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Criminal Records Act

Bill to Amend--Sixteenth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee--Debate

May 2, 2024


Hon. Kim Pate [ + ]

Honourable Senators, I rise to speak to the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled on September 26, 2023, regarding Bill S-212, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act, to make consequential amendments to other Acts and to repeal a regulation, with amendments.

Continuing to prevent us from voting now, at the report stage, prevents us from determining whether Bill S-212 proceeds to third reading with or without amendments that I moved at the Legal Committee, to respond to concerns that police agencies raised about being assured of having access to expired records for investigative purposes.

I want to acknowledge and thank the members of the Legal Committee for their rigorous and focused review of Bill S-212 and their work on the amendment.

I also want to thank the witnesses, committee clerks, Library of Parliament analysts, committee and senators’ staff teams, including Emily, Andrew and the fabulous legal interns in our office in particular, not to mention the countless experts — many with lived experience — with whom we consulted during the development and study of the bill.

I am very grateful to all who invested energy, work and time in the weeks of sustained study of Bill S-212. We heard from 29 witnesses, including representatives of the Parole Board of Canada and other members of Public Safety Canada, police organizations, legal and academic experts, those with lived experience of criminalization and victimization, as well as organizations advocating with and on behalf of these groups.

The different perspectives at the committee table enriched our study. The committee reviewed available data, dispelled common myths and misconceptions and enabled diverse voices with experience and expertise to be heard.

The evidence and data presented at committee reaffirmed that requiring people to go through protracted administrative application processes to obtain record relief does not enhance public safety. Numerous professionals, including police authorities, reminded us that after a relatively small number of crime-free years, people with records are no more likely than anyone else to commit another crime.

These findings align with recent incremental work on criminal records by the government and Parliament, which, as the Legal Committee heard from Public Safety Canada, has recently led to public consultations on an automated expiry process. A final report published in August of 2022 confirmed that almost all participants “. . . strongly support the development of an automated system.”

The committee responded by agreeing to my amendment creating an exception that would continue police access to expired records for investigative purposes, as they requested.

That is the substance of why we have to accept this report. I ask you, senators, to please accept the report at this stage, allow us to proceed to third reading and call the vote now on the report.

Thank you.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

I move adjournment of the debate, please.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore [ + ]

It is moved by the Honourable Senator Plett, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin, that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

All those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In my opinion the “nays” have it.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore [ + ]

I see two senators rising. Do we have agreement on a bell? One hour. Call in the senators for a vote at 11:49 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore [ + ]

On debate, Senator Cormier.

Hon. René Cormier [ + ]

Thank you, Your Honour.

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