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View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to debate Bill C-20 and will resume from where I left off.
Bill C-20 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 C-98 and Bill C-3 from 2020, were introduced but never completed the legislative process.
Bill C-20 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 Minister of Public Safety'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 C-20 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 C-20 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 C-20.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech on Bill C‑20. I would like to suggest a few amendments.
The Bloc Québécois believes that an independent complaint process is both necessary and good for the public. For example, in early January 2020, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada found significant flaws concerning searches of travellers' electronic devices, which demonstrates the importance of having an independent body to review complaints.
I would like my colleague to tell me what solutions can be found in Bill C-20.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very important question
I would like to point out that we are at second reading stage and that this is when questions can be asked. At the next stage, when the bill is studied in committee, amendments can be presented and discussed, and decisions will be made based on these discussions. Then the recommendations will come back to the House. The process is open and transparent, as is Bill C‑20.
View Peter Julian Profile
View Peter Julian Profile
2022-11-25 10:11 [p.10014]
Mr. Speaker, there are two important questions that I think Canadians need answers to.
The previous iteration of this bill to enhance the public complaints and review commission was tabled in this House without consultation from union and labour, for example, the Customs and Immigration Union. As we will recall, the Prime Minister called an unneeded and unwanted election in the full pandemic because he was hoping to get a majority, which Canadians did not give to him.
First, have there been full consultations with the Customs and Immigration Union and other unions that are impacted by this?
The second is a question of resources. We have seen the government simply refuse to provide resources in a whole range of critical areas, but not for the banks. The banks get whatever money they want, such as $750 billion in liquidity supports. However, at the border we have seen starvation, and that has meant an influx of illegal weapons.
Can the government assure us that this time it will put resources in place so that the public complaints and review commission could do all of the functions that are attributed to it in this bill?
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows, consultation is a key area, and we have done some consultations. Have we done all the consultation? I cannot confirm that today.
What I can say is that when we bring this to committee, we will hear from even more witnesses and experts in the field. This will provide more information so we can have those discussions, bring it back to the House, and then we can make the necessary changes if they are required at the time. The consultation continues. This is only the second reading.
View Doug Shipley Profile
Mr. Speaker, I sit on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, so I will be looking to see if that consultation was done. We will be making sure this comes through as a good bill, because we are in favour of this as a start.
This bill has been brought up twice before. Unfortunately, it did not make it through. It died both times. Could we get some reassurance from the member opposite that this time we are going to get this bill through and see it through to fruition?
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his work on the committee, which is very important.
In 2019, we brought the first bill forward, and then again in 2020. That was Bill C-3, and it did not get through the process. The intent of the government and this side of the House is to get this done. We are counting on the opposition to support us as we move forward. This is a very important bill, which would bring in an independent body to feed us some information, as well as bring more oversight and transparency to the process.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-11-25 10:15 [p.10015]
Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize, whether it is the RCMP or border controls, the people who fill those positions do a fabulous job. Like in any other occupation, there are bad apples. What is nice about the legislation being proposed is that it would build confidence from the public in our institutions. By establishing an independent, arm's length commission, we are allowing for that confidence from the public.
Could my colleague reaffirm why it is so important for us to have these independent commissions? After all, it is the bad apples who often cause the issues that get the media's attention and make things look bad for the RCMP or the border control. A vast majority of those civil servants do an outstanding job for all citizens here in Canada.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. People need to have trust in the process, and they need to trust our institutions. That is why this independent study would bring not only the oversight but also more transparency.
What is important is that an annual report would be submitted as well. That is another process that would take place and help us in the process. Also, we will be collecting and publishing the aggregated race-based data, so there would be more data concerning systemic racism in law enforcement.
Those are key issues where we need to make improvements. We know this. Canadians have been asking us for more improvements and to have a two-way street, so if there are complaints that come forward, there is a process in place to support the work that needs to be done as a follow-up.
View Doug Shipley Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is great to have a quick rebuttal to the last answer I heard, where the member talked about Conservatives supporting this bill. We always support good legislation that comes through.
Recently on the public safety committee, we have been reviewing Bill C-21, which is questionable legislation that is coming through. What is slowing that down now is a huge amendment that has been thrown at us, not at the parliamentary stage but at the committee stage. I want to make sure there will not be any big curveballs thrown in this when it comes before our committee.
Can I get reassurance on that from the member opposite?
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, we believe in members of Parliament working together to bring forward amendments that will make life better for Canadians. That is a crucial part. I believe we do that the large majority of times.
However, I am extremely disappointed with how things are unfolding on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, because as the members know, our government has brought forward Bill C-13. All the organizations across the country are showing clear support for this bill, and the NDP is supporting us. However, the Conservatives and the Bloc have been, for three consecutive weeks now, filibustering at that committee. That is sad.
When the member starts talking about bringing amendments in, I would like the opportunity, in the official languages committee, to go amendment by amendment so that we can get the bill passed as soon as possible.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2022-11-25 10:19 [p.10015]
Mr. Speaker, I have a comment for the parliamentary secretary. I would like him to ask himself some questions. Why does the Bloc Québécois feel it has to filibuster the Standing Committee on Official Languages to slow the passage of the official languages bill? Because the Liberal Party, this government, with the support of the third opposition party, opposes amendments put forward by Quebec to protect French and stop its decline in Quebec.
Ever since Confederation, the number of French speakers outside Quebec has declined so precipitously that they are practically the stuff of legend. Nothing in Bill C‑13 would change that reality. The use of French will continue to decline in Quebec. Fewer than 50% of the people on the Island of Montreal—one in two—speak French. The main reason for that is the Official Languages Act and its policies that support English in Quebec at the expense of French.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question and his comments.
However, I disagree with him completely. We are the first government in Canadian history to recognize the decline of French in the province of Quebec. That is a good start. We want to bring in positive measures that will yield results.
Quebec also shares some responsibility, since it is partially responsible for immigration. It is up to the province to ensure that more people from around the world who speak French come to Quebec in order to increase its francophone population. That is what we are doing in the area of immigration, in places where French is a minority language in Canada.
View Matthew Green Profile
View Matthew Green Profile
2022-11-25 10:21 [p.10015]
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 C-20 at second reading.
Bill C-20 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 C-20 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 C-20 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.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2022-11-25 10:31 [p.10017]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton Centre's voice is so important in the House. I would like to give him the opportunity to speak to some of the amendments that he would would like to put forward at committee.
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