Conservatives’ RCMP legislation may violate charter of rights, critics say

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      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.

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      15 Comments

      bowser

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:59pm

      Members of the RCMP should have the same rights as all Canadian citizens. I know that's expecting a lot in a country where criminals have more rights than victims.

      Snicker

      Mar 15, 2013 at 3:45pm

      The CONs don't believe in rights and freedoms for individuals. It hinders totalitarianism and the rights and freedoms of corporations. They did little, if anything to acknowledge the last anniversary of Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But sure like to spend money on celebrating wars.

      PJ

      Mar 15, 2013 at 4:01pm

      Snicker: The high court has already said that the chrter of rights has so many GREY areas,and it should have been scrutinized better,but the Mr,Finger Trudo pushed it through anyway.Thats why the courts are over used becouse of charter of rights being so OVER USED to sue for the stupitest things,as someone looked funny at me eg.

      Gordon Chamberlain

      Mar 15, 2013 at 7:03pm

      Harper has again shown disregard for the Charter and to preforming their duties to the best of their ability. Negligence and lack of integrity are become common occurrences of this government. On the subject of negligence despite having written to PM Haper 12 times since 2009 on the concern that large scale long term damage of our environment posed a threat to effort to live sustainably and should be recognized as ecocide and subject to criminal prosecution and eventually by the international Criminal Court. Stephen Harper has never responded or taken action to protect Canadians from a group that can be described as radical fundamentalist capitalist. To find out more visit Eradicating Ecocide . Com

      Snicker

      Mar 15, 2013 at 10:11pm

      PJ. The more times it goes through the courts the more presidents are set and the fewer holes there are. And, it wasn't just Trudeau that created the Charter, every province had a say in it's creation. If you need to blame one for poor scrutiny, blame them all.

      neil

      Mar 16, 2013 at 6:10am

      This act would allow the RCMP to search a member's home for something non criminal...for example if a member sent an email from their residence that was considered offensive by anyone (and I know that's no excuse for that behaviour), the RCMP could obtain a search warrant and enter the person's home, seize their computer and use it in a discipline hearing where no criminal court would have the opportunity to scrutinize that warrant for it's veracity. The courts have always been the buffer to rein in abuse of power in these matters but they would be left out of the loop. How is that fair?

      Doug

      Mar 16, 2013 at 8:41am

      This is shameful. Both the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Minister of Public Safety undoubtedly know that the Charter of Rights applies to us all. The rest of us better be very worried if the RCMP can search the homes of its police officers for non-criminal matters.....us normal folk don't stand a hope in hell now if this is what they will do to their own. How dare they? What about the families and children in the homes when the Mounties bust into their own officers' homes. This is outrageous that the Government will allow this bill to proceed. Is this Canada?

      Peter

      Mar 16, 2013 at 1:39pm

      re Gordon Chamberlain : WHAT are you blabbing about.Look in your own back yard at the loony gov of BC non of these parties has ever done any good for the province and they are reelected all the time.Maybe next time you write to the paper stay off the whacky tobbaco a while.

      Forced out

      Mar 16, 2013 at 1:40pm

      This piece of Legislation will also be used to eliminate Sworn Civilian Members from the RCMP and force them to be part of the Public Service. This will negatively effect their benefits, pay, and pension. Civilian Members have been an integral part of the RCMP for over 50 years and now with little consultation or media attention they will be forced out.

      ACMESalesRep

      Mar 16, 2013 at 9:19pm

      @bowser: “I know that's expecting a lot in a country where criminals have more rights than victims.” Such as? What rights do criminals have that victims in this country don't? Simple: None. Criminals have no rights that aren't shared by the rest of us, forty years of “tough on crime” brainwashing notwithstanding. It's an utterly ridiculous myth that needs to be put to bed once and for all.