Conservatives’ RCMP legislation may violate charter of rights, critics say
Before the House of Commons approved third and final reading of a bill that amends the RCMP Act, Winnipeg Centre NDP MP Pat Martin brought up the name of Edgar Schmidt.
Schmidt is a senior justice department lawyer, and the reason why he’s relevant to the debate has something to do not only with this specific measure but also with the way Ottawa has been crafting legislation in general.
Schmidt has sued the justice department, claiming that since the 1990s, the federal government has been introducing legislative bills that likely violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The Conservatives cannot tell me that they are not launching stuff into this House of Commons that may not have been vetted properly by the Department of Justice officials, as according to whistleblower Edgar Schmidt,” Martin said during the debate on March 6.
“In actual fact, bills arrive here in a state that should not be passed, that deserve to be analyzed further, criticized and scrutinized and have the merits of their arguments tested by legitimate debate in the House of Commons, the way God wanted it,” Martin continued.
To this, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews sarcastically retorted: “Mr. Speaker, I know that member is closer to God than I am, and so I will have to take his word on that.”
For ex-Mountie Rob Creasser, the point about legislative measures being introduced in Parliament despite the risk that they run afoul of the charter is important.
The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, of which Creasser is a spokesperson, believes that certain provisions of Bill C-42, or the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act, go against the charter.
According to Creasser, included in Bill C-42 are provisions that compel RCMP officers to provide incriminating evidence against themselves, which ordinary Canadians being investigated for wrongdoing are protected against.
The measure will also allow searches of officers’ homes for non-criminal proceedings, the former Mountie said.
It’s the Senate’s turn to debate Bill C-42. With Conservative enjoying a majority in the chamber, the measure is headed toward becoming law.
“This government seems to be boldly carrying on knowing full well that it probably isn’t charter-compliant but basically saying, ‘Take us to court’,” Creasser told the Straight in a phone interview.
Public Safety Canada didn’t grant the Straight’s request for an interview.