OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 27, 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 Royal Assent of Bill C-55, the Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse Act. This legislation adds new accountability safeguards to the Criminal Code's existing provision for wiretaps in situations of imminent harm.
"These important changes maintain the ability of police to react quickly to situations of imminent harm," said Minister Nicholson. "Thanks to the timely passage of this legislation, the new accountability measures required by the Supreme Court of Canada are now in place, and law enforcement will continue to have the tools needed to keep our streets and communities safe."
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.
This 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 makes three changes:
- Notification within 90 days - Notification requires 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 requires annual reports on the use of imminent harm wiretaps.
- Restricting the usage - The changes limit the authority to use this provision to police officers (previously it was 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)