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Bill C-3 - DNA Bill
Senator Joyal made interventions on this bill at the following proceedings of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs:
Hon. Serge Joyal: I would like to thank you, Mr. Phillips, for your very useful comments. If you have had the opportunity to watch our proceedings on CPAC, you will understand how concerned we are about ensuring that this legislation protects the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
The fundamental concern about this bill is with regard to section 8 of the Charter, which guarantees the right of Canadians to security against unreasonable search and seizure. This bill would compel anyone found guilty of certain offences to provide a sample.
The purpose of the bill is stated in clause 3; it is to establish a national DNA data bank to help law enforcement agencies identify persons. This bill has a very broad interest, which must be balanced between the rights of the individual and the rights of Canadian society to be protected against criminals.
Can you cite any Supreme Court of Canada cases that would help us to conclude that this bill is constitutional under the Charter? Section 1 of the Charter says that there are reasonable limits to rights and freedoms in a free and democratic society.
This bill impacts upon the personal integrity of individuals in a major way. Are those impacts reasonable in the context of law enforcement? That is the first question to be answered, and everything else must follow from that.
The elements that I feel are in dispute are not, as you said properly, the fact that DNA proof should be accessible to law enforcement officers. If the police, after a person's arrest and conviction, find elements of DNA at the scene of the crime and want to test it against a sample from a suspect, they can go to a court and apply for an authorization to obtain samples from the accused person. That is not what we are discussing. This has been settled, as you have already said, properly in Parliament. I want to restate that, because people are listening to us, and I want them to understand clearly what we are doing.
Once a person has been convicted, that person is automatically required to give a DNA sample, even though that person is not suspected of any other crime at that point. Thus, we are doing something more than just linking a particular set of circumstances to that person. This is where we have to make a judgment. Is the right of society to be protected balanced against everyone's right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, as section 8 of the Charter states?
We are saying to people who have been sentenced on the two sets of offences, "From now on you will be subjected to providing samples."
I should first commend the minister. Although you are new in your portfolio, you have assumed your new responsibilities, and you have taken on important endeavours insofar as the implementation of this bill is concerned. If that is a sign of the way you will do things in the future, it will be appreciated by this committee.
In your opening statement, you put your finger on the very core of the fundamental concern we have as the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. It is the proper balance between the rights of Canadians to their privacy when they are accused and when they are sentenced, and the rights of Canadian society to be protected. We have been wrestling with this bill at various stages of its implementation and definition to ensure that this preoccupation remains at the core of our legislation. Further to the testimony of the Commissioner of the RCMP this morning, as well as the testimony of the Privacy Commissioner, you will understand that the regulations that will be issued pursuant to this bill are fundamental in reaching that objective.
The regulations will become an essential part of this bill. In order to meet our concerns, as well as your concern to create a statute that can stand up to constitutional or legal challenges, should the regulations not be sent to us for advice before they are proclaimed? The work we have been doing in the last weeks -- it has been important work and I do not pretend that we are experts -- will ensure that our major preoccupations are addressed.
Further to the discussions that we will have once you introduce the bill you mentioned in your opening remarks, could you send to us the draft regulations?
We would certainly deal with them as expeditiously as we are dealing with this bill. We want to ensure that the mechanisms implemented to monitor the statute satisfy our objective to maintain the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of society. Is that something you could envisage?