A New Government in Ottawa/Impact on Policing

    10/20/15 - 10/20/16

    October 20, 2015

    (The French version will be available upon translation)

    Expect much analysis over the weeks to come but Canadians spoke loudly and clearly by overwhelmingly electing a new Prime Minister and governing party. One of the immediate challenges for Prime Minister Trudeau will be the delicate balancing of a smaller cabinet taking into account geography, gender, linguistic capabilities, individual strengths, and yes, egos. He will have a large pool of candidates to choose from with 184 Liberal MP’s in the House of Commons.

    The immediate priorities for the new government will be changes to income tax rates and tax credits targeted towards benefitting the middle class, forging a new climate with the provinces, specifically related to infrastructure investments and climate change, implementing new foreign policy as it relates to Iraq and Syrian refugees, and reviewing defence capabilities to name a few.

    Through the Liberal Election 2015 Platform, the Party has developed its vision for Canada. Here is what we know in terms of how it relates to policing:

    Impact on Policing:

    • Stronger National security oversight – “Among our Five Eyes allies that collaborate on national security and intelligence sharing, Canada is the only country that does not have oversight of its security agencies by legislators. Liberals are committed to correcting this; we will create an all-party national security oversight committee to monitor and oversee the operations of every government department and agency with national security responsibilities.”

    • A renewed relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples – a record 10 indigenous candidates won seats in this election. The Liberals state that they will “immediately re-engage in a renewed nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to make progress on the issues most important to First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities – issues like housing, infrastructure, health and mental health care, community safety and policing, child welfare, and education.”

    • An immediate launch of a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada – “to seek recommendations on concrete actions that governments, law enforcement, and others can take to solve these crimes and prevent future ones.”  

    • Greater support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and ensure that more perpetrators are brought to justice. – This includes: a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan; increased investments in Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses, as part of a broader investment in social infrastructure; amending the Criminal Code to reverse onus on bail for those with previous convictions of intimate partner violence; specifying that intimate partner violence be considered an aggravating factor at sentencing; increasing the maximum sentence for repeat offenders; and a review of current gender- and culturally-sensitive training policies for federal front-line law enforcement officers to ensure that they are strong and effective.

    • Repealing elements of Bill C-51 – new legislation targeted towards a better balance in collective security and rights and freedoms. This includes: guarantee that all Canadian Security Intelligence Service warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; establish an all-party national security oversight committee; ensure that Canadians are not limited from lawful protests and advocacy; require that government review all appeals by Canadians on the no-fly list; narrow overly broad definitions, such as defining “terrorist propaganda” more clearly; limit Communications Security Establishment’s powers by requiring a warrant to engage in the surveillance of Canadians; require a statutory review of the full Anti-Terrorism Act after three years; and prioritize community outreach and counter-radicalization, by creating the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Co-ordinator. The Liberal platform states that “as this legislation is tabled in Parliament, we will launch broad public consultations, to engage and seek the input of Canadians and subject-matter experts.”

    • Firearms – The Liberals promise to take action to make it more difficult for criminals to get, and use, handguns and assault weapons off our streets. This includes: repealing changes made by Bill C-42 that allow restricted and prohibited weapons to be freely transported without a permit and put decision-making about weapons restrictions back in the hands of police; provide $100 million each year to the provinces and territories to support guns and gangs police task forces to take illegal guns off our streets and reduce gang violence; modify the membership of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to include knowledgeable law enforcement officers, public health advocates, representatives from women’s groups, and members of the legal community; require enhanced background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a handgun or other restricted firearm; require purchasers of firearms to show a license when they buy a gun, and require all sellers of firearms to confirm that the license is valid before completing the sale; require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventory and sales to assist police in investigating firearms trafficking and other gun crimes; immediately implement the UN imported gun marking regulations invest in technologies to enhance border guards’ ability to detect and halt illegal guns from the United States entering into Canada; and ensure that Canada becomes a party to the international Arms Trade Treaty.

    • Legalization, regulation, and restricted access to marijuana – “Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses.  At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.” The Liberals state: they will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework. They will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.

    • Financial security to the families of disabled or deceased public safety officers, and deliver a new plan to address PTSD - A compensation benefit to be paid to the families of fire fighters, police officers, and paramedics killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. This $300,000 benefit to families struggling with permanently changed life circumstances or the loss of a loved one.

    • First Nations Chiefs of Police Association (FNCPA) – The FNCPA solicited the views of each of the federal parties on issues relating to chronic levels of underfunding provided to law enforcement serving First Nations and Inuit communities; improved, sustainable funding to the FNPP in the form of A-based funding; recognition of First Nations policing as an 'essential service' and not a 'program' including recognizing wages, pension and benefits parity which must be developed for Self-administered First Nations Policing Services/First Nations Officers which is comparable to all police services/agencies across Canada; and support the expansion of the existing program to other First Nation communities who desire a self- administered standalone First Nation Police Service. The response from the Liberal Party of Canada was very warm to these issues and included the recognition for stable, predictable and adequate funding to allow aboriginal police services to do their job, an openness to exploring A-based funding, remedying the chronic lack of resources and the need to recognize aboriginal policing as an essential service; and supporting expansion of the FNPP to other First Nation and Inuit communities, if that is the approach they decide would best meet their public safety needs.

    The Liberal Party Platform can be found in English at: https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/10/New-plan-for-a-strong-middle-class.pdf and in French at: https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/10/Le-bon-plan-pour-renforcer-la-classe-moyenne.pdf

    Timothy M. Smith

    Government Relations and Communications

    Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police