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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-06-18 17:56 [p.21178]
Mr. Speaker, when the member was in the official opposition a number of years ago, and we were the third party at the time, there was a fairly significant debate that took place with respect to BillC-51. Our Prime Minister made it very clear to Canadians, unlike the New Democrats, that we saw merit in Bill C-51. However, the commitment was that if we were elected, we would fix BillC-51. There has been a great deal of consultation in every region of our country. There are two pieces of legislation, this one being the second part of it, that deals with and brings an end to BillC-51. It fulfills an election platform commitment by this Prime Minister.
My question to my friend and colleague across the way is this. Does he recognize, and I am sure he does, that the NDP amendments went absolutely nowhere when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister? He might not like it, but it is quite possible that there were some problems with the amendments that the NDP were proposing. The point is this. Does he not agree that this is a commitment that the Liberal Party made in the last election, and that this legislation, in good part, is fulfilling that commitment?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-06-07 12:01 [p.20427]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to such an important piece of legislation. I do not say that lightly. While we were in opposition, Stephen Harper and the government of the day brought in BillC-51. Many Canadians will remember Bill C-51, which had very serious issues. I appreciate the comments coming from the New Democrats with respect to Bill C-51. Like many of them, I too was here, and I listened very closely to what was being debated.
The biggest difference between us and the New Democrats is that we understand very clearly that we have to ensure Canadians are safe while at the same time protecting our rights and freedoms. As such, when we assessed BillC-51, we made a commitment to Canadians to address the major flaws in the bill. At a standing committee on security, which was made up of parliamentarians, I can recall our proposing ways to address the whole issue and concerns about the potential invasion of rights and freedoms. It went into committee, and it was a really long debate. We spent many hours, both in the chamber and at committee, discussing the pros and cons of BillC-51.
What came out of it for us as the Liberal Party back in 2015 was that we made a commitment to Canadians. We said we would support BillC-51, but that if we were to form government we would make substantial changes to it.
That is why it is such a pleasure for me to stand in the House today. Looking at Bill C-59, I would like to tell the constituents I represent that the Prime Minister has kept yet another very important promise made to Canadians in the last election.
We talk a lot about Canada's middle class, those striving to be a part of it, and how this government is so focused on improving conditions for our middle class. One could ultimately argue that the issue of safety and rights is very important to the middle class, but for me, this particular issue is all about righting a wrong from the past government and advancing the whole issue of safety, security, freedoms, and rights.
I believe it is the first time we have been able to deal with that. Through a parliamentary committee, we had legislation that ultimately put in place a national security body, if I can put it that way, to ensure a high sense of transparency and accountability from within that committee and our security agencies. In fact, prior to this government bringing it in, we were the only country that did not have an oversight parliamentary group to look at all the different aspects of security, rights, and freedoms. We were the only one of the Five Eyes that did not have such a group. New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. all had them.
Today, Canada has that in place. That was a commitment we made and a commitment that was fulfilled. I look at Bill C-59 today, and again it is fulfilling a commitment. The government is, in fact, committed to keeping Canadians safe while safeguarding rights and freedoms.
We listen to some of my colleagues across the way, and we understand the important changes taking place even in our own society, with radicalization through the promotion of social media and the types of things that can easily be downloaded or observed. Many Canadians share our concern and realize that at times there is a need for a government to take action. Bill C-59 does just that.
We have legislation before us that was amended. A number of very positive amendments were brought forward, even some from non-government members, that were ultimately adopted. I see that again as a positive thing.
The previous speaker raised some concerns in terms of communications between departments. I remember talking in opposition about how important it is that our security and public safety agencies and departments have those links that enable the sharing of information, but let us look at the essence of what the Conservatives did. They said these agencies shall share, but there was no real clear definition or outline in terms of how they would share information. That was a concern Canadians had. If we look at Bill C-59, we find more detail and clarity in terms of how that will take place.
Again, this is something that will alleviate a great deal of concern Canadians had in regard to our security agencies. It is a positive step forward. Information disclosure between departments is something that is important. Information should be shared, but there also needs to be a proper establishment of a system that allows a sense of confidence and public trust that rights and freedoms are being respected at the same time.
My colleague across the way talked about how we need to buckle down on the promoting and advocating of terrorism. He seemed to take offence to the fact that we have used the word “counselling” for terrorism versus using words like “promoting” and “advocating”. There is no doubt the Conservatives are very good when it comes to spin. They say if it is promoting or advocating terrorism, that is bad, and of course Canadians would agree, but it is those types of words. Now they are offended because we replaced that with “counselling”. I believe that "counselling" will be just as effective, if not more effective, in terms of the long game in trying to prevent these types of actions from taking place. It will be more useful in terms of going into the courts.
There is no doubt that the Conservatives know the types of spin words to use, but I do not believe for a moment that it is more effective than what was put in this legislation. When it comes to rights and freedoms, Canadians are very much aware that it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are a party of the charter. We understand how important that is.
At the same time, we also understand the need to ensure that there is national safety, and to support our security agencies. It was not this government but the Stephen Harper government that literally cut tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars out of things such as border controls and supports for our RCMP. This government has recognized that if we are not only going to talk the line, we also have to walk the line and provide the proper resources. We have seen those additional resources in not only our first budget, but also our second budget.
We have ministers such as public safety, immigration and citizenship, and others who are working together on some very important files. When I think of Bill C-59 and the fine work we have done in regard to the establishment of this parliamentary oversight committee, I feel good for the simple reason that we made a commitment to Canadians and the bill is about keeping that commitment. It deals with ensuring and re-establishing public confidence that we are protecting freedoms and rights. At the same time, it ensures that Canada is a safe country and that the terrorist threat is marginalized as much as possible through good, sound legislation. That is what this is.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-06-07 13:47 [p.20440]
Mr. Speaker, maybe I can best speak to this by quoting the experts from the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto, who said that this is the biggest reform of Canadian national security law since 1984 and the creation of CSIS. We have needed this for a while. They said that there “are solid gains—measured both from a rule of law and civil liberties perspective—and come at no credible cost to security.”
The bill is supported by Amnesty International, civil liberties groups, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. These are the people who are standing up to support this to ensure that there is a balance between the safety and security of Canadians and our right to democratically act in a way that we feel is important.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-06-07 18:09 [p.20479]
Mr. Speaker, perhaps I misheard and referred to Bill C-69 and not Bill C-59 when I rose to speak earlier.
I am pleased to rise again to support Bill C-59, the government's proposed legislation to update and modernize the country's national security framework. This landmark bill covers a number of measures that were informed by the views and opinions of a broad range of Canadians during public consultations in 2016.
It was in that same spirit of openness, engagement, and transparency that Bill C-59 was referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security before second reading, and the committee recently finished its study of this bill. I want to thank the committee members for their diligent and thorough examination of the legislation. An even stronger bill, with over 40 adopted amendments, is now before the House, thanks to their great work.
The measures would do two things at once. They would strengthen Canada's ability to effectively address and counter 21st-century threats while safeguarding the rights and freedoms we cherish as Canadians.
This is where I get into some new material. Rather than elaborate on any specific proposed measure, I will focus my remarks today on the high level of engagement, consultation, and analysis that contributed to the legislation we find before us today.
Bill C-59 is a result of the most comprehensive review of Canada's national security framework since the passing of the CSIS Act more than 30 years ago. That public review included unprecedented open and transparent public consultations on national security undertaken by Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice. Canadians were consulted on key elements of Canada's national security laws and policies to ensure that they reflected the rights, values, and freedoms of Canadians. Several issues were covered, including countering radicalization to violence, oversight and accountability, threat reduction, and the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, which is the former BillC-51.
All Canadians were invited and encouraged to take part in the consultations, which were held between September and December 2016. The response was tremendous. Thousands of people weighed in through a variety of avenues, both in person and online. Citizens, community leaders, experts and academics, non-governmental organizations, and parliamentarians alike made their views and ideas known over the course of the consultation period. In the end, tens of thousands of views were received, all of which were valuable in shaping the scope and content of Bill C-59.
With almost 59,000 responses received, the online consultation is what generated by far the largest volume of input, using a questionnaire consisting of more than 60 questions organized into 10 themes.
Nearly 18,000 submissions were also received by email. These consisted mainly of letters and other pieces of communication submitted by individuals. In addition, public town halls were held in five Canadian cities: Halifax, Markham, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Yellowknife. This gave citizens across the country a chance to share their thoughts and opinions in person.
The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security also held numerous meetings and consultations. It even travelled across the country to hear testimony not only from expert witnesses but also from members of the Canadian public, who were invited to express their views.
A digital town hall and two Twitter chats were also organized. Members of the public also had the opportunity to make their voices heard at 17 engagement events led by members of Parliament at the constituency level. In addition, 14 in-person sessions were held with academics and experts across the country, as well as one round table of civil society experts.
A total of 79 submissions were received from stakeholders, experts, and academics. The Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Information Technology Association of Canada are just a few of the organizations that participated in the consultations.
A great deal of time, effort, and expertise was spent not only to ensure that engaged citizens and interested parties were heard, but also to painstakingly collect and consider all input received from the public. All data collected during the consultation process was reviewed and prepared for analysis. The next step was to carefully analyze every comment, submission, letter, and other forms of input.
These views have been published on the Government of Canada's open data portal, so anyone interested in learning more about what was said can see what was said.
In addition, an independently prepared report provides an overview of what was heard during the consultation. The results are summarized in 10 sections, one for each of the themes explored in both “Our Security, Our Rights: National Security Green Paper, 2016” and the online questionnaire.
While it would be difficult to summarize everything we have heard from Canadians, I can speak to a few key themes that emerged. First of all, I can attest that in any large volume of input, there will be widely different opinions. That was certainly the case in the public consultation on national security. However, the results made one thing perfectly clear. Canadians want accountability, transparency, and effectiveness from their security and intelligence agencies. They also expect their rights, freedoms, and privacy to be protected at the same time as their security.
Consistent with what was heard, Bill C-59 would modernize and enhance Canada's security and intelligence laws to ensure that our agencies have the tools they need to protect us. It would do so with a legal and constitutional framework that complies with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Taken together, the proposed measures in Bill C-59 represent extensive improvements to Canada's national security framework. They also reflect thousands upon thousands of opinions expressed by this country's national security community, Parliamentarians across party lines, and the Canadian public writ large.
I firmly believe that it is important for all Canadians to be informed and engaged on Canada's national security framework. I am proud to stand behind a government that shares that belief.
The input received during the public consultation process in the pre-study period at committee was both considerable and instrumental in the development of Bill C-59 itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the legislation before this House today has been strengthened and improved as a result of the committee's close scrutiny and clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. To highlight just one example, the bill would now include provisions enacting the avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act. This act would have to do with the ministerial directions issued last fall to Canada's national security and intelligence agencies. To ensure transparency and accountability, those directions would be made public under an amended Bill C-59. They would also be reported on annually to the public, to review bodies, and to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
I encourage all members of this House to vote in favour of Bill C-59. Should Bill C-59 pass, this important piece of legislation would enhance Canada's national security, keep its citizens safe, and safeguard Canadians' constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. For all these reasons, I urge my honourable colleagues to join me in supporting Bill C-59.
With the bit of extra time that remains to me after my prepared remarks, I would just like to talk a little bit about my experience at the door during the election in 2015.
In the early part of June and July, many Canadians were concerned about BillC-51. It was a hot topic of conversation. What the former Liberal third party opposition had attempted to do at committee in the previous session of Parliament was at least get some amendments into BillC-51 to encourage and strengthen oversight and make sure that the bill not only protected security but made sure that Canadians' privacy and freedoms were being respected.
That led to a lot of difficult conversations, because during the campaign, the three parties were really divided on this particular issue. The Conservatives were adamant that they had struck the right balance. The New Democratic Party wanted to repeal it entirely. The Liberal Party stuck to its guns and said that it was a difficult conversation to have with people, but the legislation was needed. They said we needed this legislation but we needed to fix it, we needed to do it right, and we needed to make sure that it had the safeguards we promised and attempted to achieve at the amendment stage for BillC-51 in the last Parliament.
That is what we have done. However, we have done even more than that. We have gone back to the drawing board and have let many different groups participate to make sure that we got it right.
I just want to provide one little quote, from national security experts Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, who have said that this legislation is “the real deal: the biggest reform in this area since 1984” and that it comes “at no credible cost to security.”
I believe that through all the consultations, the drafting of the bill by the minister and his staff, the review of the bill at committee, and the help of all members of the House, we now have a piece of legislation that strikes the right balance that will make Canadians safer and will also protect their rights and freedoms, which is what we promised in the 41st Parliament we would do if elected, and we are doing it now.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-06-07 19:36 [p.20491]
Mr. Speaker, I was here during the debate on BillC-51, and it was a very different public atmosphere in terms of the types of comments we were receiving. There was a great outcry from Canadians in virtually all regions of the country saying that the government had gone too far. As the opposition party, even though we supported Bill C-51, part of our election platform was to make changes to it, and that is what Bill C-59 is all about. We also added the parliamentary standing committee on oversight of our agencies. We see it as a positive thing.
When I reflect today on what the public is saying, the opposition to BillC-51 is quite profound, and there appears to be a fairly good consensus across the country in support of the bill before us. Could the member provide his thoughts on why that might be the case?
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