Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 59 - Twenty-second Report of the Committee

THURSDAY, March 4, 1999

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


Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, December 3, 1998, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment but with the following observations:

The committee agrees with the proposed amendments in Clauses 5 and 18(2), enacting Criminal Code ss. 186(5.1) and (5.2) and 492.1(5), respectively, which provide for the judicially-authorised removal of electronic surveillance devices after lawful surveillance has been concluded. The proposed amendments will create certainty with respect to the authorisation process, on which the statute is presently silent. Some members of the committee expressed concerns about the degree of certainty created, however, and the committee would like to suggest that the Government review this matter in more detail and that it should conduct a policy or legislative review of privacy which includes the subject of electronic surveillance.

Two specific issues might be considered in this context. It was noted that, while the legislation now provides the basis for removing devices, and it is understood that the police generally seek removal as quickly as is feasible after an investigation is concluded, there is no specific statutory requirement to remove devices when they are no longer needed. Consideration might be given to the enactment of such a requirement, having regard to the practical requirements of protecting investigations and investigative techniques. It was also noted that, while there are detailed provisions setting the terms and conditions for installing devices and conducting authorised surveillance, the amendment provides only that the judge or justice who authorises removal do so on "...any terms and conditions that the judge [justice] considers advisable in the public interest...." Consideration might be given to enacting more specific requirements governing removal, possibly when more is known about judicial application of the new provisions to actual cases in future.

Your committee heard testimony about the significant expansion in gambling in Canada during the last decades, particularly the last 15 years. We were told that expansion has occurred without a full review of the social, economic, and legal aspects of gambling and charitable gaming in Canada. The committee members are concerned that decisions regarding gambling are being made without adequate information. We are of the view that this is an issue that must be addressed and, therefore, we would urge the federal government, in cooperation with the provinces, to establish an independent public enquiry to review the impact that the gaming industry in Canada has on the economy, local communities, individuals and on human and social development. The committee would like to stress that the advent of on-line gambling makes the creation of such an enquiry even more critical. We note that the United States Congress also had concerns with respect to gambling issues. In June of 1996, it established an independent commission, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, to conduct a comprehensive legal and factual study of the social and economic impacts of gambling on governments and on communities and social institutions, including the individuals, families and businesses which compose them. That Commission is due to report in June 1999.

Respectfully submitted,