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37th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 9, 2002




¹ 1530
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.))
V         Mr. Cauchon

¹ 1535

¹ 1540

¹ 1545
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance)

¹ 1550

¹ 1555
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Vic Toews
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Vic Toews
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1600
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Lanctôt
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1605
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg--Transcona, NDP)

º 1610
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Bill Blaikie

º 1615
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         Mr. Bill Blaikie
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, PC)

º 1620
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Peter MacKay
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         Mr. Peter MacKay
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Peter MacKay
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1625
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.)

º 1630
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1635
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Irwin Cotler
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1640
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac--Mégantic, Lib.)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt

º 1645
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1650
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

º 1655
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Ms. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

» 1700
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. John Maloney (Erie--Lincoln, Lib.)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

» 1705
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Irwin Cotler

» 1710
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

» 1715
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Ivan Grose (Oshawa, Lib.)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon

» 1720
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

» 1725
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         Mr. Martin Cauchon
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)










CANADA

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


NUMBER 088 
l
1st SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, May 9, 2002

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1530)  

[English]

+

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.)): I'd like to call to order the 88th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Our witness this afternoon is the Honourable Martin Cauchon, Attorney General and Minister of Justice for Canada.

    Welcome, Monsieur Cauchon. I know this is not your first appearance before the committee, but I think it is your first appearance as Minister of Justice. We're looking forward to what you have to say to us.

    Our usual format is ten minutes as a witness and then the questioning by each party to begin round one. I hope that's acceptable to you. Thank you.

+-

    The Honourable Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada): My understanding is that I have ten minutes to start with.

    The Chair: We're a little generous on that, but yes.

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Okay. I expect to be around fifteen minutes, but not more than that. I thought it was a good idea to proceed with a good overview of the situation, since this is the first time I come to this committee in my capacity.

    First of all, I would like to introduce some colleagues of mine who will be with me during the presentation.

[Translation]

    First of all, I'd like to introduce the people here with me: the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Morris Rosenberg, and Ms. Catherine MacLeod. Also here with me are a team of officials who will be able to answer various technical questions that members may have.

[English]

    Before I get involved in the main speech, I would like to tell you that I'm very pleased to be here. I see the committee as a member of the team in the sense that we all work in order to make sure we have a better society. We as Parliament will be able to proceed with the enactment of good legislation for Canadians as a whole. We all want to work as well in order to make sure that in proceeding with the enactment of legislation, we will be able to protect Canadian values. That's the aim and goal of our department, and I feel a strong support as well from the committee.

    I know you have been working very hard over the past month, and I would like to thank you for the work you've been doing. Thank you very much as well for the support you provide to the department and for the support you will give me as minister in the future.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, this is the first time that I have appeared before you as the Minister of Justice and it is therefore the first opportunity I have had to inform you of the initiatives and activities of my new department.

    Perhaps I should begin by pointing out that I am familiar with your work and that your critical analysis of the various bills referred to you is greatly appreciated and reflects the important role played by parliamentarians.

[English]

    Last year you dealt with a heavy docket of justice-related bills. I want to thank you for your accomplishments, particularly for your work on Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation. The concerted efforts of this committee led to many significant improvements in the creation and implementation of Bill C-36. Your committee worked swiftly and effectively, under an impossibly short deadline. I'm very proud of the results and I believe members of this committee should also take pride in their efforts.

[Translation]

    Of course we live in troubled times on the global stage but I appreciate the fact that the Justice portfolio has been entrusted to me at this time, when the spotlight falls on Canadian democracy in particular as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms which, in the eyes of most Canadians, defines us as a people and as a nation.

    The Charter enshrines our liberal traditions and enables us to respond quickly and effectively to change. The impact of the Charter has been felt in four separate areas: Canadian society; government and public administration; the judiciary and the courts; and the judicial systems of other countries. For example, the Bill of Rights adopted in New Zealand in 1990 draws deeply on the constitutional protections enshrined in our Charter.

    It can be stated without fear of contradiction that the Charter gives all Canadians a voice. Its contents must always be interpreted in a manner that maintains balance and co-ordination between individual rights and collective interests. By seeking to create this delicate balance, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is our guarantee of a society that treats its members with increasing fairness and upholds the democratic traditions and ideals of our nation.

[English]

    I believe that Canadians at all levels of our society should feel that they own the charter. The dialogue surrounding it is not limited to court decisions and the response of Parliament and government to such decisions. Respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the charter is the responsibility, as well as the privilege, of every individual Canadian citizen.

    As Attorney General, I have a personal commitment and a legal responsibility to ensure that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is upheld in every law proposed and enacted by the Government of Canada. I rely on many others, particularly the members of this committee, for help in meeting my commitment.

[Translation]

    You will, I am sure, agree with me that there have been many achievements in the justice field during the last year, but before I look at them, I should like to take this opportunity to say a few words about Bill C-36.

    As you are all aware, it was necessary to draft the bill rather quickly and the regular legislative process had to be telescoped somewhat. The department had to apply all its knowledge of teamwork and co-operation in order to do its work in the time it was given. Of course, Parliament played its role in changing the Bill.

[English]

    Counter-terrorism measures in modern democracy call for a delicate balance to be struck between the state's need for security and the need to maintain vigilance with regard to encroachments on individual rights and freedoms. In developing Canada's anti-terrorism act, all of the provisions were analysed to ensure that the legislation was consistent with the fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in our charter.

[Translation]

    Canada's anti-terrorism effort is not limited to the enactment of Bill C-36. As you all know, it also includes the provision of international assistance. In this regard, I recently met with the ministers of justice and attorneys general of the countries of the western hemisphere in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss co-operation in the field of justice with particular reference to counter-terrorism and international organized crime.

    During that meeting, I stressed the need for effective and appropriate legislation while ensuring that fundamental rights are maintained. I supported a resolution concerning the establishment of an electronic means of bringing together intelligence on criminals obtained by the member states of the OAS and I urged my colleagues there to take action to ensure greater co-operation in the field of criminal justice. I was particularly pleased that this resolution received unanimous support.

    Aside from such legislative measures as Bills C-36 and C-24, I should also like to stress some of the department's programs. The Department of Justice supports a number of programs and initiatives such as the National Crime Prevention Centre, which was recently expanded, to help ensure that the Canadian justice system is always fair and accessible to all Canadians. Last July, moreover, the Government of Canada announced further investment of $145 million in the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention.

¹  +-(1535)  

[English]

    The Youth Criminal Justice Act, which was passed by Parliament in February, allows for a fair and effective youth justice system. I appreciate the hard work and long hours dedicated by this committee to this law. Canadians have waited long enough for a fair and more effective youth justice system, and we must move ahead to support the implementation of this legislation.

    I will soon announce the formation of a reference group on youth justice renewal. The combined expertise of members of the reference group will provide the department with expertise on youth crime, and will help integrate all sectors involved in youth justice.

[Translation]

    I have also committed to helping the provinces and territories achieve the objectives of youth justice renewal. I should like to remind the committee at this point that the Government of Canada has committed almost one billion dollars over five years in cost-sharing agreements.

    Before moving on to talk to you about my ideas for the future, I should like to offer my support for the work currently being done by this committee with respect to the Criminal Code provisions concerning mental disorders, the blood alcohol level used in impaired driving offences and the criminal liability of corporations, which is the subject of Bill C-284 and is, without a shadow of a doubt, linked to the Westray Mine tragedy, which occurred ten years ago today.

    Mr. Chairman, I'm sure my colleagues would like to join with me in extending, both personally and on behalf of our government, our sympathies to family and friends who lost loved ones in this tragic incident.

[English]

    On the issue of conditional sentences, the Supreme Court of Canada has provided further guidance that emphasizes that conditional sentences should include both punitive and rehabilitative objectives, and that conditions such as house arrest or curfew should be the norm. Having said that, I understand that your committee has agreed to review the use of conditional sentences. I look forward to receiving your views on this matter, and pledge the cooperation of my officials in this work.

[Translation]

    We have made substantial strides over the last year, but there is still a lot of work to do in many key areas. My vision is based on the Charter or, more specifically, on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada as well as the need to provide access to the justice system.

    One challenge that is particularly important to me is the need to make the justice system more accessible to Canadians. I should like to see justice available to all Canadians, including those who cannot afford expensive legal representation.

[English]

    A strong legal aid system is one of the pillars supporting Canada's system of justice. It is important to ensure that economically disadvantaged Canadians have equitable access to criminal legal aid. Although the federal government provides funding for criminal and civil legal aid, the provinces and territories are responsible for the management and administration of their legal aid programs.

    We recognize, however, that there are increasing pressures and strains on the legal aid system. That is why the Canadian government has approved an increase to its contribution to the provinces from $79.8 million to $99.3 million, and to the territories from $2.1 million to $2.6 million for criminal legal aid. This additional funding was also provided last fiscal year 2001-02.

    This alone is not the solution. Together with our provincial and territorial partners, we have embarked on a two-year review of legal aid. It includes a legal aid research initiative to look at unmet needs. In addition, pilot project funding of $1.2 million will allow jurisdictions to test innovative and alternative service delivery methods. The results of this research will allow the federal government to develop, in concert with its provincial and territorial partners, a long-term strategy to ensure equitable access to legal aid services across Canada.

    The department has contributed $82 million a year for the past five years to the provinces and territories for criminal legal aid. In response to concerns about rapid growth in demand for legal aid services, we gave an additional $20 million in 2001-02. But to address the issue of access, I believe we need to do much more than simply increase spending on legal aid. We need to invest more in public legal education, and develop approaches such as alternative dispute resolution and restorative justice. These approaches can resolve many types of conflicts, and help ease the heavy burden carried by our court system. We have already seen some encouraging results from initiatives led by the Department of Justice in this area.

¹  +-(1540)  

[Translation]

    For example, new drug courts to deal with drug offences have been established in Toronto and Vancouver and are helping to redirect addicts away from the criminal courts and into supervised treatment programs. These addiction treatment courts are designed to meet the needs of criminals who are addicted to various substances and to contribute to safe communities. As the Minister, I hope to work with the Department in order to promote similar initiatives in other areas such as the North, where new initiatives are sorely needed.

    Moreover, the government believes that the security of Canada's young people is of paramount importance and that is why the officials in my department are preparing legislative measures and programs to protect them.

    The Federal Child Support Guidelines, for example, have helped to protect the children of parents who are involved in divorce proceedings from the financial problems that often go hand in hand with marriage breakdown. As a result of the Guidelines, most parents who are divorcing can now reach agreement on the financial support payments to be made for the family without having to go to court. The Government of Canada also strengthened the procedures to help provincial and territorial agencies ensure compliance with the duty to support one's family financially.

    As you are aware, I recently tabled a report on the provisions and application of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and I am continuing to look for better ways to meet the needs of children. I plan to announce a more comprehensive strategy in the fall.

    On the other hand, the officials in my department acknowledge that the rapid growth of electronic media has substantially increased the availability of child pornography. The recent decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court in the Sharpe case is complex. I feel that it is essential to examine the repercussions of this decision before we consider taking any steps. However, I have asked the officials in my department to advise me as to the possibility of amending the legislation to provide better protection for children. Having said this, we must always have as the goal we seek a happy medium between freedom of expression and child protection.

    I should add that the provisions in Bill C-15A relating to child pornography are among the most stringent in the western democracies. In order to fight child pornography and other crimes effectively, I feel that we must continue to strengthen the role played by Canada in the field of international justice. The department has been very active in many international issues over the last year. The government is very proud of the role it played in the establishment of the International Criminal Court. However, we must double our efforts to ensure that Canada continues to be an effective participant in a world where economic and political globalization requires multilateral cooperation.

¹  +-(1545)  

[English]

     There is, Mr. Chairman, a growing recognition that the rule of law and an effective justice system are essential prerequisites to democracy, the promotion of human rights, security, and sustainable development. A new partnership for African development, which offers the opportunity to define a new relationship between Africa and its development partners, will be a principle focus of discussion at the G-8 summit in Kananaskis in June. My department will play its part in the success of this initiative.

    In keeping with our international commitment to combat terrorism, I will be co-hosting the fifth meeting of the G-8 ministers of justice and interior, to be held May 13 and 14 at Mont Tremblant. The theme of the ministers is protecting society from international terrorism and crime. This conference is one more example of the Government of Canada's leadership role in promoting international cooperation in the battle against terrorism.

    We will be working with our international partners in addressing critical public security issues, such as legal aspects of terrorism financing; role of law enforcement and intelligence services in chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threat assessment and incident response; appropriate use of technology to ensure public safety; the protection of children on the Internet; exchange of experiences in developing domestic counter-terrorism measures; and the convergence of international terrorism and crime.

    It is my intention to take a leading role in developing the ideas that will inform the discussion, and I intend to participate fully in shaping the agenda.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chairman, the department plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Canada remains a stable and safe democracy that has a fair and accessible justice system. We are in ongoing consultations with the stakeholders and the people of this country to ensure that our programs and initiatives meet their needs. We are constantly assessing our procedures and systems for delivering effective and efficient services.

    I am very eager to work with the committee in order to improve our justice system to reflect Canada's growth and development.

    I thank you.

[English]

    Before turning the floor over to the chair for the question period, I would just like to thank the parliamentary secretary to the justice department, Paul Macklin, who has been working hard and who has been very helpful as well. I thank him for his contribution to this committee as well as for his enormous contribution to the department. Thank you, Paul.

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Monsieur Minister, that was a fair and liberal interpretation of ten minutes. However, Mr. Toews will not enjoy the benefit of a liberal interpretation of his seven minutes.

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance): No, I've been the blunt of Liberal interpretations for a long period of time, Mr. Chair.

    I want to add my thanks to the parliamentary secretary, who is doing a very good job of assisting us in this committee, as well as the chair here. Certainly the minister's policy initiatives are, I believe, in relatively good hands with this committee.

    There are, of course, issues I am concerned about. I don't intend to go through all of those issues, but this committee spent a lot of time on the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which unfortunately is a terrible mistake. It will not work. It's legally complex, an administrative nightmare. In fact, it must be a defence lawyer's delight and a police officer's nightmare. And that's unfortunate. I think we could have done a better job on that, had there been a little more flexibility.

    There are some laws, though, that deserve the attention of this committee, and I want to encourage the minister to encourage Liberal members to move quickly on those issues. The issue of conditional sentences is very important. I heard the comments with respect to the Supreme Court of Canada. I think we must be quick to note that the Supreme Court of Canada's comments should not be seen as policy endorsements of conditional sentences. They were an interpretation of the law that they were presented with. In fact, those conditional sentences have created significant and severe difficulties for victims of violent crimes. And I don't think that anyone intended conditional sentences to benefit violent criminals.

    There are other issues relating to victims, Mr. Minister. The criminal courts, since 1995, no longer collect restitution on behalf of victims. So if you're a victim of a gang, and the court orders restitution, the law since 1995 says to go out there and sue civilly. It just isn't done. It just isn't done, because you don't want to take on a gang in order to get restitution from the courts. And it's sad that victims were let down in that very significant way. That's what happens. You get a certificate now from the court and you enforce it civilly--very, very disappointing.

    There are a couple of very important acts that we need to move ahead on. One is called C-400, “Lisa's law”. I think there was unanimous consent in the House to move that issue along. As well, the Westray bill that was referred to has some very good principles that we need to move along very quickly. We don't want this House to prorogue and leave that bill standing. It has come back to this committee too many times, and we need to move.

    I want to make a few comments about cooperative federalism and the need for provinces and the federal government to work together. There's no greater area than the area of justice, or certainly it's one of the most significant areas, where cooperative federalism is required. I say that because the federal government passes the criminal laws and then delegates the responsibility to prosecute these laws to the provinces. It's not a constitutional responsibility of the province. It's delegated to them. The provinces could say they refuse this delegation--the delegation that was clearly spelled out by the Supreme Court of Canada--and the federal government would be stuck prosecuting under the Young Offenders Act, administering the Young Offenders Act, prosecuting under the Criminal Code.

    I think provinces have generally gone along with the federal government when there was equity in funding. And we have seen the funding slide in areas such as the youth justice area, where now the provinces pick up about 75% to 80% of a federal program. It's quite astounding that the provinces are picking up 75% to 80% of a federal program. The gap is increasing in that partnership. It's a very limited partnership on the part of the federal government.

    We see provincial attorneys general across this country now saying they don't have the resources. For example, the Youth Criminal Justice Act is going to create so much complexity--as I said, a defence lawyer's delight--that legal aid costs arising out of that will simply skyrocket.

¹  +-(1550)  

    Yet the B.C. Attorney General, the Liberal Attorney General in British Columbia, has had to close down courthouses. He's had to cut legal aid. People are being denied access to justice in this country because the Liberal government here is no longer a fifty-fifty partner. And I also noted the Ontario Attorney General saying that on immigration matters the legal aid bill in the next fiscal year is going to go to $43 million, which the province is picking up for essentially a federal program. It's $43 million, and this is affecting other areas. So there is no access to justice because the federal government is reneging on that equality of partnership.

    I hear all the figures that you've stated in terms of the increase for youth justice, and in terms of the increase in legal aid. The increase in legal aid takes the federal share from about 15% to 20% up to 20% to 25%, in that range. That's where you are, at best. That's a generous interpretation of what the federal contribution is now. In respect of the legal aid budget, similarly, it's going from somewhere between 15% and 20% to somewhere between 20% and 25%.

    What kind of partnership is this? How do we expect the provinces to carry out their responsibility for policies that we say are good? We say this Youth Criminal Justice Act is a good act, but we don't put our money where our mouth is.

¹  +-(1555)  

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Toews, I assume you want an answer to these questions, but you're leaving very little time for the witness to respond.

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews: I think I was simply expressing some of my congratulations to the minister and some of my concerns. And I don't expect to put the minister on the spot and have him answer this right here, but I expect him, as I know he will, to go back and very seriously consider some of these significant issues that relate to cooperative federalism and the joint working together. What fuels the fans of alienation, of separatism, but this lack of cooperation and respect for each other's jurisdiction?

    Thank you.

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Toews, thank you for your question.

    Minister, if you would please respond.

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: How much time do I have to answer?

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): As much as you want.

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: As much as I want?

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Yes. I would anticipate that the minister, being a skilled individual, would be able to respond within a couple of minutes.

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: A couple of minutes?

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): A couple of minutes. Mr. Toews' speech ran well over seven minutes.

+-

    Mr. Vic Toews: I'm certainly willing to give leave to the minister for ten minutes. I am more than willing.

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: I could use it.

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): I'm sure you'll respond over the course of the next two hours.

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Let's start with the question on the federal, provincial, and territorial relationship, which is needed and is key in our system. I would just like to tell my colleague, who is a former minister with a provincial government, that at the last federal, provincial, and territorial meeting I went to, my first as justice minister, I felt there was a very good spirit around the table and a good sense of cooperation as well.

    One must bear in mind and understand as well that when we talk about justice, the provincial governments have a huge responsibility in terms of management. Let's take, for example, a subject you touched on, which is the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Personally, I believe it's a very good act. It's a brand-new philosophy, which we will put in place. We will try to make sure that the young people reintegrate into our society instead of spending their life in jail. So it's a brand-new philosophy that we will put in place and work with before they go to court.

    That philosophy has been tried for years in the province of Quebec. I see my colleague from the Bloc Québécois saying no. But if you were to get in touch with some experts in the province of Quebec, they would tell you that the philosophy we've put in place is more or less the same as has been tested in the province of Quebec.

    Having said that, one of the concerns of the provinces was that they wanted time to proceed with a decent implementation of the bill. They wanted time to put in place the services needed for the new philosophy and to provide some training as well. We gave them one more year, and my understanding is that it was to the entire satisfaction of the members around the table

    Of course, it's a change, and every time there's a change, Mr. Chairman, there's a reaction. But I do believe that what we're doing in this area is the way to proceed.

    On the question of legal aid, the member touches on a subject that is very dear to me. We talk about legal aid being about access to justice. You're right.

    Last year as a department we decided to increase our contribution for two years. I gave you the numbers. Is it enough? I said in my speech that it's a point to start from, and we're going to have to look at the situation from different angles. Looking at the funding side is one thing, but it's not enough. We have to start looking at reform on that side. Of course, we're talking about legal aid for criminal issues and immigration. We're getting involved through agreements with provinces, as you well know, but as well we're getting involved through what we call the Canadian social transfer, which is a brand-new transfer established after the reform of the social safety net. So we're doing more than $100 million a year. We're doing close to $200 million a year.

    We can spend the rest of the day talking about funding, Mr. Chairman, but I do believe it's more than that. That is why at the next federal, provincial, and territorial meeting, which will take place this fall, that subject will be on the table so that we can work together and make sure we offer Canadians access to justice, Mr. Chair.

º  +-(1600)  

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Monsieur Lanctôt.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Minister, thank you for being here. As you were saying, Mr. Chair, the minister is very eloquent, but I hope that as our new minister, his listening skills will be paramount. This is not what we have seen so far. I mean that seriously, because in my opinion the population of Quebec, especially young people, will certainly not soon forget the passage of Bill C-7.

    You were unanimous when you spoke about consulting the experts. Today, the experts have no choice; they will answer that they will try to implement this so that it works. But things were already working well in Quebec.

    If, rather than wasting all of these resources to pass a new law, you had decided during your negotiations to give the amounts to Quebec, we would have known what to do with them within the framework of the program which was already in existence under the Young Offenders Act. I hope that you will listen to us, since there will be other bills that will be just as important, but where that one is concerned, you missed the boat. You say that you want to undertake a consultation process right from the outset. And yet, people came to testify. You mustn't only listen to a committee, you must also read the declarations of those who came to testify. In this regard, even some chief justices listened.

    I don't want to belabour this issue, but I hope, when you say that you are taking this department in hand, that your intention is not to look at bills that have been passed in other regions of the country, out west, for instance, by the former minister. As a Quebecker, you should have taken the time to consult these people and to read the testimony in its entirety.

    In this connection, I would like to know specifically if, although the new law is not yet in effect, the cost-sharing program between the federal government and the provinces is already being negotiated. Will the program contributions be frozen for the provinces, or will there be additional costs in connection with the implementation of this new act?

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Chairman, as to the matter of cooperation and being able to listen, I think that people know me a little from my time as Minister of Revenue and at Economic Development. They know that I am someone who listens and who also wants to see things move and go forward. You must understand that when one intervenes on a pan-Canadian basis, there can be differences from one region to another, but ultimately, at a given point, you have to make a decision in light of the greater good of the population. I think that that is the fundamental role of the Minister of Justice.

    What I find difficult to understand concerning Bill C-7 is the reaction of the Bloc Québécois, who led a political campaign against this bill. Do you know why I find this unfortunate? Essentially because when one takes a careful look at the philosophy which underlies all of Bill C-7—as debates are televised nowadays, I am speaking to the population of Quebec—one can see that that philosophy is a philosophy which was borrowed from the government of Quebec, from the system it put in place. So I want to say today that as a Quebecker and as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I feel very proud to have contributed to amending a law to bring it closer to Quebec values, Mr. Chairman. I am very proud of it.

    Secondly, when you are a member of Parliament, you have to be responsible. In my opinion, you have to avoid what are known as disinformation campaigns. You know that for a long time people in Quebec were told that youngsters of 14 years of age were going to be imprisoned. This is totally false. This is something which already exists. The legislative amendment which was made concerned designated offences; the change meant that the age of those who became liable to be sentenced to jail in adult court for designated offences went from 16 to 14 years. Here again, Mr. Chairman, provinces may choose not to apply this measure and can leave the age at 16 years.

    It was also said that youngsters would be tried in adult court, and go to adult jails. Mr. Chairman, even a cursory analysis of the bill allows one to see that those who said such things were involved in a disinformation campaign.

    There's another point I want to mention, Mr. Chairman. We were told that if we gave the money to the government of Quebec in order to allow it to put in place its own system... Well, over the last two years, we did everything we could precisely to give it the money to put in place a new system. It is not very complicated for the Quebec government, because the new system is already in place. We prepared a program at the department to help the provinces set up certain programs in order to adjust. Two years ago we were to transfer 1.8 or 1.9 million dollars to Quebec, but this amount was returned to the Consolidated Fund because Quebec refused to take it because of its so-called principles. The population of Quebec had a right to that sum, Mr. Chairman.

    Secondly, this year, at the beginning of my mandate, the same thing happened. They waited until the last minute to forego an amount of 1.8 or 1.9 million dollars, which Quebec lost. I find this extremely unfortunate, Mr. Chairman.

    That being said, yes, I believe that the Young Offenders bill is an excellent bill. At this time, I believe we are negotiating with all of the provinces, including Quebec, and certain sums will be invested. We are talking about a sum of approximately one billion dollars. In Quebec, over five years, close to $190 million will be invested to help it adjust to the changes.

º  +-(1605)  

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    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: When you say that you are...

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Lanctôt, you have about half a minute.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: Very well.

    You say that you are satisfied with what Quebec did. You submitted a resolution on the distinct society after the referendum in 1995. It was finally an opportunity to say that one could follow Quebec's example. We did that with the former law. All Quebec was asking for was to be allowed to opt out in order to apply the former law. Why did you not allow Quebec to opt out from this amendment to Bill C-7? Everyone would have been happy. We don't want to change the viewpoints of the west or your own, but in Quebec, there was a consensus to ask you to allow Quebec to continue to function as it did. Why not have agreed? Why have denied Quebec the right to do that?

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Chairman, I shall try to be brief. We are talking about a consensus. As far as the Bloc Québécois is concerned, they get up in the morning, they have an idea, they read the newspaper, and suddenly there is a consensus. One mustn't exaggerate this notion of consensus. They claim to represent all of the population of Quebec. As far as I know, I was elected as representative for the riding of Outremont. I am a proud Quebecker and I defend the interests of Quebec as well as and perhaps better than the members of the Bloc Québécois.

+-

     Secondly, they want an opting out clause for everything, Mr. Chairman. Why? Because their primary objective is to advance the cause of Quebec's separation.

    Where the justice system is concerned, I think that it has to apply everywhere in Canada and have some flexibility. The province of Quebec has in fact been able to benefit from that flexibility over the past few years. The proof of this is that they were able to build a Quebec model operating within a federal act.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): I'm sure we'll be coming back to this question.

    Mr. Blaikie.

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    Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg--Transcona, NDP): Mr. Chairman, it's always a challenge to match the heat generated between the Liberals and the Bloc in the House and in committee, although it's not always a challenge to match the light on occasion.

    In any event, I would like to follow up with the minister on the question of legal aid. Unless I read the estimates wrong, on page 14 under the heading “Legal Aid Program” we talk about planned spending. It says $105.8 million for 2002-2003, and then for the next year it's $81.9 million, which looks like a reduction to me. The next year, 2004-2005, it's $81.9 million again. I'm not sure where the minister...unless he's referring to an increase that has already taken place, which he may well be doing when he talks about the $20 million, but then there's a subsequent reduction of $20 million. Funny thing, that didn't make it into your presentation.

    There's a concern on the part of provinces that there is this reduction, not an increase but a reduction, in the federal commitment to legal aid. As many have pointed out, this is having consequences in various provinces.

    I don't accept the analysis of my colleague from the Alliance that B.C. had to cut their legal aid. That's not the point I'm making here, because B.C. is cutting a lot of things they don't have to cut, not just with respect to legal aid but in health care, etc. Nevertheless, that doesn't put the federal government in any better light, regardless of what the B.C. government is doing. The fact of the matter is that you're actually reducing your commitment to legal aid, and I wonder if you can explain that. You made a very spirited defence of legal aid and of the increase, so I wonder what the spirited defence of the decrease is.

º  +-(1610)  

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: I'd like to thank the honourable member for the question.

    As I said, a subject very dear to me is indeed legal aid because of the question of access to justice. When you look at page 14 of the main estimates, you have there the right number; the honourable member is right about the increase you refer to. The increase took place in the fiscal year 2001-2002 and now 2002-2003. What we did basically was increase it by $20 million or so. For a year ahead we're going back to where we were.

    That's why in answer to the previous question on that subject I mentioned that we could indeed spend the rest of the day talking about funding, but I do sincerely believe that we need to do more than that. We need to sit down with provincial and territorial governments to have another view of the situation to see if reform could take place, to see if we could proceed with better education about the judicial system, and to see as well if there's an alternative mechanism that could be put in place when we're dealing with the justice system.

    There are a lot of questions we have to ask and look at as well. And as I've said, this fall we're going to have a federal, provincial, and territorial meeting. It's going to be a good occasion to debate that question, which is important to Canadians, as the honourable member has suggested.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Blaikie.

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    Mr. Bill Blaikie: I'm glad the minister has acknowledged that he was talking about an increase that has already taken place, and that what is going to take place is actually a decrease.

    I know that money doesn't solve everything, but money does solve a lot of problems. The fact is that in the meantime, while you're thinking--appropriately so--with the provinces about how to reform the system, people are going without defence, people are defending themselves, justice is not occurring, or bad decisions are being made, rulings are being made, presumably, on the basis of not having all the appropriate legal resources available, etc.

    I wanted to ask the minister about another question that's of particular interest to me. I see developments, finally, on this, but I raised it with a former Minister of Justice who preceded him and I wonder where this is in the federal government file. This has to do with the whole use of cell phones while driving.

    I notice that the Province of Newfoundland has just moved to ban the use of cell phones while driving--not to ban the use of cell phones in cars by passengers, or even by drivers in stationary cars, but to ban the use of cell phones while driving.

    This is something that can be accomplished at the provincial level, but it can also be accomplished at the federal level through amendment to the Criminal Code in the same way we've dealt with impaired driving when it comes to blood alcohol levels. This is one of the ways in which the federal government has inserted itself, if you like, into the regulation of impaired driving. So there's precedent for that.

    Is the federal government taking an interest in this issue, either by way of acting through the Criminal Code, at that level, or is it actively encouraging provinces to use their highway traffic laws to ban the use of cell phones while driving? I can tell you, I have a private member's motion on this. The response...there's the odd person who phones in to a talk show on their cell phone while they're driving to defend the idea of talking about using cell phones while driving. But by and large, the Canadian public is becoming more and more concerned about the person who turns in front of them and doesn't even appear to notice they're there because they're yakking away on their cell phone, or whatever.

    The anecdotal evidence, plus studies, is accumulating. So I hope this will be on your radar screen soon, if it's not there already.

º  +-(1615)  

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Basically, there's one comment and one question.

    Going to your comment with regard to the legal aid issue, I would like to point out that we've increased our funding over the last two years--last year and this fiscal year--because of increasing pressure on that side. But if in the year ahead you don't see any increase in the budget, it's because the meeting will take place this fall. We do believe that major discussions will have to take place at the next federal, provincial, and territorial meeting. After that, we'll see. The pressure is still there, but we do believe that to keep getting involved with more funding without having a good discussion around the table is not very useful at this point in time.

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    Mr. Bill Blaikie: Keeping the money as leverage.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: I appreciate the concern of the member on that question, and I can assure you that this will be part of our discussions this coming fall.

    With regard to the use of cell phones, that question has been raised before. I would like to tell you that the Canadian government is interested in the question basically, even though it's a provincial matter.

    Mr. Bill Blaikie: It could be, but it could also become--

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: As the member says, it could be. On the Canadian government side, Transport Canada is really the lead department. There are studies under way, in my understanding of the situation. There are discussions as well around their own federal, provincial, and territorial tables. There are discussions about different actions that could be taken, whether by Transport Canada or the provinces.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Peter MacKay.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, PC): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Minister, thank you for being here and for your presentation today.

[English]

    We're very thankful for your time. We know you have an incredibly large and challenging portfolio. As a member of this committee for almost five years, I believe this is one of the most activist committees in terms of the tasks we have, and I appreciate the work we have before us right now.

    There's the mental health review, which is long overdue--seven years past its mandated date. I hope we'll revisit impaired driving legislation at some point, including lowering the BAC. The issue of conditional sentences is looming large, as well as statutory release, which we had occasion to look at in the past. I know it deals more with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, but it still touches on your portfolio.

    I want to make a comment and perhaps ask a question about the new Youth Criminal Justice Act, which I think raises the hackles of many. You said your department has acted as an activist, but I don't believe it's always been an activist in the right areas.

    On the Youth Criminal Justice Act, you maintain, and I agree with you, the old Young Offenders Act was working better in Quebec than in other parts of the country, and the restorative justice model was perhaps years ahead, in terms of its implementation. But I fundamentally disagree that you can bring about a massive philosophical change without massive resources to accompany it. So I'm left to wonder if what was working in Quebec--arguably to a much larger degree--could not have continued.

    I can't believe I've even come to this conclusion myself, but I believe that the old Young Offenders Act, when compared to this new legislation, which is reminiscent of your old department, looks like the Income Tax Act, in terms of its complications and number of cumbersome sections.

    The old philosophy of restorative justice, which has been around now for some years, was working in Quebec under that old act, and additional resources would serve youth and the public better than putting in place a very cumbersome and complicated bill that will take years to implement.

    Do you accept that premise at all? Will there be bridge funding to help with the training and implementation of this act? It's going to be sorely needed.

    On your government's priorities, I have to ask about the gun registry. It continues to be a huge cost expenditure, with very little return in terms of public safety, which is how it was presented to the public. I know this is one of a myriad of issues you've inherited. It goes back two ministries, in fact, to Minister Rock, who is the minister with the reverse Midas touch on a number of issues.

    This registry, if included in CPIC, which I understand is not fully operational yet in terms of all the information that will be available, is going to overload a system that is near the breaking point now. You have DNA databank registry information, a potential sex offender registry, information on missing persons and stolen vehicles, along with the usual conditions of parole and criminal records information. I expect this system--and I ask this of you--will need a further upgrade and a further implementation of resources.

    I want to reference the Sharpe decision and get from you a sense of whether the government is prepared to look at legislation that will close a loophole on this issue of artistic merit, since it now appears obvious that the B.C. Attorney General has not pursued this matter further.

    Finally, I acknowledge that you are wearing the Westray pin. I very much appreciate your implicit support that this issue is going to continue and that we will eventually in this committee, and through the good offices of your department, come up with a bill for an insertion in the Criminal Code that will deal with corporate criminal responsibility.

    One last question is on section 690 application. Under Bill C-15A there will be changes in the procedures that deal with wrongful convictions. A myriad of cases has come forward, but the Steven Truscott case remains one of the most tragic, and resulted in a very severe case of wrongful conviction. I know that Justice Kaufman is now looking at this, and your department has been quite open in reviewing this. Can you give us some timeframe for when this case might finally come to fruition and there might be some sense of justice for Mr. Truscott?

º  +-(1620)  

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Chairman, I guess you'll have to give me some time. Those questions touch on at least half of my big briefing book.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): There's an elastic notion of time around here. We are stretching the elastic.

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    Mr. Peter MacKay: We get ten minutes to ask you questions every six months. If you'd come more often, we'd be glad to accommodate you.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: As I said earlier, there'll be funding for youth criminal justice. There was funding before, when we were discussing the implementation of that new bill, and there will be funding following agreements signed with the provinces and territories. It will help them make the transition and proceed with the appropriate training for people who will offer the services and the whole justice system.

    Your question on the gun registry is an interesting one. It's a complex issue, and one must understand why we have decided to proceed with gun registration. Go back to its roots. It goes back directly to the fundamental values we share as Canadians across this country.

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    Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Minister, if I can just interrupt you, I don't think anybody in the country is against gun control and safety. But will it be privatized?

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): If the minister can be allowed to finish, we'll come back to you in another round.

    Minister.

+-

    Mr. Peter MacKay: Will it be privatized?

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: To go back to my answer--and I guess it's important for Canadians to know--we wanted to make sure we would establish values in our society, distinct values, in the sense that we're not in the States and we have different views about guns and sidearms. We wanted to make sure, as well, that to carry arms and guns in Canada would be something that has to face parameters and would be seen as a sort of privilege, not a right. That's why we've decided to proceed with this. As well, it gives an additional tool to police forces when they get involved in very specific situations: they have access to the registration. In having access to the registration, they know if the person involved has two or three guns. That makes it safer for police forces, safer for the whole population, and apart from that, it sends a strong message about our values.

    Having said that, Mr. Chairman, when we look at the situation, indeed it looks expensive from outside, but we have to understand that we started all this from scratch. We built it up from scratch, essentially. We put the whole system in place in discussion with the provinces, because some provinces are delivering the gun registration system on behalf of our government. I'd like to repeat that I'm still accountable for the whole system from coast to coast.

    When you look at the information technology we have to put in place, of course it seems to be expensive, but it's there for life. If you look at the numbers we have in the main estimates--what we call the blue book--the costs have started to decrease this year and will keep decreasing, Mr. Chairman. It's as simple as that. The reason is that the infrastructure has been put in place now.

    We're proud of what we're doing. We are going to have, I believe, a safer society.

    In order to address the question of the honourable member with regard to whether we are going to privatize, the answer is no. But I would like to pass on the following message: we do need Bill C-15B. It will streamline the whole process, the whole management of the gun registration system. Bill C-15B, as well, will give authorization to the government to proceed with some outsourcing in order to have better information technology, while making sure, Mr. Chairman, that we keep on protecting privacy for the Canadian population.

    The other question that has been raised is about the Sharpe decision. It's a complex issue. Of course, the top priority for this government and the top priority of people around the table is the protection of our children across Canada; we all agree with that. That's why we have to make sure we have the best legislation we can in order to offer our children that protection. We have to make sure as well that those tools we have developed and those tools we may develop, Mr. Chairman, will be recognized by the court as valid, based on our Constitution--and I mean the Canadian Charter of Rights. We have to find the right balance. I believe that with section 1 of the charter we can find the right balance in making sure we offer very good protection to our children.

    As I said--and I have said it many times--we have undertaken a review of the provisions within the Criminal Code and also of our legislation, and I'm planning to present something at the next federal-provincial-territorial meeting, to discuss that matter with my colleagues. I am planning as well to table something this coming fall.

    Having said that, I would like to tell you that I said in the House, Mr. Chairman, that we would move quickly. I would like to draw to the attention of the honourable members around the table that today and this week there's already a meeting taking place between the experts of my ministry and experts from all the provinces and territories across Canada to discuss the very question of the Sharpe decision, the question of child pornography.

º  +-(1625)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Minister, I'm going to cut you off there, because we have run over. If members choose to use up all the time in their questioning and leave little time for the minister, it's very difficult for the chair. If you want me to enforce times rigidly, I will.

    Mr. Cotler.

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    Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Thank you for coming before us today. I want to address my questions to the department's anti-terrorism and international program. I notice the prospective increase of funding in the coming fiscal year. In particular, I want to address my questions regarding Bill C-36 and also with regard to the International Criminal Court implication for Canada.

    On the matter of Bill C-36, first, what steps is the department taking to train law enforcement officials and prosecution authorities in the application of Bill C-36? I mention this because you may recall, Mr. Minister, that there was concern during the witness testimony before this committee that the definition of what constitutes a terrorist activity was not circumscribed enough, and even after there were amendments to narrow the definition, there was still concern that the scope of its application might be too wide. One of the responses we received was that law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities would be trained in the application of Bill C-36.

    I also have a related question. What feedback, if any, has the Department of Justice received from representatives of visible minorities or non-governmental organizations about their concerns that were expressed about the differential application of the legislation--that is to say, that visible minorities might be singled out for differential application? There was supposed to be a consultative process to seek their feedback on it.

    Third, have there been any prosecutions to date under Bill C-36?

    Fourth, were there any other elements of Bill C-36 that have been utilized by any other law enforcement or prosecutorial authorities in that regard?

    My next question has to do with your reference that you will be meeting the G-8 ministers on May 13 and 14, and that you had some ideas that you were going to be putting on the agenda. Could you share with us some of those ideas?

    This is my last question. We are coming up to the second anniversary of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which was passed in 2000 as part of the domestic implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Have there been any prosecutions under that legislation in the two years since its enactment?

º  +-(1630)  

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: I want to thank the honourable member for the question.

    To start with, you raised a question about Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. Before answering the question directly, I just would like to share something with colleagues around the table.

    Since September 11, we've been working hard as parliamentarians, and most of the population have been involved as well, I guess. People around the table here have been involved in working hard on Bill C-36. In our minds we wanted to make sure we would protect our society, we would offer a good bill to keep protecting our society. But at the same time, we wanted to make sure we would respect Canadian values. We wanted to find the right balance.

    I would like to tell you that some time ago, I went to a meeting of the justice ministers of the Americas, and we were discussing our experiences after September 11. A colleague from the Canadian Alliance was with me, and he would remember quite well that when we were discussing experiences around the table, we were one of the countries that raised the question of a balanced approach and making sure we keep protecting values that we all share. We have to have a lot of pride as Canadians about what we have done together. I say together because all the people have been involved in the process.

    The member is right; Bill C-36 is something new. There are definitions that have to be well understood by people. Obviously, because it's a brand new tool, we need to proceed with some training. We said we would proceed with some training, and that's why we have developed special programs at this point in time, jointly with provinces and the RCMP. We have also developed videos that deal with Bill C-36. Over the next five years we will invest in Bill C-36, just as we route to training, an amount of $7 million. I'd like to point out that at this very moment, we have already trained something like 600 RCMP officers.

    With regard to the question about the concern of some communities across Canada, that is an important question. We do remember that before proceeding with the enactment of Bill C-36, there was some concern expressed, and that's why we did proceed with putting in place some review mechanisms, depending on what we're talking about. There's a report stage after one year, there's a review mechanism after three years, and there's a sunset clause after five years. Because of our joint work, we've been able to put this in our bill. The feeling we have when we look across the country is that people seem quite satisfied with the modifications we brought to Bill C-36.

    With regard to prosecution under Bill C-36, I'm told that at this point in time there's no prosecution. There's no prosecution under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act either.

º  +-(1635)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Irwin, you have 40 seconds left if you wish.

+-

    Mr. Irwin Cotler: I think I'll allow the other questions to be put. By the time I put it, the minister may not have time to answer it.

    The Chair: That's fine. We've made up 27 seconds.

    Mr. Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thank you, Minister, for appearing today.

    Last week I had a conversation with a police officer who was involved in some investigations dealing with organized crime and drugs. He told me of one specific case that involved 35 accused who were represented by 41 defence counsels. You probably know where I'm going with this one. It involved some 8,000 wiretaps, which the Department of Justice initially had intended to be supplied on a CD-ROM. To my understanding, that CD-ROM would have contained the actual hard-copy version of the files, and also voice recordings.

    Some of the defence counsels, noting they were not computer literate enough to be able to get the information off a CD-ROM, said they required the actual printed transcripts and cassette voice recordings. This wound up costing 14 investigators six months to put it all together, which resulted in, I believe, 30,750 tapes and two million double-sided printed pages. But defence also got the CD-ROMs and software to deal with them, at another cost of $102,000, which the federal government paid for. They then complained they had so much information they now required $150 an hour in order to mount a proper case, which again they were granted. The bottom line, Minister, is the estimated cost for this particular case was going to run in the area of $20 million. I'm talking about disclosure here.

    A few weeks ago, in this very room, a number of us sat here and listened to the child pornography squad of the Toronto police. They talked about very similar problems with the number of child pornography images--450,000 images that had to be processed individually.

    So what I'm coming to is do you have any intention to take a look at the whole system--the rules of disclosure--to try to avoid this gridlock we're putting our police and our courts into in dealing with some of these major cases? We've heard comments around here about legal aid and the cost of the youth justice system. I'd suggest that money could be spent a lot better in those areas than paying hundreds of millions of dollars for disclosure to defence.

    Thank you.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Your question is an interesting and important question, which also touches the administration of justice, basically. Without getting involved in details, I would just like to tell the member we are already discussing this at the official level with provinces and territories. We've started to have a look at the situation to try to develop some ways to better deal with the situation on this side. But it's a bit too early in the process to try to explain where we could go to better deal with this problem.

º  +-(1640)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Binet, for three minutes.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac--Mégantic, Lib.) Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Minister, I'm happy to be here today and I want to congratulate you on your good work. In a short period of time, you have accomplished a great deal. If one looks at the work you have done in the past at the Department of Revenue but especially at Canada Economic Development, one can say that everything you have done for the province of Quebec, which my region benefited from, is incredible.

    My question is about Bill C-7. I can tell you that all Quebeckers, aside from a majority, are very proud to be Canadians. As you know, in Quebec, the Parti Québécois is showing an increasing appetite for mythmaking, and here in Ottawa, the Bloc Québécois is repeating itself. In my opinion, it was time that Canada had a bill which represents all Canadians.

    We know that Quebec has social measures that are more advanced than the other provinces; however, we also have the highest taxes. I would like to know how the Young Offenders Act, as applied in Quebec, contributed to making the bill as fair as possible for all Canadians.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Chairman, I understand that this is a question asked by a member who's proud of the Quebec experience. The question is entirely valid. Here is what happened. Under the former law, Quebec had managed to find the necessary flexibility to implement its application of the Young Offenders Act in a way that allowed it to use diversion, that is to give a second chance to the young offender, so that when a young person committed an offence, he could be allowed, with the help of services and support measures, to reintegrate society. The results obtained were quite eloquent, even if we don't have all of the figures to hand.

    That being said, that experience allowed us to prepare a new bill known as Bill C-7. It is a bill which essentially is based on the philosophy developed in Quebec. Indeed, you can see in clause 3 of the bill that one can find the very essence of the philosophy I was alluding to earlier, Mr. Chairman. Clause 3 is very typical of the new perspective we want to adopt.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Lanctôt.

+-

    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Minister, I want to get back to Bill C-15B. Firstly, I would like to know whether you can tell us if the budget cuts and the objective of the omnibus bill, which is to transfer the powers of the Quebec Chief Firearms Officer to the Firearms Commissioner, do not really mark the beginning of the privatization of registration permits and certificates. Earlier, you said yes, but I would like you to repeat that, because according to me, this could really jeopardize the priority objective, security.

    What frightens me is that once again you have used Quebec to set up infrastructures, as you said earlier. You used Quebec as a model, because Quebec is really in favour of this bill, to allow for the registration of firearms in order to ensure the population's security. You say that this is an administrative change, but it is more than that: the Chief Firearms Officer's powers are being eliminated.

    Where are we headed? Will you close the processing offices? Will you be closing the call centres?

    If I have any time remaining, I would also, in another connection, since this is an omnibus bill, like to talk about the amendments the Bloc Québécois presented to explicitly protect the rights of defence rights already provided for in section 429 of the Criminal Code, since this is now in part XI. The Bloc Québécois agrees with these amendments, but it wants to expressly protect existing rights .

    We were told that the primary objective was not to impede the cattle industry, but to increase sentences, to allow for prosecution and to criminalize the offences of people who are guilty of cruelty toward animals.

    Since you tell us that these defence rights are implicit and that people may resort to them, why not spell them out?

º  +-(1645)  

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: With regard to your question on the firearms registry, as I mentioned earlier, we started from square one in this file. We acted in cooperation with our partners. Some provinces, with the financial assistance we provided, decided to put in place systems which they managed at their level, in their own way.

    That being said, the objective of the bill the member referred to, I repeat, is not to privatize the system. What we are talking about essentially is to make it possible to call on outside expertise. What will be done in this area is something that is done everywhere throughout government. It will allow us to call on outside expertise, as well as on broader information and experience, while ensuring respect for privacy, which is important to me as minister, but also to the population as a whole.

    Will there be downsizing? Without a doubt, there will be some downsizing. Currently, I know that discussions are taking place with the different call centres. For instance, there is one in New Brunswick and one in Quebec. Whatever decisions are made, they will always be made with a view to continuing to offer the best possible services to the population as a whole, in light of its needs and of technology.

    As to the question, which I greatly appreciate, on Bill C-15B on cruelty toward animals, the objective of this much-needed bill is to modernize this part of the Criminal Code, which needed it. This bill also aims to create definitions we needed and to create a new offence regarding cruelty toward animals.

    Broadly speaking, our purpose was to modernize, clarify, create a new offence and increase penalties to give more teeth to the Criminal Code regarding this offence of cruelty toward animals. In light of the time we have, I would like to repeat that the defences which existed previously—and I know that some people have raised a certain number of concerns—continue to be available as we speak, both for people who work on a daily basis with animals and for people who do research.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Lanctôt, we'll have time to come back to you, I'm sure.

    Mr. Macklin.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the minister on the leadership he's demonstrated to date.

    Specifically, having this opportunity, I'd like to look at the estimates, where I note that the largest increase in line items seems to be in grants and contributions for initiatives for safer communities. I would like the minister, having this opportunity to show us the sense and direction that he wants to follow, to give us some guidance as to where he would like to go with this program, which appears to be a crime prevention strategy. I think it's quite important that we do so.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: I want to thank the honourable member for this very important question. I see we don't share the same views on both sides of the committee.

    The crime prevention program is indeed important to the department. We have invested $145 million over the next four years. We're getting involved working with the provinces and territories as well as with non-profit organizations at the local level. The aim and goal of that is prevention, of course, and education and training.

    We've been announcing over the past few months--let's say a few years--a lot of projects across Canada that have been very helpful for local communities. I guess it helps in terms of making sure people have a much better understanding of the justice system, and in prevention as well. It helps as well in having both provincial and federal governments develop new tools within the justice system.

º  +-(1650)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Sorenson, you have three minutes.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank you, Minister, for appearing today.

    As we've gone through the book of estimates there have been some questions that have arisen, and you've answered some of those questions. You've talked about values in Canada. Let me say it seems that out of the justice committee we've had more legislation lately that has pitted the rural against the urban. I think of my riding, first of all, which is still riddled and frustrated with Bill C-68. We see Bill C-5, where there's a concern about the loss of property rights; Bill C-15B, where farm and ranch practices are perhaps to be jeopardized, as we've taken animals out of the section in the Criminal Code on property. That's one of the questions we have: where these values are going.

    I still have more calls into my riding regarding the gun registration--the failed gun registration--than any other correspondence we deal with. It was $700 million to deal with an administration that, it was promised, would cost only $80 million to begin with.

    There's a huge question the people of Canada have as to how this government plans, and how they manage and how they direct funds. The whole question has been brought to light over the last few weeks.

    You've dealt some with legal aid, and when we come to page 14 in the report of the estimates, we see legal aid is going from $105.8 million--there have been moneys initially announced for this year, but it's a continuous decline--down to $81.9 million.

    When you go across the page to youth justice, it goes from $235.7 million down to $228.7 million, and in 2004-2005 to $215.1 million--a reduction in specific areas of youth justice and legal aid. But when we go back to page 12, the crime prevention and community programs, we see it's being increased from $64.6 million up to $73.6 million.

    Mr. Minister, what we have here is a problem. The problem is that the dollars being allocated to programs that fall under crime prevention and community safety are for non-government agencies that will deliver this type of education. Mr. Minister, the problem we have stemming out of this is when we ask in what direction these dollars are going, we see they are simply going to agencies that are siphoning moneys back to the Liberal Party. We've seen in Groupe Action, for example, soft programming, grants, contributions, and money perhaps being siphoned back into the coffers here.

    Those are where the questions arise. When the Canadian public sees this, this is where the concerns are.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Sorenson, your time is completed.

    Minister, if you wish to, you may respond.

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: First, I will ask the honourable member to be careful when he refers to the question of Groupe Action, the Liberal Party, and what he just referred to. I would ask him as well to have a close look at what has been said in the report of the Attorney General. Once again, I ask you to be very careful with what you say outside the House of Commons on it.

    Second, talking about values, you've been referring to programs. You've been referring to structure, as well. Of course, depending on what we're doing, the needs may be different from one program to another. If we talk about the gun registry, for example, of course, as I said, we started from scratch. We built the whole system. We put in place the whole high technology we find there. Now it's done, and we've seen this year for the first time a decrease in terms of funding and we will see it as well in the year ahead.

    Regarding the question of legal aid, I'd like to come back to raise that question again. As I said, Mr. Chairman, because of additional pressure the provinces are facing we've increased our contribution last year and this year. But what we've said as well is we have to sit around the table to have a much broader discussion. We can't get involved on a yearly basis and add funding to a fantastic program if we know that maybe we have to sit and reform the whole system. It may be that is what we need.

    What I'm saying is that for the year ahead, we're planning to have a good discussion this fall at the federal-provincial-territorial meeting to see how we can manage to review the whole system of legal aid, which is very important for our Canadian society. It's a very challenging problem we're facing as a department and as a country.

º  +-(1655)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Ms. Fry.

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    Ms. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

    Welcome, Minister, to the committee.

    I'm going to ask you a very quick and simple question. As you know, in June 2000 there was a review of the Human Rights Act and a report was tabled. Is there going to be a response to that report? I know that groups have been wanting to know if there's going to be a response, and if so, when, and if there are going to be legislative amendments and changes as a result of that.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: You are referring to the La Forest report, which is quite a considerable report tabled two years ago this coming June. The department has analysed the whole situation, and, as you know, we will appoint quite shortly a new head of the commission. Following that appointment, of course, we will have to start looking for an answer to the La Forest report, which we will have to provide this June or the beginning of this fall.

    Indeed, following the numerous recommendations of the La Forest report, we will have to proceed with some modifications. Are they going to be major modifications? We don't know yet. As I said, the report is still under revision. But we intend to move with something on the legislative side following the recommendations of the La Forest report.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Monsieur Lanctôt.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm particularly interested in the bill pertaining to access to the law and the justice system and I also want to talk about the legal aid program. I know that negotiations are currently under way and that an agreement is likely in 2003 or thereabouts. At least, that's what I'm hoping. I'd like to focus right now on the figures, not necessarily because funding is being reduced from $105.8 million to $81.9 million, but because the negotiations were being conducted on the basis of $81.9 million in funding. However, there's no denying that this represents a decrease over last's year funding levels.

    I don't know if the government and your department will start the negotiations working with the figures established this year, whether $105.8 million or $101.9 million. Why not take this as a starting point, since the poverty rate in Canada and Quebec is increasing, as is the need for legal aid?

    I realize of course that setting the rates is a provincial responsibility, but I think this would be a sound approach to take. I'm curious as to how the minister feels about using this as a basis for the negotiations, rather than the old figures. As everyone knows, the poverty rate is rising and we still need the $10 million originally earmarked for immigration. I don't see why we would work with the old figures given that this year, there have been problems making ends meet and public access to the justice system is a desirable objective. I'd like to hear your views on this matter.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: What people need to understand, Mr. Chairman, is that we have decided to increase by approximately $20 million the base level, further to our discussions with the provinces. The latter were facing special problems and added pressure, particular in the areas of criminal prosecution and immigration. Our approach, one that was understood and accepted by all of the provinces, was to intervene on a timely basis using these funds, mindful that a problem was emerging and that eventually we would need to sit down and take a closer look at what needed to be done in the area of legal aid.

    I don't think that residents of the provinces and territories expect us to maintain these particular funding levels, as these corresponded to truly timely initiatives.

    People need to understand, Mr. Chairman, that this $80 million funding base, which was augmented by $20 million for the two fiscal years, came about as a result of agreements with the provinces. However, we must also remember that the Government of Canada intervenes through the Canadian Social Transfer and that this program calls for the department's participation through the legal aid program. Therefore, if we take that into account as well, our financial commitment in fact surpasses the $100 million mark.

    Having said this, judging from what I've heard here today, there are problems with the legal aid program, if I understand correctly. I think the collective will exists on the part of the Canadian government, provinces and territories to take a close look at the situation and see if it is possible to overhaul the system.

»  +-(1700)  

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Merci, Monsieur Lanctôt.

    Mr. Maloney.

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    Mr. John Maloney (Erie--Lincoln, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Minister.

    My questions deal with the issue of timeliness. You made reference to the human rights commissioner being appointed soon. The current commissioner's term of office expired December 31, though I understand her term is being renewed. When will we expect the new appointment?

    We've talked about issues such as legal aid, which you indicate is in dire straits. You also indicated in your presentation that you were going to commence a two-year review. I can appreciate that it's difficult, and we can't act in a vacuum; we must consult with our provincial and territorial partners in some areas where we have to do or it's prudent to do public consultations. But I'm finding it increasingly difficult to justify to my constituents the length of time it sometimes takes to respond. We have the Sharpe case as one hot-button item, one you've indicated that you've asked your officials to review. When might we anticipate a response to what many would consider as shortcomings in that case?

    The age of consent issue is percolating out there. Public consultations were completed approximately two years ago. I understand this may be one of the agenda items for the provincial and territorial ministers. When might we expect legislation in that respect as well?

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: There are the questions of Sharpe, legal aid, human rights, and the appointment.

    Mr. Chairman, I just would like to seize the occasion I have following the question of the honourable member to thank Madame Falardeau-Ramsay for the wonderful work she's done with the commission. She has given a wonderful profile to the commission and to our country as well. She's been good within Canada but outside Canada as well. We have a fantastic reputation on that side because, I guess, of the overall government action, but of course in that overall government action we have to include the fantastic work of Madame Falardeau-Ramsey, who I'd like to thank one more time.

    She has accepted to stay on until the end of May. I would like the new commissioner to take over at the beginning of June, so an appointment will have to be made on that side quite shortly.

    On the question of legal aid, I understand your concern. I'd just like to repeat that I share the concern of the Canadian population on that side. That will be a subject on the table for my next meeting this fall with my provincial and territorial counterparts. Funding is an issue, but it's not the only issue we have on the table. At this time we have to do more than that. We have to think about reshaping the whole system if it's feasible.

    As to the question of the Sharpe case, I understand that you want the government to move ahead quickly. The message was strongly sent as well by parliamentarians from all parties two or three weeks ago. As I said, it's a complex issue. It's a top priority, of course, the protection of our children in Canada, and just to repeat myself, we want to make sure we have something ready to present to our colleagues this fall. We would like as well to move ahead with modifications this fall.

    In moving ahead with modifications or maybe new offences under the Criminal Code if feasible, we have to bear in mind that we have to strike the right balance between the questions of respecting the charter and protecting our society as well. I believe, as minister, that in using section 1 we have all the room necessary to manoeuvre and make sure that we will be able to address that question properly, Mr. Chairman.

»  +-(1705)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Chair.

    Minister, a few weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend a two-day workshop on pediatric brain injury in the Fraser Valley. Some people might say that's a good place for me. But in all seriousness, my interest there was because this was put on by people who are survivors and also parents of children who have suffered brain injury, and my reason for going was to learn more about the issue. I think a correlation can be shown between children who suffer brain injuries and anti-social behaviour later on, criminality when they get to adolescence.

    They brought in a number of experts in the field, obviously psychiatrists and neurologists, but they also had a number of people coming from the United States who were program-givers there. We're dealing with a crime prevention issue here, as far as I'm concerned. The biggest problem in Canada, according to these participants, is the lack of funding and the lack of foresight in programming available in Canada.

    I realize a lot of the funding issues are provincial-related, but I'm wondering if you yourself have had any consultations with your predecessor, who obviously is in the Department of Health now, but who would hopefully have some knowledge on this and some ideas about maybe looking more towards the preventative side on this.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: The question raised is an important one. We have programs in place, as you know, and maybe we could take your question into consideration in making sure that with our programs we will be able to better focus on those specific needs.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Is it something that your provincial counterparts would bring up with you?

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: The department is starting to look at it. For example, this week I went to a special convention taking place in Ottawa dealing with what they call in French le syndrome--

    A voice: Fetal alcohol syndrome

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: --fetal alcohol syndrome. People wanted to draw the attention of the department to those children, and the fact that after those children have to deal with the justice system as well. They wanted to draw the attention of the department to the idea that, knowing the problems, we have to act differently. And what I said is that, yes, we have to take all that into consideration. I said it is something the department is having a look at and to start with maybe it would be interesting to focus with our programs more on some specific cases, like the one you just raised.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Cotler, for three minutes and twenty-seven seconds.

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    Mr. Irwin Cotler: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I have three follow-up questions, but before I begin, Minister, I'd like to commend the officials in your department, some of whom are here today--and I also see Rick Mosley sitting there--for their expertise, professionalism, and responsiveness in the issues we've been involved with, and particularly with regard to Bill C-36, which is what I want to address my questions to.

    You mentioned in response to one of my questions about feedback and the like regarding certain concerns on the application of Bill C-36 that the department has set a mechanism in motion that consists of an annual review, an annual report, a three-year review, and a five-year sunset on the investigative hearings on preventative arrests. My question is what steps has the department taken, if any, to collect data and conduct research on this mechanism? That's question number one.

    Question number two: you mentioned that there have been no prosecutions as yet under Bill C-36, but have any other elements of Bill C-36 been utilized by either federal or provincial law enforcement or prosecution authorities?

    The third question has to do again with the prospective meeting of the G-8 ministers. I know you may not wish to share with us some of the ideas you would expect to present there, but there is one thing that has been a matter already of public discussion, and I'm wondering if you might care to share that during your meetings with the G-8 ministers. I'm referring to the recent withdrawal by the United States government of their signature to the treaty for the International Criminal Court. That withdrawal of their signature is both unprecedented domestically and it may have adverse effects internationally. Our own government has expressed its concern about this.

    Would you be able to take the opportunity within the framework of the G-8 to express our concerns to your American counterpart about, frankly, the seriousness of the withdrawal of the American signature to the International Criminal Court treaty, which is seen by many Canadians and certainly by this government as being a centrepiece for an international criminal justice system?

»  +-(1710)  

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: There are many questions that have to be dealt with. The last one, of course, you already talked about in your question, but I can certainly raise your concern with Mr. Ashcroft, a representative of the United States, who will be there on the weekend.

    With regard to the G-8, I can't go through the whole agenda, but let me share some thoughts with you, beginning with the meeting of the OAS countries that we had in Trinidad. Of course, we've shared the experience of all the countries involved around the table, but we've also been discussing ways...because when we're talking about terrorism and organized crime, they go far over our borders, and we need increasing cooperation among countries. Therefore, it's what we were discussing at that time, and it was part of our resolution. When we talk about increasing cooperation, it means to be able to develop technology that we can share in order to exchange information among countries.

    Of course, in some places we start from afar in the sense that within the OAS there are some countries that don't have the basic infrastructure to deal with the information technology and such a network. But we have to start somewhere, and there was a common understanding around the table that we have to increase cooperation in judicial agreements, as well, among the countries.

    So part of our discussions during this G-8 meeting--from Sunday to Tuesday--will be to find ways to increase our cooperation and proceed with a much better use of the information we have. It goes through training, better information technology, and establishing a network among the G-8 countries. That's the sort of discussion we will have.

    With regard to the first question on collecting data, we're working together with the provinces and territories. One must bear in mind that within Bill C-36 there's an obligation to report after one year. The obligation is there for the Canadian government as well as for the provinces. That obligation to report will force all the people involved in the process to share their information, share the report, and share, as well, their experience. So the answer to that may be data, as you would like it to be, or it may not be. But knowing that we all have to produce a report at the end of the process, at the end of the day it means more or less the same.

»  +-(1715)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Monsieur Lanctôt.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There are two matters I want to discuss.

    Regarding legal aid, I forgot to mention one thing. You just spoke about organized crime, terrorism and anti-gang legislation. I would ask you and your officials not to lose sight of the fact that this carries with it a price tag in terms of legal aid. I do hope that you take this very important new development into account.

    On a different note, in so far as Bill C-15B is concerned, I'm not interested in knowing if the defence rights provided for in clause 429 of the Criminal Code apply implicitly. You maintain that according to your advisers, that was the case with your bill and that provisions were included targeting the animal industry, researchers, fur industry representatives, recreational hunters and so forth. You're saying the objective is not to hurt this industry or to take away its defence rights. If you say these rights are already implicitly recognized, why then not say so explicitly in Bill C-15B which has yet to be adopted? If you incorporate this into the bill, the entire animal industry as well as researchers, hunters, fur industry workers and the like would be extremely relieved. They obtained certain legal opinions, while both of us received different ones. You say that you want these rights to be implicitly recognized. Why not make them explicit? That's all I'm asking.

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Chairman, essentially the Member is alluding to the way in which legislation is drafted. Defence rights are implicit and it would be redundant to repeat that each time. Basically, it comes down to the drafting process. With all due respect to the member, I think the Justice Department has enough experience to be able to draft legislation that maintains the kind of defence provisions people have come to expect. As I have said many times, all existing defence rights are implicit, Mr. Chairman.

    With respect to legal aid, organized crime and terrorism, as you mentioned, there is a cost associated with all of this. There is a cost to all levels of government. In its latest budget, the Canadian government allocated over $7 billion to public security initiatives. Each level of government is assuming its responsibilities and investing in this area.

    In terms of the justice system, Bill C-24 provided for the creation of a number of positions on the Federal Court.

    Therefore, all of these initiatives carry a price tag and it's a matter of ensuring that we can manage everything as responsibly as possible, maximizing our financial inputs for the greater good and protection of society.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Grose.

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    Mr. Ivan Grose (Oshawa, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. Minister, I'm not going to tell you what a marvellous fellow you are. If you don't know by now, you'll never know.

    I'd like to talk about the youth justice system, mainly because it's one of the things I think I understand on a good day.

    In Ontario, their idea of rehabilitation is boot camps. They seldom use the sentencing provisions, especially for serious crime. They seldom move a case up to adult court. So they're pretty well doing with the act what they want to. I'm quite sure that Ontario is going to keep on doing exactly what they're doing, whether we implement the new bill or not--at least until there's a change in attitude at Queen's Park, which may be sooner than you think.

    I'm wondering, are the old and the new acts not broad enough for Quebec to pick out what they like, and use it, and what they don't like, and not use it? I've never been able to understand why--it's probably a philosophical thing I have a problem with--this is such a big problem for Quebec. Maybe you could explain it to me.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: As I said, I believe the foundation of Bill C-7, or the roots it comes from, is really the Quebec experience.

    We would like to deal with the young offenders of our society who are before the justice system, to help them go back into our society. Across Canada, that's what we want with our young generation.

    Before Bill C-7, I said the bill would give to the Quebec government enough room to allow them to develop their own system. So it shows flexibility. In my mind, if the system we're putting in place with Bill C-7 is more focused on the Quebec experience, it's going to be much easier for them to proceed with their own system. Or at least let me say that I believe there's enough room to manoeuvre for them to keep their own system, and even to improve it--because we know their dynamic on that side, of course, and there's always place for improvement.

»  +-(1720)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Cadman.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Mr. Minister, with respect to the OAS meetings in Trinidad a couple of months ago, I recall there was some concern expressed around the table by a number of nations regarding extradition of nationals. I'm wondering if there has been any movement on that front.

    Second, with respect to the development of this website, I'm wondering how far along it is.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: With regard to the extradition of nationals, it is a subject of discussion at the official level at this point in time. There's more than that, as well--there are the judicial agreements that we're discussing with those member states.

    With regard to the website, you know full well that we've been one of the leaders, if not the leader, in discussing establishing a website that will create a network among the OAS member states. We reported at the meeting that we have established a pilot project with four member states, and the response was very positive. It shows that there's a need. We've decided to expand the network.

    Of course, we're facing various problems. It's interesting to raise those problems. And as I said, if there's a will, it will work well. There's also a need. But we have to make sure we help the countries that just don't have the capacity or the infrastructure network so that they can be on the team and keep pace. It will take some time. But most of the countries will be able to develop their site and have access to the information we're going to share. For some countries it will be more difficult, but with the will of all the OAS member states, we'll get there.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Is there any indication of just how long it might be before that's actually up and running?

+-

    Mr. Martin Cauchon: It's up and running at this point in time. We announced at the last meeting a pilot project with the four countries. We've decided it will become permanent. Some will join it, of course. As I said, we have to focus on some countries that don't have the infrastructure. You and I have talked as well with some ministers who mentioned those types of concerns.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

    Mr. Macklin.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you very much.

    Going back to legal aid, I know it's an issue we've spent a lot of time on, but, again, I think it's very clear that if you can't get access to the justice system, there really isn't a justice system that is meaningful to anyone in that group.

    As I've looked at the transitional period while there's a joint federal, provincial, and territorial discussion process going on, one of the things that has concerned me has to do with the extra $20 million that has been allocated in each of those two fiscal years. I haven't noticed any translation of that into raising fees for lawyers who participate in the program, and a lot of lawyers have been very vocal about this. The question that is being raised is where is that money going? I would hope that in the process of negotiating in this milieu, because I can see it as an overall thing within government, there would be some way we could get some more accountability as to where the money we put into the system goes and find out whether the provinces themselves are simply extracting it for their own purposes.

    I don't know if you have any comments on that. It certainly seems to be a problem, and we're hearing about it from those within the legal profession.

»  -(1725)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Minister, it should be noted that Mr. Macklin didn't ask that question on behalf of the Canadian Bar Association.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: Yes, there's concern on that side. We're funding the legal aid system through an agreement, but we're also funding it through the Canadian social transfer, and doing it through the social transfer, it's difficult to know exactly what our share is. We hope that the provincial governments are using the proper amount of money that goes through the Canadian social transfer for the legal aid system. Having said that, as you know full well, we're not alone in that boat. Legal aid is managed by the provincial governments.

    As I've said many times, we can spend the rest of the day talking about funding, and maybe we need additional funding, but as we are facing major concerns, wouldn't this be the time to try to reform the system and to put in place a program that would work better? It's as simple as that.

    You raised a concern, Mr. Macklin, about access. You're saying it's about access to justice, and I share your concern.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Minister.

[Translation]

    Please put your final question, Mr. Lanctôt.

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    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: You say your attorneys at the Justice Department don't need to have these defence rights explicitly set out in the bill because this would be tantamount to adding something for nothing. Why then did you provide explicitly for a right of such a general nature as found in clause 8? The rights in questions in section 429 are in a completely different part of the act which deals with property. They were taken out of this section and put elsewhere. It's not true that the defence rights in section 429 apply in this case. Why proceed through clause 8? We already have section 429 in the Criminal Code.

    If it makes no difference, why not explicitly incorporate this, in response to the calls of people in the animal industry? It's ridiculous.

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    Mr. Martin Cauchon: I take that as a comment on the member's part, Mr. Chairman.

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): This is getting to be one grand love-in.

    Thank you, Minister, on behalf of the committee, for your appearance here. I want to thank your officials for their appearance here as well. I'm sure there's a great deal of work done at the Department of Justice this afternoon.

    The meeting is adjourned.