The House resumed from November 22 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to debate Bill and will resume from where I left off.
Bill would respond to the long-standing need to establish an independent review of the CBSA and improve review of the RCMP. This bill would build on the previous proposals to create a review body for the RCMP and CBSA. For example, Bill and Bill from 2020, were introduced but never completed the legislative process.
Bill would also respond to the recent federal court decision that the RCMP must provide a response to the CRCC interim report within six months. I would like to highlight that this bill would also advance the 's mandate letter commitments to create a review body of the CBSA; to set timelines for the RCMP's and the CBSA's responses to complaints and recommendations; to ensure continued compliance with accountability and review bodies; to combat systemic racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system; to continue advancing efforts toward a path of reconciliation with first nation, Inuit and Métis peoples; and to ensure that the RCMP and CBSA continue working to transform and to create a culture of accountability, equity, diversity and inclusion.
This bill would add to existing CRCC powers by providing enhanced accountability and transparency tools, including the stand-alone statute, which reinforces its independence from the RCMP and CBSA.
Set timelines for the RCMP and CBSA responses to the PCRC interim report mean that responses would be expected within six months of any complaints. Specified activity reviews and recommendation responses would be expected within 60 days.
Bill would include important provisions related to the collection and publication of race-based data by the PCRC, with RCMP and CBSA, to increase knowledge about systemic racism in law enforcement and inform responses.
The mandated public complaints and review commission's public education and information program would increase public knowledge and awareness of the commission's mandate and of complainants' rights to redress. This bill would provide for offences and punishments for obstruction and non-compliance with the PCRC.
Individuals detained by the CBSA must be informed of their avenue to make a complaint. This bill would also provide the PCRC with additional authorities to recommend that the RCMP and CBSA deputy heads initiate disciplinary-related processes or impose a disciplinary measure under certain circumstances. The deputy heads would be required to advise the minister and the PCRC chairperson whether discipline was initiated or imposed.
The new PCRC would also be able to conduct a joint investigation, review or hearing of complaints with appropriate authorities of any other jurisdiction when needed. The PCRC would refer national security matters to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and co-operate with the agency to avoid duplication of work.
The public complaints and review commission would be responsible for conducting specified activity reviews of any non-national security activities of the CBSA, either on the PCRC's own initiative or at the request of the minister.
The bill would create a statutory framework in the Canada Border Services Agency Act to govern the CBSA's responses to serious incidents, which are now governed by internal policy. There would be an opportunity for the CBSA to conduct internal investigations into alleged serious incidents. There would also be a requirement for the CBSA to notify the police of jurisdiction and the PCRC when such incidents occur.
There would be a requirement by the Canada Border Services Agency to provide the PCRC with reports or other information of serious incidents. The authority would also exist for the PCRC to send an observer to verify the impartiality of the CBSA's serious incident investigations. Finally, there would be a requirement for the PCRC to report on the number, types and outcomes of serious incidents as part of an annual reporting system.
I will speak briefly about the mechanics of the PCRC as well. The PCRC would be headed by a chairperson and up to four additional members, including a vice-chairman appointed by the Governor in Council. The bill would provide Governor in Council regulation-making powers for information sharing and related procedures.
We all rely on the CBSA and the RCMP. We interact with the CBSA and the RCMP and they safeguard our security goods, but we need to have assurances about efficient, fair and equal treatment.
Bill would be a major step forward for Canada with an enhanced review body and assurance of consistent, fair and equal treatment when Canadians interact with the Canada Border Services Agency or the RCMP. I urge hon. members to join me in supporting the important bill in front of us, Bill .
Mr. Speaker, while we have heard in previous interventions lots of people sharing their displeasure and some of the challenges they face at committee, I am rising to support Bill at second reading.
Bill would replace the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP and establish a stand-alone commission, the public complaints and review commission, for both the RCMP and the CBSA. As we know, the CBSA is the only major law enforcement agency in Canada without an independent review mechanism for the bulk of its activity.
There has been a major gap that has not been addressed, despite calls from the NDP dating back to Harper. It is our hope that Bill will provide accountability, increase the public trust at the border and provide an independent dispute mechanism that may be used by CBSA officials as well.
We heard comments about how, when things get to committee, bills sometimes have material departures from their initial spirit. I happen to believe that committee is precisely the place where both the opposition and the government get a chance to reflect on feedback from committee and perhaps improve upon bills to shore up some of the gaps that might have been identified.
I want to speak specifically to the good work of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. In the 43rd Parliament, it had a report entitled “Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada”. For this report, which was adopted by the committee, both government and opposition members came together. I believe there were 19 meetings within the study with over 53 witnesses. There was testimony from subject matter experts, and there was a very detailed report of perhaps 42 recommendations on how to tackle systemic racism in policing in Canada.
However, when the government has the opportunity to take the good work of Parliament, and, as an extension, the citizenry of this country, it still presents bills that are wholly inadequate to address the very topics raised in previous Parliaments and that continue to be a problem here today.
While Bill has the potential to provide these importance changes in civilian oversight to both the RCMP and the CBSA, it falls short. It falls short of meeting several of the important recommendations from the report, namely indigenous oversight, including indigenous investigators and decision-makers, and the appointment of Black and racialized Canadians.
For those who might not be familiar with these processes, I would like to expand on what it is like to have personal interactions with police, be it the RCMP, the OPP, local policing or the CBSA, anybody who has power and control over anyone's inherent rights and feelings of belonging in their own communities.
I have had these experiences in my own city as a city councillor. I have been stopped and questioned by local police simply for existing in my neighbourhood and waiting for a bus. When we were engaging in these discussions around systemic racism within policing, as a former city councillor, I would tell residents that when they have an issue, it is so important that they lodge a formal complaint.
The reason is that if there are no formal complaints, there is no quantitative data that would show problematic trends of structural and institutional racism within policing. I filed a Police Services Act complaint given my very problematic interaction with Constable Andrew Pfeifer at that time because that was what was made available to me.
I wish I had known then what I know now, which is that our civilian oversight of policing is completely culturally incompetent and devoid of any type of context that would account for the various lived experiences of people outside of the culture of policing.
In fact, we have always had this culture of policing policing, where we have former cops appointed to boards to investigate former cops, and then we have quasi-judicial tribunals, kangaroo courts, set up to either absolve them or, if it is politically convenient in the moment, to teach them a lesson.
I can tell members that, as a political leader within my community, I had senior members of our local police service, on their way out, tell me explicitly that they were about to teach me a lesson. From the outset, within the first five minutes of my experience at a Police Services Act hearing, as a Canadian of African descent, as a city councillor, as somebody who had been accorded power and privilege, it was made apparent within the first five minutes that the hearing officer, a former deputy from the Peel Region, Terence Kelly, was unwilling to and incapable of hearing any aspects related to anti-Blackness within policing.
It was a textbook case of racial profiling, and he said within the first five minutes that he would not hear the case. In legal terms, it is what is called a “reasonable presumption of bias”, which jaundiced the entire process. The case ended up in the courts for over two years, with over a week of hearings, in which I, as the complainant, became the target of the investigation.
It was a completely humiliating and dehumanizing experience, one that if other people in that same experience asked me if they should go through that, I would say “absolutely not”. I would tell them to save themselves, to get the best civil lawyers they can and to sue, because that is the only language the police understand. That is the only place where one can get on a full footing for proper disclosure, because as we have heard, in all levels of police review, they just refuse to co-operate.
We had subject matter experts provide, over the course of 19 hearings and 53 witnesses, including Robyn Maynard, a brilliant mind on what structural and institutional racism looks like, on what anti-Blackness looks like. They provided their testimony, as did former RCMP officers like Alain Babineau, who understands it from both the inside and the practical street application, both from what discipline looks like and from what anti-Blackness looks like out in communities. We had learned professors like Akwasi Owusu-Bempah break down all the ways in which systemic, institutional and structural racism occur.
The recommendations are clear, the recommendations that have been obviously omitted by the current government, which had the opportunity to address these issues.
We have a Liberal government that likes to speak the language of identity politics without any commitment to justice. The Liberals will go out at Black Lives Matter. They will take a knee and will say all the right things, but when it comes down to actually providing legislation that all members of Parliament in that committee supported, the government refused.
Namely, it refused to ensure that the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission of the RCMP allow for meaningful and engaged indigenous participation and to hold the RCMP accountable for wrongful, negligent, reckless or discriminatory behaviour toward indigenous people. There are videotapes of the RCMP brutalizing indigenous people across this country time and again.
When is it going to be enough for the current government to finally take a position, listen to the reports and implement these things?
The fourth recommendation is that the government appoint indigenous, Black and other racialized people, and residents of northern communities, to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, and for them to have investigation and leadership positions within that organization. I am sorry, but when Officer Terrence Kelly takes on my case and says within the first three minutes that he is unwilling and unable to listen to any parameters of race, that is negligent, it is discriminatory and it only further serves to uphold the institutional, structural and systemic racism within policing.
In my closing remarks, I call on the current government to do better by people in this country, to listen to the work of the House when it comes together in a non-partisan way to address these issues, and to cease bringing back these empty and shallow bills that are devoid of any of the things that they purport to be standing for within our communities, and, with specificity, to listen to the voices of Black, indigenous and racialized people within this country.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill , an act establishing the public complaints and review commission and amending certain acts and statutory instruments.
Canadians must have confidence in the agencies tasked with keeping them safe. Be it in our communities or at our borders, public trust is essential to the work of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency. This legislation seeks to close a long-standing gap by providing the CBSA with an independent review body that would ensure transparency and accountability for Canadians. For the RCMP, the bill would update and enhance its current civilian accountability body, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.
I would like to use my time today to speak to some of the details of this legislation.
Bill would combine RCMP and CBSA review under a newly established public complaints review commission, or the PCRC. Understanding that Canadians expect timely responses from their public institutions, and recognizing past criticisms that the RCMP has been slow to respond to reports from the CRCC, this bill would establish defined timelines for RCMP and CBSA responses to complaints and recommendations.
For specified activity reviews and recommendations by the PCRC, an RCMP or CBSA response would be required within 60 calendar days. Responses to interim reports concerning complaints would be required within six months, and the RCMP and CBSA would report annually to the Minister of Public Safety on progress in implementing PCRC recommendations.
However, establishing strict reporting standards is just one component of this legislation. Our government recognizes that in order for the PCRC to have the tools to ensure accountability, it has to be given the appropriate investigative powers and responsibilities. This bill would do just that. It would establish a robust mandate for the PCRC by giving it the ability to conduct specified activity reviews, on its own initiative or at the request of the minister, of any non-national security activities of the RCMP or the CBSA.
The PCRC would also be able to receive and investigate complaints from the public concerning the level of service provided by the RCMP and the CBSA, as well as the conduct of RCMP and CBSA employees. The findings of these investigations, along with any recommendations, would be reported to either the RCMP or the CBSA and to the minister.
In addition, the PCRC would be able to recommend that RCMP and CBSA deputy heads initiate disciplinary-related processes, or impose a disciplinary measure, under certain circumstances; conduct a joint investigation, review or hearing into complaints with appropriate authorities of any other jurisdiction when needed; refer national security matters to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and co-operate with NSIRA to avoid duplication of work; and have access to any information relevant to the review or complaint that the RCMP and the CBSA possess.
Another key aspect of this legislation is ensuring that the RCMP and the CBSA continue their work to transform their cultures by enhancing accountability. This would contribute to our government's efforts to combat systemic racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system, and would continue advancing efforts toward a path of reconciliation with first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
With this bill, the PCRC would be required to collect and publish disaggregated race-based data, in consultation with the RCMP and the CBSA, to increase knowledge about systemic racism in law enforcement and inform solutions to better respond to it. Canadians have made it clear that addressing systemic racism in law enforcement is an urgent priority. This includes work done by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which culminated in the report entitled “Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada”. Our government understands that collecting and publishing race-based data on complainants is one way that knowledge gaps around systemic racism would be filled.
I am pleased to say that this bill responds to the committee's recommendation that the government clarify and strengthen the mandate, independence and efficacy of the CRCC. In addition, Bill would direct the PCRC to implement public education and information programs to increase knowledge and awareness of the new commission's mandate.
With increased public information and engagement through such mechanisms, the bill aims to earn the trust of indigenous, Black and all racialized Canadians. To support this very important initiative, our government is investing $112.3 million over six years, and $19.4 million per year ongoing, to establish the PCRC and ensure that it is properly funded to do its job.
This is a vital piece of legislation and one that I think we can all agree is long overdue. It is a major step forward for accountability and transparency within both the RCMP and the CBSA. By providing robust and effective review, we will be ensuring that our border services and national law enforcement agencies remain world class and are worthy of the trust of Canadians.
I urge hon. members to join me in supporting this important bill.
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Flamborough—Glanbrook, certainly today on Bill , which is an act to establish the public complaints and review commission. However, if members would allow me to depart for a moment from the debate on Bill C-20, I would like to recognize that today is my parents' 56th wedding anniversary.
A marriage of 56 years is a pretty incredible achievement unto itself, but I need to recognize that this has been a challenging year for my parents because my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier in the year, in January. The great news is that they were able to remove the cancerous mass and he has undergone chemotherapy. My mom is a retired nurse, so she was by his side every step of the way, nursing him back to health and strength. He has made a full recovery. He is a naturalist with a picturesque rural property, and he is now able to get out and about to see his water fountains and his birds. He is very happy about that. In 56 years, there have been ups and downs, no doubt, but they are still able to walk hand in hand. I wish a happy anniversary to my mom and dad.
I thank members for allowing that diversion from Bill . I will now move back to the matter at hand. We know that the bill would rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to the public complaints and review commission, or the PCRC.
Under its new name, the commission would be responsible for reviewing civilian complaints of the Canada Border Services Agency as well as the RCMP. The civilian review commission would improve the oversight, and it is hoped that it would thereby help the RCMP and the CBSA become more effective agencies in their duties and functions.
Canadians certainly expect effective oversight of their federal law enforcement authorities, which is why we support this bill. I will reiterate some of the things that have been mentioned that the bill would deliver on and how that oversight would be provided to Canadians.
There would be codified timelines for RCMP and CBSA responses to PCRC interim reports, reviews and commissions. There would be information sharing between the RCMP, CBSA and the PCRC. There would also be mandatory annual reporting by both the RCMP and the CBSA on actions to be taken in response to the recommendations of the PCRC.
Race-based data, which has been referred to and discussed here, would be mandatory under Bill , which would provide some additional context. Of course, there would be public education, as well as a statutory framework to govern CBSA responses to serious incidents.
All of this makes sense and should help improve the transparency that Canadians expect from their public institutions and, in doing so, the effective operation of these federal law enforcement agencies. Certainly the RCMP is there to ensure the safety of Canadians and to police our laws.
The CBSA is there to uphold the dignity of our borders. Ensuring that the CBSA is both properly resourced and equipped is an important part of doing that. We believe that these oversight bodies would help accomplish this, and we note that the government is planning to invest $122 million over six years, with an ongoing amount, for the creation of this independent review and complaints body. We support all of that.
We do wonder why it has taken so long to fulfill this original campaign promise from 2015. However, we do know, as well, that Liberal inaction, delay and misaligned priorities are certainly something that is not new to Canadians.
While we are on the subject of public safety, I am certainly compelled to speak up on behalf of the people of Flamborough—Glanbrook, and indeed, all of Hamilton, Ontario and Canada, to talk about the alarming increase in gangs and violent crime plaguing our streets.
A statistic was recently put out by Statistics Canada on gang-related homicides. It confirmed that there has been a 92% increase in gang-related homicides across Canada since the Liberals took office.
An. hon member: Wow.
Mr. Dan Muys: Mr. Speaker, wow is right. It is an alarming number. We also know that there has been a 32% increase in violent crimes as well.
Those are startling numbers on their own. What is even more horrifying is to imagine the faces of the victims, the women, children and seniors living in our communities, who are impacted by the notion that this increase in gang violence and violent crime is out there. That is an awful feeling to contend with, knowing that it is all too close.
The communities I represent are part of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, so we feel that increase in gang activity in the GTA. We see the headlines, the stories and the bloody images on the news. We know that our communities are not immune, as we have seen that increase in home invasions, shootings and more.
In fact, there was a very bloody shooting in broad daylight of a notorious mob boss on the driveway of a home in Waterdown, a community in my riding, which is adjacent to Burlington. It is a community of 15,000 people, and in broad daylight, a mob boss was gunned down. That made national and international news. We know that there has been a surge in violent crime in the Niagara region as well. The police there have spoken about that and the statistics that were recently reported bear that out.
I would submit that all of this is because of the government’s soft-on-crime approach, which we have seen with Bill , the ending of mandatory minimums for a host of violent crimes. The message to gangs and violent criminals from the Liberal government has been very clear: If they do a crime, they will not do the time. They might have to do some house arrest. We are talking about very serious crimes such as rape, assault, stabbings, drive-by shootings and gun violence. It is no wonder I am hearing from more and more constituents about the crime that is happening in the community and what is happening all around us.
The homicide report that Statistics Canada put out, which I referred to, noted that 2021 was the biggest year ever for gang-related murder, the highest rate ever recorded in Canada. That is quite alarming. Homicides overall were up 3% since 2020, year over year. It is the highest national homicide rate since 2005, which means that the seven years of the Liberal soft-on-crime policies have undone all the work of the previous Conservative government, which had left our streets much safer.
In my home city of Hamilton, the homicide rate, at a rate of 2.57 per 100,000 people, is above both the national average and the Ontario average. This is a consequence of the increase in gang violence. The police in the neighbouring Niagara region recently estimated there are 32 gangs operating in the region, primarily operating between the GTA, Niagara and Hamilton, throughout the surrounding areas. The police say that, as a result of this, they are seeing increases in drug trafficking, human trafficking, robberies, home invasions and shooting incidents.
In concluding my remarks on Bill , the bill itself, and the necessary oversight it would create for the RCMP and CBSA, are good in our view, although a long time coming. In the wider context of the state of public safety in Canada, the situation is getting worse. The communities in my riding and across Canada are far less safe. Gangs and violent crime are accelerating at an alarming pace. It is a very real daily worry for far too many Canadians. Seven years of Liberal soft-on-crime policies have taken their toll.
Canadians can count on a new Conservative government, after the next election, to turn this around, reverse these horrifying crimes, statistics and trends, and make our communities safe once again.