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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-06-11 18:48 [p.28954]
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I do not feel, as leader of the Green Party, that I had adequate opportunity to debate what has happened with Bill C-59, particularly since it went to the Senate.
However, I want to say on the record that although it is not the perfect bill one would have wished for to completely remove the damage of BillC-51 from the previous Parliament, I am very grateful for the progress made in this bill. What I referred to at the time as the “thought chill sections” of the language were removed. One example was the use of the words “terrorism in general” throughout Bill C-51.
The bill was tabled January 30, 2015, which was a Friday. I read it over the weekend, came back to Parliament on Monday and asked a question in question period about whether we were going to stop this bill that so heavily intruded on civil liberties.
Bill C-59 is an improvement, but I do not think I have had enough time to debate it. I wish the hon. minister could give us more time. I want to see it pass in this Parliament, but I wish there was a way to allow time for proper debate.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-18 18:33 [p.21183]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that so many changes have been made to our anti-terrorism legislation, which are reflected in Bill C-59. I have stood in this place a number of times and complained that the government held consultations but did not listen. I am happy to say that this is not one of those times.
I submitted an extensive brief to the joint consultation, headed by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety. When I read Bill C-59, I felt very gratified that this legislation was drafted with an eye to the recommendations of the commission of inquiry into the Air India disaster and the failure of our security system at that point resulting from our agencies' inability to talk among each other to share information that could have prevented that terrible tragedy. It also appeared to me that the drafters paid attention to the results of the inquiry into the atrocious treatment of Canadian citizen Maher Arar.
There are still weaknesses in this bill. I would have preferred, as the hon. member knows, to remove any kinetic powers from CSIS. Its power to disrupt plots may still prove to make us less secure than we were, given that CSIS was originally intended to be about information collection only, and it left the RCMP to take action on the ground for kinetic activities.
Overall, this is a substantial improvement over the situation in which we found ourselves in 2015 with the speedy passage of what I still call the “secret police act” or what was then BillC-51.
This is a comment, more than a question to my hon. colleague, just to say on the record that I am pleased to vote for Bill C-59, although I would have preferred we had gone further and removed more of the things launched in BillC-51.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-18 19:20 [p.21189]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis has perhaps a more nostalgic and certainly more favourable view of what took place in the 41st Parliament, but I put it to him that my experience in studying BillC-51 convinced me that it made us much less safe. I will give an example and hope my hon. colleague can comment on it.
Far from creating silos, Bill C-59 would help us by creating the security and intelligence review agency because, in the words of former chief justice John Major who chaired the Air India inquiry, we have had no pinnacle review, no oversight over all the actions of all the agencies. This is a real-life example. When Jeffrey Delisle was stealing secrets from the Canadian navy, CSIS knew about it. CSIS knew all about it, but it decided not to tell the RCMP. The RCMP acted when it got a tip from the FBI. We know that in the Air India disaster, various agencies of the Government of Canada—CSIS knew things as did the RCMP—did not talk to each other. The information sharing sections to which the member refers have nothing to do with government agencies sharing the information they have about a threat. They have to do it by sharing personal information of Canadians, such as what occurred to Maher Arar.
To the member's last comment that nothing has gone wrong since BillC-51, my comment is: how would we know? Everything is secret. Rights could have been infringed. No special advocate was in the room. We have no idea what happened to infringe rights during Bill C-51's reign.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-18 19:43 [p.21192]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for striking a blow for members being recognized by the Speaker as they rise to speak.
I want to suggest we had a confusion in some of the debate here tonight between the concept of oversight and review. I have the advantage, although I do not think at the time I thought it was an advantage, to be participating as much as I could in the legislative review of the parliamentary committee that was looking at BillC-51 in the 41st Parliament.
Justice John Major who chaired the Air India inquiry testified at that committee his opinion it was not, as my friend from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan has suggested, a lack of tools that meant intelligence agencies did not share information. Judge Major said it was human nature. He said they just will not share the information. His experience from the Air India inquiry led him to believe that CSIS could have the information and out of its own inclinations, would not share it with the RCMP.
This was confirmed for us by a witness who testified, an MI5 agent from the U.K. who has been a security liaison with Canada, Joe Fogarty, who gave numerous examples. He used the ones that were in the public domain, by the way. He said he knew of more that we could not talk about, that the RCMP were deliberately kept in the dark by CSIS because it chose not to share the information.
I heard my hon. Conservative colleague speak of the cost of developing the security intelligence review agency. If the cost will save lives, then there is no point in not having a properly sourced security intelligence review agency. Review and oversight are quite different from review at the end of the year. We desperately need oversight of what our agencies are doing.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-18 20:19 [p.21198]
Madam Speaker, I would say this to the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. I remember the fight we had in the 41st Parliament with respect to BillC-51, the so-called Anti-terrorism Act, which I believe made Canada much less safe. It is hard for me to actually vote for Bill C-59 now, especially when I hear his very good arguments.
However, I will tell him why I am going to vote for Bill C-59. I am very relieved to see improvements to what I thought were the thought-chill provisions in BillC-51, the rules against the promotion of unexplained terrorism “in general”. There are big improvements to the no-fly list. However, there are not enough improvements, for my taste, to the ability of CSIS to take kinetic action. The big failure in Bill C-59 in front of us is the information sharing around what Canadians are doing with other governments.
The irony for me is that the Liberals voted for BillC-51 in the 41st Parliament and voted against the destruction of environmental assessments in BillC-38. Ironically, I think they have done a better job now of fixing the bill they voted for than of fixing the bill they voted against, at least as far as environmental assessments go. Therefore, I am voting against BillC-69 on environmental assessments. However, I am voting for Bill C-59. I am influenced a lot by Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, who overall think this is an improvement. I do too, overall. However, it does not fix everything BillC-51 did to make us less safe.
I appreciate the member's thoughtful analysis, and I am going to vote for it, but with misgivings.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-18 20:47 [p.21201]
Madam Speaker, to the last point made by my hon. friend from Durham, that BillC-51 in the 41st Parliament, the Anti-terrorism Act, was there to make us safe, again, the expert evidence we heard, even before that bill passed, was that BillC-51 under the previous government made us less safe.
For that, I cite the evidence of Joe Fogarty, an MI5 agent doing security liaison between Canada and U.K. When asked by the U.K. authorities about what Canadian anti-terrorism legislation they might want to replicate in the U.K., he answered “not a thing”, that they have created a situation which is akin to an accident waiting to happen. It has made Canadians less safe, through the failure to ensure that one agency talks to the other. In the example that the member just gave, agencies have a proactive requirement to talk to each other and not guard their information jealously.
View Erin Weir Profile
CCF (SK)
View Erin Weir Profile
2018-06-11 15:59 [p.20618]
Mr. Speaker, in all the excitement of voting, I believe I rose twice. I just want to make sure my vote is counted in the negative.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 18:34 [p.20483]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Calgary Shepard, whom I like a great deal, was not here in the 41st Parliament. Therefore, he does not recognize the fragility of the glass house in which he now stands when claiming that this bill has been forced through.
I remember BillC-51. I remember when it was tabled at first reading on January 30, 2015, a Friday morning. I took it home on the weekend. I came back here on February 2 knowing that I had never seen anything quite as draconian introduced in the Canadian Parliament. We opposed it. We worked hard on it. At least I was the first member of Parliament to declare it to be a threat not just to our liberties, but also that made us less safe because it entrenched the worst effects of the separation of law, spy agencies, and law enforcement.
BillC-51 is a dangerous piece of legislation that was forced through. There was no public consultation. It was introduced at first reading on January 30, it was through this place by May 6, and through the Senate by June 9. This piece of legislation has been before us a full year. Therefore, I am afraid that my hon. colleague is shooting at the wrong target when he thinks this bill has been forced through.
It is not as good as I would like it to be. The member is right that it does not do away with all of the things that were problematic in BillC-51. However, I will be voting for Bill C-59, because it does a lot to redress the threat to our security from BillC-51, which ignored all the recommendations of the Air India inquiry and the Maher Arar inquiry, and represented the worst entrenchment of the kinds of siloed agency thinking that, in the words of former Justice John Major, who chaired the Air India inquiry, make us less safe.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:20 [p.20489]
Mr. Speaker, I also turn my mind back to September 11, 2001, where the member started his speech and I can share with him. He remembers that there were Canadians controlling NORAD. A constituent of mine in my Rotary Club, Captain Mike Jelinek, was in command of what they call “the mountain” in Colorado at NORAD. It is an extraordinary story. Can anyone imagine being in more of a crucible of decision-making stress and yet keeping control? One of the things that a lot of people do not know, but that he shared with me, and it is public information, was why those in charge did not scramble military jets to shoot down the planes the hijackers had taken control of to aim at buildings. They could not because the hijacking terrorists had turned off the transponders. Therefore, what they saw on their radar was just a sea of dots, but the ones that were actually the hijacked planes had disappeared from view. That is why they had to make all of the planes in the airspace land, so they could then see what was going on. It is a very complex story.
I differ with my friend on Bill C-59. I was here for the debates on BillC-51. I learned a lot from the security experts who testified at the committee. None of that advice was taken up by the previous government, but I will cite one piece of testimony that came before the Senate. Joe Fogarty is the name of a British security expert, actually a spy for the Brits, who had been doing work with Canada at the time. He told us stories of things that had already happened, such as when the RCMP knew of a terrorist plotters' camp but did not want to tell CSIS, or CSIS knew of something and did not want to tell the RCMP.
John Major, the judge who ran the Air India inquiry, told us that passing BillC-51 would make us less safe unless we had pinnacle control, some agency or entity that oversaw what all five of our spy agencies were doing. Bill C-59 would take us in the right direction by creating the security agency that will allow us to know what each agency is doing, because the way human nature is, and we heard this from experts, is that people will not share information, and Bill C-59 would help us in that regard.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:42 [p.20491]
Mr. Speaker, I find myself surprised to have a speaking spot tonight. For that I want to thank the New Democratic Party. We do not agree about this bill, but it was a generous gesture to allow me to speak to it.
I have been very engaged in the issue of anti-terrorism legislation for many years. I followed it when, under Prime Minister Chrétien, the anti-terrorism legislation went through this place immediately after 9/11. Although I was executive director of the Sierra Club, I recall well my conversations with former MP Bill Blaikie, who sat on the committee, and we worried as legislation went forward that appeared to do too much to limit our rights as Canadians in its response to the terrorist threat.
That was nothing compared to what happened when we had a shooting, a tragic event in October 2014, when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered at the National War Memorial. I do not regard that event, by the way, as an act of terrorism, but rather of one individual with significant addiction and mental health issues, something that could have been dealt with if he had been allowed to have the help he sought in British Columbia before he came to Ottawa and committed the horrors of October 22, 2014.
It was the excuse and the opening that the former government needed to bring in truly dangerous legislation. I will never forget being here in my seat in Parliament on January 30. It was a Friday morning. One does not really expect ground-shaking legislation to hit without warning on a Friday morning in this place. There was no press release, no briefing, no telling us what was in store for us. I picked up BillC-51, an omnibus bill in five parts, and read it on the airplane flying home, studied it all weekend, and came back here. By Monday morning, February 2, I had a speaking spot during question period and called it the “secret police act”.
I did not wait, holding my finger to the wind, to see which way the political winds were blowing. The NDP did that for two weeks before they decided to oppose it. The Liberals decided they could not win an election if they opposed it, so they would vote for it but promised to fix it later.
I am afraid some of that is still whirling around in this place. I will say I am supporting this effort. I am voting for it. I still see many failures in it. I know the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety have listened. That is clear; the work they did in the consultation process was real.
Let me go back and review why BillC-51 was so very dangerous.
I said it was a bill in five parts. I hear the Conservatives complaining tonight that the government side is pushing Bill C-59 through too fast. Well, on January 30, 2015, BillC-51, an omnibus bill in five parts, was tabled for first reading. It went all the way through the House by May 6 and all the way through the Senate by June 9, less than six months.
This bill, Bill C-59, was tabled just about a year ago. Before it was tabled, we had consultations. I had time to hold town hall meetings in my riding specifically on public security, espionage, our spy agencies, and what we should do to protect and balance anti-terrorism measures with civil liberties. We worked hard on this issue before the bill ever came for first reading, and we have worked hard on it since.
I will come back to BillC-51, which was forced through so quickly. It was a bill in five parts. What I came to learn through working on that bill was that it made Canadians less safe. That was the advice from many experts in anti-terrorism efforts, from the leading experts in the trenches and from academia, from people like Professor Kent Roach and Professor Craig Forcese, who worked so hard on the Air India inquiry; the chair of the Air India inquiry, former judge John Major; and people in the trenches I mentioned earlier in debate tonight, such as Joseph Fogarty, an MI5 agent from the U.K. who served as anti-terrorism liaison with Canada.
What I learned from all of these people was BillC-51 was dangerous because it would put in concrete silos that would discourage communication between spy agencies. That bill had five parts.
Part 1 was information sharing. It was not about information sharing between spy agencies; it was about information sharing about Canadians to foreign governments. In other words, it was dangerous to the rights of Canadians overseas, and it ignored the advice of the Maher Arar inquiry.
Part 2 was about the no-fly list. Fortunately, this bill fixes that. The previous government never even bothered to consult with the airlines, by the way. That was interesting testimony we got back in the 41st Parliament.
Part 3 I called the “thought chill” section. We heard tonight that the government is not paying attention to the need remove terrorist recruitment from websites. That is nonsense. However, part 3 of BillC-51 created a whole new term with no definition, this idea of terrorism in general, and the idea of promoting terrorism in general. As it was defined, we could imagine someone would be guilty of violating that law if they had a Facebook page that put up an image of a clenched fist. That could be seen as promotion of terrorism in general. Thank goodness we got that improved.
In terms of thought chill, it was so broadly worded that it could have caused, for instance, someone in a community who could see someone was being radicalized a reasonable fear that they could be arrested if they went to talk to that person to talk them out of it. It was very badly drafted.
Part 4 is the part that has not been adequately fixed in this bill. This is the part that, for the first time ever, gave CSIS what are called kinetic powers.
CSIS was created because the RCMP, in response to the FLQ crisis, was cooking up plots that involved, famously, burning down a barn. As a result, we said intelligence gathering would have to be separate from the guys who go out and break up plots, because we cannot have the RCMP burning down barns, so the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was created. It was to be exclusively about collecting information, and then the RCMP could act on that information.
I think it is a huge mistake that in Bill C-59we have left CSIS kinetic powers to disrupt plots. However, we have changed the law quite a bit to deal with CSIS's ability to go to a single judge to get permission to violate our laws and break the charter. I wish the repair in Bill C-59 was stronger, but it is certainly a big improvement on BillC-51.
Part 5 of Bill C-51 is not repaired in Bill C-59. I think that is because it was so strangely worded that most people did not ever figure out what it was about. I know professors Roach and Forcese left part 5 alone because it was about changes to the immigration and refugee act. It really was hard to see what it was about. However, Professor Donald Galloway at the University of Victoria law school said part 5 is about being able to give a judge information in secret hearings about a suspect and not tell the judge that the evidence was obtained by torture, so I really hope the Minister of Public Safety will go back and look at those changes to the refugee and immigration act, and if that is what they are about, it needs fixing.
Let us look at why the bill is enough of an improvement that I am going to vote for it. By the way, in committee I did bring forward 46 amendments to the bill on my own. They went in the direction of ensuring that we would have special advocates in the room so that there would be someone there on behalf of the public interest when a judge was giving a warrant to allow a CSIS agent to break the law or violate the charter. The language around what judges can do and how often they can do it and what respect to the charter they must exercise when they grant such a warrant is much better in this bill, but it is still there, and it does worry me that there will be no special advocate in the room.
I cannot say I am wildly enthusiastic about Bill C-59, but it is a huge improvement over what we saw in the 41st Parliament in BillC-51.
The creation of the security intelligence review agency is something I want to talk about in my remaining minutes.
This point is fundamental. This was what Mr. Justice John Major, who chaired the Air India inquiry, told the committee when it was studying the bill back in 2015: He told us it is just human nature that the RCMP and CSIS will not share information and that we need to have pinnacle oversight.
There is review that happens, and the term “review” is post facto, so SIRC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, would look at what CSIS had done over the course of the year, but up until this bill we have never had a single security agency that watched what all the guys and girls were doing. We have CSIS, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Communications Security Establishment—five different agencies all looking at collecting intelligence, but not sharing. That is why having the security intelligence review agency created by this bill is a big improvement.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:53 [p.20493]
Mr. Speaker, this was a very troubling provision about what kind of information posted on social media could lead to criminal charges and jail. BillC-51 talked about the previously unknown concept of “terrorism in general”. What did it mean? Nobody knew. The concept of promoting “terrorism”, on the other hand, or “counselling” terrorist activities, makes sense to anyone within a legal context. “Promoting” is vague; “counselling” is clear. “Terrorism in general” is vague; “terrorism” is clear.
Counselling terrorism is a clearly understood and defined offence and therefore useful for security and protecting public safety. The way it was phrased in BillC-51 was thought-chill over who knows what, but it was essentially draconian.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:55 [p.20493]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague.
I will always oppose time allocation motions. They are undemocratic and demonstrate a lack of respect for MPs. Unfortunately, in June 2018, closure has been imposed many times and the debates are too short.
Nevertheless, Bill C-59 constitutes a significant improvement when it comes to protecting Canadians' rights and ensuring their safety.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:57 [p.20493]
Mr. Speaker, I remember well the climate of fear that BillC-51 created. I remember meeting with young, Canadian-born Islamic women who told me that for the first time in their whole lives, they felt afraid and did not feel welcome. That climate has been largely pushed back, and I give credit to everyone in this place, but it is on all sides and all parties to push back on Islamophobia.
Getting back to part 3 of BillC-51, it is important that we not try to limit, in any way, the ability of, for instance, a local imam to reach out to people in that community and tell them, “Do not listen to so-and-so. That is a misunderstanding of Quran. This is the real Quran, which is one that has nothing to do with violence.” That is an important feature that Bill C-59 helps protect.
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