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Interventions in the House of Commons
Interventions in Committee
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Hon. Catherine McKenna - 11:44
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?
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.
William Amos - 11:46
Hon. Geoff Regan - 14:23
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?
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.
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?
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.
Andrew Scheer - 14:26
Right Hon. Justin Trudeau - 14:26
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?
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.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair - 14:28
Hon. Bill Morneau - 14:41
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?
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.
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?
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.
Kelly Block - 14:44