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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
NDP-85 is part of a suite of amendments that deals with an issue that has been quite controversial. If I may, I'll take some time to explain, given the fact that, with poor rhetoric and intentions from others in the political sphere, it can easily be presented with a different intent than the one it comes forward with.
While we understand the need to always find ways to improve public safety and to tackle the issue of terrorism, I think the terrorist entities list has caused numerous problems, which have been raised by some of the foremost experts, most notably Professors Forcese and Roach in a paper they wrote called “Yesterday's Law: Terrorist Group Listing in Canada”.
We've seen that there's a cost to taxpayers for this listing and the charter challenges that come along with it. One such case that we've actually seen in the news currently and is going to have significant costs is the one related to Mr. Abdelrazik, the Canadian who is a Sudanese refugee and was arrested when he returned to Sudan and was a victim of torture there. We've seen in the news lately some dubious behaviour on the part of CSIS with regard to the work being done by diplomats. Canada refused to issue a travel document to substitute for his now expired passport because he was still listed using this entity list.
While recognizing that a variety of things need to be tackled, whether it's intelligence and evidence for prosecution or working on how we prosecute and charge terrorist charges, which aren't even always used when we're dealing with cases of terrorism because there's a challenging legal situation around that, the fact of the matter is that anything that's creating situations where we have Canadians being stuck abroad, where we have information sharing and dubious constitutionality, not only harms people's rights and freedoms, but it also causes, naturally, issues with public safety. We want the most accurate information, and we want to lay charges but to do it in a way that is the most efficient.
This process is a secretive process. Appeals are limited. We're not talking about something that's happening in a court. In fact, some of the provisions that are also related to the use of assets are problematic as well. I would point, Chair, to the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (Canada), IRFAN Canada, which hasn't had a chance to contest any of this in court because the same provisions have frozen its assets.
I think we can acknowledge that there are many groups that have committed atrocities throughout the world, but I think what makes us stand apart from the very things we purport to combat is the fact that we have due process and the fact that we don't create lists through back doors that have challenges in terms of their constitutionality. It's something that's been raised numerous times, in particular by Professors Forcese and Roach, as I've said.
Professor Roach, in fact, in his brief, recommended eliminating entirely this listing for the reasons that I have elaborated here. Again, I think due process should not be compromised because of lists that are drafted in the regulatory and political sphere. I think it's extremely problematic; cabinet essentially has unilateral control. For those reasons, I believe we should move forward on repealing these different elements.
I would make one last point, Chair. I had the chance in the House of Commons to debate a private member's bill that sought to create a similar list related to organized crime and gangs. One of the points made at that time was the fact that the expediency that is sometimes sought by creating this list, which seeks to.... In that particular instance, the issue was that, with organized crime, the crown is constantly having to prove that organized crime is what it is. If criminal organization X is before the court, the prosecutors are constantly having to resubmit evidence, and it's a laborious process. However, a list with dubious constitutionality does not resolve that issue.
The same concept applies here. Finding us in a situation that leads to more litigation is not one that ensures public safety, and it costs taxpayers an extraordinary amount of money.
The final thing I'll say for the record is that I believe, and New Democrats believe, that if we can find any mechanism that keeps Canadians safe, we will always study it with rigour and give it the proper consideration it deserves. Any replacement for this mechanism that would be more appropriate and have the proper mechanisms in place is a proposal we would in good faith be willing to consider. As it stands now, this is a list that has failed, and I'm taking the opportunity in this debate on this legislation to move these amendments.
I appreciate the committee's indulgence for that rather long intervention. As I said, if you just go out there and say you want to repeal a list of terrorist organizations, it can sound odd to the person listening in. I think it's important that Canadians understand the objective that I'm seeking to achieve here today.
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