Hon Hugh Segal

Bill to amend Criminal Code Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Ferretti Barth, for the second reading of Bill S-43, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings).

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, with pleasure and humility I rise in this House to express my support and that of my Conservative colleagues for Bill S-43. I note that this is my first speech in this place. (Some of his speech, not being relevant to the Bill, is not included in this web excerpt).

Honourable senators, this brings me to Bill S-43. Civility in a society is about order. My bias as a Tory informs my understanding of this bill. Random acts of terror against any civilian population in any country in the British Isles, Southeast Asia, Oklahoma, the Middle East, Spain, or in the subways of London, is an act against the order and civility that defines a society of freedom and opportunity. Destroy public confidence, destroy a sense of security or destroy a parent's belief that their teenagers can be safe in a cafe with other friends, and you begin to destroy the trust and faith that is essential to life.

Senator Grafstein explained in great detail Canada's formal support for the resolution on suicide bombing passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. To sign that agreement and not proceed to strengthen our Criminal Code with explicit interdiction for purposes of clarity against suicide bombing would be simply hypocritical.

Honourable senators, I make the case in support of S-43 because the Criminal Code is not a narrow blueprint for police and prosecutorial convenience, although it does describe the interdictions they must enforce. As the most coercive of our laws, it must also reflect our will as a nation and as a community to be clear and faithful to resolutions we have passed and signed internationally. The Criminal Code must interdict by specific reference for purposes of clarity those specific activities that it seeks to prevent, especially if those activities and certain subcultures are exalted by those who would terrorize civilian populations in a last-ditch personal initiative against those they oppose. Canada and Canadians must ensure that the Criminal Code — the spinal cord of "peace, order and good government" keeps pace with new instruments of terror in terms of definition and specific clarity.

We express what we are for by specifying what we are against, specifically and precisely. To those who argue that specific definition is superfluous, I respond that catch-all generalities and lack of clarity do not serve the interest of enforcement, the presumption of innocence or the capacity for oversight. Innocent defendants are protected by more specific references in the code, as are those seeking to prevent conspiracies to commit specific crimes.

Adding this specific definition of "suicide bombing" for greater clarity is not about prosecuting the bomber after the illegal act and inhuman deed has happened. It is crystal clear that giving the police and other law enforcement agencies the ability to pursue in a preventive way individuals who are involved in conspiracies related to potential suicide bombings abroad or at home, actually adds another arrow to the quiver of those trying to keep our society safe. We have a safe society because this chamber, as an integral part of the Parliament of Canada, has enacted legislation, which it regularly updates with amendments, in respect of the Criminal Code, with which police are guided in their enforcement and preventive activities. It forms the basis of lawful prosecutions within our open judicial system.

Honourable senators, it is a dangerous mistake to assume that, because some may believe that suicide bombing is implied in other sections of the Code, that that is sufficient. It is not specified for purposes of clarity. In a society that is governed by explicit and clear laws, specificity for clarity with respect to suicide bombing strengthens the law; it strengthens the memoranda of enforcement which from time to time are sent to the police by justice authorities; and it strengthens the clarity of the mission of those whose duty it is to enforce the Criminal Code.
Being subject to the Criminal Code is being subject to the full protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution of Canada. I note the excellent work being done by Senator Fairbairn and her colleagues on the Special Committee on the Anti-terrorist Act.

I am delighted to commend this Criminal Code amendment to all honourable senators for their positive consideration and support. It would be a helpful part of the infrastructure of civility that the Criminal Code was developed to protect. We need only look around the globe to reflect on why we want the horror of suicide bombing to be kept from our shores and why we want Canadian authorities to have all the tools they need to help prevent suicide bombing at home and abroad. We must give our police and those who work with them every tool to do the job.
I am delighted to express the support on our side for Senator Grafstein's bill. I congratulate the honourable senator on this initiative. I hope that this can be a bipartisan matter in this chamber and, perhaps, in the other place. Honourable senators, thank you for your patience and indulgence.