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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 Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to speak against Bill C-59 at third reading. Unfortunately, it is yet another example of the Liberals breaking an election promise, only this time it is disguised as promise keeping.
In the climate of fear after the attacks on Parliament Hill and in St. Jean in 2014, the Conservative government brought forward BillC-51. I heard a speech a little earlier from the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, and he remembers things slightly different than I. The difference is that I was in the public safety committee and he, as the minister, was not there. He said that there was a great clamour for new laws to meet this challenge of terrorism. I certainly did not hear that in committee. What I heard repeatedly from law enforcement and security officials coming before us was that they had not been given enough resources to do the basic enforcement work they needed to do to keep Canadians safe from terrorism.
However, when the Conservatives finally managed to pass their Anti-terrorism Act, they somehow managed to infringe our civil liberties without making us any safer.
At that time, the New Democrats remained firm in our conviction that it would be a mistake to sacrifice our freedoms in the name of defending them. BillC-51 was supported by the Liberals, who hedged their bets with a promise to fix what they called “its problematic elements” later if they were elected. Once they were elected in 2015, that determination to fix Bill C-51 seemed to wane. That is why in September of 2016, I introduced BillC-303, a private member's bill to repeal Bill C-51 in its entirety.
Some in the House at that time questioned why I introduced a private member's bill since I knew it would not come forward for a vote. In fact, this was an attempt to get the debate started, as the Liberals had already kept the public waiting for a year at that point. The New Democrats were saying, “You promised a bill. Well, here's our bill. It's very simple. Repeal all of C-51.”
Now, after more than two years and extensive consultations, we have this version of Bill C-59 before us, which does not repeal BillC-51 and fails to fix most of the major problems of Bill C-51, it actually introduces new threats to our privacy and rights.
Let me start with the things that were described, even by the Liberals, as problematic, and remain unfixed in Bill C-59 as it stands before us.
First, there is the definition of “national security” in the Anti-terrorism Act that remains all too broad, despite some improvements in Bill C-59. Bill C-59 does narrow the definition of criminal terrorism speech, which BillC-51 defined as “knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general”. That is a problematic definition. Bill C-59 changes the Criminal Code wording to “counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. Certainly, that better captures the problem we are trying to get at in the Criminal Code. There is plenty of existing case law around what qualifies as counselling someone to commit an offence. Therefore, that is much better than it was.
Then the government went on to add a clause that purports to protect advocacy and protest from being captured in the Anti-terrorism Act. However, that statement is qualified with an addition that says it will be protected unless the dissent and advocacy are carried out in conjunction with activities that undermine the security of Canada. It completes the circle. It takes us right back to that general definition.
The only broad definition of national security specifically in BillC-51 included threats to critical infrastructure. Therefore, this still raises the spectre of the current government or any other government using national security powers against protesters against things like the pipeline formerly known as Kinder Morgan.
The second problem Bill C-59 fails to fix is that of the broad data collection information sharing authorized by BillC-51, and in fact maintained in Bill C-59. This continues to threaten Canadians' basic privacy rights. Information and privacy commissioners continue to point out that the basis of our privacy law is that information can only be used for the purposes for which it is collected. Bill C-51 and Bill C-59 drive a big wedge in that important protection of our privacy rights.
Bill C-51 allowed sharing information between agencies and with foreign governments about national security under this new broad definition which I just talked about. Therefore, it is not just about terrorism and violence, but a much broader range of things the government could collect and share information on. Most critics would say Bill C-59, while it has tweaked these provisions, has not actually fixed them, and changing the terminology from “information sharing” to “information disclosure” is more akin to a sleight of hand than an actual reform of its provisions.
The third problem that remains are those powers that BillC-51 granted to CSIS to act in secret to counter threats. This new proactive power granted to CSIS by Bill C-51 is especially troubling precisely because CSIS activities are secret and sometimes include the right to break the law. Once again, what we have done is returned to the very origins of CSIS. In other words, when the RCMP was both the investigatory and the enforcement agency, we ran into problems in the area of national security, so CSIS was created. Therefore, what we have done is return right back to that problematic situation of the 1970s, only this time it is CSIS that will be doing the investigating and then actively or proactively countering those threats. We have recreated a problem that CSIS was supposed to solve.
Bill C-59 also maintains the overly narrow list of prohibitions that are placed on those CSIS activities. CSIS can do pretty much anything short of committing bodily harm, murder, or the perversion of the course of democracy or justice. However, it is still problematic that neither justice nor democracy are actually defined in the act. Therefore, this would give CSIS powers that I would argue are fundamentally incompatible with a free and democratic society.
The Liberal change would require that those activities must be consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That sounds good on its face, except that these activities are exempt from scrutiny because they are secret. Who decides whether they might potentially violate the charter of rights? It is not a judge, because this is not oversight. There is no oversight here. This is the government deciding whether it should go to the judge and request oversight. Therefore, if the government does not think it is a violation of the charter of rights, it goes ahead and authorizes the CSIS activities. Again, this is a fundamental problem in a democracy.
The fourth problem is that Bill C-59 still fails to include an absolute prohibition on the use of information derived from torture. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan made some eloquent statements on this with which I agree. What we have is the government saying that now it has included a cabinet directive on torture in Bill C-59, which gives the cabinet directive to force of law. The cabinet directive already has the force of law, so it absolutely changes nothing about this.
However, even worse, there is no absolute prohibition in that cabinet directive on the use of torture-implicated information. Instead, the prohibition says that information from torture can be used in some circumstances, and then it sets a very low threshold for when we can actually use information derived from fundamental rights violations. Not only is this morally repugnant, most likely unconstitutional, but it also gives us information that is notoriously unreliable. People who are being tortured will say precisely what they think the torturer wants them to say to stop the torture.
Finally, Bill C-59 would not do one of the things it could have done, and that is create a review agency for the CBSA. The CBSA remains without an independent review and complaints mechanism. It is one of our only law enforcement or security agencies that has no direct review agency. Yes, the new national security intelligence review agency will have some responsibility over the CBSA, but only in terms of national security questions, not in terms of its basic day-to-day operations.
We have seen quite often that the activities carried out by border agencies have a major impact on fundamental rights of people. We can look at the United States right now and see what its border agency is doing in the separation of parents and children. Therefore, it is a concern that there is no place in Canada, if we have a complaint about what CBSA has done, to file that complaint except in a court of law, which requires information, resources, and all kinds of other things that are unlikely to be available to those people who need to make those complaints.
The Liberals will tell us that there are some areas where they have already acted outside of Bill C-59, and we have just heard the member for Winnipeg North talk about BillC-22, which established the national security review committee of parliamentarians.
The New Democrats feel that this is a worthwhile first step toward fixing some of the long-standing weaknesses in our national security arrangements, but it is still only a review agency, still only an agency making recommendations. It is not an oversight agency that makes decisions in real time about what can be done and make binding orders about what changes have to be made.
The government rejected New Democrat amendments on the bill, amendments which would have allowed the committee to be more independent from the government. It would have allowed it to be more transparent in its public reporting and would have given it better integration with existing review bodies.
The other area the Liberals claim they have already acted on is the no-fly list. It was interesting that the minister today in his speech, opening the third reading debate, claimed that the government was on its way to fixing the no-fly list, not that it had actually fixed the no-fly list. Canada still lacks an effective redress system for travellers unintentionally flagged on the no-fly list. I have quite often heard members on the government side say that no one is denied boarding as a result of this. I could give them the names of people who have been denied boarding. It has disrupted their business activities. It has disrupted things like family reunions. All too often we end up with kids on the no-fly list. Their names happen to be Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding or whatever presumptions people make and they names happen to be somewhat like someone else already on the list.
The group of no-fly list kids' parents have been demanding that we get some effective measures in place right away to stop the constant harassment they face for no reason at all. The fact that we still have not fixed this problem raises real questions about charter right guarantees of equality, which are supposed to be protected by law in our country.
Not only does Bill C-59 fail to correct the problems in BillC-51, it goes on to create two new threats to fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians, once again, without any evidence that these measures will make it safer.
Bill C-59 proposes to immediately expand the Communications Security Establishment Canada's mandate beyond just information gathering, and it creates an opportunity for CSE to collect information on Canadians which would normally be prohibited.
Just like we are giving CSIS the ability to not just collect information but to respond to threats, now we are saying that the Communications Security Establishment Canada should not just collect information, but it should be able to conduct what the government calls defensive cyber operations and active cyber operations.
Bill C-59 provides an overly broad list of purposes and targets for these active cyber operations. It says that activities could be carried out to “degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization or terrorist group as they relate to international affairs, defence or security.” Imagine anything that is not covered there. That is about as broad as the provision could be written.
CSE would also be allowed to do “anything that is reasonably necessary to maintain the covert nature of the activity.” Let us think about that when it comes to oversight and review of its activities. In my mind that is an invitation for it to obscure or withhold information from review agencies.
These new CSE powers are being expanded without adequate oversight. Once again, there is no independent oversight, only “after the fact” review. To proceed in this case, it does not require a warrant from a court, but only permission from the Minister of National Defence, if the activities are to be domestic based, or from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, if the activities are to be conducted abroad.
These new, active, proactive measures to combat a whole list and series of threats is one problem. The other is while Bill C-59 says that there is a still a prohibition on the Canadian Security Establishment collecting information on Canadians, we should allow for what it calls “incidental” acquisition of information relating to Canadians or persons in Canada. This means that in situations where the information was not deliberately sought, a person's private data could still be captured by CSE and retained and used. The problem remains that this incidental collecting, which is called research by the government and mass surveillance by its critics, remains very much a part of Bill C-59.
Both of these new powers are a bit disturbing, when the Liberal promise was to fix the problematic provisions in BillC-51, not add to them. The changes introduced for Bill C-51 in itself are minor. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan talked about the changes not being particularly effective. I have to agree with him. I do not think they were designed to be effective. They are unlikely to head off the constitutional challenges to Bill C-51 already in place by organizations such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Those constitutional challenges will proceed, and I believe that they will succeed.
What works best in terrorism cases? Again, when I was the New Democrats' public safety critic sitting on the public safety committee when BillC-51 had its hearings, we heard literally dozens and dozens of witnesses who almost all said the same thing: it is old-fashioned police work on the front line that solves or prevents terrorism. For that, we need resources, and we need to focus the resources on enforcement activities at the front end.
What did we see from the Conservatives when they were in power? There were actual cutbacks in the budgets of the RCMP, the CBSA, and CSIS. The whole time they were in power and they were worried about terrorism, they were denying the basic resources that were needed.
What have the Liberals done since they came back to power? They have actually added some resources to all of those agencies, but not for the terrorism investigation and enforcement activities. They have added them for all kinds of other things they are interested in but not the areas that would actually make a difference.
We have heard quite often in this House, and we have heard some of it again in this debate, that what we are talking about is the need to balance or trade off rights against security. New Democrats have argued very consistently, in the previous Parliament and in this Parliament, that there is no need to trade our rights for security. The need to balance is a false need. Why would we give up our rights and argue that in doing so, we are actually protecting them? This is not logical. In fact, it is the responsibility of our government to provide both protection of our fundamental rights and protection against threats.
The Liberals again will tell us that the promise is kept. What I am here to tell members is that I do not see it in this bill. I see a lot of attempts to confuse and hide what they are really doing, which is to hide the fundamental support they still have for what was the essence of BillC-51. That was to restrict the rights and freedoms of Canadians in the name of national security. The New Democrats reject that false game. Therefore, we will be voting against this bill at third reading.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
At the time, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness decided not to give Bill  C-59 second reading and sent it directly to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. He said that committee meetings were needed to get additional information in order to improve the bill, so that is what we did.
During the committee's study of Bill  C-59, 235 amendments were proposed. The Conservative Party proposed 29 and the Green Party 45. The Liberals rejected all of them. Four NDP amendments and 40 Liberal amendments were adopted. Twenty-two of the Liberal amendments had more to do with the wording and with administrative issues. The Liberals also proposed one very important amendment that I will talk about later on.
The committee's mandate was to improve the bill. We, the Conservatives, undertook that work in good faith. We proposed important amendments to try to round out and improve the bill presented at second reading. The Liberal members on the committee rejected all of our amendments, even though they made a lot of sense. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security held 16 meetings on the subject and heard from a number of witnesses, including people from all walks of life and key stakeholders in the security field. In the end, the government chose to reject all of our amendments.
There were two key points worth noting. The first was that under Bill  C-59, our security agencies will have fewer tools to combat the ongoing terrorist threat around the world. The second was that our agencies will have a harder time sharing information.
One important proposal made in committee was the amendment introduced by the Liberal member for Montarville regarding the perpetration of torture. Every party in the House agrees that the use of torture by our intelligence or security agencies is totally forbidden. There is no problem on that score. However, there is a problem with the part about torture, in that our friends across the aisle are playing political games because they are still not prepared to tell China and Iran to change their ways on human rights. One paragraph in the part about torture says that if we believe, even if we do not know for sure, that intelligence passed on by a foreign entity was obtained through torture, Canada will not make use of that intelligence. For example, if another country alerts us that the CN Tower in Toronto is going to be blown up tomorrow, but we suspect the information was extracted through some form of torture, we will not act on that intelligence if the law remains as it is. That makes no sense. We believe we should protect Canadians first and sort it out later with the country that provided the intelligence.
It is little things like that that make it impossible for us to support the bill. That element was proposed at the end of the study. Again, it was dumped on us with no notice and we had to vote on it.
There are two key issues. The national security and intelligence review agency in part 1 does not come with a budget. The Liberals added an entity, but not a budget to go with it. How can we vote on an element of the bill that has no number attached to it?
Part 2 deals with the intelligence commissioner. The Liberals rejected changes to allow current judges, who would retire if appointed, and retirees from being considered, despite testimony from the intelligence commissioner who will assume these new duties. Currently, only retired judges are accepted. We said that there are active judges who could do the work, but that idea was rejected. It is not complicated. It makes perfect sense. We could have the best people in the prime of their lives who may have more energy than those who are about to retire and may be less interested in working 40 hours a week.
In part 3 on the Communications Security Establishment, known as CSE, there are problems concerning the restriction of information. In fact, some clauses in Bill C-59 will make capturing data more complicated. Our intelligence agencies are facing additional barriers. It will be more difficult to obtain information that allows our agencies to take action, for example against terrorists.
Part 4 concerns the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the privacy issue often come up in connection with CSIS. A common criticism of BillC-51 is that this bill would allow agencies to breach people's privacy. Witnesses representing interest groups advocating for Canadians' privacy and people whose daily work is to ensure the safety of Canadians appeared before the committee. For example, Richard Fadden said that the agencies are currently working in silos. CSIS, the CSE, and the RCMP work in silos, and the situation is too complex. There is no way to share information, and that is not working.
Dr. Leuprecht, Ph.D., from the Royal Military College, Lieutenant-General Michael Day from the special forces, and Ray Boisvert, a former security adviser, all made similar comments. Conservative amendment No. 12 was rejected. That amendment called for a better way of sharing information. In that regard, I would like to remind members of the Air India bombing in 1985. We were given the example of that bombing, which killed more than 200 people on a flight from Toronto to Bombay. It was determined that this attack could have been prevented had it been easier to share information at the time.
The most important thing to note about part 7, which deals with the Criminal Code, is that it uses big words to increase the burden for obtaining arrest warrants to prevent terrorist acts. Amendments were made regarding the promotion of terrorism. Section 83.221 of the Criminal Code pertains to advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences. The Liberals changed the wording of that section with regard to unidentified terrorist offences, for example, ISIS videos on YouTube. They therefore created section 83.221.
That changes the recognizance orders for terrorism and makes it more difficult to control threats. Now, rather than saying “likely”, it says “is necessary”. Those are just two little words, but they make all the difference. Before, if it was likely that something would happen, our security agencies could intervene, whereas now, intervention must be necessary. It is a technicality, but we cannot support Bill C-59 because of that change in wording. This bill makes it harder for security agencies and police to do their work, when it should be making it easier for them.
We are not opposed to revising our national security legislation. All governments must be prepared to do that to adapt. BillC-51, which was introduced at the time by the Conservatives, was an essential tool in the fight against terrorist attacks in Canada and the world. We needed tools to help our agents. The Liberals alluded to BillC-51 during the election campaign and claimed that it violated Canadians' freedoms and that it did not make sense. They promised to introduce a new bill and here it is before us today, Bill C-59.
I would say that Bill C-59, a massive omnibus bill, is ultimately not much different from Bill C-51. There are a number of parts I did not mention, because we have nothing to say and we agree with their content. We are not against everything. What we want, no matter the party, is to be effective and to keep Canadians safe. We agree on that.
Nevertheless, some parts are problematic. As I said earlier, the government does not want to accept information from certain countries on potential attacks, because this information could have been obtained through torture. This would be inadmissible. Furthermore, the government is changing two words, which makes it harder to access the information needed to take action. We cannot agree with this.
Now the opposite is being done, and most of the witnesses who came to see us in committee, people in the business of privacy, did not really raise any issues. They did not show up and slam their fists on the desk saying that it was senseless and had to be changed. Everyone had their views to express, but ultimately, there were not that many problems. Some of the witnesses said that Bill C-59 made no sense, but upon questioning them further, we often reached a compromise and everyone agreed that security is important.
Regardless, the Liberals rejected all of the Conservatives' proposed amendments. I find that hard to understand because the minister asked us to do something, he asked us to improve Bill C-59 before bringing it back here for second reading—it is then going to go to third reading. We did the work. We did what we were supposed to do, as did the NDP, as did the Green Party. The Green Party leader had 45 amendments and is to be commended for that. I did not agree with all her amendments, but we all worked to improve Bill C-59, and in turn, to enhance security in Canadians' best interest, as promised. Unfortunately, that never happened. We will have to vote against this bill.
Since I have some time left, I will give you some quotes from witnesses who appeared before the committee. For example, everyone knows Richard Fadden, the Prime Minister's former national security adviser. Mr. Fadden said that Bill  C-59 was “beginning to rival the Income Tax Act for complexity. There are sub-sub-subsections that are excluded, that are exempted. If there is anything the committee can do to make it a bit more straightforward”, it would help. Mr. Fadden said that to the committee. If anyone knows security, it is Canada's former national security adviser. He said that he could not understand Bill  C-59 at all and that it was worse than the Income Tax Act. That is what he told the committee. We agreed and tried to help, but to no avail. It seems like the Liberals were not at the same meeting I was at.
We then saw the example of a young man who goes by the name Abu Huzaifa. Everyone knows that two or three weeks ago, in Toronto, this young man boasted to the New York Times and then to CBC that he had fought as a terrorist for Daesh in Iraq and Syria. He admitted that he had travelled there for the purposes of terrorism and had committed atrocities that are not fit to be spoken of here. However, our intelligence officers only found out that this individual is currently roaming free in Toronto from a New York Times podcast. Here, we can see the limitations of Bill  C-59 in the specific case of a Canadian citizen who decided to fight against us, to go participate in terrorism, to kill people the Islamic State way—everyone here knows what I mean—and then to come back here, free as a bird. Now the Liberals claim that the law does not allow such and such a thing. When we tabled Bill C-51, we were told that it was too restrictive, but now Bill  C-59 is making it even harder to get information.
What do Canadians think of that? Canadians are sitting at home, watching the news, and they are thinking that something must be done. They are wondering what exactly we MPs in Ottawa are being paid for. We often see people on Facebook or Twitter asking us to do something, since that is what we are paid for. We in the Conservative Party agree, and we are trying; the government, not so much. Liberal members are hanging their heads and waiting for it to pass. That is not how it works. They need to take security a little more seriously.
This is precisely why Canadians have been losing confidence in their public institutions and their politicians. This is also why some people eventually decide to take their safety into their own hands, but that should never happen. I agree that this must not happen. That would be very dangerous for a society. When people lose confidence in their politicians and take their safety into their own hands, we have the wild west. We do not want that. We therefore need to give our security officers, our intelligence officers, the powerful tools they need to do their jobs properly, not handcuff them. Handcuffs belong on terrorists, not on our officers on the ground.
Christian Leuprecht from Queen's University Royal Military College said that he respected the suggestion that CSIS should stick to its knitting, or in other words, not intervene. In his view, the RCMP should take care of some things, such as disruption. However, he also indicated that the RCMP is struggling on so many fronts already that we need to figure out where the relative advantage of different organizations lies and allow them to quickly implement this.
The questions that were asked following the testimony focused on the fact that the bill takes away our intelligence officers' ability to take action and asks the RCMP to take on that responsibility in CSIS's place, even though the RCMP is already overstretched. We only have to look at what is happening at the border. We have to send RCMP officers to strengthen border security because the government told people to come here. The RCMP is overstretched and now the government is asking it to do things that it is telling CSIS not to do. Meanwhile, western Canada is struggling with a crime wave. My colleagues from Alberta spoke about major crimes being committed in rural communities.
Finland and other European countries have said that terrorism is too important an issue and so they are going to allow their security agencies to take action. We cannot expect the RCMP to deal with everything. That is impossible. At some point, the government needs to take this more seriously.
After hearing from witnesses, we proposed amendments to improve Bill  C-59, so that we would no longer have any reason to oppose it at second reading. The government could have listened to reason and accepted our amendments, and then we would have voted in favour of the bill. However, that is not what happened, and in my opinion it was because of pure partisanship. When we are asked to look at a bill before second or third reading and then the government rejects all of our proposals, it is either for ideological reasons or out of partisanship. In any case, I think it is shameful, because this is a matter of public safety and security.
When I first joined the Canadian Armed Forces, in the late 1980s, we were told that the military did not deal with terrorism, that this was the Americans' purview. That was the first thing we were told. At the time, we were learning how to deal with the Warsaw Pact. The wars were highly mechanized and we were not at all involved in fighting terrorism.
However, times have changed. Clearly, everything changed on September 11, 2001. Canada now has special forces, which did not exist back then. JTF2, a special forces unit, was created. Canada has had to adapt to the new world order because it could also be a target for terrorist attacks. We have to take off our blinders and stop thinking that Canada is on another planet, isolated from any form of wickedness and cruelty. Canada is on planet Earth and terrorism knows no borders.
The G7 summit, which will soon be under way, could already be the target of a planned attack. We do not know. If we do not have tools to prevent and intercept threats, what will happen? That is what is important. At present, at the G7, there are Americans and helicopters everywhere. As we can see on the news, U.S. security is omnipresent. Why are there so many of them there? It is because confidence is running low. If Americans are not confident about Canadians' rules, military, and ability to intervene, they will bring everything they need to protect themselves.
That is why we need to take a position of strength. Yes, of course we have to show that we are an open and compassionate country, but we still need to be realistic. We have to be on the lookout and ready to take action.
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