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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-16 13:17 [p.11255]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you were to seek it, I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the recorded division on the amendment to the Opposition motion in the name of the member for Beloeil—Chambly, deferred until the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions this day, be further deferred until the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders later today; and
That, notwithstanding the Order adopted December 1st, 2016, the provisions under Standing Order 45 respecting the length of bells shall apply today; and
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, following Oral Questions on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, a Member from each recognized party, as well as the Member for Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères and the Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands may make a brief statement.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-16 13:43 [p.11259]
Mr. Speaker, the current government refused to provide in its initial legislation the opportunity in collective bargaining to deal with a number of things that are usually taken for granted in a regime of this sort: staffing, deployment, harassment, and discipline. Today the Auditor General pointed out that the government is failing to meet RCMP mental health needs and is failing to implement the mental health strategy.
We have had a grand total of, I believe, four or five days to deal with this bill, yet the government took 11 months to respond. Does the member think that arithmetic makes sense? Should we have longer to deal with such a complicated, important bill, or should we just get on with it?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-16 17:17 [p.11290]
Madam Speaker, I heard the member opposite say that all opposition members simply want to discuss two things: the card check system and time allocation. We on this side of the House, for one, think the card check system is the way to go. It is a feature of modern Canadian labour legislation, and we support that entirely, so we reject the categorical characterization of the opposition the member provided.
On the issue of time allocation, is it not the case that the government has sat on this bill since June 2016, when the other place reported its amendments back to this House? It has taken the government 11 months to bring the bill back here, and it is giving us four or five days to discuss it. Is that not the time we should be talking about? Why did the government dither for 11 months, causing uncertainty among RCMP members who have a constitutional right to collective bargaining and have had it thwarted all this time by the government?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-12 10:20 [p.11131]
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the parliamentary secretary on a couple of things. I agree that this is a national health crisis. British Columbia, Vancouver and my community of Victoria, is ground zero, so I could not agree more with that. I also agree with the need to move this through as quickly as we can. The NDP has pledged to do all we can in that regard.
What I do not agree with the member on is his characterization of the Senate being swift but thorough in its assessment. Three months is an unacceptably long time in a public health crisis like the one we are facing.
Specifically, the government has said it will accept one single amendment proposed by the Senate, a minimum 45-day public consultation period for supervised consumption site applications. This will slow down the approval process and will hinder quick action in the case of an emergency.
I can do no better than to cite not one, not two, but three Liberal members of the health committee: the member for Brampton South, the member for Oakville, and the member for Calgary Skyview.
The member for Brampton South said:
This amendment would remove the minister's discretion and prevent sites from being approved in an urgent situation. We don't need a delay of extra days, particularly if there's urgent need of a site.
She goes on.
Why would the government, in the face of resistance by virtually all of our allies in this matter, accept such a regressive amendment?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-12 10:48 [p.11136]
Mr. Speaker, 40 or 50 people are dying every week in our country from drug overdoses. All parts of Canada have been affected by this crisis, none more than British Columbia and, in particular, Vancouver and Victoria, the epicentre of this opioid crisis.
This bill deserves the attention of the House on an immediate basis, and I am pleased it seems to be proceeding quickly through this place. It took the government much too long to recognize the magnitude of this crisis affecting so many Canadians, but it did so, Finally, on December 12, the minister tabled a bill that would allow us to take action, certainly not to eliminate the opioid crisis but to at least address its symptoms. We supported the bill then and we will support the bill going forward in an expedited basis through this place.
It is perhaps unusual for an opposition party to agree to time allocate anything but, as the Conservatives have acknowledged, we have a national health emergency and Canadians expect us to act accordingly, and we will do so.
My hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway moved, on December 13, to fast-track this legislation to the Senate. Sadly that was blocked in the House and more time was wasted and more lives were lost. The Senate has now made amendments to the bill, taking months to get it back here for us to get on with the job.
We are here today to talk about those amendments the Senate brought forward after those three months.
I have spoken with people in my community of Victoria and Vancouver, those who are on the front lines of this crisis. They have asked us to speak against these amendments, and we do so today. They undermine the intent of the bill and essentially disregard what we, as an elected body, have worked so hard to implement over the last few months.
In a question for my colleague across the way, I pointed out that the Liberals at health committee essentially agreed that these kinds of amendments ought not to be proceeded, yet we have them back here again. The Senate seems to think it can do a better job, taking a long time to arrive at the same place. It is really quite disappointing that in light of that history the government has seen fit to accept one of those amendments, which I will turn to momentarily and address in content.
The one of the three amendments that was accepted by the government this morning was amendment one. It would create a minimum 45-day public consultation for supervised site applications. Why would we reject that? Why would all the allies encourage us to do so? They claim that it will slow down the approval process and hinder quick action in the event of an emergency.
I can do no better than to remind the government what three Liberal members said at committee when the same issue was up for discussion there. I quote, for example, the Liberal member for Brampton South, who said:
...it is important to note that one of the five criteria in this bill already includes community consultation. It is important, but it's sufficiently covered off in the proposed legislation. It includes all the broad information in there.
She is right. It is already in there. Everybody knows public consultation is a critical aspect. Of course it is one of the criteria for the approval of any site. It seems entirely redundant and potentially disturbing when people have an emergency and do not need to have any minimum times addressed.
I would refer to what my Liberal colleague from Calgary Skyview said:
Time is of the essence when we are setting up these clinics. This amendment will constrain or tie the minister's hands for 45 days in terms of taking any action. Look at all the lives that may be lost in that delay. Those are my comments.
I do not know why we are here to talk about what the Senate has done. Why the government would accept those amendments is frankly beyond us.
The second amendment we have heard about from our Conservative colleagues is on alternative pharmaceutical therapy and serious constitutional doubts about it. The parliamentary secretary referred to whether a federal government could mandate a particular kind of therapy. At first blush, it would to be squarely within provincial jurisdiction. This has to be considered as something that could be problematic. Any amendment to that effect that would perhaps discourage people from using supervised consumption sites would undermine the purpose of this bill.
The New Democrats called for legislation to address the opioid crisis over a year ago, and we will not allow this to be delayed any longer. We cannot allow more people to die. At a minimum, 2,000 people will die this year in our country. Last year, 914 people died in my home province of British Columbia alone. With fentanyl and now carfentanil, the crisis is only escalating geometrically. The bill needs the urgent attention of this place.
We must get on with it and we will do whatever we can to support moving on with this as we go forward. We cannot accept the Senate amendments and will vote against them, but we will vote strongly in favour of this public health bill to deal with a national health emergency.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-12 10:55 [p.11136]
Mr. Speaker, I can return the compliment to my friend across the way. It is somewhat unusual for us to be agreeing on very much, but on this one, I could not agree more.
I knew people in my community who died. I know what the bill would do and how important it is. Therefore, I accept the challenge from my colleague to get on with the job and not let small problems get in the way. That is why we put water in our wine when the bill was before us initially. It is not perfect. It went to committee. I was pleased not that the Senate took as much time to come back with the same things, but that members of the health committee rolled up their sleeves and looked at it really quickly.
I will not be hung up on these Senate amendments. I do not understand why the government feels it has to accept one, which is clearly regressive in the minds of their own Liberal colleagues. However, that is not the point. The point is to get this done as quickly as possible. The New Democrats will support the government moving it forward, given the national health crisis this entails.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-12 10:57 [p.11137]
Mr. Speaker, I do not challenge for a moment the member's good faith and desire to move forward in this crisis.
The ability to involve the community is at the core of the bill. It is one of the key criteria. I can only speak to the experience in my community. Victoria is anxiously waiting and desperate to get a safe consumption site up and running. The first thing they did was work with the communities, carefully and fully, with the full support, I am happy to say, of the police, which recognizes this as not only a public health issue but a public safety issue.
I do not think the bill does anything but support community involvement. The amendment that would require a citizen advisory committee is not well-thought out. It has the effect of (a) being redundant to a core criterion in the bill and (b) possibly delaying the creation of safe consumption sites and the saving of lives.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-12 13:34 [p.11162]
Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief, and I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for that response.
When he characterizes this as merely policy processes and not the expenditure of funds, I would point out the obvious, which is that money is being spent to make this advertisement open to people. There is money being spent in respect of a bill that has not been passed. I fail to understand how he can minimize this by simply referring to it as planning processes. That is simply not the case.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-05-09 10:13 [p.10935]
Madam Speaker, I think I have the numbers straight. This is an omnibus bill, which consists of more than 300 pages. This is a bill for which we have had three days of debate, the government will say. However, it will not say that one of those days was a Wednesday, when of course we do not begin until later in the afternoon, and one was a Friday, when we had a grand total of one hour and 15 minutes of debate.
This is the budget implementation bill. My hon. friend from the Conservatives has already pointed out that issues like the parliamentary budget officer, the infrastructure bank, and others are at issue, but so are myriad other issues, many of which have nothing to do with the budget.
I wonder if the government could reconsider and allow us, as the opposition, to do our job for Canadians.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-04-10 13:15 [p.10372]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the Indigenous and Northern Affairs critic for the NDP, for his excellent speech, and for connecting the dots between Bill C-17 in Yukon and what is being achieved, and what 40 years of experience with the Cree–Naskapi and the northern Quebec agreement has achieved in terms of certainty there. I was intrigued by the connection that was made and the lessons that have been learned, which the hon. member emphasized.
What I would like to ask the member specifically is in relation to his Bill C-262, which, of course, would address the need to enshrine a review under section 35 of the Constitution for indigenous rights, just as we routinely do for our charter rights. I would like to ask about the notion of free, prior, and informed consent. Would this bill, which includes the three governments, federal, provincial, and Yukon first nations, on the board of the YESAA statute, achieve the free, prior, and informed consent that is required, since they co-drafted the bill and are on the actual board, for example, in respect of a specific project? In other words, does that pass muster? Would the kind of bill that we have before us today be consistent with the principles of the hon. member's bill on free, prior, and informed consent that will soon be before Parliament?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-04-10 15:47 [p.10394]
Mr. Speaker, despite the hon. member for Yukon's fatigue from travel, I thought he did an admirable job of explaining a complex bill.
I was pleased to be involved as a lawyer in the creation of the final agreements in those 20 years culminating in the YESAA and am very pleased to be standing in support of the bill today. He talked about the four new clauses that Bill S-6 brought in and how, obviously, they were contrary to the letter and spirit of treaties. Of that there can be no doubt.
I have two questions, if I could, for the hon. member. He referenced the case of the Peel watershed that last month was before the Supreme Court of Canada, talking about the honour of the crown and the like. I would like to know if he feels that case could have any impact on the YESAA bill before us and, second, whether he believes that the free, prior, and informed consent of the Yukon first nations is required as a consequence of the YESAA in its current form.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-03-24 10:34 [p.9992]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman somehow suggested that the opposition challenges the need for an oversight committee. I do not know how one could read the record of these proceedings and come to that conclusion. He commends the work of the public safety committee and fails to remind us that the government gutted that committee's recommendations.
Since this is a “somewhat historical bill”, to quote the hon. gentleman, how is it that we will be proceeding when the opposition is unanimously opposed to such an historic initiative?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-03-24 12:25 [p.10012]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to address Bill C-22 at third reading stage. Unfortunately, this is the final day of debate on an issue of national security that has divided the government from every opposition party.
Government members have remarked on the extraordinary nature of the proposed committee. They note that it would end our laggard status among the so-called Five Eyes, that it would allow some parliamentarians extraordinary access to classified information, and that it would enjoy a whole-of-government mandate. These claims are all true, but they are also the bare minimum requirements. They are simply the essential features of an oversight committee.
I hope government members are unsettled when they notice that every opposition party, and respected experts from across the political spectrum, are all pointing to the same flaws in the government's bill. I have spoken about these flaws in detail in the public safety committee and in this chamber. My colleagues and I have consulted with non-partisan experts to craft more than one dozen amendments to resolve them.
Let me summarize these flaws as succinctly as I can for Canadians.
This committee's job is to oversee the functioning and classified operations of every government agency linked to intelligence and national security. This 11 member committee will face a multi-billion dollar array of some 20 government departments and agencies, some of which have never yet been subject to any oversight. When these 11 members sit down together for the first time, all they will have to rely on is a dedicated staff, a limited budget, and the powers laid out in black and white in the bill. That is where they will begin to hit roadblocks.
Despite their top secret security clearances, this bill would bar those parliamentarians from accessing certain operational information. They would find themselves unable to summon witnesses or order documents. Instead they could only request information from cabinet ministers, who are permitted to withhold it.
While it clips the committee's wings at every turn, the bill bestows sweeping powers on cabinet and on the Prime Minister. Ministers can shut down investigations. The Prime Minister can appoint every member of oversight committees and censor its reports.
Canadians might well ask this. With such little power for Parliament and so much power for the cabinet, can this oversight body actually do its job? It is precisely in that context that the government has now shut down debate, after barely one-tenth of Canadians' elected representatives have been permitted to participate. That is the context for today.
I want to focus on what I see as the essential question for each member now, and that is this. Are the powers granted by this bill sufficient to create the degree of rigorous operational oversight that Canadians expect in the era of Bill C-51, and the extraordinary powers now granted to our security services? That is the important question because the test for this committee is not whether it can monitor uncontroversial activities. The true test is whether it can stand up to a government that is violating the law in certain circumstances, failing to protect Canadians, or encroaching on their hard-earned rights and liberties.
Let me be clear. I cannot support this bill in that context, in its current form. I believe it would fail that test and it would fail Canadians. At the very moment when they need it to be strong, independent, and effective, it would fail the test because it chooses to sacrifice transparency for secrecy, and favour executive authority over accountability.
In the wake of an intelligence failure that cost thousands of innocent lives, the American 9/11 commission report warned as follows: “Secrecy stifles oversight...current organizational incentives encourage overclassification. This balance should change...”. It also warned, “So long as oversight is undermined...we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need.”
That is what this is all about: giving Canadians not just empty assurances but hard proof that their security is protected and their rights upheld. Does this bill meet that standard when it comes to operational oversight?
In arguing against strengthening the committee, the public safety minister compared it to counterpart committees in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. He correctly noted that each of those allies allows the government to withhold sensitive information from the oversight committee, but he left out an important fact, and that is that none of them is an operational oversight committee. Canada's would be, and it would be only second among the Five Eyes.
How would its powers compare to those American congressional committees? What do the Americans require for the same kind of job we are asking our committee to do? In the United States, special committees of the House and Senate are kept informed in real time of all intelligence operations. They can cut funding and even overrule the White House to order the release of previously classified information, if it serves the national interest. This goes far beyond even what the opposition parties have proposed for Canada.
If we passed this bill without fixing it, we would be giving the committee a mandate but not the tools required to get the job done, yet the government resists all calls by the opposition and non-partisan experts to grant these tools to the oversight committee. This gets to the central question of trust.
To justify cabinet's sweeping powers to obstruct oversight, the government has hidden behind a straw man, the one limit to which nobody has ever objected, and that is the safeguard to protect individuals in the witness protection program. We heard all about that earlier today. One government member referred to the need to segregate especially sensitive information. With respect, this misses the point. Everything this committee would work on is, by definition, especially sensitive. Nothing should leak, and I am confident that nothing will leak, just as it has not in Britain in the 22 years that it has had a similar committee under way.
If the identities of protected witnesses were this committee's only blind spot, I would welcome it, but alongside the others, it has begun to serve as a litmus test for the government's trust in this committee. I say that because there is no meaningful distinction between that information and anything else within the committee's unique mandate. All of it is potentially damaging to national security and individuals' safety. It makes us wonder, if the government cannot trust the committee with the names of witnesses, why would it hand over operational details? The answer, I fear, is that it will not. If we passed the current bill, we would give the government the power to withhold that information at every turn. We would give the government the power to deny Canadians the operational oversight they were promised, and we would fatally undermine Canadians' faith in this new institution, because if cabinet does not trust the committee, why should Canadians?
Of course, the government insists that it would use these powers sparingly and only with the best intentions. The Liberals' faith in their own good intentions I believe is sincere, but it blinds them to the actual wording of the bill. Take clause 21 as an example. Several amendments have targeted cabinet's power to filter the flow of information from this committee to Canadians. No fewer than six government members have repeated the claim that the sole purpose of that power is to screen out classified information. Again, if that were true, I would support it, but it is simply not true. In fact, the relevant clause does not even use the word “classified”. In fact, it empowers the Prime Minister to censor any information he believes may be injurious to national security or defence, or even international relations. All he has to do is believe it and it is so, and it is not available.
A similar claim, repeated by five government members, is that this revision power could not be applied to the committee's findings. Again, I would support that clause, but it is not in the bill.
This has become a theme. Too often, government members assure us of the good intentions of this bill's authors and simply forget that legislation must be built to outlast the authors of the bill. We are making law not just for this regime but for the future.
The current Prime Minister may not intend to use his powers to suppress embarrassing committee findings, but another one may. The current cabinet may not intend to use its power to quash investigations or to hide mismanagement or scandal, but another one may. The current government may not intend to ban the official opposition from the committee or use appointments to control the agenda or hide illegal surveillance by withholding operational details on security grounds, but another government may.
Consider, for instance, the investigations taking place right now south of the border into President Trump's ties to Russia and his wiretapping claims. If Bill C-22 were the law there, President Trump could revise the reports of congressional intelligence oversight committees to remove information he felt could harm foreign relations. His cabinet could obstruct, and even shut down, investigations simply by asserting security privilege.
That is why Canadians are demanding that this committee be built to a higher standard of strength and independence, so that when the time comes, it can stand as a genuine check on the executive overreach and end operations that violate Canadians' rights or mismanagement that undermines their security. As it stands, it is simply not built to that standard.
However, I do want to recognize the progress that has been made and acknowledge the good work done by the members of the public safety committee. Because of an amendment from the NDP, the new oversight committee would now have a legal duty to alert the Attorney General to any potentially illegal activity within the entire national security apparatus.
While future prime ministers would still be able to censor reports on broad grounds, Canadians could now see exactly how much text had been revised in a particular report and the reasons the revision occurred. While cabinet ministers unfortunately retain the power to withhold information and even shut down investigations, Canadians could now monitor the use of those powers each year.
I want to personally recognize the hard work of every member of the public safety committee. They showed that progress is possible when the government is willing to work with opposition parties. However, before the government congratulates itself for accepting a handful of ideas from other parties, let us be clear about what it rejected.
The plan we proposed gave the oversight committee full access to information and the power to summon witnesses and order documents. It offered freedom to investigate any issue without interference by cabinet ministers. It let the committee choose its own chairperson from among the membership that would actually match the partisan balance of the House. It allowed the free flow of insights back and forth within the existing expert review bodies. Every last one of those proposals was rejected by the government.
While progress was made at the margins, the government is now asking Parliament to approve an oversight committee with only partial access to the information it needs to do the job for Canadians: a committee that can only request information from cabinet, not order it directly; a committee whose entire membership is selected by the Prime Minister, with no requirement that it even include members from the biggest opposition parties. This committee would not be out of place in Australia, New Zealand, or France, where there is no expectation of operational oversight, but it is entirely inappropriate in Canada.
I cannot accept the design set by the government for two fundamental reasons: first, it tilts the balance too far toward executive power at the expense of parliamentary accountability; and, second, it fails to meet the high standard of operational oversight that the Liberals made necessary when they joined with the Conservatives to dramatically expand security powers through Bill C-51.
It is against these two standards that the government's attitude toward this bill is so very disappointing. The government has adopted an approach which says that something is better than nothing insofar as parliamentary oversight is concerned, and that we should just be happy we got a little bit. It suggests to me the belief that national security is the exclusive domain of the executive branch and that Parliament is somehow an ungrateful guest on the government's turf. That is dead wrong.
Members will remember this question was addressed and answered by Speaker Milliken in 2010 when he ruled on the government's attempt to deny Parliament documents relating to the Afghan detainee affair. In denying Parliament's role as a watchdog for Canadians, the executive claimed that Parliament's general right of inquiry was limited by the executive's countervailing interest in protecting national security. Parliament, the government argued, was overreaching by demanding information on security matters and threatening the constitutional separation of powers. The parallels to our current debate are clear.
What was the outcome? After an exhaustive analysis, Speaker Milliken ruled that Parliament's right to access information, to do its job, to perform its duties is “absolute”. In fact it was the executive that jeopardized the proper separation of powers by attempting to censor information provided to Parliament.
The Canadians' elected representatives in Parliament must be named the ultimate watchdog in our system. That should be a point of unanimous agreement for everyone in this place. We all recognize, as Speaker Milliken did, that special safeguards must be put in place to allow Parliament to exercise that oversight role in sensitive domains like national security and intelligence.
That is why New Democrats supported many safeguards to protect sensitive information. For example, we supported security vetting for every member. That was a step that was rejected by the British Parliament. We agreed. Similarly, we think it is reasonable that members waive parliamentary immunity from prosecution should they leak information. We think that is entirely reasonable. That step, however, was rejected by another of our Five Eyes allies, namely, New Zealand.
These additional safeguards should be used to facilitate the greater flow of classified information required for operational oversight, but the bill turns those safeguards into shackles. It asks Parliament to accept that oversight cannot be exercised through a parliamentary committee, but only through an adjunct to the executive, the Prime Minister's Office. It asks Parliament to grant the executive veto power over its access to information against the advice of experts and the Speaker's analysis of parliamentary procedure as well. It asks Parliament to legislate limits on its own authority to investigate how well the government of the day serves the security interests of Canadians and defends their civil liberties.
Because we believe in upholding Parliament's place as the final watchdog, and because we cannot accept inadequate operational oversight of the powers that Liberals and Conservatives granted to our security agencies in Bill C-51 over the protests of so many Canadians, the New Democratic Party cannot support Bill C-22 as it stands.
However, we have everything we need to fix the bill. We have consensus among the opposition parties. We have the willingness to work together to compromise. We have all the tools we need. We just need the time.
I am asking all members to do what the members of this committee will soon be asked to do, and that is to set partisanship aside and consider whether this bill, with all the flaws agreed upon by so many security experts, meets the standards of operational oversight that Canadians rightfully demand in the context of Bill C-51, and if they have any doubt that it might fail to meet that test for Canadians, I would ask them to support the following amendment. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for the purpose of reconsidering Clauses 8, 14, and 16 with a view to assessing whether the investigatory powers and limits defined in these clauses allow for sufficiently robust oversight of ongoing intelligence and national security activities.”
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-03-24 12:48 [p.10015]
Mr. Speaker, how the member across the way concluded that I have no idea. To suggest that a committee of Parliament should have operational control over police or intelligence is, admittedly, absurd. If I confused the member, I apologize for doing so. What I have been saying is that any oversight committee that is supposed to look at the operational activities of police, national security, and intelligence services needs the tools to do its job.
The member said earlier that somehow experts thought that what happened was just fine. In January of this year, four leading experts wrote an article in The Globe and Mail congratulating the public safety committee for the report it produced, saying that it got it right. The New Democrats did a press conference confirming that we supported the bill as it read.
Then, when we were away a week or so ago, the government came in at the last moment with a bunch of amendments that basically gutted this bill. It is so disappointing. It is disappointing to Canadians, who thought we could get it right.
We could hold hands around that committee report and finally say, yes, we have it right. We would have access to the information we would need. We could summon people, and the level of scrutiny we would need to do the job would be available.
The government decided we should not have those tools. That is why all opposition members, as I understand it, are not going to support this bill, which is bad for Canada.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2017-03-24 12:50 [p.10015]
Mr. Speaker, whether Canadians would be misled or not, the facts are the facts. The facts are that we would not be giving this committee the tools it would need to do operational oversight. I do not know the intentions of the government. The Liberals are putting a happy face on what they are doing today, seeming to ignore the fact that everyone else in this place but the government members does not agree with them.
Today's Toronto Star has an article by Paul Copeland, probably one of Canada's leading experts in national security law, appointed by the hon. member for Niagara Falls, when he was Attorney General, to be a special advocate. He wrote about the report by the public safety committee and talked about the proposals of the government that are being debated today: removing the oversight committee’s power to subpoena witnesses and documents, allowing cabinet ministers to withhold information from the oversight committee, and stopping the committee from receiving information about all active law-enforcement investigations, all the time.
The experts, including Ron Atkey, Craig Forcese, Kent Roach, and Wes Wark, have all agreed that the committee got it right. At the eleventh hour, the government brought in this bill, imposed time allocation on this place, and expects us to be happy with what it has achieved. This is too important to turn into a partisan football between opposition and government. This is the national security oversight committee for this country, and that is why this is so bitterly disappointing.
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