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Report of the committee

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to table its

THIRTY-FIRST REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized to examine the subject matter of those elements contained in Division 17 of Part 4, and in Subdivisions B, C and D of Division 2 of Part 4 of Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, May 2, 2019, examined the said subject-matter and now reports as follows:

SUBDIVISIONS B, C, AND D OF DIVISION 2 OF PART 4 (AMENDMENTS TO THE CRIMINAL CODE, TO THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME (MONEY LAUNDERING) AND TERRORIST FINANCING ACT; AND THE SEIZED PROPERTY MANAGEMENT ACT)

Observation 1

The committee acknowledges that Bill C-97 contains amendments aimed at enhancing the capacity of law enforcement, prosecution services and FINTRAC to deter, prevent, investigate and prosecute money laundering activities. However, the committee is of the opinion that the government is not demonstrating the leadership that is necessary to effectively combat money laundering and to make up for the losses caused to public funds. According to recent expert reports and information released by the British Columbia government, losses range from $40 to $100 billion per year. The federal government appears to rely on international bodies, and even the provinces, before taking action.

The committee calls on the Government of Canada to assume its leadership role fully, as the laundering of illicit proceeds undermines the economy, serves to enable the activities of organized crime, and encourages human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The Government of Canada should immediately create a national beneficial ownership registry and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the various aspects of money laundering in order to become a global leader in anti-money laundering policy and practices.        

DIVISION 17 OF PART 4 (AMENDMENTS TO THE FEDERAL COURTS ACT)

Observation 2

The committee notes that Bill C-97 proposes to increase the number of Federal Court judges from 36 to 39 to ensure, as stated in Budget 2019, “efficient and timely processing of asylum claimants seeking judicial review.” However, the committee is of the opinion that the new funding for the government’s border enforcement strategy that is intended to increase the asylum system’s capacity to process higher volumes will not be sufficient to deal in a timely matter with the current backlog of asylum requests that have accumulated over the past several years. The measures currently in place are not sufficient to solve the existing systemic challenges. This backlog could even increase if the rate of applications increases from its current rate.

The committee calls on the Government of Canada to ensure that any vacancies at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada are filled immediately in order to avoid any delays. The committee has trouble understanding why the government has been so slow to fill vacancies.

Respectfully submitted,

SERGE JOYAL

Chair