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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-06-07 12:01 [p.20427]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to such an important piece of legislation. I do not say that lightly. While we were in opposition, Stephen Harper and the government of the day brought in BillC-51. Many Canadians will remember Bill C-51, which had very serious issues. I appreciate the comments coming from the New Democrats with respect to Bill C-51. Like many of them, I too was here, and I listened very closely to what was being debated.
The biggest difference between us and the New Democrats is that we understand very clearly that we have to ensure Canadians are safe while at the same time protecting our rights and freedoms. As such, when we assessed BillC-51, we made a commitment to Canadians to address the major flaws in the bill. At a standing committee on security, which was made up of parliamentarians, I can recall our proposing ways to address the whole issue and concerns about the potential invasion of rights and freedoms. It went into committee, and it was a really long debate. We spent many hours, both in the chamber and at committee, discussing the pros and cons of BillC-51.
What came out of it for us as the Liberal Party back in 2015 was that we made a commitment to Canadians. We said we would support BillC-51, but that if we were to form government we would make substantial changes to it.
That is why it is such a pleasure for me to stand in the House today. Looking at Bill C-59, I would like to tell the constituents I represent that the Prime Minister has kept yet another very important promise made to Canadians in the last election.
We talk a lot about Canada's middle class, those striving to be a part of it, and how this government is so focused on improving conditions for our middle class. One could ultimately argue that the issue of safety and rights is very important to the middle class, but for me, this particular issue is all about righting a wrong from the past government and advancing the whole issue of safety, security, freedoms, and rights.
I believe it is the first time we have been able to deal with that. Through a parliamentary committee, we had legislation that ultimately put in place a national security body, if I can put it that way, to ensure a high sense of transparency and accountability from within that committee and our security agencies. In fact, prior to this government bringing it in, we were the only country that did not have an oversight parliamentary group to look at all the different aspects of security, rights, and freedoms. We were the only one of the Five Eyes that did not have such a group. New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. all had them.
Today, Canada has that in place. That was a commitment we made and a commitment that was fulfilled. I look at Bill C-59 today, and again it is fulfilling a commitment. The government is, in fact, committed to keeping Canadians safe while safeguarding rights and freedoms.
We listen to some of my colleagues across the way, and we understand the important changes taking place even in our own society, with radicalization through the promotion of social media and the types of things that can easily be downloaded or observed. Many Canadians share our concern and realize that at times there is a need for a government to take action. Bill C-59 does just that.
We have legislation before us that was amended. A number of very positive amendments were brought forward, even some from non-government members, that were ultimately adopted. I see that again as a positive thing.
The previous speaker raised some concerns in terms of communications between departments. I remember talking in opposition about how important it is that our security and public safety agencies and departments have those links that enable the sharing of information, but let us look at the essence of what the Conservatives did. They said these agencies shall share, but there was no real clear definition or outline in terms of how they would share information. That was a concern Canadians had. If we look at Bill C-59, we find more detail and clarity in terms of how that will take place.
Again, this is something that will alleviate a great deal of concern Canadians had in regard to our security agencies. It is a positive step forward. Information disclosure between departments is something that is important. Information should be shared, but there also needs to be a proper establishment of a system that allows a sense of confidence and public trust that rights and freedoms are being respected at the same time.
My colleague across the way talked about how we need to buckle down on the promoting and advocating of terrorism. He seemed to take offence to the fact that we have used the word “counselling” for terrorism versus using words like “promoting” and “advocating”. There is no doubt the Conservatives are very good when it comes to spin. They say if it is promoting or advocating terrorism, that is bad, and of course Canadians would agree, but it is those types of words. Now they are offended because we replaced that with “counselling”. I believe that "counselling" will be just as effective, if not more effective, in terms of the long game in trying to prevent these types of actions from taking place. It will be more useful in terms of going into the courts.
There is no doubt that the Conservatives know the types of spin words to use, but I do not believe for a moment that it is more effective than what was put in this legislation. When it comes to rights and freedoms, Canadians are very much aware that it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are a party of the charter. We understand how important that is.
At the same time, we also understand the need to ensure that there is national safety, and to support our security agencies. It was not this government but the Stephen Harper government that literally cut tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars out of things such as border controls and supports for our RCMP. This government has recognized that if we are not only going to talk the line, we also have to walk the line and provide the proper resources. We have seen those additional resources in not only our first budget, but also our second budget.
We have ministers such as public safety, immigration and citizenship, and others who are working together on some very important files. When I think of Bill C-59 and the fine work we have done in regard to the establishment of this parliamentary oversight committee, I feel good for the simple reason that we made a commitment to Canadians and the bill is about keeping that commitment. It deals with ensuring and re-establishing public confidence that we are protecting freedoms and rights. At the same time, it ensures that Canada is a safe country and that the terrorist threat is marginalized as much as possible through good, sound legislation. That is what this is.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2017-11-20 12:05 [p.15267]
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 BillC-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 BillC-51 was introduced. We heard them loud and clear during our consultations, and we are now putting these accountability measures into place.
Bill C-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 BillC-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.
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