conclusive. It depends on the questions asked and the types of offences considered. There are some reports on the Department of Justice website. For example, a study was done that looked at the impact of the mandatory minimums in firearm-related offences and found that they had an impact on that conduct.

The other research that we have at the Department of Justice is not conclusive in indicating that they will bring about one result or another. However, it depends on what impact you are considering. The government has been quite clear that, as the minister stated today, mandatory minimum sentences are a guideline to the court in terms of what the starting point for sentences in serious offences will be.

In the case of Bill C-10, the mandatory minimums for the child sexual offences will provide more consistency across all the child sexual offences so that there will be a starting point. Similar conduct should receive similar sentences in the range between the mandatory minimum and the maximum. The mandatory minimum sentences imposed in the drug-related provisions apply where aggravating factors are present.

Building on Senator Fraser's question about being in the business, the law itself has not changed with respect to the offences of trafficking, importing and exporting, production and so on. The sentences have changed and the minimums apply where there are aggravating factors. There will not be a mandatory minimum in all of the offences but only where the aggravating factors exist, as the minister said earlier, for the purpose of providing more guidelines and stricter parameters in terms of the starting point for those sentences for a variety of reasons, including denunciation of that particular conduct for that particular offender.

Senator Jaffer: I want to clarify something. For me, a guideline means something that would be expected, but for mandatory sentencing there is no guideline. If you are convicted of a certain offence, you will mandatorily get a minimum two-year sentence. There is no guideline. I believe there is confusion here.

Ms. Kane: Yes, senator, that is an excellent point. It is not a guideline in the sense that it is optional. It is a starting point and, again, the starting point, if it is a mandatory minimum, should not become the sentence imposed on all offenders in all cases. It is the point from which you work up. There are principles in the Criminal Code with respect to the purposes and principles of sentencing, when sentences should be increased and so on. You can move between the minimum and the maximum, and some of these offences have very serious maximum penalties because they are very serious offences. That is what I meant in terms of the parameters or the guidelines between the starting point and the maximum. The courts have that discretion.

Senator Jaffer: Just to make it really clear, "mandatory" means they will get the minimum. There is no guideline to it.

Ms. Kane: It is the mandatory starting point.

Senator Jaffer: How will the mandatory minimum sentences on so many offences affect the plea bargaining process?

Ms. Kane: Perhaps my colleague would like to answer that in terms of the child sexual offences.

Carole Morency, Director and General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice Canada: With respect to the child sex offences amendments proposed by Bill C-10, currently there are 12 child-specific offences that carry mandatory minimal penalties. Offences that are charged more often where the victim is a child are under the general sexual assault provisions, for example, section 271. Eighty per cent of cases that were in police-reported incidents in 2008 were proceeded with under 271. There is no mandatory minimum penalty there, but if they had been proceeded with under one of the child specific offences there would have been a mandatory minimum.

The expectation is that by imposing mandatory minimum penalties in all sexual offences where the victim is a child, no matter how charged, they will all be treated consistently and you will have less scope for plea bargaining simply for the purpose of avoiding a mandatory minimum penalty.

Senator Jaffer: Have you done any assessments or studies on whether mandatory minimum sentences reduce crime?

Ms. Campbell: I believe there is a wide body of American research. In the past, this committee has heard from American experts on this issue. I would leave that with the committee.

Senator Jaffer: Have there been any Canadian studies?

Ms. Kane: I could refer you to my previous answer only in that there have been studies. The Department of Justice has looked at some of them and has done several of them. They do not conclude one way or the other. It depends on what questions are probed in those studies in terms of the objective of the sentence. Depending on how the research is done and on your objective for the sentence, different results can occur.

It is fairly clear in this legislation that these mandatory minimums are meant to do a variety of things, including level out the sentencing for serious crimes and provide a starting point to work from. Certainly, we in the department will be looking at the impact as we go forward to determine the impact of those particular mandatory minimums.

Senator Jaffer: I have asked you a number of questions on studies. Have you studied the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing on child sex offences, which you now want to increase?

Ms. Morency: As I mentioned, 12 offences carry mandatory minimum penalties right now where the victim is a child, 11 of which were imposed by Parliament in 2005. In developing what is now before you in Bill C-10, we looked at how cases were proceeding since that time to date, recognizing that is still a fairly short period of time for cases to work their way through the court systems. Nonetheless, some statistical evidence has been produced for this committee, in the last session I believe, by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics to show some changes in how sentencing has proceeded. Obviously, the first change would be with those offences that carry mandatory minimal penalties — no more conditional sentences of imprisonment for those offences.

We could see in early times an increase in the use of custodial imprisonment because house arrest or conditional sentence is no longer available. When looking at reported case law, again taking time for some of that to work through, we could also see in some cases that the imposition of mandatory minimum penalties has had the impact of shifting court analysis of where the starting point is. Obviously, that shifts it necessarily, but it also shifts the sentencing court’s perspective in saying, "Well, if before we thought this case was down here, now we have to start here." It shifts all of the analysis upwards.

Some cases have made it to an appellate level, which has provided very helpful instruction to courts as well. Since 2005 there has been the Supreme Court of Canada decision in L.M., a 2008 decision in Quebec, that looked at a very serious case of a father sexually abusing his child and the child's friend broadcasting it over the Internet for profit. The court said very clearly that the maximum penalty is not reserved for the fictional worst offender of the worst offenders. It is reserved for what is appropriate in the facts of each case.

A number of factors come together, such as pronouncements by higher courts in the intervening years since 2005. As well, we see cases shifting as they work their way through the court system and providing greater direction in terms of the range for these cases.

The other thing I would note is that also in 2005 the Criminal Code was amended to require sentencing courts to consider denunciation and deterrence as being primary in all cases involving violence against children. You can see this reflected routinely in all of these cases, suggesting that everyone has appreciated the impact in these cases.

The Chair: I have a supplementary question to Senator Jaffer's comments about mandatory minimums. It is my understanding that mandatory minimums are quite prevalent in the Criminal Code. They have been part of the Criminal Code for the last 30 or 40 years, as I believe they originated in the early 1970s. Can you confirm that? Can you give us an idea of how many mandatory minimum sentences are in the Criminal Code today?

Ms. Kane: Currently, there are 45 mandatory minimum penalties in the Criminal Code. Some have been added over the years. Of course, murder has a mandatory minimum penalty as well. Some were added as early as 1976, such as for betting and bookmaking. Some of the mandatory minimums are at the low end. We have had mandatory minimums for impaired driving for many, many years. Several others, as Ms. Morency mentioned, were added in 2005 with respect to child sex offences. Others were added in 2008 with respect to weapons trafficking. Firearms-related amendments, which included several mandatory minimum penalties, were added in 1995 when offences were committed with firearms. A considerable number currently deal with offences that we could consider quite serious. Once Bill C-10 is added, there will be others, but we have a basis of MMPs at this time.

The Chair: I have three other senators with supplementary questions on the same issue: Senator Cowan, Senator Nolin and Senator Fraser.

In the second round, we have Senator Runciman, Senator Baker and Senator Lang. We have approximately 30 minutes allocated for the remainder of this panel, if you could keep that in mind, please.

Senator Cowan: My question is not on the mandatory minimum.

The Chair: I thought it was a supplementary.

Senator Cowan: It was, but it has to do with the sentencing and statistics. It is a brief question.

Is there now or has there been a central body that collects sentencing data from across the country so that we would know the trends in sentencing?

Ms. Kane: Yes. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics collects a range of data from provinces and territories that participate in their various surveys. I am not sure whether your committee will hear from anyone from the CCJS but it often does. They could indicate the various sentencing-related reports that are collected.

There are usually a number of qualifiers in terms of what is collected. It is the most serious sentence imposed for the particular case that they are looking at, usually across nine jurisdictions. Not all jurisdictions participate, and certain levels of court participate. We get a good picture, but we do not get the complete picture of every sentence imposed in every case in Canada. Certainly, it does not tell us about other factors that went into the particular sentence. It is data about the offence, the sentence imposed and so on, and not about the relationship between victim and offender or other factors that the court took into account when imposing the particular sentence on the offender.

Senator Cowan: There is participation by provinces that wish to participate; is that correct?

Ms. Kane: Basically a body of provinces has always participated in the various surveys that the CCJS compiles.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: Ms. Morency, in the list of the number of cases you follow, I believe I understood that a Quebec court judge had questioned the constitutionality of mandatory minimum sentences.

Am I mistaken or is there in fact a case like that? Does this ring a bell? Unfortunately, I do not have the reference.

[English]

Ms. Morency: I am not aware of a case proceeding right now in Quebec on a Charter challenge to one of the child-specific mandatory minimum penalties.

Senator Nolin: I am not limiting it to child specific.

Ms. Morency: On the matter of child specific, I am not aware, but it does not mean that there is not one.

Ms. Kingston: I am aware of one case that is at an early stage, and it is looking at whether mandatory minimum penalties apply to young people who receive an adult sentence. I do not know if that might be what you are thinking.

Senator Nolin: Is it from Quebec?

Ms. Kingston: I am not sure.

The Chair: Ms. Kingston, if you are able to find the reference to that case and can provide it, we would appreciate that.

Thank you, Senator Nolin.

Senator Fraser: Coming back to the question I put to the ministers, if mandatory minimums are being established or being increased in a bill, while that bill is being drafted, how is the actual level of the proposed new or changed mandatory minimum sentence established? Who makes the decision and on what basis? I tried to find out before whether there is a set of guidelines or principles or a grid somewhere that indicates this kind of offence gets this kind of mandatory minimum. Is it done in silos? I look at this bill, and it looks more like silos.

Ms. Kane: When you look at this bill, the only MMPs are for child sexual offences and the drug offences. They are difficult groups to compare because, as noted, the mandatory minimums in the drug context are only applicable where there are aggravating factors. For child sexual offences, they are across the board. Every case of a child sexual offence will have a mandatory minimum. There is a consistency in the child sexual offence provisions, and Ms. Morency can take us through that momentarily.

Senator Fraser: I understand the coherence of the child sexual offence. I am trying to understand more generally. If we are going to mandatory minimums, how do we decide what to go for?

Ms. Kane: Various options are presented to the ministers when we are proceeding with any law reform package. We look at the other mandatory minimums already in the Criminal Code. We look at the maximums, and presently our law has bands of maximum offences. We have life, 14, 10 and 5 and 2 years, and the summary conviction is lower. We look at what the maximum is and what a relevant starting point would be for a mandatory minimum. Again, for child sexual offences, we do have parity there depending on the maximum and the minimum.

Ms. Morency: The other factor that may come into play, depending on the area because we are talking generally, may be in terms of what courts are doing now for sentences. We try to take a look at how sentencing courts are sentencing, and usually you will see a range for their starting point.

In the context of the child-specific offences and other offences where children are victims, you will see the rationale that Bill C-10 tries to bring forward is based on the maximum penalty, as the minister said. If the maximum penalty is life as, for example, aggravated sexual assault where the victim is under the age of 16, that would carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years. If the maximum is 14, also five years. For 10 years, the maximum on indictment would be one year. For five years, the mandatory minimum would be six months, and two years, on indictment, the mandatory minimum penalty would be 90 days. That is the approach. Then on summary conviction, there would be similar consistency between the minimum and the maximum.

If you compare that to what is in the Criminal Code now, there is a huge range from 14 days and up, so the intention here was to bring clarity and consistency across the board and a rationale between these offences as compared to other offences in the Criminal Code that also carry mandatory minimum penalties in other areas.

Senator Fraser: I am convinced that is all I am going to be able to figure out.

Senator Nolin: It is an interesting study that we have had in mind to do for many years.

Senator Fraser: We thought we would look at it but never had time.

Senator Runciman: I have a couple of quick questions for Ms. Campbell about amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Talking about part of the amendments here in terms of improving offender accountability, looking at things like correctional plans, could you speak to the connection between offender accountability and rehabilitation? What is the view of the ministry and the government with respect to how this approach can enhance rehabilitation efforts?

Ms. Campbell: The two are directly linked. One way of taking accountability is to acknowledge what you have done, why you did it, what the causes were and what you are going to do to ensure that you do not repeat that behaviour. That is a big component of offender accountability, and the correctional plan is really at the heart of the offender's time in federal custody.

When a person comes in, as I am sure you know from previous testimony, everyone is assessed in the federal system. Their risks and needs are identified, proper penitentiary placement is identified, and a correction plan is developed with the offender. That plan is essentially the blueprint for what they are going to do if they have a four-year sentence, what they would like to do and what they need to do during that period of time. Treatment programs will be identified in that plan, and progress will be measured against that plan. Normally, at least once a year, they will sit down with their correctional supervisor to review their progress against that plan, and of course that is also one of the foundations for parole board decision making.

That carries through even if they are released on conditional release. There are expectations in the community. You do not go out on parole and just get to do whatever you want. There is an expectation on parole that you are using your time either in school or in a job of some kind.

I think you have to see the two together, and Bill C-10 contains a number of measures to place greater emphasis on that. It is offender accountability very much oriented towards a plan, and the correctional plan will now be specifically referenced in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and how the plan is developed. There is now a whole section in the CCRA, whereas currently there is only passing reference to it, if any.

Senator Runciman: I have another question relating to that act, talking about the principles that relate to the operation of an institution. I have a particular interest in this subject matter, and the minister spoke about it as well, and that is mental health. There is a principle that correctional policies, programs and practices respect a person requiring mental health care. What are the practical implications to that? How does that function within an institution? How do you apply that?

Ms. Campbell: You are referring to the principles that are intended to guide the Correctional Service of Canada in its operations. Those principles, which originate from 1992, originally referred to the special needs of women and Aboriginal peoples in custody. The issue of mental health has become so pervasive and so severe that the feeling of the government was that it required that additional emphasis in the principles.

Now, principles are guidance, as the lawyers will be quick to point out, but they send a very important message to the service, to people doing time and I think to the public as well. The practical implications are to really help focus attention on this issue.

When we talk about mental illness, of course, as in society, there is a wide spectrum. It includes everything from relatively minor impairments to very severe mental illness. It is used as a catch-all as well to include people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which is a very large issue in corrections. I think it is a bit of an iceberg issue, if you like, insofar as we really only see the tip of it.

With respect to putting things in the principles, that is the public statement about what is important in the system and how it operates. Identifying mental health as a priority issue will, I think, direct resources and people's activities in the system, and it is a message to the public that that group needs special treatment and special care.

Senator Runciman: Ms. Kingston, I do not quite understand this and I hope you can elaborate. One of the provinces has expressed concern related to the phrase "long-term protection of the public." That is flowing from Commissioner Nunn's recommendations, I understand. Can you elaborate on the need for that change, why Commissioner Nunn felt it was needed, and how it enhances public safety?

Ms. Kingston: I believe Justice Nunn was looking at the situation, as the minister mentioned, of a young person spinning out of control, repeating a number of offences that were not violent but were escalating. The main concern was stopping that repeat violent offending before it got more serious. As part of that, he felt that even though the statement of purpose and principles was there, that that spoke about the things that led to long-term protection of society. He felt that it was important to highlight protection of society as one of the main principles. As a result of that, the provision is reordered.

Currently, the YCJA talks about holding young people accountable, crime prevention, and rehabilitation and reintegration leading to long-term protection of society. It was never meant to exclude short-term protection, but I think eliminating the words "long-term protection" is meant to encompass both of those notions so that it is considered both long-term and short-term protection. Some of the concern that has been expressed around that is from a province that really does rely a lot on rehabilitation and reintegration. There is concern with changes to those provisions, but they are not intended to detract from the work that is being done in rehabilitation or reintegration. As I mentioned earlier, those principles that are part of that same statement are still in the legislation and in fact are strengthened.

Senator Runciman: It would be inappropriate to try to get an explanation with respect to the provincial position on this and have a better understanding of the concern, but hopefully we will have a witness from that province who can elaborate on that because I am having difficulty understanding it as well.

Senator Baker: Witness, you are doing a great job giving testimony here today. It is very difficult to give testimony when you have such a controversial bill before the Senate.

The last witness mentioned a moment ago, when Senator Runciman, former Solicitor General for the Province of Ontario, was asking about the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the changes, that it really only applies to repeat offenders or that one of the objects of the Nunn commission was repeat offenders. However, look at what is happening in this bill. We have not seen these changes before. I just had a look at them. To me, it is a stark contrast to what was there before. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the section is entitled "Detention Before Sentencing." We are talking now about people who are detained but are not convicted. If you look at the adult provisions regarding judicial interim release, section 515 of the Criminal Code, you see that there is a presumption. In fact, the word is "shall" is used. The judge shall release someone unless evidence is given to the contrary. The judge shall even release them after that if conditions can be placed upon that person for their release.

When you look at the Youth Criminal Justice Act with these changes, what do you see? The first words that you see under these amendments are:

A youth justice court judge or a justice may order that a young person be detained in custody only if

(a) the young person has been charged with

(i) a serious offence, or

(ii) an offence other than a serious offence, if they have a history that indicates a pattern of either outstanding charges or findings of guilt.

Further up the page you define what a serious offence is.

"serious offence" means an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for five years or more."

Mischief, altering data, are 10 years maximum.

Am I misreading this? The first thing a judge does now is to look at a youth who is charged. There are no repeat offences; this is not a repeat person; this person has no history before the court. However, if the person has been charged with a serious offence — I am just grabbing "mischief" out of the air, but there are many other examples.

It continues on and then repeats the same standard, relatively speaking, as that in 515(10)(a), (b) and (c) of the Criminal Code, first, second and tertiary grounds.

The impression I am getting from this is that for a youth of 18 years of age or younger, if it is the day after their birthday, they are an adult under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and are treated differently from an adult, which is contrary to our Charter, contrary to our Human Rights Act. You cannot discriminate on the basis of age.

Has this been looked at or can you answer this question? You do not have to answer this question if you do not want to. It is properly put to the minister. Would you like to make any comments on it?

Ms. Kingston: You have made a number of comments and I am not exactly sure of the question, but I could comment on the provisions.

Senator Baker: I understand that.

Ms. Kingston: Again, the change is to one section of the pretrial detention provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Senator Baker: I noticed that.

Ms. Kingston: The Youth Criminal Justice Act has extra protections for young people in terms of pretrial detention. For example, it says a young person shall not be detained in custody prior to sentence as a substitute for appropriate child protection, mental health or other such measures, because there is a problem in practice; if young people do not have anywhere to go they throw them in pretrial detention. It is specifically prohibited for young people.

In terms of the test for pretrial detention, the change that is brought in is to address the recommendation of the Nunn commission. It would not be for one mischief. If this young person is spinning out of control, with a whole series of less serious offences, that is why we see the wording "have a history that indicates a pattern of outstanding charges or findings of guilt."

Senator Baker: I understand that.

Ms. Kingston: It is not quite as draconian as you might have presented.

Senator Baker: Let me remind you of the exact words:

(a) the young person has been charged with

(i) a serious offence, or . . .

— or an offence that shows a history of repeat. It is one or the other, you see.

Ms. Kingston: Yes. If I could add, that amendment was just made to the bill. Provincial representatives who appeared before the committee argued that without that change it was too narrow, and that amendment was then made. It was one of the three amendments that were made between Bill C-4 and Bill C-10. That is the reason it is there. It was considered too narrow without that.

Senator Baker: Yes. It is unfortunate that the people who recommended the change did not look at what happens if you are beyond the age of 18.

Ms. Kingston: The adult Criminal Code provisions do apply and the new test actually incorporates the grounds in the Criminal Code, but they must be read in terms of the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Senator Baker: That is right. A judge looks at this change and sees if someone has committed a serious offence. What is a serious offence? Here is a list of serious offences, or has been a repeat offender, and that is the start. You look to your adult and the starting point is "shall be released."

Ms. Kane: Senator, as you mentioned, this is just the starting point.

Senator Baker: The starting point is very important.

Ms. Kane: The starting point is the nature of the offence you have committed, but the judge may order that a youth be detained. It is not "must" order or "shall" order.

I thought you were suggesting earlier that perhaps we had flipped the whole thing on its head so that there was a different regime for adults and youth.

Senator Baker: No.

Ms. Kane: It is worded differently. It is discretion for the judge to detain a youth, but only where all of these things are met. As you will see if you read (b), there is a very strict set of criteria for when you have to detain a person, when they cannot possibly be managed in the community, pending their trial date.

Senator Baker: Yes.

Ms. Kane: I just wanted to make sure.

Senator Baker: I read that, but I point out to you that the word "may" is here, but when you look at the adult provisions under 515 it is "shall," "shall release."

Ms. Kane: "Shall release unless," and this is "may detain," "only if," so it is semantics.

Senator Baker: "May" and "shall" are not exactly the same.

Looking at the provisions for record suspension, has any thought ever been given to applying the provision to courts, provincial institutions and police forces?

I note that the bill states in proposed subsection 6(2) of the Criminal Records Act:

A record of a conviction in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered that is in the custody of the Commissioner —

— that is the RCMP commissioner —

— or of any department or agency of the Government of Canada shall be kept separate . . . .

The registration of the Criminal Records Act does not stretch so far as to extend to provincial court records and records of provincial government departments.

Daryl Churney, Director, Corrections Policy, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: You are correct, senator. The Criminal Records Act only extends to federal departments and agencies.

Senator Baker: I imagine you tell the person applying for the pardon in writing that this only applies to their record in the hands of the RCMP or a federal institution.

Mr. Churney: That is correct.

Senator Baker: When someone gets a pardon or record suspension, they think their record has disappeared. It has not. It could be in all sorts of provincial government offices, provincial police forces. It could be anywhere. Has any thought, do you know, been given to having an authority here to suppress all records that are everywhere?

Mr. Churney: I do not know that that consideration has been given, but I would say that people who apply for pardons, or in the future for record suspensions, are made aware that their record is only sealed at the federal level and that it may always be released upon disclosure by authority of the federal Minister of Public Safety in certain circumstances. They are informed that it is sealed and kept separate, but they are made aware that it does not entirely disappear.

Senator Baker: I am asking about this, Mr. Chair, is because the policemen of our country are now subjected to new rules concerning disclosure of any previous convictions that they have had for which a discharge has been given, for example — which is now covered under your pardon section — and any pardons given. It is really problematic for our police forces that have to disclose everything, including subjects that have been pardoned at the federal level, but all of the records that exist in the provincial court.

Ms. Campbell: There is a jurisdictional issue, Senator Baker, and as well a practical issue. If a case has been reported in the media, it would be extraordinarily difficult to contain that information at any subsequent point.

Court records are public documents, generally. There are additional protections in the Canadian Human Rights Act, I think, for people with pardoned criminal records. Part of it is jurisdiction of the federal government and part of it is just practical. I think the parole board and the Department of Public Safety try to make it clear to people what a pardon or record suspension means and what it does not mean, particularly so that they avoid unpleasant surprises at times.

Senator Baker: Thank you for your answers.

Senator Lang: Mr. Chair, I would like to expand a little further on what Senator Baker brought to the floor. I think there is a misunderstanding with those who have had a record and have gone through the process of getting a pardon. When they go to cross the line into the United States, they suddenly find that, no, they cannot come in because it was a felony and they have not been informed of that.

From my understanding of the technical side — and I am trying to remember my conversation with this one individual — they have to apply every five years. I am not going to ask for a response, but I think the government and those who are responsible should look at that to see what they can do in this age of computers and information to make it easier for people so they do not get this surprise we are talking about. It is easy for us to talk about that surprise around this table because we are not the ones who were surprised. However, when you are the one who has been surprised, it can be very disruptive to your personal life and emotionally.

I had a situation where an individual could not go into the United States and there was a very serious family matter on the other side. I would just prevail upon the witnesses and whatever departments are involved to take this seriously as an issue that affects many people.

I would like to move over to another area that I think is important and should be expanded upon. The Minister of Public Safety spoke about rehabilitation. Unfortunately this bill, in many ways, does not get the necessary attention in this area because it seems that we want to talk about drugs and a few other items but not about rehabilitation in a public forum. Most of us around this table, if not all, want to see individuals who have been incarcerated have the opportunity to come back into civilian life, be productive citizens and hopefully have a happy future.

Comments were made earlier about the federal penitentiary system and that you are looking at furthering rehabilitation into training and what can be provided to these inmates over the period of time they are incarcerated so they can come out with skills they can put forward when they become private citizens. I would like Ms. Campbell to expand further on exactly what we are doing and the plans that are in the works in that respect.

The other area I would like you to talk about to some degree, because time is short, is the drug treatment centres. Once again, it is a form of rehabilitation. I understand six are in place right now across the country. I do not know if any of the witnesses can speak to this, but I would like to know if we are actually getting positive results from these programs where we see individuals that have gone into them and have not come back into the judicial system.

Secondly, those programs are only in major centres across the country. I come from the Yukon. Is there work being done in other jurisdictions, both in the northern parts of the provinces and the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon, to work with the territorial and provincial governments to see if we can get some locations a little closer? Those individuals would then have the same opportunities as those in the city of Vancouver or the city of Ottawa, for that matter.

Ms. Campbell: On rehabilitation, Minister Toews, in particular, is very concerned about people coming out better than they went in. That includes being able to earn a living. He has placed much emphasis with officials on enhancing the training programs.

We have people doing time who have skills training. They are going to go back out and into their field of work, and they do not need much assistance other than in relation to personal issues, perhaps. However, we have people with multiple needs, and they are the biggest challenge. They may have absolutely no work skills or, indeed, work experience at all. In addition, they may have addiction issues, mental health problems and a chaotic home situation. The Correctional Service has a huge job then. They are expected, by many people, to take this individual, work on all of those areas, and send someone back out who is able to function. That is a huge task. It is a task that they tackle every single day, within the resources that they have.

We were looking, along with colleagues and other government departments, at current labour market analyses. We do not want to be training people to be plumbers if there are way too many plumbers in the country already, so that level of detail goes into it. Where are the jobs in Canada? What are the skills needed now and for the future? How do we make sure that the person not only has the job skills but is not going to start a fight the first day on the job or find that they cannot work five days in a row because of some addiction issue? All of those issues have to be addressed along with the skills training.

You see reference to it here in Bill C-10, in the correctional plan. Mr. Churney and I are spending quite a bit of our time looking at new programs, even things as simple as making sure that when the person is released to the street they have photo ID in their pocket. It is very hard for a person to do anything in terms of getting back into the community if they do not have something as simple as photo ID. People do not think about small things like that that are challenges for the system.

In terms of treatment programs, we have a lot of difficulty attracting professionals to come and work in penitentiaries, and there are a lot of reasons for that. The service has been very aggressive about recruitment — trying to get professionals and trying to get them to stay — but that is a big issue. We could have all the money in the world, but we have got to have nurses, doctors, psychologists and what have you who are interested in coming and working in a very challenging environment. I put that out as a marker. It is not just a question of getting the resources.

Mr. Saint-Denis: On the question of drug courts, there have been evaluations of, I think, the Toronto and the Vancouver drug courts, and there have been successes. Obviously, there are addicts who have successfully completed the treatment programs there. In terms of expanding the level or the number of drug courts, to my knowledge, there is nothing in the works at the moment, but you should know that the drug court program started out with one pilot project in Toronto. It was expanded to Vancouver, and then there was a general call to the provinces and municipalities to self-identify an interest in setting up some of these courts. Only a small number of municipalities indicated an interest. We pursued courts in those municipalities that did express an interest. Since then, my understanding is that some municipalities have indicated an interest, but we have not sought out an expansion of the existing number of courts. That may come up later on, but, at the moment, it is not something we are contemplating.

Senator Lang: If there is an application put forward to your department, would you have to consider all the merits of that application and a further expansion on the number of drug treatment centres in view of the legislation?

Mr. Saint-Denis: A municipality could submit an application, but my understanding right now is that we are not really considering expanding the number of existing courts. That may change with time, but right now my understanding is that that is not the situation.

The Chair: Mr. Saint-Denis, could you briefly explain the significance of drug treatment courts and approved provincial facilities that relate to drug rehabilitation? Why are they significant, and how do they relate to, in particular, the mandatory minimum sentences that can occur under the drug provisions of Bill C-10? Why is that issue important?

Mr. Saint-Denis: From the perspective of this legislation, it is important because it would allow a judge to impose a penalty other than a minimum penalty if an offender — someone who is recognized as committing the offence, who has pleaded guilty — successfully completes the treatment program. From the perspective of this legislation, that is very key.

In terms of the distinction between the drug courts and the more general treatment programs, there are very few drug treatment courts. There are only six of them. The treatment programs cover the waterfront. They are not just for drugs. They can be for mental health and other types of issues that the individual may have, and those programs are much more available. They are pretty well scattered across the country in many municipalities, so there is a greater possibility for the convicted offender to be sent to one of these types of treatment programs. In the case of drug treatment courts, the opportunity is much more limited.

The Chair: As you have said, if the offender chose to receive that rehabilitative service, they could avoid the mandatory minimum penalty that otherwise would apply.

Mr. Saint-Denis: Providing he successfully completes the treatment, that is correct.

The Chair: That is very good.

Colleagues, that concludes our questions. To each of you who have been very patient with us and very helpful to us today, I truly want to thank you. There were so many issues and so many questions, but you have done very well in providing us with responses. I thank you sincerely for that.

Colleagues, we will reconvene tomorrow morning at 10:30, in this room.

(The committee adjourned.)