moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill that I introduced in the House and that we are going to debate today is the last step in a series of measures put forward by the Bloc Québécois to weaken organized crime. Before getting into the crux of this bill, I think it is important to talk about the steps that the Bloc Québécois has taken in the House to fight organized crime.
In the 1990s, when the biker wars were raging in Quebec, it quickly became obvious that a new law was needed to help law enforcement in their fight against organized crime. From the start, the Bloc spoke out about this reality in the House and put pressure on the Liberal government of the time. It was former Bloc member Réal Ménard who first introduced anti-gang legislation in the House of Commons in 1995.
The passage of Bill C-59 in 1997 marked a first step in the fight against organized crime. However, the amendments to the Criminal Code were too complex and demanding for effectively securing convictions in the courts. For example, the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had participated in the activities of a gang and been a party to the commission of an indictable offence committed in connection with the criminal organization.
Because those two combined requirements made it difficult to secure convictions, the police quickly called for amendments, and, once again, the Bloc Québécois was the first to act and bring those calls into the political arena.
In 2000, the Bloc Québécois then led the effort to have amendments made to that initial anti-gang law, Bill C-59, and to expand its scope. Our leader at that time, Gilles Duceppe, was even targeted by threats and intimidation from criminal organizations, to deter him from proceeding.
Mr. Duceppe stood up to them and the Bloc demonstrated its determination. As a result, in 2002 our efforts led to the enactment of Bill , which created two new, separate offences to assist in combatting organized crime. Participating in the activities of a criminal organization and committing an indictable offence for the benefit of a criminal organization became two separate offences. It became possible to secure a conviction against members of criminal organizations for gang-related or criminal organization offences. A person charged with committing an offence for the benefit of a criminal organization became liable to life imprisonment.
To better protect the public and the police who are engaged in fighting organized crime, the law also added provisions to combat the intimidation of journalists and of federal, provincial and municipal elected representatives, and also of any person who plays a role in the administration of the penal and criminal justice system.
In 2009, the Bloc Québécois again took up the issue with a motion to have criminal organizations such as criminal biker gangs recognized as illegal. Also in 2009, the Bloc supported Bill on organized crime, to have any murder committed for the benefit of a criminal organization deemed to be a premeditated murder and liable to a sentence of life imprisonment.
At the same time, and also at the initiative of the Bloc Québécois, the Criminal Code was amended to reverse the burden of proof and force criminal organizations to prove the source of their income. This was an important step forward in the fight against organized crime.
Earlier, following an international conference on money laundering and organized crime held in Montreal in 1998, the Bloc Québécois had persuaded the government to withdraw $1,000 bills from circulation, since, as everyone knows, they are used most of the time only to launder organized crime money.
The Bloc Québécois has always been a thorn in the side of organized crime. We must not forget that gangsters adapt very readily. There seems to have been a resurgence of criminal biker gangs since 2016.
Here again, we have a responsibility to act. Let me remind the House that the biker war from 1994 to 2002 was especially bloody. The eight-year tally was more than 150 murders, including nine innocents, nine disappeared, and 181 attempted murders. Things could very well start up again. Since the summer of 2016, organized crime experts and observers have noted that criminal biker gangs are making a vigorous comeback. Since Operation SharQc in 2009, most of the bikers who were charged have been let go because some of the trials just fizzled out, and many who were convicted have had their sentences reduced.
They have been making their presence increasingly known, and we have been seeing more shows of force too. In recent months, bikers have started gathering again, displaying their patches openly and with impunity. Our criminal justice system combats the criminal mindset at least as much as it does criminal activity itself. Just consider crimes of accessory: conspiracy, attempt, and inciting or counselling.
Only for practical reasons, such as how hard it is to prove, criminal mentality is more rarely punished than criminal acts themselves. The challenge associated with presenting full proof must not discourage punishments for behaviour that should be punished.
At present, the Criminal Code prohibits participation in a criminal organization only to the extent that it can be proven that the individual intended to enhance the ability of the criminal organization to commit or facilitate the commission of an indictable offence. This is difficult to prove, particularly with regard to criminal organizations that are not easily infiltrated by police.
With that in mind, we are proposing, first of all, that a list of criminal organizations be created, similar to the list of terrorist organizations that exists, and second, that patches and emblems associated with the organizations on such a list be prohibited from being worn in public.
The Bloc Québécois has been calling for this for quite some time. In the fall of 2001, on an opposition day, the Bloc moved a motion calling on Parliament to make membership in a criminal organization a criminal offence. The same year, at the committee stage of Bill , the Bloc proposed an amendment at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to prohibit membership in criminal organizations. Our amendment had the support of the criminal investigations branch of the Montreal police service, which at the time was called the Montreal Urban Community Police Department.
Unfortunately, parliamentarians rejected our motion. Then in 2009, the Bloc Québécois managed to get a motion adopted at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights calling on the committee to study the possibility of creating a list of organizations once again following the model of the list of terrorist organizations. I would remind the House that the last biker gang war claimed more than 150 lives in Quebec alone, including that of an 11-year-old child.
Organized crime is very costly in terms of human life, so we cannot sit idly by and do nothing. Witnesses from the Sûreté du Québec, the SPVM, and the RCMP all supported the creation of such a list.
They believe that adding a criminal organization to a list would help crown prosecutors, because they would no longer be required to prove the existence of a criminal organization at each trial. This would be more efficient in terms of the length and cost of proceedings, and it would be more consistent.
A QPP chief inspector had this to say:
|| The proposal...however, would be a major and important step forward, to avoid having to prove the criminal organization all over again at each trial, for the same organization. It would save us weeks or even months of testimony and preparation to prove aspects that have already been accepted in previous court proceedings, and would therefore be an important avenue to enable us to be even more effective in combatting organized crime on the ground.
We can agree that in the era of the Jordan decision, saving weeks or even months would have been beneficial for our judicial system. That is why we are trying again this year with two new measures.
First, make it possible for the Governor in Council to establish a list of criminal organizations and to place on that list those organizations recommended by the Minister of Public Safety.
Second, make it an offence for a member of a listed criminal organization to wear emblems such as patches.
With respect to establishing a list of criminal organizations, there is no legitimate reason to knowingly be part of a criminal group. Our bill simply prohibits membership in such a group. Currently, the existence of an organization must be proven before someone can be charged with organized crime. We saw what happened with the megatrials, where trials were literally derailed because of the sheer volume of evidence. Rather than serve the cause of justice, the time it takes to process all that evidence serves only the criminals. Obviously, that is not what we want. Establishing a list of criminal organizations will shorten trials and allow justice to take its course within a reasonable period of time and achieve its ends.
People quite rightly believe that nobody should be allowed to belong to a criminal organization. Why do people believe that? Because nobody should be allowed to belong to a criminal organization.
If Parliament passes this bill, it will send a message to the people and to criminals that the government is not sitting on the sidelines. The government is taking action for justice, for the common good, and for everyone's safety.
Members of Parliament will simply not accept something so unacceptable.
The already has the power to establish a list of terrorist groups, a list that, I really want to emphasize, has never been challenged.
In 2005, in R. v. Lindsay, Justice Fuerst of the Ontario Superior Court established that the Hells Angels were a criminal organization across Canada. However, this ruling did not exempt crown prosecutors from having to prove once again that the Hells Angels were a criminal organization in other trials.
I realize that this measure alone would not be enough to put an end to organized crime, and that proving gangsterism is not always easy, but is that not the case anyway when it comes to each and every offence?
As for emblems, the second aspect of our bill, we are proposing that an offence be created prohibiting the wearing of emblems or patches of listed criminal organizations.
Paragraph 467.11(1) of the Criminal Code states the following:
|| Every person who, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a criminal organization to facilitate or commit an indictable offence...knowingly...participates in or contributes to any activity of the criminal organization is guilty of an indictable offence...
We believe that—
Madam Speaker, I will begin by thanking my colleague for his presentation on Bill .
I am pleased to join this debate on a bill that proposes to amend the Criminal Code to create a scheme to list criminal organizations and to also create a new offence prohibiting the wearing of emblems of listed criminal organizations. The rationale behind these proposals as put forward is to make it easier for the police and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute offences committed by criminal organizations.
We have already heard a number of concerns expressed about this bill. I share those concerns, and accordingly will be encouraging all members to vote against it.
Organized crime is of great concern to all Canadians and all levels of government. As a former federal prosecutor, I take this issue very seriously. Whether it consists of loosely organized street gangs or highly structured motorcycle clubs, organized crime pervades almost every aspect of society. Activities such as the theft and resale of legal commodities, the trafficking of drugs and firearms, terrorism, money laundering, fraud, and human trafficking cost the Canadian economy billions of dollars and also pose great risk to the safety of Canadians.
Not only does organized crime have a direct impact on the Canadian economy, as I said, but the violence used to commit these crimes for the benefit of criminal organizations affects innocent people, decreases public safety, and undermines the fundamental values of our society.
In 2013, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada stated that there were 672 criminal organizations reported in Canada, most of which were located in metropolitan areas, especially in cities where there are ports or a larger economy. CISC also reported that the majority of organized crime groups in Canada are involved in drug trafficking due to the high revenue of Canada's import and export drug market. In this regard, I would just take a moment to note that our government's approach in Bill aims to deprive criminal organizations and gangs of the very source of revenue they use to continue to profit from the trafficking of illegal drugs.
Canada's black market is currently valued at approximately $77.83 billion, with drug trafficking accounting for approximately 57%, or $44.5 billion, so the figures have some significance.
The structure and operation of organized crime also seem to be changing. Historically, organized crime consisted of complex and cohesive groups, such as outlaw biker gangs and the mafia, and each group tended to be involved in specific criminal activities for long periods of time.
Today, organized crime is more fluid; gangs come together for different purposes and work together to achieve their goals, relying on particular skills to carry out a specific criminal act. Once the criminal act is complete, these individuals may or may not continue to work together.
This point highlights one of the reasons why I do not believe that Bill is the appropriate solution for addressing certain challenges related to the investigation and prosecution of criminal organizations. Most groups are fluid and, as a result, keeping a current list of those groups would be an ongoing challenge that would take a lot of time and resources, and would probably be useless in most cases.
The Criminal Code already includes solid legislation to fight organized crime, and contains four specific offences. Those offences cover those who support the activities of criminal organizations, those who commit offences for criminal organizations, and those who ask others to commit offences for criminal organizations.
The Criminal Code also contains tougher sentences for offenders linked to organized crime, ensuring that those people are punished more severely. Finally, the Criminal Code contains specific provisions covering organized crime.
Bill proposes to amend the definition of criminal organization in the Criminal Code to include any criminal organization as prescribed by the Governor in Council.
I know that some commentators have found it frustrating that every time a court makes a finding of act that a group meets the definition of a criminal organization, that this finding carries no weight in a subsequent prosecution involving the same group. However, I believe that the proposal in Bill to overcome this so-called redundancy is not an effective solution and may actually create more practical problems than it would solve. For example, there is a risk that if a group is a listed entity, law enforcement would decide not to collect evidence as thoroughly as they do presently, relying on the assumption that it is unnecessary.
However, reliance on the list to prove the existence of a criminal organization would almost certainly be challenged during a prosecution for a criminal organization offence, as we have seen in the past. For example, defence counsel could argue that the listed group is not the same group as the one at issue in the prosecution, slight variations in the conspiracies, or improper motives that are being advanced differently from one case to the next. Accordingly, the prosecutor would still require evidence to refute this claim, evidence that may not have been collected.
Alternatively, a defence lawyer might argue that the court cannot rely upon the list because the evidential standard to list criminal organizations—that is, reasonable grounds to believe that the group is involved in organized crime activity—is lower than that required in a criminal trial, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
These sorts of inevitable challenges would lead to delays and possibly to frustrated prosecutions, which I know no member in the House would like to see.
I am also concerned about the basis upon which a group would be listed. The bill says that the group has to have carried out "organized crime activity", but that phrase is not defined in the bill. Does organized crime activity mean only criminal offences, or does it also include conduct that facilitates the ability of a criminal organization to commit crimes? This is another area that would inevitably be challenged in court and could cause years of delay and confusion.
I also have some questions about the charter viability of the proposals in the bill. It is fundamental that the crown bear the burden of establishing all essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt. I have serious concerns that the listing process may indeed interfere with an individual's right to be presumed innocent under the charter. Relying on such a list would most likely lead to charter challenges, which would further complicate the prosecution instead of simplifying it. This would also add to the length of these trials and further clog up our courts.
In light of the Jordan decision, we should be mindful of any changes that might make our criminal justice system slower and less efficient. It is also worth noting that the listing process itself is a time-consuming undertaking for the machinery of government and that it would require substantial and ongoing resources to attempt to keep the list accurate and up to date.
The proposal to create an offence of wearing an emblem of a listed criminal organization also carries charter risks relating to the accused's right of freedom of expression. Although I think we would all join in saying that we find some of these expressions in their emblems and patches to be highly offensive, potentially putting at risk the outcomes of these trials could create delay. Indeed we have seen some cases already in the province of Saskatchewan, which has struck down proposals similar to the one we see in Bill .
One effective way of combatting organized crime is to prevent these groups from profiting through the black market. In that respect, our government's introduction of Bill , concerning the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis, will have a positive impact on reducing the role of organized crime in the sale of cannabis and will take the illicit profits out of their hands. It will also keep it out of the hands of our children, as my colleagues have pointed out very ably on numerous occasions.
While I recognize the pervasive threat organized crime poses to Canadians, I do not believe the bill would improve the criminal justice system in any practical way and could quite possibly create more challenges than it would solve. For these reasons, the government will not be supporting Bill . I would encourage all members to vote it down.
Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill , an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts involving criminal organizations and the important issue of combatting organized crime.
The bill seeks to establish a government-maintained registry of symbols associated with organized crime. Symbols on this list would be illegal to wear or prominently display. Should someone deliberately flaunt a symbol on this registry, the person would face a penalty of up to two years in jail.
While the bill has good intentions, it contains many flaws.
As it is written, there is no requirement to make this registry of symbols easily accessible to the public. It would be important for the public to have access to such a list otherwise Canadians would not know whether they were in violation of the law. This is especially worrying since offenders or unintentional offenders could face jail time if they were wearing clothing sporting one of these outlawed logos.
As the bill is about protecting public safety, this is a significant oversight. The broader concern is that when organizations are cited for offences that lead to their logos being placed on this registry, their symbols, but not the organization itself, would be targeted and banned. A more fundamental problem is that the bill would not significantly impede or frustrate organized crime. Criminal organizations may use multiple symbols and insignias, or none at all.
Different factions within the same criminal organizations may have their own symbols. If the proposed registry were to include all of them, it would get quite long and perhaps even unwieldy for enforcement officers. Gang members can and will likely change their symbols to get around any formal bans or simply stop wearing clothing with banned logos. They also may simply use identifiers not addressed in the bill, such as tattoos, in order to identify their allegiances.
Organizations, like gangs, have little trouble making their affiliations clear when they want to use their reputations for intimidation, and the bill is unlikely to appreciably hinder them.
While gangs will weave easily enough around this legislation, others who are not implicated in organized crime may be unfairly caught up in it. The bill states that it would affect only those knowingly wearing the symbols it lists in order to establish membership in a criminal organization. I believe it would be difficult to either prove this for those who are guilty or to prove innocence for those who unwittingly made a mistake. Gang members could easily claim no affiliation to the symbol or that they wear the insignia for other purposes.
Without knowledge of the individual's history, it would be difficult for police and other law enforcement to prove otherwise. It would also be valuable to clarify exemptions for forms of portrayal that are less objectionable.
Even countries with difficult relationships to past symbols often allow for them to be used for historical or educational contexts. This bill should acknowledge their use in, for example, journalistic or dramatic works, which may indeed help shed light on organized crime and its detrimental effects on society.
The previous Conservative government took concrete action to combat organized crime. It expanded the Criminal Code's definition of serious offences to include prostitution, illegal gambling, and many drug-related crimes. The penalties for these offences, which constitute major revenue streams for organized crime, were all increased. Police forces were given the tools they needed to go after gangs. Funding for RCMP drug enforcement was greatly increased and the national drug strategy helped combat drug smuggling. Furthermore, funding to combat international drug smuggling in the Americas was increased. Smuggling drugs and the crime that results from it does not stop at our border.
These initiatives had a positive impact in the fight against organized crime. This bill, however, would be ineffective at fighting organized crime as it focuses on symbols rather than the crimes themselves.
The bill also raises serious concerns about freedom of expression, which is a fundamental constitutional right. Section 2 of the charter clearly sets out freedom of expression as protected, and as it is written, the bill would likely find difficulty surviving a constitutional challenge.
It would be unlikely to pass a charter challenge under reasonable limitations since it targets symbols rather than the criminals themselves, or the organizations which are actually responsible for the crimes.
Finally, the bill does not account for how the meaning of symbols can differ and change considerably over time and in different place. The insignia adopted by a gang in one city may be a completely innocuous symbol anywhere else in the country. Many symbols often have wholly different connotations in different cultures or contexts.
Criminal organization by their very nature have little reason to follow copyright or respect symbols already in use by others. What would happen if a criminal organization attempted to appropriate the symbols of others, of other legitimate organizations?
This is especially concerning since gangs often take ethnic or existing symbols as their insignias. The bill would have us ban these symbols, regardless of their meanings in other contexts.
As I said earlier, the bill has many flaws. It would largely fail in its main objective of combatting organized crime, and its provisions raise many deep concerns. Therefore, I will not be supporting the bill.
Madam Speaker, today, we are debating Bill . I want to begin by thanking the sponsor of this bill, the member for , as I did in my questions.
The fact that we are still talking about this problem obviously says something. We all recognize that, unfortunately, in politics, whether we are talking about organized crime or other matters, it sadly often takes a tragedy before something is done about an important issue. The issue before us today, that of organized crime, is obviously extremely important.
We must be honest and recognize that, regardless of our political stripes or what we believe are the best ways of eliminating or at least minimizing the human, personal, physical, and economic threats posed by organized crime, we all agree that we must do everything in our power as legislators to combat it.
I am going to talk about the solutions that are proposed in this bill, with a particular focus on the creation of a list or registry of criminal organizations. When I took the time to reread the testimony of the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice when it was carrying out the study proposed by the Bloc Québécois in 2009, I noticed some interesting things. I noticed that the burden of proof placed on the shoulders of police forces and others creates a real challenge. The police have to prove that an organization is criminal and then prove it again every time, even when it seems obvious. Anyone looking at the situation would say that this does not make any sense and that we are well aware of which organizations in Quebec and Canada are criminal organizations.
Nevertheless, this burden of proof exists and, every time a crime related to organized crime is committed, the crown must constantly prove that the organization in question is in fact a criminal organization. That causes a lot of grief and creates a lot of work for prosecutors and the police.
I would suggest that the proposed list is not an adequate solution to ease the burden on the police. I took note of what witnesses said during this study. William Barclay, a lawyer working in the criminal law policy section of the Department of Justice, said, “Even though a group was a listed entity, law enforcement would still have to collect evidence for a case to be presented in court, as the listing process in its application to a particular case could still be challenged in any case.”
From that and what other lawyers have said, we see that there is still an obligation for police and, consequently, for the crown to collect the evidence necessary to prove that the organization in question is criminal.
There are a few things that we find worrisome about the creation of such a list.
First, even though we know that it is sometimes necessary, we always worry when something is basically left up to the minister's discretion. The bill contains a challenge mechanism, but I think it falls short.
I will give an example from that section of the bill. It says that, if a group goes to court to challenge the fact that it was put on the list, the judge may receive anything into evidence, even if it would not otherwise be admissible under Canadian law.
That is very worrisome. Take for example a recent case in Montreal where a megatrial against various organized groups was basically thrown out. One of the reasons why that happened was that the RCMP conducted various wiretap operations that were deemed illegal and that would no doubt have been challenged because they were illegal and unconstitutional.
We might find ourselves in the same situation if we grant this kind of discretion together with an inadequate method for challenging it. Although it is a different mechanism, it is somewhat the same thing as with the no-fly list, the list that prohibits people from flying under the passenger protect program. We see that the lack of a robust remedy creates an enormous amount of trouble for individuals on the list.
We can see that the counter-argument would be that the names of organized crime groups are relatively well known. Whether we target them or not, we cannot wait until they start challenging it. The problem arises when we examine this kind of list. Obviously there are groups that we all know, that we can name, such as biker gangs that we are very familiar with, for example, and that are in the news on a regular basis.
Some experts submitted a problem during the 2009 study. Specifically, when we say organized crime, that may mean biker gangs, but it can also mean street gangs, for example. As the member for said himself in his speech, these groups know how to adapt. Their identities are very fluid and the groups' names and composition are constantly changing, as are the crimes in which they are involved in our society. This therefore presents an enormous challenge.
The most striking example is that one of the groups that supports the creation of this kind of list, in principle, is the RCMP. When we read the RCMP testimony more closely, however, we see that it has in fact acknowledged that this kind of list would be extremely difficult to maintain, particularly in terms of the administrative burden associated with maintaining it, and making sure that the information is accurate and that communication with the is robust and appropriate.
I am not just saying that, in my opinion, this mechanism is not the solution. We also have to examine different solutions, because the member is actually talking about an important issue in his bill. As he said very well in his speech, the Jordan decision has brought on a new reality. We see trials ending too soon, at the expense of victims. Criminals are being released because of the judicial system and all sorts of factors. Sometimes these are legislative or administrative factors, and other times, let us be honest, this happens because of the incompetence of the government, in particular this government, when it comes to appointing judges, for example. However, we have to acknowledge that we must deal with this reality.
I am in favour of the solution proposed by Department of Justice representatives in a 2009 study. The law currently allows expert testimony from previous trials to be included in an attempt to facilitate the collection of evidence to prove that an organization is criminal. We need to go further, and this solution should be backed.
In a case in Ontario, for instance, in a trial involving an individual associated with a biker gang, if the judge rules that it is a criminal organization, that decision would be admissible in a new trial. According to the experts we consulted and the testimony we read during the study, this approach would be much more robust, much more likely to be constitutional and less likely to be challenged under the charter.
If we want to discuss public safety issues, the reality of the Jordan ruling, and the whole administrative burden that currently exists in the justice system, we must acknowledge, whether we want to or not, that any additional burden will create another tool that defence lawyers can use to challenge a decision under the charter. We must also acknowledge that this could lead to proceedings that last much longer and that, unfortunately and inevitably in some cases, may result in release of the offender and the end of the proceedings. I do not think anyone in the House wants to see this happen. To the contrary, like I said at the outset, every member wants to do everything they can to tackle organized crime.
We therefore recognize that a tool that may seem obvious unfortunately creates too many problems. These are problems that will exacerbate rather than alleviate the burden on the legal system. However, we also acknowledge that there is a solution.
In closing, the other solution involves resources. I am on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and I have already asked Commissioner Paulson of the RCMP about the focus on the fight against terrorism and how it has affected the fight against organized and white-collar crime. He told me that there was indeed a lack of resources. Obviously, money is also the sinews of war.
Ten minutes is not enough time for me to fully express my thoughts. Unfortunately, we are unable to support this bill, but I congratulate the member for tabling it, and we hope to find the right solutions.
Madam Speaker, I am not a lawyer or an expert, and I have to say that after what I have heard from my Liberal and Conservative colleagues in this debate, I am glad that I am neither of those things.
However, one thing I am very familiar with is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Oakes decision. When my friend from the Conservative Party talks about copyright and tattoos, frankly, it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. She cannot be serious. This gives the public the impression that the legislators have given up.
For years now, front-line workers have been challenging the scope of sections 2 and 7 of the charter, and my colleagues are telling us that freedom of expression could be unreasonably breached in a free and democratic society, and that this would not survive a court challenge.
I hope the voters were listening to my colleague from 's brilliant speech. To hear my other colleagues say it, bills have to be perfect from the get-go. How many bills have been introduced here and have gone on to be improved in committee? On what grounds can my colleagues justify opposing the principle of fighting organized crime? If making a list of terrorist groups is a good idea, why is it not a good idea for organized crime too? They go on and on about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Quite a few constitutional experts have said it is time to overhaul the charter because of its unintended consequences. We should talk to police officers, to people on the front lines, to people who put together the evidence needed for an open-and-shut case. We should talk to them about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and see what they have to say about it. People have been talking about freedom of expression and freedom of association in connection with criminal organizations. Can anyone here stand up and tell me that section 1 of the charter does not support the bill my colleague from introduced? Can anyone seriously say that, here and now, at 6:20 in the evening? Come on.
The bill must pass the Oakes test, which is cited in many Supreme Court rulings. What is it? The Oakes test determines whether the purpose of the law is demonstrably justified “in a free and democratic society”. The test applies when the applicant has proven that a provision of the charter has been violated. It is incumbent upon the crown to establish that its limitation satisfies the requirements of the Oakes test. There must be a real and pressing purpose.
In the House, everyone has said that it is urgent that we fight criminal organizations. Everyone agrees that we must improve the Criminal Code in order to better combat organized crime and criminal associations. However, some members have said that what is being proposed is not what is needed. In my opinion, this should be referred to a committee, so the committee could study how it could be improved and evaluate the claims of those who, all too often, call on the experts.
I was a philosophy professor in another life. Appealing to the authority of experts or science amounts to sophistry. When we call on another authority too often and make it our main argument, we do not have a solid argument.
This happens too often in the House. My colleague’s bill absolutely deserves to be debated in committee, in accordance with respectable parliamentary tradition.
The Bloc Québécois’ organized crime roadmap seems to bother my colleagues. However, it was not the Liberal Party that put its imprimatur on the fight against organized crime. The Liberals instead put their imprimatur on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their interpretation of freedom of expression and freedom of association is outrageous. They ask everyday men and women if they find it unreasonable to infringe on the right of association of criminal organizations by creating a list and fighting intimidation.
For the last year and a half, I have heard some of my colleagues give impassioned speeches decrying the bullying our young people are exposed to at school, and yet, they are ready to accept that members of organized crime walk around with their patch and intimidate people in their communities. Could we be a bit more consistent?
In light of the Jordan ruling and the fact that we release people because proceedings are constantly delayed, my colleague from claims to believe, after reviewing the matter and consulting experts, who are not the same ones consulted by the members across the floor, that we need to save time. Why kill the bill now instead of talking about it and calling witnesses in committee to tell us what they think about it?
My colleagues’ partisan position is not in keeping with the spirit of parliamentary debate. This is not what the people of Quebec and voters want. They do not want partisan debates in which we seek to defeat bills by claiming in a 10-minute speech that they do not pass legal muster, while my colleague’s arguments are worth at least as much as the arguments by my colleagues across the floor.
I will calm down, since I am speaking on behalf of my constituents. When the Conservatives, who tabled Bill , talk to me about copyright and tell me that the bill before us will unreasonably violate freedom of expression and association, they are expressing a partisan position.
Incidentally, I am happy that my colleague has been able to introduce legislation; we have only had occasion to table two in the last year and a half. This is how Bloc Québécois MPs are treated in Parliament, treatment that no Western parliament reserves for representatives of the people.
Sometimes I hear people question the usefulness of the Bloc Québécois. Well, contrary to what some might think, if it were not for the Bloc Québécois, its roadmap and its efforts to fight organized crime, we would not have been able to improve the Criminal Code's provisions on fighting organized crime.
In all honesty, I think my colleague’s bill deserves to be studied in committee and deserves to be reviewed in the same way as we review all other bills that have received our support in principle, even if they are flawed.
Madam Speaker, once again, I want to congratulate my colleague on the bill he is introducing this afternoon and on the courage it took to do so. Tackling organized crime is no easy feat.
I would like to remind the House that this bill has the support of the various police forces he mentioned earlier. This is what is needed to help fight organized crime.
I am shocked at the reaction of the three federalist parties that have spoken out against this bill. I am truly shocked. They tell us that they are fighting organized crime in theory, but when we come forward with a concrete measure based on what our police forces want, they all do nothing.
We were treated to all kinds of silly examples. The silliest, I think, came from the Conservatives who said that theatre groups dressed up as the Hells Angels should not be locked up. What a ridiculous example. I cannot believe it.
The government is telling us that it is going to legalize pot and that that will solve everything. Come on. What is this, anyway? The message being sent to Quebec this afternoon is that Canada is doing nothing to wipe out organized crime because the parties representing it are spineless, period. More than ever, I think the message is clear.
I am angry. I cannot believe it. We are looking at the principle of the bill. They are saying that they are opposed to organized crime in principle, but then they are finding all sorts of frivolous reasons not to support the member's bill. They are simply shirking their responsibilities.
There was a gathering of a criminal organization here in the region a few months ago. When people in the community in question were polled, they said that it was fine, that they were happy because the group was going to come and spend money in their community. People fear of organized crime and what it represents. It is up to us to be brave, to stand up, to show some backbone, and to change that . That is what my colleague is trying to do here, but the reaction of the other parties shows us that they are scared.
I think that members of organized crime who are watching the debate right now are saying that everything is fine, that they are going to stay in Canada, and that they will not have any problem supporting the three parties. Those parties are opposed to organized crime in principle, but in reality, they are doing everything they can to allow criminal activity to continue. That is unacceptable.
In closing, I want to once again commend my colleague from for his courage and for everything that the Bloc Québécois has done to eradicate organized crime.