Mr. Dave MacKenzie, M.P.
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Dear Mr. MacKenzie:
On March 28, 2012, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights requested
that the Government table a comprehensive response to the recommendations
included in its seventh Report entitled, The State of Organized Crime. The
Report’s recommendations identify strategies for responding to organized crime
that could be described as falling under three overarching themes: (1) Legislative Amendments
to Target Organized Crime; (2) Prevention, Awareness and Rehabilitation as
Tools to Combat Organized Crime; and, (3) Operational Improvements to Support
the Fight against Organized Crime.
behalf of the Government of Canada, and pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the
House of Commons, I am pleased to respond to the Committee’s Report and to
thank the Committee for its comprehensive study of the issue. The Government of
Canada agrees that strong and effective laws and programs are needed to respond
to the threats posed by organized crime.
the past two decades, organized crime in Canada has become increasingly sophisticated.
Organized crime groups including street gangs have spread their reach into
almost every region of the country and into a much more diversified market of
criminal activity. Drug trafficking continues to be the primary activity for
organized crime but financial crime, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and
the illegal movement of firearms, tobacco and vehicles also prove lucrative for
organized crime in Canada.
trends mirror patterns internationally, where transnational organized crime
groups dominate the illicit trafficking in drugs, firearms and people, but are
also continually expanding their activities into new areas including
cybercrime, large-scale fraud and product counterfeiting. In the process,
billions of dollars in illicit revenue flow into the hands of these criminal
networks. Such revenue provides the means to further expand criminal enterprises
and facilitates corruption. In turn, communities are destabilized, public
safety is eroded and the rule of law is undermined.
organizations also prey on younger members of society to recruit them into
gangs and to carry out illicit activities. Youth are targeted because they are
vulnerable and can be easily influenced with the promise of money, that they
will be treated with respect and will have a greater sense of belonging.
such threats all governments must constantly assess the adequacy of their
existing responses, recognizing that yesterday’s solutions will not be
sufficient to respond to today’s challenges. This is why the Government of
Canada continues to work closely with all levels of government, and with our
partners abroad, in order to strengthen our existing responses so as to better
confront the challenges created by organized crime’s activities.
Amendments to Target Organized Crime
Committee’s Report recognizes the need to continually build upon Canada’s
legislative framework in order to provide the necessary tools to address
organized crime. The cornerstone of this legislative framework is the Criminal
2006, the Government has enacted numerous important pieces of legislation to specifically target
organized crime including: the Tackling Violent Crime Act in 2008 which
introduced higher mandatory minimum penalties for specific organized crime
related offences committed with a firearm; Bill C-14 (2009), which made all
murders connected with organized crime automatically first-degree and created a
new offence to target drive-by and other reckless shootings; Bill S-9
(2010), which amended the Criminal Code to address auto theft and
trafficking in property obtained by crime; the Standing up for Victims of
White-Collar Crime Act (2011), which increased penalties for those
convicted of fraud; and,
most recently the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012), which
introduced mandatory minimum penalties for organized drug crime. The Government
has also committed to supporting Private Member’s Bill C-394, An Act to
amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization
recruitment), introduced by the Member of Parliament for Brampton—Springdale, which
would create a new offence to prohibit, amongst other things, recruiting a
person to join a criminal organization. This Bill would provide law enforcement
with another tool in the fight against organized crime.
the Government of Canada agrees with the Committee that further legislative reforms
should be examined. Indeed many of the Committee’s recommendations for reform
touch upon areas where policy deliberations are ongoing, both federally and in
consultation with the provinces and territories. For example, the law
enforcement challenges arising from the increasing use of radio jamming
devices, particularly by organized crime, and the threats to public safety
posed by this conduct have been examined with provincial and territorial
partners. Canada’s Radiocommunication Act already contains prohibitions
with regard to radio jamming devices. That said, the Government is currently
examining options to enhance our existing criminal law framework in this area.
area that is being comprehensively examined with provincial and territorial
partners is the law relating to bail. The bail process is an essential element
of the criminal justice system, creating an important bridge between the arrest
of an accused and the trial. The current Criminal Code provisions give
the courts broad scope to impose conditions appropriate to the circumstances of
the accused and the nature of the alleged offence. Currently, courts can and
do, where the technology exists, order that an accused be subject to electronic
monitoring while on bail. The Government will examine the evidence and
recommendations, if any, flowing from the current study of the issue of
electronic monitoring by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety
and National Security.
appointment of counsel for self-represented accused has also been the subject
of ongoing consideration by criminal justice officials across Canada. It
is clear that an accused person has control over their own defence including
the decision of whether or not to have counsel. That said, it is open to
the court to appoint counsel to assist the court, in appropriate cases, in
order to ensure that the trial is fair. The Criminal Code also provides
for the appointment of counsel in certain situations (e.g., if an accused may
be unfit to stand trial, or to cross examine a vulnerable witness). Federal,
provincial and territorial officials are currently examining issues associated
with the appointment of counsel.
the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to Justice (composed
of six federal and provincial deputy ministers, members of the judiciary, as
well as representatives from the private bar and the police community) have
produced recommendations for responding to the challenges posed by a
self-represented accused (see http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/esc-cde/rep-rap.html#a04).
of Criminal Organizations
Government of Canada, along with the provinces and territories, is currently
examining alternatives to the “listing” or “scheduling” of criminal
organizations with a view to making investigations and prosecutions of criminal
organizations more efficient.
Committee has made a number of recommendations for legislative reform in the
area of lawful access. The Government introduced Bill C-30, Protecting
Children from Internet Predators Act on February 14, 2012. The
Government has committed to sending this legislation directly to Committee for
a full examination of potential amendments.
Money Laundering and Proceeds of
Government of Canada is constantly striving to ensure that the Proceeds of
Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and the Criminal Code are as effective as possible in combating
money laundering and addressing the proceeds of crime. For example, the
Department of Finance issued two consultation papers in November and December
2011 outlining proposed changes to the PCMLTFA and its regulations. The
Finance is currently reviewing the submissions received in response and is consulting
addition, the administration and operation of the PCMLTFA have been
the subject of a review by the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce. This Committee’s Report is expected in the near future and the
Government will give careful consideration to all recommendations and comments
received in its ongoing policy development work relating to the PCMLTFA and
its regulations. Additionally, the Department of Justice and the Public
Prosecution Service of Canada monitors, on an on-going basis, the proceeds of
crime and offence-related property provisions in the Criminal Code. The
Committee’s recommendations in this area will be examined and discussed as well
with provincial and territorial officials.
Moving forward, the
Government acknowledges that law reform will continue to play a central role in
responding to the ever-changing practices of organized crime. In particular,
the challenges posed by technology and the increasingly transnational nature of
organized crime activities means that our Government will continue to look for
innovative solutions, both domestically and in collaboration with our
2. Prevention, Awareness
and Rehabilitation as Tools to Combat Organized Crime
Government agrees with the Committee regarding the importance of prevention
efforts, particularly those directed at young persons who may be vulnerable to
recruitment into criminal organizations.
Safety Canada's National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) is responsible for
implementing the National Crime Prevention
Strategy (NCPS). The NCPS provides national leadership on effective and cost-efficient
ways to both prevent and reduce crime by addressing known risk factors in
high-risk populations and places. One mechanism for addressing these objectives
is the Youth Gang Prevention Fund, created in January 2007. Funding under the
Program is directed at supporting the development and implementation of
interventions aimed at youth who are in gangs or at risk of joining gangs in
municipalities where the problem exists or is a growing threat.
Canada’s Youth Justice Fund also provides grants and contributions to projects
that work with youth involved in the youth criminal justice system. The Guns,
Gangs and Drugs component responds specifically to youth who are involved in,
or vulnerable to, gun, gang and drug activities. It promotes the provision of
community-based educational, cultural, sporting and vocational opportunities to
these youth to allow them to make “smart choices” and resist gang involvement
or to exit gangs.
Budget 2011, the Government of Canada renewed funding of $10 million annually
to be divided between these two programs that focus on diverting youth from
gangs and promoting alternatives to gangs. More broadly, the Government is
pursuing a range of public awareness initiatives related to organized crime
activities as highlighted in the Committee’s Report. In respect of counterfeit
and fraud activities, a range of new measures have been launched, designed to
educate the public on the prevalence of, and costs associated with, counterfeit
goods. In May 2010 the Government of Canada invested $20 million to disrupt the
supply and demand for contraband tobacco through measures such as a multi-media
Competition Bureau also works to prevent fraud and identity related crime
through various activities including, for example, Fraud Prevention Month. For
more information, please see: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00122.html
Treatment: National Anti-Drug Strategy
Government of Canada continues to provide significant support to treatment services.
In 2007, the Prime Minister announced Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy. The
three priority areas of the Strategy are: (1) enforcement; (2) prevention; and,
(3) treatment. The Treatment Action Plan supports timely, innovative and
effective approaches to treating and rehabilitating drug-addicted individuals
who pose a risk to themselves and the community. A central focus of the Plan is
to promote collaboration among governments and agencies in order to increase
access to drug treatment services. Under the Treatment Action Plan, several
programs provide funds, including funds to: assist provinces and territories to
strengthen substance abuse treatment systems and enhance access to drug
treatment services for youth and other vulnerable populations; treat First
Nations and Inuit populations with drug addictions; develop innovative
intervention and treatment programs for youth who have drug dependencies and
are in conflict with the law; to support research on new treatment models; and,
pilot six drug treatment courts across Canada.
Innovative Solutions through Drug Treatment Courts
a component of the National Anti-Drug Strategy Treatment Action Plan, the Drug
Treatment Court Funding Program (DTCFP) supports the six Drug Treatment Court (DTC)
pilots at an annual budget of $3,596,000. The DTCFP has been in place since
April 2005 and is managed by the Department of Justice.
provide a blend of addiction treatment and judicial supervision premised on the
belief that drug dependency is not simply a criminal justice problem but is
also a public health and societal concern.
the Safe Streets and Communities Act, offenders who may be subject to a
mandatory minimum penalty may be granted an exemption to this sentence upon
successful completion of a drug treatment program. Justice Canada is working
with provincial and territorial officials to undertake a full assessment of the
best practices and overall efficiencies of the DTCFP to assist in the
development of future funding options for DTCs in Canada.
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) employs a range of programs with the
ultimate goal of contributing to the safe reintegration of offenders into
society. Offenders who are involved in organized crime can be referred to one
or more of the following programs:
Prevention Program (VPP):
The VPP was developed to address general violence. It targets both reactive
(emotion driven) violence and goal directed or instrumental violence. While
offenders who are involved in organized crime typically engage in the second
type of violence (i.e., instrumental), they may also show a pattern of reactive
violence. Both are addressed through this program. The VPP also targets
attitudes and peers which support the use of violence. This program is
available both in the institution and community.
Substance Abuse Program (NSAP): NSAP was developed to address offenders whose
offending is linked to substance abuse. The lifestyle associated with
organized crime can promote the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse programs, such as NSAP, respond to the needs of offenders
involved in organized crime whenever there is a direct link to their
criminality. NSAP is available both in the institution and community.
Associates and Attitudes (AAA): The AAA was developed to address offenders whose
offending is strongly linked to peers who support crime and violence, as well
as the attitudes which contribute to the criminal lifestyle. These are the contributing
factors related to crime which are commonly found amongst offenders who are
involved in organized crime. AAA is available both in the institution and
Maintenance Program (CMP):
Research has shown that follow-up substantially increases the effectiveness of
programs. The CMP was developed to provide follow-up in the community for
offenders who have already completed a correctional program. It helps them to
consolidate the gains they made in the initial program(s). Therefore, offenders
who are involved in organized crime and who completed a correctional program
can be referred to the community maintenance program.
programs are proving successful. The 2009 evaluation of correctional programs
showed that CSC’s correctional programs reduced the rates of general recidivism
by up to 45% and the rates of violent recidivism by up to 63%. That is,
rates of re-offending were significantly lower amongst those who completed the
programs than among those who did not. In addition, the diversity of CSC
programs allows the organization to respond to the different needs, including
the mental health needs, of its population. Mental health assessments are done
on a case-by-case basis as required by each individual’s specific mental health
Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
Government of Canada recognizes the need for continued vigilance to respond to
trafficking in persons. That is why, on June 6, 2012, the Government released
Canada’s National Action Plan on Trafficking in Persons. The Action Plan
provides the comprehensive blueprint for future action in the areas of
prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.
Plan will guide the Government of Canada's fight against the serious crime of human
trafficking. Canada's National Action Plan emphasizes the need for awareness in
vulnerable populations, support for victims, dedicated law enforcement efforts,
and all Canadians to prevent the trafficking of individuals.
National Action Plan will:
Canada’s first integrated law enforcement team dedicated to combating human
front-line training to identify and respond to human trafficking and enhance
prevention in vulnerable communities;
more support for victims of this crime, both Canadians and newcomers; and
coordination with domestic and international partners who contribute to
Canada’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
measures, supported by $25 million over four years, build on and strengthen
Canada's significant work to date to prevent, detect and prosecute human
trafficking, such as targeted training for law enforcement officials and
front-line service providers, and enhanced public awareness measures. Canada's
National Action Plan reflects the Government's on-going commitment to
strengthened partnerships and collaboration to prevent and combat the crime of
Improvements to Support the Fight against Organized Crime
number of the Committee’s recommendations touch upon issues of an operational
nature. For example, the Committee discussed the role of the federal Witness
Protection Program as an important component in the fight against organized
crime. As was noted in the Committee’s Report, the Government is considering
amendments to the Witness Protection Program Act, while at the same time
it is implementing administrative and program improvements to the Witness
Protection Program itself.
Committee also identified the importance of reviewing legal aid contributions. Federal funding helps
to ensure that Canada, in a cost-effective manner, meets its criminal legal aid
responsibilities in federal prosecutions, such as those under the Controlled
Drugs and Substances Act. Current resources for criminal legal aid include
$111.9 million in permanent annual funding for criminal legal aid. In
addition, $1.65 million is provided for court orders for funded defence counsel
in federal prosecutions. Funding for these cases helps to ensure that the
federal government meets its responsibilities with respect to court orders for
funded defence counsel, significantly reduces federal costs with respect to
these cases, attracts senior counsel and diminishes the risk that federal
prosecutions will be stayed due to lack of representation.
Government recognizes the importance of having access to relevant information
on the scope and impact of organized crime’s activities in Canada. Such
information is important in the development of laws, programs and policies and
critical in evaluating the success of such initiatives.
exist numerous sources of information that can be utilized by organizations
involved in the criminal justice system. For example, the Parole Board of Canada (the
Board) depends on the CSC and other criminal justice partners to supply
critical information about offenders needed to make quality decisions. The
Board recently collaborated with CSC and Halifax Regional Police on a new-style
police report which is designed to give the Board timely and detailed
intelligence, while treating sensitive information in a manner consistent with
openness and transparency under the law as well as protecting sources and
ongoing investigations. The Board, as an independent tribunal, will continue working
with CSC in exploring opportunities to enhance the receipt of offender
information from police agencies.
General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, as the only national survey of
self-reported victimization, is a key source of justice information in Canada.
The survey provides an important complement to police-reported crime data, as
it measures both crime incidents that come to the attention of the police and
those that are unreported. The GSS on Victimization was previously conducted in
1988, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2009. The next iteration of the survey is planned
for 2014. The data collected from Statistics Canada’s GSS have been used
extensively in reports by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Justice
Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and other federal departments,
provincial government departments, academics and students. The justice
community uses this data to inform victim services, family violence
initiatives, policing and crime prevention programs.
to data collection and access to timely and relevant information is critical. Efforts
are being made to life cycle manage the Automated Criminal Intelligence
Information System (ACIIS). ACIIS provides Canada’s law enforcement community
access to information and intelligence relating to serious and organized
Crime Reporting Survey
Government agrees that data on drug offences is critical. Not all “drug-related”
offences are captured through justice statistics. However, since 1997, when
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) replaced the Narcotic
Control Act and the Food and Drug Act for drug-related offences,
Statistics Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR) has collected and
published data each year on police-reported incidents of possession,
trafficking, importation and exportation and production of all substances
within the scope of the CDSA.
services are required to report to the UCR the four most serious offences
involved in each incident. In addition, police services identify the most
serious offence in the incident, as determined by a seriousness index based on maximum
penalties. UCR data on drug incidents can be analysed and presented, based on
incidents where the drug offence was the most serious, or on all incidents that
involve drug offences even if it was not the most serious.
Management and Disclosure
The Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act, which came into force on August 15,
2011, amended the Criminal Code to facilitate the resolution of
disclosure disputes in pre-trial and trial proceedings. Close cooperation
between police and prosecutors is necessary to ensure timely disclosure. The
Committee’s recommendations of this nature are consistent with those previously
articulated, for example, in the 1993 Report of the Attorney General’s
Advisory Committee on Charge Screening, Disclosure and Resolution Discussions
(the Martin Report), the 2008 Report of the Review of Large and
Complex Criminal Case Procedures (the LeSage/Code Report) and
with the 2011 Report on Disclosure in Criminal Cases of the
Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to Justice.
generally, federal, provincial and territorial officials have been working
together to consider various disclosure issues. This work will be informed by the
Committee’s recommendations as well as the recommendations in the above-noted
reports, reflecting the Government’s continuing commitment to improve the
effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system.
Government is committed to ensuring criminals are held fully accountable for
their actions and that the justice system is strengthened in order to protect
the safety and security of law-abiding citizens. Our Government will continue
to fight crime and ensure that our communities are safe places for people to
live, raise their families and pursue a livelihood.
The Honourable Rob Nicholson
Minister of Justice
Attorney General of Canada
c.c.: Jean-François Pagé, Clerk of the Committee