Madam Speaker, today, we begin debating Bill C-59. In fact, we are debating a motion to send the bill to committee before second reading. I will come back to that.
Bill C-59 is the result of a process that began more than two years ago, even before the current government was elected. We know that we can trace this bill to Bill C-51, which was introduced by the Conservatives and then passed by the Conservative majority, with the support of the Liberals, of course, including the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Prime Minister.
When I think about the Liberals' approach to national security in the last parliament, an certain expression comes to mind.
They want to have their cake and eat it too.
That is the problem. It is extremely worrying to see that someone can be so cavalier about an issue as fundamental as the rights of Canadians, their freedom, and their right to privacy. This is what was jeopardized, on several fronts, by the system introduced by the previous Bill C-51. Unfortunately, 10 minutes is not enough for me to review all the problematic elements, so I will instead focus on the Liberal government's effort, which is unfortunately a failure.
Of course, there are some elements that we could support in the current bill. The creation of what some are calling this new body of super SIRC is something we could support. The changes that are being brought forward are long overdue for the no-fly list, although much more needs to be done.
I would be remiss to not mention the importance of the fight we have been waging with groups like the no-fly list kids, fighting the false positives, and making sure the proper funding is there for a proper redress system, which is not something specifically addressed in the bill. It is an element that, at the very least, things have started to move, although not quickly enough for the needs of these families who pay the price in dignity and travel logistics every time they attempt to travel.
There are several elements that we are extremely worried about. There is the part about the information sharing system's name change, as the minister even admitted. This change was brought about with the previous Bill C-51. A new name was given and there was a cosmetic change, but the concerns remain the same. That is what we are hearing from groups like the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. This group explained to us that, despite the good intentions, keeping a system that should have never existed in the first place is problematic. This is why the NDP is asking that the provisions brought about by Bill C-51 be outright repealed. That is what my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke proposed with his Bill C-303, which was put on the Order Paper and was introduced. It proposes to eliminate all these problematic elements.
That is why New Democrats have always called for the full repeal of all elements that were brought in by former Bill C-51. These cosmetic changes that are being proposed by the Liberals are not enough. The concerns still exist about sharing information between government departments. The minister can use the word “disclosure” and say it is already existing information, but the fact of the matter is, if we are considering, for example, a Canadian detained abroad and some of the horrific and tragic situations that have led to many of these national inquiries, which have led to some of the recommendations the government is attempting to act on, part of the problem has always been information sharing. For example, we can look at consular services and foreign affairs, that might be obtaining information about a Canadian detained abroad in a country with a horrible human rights record. That information is being shared with CSIS, that then might share it with the Five Eyes allies, like the U.S., that in the past has not been up to snuff on some cases of the way Canadians have been treated in some of these situations, where they have been stuck in countries with horrible human rights records. None of that would actually be fixed by what is being proposed in the bill.
We have other serious concerns about the bill. One has to do with the changes regarding cybersecurity and, in particular, the idea of creating cyber-weapons. Experts and civil society are very concerned, because the Liberals have not properly explained how these weapons will be protected. We are not talking about traditional weapons that can be stockpiled in a particular location to protect a physical place. We are talking about creating situations in which weapons can easily be moved around the digital world. This point was raised and it is worrisome.
I want to get back to the motion before us. The government is acting as though sending the motion to committee before second reading is a good thing. It claims that the process will allow us to have a more in-depth study. On the surface, it is hard to blame them. We would be happy to have an in-depth discussion on this in committee. It is extremely important.
Consider this. This motion would put us in a position, and the Liberals have attempted to find this loophole, where we can no longer fall back on a standing order specifically to prevent this kind of omnibus legislation from being put forward, once again something the government promised not to do. This is omnibus legislation, the creation of something like three new acts, and many acts being substantially changed. The National Defence Act would change. Different elements of acts under the purview of the public safety minister would change. These disparate elements require separate votes.
The fact is that at 150 pages long, with so many elements being tackled, it is of grave concern that we would have to go through it in such an expedited process. It deserves to be properly separated and considered. That is particularly concerning because that is exactly the approach that the government said it would not take. That was part of the problem with Bill C-51. It changed so many elements of how we would deal with national security and protecting Canadians' rights in this country that it became almost impossible for the committee to give it proper study, despite the valiant attempts that were certainly made by the New Democrat opposition and with little help from the Liberals at the time.
I unfortunately have just 10 minutes, so I want to take this opportunity to say that we will be raising a point of order to try to convince the Chair that we must separate the different elements of this bill. We want to show our support for some of these elements, but we want to call the government to order by opposing the elements that were meant to repair the damage caused by the former Bill C-51. These elements make up the bulk of the bill, but they do not repair that damage.
Let me go back to some of the other problematic elements in this bill that were supposed to be fixed from Bill C-51. Let us look at the threat-reduction powers that were given to CSIS. The very existence of CSIS was specifically to separate the powers of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Too many times, history pointed to occasions where the RCMP failed to juggle the dual responsibilities of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Different recommendations led to the creation of CSIS.
The minister is obviously fully aware of this because, as he mentioned in his comments, the CSIS Act was adopted over 30 years ago, with very little overhaul, until Bill C-51 and this legislation being proposed. We have to understand that CSIS does not have threat reduction powers. That responsibility belongs to law enforcement, as well as the information-sharing regime brought in by Bill C-51. Once again, the changes being proposed by New Democrats are certainly an improvement, but when the bar is as low as it was with Bill C-51, it does not go far enough. These are the types of elements of the previous legislation under the previous government that need to be fully repealed. Unfortunately, CSIS was given this responsibility, which is not part of its mandate and should never have been, to begin with. It is exactly the opposite of why CSIS was created.
I see that my time is unfortunately running out. Since we are debating a motion, we have just 10 minutes to debate a 150-page bill. This is obviously one of the reasons why the elements should have been separated.
We are opposed to this motion. The only solution is to repeal all of the elements in the former Bill C-51.