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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2017-11-20 12:05 [p.15289]
moved that:
Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
He said: Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada has no greater responsibility than keeping Canadians safe. We must fulfill that essential and solemn obligation while at the same time safeguarding Canadian rights and freedoms.
This double objective of protecting Canadians while defending their rights and freedoms was the basis of our commitments regarding national security during the last election, and it informed everything we have done in the area since we have been in government.
We have, for example, created a committee of parliamentarians with unprecedented access to classified information to scrutinize the activities of all national security and intelligence agencies. We have launched the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to help Canada become a world leader in counter-radicalization.
We have issued new ministerial directions that more clearly prohibit conduct that would result in a substantial risk of torture. Our starting point was the most extensive and inclusive consultations about national security ever undertaken by the Government of Canada. Beginning in the spring of 2016, that effort involved individual stakeholders, round tables, town halls, various renowned experts, studies by parliamentary committees, and a broad solicitation of views online. More than 75,000 submissions were received.
All of this fresh input was supplemented by earlier judicial inquires by Iacobucci, O'Connor, and Major, as well as several parliamentary proposals, certain court judgments, and reports from existing national security review bodies. It all helped to shape the legislation before us today, Bill C-59, the national security act of 2017.
The measures in this bill cover three core themes, enhancing accountability and transparency, correcting problematic elements from the former Bill C-51, and updating our national security laws to ensure that our agencies can keep pace with evolving threats.
One of the major advances in this legislation is the creation of the national security and intelligence review agency. This new body, which has been dubbed by some as a "super SIRC", will be mandated to review any activity carried out by any government department that relates to national security and intelligence, as well as any matters referred to it by the government. It will be able to investigate public complaints. It will specifically replace the existing review bodies for CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment, but it will also be authorized to examine security and intelligence activities throughout the government, including the Canada Border Services Agency.
In this day and age, security operations regularly involve multiple departments and agencies. Therefore, effective accountability must not be limited to the silo of one particular institution. Rather, it must follow the trail wherever it leads. It must provide for comprehensive analysis and integrated findings and recommendations. That is exactly what Canadians will get from this new review agency.
Bill C-59 also creates the brand new position of the intelligence commissioner, whose role will be to oversee and approve, or not approve, certain intelligence activities by CSIS and the CSE in advance. The intelligence commissioner will be a retired or supernumerary superior court judge whose decisions will be binding. In other words, if he or she says that a particular proposed operation is unreasonable or inappropriate, it will simply not proceed.
Taken together, the new comprehensive review agency, the intelligence commissioner, and the new committee of parliamentarians will give Canada accountability mechanisms of unprecedented scope and depth. This is something that Canadians have been calling for, and those calls intensified when the former Bill C-51 was introduced. We heard them loud and clear during our consultations, and we are now putting these accountability measures into place.
BillC-59 also brings clarity and rigour to internal government information sharing under the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, or SCISA. This is the law that allows government institutions to share information with each other in respect of activities that undermine the security of Canada. Among other things, Bill C-59 would change the name of the law, in English, to the security of Canada information disclosure act, to be clear that we are talking only about the disclosure of existing information, not the collection of anything new. Government institutions will now be required to keep specific records of all disclosures made under the act, and to provide these records to the new review agency.
Importantly, Bill C-59 clarifies the definition of activities “that undermine the security of Canada”. For example, it is explicit in stating that advocacy, protest, dissent, and artistic expression are not included. The new legislation would also provide more precision in the definition of “terrorist propaganda”, in line with the well-known criminal offence of counselling.
The paramountcy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an overriding principle in Bill C-59. That is perhaps most evident in the updates that we are proposing to the CSIS Act. This is the law that created CSIS back in 1984, and it has not been modernized in any meaningful way since then.
The former Bill C-51 empowered CSIS to engage in measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada without clearly defining what those measures could and could not include. We are now creating a specific closed list of measures that CSIS will have the authority to take to deal with threats. If any such activity might limit a charter right, CSIS will have to go before a judge. The activity can only be allowed if the judge is satisfied that it is compliant with the charter.
Another concern we heard during the consultations and more generally has been about the no-fly list, especially the problem of false positives, which affects people whose names are similar to listed individuals. This is due to long-standing design flaws in the way that the no-fly list was first created many years ago. Those flaws require legislative, regulatory, and technological changes to fix them.
Bill C-59 includes the necessary legislative changes and paves the way for the others that will be necessary. In essence, Canada's no-fly list currently piggybacks onto the airlines' computer systems, which means that the government does not control the fields to be included nor the way that the whole system works. This bill would give us the authority we need to allow the government, instead of airlines, to screen passenger information against the no-fly list. The people who have been affected by this, especially those with children, feel frustrated and stigmatized by their no-fly problems. That is entirely understandable, and that is why we are working so hard to get this fixed. Passing Bill C-59 is a necessary step toward that end.
There is much more in Bill C-59 than I could possibly deal with in these 10 minutes, but in keeping with the open and inclusive approach that we have taken with this legislation since before it was even drafted, we are sending it to committee before second reading to ensure that the examination of the bill is as thorough as possible.
Professor Craig Forcese, a respected expert in national security law from the University of Ottawa, said Bill C-59 “appears to be more carefully crafted than anything we've seen in this area in a long time..”. I appreciate that, but there is still more work to be done.
I certainly hope to hear ideas and advice from colleagues in the House. We are open to constructive suggestions as we work together to ensure that Canada's national security framework is as strong and effective as it can possibly be.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2017-10-06 11:44 [p.14058]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians' overall distrust of our security agencies is a direct consequence of the fact that we have no mechanism to provide real-time oversight and accountability.
The government is currently in court with environmental groups it has accused of spying. Even the watchdog tasked with monitoring CSIS operations failed in its duty by dismissing their complaint and throwing a cloak of total secrecy over the whole case.
Bill C-59 does nothing to fix these problems, but pays lip service to them. When will the minister truly take steps to make real-time oversight, fix these problems, limit the excessive powers of CSIS, and truly protect the rights of Canadians to peaceful protests?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2017-10-06 11:45 [p.14058]
Mr. Speaker, in fact, the details of Bill C-59 have been examined by the most eminent experts in the field. Every single one of them has said that this represents a major step forward in terms of transparency, scrutiny, and accountability, including real-time oversight and the creation, for the first time, of the office of the intelligence commissioner that will examine the activities of security agencies before those activities are undertaken, as well as having them reviewed afterward.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2017-06-21 14:24 [p.13086]
Mr. Speaker, national security experts are concerned about the Prime Minister's efforts to weaken our national security legislation and to put obstacles in the way of our law enforcement agencies.
The former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, Ward Elcock, said that this legislation will make it more difficult for the agency to analyze potential threats of terrorism.
Is the Prime Minister prepared to listen to expert advice and to improve his bill?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2017-06-21 14:24 [p.13086]
Mr. Speaker, we are very open to suggestions, amendments, and improvements to national security. We appreciate just how delicate and important it is to strike a balance, and how this balance is essential for Canadians. We have a duty to protect the security of individuals, communities, and families while also protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians. This is what we will always be sure to do. I encourage the members opposite to participate fully in the process for reviewing this bill.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2017-06-21 14:25 [p.13087]
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the Prime Minister's indication that he is open to amendments.
Many of the national security experts are raising the alarm over a specific attempt to water down some of these national security laws. Several of our European allies are now dealing with the threat of terrorism literally on a weekly basis. The fact is that Canada is not, and will not, be immune to this threat.
Will the Prime Minister specifically be open to restoring the proactive ability for our national security agencies to disrupt terrorist threats, when mere minutes matter?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2017-06-21 14:25 [p.13087]
Mr. Speaker, no one in the House takes lightly the responsibility we all share, particularly on the government side, to keep Canadians safe in their homes, in their communities, and when they travel. We are very much focused on that, while at the same time understanding that Canadians expect and deserve to be reassured that their rights and freedoms will also be respected. Getting that balance right is extraordinarily important.
I look forward to robust discussions with all parties in the House, all members in the House, hearing from experts, as we move forward on getting that balance right, which is keeping Canadians safe and protecting their rights.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2017-06-20 14:26 [p.36]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives take ensuring the safety of Canadians seriously and we also understand the need to balance those concerns with protection for civil liberties. Unfortunately law enforcement and security agencies sometimes have only mere minutes to react to threats.
The Liberals' new bill is removing the ability of security agencies to take proactive steps when sometimes just seconds matter.
Why does the Prime Minister want to remove the tools our law enforcement and security agencies need to disrupt threats to Canadians before they happen?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2017-06-20 14:27 [p.36]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect their government to do two things: to protect our rights and freedoms and keep our communities safe. That is the focus of our national security legislation. That is something we are working very hard, with all parties, to ensure we are able to do.
We look forward to recommendations, to advice, to amendments from other parties on how to improve that issue. All Canadians know we need to balance security with rights and freedoms. That is what Canadians expect.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2017-06-20 14:42 [p.38]
Mr. Speaker, having voted in favour of the Harper government's Bill C-51, the minister is finally presenting the promised reforms, but they are unfortunately incomplete.
The security of Canada information sharing act can have its name changed, but that is only a cosmetic change that does not protect the information shared by national security agencies.
Why has the minister not addressed one of the most controversial aspects of the former Bill C-51?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2017-06-20 14:42 [p.39]
Mr. Speaker, in the election we laid out a very detailed program for how we would deal with Bill C-51, and today we have implemented exactly that. It is contained in Bill C-59, before the House, which is in addition to the committee of parliamentarians, which is in addition to the funding for counter-radicalization, which is in addition to the most extensive consultations in Canadian history. We have listened carefully to Canadians and we have implemented their advice.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2017-06-20 14:43 [p.39]
Mr. Speaker, the committee of parliamentarians does not have full access; the consultation took nearly two years, while CSIS continued to use these new abusive powers that it has. The promise was to fix a bill as a way to hide from the fact that they endorsed the Conservatives' draconian agenda. The Federal Court ruled a few months ago that it was illegal for CSIS to retain bulk metadata. What we see in Bill C-59 is simply formalizing and legalizing what the court deemed illegal.
Could the minister explain where in the consultations he was told by experts and Canadians that it was the right thing to do?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2017-06-20 14:43 [p.39]
Mr. Speaker, in his judgment last fall, Justice Noël of the Federal Court indicated that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, in his view, was out of date in relation to new technology and other developments over the last 25 years. We have taken his judgment to heart and in fact implemented in this legislation the kind of framework to ensure that the law and the Constitution are properly respected.
The difficulty is that Canadians have made it very clear that they do not trust the NDP with their safety and they do not trust the Conservatives with their rights.
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