OTTAWA, Thursday, February 2, 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 10:30 a.m. to
give consideration to the bill.
Senator John D. Wallace (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good morning and welcome, Senate
colleagues, invited guests and members of the general public who are viewing
today's hearing on the CPAC television network. I am John Wallace, a senator
from New Brunswick, and I am Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal
and Constitutional Affairs.
Today we continue 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 previous Third Session of the Fortieth Parliament.
Bill C-10 was 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. This bill
was referred to this committee by the Senate on December 16, 2011, for
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 will also be available via webcast on the www.parl.gc.ca website.
In addition to representatives and officials
from the federal, provincial and territorial governments, we will be hearing
testimony from victims of crime and their families, academics, legal
experts, law enforcement specialists, 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 the
witnesses can be found on the www.parl.gc.ca website under the heading
Before introducing our guests who have joined
us today, I would first invite each of our Senate committee members to
introduce themselves, if they would, and identify the regions that they
represent, beginning with Senator Fraser.
Senator Fraser: My name is Joan Fraser. I
represent Quebec, and I am the deputy chair of the committee.
Senator Baker: George Baker, Newfoundland
Senator Joyal: Serge Joyal from Quebec.
Senator Chaput: Maria Chaput from Manitoba.
Senator Jaffer: Mobina Jaffer, from British
Senator Lang: Dan Lang, Yukon.
Senator Meredith: Don Meredith, Ontario.
Senator Angus: David Angus, Quebec.
Senator Boisvenu: Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu,
Senator Frum: Linda Frum, Ontario.
Senator Runciman: Bob Runciman, Thousand
Islands and Rideau Lakes, Ontario.
The Chair: To begin or public hearings
today, I am pleased to welcome the Honourable Daniel Shewchuk, the Minister
of Justice for the Government of Nunavut. Accompanying the minister is
Norman Tarnow, Deputy Minister of Justice for the Government of Nunavut, and
Stephen Mansell, Director of Policy and Planning.
Minister Shewchuk, welcome to the Senate. I
understand you have an opening statement to make. Following your statement,
I am sure there will be many questions of interest from senators.
Hon. Daniel Shewchuk, Minister of Justice,
Government of Nunavut: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. First, I would
like to say it is a privilege to be here in front of you and your committee
today. It is an honour for us from Nunavut. I think it is one of the first
times we have come down to appear before the Senate.
To put a little perspective on our great
territory, I would like to tell you something to keep in the back of your
mind when I am making my presentation and you follow with questions.
Nunavut is our newest territory, formed in
1999. It is a vast territory. It is one fifth the land mass of this country,
and it is two thirds the coastline of this country. Keep that in mind when
you are listening to us.
We have 25 communities spread across that vast
territory, and we are very proud of each community and the citizens that
live in those communities. With that, I would like to make my statement.
I welcome this opportunity to appear before the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on an issue
that is important to the Government of Nunavut, to Nunavummiut and, indeed,
to Canadians as a whole — the implications of Bill C-10, the proposed safe
streets and communities act. More specifically, I want to address its impact
on Nunavut and its people.
Several other justice ministers have expressed
concern about the fiscal and social effects of this bill. Nunavut is likely
to be the most affected by the new legal regime created by Bill C-10,
particularly as it relates to Nunavummiut offenders and the reduction of our
judges' discretion in exercising their sentencing functions.
As you are aware, the Canadian crime rate has
generally been in decline. Sadly, Nunavut has been an exception to this
trend. The territory has the highest violent crime rate of all Canadian
jurisdictions, six times higher than the national average. Bill C-10's
emphasis on incarceration through its mandatory minimum sentencing
provisions will guarantee an influx of prisoners into our territorial jails,
which are already overcrowded and unsafe, and will create an even larger
backlog in our courthouse.
At the present time, over 15 outstanding cases
of murder and manslaughter are before the Nunavut Court of Justice. These
are the most severe criminal justice matters handled by our judiciary. These
trials take place in communities separated by hundreds or thousands of
kilometres and require the deployment of tremendous human logistical
resources, which is very much a challenge in the North. The mandatory
minimum sentencing provisions of the bill will add to the challenges we face
in our already overburdened court system. Similar consequences will be felt
in our correctional system.
The Baffin Correctional Centre, or BCC, is a
minimum security facility and currently the only adult male correctional
facility in operation in Nunavut. BCC was built in 1984 for 48 inmates but
now regularly holds 90 to 100 inmates. A new facility of 48 beds in Rankin
Inlet is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012. This institutional bed
space will be automatically filled to meet our overcrowding challenges and
to repatriate some of the Nunavut offenders who we have had sent to the
Northwest Territories and Ontario because we have not had the space for them
To compensate for the overcrowding in our
correctional facility, an average of 55 offenders have been sent to southern
correctional facilities at an annual cost of $4.7 million. It is very
difficult to provide culturally appropriate programming or counselling for
Inuit offenders outside of Nunavut.
The proposed bill will result in more
overcrowding in Nunavut and more Inuit offenders being sent to southern
facilities. These additional inmates and court cases will result in greater
operational costs for our Corrections and Court Services Divisions and add
to the already immense capital cost of a new correctional facility in
Iqaluit by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Most Nunavut offenders caught up in the
criminal justice system deal with the cyclical repercussions of family
violence, poverty, substance and alcohol abuse, and often mental illness.
Bill C-10 will divert the financial resources that we require to address the
root causes of criminal behaviour and to fund rehabilitation programs to
support a punishment model that will add further stress to our already
overburdened corrections infrastructure and courts.
A majority of the crime committed in Nunavut is
fuelled by alcohol abuse, a sign that underlying conditions drive our high
crime rates. A recent pilot program partnering our Department of Health and
Social Services and the RCMP has demonstrated that most habitually
intoxicated people are prepared to seek help for their addiction if they
know where to go and what to do. In the first six months of the program, 147
addicted people were arrested at least twice. Seventy-eight of them agreed
to get help. For those 78, 67 of them have not been back into custody. This
is a small example of the cooperation and commitment of our institutions and
of the benefits of our rehabilitative-focused justice strategy that is
working in Nunavut.
Nunavut, however, needs sustainable solutions
to meet these challenging issues through appropriate funding levels for
development and infrastructure. We also need our judiciary to have the
flexibility to allow us to try these types of programs and to design
programs that work because incarceration is not the long-term solution to
We all agree that we should work together to
make our country a safer and more just place for everyone. Recognizing the
roots of criminal behaviour and addressing these concerns through treatment
and programming is a more cost-effective strategy than long, inflexible
Many studies have found that harsher criminal
justice sanctions actually increase the likelihood of repeat offenders and
that higher incarceration rates do not equate to lower crime rates.
Similarly, policy-makers south of our borders and in Australia have realized
that jailing more people for longer periods of time is costly and
ineffective. Tough mandatory minimums in Texas and California have resulted
in prison overcrowding and a strain on the justice system that has done
little to decrease crime rates. We must learn from the experience of these
Bill C-10's emphasis on increased jail time and
mandatory minimums will have a specific effect on Nunavut, home of the most
Inuit in Canada and the creation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Some
Bill C-10 provisions conflict with the values and principles of Nunavut's
justice system, which is based on traditional Inuit concepts of justice and
rehabilitation. Justice in Nunavut has always been intended to reflect the
population and the culture of the territory, which is predominantly Inuit.
Incarceration does not equate to the values of the people who have been
living off the land for thousands of years. As well, mandatory minimums do
not allow for traditional community and elder involvement in the justice
system, as the outcome is predetermined by the minimum mandatory sentence,
regardless of community opinion or involvement.
The importance of Inuit traditional justice has
been recognized by our Nunavut Court of Justice in its jurisprudence, as
have Inuit societal values, practised long before the creation of our
country. Reducing our judges' discretion by mandating minimum sentencing for
many of the offenses committed in Nunavut will have an impact on the
application of alternative sentencing and Inuit traditional,
community-based, restorative justice measures.
This impact will also be felt in the
application of recognized sentencing principles developed by the Supreme
Court of Canada in the R. v. Gladue case. The sentencing principles
outlined in Gladue are a measured and appropriate response to the
dramatic overrepresentation of Aboriginal Canadians within the Canadian
justice system and to the disadvantages that historical abuse and poverty
pose for many Aboriginal people in Canada. The Gladue principles do
not mean that Aboriginal offenders will always receive less harsh sentences.
They simply mean that the court must look at the realities of life of
Aboriginal Canadians and take these issues into account when imposing a
In Nunavut, the court has taken Gladue
into account in a good number of cases in order to come to just and fair
sentences. Inuit in Canada face historical and socio-economic challenges
that Gladue and the Nunavut Court of Justice mandate should be taken
into account when sentencing an Inuit offender. Mandatory minimum sentencing
ignores the Gladue case law and ties the court's hands when dealing
with Aboriginal offenders.
The Government of Nunavut believes that taking
away discretion from judges is not the right approach. Our Nunavut-based
judges play a critical role in the operation of our criminal justice system
in Nunavut. The mandatory minimum sentences proposed by Bill C-10 would
remove the discretion from sentencing judges to effectively determine which
sentence can best balance all fundamental objectives of sentencing.
Prohibiting our judges from exercising their discretion to determine an
appropriate sentence for an offender before them is contrary to the spirit
and the letter of a large body of jurisprudence that recognizes the unique
position of sentencing judges in assessing and determining the most
appropriate sentence in individual cases.
There are good reasons for conferring
discretion on a judge charged with imposing a fit sentence. The judge has
heard the particular circumstances and evidence of the offence and the
offender and is best able to craft a sentence that will balance all of the
goals of sentencing. The judge is also best equipped to assess what will
address the needs and circumstances of the community where the crime
occurred. This argument is especially strong in Nunavut, where our resident
judges have become expert in dealing with the unique circumstances and the
population of our territory. The "one size fits all" solution of mandatory
minimum sentencing does not fit in a unique region of Canada such as ours.
The Criminal Code contains a statutory
acknowledgement of the principle of restraint, stating that the purpose of
sentencing is to separate offenders from society only where necessary.
Section 718.1 of the Criminal Code states that proportionality is the
fundamental principle of sentencing and that a sentence must be
proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of the
responsibility of the offender. Proportionality reflects the delicate
balance that must be achieved in fashioning a just sentence. Nunavut
respectfully submits that Bill C-10 as it reads does not strike this
In addition to being the newest territory in
Canada, Nunavut also has the youngest population in Canada and the most
rapid population growth. The tougher youth crime measures in Bill C-10 will
mean that more of our young people will end up incarcerated. This will have
a serious impact on our communities and on our families. With what we are
learning about the benefits of addressing the root causes of criminal
behaviour through the treatment of underlying substance abuse, locking up
more youth would be counterproductive.
The decision to allow the publishing of young
offenders' names causes us concern as this will cause a stigma and
embarrassment for our young persons and their families in Nunavut in very
small, interconnected communities. Additionally, Bill C-10 requires an
assessment to determine the impact of publishing a young offender's name. We
in Nunavut do not have the facilities or specialists needed to conduct this
type of assessment. We will therefore be forced to fly young offenders south
for the required testing, at a tremendous cost.
Finally, I would like to speak of consultation.
Bill C-10 will clearly have a great effect on each and every province and
territory both socially and financially. The amendments to the Criminal Code
in the bill are a major change in the sentencing regime in this country and
signal a shift in the general philosophy behind our criminal justice system.
As well, as previously outlined, mandatory minimum sentencing and tougher
penalties will result in greater costs for the provinces and territories, as
their jails and courts see an influx of new clients. A transformative bill
of this importance should be the subject of extensive consultation with all
stakeholders, particularly provinces and territories.
Bill C-10 was introduced in September 2011 and
was passed by the House of Commons in December. At no time was our
government asked for its opinion or invited to address the House of Common's
committee. While I thank this committee for the opportunity to speak, more
consultation prior to the introduction and passage of Bill C-10 in the lower
house should have occurred. Prior to introducing any substantive bill, our
government consults with any and all interested parties. Bill C-10 was never
given a chance to be molded and improved by provincial and territorial
experience and comment. We strongly believe that, if given the chance, our
government and our provincial and territorial colleagues could have offered
support and counsel that would have lessened the cost of this bill and
helped the federal government to better appreciate our concerns about
All indications are that the Government of
Canada intends to implement the measures of Bill C-10. I am therefore asking
you to take into account that this decision and this bill will no doubt
disproportionately affect Nunavut. I therefore ask that the Government of
Canada work with the Government of Nunavut to ensure Nunavut is given the
financial support needed to tackle the new judicial and correctional
measures that Bill C-10 will bring about. In the meantime, I ask that the
implementation of this bill be put off to allow adequate time for the
Government of Nunavut, in conjunction with the Government of Canada, to
develop the necessary infrastructure to accommodate this new burden on our
justice and corrections system.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for allowing us
to be here today.
The Chair: Thank you for those comments,
minister. We will now proceed to questions from our committee members,
beginning with Deputy Chair Senator Fraser.
Senator Fraser: Welcome again, minister.
You made several very interesting points. Let me begin, if I may, with the
question of consultation between the federal and territorial governments.
We have been told a number of times that at
meetings of federal-provincial-territorial justice ministers, many if not
most of the provisions in this bill had been requested by at least
provincial ministers. I cannot swear that the territories were included in
that statement. Was Nunavut at those conferences and, if so, what position
did it take?
Mr. Shewchuk: I know there has been minimal
consultation, but I will let my deputy minister answer further. Just for all
of you, I am a brand new Minister of Justice in our government. I have only
been there for two months, but Deputy Minister Tarnow has been around, and I
will let him answer that question.
Norman Tarnow, Acting Deputy Minister of
Justice, Government of Nunavut: As you noted, there have been
discussions at the level of officials concerning some of the measures. We
have not had an opportunity at the political level to give the kind of input
that we needed to do. As you know, the government decided it wanted to
implement, put into effect or pass these measures very quickly following the
last election. I think that is part of our problem. It has just been too
Senator Fraser: On a slightly different
topic, from the broad thrust of your presentation, minister, and from what
little I know about Nunavut, which is not nearly enough, I would assume that
your primary concerns with this bill would relate to the Controlled Drugs
and Substances Act, some of the amendments to the Criminal Code, and the
Youth Criminal Justice Act. Would that be fair?
Mr. Shewchuk: Yes, it would be fair to say
those are ones we are concerned with. The real concern that addresses all
those issues —
Senator Fraser: Mandatory minimums?
Mr. Shewchuk: Exactly.
Senator Fraser: If it were possible to
amend this bill, trying to square circles here, given that the government
really believes in the mandatory minimum schema it has outlined, would your
problem be addressed if a clause were to be inserted to restore judicial
discretion, particularly in the case of Aboriginal offenders? Would that
meet your needs?
Mr. Shewchuk: That would absolutely meet
our needs. One of the main messages we are bringing here today is that we
would very much like the flexibility to be present in our court system with
our judges to deal with our issues and our differences in Nunavut in the way
our justice system works. You stated it very well. A clause like that would
be wonderful for us.
Senator Runciman: Welcome, minister. I just
wanted to reference a couple of comments you made about crime rates. We
heard statistics here yesterday in terms of the areas addressed by this
legislation that indicated those rates are on the increase. General crime
rates, using Statistics Canada data, may be on the decline, but the areas
impacted by this legislation are in fact increasing.
You talked about the population in your
facilities right now. How many of those are on remand? Can you give us a
breakdown of how many inmates are sentenced and how many are on remand?
Mr. Shewchuk: That is a very good question.
Yes, our crime rates are high compared to the national average, especially
with respect to substance abuse. Our men's facility in Iqaluit right now, as
I said, is built for 48 inmates, and we have a population there of close to
100. Approximately 67 per cent of those are on remand, waiting to go through
the court system.
It is actually a very critical situation. I
went on a tour of the facility just 10 days ago, and it has actually gotten
to the point where we have to be concerned about the safety of our inmates
and of the people who work there.
Senator Runciman: Has the legislation
brought in last year with respect to the removal of the 2-for-1 credit had
no impact on the remand population? What is the average stay in your
Mr. Shewchuk: I will have Mr. Tarnow answer
Mr. Tarnow: The stay is too long at the
Senator Runciman: Do you have a number?
Mr. Tarnow: I do not have the number
offhand here, but it is a big problem.
Senator Runciman: Is that as a result of a
lack of court facilities? What is the reason? If these are primarily serious
offences, can a justice of the peace deal with them? I am curious about why
this would be a clogging problem, if you will.
Mr. Tarnow: I have just been given some
information. Ten to fourteen months is the average.
Senator Runciman: That is high. I would
have to take a look at the breakdown of the offences, but in Ontario, for
instance, the average stay is about 75 days in terms of a sentenced inmate.
Are you talking about mostly remands that are clogging the system up in
terms of lengthy waits to go to trial?
Mr. Tarnow: Yes.
Mr. Shewchuk: You are absolutely right, the
numbers are high. You have to appreciate that many waiting in remand are
serious offences, so the caseload on our judges is absolutely huge.
We have been privileged to have been provided
two more federal judges, which will help our system and our caseload. Our
circuit courts have to travel vast expanses, thousands of miles, and we have
a lot of barriers that come into play, such as weather, travel and
airplanes. Therefore, when a court is cancelled, it is a huge process to
schedule that court again. There are a lot of variables and factors that
contribute to the difficulty.
Senator Runciman: You mentioned your
concern about mandatory minimum penalties. I think judges have discretion
with respect to substance abuse treatment programs. They can look at that as
an option to mandatory minimums. If an accused successfully completes an
abuse treatment program, they can escape the mandatory minimums.
The other area with respect to mandatory
minimums really, in my view, only affects drug dealers and child molesters.
They will not impose as heavy a burden as I think you are concerned about.
I am intrigued about your costs in corrections
as well. Do you have an average cost on an annual basis for the
incarceration of an inmate? You talked about 55 inmates going south at a
cost of $4.7 million, so you are getting close to $90,000 per inmate. What
is the cost to house an inmate in your jurisdiction on a yearly basis?
Mr. Shewchuk: I can tell you that it is
probably an average of $200 per day within our territory. The inmates that
we send south to Ontario cost us an average of $190 per day, and the ones we
have housed in Yellowknife are about $240 per day.
Senator Runciman: You talked about
treatment programs as well. I am not personally opposed to the idea of using
other jurisdictions to provide services. In terms of mental health treatment
for corrections inmates, for example, smaller jurisdictions simply do not
have the wherewithal to provide everything across the map, so I think
utilization of other jurisdictions' resources is a wise policy decision, at
least one that should be considered.
I have a number of other questions, but I will
ask them in the second round.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you for being here,
minister. When I first started practising law, I worked for a man who used
to be a well-known Supreme Court justice, Tommy Dohm. He taught me to always
remember that when you have an accused in front of you, you do not throw the
key away. Sooner or later, the majority of people do return to society, and
you cannot have a cookie-cutter approach to all accused; you have to treat
In your presentation you mentioned the
discretion of judges a number of times. What is upsetting about Bill C-10 is
that it is removing the discretion of judges, especially when it comes to
minorities. We have a large population of Aboriginal people and Black
Canadians in jails, and the numbers are increasing. Jail is not always the
Minister, you have said it in your
presentation, but I would like to hear from you: How will taking away the
discretion of judges affect healing circles, for example?
Mr. Shewchuk: Taking away discretion from
the judges and the courts system as we have it now will largely affect us,
not only in our corrections and the increasing number of inmates who come to
our facilities, but communities and families being involved in the
rehabilitation of offenders, which is a very important part of the Inuit
culture. Taking that away from families will affect the whole community. In
the small, tight, Inuit cultural communities in Nunavut, it is very
important that we understand and accommodate that.
Senator Jaffer: Healing circles is
something my personal Islamic community has adopted because we believe it
really is effective. As the minister, you deal with operational issues. How
will Bill C-10 affect plea bargaining? What will it do to your backlog?
Mr. Shewchuk: Effectively, it will take
away plea bargaining. People will know there is a minimum sentence, and it
will increase our people who come into our correctional facilities, and at a
faster rate, I believe. It will affect us in a negative way, I believe.
The Chair: Senator Jaffer, again, I am
aware of time, and we have a number of senators with further questions. I
suspect you have other questions. Would you mind perhaps putting them into a
second round? I want to make certain that each senator has a chance on the
Senator Lang: The question I would like to
pursue is the question of the intent of the legislation, which is primarily
there for repeat offenders, those who have made a career of crime or
violence or both in communities. My understanding is that there have been
meetings over the last five years, although you as minister were not there,
but your government was represented, not unlike the Government of Yukon, if
I might add. The Government of Yukon has come out publically in full support
of the intent of this legislation, feeling that it is long overdue. I would
like to question a bit further the position being brought forward here,
because we were under the impression that there was a common understanding
amongst the provinces and territories at the last
federal-provincial-territorial meeting that the intent of the legislation
was overall honourable and it is a direction that we should be going. The
only question was in some cases whether or not the economics of it could be
handled by the various jurisdictions. Perhaps you could just shed a little
bit of light on that.
Mr. Shewchuk: I think Nunavut's position is
just that. We are not challenging the intent or the principle of Bill C-10.
However, we are concerned about the consequences of Bill C-10 to Nunavut,
and I have tried to express and outline that here today.
Going forward with this, you should understand
that Nunavut is a new territory. We have limited funds from our transfer
payments from the federal government, and that is our only revenue source
right now. Yes, we are moving into the future and we have a bright future
ahead of us, but until we have devolution and ownership of our resources and
get some revenues from our resources, we need to depend on the federal
government to fund us. This will add a burden to the funding source we have
I am here to say two things. We do have an
issue with resource capacity, both financial and human, and we also very
much have an issue about Inuit cultural and societal values in Nunavut
Senator Lang: I would like to pursue one
other area, and that is the question of the burden on the judicial system.
You mentioned earlier that there were not one but two new positions for
judges in Nunavut to help take care of the caseload. You also in your
opening statement stated there were 15 outstanding cases of murder and
manslaughter, which obviously means 15 individuals will be in remand until
they have their cases heard. With the advent of these two judges, have you
taken into consideration what that will do to your penal system in the
territory, since these individuals, if found guilty, will be going to a
federal penitentiary as opposed to a correctional institution and
subsequently will not be a cost burden to you? Have you taken into
consideration what that will do to you at the end of the day?
Mr. Shewchuk: Yes, we have. We are very
appreciative of getting two new judges in Nunavut. I am sure you are aware
that we have six judges. The two new ones will bring us up to eight judges.
That will lessen the caseload in our court system. We also have circuit
court judges, maybe up to 60 across Canada, who are licensed to do court in
Nunavut. The caseload will lessen, but with two new judges, Nunavut also has
to provide funding to support costs for staff to assist those judges. We
increased our court services staff by eight because of those two new judges,
so there are financial burdens on us. It is wonderful to have the two new
judges, and the caseloads will go down, but I think they will still be at
high levels where we will have difficulties.
Senator Lang: I am wondering about your
ability to cope with those who have been charged and are in remand. With the
advent of the two new judges, that will substantially clear up the costs
associated with that aspect of your judicial system. Is that not correct?
Mr. Shewchuk: I think that you are
suggesting something very strongly, and I think it will have an effect on
it, but I am not sure given the strength you are putting it at.
The Chair: If I could add a brief
supplementary on your comment, Senator Lang, resources are always an issue,
whether it is justice, education or health services. You would know that
better than I. Your government is trying to deal with all those issues. My
understanding is that that is recognized by the federal government. It does
have programs to assist.
In the case of Aboriginal justice, there have
been what I believe to be rather significant increases in recent years.
There is the Aboriginal Justice Strategy, which I understand is now funded
to an amount of $85 million a year, doubling what it was previously. It is
to address the very issues you speak of about with regard to having
community-based justice strategies. Am I right about that, and has that had
a positive impact on Nunavut?
Mr. Shewchuk: I will let the deputy
minister answer that.
Mr. Tarnow: Yes, Mr. Chair, we do receive
some of that $85 million, but most of it is devoted to dealing with
prevention. We fund programs in the communities. We have Aboriginal court
workers and outreach workers in the communities that we fund through
contribution agreements. That funding is not so much used in the case of the
justice system, the court system, but it is more at a preventative level.
The Chair: The intention is to reduce the
number that would be incarcerated. As we heard from the minister, all of
this is complementary. There is a preventative portion and the enforcement
portion and rehabilitation. There are a number of different components. I
see your point.
Mr. Tarnow: We see the impact of Bill C-10
with the enforcement end of the situation, and that is where we have a
The Chair: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Senator Baker: In other words, in view of
some of the questions put to you in the past 15 minutes, one of your points,
as I gather from what you said, minister, is that you have a serious problem
concerning the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Under this bill, if
someone had passed someone else a forbidden substance under Schedule I, and
if that person had been convicted in the previous 10 years of a designated
substance offence — a designated substance offence is the passing of a joint
of marijuana to someone — the judge will not be able to follow the
directions of section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code that you
referenced as far as Aboriginal offenders are concerned. The judge can no
longer give a conditional sentence. The judge must put that person,
according to this bill, in jail for at least a year. This is one of your
main points, is it not?
Mr. Shewchuk: Thank you very much senator;
it is one of our main points. It is very concerning to us in Nunavut because
we do have quite a few repeat offenders, especially young offenders. We do
not feel that to give them that type of justice — that is, mandatory
minimums — may be the right way to go. I think that a judge should have the
flexibility to understand the whole issue and the background as to why that
person is there and that society and the community should be involved in
Senator Baker: It almost negates what is
presently in the Criminal Code because the Criminal Code says a judge must
do this upon sentencing. Then along comes this bill and says, "You go to
jail; you have no other choice."
My next question — and probably my last because
the chair may cut me off at this point — relates to your financial and
resources concerns. Before I put the question to you, I want to congratulate
you as minister. You have a tremendous background in natural resources. You
are a natural to be a cabinet minister representing any of our northern
areas. You mentioned that Mr. Tarnow has more experience than you do, but,
as I recollect, he was once a litigator for the federal Attorney General's
office. No? Mr. Mansell, were you? No? You are both litigators with
experience, is that correct?
Stephen Mansell, Director, Policy and Planning,
Government of Nunavut: I graduated law school three years ago, but I
have been to court a few times.
Senator Baker: Yes, you have.
Mr. Tarnow: I spent most of my career in
public law, advising the government, but I have not done a lot of courtroom
Senator Baker: You have done some.
Mr. Tarnow: I have done some, but mostly at
the appellate level.
Senator Baker: Have you done some with Mr.
Mr. Tarnow: Actually, Mr. Mansell and I did
appear together in one case.
Senator Baker: Well, there you go. This is
why I am asking the question.
My question is this: If the federal government
does not listen to you and will not give you one penny for this new piece of
legislation, would you consider — and I do not know if you can answer this
question or if you want to — taking the federal government to court in the
future, seeking orders of certiorari and mandamus to put off this
legislation, as it applies to Nunavut, until arrangements can be made or
negotiations had for you to be able to deal with this legislation?
Mr. Shewchuk: Thank you, senator. Thank you
for your passion. I can hear it in your voice, and I think you are
absolutely right when you reference that.
I will not comment on that, but I will comment
on the fact that Bill C-10 will have severe consequences for Nunavut. Our
correctional facilities are bulging at the seams right now, and we cannot
take any more inmates than we have. We have to work with the Government of
Canada on addressing these situations, and that is what we want to do. We
want to work together and come to resolutions. Nunavut has so many
challenges that people do not understand, unless they go there and see it.
I invite you all to come and visit Nunavut. I
would actually invite you all to come to our correctional facilities, and
then you will get the real picture. It is a huge challenge, and we need to
do something right now. It is critical. It is at that stage. We are
suggesting, reviewing and researching options to deal with our facilities
right now because we have to do something.
I cannot express enough to you how much of a
concern this is to us and what a financial burden it is going to be.
Senator Baker: I have read the judgments
that his assistants have partaken of in court, and I can tell you, Mr.
Minister, they are good litigators.
The Chair: I realize that through all of
this we are always going to be pushing the limits on our time. If you would
remain with us minister, we are going to run beyond the time because this is
extremely interesting and because we are so fortunate to have you here. We
have a number of senators who still wish to ask questions.
Senator Frum: Thank you for being here and
thank you very much for that invitation. I was scheduled to go to Nunavut
last summer. I hope to maybe do it this summer. I do appreciate that you are
talking about a unique part of Canada. Sadly, as you pointed out in your
presentation, you have the highest violent crime rate, six times the
national average. That also means six times the number of victims. Looking
at it from the victims' point of view, I am having difficulty understanding
your objections to the mandatory minimums.
As Senator Runciman pointed out, all the
mandatory minimums in C-10 have to do with child predators and drug
traffickers. I understand that the highest rate of sexual violence in this
country is violence against young Aboriginal women. They are the greatest
victims of this crime. This bill addresses that. It still gives very lenient
penalties. Even the mandatory minimum is still very lenient for the crimes
of soliciting young people for sexual acts, putting them into prostitution
rings and exposing them to child pornography. Knowing there must be high
rates of sexual assaults in your community, I do not understand why the
mandatory minimums in that area are so troublesome to you.
Mr. Shewchuk: I thank you for your concern
and your points.
You brought up something very important — the
victims of the crimes. We do share your feelings that severe sexual crimes
and repeat offenders need to be punished. That is understandable across the
country with the way we live. However, there are cases where the victims
also want to be part of the sentencing system. I think you need to
understand — and even I do not understand it — the societal values of the
Inuit, the way they deal with justice, their systems and history in dealing
with that. That has to be taken into account in some cases. In other cases,
I agree with you totally. Severe offenders should be dealt with, but Bill
C-10 does not just address those people; it addresses, as the other senator
said, drug crimes. Throwing someone into incarceration without understanding
all of the societal values behind that is something that Nunavut will not
Senator Frum: The intent of this bill is
for traffickers. What Senator Baker was citing is not at all the typical
case envisioned in Bill C-10. It deals with the people selling drugs to
young people in a territory where there is so much drug addiction among
young people. The people who are pushing these drugs and getting kids hooked
at a young age are also predators of a different sort.
When there is such a crisis, I have trouble
understanding why punishing those people who are bringing others into a life
of drug addiction with a one-year sentence is so inappropriate.
Mr. Shewchuk: You may have a hard time
understanding that, but I think Inuit understand it in their own communities
and their own ways. I will leave it at that with you.
I think that you make very good points, but I
will just say that Nunavut is different, and the societal values, beliefs,
culture and traditions in Inuit communities are somewhat different than what
Senator Joyal: I would like to stress,
Mr. Minister, that the point raised by Senator Frum is in fact a conundrum.
The way the bill is written does not address specifically what we call
"organized crime" or the big drug lord. The bill covers everyone in the way
it is written.
As my friend Senator Baker has mentioned, in
the overall context of fighting the big drug dealers, you will catch two in
the net. Smaller people, like the ones you have described in your
communities, will find themselves in prison. In my opinion, that is the real
problem. It is not the people involved in organized crime that we are
concerned about finding in prison. No one around this table would sincerely
be opposed to that. That is essentially the nuance between the point raised
by Senator Frum and my reading of this bill.
With that said, I have two questions. First,
would you accept the idea of establishing a joint task force with the
federal government at the level of the Department of Justice to measure the
cost impact of the implementation of this bill?
You come to us this morning and you say there
will be an impact. Yesterday we asked the same question of the government.
Their answer was that the transfer payments have increased in the last years
and will continue to increase, so you should pick up the money within that
Since there is a fight about numbers and
quantum, would it not be more sensible to find a way to resolve that? This
is not the only bill, as you know, that will have an impact on cost; there
are other bills that have had an impact on cost as well, which is recognized
by everyone. If we are to fight about the amount of money and the financial
impact, let us establish a way to resolve that. I made that suggestion to
both ministers who appeared yesterday, and it seems sensible to approach the
issue in that way.
Mr. Shewchuk: Thank you for those comments.
We fully agree that we need to sit down as a territory, along with all other
jurisdictions, to discuss not only the financial impact of this bill, but
also the human impact. We also need to create a plan on the implementation
and how it will roll out because we need time to adjust to everything that
will happen here. It is a very good idea, and we would be more than welcome
to be part of such a committee or joint venture.
Senator Joyal: My last question is about
the Gladue case. We all know what the Gladue case is about,
wherein a judge sentencing someone found guilty must take into account
section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, wherein particular attention
must be paid to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders. I have a
conceptual problem with that. If a judge must take into account the fact
that a person is an Aboriginal offender, I do not understand why, when a
minimum is sentence imposed, the judge loses their discretion with an
Aboriginal offender. Either the objective of section 718.2, which is
restorative justice and considering the plight that Aboriginal peoples have
been through in Canada, is real or not. If it is real, it should apply any
time that an Aboriginal offender finds himself or herself in front of a
Have you ever considered challenging in court
the point you have raised in your own presentation, that when there is an
minimum sentence imposed in the Criminal Code, an Aboriginal offender is
deprived from restorative justice of which the code recognizes is the right
for any Aboriginal citizen in this country?
Mr. Shewchuk: I have referenced the
Gladue principle many times. We have not considered challenging that,
but we may in the future if we have to.
I find interesting what Senator Fraser started
off with. It would be very effective for us to have a clause in Bill C-10
that says we still have the flexibility in sentencing, such as that of the
Gladue principle. That would serve our purposes.
The Chair: I realize time is short. If I
could, I have a supplementary regarding the Gladue case.
As you point out, minister — and Senator Joyal
is well familiar with it — the Gladue case provides and requires the
courts to take into consideration special circumstances of accused
Aboriginal offenders. However, that Supreme Court of Canada decision,
as I understand it, is very clear that the more serious and violent the
crime, the sentencing would be the same as it would be elsewhere in the
country. The decision clearly recognizes that serious crime is to be treated
differently for the purposes of 718.2 than other crimes.
We have heard from Ministers Toews and
Nicholson that Bill C-10 is directed; the focus of it is on serious repeat
crime involving sexual acts against children and the production and
trafficking of drugs. It is for repeat offenders of serious crimes. Does
that not seem to dovetail into what the Supreme Court has said, that it is
not unreasonable to have the sentencing of Aboriginals be considered for
those serious offenders on a base equal to other Canadians? Do you have any
thought on that?
Mr. Shewchuk: Mr. Chair, I do have a
thought. I think there are several different twists you can put on the
principle in the Gladue case, however you wish to do that. I am
saying that we in Nunavut need our court system and judges to have the
flexibility to sentence involving the communities and societal values of the
The Chair: Right. Even with Bill C-10, that
discretion would exist between the minimum and maximum penalties prescribed
for any offence. The bill does not remove that discretion; it limits it to
the extent of minimum sentencing. Would you agree it does not remove
Mr. Shewchuk: I will not totally agree with
you on that, either.
The Chair: You do not have to agree with
anything I am saying. I am just trying to clarify your thoughts.
Mr. Shewchuk: What it does, and I am very
clear on this, is limit the flexibility. I will leave it at that.
The Chair: It limits discretion.
Mr. Shewchuk: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you for that.
Senator Angus: I want to welcome you folks
here to Ottawa. A lot of ground has been covered. You said it is the first
time you have been to one of these committees, so I am delighted that you
Minister, I want to compliment you on your
manner; you are presenting your evidence very, very well.
Also, I think I clearly understand your
objections to this group of bills; there are nine different pieces of
legislation. As the sponsors of the bill, Senator Runciman and Senator Frum
have pointed out that the minimum sentencing provision, which you find
particularly bad, is only in part of the bill; it does not apply in all the
acts, but the fact is, it does apply.
Another objection you have is about the
consultation and the cost. You mentioned talking with Ottawa and getting
Ottawa to pay. I believe there is an understanding in this city, in this
government, of these problems. Are you having discussions? I do not want to
leave here thinking or I do not want you to leave here thinking that there
is an absolute stone wall and that there is no talking. If that is the case,
I would like to know. Are you getting a total cold shoulder?
Mr. Shewchuk: No, we are having
discussions. As recently as last week, I was fortunate to attend a meeting
of justice ministers in Prince Edward Island and voice our opinion to both
federal ministers, Public Safety and Justice, so there is ongoing
conversation. The reality is that I need and want all of you to understand
that we do face these huge financial challenges.
I want to put this in perspective a little bit,
too. In discussion with my colleagues from the other territories, both of
them have just constructed new correctional facilities. The cost to build a
150-inmate institution in Whitehorse is $70 million. That facility in
Iqaluit in Nunavut would probably cost $300 million. That just puts it in
the context of how expensive it is and the challenges we have financially in
the North with everything that we do.
Senator Angus: I understand that.
Obviously, if the government wants to have Nunavut as part of this great
country and if our system of justice is going to apply, then we have to pay
the freight, whatever it costs to get there, and I think we all would agree
There is one other element I would like to
explore quickly. I do not have a great background or knowledge in the
cultural ways of your people or the people in Nunavut, but I am certainly
struck by the fact that sentencing people, incarcerating Inuit folk in
prisons, is counter to the whole system and way of life. That really, to me,
is a starting point. We are talking about whether it should be a guaranteed
minimum, whether it should be this or that, and whether they are repeat
offenders. Senators around the table have some continuity on this committee,
and we have heard year after year of how disproportionate the population in
our prisons is of Aboriginal people generally and your Inuit people in
particular. You say in the middle of page 3 of your brief that it does not
"reflect the population and culture of the territory" to put people in jail,
so what would you do? Let us say you did not have to put them in jail. I
think you said yourself, sir, that you do not know all the cultural reasons,
but I know you know them better than I do. I have this vision of another way
of going about it that is in accord with your people's ways.
Mr. Shewchuk: We really do feel like
sending everyone to jail is counterproductive in Nunavut.
Two things are very important here that have
not been talked about a lot and in which I think we need more investment.
The first is crime prevention at a young age. Especially with the young
population we have in Nunavut, education and crime prevention is a huge
component of dealing with the problems in our facilities. Again, we need to
have the resources and the proper programs in place to rehabilitate people,
and we do not have that because we do not have the funding for these types
of things. You are very privileged where you are in the South.
Senator Angus: You see where I coming from,
Mr. Shewchuk: I do.
Senator Angus: I have this vision that
before the administration of the justice system as we know it here in the
South was imposed on your people, there was another way of dealing with
criminals. As you say yourself, they recognize that murder is not a
civilized thing to do and you have to punish them. What would you do instead
of throwing them in the slammer?
Mr. Shewchuk: We still do have programs in
place today where we have camps out on the land. We have land programs where
people and facilities are contracted out to take inmates and introduce them
back into their cultural society. We also have a lot of programs through our
community justice committees to help assist offenders in communities to come
back into society.
Senator Angus: I will leave it at that,
chair, but I find this is an area we should be looking into.
Senator Chaput: First, I would like to
apologize for being late; that is usually not the case.
I listened closely to your presentation on the
consequences Bill C-10 would have on Nunavut, and the impact it would have
if it remained in its current form. I understand you very well when you say
that the bill does not take into account the particular circumstances
involved in traditional Inuit concepts of justice and rehabilitation.
Senator Fraser began talking about amendments.
If this committee was open-minded and was willing to make changes to
Bill C-10 — you talked, among other things, about giving judges more
flexibility — do you think that other provisions could be amended in the
interest of making Bill C-10 more responsive to your specific needs?
Mr. Shewchuk: Directly under Bill C-10, our
most important point is to have that flexibility or a clause in there that
allows us to continue the way we do justice in Nunavut. I would have to do
further review on other points. There probably are other points we would be
concerned about, too. I would like to have a dialogue with the federal
government in regard to Bill C-10 also on the capacity and the consequences
to Nunavut, both financially and human resources, too.
Senator Fraser: My question has been
addressed. In the interests of time and saving the chair irritation, I shall
pass, but I thank you all very much.
The Chair: We are pleased to have the
minister here today. We are stretching beyond our time, but I will go as far
as I am able to.
Senator Runciman, did you have anything
Senator Runciman: Following on from Senator
Frum, the minister himself talked about rising crime rates in Nunavut. I am
saying that what we are trying to do through this legislation is address
many of those concerns, because you have to admit that obviously what is
occurring at the moment is not being successful, for whatever reasons, and
you can certainly explain them better than I. I think this is an effort to
talk about victims and people who are continuing in this system, in and out
of the system, committing crimes and leaving victims in their wake. The
government is attempting to address that and certainly help the challenges
that you are facing. I hope you can appreciate that perspective as well.
From my own interest, and hopefully you could
address it prior to the conclusion of the committee's hearings, or you could
send us a letter, I am really interested in the clogging up of your system,
the average hold, why this is the situation, and your average costs versus
what it is costing you to transfer prisoners out to other jurisdictions. If
you can give us an understanding of those implications, I think there may be
other answers out there, too, where the government can assist you in
addressing them. I would certainly appreciate that very much.
Senator Lang: To follow up on that, we go
back to the repeat offenders. I represent the northern part of the country,
and almost 60 to 70 per cent of the inmates in our correctional institutions
are repeat offenders, in one manner or another. That is a huge, huge number.
I am wondering if you could look at that aspect of it. When there has been
incarceration, what are your repeat offender numbers as far as your inmate
population is concerned?
Senator Fraser: If you are producing data,
to the extent that you have these numbers, would it be possible to let us
know how many of the sentences that have been handed out or are currently in
force in Nunavut — whatever data you have — are conditional, in other words,
sentences that take into account Aboriginal traditions? Also, can you
estimate how many of those would have been transformed into incarceration
had Bill C-10 then been in effect? That would be really interesting.
The Chair: I have one final comment,
minister, on your reference to the traditions of the Nunavut people and your
thoughts on incarceration. You made it very clear that you had issues with
that. When I think of Minister Toews' and Minister Nicholson's presentations
yesterday, they referred us to the fact that the purpose of Bill C-10 is to
provide further protection for all Canadians. I will use an example, one
that we have talked about.
The major focus of this is to remove or reduce
the threat of sexual offences against children. It is horrendous; we would
do anything we could to prevent or limit that. The ministers’ view is that,
in particular with repeat offenders, it is necessary at times to remove
offenders from society in order to protect the children. It would be great
if they could be convinced, talked to and rehabilitated, but at times for
some — the worst, the serious offenders — there is, in the ministers’ view,
no alternative but to remove those offenders for a period of time. As the
ministers pointed out, during that period of incarceration, rehabilitative
services should be and are available, and perhaps the offenders will correct
My impression was that you have concerns with
any form of incarceration, but I am having difficulty in reconciling that
with the objectives we have heard from the minister and, in particular, with
the fact that, within your region, you face reoffending and the types of
problems we are talking about and Bill C-10 addresses in a greater way than
the rest of the country does. I am having trouble reconciling where you see
Mr. Shewchuk: I think maybe you understood
me wrong, too.
The Chair: Maybe I did. That is why I just
want to clarify.
Mr. Shewchuk: We do not disagree with
incarceration for a crime that deserves that type of incarceration. Let me
be clear about that. However, we do still think that we need the
flexibility. I do not understand why that flexibility cannot be allowed in
Bill C-10, whether it is used or not. In a lot of cases, it will not be
used, but it should be there if it is needed in the conditions and the
society we live in in Nunavut. I will leave it at that.
I want to thank all the senators for their
final remarks because there are some good points. I know that I am going to
be working with my colleagues from the North, from the Yukon and the
Northwest Territories. We have agreed to work together and move forward on
the challenges we face with this bill.
I will leave it at that. After you are done, I
will have a few closing comments.
The Chair: I think that concludes our
questions. Before I sincerely thank you for your presentation today, if you
have closing comments, we are interested in hearing them.
Mr. Shewchuk: Thank you very much,
Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of you. It has been a wonderful experience
to have this opportunity to present to you and to explain some of the
challenges, especially with justice, in Nunavut. As I say, I invite you all
up to our great territory. If you come to Iqaluit, plan on staying a little
while and going to visit another outlying community because that is where
you get the true spirit and feeling of Nunavut, not just by coming to the
Thank you very much. I appreciate the
opportunity to be here.
The Chair: Minister, I certainly know of
what you speak with regard to Iqaluit. One of my daughters worked in Iqaluit
for a period of time and it was a wonderful experience for her.
Thank you so much. Your passion and
understanding of the people of your region is obvious from the comments all
three of you have made. We deeply appreciate that you have come here. It has
helped us a great deal.
Colleagues, our next witness is the President
of the Canadian Police Association, Mr. Tom Stamatakis.
Welcome, Mr. Stamatakis. We are pleased to have
you here today. I understand you have an opening statement, following which
we will have questions from committee members.
Tom Stamatakis, President, Canadian Police
Association: It is a pleasure for me to appear before you today for the
first time in my capacity as the President of the Canadian Police
Association to discuss Bill C-10, a comprehensive piece of legislation that
takes some real and meaningful steps towards providing the tools necessary
for police to pursue their goal of safer communities.
For those of you who may not be familiar, the
Canadian Police Association is the federal voice for over 41,000 front line
police personnel across Canada. Our membership includes police personnel
serving in 160 police services across the country, from some of the smallest
towns and villages to those working in our largest municipal and provincial
police services, including members of the RCMP, railway police and First
Nations police personnel.
To be absolutely clear, the CPA entirely
supports the goals and methods contained within Bill C-10. From the enhanced
sentencing rules for those who commit sexual offences against minors to the
restrictions on conditional sentences for some of the most serious offences,
these changes will go a long way to ensuring that those criminals caught as
a result of our investigations will face an appropriate punishment for
There are a couple of areas of the legislation
that I would like to highlight in my brief remarks here today, the first of
which are the amendments contained within the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act in Part 2 of Bill C-10.
Every day, our members see the devastating
effects that drug traffickers and producers have on all of our communities.
Those police officers are the ones that constantly have to arrest the same
drug dealers and producers over and over again and stop them from poisoning
our children and grandchildren and robbing youth of their future.
Whether these criminal organizations are in
larger urban centres like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa or in
smaller communities like Saint John and Gander, front line police officers
see on a daily basis how organized crime supplies dangerous and illegal
drugs with not only disregard for the law, but having no consideration for
the lives and families they destroy.
For a number of years, the Canadian Police
Association has been advocating for a national drug strategy that
incorporates a balanced approach to reduce the adverse effects associated
with drug use by limiting both the supply of and demand for illicit drugs,
enabling an integrated approach to education, prevention, treatment and
enforcement. In our view, this legislation is critically important in
addressing the enforcement component of this strategy.
Violent offenders are not deterred by current
sentencing, corrections and parole policies. Chronic offenders understand
the system and work it to their advantage. Criminal gangs have taken over
prisons and some neighbourhoods. We need stronger intervention that combines
general deterrence, specific deterrence, denunciation and reform. Whether it
is by keeping dealers and producers off the streets and out of business or
by serving as a deterrent to potential dealers, Bill C-10 will help our
members in doing their jobs and keeping our communities safe. In simple
terms, keep these criminals in jail longer and you take away their
opportunity to traffic in drugs.
There has been a considerable amount of debate
about the use of minimum sentences and the frequency of repeat offenders.
Make no mistake about it: Repeat offenders are a serious problem. Police
understand this intuitively as we deal with frequent flyers on a routine
Statistics released by the Toronto Police
Service Homicide Squad for 2005 demonstrate this point. Among the 32 people
facing murder or manslaughter charges for homicides in 2006, 14 were on bail
at the time of the offence, 13 were on probation and 17 were subject to
firearms prohibition orders. The revolving door justice system is failing to
prevent further criminal activity by these repeat violent offenders.
As police officers and more so as members of
your communities, it concerns us that our youth and many adults have been
getting the wrong message on drugs. The use of drugs has been trivialized by
what people see on TV but also by misguided public policy. What they do not
see at the beginning is that drugs will most probably take over their lives,
and the message to our youth should be clear: Drugs are dangerous.
With this legislation, the message to drugs
dealers and producers is clear: Bill C-10 is a part of well-coordinated
assault on organized crime. Cutting off the production and distribution of
these dangerous and illegal drugs takes away the lifeblood of organized
Another area I would like to briefly highlight
is the creation of two new offences within the legislation, the first of
which is making sexually explicit material available to a child, and the
second is agreeing to arrange or to commit a sexual offence against a child.
I cannot possibly stress the need for us to
keep our laws up to date, specifically with respect to new and evolving
technologies, to give our police every opportunity to keep ahead of those
abusing these technologies to commit the most horrible crimes against our
Finally, I would like to offer a specific
mention of support for the provisions within this legislation that will, if
passed, authorize a peace officer to arrest without a warrant an offender
who is on a conditional release for breach of conditions. This common-sense
change to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act is long overdue. For
example, under current legislation, even if a police officer comes into
contact with a clearly intoxicated individual that he knows firsthand is
under an order prohibiting alcohol consumption, he is unable to effect an
arrest without first going through the time-consuming process of obtaining a
Before I finish, I would like to raise one
concern on behalf of my members regarding Bill C-10. There is no doubt that
this legislation comes at some cost. Representatives from the CPA attended
last week's FPT meeting of Ministers of Justice and Public Safety, and we
heard firsthand the concerns raised by some provincial representatives with
respect to this legislation. While estimates vary, I would like all
honourable senators to be aware that police budgets across Canadian are, in
many circumstances, already close to the breaking point. In order to keep
our communities safe, we require both the tools and the resources necessary
to avoid the kind of service cuts that would put the gains we have made at
On behalf of my members, let me be clear that
this legislation represents part of the cost of doing business for law
enforcement. We hope that the federal government and their provincial
partners can quickly come to an agreement on how to best address the funding
concerns without delay. There is plenty of evidence showing the gains law
enforcement is making across a number of fronts, and there is no doubt that
the new tools provided to our policemen and policewomen across Canada in
this legislation will help us build on those successes.
I appreciate the opportunity to address the
committee on this legislation, and I look forward to trying to answer any
questions you might have.
The Chair: Thank you very much for those
comments, Mr. Stamatakis.
Senator Fraser: Thank you very much for
I have two questions. The first is in
connection with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. One of the
aggravating factors in terms of the sentencing set out in this bill is this,
and I will now read from the bill: ". . . if the person committed the
offence in or near a school, on or near school grounds or in or near any
other public place usually frequented by persons under the age of 18." It is
the police who grab people first when they are committing these offences.
How, in your experience, would people interpret these, to me, quite sweeping
phrases? What public place is not usually frequented by persons under 18?
How would you interpret this?
Mr. Stamatakis: From a front line policing
perspective, I can speak from firsthand experience that we generally
interpret it as being around schools and parks. Particularly in some of the
major cities, in the more marginalized neighbourhoods, it is a significant
problem. Drug users and dealers congregate around schools and parks because
there are spaces that are available, and there is often shelter. They make a
mess and prevent other citizens in communities from using those same public
spaces, so I, from a policing perspective, think it is an appropriate factor
to consider when you are deciding how to deal with those people who are
involved in chronic drug offences such as trafficking and those kinds of
Senator Fraser: From your perspective, it
would not necessarily include shopping malls or subway stations.
Mr. Stamatakis: No. Police across the
country do not have the capacity to try to target every single public place
people under the age of 18 frequent, so, generally speaking, we target
schools and parks that are specifically created for kids.
Senator Fraser: My next question has to do
with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The amendments would require that "the
police force shall keep a record of any extrajudicial measures that they use
to deal with young persons." Will that create an administrative burden for
Mr. Stamatakis: I am not sure because
typically we are spending a lot of time dealing with youth. You hear a lot
about the enforcement piece of this bill. Most people are speaking about
that aspect of it, but we are engaged in many, many other activities,
particularly around prevention and intervention involving youth. Therefore,
a lot of that documentation is already occurring when we come into contact
with young offenders, particularly in schools or other places they frequent,
Boys and Girls Clubs and other facilities like that.
I do not see it as adding more administrative
obligations. Frankly, I think it is appropriate because I think we want to
know what we have been doing to try to deal with young offenders, whether it
is from an enforcement perspective or from a preventative perspective.
Senator Runciman: I think keeping that kind
of information is very important and helpful in terms of assessing policy
going forward because I know it may happen in a lot of instances, but, in
many, it does not.
You mentioned the arrest without warrant in
terms of an individual on conditional release, and you gave an example. The
Canadian Bar Association disagrees with your association. You may be aware
of that. They have indicated, essentially, that it is no problem to get a
warrant. Maybe you could respond to that position.
Mr. Stamatakis: I can tell you from
firsthand experience and from feedback from members who every day find
themselves trying to get these warrants that it is a problem, even in a
major city like Vancouver. That is where I am from and where I have done my
police work. Sometimes trying to locate a justice or a judge, even when they
are supposed to be available by phone, can be a challenge. It is time
consuming. Often, even when you are trying to obtain the warrant by phone,
there is a requirement to provide more information, to go away, gather and
collate information and to come back and make another pitch. It is not a
simple task. It is a significant drain on capacity for front line police
officers in this country. I guess we will have to continue to disagree with
the bar association.
Senator Runciman: With the Youth Criminal
Justice Act and the provisions in this bill in terms of pre-trial detention,
which flow from the Nunn commission in Nova Scotia and the person who was
stealing cars and ultimately killed an innocent person, this is really
adding judicial discretion to the laws on the books, allowing a judge to
determine, if an individual can pose a threat to society, that they can
retain them in detention to await trial. I wonder if you have any insights
from a policing perspective about that and about how difficult and, I
suspect, how frustrating it is under the current laws to keep a young
offender in pre-trial detention who may pose a threat to the public. Do you
have any comments on that?
Mr. Stamatakis: It is extremely difficult.
In my own policing career, I have never been more frustrated than when
dealing with a serial young offender, particularly those who are stealing
cars and going for joy rides, which creates tremendous risk for the
community just because of what can happen when you have a young person who
is not legally authorized to, or even capable of, driving a car racing
around a populated city.
More recently, there have been significant
challenges in Winnipeg, where we have all kinds of young offender offenders
stealing cars, committing crimes and going for joy rides. Police officers
have been seriously injured. There is a significant problem with organized
crime recruiting young offenders to steal cars and to engage in other crime.
It poses a real risk to the police officers who I represent across the
country. Winnipeg is the best example right now because they seem to be
experiencing a higher than normal rate of these kinds of incidents. These
kinds of offences, particularly by serial young offenders who are intent on
committing the same crime over and over, pose a significant risk to the
community at large.
We had an incident in Vancouver a year or two
ago where someone stole a car and drove it through a park where a preschool
was. It was a children's park. There was no regard for the safety of the
kids. The kids were out with their supervisors and there were parents
watching; but they just did not care. It is a problem, and it is appropriate
that in certain circumstances where we can establish that it is a chronic
serial offender, we ought to be able to have that discretion.
Senator Runciman: The judge has that
Dealing with the drug elements of the bill,
could you talk from a policing perspective and background knowledge about
the role of organized crime in the marijuana grow op business and perhaps
also reference the six-plant issue mentioned in this bill?
Mr. Stamatakis: In terms of marijuana and
organized crime, it is all about organized crime. I happen to live and work
in a part of the country where it is more prolific probably than in other
parts of the country. There are few grow ops that are not somehow attached
to an organized crime group. They typically will throw them up in any
neighbourhood, with lots of damage to the properties. They bring in
caretakers to run them and they just roll them over as quickly as they can
to generate profit. It is all driven by organized crime, from a policing
perspective. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the marijuana that gets
produced, particularly in British Columbia, is exported to our neighbours to
the south. It is a significant problem.
There has been much discussion about the
six-plant issue. I never spent a lot of time in drug enforcement, but my
colleagues who have spent a lot of time in drug enforcement and have dealt
with marijuana grow ops say you can produce a lot of marijuana with six
plants. It is a bit of a stretch for anyone to suggest that that is what you
will grow for personal consumption.
Notwithstanding that, coming back to my earlier
response, from a capacity perspective I do not remember the last time a
Vancouver police drug squad member sought a warrant or executed a warrant on
a grow op with six plants. We target organized crime groups, large grow ops,
hundreds of plants, typically. Even if you wanted to follow the letter of
the law in terms of where the line is, we would not have the capacity to do
that anywhere in this country.
The other reality is that police officers every
day use their discretion in terms of what they will enforce and what they
will not enforce. I think that is a bit of a red herring in the broader
Senator Baker: I would disagree with you on
the arrest without warrant point. We created section 495 of the Criminal
Code that covers arrest without warrant. A police officer can arrest someone
without a warrant if the person has committed an indictable offence or is in
the process of committing a criminal offence. Then we added the telewarrant
provisions. We have judges available 24 hours a day in most provinces — I
must admit that in some provinces it is not the case — for the purpose of
telewarrants, but that is another discussion perhaps we can follow at a
I have to congratulate you on the great job you
are doing in the position you are in.
I have a concern about this bill that involves
some questioning we did yesterday with the National Parole Board concerning
pardons and records of offences — for example, on conditional discharges.
Are you aware of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada of R.
Mr. Stamatakis: Yes, I am.
Senator Baker: It concerns me because
police officers in the line of duty, as you point out, have to arrest
people. They are in positions where sometimes they get charged with assault.
The thing goes to trial and they are completely discharged, but a record of
that is held. Because of this recent decision, all of their disciplinary
records going back years fall under mandatory disclosure every time that
police officer testifies in a criminal court. Do you agree with that so far?
Mr. Stamatakis: I agree that R v. McNeil
has created an obligation for disclosure in the first instance whenever a
police officer is a witness in a criminal matter that is going to trial. The
obligation is disclosed to the Crown and then there is a requirement to
establish that the records are relevant to the matter that is before a judge
at trial. There is a bit of a threshold there.
The challenge, though, and we are already
starting to experience this, is that defence lawyers now are obviously aware
of the case and the obligation. We are starting now to see cases where it is
much like the consequence of Stinchcombe where, in my view from a
front line policing perspective, the disclosure obligations on police
officers during investigations are out of control and have a tremendous
impact on capacity for police organizations but are also impacting the whole
criminal justice system in terms of moving trials through the process.
Getting back to McNeil, defence lawyers
are routinely now asking for disclosure of those police officer records.
Even where the Crown has determined that the records are not relevant to the
file, we are now seeing arguments around whether or not those records should
be disclosed. We are not even dealing with the case that is before the judge
at this trial; we are now focusing on the police officer’s discipline
You touched on those rare occasions — and it is
rare in the context of how many police officers we have in the country and
what they do — where there is a criminal record. Police officers have
discipline records for whatever reason, whether it is because they are late
coming to work or a complaint from a citizen that was substantiated. That is
the bigger issue because those records are now becoming part of a big debate
before you get to what you are there for.
Senator Baker: To complete the point about
how this is negatively affecting our police forces and carrying cases
through the courts, as was mentioned by the National Parole Board here
yesterday before this committee, this change being made in this bill relates
to only records held by the commissioner or by a department or agency of the
Government of Canada and shall be kept separate and apart from other
records. The answer given by the National Parole Board and by the officials
was that we cannot really extend that protection to provincial agencies or
the courts or any records held by the courts that are outside of our federal
jurisdiction. If an ordinary individual has a record it is not disclosed,
but if a police officer has a record it is disclosed mandatorily. That was
my question and thank you for your answer.
Senator Lang: I appreciate the work that
you and your membership do every day and every night on our behalf.
I would like to refer to your comments on the
question of rehabilitation. The bill before us does a number of things from
the point of view of enforcement but also from the point of view of
One of scourges in our society is drugs on the
street through organized crime, which you talked about. It is not only in
the big cities but also in small-town Canada. It is prevalent in my part of
the world, Yukon, and in many other areas of rural Canada. Maybe you could
touch on the government's National Anti-Drug Strategy, which refers to the
drug treatment court program, which is in this bill. Have you had any
experience with it? What successes, if any, have we have had? Perhaps you
could provide some overall observations.
Mr. Stamatakis: Generally speaking, I am
supportive. You have to be careful when you talk about drug enforcement. The
emphasis in my view around Bill C-10 and what we really support is the focus
on organized crime, serious drug trafficking, and persons who are addicted
where treatment needs to be a big part of the solution. We are very
supportive of the drug treatment court programs where you can look at
alternatives for dealing with the tragically addicted people who find
themselves mired in the drug industry because of the addiction. We should go
further. There are lots of opportunities to give people access to treatment
and to look at other strategies to try to get people away from their
addiction. Again, let us focus on education and prevention.
We have a drug court in Vancouver that I have
some experience with. I am aware of cases referred to the drug court. Many
people who have come through have been diverted into other programs or
activities rather than being charged criminally and ultimately sentenced
somehow. To be honest, I cannot say that there have been any resounding
successes in terms of someone who went through the drug court and, as a
result, has moved on. However, it is something that we need to rely on more,
and we need to keep trying. When you are dealing with the seriously
addicted, whether to illicit drugs or legal drugs, treatment and getting
them to a place where they are abstaining is challenging, and you have to
keep trying sometimes. It will not work the first time every time.
Senator Lang: I will move on to another
area. We consistently hear about the scenario of a university party where
one individual gives another individual some marijuana. Subsequently, they
would be charged. If they give them a pill with codeine in it, they would be
charged and subsequently taken through the court system. Could you perhaps
give us your observations from the enforcement point of view on such a
Mr. Stamatakis: In my experience, both in
terms of my colleagues and the people I represent, that is not a likely
scenario. I cannot imagine a circumstance where you are going to arrest
someone in that circumstance at a party. You may intervene because you have
been called, but to actually arrest and charge someone with possession, let
alone even considering something like trafficking, I just do not see
happening. In fact, if a police officer in my experience did do that, I
would be shocked if the Crown approved the charge, in provinces where the
Crown approves charges. Even in locations where police officers can swear
the information on their own, I do not know how far that would get in the
criminal justice system in those circumstances.
Again, police officers are required to use
their discretion every day. We do not give a ticket to every person that
goes five kilometres over the speed limit. It is the same thing with every
other type of offence. We do not have the capacity to spend a lot of time
looking for people who are casual users of marijuana; it is just not
possible. We have to make decisions around resources and prioritize actions.
In the police community in this country right
now, given the challenges we face with respect to resources and funding, we
focus on serious criminal offenders. More recently, we have focused on
intelligence-led policing, whereby we rely a lot on data and crime analyses.
We target chronic offenders and serious offenders, and that is how we are
making communities safer. That is part of the reason that we have seen some
significant improvements in the types of crimes we see in Canadian
The Chair: From what you have said, I am
stating the obvious: Your focus as a police officer is on serious crime.
There are other crimes that have to be dealt with as well, but serious crime
is the major focus. It seems that the basis of your support of Bill C-10 is
that it focuses on serious crime. Not to put words in your mouth, but is
that the basis of your support of Bill C-10?
Mr. Stamatakis: That is correct. In my time
as a police officer, I have come across a lot of people with a joint or a
pill. I just take it and typically destroy it; and that is the end of it.
There has to be some other aggravating factor or there has to be something
more before taking any further enforcement action.
The Chair: To that extent, Bill C-10 uses
the term "aggravating factor" such that mandatory minimums would apply only
when aggravating factors also apply.
Senator Joyal: Mr. Stamatakis, yesterday
our colleague Senator Nolin, who has been sitting on this committee for a
long time, called our attention to a report that was published last June. I
do not know if you are aware of it. It is entitled, War on Drugs: Report
of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, June 2011. That report was put
together through the service of commissioners from many countries around the
world under the auspices of the United Nations.
On page 15, a chapter entitled "Law Enforcement
and the Escalation of Violence" concluded that increased law enforcement
actually increased drug market violence "by
displacing dealers and related activity elsewhere or increasing the
incidence of violence as displaced dealers clash with established ones."
When there are drug fights, there are
casualties among the public and among the drug dealers, who tend to shoot
one another. We know that crime gangs have their territories and monopolies
over traffickers. Is this unavoidable or is it an unintended consequence of
the law enforcement generally? Certainly, Bill C-10 will have an impact on
this. If we expect the bill to be effective, law enforcement will be in a
better position to fight organized crime, and the bill provides for
consequences, like the ones that apply in that report. Do you have comments
Mr. Stamatakis: I will say a couple of
things. As a police officer and someone who represents front line police
officers, I really take offence to this whole notion that Canada has been
engaged somehow in a war on drugs. That is an American term that many people
have conveniently imported into this country. The fact is that we are not
engaged in a war on drugs in this country. We target people who are engaged
in criminal activity that is harmful to communities and the citizens that
live in communities.
I have been a police officer for 23 years. On
the West Coast, from the early 1990s, I went through at least five or six
what are often referred to as "gang wars." The police had nothing to do with
any of the gang violence. I am talking about murders — very public
shootings. One war is occurring right now in the Lower Mainland. It has
nothing to do with enforcement. These are battles between different
organized crime groups engaged in the production and distribution of
marijuana, cocaine or ecstasy that are fighting over turf, ripping each
other off or that kind of thing. All we do is try to prevent it from
happening and put a lid on it.
With the greatest of respect to the people who
wrote the report — and I may have seen it or read it but I do not recall
right now — last year or two years ago we had a very serious gang war
problem in the Lower Mainland. There were many murders. The police
organizations throughout the Lower Mainland got together and created an
integrated gang task force and coordinated our efforts. We went from seeing
a municipality like Abbotsford leading the country in homicides to having no
homicides last year. Even in Vancouver, the homicide rate went down
Therefore, I would give a different perspective
and say that the targeted law enforcement activities that police agencies
across the country are now engaging in when it comes to drugs in this
country are having a very positive effect. Unfortunately what we are still
grappling with and have not solved is the fact that the illegal distribution
and production of drugs is very lucrative. You have people who want to be
involved in organized crime because they see it as an opportunity to make
lots of money quickly and easily, and those people continue to have
conflicts with each other. That is what we are struggling with in this
Senator Joyal: Thank you for your comments.
They are appreciated, and we will make sure that Senator Nolin can share the
results of your experience.
Mr. Stamatakis: I would be happy to discuss
the issue further with him.
Senator Joyal: In your brief, you concluded
that there is, of course, a financial issue with this bill, and you are one
of the stakeholders on that issue. Do you have any idea of the amount of
money or resources needed to implement the objectives of this bill? It is
fine for us to adopt the legislation, but it falls into your hands the next
day, as one of the front line officers, to implement it. Since you were a
participant or at least were at the federal-provincial-territorial
ministers' conference last week, do you have any idea of the amount of money
required by this bill if we really want to meet the objectives of it?
Mr. Stamatakis: I am of two minds with
respect to the costs because I was at the ministers' meeting last week, and
we heard from a lot of the provincial ministers in terms of what impact they
thought it would have on each province. Obviously, there were differing
One of the things that has occurred to me is
that a lot of people are talking about what the cost is, but it is based on
a lot of assumptions. I do not know — and this is just my opinion — if I
have seen real data that demonstrates specifically what the costs will be.
I am involved, along with police leaders across
the country, in discussions around policing costs and the economics of
policing. I do know — and I referred to it in my opening comments — that
front line police officers deal with chronic offenders over and over and
over again. One of the things that occurred to me and that I want to spend
some time on is that if we are going to see some minimum sentences and going
to get these chronic, serious offenders off the street, one of the
consequences of this legislation may be that there is more capacity in the
police community both to continue with enforcement activities and to spend
some of that time on the proactive activities we are always engaged in. Here
today we are talking about enforcement, but I would say that prevention and
proactive activities are just as important as enforcing the laws. That is a
long answer to your very simple question. No, we have not done any research
ourselves to try to anticipate the costs.
However, there is a real cost to some of the
crime that occurs in this country. We deal with victims every day, and I
could spend a whole day here talking to you about people who are affected,
even the 85-year-old widow whose gets broken into and has lived in the same
home for 60 years. I could tell you what impact that B and E, which we have
decided in this country is a relatively minor crime, has on that elderly
widow for the rest of her life. There is a real cost to crime in this
country, and at some point people have to decide what it is worth.
Senator Boisvenu: Thank you very much for
your testimony; it was greatly appreciated. Your brief addressed at length
the issue of drugs, especially in school. I agree with your observations,
since I often go into schools to speak to students. School principals have
told me that, in high school, they have to focus more on maintaining order
than on teaching.
According to a Health Canada report made public
last year, marijuana contains substances which, among other things, were
20 times more powerful in 2010 than in 1975 or 1980, and that kids as young
as 9 were smoking up in 2010 as compared to doing so at age 15 in 1975. The
neurological repercussions are permanent. Boys, I imagine, smoke up more
than girls, and, at age 18, boys are twice as likely as girls to develop
schizophrenia when they start using at a young age.
For years now, there has been a debate on
legislating the sale and use of marijuana. This issue was debated yesterday,
but unfortunately I was not there. What would you say to people who support
legalization of these drugs? The report we received yesterday calls for
legalizing a whole range of drugs, not only soft drugs. What do you say to
people who defend the philosophy of legalizing everything?
Mr. Stamatakis: What I would say is this.
First, you are bang on in terms of the report that suggests that we are
seeing youth start to use drugs at a younger age. That is directly as a
result of the kind of messaging that exists. I alluded to it in my comments.
We are seeing important people, people who represent institutions,
trivialize drugs like marijuana when, in fact, not only is it more potent
but also we have police officers who go to grow ops and get sick because of
all pesticides and other chemicals used to try to produce these crops at a
much faster rate. It is a significant problem.
I do not agree, nor do I support this notion
that we should be legalizing drugs. I have followed the debate and I have
engaged in it from time to time. I can tell you that in my experience as a
front line police officer, with the greatest of respect to the government,
if we legalize marijuana we will create standards and there will be
requirements for quality control, health and safety, and all those kinds of
things. This will only drive up price, which means that organized crime
groups — in my view, based on my experience and the feedback I get from
members — will continue to produce marijuana illegally in a black market,
underground, because they will be able to produce and sell it much cheaper
than any government agency will sell it if it is legalized. I do not see
that as the solution.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse can
provide you with great information in terms of what legal drugs already cost
society in this country. I can tell you, from a law enforcement perspective,
we spend a significant amount of time dealing with the trafficking and
illegal distribution of tobacco and alcohol, and the impact of alcohol,
which is a legal substance in society, and the crimes that are committed as
a result of the overconsumption of alcohol.
To me, to say "Let us just legalize it" and not
to recognize what kind of message that sends to youth in this country is
irresponsible. In fact, I would suggest that the reason we are seeing more
youth starting to experiment with these drugs is because of the messaging
and their feeling that if one of our ex-prime ministers said publicly it was
okay to smoke some marijuana from time to time, as a young kid, why would
you then think there was anything wrong with it?
I have two kids of my own. I have a 19-year-old
daughter. I have had some of those discussions. They have been quite
difficult because I am saying, "Here are the reasons why you should think
about this before you get involved with it," and she is giving me all kinds
of arguments on the other side, where you have credible people saying it is
not a big deal.
Senator Boisvenu: You talked about the
problem of break-and-enter. Last year’s crime statistics indicated that the
break-and-enter rate has increased by 21 per cent. This type of mischief is
classified as an economic crime, a property crime, when in fact it has a big
psychological impact. In my view, it should be a crime against the person.
Last year, in Quebec, three youths aged 16 or 17 killed a senior when they
broke into the senior’s home. Young people often break into homes to steal
money for drugs. In your career as a police officer, and based on your
interactions with the police in your environment, have you seen an increase
in this type of crime, which is committed by 14, 15, 16 or 17-year-olds,
where they break into homes to steal money for drugs?
Mr. Stamatakis: Yes. In my career, I have
dealt with many youth engaged in not just break and enters but home
invasions. In fact, I was involved in a prolific case where a group of youth
invaded a number of homes, always where there were elderly people residing
in the homes. Those people, in many cases, were seriously assaulted. In some
cases, elderly women were sexually assaulted by these youth. It is a
I could not tell you today whether or not there
has been a dramatic increase, but I know that there are youth across this
country engaged in those kinds of activities, and youth generally do get
extensively involved in property crimes.
Senator Meredith: Thank you so much for
You talked about intervention and prevention.
As someone who over the last 10 years has worked with police in Toronto
speaking against youth violence, we know that young people are basically
peons in this chain, where they are caught up with the kingpins. We never
seem to reach them. The police have made raids and so forth, and this
problem continues. As you take someone out of the community, someone else
What are you doing to engage stakeholders? You
talk about prevention and intervention in terms of schools. What portion of
your budget is spent on actually doing the education piece? We all want safe
streets and safe communities around this table, but we know that our youth
will be adversely affected by this bill. They are marginalized in these
communities, whether it is Vancouver, Surrey, B.C., Edmonton, Toronto,
Montreal, or right here in Ottawa.
How will we ensure that we are engaging the
stakeholders and spending these dollars up front rather than at the back
Mr. Stamatakis: That is a critical piece,
and you cannot have one and not the other. You need the enforcement piece,
but you also need the prevention piece. I can tell you, from a policing
perspective, that we recognize that as an important piece.
Every major police agency across this country,
although they may call it different things, has a school liaison program
where you have police officers assigned to schools and working in schools to
engage with kids. We have a group of individuals who are making
presentations in schools throughout British Columbia, Yukon and Alberta
around harms associated with drugs. It is a very practical, real-life
example. We have gone away from this whole messaging around just saying no
to drugs. Youth do not listen to that. The messaging needs to be peer-based.
We need to speak about these issues on their level, engage them and give
them some credit for being able to engage.
In Prince Albert, the chief there has created
an interesting and innovative program. I do not have all the terminology,
but he calls it a hub. This is where I think the future lies, where you
engage all the stakeholders. You do not just have police involved but you
have health and schools involved.
The chief has representatives from each
stakeholder working in the same building. The teacher identifies the kid who
comes to school with no breakfast and maybe not clothed properly. Then there
is some dialogue with the social worker to say, "Let us go to the home and
see what is going on." The chief has been able to establish that. Because of
the interventions they have made, they have prevented crimes.
That is the key, to respond in a more
comprehensive way. Instead of the police doing their thing, social agencies
doing their thing, health doing their thing and schools doing their thing,
we need to work together so that we can get to those marginalized kids, the
kids who are struggling or who are not in a good situation, early on before
they decide that the only alternative they have is to get involved in gang
crime activity. Such activity is attractive. You have the nice clothes and
cars and you are flashing the money.
We need to do some different things, and police
departments are engaged in all kinds of strategies in that regard.
Senator Meredith: In terms of the
stakeholders you are interacting with, what is their response to this bill?
They are also intervening with young people to try to help them because they
know their home situation is deplorable, that they come to school hungry and
so forth. Some of these stakeholders are saying, "We know we want these
streets safe." What is their feedback to you, as a police agency,
interacting as associates across this country?
Mr. Stamatakis: For example, in Vancouver
we have a car where we team up a police officer and a social worker, a
police officer and a mental health worker, and a police officer and a youth
worker. When we talk to those people about serious, chronic offenders, then
they support the bill.
However, when you talk to people who broaden it
out beyond that and start to feel like a youth who gets involved in a
criminal offence for the first time is suddenly going to be incarcerated for
a year, of course people do not support that. I do not even support that.
That is not what we are talking about here. We
are talking about serious, chronic offenders who are creating a lot of harm
in your community, victimizing people and tying up police resources, court
resources and that kind of thing.
That is the kind of dialogue I have been
having. The response is mixed, obviously, and we saw a lot of that when we
were at the FPT meeting last week with the provinces.
Senator Jaffer: Mr. Stamatakis, I want to
welcome you. I am also from Vancouver, so welcome to Ottawa.
I certainly understand when you talk about
organized crime. You focused on organized crime in your presentation, and
coming from Vancouver I understand where you come from.
We, from Vancouver or British Columbia, are not
very proud of the issue of missing women and what has happened to the
Aboriginal women in our province. We will always have a mark against us as a
result of that.
I want you to address the challenges that the
police association, police force, faces in dealing with the most
marginalized. In your last intervention you spoke about the marginalized
people, and the most marginalized people are the urban Aboriginal people,
especially in our province of British Columbia. Can you address how this
bill will affect those people?
Mr. Stamatakis: Again, in my experience and
talking specifically about Vancouver, what I have in my mind in relation to
Aboriginal women who live in the Downtown East Side, for example, I do not
think this will affect them at all. Most of the women who our officers
typically come into contact with are usually drug addicted and struggling
and are prostituting themselves to support their drug habit. Frankly, we do
not target those women with respect to any enforcement activities. In fact,
what we have done recently is created programs like Sister Watch.
Senator Jaffer: I did not mean women
specifically. Generally, how will this bill affect the Aboriginal people in
Mr. Stamatakis: It will create some
challenges, I think. It will still target the right people, those chronic
offenders, people who have been through treatment programs, other
alternative restorative justice programs but are still engaged in chronic
criminal activity. You have to recognize, tough, that there are differences
and additional challenges when dealing with those marginalized people,
across the province and across the country.
I will go back to what I referred to earlier.
This is where other programs that we have in place come into play where we
are liaising with representatives from those groups and trying to come up
with alternative strategies to deal with the people they represent. We use
our discretion in terms of how we take enforcement activities, right at the
front end as police officers. We do a lot of work with the Crown in terms of
having discretion, looking to diversion, for example, before there is a
criminal charge and a matter gets to trial.
Police agencies in today's world are very alive
to some of those challenges, and unfortunately it is because of some of the
tragedies that we have had to endure and are still dealing with. We are
still dealing with the missing women's case in Vancouver right now, but in
northern B.C. we still have a lot of unsolved homicides and disappearances,
of marginalized women in particular, which we have not resolved. Those will
be ongoing challenges.
Senator Jaffer: You have really touched on
what has been a concern for us. All the programs you were mentioning
regarding diversion and alternative ways to deal with things, those are
important, especially when you come to Aboriginal or marginalized people,
and then comes mandatory minimum sentences. How do you deal with that?
Mr. Stamatakis: Mandatory minimum sentences
come after the person has been charged. What I am saying is that from a
front line policing perspective we will be charging people who are chronic
offenders and engaged in serious crime.
Senator Jaffer: Are you saying you will not
be charging the other people?
Mr. Stamatakis: You are from Vancouver. You
can go into the Downtown East Side, some of those marginalized
neighbourhoods in our city, and there are people who are using drugs or
addicted to alcohol. We do not arrest and charge those people because that
is not the right approach to take with them. We need to look at alternative
If you have an Aboriginal person who is maybe
chronically addicted but is committing home invasions, we will arrest and
charge that person. That person will then have to face the mandatory minimum
sentencing provisions of this bill. From my perspective, that is fair
enough. We also have to deal with the victims who have had their homes
invaded and explain to them why nothing is happening.
Senator Jaffer: With this bill do you think
the police force will be more involved with plea bargaining?
Mr. Stamatakis: I would say no, because we
are not now anyway. Police forces typically now are involved in many more
programs. We have a liaison person for the homeless. That person deals with
homeless people, and we find shelter for them. We have a liaison person for
the gay, lesbian and transgendered community in Vancouver. That police
officer spends all her time dealing with issues important to that community.
We do not even get to the whole arrest and charge piece. I just see a lot
more of that happening.
If we want to have safe, healthy communities, I
think there is an important role for the police to play in engaging in those
kinds programs and bringing in other partners to solve those issues and not
using the court system for them.
The Chair: Thank you. We are certainly
beyond our time right now, and we have concluded the first round but I will
make an exception. Senator Fraser was very gracious in her opening comments
and very concise. You have a further, hopefully brief, question to put to
Senator Fraser: Thank you very much. I
would like to come back to the question of organized crime.
Let me make it plain: Nobody around this table
supports organized crime. We are all delighted that the police go after
organized crime. I am from Quebec and, as some other colleagues can confirm,
we have our own long and spectacular history with organized crime.
I understood you to say that in the matter of
drugs basically police are going after organized crime, which is great.
However, as colleagues who were here yesterday will recall, I referred to a
study of grow ops done by people in the Department of Justice. It was a
carefully done and statistically valid sample of prosecution case files of
grow ops. They found that 10 per cent of the files involved 10 plants or
less, and that only 5 per cent of the cases had an indication that the
offender was affiliated with organized crime or street gangs. Could you
comment on that?
Mr. Stamatakis: I am not familiar with the
report, but for sure there will be grow ops that police agencies take
enforcement action against that might not be affiliated with organized
crime. In fact, I dealt with one that involved a firefighter who saw it as
an opportunity to make some quick cash. He, in his own home, unfortunately,
was running a grow op with 300 plants.
I think the community would expect the police
to do something about that because it is not just about what that person is
doing within the context of his own home. There is the impact on stealing
the hydro, the impact on neighbours, the risk that someone else finds out
about it and wants to do a grow rip to steal that person's crops. There will
be enforcement activity that involves people other than organized crime
All I am saying is there is enough out there
involving organized crime and people running bigger grow ops to keep the
police busy without trying to find a person growing a few plants in their
own home, not bothering anyone, not stealing hydro and not posing a risk to
the community. Generally speaking, we will not be going after those people.
Where there was enforcement action taken
against people growing 10 plants, maybe the context caused that particular
law enforcement agency to do something about it. I do not know the context.
In a smaller community, that might be a bigger deal, particularly if the
people growing those 10 plants are engaged in other activities that are
detrimental to the quality of life of people living in the same
neighbourhood. I do not know. Those are all things to consider before
deciding to take action. That is my expectation.
Senator Fraser: More study is needed. Thank
The Chair: Colleagues, that concludes
today's discussion. Mr. Stamatakis, thank you so much for your contribution
here today. I know for all of us there is a lot of information, some
theoretical, some academic. We hear from government officials, but to hear
it from the front line, you deal with the reality of the street every day,
and it is certainly a viewpoint we need. Thank you very much. You brought it
home loud and clear.
Mr. Stamatakis: Thank you. I appreciate the
opportunity and I am happy to come back any time you would like. I also
appreciate the fact that you are paying close attention to the bill and
deliberating it. It is important, not just for police officers but for all
Canadians, that it happens in this way. Thank you very much.
The Chair: We would agree with you.
Colleagues, we will adjourn until next
Wednesday for the next portion of this hearing.
(The committee adjourned.)