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DNA registry urged by solicitor general
Saturday, August 30, 2003
EDMONTON - Federal Solicitor General Wayne Easter wants a national DNA registry
to help trace missing persons.
"What you'll do is basically establish a DNA data bank for missing persons,"
Easter said Friday.
"For those who have missing sons or daughters out there ... it's a way of
utilizing DNA to assist families in finding missing persons, whether dead or alive,"
he told police officers from across Canada at a conference of the Canadian Professional
"There are privacy concerns that we have to look at," he acknowledged.
"But it is under active discussion and it's something that I'd like to see
"Not everyone wants their DNA on a list. When you look at these areas of
establishing lists, even a sex offender registry, you have to look at the privacy
concerns and I think we need to cover that angle off. I think it's a good concept,
but we have to make sure that it could work right in practice."
CPPA president Tony Cannavino welcomed the plan. "Anything that would help
police officers to find or to identify missing persons or someone who was killed,
those are tools we need."
The CPPA wants a bill of rights to protect police against frivolous complaints,
as well as letting them see medical records during investigations to guard against
being infected with diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Easter said he will put it on the agenda of a federal-provincial meeting of solicitors
general in September. "I'm willing to look at that issue, discuss it with
the federal-provincial-territorial counterparts and see where it goes," he
said. "Certainly the rights of police officers need to be protected in carrying
out their duties."
Easter was less encouraging over a pitch by Cannavino to change proposed drug
legislation. The CPPA president urged him not to remove police power, as proposed,
to criminally charge those in possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana.
Fourteen grams is equivalent to 25 joints and the change will encourage traffickers
to carry 14 grams and get off with a fine, Cannavino said.
"We're against the fact that under 15 grams we don't have any discretion.
It's the Achilles heel of the proposed legislation," he said.
Easter said he supports the legislation as it stands. Police would still have
limited discretion to criminally charge people, for example, if they're frequently
around schoolyards, he said.
The 150 CPPA delegates applauded a British Columbia RCMP officer who urged Easter
to give fellow officers collective bargaining rights. There were groans when Easter
disagreed, saying said the current system of negotiations is adequate.