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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 17:36 [p.21212]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their speeches. Here we are again, debating Bill C-59 at third reading, and I would like to start by talking about the process of debate surrounding a bill, which started not with this government, but rather during the last Parliament with the former Bill C-51.
Contrary to what we have been hearing from the other side today and at other times as well, the NDP and the Green Party were the only ones that opposed Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament. I have heard many people talk about how they were aware that Canadians had concerns about their security, about how a balanced approach was vital, and about how they understood the bill was flawed. They took it for granted that they would come to power and then fix the many, many, many flaws in the bill. Some of those flaws are so dangerous that they threaten the rights, freedoms, and privacy of Canadians. Of course, I am talking about the Liberal Party, which supported Bill C-51 even as it criticized it. I remember that when it was before committee, the member for Malpeque, who is still an MP, spend his time criticizing it and talking about its flaws. Then the Liberal Party supported it anyway.
That is problematic because now the government is trying to use the bill to position itself as the champion of nuanced perspectives. The government keeps trying to say that there are two objectives, namely to protect Canadians and to protect Canadians' rights. I myself remember a rather different situation, which developed in the wake of the 2014 attack on Parliament. The Conservative government tried to leverage people's fear following that terrible event to make unnecessary legislative changes. I will comment further on what was really necessary to protect Canadians.
A legislative change was therefore proposed to increase the powers given to national security agencies, but nothing was done to enhance the oversight system, which already falls short of where it needs to be to ensure that their work is done in full compliance with our laws and in line with Canadians' expectations regarding their rights and freedoms. Surveys showed that Canadians obviously welcomed those measures because, after all, we were in a situation where ISIS was on the rise, and we had the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which is not far from my region. We also had the attack right here in Parliament. They took advantage of people's fear, so there was some support for the measures presented in the bill.
To the NDP, our reflection in caucus made it very clear that we needed to stand up. We are elected to this place not only to represent our constituents, but also to be leaders on extremely difficult issues and to make the right decision, the decision that will ensure that we protect the rights of Canadians, even when that does not appear to be a popular decision.
Despite the fact that it seemed to be an unpopular decision, and despite the fact that the Liberals, seeing the polls, came out saying “We are just going to go with the wind and try and denounce the measures in the bill so that we can simultaneously protect ourselves from Conservative attacks and also try and outflank the NDP on the progressive principled stand of protecting Canadians' rights and freedoms,” what happened? The polls changed. As the official opposition, we fought that fight here in Parliament. Unlike the Liberals, we stood up to Stephen Harper's draconian BillC-51. We saw Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the measures that were in Bill C-51.
What happened after the election? We saw the Liberals try to square the circle they had created for themselves by denouncing and supporting legislation all at the same time. They said not to worry, because they were going to do what they do best, which is to consult. They consulted on election promises and things that were already debated in the previous Parliament.
The minister brought forward his green paper. The green paper was criticized, correctly and rightfully so, for going too far in one direction, for posing the question of how we could give more flexibility to law enforcement, how we could give them more tools to do their jobs, which is a complete misunderstanding of the concerns that Canadians had with Bill C-51 to begin with. It goes back to the earlier point I made. Instead of actually giving law enforcement the resources to create their tools, having a robust anti-radicalization strategy, and making sure that we do not see vulnerable young people falling through the cracks and being recruited by terrorist organizations like ISIS or the alt right that we see in these white supremacist groups, what happened?
We embarked on this consultation that was already going in one direction, and nearly two years after the Liberals coming into power, we finally see legislation tabled. The minister, in his speech earlier today, defended tabling that legislation in the dying days of a spring sitting of Parliament before the House rises for the summer by saying that we would have time to consider and contemplate the legislation over the summer. He neglected to mention that the very same powers that stood on shaky constitutional ground that were accorded to agencies like CSIS by the Conservatives' BillC-51 remain on the books, and as Michel Coulombe, the then director of CSIS, now retired, said repeatedly in committee, they are powers that were being used at that time.
It is all well and good to consult. Certainly, no one is opposed to the principles behind consultation, but when the consultation is about promises that were made to the Canadian people to fix legislation that undermined their rights while the very powers that undermined their rights are still on the books and being used, then one has to recognize the urgency to act.
The story continues because after this consultation the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security conducted a consultation. We made recommendations and the NDP prepared an excellent supplementary report, which supports the committee's unanimous recommendations, but also includes our own, in support of the bill introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, which is on the Order Paper. He was the public safety critic before me and he led the charge, along with the member for Outremont, who was then the leader of the official opposition, against BillC-51. The bill introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke entirely repeals all of the legislation in Bill C-51.
Interestingly, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness defended the fact that he did not repeal it all by stating that several MPs, including the member for Spadina—Fort York, said that the reason not to do so was that it would be a highly complex legislative endeavour. My colleague introduced a bill that is on the Order Paper and that does exactly that. With due respect to my colleague, it cannot be all that complex if we were able to draft a bill that achieved those exact objectives.
Bill C-59 was sent to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security before second reading, on the pretext that this would make it possible to adopt a wider range of amendments, give the opposition more opportunities to be heard, and allow for a robust study. What was the end result? A total of 55 amendments were adopted, and we are proud of that. However, of those 55 amendments, two come from the NDP, and one of those relates to the preamble to one part of the bill. While I have no desire to impugn the Liberals' motives, the second amendment was adopted only once the wording met their approval. None of the Conservatives' amendments were adopted. Ultimately, it is not the end of the world, because we disagree on several points, but I hear all this talk about collaboration, yet none of the Green Party's amendments were adopted. This goes to show that the process was rigged and that the government had already decided on its approach.
The government is going to brag about the new part 1.1 of the legislation that has been adopted. Contrary to what the minister said when answering my question earlier today in debate, that would not create any new legal obligation in terms of how the system currently works. The ministerial directives that are adopted to prohibit—despite loopholes, it is important to note—the use of information obtained under torture will remain just that, ministerial directives. The legal obligation that the minister or the Governor in Council “may” recommend the issuing of directives to deputy heads of departments is just not good enough. If it were, the Liberals would have had no problem voting for amendments that I read into record at committee. Time does not permit me to reread the amendments into the record, but I read them into the record in my question for the minister. The amendments would have explicitly and categorically prohibited acquiring, using, or, in way, shape, or form, interacting with information, from a public safety perspective, that may have been obtained under the use of torture. That is in keeping with our obligations under international law conventions that Canada has signed on to.
On a recorded vote, on every single one of those amendments, every member of the committee, Liberal and Conservative alike, voted against them. I invite Canadians to look at that record, and I invite Canadians to listen to what the minister said in response to me. When public safety may be at risk, there is no bigger admission that they are open to using information obtained under the use of torture than saying that they want to keep the flexibility when Canadians are at risk. Let Canadians be assured that it has been proven time and again that information obtained under the use of torture is of the most unreliable sort. It not only does nothing to protect Canadians and ensure public safety, but most of the time it does the opposite, by leading law enforcement on wild goose chases with erroneous information that could put their lives at risk, and Canadian lives at risk, not to mention the abhorrent and flagrant breach of human rights here and elsewhere through having those types of provisions. Therefore, I will let the Liberals explain why they voted against those amendments to explicitly prohibit torture, and why they feel that standing on ministerial directives and words like “may”, that are anything but binding, is good enough.
The Minister of Public Safety loves to boast that he has the support of various experts, and I have the utmost respect for those experts. I took the process in committee very seriously. I tried to unpack the extremely complex elements of the bill.
My Conservative colleague mentioned the Chair's decision to apply Standing Order 69.1. In my opinion, separating the votes on the different elements of the bill amounts to an acknowledgement that it is indeed an omnibus bill. A former director of CSIS, who served as a national security advisor to Prime Minister Harper and the current Prime Minister, said that the bill was beginning to rival the Income Tax Act in terms of complexity. Furthermore, several witnesses were forced to limit their testimony to just one part of the bill. In addition, elements were added concerning the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, and those elements fall within the scope of national defence, yet they were never mentioned during the consultations held by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security or by the Minister of Public Safety.
Before anyone jumps on me, I want to say that we realize the CSE's statutory mandate needs to be updated. We recognize that cybersecurity threats exist. However, when a government rams something through, as the government is doing with Bill C-59, we end up with flawed definitions, in particular with respect to the information available to the public, and with vague allocation of powers. Furthermore, the government is already announcing the position of a director of a new centre that is being created, under which everything will be consolidated, even though the act that is set out in the budget and, according to the minister, should be introduced this fall, has not yet been introduced.
This bill has many parts. The committee heard from some impressive experts, including professors Carvin, Forcese, and Wark, authors of some very important and interesting briefs, all of which are well thought out and attempt to break down all of the complicated aspects of the bill, including the ones I just mentioned. In their columns in The Globe and Mail, they say that some parts of the bill are positive and others require a more in-depth study. One of these parts has to do with information sharing.
Information sharing was one of the most problematic aspects of BillC-51.
Information sharing is recognized by the experts whom the minister touts as those supporting his legislation, by civil liberties associations and others, as one of the most egregious elements of what was BillC-51, and that is changed only in a cosmetic way in this legislation.
We changed “sharing” to “disclosure”, and what does that mean? When there are consequential amendments to changing “disclosure” everywhere else in all of these acts, it does not change anything. All experts recognize that. The problematic information-sharing regime that was brought in, which is a threat to Canadians' rights and freedoms, still exists.
If we want to talk about what happened to Maher Arar, the Liberals voted down one of my amendments to include Global Affairs as one of the governmental departments that Canadians could make a complaint about to the new review agency. Yet, when it comes to consular services, when it comes to human rights breaches happening to Canadians abroad, Global Affairs and consular services have a role to play, especially when we see stories in the news of CSIS undermining efforts of consular affairs to get Canadians out of countries with horrible human rights records and back here.
This has all fallen on deaf ears. The information-sharing regime remains in place. The new powers given to CSE, in clause 24, talk about how CSE has the ability to collect. Notwithstanding the prohibition on it being able to collect information on Canadians, it can, for the sake of research and other things, and all kinds of ill-defined terms, collect information on the information infrastructure related to Canadians.
Incidentally, as a matter of fact, it voted down my amendments to have a catch-and-release provision in place for information acquired incidentally on Canadians. What does that do? When we read clause 24 of part 3 of the bill related to CSE, it says that it is for the purposes of “disclosing”. Not only are they now exempt from the explicit prohibition that they normally have in their mandate, they can also disclose.
What have the Liberals done to the information-sharing regime brought in by the Conservatives under BillC-51? It is called “disclosure” now. Members can do the math. We are perpetuating this regime that exists.
I know my time is very limited, so I want to address the issue of threat disruption by CSIS. As I said in my questions to my Conservative colleague, the very reason CSIS exists is that disruption is a police duty. As a result, leaving the power to disrupt threats granted in former Bill C-51 in the hands of CSIS still goes against the mandate of CSIS and its very purpose, even if the current government is making small improvements to the constitutionality of those powers. That is unacceptable.
I am not alone in saying this. As I said in my questions to my Conservative colleagues, I am talking about the excellent interview with former RCMP commissioner Paulson. He was interviewed by Professors Carvin and Forcese on their podcast. That interview raised concerns about that power.
In closing, I would like to talk about solutions. After all, I did begin my remarks by saying that we do not want to increase the legislative powers, which we believe are already sufficient. I am talking here about Bill C-51, which was introduced in the previous Parliament. We need to look at resources for police officers, which were cut by the previous government. The Conservatives eliminated the police recruitment fund, which allowed municipalities and provinces to recruit police officers and improve police services in their jurisdictions. I am thinking in particular of the Montreal police, or SPVM, and the Eclipse squad, which dealt with street gangs. It was a good thing the Government of Quebec was there to fill the gap left by the elimination of the funding that made it possible for the squad to exist. The current government is making some efforts in the fight against radicalization, but it needs to do more. The Conservatives are dumping on and ridiculing those efforts. The radicalization that we are seeing on social media and elsewhere targets vulnerable young people. Ridiculing and minimizing the government's efforts undermines the public safety objectives that we need to achieve.
We cannot support a bill that so deeply undermines the protection of Canadians' rights and privacy. Despite what they claim across the way, this bill does nothing to protect the safety of Canadians, which, let us be clear, is an objective all parliamentarians want to achieve. However, achieving that objective must not be done to the detriment of rights and freedoms, as was the case under the previous government and as is currently still the case with this bill.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-05-28 17:13 [p.19788]
moved:
Mlotion No. 1
That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting the short title.
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-59, in Clause 49.1, be amended:
(a) by replacing lines 13 to 15 on page 43 with the following:
“3 (1) The Governor in Council must issue written directions to all deputy heads prohibiting”
(b) by deleting line 25 on page 43 to line 2 on page 44.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the third motion, which pertained to one of my amendments, was not selected by the Chair, but I will still come back to the important points about it in a few moments. Just because it was not selected does not mean we cannot talk about it.
We are near the end of what has been a very long road with this government on an issue that dates back to even before the Liberals took office. Obviously, we must recognize that Bill  C-59 is the result of the Liberals' approach. On one hand, during the last Parliament they supported Stephen Harper's draconian bill, Bill C-51, and on the other, they claimed that there were a lot of problems with the bill. The Liberals told people not to worry, however, because when they took office they would fix all of those problems. That was problematic for obvious reasons. If the bill was so flawed, posed so many problems with regard to national security matters, and violated Canadians' rights and freedoms, the Liberals should not have voted to pass it, and yet that is exactly what was happening with Bill C-51.
Let us fast-forward a little. After the Liberals were elected, they waited two years to introduce the legislation. They said that they had to hold public consultations. I will come back to that.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, used the power to disrupt threats bestowed upon it by Bill C-51. CSIS confirmed that in committee.
While we waited those two years for the government to consult, even though the election promise had been to consult on a specific piece of legislation, this was open consultation, or so it would seem. However the problem was, and many experts decried this, the fact that the government's green paper seemed to indicate, through some of the notions that were put forward, that some of these aspects were already a foregone conclusion. There was a definite bent more toward the side of intelligence gathering and law enforcement, and certainly a lack of substantive points being made in favour of the other side of that, which was protecting Canadians' rights and privacy.
Too often the Liberals, in the committee in particular, like to put the word “balance” forward. As we heard from representatives of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, when they presented at committee, balance implies that something is being taken away from one side or the other to achieve said balance. For us, the question of rights and liberties, and certainly the protection of Canadians' privacy, is not something that can almost be a victim of that type of compromise required to achieve said balance.
The other aspect that was not included in the public consultations, but that eventually became a central topic in our committee study, is the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE.
CSE, as members will know, is under the purview of the Minister of National Defence and its mandate is given to it by the National Defence Act. However, despite promises to no longer come forward with omnibus legislation, the Liberals have taken something that is the purview of the Minister of National Defence, something that the national defence committee has the institutional memory to study, all due respect to me and my colleagues on the public safety committee, and put it into this legislation.
That ended up taking up inordinate amounts, and rightly so, of time at the committee. These new powers being given to CSE and the huge change being made to CSE's mandate took up a lot of space and led to the most questions, not just from members but also from some of the experts who were there. Quite frankly, as far as we are concerned, many of those questions still remain without answers.
For example, there is the issue of CSE's cyber defence capabilities, as well as its offensive and active capabilities. The experts asked many questions on that subject. I introduced an amendment in committee to eliminate these powers, but it was not intended to compromise the safety of Canadians or our cybersecurity. We still kept CSE's defensive powers and capabilities in place. However, we had the right to ask questions, as I did with the senior CSE officials, though I did not get satisfactory answers, especially about what all this means for our country's military future.
CSE is governed by the National Defence Act, but it is a civilian agency, not a military one. However, Bill  C-59, and now the federal budget and the legislation that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness says will be tabled this fall, is opening the door to capability sharing between CSE and Canadian Forces to improve our cyber capabilities in a military context or even in war zones.
I posed questions to the chief of the CSE and other officials who were present throughout different stages of the study. I said that there was some debate in the context of international law as to what sovereignty meant in this digital age. An act of war is when one infringes on someone's sovereignty, but is a server part of one's sovereignty? What is the role that data is playing in this? Certainly, colleagues who work on the trade file had similar concerns that they raised.
I asked these questions in the context of information-sharing capabilities with Canadian Forces. All I was able to get as an answer was that this stuff was already being done and it was better that it be codified in the law with all the protections, oversight, and review. Pardon me for being glib, but that all comes with that. However, it is not enough. If a foreign state actor, as the bill describes, engages in some kind of activity, we are talking about the Minister of National Defence having the capability to interfere with intellectual property and to be engaged in an active way.
In this era, when the federal budget is talking about more and more capability sharing between police and intelligence services, which let us not forget is what CSE is, ultimately, as it is not any kind of offensive entity but rather deals with foreign intelligence, and then to involve the Canadian Armed Forces, we are going down a slippery slope. This is not an issue I raise. It was one that witnesses raised time and again throughout this study.
Part of the reason why I tabled amendments, which were unfortunately voted down by the Liberals at committee, was to remove these elements, not because we disagreed, although they certainly are concerning, but because they required proper study. They should not have been part of omnibus legislation. They had nothing to do with the previous BillC-51. Nor were they part of the public consultations that both the minister did and the committee did.
That is important. I know the answer I will get is that all the issues relate to national security. That is not enough. We need to be able to examine these issues more thoroughly, and that is certainly not the feeling we got.
Lets continue to look at part three of the bill that has to do with CSE. One of my amendments was unfortunately deemed inadmissible by the Chair, because it was too similar to another amendment I had proposed and that my colleague, the leader of the Green Party, had also proposed. The motion was almost word for word what the experts had suggested. It had to do with publicly available information. We will come back to this concept.
The concept, as it currently exists, is important because it gives CSIS and CSE the power to collect publicly available information. With respect to CSE, we were told over and over again that its mandate does not concern Canadians, since the legislation explicitly prohibits it from targeting Canadians. We must be careful, though, and we have to read part three of the bill, subclause 23 and 24, and the next few subclauses.
Subclause 23 indicates that, despite the ban on targeting Canadians, the centre can collect publicly available information for study and research purposes. In short, it lists a number of things to advance its mandate. Even collecting information inadvertently is allowed. This is very problematic.
We tried to do a few things to fix that. The first was to change the definition of “publicly available information”. That is because when I asked representatives of the CSE if the information that Cambridge Analytica legally but immorally stole from Canadians and others throughout the world through Facebook would be part of publicly available information under the definition provided in this legislation, I got a one-word answer, which is rare in these parts. It was “yes”.
What does my amendment propose to do? The Liberals said not to worry, that they would deal with it. They put in the words “a reasonable expectation of privacy”. That is good. That was part of my amendment as well, as was it part of the amendment brought by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. However, there is a whole slew of information missing from that. Allow me to read it to the House, since unfortunately it was deemed inadmissible and voted down by Liberals at committee.
It states that it would also include, along with information where Canadians have a reasonable expectation of privacy, “information that is published or broadcast only to a selected audience or information that is subscribed to or purchased illegally”, in other words, the prohibition on information purchased illegally. That is the problem with these amendments sometimes when one is reading them without the rest of the text that follows. Why is that important? It is important because despite the assurances that we got, there are a lot of questions about this. These are questions and concerns that some of the foremost experts in the field all have as well.
I also proposed an amendment for a catch-and-release principle, for information acquired incidentally on Canadians by the CSE. If it truly does not need the information captured incidentally, I understand it. That happens sometimes when one is going to study the information infrastructure in Canada. Therefore, we had a reasonable compromise, which was that if it happens, the centre has a responsibility to get rid of it. That was another amendment that was voted down by the Liberals on the committee.
I could speak at length about the CSE aspects, but I have only 20 minutes for my speech. It just goes to show how complex and worrisome the new concepts are and how we are far from having enough time to address them today. I would even say that we had very little time in committee as well. I have been in Parliament for seven years, and for the first time since becoming an MP, even though I can be quite verbose, my mike was constantly cut off and not through any fault of the chair, but because we simply did not have enough time to get into the details. I am not blaming the committee chair, who does excellent work on this study. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time for this conversation.
I want to come back to something more specific that affects more than just CSIS. I am talking about one of my amendments that were deemed admissible. Amendments that go beyond the scope of a bill can be proposed when that bill is referred to committee before second reading, as this one was, and the Liberals took advantage of that.
The Liberals used that opportunity to essentially present a new bill into the legislation dealing with the question of information obtained under use of torture, which bafflingly the Conservatives voted against. However, we do not have time to get into that today.
I voted in favour of it, for two reasons, but it does not go far enough, and we are going to get to that. The first reason is because the fact that it was even on the table was an acknowledgement that the status quo is not good enough, that the ministerial directives right now are not good enough, and that having these concepts more explicitly enshrined in law is always a good thing. Even though some of these symbolic statements in legislation sometimes seem to be only that, symbolic, they guide the decisions made and the advice given when these agencies seek legal opinions and so forth. On that front, it is a good thing. The other reason I supported it was because it is better than nothing. However, the language that remains is that the Governor in Council “may” issue directives to deputy heads. At the end of the day, we remain in the same situation we were in before. These were all recorded votes, so Canadians can check them.
Let me say for the record that I offered more explicit amendments to nearly every section of the bill that dealt with one of these agencies, putting in an explicit prohibition on using information that may have been obtained under the use of torture. Every single Liberal and Conservative on the committee voted against them. That is absolutely shameful.
Here is the motion that is before us today: that “The Governor in Council must issue written directions to all deputy heads...” At the very least, even though we are still dealing with ministerial directives, that obliges the government of the day to issue the directions, even though we already know that the directives themselves have loopholes. Even if the current directives, I will acknowledge, are stronger than the ones in the previous government, there are still holes in them, and those holes need to be addressed.
It is sad to see that my amendments, which would have at least done something to prohibit the use of that type of information, were defeated through the committee process.
Speaking of my amendments, I want to mention one thing I forgot at the beginning of my speech, since I think the Canadians watching us will find it interesting. The government said that it was open to suggestions from the opposition. I suggested 120 amendments, and just four of them were accepted by the Liberals. Three were accepted on the condition that I use the Liberals' wording, and the other was accepted because it was just a preamble. Not a single one of the Conservatives' 25 or 29 amendments was accepted. Not a single one of the Green Party's 55 amendments was accepted either.
The Liberals proposed amendments. Anyone can look at them, they are public. The Liberals put forward one amendment and decided to withdraw the others because they had an inferior one to replace them. I therefore proposed the Liberals' amendments myself, and they voted against their own amendments. That speaks volumes about the process.
I have just three minutes left, and I have only spoken about one part of the bill. I just spent 20 minutes giving a speech on the flaws of a single part of a bill that has 10 parts. That tells you everything you need to know about the flaws in this bill, not to mention the fact that CSIS retains its power to disrupt and to detain without any right to counsel, as was the case with the former Bill C-51.
Without mentioning that apart from changing the word “sharing” to “disclosure”, even though the word “disclosure” was there, what was qualified by groups like the B.C. Liberties Association, among others, as a cosmetic change at best to the information sharing regime remains in place. It was one of the biggest criticisms we had, and a reason for voting against BillC-51 in the previous Parliament.
We will get to that through a future point of order, but hopefully we can vote on different elements of the bill. There are two parts that are good, review and oversight. Despite the fact that we tried to make changes to the review body to make it more accountable to Parliament and less to the executive, it was rejected. With the real-time oversight of the intelligence commissioner, we tried to make that a full-time position. I was not able to propose those changes, as they would require royal prerogative, which I, as an opposition member, do not have. Perhaps I can enter a final plea, although at report stage it is probably too late for that.
It is all too clear that, on the one hand, the Liberals did not want the Conservatives to criticize them for standing up for the rights and freedoms of Canadians and, on the other hand, they wanted to try to protect their progressive image in light of our legitimate criticisms that they have failed in their duty to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. Despite all the time we were able to dedicate to the study, despite the public consultations, questions from experts, criticisms from members, and a grandiose announcement that the Liberals were going to do things differently in committee, still, all of our amendments were rejected. The same system will remain in place and not enough improvements are being made in terms of what the Conservatives proposed.
In conclusion, it is true that we are entering a brave new world. We certainly know that in this digital age. I acknowledge that the threats are evolving and we need to address them. There is no doubt about that. However, one thing is for sure: right now, the ability of these agencies to act is outpacing the protections that Canadians have for their rights and freedoms, and their privacy.
That, for me and my party, is completely unacceptable, because at the end of the day, if we truly want to defeat these threats and what they stand for, if we truly want to stand on the other side of that terror and on the right side of history, it means standing up for Canadians' rights and freedoms. This bill just would not do that, and we will continue to oppose it. It is absolutely unfortunate, because we heard that better is always possible, but it does not seem to be with this legislation.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-05-28 17:57 [p.19795]
Mr. Speaker, at this point in the proceedings, we can get back to the topic of Bill C-59 for what is really, under our procedures, both a report stage debate and a second reading debate.
I am very pleased today to rise in support of Bill C-59, as it has emerged from the standing committee, the government's proposed legislation to update and modernize our country's national security framework. This landmark bill covers a number of measures that were informed very throughly by the views and opinions of a broad range of Canadians during extensive 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. The committee recently finished its study of the bill.
I want to thank members of that committee for their diligent and thorough examination of the legislation, both during their consideration of the bill, and indeed, during their pre-study of this subject matter in 2016, which contributed significantly to the drafting of Bill C-59 itself.
An even stronger bill, with over 40 amendments accepted, is now back before the House. The amendments would bring greater clarity, transparency, accountability, and public reporting. One of the major changes made by the committee was the addition of a new act in the bill, entitled avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act.
Last fall we undertook to enhance and make public a previously secret 2011 ministerial directive to both CSIS and the RCMP that dealt with how those agencies should share and receive information with and from foreign entities when there was a risk that the information may have been derived by, or could result in, torture or mistreatment. Obviously, it is important to have ministerial directives governing such a serious topic.
The goal of my directive was to establish strong safeguards to ensure that information shared by Canada would not lead to mistreatment and that Canada would not use any information that could be tainted by mistreatment, with one exception. That is when it is essential to prevent the loss of life or serious injury.
The new avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act would go a step further than ministerial directives. It would create a statutory requirement for such directives to exist in the form of orders in council, and not just for CSIS and the RCMP but for all departments and agencies that deal with national security. It would also require that each of those directives in the orders in council be made public.
This amendment, which is now in Bill C-59, is another example of how this legislation would strive constantly to achieve two things simultaneously. This bill would strengthen Canada's ability to effectively address and counter 21st-century threats while safeguarding the rights and freedoms we cherish as Canadians.
Bill C-59 is the result of the most comprehensive review of Canada's national security framework since the passing of the original CSIS Act more than 30 years ago. That review included unprecedented open and transparent public consultations on national security undertaken by Public Safety Canada and by the Department of Justice.
Several issues were covered, including countering radicalization to violence, oversight, and accountability, threat reduction and the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, the former Bill C-51. All Canadians were invited and encouraged to take part in the consultations, which were held between September and December of 2016.
The response to the consultations was tremendous. Citizens, community leaders, experts, academics, non-governmental organizations, and parliamentarians alike made their views and ideas known over the course of that consultation period. In the end, tens of thousands of views were received, all of which were valuable in shaping the scope and the content of Bill C-59.
With almost 59,000 responses received, the online consultation was what generated by far the largest volume of input. In addition to that, there were nearly 18,000 submissions received by email. 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 held numerous meetings on the consultations. It even travelled across the country to hear testimony not only from expert witnesses, but also general members of the 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 other engagement events led by different 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 a large round table with experts from civil society.
I simply make the point that there was an extensive effort to be open, to be inclusive, to ensure that every Canadian who had something to say on this topic could have the opportunity to do that. This was not a process reserved for politicians in Parliament or for experts in ivory towers. This was an open, public, inclusive process, and Canadians let their voices be heard.
After all of that information was collected, the next step was to carefully analyze every comment, every submission, every letter, and all of the other forms of input. All of the views that had been expressed to the various consultative mechanisms have now been published on the Government of Canada's open data portal, so anyone interested in actually seeing who said what to whom throughout the whole consultation process can look it up and see what the dialogue was like.
In addition to that, an independently prepared report provides an overview of what was heard during the consultations.
While it would be difficult to summarize everything that we heard from Canadians in a consultation process that massive, I can speak to a few of the key themes and ideas that emerged.
As one might expect, given the thousands of submissions, there were widely differing opinions. That is what we would expect from Canadians who are very engaged in an important discussion. Certainly that was the case in these consultations.
The results make one thing perfectly clear. Canadians want accountability. They want transparency and effectiveness from their security and intelligence agencies. They want all three of those things, accountability, transparency, and effectiveness, together. They want the government and Parliament to achieve all of those things at once. Bill C-59 goes farther and better than any other piece of legislation in Canadian history to accomplish those three things together.
Canadians expect their rights, their freedoms, and their privacy to be protected at the same time as their security is protected.
Consistent with what we heard, Bill C-59 would modernize and enhance Canada's security and intelligence laws to ensure our agencies would have the tools they needed to protect us and it would do so within a clear legal and constitutional framework that would comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
There is no doubt in my mind that the legislation before the House today has been strengthened and improved by the result of the close work that was done by the standing committee. All the scrutiny and clause-by-clause analysis and consideration, all the debate around all of those various amendments has resulted in a better product.
When we tabled this legislation, and before the committee did its work, many of the most renowned experts in the country said that it was very good legislation and that it accomplished more in the field of national security than any other proposal since the CSIS Act was first introduced. That was a great compliment coming from the imminent experts who made those observations. However, now, after the debate, after all of the input, after all of the amendments, the legislation is even better.
One of the things I am most proud of with respect to Bill C-59 is how it represents a dynamic shift in the review and accountability structure for our entire national security apparatus. Currently, some of our agencies that deal in national security have a review body that examines their work. CSIS of course has the Security Intelligence Review committee, SIRC. The RCMP has the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, CRCC. Those are a couple of examples. However, there is no unified review body that can look beyond one agency at a time and actually follow the evidence as it moves across government from agency to agency.
For the first time, Bill C-59 would fix this problem by creating the national security and intelligence review agency, or NSIRA. NSIRA is largely modelled on the often discussed idea of a “super-SIRC”, which would have the authority to review all matters of national security, whether they are with CSIS, or CBSA, or IRCC, or the RCMP, or Global Affairs, or DND, or anywhere else in the Government of Canada.
When we link that to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which was recently created by the passage of BillC-22, Canadians can be assured that we have a review architecture in place that is required for the 21st century. It involves parliamentarians, through the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. It involves expert review through NSIRA. In addition to that, it involves, for the first time ever, a brand new innovation that we have introduced, a new element of actual real-time oversight, which has never existed before, through the work of the new intelligence commission, which is also created by virtue of this legislation, Bill C-59.
We also worked to ensure that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the central principle behind Bill C-59. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than the changes we have made to the former BillC-51's threat reduction measures.
When BillC-51 created these threat reduction measures, it created an open-ended, seemingly limitless course of possible action for CSIS to take. This bill would create a closed list of specific actions that CSIS could apply to a federal court for permission to undertake. It is open, it is transparent, while at the same time gives CSIS the tools it needs to keep Canadians safe.
Another part of the former BillC-51 that we have undertaken to dramatically improve is the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, or SCISA. After Bill C-59 is enacted, this new legislation will be renamed to the security of Canada information disclosure act, and it will not grant any new powers to collect information on Canadians. Rather it is a roadmap for how existing information related to a threat to the security of Canada can and should be shared between departments and agencies in order to mitigate or eliminate that threat.
It clarifies that advocacy, protest, dissent, or artistic expression are not activities that undermine the security of Canada, and it creates a robust review framework to ensure that information is being disclosed to other departments appropriately, with proper record-keeping at both ends of the process.
Next I want to touch on an issue that I believe almost every member of the House supports, and that is the fixing of the passenger protect program, or what is sometimes known as the “no-fly list”.
I imagine that virtually every member of the chamber has met with a member of the group called “No-Fly List Kids” at some point during this Parliament. To be clear, there are currently no children on Canada's passenger protect list. However, there are children and adults who may share a name with someone who is on the list. Former defence minister Bill Graham famously had to deal with this very problem when someone sharing his name was actually listed.
Fixing the problem involves both funding and new legislation. Bill C-59 will play an important role, allowing the government to collect domestic passenger manifests and screen the list itself, rather than sharing our passenger protect list with over 100 airlines around the world. What this means is that once the government is collecting the passenger manifests, it will be able to issue redress numbers to people who share a name with a listed individual. Anyone who has booked a flight to the United States in the past few years has probably noticed that their system has a box for a unique redress number. Once Canada's system is up and running, it will operate in a very similar fashion.
I would also note that we got the necessary funding to develop this new system this past March, in the most recent budget. This measure is another excellent example of ensuring that the rights of Canadians are respected while at the same time safeguarding national security.
There are many other important parts of Bill C-59 that I will not have the time in 20 minutes to go through in detail. However, I would like to just mention some of the others—for example, the new stand-alone legislation to modernize Canada's Communications Security Establishment. It has needed this modernization. It has needed this new legislation for a long time. Bill C-59 introduces that legislation.
There are also important changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which ensures that protections are afforded to young Canadians in respect of recognizance orders.
Changes in the Criminal Code would, among other things, require the Attorney General to publish an annual report setting out the number of terrorism recognizances entered into during the course of the year. Also, there are very important changes to the CSIS Act that would ensure that our security agents are confident they have the legal and constitutional authority to undertake their essential work on behalf of all Canadians, including, for example, the complex matter of handling data sets, taking into account the advice and judgments of recent decisions in the federal courts.
Should Bill C-59 pass, this historic 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 would encourage all hon. colleagues to join me in supporting Bill C-59. I am glad it enjoys strong support among Canadians generally and among some of our country's most distinguished experts in national security and civil liberties. We have been very fortunate to have the benefit of their advice as we have moved this legislation through the parliamentary process.
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