The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its
TUESDAY, December 8, 1998
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-3, An Act respecting DNA identification and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Code and other Acts, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, October 22, 1998, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
However, your Committee received the following undertakings from the Solicitor General and his officials, including the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
- The Solicitor General will, during the anticipated 18-month hiatus between Royal Assent and the coming into force of Bill C-3, proceed with a new bill that will bring within the ambit of the DNA data bank those offenders who are convicted in the military justice system;
- The new bill will also give Senate and House of Commons committees the same authority to conduct the five-year review required under Bill C-3;
- The Commissioner of the RCMP, supported by the Solicitor General, agreed to the creation
of an independent advisory committee, including a representative from the Office of the
Privacy Commissioner, that would oversee the implementation of the Act and the ongoing
administration of the DNA data bank. Your Committee urges the Solicitor General to include
the appointment of the advisory committee in regulations to the Act;
- The Solicitor General agreed that the regulations to Bill C-3 would be prepublished and
available to the Senate for comment and evaluation;
- The Commissioner of the RCMP undertook to include a report on the operation of the DNA
data bank as part of his annual report to the Minister which would then be tabled in
- Officials from the Department of the Solicitor General also agreed to clarify in
regulations that what is meant by "DNA profile" is "not a profile for
medical reasons," but for law enforcement purposes only. This would address your
Committees concern that forensic DNA analysis utilise only those markers that do not
predict any medical, physical or mental characteristics, in order to protect the genetic
privacy of those individuals included in the data bank;
- In response to your Committees concern about the highly sensitive nature of the information contained within the data bank and the rapidity of technological change, the Solicitor General agreed to consider including within the proposed new bill, provision for parliamentary review every five years.
Your Committee recognizes the pressing need for a national DNA data bank that will enable Canadian law enforcement agencies to make full use of recent technological advances for the benefit of enhanced public safety. However, Committee members are also concerned that the proposed legislation may affect the privacy of Canadians in unprecedented and unintentional ways. In addition, your Committee believes that the nature of the information contained in the proposed DNA data bank calls for the strict monitoring of any process that would allow for its release to governments or agencies outside Canada.
Your Committee welcomes the undertakings made in the course of these hearings and recognizes that they will substantially address many of the concerns raised by Committee members. A copy of a letter from the Solicitor General to the Chair of your Committee, dated December 1, 1998, is appended to this report.