I will, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much to the members of the committee for their work as they are about to begin clause-by-clause study of Bill , the national security act.
I am pleased today to be accompanied by a range of distinguished officials in the field of public safety and national security. David Vigneault, as you know, is the director of CSIS. Greta Bossenmaier, to my right, is the chief of the Communications Security Establishment, and the CSE is involved in Bill in a very major way.
To my left is Vincent Rigby, associate deputy minister at Public Safety. I think this is his first committee hearing in his new role as associate deputy minister. Kevin Brosseau is deputy commissioner of the RCMP, and Doug Breithaupt is from the Department of Justice.
Everything that our government does in terms of national security has two inseparable objectives: to protect Canadians and to defend our rights and freedoms. To do so, we have already taken a number of major steps, such as the new parliamentary committee established by Bill and the new ministerial direction on avoiding complicity in mistreatment. That said, Bill is certainly central to our efforts.
As I said last week in the House, this bill has three core themes: enhancing accountability and transparency, correcting certain problematic elements in the former Bill , and ensuring that our national security and intelligence agencies can keep pace with the evolving nature of security threats.
Bill is the product of the most inclusive and extensive consultations Canada has ever undertaken on the subject of national security. We received more than 75,000 submissions from a variety of stakeholders and experts as well as the general public, and of course this committee also made a very significant contribution, which I hope members will see reflected in the content of Bill C-59.
All of that input guided our work and led to the legislation that's before us today, and we're only getting started. When it comes to matters as fundamental as our safety and our rights, the process must be as open and thorough as it can possibly be. That is why we chose to have this committee study the bill not after second reading but before second reading. As you know, once a bill has passed second reading in the House, its scope is locked in. With our reversal of the usual order, you will have the chance to analyze Bill in detail at an earlier stage in the process, which is beginning now, and to propose amendments that might otherwise be deemed to be beyond the scope of the legislation.
We have, however, already had several hours of debate, and I'd like to use the remainder of my time to address some of the points that were raised during that debate. To begin with, there were concerns raised about CSIS's threat reduction powers. I know there are some who would like to see these authorities eliminated entirely and others who think they should be limitless. We have taken the approach, for those measures that require a judicial warrant, of enumerating what they are in a specific list.
CSIS needs clear authorities, and Canadians need CSIS to have clear authorities without ambiguity so that they can do their job of keeping us safe. This legislation provides that clarity. Greater clarity benefits CSIS officers, because it enables them to go about their difficult work with the full confidence that they are operating within the parameters of the law and the Constitution.
Importantly, this bill will ensure that any measure CSIS takes is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill implied the contrary, but CSIS has been very clear that they have not used that particular option in Bill C-51, and Bill will end any ambiguity.
, during his remarks in the debate in the House, discussed the changes we're proposing to the definition of “terrorist propaganda” and the criminal offence of promoting terrorism. Now, there can be absolutely no doubt of our conviction—I think this crosses all party lines—that spreading the odious ideologies of terrorist organizations is behaviour that cannot be tolerated. We know that terrorist groups use the Internet and social media to reach and radicalize people and to further their vile and murderous ends. We must do everything we can to stop that.
The problem with the way the law is written at the moment, as per Bill is that it is so broad and so vague that it is virtually unuseable, and it hasn't been used. Bill proposes terminology that is clear and familiar in Canadian law. It would prohibit counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence. This does not require that a particular person be counselled to commit a particular offence. Simply encouraging others to engage in non-specific acts of terrorism will qualify and will trigger that section of the Criminal Code.
Because the law will be more clearly drafted, it will be easier to enforce. Perhaps we will actually see a prosecution under this new provision. There has been no prosecution of this particular offence as currently drafted.
There were also questions raised during debate about whether the new accountability mechanisms will constitute too many hoops for security and intelligence agencies to jump through as they go about their work. The answer, in my view, is clearly, no. When the bill was introduced, two of the country's leading national security experts, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, said the bill represents “solid gains—measured both from a rule of law and civil liberties perspective—and come at no credible cost to security.”
Accountability mechanisms for Canadian security and intelligence agencies have been insufficient for quite some time. Bill took one major step to remedy that weakness by creating the new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. Bill will now add the new comprehensive national security and intelligence review agency, which some people, for shorthand, refer to as a super-SIRC, as well as the position of intelligence commissioner, which is another innovation in Bill C-59.
These steps have been broadly applauded. Some of the scrutiny that we are providing for in the new law will be after the fact, and where there is oversight in real time we've included provisions to deal with exigent circumstances when expedience and speed are necessary.
It is important to underscore that accountability is, of course, about ensuring that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected, but it is also about ensuring that our agencies are operating as effectively as they possibly can to keep Canadians safe. Both of these vital goals must be achieved simultaneously—safety and rights together, not one or the other.
Debate also included issues raised by the New Democratic Party about what is currently known as SCISA, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act. There was a suggestion made that the act should be repealed entirely, but, with respect, that would jeopardize the security of Canadians. If one government agency or department has genuine information about a security threat, they have to be able to disclose it to the appropriate partner agencies within government in order to deal with that threat, and you may recall that this has been the subject of a number of judicial enquiries in the history of our country over the last number of years.
That disclosure must be governed by clear rules, which is why Bill establishes the following three requirements. First, the information being disclosed must contribute to the recipient organization's national security responsibilities. Second, the disclosure must not affect any person's privacy more than is reasonably necessary. Third, a statement must be provided to the recipient attesting to the information's accuracy. Furthermore, we make it clear that no new information collection powers are being created or implied, and records must be kept of what information is actually being shared.
Mr. Chair, I see you're giving me a rude gesture, which could be misinterpreted in another context.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Ralph Goodale: There are a couple of points more, but I suspect they'll be raised during the course of the discussion. I'm happy to try to answer questions with the full support of the officials who are with me this morning.
Thank you, Minister Goodale, for being here this morning, and to your team.
I want to compliment you and the ministry on bringing this to committee before second reading. I suppose I'm naive in my newness about the intent behind that, and I hope to understand that better, appreciating the fact that it will give us, as a committee, an opportunity to look at the bill in its entirety without being locked into the scope, as you mentioned before.
One of the things I find encouraging is that the bill looks at a number of factors that I guess were not considered fully in Bill . This is a complement to that, which is very good. When you decided to bring this back to committee before second reading, it made me feel as if there were some things you recognized as a ministry that we can make better. We can maybe do some tweaks to it that hadn't been done when it was first drafted.
Is there anything that comes to mind that you would ask us, as a committee, to pay particular attention to that hasn't already been dealt with?
Mr. Motz, we listened very carefully to the public reaction and the parliamentary reaction when we tabled the bill in June. By and large, it was favourable.
However, with a piece of legislation this large, there will be differing perspectives and points of view. Over the course of the summer, there's been some elaboration on that. Some academic papers have been written, and various people who were involved in the consultations have come back to raise a question about this or a concern about that.
There are two areas that I would mention in particular. One is the provisions around SCISA, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, and whether those provisions can be improved or upgraded. Some of the experts, for example, Professors Forcese and Roach, have made some suggestions in that regard, which we're prepared to take a very careful look at. That is a critical mechanism here for agencies to be able to share information, but to do so on the proper legal basis, properly protecting privacy. The Privacy Commissioner made some observations as well. That's one area.
With regard to another area, you may have noticed that, earlier in the fall, I issued new ministerial directives to the security agencies about how they deal with information sharing with foreign entities. People have noted that a ministerial directive, by custom, has the force of law. It may be valuable to take that concept and find a way to put it in legislation so that there is a legislative anchor or hook for the ministerial directives.
Those are just two possibilities that we could consider, and I hope by the end of this conversation, you will agree that your optimism is not misplaced.
Minister, thank you for being here.
I want to point out a couple of things for the record before we get going.
A lot has been made about our ability to study the bill more thoroughly by doing this before second reading, but at the end of the day, we still only get you for one hour on a 138-page bill. Certainly, I want to express some disappointment about that. At the end of the day, beyond the question of scope of amendments, it doesn't necessarily allow us more space to study quite an extensive bill, as you can see from the size of our binders.
The other thing I want to mention in this notion of unscrambling eggs is that certainly I have no doubt of the ability of the justice department to do what my colleague did in his Bill , which is on the order paper right now and which repeals in its entirety all of the provisions that were brought in by former Bill . I would argue the notion that it is unfeasible is incorrect, because we have been able to develop such a bill.
Those things being said, I do have questions.
The first one I want to get to is the changes to CSE in part 3 of the bill, in proposed subsection 24(1), in paragraphs (a) and (b) specifically, where we talk about “acquiring, using, analysing, retaining or disclosing publicly available information”. That section specifically mentions “Despite subsections 23(1) and (2)”, which are the subsections that are specifically protecting those actions from being done to Canadians and in Canada. Therefore, my understanding is that it obviously means that, for any of this data being acquired in this way, these actions can be done to Canadians and in Canada.
I just want to understand here, because certainly the argument can be made that it's publicly available information and that's too bad for people who maybe don't manage their social media very well. However, a few things are of concern, specifically language like “disclosing...information”, and who that—
Thank you very much, Minister.
Thank you for the question.
With respect to this section, proposed subsection 24(1) does talk about how CSE may acquire, use, and analyze “publicly available information”. I think there are two things to perhaps first frame this conversation. Number one, it has to be in relation to our mandate. We are a foreign signals intelligence organization. We focus on foreign targets and foreign threats to Canada, so we don't have a mandate to focus on Canadians. We're definitely an organization that's focused on foreign threats to Canada.
In terms of the intent of this provision, it very much allows us to be able to conduct perhaps a basic research, I would say, with respect to our mandate. I will give you an example. For example, we might issue a foreign intelligence report or a cybersecurity report, and there might be publicly available information that would help complement that. For example, if we were talking about a security breach or a cybersecurity breach that happened, we might want to reference publicly available information that may talk about the nature of that breach and how it was reported elsewhere.
We don't have an investigative mandate. We don't have a mandate to focus on Canadians. Again, it's very much in association with our mandate: foreign signals intelligence and cybersecurity protection.
Justice Noël's judgment is very interesting. Obviously he was concerned about certain procedures and practices and he laid out his instruction as to how those practices were to be adjusted. Bill captures Justice Noël's advice and judgment for a procedure going forward dealing with the management of data and datasets. That is all articulated in a very elaborate set of rules that will apply.
However, Justice Noël also said this. I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but he said to bear in mind that the CSIS Act was written in 1984. Think back to 1984. If you had a cellphone, it was as big as a breadbox. The fax machine was cutting-edge technology. A lot has changed, and as you mentioned, Monsieur Picard, he said explicitly that maybe all of this needs to be revisited in light of all the technological change that has taken place since 1984.
There have been recommendations from the Security Intelligence Review Committee. There have been judgements of the courts. There have been findings by judicial inquiries into a whole variety of circumstances in terms of the collection, the analysis, and the utilization of certain datasets, and what should be permitted and what shouldn't be permitted. We've taken all of that on board and it is now embodied in the rules laid out in Bill .
There was another dimension of Justice Noël's judgment where he suggested in some pretty blunt language that there needed to be greater communication and candour between the agency and the court.
David Vigneault is the director of CSIS. I would just ask him to comment on that issue with respect to candour.
All information that the service gathers must be absolutely linked to our mandate, which is to monitor threats to the security of Canada. From the outset, the information we collect must be related to a threat to the security of Canada.
Bill sets out categories of information that are determined by the Minister. He tells me, as director, which categories of information we have the right to use. The men and women of the service will go and gather that information in an organized fashion. If the information is part of a Canadian dataset, the Intelligence Commissioner will have to assess the minister's decision.
With Canadian information, the Federal Court will have to determine whether we can use it and keep it. The way in which we use that information will be reviewed by the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
The way in which the categories are determined by the Minister, the way in which we will use Canadian information, the role that the Federal Court and the Intelligence Commissioner will play, and the fact that any subsequent use of the information will be reviewed by oversight committees, all this will allow us to use information that is absolutely essential in confronting 21st century threats. Having been written 30 years ago, the law was showing its age, as Justice Noël said.
These measures will allow us, in 2017, to confront the threats appropriately, while being accountable for the protection of information on third parties, as you mentioned.
That's always difficult to predict, Mr. MacKenzie, as you know.
In the example I used in my remarks, I think my answer to your question would be, yes, in the tools that are available to deal with terrorist propaganda. The problem with the language in Bill was that it was very broad, and in the language of lawyers in court, it was so broad that it was vague and unenforceable.
If you recall, there was some discussion during the election campaign in 2015 that the language in that particular section might have been used to capture certain election campaign ads, which obviously wasn't the intention of the legislation.
We've made it more precise without affecting its efficacy, and I think we made it more likely that charges can be laid and successfully prosecuted, because we have paralleled an existing legal structure that courts, lawyers, and prosecutors are familiar with, and that is the offence of counselling. Clearly, it doesn't have to be a specific individual counselling another specific individual to do a specific thing. If they are generally advising people to go out and commit terror, that's an offence of counselling under the the act they way we've written it.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'd like to welcome Minister Goodale to the committee with his team and extend my congratulations to Mr. Rigby and welcome him in his new role.
I'd like to also echo Mr. Motz's appreciation for bringing this bill to us before second reading.
Minister Goodale, my question falls squarely into the overarching framework that we need both good security and to protect our charter rights. It's about Canadian youth and their vulnerability to terrorism. In particular, we have terrorist networks around the world like Abu Sayyaf, in the Philippines; al Shabaab in Somalia; ISIS in Syria, and the Levant; and future terrorist networks, potentially or likely, that will prey on youth in various countries. These are children, really, according to my reading, who range between the ages of 14 and 19 or who are into their early twenties.
Clause 159 of the bill brings the Youth Criminal Justice Act into connection with Bill , applies it to Bill C-59, including the principle that detention is not a substitute for social measures and also that preventative detention, as provided for in section 83.3 of the Criminal Code, falls into that same framework. It's not a substitute.
I wonder if you could comment on your vision of how the bill relates to young offenders, vulnerable youth, essentially the pre-commission of any terrorist offences or recruitment by networks, and then also your broader vision about how we can do better in terms of preventing terrorism in the first place by making sure these networks do not prey on Canadian youth and children.
Mr. Chair, thank you very much. Thank you, officials, for remaining with us for the second hour.
My first set of questions is about the Secure Air Travel Act. Many colleagues, me included, will have heard, from constituents, concerns about this, not the legislation but the current circumstances under which particularly young people and children find themselves not being on but flagged by a no-fly list. It's difficult to get around it because we don't have a redress system.
In light of the minister's comments that this bill was introduced before second reading, I wanted to ask you for your views on the legislation as it stands in developing a redress system. Are there particular areas that we can pay attention to as a committee?
We are being pushed hard also on the question of timeliness, of having this part of the legislation completed. Some constituents feel that there is room for an interim quick fix. I'd like to have your views on whether that's possible and feasible.
Once we have the legislation in place and the budget appropriation that's required to fix this problem, what would have to be done operationally to actually build this system? I think there are still some misperceptions of the magnitude, the complexity that's involved in building an effective redress system.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much for the question.
I'll pass it on to Monik, who has actually been working on this file to provide some of the details.
But absolutely, I think the minister has made it clear that establishing a redress system is a priority for the government. I think that within the legislation we've already started down that track. In terms of a quick fix, I don't think that there's necessarily one that is readily available. As you say, over time we are going to look at a more comprehensive solution.
In terms of redress, I think it's starting off with a centralized screening system so that the government actually does the screening. Right now that is the responsibility of the airline. We'll bring it back to the government so that we can actually provide more rigorous and consistent screening across the board. In the legislation itself there are also references to the notion of an identification number that will allow those who request the identification number to be screened ahead of time. If there's any misunderstanding with respect to being on the list, that can be addressed before they actually show up at the airport.
We've also made it clear that in cases where a child, for example, is not on the list, the government will inform the parents of that. We feel that is an important provision in that there's a great deal of apprehension when there is a false positive match from parents who ask if their child is on the list. Whether it's through accident or through some other provision, I think it removes a lot of that apprehension if we can actually say to a parent that the child is not on the list.
Over time, yes, this is going to be a very comprehensive approach. By having the centralized screening process, we are actually going to have to build the system up from the ground. It will require a big information technology fix that will require significant funding over time to make that happen.
We feel that the legislation is definitely moving us in the right direction.
Monik, did you want to add anything?
I just have to comment that it is problematic to me that as our threat to national security increases, we would actually go backwards on our ability to protect ourselves from it.
Again, maybe the same individual can respond to the significance of changing the word “sharing” to “disclosing”?
In discussing this previously, we were having some conversations on sharing information, what it means to disclose information, and whether that's just a cosmetic change in language. Do you see a substantive shift in how that can be carried out?
As we know, the sharing of information is absolutely critical between departments and agencies for national security, as well as with our allied partners, but in-house, in Canada, it's absolutely critical. Do you see this as being a substantive change that's going to make it more difficult or easier to share information?
Perhaps I can tackle that one, Mr. Chairman.
I don't think it's just cosmetic. I think it's actually quite important. As the minister suggested, moving from “sharing” to “disclosing” is also making it clear that this is not about collection. This is about disclosing information, and sometimes I think within the definition of “sharing”, it can be implicit that there's a collection dimension as well, so we wanted absolute clarity in that regard.
Also, disclosing makes it very clear that it's from one body, one organization, to another organization, so there are certain requirements on the disclosing organization or agency now in terms of the information they give to another agency or organization.
Absolutely, I hear you in terms of the sharing of information being extremely important. Indeed, I think the amendments that are being suggested now within the act are still aimed—while protecting privacy, protecting rights, and so on—at making sure that those organizations have the information they need to respond to threats.
Thank you for the question.
Ms. Gallant, I believe that you're referring to the cyber-operations that are in the proposed bill and there are two different types of cyber-operations. The first are called defensive cyber-operations. For those, the Minister of Foreign Affairs would need to be informed of this initiative. She wouldn't actually be approving it, but she would be informed of it.
For an active cyber-operation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as you said, would actually also have to be approving it, which would be a two-key approval, if I can say that.
I think the important thing to underline here is that these operations, whether they be defensive or active cyber-operations, are focused on foreign targets or focused outside of Canada. Of course, the Minister of Foreign Affairs would have an interest in and responsibility for Canada's international and foreign affairs, as these activities would be implicating foreign targets or threats to Canada, which would be part of the rationale for that.