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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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?
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