OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 20, 2013) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today welcomed the passing from the House of Commons to the Senate of Bill C-55, the Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse Act. This legislation would add new accountability safeguards to the Criminal Code's existing provision for wiretaps in situations of imminent harm.
"Our Government is pleased with the timely passage of this Bill through the House of Commons," said Minister Nicholson. "This Bill will allow police to continue to react quickly to situations of imminent harm while enhancing police accountability and ensuring appropriate respect for the privacy of Canadians."
Parliament enacted section 184.4 of the Criminal Code in 1993 to allow the use of wiretapping without a court authorization when there is imminent harm (such as in the case of kidnappings or bomb threats). The Supreme Court of Canada found that section 184.4 of the Criminal Code as currently drafted violates section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms due to the lack of a requirement for after-the-fact notification to persons whose private communications were intercepted. The court suspended its declaration of invalidity until April 13, 2013, to allow Parliament to amend the provision to make it constitutionally compliant.
The legislation directly responds to the guidance from the Supreme Court of Canada by adding the safeguards of "notification" and "reporting" to section 184.4 of the Criminal Code. Specifically, the legislation would make three changes:
- Notification within 90 days - Notification would require that persons whose private communications have been intercepted in situations of imminent harm be notified within 90 days (subject to any extensions granted by a judge).
- Annual reports - Reporting would require annual reports on the use of imminent harm wiretaps.
- Restricting the usage - The changes would limit the authority to use this provision to police officers (currently it is available to the broader category of peace officers) and only to the offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code.
This legislation is part of the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which is one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister. This plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system.
An online version of the proposed legislation is available at www.parl.gc.ca.
(Version française disponible)