Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bill C-31 Still Out There

Also this week, MPs debated Bill C-31 which would modernize criminal law procedure and make the justice system more efficient and effective.

Among other things, the bill creates a new offence to help prevent individuals from fleeing a province or territory in order to avoid prosecution. It also proposes to give law enforcement greater access to search and seizure warrants. And it streamlines the identification process in police stations, allowing the fingerprinting and photographing of persons in lawful custody who have not yet been charged or convicted of specific offences.

If you are brought in on an indictable offense, whether or not you are ever charged, the police can take your prints and snap a mugshot. Very little coverage of this, other than a 6 month old piece from the Niagara Falls Review pointing out the obvious:

It would give police a new intimidation factor. A lot of people who are arrested aren't familiar with how the criminal justice system works.


Maybe it's too many reruns of Law and Order or The Shield, but it's easy to conceive of over-zealous cops arresting someone, never intending to charge them, but just taking their mug shot and prints to have them on file.

Looks like the bill has just gone through 1st reading.


Raging Ranter said...

With surveillance as advanced (and as prevalent) as it is now, they don't need to haul anyone's ass in just to get a mugshot. Look at any court case where serious offenses are being prosecuted. Often the police have so many surveillance photos and zoomed images on display that judges will order the prosecution to pare them back. Also, if police start bringing in people with no cause and fingerprinting them, it could jeopardize future cases against the subject. It's not as though this legislation allows them to just target and harass people for no good reason.

Terry 1 said...

Tory times are tough times as thye say and these jerks do not understand how people can use the charter to defeat their stupidity. This is just more pandering to the reformatort right wing nut bars.

Raging Ranter said...

Actually, this legislation was made possible in part due to a Charter ruling in 2007:

The right to silence in Canada is not an absolute rule that requires police to stop interrogating people who have no wish to speak with investigators, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.


"What the common law recognizes is the individual's right to remain silent," said Justice Louise Charron, who wrote the majority decision. "This does not mean, however, that a person has the right not to be spoken to by state authorities."

Read it here:

This ruling was a complete reversal of earlier Charter decisions. Note the 5-4 split decision. Also note that Harper has made his second appointment to the Supreme Court since then. It would appear "these jerks" know precisely how the Charter can be used against them, and are taking care to make the right appointments at the highest level to prevent that from happening. Tough times indeed.

bigcitylib said...


As I think the N. Falls paper notes, not all that is constitutional is good.

Welcome back, by the way. Heard you were dead.

Raging Ranter said...

I think the Canadian Constitution, in this regard at least, strikes a pretty good balance. In the US, as soon as a suspect says the word "lawyer", it's game over. Not only that, but the suspect has a right to a lawyer in the room when they do question him.

For example, when Dru Sjodin was murdered in North Dakota in 2003, police claimed that Alfonso Rodriguez was ready to tell them where her body was (while maintaining he hadn't actually killed her). Then his lawyer got there and wouldn't let the suspect talk about it anymore. They never found her until the snow melted in the spring. (He was eventually convicted in Federal court, as the body was found across state lines in MN.)

That likely would not have happened in Canada. In Canada, you have a right to consult a lawyer before answering any further questions, but not to have him in the room with you when the questioning starts. You also have a right to remain silent, but the police - at least since 2007 - have the right to keep trying to change your mind.

And thanks, it's good to be back. Not dead, but the blog archives are.

Ti-Guy said...

He's railing against feminists over at MacLean's.

*sigh* Still not dating...

Raging Ranter said...

If it isn't the Human Stain himself.

John school wrap up a little early today?

Ti-Guy said...

Save the bile for your profile on Hannidate.

Raging Ranter said...

John school. Methadone clinic. Probation check-in. What's the difference? You're still a sad, pathetic little man.

Ti-Guy said...

Oh, gawd stop crying. Sorry if I pointed out that your opinions are informed by the lack of success you've had in finding love.

I know it's hot button with you, and I shouldn't have pushed it.

Go have a chamomile tea and calm down.

Raging Ranter said...

A sad, lonely little man.