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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:07 [p.28737]
moved:
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, the House:
agrees with amendments 3 and 4 made by the Senate;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 1 made by the Senate because the intent of the legislation is to ensure ministerial responsibility and accountability, and the legislation provides that the Intelligence Commissioner must review whether or not the conclusions of the Minister of National Defence, when issuing a foreign intelligence authorization, are reasonable; additionally, subsection 20(1) already requires the Commissioner to provide the Minister with reasons for authorizing or rejecting a foreign intelligence authorization request;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 2 made by the Senate because it would limit the scope of subsection 83.221(1) and would create inconsistencies with the general counselling provisions contained in section 22 and paragraphs 464(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code.
He said: Madam Speaker, as many external experts have said, Bill C-59, which is before the House once again, is of extraordinary importance to Canada and the security and intelligence agencies that work every day to keep Canadians safe.
During the 2015 election, we promised to correct certain problematic elements in the previous government's national security legislation, BillC-51. In making that promise, we pledged that a government must be able to protect individual rights while at the same time keeping Canadians safe. This is not about striking a balance whereby rights and safety are traded off one against the other; this is about achieving and protecting both simultaneously.
Work on this legislation began very shortly after our government was first sworn into office in late 2015. The time and effort it has taken to get Bill C-59 to the point it is at today have ensured that this is the right bill at the right time for Canada.
We began by examining landmark court rulings, such as those issued by Justices Iacobucci, O'Connor and Major, as well as past reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the Senate and the House of Commons. We sought to implement their advice and their rulings.
We then looked at the legal authorities and powers our security and intelligence agencies have from a modern technological standpoint.
The Communications Security Establishment has been part of the Department of National Defence since the end of World War II, with its authorities embedded in the National Defence Act. In 2011, the CSE became a stand-alone agency. However, to this day, it still does not have its own enabling legislation with clear, delineated powers and authorities that reflect the necessary capabilities of signals intelligence in the modern era. Bill C-59 would fix that.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was written in 1984, following the Macdonald Commission report. It has been largely left in its original form since that time. To put that in perspective, in 1984, the Mac computer was first introduced to the public. If one had a PC instead of a Mac, one ran it on DOS, because Bill Gates had not released the first version of Windows yet, back in 1984. If one wanted to be one of the first people to buy a cellphone, one had to pay, in today's dollars, about $10,000, back in 1984. If one wanted to go online, one used a dial-up modem to access a bulletin board system, or BBS, because the Internet, with browsers, was still a decade away.
As Federal Court Justice Noël wrote in 2016, “the CSIS Act is showing its age”. Suffice it to say, as we looked at the enabling legislation for our security and intelligence agencies, we realized that they needed a lot of updating just to catch up to technology.
In September 2016, having done our basic research and homework, we launched a national security green paper outlining the challenges and the opportunities, and we asked Canadians to share their views. As it turned out, we heard back from them in spades. Over 75,000 submissions were received, and all of them are now summarized in an open and transparent manner on the Public Safety Canada website. During that process, we held town halls and public consultations from coast to coast. The public safety committee of the House of Commons also undertook a study and submitted its recommendations to the government.
Then, on June 20, 2017, after analyzing and synthesizing all of that input, Bill C-59 was tabled in Parliament.
We put it in the public domain before the House rose for the summer so that MPs and the public could truly digest the bill's contents before debate began in Parliament later that fall.
Once the House resumed that fall, the bill was referred to the public safety committee before second reading, allowing it to have more scope for possible amendments. The committee made numerous changes, improving the legislation, including a new requirement for public ministerial directives on receiving or sharing information that may have been tainted by torture. The House passed Bill C-59 on June 19, 2018, and sent it to the Senate, where it received even greater scrutiny and several more amendments.
Among them, the Senate has amended the legislation to require parliamentary review of the legislation three years after royal assent rather than five years, as originally proposed. The original intent of the review after five years was to take into account that some of the provisions of Bill C-59 may come into force quite a bit down the road, and those parts may not have had the time to mature enough for a fulsome review after just three years. However, as I said at the outset, this is a vitally important piece of legislation, and the majority of it will be fully in force in the near term, so a review after three years, as proposed by the Senate, is just fine with me. Plus, a review this quickly would ensure that any changes that may be required as a result of the review could happen sooner.
The Senate also improved part 1.1 of the legislation, the new avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act. While the bill lists five specific agencies involved in national security and intelligence operations that would have to comply with the provisions of the new act, the Senate added a schedule so that in future, new departments or agencies might be added by Governor in Council. This could include existing departments with a new national security component or future agencies that might be created.
I would also note that the Senate made eight observations about Bill C-59, which we will, of course, very carefully examine. I especially like the idea of the Senate undertaking a study it is proposing on converting intelligence to evidence in a court of law. This is a point that has bedevilled policy-makers for years, as well as Crown prosecutors and security and intelligence operators, and it is a topic that could benefit from detailed Senate examination.
The Senate also amended part 2 of the bill, which creates the new position and office of the intelligence commissioner. I thank the Senate for their consideration of this part, but will be asking my colleagues here in the House to respectfully decline this amendment.
The intelligence commissioner, under the new legislation, would have a vital role to play in determining whether the standard of reasonableness had been met in a foreign intelligence authorization. However, it would not be the role of the intelligence commissioner to determine how that standard should be met. There may be various methods to meet the standard, and the choice of which method is to be used would be at the discretion of the minister. There should be no confusion about ultimate accountability. It is important to ensure that the authority and accountability for a foreign intelligence operation would rest squarely with the Minister of National Defence.
My staff consulted very carefully on this point with the current Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, which will ultimately become the office of the new intelligence commissioner under Bill C-59, about this particular amendment. The office of the current commissioner indicated a very strong preference for the existing language in clause 20 of the future intelligence commissioner act.
The future clause 20 was amended by the House public safety committee to require the commissioner to provide reasons as to why he or she had approved any proposed authorization scheme or rejected it. That is the right step to take. The Minister of National Defence will consider those reasons when crafting any new authorization application. This approach allows the new commissioner to express his or her views very clearly, while the Minister of National Defence will retain the proper authority and accountability.
If, in the future, there were to be a situation where an authorization is ever challenged in court, it would be the Minister of National Defence, not the intelligence commissioner, who would be accountable to the court. The minister's argument in court should not be that the authorization scheme was explicitly what the intelligence commissioner told him to authorize in order for the CSE to undertake an important activity. In other words, the burden of responsibility should not be shifted to the intelligence commissioner; it must remain with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence needs to account for that.
With respect to the Criminal Code amendment that has been proposed by the Senate, I very much appreciate what the senators have attempted to do here. I understand very clearly the point they are trying to make, and we have heard the same point from a number of other stakeholders that have come forward with similar questions and concerns.
However, I make this point. The courts have set an extremely high bar for convicting individuals of counselling offences, which is why the language in the Criminal Code needs to be clear and consistent. It must be just as clear for section 83, terrorism offences, as it is for section 22 and section 464, which cover the counselling of other Criminal Code offences. This will help public prosecutors when they make a decision as to whether there is a reasonable chance of conviction in order to proceed to trial.
Unfortunately, the changes made by the previous government's BillC-51, back in 2015, had made the terrorist counselling provisions so obscure that they were never actually used. When Bill C-59 was tabled, the intent was to model the section 83, terrorism counselling offences, on the other Criminal Code counselling offences, which have been well used, successfully and are very familiar to police, prosecutors and judges alike.
The courts have already ruled that the terrorism counselling provisions in the Criminal Code, which refer to counselling “another person”, do not require the accused to have counselled a specific individual or even someone he or she knows. In practice, this broad principle will apply in section 83 as well.
If Parliament were to make the wording changes on counselling being suggested by the Senate, that could have unintended consequences for the rest of the Criminal Code's counselling provisions, such as counselling to commit a hate crime. A loophole could inadvertently be created, which I am sure some very assiduous defence attorney would attempt to exploit for a client facing a charge under section 464, for example.
Further, the use of the term “terrorist activity” in the amendment, rather than saying “terrorist offence” actually narrows the scope of what will be illegal under the terrorism counselling provisions. Terrorist activity is defined in the interpretation section of part II.1 of the Criminal Code, and that definition does not include all terrorism offences.
As an example, leaving Canada to join a terrorist group is an offence under the Criminal Code, but it is not contained within the definition of terrorist activity. As a result of the proposed amendment, it would be legal to counsel someone to travel to Syria to join Daesh. I am sure that is not what is intended by the proposed amendment, but that would be the actual consequence, and it is a consequence we need to avoid.
As I mentioned, I appreciate the spirit of the amendment and I have heard other representations to the same effect. However, what prosecutors have clearly told me is that if our goal is to have the terrorism counselling provisions used as frequently and effectively as possible, the best way to achieve that is to mirror the language used in the other counselling provisions in the Criminal Code where the notion of counselling “another person” already includes the counselling of an unknown individual.
I would like to remind all my colleagues of what Parliament is being asked to approve under Bill C-59 generally. We are looking to establish a single national security review body with a government-wide mandate to follow leads from one agency to another, such as from CSIS to the RCMP or elsewhere. This has long been recommended by experts, academics and parliamentary committees. Sometimes it is referred to as the super SIRC, and Bill C-59 does it.
We are creating a new act to govern the Communication Security Establishment, which includes a new regime for authorizing its activities for the first time ever. We are creating a closed list of threat reduction activities that CSIS may undertake so the service has clear direction from Parliament and knows what it can do, what it cannot do, and where the fences are. We are creating a justification regime for CSIS that will provide the lawful authorities it needs to perform the activities required to investigate threats and to keep Canadians safe. The same concept with respect to police officers has existed in the Criminal Code for many years.
We are also creating a dataset regime for the service that will allow it to collect, retain and query datasets subject to stringent safeguards. We are fixing the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, ensuring that it does not diminish lawful advocacy, protest and dissent. It will also have greatly improved safeguards to ensure federal departments share national security information only when it is necessary to do so, following appropriate procedures and keeping proper records.
Then there is the no-fly list, and I know we have all been lobbied on this one. Bill C-59 would enable the creation of a recourse mechanism for people whose names coincidentally match or closely resemble names that are listed in Canada's passenger protect program. This is the infamous problem of false positives, sometimes affecting small children.
I want to thank the members of the group known as the “no-fly kids”, whose tenacious efforts have kept this issue in the forefront for many parliamentarians, and Bill C-59 is part of the solution.
I can assure my colleagues that officials at Public Safety have compressed the timelines as much as humanly and physically possible. The required Treasury Board submissions and other orders in council required after royal assent of Bill C-59 will be moving as quickly as possible to get that recourse system up and running to deal with that issue for the no-fly kids.
That summary does not quite encapsulate everything that is in Bill C-59. However, as my colleagues can see, it is very comprehensive legislation that would strengthen and modernize our national security apparatus and architecture.
I want to thank all of the public servants across multiple departments who have worked on this and have appeared before many committees to provide technical answers to parliamentarians. I want to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who participated in our green paper consultation process and the many individuals who continue to provide advice as Bill C-59 moves through the parliamentary process.
Most of all, I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues who have given this bill the thorough scrutiny that it most certainly deserves, including Senator Gold and his colleagues in the other place who have sent us the report we are dealing with at this moment and to which we are responding.
With this comprehensive legislation, we are in fact achieving our original goal and obligation to keep Canadians safe and secure, while simultaneously safeguarding their rights and freedoms and the precious democratic qualities and values that make Canada, Canada.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to speak to Bill  C-59, an omnibus bill that is over 260 pages long and has nine major parts. I listened to the minister's speech, which addressed the Senate amendments, but I would first like to focus on Bill  C-59 itself.
As I have been saying from the outset, the problem is that most parts of Bill  C-59 are administrative in nature. They make changes to the various intelligence and communications agencies. That is fine, but the main goal of Bill  C-59 was to respond to Bill C-51, which was implemented by the Conservatives following the attacks that took place here in Ottawa. Bill C-51 was specifically designed to counter terrorism and ensure that anyone seeking to commit terrorist acts in Canada was stopped to avert disaster.
Overall, the omnibus bill has some parts that are fine. They contain the sort of changes that need to be made from time to time. However, other parts are very administratively heavy and will be very costly for the public purse. Essentially, this is a bill on national security. The public expects the government to protect people properly and ensure that the offenders and would-be terrorists of this world are stopped.
Despite what the minister says, we believe that Bill  C-59 limits CSIS's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It also limits the departments' ability to share information in order to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general and raises the threshold for obtaining terrorism peace bonds and recognizance with conditions.
At the end of the day, Bill C-59 is going to make life difficult for CSIS agents and telecommunications services people. The bill makes it harder to exchange information. It will once again clog up a system that is already burdensome. People working on the ground every day to ensure Canada's security and safety will be under even more restrictions, which will prevent them from doing their jobs.
Here is a snapshot of the nine parts. Part 1 establishes the national security and intelligence review agency.
Part 2 enacts the intelligence commissioner act. It deals with everything pertaining to the commissioner and the various tasks he or she will have, but abolishes the position of the Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment and provides for that commissioner to become the intelligence commissioner. It transfers the employees of the former commissioner to the office of the new commissioner and makes related and consequential amendments to other acts. In other words, it shuffles things around.
Part 3 enacts the Communications Security Establishment act. CSE's new mandate includes the ability to conduct preventive attacks against threats in addition to its role in signals intelligence and cyber defence. We really do not have a problem with that, provided it remains effective. That is an important point.
Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. It changes the threat reduction powers by limiting them to seven types of measures, one of which gives rise to the issue of whether non-invasive actions require a warrant. The measure in question is described as interfering with the movement of any person. This could mean that a CSIS officer requires a warrant to give misleading information to someone on the way to meeting with co-conspirators.
During operations, officers will sometimes provide individuals with false information to be passed on to those organizing terrorist or other plots. That is one of the work methods used in the field. Henceforth, warrants will have to be obtained, making the work more complicated. The officers will have to spend more time in the office doing paperwork and submitting applications instead of participating in operations.
Part 5 amends the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which was enacted by the Conservative government's Bill  C-51. Individuals and privacy groups were unhappy that government institutions could, on their own initiative or at the request of another institution, share information on activities that undermine the security of Canada. BillC-51 was criticized for permitting the sharing of citizens' personal information.
Although Bill C-59 maintains part of the departments' ability to share information, it is much more restrictive. This means that the departments operate in silos, which was harshly criticized by the national security experts who testified.
Part 6 is the most positive part, and we fully support it. This part deals with the Secure Air Travel Act and the problems with the no-fly list. When travellers have the same name as a terrorist, they encounter major problems, especially when it happens to children and they are not allowed to travel. This part will help fix this problem, and we fully support it.
Part 7 amends the Criminal Code by changing the offence of advocating or promoting terrorism offences in general to one of counselling the commission of a terrorism offence, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
I will read the next part, which does not pose any problems:
Part 8 amends the Youth Criminal Justice Act to, among other things, ensure that the protections that are afforded to young persons apply in respect of proceedings in relation to recognizance orders, including those related to terrorism, and give employees of a department or agency of the Government of Canada access to youth records, for the purpose of administering the Canadian Passport Order.
Finally, here is the last part:
Part 9 requires that a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this enactment take place during the sixth year after section 168 of this enactment comes into force.
These are additional administrative measures.
In short, of the nine parts of Bill  C-59, we fully support part 6 on the no-fly list. The other parts contain a lot administrative provisions that will make the system more cumbersome. Part 7 is the most problematic.
We believe that the Prime Minister and the minister are weakening Canada's national security agencies and their ability to keep Canadians safe. This legislative measure will make it more difficult for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent attacks on Canadian soil because it takes away their authority to counter threats. The information silos this bill will create within our federal agencies are dangerous and foolish. Rather than countering radicalization, the Liberals are creating loopholes that could be exploited by those who want to radicalize our young people.
The Conservatives take the safety of Canadians very seriously. That is why the previous government brought Canada's national security laws into the 21st century and aligned them with those of our allies. While all of the Five Eyes allies are taking measures to strengthen national security, this government is bringing in legislation that will eliminate our intelligence service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. The Liberals' irresponsible approach will put Canadians' safety at risk.
I was pleased with the four amendments proposed by the senators, who also took the time to work on Bill C-59 and hear witnesses. We know that the independent Liberals have a majority in the the Senate, so we would not normally expect to see amendments that reflect the Conservatives' views. This time, however, we think all four amendments are excellent and deserve our support. We waited for the government's response.
Two of the amendments had been proposed by me and my Conservative colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but the Liberals had rejected them. One of them sought to clarify the definition of the phrase “counselling commission of terrorism offence”. This short phrase really embodies the problem we have with Bill C-59. For the benefit of our viewers, I would like to quote the specific wording.
The bill would amend the Criminal Code by changing the following existing definition:
Every person who knowingly instructs, directly or indirectly, any person to carry out a terrorist activity is guilty....
The bill would change it to the following:
Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence...is guilty....
What is the Liberals' real goal here, if not to just strike out the Conservative government's Bill C-51 so they can say they made a change?
Did they make this change with the intention of improving the legislation? No. Even the senators advised the government to preserve the essence of the definition set out in the Conservatives' Bill C-51.
The minister says that in 2015, when Bill C-51 was introduced by the Conservative government, no charges were ever laid. Is it not possible that no charges were laid because people got scared and decided not to run any risks, in light of the legislation and resources that were in place, as well as the enforcement capability?
Maybe that was why nothing happened. Does watering down and changing this—
An hon. member: Oh! Oh!
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will continue my speech on this very serious matter.
This week the Liberals moved a motion declaring that they would accept just two of the four amendments proposed by the Senate and that they were rejecting the important amendment on terrorism. The two amendments they retained were administrative ones.
Also, we did not support this bill because it makes it harder for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent attacks on Canadian soil, since they no longer have any threat disruption powers. Furthermore, the bill creates information silos among our agencies, which creates problems. I have said this before and I will say it again: information sharing is fundamental.
The Senate's first amendment is to part 2 of the bill, which deals with the intelligence commissioner. The amendment adds a new clause under the “Foreign Intelligence Authorization” heading. This new clause would allow the intelligence commissioner to refer a matter back to the minister with a description of the condition that would have to be added to the authorization in order to make the conclusions reasonable. This amendment would affect the Communications Security Establishment in particular and was recommended by the commissioner.
We support this amendment because it improves the bill by increasing communication and feedback between the information commissioner and the minister, thus reducing administrative formalities. We also proposed this amendment at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Unfortunately, the government rejected it.
The second amendment pertains to counselling the commission of a terrorism offence—I keep bringing it up and we will talk about it again and again—under the “Criminal Code” heading. Those few words make a world of difference in these 260 pages. This amendment broadens the scope of the wording slightly, given that some of our witnesses felt that the term “counselling” was too narrow. We support that amendment because it significantly improves the wording, ensuring greater certainty regarding how counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence should be interpreted. For an offence to have been committed, there is no requirement that:
(c) the accused knows the identity of the person whom the accused counsels to carry out the terrorist activity; or
(d) the person whom the accused counsels to carry out the terrorist activity knows that it is a terrorist activity.
This amendment addresses concerns specific to online terrorist propaganda. We do not understand why the government rejected this amendment proposed by the Senate, which is dominated by independent Liberals.
Despite two positive amendments, this legislation is still flawed. Aside from our unconditional support of part 6, we cannot support Bill  C-59.
I will close by mentioning a few examples of serious flaws.
Part 4 amends threat reduction powers by limiting guaranteed powers to seven types of actions, one of which raises the question of whether non-invasive actions require a warrant. That action is described as interfering with the movement of any person. That means a CSIS agent on the ground would need a warrant to give false information to someone who could help the agent meet conspirators. It would also prevent a CSIS agent from warning the parents of a child who is being radicalized unless the agent has a warrant. These changes place an additional administrative burden on our agencies, which, without additional funding, will have to take agents out of the field so they can take care of paperwork.
Information silos are another problem. Part 5 was created in response to privacy protection groups that were unhappy with the fact that government institutions may share information, of their own accord or at the request of another institution, about activities that pose a threat to Canada's security. This creates a silo effect, which national security experts decried.
When ordinary Canadians look at the government, it seems complicated to them. There are many different public servants and many different departments. They often say that people do not talk to each other. Part 5 further complicates the exchange of information that is crucial to protecting national security. People have to be able to communicate. Information silos hinder communication. Leading national security advisors expressed concerns, but the government did not want to change its approach.
The third important element is threat disruption. Part 7 raises the threshold for recognizance orders and peace bonds, making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor problematic individuals and disrupt threats before they occur.
This clause replaces the following words from the Criminal Code, “suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity” with “suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.
It all comes down to two words: “likely” is replaced by “necessary”.
Instead of having serious concerns or information about a likely terrorist activity, we now have to be sure that the arrest is necessary. This complicates things. If there is any doubt, we have to back off. Terrorist activities tend to develop quite quickly. People who plot attacks might take months to think about and plan them, but others might quickly decide that they feel like doing something on Sunday, for example. When we get information quickly we have to be able to react quickly. Bill C-59 encumbers the process.
The powers provided for in Conservative Bill C-51 were aligned with those of our allies, including Norway and Finland. We modelled our bill on other democracies that believe freedom and security go hand in hand.
In summary, Bill C-59 is a heavy bureaucratic tool that will not ensure public safety, but will undo what the Conservative government put in place to safeguard the security of Canadians.
I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the order for the consideration of the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, be discharged and the Bill withdrawn”
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2019-06-07 10:59 [p.28744]
Madam Speaker, I remember when the Conservative Party was in government and passed BillC-51. There was a lot of criticism by legal experts that the definition of counselling to commit terrorism was too broad and opened up a door to a lot of questionable practices. Then, lo and behold, the Conservative Party promoted an ad that quotes a video from a terrorist organization. Ironically, a lot of legal experts said that the Conservative government was violating its own law.
I have two questions for my colleague. First, does he think it is wise to quote a terrorist organization in an ad? Second, does he agree with me that having a clearer definition is better?
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his question.
He asked me if it was appropriate to quote a terrorist organization. I believe it is. That is why it is also important to record the names of terrorist organizations in the Criminal Code. We have to state the facts and use the right words.
With respect to the definition of committing a terrorist act, the main objective should always be to be effective and ensure that we arrest those seeking to commit terrorist acts.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-07 12:55 [p.28765]
Madam Speaker, for Canadians watching, it is not appropriate for a member of Parliament to refer to the presence or absence of a member in the House, and I certainly did not mention an individual member at all. Most of the Liberals were not here, so I certainly did not highlight anyone specifically.
Because Bill C-59 is one of the many omnibus bills we have seen in this Parliament, I am going to speak to three aspects of this bill. I need to remind Canadians and my friend, the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party, that the Liberals promised Canadians that they would never use omnibus legislation in this Parliament. I have lost count of the number of omnibus pieces of legislation, which my friend, the Liberal MP from Winnipeg, once called an assault on democracy. They have been regularly assaulting this democracy in this Parliament, and Bill C-59 is an example, because it is comprehensive. It would affect the Criminal Code, the Communications Security Establishment and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. There are multiple pieces of legislation referenced and amended. It is very comprehensive.
The Conservatives have tried to work with the government on it. There are two central concerns I have with Bill C-59, which is why I and the Conservatives cannot support it, despite the good work by opposition members and despite the good work by the Senate, which agrees with much of what I am going to say.
I am going to talk about two critical pieces where the government is falling short, from a public safety standpoint, with Bill C-59. Then I am going to talk about the great advocacy work of No Fly List Kids and people like Sulemaan Ahmed and the families that have been some of the most sincere, thoughtful and creative advocates I have seen in my six years in Parliament trying to make public policy better. I am going to make a commitment to them right at the start of this speech. Conservatives will fix the problems with the no-fly list. We will make sure that there is a redress system to have false positives addressed, and we will do that within the first two years of government. We will have a process to get it fixed.
The government throws it into an omnibus bill and claims that it is going to cost far more than it is. We need a redress system, much like the one in the United States.
When the no-fly list was created under the Conservative government, and I am not suggesting that it was not under the Conservative government, there was no idea that there would be so many false positives. Families impacted by that, many families who have children sharing a name with someone who might be on a no-fly list, have no way to distinguish that or redress that, and that is unfair. It has affected many families from across the country.
I want to thank the no-fly list kids and their families and make that personal pledge to them. I have mentioned it many times in the House and in committee. If we win the election in the fall, which we are planning to, to get Canada back on track, we will make a commitment to fix that very quickly, faster than the government that still has not fixed the Phoenix pay system in the final months of its time in government.
Here are the substantive measures we cannot support in Bill C-59. The no-fly list is part of this large omnibus bill.
The reason Conservatives cannot support it are central to public safety and security. I say this as a Canadian Armed Forces veteran, as a former minister of the Crown and as a former shadow minister for public safety. I have looked at this bill and the issues involved in great detail.
The first issue is the threat disruption threshold. The government's change is a risk to public safety. I never overstate risks. There is not a bogeyman around every corner. However, when we change the threshold for peace officers, law enforcement and our justice system from “likely to prevent” a terrorist act to “necessary to prevent” the commission of such an act, that is a threshold that will perplex police forces across this country and make it hard for them to detain risks to public safety and security.
Why is that critical? It is because, when we introduced a change to this power, following the attack on Parliament and following the attack and death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, the Prime Minister, who was the member for Papineau and third party leader in the last Parliament, praised this preventative measure in that Parliament. In fact, he said that he “welcome[s] the measures [on] preventative arrest” that were contained in the bill. However, the Liberals are changing it, and law enforcement and security officials are telling them not to change it.
I would invite Liberal members who were not here in the last Parliament to read the committee transcripts from the last Parliament and the testimony from Patrice Vincent's sister. He was a warrant officer serving with distinction in Quebec who was run down and killed by a radicalized Canadian because of the uniform he wore. That is it. He was targeted. Police knew that the young man from Quebec was a risk, but they did not feel they had an evidentiary burden to make a preventative arrest to prevent what they thought might be the commission of a terrorist offence.
By making it “necessary to prevent”, the bill sets a high standard. As a lawyer, I worry about that standard. “Likely” does not mean that this power would allow law enforcement to willy-nilly preventatively arrest people. “Likely to prevent” the commission of an offence is an appropriate threshold. Changing this is a very poor and, quite frankly, dangerous public policy. Therefore, we have asked for that amendment, as have many Canadians and many law enforcement experts.
We, in the Conservative caucus, trust law enforcement officers. They have a difficult job to do whenever someone is caught on the way to committing an offence, as we saw in southwestern Ontario with Mr. Driver. Questions are asked by law enforcement. Look at how close we were. We have relied now two or three times in the last few years on FBI information to stop threats in our country. Therefore, this is a serious gap in Bill C-59.
The second issue is the “counselling commission of terrorism” element of the bill and the criminal standard of the offence under our Criminal Code. Many groups appeared before committee in this Parliament saying that we cannot have ambiguity on the counselling the commission of terrorism issue in the bill. The old standard was “knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism”. Therefore, there is still an evidentiary threshold that is required. This is not some draconian power that people are suggesting. There is a threshold required. Making the threshold too high or too ambiguous is a risk, and that is unnecessary. In fact, the entire Senate agrees with our position on this. “Counselling” is way too broad and unclear.
In an age when a lot of threats are now online, advocating, pushing, promoting should be something for the commission of violence on another, so that we can avoid the next attack on the Hill, so that we can avoid the next horrible attack like the one we saw at the mosque in Quebec City. That horrendous killer went into the mosque, and if law enforcement had seen that he was knowingly advocating or promoting violence against an identifiable group, that would have been enough. In fact, combined with my last point, it would have been “likely to prevent”. That could have stopped someone in that circumstance.
All communities, particularly religious communities like the Muslim and Jewish communities that face threats and see horrific things online, should not want these aspects of Bill C-59 to pass, and that is what the Conservatives have consistently been advocating in the interest of public safety, in the interest of all Canadians. The Senate agrees on the issue of counselling the commission of an offence. Most advocacy groups agree that it is too ambiguous. In a time when we are seeing these threats emerge online, we are seeing people radicalized online.
In the last Parliament, I remember one of my early votes was to make travelling abroad for training with a terrorist organization a crime under the Criminal Code. Now, with social media, technology and YouTube, people do not need to travel. They can be radicalized, promote hate and violence and actually advocate for violence against an identifiable group online.
We have to give law enforcement the tools of preventative arrest and we have to criminalize some of that terror activity at its source, trusting our law enforcement and our courts. Preventative arrest is not trial and conviction. It is law enforcement, in conjunction often with the Crown, saying that it has ascertained there is a serious risk to public safety, to Canadian citizens, to people living in Canada, to people visiting Canada, and that preventative arrest will likely prevent it. That is a reasonable standard. That was the old standard.
Changing that to arresting the person preventatively to prevent this or to stop it is too high a threshold. That could mean law enforcement would spend three more weeks looking into the suspect. In the case of Patrice Vincent, we heard that in committee in particular. I would invite Canadians to look at the committee transcripts. I will tweet his sister's testimony out later. Law enforcement knew that gentleman in Quebec. I cannot remember his name right now. He was a young Québécois who had been racialized and law enforcement knew he was a risk.
Those are the two elements why the Conservatives cannot support Bill C-59. It is bad for public safety and security. There are other elements in the bill we like. However, an omnibus bill, as my friend from Winnipeg used to say, is an assault on democracy. I have tried in my speech to commit to two key things on why the legislation is flawed.
I cannot understate enough how impressed I am by the thoughtful and informed advocacy of the no-fly list kids. I know members on all sides of the House have heard from these people and have seen their commentary.
My friend Sulemaan will laugh when he hears I am promoting going to a Montreal Canadiens game, as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but I am. When young people are prevented from going to a hockey game of the Montreal Canadiens because they share a name with someone who is a threat, not only is it unfair to them, it shows that our no-fly list is full of garbage. In public safety and security that is not enough. If someone has to sort through dozens, hundreds and thousands of false positives, is there really security at all?
This is a commitment from my leader and our caucus. We want to thank the no-fly list group and their families for the advocacy they have done with all the members of the House and commit to them. We are the party that delivers. We are not the hashtag party. We are not the photo ops party. We are the party that will deliver. We give our commitment that this will be a priority early in our government.
I can see a resolution. I have often said that this is not as complex as the minister of public safety has suggested. I do not even believe it is an accurate statement that it will cost $80 million to fix it.
The U.S. has a redress list. This is about data. This is about ensuring we constantly review the no-fly list . If people who are not threats are crowding out the one or two who may be, the system is not working. I think all Canadians will agree with our pledge to commit that.
I praised the government when it finally addressed the issue, after listening to the families of the no-fly list kids. However, by putting it into an omnibus bill, it prevents us from addressing it immediately. I am not suggesting bad faith on the part of the government. I think it listened to the advocacy and found this was the most appropriate bill to put it into. However, I do not think it even requires legislation. It could have been done through a ministerial directive. Most of the entries on the no-fly list are known to be false positives.
I remember when retired Senator David Smith was on the list. He was a prominent Liberal senator, or whatever those types of senators are called these days, Liberal or independent. I am not sure. How many David Smiths would there be in Canada? There would be roughly a thousand, so the list is garbage.
Then we saw that a number of young Canadians were on the list because they shared common names in certain communities. How do the hundreds of people with the same name but no biometric information redress that? How can we get the newborn babies off that list? The minister could fix that under his or her own authority. If that had been done, as I said at the time, there would have been full support for the government.
I acknowledge that when we brought this measure in, even prior to my time in Parliament we did not anticipate this false positive issue. I think we have much to learn from the redress system in the U.S., because if there are problems with their no-fly list there, we could avoid some of those pitfalls and make ours world class. That is a commitment we want to make as part of the debate on Bill C-59.
I will go on to say that we generally support other aspects of the bill, those related to security and intelligence oversight, and we have been trying to participate in that work. At various times during our time in government, we talked about a super SIRC and more coordination and oversight with respect to the agencies that collect data. However, one challenge that was faced in minority parliaments was that it was very hard to set up a committee of parliamentarians that would have been devoid of politics. So far, from what I have seen from that committee, although we have not had much in the way of reports from it, it does not seem that politics have been impacting the process. That is a good thing that has come out of this.
There are elements of Bill C-59 that we support. However, when they are included in an omnibus bill, we have to weigh the elements we support on the intelligence side, such as the redress system for the no-fly list, against the elements we do not support. During my speech, I tried to outline the two very serious ones. I cannot underscore enough the fact that preventive arrest is a rare power provided to law enforcement, but it is there because we live in a dangerous and uncertain world. Many of us will remember the day when Nathan Cirillo was killed and the gunman came into the old building, and Patrice Vincent, and the shooting in the mosque in Quebec City, and the Aaron Driver case, when law enforcement stopped this person in southwestern Ontario when he was on his way to commit an offence. We cannot set the burden so high for law enforcement officers that they know there is a risk but are debating for weeks on whether preventive arrest will stop that risk from harming Canadians.
One of our most fundamental duties as parliamentarians is to provide a safe, secure, rules-based system that respects diversity and human rights. Law enforcement officers have a tough job to do, so the last thing we can do, as this Parliament wraps up, is support a bill that will make their job harder.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is privilege for me to rise today to speak to Bill  C-59, which deals with the anti-terrorism measures put in place by the previous government.
For obvious reasons, I do not intend to support Bill  C-59, which was introduced by the Liberal government. First, this bill weakens the measures that we have available to us as a society to fight terrorism. It is important to remember that Bill C-51 was introduced in the wake of two terrorist attacks that occurred here in Canada, the first in Saint-Jean-Richelieu and the second here in Ottawa. That was in October 2014.
At the time, the Quebec minister of public security, Lise Thériault, called me and told me that there had been an accident in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I responded that that was unfortunate. Then she told me that someone had died. I told her that that was tragic. Finally, she told me that it was tragic but that they also suspected we were dealing with a terrorist attack.
We sometimes think that terrorist attacks occur only in other countries, but sometimes they happen in our communities, like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in the heart of Quebec. Hatred prompted an individual to attack a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, in this case Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
I remember the ceremony I attended in November 2014, before entering the House. We honoured Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent with members of his family. I remember the words of his sister, Louise Vincent, who said, “Patrice Vincent, my brother, the warrant officer, was a hero.”
Mr. Vincent had a successful career in the Canadian Armed Forces, although by no means an illustrious one. He was a good serviceman nonetheless, always ready and willing to serve. His plans for a well-deserved retirement were dashed when he was run down in a restaurant parking lot by an individual driven by extremist Islamist ideology. His sister also said she was surprised that Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was targeted specifically because he was in uniform. She said, “Losing a brother is one thing, but knowing that it was due to a deliberate act is something else entirely.”
The attacker had a specific intention. We know the criteria for determining whether an attack qualifies as an act of terrorism. There was a political desire to commit murder in the name of an ideology, which obviously goes against our Canadian values. At the time, Prime Minister Harper said that “our country will never be intimidated by barbarians with no respect for the maple leaf or any other symbol of freedom”. He added:
When such cowards attack those who wear our uniform, we understand they are attacking all of us as Canadians...We are going to strengthen our laws here in Canada to stop those intent on importing an ideology that incites hatred, cruelty, and death in other parts of the world.
It is important to note that regardless of the speeches we given in the House and the partisan positions we may take, one of the overriding responsibilities of Parliament is to ensure the safety of Canadians, especially since in the past decade we have witnessed the emergence of ideologies that are increasingly spread by social media. That is why the anti-terrorism act was put in place. It provided certain tools to ensure that we were better prepared.
Clearly, when we think of the death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was struck down by the vehicle of a radicalized young man in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in 2014, we realize that it is important to ensure that our police forces, intelligence service, and the RCMP have all the tools they need to intervene.
This also impacts the legal aspect. While acting within the limits of the law and respecting fundamental freedoms, the police, with the co-operation and authorization of independent people such as judges, must have the legal tools to prevent terrorist attacks. That was the objective of the anti-terrorism measures introduced by BillC-51.
Unfortunately, the Liberals decided to weaken this law. That is not surprising. As we saw during question period, the Liberals are showing a degree of spinelessness and indolence that is truly worrisome. For example, some jihadists, in particular members of ISIS, have created sites to spread propaganda in Canada. One of the pillars of the anti-terrorism act was to shut down websites promoting ideas that incite violence.
Unfortunately, the Liberals want to weaken these tools. There was the example mentioned in question period of a known terrorist who went to the Middle East and has now returned to Canada. We would expect the government to increase surveillance of this individual. However, we have learned that he parades in front of television cameras and boasts about his relations with ISIS terrorists. Furthermore, he even admits that he lied to CSIS so he could continue to conduct his activities.
This man's name is Abu Huzaifa. He is in contact with ISIS and appears to be fully in thrall to Islamic ideology. He is hiding information from the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and operates in such a way that our police officers do not necessarily have the tools to lay charges. He openly admits to having lied to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Here is our message to the government: we have these intelligence services, so the government has a political responsibility to signal zero tolerance for people who want to attack the pillars of our society. There have already been two tragic victims here in this country. We do not want that to happen again.
At this time, the government is lax and spineless, and that worries us. The individual in question, Abu Huzaifa, quotes the Quran and promotes all that hatred.
These people need to be kept under control. If charges are to be laid, that must be done so as to protect the people, because that is the government's job. A government's primary role is to protect its people. Unfortunately, Bill C-59 undermines the tools available to police forces and various other bodies to fulfill the state's primary responsibility.
For example, one of the provisions of the legislation would make it harder for the police to prevent a terrorist attack and would add red tape. When our intelligence services or police services are in the middle of the action and have sensitive information that could prevent a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, it is important that they can intervene. That is what the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, provides for. There has been no major problem regarding the enforcement of that legislation, which the Liberals supported, I might add. At no time were the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the different statues that exist in Canada affected by the anti-terrorism legislation.
The Liberals' idea of keeping a promise, as we saw with their approach to legalizing marijuana, is to force it down the throats of Canadians. They are using the same approach with Bill  C-59.
It is too bad because Canadians' safety is at stake. Again, the measures in Bill  C-59 do not address an actual problem. There is an adage in English that says:
“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
If something is working, we must leave it alone, because the day we need it, the day the police learn of a potential terrorist attack, they will need all of the necessary tools to prevent this attack, in accordance with Canadian laws, of course.
I want to talk about another aspect of the bill that will muddy the waters even more. In Canada, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, or SIRC, is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This body is the envy of all western democracies when it comes to the review of intelligence activities. The Security Intelligence Review Committee is an example to the world because it has the ability to dig through every nook and cranny of our intelligence agency. In other words, there is no spy in Canada who does not have SIRC constantly looking over his or her shoulder.
The current government created a committee that is so far off base. Canada already has a framework that allows for in-depth review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. I must point out that the Anti-terrorism Act strengthened this power, even for threat reduction activities. When the measures in the Anti-terrorism Act were adopted, we not only ensured that police officers and agents at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had more latitude, but we also ensured that all of these provisions would be covered by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. The act provides more powers, but there is also increased oversight.
We have a well-established and well-functioning system that is the envy of the world. It would have been smart for the government to expand the scope of that organization. The Liberals are obsessed with creating organizations and, as a result, they have just duplicated the Security Intelligence Review Committee and, in a way, created a new organization. We are talking about a new organization that has basically the same mission as the previous one, but it is not the same. In the end, they are undermining an excellent system in place for oversight of our intelligence agencies, and creating a new system that will duplicate it and cover other areas. They are creating confusion and more bureaucracy. What does this actually mean? Police officers are going to have more eyes looking over their shoulders. This will create confusion, more bureaucracy, and more red tape. The goal is for police officers and intelligence officers to be more accountable, but their primary mission is to protect Canadians.
Unfortunately, the Liberal approach is going to create more red tape and more obstacles. Meanwhile, we are learning that guys like Abu Huzaifa are free to roam this country, openly bragging about their associations with ISIS, and the government says it wants to welcome these people.
I think the government should be sending an important message, one that should convey zero tolerance for incitement to hate, for hate speech, and for anyone willing to use violence to achieve their ends. That is one of the flaws of this bill.
I mentioned the red tape and the duplication of an organization that, at the end of the day, is going to create confusion in the oversight of our intelligence activities.
On top of that, the government produced a huge document because it wanted to show that it supported the bill, but that there was still work to be done. It therefore added all kinds of regulations to the bill. In other words, it is creating a law and will make the regulations afterwards.
The regulations clarify the act. The advantage of that for the minister or the executive branch is that the regulations can be changed. The disadvantage of putting this sort of thing in an act is that then the government has to obtain the authorization of Parliament to change it, and we know how many steps are involved in that process. There is first reading, second reading, and third reading in the House of Commons, then the same in the Senate, and then Royal Assent. That is not to mention elections every four years, appointments, prorogations, and summer breaks.
Rather than having more flexible tools, the government is making the process unnecessarily cumbersome by putting most of the regulations for the Anti-terrorism Act into the grab bag it calls Bill  C-59. That moves us further way from the main goal, which is to develop effective, legal tools to protect Canadians. That is another flaw.
Speaking of websites, as I was saying, one of the pillars of the Anti-terrorism Act is that it attacks the source of the violence, the hate speech that incites violence. Violent words lead to violent actions. That is why it is important to crack down on online content that incites violence. Once again, the government should be more vigilant and provide additional tools to accomplish that goal. There are provisions in the Criminal Code that deal with this sort of online content. Incitement to violence was a crime even before the Anti-terrorism Act came into force. In fact, the Criminal Code has been around since the beginning of time, or at least since the beginning of our parliamentary system. Incitement to violence goes against Canadian values.
Why interfere with the work of those responsible for protecting us and reducing violence at its source, where it really begins, on extremist websites, whether they be extreme left or extreme right? Right now, we are talking mainly about Islamist extremist websites, but that could change. The government could develop a tool to identify websites that incite people to violence.
I was honoured to be with the family of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent following his tragic death. During Patrice Vincent's funeral, Louise Vincent said that she hoped her brother's death would not be in vain. As parliamentarians, it is incumbent upon every one of us to ensure that the people who have sacrificed their lives so we can live freely and debate here in the House—always respectfully, whether we agree with one another or not—have not done so in vain. People have fought for our freedom. Some have even shed blood quite recently. As parliamentarians, we must ensure that those who are responsible for keeping us safe have the tools they need to take action. That is why the Anti-terrorism Act was enacted.
It is for those very reasons that I will oppose this Liberal bill. It undermines the tools we gave our police officers so they could protect the people of this country, which is the primary responsibility of any state.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, before I get into the substantive remarks, I want to respond to an interesting comment made by my friend from Hull—Aylmer, who was asking in a question about actions taken by the previous government. There were many provisions in BillC-51 that were aimed at making Canadians safer. However, one thing I do not think has come up yet in the debate was a specific proposal that the Conservative Party put forward in the last election to make it illegal to travel to specific regions. There were certain exceptions built into the legislation, travel for humanitarian purposes, and for journalistic purposes perhaps. That was a good proposal, because when people are planning to travel to Daesh-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq, outside of certain very clearly defined objectives, it is fairly obvious what the person is going there to do. This was another proposal that we had put forward, one that the government has not chosen to take us up on, that I think eminently made sense. It would have given prosecutors and law enforcement another tool. Hopefully, that satisfies my friend from Hull—Aylmer, and maybe he will have further comments on that.
Substantively on Bill C-59, it is a bill that deals with the framework for ensuring Canadians' security, and it would make changes to a previous piece of legislation from the previous Parliament, BillC-51. There are a number of different measures in it. I would not call it an omnibus bill. I know Liberals are allergic to that word, so I will not say it is an omnibus bill. I will instead say that it makes a number of disparate changes to different parts of the act. I am going to go through some of those changes as time allows, and talk about some of the questions that are raised by each one. Certainly some of those changes are ones that we in the Conservative Party do not support. We are concerned about those changes making us less safe.
Before I go on to the particular provisions of the bill, I want to set the stage for the kinds of discussions we are having in this Parliament around safety and security. We take the position, quite firmly, that the first role of government is to keep people safe. Everything else is contingent on that. If people are not safe, all of the other things that a government does fall secondary to that. They are ultimately less important to people who feel that their basic security is not preserved. Certainly it is good for us to see consensus, as much as possible in this House, on provisions that would genuinely improve people's safety. Canadians want us to do it, and they want us to work together to realistically, in a thoughtful and hard-headed way, confront the threats that are in front of us.
We should not be naive about the threats we face, simply because any one of us individually has not interacted with a terrorist threat, although many people who were part of the previous Parliament obviously have interacted directly with a terrorist threat, given the attack that occurred on Parliament Hill. In any event, just because there are many threats that we do not see or directly experience ourselves, it does not mean they are not there. Certainly we know our law enforcement agencies are actively engaged in monitoring and countering threats, and doing everything they can to protect us. We need to be aware that those threats are out there. They are under the surface, but they are having an impact. There is a greater potential impact on our lives that is prevented if we give our security agencies and our law enforcement the tools that they need.
Many of these threats are things that people are aware of. There is the issue of radicalization and terrorism that is the result of a world in which the flow of information is much more across borders than it used to be. Governments can, to some extent, control the entry of people into their space, but they cannot nearly as effectively control the ideas of radicalization that come easily across borders and that influence people's perceptions. People can be radicalized even if they have never had any physical face-to-face interactions with people who hold those radical views. These things can happen over the Internet much more easily today than they did in the past. They do not require the face-to-face contact that was probably necessary in the past for the dissemination of extreme ideas. People living in a free western society can develop romanticized notions about extremism. This is a challenge that can affect many different people, those who are new to Canada, as well as people whose families have been here for generations.
This growing risk of radicalization has a genuine impact, and it is something that we need to be sensitive to. Of course, there are different forms of radicalization. There is radicalization advanced by groups like Daesh. We also need to aware of threats that are posed from extreme racist groups that may advocate targeting minorities, for instance, the shooting we saw at the mosque in Quebec City, or the attack that just happened at a mosque in Edson. These come out of extreme ideas that should be viewed as terrorism as well. Therefore, there are different kinds of threats that we see from different directions as the result of a radicalization that no longer requires a face-to-face interaction. These are real, growing, emergent threats.
There is also the need for us to be vigilant about threats from foreign governments. More and more, we are seeing a world in which foreign authoritarian governments are trying to project power beyond their borders. They are trying to influence our democratic system by putting messages out there that may create confusion, disinformation, and there may be active interference within our democratic system. There is the threat from radical non-state actors, but there are also threats from state actors, who certainly have malicious intent and want to influence the direction of our society, or may attack us directly, and want to do these sorts of things to their advantage. In the interest of protecting Canadians, we need to be aware and vigilant about these threats. We need to be serious about how we respond to them.
As much as we seek consensus in our discussion of these issues, we sometimes hear from other parties, when we raise these real and legitimate concerns, the accusation that this is spreading fear. We should not talk in these sorts of stark terms about threats that we face, as that is creating fear. The accusation is that it also creates division, because the suggestion that there might be people out there with radical ideas divides us. However, I think there is a difference between fear and prudence. We need to know that difference as legislators, and we need to be prudent without being fearful.
Fear, I think, implies an irrational, particularly an emotional response to threats that would have us freeze up, worry incessantly, stop going about our normal activities, or maybe even lead to the demonization of other people who someone might see as a threat. These are all things that could well be manifestations of fear, which is not good, obviously. However, prudence is something quite different. Prudence is to be aware of threats in a clear-headed, factual, realistic way. It is to say that thoughtfully, intellectually, reasonably, we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves, recognizing that if we fail to be prudent, if we do not take these rational, clear-headed steps to give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to protect us from real risks that exist, then we are more liable to violence and terrorism. Also, obviously from that flows a greater risk of people being seized with that kind of emotional fearful response.
It is our job as legislators to encourage prudence, and to be prudent in policy-making. Therefore, when we raise concerns about security threats that we face, illegal border crossings, radicalization, and Daesh fighters returning to Canada, it is not because we are advocating for a fearful response, but rather we are advocating for a prudent response. Sometimes that distinction is lost on the government, because it is often typical of a Liberal world view to, perhaps with the best of intentions, imagine the world to be a safer place than it is.
Conservatives desire a better world, but we also look at the present world realistically. Sometimes one of the problems with Liberals is that they imagine the world to already be the way they would like it to be. The only way we get to a better, safer world, on many fronts, is by looking clearly at the challenges we face, and then, through that, seeking to overcome them.
It was variously attributed to Disraeli, Thatcher, or Churchill, but the line “the facts of life are conservative” is one that sticks out to me when we talk about having a prudent, clear-sighted approach to the threats we face. My colleague, the member for Thornhill, may correct me on who originally said that. Disraeli lived first, so we will say it was probably him.
Now, having set the framework through which we view, and I think we ought to view this bill, I want to speak specifically to a number of the changes that have been put forward. One of points we often hear from the government is about changes it has made with respect to the issue of torture. An amendment was proposed at committee. I understand that this was not part of the original bill, but came through in an amendment. It restates Canada's position that torture is obviously not acceptable. There is no disagreement in this House about the issue of torture. Obviously, we all agree that torture is unacceptable. Some of the aspects of this amendment, which effectively puts into law something that was already in a ministerial directive, is obviously not a substantial change in terms of changing the place or the mechanism by which something is recognized that was already in place.
Of course, when it comes to torture, it is a great opportunity for people in philosophy classrooms to debate, theoretically, what happens if there is information that could save lives that could be gained that way. However, the reality is the evidence demonstrates that torture not only is immoral, but is not effective at gathering information. A commitment to effectiveness, to giving our law enforcement agencies all the tools that are necessary and effective, while also opposing torture, are actually quite consistent with each other. I do not think there is anything substantively new with respect to those provisions that we are seeing from the government.
It is important to be clear about that. There are areas on which we agree; there are areas on which we disagree. However, there are areas on which we agree, and we can identify that clearly.
There are some other areas. In the beginning, the bill introduces a new national security and intelligence review agency. There is a new administrative cost with this new administrative agency. One of the questions we have is where that money is going to come from. The government is not proposing corresponding increases to the overall investment in our security agencies.
If a new administrative apparatus is added, with administrative costs associated with it, obviously that money has to come from somewhere. Likely it is a matter of internal reallocation, which effectively means a fairly substantial cut to the operational front-line activities of our security agencies. If that is not the case, I would love to hear the government explain how it is not, and where the money is coming from. It seems fairly evident that when something is introduced, the cost of which is about $97 million over five years, and that is an administrative cost, again that money has to come from somewhere. With the emergence and proliferation of threats, I know Canadians would not like to see what may effectively amount to a cut to front-line delivery in terms of services. That is clearly a concern that Canadians have.
Part 2 deals with the intelligence commissioner, and the Liberals rejected expedited timing requirements on the commissioner's office. This effectively means that security operations may be delayed because the commissioner is working through the information. There are some technical aspects to the bill, certainly that we have raised concerns about, and we will continue to raise concerns about them. We want to try to make sure that our security agencies, as my colleagues have talked about, have all the tools they need to do their job very effectively.
Now, this is something that stuck out to me. There are restrictions in part 3 to security and intelligence agencies being able to access already publicly available data.
Effectively, this bill has put in place restrictions on accessing that data, which is already publicly available. If security agencies have to go through additional hoops to access information that is already on Facebook or Twitter, it is not clear to me why we would put those additional burdens in place and what positive purpose those additional restrictions would achieve. That is yet another issue with respect to the practical working out of the bill.
Given the political context of some of these changes, one wonders why the government is doing this. It is because the Liberals put themselves in a political pickle. They supported, and voted for, BillC-51. The current Prime Minister, as a member of the then third party, voted in favour of that legislation. However, the Liberals then wanted to position themselves differently on it, and so they said they were going to change aspects of it when they got into government. Some of those changes serve no discernible purpose, and yet they raise additional questions regarding the restrictions they would put on our law enforcement agencies' ability to operate effectively and efficiently.
Part 4 of the proposed legislation puts additional restrictions on interdepartmental information-sharing. Members have spoken about this extensively in the debate, but there are important points to underline here.
The biggest act of terrorism in our country's history, the Air India bombing, was determined to have been preventable by the Air India inquiry. The issue was that one agency was keeping information from another agency that could have prevented the bombing. Certainly, if information is already in the hands of government, it makes sense to give our agencies the tools to share that information. It seems fairly obvious that people should be able to share that information. It is clearly in the national interest. If it can save lives to transfer information effectively from one department to another with regard to files about individuals who may present a security threat, and if CSIS already has that information and is going to share it with the RCMP, I think all Canadians would say that makes sense. However, Bill C-59 would impose additional restrictions on that sharing of information.
Through taking a hard-headed look at the threats we face and the need to combat them, parliamentarians should be concerned about those particular provisions in this bill.
Another issue raised in this bill is that of threat disruption. Should security agencies be able to undertake actions that disrupt a security threat? Previously, under BillC-51, actions could be taken to disrupt threats without a warrant if those actions were within the law. If there was a need to do something that would normally be outside of the law, then a warrant would be required, but if it was something ordinarily within the remit of the law, then agencies could proceed with it. It could be something like talking to the parents of a potential terrorist traveller, and alerting them to what was going on in the life of their child, or being present in an online chatroom to try to counter a radicalizing message. These things are presently legal under Bill C-51.
However, under Bill C-59, there would be a much higher standard with respect to the activities that would require a warrant, which include disseminating any information, record, or document. It seems to me that something as simple as putting a security agent in an online chatroom to move the conversation in a particular direction through the dissemination of information would require a warrant, which can create challenges if one wants to engage in an organic conversation so as to counter messages in real time.
All of us in the House believe in the need for parameters and rules around this, but BillC-51 established parameters that allowed for intervention by law enforcement agencies where necessary. It did keep us safe, and unfortunately Bill C-59 would make this more difficult and muddies the waters. That is why we oppose it.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2018-06-18 20:21 [p.21198]
Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to rise and speak to an important bill and issues related to public safety and security in general.
I would like to begin my remarks with a positive word of thanks for those men and women who are charged with keeping our communities safe, certainly the front-line police officers and first responders, but a lot of the people in the intelligence networks from CSIS, to CSE, to think tanks that analyze these things, to engaged citizens who are constantly advocating on issues related to public safety and security. These are probably some of the most important debates we have in this chamber because we are charged with making sure we have a safe community and finding the right balance between the remarkable freedoms we enjoy in a democracy like ours and the responsibility to ensure that there is safety for Canadians. We thank those who are charged with doing that both in uniform and behind the scenes and sometimes under the cloak of secrecy. All Canadians respect that work.
I am going to talk about Bill C-59 from a few vantage points, some of the things that I thought were positive, but I am also going to express three areas of very serious concern I have with this legislation. In many ways, Bill C-59 is a huge step back. It is taking away tools that were responsibly provided to law enforcement agencies to be used in accordance with court supervision. In a lot of the rhetoric we hear on this, that part has been forgotten.
I am going to review some of it from my legal analysis of it, but I want to start by reminding the House, particularly because my friend from Winnipeg, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is here, that here we are debating yet another omnibus bill from the Liberal Party, something that was anathema to my friend when he was in opposition. Omnibus bills of this nature that cobbled together a range of things were an assault on democracy, in his words then, but here we are in late night sittings with time already allocated debating yet another Liberal omnibus bill. The irony in all of this is certainly not lost on me or many Canadians who used to see how the Liberals would howl with outrage whenever this happened.
Bill C-59 came out of some positive intentions. My friend from Victoria, the NDP's lead on the parliamentary security oversight committee of parliamentarians is here. I want to thank him for the work that we did together recommending some changes to the minister ahead of what became Bill C-59. The NDP member and I as the public safety critic for the Conservative Party sent two letters to the minister providing some general advice and an indication of our willingness to work with the government on establishing the committee of parliamentarians for security and intelligence oversight.
My friend from Victoria ably serves on that committee now and as a lawyer who has previously practised in the area of national security and finding the right balance between liberty and security, he is a perfect member for that committee as are my friends from the caucus serving alongside the Liberal members. That is very important work done by that committee and I wish them well in their work. We indicated pre Bill C-59 that we would be supportive of that effort.
In those letters we also indicated the need for a super-SIRC type of agency to help oversee some of the supervision of agencies like CSIS and CSE. We were advocating for an approach like that alongside a number of academics, such as Professor Forcese and others. We were happy to see an approach brought in that area as well.
It is important to show that on certain issues of national safety and security where we can drive consensus, we can say we will work with the government, because some of these issues should be beyond partisanship. I want to thank my NDP colleague for working alongside me on that. It took us some time to get the minister to even respond, so despite the sunny ways rhetoric, often we felt that some of our suggestions were falling on deaf ears.
I am going to commit the rest of my speech tonight to the three areas that I believe are risks for Canadians to consider with Bill C-59. I am going to use some real-world examples in the exploration of this, because we are not talking in abstract terms. There are real cases and real impacts on families that we should consider in our debate.
The first area I want to raise in reference to the fact that when Bill C-59 was introduced, it was one day after a Canadian was convicted in a Quebec court in a case involving travelling abroad from Canada to join and work with a terrorist organization. Mr. Ismael Habib was sentenced the day before the government tabled this omnibus security legislation, and I think there is a certain irony in that. In his judgment, Justice Délisle said, “Did Ismael Habib intend to participate in or knowingly contribute to a terrorist activity? The entirety of the evidence demonstrates the answer is yes.” There is such an irony in the fact that the day before this debate there was a conviction for someone who was leaving Canada to train and participate with a terrorist organization.
Only a short time before Mr. Habib left Canada to do this, the previous government criminalized that activity. Why? Really, there was no need to have in the Criminal Code a charge for leaving Canada to train or participate in a terrorist organization, but this was a reaction to a troubling and growing trend involving radicalized people and the ability for people to go and engage in conflicts far from home. Mr. Habib's case was the first of its kind, and the charge he was convicted of by a Quebec court was for an offence that just a few years before did not exist. This is why Parliament must be seized with real and tangible threats to public safety and security. Unfortunately, a lot of the elements of Bill C-59 are going to make it hard for law enforcement to do that, to catch the next Mr. Habib before he leaves, while he is gone, or before he returns and brings that risk back home.
The first area that I have serious concerns with in the bill relates to preventative arrest. This was a controversial but necessary part of BillC-51 from the last Parliament. Essentially it moved a legal threshold from making it “necessary” to prevent a criminal activity or a terrorist act instead of “likely” to prevent. By changing the threshold to “necessary”, as we see in this bill, the government would make it much harder for law enforcement agencies to move in on suspects that they know present a risk yet do not feel they have enough proof to show that it is necessary to prevent an attack. I think most Canadians would think that the standard should be “likely”, which is on balance of probabilities. If we are to err on the reality of a threat that there is violence to be perpetrated or potential violence by someone, then err on the side of protection. We still have to have the evidentiary burden, but it is not too hard.
It is interesting who supported the preventative arrest portions of BillC-51 in the last Parliament. The Prime Minister did as the MP for Papineau. I loved BillC-51 in so many ways, because it showed the hypocrisy of the Liberal Party at its best. The Liberals were constantly critical of BillC-51, but they voted for it. Now they are in a position that they actually have to change elements of it, and they are changing some elements that the Prime Minister praised when he was in opposition, and they had this muddled position. My friends in the NDP have referred to this muddled position before, because now they think their Liberal friends are abandoning the previous ground they stood on.
What did the Prime Minister, then the leader of the third party and MP for Papineau, say about preventative arrest in the House of Commons on February 18, 2015? He said:
I believe that BillC-51, the government's anti-terrorism act, takes some proper steps in that direction. We welcome the measures in Bill C-51 that build on the powers of preventative arrest, make better use of no-fly lists, and allow for more coordinated information sharing by government departments and agencies.
What is ironic is that he is undoing all of those elements in Bill C-59, from information sharing to changing the standard for preventative arrest to a threshold that is unreasonably too high, in fact recklessly too high, and law enforcement agencies have told the minister and the Prime Minister this.
The Prime Minister, when he was MP for Papineau, thought these important powers were necessary but now he does not. Perhaps society is safer today. I would suggest we are not. We just have to be vigilant, vigilant but balanced. That is probably why in opposition he supported these measures and now is rolling them back.
Nothing illustrates the case and the need for this more than the case of Patrice Vincent. He was a Canadian Armed Forces soldier who was killed because of the uniform he wore. He was killed by a radicalized young man named Martin Couture-Rouleau. That radicalized young man was known to law enforcement before he took the life of one of our armed forces members. Law enforcement officers were not sure whether they could move in a preventative arrest public safety manner.
The stark and moving testimony from Patrice's sister, Louise Vincent, at committee in talking about BillC-51 should be reflected upon by members of the Liberal Party listening to this debate, because many of them were not here in the last Parliament. These are real families impacted by public safety and security. Louise Vincent said this:
According to Bill C-51, focus should be shifted from “will commit” to “could commit”, and I think that's very important. That's why the RCMP could not obtain a warrant from the attorney general, despite all the information it had gathered and all the testimony from Martin Couture-Rouleau's family. The RCMP did its job and built a case, but unfortunately, the burden of proof was not met. That's unacceptable.
It is unacceptable. What is unacceptable is the Liberals are raising the bar even higher with respect to preventative arrest. It is like the government does not trust our law enforcement agencies. This cannot be preventative arrest on a whim. There has to be an evidentiary basis for the very significant use of this tool, but that evidentiary basis should not be so high that it does not use the tool, because we have seen what can happen.
This is not an isolated case. I can recite other names, such as Aaron Driver. Those in southwestern Ontario will remember that thanks to the United States, this gentleman was caught by police on his way to commit a terror attack in southwestern Ontario. He was already under one of the old peace bonds. This similar power could be used against someone like Alexandre Bissonnette before his horrendous attack on the mosque in Quebec City. This tool could be used in the most recent case of Alek Minassian, the horrific van attack in Toronto.
Preventative arrest is a tool that should be used but with an evidentiary burden, but if the burden is too high necessary to prevent an attack, that is reckless and it shows the Prime Minister should review his notes from his time in opposition when he supported these powers. I suggest he did not have notes then and probably does not have notes now.
The second issue I would like to speak about is the deletion of charges and the replacing with a blanket offence called counselling commission of a terrorism offence.
What would that change from BillC-51? It would remove charges that could be laid for someone who was advocating or promoting a terrorism attack or activity. Promotion and advocation are the tools of radicalization. If we are not allowing charges to be laid against someone who radicalized Mr. Couture-Rouleau, do we have to only catch someone who counsels him to go out and run down Patrice Vincent? Should we be charging the people who radicalized him, who promoted ISIS or a radical terrorist ideology, and then advocated for violence? That should be the case. That actually conforms with our legal test for hate speech, when individuals are advocating or promoting and indirectly radicalizing.
Therefore, the government members talk about the government's counter-radicalization strategy, and there is no strategy. They have tried to claim the Montreal centre, which was set up independently of the government, as its own. The government would not tour parliamentarians through it when I was public safety critic, but it tours visiting guests from the UN and other places. That was an initiative started in Montreal. It has nothing to do with the Liberals' strategy. I have seen nothing out of the government on counter-radicalization, and I would like to.
The same should be said with respect to peace bonds, another tool that law enforcement agencies need. These have been asked for by law enforcement officials that we trust with their mandate. They are peace officers, yet the government is showing it does not trust them because it is taking away tools. The peace bond standard is now in a similar fashion to the preventative arrest standard. Agencies have to prove that it is necessary to prevent violent activity or terrorism, as opposed to the BillC-51 standard of “likely to prevent”. A protection order, better known as “a peace bond”, is a tool, like preventative arrest, that can set some constraints or limitations on the freedom of a Canadian because that person has demonstrated that he or she is a potential threat. To say the individuals have to be a certain threat, which a “necessary” standard promotes, is reckless and misguided.
I wish the MP for Papineau would remember what he said a few years ago about the reduction of the high burden on law enforcement in preventative arrest situations. Sadly, there are going to be more Aaron Drivers out there. I always use the case of Aaron Driver, because sometimes members of specific groups, some Muslim Canadians, have been unfairly targeted in discussions about radicalization. This is a threat that exists and not just in one community. Aaron Driver's father was in the Canadian Armed Forces, a career member of the military. Their son was radicalized by people who advocated and promoted radical ideology and violence. With this bill, we would remove the ability to charge those people who helped to radicalize Aaron Driver. However, this is a risk that exists.
Let us not overstate the risk. There is not a bogeyman around every corner, but as parliamentarians we need to be serious when we try to balance properly the freedom and liberties we all enjoy, and that people fought and died for, with the responsibility upon us as parliamentarians to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to do the job. They do not want a situation where they are catching Aaron Driver in a car that is about to drive away. We have to find the right balance. The movement of standards to “necessary” to prevent the commission of a terrorism offence shows that the Liberals do not trust our law enforcement officers with the ability to collect evidence and lay charges, or provide a peace bond, when they think someone is “likely” to be a threat to public safety and security.
I started by saying that there were elements I was happy to see in Bill C-59, but I truly hope Canadians see that certain measures in this would take away tools that law enforcement agencies have responsibly asked for, and this would not make our communities any safer.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
At the time, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness decided not to give Bill  C-59 second reading and sent it directly to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. He said that committee meetings were needed to get additional information in order to improve the bill, so that is what we did.
During the committee's study of Bill  C-59, 235 amendments were proposed. The Conservative Party proposed 29 and the Green Party 45. The Liberals rejected all of them. Four NDP amendments and 40 Liberal amendments were adopted. Twenty-two of the Liberal amendments had more to do with the wording and with administrative issues. The Liberals also proposed one very important amendment that I will talk about later on.
The committee's mandate was to improve the bill. We, the Conservatives, undertook that work in good faith. We proposed important amendments to try to round out and improve the bill presented at second reading. The Liberal members on the committee rejected all of our amendments, even though they made a lot of sense. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security held 16 meetings on the subject and heard from a number of witnesses, including people from all walks of life and key stakeholders in the security field. In the end, the government chose to reject all of our amendments.
There were two key points worth noting. The first was that under Bill  C-59, our security agencies will have fewer tools to combat the ongoing terrorist threat around the world. The second was that our agencies will have a harder time sharing information.
One important proposal made in committee was the amendment introduced by the Liberal member for Montarville regarding the perpetration of torture. Every party in the House agrees that the use of torture by our intelligence or security agencies is totally forbidden. There is no problem on that score. However, there is a problem with the part about torture, in that our friends across the aisle are playing political games because they are still not prepared to tell China and Iran to change their ways on human rights. One paragraph in the part about torture says that if we believe, even if we do not know for sure, that intelligence passed on by a foreign entity was obtained through torture, Canada will not make use of that intelligence. For example, if another country alerts us that the CN Tower in Toronto is going to be blown up tomorrow, but we suspect the information was extracted through some form of torture, we will not act on that intelligence if the law remains as it is. That makes no sense. We believe we should protect Canadians first and sort it out later with the country that provided the intelligence.
It is little things like that that make it impossible for us to support the bill. That element was proposed at the end of the study. Again, it was dumped on us with no notice and we had to vote on it.
There are two key issues. The national security and intelligence review agency in part 1 does not come with a budget. The Liberals added an entity, but not a budget to go with it. How can we vote on an element of the bill that has no number attached to it?
Part 2 deals with the intelligence commissioner. The Liberals rejected changes to allow current judges, who would retire if appointed, and retirees from being considered, despite testimony from the intelligence commissioner who will assume these new duties. Currently, only retired judges are accepted. We said that there are active judges who could do the work, but that idea was rejected. It is not complicated. It makes perfect sense. We could have the best people in the prime of their lives who may have more energy than those who are about to retire and may be less interested in working 40 hours a week.
In part 3 on the Communications Security Establishment, known as CSE, there are problems concerning the restriction of information. In fact, some clauses in Bill C-59 will make capturing data more complicated. Our intelligence agencies are facing additional barriers. It will be more difficult to obtain information that allows our agencies to take action, for example against terrorists.
Part 4 concerns the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the privacy issue often come up in connection with CSIS. A common criticism of BillC-51 is that this bill would allow agencies to breach people's privacy. Witnesses representing interest groups advocating for Canadians' privacy and people whose daily work is to ensure the safety of Canadians appeared before the committee. For example, Richard Fadden said that the agencies are currently working in silos. CSIS, the CSE, and the RCMP work in silos, and the situation is too complex. There is no way to share information, and that is not working.
Dr. Leuprecht, Ph.D., from the Royal Military College, Lieutenant-General Michael Day from the special forces, and Ray Boisvert, a former security adviser, all made similar comments. Conservative amendment No. 12 was rejected. That amendment called for a better way of sharing information. In that regard, I would like to remind members of the Air India bombing in 1985. We were given the example of that bombing, which killed more than 200 people on a flight from Toronto to Bombay. It was determined that this attack could have been prevented had it been easier to share information at the time.
The most important thing to note about part 7, which deals with the Criminal Code, is that it uses big words to increase the burden for obtaining arrest warrants to prevent terrorist acts. Amendments were made regarding the promotion of terrorism. Section 83.221 of the Criminal Code pertains to advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences. The Liberals changed the wording of that section with regard to unidentified terrorist offences, for example, ISIS videos on YouTube. They therefore created section 83.221.
That changes the recognizance orders for terrorism and makes it more difficult to control threats. Now, rather than saying “likely”, it says “is necessary”. Those are just two little words, but they make all the difference. Before, if it was likely that something would happen, our security agencies could intervene, whereas now, intervention must be necessary. It is a technicality, but we cannot support Bill C-59 because of that change in wording. This bill makes it harder for security agencies and police to do their work, when it should be making it easier for them.
We are not opposed to revising our national security legislation. All governments must be prepared to do that to adapt. BillC-51, which was introduced at the time by the Conservatives, was an essential tool in the fight against terrorist attacks in Canada and the world. We needed tools to help our agents. The Liberals alluded to BillC-51 during the election campaign and claimed that it violated Canadians' freedoms and that it did not make sense. They promised to introduce a new bill and here it is before us today, Bill C-59.
I would say that Bill C-59, a massive omnibus bill, is ultimately not much different from Bill C-51. There are a number of parts I did not mention, because we have nothing to say and we agree with their content. We are not against everything. What we want, no matter the party, is to be effective and to keep Canadians safe. We agree on that.
Nevertheless, some parts are problematic. As I said earlier, the government does not want to accept information from certain countries on potential attacks, because this information could have been obtained through torture. This would be inadmissible. Furthermore, the government is changing two words, which makes it harder to access the information needed to take action. We cannot agree with this.
Now the opposite is being done, and most of the witnesses who came to see us in committee, people in the business of privacy, did not really raise any issues. They did not show up and slam their fists on the desk saying that it was senseless and had to be changed. Everyone had their views to express, but ultimately, there were not that many problems. Some of the witnesses said that Bill C-59 made no sense, but upon questioning them further, we often reached a compromise and everyone agreed that security is important.
Regardless, the Liberals rejected all of the Conservatives' proposed amendments. I find that hard to understand because the minister asked us to do something, he asked us to improve Bill C-59 before bringing it back here for second reading—it is then going to go to third reading. We did the work. We did what we were supposed to do, as did the NDP, as did the Green Party. The Green Party leader had 45 amendments and is to be commended for that. I did not agree with all her amendments, but we all worked to improve Bill C-59, and in turn, to enhance security in Canadians' best interest, as promised. Unfortunately, that never happened. We will have to vote against this bill.
Since I have some time left, I will give you some quotes from witnesses who appeared before the committee. For example, everyone knows Richard Fadden, the Prime Minister's former national security adviser. Mr. Fadden said that Bill  C-59 was “beginning to rival the Income Tax Act for complexity. There are sub-sub-subsections that are excluded, that are exempted. If there is anything the committee can do to make it a bit more straightforward”, it would help. Mr. Fadden said that to the committee. If anyone knows security, it is Canada's former national security adviser. He said that he could not understand Bill  C-59 at all and that it was worse than the Income Tax Act. That is what he told the committee. We agreed and tried to help, but to no avail. It seems like the Liberals were not at the same meeting I was at.
We then saw the example of a young man who goes by the name Abu Huzaifa. Everyone knows that two or three weeks ago, in Toronto, this young man boasted to the New York Times and then to CBC that he had fought as a terrorist for Daesh in Iraq and Syria. He admitted that he had travelled there for the purposes of terrorism and had committed atrocities that are not fit to be spoken of here. However, our intelligence officers only found out that this individual is currently roaming free in Toronto from a New York Times podcast. Here, we can see the limitations of Bill  C-59 in the specific case of a Canadian citizen who decided to fight against us, to go participate in terrorism, to kill people the Islamic State way—everyone here knows what I mean—and then to come back here, free as a bird. Now the Liberals claim that the law does not allow such and such a thing. When we tabled Bill C-51, we were told that it was too restrictive, but now Bill  C-59 is making it even harder to get information.
What do Canadians think of that? Canadians are sitting at home, watching the news, and they are thinking that something must be done. They are wondering what exactly we MPs in Ottawa are being paid for. We often see people on Facebook or Twitter asking us to do something, since that is what we are paid for. We in the Conservative Party agree, and we are trying; the government, not so much. Liberal members are hanging their heads and waiting for it to pass. That is not how it works. They need to take security a little more seriously.
This is precisely why Canadians have been losing confidence in their public institutions and their politicians. This is also why some people eventually decide to take their safety into their own hands, but that should never happen. I agree that this must not happen. That would be very dangerous for a society. When people lose confidence in their politicians and take their safety into their own hands, we have the wild west. We do not want that. We therefore need to give our security officers, our intelligence officers, the powerful tools they need to do their jobs properly, not handcuff them. Handcuffs belong on terrorists, not on our officers on the ground.
Christian Leuprecht from Queen's University Royal Military College said that he respected the suggestion that CSIS should stick to its knitting, or in other words, not intervene. In his view, the RCMP should take care of some things, such as disruption. However, he also indicated that the RCMP is struggling on so many fronts already that we need to figure out where the relative advantage of different organizations lies and allow them to quickly implement this.
The questions that were asked following the testimony focused on the fact that the bill takes away our intelligence officers' ability to take action and asks the RCMP to take on that responsibility in CSIS's place, even though the RCMP is already overstretched. We only have to look at what is happening at the border. We have to send RCMP officers to strengthen border security because the government told people to come here. The RCMP is overstretched and now the government is asking it to do things that it is telling CSIS not to do. Meanwhile, western Canada is struggling with a crime wave. My colleagues from Alberta spoke about major crimes being committed in rural communities.
Finland and other European countries have said that terrorism is too important an issue and so they are going to allow their security agencies to take action. We cannot expect the RCMP to deal with everything. That is impossible. At some point, the government needs to take this more seriously.
After hearing from witnesses, we proposed amendments to improve Bill  C-59, so that we would no longer have any reason to oppose it at second reading. The government could have listened to reason and accepted our amendments, and then we would have voted in favour of the bill. However, that is not what happened, and in my opinion it was because of pure partisanship. When we are asked to look at a bill before second or third reading and then the government rejects all of our proposals, it is either for ideological reasons or out of partisanship. In any case, I think it is shameful, because this is a matter of public safety and security.
When I first joined the Canadian Armed Forces, in the late 1980s, we were told that the military did not deal with terrorism, that this was the Americans' purview. That was the first thing we were told. At the time, we were learning how to deal with the Warsaw Pact. The wars were highly mechanized and we were not at all involved in fighting terrorism.
However, times have changed. Clearly, everything changed on September 11, 2001. Canada now has special forces, which did not exist back then. JTF2, a special forces unit, was created. Canada has had to adapt to the new world order because it could also be a target for terrorist attacks. We have to take off our blinders and stop thinking that Canada is on another planet, isolated from any form of wickedness and cruelty. Canada is on planet Earth and terrorism knows no borders.
The G7 summit, which will soon be under way, could already be the target of a planned attack. We do not know. If we do not have tools to prevent and intercept threats, what will happen? That is what is important. At present, at the G7, there are Americans and helicopters everywhere. As we can see on the news, U.S. security is omnipresent. Why are there so many of them there? It is because confidence is running low. If Americans are not confident about Canadians' rules, military, and ability to intervene, they will bring everything they need to protect themselves.
That is why we need to take a position of strength. Yes, of course we have to show that we are an open and compassionate country, but we still need to be realistic. We have to be on the lookout and ready to take action.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-06-07 11:39 [p.20424]
Mr. Speaker, I am obviously going to disagree with the hon. member. I especially disagree with his point that there has been a lot of debate in this chamber. That is not true. On May 28, we had one day of debate. This bill was reported back to us from the committee only on May 3, and yesterday the government moved time allocation on it once again, so there has not been a lot of debate. Any type of public consultation outside the House is not a substitute for debate in this chamber. We should be debating it here, to give an opportunity to members of Parliament to speak to it.
I want to ask the member about the Criminal Code provisions that are being amended by the government in Bill C-59, specifically the ones about the counselling commission of terrorism offence and the way terrorist propaganda is defined. Some of the platforms being used right now to spread terrorist propaganda are YouTube, Facebook, and a lot of other ones, including parts of the dark web. I am deeply concerned that these provisions will actually not cover them because they are often not specific enough in how they speak about Canada. The Islamic terrorists, specifically the radicals, use wording such as “western infidels”, which includes Canada and many of our partner nations. They target us by using very bland language, but they may be here in Canada counselling others to take radical or violent actions against Canadians.
Does the member not believe that the modifications being made by the government, as proposed in this piece of legislation, will not cover the use of YouTube and other social media in the spread of terrorist propaganda?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2018-06-07 11:41 [p.20424]
Mr. Speaker, I respectfully disagree with my colleague. One has to look very closely at the definitions of terrorist activity to see that they are sufficiently broad to capture the kind of mischief and unsanctionable expression that he is worried about.
If there is one thing I do agree with in his question, it is that we do need to be taking a closer look at social media and the various platforms that have evolved over the last number of years. It is for that reason that I encourage him, when budget 2018 comes back to the House, to support that budget, which includes additional investments and resources going to our public safety and national security apparatus so we can identify that type of expression, which is not sanctioned under the charter and should indeed be investigated by public safety, national security, and law enforcement actors so that we can root it out and prevent that kind of terrorist activity.
Bill C-59 strikes the right balance, protecting free speech while appropriately identifying speech that would cross over into terrorist activity.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to a very important bill, Bill C-59, dealing with what really is the first responsibility of government, to attend to the security needs of Canadians. Sometimes we have an instinct of taking our security for granted in this country. We are blessed to have a strong security apparatus of committed professionals around us. On a daily basis, they are dealing with threats that those of us who are civilians or regular people do not see and do not have to know about. However, when we debate matters like this, we should be sensitive to the reality of the security threats we face and the need to always preserve the strong security infrastructure that protects us. The absence of direct experience with security threats should not lead individuals to think they do not exist.
I had a meeting recently with people from the Yazidi community, and they shared an experience with me. A person from their community who was a victim of Daesh had sought refuge here in Canada, and that person actually encountered and recognized someone from Daesh, here in Canada. Members know that there are returning fighters from Daesh, but the image of someone coming to Canada to seek refuge, as many people do, coming to Canada to escape persecution of different kinds, and then coming face to face in this country with the persecutor is something that should give members great pause as we think about the steps we take to ensure our security. We need to make sure that Canada is indeed a place where we are safe and where those coming here as refugees and immigrants know they can be safe as well, that they are getting away from their persecutors and will not encounter those same people here in our country.
Therefore, we need to be diligent about this. When the opposition raises questions about how the government is taking care of our security, let us be clear that it is about the need for the government to do its fundamental job. Sometimes we hear the challenge back from the government that this is somehow about creating fear. It is not. It is about ensuring our security. That is why we ask tough questions and challenge government legislation in cases where it fails.
Bill C-59 makes changes with respect to the framework around national security and makes some rule changes that those of us in the opposition are quite concerned about. First is the issue of communication between departments. People would have a reasonable expectation that different departments of government would work together and collaboratively share information. If protecting the security of Canadians is the primary, fundamental job of the government, then surely government departments should be working together. Often, on a range of different files, we hear the government talk about a whole-of-government approach. It seems to be approaching the level of one of its favourite buzzwords or phrases. Security seems the most obvious area where we would have a whole-of-government approach. We know that the inquiry into the Air India bombing, a terrible act of terrorism where many people lost their lives, determined that this evil act was preventable, but there was an issue of one agency keeping information from another.
Certainly, when we see these kinds of things happening, we have to ensure that provisions are in place for the appropriate sharing of information, and yet the bill limits the ability of government departments to share data among themselves that could protect our national security. If the government already has data that could be used to prevent acts of terrorism or violence on Canadian soil, it is not only legitimate but important that we establish a framework whereby different government departments can share information with one another. That is certainly a concern that we have with this legislation.
Another concern we have is that Bill C-59 would remove the offence of advocating and promoting terrorism and change it to counselling terrorism, which has a narrower sense, rather than the more general offence of advocating and promoting terrorism. On this side of the House, we feel that it should be fairly clear-cut that advocating and promoting terrorism, even if that falls short of directly counselling someone to commit an act of terrorism, should not be allowed. If somebody or some entity promotes acts of terrorism or violence against civilians to disrupt the political order and create terror, we think that this clearly goes beyond the bounds of freedom of speech and there is a legitimate role for the government to stop that.
Recognizing the threats that we face and the need to protect Canadians, and the fact that this is the primary job of the government, it is hard for me to understand why the Liberals would amend the legislation to dial back that wording. This is another concern we have raised and will continue to raise with respect to Bill C-59.
The legislation would also make it more difficult to undertake preventative arrest, in other words for the police to take action that would prevent a terrorist attack. In the previous legislation, the standard was that the intervention be “likely” to prevent a terrorist attack, and now that would be changed to refer to whether the intervention is “necessary” to prevent a terrorist attack. That is a higher bar. We all agree in the House that if it is necessary to arrest someone to prevent a terrorist attack, that arrest should take place. However, I think most Canadians would say that if somebody is in the process of planning or preparing to commit a terrorist attack and the assessment is made that arresting that person in a preventative way is likely to prevent a terrorist attack, it is reasonable for law enforcement to intervene and undertake the arrest at that point.
We are talking about very serious issues where there is the possibility of significant loss of life here in Canada. I referred to Air India, and there are other cases where Canadians have lost their lives as a result of terrorist attacks. There was the shooting at the mosque in Quebec City, which happened during the life of this Parliament, as well as other incidents that some people would define as terrorism, depending on the qualification.
The tools that law enforcement has in place and the ability of law enforcement to share information among different entities, to undertake preventative arrest, and to prosecute somebody who, though not having committed an act of terrorism, is involved in the promotion of terrorist acts, are likely to have a real, concrete impact in terms of whether these types of events will occur in the future.
I also do not think that these standards in any way threaten people's fundamental rights and freedoms. It is the idea that government departments should be able to share information, that people cannot actively promote terrorism, and that somebody who is likely to be prevented from a terrorist action by being arrested should be arrested. I do not think law enforcement intervention in these already relatively extreme cases is in any way a violation of people's fundamental rights and freedoms.
We need to have a commitment to preserving both our security and our freedom. We in the opposition believe that we can do both. However, the government is taking away important and useful tools that should be available in the pursuit of the safety and security of Canadians, which, as I have said before, is the primary job of government.
On that basis, we were concerned and proposed a number of amendments at committee, which unfortunately were not adopted. Therefore, at this stage, we are going to be opposing Bill C-59.
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 Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-06-07 12:16 [p.20428]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-59. Listening to our Liberal friends across the way, one would assume that this is all about public safety, that Bill C-59 would improve public safety and the ability of our security agencies to intervene if a terrorist threat presented itself. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let us go back and understand what this Prime Minister did in the last election. Whether it was his youth, or ignorance, he went out there and said that he was going to undo every single bit of the Stephen Harper legacy, a legacy I am very proud of, by the way. That was his goal.
One of the things he was going to undo was what BillC-51 did. Bill C-51 was a bill our previous Conservative government brought forward to reform and modernize how we approach terrorist threats in Canada. We wanted to provide our government security agencies with the ability to effectively, and in a timely way, intervene when necessary to protect Canadians against terrorist threats. Bill C-51 was actually very well received across the country. Our security agencies welcomed it as providing them with additional tools.
I just heard my Liberal colleagues chuckle and heckle. Did members know that the Liberals, in the previous Parliament, actually supported BillC-51? Here they stand saying that somehow that legislation did not do what it was intended to do. In fact, it did. It made Canadians much safer and allowed our security agencies to intervene in a timely way to protect Canadians. This bill that has come forward would do nothing of the sort.
The committee overseeing this bill had 16 meetings, and at the end of the whole process, there were 235 amendments brought forward. That is how bad this legislation was. Forty-three of those amendments came from Liberals themselves. They rushed forward this legislation, doing what Liberals do best: posture publicly, rush through legislation, and then realize, “What have we done? My goodness.” They had 43 amendments of their own, all of which passed, of course. There were 20-some Conservative amendments, and none of them passed, even though they were intelligently laid-out improvements to this legislation. That is the kind of government we are dealing with here. It was all about optics so that the government would be able to say, “We are taking that old BillC-51 that was not worth anything, although we voted in favour of it, and we are going to replace it with our own legislation.” The reality is that Bill C-51 was a significant step forward in protecting Canadians.
This legislation is quite different. What it would do is take one agency and replace it with another. That is what Liberals do. They take something that is working and replace it with something else that costs a ton of money. In fact, the estimate to implement this bill is $100 million. That is $100 million taxpayers do not have to spend, because the bill would not do one iota to improve the protection of Canadians against terrorist threats. There would be no improved oversight or improved intelligence capabilities.
The bill would do one thing we applaud, which is reaffirm that Canada will not torture. Most Canadians would say that this is something Canada should never do.
The Liberals went further. They ignored warnings from some of our intelligence agencies that the administrative costs were going to get very expensive. In fact, I have a quote here from our former national security adviser, Richard Fadden. Here is what he said about Bill C-59: “It is beginning to rival the Income Tax Act for complexity.” Canadians know how complex that act has become.
He said, “There are sub-sub-subsections that are excluded, that are exempted. If there is anything the committee can do to make it a bit more straightforward, [it would be appreciated].” Did the committee, in fact, do that? No, it did not make it more straightforward.
There is the appointment of a new intelligence commissioner, which is, of course, the old one, but again, with additional costs. The bill would establish how a new commissioner would be appointed. What the Liberals would not do is allow current or past judges to fill that role. As members know, retired and current judges are highly skilled in being able to assess evidence in the courtroom. It is a skill that is critical to being a good commissioner who addresses issues of intelligence.
Another shortcoming of Bill C-59 is that there is excessive emphasis on privacy, which would be a significant deterrent to critical interdepartmental information sharing. In other words, this legislation would highlight privacy concerns to the point that our security agencies and all the departments of government would now become hamstrung. Their hands would become tied when it came to sharing information with other departments and our security agencies, which could be critical information in assessing and deterring terrorist threats.
Why would the government do this? The Liberals say that they want to protect Canadians, but the legislation would actually take a step backwards. It would make it even more difficult and would trip up our security agencies as they tried to do the job we have asked them to do, which is protect us. Why are we erring on the side of the terrorists?
We heard testimony, again from Mr. Fadden, that this proposed legislation would establish more silos. They were his nightmare when he was the national security director. We now have evidence from the Air India bombing. The inquiry determined that the tragedy could have been prevented had one agency in government not withheld critical information from our police and security authorities. Instead, 329 people died at the hands of terrorists.
Again, why are we erring on the side of terrorists? This proposed legislation is a step backward. It is not something Canadians expected from a government that had talked about protecting Canadians better.
There are also challenges with the Criminal Code amendments in Bill C-59. The government chose to move away from criminalizing “advocating or promoting terrorism” and would move towards “counselling” terrorism. The wording has been parsed very carefully by security experts, and they have said that this proposed change in the legislation would mean, for example, that ISIS propaganda being spread on YouTube would not be captured and would not be criminalized. Was the intention of the government when it was elected, when it made its promises to protect Canadians, to now step backward, to revise the Criminal Code in a way that would make it less tough on terrorists, those who are promoting terrorism, those who are advocating terrorism, and those who are counselling terrorism? This would be a step backward on that.
In closing, I have already stated that the Liberals are prepared to err on the side of terrorists rather than on the side of Canadian law enforcement and international security teams. The bill would create more bureaucracy, more costs, and less money and security for Canadians.
When I was in cabinet, we took security very seriously. We trusted our national security experts. The proposed legislation is essentially a vote of non-confidence in those experts we have in government to protect us.
Finally, the message we are sending is that red tape is more important than sharing information and stopping terrorism. That is a sad story. We can do better as Canadians.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2018-06-07 12:47 [p.20432]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-59, which relates to issues of national security and how we deal with people suspected of terrorist acts.
This issue is quite different from those usually addressed. Usually, I have to talk about public finance. It is quite easy to say that the Liberals are wrong because they have a deficit and that we are right because we oppose deficits, which is very clear. In that case, this is very touchy. We are talking about so many great issues, and this issue should be addressed without partisanship. For sure, it is not easy.
That is why this really should be a non-partisan issue. This will not be easy, because obviously people are sharply divided on how this information should be dealt with in order to stop terrorism and how terrorists should be dealt with.
Bill C-59 is the current government's response to BillC-51, which our government had passed. I remind the House that the Liberals, who formed the second opposition party at the time, supported Bill C-51, but said that they would change it right away once in power. It was supposedly so urgent, and yet they have been in power for two and a half years now, and it has taken the Liberals this long to bring forward their response to the Conservative Bill C-51 in the House of Commons.
As I was saying earlier, some questions are easier to answer, because they are based not on partisanship, but on your point of view. For example, when it comes to public finances, you can be for or against the deficit. However, no one is arguing against the need to crack down on terrorism. The distinctions are in the nuances.
That is why the opposition parties proposed dozens of amendments to the bill; sadly, however, with the exception of four technical amendments proposed by the NDP, the Liberals systematically rejected all amendments proposed by the Conservative Party and the Green Party, and Lord knows that there is an entire world between the Conservative Party and the Green Party.
This bill is meant to help us tackle the terrorist threat, whether real or potential. In the old days, in World War II, the enemy was easily identified. Speaking of which, yesterday was the 74th anniversary of the Normandy landing, a major turning point in the liberation of the world from Nazi oppression. It was easy to identify the enemy back then. Their flag, leader, uniform and weapons were clearly identifiable. We knew where they were.
The problem with terrorism is that the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. They have no flag. They have a leader, but they may have another one by tomorrow morning. The enemy can be right here or on the other side of the world. Terrorism is an entirely new way of waging war, which calls for an entirely new way of defending ourselves. That is why, in our opinion, we need to share information. All police forces and all intelligence agencies working in this country and around the world must be able to share information in order to prevent tragedies like the one we witnessed on September 11, 2001.
In our opinion, the bill does not go far enough in terms of information sharing, which is necessary if we are to win the fight against terrorism. We believe that the Communications Security Establishment, the RCMP, CSIS and all of the other agencies that fight terrorism every day should join forces. They should share an information pipeline rather than work in silos.
In our opinion, if the bill is passed as it is now, the relevant information that could be used to flush out potential terrorists will not be shared as it should be. We are therefore asking the government to be more flexible in this respect. Unfortunately, the amendments proposed by our shadow cabinet minister, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, were rejected.
We are very concerned about another point as well: the charges against suspected terrorists. We believe that the language of the bill will make it more difficult to charge and flush out terrorists. This is a delicate subject, and every word is important.
We believe that the most significant and most contentious change the bill makes to the Criminal Code amends the offence set out in section 83.221, “Advocating or promoting commission of terrorism offences”. This is of special interest to us because this offence was created by Bill C-51, which we introduced. Bill C-59 requires a much more stringent test by changing the wording to, “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. The same applies to the definition of terrorist propaganda in subsection 83.222(8), which, in our opinion, will greatly restrict law enforcement agencies' ability to use the tool for dismantling terrorist propaganda with judicial authorization as set out in BillC-51. Why? Because as it is written, when you talk about counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence, it leaves room for interpretation.
What is the difference between a person and a group of people; between a person and a gathering; between a person and an entity; or between a person and an illicit and illegal group? In our opinion, this is a loophole in the bill. It would have been better to leave it as written in the Conservative Bill C-51. The government decided not to. In our opinion, it made a mistake.
Generally speaking, should we be surprised at the government’s attitude toward the fight against terrorism? The following example is unfortunate, but true. We know that 60 Canadians left Canada to join ISIS. Then, they realized that the war was lost because the free and democratic nations of the world decided to join forces and fight back. Now, with ISIS beginning to crumble, these 60 Canadians, cowards at heart, realize that they are going to lose and decide to return to Canada. In our opinion, these people are criminals. They left our country to fight Canadian soldiers defending freedom and democracy and return to Canada as if nothing had happened. No.
Worse still, the Liberal government’s attitude toward these Canadian criminals is to offer them poetry lessons. That is a pretty mediocre approach to criminals who left Canada with the mandate to kill Canadian soldiers. We believe that we should throw the book at these people. They need to be dealt with accordingly, and certainly not welcomed home with poetry lessons, as the government proposes.
Time is running out, but I would like to take this opportunity, since we are discussing security, to extend the warmest thanks to all the employees at the RCMP, CSIS, the CSE and other law enforcement agencies such as the Sûreté du Québec in Quebec and municipal police forces. Let us pay tribute to all these people who get up every morning to keep Canadians safe. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 4,000 or more police officers from across Canada who are working hard in the Charlevoix and Quebec City regions to ensure the safety of the G7 summit, these people who place their life on the line so that we can live in a free and democratic society where we feel safe. I would like to thank these women and men from coast to coast to coast that make it possible for us to be free and, most importantly, to feel safe.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2018-06-07 12:56 [p.20433]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech.
I will have to phrase my question in English because I want to be very specific about this. Within this context in particular, we all know that because a single Muslim may be a terrorist does not mean that all Muslims are terrorists. In the same way, we know that a single individual who threatens to kill a member of Parliament does not mean that all members of that person's group are terrorists.
In the context of counselling terrorism or counselling violence, would the member agree that if you encourage organizations and individuals to attack a government, who through their actions specifically say and give their name to it and threaten to kill members of Parliament, which has happened with the emails we have all received in the last few weeks, that the organizations involved are counselling terrorism?
It is true there are gun owners who are threatening to kill members of Parliament and there are members of your party encouraging gun owners. I am not saying that all gun owners are terrorists by any stretch, any more than you are saying that all Muslims are terrorists. However, when we get into a situation of counselling terrorism, if there are gun owners who threaten the lives of MPs, would you not agree that something needs to change in the way conversations about politics, terrorism, and violence happen in this country, and that those activities should not be criminalized, but rather that the political party involved should temper the conversation and bring it back to a real one so that all people are not tarred with the same brush?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2018-06-07 12:58 [p.20434]
Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege of representing Canadians, first, in the National Assembly, and now here, in the House of Commons, for almost 10 years now. What a shame it is to hear such an appalling statement from a Liberal MP. This is the second time it has happened, as I was targeted by such a statement a year and a half ago. I had a private discussion with the hon. member who accused me unjustly. Linking gun owners who assault members of parliament to a political party, and then saying that no such link was implied even though the words were said, is neither dignified nor honourable.
I will answer the question directly. If an unscrupulous person threatens to kill someone, it is the duty and responsibility of the police to investigate the situation and put the rogues in jail, where appropriate. In any case, we should not link that person to a group, then another, and another, until we get to a political party, as the hon. member in question did in such appalling fashion.
View Brad Trost Profile
CPC (SK)
View Brad Trost Profile
2018-06-07 13:48 [p.20441]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to bring this to the top of the hour and to bring forward some general remarks on this piece of legislation. Not having been a member of the committee, I find it refreshing to take a look at this matter and to provide some perspective on it.
There are two ways to look at bills such this. We can look at the very detailed technical aspects, and we can look at a philosophical overview. In this speech, I will attempt to provide a bit of a blend of the two approaches.
One of the problems I have when I look at this legislation is that it has seemed to come forward with the general concept that our security forces, the RCMP, CSIS, and the Communications Security Establishment, have too much authority, too great an ability to disrupt and take activities to go forward to fight terrorism. The philosophy of this legislation seems to be to take steps to actually restrict our security organizations from implementing steps to go forward to fight terrorism and threats to our national security. I am fairly concerned about that, because it seems to be a habit of the government to take political nuance from what is happening in the United States and to apply that to Canada.
I understand by talking with a lot of voters and other people that they often confuse legislation and activities in the United States with what we do here in Canada. Our legislation and our activities are fairly different. There is a section in this legislation that indicates and makes clear that the government and the security forces do not engage in torture and activities like that. Of course, Canadian security organizations never have.
Looking at things such as that in the legislation, I begin to think that perhaps the government was responding to perceptions of what was happening in the United States. That is an important thing for Canadians to realize. What happens in other countries does not necessarily happen here, even though we may hear about things on the news and assume that they affect our country as well.
With that in mind, let me express a few concerns I have about this legislation. One of the things the legislation does is make it more difficult for government organizations to share information internally between one department and another and between one organization and another. That is a concern Canadian parliamentarians have had for many years. If the organizations' security apparatus become too siloed, and the information becomes too internalized, organizations that need the information cannot act upon it. This is fairly well documented and well known in Canada because of the great tragedy of the Air India disaster, when the RCMP was unable to get all the information around to everyone who needed it.
This is concerning, because it seems that we are taking a step back from previous legislation, in which we tried to have organizations, security personal, and police who needed the information have access to information from other departments. That is very much concerning.
I understand the concern that information will be misused or that information will be inappropriately obtained, but I think it is probably better to look at whether the information is necessary and whether it is appropriate in the first place. That may be the point the government should perhaps concentrate on in its legislation. If the information is necessary, valid, and properly obtained, it should be shared widely and easily so that the information can be applied for our security.
Another major concern I have with this legislation is the change on advocacy and the promotion of terrorism. This is one of those areas where I understand that there are difficulties between very robust freedom of speech and crossing the line over to what is advocating for terrorism, which is advocating for the destruction of our society.
I am very concerned about this, because here is the problem. This problem also ties in with the ability to disrupt, and I will talk about that later on. We need, in our society, to be able to get ahead of terrorism and terrorist activities before they actually cause the loss of life, before they cause damage to our institutions.
This is why we need to have fairly robust measures in our legislation to block the advocacy and promotion of terrorism. There are organizations that come very close to the line. Everyone knows what they are implying, without their explicitly stating that terrorism is good and necessary, whether directly against Canada or other places in the world. We know they are indicating to people what they want them to do. They use this to help raise funds and support, helping to build a cause that most Canadians would find repugnant. That is why I find it distressing that the government has watered-down these provisions in this legislation.
I would urge the government members to think very carefully about this, because we need to be able to stop terrorism before it happens. We need to be able to cut off the funds, political support, and the philosophical and public relations activities of terrorist organizations before they actually get to a point where they can damage our society.
That ties into my next concern about this legislation, which is the restriction on threat disruption. I think the latter is fairly commonsense to most Canadians when they look at it. We would like to our security organizations, our police forces, to be able to interfere and stop an event before it happens. I know that some members of the NDP have expressed concerns that this power should perhaps not belong with CSIS, but with the RCMP. However, here is the problem. If CSIS or the RCMP has information that something is going to happen imminently, they need to be able to move fairly quickly and rapidly, and not have to worry about the administrative procedures on how to get there. This is something that I have great concerns about.
I am going to make a couple of quick recommendations in the two minutes I have left about what the government could perhaps concentrate on in future legislation, or in related legislation, that would help our security. Number one, the government should concentrate intensely on the technological aspects of cyberwarfare, cyberterrorism, and things like that going forward, not just by private sector actors but also by state actors, as we have seen in other countries. This is becoming increasingly important and of increasing interest, and I would urge the government to take a look at the necessary steps to increase support for that, to look at legislative steps to get more tools, funding, and support to deal with those issues.
Finally, the government needs to look at the potential of Canada's having a foreign intelligence service getting ahead of threats before they come to Canada. We talk about globalization, and it is in many ways good. We can travel to more places. We have trade between Canada and other parts of the world, but increasingly when it comes to security issues, we are in a position where we, as Canadians, cannot really look to our own borders. We need to begin to think abroad. We are one of the few major powers in the world that do not have a foreign intelligence service. It is something that I recommend the government do. There are other recommendations and other things in this legislation that my colleagues have gone through, which I recommend the government take to heart.
Again, my major concerns about this bill are with its philosophical approach. This bill criticizes and implies that our security system is overly weak. I do not agree with that. I think the RCMP, CSIS, and the members of the Canadian security establishment have done a good job protecting our country, and I think the legislation by the previous government went in the right direction. Therefore, I urge the government to reconsider many of the changes it introduces in this legislation.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-06-07 18:19 [p.20481]
Mr. Speaker, I want to applaud the member for the quick recovery when we returned to Bill C-59.
I also want to mention that it is interesting that he talked about how members on the committee were able to work together to report this bill back to us, but he must know that all 29 amendments suggested by the Conservatives on that committee were rejected. I am concerned that perhaps his interpretation of the congenial interaction among members at the committee equalled actually hearing and listening to and accepting a point of view on the Conservative side that certain provisions should not be amended or should be amended in a certain way to assure ourselves that our security agencies can continue to do their work.
I want to focus on a specific definition in the act. The previous definition of “terrorist propaganda” included the words “advocates or promotes”. The new definition of terrorist propaganda replaces those words with the word “counselling”. I am concerned that this definitional change would have a big impact on the type of propaganda that can be produced by terrorist cells and movements that promote and also entice lone-wolf attacks, some of the most difficult types of cases to stop.
I would like to hear from the member why this change was made and how this change would help the government stop terrorist propaganda from being propagated across social media channels like YouTube.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-06-07 18:20 [p.20481]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for focusing this debate on this more narrow public policy question of when we impinge upon free speech and criminalize free speech or protect against speech. That is obviously something Canadians are very concerned about, and that is one of the areas, again, I heard about at the door. Canadians want to know that they can engage in respectful debate. They want to make sure that the broadest amount of free speech that does not trip into the areas of hate speech and types of criminal speech will be allowed.
This is a very tough balance and may be one of the areas where the differences among the three parties most strongly emerge. I can see, with respect to the amendments proposed by the Conservatives, that the definition of the words “advocate and promote” versus “counsel” is more nuanced, perhaps, than I can get to in the short time for questions and comments. However, on the balance, I will say that I believe that this is where the Liberals had the trust of Canadians on this issue in the election and that we have struck the right balance here. I appreciate that it is a very fine point. Perhaps there are people in the hon. member's riding who obviously feel the way he does. He is sitting in this House today. The position of the Conservatives now on ths point reflects their position in the previous Parliament.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-06-07 18:24 [p.20481]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-59 now that the government has forced the final hours of debate and shut down the ability of members of Parliament to contribute to it.
The committee report on this legislation only came out on May 3, and we had one day of debate on May 28. It is interesting to note that the government now wants to rush this legislation as quickly as possible through Parliament now that this session is coming to a close.
I want to take the debate to a higher level and talk about the threat of terrorism, because it is one of the greatest threats of our time. I want to talk a bit about Canada's experience with terrorist cells and terrorist activity and then perhaps finish with a bit on committee procedure, committee deliberations, and the issue of free speech, since I asked the member for St. John's East for the definition of “terrorist propaganda”.
The definition I would like to use comes from one of the NATO handbooks, the AAP-06 glossary of terms and definitions, the 2014 edition. It says that terrorist propaganda is “The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property in an attempt to coerce or intimidate governments or societies to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives.” Those last three criteria or considerations I have often seen defined in different ways. Each American agency defines them in a slightly different way, and our agencies do the same.
Basically, it is about non-state actors, non-states using violence for an ideological, religious, or political goal. These are always their objectives, which is why it was so easy to label al Qaeda a terrorist organization. Many governments around the world were also able to do so quite simply. Al Qaeda is not religiously inspired, but it used religion as an excuse for its political goal, which was the removal of American forces in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East.
There are many other terrorist groups. In the past 150 years or so, non-state actors have played a role in terrorist activity. Oftentimes we say that terrorism is new, that this has never happened before. I want to dispel that idea.
Piracy on the high seas, piracy within territorial waters, can and has been compared a lot of times to a form of terrorism. They are not typically privateers. They do not exist nowadays. It is a form of political violence. It is sometimes motivated by economic factors and sometimes by political factors.
The Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany of the 1960s and 1970s was basically the Red Army Faction. It was a Marxist or Communist-inspired terrorist cell that robbed banks and shot government officials in Germany. It was well recognized for using terrorist tactics and strategies to achieve its political aims.
In 1919-1920 the anarchist bombings in the United States took place. Too often we are quick to say that terrorism is a new thing, but at the turn of the 19th century and the beginning of the 1900s, anarchist cells and anarchist movements were a very popular source of political agitation, as well as violent agitation.
In these particular cases, cells were responsible for the postmaster general attacks on members of the U.S. cabinet. They were responsible for attacks on governors and state legislatures. There is actually quite a long list of attacks that were carried out by them.
In the 1920s, we had a bombing and arson campaign here in Canada by the Freedomites, also called the Svobodniki, which were Russian-inspired terrorist cells. It was a terrorist network that undertook violence on a large scale for political goals. It was put down at the time by the state security apparatus that we had back then.
Closer to today, the Palestine Liberation Organization, or the PLO, participated in airline hijackings. That was an issue in the sixties and seventies. Airline hijackings were taking place all over the world. They became a major issue. That was far before my time, but we can read about them in textbooks. Many documentaries have been written about them. It was a plague all across the European continent and in the Middle East. Stopping hijackers was always a concern of security agencies. They did not know how to tell a hijacker apart from a tourist, or someone on a business trip, or someone travelling for personal reasons, or any reason really. That was a great difficulty at the time.
We have always had to struggle between charter rights and civil liberties and the security needs of our citizens.
In the regard, I often hear Liberals say they are the party of the charter and that they are striking the right balance. In this country, we have a longer inheritance of natural rights that were formalized in the Magna Carta in 1215. Later, they were annulled by Pope Innocent III and brought back one more time. They stayed with us as rights given to us just because of who we are. Our inherent humanity gives us those rights.
I want to caution members on the other side when referencing the charter. Our rich tradition of liberty goes far beyond the last 30 or 40 years. Our rights are not given to us by the charter. They are guaranteed to us by our innate humanity. In this country, thanks to our British common law, they are guaranteed by the Magna Carta. We have to strike the right balance in Bill C-59, and I just do not see our having achieved that in the effort to assure ourselves of our own security.
The great leaps in technology allow our citizens to travel quite easily. They can be in another country within one day, even in Europe, and that ease of travel, ease of communication, and ease of financing and transferring funds has also made it possible for those who would do us great harm to take advantage of it in ways that can harm our fellow citizens, and harm the state property that we pay for and that exists for the public good, and damage our airports and malls. A very popular form of terrorism in eastern Africa is attacking shopping malls. Shoppers are the targets of terrorist cells, such as al Shabaab.
I have deep concerns that Bill C-59 would not achieve that goal. As I asked in a previous question about the specific definition of “terrorist propaganda”, I am concerned about protecting free speech. It is deeply important, but I feel it is very hypocritical of the government, on one side, to say it is going to protect free speech and modify the definition of “terrorist propaganda”, and, on the other side, with the Canada summer jobs program, say that if Canadians wish to apply for it but have a spiritual, intellectual, or ethical disagreement with the government, they will be denied funding from the beginning. That is hypocrisy, and it has to be called out.
In consideration of this bill at committee, there were 29 amendments moved by Conservative members. Every single one of those was voted down. In 2015, when BillC-51 was being considered, the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, the member for Beauce, and two former members, Denis Lebel and Christian Paradis, all received threats at their offices. It speaks to how intense this issue was back in 2015 when this legislation was initially introduced as Bill C-51. I am glad that a great deal of it was kept by the Liberal government. Indeed, the Liberals voted for it at the time, although they sometimes seem to imply that they reject its content but accept mere modifications to it.
I am hoping, though, that the government will see the light and change its mind about trying to ram this through in the late hours of this spring session when there are only a mere few days to allow other members of Parliament to speak on behalf of their constituents. Public consultation is one thing, but it cannot replace the work we do here on behalf of our constituents.
I would be remiss if I did not end with this: When God wants people to suffer, he sends them too much understanding. It is a Yiddish proverb, and quite an old one. It says that the more knowledge we gain, the more problems we typically have, and the more suffering comes upon us, because when we know more, it is incumbent upon us to do better and take actions based on information that we have received. I do not believe the government is striking the right balance.
As I said, the new definition of “terrorist propaganda” that only mentions counselling a person to do so does not achieve the aim of getting social media companies to remove propaganda promoting terrorist ideologies that result in lone-wolf attacks. I am not as concerned about organized crime or organized terrorist cells as I am about lone-wolf attacks, the people inspired to act on behalf of an organization overseas that is not directly counselling them to do so, but promoting and advocating a system of beliefs of political violence for an ideological, religious, or political aims.
I will be voting against this bill because it has too many defects, whereas BillC-51 has far fewer.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-59, the Liberal government's national security legislation. Some may argue that this bill has been mislabelled, that it does not focus on security as much as administration, oversight, and regulations. The bill certainly did not rise to the expectations of national security experts who appeared before the committee. Perhaps this could be called a civil liberties bill, since we heard from twice as many lawyers and civil activists at committee as we did experts in national security.
As I have said in the House before, public safety and national security should be the top priority of the House, and should be above politics so that the safety and security of Canadians are put ahead of political fortunes. While the Liberals have said that public safety is a priority, they have said that everything is their top priority. To have 300 top priorities is really to have no priorities at all.
Under this lack of direction and leadership, we have seen Canada's national security be weakened and derail. The Liberals are eroding the safety and security of our communities, undermining our economic prosperity, and ripping at our societal fabric through divisive politics. Under the criminal justice reforms, they are watering down sentences for criminal charges like assault with a weapon, driving under the influence, joining a terrorist organization, human trafficking, and bribing an official, just to name a very few. Therefore, under the Liberals, violent and dangerous offenders will serve lighter sentences and face less scrutiny than a diabetic seeking a government tax credit, for example.
To combat gangs and gun violence, the Liberals promised $327 million for police task forces and other initiatives. They announced that funding shortly before the by-election in Surrey, where gang violence is a real problem. Seven months later, police and others are still waiting for the money to start flowing. They are still asking, “Where is it?” Apparently, combatting gangs and gun violence is not enough of a priority to get the money into the hands of those fighting the very issues that are plaguing Canadians, and that is gangs and gun violence.
Under C-59, the Liberals appear to be pushing Canada back to an era when national security agencies withheld information and information sharing led to disasters like the Air India bombing. The former CSIS director, Dick Fadden, noted at committee that the numerous and unnecessary use of privacy and charter references meant that career public servants, which includes national security officials, would cool to information sharing. He described a nightmare scenario as one where the government knew of an attack and did not act because one part of the government did not share that information. Bill C-59 would push Canada back into the days of silos and potentially puts Canadians at risk to espionage, terrorism, and cybercrimes.
Bill C-59 is certainly increasing the risk to our country. First is the heightened oversight, which can be good when done well. However, when we put multiple layers of oversight, fail to clearly show how those organizations will work together, and provide no new funding for the new administration created, resources are shifting from security personnel working to keep Canada safe to administration and red tape.
Let us be clear. Bill C-59 puts in place cuts to our national security and intelligence agencies. Agencies that already state they can only work on the top threats to our country and have to ignore lesser threats due to lack of resources will now have even fewer resources. Does that mean that one of the top threats posing a threat to our communities and our country will have get less resources devoted to it?
In November, I asked how much the implementation of Bill C-59 would cost, and was promised a quick answer. I did receive that answer, but the 170 words I got back took eight months to provide and came only after the committee had reported Bill C-59 back to the House. The total cost of the new oversight and compliance is nearly $100 million, $97.3 million over five years. That is moving $100 million from protecting to Canadians to administrative red tape.
However, it is not just the money that is weakening Canada's community safety. It is the watering down of tools for police. In Bill C-59, the Liberals would make it harder for police and the crown to get warrants against known security threats. If police agencies are aware of a threat, they can get a recognizance order, a warrant to monitor that person issued by a judge.
The Liberals would raise the bar on known threats being monitored by police and security agencies, but who benefits from this? The only people I can think of are criminals and terrorists who would do us harm. Making it harder for police to act on threats does not help the middle class, the rich, or the poor. It makes life harder on police and those working to stop crime and keep our country safe. Again, it erodes public safety and hurt honest, hard-working, law-abiding Canadians.
We heard very clearly from members of the Jewish community that they were very concerned about eliminating the promotion of terrorism provision as set out in Bill C-59. In 2017, for the third year in a row, there were record numbers of hate crimes against the Jewish community, yet the Liberals would eliminate a Criminal Code provision for making promoting and advocating terrorism illegal. With increased hate crimes, they would allow ISIS to call for violence, and lone-wolf attacks on YouTube and other videos, while continuing to be immune from prosecution.
I know Canadians do not support this. Canadians do not want to see Canada be the new home of radical terrorism and ISIS terrorists. However, right now, with no prosecution of ISIS fighters and terrorists returning home, no penalties for inciting hate and violence, and being the only western country with unprotected borders, we well may have a major crisis on our hands in the future.
Putting Canadians second to their political virtue-signalling and to social justice causes seems to run throughout the Liberal government's actions. The Liberals do not serve Canadians, only their self-interests. Bill C-59 seems to be rife with Liberal virtue signalling and social justice. Protest, advocacy, and artistic expression are all recognized in the Anti-terrorism Act as legitimate activities so long as they are not coupled with violent or criminal actions. However, the Liberals felt it necessary to insert this into an omnibus bill over and over again.
There were over 300 proposed amendments, with the Liberals only voting in favour of one opposition amendment, and that from the NDP. It was one that closely resembled another Liberal amendment. Therefore, we know, from sitting through weeks of witness testimony and debate, that the fix was in and the minister's promise of “openness to anything that improves public safety” was a hollow promise.
Under Bill C-59, the Liberals have proposed a Henry VIII clause. This is where the executive branch is granted the full authorities of Parliament, effectively usurping the role of Parliament to speak for Canadians. Such powers are usually very rare and are given for specific emergencies and crisis. Convenience, I would note, is not a crisis or emergency, and the Liberals should remember that the House approves legislation, not the executive.
Even simple and straightforward amendments were rejected. The commissioner who was slated to become the new intelligence commissioner noted that selecting his replacement from only retired judges severely restricted an already small pool and recommended that like him, sitting federal judges could be appointed on condition of their retirement.
If I have learned anything from the bill, it is that Canadians cannot rely on the Liberals to uphold their interests, put public safety and national security a priority, and that for the Liberals, politics comes ahead of good governance.
Our security risks are real and present danger to Canadians. Issues like returning ISIS terrorist are complex, and solutions are not simple. However, pretending the issue is irresponsible and negligent. Under the bill, it would be easy to surmise that the Liberals are more concerned with CSIS's compliance to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms than with prosecuting terrorists for significant crimes.
Canada is going to be weaker with Bill C-59, and far weaker when the Liberals leave office than when they entered office. Their wedge politics on the values test, pandering to terrorists, ignoring threats from China, targeting law-abiding guns owners, lack of leadership on illegal border crossers, and waffling on resource development continue to put Canadians at a disadvantage.
Real national security issues were raised at committee, but little in Bill C-59 actually deals with new and emerging threats to Canada's public safety.
To echo the former special forces commander, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Day suggested at committee that the debate and conversations around protecting Canadians was important and needed to continue. However, when asked about his confidence of the bill before us getting Canada ready for new and emerging threats, his answer was “Zero.” Coincidentally, that is the same confidence I have in the minister and the Liberal government to get Bill C-59 right: zero.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:42 [p.20491]
Mr. Speaker, I find myself surprised to have a speaking spot tonight. For that I want to thank the New Democratic Party. We do not agree about this bill, but it was a generous gesture to allow me to speak to it.
I have been very engaged in the issue of anti-terrorism legislation for many years. I followed it when, under Prime Minister Chrétien, the anti-terrorism legislation went through this place immediately after 9/11. Although I was executive director of the Sierra Club, I recall well my conversations with former MP Bill Blaikie, who sat on the committee, and we worried as legislation went forward that appeared to do too much to limit our rights as Canadians in its response to the terrorist threat.
That was nothing compared to what happened when we had a shooting, a tragic event in October 2014, when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered at the National War Memorial. I do not regard that event, by the way, as an act of terrorism, but rather of one individual with significant addiction and mental health issues, something that could have been dealt with if he had been allowed to have the help he sought in British Columbia before he came to Ottawa and committed the horrors of October 22, 2014.
It was the excuse and the opening that the former government needed to bring in truly dangerous legislation. I will never forget being here in my seat in Parliament on January 30. It was a Friday morning. One does not really expect ground-shaking legislation to hit without warning on a Friday morning in this place. There was no press release, no briefing, no telling us what was in store for us. I picked up BillC-51, an omnibus bill in five parts, and read it on the airplane flying home, studied it all weekend, and came back here. By Monday morning, February 2, I had a speaking spot during question period and called it the “secret police act”.
I did not wait, holding my finger to the wind, to see which way the political winds were blowing. The NDP did that for two weeks before they decided to oppose it. The Liberals decided they could not win an election if they opposed it, so they would vote for it but promised to fix it later.
I am afraid some of that is still whirling around in this place. I will say I am supporting this effort. I am voting for it. I still see many failures in it. I know the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety have listened. That is clear; the work they did in the consultation process was real.
Let me go back and review why BillC-51 was so very dangerous.
I said it was a bill in five parts. I hear the Conservatives complaining tonight that the government side is pushing Bill C-59 through too fast. Well, on January 30, 2015, BillC-51, an omnibus bill in five parts, was tabled for first reading. It went all the way through the House by May 6 and all the way through the Senate by June 9, less than six months.
This bill, Bill C-59, was tabled just about a year ago. Before it was tabled, we had consultations. I had time to hold town hall meetings in my riding specifically on public security, espionage, our spy agencies, and what we should do to protect and balance anti-terrorism measures with civil liberties. We worked hard on this issue before the bill ever came for first reading, and we have worked hard on it since.
I will come back to BillC-51, which was forced through so quickly. It was a bill in five parts. What I came to learn through working on that bill was that it made Canadians less safe. That was the advice from many experts in anti-terrorism efforts, from the leading experts in the trenches and from academia, from people like Professor Kent Roach and Professor Craig Forcese, who worked so hard on the Air India inquiry; the chair of the Air India inquiry, former judge John Major; and people in the trenches I mentioned earlier in debate tonight, such as Joseph Fogarty, an MI5 agent from the U.K. who served as anti-terrorism liaison with Canada.
What I learned from all of these people was BillC-51 was dangerous because it would put in concrete silos that would discourage communication between spy agencies. That bill had five parts.
Part 1 was information sharing. It was not about information sharing between spy agencies; it was about information sharing about Canadians to foreign governments. In other words, it was dangerous to the rights of Canadians overseas, and it ignored the advice of the Maher Arar inquiry.
Part 2 was about the no-fly list. Fortunately, this bill fixes that. The previous government never even bothered to consult with the airlines, by the way. That was interesting testimony we got back in the 41st Parliament.
Part 3 I called the “thought chill” section. We heard tonight that the government is not paying attention to the need remove terrorist recruitment from websites. That is nonsense. However, part 3 of BillC-51 created a whole new term with no definition, this idea of terrorism in general, and the idea of promoting terrorism in general. As it was defined, we could imagine someone would be guilty of violating that law if they had a Facebook page that put up an image of a clenched fist. That could be seen as promotion of terrorism in general. Thank goodness we got that improved.
In terms of thought chill, it was so broadly worded that it could have caused, for instance, someone in a community who could see someone was being radicalized a reasonable fear that they could be arrested if they went to talk to that person to talk them out of it. It was very badly drafted.
Part 4 is the part that has not been adequately fixed in this bill. This is the part that, for the first time ever, gave CSIS what are called kinetic powers.
CSIS was created because the RCMP, in response to the FLQ crisis, was cooking up plots that involved, famously, burning down a barn. As a result, we said intelligence gathering would have to be separate from the guys who go out and break up plots, because we cannot have the RCMP burning down barns, so the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was created. It was to be exclusively about collecting information, and then the RCMP could act on that information.
I think it is a huge mistake that in Bill C-59we have left CSIS kinetic powers to disrupt plots. However, we have changed the law quite a bit to deal with CSIS's ability to go to a single judge to get permission to violate our laws and break the charter. I wish the repair in Bill C-59 was stronger, but it is certainly a big improvement on BillC-51.
Part 5 of Bill C-51 is not repaired in Bill C-59. I think that is because it was so strangely worded that most people did not ever figure out what it was about. I know professors Roach and Forcese left part 5 alone because it was about changes to the immigration and refugee act. It really was hard to see what it was about. However, Professor Donald Galloway at the University of Victoria law school said part 5 is about being able to give a judge information in secret hearings about a suspect and not tell the judge that the evidence was obtained by torture, so I really hope the Minister of Public Safety will go back and look at those changes to the refugee and immigration act, and if that is what they are about, it needs fixing.
Let us look at why the bill is enough of an improvement that I am going to vote for it. By the way, in committee I did bring forward 46 amendments to the bill on my own. They went in the direction of ensuring that we would have special advocates in the room so that there would be someone there on behalf of the public interest when a judge was giving a warrant to allow a CSIS agent to break the law or violate the charter. The language around what judges can do and how often they can do it and what respect to the charter they must exercise when they grant such a warrant is much better in this bill, but it is still there, and it does worry me that there will be no special advocate in the room.
I cannot say I am wildly enthusiastic about Bill C-59, but it is a huge improvement over what we saw in the 41st Parliament in BillC-51.
The creation of the security intelligence review agency is something I want to talk about in my remaining minutes.
This point is fundamental. This was what Mr. Justice John Major, who chaired the Air India inquiry, told the committee when it was studying the bill back in 2015: He told us it is just human nature that the RCMP and CSIS will not share information and that we need to have pinnacle oversight.
There is review that happens, and the term “review” is post facto, so SIRC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, would look at what CSIS had done over the course of the year, but up until this bill we have never had a single security agency that watched what all the guys and girls were doing. We have CSIS, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Communications Security Establishment—five different agencies all looking at collecting intelligence, but not sharing. That is why having the security intelligence review agency created by this bill is a big improvement.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-06-07 19:52 [p.20493]
Mr. Speaker, the member brings a lot of context to bear on some of the questions that were referred to earlier in comparing it to Bill C-59.
The member for Calgary Shepard actually asked me about a proposed amendment the Conservatives brought forward to Bill C-59 at committee about changing the word “promote” to the words “advocate” or “counsel”. There was a brief moment in the member's speech when she referred to some reasons why that would not be a good amendment. Maybe she could elaborate on it. Her answer to the member for Calgary Shepard's question might be better than mine was.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:53 [p.20493]
Mr. Speaker, this was a very troubling provision about what kind of information posted on social media could lead to criminal charges and jail. BillC-51 talked about the previously unknown concept of “terrorism in general”. What did it mean? Nobody knew. The concept of promoting “terrorism”, on the other hand, or “counselling” terrorist activities, makes sense to anyone within a legal context. “Promoting” is vague; “counselling” is clear. “Terrorism in general” is vague; “terrorism” is clear.
Counselling terrorism is a clearly understood and defined offence and therefore useful for security and protecting public safety. The way it was phrased in BillC-51 was thought-chill over who knows what, but it was essentially draconian.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, we heard from witnesses that the gap in Canada currently being able to effectively prosecute returning ISIS terrorists, or those who leave our country and return to join a terrorist organization, is the gap between intelligence and evidence. There were a number of great amendments, and one that specifically targeted that.
I am wondering whether the minister would be able to provide us with an answer. We did not really fix the gap. National experts told us that we needed to fix the gap if we really wanted to be successful. To me, the bill is still wanting in that regard.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-05-28 18:19 [p.19771]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member began his question by wondering why, in a bill on national security, we would talk about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As I mentioned in my remarks, our objective through this whole process has been twofold: one, keep Canadians safe; two, safeguard their rights and freedoms. We need to protect national security, and we need to do so in a manner that is consistent with the charter.
I do not know if the hon. member sees a contradiction there, but quite frankly we do not. We think there is no contradiction in doing the right thing to keep Canadians safe, and also the right thing to safeguard Canadian rights, freedoms, and privacy. If the member sees that those two things are unalterably opposed to each other and that we have to choose either security or rights, then Canadians will be put in an invidious position.
Our determination is to achieve both together, and that is consistent with what we heard from Canadians in the last election. They said that they did not trust the Conservatives with their rights, and they did not trust the NDP with their safety. Canadians wanted both at the same time, and this legislation delivers both at the same time.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-03 14:50 [p.19073]
Mr. Speaker, they can enforce what they want. It is a question of political will. That is it.
Canada recently took part in a joint police operation with its allies to combat international terrorism, specifically that perpetrated by ISIS. The purpose of the operation was to undermine the power of the terrorist group's propaganda machine by seizing countless software programs and Internet servers all over the world. The operation was laudable and necessary, but in matters of counterterrorism, we must attack on all fronts.
Why is the Liberal government eliminating criminal penalties for terrorists right here on Canadian soil in Bill C-59?
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2017-12-04 12:37 [p.15905]
Mr. Speaker, as I said in my question, there is not a person in the House who does not unequivocally condemn terrorism. There is not one person in this place who would not, at the first opportunity if evidence presented itself, pursue to the fullest extent of the law somebody who committed an act of terror. To make the outrageous assertion that a member of any party in the House of Commons feels otherwise is unbecoming of this place and it is disgraceful that anyone would stand and make such a statement. We all unequivocally condemn the horrific acts of Daesh. Although we may disagree about the policies and the mechanisms that we use to go after terrorists, each and every one of us wants to hunt down and find those that would do others harm.
The member opposite made a few points that are concerning and I have unfortunately heard others in his party making the same points. He said he was not disparaging anti-radicalization efforts and yet in his speech he talked about poetry readings and how people are soft on individuals who would do us harm. The poetry reading he is talking about is in fact being conducted by a university aimed at young people who committed no crime, young people who might be starting down a dark path. God forbid we should use the arts to try to reach somebody who might be heading down a bad path. Is that the assertion Conservative members are making?
The entire focus of Conservative members on attacking our efforts on anti-radicalization shows the fundamental problem with the 10 years that they occupied office and their complete unwillingness to look at the need and imperative nature of prevention in all of its forms, whether or not it is health, crime, or terrorism. Terrorist acts have already been committed and I have already said we must pursue the individuals who committed those acts with every ounce of our force.
There are all sorts of terrorism that have not happened yet, people who have not yet been victimized, people who have not yet been attacked. Is it not our job every day in every single possible way to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that those who would seek to do us harm are pulled from that pack? Is it not our job to stop acts from happening before they are ever committed?
For some reason members of the opposition cannot get their heads around the idea that there are two separate but equally important priorities. The first is going after those who have committed wrongs and have already broken the law and who, with our international partners, we must pursue. The second are those who have not yet done harm, who are misled, who are beginning to head down a dark path, but who could be pulled away from that direction. There is nothing at odds about pursuing those two objectives at the same time.
The other problem that I have with the rhetoric that we are hearing from members on the other side is that it does not match their record. The Conservatives are now talking about the importance of protecting our communities, and I agree with them, but over the 10 years that they were in power they cut $1 billion from the very agencies designed to protect us. Let us go over those: $430 million cut from the RCMP; $390 million cut from the CBSA; $69 million cut from CSIS; $42 million cut from the Canadian security agency; and, $171 million cut from CATSA. Not only did they not keep up with inflation during that period for this ultimate priority that we all share, they slashed funding during that period of time.
The Conservatives talk about how Liberals will not pursue those who have come back to Canada. Two matters are actively being pursued to convict individuals where we have evidence and a decade under the Conservatives that number is zero, not a single one. It is a little rich for them to stand up and say there has been a sea change and suddenly now we are not doing anything.
It is the cloak that is put around it, as if they and they alone walk the streets concerned with protecting Canadians from terror. It is unbecoming of this place, and I wish that we could spend more time in this place having the kinds of intelligent debates that, frankly, we saw with all members including Conservative members around the security and intelligence framework, the kinds of conversations we are having around Bill C-59 right now to create the best and most leading-edge policy framework and oversight mechanisms and resources for our police. That is the debate that is worthy of this place, not this motion that we are going to spend a day talking about. It is unfortunate to try to angle for whatever particular partisan gain. Of course, in this place every day we try to advance what our party does well and they do poorly, but when it is framed this way it is so cynical.
With that, I want to point out one last thing as just a rebuke to what we heard earlier around the notion of extremism and to point out that not only do we hear the Conservatives belittling it in their text, but that in the 10 years they were there, the work to stop people walking the path of violent extremism simply was not done. According to Dr. Lorne Dawson of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, “all the G20 nations...are convinced of the need to move into prevention program...” but “the previous conservative government had little or no interest in following up on this”. According to former CSIS analyst, Phil Gurski, the“previous government had an abysmal record when it came to countering violent extremism and early detection. The Conservative government didn't care.”
I do not know that the Conservatives did not care, I would not make that characterization, but I think their priorities were in the wrong place. I think that while they went after, rightfully, those who had committed acts, they did not do a fraction enough to go after those who were beginning to walk that dark path, and their lack of regard for it in their debate and their discussion on the motion is heavy evidence of it.
We recognize and condemn the depravity of groups like Daesh. That is why Canada has renewed our military commitment to the Global Coalition against Daesh until March 2019. In addition to training, advising, and assisting Iraqi security forces, we have expanded our intelligence capabilities, we are conducting aerial surveillance and recognizance to air-to-air refuelling, we are leading the coalition medical facility, and as the situation continues to evolve we will re-evaluate how the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces could be most effective and ensure that we equip them with the resources they need to get the job done.
On the home front, when people have given support to Daesh and other terrorist groups and they return to Canada, whether they were active in combat, fundraising, propaganda, or in some other way, they are confronted with the full weight of Canadian intelligence and law enforcement agencies controlling and managing their return. Canadians can be assured that our world-class security and intelligence law enforcement agencies actively track and assess all potential threats. To this end, they work 365 days a year with domestic and international partners, including Five Eyes, the G7, the European Union, Interpol, and many others. These are professional, non-partisan agencies whose skills and expertise are sought all over the world. They work for us. They worked for a Conservative government. They would work for an NDP government. They would work constantly, vigilantly, ceaselessly for any government of any stripe. It is what they did, it is what they do.
They monitor returning extremists closely and gather and share intelligence in accordance with the law. They conduct investigations, collect criminal evidence, and lay criminal charges wherever possible. They use Criminal Code tools like peace bonds and terrorist listings as well as no-fly lists, passport revocations, and other authorized threat disruption measures wherever appropriate. Whichever tool they use, their work is apolitical, based on expert assessments and threats to public safety and national security.
At a recent gathering in Italy, G7 interior ministers, including our Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, committed to working together to address this very issue. This will involve multi-agency co-operation, risk assessment, and possible interventions, as our allies continue to deal with this shared threat.
To give a sense of the situation on a global scale, I would direct hon. members to the most recent public report on the terrorist threat to Canada. It shows, for example, that over 6,600 extreme travellers from western countries went to Syria since the start of that conflict in 2011. The number of Canadians involved is relatively small, about 250, with a nexus to Canada have gone abroad to participate in terrorist activity of some kind. Some went to Syria and Iraq, and many others went to countries in conflict zones. Around 60 of them have returned to Canada. These were the numbers at the end of 2015.
CSIS confirmed in its annual public report released this past February that the numbers stayed largely stable, and that remains the case.
We should neither underestimate nor overestimate that threat. We should not understate it, because there are people who have felt, and may continue to feel, so strong an affinity for the vile ideology and conduct of groups like Daesh that they travelled halfway around the world to get involved. Some of them may have been active participants in brutal violence. Certainly, as the motion before us states, people who team up with terrorists are complicit in atrocities, must be found, must be convicted, and must be put in jail.
When these individuals return to Canada, they merit and receive the full attention of our security intelligence law enforcement agencies. At the same time, that is exactly why we should not overstate the threat. Our expert, highly-skilled, highly-trained security services are on the job. They lay charges when there is evidence to support charges. Even when there is not enough evidence for criminal prosecution, they keep a close tab on these individuals to ensure Canadians are kept safe. They evaluate the extent to which each returnee remains bent on radical violence and they take appropriate measures to keep us safe.
As for the 100 to 190 Canadians who remain abroad, experts do not necessarily expect a great influx back to Canada. For one thing, many of them may be dead. Of those who are still alive, it may not be easy to leave whatever country they are in, and some of them may not want to. For those who do come back and face the same full force of our security and intelligence, it will be exactly the same treatment as those who arrived here already.
That is how we deal with people who have been radicalized. It is, of course, far preferable to prevent radicalization from happening in the first place, which is why I spent so much of my initial conversation in my speech talking to this point.
That is why we have established the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. Setting up this new centre was a commitment we made during the last election. We set aside funding for it in our very first budget, and it has been up and running since June. Canada has certain local initiatives, such as the Centre de prévention de la radicalisation menant à la violence, Montréal and the ReDirect program run by the Calgary Police Service. These programs and others like them engage in direct intervention with people at risk of being radicalized.
Our new federal centre is not meant to supplement. Rather, it is a coordinating body that helps local initiatives work to prevent violent extremism of all kinds. It includes Islamic extremism, white supremacy, and others.
The centre also facilitates the best practices and supports research to develop an evidence base about what approaches work best to combat radicalization in the Canadian context. This is important, and prevention is really the most effective way of reducing the threat posed by radicalization in the long run, not instead of a robust security and enforcement response, but in addition to it.
Therefore, I hope we are hearing, from the comments opposite, an approach that is misled. There is a need to ensure we approach both sides of the equation with equal vigour.
I would also like to address the motion's reference to the case of Omar Khadr.
Canadians obviously hold deeply divergent views about how he ended up on a battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002, and about what happened there. It was undoubtedly a tragic situation, particularly for the family and friends of Sergeant Christopher Speer, who was killed, and for Sergeant Layne Morris, who was injured.
There is conflicting evidence and commentary about what occurred on that day, 15 years ago. There is, however, no ambiguity about the fact that the Government of Canada violated Mr. Khadr's rights when he was in custody. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that point, on not one occasion but two.
Court proceedings have already cost upward of $7 million and prolonging them would have cost millions more, not to mention the cost of settlement itself, all to fight a case that was virtually unwinnable for reasons that were purely political. The settlement was the only sensible course of action. It saved taxpayers an enormous amount of money. It reminds us of the fundamental point that Canadian governments must apply the Constitution, follow the law, and respect the rights of citizens no matter how controversial they might be.
I am proud to be part of a government that upholds Canadian rights and I am proud to be part of a government that prioritizes the security of Canadians. We know that when there is a difficult case, when there is to be an arbiter of whether a Canadian citizen's rights were violated, it is not this place but the courts that make that determination. It is the courts that tell us whether our charter has or has not been upheld. When we violate fundamental rights, there has to be a consequence. Our charter is a document that protects each and every one of us. That is what can be so dangerous in this debate.
Each and every one of us has an incredible zeal to protect our fellow citizen. Probably all members here, if they were to list the top two or three things they wanted when the came to this place, was to make their communities safer, to make their families safer, to make their friends and neighbours safer. It is a prime motivator, I believe, for almost any person who runs in an election. However, when we get here, in our zeal to do so, we have to ensure we do it right. Yes, we go after those who perpetrate violence and create victims and ensure they are incarcerated and face justice. Similarly, we have to ensure those same actions do not transcend into violations of the rights of innocent people.
We can look at the O'Connor and Iacobucci inquiries and the recommendations that came out of them. Serious failures in our intelligence and security led to innocent people facing dire circumstances. Freedom is delicate. It must be carefully guarded. Those who would attack us or commit terrorism hope we will suspend freedom, live in terror, and lead our lives differently. However, when we get the opportunity to be in a free country, we have to hold that responsibility close. That balance of prevention, enforcement, protection, and the guaranteeing of rights is one that we must debate with the utmost caution, weight, consideration, and lack of partisanship. I hate to say it, but this motion fails on that account.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2017-12-04 15:50 [p.15940]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise and join in this important debate, in part because of its timeliness, given the apparent winding down of combat activity against Daesh and the ongoing evolution of terrorist threats in this country. It is also because the myths and misperceptions that have been allowed to persist in this House over the last few weeks have misinformed Canadians. Not surprisingly, those misperceptions are now echoed at family dinner tables right across the country.
If the quality of recent debate is to be believed, Canadians would think that we are combatting returning terrorists with poetry. However, Canadians expect to know exactly what their government does to protect their safety without the distraction of irresponsible sound bites. Therefore, I will dispel some of these myths.
First of all, how are returning extremists treated? The idea persists that they are somehow akin to prisoners at the end of their sentence, being reintegrated into the community, which is certainly not the case. Canada's law enforcement, security, and intelligence departments and agencies actively assess and monitor the threat each individual poses. They may be charged with a criminal offence where the evidence warrants. Based on available information, they may have passports revoked. They may be denied travel or placed on Canada's no-fly list. They are monitored closely in every case, and their return is tightly controlled and managed. In some cases, they may be found suitable for programs designed to help disengage from violent extremism, but by no means does that replace, prevent, or exclude investigation and close monitoring.
Second, the myth persists that somehow we can and should paint each returning extremist with the same brush through immediate action. However, we cannot, and we should not. Threat assessment is made to measure. Their places of travel, experience, and motivations may be entirely different. Criminal investigations are unique from case to case, and these, I can say from experience, can take time. They take a herculean effort on the part of many agencies in collaboration with international allies.
Third, there is a myth that our security agencies cannot possibly keep tabs on each and every returning extremist, which is also untrue. There are approximately 60 who have returned to Canada, and that is over the past decade. This has not changed significantly over the years. The full range of counterterrorism tools are in use, including surveillance, monitoring, and ongoing investigations. Once they return, agencies are well aware of them and aware of appropriately managing the threat they present to our citizens.
Fourth, there is a perception that these returnees pose Canada's largest security threat. This is also an unfortunate mischaracterization. Let us remember that the Strathroy and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu attacks in Canada were made by homegrown terrorists. They never left the country. They were radicalized right here in Canada. The same goes for attacks in Berlin and Nice. Those terrorists had not been trained in Syria or Iraq, but fought from their home countries, inspired by groups like Daesh. The risks that homegrown terrorists pose can be just as great as those posed by returning extremists.
There is no neat and simple solution to the complex problem that terrorism poses in a rapidly changing world, but we have in place effective and world-class professionals. Canada's full range of counterterrorism tools are in use, and these include ongoing investigations, surveillance and monitoring, intelligence gathering and sharing, the collection of criminal evidence, criminal charges, and prosecution where the evidence exists. Other Criminal Code tools, like peace bonds, public listings, expert threat assessments, no-fly lists, the revocation of passports, and legally authorized threat destruction measures, are all in use. The government and Canada's top-notch security agencies continue to use all the tools at their disposal to address the threat of Canadians joining or returning from terrorist activities.
The National Security Joint Operations Centre helps to coordinate an effective and timely operational response to high-risk travellers. G7 interior ministers recently redoubled their commitment to sharing information and working closely together to deal with returning extremists, and the process has worked.
We must now focus our attention on what lies ahead. Daesh, for one, continues to aggressively target the Internet to push an evil ideology and to recruit new adherents. Those who were on the battlefield may now be attempting to move perhaps to Africa, Asia, or Europe, and even to Canada. Yet, as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said, the terror threat is now morphing into other forms, and we must not be complacent.
As I have noted, homegrown terrorism is one of our most urgent threats. It can come in many forms, from right- and left-wing extremism to religious motivations.
In Bill C-59, the overhaul of national security legislation currently at committee, we intend to provide the framework through which we can act on these threats, moving forward. We need to play the long game. International experts recognize that a key part of that means getting to the roots of the problems on our own turf, and that is why the government recently launched a new centre to coordinate, bolster, and help fund and share the counter-radicalization programming that exists across the country. It is called the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. It is based on the fact that early intervention in dangerous situations to prevent radicalization to violence can and does work. The centre takes a broad approach to this issue, recognizing that the process of radicalization to violence occurs differently for different people.
It provides national leadership to support local efforts, and a key part of that work is through the community resilience fund. This fund was created to enhance those partnerships and to promote innovation in research on countering radicalization to violence, and domestic programming. We have recently announced a renewed call for proposals under this fund, with $1.4 million available to approved projects starting in 2018 and $7 million annually for the balance of the program. The centre is ensuring that resources are in place to facilitate disengagement from violent ideologies. In particular, children are served who return from combat zones and require tailored support to recover from their traumatic experiences.
From every angle, the Government of Canada continues to carefully monitor trends in extremist travel, and our national security agencies work extremely well together to ensure our response reflects the current threat environment. Canadians can be assured that our agencies are carefully monitoring returning extremists and that our law enforcement agencies are doing the difficult work of collecting the evidence required for convictions in Canadian courts. This remains a priority for our government and for all of our national security agencies. We must work together, alert at all times to the threats posed by terrorism at all levels, buoyed by solid facts and a shared commitment to act.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2017-12-04 16:03 [p.15942]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time this afternoon with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
Women and girls held captive, used, and sold as sex slaves; gay men pelted with stones, thrown from the rooftop because they are homosexual; children taken from their families and turned into suicide bombers; tens of thousands of innocent humans placed in mass graves: these are just a sample of the awful, horrible, and repugnant stories we have heard time and time again from territory controlled by ISIS and its fighters.
However, these awful tragic events are happening literally on the other side of the world, so we actually have nothing to worry about, right? I guess that is what some would think. We, on this side of the House, are being called fearmongers, because we are actually suggesting that what is happening in ISIS-controlled territories on the other side of the world actually does affect Canada and could have an even more lasting effect on Canada. We are being told we are wrong and that we are fearmongers.
In our present day, with our modern technology, terrorism and terrorist groups are not geographically limited. They recruit, they inspire, and they fundraise right around the globe, including here in Canada. Do not take my word for it. Let us look at what the experts say.
In its most recent annual report to Parliament, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said:
The principal terrorist threat to Canada remains that posed by violent extremists who could be inspired to carry out an attack in Canada. Violent extremist ideologies espoused by terrorist groups like Daesh...continue to appeal to certain individuals in Canada.
This is a concern to us. Let us talk not just about those individuals here in Canada who may espouse these values but about those who have taken that additional step to go to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and fight with them and have then returned to Canada. With that in mind, let us think about potential dangers these ISIS fighters pose to Canada.
Sadly, shockingly even, this does not seem to trouble our Prime Minister. In fact, when our Conservative leader pressed the Prime Minister last week, right here in the House of Commons, on the troubling pattern of Canadians fighting for ISIS and then returning to Canada, we did not get an answer. What did we get? We got an angry, attacking Prime Minister who tried his very best to slap a racist label on those important questions.
Islamophobia is what the Prime Minister called our concerns and the concerns of Canadians. Invoking that label is wrong, and it is cheap politics. It ought to be beneath the Prime Minister. These are concerns Canadians have. These are letters, emails, and social media that are full of the concerns Canadians have. These are legitimate questions that should not be dismissed with name calling, including fearmongering or Islamophobia. That is wrong.
ISIS does not represent Islam, nor does it represent the overwhelming majority of the almost two billion peaceful and peace-loving Muslims on this earth. What ISIS does do is represent a narrow-minded, extremist, and radical ideology, rooted in violence, seeking a religious cloak.
Sadly, we know that some Canadians have fallen prey to these extreme ideologies and recruitment approaches. Some have even travelled to the Middle East in aid of ISIS. Some of these fighters have come back to Canada, and that is what we are talking about today.
Although it does not seem to be a major concern for the Prime Minister, it is a concern for our professionals in the security and intelligence field.
Retired CSIS director Michel Coulombe, said:
Daesh, in particular, has developed a robust social media presence, allowing it to successfully recruit thousands of individuals, including Canadians, to travel to Syria and Iraq.
These extremists also pose a potential threat if they return to Canada.
Those are not our words. Those are the words of CSIS director Michel Coulombe. Let me continue his words:
For instance, they may radicalize others, help with logistics and financing for those who may want to travel abroad, or engage in attack planning here in Canada.
Terrorism is a global threat and we are not immune from its reach.
It is a global threat from which Canada is not immune. That principle has been recognized by successive governments in their approach to fighting terrorism.
Jean Chrétien's Liberal government, following the 9/11 terrorist attack, brought in the Anti-terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act, 2002, to establish a legislative framework to address terrorist crimes. Paul Martin's Liberal government authorized the deployment of Canada's troops to Kandahar to support our allies in Afghanistan.
Stephen Harper's Conservative government, in which I had the honour to serve, had a very long track record of fighting terrorism. We extended the mission in Afghanistan, brought in stronger anti-terrorism laws, and made it an offence to travel abroad to engage in or facilitate terrorist activities. It is against the law. When they come back to Canada, they could be prosecuted for that. That is the law we brought in, but this government refuses to actually enforce it. Conservatives also created a process for removing Canadian citizenship from convicted terrorists who were dual citizens. Under Stephen Harper, Canada joined a global coalition to fight ISIS.
Then these Liberals took office, and everything changed. The Liberals withdrew Canada from the global anti-ISIS coalition. These Liberals passed legislation allowing convicted terrorists to retain Canadian citizenship and enjoy their Canadian passports. These Liberals introduced Bill C-59 to unwind and roll back the tools our police and intelligence agencies have to fight terrorism. These Liberals are welcoming ISIS fighters back to Canada with a reintegration program, thinking they can de-emphasize violent terrorist instincts. These Liberals cut a $10.5 million cheque to a convicted terrorist, Omar Khadr. That is the shameful record of these Liberals.
Canadians expect their government to protect them and to keep them safe. Knowing that terrorist fighters are in Canada is worrying enough. Our government welcomes these fighters, arranging group meetings and supportive meetings and asking them to please stop being involved with those bad people and running around with bad gangs. The Liberals think that will be sufficient.
No wonder Canadians are upset. No wonder we are hearing from our constituents. Right across the country, people are concerned. When we label those concerns and call them names, it does not stop the concerns. It actually makes them even worse.
What the federal government, and the Prime Minister, really ought to be doing is making sure that we can, and do, bring these fighters to justice. ISIS fighters and other terrorists should be made to face the full legal consequences for their actions. They should be charged, they should be prosecuted, and they should be in jail. The federal government ought to make sure that the RCMP and its provincial and municipal partners have the tools, the legal authority, and the resources needed to bring charges and secure convictions against these returning terrorists.
We need to keep strong relations with our allies in fighting terrorism to ensure that we have the information, the intelligence, and the evidence necessary to prosecute terrorists and to protect our citizens. However, that is not what we have been seeing from the other side of the House. Instead of focusing on what can be done to keep Canadians safe, we see a government obsessed, for reasons we just do not understand, with avoiding any appearance of being tough on terrorists here in Canada. As Professor Randall Hansen, the interim director of the Monk Centre, said last year, “there's nothing admirable in letting other countries do the fighting while you hide behind liberal pieties”.
Canada's contribution of fighter jets to the anti-ISIS coalition was pulled, abandoning our allies. We have deprogramming coffee circles set up for ISIS fighters who come back to Canada.
When Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist, sued the federal government, what did the Liberals do? They gave in. Let us not be fooled that this was somehow a charter issue. No court ruled that Omar Khadr should receive $10.5 million. The Liberals hiding behind that is a fraud. Repatriation was the settlement. Repatriation is what happened. The Liberals could have fought the lawsuit. They could have said that the Supreme Court's ruling was enough, but they decided to make this terrorist, a videotaped bomb-maker and convicted killer, into a multi-millionaire.
Let me just finish with this. Canadians are concerned, but in less than two years, these Liberals are going to have to take their record to the country, and they will answer. The year 2019 cannot come soon enough.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2017-12-04 16:17 [p.15944]
Madam Speaker, not surprisingly, that member's characterization is completely false. We did not cut money. I should not be surprised, because this is the same party that said it would only run a $10-billion deficit. It has a lot of problems with math and the facts.
Here is the fact, and we took a lot of heat for this. The Conservative government is the one that made sure terrorists would not be able to organize in Canada. It enacted laws against terrorism being promoted on the Internet, which are being rescinded, by the way, if we look at what is happening with Bill C-59. We were criticized for the work we did because we were working so hard to invest money to keep Canadians safe.
The Liberals' approach to this is what is causing the problem. They are not taking this issue seriously.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2017-12-04 17:00 [p.15950]
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil.
I am pleased to rise today to discuss this important national security issue. A report issued by the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in 2016 estimated that 60 jihadists had already returned to Canada and that 180 others “were abroad and...were suspected of engaging in terrorism-related activities”.
It is estimated that 90 individuals who fought for terrorist groups will try to return to Canada in the coming months, now that ISIS is losing ground in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the government wants to implement a reintegration program. The Prime Minister also said a number of times that he would create the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to counter radicalization.
While the government is trying to reintegrate and monitor the Canadians who went to fight with ISIS, Canadians are worried about the impact the return of these fighters will have on national security. The government must address that concern. It has a duty to reassure us.
Anyone who has taken part in the activities of a terrorist group, whether as a fighter, a teacher, or a nurse, is a criminal. Canada has every right to charge such individuals with terrorism offences when they return to the country. We know that so far, about 60 Canadians who were involved with ISIS have returned to Canada. Only two of them have been charged; the others have not been charged with anything whatsoever.
We also know that it is difficult to gather the evidence needed to charge these individuals with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, but that should in no way interfere with the government's work. This is a priority issue. These people can unfortunately pose a risk to the security of our country.
The RCMP does not currently have the resources for round-the-block monitoring of all the fighters who have returned to Canada. The government needs to set priorities, take appropriate measures based on the risk posed by each individual, and create a bulletproof safety net that will make all Canadians feel secure.
Today we are asking the government to send a clear message to all Canadians. What are the repatriation procedures? What is it doing to ensure national security? How will it provide assurances to Canadians about that? How many and what kinds of resources will be invested? How many Canadians are under surveillance?
ISIS is losing ground every day. More and more Canadians who joined ISIS will return to Canada. It is time to establish a clear national policy that covers the psychosocial aspects of the problem and, above all, the security aspects.
Those who have joined a terrorist group and fought against Canada and its allies must be brought to justice. It cannot be denied that those people decided to fight against our own soldiers, Canada's soldiers. We know that those individuals who return to Canada must be arrested and charged upon arrival, or authorities could quite simply lose track of them in our country.
Canadians' desire to feel safe in their own country is a basic and perfectly legitimate issue. The Liberal government must do everything possible to detain and bring to justice the Canadians returning to Canada after collaborating with ISIS, and it must do so quickly.
On November 30, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness testified before the committee about his bill, which will address the alleged gaps in the Anti-terrorism Act. He explained that Bill C-59 would restrict the powers of Canada's secret services to disrupt terrorist plots while they are in the planning stages.
However, we should be working on prevention. Many Canadians get the impression that the government is spending more time protecting the criminals than the victims and Canadians themselves. This is fuelling a deep and understandable concern that the government must address.
The political choice to give priority to respecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for criminals instead of doing everything we can to ensure that they are arrested does not fly. The political choice to give priority to respecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for criminals instead of doing everything we can to ensure the safety of Canadians does not fly. Those who made the personal choice to fight alongside terrorist groups also made the deliberate choice to fight our own soldiers and our allies.
That is why so many Canadians do not understand anything the Liberal Party is saying right now. This government has to demonstrate that it is listening, respect people's intelligence, and address their concerns about our country's national security.
Our motion today proposes:
That the House:
(a) condemn the horrific acts committed by ISIS;
(b) acknowledge that individuals who joined ISIS fighters are complicit in these horrific acts and pose a danger to Canadians;
(c) call on the government to bring to justice and prosecute any ISIS fighter returning to Canada; and
(d) insist that the government make the security and protection of Canadians its priority, rather than the reintegration of ISIS fighters, or the unnecessary financial payout to a convicted terrorist, like Omar Khadr.
The opposition is very worried about how this Liberal government is handling this national security issue. We, like everyone else, see these incidents and attacks carried out all over the world. We are very worried to know that Canadians made a deliberate choice to go to these countries to fight alongside ISIS soldiers. By fighting alongside them, these individuals also made the choice to fight our own soldiers.
We just marked Remembrance Day, on November 11. We all took part in various commemorative ceremonies. We have seen how hard our soldiers have worked to protect democracy and peace here in Canada and around the world. These individuals did so proudly, and based on directives from our Parliament and our army, which believed in justice everywhere.
Knowing that some Canadians will be able to or have been able to go and fight overseas and then return to this country without facing any justice whatsoever, that worries us. To hear this government hide behind the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms again and again instead of bringing in the measures needed to keep Canadians safe is worrisome.
I look forward to questions from my colleagues across party lines. I hope the members of the House will stand up and send a clear message by voting in favour of our motion before the House.
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.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill  C-59 and to express my concerns about this bill being passed in its current form. I have read through the bill carefully and tried to understand the intentions of the Liberals, who seem to want to accommodate terrorists.
In the Liberals' speeches, they try to convince us that they are looking out for Canadians and working to keep them safe. However, if we look at their actions, such as the ones proposed in Bill C-59, it is obvious that either the Liberals are getting bad advice, or they are more concerned about the rights of criminals than those of law-abiding Canadians.
Let me explain. The most significant and most contentious change that Bill  C-59 would make to the Criminal Code is the amendment of the offence set out in section 83.221, which applies to “Every person who...knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general”. Bill C-59 would introduce a much more stringent test by changing the wording to “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”.
The same goes for the definition of “terrorist propaganda” in subsection 83.222(8), which will significantly reduce the ability of law enforcement officials to use the tool for dismantling terrorist propaganda with judicial authorization as set out in Bill C-51. One could argue that using the expression “another person” means that the offence must target someone specifically rather than the broader target of domestic terrorism and the offence that Bill C-51 is supposed to prevent.
Madam Speaker, I know you understand the importance of what I just said. If Bill  C-59 passes in its current form, terrorists will be free to spread all kinds of propaganda using social media, without any fear of being arrested or prosecuted.
The vast majority of terrorist activities are generated from propaganda that is spread in a general way, rather than directed at a specific person. Imagine how this measure will affect the work of our police officers and how we combat terrorism. This proposal is absurd, because it protects criminals and those who want to engage in violence in our country. The government has some explaining to do, and I mean today.
Bill  C-59 limits what the Canadian Security Intelligence Service can do to help us protect ourselves. When Bill C-51 was tabled by our government, it gave CSIS the power to engage in threat disruption activities. This meant CSIS could contact the parents of a radicalized youth and urge them to prevent their child from travelling to a war zone or committing an attack here in Canada.
However, if the Liberals' Bill  C-59 passes, CSIS will lose that power and will not be able to do anything on the spot to protect us. All of its activities will require a warrant, which is not exactly convenient when the goal is to stop someone from committing an act of terror. Currently, a CSIS agent can pretend to be a local resident to influence someone who is preparing to commit a terrorist act. Bill  C-59 will put a stop to that. Agents will just have to watch the threat develop and will have to get a warrant from a judge before they can take action. By the time the warrant is issued, it could be too late. Why are the Liberals putting so many obstacles in the way of law enforcement, who are just trying to protect us Canadians?
The Conservative Party has always taken Canadians' safety seriously, as demonstrated by the introduction and passage of BillC-51. We must not forget that this bill was passed by the Conservative government with the support of the Liberals, who were then the second opposition party. A couple of years ago, in 2015, the Liberals were in agreement. There was a slight change during the election campaign and now they have introduced Bill C-59, but let us not forget that Bill C-51 was approved by the Liberals.
Now it seems that the Liberals are trying to make things more difficult for the officers tasked with fighting these criminals. In 2015, during the campaign, our Liberal colleagues clearly stated that, if they were elected, they would amend this legislation. It is important to highlight that the bill was only introduced in Parliament at the end of June of this year. It took them 18 months.
The Liberals took their sweet time in keeping their election promise. Perhaps they realized that the original legislation was not as flawed as they thought. They now want to make amendments to show that they are keeping another promise.
The Conservative Party knows how important it is to have measures regarding national security institutions and the responsibility that comes with that. For us, there is no question that the safety of Canadians comes before the comfort of terrorists and criminals. Canadians who love their country come before those who are seeking to destroy it. Unlike the Liberals, we are committed to protecting Canadians. That is not just an idea that we came up with during the election campaign. We have always been committed to that goal because the threat still exists and has not diminished. The threat posed by these criminals is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
We have also heard that these thugs are wandering the streets of our communities after fighting with ISIS. They fought against our own soldiers. We know that they fought alongside ISIS and that many of them came back to Canada. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is now saying that he is looking for evidence to arrest them. That is all well and good, but in the meantime, Canadians need clearer information about the situation.
Where is the transparency that the Liberals promised Canadians? Why is the Minister of Public Safety not saying anything about these criminals? Why is he being so silent on this?
As it now stands, Bill  C-59 will greatly hinder the efforts of our peace officers and compromise the safety of Canadians, while facilitating the work of terrorists.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2017-11-20 13:00 [p.15275]
Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise to address Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters.
This is an omnibus bill that is making some significant changes to the way national security is going to be dealt with in this country. It is a huge bill. It is over 140 pages long. It has a great deal of information, some that is quite concerning to us as the official opposition.
I have taken the time to read through the bill, and I am quite concerned about some of the things in here. As I just mentioned to the Minister of National Defence, one of the concerns is around CSE, which has traditionally been an organization that is under the National Defence Act. It has worked alongside our Canadian Armed Forces to ensure that our guys who are deployed are safe. That, in itself, is something that has to be paramount in what CSE continues to do.
The Communications Security Establishment is a great organization and one we support wholeheartedly. It has always respected the laws of Canada. It has worked very closely with our Five Eyes partners—the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand—in collecting intelligence and sharing that where possible. At the same time, it respects Canadians' privacy rights and charter rights to ensure that they are not being unjustly spied on, unless, of course, they are acting in a manner that concerns national security and may be committing some sort of criminal act.
This bill, overall, would weaken our national security in this country. It would change the way CSIS and CSE operate, as well as the RCMP and other police agencies. It proves again that the Liberals are not serious when it comes to public safety. They prefer to water things down rather than do what is right.
It is interesting to watch. We have members on the other side who, when the Liberals were the third party, voted in favour of BillC-51. Today they are watering down that very act. I have real concerns about how our allies, particularly our Five Eyes partners, are going to feel about the trustworthiness and interoperability of CSIS, the RCMP, and CSE and their security intelligence-gathering mechanisms.
To highlight this and show that the Liberals are not serious about protecting Canadians and how we deal with terrorism, just this past week, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said, when talking about Canadians who joined ISIS and became ISIS terrorists and ISIS fighters, that he wants to reintegrate them back into Canada, not charge them under the Criminal Code as terrorists and not charge them under the Criminal Code for committing treason because they are fighting against Canada and our allies in Iraq and Syria. He wants to reintegrate them. That is disgusting.
I have heard over and over again this past week in the riding that Canadians are concerned that the Liberals are putting their lives at risk, because they are going to allow these ISIS fighters to return to Canada. These terrorists who have been radicalized will come back here, and rather than being incarcerated, will have the opportunity to return to their communities and radicalize their families, their friends, and the people they interact with. That is completely unacceptable. That just proves the fact that the Minister of Public Safety and the Liberal government are not taking security seriously.
We can compare that to what the U.S. government is doing, what the government of France is doing, and what the government of the United Kingdom is doing. They have put out kill orders for all their fighters fighting in Syria and Iraq right now. They have been told to shoot to kill anyone who came from Great Britain, the United States, or France who was radicalized and joined ISIS and is in Syria and Iraq fighting their forces. This is to ensure that their public safety is respected.
That is not happening here in Canada. We are going to reintegrate them. We should at least incarcerate them, but no, we are going to reintegrate them.
In the time I have left, I will speak about the Communications Security Establishment. This is an organization that has done yeoman's service over many decades ensuring that our troops stay safe and ensuring that Canada stays safe. Whenever the commissioner for the Communications Security Establishment has looked at ministerial authorizations that have been given, the rights of Canadians have been respected, whether it has been in collecting metadata, in intelligence-sharing, or when there has been a need to issue warrants for the monitoring of Canadians who are directly or indirectly involved in fundraising for, or the activity of, terrorism or other attacks on Canadians on our soil or that of our allies. They have been able to do that and respect our charter rights, respect the Privacy Act, and ensure that Canadians' rights have been respected on a legal level. I think that is clear.
In the new section on the proposed Communications Security Establishment act in Bill C-59, I applaud the government for bringing forward some clear definitions on cyber-defence and cyber-offence. Times have changed. We need to have the ability not only to defend against cyber-attacks but to take out those cyber-attacks and be pre-emptive, if necessary. If they collect the proper intelligence, we would have the ability to go out and destroy that potential threat. It could be an attack on our infrastructure, an attack on the Government of Canada, an attack on our troops serving overseas, or an attack that would wipe out our financial sector. That capability has to be there, because our cyber-infrastructure, such as power, financial institutions, and government institutions, is critical to the everyday lives of Canadians. We have to be able to pre-emptively remove a threat.
The amazing part of everything we are doing is that under this new cyberwarfare process, under “Cyber Operations Authorizations”, in the proposed Communications Security Establishment act, subclause 30(2) would give a veto to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Always the CSE and CSIS have operated in close collaboration with the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of National Defence, and to some degree, the Minister of Justice. Now the Minister of Foreign Affairs would have a veto over whether we spy on individuals or organizations. The minister would have a veto over whether we launch a cyber-attack or defend ourselves from a cyber-attack by individuals and organizations, whether they were criminal organizations, terrorist organizations, drug cartels, or just hackers. This is something we just do not understand.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs does not have the same intelligence mechanisms within the department that the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of National Defence have access to. Why we would give an authorization to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is beyond me. All we have to do is look at the former minister of foreign affairs, Stéphane Dion, who was acting in a role of appeasing Russia, which is definitely the greatest threat to Canada and the Five Eyes allies. If members look at our partners in the Five Eyes, we are always making sure that we have robust cybersecurity and cyber-intelligence-gathering on the Russian Federation, especially those kleptocrats in the Kremlin and those who want to do harm to our alliance through NATO.
We know that Russia is spying on us. We know that China is spying on us, yet when Stéphane Dion was still the minister of foreign affairs, he had the idea that we would appease the Russians, and he would not authorize those types of spying activities. That cannot be allowed to happen.
The current government is trying to do a trade deal with China. Would the government authorize spying and cyber-defence activities against the Government of China? Is the government so caught up in the idea that it wants to do trade with China, despite China's terrible environmental record and the atrocities it is committing against its own citizens, such as the Falun Gong? I am sure the government would appease China.
We need to make sure we get this right. That is why the bill has to get to committee right away. We have to make these changes so the bill is actually in the best interest of Canada and is not about playing political games, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to try to appease some of the greatest threats to our national security. It is to put our safety first, rather than the government's political aspirations.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2017-11-20 13:10 [p.15276]
Madam Speaker, I have read in detail Bill C-59. As the last speaker mentioned, there are over 140 pages in the bill. There are some good parts in this legislation, but there are parts I have a lot of concern about. One is the limits the bill would place on the ability of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to reduce terrorist threats in Canada. It bothers me that we would start pulling some of its authority and some of its ability to effectively make Canada safer for the public. The bill would limit the ability of government departments to share data among themselves to protect Canada's national security.
The hon. member talked about ISIS fighters coming back to Canada and the fact that we have a government that is not going to take a strong stand on this. It should be taking a strong stand.
I wonder if my colleague could comment on the ability of our government agencies to share information about the people coming back. Do we just want them to filter into our communities?
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2017-11-20 13:12 [p.15276]
Madam Speaker, I have full confidence in the intelligence-gathering processes in BillC-51, which we passed in a previous Parliament, in 2015. That piece of legislation allowed for information-sharing between CBSA, the RCMP, CSIS, CSE, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. I think most Canadians just assumed this had already been taking place. With government, everything always operates in silence. When we can level things off and allow information-sharing to percolate through all departments, we do a much better job of protecting Canadians, whether it is at the border, at the ports, or on our own turf.
I have a concern about returning ISIS fighters and the whole policy of reintegration rather than incarceration for these people. I think all of us are concerned about that. That is why Bill C-59 has to be studied in great detail, with expertise, so amendments can be made to the bill so that this legislation does not actually become reality.
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2017-11-20 13:30 [p.15279]
Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak in support of the national security act, 2017, Bill C-59. Two years ago, our government came to Ottawa with the promise that it would address the numerous problematic elements of BillC-51, which was enacted by the previous government. Canadians agreed that in attempting to safeguard the security of Canada, Bill C-51 failed to strike a balance between security and freedom.
Today I am proud to be able to rise in this House and say that we have wholeheartedly delivered our commitment to addressing those problem areas. Our government began its commitment to achieving this goal by first reaching out to Canadians in an unprecedented consultation process, where all agreed that accountability, transparency, and effectiveness are needed from their security agencies.
Secondly, BillC-22 was passed earlier this year, which created the multi-party National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. It is tasked with reviewing national security and intelligence activities through unprecedented access, with the goal of promoting government-wide accountability. On November 6, our Prime Minister followed through on this commitment by announcing the members of the committee. Today we are debating the national security act, 2017, Bill C-59, the last step in achieving our commitment to improving those problematic elements of BillC-51. This package consists of three acts, five sets of amendments, and a comprehensive review process.
In creating the national security and intelligence review agency, the office of the intelligence commissioner, and the Communications Security Establishment, we have created the robust and effective national security establishment that Canadians have asked for. In addition, we are amending the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, and the Secure Air Travel Act to strengthen the role of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, limit the collection of personal information, safeguard Canadian rights to peaceful assembly, and fix problems with the no-fly list.
Finally, our amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act would ensure young persons would be provided with all appropriate child protection, mental health, and other social measures needed when faced with a terrorism-related offence. Through my work on the mental health caucus, I know how important it is for all Canadians, especially those of marginalized groups, to have access to all available safeguards, services, and measures when navigating the criminal justice system. Therefore, I am pleased to speak today specifically about these proposed amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act included in part 8 of the national security act, 2017.
My riding of Richmond Hill is an incredibly diverse and vibrant riding, where over half of my constituents are Canadians from an immigrant background. Of these, the majority are youths and young families under the age of 30. For this reason, I am proud to say that through this set of amendments, our government is taking action to ensure that all youth involved in the criminal justice system are afforded the enhanced protections provided by Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, while also holding them accountable for their actions.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act, or YCJA, is the federal law that governs Canada's youth aged 12 to 17 who commit criminal offences, including terrorism offences. The YCJA recognizes that the youth justice system should be separate from the adult system, and based on the principle of diminished moral blameworthiness of youth. It emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration, just and proportionate responses to offending, and enhanced procedural protections for youth. The act also recognizes the importance of involving families, victims, and communities in the youth criminal justice system. The YCJA contains a number of significant legal safeguards to ensure that young people are treated fairly and that their rights are fully protected, for example, the identity publication ban, and significant restrictions on access to youth records.
Young people also have enhanced right to counsel, including state-provided counsel, and the right to have parents or other guardians present throughout key stages of the investigation and judicial processes. If a young person is charged, all proceedings take place in youth court. In addition, the YCJA would establish clear restrictions on access to youth records, setting out who may access youth records, the purpose for which youth records may be used, and the time periods during which access to records is permitted. Generally speaking, although the offences set out in the Criminal Code apply to youth, the sentences do not. Instead, the YCJA sets out specific youth sentencing principles, options, and durations. There is a broad range of community-based youth sentencing options, and clear restrictions on the use of custodial sentences.
Turning now to Bill C-59, it is important to recognize that there have been very few cases in Canada in which a young person has been involved in the youth criminal justice system due to terrorism offences. In total, we have had six young people charged since 2002. Two were found guilty, three were put under a peace bond, and one had the charges dropped. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure that when this occurs, the young people are held to account, but also that they are afforded all of the enhanced protection under the YCJA. It is perhaps even more important in terrorism-related offences that we do everything in our power to reform young offenders so that future harm is prevented.
Part 8 of Bill C-59 would amend the provision of the YCJA to ensure that youth protections apply in relation to anti-terrorism and other recognizance orders. It also provides for access to youth records for the purpose of administering the Canadian Passport Order, subject to the special privacy protections set out in the YCJA. The bill would also make important clarifications with respect to recognizance orders. Although the YCJA already provides youth justice courts with the authority to impose these orders, several sections of the YCJA would be amended to state more clearly that youth justice courts have exclusive jurisdiction to impose recognizance on youth. This would eliminate any uncertainty about the applicability of certain rights of protection, including the youths' right to counsel. In addition, there is currently no access period identified for records relating to recognizance. Therefore, the YCJA would be amended to provide that the access period for these records would be six months after the order expires.
With respect to the Canadian Passport Order, Bill C-59 would amend the YCJA to specifically permit access to youth records for the purpose of administering Canada's passport program. The Canadian Passport Order contemplates that passports can be denied or revoked as a result of certain criminal acts, or in relation to national security concerns. For example, section 10.1 of the Canadian Passport Order stipulates that the minister of public safety may decide to deny or revoke a passport if there are reasonable grounds, including that revocation is necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorism offence, or for the national security of Canada or a foreign country or state.
The current YCJA provisions governing access to youth records do not speak to access for passport matters. As noted, Bill C-59 would allow access in appropriate circumstances. However, it is important to note that the sharing of youth information on this provision would still be subject to the special privacy protection of the YCJA. Canadians can be assured that our government is addressing the national security threat while continuing to protect democratic values, rights, and freedoms for Canadians. Those two goals must be pursued with equal dedication.
I encourage all my colleagues to vote in support of the bill.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague's riding is right beside my riding of Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill. I would like to thank my colleague for the incredible work he is doing with youth, and particularly in light of this Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Could the member give us some perspective on the balance between safeguarding society and giving our youth a just and proportionate response for their actions, which has been reflected in this revised act? In his opinion, what would be the three key elements that differentiate and improve upon this act that will make the biggest difference?
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2017-11-20 13:43 [p.15280]
Madam Speaker, those are great questions.
I would like to start by highlighting some of the changes that are being proposed. Part 8 of Bill C-59 would amend certain provisions of the YCJA to ensure that youth protection applies in relation to recognizance orders, including recognizance with conditions and peace bond proceedings.
First, we are bringing in protection and making sure that protection is recognized when it is needed. Second, these amendments clarify that the youth justice court has exclusive jurisdiction to impose these orders on youth, and eliminates any uncertainty about the applicability of certain provisions to a youth for whom a recognizance order is being sought. Third, in addition, there is currently no access period. What this bill is proposing as an amendment to YCJA is to make sure we have six months after the expiry date of the order, limiting the time that the youth record can be ordered.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
CPC (ON)
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2017-11-20 13:54 [p.15282]
Madam Speaker, my colleague pointed out the fact that over the previous week, many of us in this chamber had the opportunity to participate in remembrance services across our ridings to thank our men and women in uniform for standing up for the freedoms we enjoy today. He also pointed out that Bill C-59 makes it more difficult for our security and police officers to intercept emerging threats.
However, one of the most disturbing comments I heard this past weekend is what appears to be an attempt to rebrand these terrorists who are returning to Canada as simply “returning foreign terrorist travellers”. Does my colleague have any comments to make on this attempt to rebrand a group of people we should be doing everything we can to keep out of our country?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2017-11-20 13:55 [p.15282]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his interesting comment that some people in his riding raised the issue of terrorists returning to Canada. This is totally unacceptable.
The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles asked the Prime Minister a direct question three weeks ago about how he could accept the fact that 60 terrorists who fought our men and women and others in Afghanistan are now welcome back in Canada. It is as if in July 1945, 60 "SS" members headed back to Canada. This is totally unacceptable, especially for all of those who sacrificed so much for our country and our freedom.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2017-11-20 17:56 [p.15323]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters. This is a very large bill that seeks to make some major changes to our national security. It affects BillC-51 that was brought in by our previous government. It replaces the Security Intelligence Review Committee and the commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment with a new national security and intelligence review agency. It creates the position of an intelligence commissioner to provide day-to-day oversight of national security activities. It limits the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It limits the ability of government departments to share data among themselves to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating and promoting terrorist offences in general. It raises the threshold for obtaining a terrorism peace bond and recognizance with conditions.
Obviously, there is a lot in this bill, and I will not have time to speak to all of it. Therefore, I will focus on a few key areas that I have concerns with.
As most people know, extremist travellers are those who have left Canada or other countries to join terrorist groups abroad. As ISIS continues to lose ground in Syria and Iraq, supporters of this militant group and other terrorist organizations have returned to their home countries, Canada included, with almost 60 of them now returned.
According to a recent report that was released in October from the Soufan Center, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, 33 countries have reported the arrival of at least 5,600 extremist travellers. That is 5,600 of them now returning home. The report states that those returns represent, “a huge challenge for security and law enforcement entities.”
Now is not the time to relax the laws that protect our national security. Canadians are at risk. Canada is not immune to the threats of terrorism. We have seen an attack on Parliament Hill, the terrorist attack that killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, and the recent attack of a police officer and members of the public in the city of Edmonton, just next to my riding. We need strong legislation in place to protect our national security and our citizens. This is why our Conservative government introduced BillC-51, which has been used to disrupt terrorist activities nearly two dozen times that we know of. This includes when law enforcement and intelligence officers intervened last year to stop ISIS supporter Aaron Driver, who had planned to commit a terror attack in Canada. These attacks, and attempted attacks, demonstrate that Canada needs strong security and intelligence legislation that enables public safety agencies to do their job.
Prior to our previous Conservative government's BillC-51, the mandate of CSIS prevented it from engaging in any disruption activities. It could not approach the parents of a radicalized youth and encourage them to dissuade their child from travelling to a war zone or conducting attacks here in Canada. After Bill C-51, CSIS was able to engage in threat disruption. Warrants were not required for activities that were not contrary to Canadian law, such as approaching the parents of a radicalized youth. This was very reasonable, in my opinion. However, Bill C-59 will now limit the threat disruption activities of CSIS to very specific actions. It will require a warrant for simple and necessary activities, such as impersonating a local citizen to give a suspect the wrong directions in order to disrupt a threat. This bill unnecessarily limits and restricts the ability of CSIS to disrupt threats to national security. Bill C-59 also makes it more difficult to obtain a peace bond for terrorism cases. We should be going forward. We should be strengthening the laws in Canada, not reducing them in favour of terrorism.
Under BillC-51, a peace bond can be issued if there are reasonable grounds to fear that a person may commit a terrorism offence and a peace bond is likely to prevent terrorism activities. That is the same as a peace bond under the Criminal Code of Canada, which I applied for on a number of occasions over the years as a police officer. When I knew someone might pose a threat to an individual, I went to a judge and had a peace warrant issued to protect the possible victim.
Bill C-59 would increase the threshold from “is likely” to “is necessary” to prevent a terrorist activity. If we have evidence that someone is planning an attack and we cannot act on good sound information, it is going to be a sad day for this country. This means that the amount of evidence that would go into proving the peace bond is necessary is nearly the same as the evidence one would need to lay a criminal charge. If we look at those set of circumstances, why would one go for a peace bond? One might as well lay the criminal charge. It is a little late.
The point of peace bonds is that there is not enough evidence to arrest and charge that suspect, but there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person is involved in terrorist activities. That is reasonable. It is reasonable under the Criminal Code to believe that if somebody threatens numerous times to kill a person, that maybe a peace bond should be issued for that person to stay away from the possible victim.
If the government raises the threshold to obtain a peace bond, people who are a risk to national security will slip through the cracks. We now have 60 of them in this country. How are our police forces supposed to keep us safe if they cannot request that special safety conditions be put on someone who is likely to engage in an attack?
I also find this legislation problematic in addressing the issue of advocating and recruiting for terrorist groups. General and broad threats against Canada or all infidels is not a crime under the Criminal Code. Hate speech and threats need to be directed at an identifiable group. BillC-51's definition of advocating or promoting terrorism enabled law officers to more effectively pursue those distributing radicalizing propaganda and advocating violence, and it should. However, the bill before us today would delete this offence. Without the ability to target the advocacy and/or promotion of terrorism, law enforcement will be handicapped from effectively addressing the various ways that individuals are radicalized. This includes removing terrorist propaganda from the Internet.
Another concerning change is in part 8 of the bill, which would amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act. If we afford more protections to young offenders who are guilty of terrorism offences, youth will become a target for radical recruiters. Instead of cracking down on radicalization, the Liberals are creating loopholes that those who seek to radicalize youth can exploit.
One last problematic area that I want to highlight is in part 5 of the bill. This section would amend the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which was established by BillC-51. The changes proposed in today's bill would make it more difficult for government departments to share information with each other. As a former police officer, I know how necessary it is to be able to share intelligence when conducting a large investigation. It can make or break a case. We have problems when it is easier for our own agencies to share information internationally than with each other. While our Five Eyes allies are all taking measures to strengthen national security, this legislation would remove the ability of our intelligence services to reduce terrorist threats.
In the last year, horrendous attacks in the United States, Europe, and our own country, have shown that no country is immune from the risks associated with terrorism and radicalization. The Anti-terrorism Act, brought forward by our previous government, struck a careful balance between protecting the civil liberties of Canadians while adequately providing law enforcement with the necessary tools to keep Canadians safe. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that all of Canada's security and intelligence services have the tools they need to do their jobs.
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