The Canadian Bar Association recognizes the public interest in having well-funded law enforcement. The Canadian Bar Association recognizes the importance of public safety. However, the Canadian Bar Association also recognizes the critical importance and fundamental importance of the respect for constitutional rights and the rule of law.
We say that sections 25.1 through 25.4 are inconsistent with the rule of law. There's a risk of misuse. As you are well aware, the provisions permit, for example, an assault by a police officer or agent. And there's a fine line between assault and assault causing bodily harm. There is heightened concern because of the use of agents and because of inadequate mechanisms of accountability.
When we had the opportunity to comment upon Bill C-24, we expressed various concerns, which included that the bill was not restricted to organized crime or terrorist-related offences. That concern continues today. The provisions apply to the enforcement of any act of Parliament.
We continue to be concerned with the rule of law. Our Supreme Court of Canada has made it very clear that the ends do not justify the means, that the evidence or convictions may be obtained at too high a price, and that there are inherent limits on policing and law enforcement. The CBA continues to have these concerns.
We believe that section 25.1 is antithetical to the rule of the law and undermines the integrity of the administration of justice and public confidence in the fair and proper administration of justice by condoning intentional and calculated violations of law by agents of the state. We recommend that the provisions be repealed in their entirety, or, at a minimum, that they be amended so as to not apply to agents, so that they would apply only to public officers.
If the sections are not repealed we would recommend that the use of the provisions be dependent upon prior judicial authorization. And further, we would recommend that there be more detailed reporting and record-keeping requirements to allow for transparency and effective oversight.
With respect to the rule of law, it's not sufficient to simply ask whether there exists a law that permits certain acts on the part of the state or its agents. That is a part of the rule of law. But the rule of law demands scrutiny of the content of law as well. Is the law fair? Is it just? Does it comply with constitutional norms? Are there adequate mechanisms of control and oversight over investigative techniques?
When the sections in question are used to investigate or gather evidence against an individual, the individual's rights, as protected by section 7 of the Charter of Rights, are engaged. However, the investigative techniques in question go far beyond the rights of the individual or the interests of the individual. All people in Canada have an interest in effective policing, a safe society, and maintenance of the rule of law and the accountability of police.
With respect to the use of non-police officers or agents, we are concerned because of the inability to effectively control such persons. It is well recognized in common experience and also in the courts that agents are often themselves criminals, as was recognized in a decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which said that informants or agents will often be persons of questionable character who are involved in the very operations that are the subject of a proposed investigation, and for that reason a skeptical attitude with respect to the information that is supplied by such persons is necessary.
We say that police agents may too readily disregard the constraints of law or any direction given by a police officer, and the skeptical attitude that was referred to by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in accepting information supplied by an agent should apply equally when considering whether an agent will willingly and scrupulously follow the direction of a police officer.
We are concerned that the section operates without prior independent judicial authorization. The Criminal Code provides for the authorization of many investigative techniques, including the interception of private communications, search warrants, general warrants, production orders, warrants to take bodily substances for DNA analysis, warrants to take impressions such as foot or hand impressions, or tracking devices. All of those may be used only with prior judicial authorization.
The constitutional importance—indeed, the constitutional requirement—of that was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada, who held in a case called Hunter v. Southam that it is only when it is demonstrated that the interests of the state are superior to the interests of the individual that certain investigative techniques can be used, and that this determination can only be made by a person who is at a minimum capable of acting judicially, and that there must be an independent judicial officer.
We say the duties of a police officer are such that they are constitutionally incapable of conducting the required delicate and objective balancing of competing interests. A police officer is not an independent judicial officer and should not be making the decisions that are required for the operation of these provisions.
We are also concerned with the adequacy of the existing reporting requirements. On page 4 of the letter that has been provided, I refer to some of the language that is used in an annual report of the RCMP. It states:
||In one instance, the RCMP was conducting an investigation into a drug distribution network. Justified acts or omissions that would otherwise constitute Criminal Code offences relating to the possession of stolen goods, theft over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence were committed.
This description is simply inadequate. It is impossible to know the nature of the drug distribution network in question and impossible to know what is meant by the “acts or omissions” relating to theft over $5,000 or relating to a conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Meaningful review and accountability can only be achieved if the required report provides enough detail to understand what has occurred and whether it complies with statutory and constitutional requirements.
We suggest that the reports include, at a minimum, a brief description of the offence or offences being investigated and the act or omission committed by the police officer or agent, along with a brief description of that act for omission. Further, the report should include whether an investigation resulted in charges being laid. That's important in order to determine whether these provisions are being used in a way that is of any value. If these provisions are being used and there are never any charges, it is reasonable to ask: why are there no charges resulting?
Finally, we recommend that there be parliamentary reviews conducted every three years to ensure ongoing accountability. It is our understanding that no court has yet had the opportunity to consider these provisions or the circumstances in which these provisions have been used. The insights that might be offered by a court will, of course, be of interest to subsequent reviews that might be conducted.
I will be very pleased to follow Mr. Lee's suggestion.
First of all, we fully agree with the Canadian Bar Association. At the Ligue des droits et libertés, we have essentially the same concerns and find ourselves confronted with the same legal structure which, unfortunately, is not well known to the public. Very few people are aware of section 25.1 of the Criminal Code. I am certain that nobody who has spoken to you on the street--none of your actual constituents--has ever asked you what is going on with this section of the Criminal Code.
I would just ask you to imagine the following scenario. Imagine an unnamed country or State where the laws allow the police to engage in assaults, wiretapping and a whole series of violent offences, such as threats, kidnapping, hostage taking, forcible confinement, and searches which, in actual fact, turn into break and entry for the purposes of committing theft--and those are just a couple of examples. The police would have complete immunity. Such acts would be deemed justified for investigative purposes. Imagine that in that society, human rights are respected, but since that law exists, there is always the possibility that someone will use it, because of the way it's drafted.
That is precisely the situation in which we find ourselves. Even if we want to believe that the police generally act in good faith, how could we ever forget, particularly in Quebec--at least I hope not--what occurred during the 1970s, when RCMP officers burned down barns, stole political party lists and committed a number of offences that led to the inquiry with which you are certainly familiar, the MacDonald Commission of Inquiry in the 1980s.
Nor should we forget that in the 1980s and 1990s, a guy by the name of Boivin was with the CNTU but was working for CSIS at the same time. He had encouraged one of his union colleagues to blow up a hotel in Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean, an area located north of Quebec City. Of course, CSIS did not agree with these acts, but the fact is one can very quickly find oneself in such a situation.
I forgot to mention an important aspect: imagine a country where all these acts can be committed without any judicial review. In that regard, the Ligue des droits et libertés fully agrees with the Canadian Bar Association: judicial authorization is absolutely necessary for the commission of these kinds of acts. The police cannot engage in wiretapping without judicial authorization and without strict prior conditions having been met--in other words, without having demonstrated that other investigative means were attempted and that no other means is available to ensure a successful investigation, etc., before being given a warrant specifying a specific period of applicability. We're talking here about people's private lives, and therefore, the judge issues a warrant.
One may wonder how it works with section 25.1. Could an undercover police officer or a double agent engage in wiretapping to boost his image with certain criminals? Could a police officer commit a series of assaults or thefts, once again in order to boost his undercover image? To what extent will a police officer understand the difference between common assault, assault with bodily injury, and so on? What will happen in cases where common assault becomes assault with bodily injury or aggravated assault?
As lawyers, we are well aware of the fact that common assault can, when an incident occurs, quickly become aggravated assault. In some cases, it may go even further. We also know that there is a principle in criminal law that says you take the victim the way he is.
In these situations, we believe it is extremely dangerous to allow the police to commit offences against the integrity of the person. We also find it very dangerous and worrisome that people would not be advised when their property has not been destroyed. Indeed, someone who has been threatened with forcible confinement but has not been advised by the police will not complain to his lawyer or a judge, because that person does not know that a policeman was responsible.
The police officer who engages in breaking and entering, or kidnaps or forcibly confines someone is not wearing a police badge. This is often done by a police officer in civilian clothes working undercover in a criminal group who wants to establish a reputation in order to collect evidence.
I do not intend to read my entire brief. It is only five pages long, but the CBA has already covered many of our points. However, I do want to address another theme, which is compensation. It is practically impossible for a victim--in other words, someone whose property has been destroyed or who has been physically assaulted by a police officer wearing civilian clothes who committed a criminal offence, to actually sue that police officer. First of all, it often happens that the victim does not know. Furthermore, if the victim does not have the wherewithal to proceed with a lawsuit, it would be illusory to believe that such an individual could go through all the steps required to be compensated.
If Parliament decides to maintain these provisions, an automatic victim compensation mechanism is absolutely essential. If Parliament decides to maintain these provisions, judicial authorization will also be required, as well as an external monitoring mechanism--in other words, a mechanism for impartial judicial review--and political accountability. That could take the form of a committee composed of Members of Parliament that would sit in camera, but there must be a political body with the authority to take a close look at what police officers have done.
I have provided you with a paper by Ms. Shirley Heafey in which she very clearly explains that even the RCMP's existing mechanisms are not effective. They are inadequate given the reality, and especially the current reality. They are even more inadequate for dealing with offences that practically no one knows have been committed by public officers.
I have referred to hearings in camera, and although I readily admit that in camera discussions may be necessary at times, most of the committee's work should be carried out in public, because it is important for members of the public to know what police officers are doing. In fact, over the next ten years, it would be just as dangerous, in terms of the police's image, for people to be unaware of what police officers are doing, as to gradually discover what kinds of offences have been committed, the detailed reasons for their commission and, as my colleague stated, what the results of those actions were.
We have another suggestion to make. If reports are prepared by all provincial solicitors general and by the Solicitor General of Canada, we would suggest that a Canada-wide report be prepared that would include all the provincial reports, because an individual who wants to know who did what has to go and ask the provinces individually. For a number of years now, there have been integrated task forces in place that include municipal, provincial, and federal police officers, as well as members of federal agencies--since we are talking about agencies as well, and not only the police--and foreign agencies such as the FBI, more generally, and certainly the CIA. The Arar Inquiry has provided ample evidence of that up until now.
So, when task forces such as these are acting together, who does what and under whose orders? In these cases, it's important to have a report that provides an overview of the situation as a whole.
I don't have much time left, but the final point I would like to make may surprise you, since it has to do with torture. Indeed, you may be surprised to know that the offence of torture set out in the Criminal Code is similar to the offence of torture found in the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Canada signed in 1987. The immunity granted public officers does not exclude the offence of torture. The basic definition of torture is that it is carried out by a public officer or authority. All the police officers I spoke to told me that they cannot engage in torture because they are not authorized to commit bodily harm.
According to our definition, that is an incorrect interpretation of the term “torture”. I'm not talking about Washington's definition, but ours. We believe in that regard that there is no requirement to commit bodily harm. Assault with bodily injury means that there must be injuries which are neither permanent nor inconsequential. Our definition of torture is based on the presence of severe pain.
Indeed, it is possible to suffer severe pain or suffering without actually sustaining any injury whatsoever. The human imagination and the techniques in that regard are quite well developed. We have only to think of those cases involving sensory deprivation, where people are shut away in a room deprived of light, where people lose all sense of time, or where music is used. You have only to think of Guantanamo. All of these techniques were developed specifically to cause suffering without causing injuries. The cartoon image of the police officer with his telephone book comes immediately to mind. But it is basically the same principle. However, the situation today is that technology is far more refined.
In that sense, torture would be possible under section 25.1. The current debate has to do with whether or not that is included in assault with bodily injury. It's an interesting legal debate, but what we must consider is the police officer who may be told that there can be no torture when there are no injuries. In such cases, he might make an individual suffer for the purposes of intimidating him, given that intimidation is allowed. He could supposedly do this without this constituting torture. But that is absolutely untrue. Police officers, who are not legal experts, are being given the wrong message.
In closing, I want to emphasize that these provisions raise two major problems. We can only repeat what we stated in 2001. At the time, the Ligue des droits et libertés was opposed to this legislation. It has had the effect of encouraging a culture of silence among police officers and, in particular, trivializing torture and the violation of fundamental rights globally. Granting this type of immunity to police is of tremendous concern to us. That all citizens, without exception, are equal before the law is a fundamental principle of the rule of law, and one which is the very foundation of a democratic society.
Like the Canadian Bar Association, we are asking that section 25.1 be withdrawn.
If that's correct, that certain techniques of this sort have to be there, then it is much, much better that it be codified, rather than having techniques decided upon by police officers on the spur of the moment or on an ad hoc basis. That is certainly so, and this is clearly an attempt to codify it.
The criminal law is filled with recognition of instances in which the police are given permission to use certain investigative techniques in support of certain ends. This, I would suggest, is unlike the use of what would otherwise be assault to effect arrest. These are investigative techniques more akin to the use of a search warrant or a wiretap, and they will likely be deployed in circumstances considered in advance as part of a plan, and they will rarely arise on the spur of the moment.
So if the provisions are not repealed—and I'll get to that in a moment—then there is really no reason that there cannot be prior judicial authorization. We live with prior judicial authorization with respect to all of the investigative techniques that I set out earlier, without interference in the effective enforcement of law. Indeed, it enhances the proper administration of law. So that should occur here.
Now, the question of necessity is always a difficult one. What is necessary for the fair or effective enforcement of law? Fair enforcement of law means that law enforcement will conform with constitutional norms, the society's standards of decency, and the rule of law. Is it necessary, or has it been demonstrated now through the data—which can be assessed—that law enforcement is right now, or has been, falling down in the absence of these provisions?
Well, it's difficult to make that assessment. One way of making that assessment, though, is to ask: three years later, how many charges have there been? How often has this law been used and how many charges have been placed before the courts? Once those are known, you can ask, if there is not a charge in each and every instance in which these provisions have been relied upon, why not? So that goes to considerations of necessity.
First of all, the Ligue des droits et libertés is very reluctant to support the idea of a judicial warrant for anything involving crimes against the person. We are quite concerned about the notion that a judge could authorize assault, forcible confinement, hostage taking, and other such acts.
However, we have less trouble with the idea of a judicial warrant--and this is only a possible scenario--in order to be able to pinch somebody who was plotting to sell ammonium nitrate. I could also cite property offences or any other crime, whether it's gambling, fraud, etc., which are not crimes against the person.
So, as we stated in our brief, we would like these offences against the person to be removed. This is a societal choice that we're asking you to make. Does the integrity of the person come before the tools police officers need to have?
Indeed, assault could prove to be a very useful tool for police, as could torture. That sounds cynical, but I'm being perfectly objective: in some cases, torture could be a tool. I doubt that, however, because torture always leads to lies about the people we want to arrest. Just because there are tools available that can make the job easier doesn't mean they are acceptable. As far as we're concerned, anything that attacks the integrity of the person is unacceptable. Privacy is another matter. In some cases, such as wiretapping, if it is done properly and if the officer is required to report on it subsequently, that could in fact be acceptable.
As my colleague said, we are slowly but surely providing parameters for police officers and their agents to commit certain acts. In a way, we're providing them with a corridor within which they can act.
Thank you for coming. It's great to have your experience and views.
I'm going to tell you the first part where you haven't convinced me, and then the part where I'd like to do some further study.
I'm not so convinced by what was said before, and just repeating the same arguments. As Mr. Thompson said at one of our meetings, if it's not broke, don't fix it. We haven't really had any evidence from any witnesses that I can remember that there are problems. But we did discuss at an earlier meeting--one of you brought it up--having another review after this one, because there is not that much evidence in it. I'm quite sympathetic toward having that in another three or five years, or whatever.
I think there is possible jeopardy at the beginning and at the end process for infringement on civil rights. At the moment I'm not convinced that we should do it at the first of the project, as I mentioned in other meetings, because organized crime can be so insidiously infiltrated and I wouldn't like to have any more options for them to actually find out what's happening.
I have the same problem with reporting at the end of the process. Good intelligence just helps them prepare, but we don't know how many people are designated. Most of the events aren't eligible to go in the report, so we don't know a lot.
I was intrigued, Mr. Barrette, by your idea of having an in camera session of parliamentarians. The other thing I liked was the idea of having a consolidated report, because we have to go to all the agencies in the country--I think we had this problem in one of our earlier meetings--all levels of government, and all the police forces to find all the reports. That's a little work.
So if we were to make a little progress and have an in camera committee of parliamentarians to look at all of those things that are not actually in the reports now--the number of designated officers, the actual identification of every event--to see how it's working, would you find that at least a small step forward?
Thank you, Mr. Moore and Mr. Barrette.
I might add, as a former police officer and major crimes investigator, I had occasion many times to use everything that we talk about here, from wiretaps, to warrant applications, to various forms of interception, and even what this legislation permits right now. At that time there was no legislation that permitted it, but we needed the use of agents frequently, always tightly controlled by the police.
I can't recall in my time how this legislation, which would permit police officers to do the same thing as they did before and the controls.... There were always elements of problems with controls, and that's not going to change, whether you have legislation or not, when it comes to agents or the use of agents. But to repeal this and not allow the police to utilize these investigative tools actually does harm to society because so many investigations require a complete toolbox full of such things as we talk about here.
To have to run to a judge every time a decision is made in an investigation to comply with what you're suggesting would hamper an investigation. I would suggest that even in this last on-the-record initiative that is now taking place with the arrests of several alleged terrorists in this country, such rules and such applications of the law were applied.
And here, if you want to talk about protection of evidence and people.... And I can name other situations where organized criminal activity takes place where the life of even an informant hangs in the balance and where the release of any of this information to the public would be absolutely detrimental, whether it's now, at the time, or even years in the future after the case is all over with.
So I fail to see how the repeal, as you have suggested right at the onset, might be beneficial to our society.
Allow me to address that in two parts.
First, it is well known and it is the public experience that courts are sometimes asked to consider whether a search warrant or wiretap--it is a search warrant, much more commonly--has been properly obtained, and for the courts to conclude that it has not been and then to set it aside. That is an indication that even with prior judicial authorization, there are problems, in some instances, with the understanding of the law on the part of police officers who apply for these. Prior judicial authorization is important because it will stop some of these processes in advance. Right now there is no such way of stopping them. It is a public officer who is tasked with determining whether or not it's proper to go forward.
Second, I will respond to the comment about the tools that are necessary for the trade.
It's true that police require certain tools in order for them to do their jobs effectively, but it is absolutely incorrect, I say with respect, to suggest that each and every conceivable tool imaginable would comply with Canadian society--with our law, our standards of decency, and our constitutional standards.
I'll ask this rhetorically. These provisions permit the use of assault as part of an investigative technique. Is it really the case that we want police or their agents to commit assault, because it somehow is thought that it will advance an investigation?
And think about investigation. Some cases are investigative in the sense that they are simply intelligence-gathering, and they never go before the courts. These provisions would permit the commission of an assault as part of intelligence-gathering.
I suggest to you that not every tool should go into the toolbox.
Thank you. It's been an interesting afternoon.
Mr. Ménard related a while ago that he's talking lawyer talk and it might be difficult to understand. Well, I'm not a lawyer, and I believe you may have a hard time understanding a lot of lawyer talk.
I listened to the conversation a minute ago between you people and the chairman, Mr. Hanger, who's a police officer, and that attracted my attention more than anything. Because here we have a person who's in the profession, and we have people out there in the profession. We've had witnesses here who are in the profession of protecting people through the police force. They seem to be quite happy with the legislation the way it is; in fact, they don't want it broadened, but they want it left there so they're enabled to do a better job.
Mr. Hanger said you need lots of tools in your toolbox if you're a police officer. You're suggesting a lot of tools shouldn't be allowed in there. We get to tossing around things like that, and then I recall a comment made, I think it was by Mr. Lee, a while back, that we don't expect to have a whole bookful of codes: you can't do this, but you can do that, and you can't go here and you can't go there. When does that all end?
I believe that I represent the average Canadian on the street as well as anybody. I've been a farmer, I've been a teacher, a principal in a school. I've been involved in a lot of different things, and I'll tell you that 95% of the people out there want the police to get their job done, and that is, to protect society. They do not want any hindrance. I think most of them would agree with me in saying we trust our police with good common sense to do those things that will protect those rights that need to be protected when so needed, but the bottom line is we're going to do a better job of protecting society.
I'm sick and tired of seeing 11-year-old girls taken off a skateboard when they're going to a movie or to buy a video, and then later raped, and there could be a problem of some technicality--maybe not particularly in that case. I'm just saying that we are sick and tired of hearing comments such as when you arrest an alleged terrorist and somewhere in the background on TV somebody says something to the effect that, well, there's a possibility there could be some entrapment. What?
The police did an excellent job. They've done something that's really opened the eyes of Canadians. I'm cheering them on. The old 95% average guy, I'm saying “Good on you”. Wait a minute, did they do something wrong? Did the police do something wrong? Well, frankly, I don't give a hoot, and neither do most Canadians. They don't really care. They want the job done. And within the ranks of those people who are professionals who do the job, the authorities above them, they will take care of their own. They know the difference between good common sense, good law protection, and abuse. They know the difference. They'll look after it.
Why do we need to come up with something in the Criminal Code to say this is right and that's right, and this is wrong and that's wrong, and you people better listen to us because we know better? Well, I don't know better than the police force.
I would really like you to comment on what I had to say.
I will address my first question to the Canadian Bar Association, then to Mr. Barrette, and finally to the person seated next to him, whose name I'm unaware of.
To begin with, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in Quebec, we're afflicted with the scourge known as “drinking-and-driving”. When a traffic accident occurs where there are people injured or where criminal negligence is involved, for example, a police officer arriving on the scene of the accident must obtain authorization before taking blood samples. So, right there, authorization is required.
If they state they're unable to obtain a warrant, well, there are two types of searches--one that results in a trial, and another which is authorized by a justice of the peace. In this latter case, since there is no follow-up, there is no envelope containing the relevant documents or anything of that nature. However, if someone goes to the Court House in Quebec City, for example, and he has any reason to believe that [Inaudible--Editor], he has the right to try and get it. If he does not do so, then he cannot claim that he was unable to obtain one.
Now let's talk about search warrants. Personally, I have a BlackBerry, but have you seen what police officers have? They all have computers. They can easily apply for a search warrant--in about 30 seconds, if they have reasonable grounds to believe that something is going on. In that case, they receive an electric warrant. In this way, they are able to obtain a lot of authorizations.
Your arguments for amending sections 25.1 to 25.4 are nevertheless quite solid. However, I would like to point out that every indictable offence is different. So, the judge has to take an individual, as opposed to a collective, approach. As this gentleman mentioned, nobody knows about sections 25.1 to 25.4. In Quebec, when somebody wants to prove that a police officer made a mistake, he will tend to rely mainly on the Quebec Police Officers' Code of Ethics. Rarely is reference made to sections 25.1 to 25.4 of the Criminal Code, which are a little harder to work with.
You say that it makes no sense to have them, that they cause a lot of problems and can lead to abuse. But can you tell me just how the police are supposed to mount an undercover operation against a group like the one in Mr. Ménard's riding? A young boy was killed there in a bomb attack carried out by a gang of thugs.
Imagine that it was discovered at some point that an informer at the Auto Insurance Board of Quebec was providing information to the Hell's Angels. Under the circumstances, how could the police obtain a warrant? They couldn't do anything. In certain situations, you feel as though you may have to bypass the system. Mr. Barrette, you probably won't agree with me, but what do you think should be done in a situation where you can't even get a warrant?
In the case of police officer Marc Saint-Germain who killed four of his colleagues in Trois-Rivières, the officer that arrived on the scene needed a warrant. He had to apply for a telewarrant, but it worked. We are seeing that in some cases, this kind of system is a success. We shouldn't be totally negative.
In any case, you're putting me in a delicate position; you're talking about torture, whereas in 33 years of practice, I have never handled that kind of case. You have provided us with a definition of torture. However, if I use the word “torture” in the current context, I could say that Parliament, as an agent of the State, is forcing the Bloc Québécois to sit in this forum. By forcing the Bloc to vote for Canadian laws, it is inflicting severe pain.
Mr. Réal Ménard: It is my contact with you, Mr. Petit, that gives rise to the severe pain you refer to.
Mr. Daniel Petit: I'm trying to present this in such a way that you will understand that there comes a time when you have all the necessary authorizations. As a regular legal practitioner, I can tell you that I rarely had problems relating to sections 25.1 to 25.4.
In fact, when there are problems, it's because certain police officers disregard the law. And they disregard it in a number of specific cases. In the Matticks case in Quebec, we dealt with that kind of situation. We put the entire Quebec Provincial Police inside, and questioned their members for almost a month. Such cases are extremely rare and don't happen very often.
That's the reason why I'm asking you to try and convince me that sections 25.1 to 25.4... With all the arguments you have presented, you still have not managed to convince me. Yet I will have to make a decision. I find your arguments to be very solid, but I'm not living in the United States. That's the problem.
First of all, as regards torture, I've rarely seen people tortured in public the way parliamentarians are in front of the television cameras.
I just want to say that as crimes go, it is the most odious of all crimes internationally. If you consider the crimes that are prohibited under emergency measures ordered under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is one of the ones that are absolutely forbidden. It is an obligation on the part of signatory States that cannot be breached under any circumstances, given the gravity of actions taken by a public official who inflicts suffering on another individual for the purposes of intimidating him, and so on.
What I'm trying to say, with respect to torture... I understand that you may not agree with my reading of torture or of the connection between torture and assault with bodily harm. At the same time, I find it interesting that you yourself have said that it is an interesting argument.
To what extent will a police officer who is given authorization to commit offences, such as assault, for example, not inflict torture without injury, without bodily harm? To what extent do we have any assurances that he could not go as far as to do the unthinkable. That is the danger with torture.
Of course, that is not what we hope will happen. And the fact is we have no cases to report in that area, nor do we hope to have any to report. However, as I often say when I come here, parliamentarians have a responsibility to consider all possible applications of the law, even when they don't have concrete examples in front of them. That is your responsibility.
As regards the Hell's Angels or other organized crime groups, I believe that so far, we have been able to infiltrate them in Quebec, even before section 25.1 came into force. The fact is that we were able to infiltrate the Hell's Angels, put them on trial and convict them in most cases.
However, as you were saying, this was a big job, particularly for the Quebec Provincial Police and police officers in Quebec. However, I should say that the whole matter of the tools available to them arises once again when we say that some people should be allowed not to obey the law, without judicial authorization, in order to arrest members of organized crime groups and prevent them from committing heinous crimes. That is where the danger lies, because there are always good reasons for letting things slip and engaging in abuse; that's when we get the kind of results that we don't want.
Once again, we have seen that happen, perhaps more often in Quebec than elsewhere. I talked about the 1970s. Unfortunately, these kinds of crimes are always committed for a good reason. Voltaire said that hell is paved with good intentions. That may well be the case as regards section 25.1.