Criminal Code Amendments Introduced

I could have titled this post MORE Criminal Code amendments introduced. Between House of Commons Bills C-2 and C-52, 11 are related to the Criminal Code or its related legislation (youth justice, criminal records). November 1, 2010 saw the introduction of Bills C-51 (Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act) and C-52 (An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations). Bill C-46 from the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session 2009 was similar to Bill C-51, but died on the order paper with the end of the session.

There is an interesting Department of Justice Backgrounder on C-51. The purposed of this bill is to assist the government and her agents with various problems:

  • Obtaining Transmission Data to Trace a Specified Communication
  • Preservation Orders (for data from telecos)
  • Tracking warrants (privacy protections for person location while continuing to allow tracking of objects)
  • Possession of a computer virus for the purpose of mischief
  • Modernizing the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and the Competition Act
  • International considerations (create the legislative framework necessary for Canada to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime and the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, Concerning the Criminalisation of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed through Computer Systems)
  • There is no text posted yet for Bill C-52, but from the title it appears a companion piece to C-51.

    Since I am not a lawyer, I am asking Slawyers to comment. Does this look just a little bit like the US Patriot Act?

    For example, the proposed replacement for s.487.11:

    487.11 Either a peace officer or a public officer who has been appointed or designated to administer or enforce a federal or provincial law and whose duties include the enforcement of this or any other Act of Parliament may, in the course of their duties, exercise any of the powers described in section 487, 492.1 or 492.2 without a warrant if the conditions for obtaining a warrant exist but it would not be feasible to obtain a warrant because of exigent circumstances.

    I look forward to comments that will educate me about this legislation.


  1. Jean-Marc Leclerc

    Shaunna, s. 487.11 of the Criminal Code probably does not make the amendments akin to the U.S. Patriot Act. All that s. 487.11 says is that a police officer does not need a warrant if there are “exigent circumstances.” In plain language, this basically means there has to be a “real panic.” It would apply, for example, if the police had to break down a door arising from a 911 phone call. There just isn’t time to get a search warrant. There is a heavy onus on the police to prove the existence of exigent circumstances. “Exigent circumstances” is a common concept in criminal law that has been applied for many years in many different contexts and is not as extraordinary as may appear at first glance.

  2. s.487.11 exists in pretty much that form already; the amendments are quite minor. Nothing really PATRIOT-like there.

    More troubling are sections allowing disclosure of customer information to police in non-exigent circumstances without a search warrant. There will be civil liberties and Charter issues there.

    One aspect that is quite Pariot-like, as noted even in the Library of Parliament summary of the Bill, is the gag order preventing companies from notifying their customers that they have disclosed customer information.