Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to Bill at third reading. I am doing so not without some soul-searching because I do believe that members of Parliament must address the issue of terrorism seriously. The question remains: is Bill S-7 the right way, and the right response to the threat of terrorism?
In my speech at second reading, I mentioned my personal and family connections to 9/11, a day when my mother was flying out of Washington, D.C. and one of my partner's close friends was flying out of Boston. My mother was fortunate and she was located, safe, later that night on the ground in Denver. However, my partner's friend was not so lucky in his choice of flights from Boston, and we were in the unfortunate situation of having to inform his parents in Indonesia that indeed their son had been on that second plane to hit a tower in New York.
What I did not talk about during second reading was my international human rights work. I have experience working where the threat of terrorism was a constant. I worked in the field in East Timor, in Ambon in Indonesia, and in Afghanistan. In each of these situations, bombing campaigns were a daily threat and all too often a daily reality. I have seen up close, communities torn apart by terrorist violence. I still remember the day in Ambon where my partner and I were working on a peace-building project between Christian and Muslim communities. That was the day that the market was bombed, and from our office we could see the smoke rising. That was the same market where my partner was supposed to be at that moment, but fortunately was late and was not there.
Therefore, I do have some understanding of the reality of terrorist threats, and I have always taken a clear and unequivocal position against terrorism. I have always said there was no justification, no excuse for the use of violence against civilians, none, never, and I fully believe that those who use terror should be met with the full force of the law. I take seriously that we must take measures that will protect us against terrorism, but I also believe we have an equal responsibility to preserve the rule of law and respect for our basic rights and freedoms. Otherwise, what is it that we are protecting? As so many of my colleagues have said, this is truly a question of balance. How do we protect our society in a way that protects its most fundamental values?
In my second reading speech, I spoke not just about my own experience, but also about the unfortunate history of the deportation of Japanese Canadians during World War II. When we look back now, it is very clear that fear, and fear alone, caused us to trample the rights of a minority in this country, using the War Measures Act, an act which the majority at the time argued was necessary to preserve our rights, despite the lack of any evidence at the time or subsequently that this was the case. I emphasize once again that not a single Japanese Canadian was ever charged, let alone convicted, of any collaboration with the enemy during World War II. However, our panic and our fear caused us to uproot a community and the lives of thousands of Canadians for no reason other than their heritage. This is a fear that I have, that we will make these same kinds of mistakes if we panic and adopt measures that would lead to the targeting of certain communities today based on their heritage.
Therein lies the dilemma. How do we keep communities safe without trampling the very rights that are the foundation of a free community and a tolerant society? Then the question is, what are those threats that I see to rights in Bill ? What do we in the NDP think is the problem with Bill S-7? There are two major problems, and one associated problem.
The two major problems are that investigative hearings and preventative detention both run against the grain of our fundamental rights in our legal system. Whether we view these measures through our British legal traditions, through our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or through Canada's international legal obligations under international covenants, both of these would challenge our fundamental values. Investigative hearings wreck the fundamental protections against self-incrimination that we have built into our system for 300 years. Preventative detention would violate the principle that one should be punished only for a specific wrongdoing. Bill would allow the incarceration for up to a year of individuals never even charged with, let alone convicted of, a criminal offence, and, as we discovered in the debate in committee, the government intended for those provisions for preventative detention to be quite broad and to perhaps include people who were merely associated with or inadvertently giving assistance to those who might carry out a terrorist act. While intention is a fundamental element of a criminal act in Canadian law, intention alone has never before been the crime. Therefore, I find these two measures excessive and threatening of those basic rights and values.
In committee, New Democrats pointed out the most basic flaws of this legislation and introduced 18 amendments to address the most egregious problems. However, as usual, the Conservatives were having none of that. As we have seen time and time again in committee, despite statements to the contrary by ministers when they introduce legislation, Conservatives are not actually prepared to consider reasonable amendments at the committee stage, not even in the case of Bill when it came to an amendment that simply asked that the rights of children be protected under these two measures so that children might not be caught up in investigative hearings and preventive detentions. Not even that amendment on the rights of children were the Conservatives prepared to accept.
The third party, at the other end of the House, which initially introduced these two measures in 2001, not only failed to introduce any amendments of its own but also refused to support the NDP amendments. Now Bill is back in the House for third reading unamended.
The argument the Conservatives seem to be making in favour of Bill , insofar as they are bothering to make any argument at all—and I should point out that we do not see Conservative members rising to try to convince both the opposition and the public that this measure is indeed necessary—is that if Bill does not pass, we will not be kept safe from terrorism and that we need investigative hearings, preventive detention and new measures to make it illegal to go abroad for the purposes of committing a terrorist act.
This necessity argument, I believe, fails on several grounds. First, as it is easy to point out, there were no successful uses of investigative hearings or preventive detention when they were previously in force. If they are so necessary to protect against terrorism, why were they not used? Why do we not have examples of how they contributed to that safety?
The second ground on which I would argue that the necessity argument fails is the actual record of the RCMP, which has been able to apprehend those involved in terrorism and get convictions in the absence of these extreme powers. Examples include the Khawaja case, the Toronto 18 and even the arrests just yesterday. If these powers were so necessary, how have the police been able to make such progress against terrorism over the last 12 years? If for 12 years we have appeared to get along well in the struggle against terrorism without these powers, where is the argument for their necessity now? I have heard no one on the other side actually make the argument, in any kind of fashion, that we must have Bill at this time to keep us safe.
Of course, when it comes to going abroad to engage in terrorist acts, anyone who looks closely at the existing law will find that it is already illegal to do so. Therefore, what is Bill adding to the existing law? It is really not clear to me why this new provision is there.
If the measures proposed in Bill are neither effective nor necessary, then are we, in fact, left helpless in the face of terrorism, as the Conservatives' insistence on passing this bill would imply? The timing of the reintroduction of this bill in Parliament and the timing of the arrests yesterday on charges of terrorism are indeed suspicious, which is I guess the best word I can use. The coincidence seems too large to me. It seems to me that the Conservatives are trying to use a climate of fear to push forward this legislation. Again, I refer to the example of Japanese Canadians in World War II, when fear caused us to do things that destroyed an entire community in Canada, which has taken many years to rebuild, based on fear and fear alone.
I fear that the Conservatives are using this climate in the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing, and in the aftermath of very good police work done to bring charges against those who would have derailed a VIA Rail train through their connections with al Qaeda, to create a climate that will cause people to not ask the questions they need to ask about this legislation.
I was very proud that members in the House came together unanimously to condemn the tragic bombing in Boston, but I am a little less proud about the timing of the reintroduction of Bill in the aftermath of that bombing.
At the time of the bombing, I argued that we ought to be careful not to draw conclusions too quickly. I still argue that it is probably too early to draw many firm conclusions about how the U.S. should respond to what happened at the Boston Marathon. It is necessary to take reasonable precautions when we are met with terrorist acts, but it is also necessary to find out what actually happened before we can figure out what might be the proper measures to take.
However, I would argue that there is one quick lesson from the tragedy in Boston. The quick conclusion that can be drawn, I think, is that when law enforcement agents are given sufficient resources, they can produce results remarkably quickly. They can produce those results using traditional methods, and they can produce those results without resorting to extreme legal powers that threaten basic civil liberties.
The sad fact is that where the government is falling down when it comes to the everyday fight against terrorism is on the question of resources. Without resorting to a very long string of figures documenting budget reductions in everything from policing to emergency preparedness, let me cite just two facts. I think they are two very important facts when we talk about the struggle against terrorism.
The Conservatives are in the process of cutting 325 front-line CBSA officers and 100 intelligence officers from the CBSA. It is certainly good news for gun and drug smugglers and almost assuredly is also good news for potential terrorists. If we reduce our front-line resources, if we reduce our front-line intelligence activities, then, in fact, we increase our risks of terrorism. It is not a question of legislation. It is a question of resources at the front end to do the investigative and law enforcement work we need to have done, just as the RCMP has just done in the charges that came up yesterday.
Again, there are cynics who believe that the Conservatives are bringing forward Bill simply for political reasons and to create more support in their base community. There are cynics, and I guess in this case I include myself, who believe that the Conservatives are taking advantage of this atmosphere in which few are asked the hard questions about how we keep our communities safe without trampling the very rights that are at its heart.
When New Democrats have tried to address this fundamental question in debate in the House, I have frankly wondered if Liberals and Conservatives have even been listening. If this bill is so transparently necessary, why have the Conservatives refused to carry on a serious debate?
Instead, as far as I know, there has only been a single speaker at third reading from the Conservatives. It has been hard to take seriously their questions after opposition members have spoken, as their comments have been reduced to little more than sloganeering.
Yesterday afternoon in this House, I witnessed the member for and Winnipeg responding to a speech by one of my colleagues by asking about the NDP's “hug-a-thug” and “kiss-a-terrorist” policies.
I have referred to this member by his riding name only, even though he is a minister of the Crown. I did so not only because I believe that these comments fail to engage the substance of debate but because I do not believe that they are worthy of a minister in the Canadian government.
While the response of many Conservatives on this serious topic has disappointed me, the response of the Liberals has been perplexing. Here is the once proud Liberal Party, which likes to claim the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and which recognized the basic threat to civil liberties when they introduced the main provisions, which are coming back in Bill , by including a sunset clause.
Here they are now taking part in the debate, actually almost even carrying the debate on behalf of the government in favour of Bill , in favour of those very same provisions that were in the original Anti-terrorism Act but with a sunset clause. Now they are arguing for them without any sunset in sight.
In 2007, when the sunset date was approaching for recognizance with conditions and investigative hearings, and it was time to vote on the proposed renewal, the Liberals voted with the NDP to kill those provisions. Now, in 2013, they seem to be even more enthusiastic supporters of the bill than the Conservatives are themselves, reminding us, I suppose, that these ideas, which I believe threaten our basic liberties, were originally Liberal ideas in 2001.
I am probably coming close to the end, so let me start to conclude my remarks. I am speaking not with any hope today that Conservatives or Liberals will listen to reason on this bill. I do not believe that many of them have done the soul-searching that those on our side of the House have done about this threat to basic civil liberties. I am comforted only by my hope that most Conservatives are acting in good faith and out of a genuine belief that the measures proposed in this bill will actually keep us safe.
All I would ask is that a single Conservative stand up on that side and point to the evidence that investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, or preventive detention, as it is called, would provide effective protection against terrorism. I have yet to hear from anyone on that side of the House making that argument and providing that proof.
I do not believe that these measures will make any contribution to our safety. Rather, they pose a genuine risk to the free society they are supposed to defend.
When I think back to my own experience with 9/11, which touched me in a very personal way, as it did many other Canadians who lost friends and relatives, I ask myself what was under attack that day. I believe that it was a free society that values tolerance and diversity and that protects the fundamental rights of all its citizens.
I think back to the time when I worked in zones of conflict, where bombing was a daily occurrence, where communities were torn apart over what in the end seemed to be trivial issues when compared to the losses in those communities. I think back to when we knew who were responsible and their supposed reasons for carrying out those attacks. It was impossible to understand how they could have inflicted such violence on their friends and neighbours over, when we take the time to step back from them, such fundamentally unimportant issues.
Instead of enacting measures that potentially undermine fundamental rights in Canada and measures for which there is no evidence of effectiveness, we should be strengthening our intelligence and enforcement programs in ways that would enhance as well as protect the rule of law and respect for rights.
Because of my experience on police boards and as a municipal councillor with the police force, I know that the vast majority of police officers are committed to the rule of law and are committed to respect for rights. I know that they would like to have the resources they need to keep our communities safe from terrorism. I again stress that my major concern with respect to terrorism is not the lack of legislative provisions or legislative powers. Rather, it is the lack of commitment by the Conservative government to providing the resources our front-line officers and front-line intelligence agencies need to do the hard, slogging work that keeps us safe from terrorism.
It is a parallel to the whole approach by the Conservatives when it comes to crime. They think the solution is to make more legislation, to make more acts criminal and to increase penalties. However, we know that in everyday policing what makes us safe are boots on the ground at the front line doing the enforcement and the social services that help reintegrate people into their communities.
When people eventually draw conclusions about the Boston Marathon, the conclusions I believe they will draw will be that the main protection of a free society is its ability to accommodate and tolerate diversity, its ability to respect rights for all, its ability to protect free speech, and its respect for those fundamental legal traditions that say that no one should go to jail who has not committed a specific criminal act and that people should not be forced to appear in an investigative hearing to give testimony against themselves, which is one of our fundamental legal protections.
When we draw those conclusions, we will see that rather than offering support in our fight against terrorism, Bill undermines those very values we intended to protect when we founded this country, when we introduced the Charter of Rights and when we signed those international covenants.
I will conclude today with a final appeal to both the Conservatives and the Liberals, which I know will not be listened to. Think again about what is most important to this country of Canada: our tolerance, our diversity, the rule of law and respect for basic, fundamental rights.
For those reasons I will be voting against Bill at third reading.
Mr. Speaker, like a number of my colleagues, I will start by denouncing the reasons behind debating this bill today.
Bill , could have been brought back to the House quite a while ago. If the government really believed that this bill was vital to the safety of Canadians, it could have decided to debate it a long time ago. If the government truly believes that this bill is vital and it did not put it on the agenda until yesterday, then it is negligent.
However, I do not think that is the case. I really think the government decided to take advantage of recent events in order to muster public opinion. That is also what the editorial team of The Globe and Mail thinks.
Let us be clear. Like all my NDP colleagues and all my colleagues in the House, I condemn terrorism. To quote the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, “terrorist acts are never justified, no matter what considerations may be invoked.” I condemn the Boston bombing and I condemned the September 11 attacks. I condemn the bombings that take place throughout the world every day. I want to take this opportunity to commend all the law enforcement officers who in any way participated in the investigation that led to yesterday's arrests. Well done.
Many of my loved ones have been affected by terrorism. Whether it was because of the Algerian war or the Islamic Army in the 1990s, my loved ones have lived in fear. I have learned one thing from this: it is always civilians who pay the price for such senseless violence.
I also had the experience of being in a place where bombs were dropped when I worked as a medical volunteer for the Red Crescent during the first Gulf War, and so I know the effects and dangers of terrorism. I am therefore proud to stand in the House and oppose this bill.
I am opposed to this bill for many reasons. The first, but by no means the least of these, is that I believe in the rule of law. This bill, as it currently stands, violates the most fundamental civil liberties and human rights. I want to prevent attacks on Canada, but I also want to prevent the arbitrary arrests and the abuse we see in police states.
In Canada, we already have laws that punish crimes of terror and give law enforcement officers the tools they need to protect national security. In this morning's edition of Le Devoir, there is a great quote by Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In reference to the case of Canadians involved in the hostage situation at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria, she said:
If the police had had any evidence, they would have done something. There are many provisions in the Criminal Code under which these individuals could have been arrested.
Denis Barrette, a spokesperson for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, made a similar speech in 2011. He said:
We know as well that these provisions could, as we see it, be abused. I am thinking here of the Air India case. We believe that Canadians will be better served and better protected under the usual provisions of the Criminal Code, rather than others that are completely unnecessary. Reliance on arbitrary powers and a lower standard of evidence can never replace good, effective police work.
The NDP wants to strike a balance between safety and people's rights and freedoms. We proposed numerous amendments to the bill in order to strike that balance. The government rejected them all. However, I found them to be quite reasonable.
The committee members would have had plenty of choice if they had wanted to pass even one amendment as a sign of goodwill, which they obviously did not do, because my colleagues proposed 18 amendments. I would like to mention a few of the amendments so that Canadians can judge for themselves just how stubborn this Conservative government is, how obsessed it is with always being right and how it believes itself to be infallible.
Here are a few of them: ask the Security Intelligence Review Committee to look at the possibility of an inter-agency co-operation protocol to ensure that it would be effective and that rights protected by law would be respected, and have that protocol in place before the leaving the country offences could come into effect; establish the right to state-funded legal aid if a person had to attend an investigative hearing; add a comprehensive review of the government's implementation of the Arar commission's recommendations with regard to accountability and oversight mechanisms, with particular attention to oversight and activities among agencies; and include the advice of the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the racial discrimination and profiling issues surrounding Bill .
Really? I thought it was impossible to be against virtue. These are just a few examples of the amendments put forward by the NDP, but to no avail. The members of this government rejected them all, one by one. I would also like to point out that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals even bothered to propose any amendments to this bill.
Many of the measures in this bill were suggested in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. These measures expired in 2007, so they have not been in force for the past five years, and when they were in force, they were used a grand total of zero times. Zero, zéro, sifr, none, nada, never.
I would like to quote something former CSIS director Reid Morden said in 2010 about some of these measures:
I confess I never thought that they should have been introduced in the first place and that they slipped in, in the kind of scrambling around that the government did after 9/11.
Police and security forces have perfectly sufficient powers to do their jobs. They don't need more powers.
We in the NDP will continue to fight to achieve a balance between personal rights and freedoms and people's safety. We believe that the provisions included in this bill provide no additional protection to anyone in this country. I would remind hon. members that this bill is in its present form because the government refused the 18 amendments we proposed in committee in order to strike a balance between safety and rights and freedoms. Accordingly, I cannot support this bill.
Furthermore, this bill leaves out some of the additional protections that were included in the 2001 legislation. An editorial published in today's Ottawa Citizen entitled “No need for new laws” shares many of our concerns. To quote that article:
The idea that the state can arrest and detain someone who has not done anything criminal runs counter to the fundamental values of our society.
For all these reasons, I will oppose this bill and I will vote against it with pride and with my head held high.
Mr. Speaker, the objective of this bill deserves to be examined, and we must look at what has happened in the past.
In his book On War, Von Clausewitz defined war as “an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will”. What is the will of terrorists? It is quite simple. They want to force us to give up our rights, our freedom of press and our democratic right to elect our leaders. That is their objective. Our response must be to reinforce those values and absolutely not to abandon them. That is the issue here.
This situation makes me think of a chicken farmer who witnesses his chickens being killed by a fox and decides to punish the chickens instead of going after the fox. We must combat terrorism. Our best weapon to do so—the strongest and most reliable weapon—is democracy.
We have a police force that is organized and able to democratically defend our society against acts of terrorism. It is perfectly able to do so. Canada has not yet experienced any acts of terrorism because our police forces have been able to prevent them from happening with our existing legislation. Democracy is precisely what we are talking about today.
Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government—except for all the others. This means that there are no others. This is our system and we must defend it. We value democracy and we abhor terrorism.
It is a devious, treacherous adversary, and when it attacks, Canada must respond appropriately. We arrest terrorists and judge them based on our laws, not theirs.
This situation is particularly controversial. As we know, the legislation expired six years ago, in 2007. For the past six years, it has not been in force and it has never been used since 2001. There was not one investigative hearing or any situation in which authorities needed to resort to recognizance with conditions. This speaks volumes about the effectiveness of this bill.
I have the sinking feeling that this bill is being used because certain things in the media have created a sense of insecurity among the population. It is very troubling to know that some young people were recruited in the Toronto area to participate in terrorist activities in Algeria. It is also troubling to find out that people who were in Canada were preparing to commit a terrorist attack against a VIA Rail passenger train. That is pure terror.
It is only normal for people to be afraid. What is not normal, however, is to see a government that feeds this fear and uses it to give itself additional powers that work against the population. It is abusing its own population because terrorism exists. That is what terrorism is. Using people's natural sense of terror to give oneself additional powers that take away people's rights is also a form of terrorism.
The parliamentary secretary talked about the NDP amendment concerning people who have served in a foreign army that is illegally occupying another country. One of the objectives of this bill is to prohibit people from leaving Canada to serve in a foreign organization.
Consider the following three examples. A young Syrian returns to his country of origin to serve in the Syrian army against the rebels. Is that young man a terrorist?
A young Canadian does his Israeli military service in the occupied territories. Is that young man a terrorist? A young Somali returns home to participate in a religious war against the people he calls infidels. Is that young man a terrorist?
Terrorism will not be defined by the acts committed, but by the people targeted by these acts. Are the perpetrators considered to be insignificant? They may or may not commit these acts. We will use our judgment and our international values to establish who is and who is not a terrorist. However, all three will do exactly the same thing—use violence to force people to obey their orders. That situation requires clarification, something that this legislation does not and will not provide, because that is not what the Conservatives want.
The NDP is opposed to this bill for good reason. It is an ineffective piece of legislation. It does not target terrorism; it targets the civil rights of Canadians. Once again, the Conservatives are using a dualist turn: if you are not with us, you are against us. That is from a speech by George W. Bush, the loser. The government has adopted a loser as its model. That says a lot about this government, which is an assortment of losers, people who cut police budgets, withdraw into themselves and believe that all other countries are enemies with which they must not speak, instead of fighting terrorism effectively by increasing police resources and entering into international agreements for the exchange of information. The government is telling us that we have no choice and that we have to sacrifice our rights so that they have the means to fight terrorists. Fortunately, our police do not need this government. Our police manage to carry on without this government, which hinders them by taking away the resources they need and access to information.
Bill therefore violates civil liberties and human rights, particularly the right to remain silent and the right to not be imprisoned without a fair trial. According to the spirit of those rights, the weight of the state should never be used against an individual to force him to testify against himself. Yet here we are with Bill S-7. There is a reason why, in 2001, the first version of the bill had a sunset clause. It was a protection to ensure that the violation of our rights would not lead to the definitive loss of our rights. In 2007, the act fell into disuse. I can guarantee you that terrorists were not roaming the streets spreading terror the next morning. We did not have that problem in 2007.
There is an imbalance between security and the fundamental rights violated under this legislation. There is the case of Mr. Arar, who was deported to Syria where he was tortured. That is the epitome of stupidity. Everyone agreed, and unfortunately, we have not learned our lesson. We had nothing to gain from sending that man to be tortured. He was not a terrorist. As the parliamentary secretary himself admitted, the problem is that this piece of legislation is so broad that it can be applied to people who are not suspected of terrorism in the slightest.
The NDP is against terrorism. We are so opposed to terrorism that we are against the Conservatives. They are the ones who create false fears and blow them out of proportion to punish Canadians for having rights and using them.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on the matter of Bill , legislation that proposes a number of amendments to Canada's anti-terrorism regime, including provisions respecting the re-enactment of preventive arrests and investigative hearings. As members will know, these provisions expired in 2007 and have, on numerous occasions, been the subject of my remarks in the House and in writings of mine over the years, dating back to the tabling of the original Anti-terrorism Act, Bill in 2001.
It perhaps goes without saying that this debate began in the period following the horrific events of 9/11, which was characterized at the time as a period when the whole world was changed. Back then the Liberal government of the day introduced provisions for preventive arrests and investigative hearings as components of the larger Anti-terrorism Act. Soon after Bill C-36 in the House in its original form was tabled, I rose in the House and expressed some 10 civil libertarian concerns with respect to that projected draft of the Anti-terrorism Act, including the provisions relating to preventive detention and investigative hearings. I elaborated on these matters in a series of articles and recommended that the provisions be sunsetted after three years, later extended to five years, pending comprehensive parliamentary review, and the government agreed. With that as well as the majority of my other concerns being addressed, some eight out of the ten, I ended up supporting the legislation.
Regrettably, by 2007, when the provisions were scheduled to sunset pending a parliamentary motion to extend them, the House and special Senate committees had not yet completed their studies of the Anti-terrorism Act due to repeated delays including the dissolution of Parliament in 2004 and 2006. Nevertheless, the Conservative government went ahead with proposing the extension of the provisions without taking the views of these parliamentary committees into account, leaving House members with little insight into the experience of the provisions in effect. The result was a highly politicized and partisan debate, rife with what I could only describe at the time as bumper-sticker slogans and smears instead of a debate on the merits of the policy, a policy with which reasonable people can and do reasonably disagree. Indeed, I regretted the references made by ministers of the Crown at the time that somehow our party was soft on terrorism for simply wanting to debate these provisions, especially considering that it was a Liberal government that introduced the Anti-terrorism Act in the first place.
With Bill now stipulating that preventive arrest and investigative hearings be once again subject to a five-year sunset clause, I offer my support today with the expectation that if enacted, parliamentary committees will be given the opportunity and resources necessary to undertake full review of the provisions in question during the next trial period and well in advance of any debate to extend it once again. Indeed, any decision made by Parliament that affects the security and rights of all Canadians must be reasoned, thoughtful, evidence-based and not rushed as a matter of political expediency.
The critical issue here is one of principled balance. We must, on the one hand, seek to combat terrorism and keep Canadians safe from terrorist threats and attacks, while at the same time protecting our individual freedoms as enshrined in the charter. These are not, however, mutually exclusive objectives. Indeed, an appropriate and effective anti-terrorism strategy must view security and rights not as concepts in conflict, not as a zero sum game, but as values that are inextricably linked.
Let me articulate a number of basic principles in this regard. First, terrorism itself must be seen as being, in effect, an assault on the security of a democracy like Canada and an assault on our fundamental rights such as the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Accordingly, anti-terrorism law and policy may be said to constitute the promotion and protection of the security of democracy and fundamental human rights in the most profound sense. At the same time, however, the implementation and enforcement of such anti-terrorism law must always comport with the rule of law, must always adhere to the principles of the charter. Torture, for example, must never be allowed to be used and must always comport as well with our international legal obligations.
The second and related principle is that we are not simply talking here about a domestic criminal justice model. We are talking about is an international criminal justice model. We are not talking, as the courts and others have said, of the ordinary criminal. We are talking about the transnational terrorist threat.
This brings me to a third principle, which the Supreme Court has itself enunciated, namely the contextual principle; that we cannot view these issues in the abstract but we must view them in terms of the realities as they have unfolded in this regard. Also, we must appreciate that Canadian anti-terrorism law is inextricably bound with the international criminal justice system and the invocation and application of international law treaties, the invocation of general principles of law recognized by the community of nations. For example, section 11(g) of the charter on this point says that retroactivity shall not avail when the crimes are those that run afoul of “the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations”. Therefore, in this regard, it recognizes that the international criminal justice model departs sometimes from the domestic model.
UN Security mandates must also be taken into account, bilateral and multilateral agreements and so forth. In particular, Security Council resolution 1373, enacted following 9/11, mandates that all states take “additional measures to prevent and suppress, in their territories through all lawful means, the financing and preparation of any acts of terrorism”. These standards must be met by our anti-terrorism legislation, if for no other reason than that we cannot have the appropriate or factual understanding of the dynamics involved in our domestic counterterrorism measures if we view them in a vacuum, if we view them as abstracted from the global circumstances and precedents or if we view them, as the Supreme Court has said, out of context without resort to an appreciation of the contextual principle.
However, beyond the abstract in that regard, let us be clear. The threat of transnational terrorism is real and Canada is not unaffected by it, as the recent events, whether they be in Boston or the aborted terrorist attack now in Canada, indicate. Indeed, Canadians have been implicated in terrorist attacks abroad as recently as last month in Algeria, last year in Bulgaria and just two days ago with regard to an arrest in Bulgaria. This is precisely why Bill also makes it a crime to leave or attempt to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activities. Moreover, Canadians have been killed in terrorist attacks, tragically in the case of 9/11 but also thereafter.
Accordingly, our commitment to civil liberties must always be consistent with regard to the protection of human rights as a whole, and we must take the necessary concrete and decisive actions to prevent terrorist attacks. In the words of two former Supreme Court justices, the Hon. Frank Iacobucci and the Hon. Louise Arbour, who also spent several years as the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, the Constitution is not a suicide pact and “[t]he challenge for democracies in the battle against terrorism is not whether to respond, but rather how to do so”.
Preventive arrests and investigative hearings can be effective, limited and lawful counterterrorism measures. Indeed, the Supreme Court, in the matter of investigative hearings has held them to be constitutional, stating that they do not violate an individual's charter rights against self-incrimination, as evidence derived from such hearings cannot be used against the person except in perjury prosecutions. Moreover, the provisions are not otherwise unknown in Canadian law, and similar provisions already exist in the Coroners Act and the Inquiries Act, and I can go on.
In the matter of preventive arrests, these too are not a new invocation of principle and policy. Preventive arrests are effectively the invocation of a peace bond process set forth in section 810 of the Criminal Code, which has been used to protect against criminal violence such as domestic violence, sexual violence and organized crime, and now extends them to suspected terrorist activities.
In addition, preventive arrests and investigative hearings as set forth in Bill seek to respect Canadians' individual and collective rights through safeguards and principles of transparency. In this regard, it is important to appreciate that there are three safeguards in the bill, and I was involved with respect to the initiation of these safeguards. Reference has been made to the safeguards, and we must appreciate that there is an executive requirement for the consent of the Attorney General and therefore objective oversight in that regard. With parliamentary oversight and the requirements for annual reports from both federal ministers concerned and with Bill S-7, they must not only detail how often the provisions are used, but also make a case for why they should be extended.
Furthermore, there is judicial oversight with respect to investigative hearings, and in the event of an arrest, the individual must be brought before a judge, typically within 24 hours, contrasting with the situation that is in the United States or with the situation in the United Kingdom and the like.
Notwithstanding these safeguards, I understand why some members, maybe even from all parties, remain uncomfortable with the proposed measures. They are indeed extraordinary provisions, though extraordinary provisions to combat extraordinary threats.
I do not, however, share the view offered by some in the House that because the provisions, and we heard this again in debate, were seldom used, in effect they are somehow unnecessary now. In fact, their lack of use can equally demonstrate that they are not abused, that they are truly measures of last—
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North. I am speaking today about Bill , the proposal to reintroduce anti-terrorism measures, which were previously sunsetted in the Anti-terrorism Act.
Bill S-7 has been shamefully promoted in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The government is exploiting public fear in order to push through its agenda. It is appalling to attempt to use the mourning and pain of the American people to push through legislation that is blatantly confiscating our human rights and civil liberties.
Bill is not about preventing terrorism. We already have a comprehensive justice system and enough legislation to protect Canadians from acts of terrorism, as well as a variety of capable institutions to facilitate these laws. Rather, this bill fundamentally attacks our rights and freedoms.
Bill is a reintroduction of the sunsetted clauses of the Anti-terrorism Act, which were also designed in the wake of an instrumental and horrifying event: the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. The clauses introduced in the Anti-terrorism Act were given a sunset period, which has expired at this point. These clauses include the allowance of investigative hearings and preventive detention, as well as the permission for judges to publicly disclose information about a trial or the persons being tried. Even at first glance, it is obvious that there are major violations of human rights and civil liberties at stake.
The term “human rights” is often tossed around vaguely as an abstract concept. However, the key to this discussion is in exploring what human rights are. The codification of human rights emerged during the 18th century with the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the American Declaration of Independence. These documents were designed to limit what a state could do to its citizens.
Human rights essentially prescribe what liberties a citizen has within his or her own state and the duties that the state has to its citizens. States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of their citizens. This is not a duty that our government should be taking lightly. We have made international commitments that confirm our dedication to protecting our citizens from human rights violations.
In 1976, Canada ratified the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Under this human rights treaty, the government has an obligation to protect the liberty of people within its borders. This explicitly means nobody should be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention.
Interestingly, in the discussions at the public safety committee, it was discovered that the wording of Bill allowed for the arrest of people who were not suspected of terrorist activities. In further consultations with parliamentary secretaries, it was confirmed that this was the intention of the government. It is the government's intention to expose every Canadian to this preventive detention, not only those who could potentially cause acts of terrorism. Imagine the resources and cost of arresting or detaining anybody, regardless of whether there is any cause to believe people may engage in criminal activity.
The original purpose of the Anti-terrorism Act was to update Canadian legislation. In order to respond to the United Nations Security Council standards, we must consider that Canada must also adhere to international standards of human rights. Of course, terrorism itself has a direct impact on human rights that Canadians enjoy. It especially violates the principle of life, liberty and security of a person.
Media rhetoric describes terrorism as the opposite of freedom. Although they are not simply binary concepts, if freedom and terrorism are somewhat polarized, then how can we describe the limitations on freedom that the government is proposing?
The preamble to the UN ICCPR states:
—the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy [human rights]...
Does Bill propose conditions where everyone can enjoy their human rights? It seems to be the opposite case. The Conservative government is exploiting fear to confiscate our freedoms and rights.
Nobody in this House is debating that terrorism should not be addressed. Terrorism is a horrific problem that attacks the heart of national pride and undermines state stability. The events at the Boston Marathon last week were horrific, and I stand with my colleagues as we condemn these attacks and offer our deepest sympathies and best wishes to the victims and families.
Bill presents us with a very contentious issue. There is a delicate balance between national security and individual human rights. However, this is a balance that Canada has already found. Our Criminal Code already offers the necessary provisions for investigating those who are involved in terrorist activities and those who could be potential terrorist threats to national safety. The proposed clauses in Bill have been proven unnecessary and ineffective in the past. They have only been invoked once in a situation described as a complete and sad “fiasco” by lawyers and human rights advocates alike.
Rather than investing in a procedure that creates fiascos, the government should be investing in our institutions that have proven themselves capable, like the RCMP. Just yesterday, the RCMP announced it had stopped a plan of terrorism within our borders. There are two suspects in custody right now. The RCMP was able to handle the situation without the aid of the clauses in Bill . RCMP members were effective, timely and able to perform their jobs without compromising the human rights of Canadians.
We are thankful for the work of the RCMP and we need to recognize that work. We should be investing in supporting these institutions that are able to work effectively within the current sphere of the Canadian justice system.
There are valuable tools that should have been introduced in the anti-terrorism act, which would have been influential in combatting terrorism while upholding the integrity of Canadian values of liberty and rights. We should be promoting inter-agency co-operation to reflect the multi-faceted nature of terrorism—
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join my New Democratic colleagues in debating Bill today. Like them, I oppose this bill.
I would like to begin by denouncing how this debate is playing out. Very few members are participating in the conversation here in the House, and most of those participating are NDP members. We are well aware of how our remarks will be portrayed outside the House to Canadians.
Today's debate is important, but unfortunately, it is being polarized. The Conservatives will exploit that polarization to portray New Democrats as people who do not care about the safety of Canadians and oppose measures to keep them safe. I want to emphasize that that is not the case at all. Here in the House, many of my colleagues have pointed out that public safety and the protection of our borders and our people are extremely important to the NDP. However, we also want to put into perspective the issue of basic rights and freedoms for law-abiding citizens who act in accordance with core Canadian values. It is very important to make that clear from the outset. I will be very disappointed if my Conservative colleagues ask questions that cast aspersions on our commitment to ensuring public safety and protecting people.
We all know the history behind Bill . It was introduced in the Senate in February 2012 and has been with us in the House since December, but the Conservatives have not done anything about it. They could have introduced the bill in the House long ago if this issue really mattered to them. Instead, they have adopted a partisan approach in reaction to the threat of terrorism and the tragic events in Boston.
We can all agree on one thing. We hope that such events will never come to pass here in Canada or elsewhere. What happened in Boston was heartbreaking and deeply upsetting to us all. The NDP cast aside partisanship and joined the other parties in the House in condemning these attacks and offering condolences and support to everyone who was affected. That characterizes our approach to this debate.
We are concerned about the issues raised by the attack in Boston and other terrorist attacks around the world and those that have been foiled. We certainly need to have some serious discussions about this in the House, but we must not allow ourselves to be swept up in partisan ideology or to succumb to panic and forget the fundamental rights and freedoms that each of our constituents enjoys.
Bill is a recent measure in a series of anti-terrorism measures that have been introduced in the House since 2001. There again, laws were passed at the time in reaction to an event that was traumatic for people throughout the United States, Canada and the world. An attempt was made to introduce a timely legislative response to issues arising from the September 2001 attacks.
The purpose of the bills introduced at the time was to update Canadian laws so that they met international standards, particularly those of the United Nations Security Council. However, during debate, members at the time realized that the legislation introduced contained some very controversial provisions. At that time, a sunset clause was included for certain provisions of the bills that were introduced.
Over the years leading up to 2007, it became clear that these controversial legislative provisions were unnecessary because they were used only once and, unfortunately, did not produce the desired results. We therefore realized that we did not need many of these provisions, which expired in 2007. What is more, those that are still useful and that directly assist our police forces are still in force today.
For those reasons, the NDP opposes Bill . The government is attempting to reintroduce anti-terrorism measures that are extremely controversial and fly in the face of civil liberties and human rights. These measures, quite frankly, have proven useless and ineffective in the past. I cannot imagine that it would be any different now. A terrorist plot was uncovered this week, on Monday, which proves how effective the current legislation is. Everyone has heard about it. Our law enforcement agencies were extraordinarily effective and managed to intercept two individuals who were going to attack people using VIA Rail.
It would have been terrible if a tragic event like that had happened, and we would have had to change our legislation. However, after a year-long investigation that required co-operation between various Canadian and American organizations, RCMP officers were able to intercept individuals who were planning a terrorist attack before we had to endure any loss of human life. That proves that the laws in place are effective and already give our police officers and border agents all the resources they need to be effective and protect the safety of Canadians. They did not need any additional measures. They did not even use the measures already in place, which shows that the measures that were passed in a panic in the wake of the 2001 attacks were useless.
The main issues the NDP has with Bill are related to the provisions that would amend the Criminal Code to authorize investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions in cases of preventive arrest where the individual refuses to accept the conditions or does not comply with them.
In terms of investigative hearings, people can be called at any point in time and forced to disclose all the information they have on various things, even though the information can ultimately incriminate them. Generally speaking, whatever is said in those hearings cannot be used against those who disclose the information. The fact remains that some points are not clear. Among others, could that information be used to initiate deportation or even extradition proceedings against the people who disclose the information?
That is a fairly serious problem with the legislation and we are still dealing with grey areas. We have received no explanation. The amendments that the NDP tried to present in committee to solve the problem were simply rejected out of hand, like most NDP amendments presented in every committee that I have been able to attend. This is nothing new, but this bad habit of the Conservatives and their partisan dogmas have prevented them from protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians. That is a major problem.
The same goes for recognizance with conditions. If certain individuals are suspected of being associated with terrorists, they can be subject to various conditions for moving around Canada. If they do not comply, they can be sent to prison for up to 12 months, without evidence, on the basis of suspicions. That is a major problem.
The Liberals are saying that they will support the bill because they hope that the Conservatives will be flexible in committee. I appreciate their optimism, but that is not what experience has shown us. Unfortunately, the outcome of the committee work will be a new bill that will undermine the rights and civil liberties of Canadians.
That is why the NDP is proudly opposed to this bill. It is not that we want to encourage terrorists or that we do not want to put them behind bars or to prevent them from taking human lives. It is because we are highly aware of the freedoms granted to Canadians and we want to do everything we can to preserve those freedoms.
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise in the House to discuss Bill , and I do so with enthusiasm.
The NDP opposes this bill at third reading. We believe it is an ineffective way to combat terrorism. It also needlessly and inappropriately infringes on all our civil liberties.
The constituency I represent is situated near the United States and borders on Vermont and other states. I am particularly concerned by the lack of security that this government is championing. I entirely support the members for and . In their view, the government is deluding itself in posing as champions when they make cuts left, right and centre to the national security budget. Those cuts will amount to $687.9 million by 2015.
The Canada Border Services Agency has suffered $143 million in cuts, which will affect 325 direct jobs at Canada's border crossings. CBSA’s intelligence service has been hit hard, losing 100 positions and 19 sniffer dog units as a result of the budget cuts. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has also had $24.5 million in cuts, and the RCMP has been subjected to reductions of $195.2 million.
Budget 2013 only exacerbates this state of affairs since there will be a 29.8% reduction in spending between 2012 and 2013 and into 2014.
Budget 2013 therefore does nothing to offset the Conservative government's inability to protect Canadians adequately. It also has not renewed the joint emergency preparedness program. The budget does not renew the police officers recruitment fund despite repeated requests from the provinces, which want front-line police officers, those capable of preventing terrorism and arresting terrorists, to receive ongoing assistance from the federal government.
There has also been a $20.3 million cut in crime-fighting, which represents a $2.4 million reduction in national security spending.
The department itself has stated that the infrastructure of the Government Operations Centre could be incapable of supporting coordinated intervention if a major event occurred. I will stop listing the cuts made by the government because there are too many and I do not know how to continue.
For all these reasons, we believe that Bill S-7 violates civil liberties and human rights, particularly the right to remain silent and the right not to be imprisoned without first receiving a fair trial. In the spirit of those rights, the weight of the state should never be used against individuals to force them to testify against themselves.
We also believe that the Criminal Code contains the necessary provisions to investigate people who engage in criminal activities and to detain anyone who may present an immediate threat to Canadians. The fact that those provisions were never used between 2001 and 2007 is proof of that.
Our opposition is based on the belief that these measures are ineffective and pointless. We believe that our position is based on values dear to Canadians. There is a lack of balance here between security, which is absolutely necessary, and fundamental rights. More protection is provided by the 2001 version.
In meetings of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, we tried to improve the bill by proposing 18 amendments—not one, not two or three, but 18 amendments. The Liberals and the Conservatives did not propose any.
The bill would impose a prison sentence of up to 12 months as well as strict release conditions on people who have not been charged with any criminal offence.
We, however, believe in the fundamental values of our justice system. The fact that these provisions were invoked only once, and without success, proves that the police have the tools they need to combat terrorism with existing procedures, without any risk to our civil liberties. The provisions of this bill could be invoked to target certain individuals, for instance, people taking part in demonstrations or acts of dissent that have nothing to do with any reasonable definition of terrorism.
We proposed a number of amendments. Here are some examples of the amendments we brought forward that were dismissed out of hand, because it was decided that they were outside the scope of the bill, because they would require a royal recommendation or for no reason whatsoever.
We wanted SIRC to look at the possibility of an inter-agency co-operation protocol to ensure that rights protected by law would be effectively respected. We wanted that protocol to be put in place before the leaving the country offences could come into effect.
We also proposed an amendment to ensure that testimony gathered from investigative hearings could not be used against an individual in extradition and deportation proceedings, not just in criminal proceedings. Once again, the government said that this did not fall within the scope of the bill.
We then proposed an amendment to establish the right to state-funded legal aid if a person had to attend an investigative hearing. We were told this would require a financial amendment from the House committee.
Lastly, we proposed an amendment to ensure that the annual reports included detailed information on any changes to the legislation, policies and practices related to exit information or exit control. This was also deemed to be beyond the scope of the bill. All our amendments were systematically rejected.
I want to inform the House that many witnesses appeared before the committee and wholeheartedly supported our position. Carmen Cheung, a lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, said:
...we urge the committee to refrain from further expanding the powers of our national security agencies until appropriate and effective accountability and review mechanisms have been established. We believe that strong and robust oversight mechanisms are important not only for protecting human rights and civil liberties; they are crucial for ensuring that our national security policies and practices are effective.
In conclusion, the New Democratic Party believes that we must look seriously at the issue of terrorism, but not at the expense of rights and freedoms. Bill is a threat to the rule of law and human rights, notwithstanding the additional protections in the 2001 legislation, which have gradually been eliminated.
Once again, all of the amendments to strengthen the rule of law and human rights were rejected by the Conservatives. They do not care at all. For all these reasons, we will oppose this bill at third reading.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that we were all outraged and shocked by the events that happened in Boston, and we offer our heartfelt sympathy to the families.
In our democratic societies, we cannot tolerate the use of violence for political ends, whatever they may be, and we strongly condemn it.
After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the American and Canadian governments panicked and decided to put a set of measures in place quickly to enhance the fight against terrorism. One of those measures was Bill . Some clauses in that act were enacted temporarily—they were applied for an initial five-year period to see whether they were necessary and effective. Today we are seeing an attempt, in Bill , to incorporate those clauses into the act on a permanent basis.
When I read the brief on Bill by Denis Barrette of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, I was struck by his comments on preventive detention. That term brings back painful memories of the October crisis of 1970. In Quebec, we have experienced terrorism. I remember the military barracks that were blown up. I remember the death of a sergeant, the bomb at the Montreal Stock Exchange and bombs in mailboxes. The governments of the day decided to suspend civil liberties and, rightly or wrongly, to invoke the War Measures Act. I was young at the time. I was 14 years old and going to high school.
In my neighbourhood of bungalows, we watched as 40 soldiers, armed to the teeth, got out of their vehicles. They went around to the houses knocking on doors to talk to us about things we knew nothing about. They asked us whether we knew people connected with the Front de libération du Québec. They had composite drawings. At that time, we did not have the photographs and all the digital equipment we have today. The soldiers showed us composite drawings of bearded men with long hair who might have looked like our neighbours. They asked us whether we knew those people or had seen them. They went to the home of my neighbour, who had a beard and long hair, and they took him away. He looked like the person in the composite drawing. Did he have connections with the FLQ? No one knew. The people in my neighbourhood knew the guy because he worked in a café. Young people went there and I imagine they may have smoked some substances that were illegal at the time, but to our knowledge he was not a terrorist, and it turns out that in fact he was not one.
When the War Measures Act was declared, the authorities carried out 36,000 searches without warrant and arrested 457 people. They called that "preventive arrest". That is just what we find in the bill before us now. When a government panics, it makes preventive arrests. When I read in the notes that preventive arrests would be possible, I decided that we must maintain our current laws, because the police have enough laws at their disposal. Yesterday we saw the arrest of two suspected terrorists, Jaser and Esseghaier. There was no need to make preventive arrests, take people into police custody and interrogate them, wait for their responses and put them in prison if they did not live up to police expectations. We went through such a period of preventive arrests in Quebec and where did it get us?
How many of the 457 people who were “preventively” arrested were charged with belonging to a terrorist movement? One may well ask. The Keable commission investigated. There were some answers. There was the MacDonald commission, which was blocked by the Supreme Court of Canada, because provincial commissions are not entitled to investigate the activities of the RCMP.
Some day, perhaps, when all the documents have been made public, we will know all the facts about this dark period in Canadian history and Quebec history. For now, we know that the suppression of civil liberties during that time was unjustified and produced nothing. Many people still claim even today that when the War Measures Act was declared, the police already knew where the kidnappers of James Cross and Pierre Laporte were. That is our basis for holding on to the laws that make it impossible for someone to be arrested without knowing why, that ensure that anyone arrested has the right to remain silent and be represented by counsel, and that ensure that the force of the state should never be used to compel individuals to testify against themselves.
In conclusion, I will read from the statement made by Mr. Barrette when he appeared at the committee I mentioned earlier. I will read it completely, for the people watching us and for those who still believe it is necessary to maintain civil liberties despite increasing terrorism. In fact, terrorism sometimes makes us forget our fundamental principles that make us want to live in a free and democratic society. Terrorism has achieved its goal when it succeeds in limiting our civil liberties, because that is its goal.
The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the Ligue des droits et libertés believe the provisions relating to investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions to be both dangerous and misleading.
Parliamentary debate of this matter ought to be based on a rational and informed review of the Anti-terrorism Act, a piece of legislation that was rushed through Parliament after the events of September 11, 2001 in a climate of fear and in response to considerable pressure from the United States.
Today, what is the real, objective need for these two provisions? From the time they were adopted in 2001 until they were terminated in 2007, the only time they were used was in connection with the Air India affair, which as we know, resulted in an unfortunate fiasco. In 2007 and now, police have been able to investigate and block terrorist plots without using the provisions being discussed. That is clear. It is possible to prevent terrorist attacks using the legal tools we already have. There is no need to further limit individual and collective rights.
Moreover, since 2001, 10 years ago, of all the investigations leading to charges or convictions, none has required the use of these extraordinary powers, including the case of the Toronto 18, a more recent case involving four people from the Toronto area, and even yesterday, the case involving the two people who planned to derail a VIA Rail train. We know that these provisions could be used in a way we consider abusive. I am thinking of the Air India case. We believe that Canadians will be better served and protected if the ordinary provisions of the Criminal Code are used, rather than these unnecessary provisions.
Reliance on arbitrary powers and a lower standard of evidence can never replace good, effective police work. That goes without saying.
Mr. Speaker, Bill is the latest chapter in a long saga that began in the wake of September 11 and led to a number of legislative measures. Bill , the Anti-terrorism Act passed in 2001, was the first salvo launched following the horrific events in New York which still strike fear in people today.
Obviously, the legislation was brought in not only to respond to this threat and to protect Canadians, but also to meet our international obligations, as dictated at high levels, to the UN.
Some of the provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act amended existing pieces of legislation such as the Criminal Code, the Access to Information Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorism Financing Act.
Other more significant changes were brought in, notably unprecedented changes to Canadian law. Those who were serving in the House at the time of the 2001 attacks perhaps can attest to the fact that this legislation was passed hastily and without due consideration.
Facing the unknown and a climate of dread, Parliament responded in a strong-armed, reflexive manner. There is a reason therefore why these provisions, crafted in the urgency of the moment, were subject to sunset clauses.
These so-called sunset clauses ensured that the more controversial measures would simply be temporary. That was for the better. The provisions in question pertained to preventive arrest and investigative hearings.
Had the desire arose to extend the life of these provisions, had they been deemed useful or relevant or had it been acknowledged that they had prevented an otherwise inevitable catastrophe from occurring, there would have been an opportunity to maintain them and make them permanent.
To do so would have required a resolution by both Houses of Parliament. A resolution was in fact tabled and rejected. Parliamentarians in their wisdom found that there was no valid reason to extend the life of these provisions.
Both Houses did their homework as far as these measures were concerned. Each one examined the most sensitive provisions of the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act. In October 2006, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security reviewed the legislation, most notably the investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions provisions. The other place produced an aptly named report entitled “Fundamental Justice in Extraordinary Times”.
Despite this flurry of activity, these questionable, freedom-destroying and fortunately temporary provisions expired as originally scheduled in 2007.
Since then, several attempts have been made to resurrect this long-settled debate: Bill in 2008, Bill in 2009 and Bill in 2010.
Each time, the same conclusion has been reached: the state currently has all the tools it needs to combat terrorism.
There was no reason to bring in these measures, even in 2001, and there is no reason to re-introduce them today.
The measures being debated today are not harmless. Among other things, Bill would re-introduce into Canadian law the phenomenon of investigative hearings that allow a peace officer to apply to a provincial court judge for an order to compel individuals to appear before a judge if they are suspected of having information concerning future terrorist acts. The provision would compel the individual to attend hearings and to answer investigators’ questions.
Another important measure that is being brought hastily before the House is the recognizance with conditions provision which includes preventive detention. It would give a peace officer the authority to arrest an individual without a warrant if he believes such action is necessary to prevent a terrorist act. The individual in question is subsequently brought before a judge, as soon as feasible, according to the wording of the bill, and may be imposed certain conditions, or may even be committed to prison for a term not exceeding 12 months.
From a human rights standpoint, these provisions are very restrictive. One could also argue that they are cause for great concern and that careful consideration should be given to the balance that must be struck between the real advantage they provide in terms of public safety and the cost to citizens, which undeniably in this instance is restrictions on a person’s fundamental rights. Admittedly, at issue are the rights of the individuals primarily concerned, but ultimately the rights of all citizens are affected as well.
Dramatist Henry Becque wrote that freedom and health have much in common and that we only appreciate their value when they are lost to us.
I am greatly concerned about the timing of today’s debate, about the fact that the government has chosen to move it up in light of what has happened. As noted earlier, the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act was passed hastily and this is not how debates on national legislation should unfold.
Today it would seem that an attempt is being made to recreate the same climate of fear and panic in order to hastily push through a bill that has serious implications for people’s freedoms.
It goes without saying that the people in my riding, Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, want to live in safety. However, they also believe very strongly in the rights that belong to every individual. Many of them are going to wonder whether this is the right time to be debating the measures in Bill , when people are recovering from the horrific, cruel and gratuitous attacks that took place last week at the Boston Marathon.
We do not need any added emotion for debating this bill. What we need is some distance, some reflection, and some calm and considered thought.
To me, there is nothing wise about the government precipitating this debate. I stress the word “wise”.
Is it really wise, the day after attacks like that, and with what we have in the news here in Canada, to be rewriting our laws and redefining our fundamental freedoms?
Perhaps it is the usual opportunism we see from this government, in its typical crudeness and poor taste.
We on this side firmly believe that this bill is contrary to the fundamental values of Canadians and the values on which our judicial system is built.
The unambiguous and unvarnished goal of these measures is to limit the civil liberties and fundamental rights of Canadians.
Those rights include basic elements of our judicial system that we take for granted: the right to remain silent, the right to a fair trial and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
The principles of our law, whose origin lies in centuries-old customs and legal traditions, lay out individual rights that are unwavering.
While the draft we are presented with today includes a few sops that are supposed to reassure us, because they are in the form of additional protections, these proposals are very unconvincing overall.
We also oppose these measures simply on their track record: these methods are ineffective in principle.
Ultimately, we firmly believe the Criminal Code is an entirely satisfactory tool for investigating these suspicious people who engage in shady plans or whose goal is to threaten the public. Those are crimes and that is what the Criminal Code is intended for.
In fact, the provisions drawn up in 2001, which had a “sunset clause” that took effect in 2007, were never used. Those measures made people uncomfortable from the outset, in 2001, because they were inimical to liberty.
In 2010, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Reid Morden, said, on the question of the two measures I referred to earlier:
...I confess I never thought that they should have been introduced in the first place...
He raised the idea that these provisions had slipped into the act almost by mistake.
...and that they slipped in, in the kind of scrambling around that the government did after 9/11...It seemed to me that it turned our judicial system somewhat on its head.
He then stressed that law enforcement agencies already have the powers they need to do their job. They do not need additional powers. He concluded by saying:
I guess l'm sorry to hear that the government has decided to reintroduce them.
It appears that these measures caused misgivings among the forces of law and order, who wisely decided not to use these powers in their investigations.
Can someone really explain why these measures would be useful today, when they were not useful in the months following September 11, and that even the people who could have enforced them did not want to?
Finally, when some rights are under threat, all rights are under threat. Under the provisions of this bill, there is not much to ensure that citizens or anyone will not be falsely accused in the future for activities that have nothing to do with terrorism. Some activities may be considered subversive or dissident—slippery words that can be applied to peaceful activities in a democratic context.
Those who defend fundamental human rights are speaking up from all sides, telling us that these measures are unnecessary and that the price to be paid will be paid in civil rights, which is not a fair exchange for the proposed benefits. These measures are unwanted and unnecessary.
We saw this a few years ago when threats of spectacular terrorist attacks were foiled. We saw it again yesterday, when the admirable public safety professionals arrested two suspects who, it appears, wanted to disrupt the lives of ordinary people and do them unimaginable harm.
At this moment in time when terrorism has become part of current events, it is essential that we resist. We must resist terrorism in order to protect ourselves, prepare ourselves and defend ourselves. We must make our trains, airports, public spaces and gathering places safe and secure.
It is also essential that we, as a society, as communities and individuals, refuse to be terrorized by terrorism, and refuse to be manipulated or to change our behaviour and lifestyles. That is precisely what we should not do.
We must not be terrified by terrorism. To stand up to terrorism is to ensure that democracy and individual liberties for everyone in our country are never threatened by such people and their violence.
Since I have only a few seconds left, I just wish to express my astonishment at the Liberal Party's inconsistency. In 2001, the Liberals adopted the sunset clauses, but today they are not proposing any amendments of the sort. I cannot explain that.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this important bill. It is not much of a debate, as there has been silence from the other parties for the most part. However, as a New Democrat and someone who lives on the border, I believe it is important to talk about some of the issues with respect to Bill , because the bill would indeed affect our lives.
I will start by recognizing the families and victims of Boston, which was a horrible crime perpetrated against not only those individuals but also against free people across the planet. It is sad to see things turn that way. Our thoughts and prayers are with those people as they try to move on with their lives the best they can at this moment.
I always remember when 9/11 took place. I was working as a youth coordinator at the multicultural council. In that program we had eight youth from Canada who were making bad decisions about their lives, and their lives were not on track. Then we had about nine to ten youths who were new to Canada within the last couple of months or the previous year who were having a hard time adapting to Canadian culture and society, so we were doing a program together. We had anti-racism, volleyball and basketball programs. There was a lot of integration into the schools and a series of different things for people who had been identified as youth at risk. We had a good program, because it had a 90% success rate of youth either going to school or returning to a job somewhere once they completed the program.
I mention that because I was in my office and saw the second plane go into the tower on 9/11. I will always remember that moment when I had to go and talk to the students right after that, knowing that this atrocious act of terrorism was forever going to change the future quite significantly for all of us, not only in the way we perceive the world but also in the way we go about our business in the world, such as in the consequences we faced at the border, which was lined up with trucks. The border was virtually shut down. There were lineups on the 401 all the way back to London, Ontario. It got to the point where diapers were being handed out and porta-potties were being placed along the route because there were so many people stuck in their vehicles.
The trucks could not go anywhere. At that time, around 10,000 trucks crossed via the Ambassador Bridge and the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and the haz-mat ferry per day.
We still have consequences of that remaining with subsequent policies. A lot of the focus has been on militarization. In some respects there has also been a focus, to the point of obsession, regarding civil liberties, and it has altered our lives.
Bill is one of those issues. We saw it come through the House originally. The U.S. had what is called the Patriot Act, which infringed civil liberties there, and it was fought diligently by the civil liberties associations and others in the U.S.
We eventually had the original security certificate before Bill , which is now amending it more strongly, despite the fact that we know it was not needed to solve some of the issues we have had to deal with because it contained a sunset clause.
I want to congratulate and thank the men and women who were responsible for making sure the VIA incident did not take place. They are to be commended for their hard work. It is an example showing that we do have laws in this country that can be very useful in combatting terrorism and crimes of that nature.
It is important that we talk a bit about militarization of the border and a change in attitude that is affecting our economy and the way that we interact in this world. I have seen this at the border.
I will go back to the Oklahoma City bombing. Two Muslim men in a car were the original suspects. Later on it turned out that it was Timothy McVeigh, a white Christian male who was part of the Michigan militia, who was the primary person responsible for that bombing.
I mention that because we have seen racial and ethnic profiling occur at the border, and it has affected a lot of people. I often remind Americans, especially when I am in Detroit, that thousands of doctors and nurses cross the border every single day to save the lives of American citizens in their hospitals and in other services.
It has been challenging. At times when there have been other acts of terror, profiling was targeted at communities. Sometimes it was the Pakistani community or the Somali community, and other times they were thrown in with the lot. That was unfair.
In fact, one of the biggest changes that I saw take place was when the US-VISIT program was implemented. The government, similar to previous governments, has not opposed the U.S. on the tiering of Canadian citizenships. It first happened when I was in Washington. I was at the embassy, and we became aware that they were going to put five nations on a list. If a person was born there, he or she was going to be fingerprinted and photographed, despite becoming a Canadian citizen.
The first list came out, which basically had a tiering of Canadian citizens. It did not matter if a person had only been in a country for a brief time as a child, or had come to Canada later on in life, that person was seen as a lesser Canadian. I asked the ambassador at that time if we were going to challenge it, and he said no. It was subsequently never challenged by any prime minister. To this day, we have a tiering of Canadian citizenship, which is not the right way to go.
It is also important to note that when we have these issues over privacy and identity, there have been times when it has been used against individuals, and later on they have been found to be innocent. The case in particular that I would like to raise, which has been raised often in the House, is the one of Maher Arar.
Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was detained not by one but by two significant law enforcement agencies in North America, the RCMP and the FBI. He was exported outside of the country and he was terrorized. It was a terrible experience, affecting him, his life and his family, whom I have met, and it was sad to see. Basically, a lot of people at this odd time did not even think to stand by him. We had to stand by him. We found out later on that the evidence was not right. We found through the inquiry that it was not right, to the point where he has actually received reparations for it, but his life can never be made the same.
What concerns me with regard to Bill and some of the clauses that are in it is that the detention elements are for up to 12 months. If one has a detention of up to 12 months, that is a significant departure from a person's family, friends, relatives and the life that they are building in the country. Let us imagine being taken out of the workforce for 12 months and then see how one can actually get it all back later on.
Even if the person is cleared, the people around them in their life, whether they be friends and family, or just acquaintances or neighbours, will continue to harbour potential fears or different myths about the situation. They will not be as intimate with why the person was detained or what the reasons were, and if the person is later released, whether or not the person is still a threat.
I worry about the special process and stigma that are placed on those individuals, because it is inevitably going to lead to their having a different experience in Canada than other people, and why? Because we were creating a special law—a super law, so to speak—that is supposed to combat terrorism. We are going to see individual repercussions on that person and his or her family, which are heightened and very significant, and which will lead to long-term issues.
It is ironic that we are discussing this legislation, which very much does infringe on some personal rights, and we do want to act on terrorism, yet at the same time, through the budget and process, the government is cutting the things that can actually combat terrorism. I would like to talk about a couple of those things on the border.
I know I only have a minute, but I would highlight that we have over 100 CBSA investigative officers and other officers who are going to be or have been cut from their jobs. They have also been told to stand down if they find exporting guns, drugs, or criminal activity if they do not have an investigator when things are going to the United States. Those things come back as guns, money, and other weapons.
I cannot agree with Bill . It goes far too far. We have the provisions in place right now to actually have a safer society.
Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing when old ghosts from the past come back to haunt us.
All these ideas were trotted out hastily, out of political opportunism, following the events of September 11. Today, they are resurfacing in an even more dangerous form, once again in a context of political opportunism, simply to give the appearance of having done something. Those who support these ideas simply want to look like they are on the side of those who want to look like they are doing something.
Although the members on the other side of the House accuse us of being soft on crime and other fictions, I am sincerely convinced, like my colleagues, that randomly killing innocent people can never be justified, not even strategically as part of a military strategy. There can be no justification for it.
We cannot fight an enemy until we identify it. Terrorists are not an organized army with headquarters, troops and equipment. They cannot even be identified by their physical characteristics.
Take the Boston Marathon terrorists, for example. The image they projected was that of charming young men. They could have been our children. In a crowd, there was no way to differentiate them from others, yet after the crime was committed, they were identified as transporting what might have been bombs. Walking down the street, most people would not recognize them and would think that they were ordinary young Americans.
This proves that resources need to be focused on properly identifying young people who are going astray and who are potentially dangerous. This requires considerably more police resources and intelligence. The police need funds to cover the expenses involved in occasional travel to remote regions to identify the recruitment and training centres of the groups that support these people.
There is also a lot of work to do to ensure that instructions for making bombs are not so readily available to anyone on the Internet.
Over the course of history, mistakes have been made. For example, in the Second World War, Canadians of Japanese origin were detained in camps for the entire duration of the war. With the benefit of hindsight, we now realize that the allies were able to defeat the Japanese thanks to the efforts of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans, who managed to break the Japanese navy's secret codes. This is what made the great allied victories possible.
The upshot is that businesses, fishers and people with prosperous companies on the coast were bankrupted in the small villages in the centre of the country. Their lives were completely destroyed. Years later, they were given an apology, but their lives were, nevertheless, ruined.
When one considers the Liberals’ position, the debate makes us—especially those of us from Quebec—think of the good, old Liberals, the Liberals of 2001, who passed this insane measure.
Clearly, they are not in a position to be too critical because they came up with this in the first place. So much for the charter.
Regarding yesterday’s arrests, there is only one thing to be happy about: that the police officers who arrested the two terrorists had not already been laid off as a result of the government’s short-sighted cuts.
Indeed, if they were not operational, in a few months, we could be talking about a terrorist attack on a train in Toronto. That would be a bombshell. We have undoubtedly headed off a disaster thanks to our police and law enforcement efforts.
The solution is not to pass legislation to arrest more people, but to put a stop to the cuts the government is making to the resources available to Canada’s police forces.
There are a lot of examples internationally. It is coincidental that the two Boston terrorists were Chechens. The Russians have always had a specific technique. In the 1930s, the entire Chechen population was deported to Siberia. They returned years later, completely destroyed and penniless. A third of them died in exile. They were never again made full-fledged Russian citizens.
That caused a whole host of problems that led to civil war and terrorist attacks. It does in no way excuse the wanton killing of people, but it does, to some extent, help to explain the root causes of the problem.
Over the course of the two recent wars in Chechnya, the Russian army engaged in neither interrogations nor temporary detentions. It carried out preventative executions. That only made the problem worse. As soon as compromises are made when it comes to human rights, society takes a step backwards.
Maher Arar and his family’s lives were ruined. Even though mistakes were acknowledged and his name was cleared, he is still living with the burden of what happened. Indeed, two months ago, he was still wearing an electronic bracelet around his ankle and he could not enter the Confederation Building because his photo on the computer screen had a red border around it. How long will it take before he is once again a Canadian citizen with the same rights as other Canadians?
We always end up regretting actions that are taken arbitrarily. It is time that the government started thinking before it acts and investing the necessary resources to address this problem. I am really fearful that somebody, like the terrorists that sought to derail a train, will wreak havoc in Canada. A stupid bill like this will not prevent that from happening. Resources need to be allocated appropriately and there needs to be better coordination between services in order to identify criminals and prevent such things from occurring.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my objection to Bill , but before I move forward, I want to express my condolences to the families and victims in Boston. I know that all MPs in this House, no matter what colour our ties or where we sit in the House, condemn this heinous attack.
Jumping to the bill at hand, this bill would amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, and the Security of Information Act with the express purpose of combatting terrorism. However, it is my belief, and the belief of numerous groups that appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, that this bill offers nothing in the way of protection from terrorism and that the limits it places on civil liberties are simply unacceptable.
The main component of this bill is an amendment to the Criminal Code that authorizes investigative hearings and the imposition of recognizance with conditions. It also authorizes preventive detention in cases where a person declines to accept or fails to adhere to the conditions of the recognizance with conditions.
In non-legal jargon, what does this mean for Canadians? Essentially, the first part means that any peace officer, such as a police officer or an officer in the Canadian Forces, can ask a provincial judge to order anyone who might, and I emphasize “might”, have information concerning a terrorist act to appear before a judge.
If a provincial judge makes that order, a person must submit him or herself for an interrogation, must respond to all questions and is required to bring any possessions connected with the judge's orders.
These hearings can be about past or ongoing crimes or suspected future crimes. The bill states that the purpose of an investigative hearing is not to prosecute individuals but is to gain information. Because of this, responses given during an investigative hearing cannot be used against the individual in the context of future criminal proceedings, except in the case of prosecution for perjury or giving contradictory evidence at the hearing.
Other non-criminal legal proceedings, such as extradition or deportation proceedings, are not expressly covered by the bill, meaning that individuals could still find themselves negatively affected by their appearance.
The second part, regarding recognizance with conditions, essentially means that a peace officer can arrest an individual without a warrant if it is believed that such an arrest is necessary to avoid a terrorist attack. The individual who has been detained must then be brought before a judge within 24 hours of detention, or as soon as possible, to prove the necessity of detention. The peace agent must then ask a provincial judge to order that this individual appear before a judge to determine whether recognizance, which is a legal obligation for an individual to respect certain specific conditions, is necessary. While the limits of the conditions a judge can set are not detailed in the bill, it does explicitly state that one condition a judge may impose is to prohibit a person from owning a weapon, including firearms, crossbows or ammunition.
If people refuse to abide by the terms of the recognizance, they can be imprisoned for up to 12 months. This imprisonment, not being the result of a criminal conviction, is thus described as preventive detention. These conditions can therefore allow any Canadian to be imprisoned for up to 12 months without ever having been charged or convicted of any crime.
I hear many say, “This will never affect me. I am a law-abiding citizen. Only people who are carrying out terrorist activities will be covered by this bill”. Well, they would be wrong. For one thing, if there was sufficient evidence that these people were planning to carry out terrorist activities, they would be charged with a criminal offence.
Subsection 83.18(2) makes planning a terrorist activity a crime, whether or not the terrorist attack is actually carried out. Knowingly aiding a terrorist group to carry out an attack is also covered by the Criminal Code in subsection 83.18(1).
There cannot therefore be proof beyond reasonable doubt that an individual is aiding or planning terrorist activities or they would be charged under these clauses.
“Even so”, our contrarian adds, “there must be suspicion that they are involved in terrorism. It would never affect people like me.”
Well, that argument is short-sighted on two levels.
First, and more generally, let us remember the poem attributed to German pastor Martin Niemöller. There are many variations of the poem, but the final line is pretty much universal, “Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me”. If we so easily give up the civil liberties of others, we cannot be surprised if later our own civil liberties begin to be eaten into.
Second, and more specific, the wording of the bill means that the erosion of our own civil liberties is near. During the clause-by-clause review of the bill at the public safety committee, it was discovered that the government had intentionally worded the clause relating to the recognizance with conditions so that people who were not themselves suspected of terrorist activity could be subject to such conditions. This discovery was made as the NDP proposed to amend the recognizance with conditions provision to ensure it was clear that only those determined to be potential participants in a terrorist activity could be subject to the clause.
The NDP is opposed to the imposition of recognizance with conditions completely, but we felt this amendment would at least prevent the imposition of recognizance with conditions on individuals not suspected of involvement in terrorism. It is a serious abuse that we felt the Conservatives surely did not intend.
However, it appears that we were wrong to think that this was an oversight and not a targeted attack on Canadians' civil liberties. A parliamentary secretary told the committee that the Conservatives would not support the amendment because the wording was specifically intended to have a broad sweep to ensure that it included people not themselves suspected of engaging in future terrorist activity.
There in the public safety committee, the Conservatives admitted they were bringing forward legislation with the intention of being able to enforce conditions or imprison up to 12 months people who had no involvement in terrorist activities under the pretense of a bill to combat terrorism. Even worse, the Conservatives are now using the tragic events in Boston last week to push through this attack on civil liberties.
Unfortunately, terrorism is a real threat in many countries, including our own, but Bill would do nothing to ensure that Canada would be protected from terrorism. When the provisions for investigative hearings, recognizance with conditions and preventative detention were previously in place from 2001 to 2007, they were not utilized once. However, in that time, the RCMP successfully foiled a planned attack in Ontario, leading to the arrest of so-called “Toronto 18”.
Again, the RCMP was successfully able to stop a planned terrorist attack earlier this week without these Big Brother-esque provisions. Bringing in a legalization that allows the government to detain people without evidence that they are carrying out attacks is useless at best and in all likelihood, much worse than that.
I am not alone in condemning Bill . I will leave the final word to Mr. Paul Calarco of the Canadian Bar Association:
There is no question that the prevention of terrorist action is vital to preserving our society. This requires effective legislation, but also legislation that respects the traditions of our democracy. Unfortunately, this bill fails to achieve either goal.
I urge the House to reject this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill .
This bill originated in the Senate, a non-elected House, and it seeks to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act.
I oppose the bill that is before us and I will briefly explain why. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the House of Commons passed an act on terrorism, the Anti-terrorism Act. This legislation was introduced and passed rather quickly. We were shaken and trying to find quick ways and solutions to deal with a feared problem, terrorism, not only in Canada but also abroad.
In the end, several parts of this bill proved useless. Over time, we realized that perhaps we had gone too far in the changes made to our basic rights, which are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We learned a lesson from that exercise and, in 2007, that act was not renewed, precisely because we realized that several provisions were no longer appropriate in Canada. In fact, they never were. At the time, there had never been any investigative hearing required, or any situation that called for recognizance with conditions.
The bill before us directly affects basic rights that are highly valued in Canada. It provides for up to 72 hours of preventive detention, without the person being charged with anything. It also provides for up to 12 months' imprisonment where a person refuses to testify. That is a major assault on basic rights in Canada. We have to ask ourselves what reasoning can justify such an attack on a fundamental right in a free and democratic society. In my opinion, there is no justification.
For example, in the case of investigative hearings, a peace officer may, with the Attorney General's prior consent, ask a provincial judge to compel any individual who may have information about a terrorist act to appear before a judge. It is immediately apparent that we cannot agree to this bill. A peace officer may force anyone to appear before a judge in order to explain himself or herself or to testify. In Canada, however, even though the right not to testify is a fundamental right, there will be consequences if the individual exercises that right. The person may be detained, even imprisoned, for 12 months merely for refusing to testify. This is a fundamental attack and we must really ask ourselves whether it is warranted.
As we have seen in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, certain rights may be disregarded where that is warranted. However, according to the principle that the Supreme Court has used on numerous occasions, such action must be warranted in a free and democratic society. I note that the judgment in Oakes established quite clear tests regarding what may warrant limiting fundamental rights in Canada. In my opinion, the bill before us does not meet those tests.
Several factors are involved, including preventive arrest. That is rarely seen in a free and democratic society. Some countries are accused of making unwarranted preventive arrests, and Canada is preparing to act like certain countries that we often criticize. Once again, we must ask ourselves on what reasoning this is based.
Peace officers may arrest an individual without a warrant where they believe that is necessary to prevent a terrorist attack. On what do they base their decision? On what do they rely? How can people defend themselves in those circumstances?
I guess people in Canada will say that they have nothing to worry about, that this does not concern them. However, if a peace officer is convinced that an act will be committed, if he or she assumes that an act will be committed, people will be in a poor position to defend themselves since there will be no evidence. There will merely be an apprehension. In that case, there can be no justification for a peace officer having such a considerable and substantial power.
Section 495 of the Criminal Code already grants a peace officer the following powers:
(1) A peace officer may arrest without warrant
(a) a person who has committed an indictable offence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence;
(b) a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence; or
(c) a person in respect of whom he has reasonable grounds to believe that a warrant of arrest or committal, in any form set out in Part XXVIII in relation thereto, is in force within the territorial jurisdiction in which the person is found.
We can see that this power is subject to certain conditions. We already have a section in the Criminal Code that gives peace officers this power.
We have to ask ourselves what the reason is for wanting to give them even more powers, including the power to detain an individual for a period of 12 months simply for refusing to testify. That right is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, among others. This is going too far.
This bill would have benefited from a debate in committee and several NDP amendments. However, the amendments were all turned down by the Conservative government.
Parliamentary committees listen to witnesses and experts and give them an opportunity to comment on bills. Members rely on witnesses' knowledge when amending legislation.
One of the witnesses was Denis Barrette, a member of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. According to Mr. Barrette, when the Anti-terrorism Act was adopted in 2001, insufficient evidence was presented to justify reducing the protections guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Toronto 18 were arrested without this legislation, which expired in 2007. The alleged terrorists who intended to attack a VIA Rail train were arrested by the RCMP and other Canadian security agencies the day before yesterday, once again, without legislation such as what we have before us today.
Bill is not justified. What we need to do in Canada is improve existing security agencies and give them the tools they need to defend our interests. That brings to mind the 2013 budget, in which the government cut air security services in Canada, then in the same breath talked about the problem of terrorism. The air security budget will be cut, especially in airports in remote regions like mine. Small airports may lose their security services.
We need to consider this: if the aim is to truly protect Canadians and the entire world with our security measures in Canada, these measures need to be improved through whatever means necessary. In my opinion, it is crucial that there be an adequate budget to maintain Canada's air security services, and the matter should not even be up for debate. Unfortunately, the budget will cut funding for these services.
Based on what we are seeing here, Canada is heading in the wrong direction by taking away Canadians' rights when we should be giving Canadians the tools they need to protect themselves.
Mr. Speaker, all of my colleagues on this side of the House have clearly expressed their opposition to this bill. However, I am disappointed that there were barely seven or eight members on the other side of the House today to listen to the arguments put forward by my honourable colleagues about the many problems with this bill.
It is worth recalling that everything in it comes from Bill C-36, which was tabled in 2001 following the events that occurred in the United States. From that time on, an international policy was developed and Canada has unfortunately simply been following it.
Canada should not even be involved, because everything was done according the foreign policies of our neighbours to the south. In reality, Canada was never really exposed to these kinds of constraints. Canada's foreign policy has always been fair, particularly in terms of non-interference in the foreign policies of other nations. In a word, Canada has no enemies.
On the other hand, after those events, the government of the day felt that it was important to introduce anti-terrorism legislation, so it did. However, it was pointless because we are not in that situation.
My honourable colleagues from this side of the House said that we did not really need to impose all these constraints on all Canadians, despite the efforts that were made to improve the resolution and return to the wording that was rejected in 2007.
Giving powers to certain peace officers—such as police and military personnel—to apprehend ordinary citizens suspected of committing acts of terrorism is pure madness.
Furthermore, everyone knows that the Canadian legal system already has measures to prevent actions like these, which are contrary to common sense. The effective way to combat them is to provide our public safety and security systems with the funds they need, yet in last year's budget and even this year’s, cuts to such funds were and are being made, which is absurd. In other words, members on both sides of the House are being illogical. The Liberals seem unable to seize this opportunity to send a clear message to the Conservatives about protecting public safety without compromising basic rights.
Do not forget that the 2012 budget made major cuts of approximately $687 million, and the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service suffered the most as a result.
These two agencies, which have some latitude and the power to act in order to detect acts that could potentially endanger Canadians, have no power over Canada's foreign policy, and Canada is not really exposed to a genuine terrorist threat.
Peace officers can interrogate an individual if something abnormal is suspected, whether on cultural, racial or religious grounds. The individual can be forced to appear in court, before a judge, to explain certain actions or types of behaviour that the peace officer considered abnormal. In a way, laws that protect the civil rights of citizens are circumvented as a result of aggressive action of this kind.
New Democratic members are opposed to Bill because there is no justification for it. To begin with, the bill would amend the Criminal Code. Our view is that the Criminal Code is fine just as it is, although it could be improved in certain areas. Secondly, many of the amendments suggested in committee were quickly rejected by most Liberals and Conservatives.
The bill would also amend the Canada Evidence Act. Potentially sensitive information about the trial of an accused could be disclosed, which in my view would be a blatant infringement of human rights.
The bill would also amend the Criminal Code to add new offences. However, it is impossible to determine ahead of time whether a person who has left the country or attempted to do so will commit a terrorist act. These are subjective questions linked to suspicions and unsubstantiated beliefs.
I can see that even though several colleagues on the other side of the House have arrived, they do not appear to be really interested in listening to what we have to say about this bill even though they should be willing to admit that they are on the wrong track in a way.
As I was saying, and I will repeat it once more, the key factor to be taken into consideration is the budget cuts to the agencies responsible for public safety. I hope that the members who are now entering the House will understand precisely what it is we wish to say, and I trust that they will make changes to the bill before it is voted upon in the next few minutes or days so that we can really tackle this issue.
Mr. Speaker, we have been talking about terrorism for the past couple of days. There is no question that everyone in the House wants to do everything possible to protect Canadians against terrorism, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is just simply wrong.
We were all sickened by what happened in Boston last week. As it turned out, I was on my way to Washington at the time and saw increased security in that city. A lot of people were very concerned and troubled about the events in Boston and wondered whether there would be a spillover effect in that city. Frankly, we are all concerned, and have been concerned, about that possibility.
Bill would not do what the government claims it would do. The fact that it was introduced suddenly this week, surprising everyone, causes us considerable concern.
Back in 2006 these provisions were in the Anti-terrorism Act that came into force in 2001. After the terrible tragedy that happened that year, parliamentarians felt it was important to ensure that our legislation was up to international standards, and we included provisions that are contained in Bill .
At that time, the bill had a sunset clause. In 2006 all members of the House of Commons voted as to whether or not the sunset clause would be extended. That was defeated, and it was defeated because none of the provisions now contained in Bill were ever used. Police, CSIS and other authorities in this country were able to carry out their responsibilities to keep us safe without the need for the provisions now found in Bill S-7.
The Conservative government has waited seven years to bring this legislation forward. This legislation has been sitting on the order books for months now, and the government did not deem it necessary to bring it forward. That was because it had been advised by authorities that it was not necessary and that it would trample on the civil rights and freedoms of Canadians to a level that is unnecessary, damaging and, frankly, frightful. That is not necessary.
We, along with people outside this chamber, have said that the only reason this legislation has been suddenly dropped on the table for debate this week is for partisan political reasons. Surely to heaven the Conservative government recognizes the importance of what happened in Boston. Surely the government recognizes that this is not an issue that we should be playing politics with, nor should we be playing politics with the civil liberties and human rights of Canadians.
All NDP members have stood in our places and voiced our objections to Bill , and there will be others. Members in the far corner are going to support this legislation because they originally brought it forward, and they feel it is sufficiently expedient to pass it.
I will describe what I would like to see the government do. If the government is serious about dealing with terrorist threats, it should restore the $143 million that is being cut from CBSA. That would ensure that we have the resources at our borders to properly screen people who may want to do harm to Canadians and Canadian property.
I would like to see the cuts of $24.5 million by 2015 imposed on CSIS restored. The budget of the CSIS Inspector General was scrapped in 2012. The RCMP saw cuts of $195.2 million.
If we do not have boots on the ground, and if we do not have the individuals in the field who are directly involved with the investigation of these matters, how can we suggest that we are serious? It is simply not good enough to bring in a bad law and say that we have taken care of it and that everyone is safe. It just does not work that way.
Canadians know that when they cross the border, there are going to be fewer RCMP and CSIS agents available to protect them and to do the work necessary, such as the screening and investigation. That is where we need to be putting our money and resources.
I urge the members opposite, if they are serious about combatting terrorism, to put money back into resources so that we have people on the ground who are able to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe. Bill does not do it. That is why my colleagues and I have risen to object strenuously, and we will not be supporting it.