Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
Welcome to this meeting of the public safety and national security committee.
This is the 36th meeting of the Committee. We are continuing the study of Canada's national security framework.
This is the eighth meeting we've had this week across Canada to take a look at Canada's national security framework. Members of our committee are here in Montreal today to hear comments, questions, and concerns that you might have regarding Canada's national security framework.
I'm going to let the committee members introduce themselves to you, and then we'll begin.
I should say, before we begin, that this is a committee of Parliament and not a committee of government. As such, we are parliamentarians from three different parties in the House of Commons, the Liberal, New Democratic, and Conservative parties. We are here as part of a larger study. The government is also engaging right now in consultations around the national security framework. They have issued a green paper, and that green paper is available to you for study. It's also available to be commented on at the government website. It's part of our study, but it's not our complete study. Our study is much broader. We'll be looking at all aspects of the national security framework.
We will be advising Parliament and government on changes that we think the government should be making in regard to our national security framework.
When we begin, I'm going to invite the first and second speakers to the microphones. You will have about three minutes each to make comments. Occasionally, you might get questions from members of Parliament who are on the committee, if they want something that you're saying clarified, but normally our job tonight is to listen to what you have to say.
Our meetings are always conducted in both official languages of Canada, French and English.
Good evening, everyone. Welcome to this meeting of our committee.
I would like to say hello to the Chair of the committee and my fellow members of the House of Commons.
My name is Nicola Di Iorio and I am the MP for the riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. In fact, I am the only member from Montreal on this committee.
I want to note the fact that a committee of Parliament may rarely travel outside the House of Commons. As you have seen, there are a number of constraints associated with this kind of travel. I would like to stress that fact and the importance of being able to listen to you and receive your comments this evening.
There are two hours allotted for this sitting, and I hope you will be able to share your views, your comments and your questions, should you have any, with us. Thank you in advance.
Good evening. My name is Lillian Kruzsely, and I'm currently an undergraduate political science student at the University of Ottawa. I've been volunteering as an assistant for an MP, working on the briefing questions for the witness panels of the status of women committee.
I would like to start my statement for today on a few topics of interest to this discussion that were present at the World Social Forum, which occurred in Montreal just a few months ago, its first time in the northern hemisphere. The panels I attended were hosted by veterans of the nuclear-free coalition, like Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear, Arnold Gundersen from Fairwinds Energy Education, and Angela Bischoff from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. Two of the subjects discussed sparked concern for me about our country's national security and public safety.
First, there was an operation of concern that came to me, and that was the previous government's intention to transport highly enriched uranium from a geological repository in Chalk River to one in South Carolina in the United States on the basis of lessening the risk of nuclear terrorism. This waste was imported from America to begin with, and now the transportation back there presents a threat to our security. A missile would not have to be nuclear to cause a Chernobyl-type disaster if it came in contact with these transports.
Second, a more common security concern, not just applicable to Canada but internationally, is the dilemma of labelling geological repositories. The dilemma with this is deciding whether or not to label where nuclear waste is located. If yes, it becomes labelled and is an apparent security threat for attack. If not, it remains a public safety concern because many years from now it may accidentally become exposed, and it would still be just as radioactive and just as severe a threat.
I would like to know the current committee's position on these threats. Are you looking to continue these operations? What additional steps would you be willing to take, if any, to increase the security of these transports? If you are in favour of re-evaluating these deals that occurred between Stephen Harper and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission as a result of commitments made out of the 2012 Global Nuclear Security Summit, then please interact with the public on these matters as you proceed forward.
This is probably a good opportunity for me as the chair to say that the committee does not have an opinion. Committee members have opinions on various things. The committee will have an opinion when we issue a report, which may or may not have a minority report attached to it. The committee doesn't have the ability to comment on a public issue. That would be the first thing. I think we're probably not going to be able to help you with that one.
Also, while we have a pretty broad scope, that's not something that right now is within the scope of this committee's activity regarding transportation of nuclear material. I'm not saying it shouldn't be, and I think our committee can hear that as a suggestion for future work, but it's just not right now in the scope of this study.
Members of the committee, members of the public, and witnesses, I would like to start by invoking the memory of Pablo Picasso, in whose honour the room where we are meeting this evening is named. Pablo Picasso was a communist.
My name is Adrien Walsh and I am an organizer with the Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Québec. As such, I am persuaded that my late comrade would be as offended as I am today. He would be offended by the fact that in a room bearing his name, we have to show identification to participate in a so-called public consultation, and, to testify, members of the public have to run an obstacle course, starting with finding out the place and date of the meeting, and ending with the conclusion of these remarks, unfortunately limited to three minutes, while others enjoy all the flexibility of the committee. It would seem appropriate, in a room bearing his name—
I am offended that in a room bearing the name of Picasso, people are spouting words like “democracy”, at the same time as they are trying to adjust the provisions of a bill that is worthy of the regimes that caused the atrocities which prompted that artist to produce Guernica.
I want to say clearly that I am fundamentally opposed to Bill C-51, which became the Anti-terrorism Act. No adjustment to make it more acceptable is possible. It must be immediately rejected and repealed, just as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, must be.
The real danger comes not from these young and not-so-young people who are supposedly being radicalized—in fact, I would like someone to explain to me what that concept refers to—but rather from the radicalization of a government that is constantly more liberticidal and that, by creating a climate of hostility, would arm the enemies of freedom and democracy, whoever they may be.
In fact, this is the spiral in which France has been engaged in recent months. This is how, in that country, that is the supposed homeland of human rights and liberty, eight-year-old children have been placed in detention, arbitrarily, teachers have been turned into informers, and demonstrations have been brutally repressed.
In fact, that climate of fear is very effective for neutralizing people who propose social change as a long-term solution. That climate of hostility is also very practical when it comes to justifying wars on terrorism, in Syria or elsewhere.
So I will conclude by coming back to Picasso, who did not simply paint Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. He also painted doves for peace, and took part in the 1962 world congress of peace activists, the target of a bomb attack perpetrated not by foreign terrorists, but by “good Frenchmen” who were denying the Algerians peace during that period.
Today, if our objective were truly to prevent any threat of radicalization, we would not be discussing Bill C-51 or so-called national security; rather, we would be planning the withdrawal of the Canadian troops in Syria and everywhere else outside our country. We would be discussing the steps to take so that the people of this country, whether they are Quebecers or aboriginal people, and of whatever religion, whether Muslim or Christian, would be represented by a government that reflects their values and not those of the corporations.
My name is Johan Boyden, and I am speaking on behalf of the Communist Party of Canada. Our party will be submitting a brief on this review, and I would like to offer you the highlights, in particular, our view that Bill C-51 is unamendable and must be repealed in full, and the building case for dismantling CSIS altogether.
In our view, this bill is perhaps the most serious assault on democratic rights, labour rights, and civil liberties in recent times, and we are not alone in making this case. Mr. Oliphant, many of the people who voted for you in Thorncliffe Park, members of the Muslim community, share this view, as do experts, intellectuals, and people from labour. I could spend my entire three minutes going through the hundreds of organizations just from Quebec that signed a declaration against this legislation and its composite effects.
Why? Because it mandates more clearly a secret police force, with black operations, disruption, or dirty tricks that would shred the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, allowing it basically to scoop up people from the streets. This broad definition—economic and fiscal stability—could directly infringe labour's right to strike or, more broadly, any movement, indigenous, environmental, and so forth, that is resisting the agenda of the big corporations. It's a piece of legislation that would have made solidarity with Nelson Mandela illegal and also today's solidarity with Palestine or with Colombia, which is working its way through peace talks.
If you look at the question of government oversight that your discussion paper and green paper have suggested, I think it is either naive or deliberately deceptive. The presentation that SIRC could effectively regulate CSIS is in reality not true; it is a powerless body. Consider the scandals involving Chuck Strahl and other past chairs of this committee. It is totally complicit.
I would like to note that this legislation came forward in the context of an increasingly reckless aggressive foreign policy, wars and occupations, and destabilizing global impacts, and it is the call for peace and the foreign policy of disarmament that is the strongest case against the so-called radicalization that your background paper speaks of with great alarm.
I'd also draw your attention to the fact that the CIA is probably the most overseen by the Senate and Congress of any of the intelligence agencies in the world and, in fact, the CIA operates to extend U.S. foreign policy into the sphere of dirty operations. This claim that oversight and empowering SIRC will do the job is just not held up by the facts around the world. It's time to get rid of CSIS.
We should abolish security certificates and the associated secret trials. It's time to scrap the no-fly lists and abolish all laws at the municipal, provincial and federal levels preventing freedom of assembly, including those requiring special permits or otherwise criminalizing spontaneous demonstrations. It's time to launch an independent inquiry into the role of the RCMP and CSIS in limiting dissent, including the use of agents provocateurs, monitoring activists, and crowd control techniques. It's time to strengthen and enforce sanctions against police officers and CSIS officers convicted of using excessive force. It's time to stop the use of entrapment, and to abolish all forms of profiling, including political profiling and the notorious racial profiling tactics. It's time to abolish the government operations centre. Also, as I said before, it's time to provide civilian and community control bodies with legislative teeth to independently investigate and enforce meaningful civilian control, including over detention and arrest, the use of force, search, and seizure, and allegations of police violence.
This is a good opportunity for me also to remind members of the public that you can submit written statements to the committee through the Parliament of Canada website, which we will be able to read as well, because we will be cutting you off.
Are there any questions?
Thank you very much.
Mr. Kamereddine, the floor is yours, and the next speaker will be Mr. McSorley.
I am making this presentation to provide my testimony as an immigrant who has lived in Montreal for about 20 years, and as the father of five children born in Montreal. I am a member of the Muslim community, and I am very involved with that community, in the community centres and in the mosques. I am also very active in community associations outside that community, such as associations of business people, since I am an entrepreneur. I have 40 employees and three businesses, and I am on the board of directors of the business development society for Jean-Talon Est, where the North African community is concentrated. I am also one of the members of the Association Le Petit Maghreb in Saint-Michel.
My presentation will deal with the security issue we are talking about. I would like to offer some advice about how the security services should approach young people who have experienced radicalization problems or who have had contact with other young people in Syria.
I strongly advise the government, and especially CSIS, not to confront the young people directly, and rather to communicate with their parents. Even if a young person is 18 years old, he or she will react instinctively if confronted. Any animal will protect its young if it senses danger. Given that a majority of the Muslim community comes from a world where dictatorships rule, where police states have existed for decades, we are overcome by fear when it comes to security. In addition, if CSIS approaches the child in a heavy-handed way, the parents will never cooperate. On the other hand, if the approach is sensitive, there will be harmony and rapport. This is a situation I have experienced personally in the case of several young people who have been referred to us by the RCMP, whom we have supported in making social reintegration and employment re-entry efforts.
I do not support the approach taken by the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence in Montreal, and we have not seen much from its representatives on the ground. We have seen them a lot more in the media. On the ground, the people who have really helped us provide guidance for young people are the RCMP. Their collaboration has been helpful and they have worked in harmony with the young people's parents.
I also disapprove of some officers who present themselves as experts in deradicalization. It saddens me to see this kind of presentation. I, myself, have a background in theology. I went to the University of Algiers where I studied the foundations of Muslim jurisprudence, the famous Sharia that everybody talks about. However, I do not consider myself to be an expert.
The approach taken by the federal police is much more effective in getting collaboration and good results. In particular, we must not adopt the French model, which has demonstrated its inadequacy. Young people who have left France account for the largest majority of the young people who have been radicalized or have gone to Syria. That is really not a good example to follow.
I'm really interested in your comments about authorities not contacting radicalized young people. I believe you said we shouldn't directly contact the young people we suspect may be radicalized or getting radicalized, but rather contact the parents. That intrigues me. It's a good approach, but obviously, it doesn't work 100%.
We must have something in place. Do you have any numbers or percentages on parents who are contacted about their children, who successfully reroute them into regular life? Do you have any numbers on that?
Personally, I have not known any parents who were contacted by the security services. On the other hand, those services have contacted the young people directly, and that causes panic on the part of the young people and fear on the part of their parents.
I have even seen the case of a child who was 18 years and one week old. CSIS went to his home to see him, instead of contacting his parents, which would have been much better. Because he was 18 years and one week old, CSIS had certainly had the matter in its hands for some time already, and actually waited until he was 18 to take action.
I strongly advise against that kind of approach, given that a parent will want to protect their child.
We had a witness here earlier this afternoon, Mr. Foura. He mentioned that the community found out about young people—I believe the number was more than 100 or in the hundreds—that were vulnerable and they were successful in rehabilitating, if I could use that term, quite a number of them.
Outside of the contacts that security forces have made, or CSIS, what do you think the success rate is in dealing with young people in your community who may or may not become radicalized?
You mentioned Lamine Foura, with whom we have worked on several cases.
As I said earlier, I think the RCMP's approach is very effective, because there is guidance given. In addition, from what I have seen, the RCMP sees the young people as victims. That is how we need to see them, not as a danger that must be neutralized. That is not the way an extremist idea can be combatted. An extremist idea has to be combatted using a different idea that is not extremist.
That brings us to another issue, the training of imams here in Montreal. When young people go to the mosque to deal with their stress, they find an imam who speaks Arabic. A young person who speaks French or English faces a language barrier. We have seen that this was one of the direct reasons why young people were radicalized. The effect of that language barrier is to send the young person to the imam called Google, and on Google, they become very easy prey. They will then fall into very extreme networks and ideas.
We have therefore talked about training imams. I have even spoken to Anie Samson, the mayor of the borough, and with Lamine Foura. We held a meeting with the round table on public security and civil protection, that I and other members organized.
On the subject of training imams, we do not want the government to interfere in religion. The idea is to have an approach like there is for Christians and Jews, who are recognized in university programs, for example. We need to start work on granting a diploma, to be earned in Canada by our young people here.
We do not want to import imams from outside. First, they do not speak the language. When they come here, they do not bring just religion; they also bring a culture, a form of culture. Language is a culture. On the other hand, a young person who is educated here will get training from a Canadian cultural perspective. From a Muslim point of view, that is well regarded, and is not contrary to the Muslim religion. So it is very important, in my view, that a young person be able to receive training to enable them to understand the person they are speaking with, to understand their language and culture. That is very important.
I do have a question here about when you said to follow the RCMP's way of doing things and not the Montreal police's because they work with youth and they see them as victims and not criminals. You were describing the RCMP. What is it that the Montreal police do that is different?
We work on the ground. Personally, I have never dealt with the deradicalization centre, although we have worked a lot with young people and youth associations.
I see that approach as a telephone line that a witness or a parent could use to inform on their child. That is a completely wrong-headed approach. Personally, I think it is based on the French model, which is a total failure.
On the other hand, the RCMP contacts us in order to reintegrate the children. That is something that kills me, in the good sense of the word. I have found it moving when the RCMP contacted me to reintegrate young Muslims. That is what a government is, to my mind. It sees these young people as victims who have fallen into a radicalization trap.
The deradicalization centre, on the other hand, has not approached us, even though we have handled a number of cases involving young people.
[Technical difficulty—Editor] that relates specifically to issues of free expression, dissent, and political activity in Canada that touches mostly on Bill C-51 but on some other aspects regarding Canada's national security laws as well.
We're very concerned that the broad definition of terrorist activity, which includes interference with critical infrastructure in Canada, leaves open the potential for the criminalization of dissent in our country. The provisions in this law do say that it would not be used in instances of dissent or political demonstration, but we're concerned that this isn't enough as they are terms that are open to interpretation, and we can see very realistically future governments saying that an act of dissent is really an act of terrorism, especially considering the way that acts of terrorism are defined currently in Canadian law. We're very concerned that, even though there's this provision, it doesn't go far enough, and there needs to be further action to ensure that and all political demonstrations and acts of dissent are protected in Canada.
We're also very concerned about the new provision regarding the promotion of terrorism in the Criminal Code. We're concerned that it's overly vague and broad and that it leaves a very real potential, as has been pointed out by several experts—not just us but many organizations and in the media on the debate around Bill C-51—that it could be used against people who are expressing dissent, including journalists, political analysts, politicians, and just everyday Canadians. We think that aspect needs to be reviewed by Parliament and by the committee.
We're also concerned that such laws, before they're put into place, are not necessarily properly vetted by the Department of Justice for charter compliance. That's something we're very concerned about, not just around national security laws, but when it comes to various Canadian laws. That was pointed out by Edgar Schmidt, a former Department of Justice employee who has spoken about his concerns and has been through the courts. He wasn't necessarily successful, but the points that he raised regarding the amount of resources that are given to the Department of Justice in order to vet such laws for charter compliance are very important to us and I think point to a concern that we should have that, when laws like Bill C-51 are brought forward, there is proper vetting and proper information given about charter compliance. We feel that wasn't the case for Bill C-51.
Finally, we're also concerned about the new powers granted to CSIS to intervene actively through threat disruption abroad. In light of the historical record of the RCMP, the Secret Service, the FBI, and other national security agencies, we're very concerned that there is a history of organizations using these kinds of powers to disrupt legitimate dissent and political dissent in different countries. We have the history of the RCMP's dirty tricks campaigns in Canada. While that has gone through commissions, and we may feel that it doesn't happen as much now, these types of powers given to an organization such as CSIS without proper oversight and without proper rethinking could lead, we think, to a repression of dissent here in Canada and also in their activities with other security agencies internationally.
Thank you very much for your remarks. I think they were well considered and well thought out.
What do you say about the definition of terrorist activity including a fault element, which requires there to be some intention, even when it comes to simply making statements whose purpose is to undermine the security of Canada? Presumably, in coming up with that additional element, Parliament intended to protect free speech. What do you say about that?
Even if there is a fault provision, it's very difficult to be able to judge people's intentions. It's also difficult to be able to safeguard who is judging those intentions and whether or not those powers won't still be abused.
I would say that there are times when that happens. I wouldn't say that it's necessarily a reason to have tougher provisions against those actions. From my experience often when it crosses those lines, it could be that it's provoked because of actions by security agencies that push it to cross a certain line. I think there's a vague question around what a threat to security is. A protest that's marching and goes closer than what the RCMP may think is safe, close to a pipeline, versus what a reasonable person who isn't involved in the security forces may think is reasonable, can cause them to cross a line and all of a sudden be in a situation of being accused of terrorism.
I agree with you that there may be scenarios where that can happen, but there may also be other scenarios where, by their design, the people who participate are there not just for lawful protest or civil disobedience, but to move into a different realm, which I assume would not make you or many other Canadians comfortable. The point is that the definition of terrorist activity, just to come back to my original point, includes this additional motive element to basically protect free speech, but also to ensure that those who are moving beyond into a different realm can be investigated so that we're all safe. Do you accept that?
In a way, but I'd also say that I think, as others have pointed out too, that there are provisions in the Criminal Code that do stop people and that can be used against people who damage property and commit other infractions. I think that the extra aspect of adding terrorism charges to it are unnecessary in that we do have laws in Canada to govern those.
My name is Suzanne Chabot. I am retired. I am 61 years old. My friend Wendy Stevenson is also retired, and she is 69 years old.
A few days ago, we sent a request to the RCMP and CSIS asking that they give us the files they hold on us. I will explain why.
In the fall of 1979, I and two other young women, Wendy Stevenson and Katy Le Rougetel, were fired by Pratt & Whitney, after an RCMP officer visited the company's head of security. In the winter of 1980, the same thing happened again: I was fired again, with Wendy Stevenson, this time by Canadair. The same day, the third woman, Katy Le Rougetel, was fired by Marconi, again after a visit from an RCMP officer.
We filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, which found that we had been discriminated against on the basis of our political opinions. During the investigation, the Human Rights Commission asked the RCMP officer to testify about what he had done. Here, I would point out that the government replied that it could not allow the officer to testify, because we represented a danger to Canada's national security. That decision was not made by the RCMP alone. Our case ended up on the desk of the solicitor general of Canada at the time, Robert Kaplan.
According to Craig Forcese, a law professor at the University of Ottawa where the subjects he teaches include national security legislation, the concept of danger to national security refers to espionage, sabotage, political violence, terrorism and violent subversion.
So you are surely wondering who we were, to represent a danger to Canada's national security.
We were certainly not jihadist terrorists or Muslim extremists, because, at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s, that was not very common. No, at that time, the big enemy was communism. We were three young women who belonged to a political group whose main slogan was “for an independent socialist Quebec”. We were three young women who shared the same ideal, and who were trying to share the values of justice, equality, solidarity and individual and collective rights with the people around us; three feminist, trade unionist, nationalist, and, yes, socialist young women. However, we had never committed an illegal act, we had never been charged with anything, and we had never been arrested. Our group took a position, publicly and in writing, against all acts of terrorism.
Nonetheless, we were named as presenting a danger to national security.
So here we are, 37 years later. We no longer belong to a socialist group, but we have continued, all our lives, to advocate for the same causes. We have demonstrated, stood up for the rights of the oppressed, and taken part in all the activities that have taken place since then.
I, personally, worked for 30 years at the Confédération des syndicats nationaux. If ever there was a legal organization, that is it. But even in that organization, a CSIS agent provocateur infiltrated, during the strike at Manoir Richelieu.
That is why we want to know what the situation is, 37 years later. Now that we are no longer three girls, we are two little grannies, we want to know whether we are still considered to be a danger to national security. We would be very curious to know what was in our files, but we have always been denied access to them.
My name is William Ray. I served for 10 years in the Canadian Armed Forces. I hold the Governor General of Canada's decoration for bravery for halting ethnic cleansing in the Medak area of Croatia in 1993.
The first member of my family to get to Canada arrived here in 1759 and fought for General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham. One of his descendants was a man named Sir Samuel Benfield Steele, known as Sam Steele to anybody from the west. He was the third member of the North-West Mounted Police, now the RCMP, and one of its leaders for about half of its existence.
All of that is to say that I and my family have been involved in the defence and security of Canada since before it was Canada.
As written, Bill C-51, or law Bill C-51, will provide for neither our security nor surely our liberty. Nothing in this bill would have prevented the occurrences we have had here in Canada: nothing. This bill, and the security services of Canada, unfortunately, for the last couple of years have been pursuing the unethical use of security service powers against social groups, against anti-resource activists. We've seen this by the Canadian Armed Forces, my former organization, whose sole purpose is to literally fix and destroy those who pose a threat to the security of Canada. Following around native activists: this is not acceptable. It is not acceptable in this country.
Bill C-51 needs to be revoked in toto. I would remind you all that the darkest periods in the history of our nation have occurred when we have traded the liberty of our citizens for what we perceived to be our security. I would include in that residential schools. I would include in that the forming of concentration camps for German, Italian, and Japanese citizens during World War II.
Anything that the security services need to do, as Mr. McSorley very ably pointed out, is covered by the Criminal Code of Canada. You may not destroy property. You may not threaten others. You may not injure others. There is no need for this bill. It is a massive overreach by the RCMP and CSIS. The RCMP does not have a good history with this sort of thing. We threw them out of the national security business for a good reason, most of which happened here in Quebec. I know their history very well, because part of it is my family history.
I would ask you all, as parliamentarians, to exercise your duty to the people of this country to protect not just their physical security but their liberty and the society that generations of people have fought to bring about and continue to improve.
You said that Bill C-51 won't help security and liberty, which were your exact words. On the security part of it, sir, there's been a number of so-called experts in the field—and I'm not going to profess to be one of them because I'm not—who've said that if they'd had some of the changes in Bill C-51 in place two years ago, Warrant Officer Vincent and Corporal Cirillo may still be alive. Also that would-be terrorist, Mr. Aaron Driver, in Strathroy, Ontario, wouldn't have been apprehended if this law hadn't been in place.
First of all, what are your comments on that? There are a number of people who said that helped. I'm not saying the whole Bill C-51 is good, but in that part of it, there are people out there saying that it did help. Could you respond to that, please?
Certainly. Now I work as a journalist. I'm a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and I have questioned the RCMP, Sergeant Cox in Ottawa, quite closely about the incident that happened in Ottawa. They have provided me, certainly, with no evidence, nor does anything in the public realm show that they could have prevented this. This was a lone nut-case guy who didn't communicate with anyone. The RCMP admit that. He didn't communicate with any foreign groups. He wasn't part of a cell.
Okay, but if I could just stop you there, I think there are news articles out there, sir, that say the police or security forces, whatever you want to call them, had done a number of things. In fact, they revoked his passport and there were some other things; I just fail to remember them all. They were quite aware of him, but they didn't have the powers to detain him.
What I'm saying, sir, is the evidence of what happened on that day with Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau is in a coffin. What I'm saying is they were quite worried about this guy, that he might commit an act, and he did. You can't ignore the facts.
If the RCMP had reason to believe this man was going to commit a criminal act, why weren't they watching him? Why did they not notice that this man, who was working in B.C., stayed in a homeless shelter in Ottawa and went out and bought a gun and a car? They didn't notice any of this, and they could do that under the Criminal Code of Canada if they sought a peace bond—voila. That's what I'm saying, sir.
Sure, you may have to expand some areas of the Criminal Code, some areas of, I don't know, the judicial powers, but you could do that. None of the incidents that have occurred in this country can be tied to any foreign group, and it is hard to see—
Okay, but it is hard to see. The RCMP in none of those cases so far have presented evidence that by monitoring the person's communications they could have stopped this event. I would disagree with you there, sir.
I've taught at McGill in environmental studies, and I've worked a great deal.... For instance, Suzuki is a perfect example. He talked about the concentration camps and how we used laws like this to put people away. That is exactly what happened to the man I worked with for 25 years.
I work a great deal with native groups. I can tell you that I was shocked to find out, when I started working in Kahnawà:ke and Akwesasne, that nearly all the environmental activists that I dealt with who were native had had dealings with CSIS. CSIS had come. These were just regular little people living in little houses on the reserve. CSIS had come around in their lives in almost every case. They would make jokes about it. They would exchange CSIS stories.
How would you like to be in that position where CSIS is regularly checking on you and trying to get your friends to talk about you? This is one of the things that already happens to native activists and environmental activists.
One of the things that many of us thought—many thousands of people—when Stephen Harper pushed this bill through in the first place was that one of its major reasons would be to discourage native land claims and native activism to stop oil pipelines and fracking. We know that this is a constant preoccupation of federal governments. Now it is the preoccupation of the Liberal federal government, but this is a Stephen Harper creature, and frankly, if you, the Liberals, stick with this, if the current federal government sticks with this act, it will go down in history as your act, not Stephen Harper's, I assure you.
The big problem with it is exactly that: the way it criminalizes freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and everything that identifies a democracy.
The final thing I would say is that it's supposed to be against terrorism, but the idea of terrorism is to prevent people who will not allow you to have freedom from taking over your life, right? A terrorist is someone who makes you afraid to do what you want to do.
How many rural people do you think can go out there...? Once again, I've worked a great deal with farmers and rural people attempting to protect their watershed, their forest areas, or something from industrialization. How many of those people do you think will have the courage to go out and risk seven days of being held incommunicado and being called a terrorist? As this bill stands, it is too vague to protect that kind of action.
The questioner here, who I think was Mr. Mendicino, was talking about situations where this kind of citizen dissent gets out of hand. This hardly ever happens. When it does, it tends to be because of agents provocateurs. I was present at one such thing in Seattle in the year 2000. I watched and we watched the agents provocateurs come into downtown Seattle. They were great big gigantic guys who nobody had seen, in masks, and they had big lead pipes and went through and broke a bunch of windows at Starbucks and stuff, and then they vanished. Then the helicopters came in.
There have been cases of this—I don't have to tell you—in Montebello and so forth, so this is not any kind—
I notice that he's not paying any attention to me. However, I would say that—
Yes, I would just wrap up by saying that these situations—what he's talking about—are extremely rare. What is not rare, in fact, is governments taking advantage of their position of power and of being armed—having large armed groups that are both overt and covert—to cow their populations into not expressing themselves.
I don't want to see anything remotely like this happening to Canada. The kinds of things, as the previous speaker pointed out, that have happened to Canada have not been so frightening and grave that they really call for this kind of response.
I think that I speak on behalf of all the committee—and I'll stand to be corrected if I don't—when I say we all respect freedom of expression and free speech. I think the manifestation of that freedom is the holding of a public consultation of this variety, where we are all paying very close attention to the comments that are being made—
—and those comments will be reflected in our report. Let me just begin by saying that.
I want to press you a bit on the freedom of expression, as it is balanced out in the law, and as it exists today with what was C-51, and what is now part of the Criminal Code, and the CSIS Act, and other statutes.
There are elements within the criminal offences whose purpose is to delineate some boundaries between what is free expression, lawful protest, and civil disobedience, which are part of the fabric of our democracy, and those comments that go beyond into a different realm. I think one of the other members of the audience very astutely pointed out that there is room or flexibility for interpretation. Is it possible that the need for that flexibility is driven by the facts and circumstances of any protest, where things could get out of hand? Do we risk not getting the balance right, if we become too narrow in our definitions?
I do appreciate the question, but I would concur with the speaker ahead of me that our current criminal laws are very adequate to protect us from the kind of behaviour of people who would come and wantonly set fire to things, or take over a demonstration, or otherwise become violent and dangerous to the population. As a person who does attend some of these demonstrations, I certainly don't want to be around that.
I think he made the very good point that this is extremely well covered by our Criminal Code already, and I know many people who have seen this happen and have seen this kind of delineation between the two things.
The first thing I want to do is congratulate you for opening up your talk from two o'clock in the afternoon. Thank you very much for doing that. That, in my opinion, is very progressive, and I'm proud of you.
The second thing is, to those behind me, I'm really sorry that you weren't here to hear what went on from two o'clock to four o'clock.
In my profession, I'm totally an artist. I am a painter and an actor. In my years, and I have years, I have had the experience of working in a Middle Eastern country in special education with boys at the age of 8 to 14. It was creative work that was later adapted into the area of special education. I am perceptive, and I work not on a mental level, but on a creative level.
The comments I'd like to make are in regard to Mr. Foura's and Mr. Cavalluzzo's presentations. Mr. Foura spoke of de-radicalization. I agree so much with both these men. It's a shame that the people behind me did not have the opportunity to hear them.
I would say that the biggest part of public security is educating the public, from a very early age—from pre-school right up to puberty—about the different religions that exist now in Canada.
Many of the immigrants who come to this country have deep-rooted scars from their mother country, and for a lot of them, unfortunately, those scars are so deep that they transfer them to young children. Before the child even goes into the public school system, he is biased. I would suggest—totally creatively, even though I hold a general bachelor's degree from Laval University—for the religious private school principals to be invited to the next meeting in the public sector here. I feel that the education has to start really early, before puberty, because during puberty, when you hit the teenage years, you have hormones that work, and you have a short fuse. Of course, if it's badly handled before high school, you might risk violence.
Mr. Cavalluzzo mentioned that he would like to start a committee. On that committee, I would personally like to see one or two representatives of the public, after the public's wants and critiques have been heard.
Given that Ms. Goldberg has mentioned the testimony this afternoon, I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone, including those who are not with us this evening who have an interest in this, that the transcripts of the testimony heard both in Ottawa and on our tour are available. We just need to allow some time for the people who support us and who work very hard on that to process them. They are on the website of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which is part of the parliamentary Internet site.
The same thing applies to the evening testimony from the public here and from the people we have heard in the other cities. I invite you to go to the site, even if you were not able to attend the meetings in person. As Ms. Goldberg said, it is extremely interesting, and it helps us a lot in our work.
Since there are no questions, I will give the floor to Veronika Jolicoeur.
The first comment relates to the public's general fear when it comes to privacy. At present, a police officer may not enter anywhere they like to conduct a search; they must obtain permission from a judge, I believe. When it comes to surveillance, the government should give the public assurances that if it has suspicions about a person, those suspicions have to be supported by a judge, who will then grant permission for a wiretap, for example. At that point, the public will no longer have that fear of being spied on, by whatever means, by the intelligence services.
The second comment relates to omnibus bills. If the government could separate the subjects in bills like these so that each one could be discussed separately, I think that would do much to promote transparency and public confidence in the government.
I'd like to step back a bit and talk about the attitude in the body politic that this bill encourages. It's a template that hangs over the population. It encourages the police—and all police forces are influenced by it—to consider Canadian citizens as their enemies, especially those citizens who believe Canada could be a better place if changes were made toward equality, peacefulness, respect for civil liberties, open, diverse and free communication, healthy agriculture and food, etc.
We want real policies to stop global climate change, an economy not based on selling arms to Saudi Arabia...I could go on. I'm an 81-year-old citizen who has belonged to the Voice of Women since 1963.
I am a member of the group Les artistes pour la paix. I am an activist for social, economic and environmental justice.
I am a citizen, and I am afraid of laws that jeopardize our democracy.
When a government pits its police force against its citizens, it's on a slippery slope toward fascism. When a government allows its police services to break the law with impunity, anything from the way the cops drive in Montreal to some of the undercover stuff they do, and trap the naive, and consider a conscientious citizen the enemy, we have a problem. Therefore, I think a new set of glasses needs to be placed over Bill C-51. Does it pass the democracy test?
When our police behave as if they have seen too many TV shows, and start taking entertainment for reality, we're in trouble. Remember the G20 in Toronto. When there's no civilian citizen oversight over our policing system that has any degree of credibility, how close does that make us to a police state, a fascist state?
As a citizen, I want to be respected by government and by my police force, even if I hold different views from theirs. I'm not saying our government should not be concerned by security issues. If they stopped playing TV games, they might even be more efficient at that task.
Good evening. I'm really glad this is happening. I'm very sorry that many more people, with this short notice, could not have been made aware that this is going on. I feel there's a problem with communication, that dispersion of information is not adequate. This refers to quite a lot of the public consultations that I've been involved in, helped to organize, and tried to get people out to. We really need to work on that. If this is to be really legitimate, and considered worthy of all the time and money you're spending, that part needs to be taken better care of, please.
I'm an ecologist. I'm retired now. I was a teacher for many years. I'm concerned by justice, whether it's social, economic, or environmental. I don't believe in a Canada run by multinationals or run for the one per cent.
I believe in a Canada working in the best interest of the majority of Canadians, but that doesn't mean destroying native land and ignoring their rights. I don't believe in a Canada where we protect our rights and freedoms by taking them away. That is what Bill C-51 does. It must be repealed. It must be removed.
Our rights and freedoms in some ways are removed already by the lack of media. The media are controlled. They don't tell the story. They don't report to the people what's going on, so we don't have information. We don't actually have the truth, only from one perspective.
I certainly don't want to be, as an ecologist, considered a terrorist, and that's one of the things that is part of this whole deal that is coming down. Let us just look at the surveillance oversights: checks and controls—you know the details better than I do—secret police powers, information sharing, Internet censorship, online privacy problems, having telecom providers and surveillance handing over information, and reducing our encryption possibilities to keep our personal information personal.
If we're looking at it, we need to start from scratch. It has to be canned. That pretty much summarizes it.
Ms. Johnson, I would ask that you come back to the mic, because one of my colleagues wants to ask you a question.
I think it is worth mentioning that the comment concerning notice about holding the consultation has been heard several times this week, in other cities. I want to assure you that we have certainly received that comment, and we are always open to improving the process. Personally, I have been an MP for five and a half years, and I have never travelled with a committee. So we are learning as we go. The comment is certainly appreciated. Thank you very much.
Yes. We will make sure that the information is given to you.
If other people in the room want this information, it will be on the parliamentary website, under the heading “Committee Business”. You will see the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security there, where all the business of the committee relating to this study, and others, is posted.
It came across my Facebook page quite by accident out of nowhere. I don't know where it came from, and it was really last minute. I'm finding that it's really hard to find out. There are quite a lot of public consultations going on, and it seems typical that it's very last minute when we hear about it. There are many groups I know that have been deeply interested in participating, but they can't get it together that fast.
I think going through community contacts would be very good.
There are many different community networks, everywhere.
I'd suggest going through the municipalities, also going through the educational institutions. I'm thinking of all the amazing talks I heard when this was a bill, x time ago, and following it on the radio and here and there. I heard fantastic comments, and so on, and information. These people are out there. I would expect it's not just for you to be informed, but this is a moment when I also get a lot of information by being here. It's a mutual win-win situation when we have better participation. I'm thinking of university professors, experts in the field. Maybe that's happening at a whole other level, but it seems to me it should possibly be happening here also.
In answer to your question, and my approximation is very rough, but I would say transcripts are available in maybe three or four weeks on the parliamentary website. If you go on the parliamentary website, you will find that there is a list of committees. If you look for the public safety and national security committee and you look at the date, you will see the transcript of what was held this afternoon and what has been said at the microphone today.
Ordinarily, it takes about two weeks, the time it takes to incorporate all the information.
In addition, I would also take this opportunity to mention something about information sharing. If you are wondering why we asked you to leave us your contact information, it is because if the mics missed a few words, or there was a typing mistake in your name, or whatever, we will contact you to make sure your words have been correctly recorded in the transcripts of the meeting. The information will then be destroyed by the clerk of the committee.
Members of the committee, thank you for holding these public consultations.
My name is Aaron Thaler. I'm going to focus my remarks today on two main points.
The first concerns the disruption powers authorized by Bill C-51. Bill C-51 is still in its original form, and the disturbing powers it authorizes are becoming entrenched despite the current government's promises to repeal its problematic elements.
Bill C-51 violates the charter. It also ignores the McDonald commission's recommendations to separate policing and intelligence work.
Under Bill C-51, CSIS can do anything to reduce threats to the broadly defined security of Canada, including violating any and every charter right. The only things CSIS can't do are cause death or bodily harm, violate sexual integrity, or willfully obstruct justice. That's a very concerning threshold. CSIS has already used its disruption powers nearly two dozen times, and without any meaningful oversight or accountability.
I have a pretty basic expectation of my government. When the government limits my rights or the rights of any other Canadian, I expect it to justify why those limitations are necessary. The current government has not provided a single reason as to why the disruption powers authorized by Bill C-51 are necessary.
If the current government wants to regain the trust of Canadians, I urge it to repeal Bill C-51 in full. These consultations are cold comfort to the Canadians who are engaged right now in lawful dissent and face crippling surveillance by CSIS.
The second point I want to express today, and I'll deal with it very quickly, concerns the activities of CSE, the Communications Security Establishment, Canada's intelligence agency.
CSE operates in secret, so we have to rely on American whistle-blowers to help us learn about a Canadian intelligence agency and how that Canadian intelligence agency impacts our privacy and security.
What do we know? We know that CSE engages in mass, warrantless surveillance of Canadians, collects troves of Canadian metadata, and sometimes shares that data illegally. We know that CSE worked with the NSA to undermine an encryption algorithm, relied upon by millions of Canadians for online security. We know that CSE hoards and stockpiles computer vulnerabilities, and in doing so, prioritizes their foreign intelligence capabilities over the digital security of ordinary Canadians.
Moving forward, I urge you to ensure that the intelligence activities of CSE rely on judicial, not ministerial, authorization, just like Joyce Murray proposed in Bill C-622.
Metadata has to be afforded strong privacy protections, and any oversight of CSE must evaluate the impact of foreign intelligence gathering on Canadian cybersecurity.
We are all foreigners to someone. When CSE does not afford any privacy protections to foreigners, the government is complicit in setting a dangerous precedent for other governments to spy on Canadians. We all rely upon computers for security. When CSE stockpiles computer vulnerabilities, the government is complicit in undermining the security of ordinary Canadians and encourages other governments to do the same.
In these national security discussions, let's move beyond the paralyzing discussion of how to respond to terrorism only. The sooner we do this, the sooner we'll realize that Bill C-51 is fatally flawed and that the powers of CSE need to be reined in.
First, as a Canadian, I want to thank the members of the committee for holding consultations with the general public, and in particular with people from our region.
Mr. Chair, I put myself in the position of a Canadian Security Intelligence officer: a lot is asked of me to protect the security of Canadians, but sometimes I may not be given enough training. People have spoken today to talk about agents provocateurs, among other things. In our history, there have indeed been dubious practices, if I may say that.
Personally, as a psychoanalyst by training and a street worker, I see it all, these days. I see people selling crack and financing terrorist activities outside Canada. That is something that is being looked at.
That being said, one thing is clear: the Anti-terrorism Act absolutely has to be changed. When Mr. Harper wrote his bill, he copied the Americans. Now, the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has to demonstrate some creativity.
Very certainly, Canadians want to live in security, and the RCMP and CSIS are here to provide us with that security. Personally, I have nothing to reiterate on that subject. However, if I put myself in the position of a communist or an activist, I think there is a point at which these officers should be given more training. There is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that charter is based on certain fundamental principles. These officers need to be reminded that there are fundamental principles to be respected in Canada. In the United States, it is another matter. We have to innovate in Canada, we have to stop modelling what we do on what the CIA does, and our government has to do something that looks Canadian.
That is the essence of my thinking about the provisions of Bill C-51.
I think there is something else I wanted to say. Let me consult my notes for a moment.
First of all, thank you for having these hearings. I'd like to echo one of the previous speakers who noted that. I would encourage the committee and future committees of Parliament to publicize such things much more widely and much further in advance, but I'm grateful to be here, now that I am.
Unlike many of the previous speakers, I claim no special expertise in areas of law or government. I'm a run-of-the-mill citizen. That's why I think it's especially important that people like me are able to appear at places like this. My background is in the physical sciences. I'm a college teacher at the moment.
A number of speakers, including William Ray, Tim McSorley, and Holly Dressel, have already amply talked about the risk of criminalizing dissent and the fact that the provisions adopted when Bill C-51 was adopted are not only unnecessary in preventing acts that are already criminal but they also risk stifling dissent. There's never been a good time to stifle civil debate and dissent, but I think now would be an unprecedentedly bad time to do so. We're in a period when the issues have never been more important—issues of indigenous reconciliation and indigenous livelihood, issues of the need to decarbonize our energy supply and prevent dangerous climate change. There would be no worse way to respond to public engagement on these issues than to risk criminalizing the people who want to bring them to the fore.
I teach a course on energy and climate, among other things. When I teach this to 18- and 19-year-olds, and I'm implicitly encouraging them to engage on these issues, do I tell them that I myself am more afraid than I was 10 years ago to express myself on some of these issues because of the risk of dissent being criminalized? That's not a climate we want to create.
Last, on the implicit invitation of the committee, I'd like to explore this idea of security a bit more broadly. We have a bit of a paradox here. On the one hand, the provisions adopted define security very broadly and risk criminalizing people for impinging on economic interests that then may be construed as a threat to national security. At the same time, what about the security of livelihood for indigenous groups? What about the security of access to a water supply? What about the security of access to lands? Are some of these groups that risk being criminalized not also fighting for a different kind of security, which is also owed them? Do we take away some kinds of security in the name of national security? That's the question I leave you with.
Before continuing, I would note that after Ms. Sollazzo, it will be Judith Denise Brisson's turn.
I am going to be a little stricter about the time. We have been as indulgent as possible, but we want to give everyone a chance to speak. Don't forget that you can also submit your comments in writing via the website, the same site as was mentioned earlier.
My name is Rhoda Sollazzo, and I will be brief. Fortunately, a lot of the things I wanted to say have already been said.
The first thing I would like to talk about is actually the more meta issue of these consultations in general. I've been trying really hard to be engaged and to come to as many as I can. Even today while walking in, I learned from someone else about two that happened in Montreal that I didn't know about.
I did attend the electoral reform public consultation. I found out about that one because I asked my local MP to email me when it was happening. He did, but it was still very short notice. It was very hard to do.
I wonder why we couldn't maybe sign up for emails or something. I mean, this is the 21st century. That would be great.
I'm really curious to know how far in advance you know about the consultations, because I found out about this one, also quite luckily, a few days ago. I wonder if that's because they're hastily put together, which would be understandable, or if there's actually a possibility to get an email from the Government of Canada about it. That would be fantastic.
As for the actual topic at hand, I also am deeply troubled by Bill C-51, for a lot of the reasons that were given by William Ray and Mr. McSorley just now. I won't go into them again. Maybe I'll do my best to send a brief. When are those due?
Right now on our website I think it says they're due October 28. However, I've been speaking to the clerk in the last couple of days about the thought that this needs to be extended. I have to take that to the committee, probably on Tuesday, to have the committee extend that deadline, but my intuition is that we need a little more time.
I would like to go back to what I believe Mr. Miller brought up, using a specific example of an incident to say, if there are things in Bill C-51 that could have prevented that, should we not then retain some elements of Bill C-51? I think that's a dangerous way to make decisions. I think we need to start from principles and values like protecting people's rights and freedoms instead of looking at specific scenarios and then adding in elements to our legal code accordingly. We can always come up with a more disastrous scenario that requires even more limitations on our rights. I just don't think that's a valid way to think about things.
Finally, my question for you is why try to keep Bill C-51 at all instead of starting from scratch? The optics are not good. It looks like you're saying that once you've been granted extra powers, you don't really want to relinquish them, so let's try to kind of pacify people without fully backing off on something that was decried by so many institutions a year ago. I would just like to know what the reason for that is.
I was just going to provide in essence what Monsieur Dubé just conveyed. We're in a difficult position. As you heard from Mr. Oliphant, we're not here necessarily to defend the legislation. We're here to hear you out.
You asked a question. Why throw it out, or actually, why keep it rather than throw it out? Obviously, from comments from experts, some parts of it have worked, so why would you throw them out? That would be the thing.
We've heard from a lot of you here today saying to just get rid of Bill C-51, that you don't like it, but I have heard very few suggestions about what you want to see to fix it. We heard a few suggestions from the witnesses today.
As someone who is not an expert, but who is just a private citizen, I can say that, from an emotional standpoint, I would feel more comfortable if we threw it out and then the elements that you think are helpful and do not harm everyday citizens could be introduced in a new bill. When you take something like Bill C-51, which is a 60-page bill and say you're going to tweak it, I get scared about what's being left behind, what's getting slipped under the rug. That's how I feel about it.
My name is Sarah Evett. I am a mother of four children and a gardener. I live a very humble existence and I don't really get too involved in politics, but I care a lot about people. I worked as a home health aide, so I'm used to one-to-one caring for people. In that context, I've worked in organizations and with agencies and I know how important it is to have oversight and accountability. I would just ask you all to really consider the ramifications of a quick assessment and judgment on how you will deal with your conversation when you all leave here. Maybe it would be helpful to consult with people who, from another angle, deal with organizational issues as complicated as what you are dealing with, which is the security of the country and our lives.
I'm sorry, I'm a resident of NDG. That's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, which is a suburb of Montreal and a very anglophone area of Montreal.
My father was born here in Montreal of Irish parents, and my mother was of German parentage, which was interesting during the wars when they found people throwing rocks at their house and calling them Krauts. There was a lot of discrimination that didn't result in being in a camp. Nonetheless, people had differences, but that's not why I'm here.
I have four items I wanted to mention. You were saying today during the meeting about having examples of what's going to be a problem, so I have four things.
First of all, in Montreal, we have a federal project to put a light show on the Jacques Cartier Bridge for $40 million to celebrate Montreal's anniversary. I'm quite opposed to that, but I'm worried about my opposition, because it doesn't seem to have an effect anywhere. I keep mentioning it and nothing happens. Anyway, that's just something that could become an issue. I might just lie in front of the bulldozers to stop the project. Then what happens? Am I a terrorist?
It moves on to more serious things. I would like that $40 million to go Chez Doris, which is the women's shelter that really needs support.
Voices: Hear, hear!
Mr. Robert Cox: Thank you.
Second, when it comes to trade with China, some people are tired of buying things from China, let's say. People have opposition to trade deals. Somehow, I think people should have a better voice in what's happening with the different trade deals.
Earlier a woman was saying she was accused of being a socialist and lost employment through the RCMP, apparently, possibly, and yet here we are 30 years after and we're suddenly great partners with this communist state of China, which has terrible human rights. It's okay, we'll trade anyway. I want to argue about that.
Woody Allen said that as a senior, he now has time to write all his political dissent and commentary—
—and that dissent and commentary merges and ends up becoming dysentery. Well, anyway.
Maybe I just have bad things to say, but what happens? When it's moderation on the CBC, I try to put comments on the CBC, and I get moderated off. Bill C-51 is hardly working, and yet here we are already being censored into obedience. I'm not very cool with that.
Those are the four points that I wanted to say.
As far as economics is concerned, they've just announced a new committee in Ottawa, and some guys are going to study growth in Canada. I'm an ecologist from the 1970s, too, and what happened to ecology? It turned into climate change, and then it's all denied, and they're making arrangements for it.
The ecology question needs to be approached, too. I'm saying that we really have to do something about that. We don't have to pay carbon taxes, but we have to argue ourselves into a better way of using the environment properly.
Yesterday, in the metro, I saw that this meeting would be happening, so I decided, at the last minute, to come and tell you about a situation I experienced the other day, when I went to the United States. I am Canadian. When I presented my passport, the immigration officer closed the smoked glass door only halfway, which allowed me to see my name, my address, the date when I came to Canada, the place where I went to school, where I have lived—in other words, my entire private life—scroll by on the screen.
Why should my entire private life be on display in the United States?
I am not a criminal; I have no criminal record or history; I have not been mixed up in criminal activities. I have my political ideas, as everyone does.
Why should Canada supply all that information to the United States?
Does the United States supply the Canadian authorities with the names and backgrounds of its citizens? I do not think so.
I agree with most of the people who have talked about the legislation enacted after September 11, 2001. Most of those laws actually reduce our rights and freedoms. Politicians and the military see this as straightforward, but for us, we are citizens and have the right to be respected, because we pay taxes. The only thing we want is to be left alone.
No, I have gone there often. However, this time, I was able to discover that they had all this information on me because the gentleman did not close the door.
I have done the equivalent of three times around the planet on an airplane. When the security people see someone who travels a lot, they consider them to be a terrorist. That is what often happens to me. Every time I go to the United States, they hassle me for no reason.
My comment addresses only one point, subsection (3) of section 12.1 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. That subsection authorizes CSIS to commit all of the offences provided in the Criminal Code of Canada, except those that cause bodily harm or death, defeat or obstruct the course of justice, or violate the sexual integrity of an individual.
I want to alert the committee to the danger inherent in that section, which quite obviously opens the door to abuses by agents provocateurs. CSIS has a bad track record on that point. I would like the committee to be informed of this and to look more deeply into the following cases.
Joseph Gilles Breault, alias Youssef Mouammar, alias Abou Djihad, was a CSIS informer for some 15 years. He presented himself as a spokesperson for the Muslim community; he made death threats against Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, an anti-terrorism expert, and made terrorist threats to use biochemical weapons to attack the Montreal metro. If you think my imagination is working overtime, consult the archives of La Presse and check the articles published in 2001.
Marc-André Boivin, an RCMP informer for 16 years, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for conspiracy to bomb Mr. Malenfant's hotels. Reference has been made to that, in fact.
Grant Bristow, whose case you may be aware of, given that he was in all the headlines and was the subject of an investigation in the House of Commons, was one of the co-founders of the Heritage Front, a white supremacist neo-Nazi group. He was a CSIS informer for many years.
Some might tell me that it takes a thief to catch a thief, to which I would reply that if the Canadian government is to become what it is trying to combat, that will very obviously jeopardize the rule of law in Canada.
To conclude, I would invite the members of the committee to read the report of the McDonald Commission, in which it says, in black and white, that it is not necessary to allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to break the law in order to perform its duties. The threat to national security is not significant enough.
Some years ago, Jean Chrétien said that we were at greater risk of being struck by lightning than of being victims of a terrorist attack. What that means is that we have no more need of an anti-lightning law.
My name is George Kaoumi. I was a doctor in my country of origin. Here, I work in health care, but I do not practise as a doctor.
First, I completely support the law that came out of Bill C-51. I immigrated to Canada to ensure the security of my family and my children. I have now been here for 11 years, and I think our security is in jeopardy, as is the case everywhere in the world. It is not just in Canada. Terrorism is on the rise and it is moving from the South to the North.
We need more preventive measures. That has advantages and disadvantages, as is the case for anything in the world. The advantages of the law that came out of Bill C-51 are very significant. Exaggerated stress has been placed on the disadvantages of the law, but I would like someone to give me an example where a Canadian citizen's privacy has been violated, or a citizen has filed a complaint because they were the victim of misconduct on the part of a Canadian intelligence officer. Canadian intelligence officers are credible and have our complete confidence.
Preventive measures are very important now. That is the case everywhere in the world, not just in Canada. The public as a whole is asking that we close our borders to potential terrorists and radical Islamists.
In addition, a thorough examination has to be done of people who apply to immigrate to Canada, to find out whether they agree to and respect Canadian values.
Thank you so much for letting me be here to speak.
I'd like to echo the remarks of one of the earlier speakers who said that it's a shame that many people were unable to come to the expert testimony. Students like me were able to come, but unfortunately, it was in the middle of a workday so most people were unable to attend. In the future, I would take that into consideration.
A lot of people have talked about how inaccessible the consultations were. I think given such an important matter as personal and national security, that could be amended. Sadly, I go to school five minutes from here and not one other person from McGill, one of Canada's best institutions, came to these consultations. That just shows how poor the public engagement strategy was. I know that wasn't your call, because you guys are not the ones who are responsible for that, but that definitely should be communicated. We have one of the best political science departments in the country, and yet none of my peers are here. Not one of my professors is here. They're at a different event that's happening at McGill right now. I'm sure it's very well attended.
I'd like to speak about substantive matters about the consultations, and about Bill C-51 in general.
I'm not sure what would convince you that Bill C-51 is a bad idea. I was an undergraduate when it was first introduced years ago, and my human rights prof talked about what a dangerous road it was for Canada, and how he didn't know a single academic who is in favour of this bill. Maybe it's the fact that I'm from Toronto. I have parents in the business sector. I went to John Tory's high school, one of the best schools in the country. I'm at McGill. I'm on the dean's honour list, and in a few years I'm sure I will have a CSIS record because I go to peaceful protests. I'm sure that CSIS will be a presence in my life, and I'm one of the most privileged people in this country.
I don't see a single person of colour on this panel or who's representing indigenous people, Muslims, people who face so much more scrutiny. If I am scared to voice my own opinion because of Bill C-51, I can only think of the way those people must feel and the pressures they must come under. I would also urge you to consider that.
Potentially, most of the people here don't know this, but when I sat through the two hours of expert testimony experts were often asked questions such as this: “Do you have examples of countries that provided a better example than us? We do not want to hear negative examples, only positive inspiration.” I think that's very restricting, very limiting. It gives no place for Canada to be a leader, and that is what I'm sensing from this government.
I want to end with the fact that the Liberals were elected, not because we love the Liberals—I'm sorry—but they were elected because Canadians hated Stephen Harper and wanted a change.
I'm very sorry for Larry Miller. I know that's your party. I mean no disrespect.
Keeping Bill C-51 around just shows how little the Liberals want to lead and want to make real change or sunny ways. I can tell you that students are losing respect for our Prime Minister by the day. I'm going to Ottawa on Monday for a peaceful environmental protest, and that's what's going to get me a CSIS rap sheet and that is why I'm here today.
My name is Souhail Ftouh. I am a lawyer at a member of the Tunis bar. I left Tunisia in 2012, after the Islamists came to power. I am an advocate of secularism. I have always been opposed to an Islamist regime coming to power, even by free elections. I therefore had death threats made against me and I was forced to leave the country. I was asked to close my office, quit my job, and leave the country. That is how I ended up in Canada.
I am a lawyer, but I am also a journalist. I write for several magazines, in particular Israeli and Jewish ones. I am very close to the Israeli community, and that has again caused me a lot of problems, given that I consider Israel to be an extraordinary country. I have no sympathy for the terrorist movements of the Near East.
As an immigrant to Canada, in my first week here, I was almost murdered. In fact, from Tunis, I had called an immigration agency that had a branch here in Canada. It became apparent that the agency had been infiltrated by Islamists. In fact, I was able to discover that it was located a few hundred metres from a mosque that I will not name, located in Park Extension, one of the most dangerous mosques in North America. I was not familiar with Montreal. I paid all my fees and I arrived. The first day, I was sharing accommodation. The agency had placed me in shared accommodation with an Islamist. I had not talked to the agency about my career, my writing, or my ideas, but because my name is Arabic, they had put me in shared accommodation with a Muslim, at random. That guy was extremely dangerous. This was in 2012, before Daesh. He had connections with members of Hamas. He was collecting money in that mosque for the Hamas movement.
He was watching Al-Qaeda videos and all that. So I alerted the people at the RCMP, who told me that I absolutely had to get out of that place. However, they were not able to get into his computer, precisely because the laws prevented it.
That is why I strongly support this law, which I consider to be fairly timid. We have to model our law on the legislation of the United States, or even of Israel, because it is very effective in fighting terrorism. I congratulate Stephen Harper. He is a courageous man and we will always need men like him.
I hope that you will incorporate administrative detention for dangerous individuals into this law. We have to be able to detain them for several months, before they are tried, to allow time to make sure they do not present a security risk. We have to strengthen security, particularly when it comes to immigration agencies, because they are infiltrated to an extreme extent.
I would like to speak to you about something that is extremely concrete.
We already know that there is a big problem in the world when it comes to the Islamic State. I have another approach to propose, as a witness. The main thing to do, to solve that problem, is to identify the problem properly. If the problem has not been identified properly, we will not be able to find a solution. That is what is happening when it comes to the Islamic State group.
That group is a fraud. It uses prejudices against Muslims and against a community to conceal the real actors and the real goals.
I know it is a fantastic story, but I have worked hard recently to gather evidence. In the Islamic State group, I am sure there is a person who is one of the richest people in the world and who manages a company in Silicon Valley.
I advise you to consult the letters written by Robert Hare, a forensic psychology expert, and to listen to the testimony of Charles Kurzman, a sociology expert, who see something very strange in the radicalization phenomenon. It is very strange that a person would be radicalized and go to Syria when they were born in America. That was the case with Aaron Driver, for example. It is very strange.
I am ready to work with the authorities, with all the evidence.
Good evening, members of the committee and members of the public.
I am an engineer by training and I am now working as a teacher. I am very concerned about what is currently going on in Quebec and will now be replicated everywhere in Canada. From now on, police, SQ and RCMP officers are going to be able to go into our places of learning, into the secondary schools and colleges, to spy on young people and look for informers, because, apparently, we have to seek out radicalized elements. Why is all this necessary? It is because the Couillard government decided, immediately after Bill C-51 was enacted, to enact Bill 59, which I urge you all to read.
Allow me to remind everyone of a brief essential point about Bill C-51. It says that any group or entity that there are reasonable grounds to believe is a threat to national security may be targeted. The same logic is now being applied in Bill 59.
My question to the committee is this. Who defines what is reasonable and what is not? Who defines what security is? Who defines who is a terrorist or who presents a threat to national security? Nowhere in that act does it say. For that reason alone, this act should be repealed.
In addition, allow me to make a proposal concerning what you should do at the end of your consultations. You should, after repealing the Anti-terrorism Act, form a commission of inquiry to shed light on everything done by the federal police forces in Canada, starting with the RCMP. A month ago, I was again surprised to learn that a judge in British Columbia had put together a case for two people to commit a terrorist act. There are huge numbers of similar cases.
I appeal to everyone: let us call for a commission of inquiry to examine the wrongdoing. There is too much impunity in our society.
It's inspiring to be here. I would like to pretty much say ditto to everything I just heard from the last speaker, but I want to say this. It seems to me that we survived some years during which the federal government's game strategy has been to create fear and to play on it, and that is intrinsic to the bill we're discussing.
I think we may now be entering a “create apathy” play on it. It was very hard to find these hearings. It will appear that nobody actually cares that much, because the predicted lineups didn't happen. I gather that this has been true across the country, not just here.
I have gone to some other hearings, specifically the electoral reform hearings, and it was the same kind of situation. Then we hear that people don't really care. With respect to the young woman who spoke so passionately about the fear that we're not going to get rid of Harper's policies but are just going to have them repackaged, I think we have to understand that this is becoming quite a broadly spread perception in society. We have the old climate targets, we have this bill, it's looking as though we may be stuck with the old electoral system, and it's looking as if Canadians perhaps don't care that much.
Okay, I'm going to wrap up with this. It wasn't easy to find the hearings. They need to be publicized. They're not on Marc Garneau's website. They're not on the Liberal website. I just googled, and even there, with a plain Google search, they're not easy to find.
This is not good. If we're going to have open consultations, we need to know they're happening.
I would like to remind you that consultations are being held at three levels. Sometimes, the consultation is carried out through your member of Parliament. Sometimes, like this evening, it is through the committee, with representatives of all the parties that have standing in the House of Commons. Sometimes, also, it is through the government. Whatever the form of the consultation, your comments are always welcomed. We want to be as accessible as possible. I want to emphasize that, because I think it is important.
I would like to thank you for being with us this evening, and for sharing personal anecdotes and discussing the substance of a bill. It has been very interesting and very useful for the exercise in which we are engaged.
As was already mentioned, there is the possibility of sending written submissions to the website. We encourage folks who didn't get a chance to complete their thoughts or who perhaps were a bit microphone-shy to do that.
We also encourage you to consult the transcript of the testimony. It is always useful to read what was said by the witnesses.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has appeared before us today, and I thank my colleagues who stayed a few minutes more than was scheduled, to have more time with you.