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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-06-07 12:01 [p.20427]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to such an important piece of legislation. I do not say that lightly. While we were in opposition, Stephen Harper and the government of the day brought in BillC-51. Many Canadians will remember Bill C-51, which had very serious issues. I appreciate the comments coming from the New Democrats with respect to Bill C-51. Like many of them, I too was here, and I listened very closely to what was being debated.
The biggest difference between us and the New Democrats is that we understand very clearly that we have to ensure Canadians are safe while at the same time protecting our rights and freedoms. As such, when we assessed BillC-51, we made a commitment to Canadians to address the major flaws in the bill. At a standing committee on security, which was made up of parliamentarians, I can recall our proposing ways to address the whole issue and concerns about the potential invasion of rights and freedoms. It went into committee, and it was a really long debate. We spent many hours, both in the chamber and at committee, discussing the pros and cons of BillC-51.
What came out of it for us as the Liberal Party back in 2015 was that we made a commitment to Canadians. We said we would support BillC-51, but that if we were to form government we would make substantial changes to it.
That is why it is such a pleasure for me to stand in the House today. Looking at Bill C-59, I would like to tell the constituents I represent that the Prime Minister has kept yet another very important promise made to Canadians in the last election.
We talk a lot about Canada's middle class, those striving to be a part of it, and how this government is so focused on improving conditions for our middle class. One could ultimately argue that the issue of safety and rights is very important to the middle class, but for me, this particular issue is all about righting a wrong from the past government and advancing the whole issue of safety, security, freedoms, and rights.
I believe it is the first time we have been able to deal with that. Through a parliamentary committee, we had legislation that ultimately put in place a national security body, if I can put it that way, to ensure a high sense of transparency and accountability from within that committee and our security agencies. In fact, prior to this government bringing it in, we were the only country that did not have an oversight parliamentary group to look at all the different aspects of security, rights, and freedoms. We were the only one of the Five Eyes that did not have such a group. New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. all had them.
Today, Canada has that in place. That was a commitment we made and a commitment that was fulfilled. I look at Bill C-59 today, and again it is fulfilling a commitment. The government is, in fact, committed to keeping Canadians safe while safeguarding rights and freedoms.
We listen to some of my colleagues across the way, and we understand the important changes taking place even in our own society, with radicalization through the promotion of social media and the types of things that can easily be downloaded or observed. Many Canadians share our concern and realize that at times there is a need for a government to take action. Bill C-59 does just that.
We have legislation before us that was amended. A number of very positive amendments were brought forward, even some from non-government members, that were ultimately adopted. I see that again as a positive thing.
The previous speaker raised some concerns in terms of communications between departments. I remember talking in opposition about how important it is that our security and public safety agencies and departments have those links that enable the sharing of information, but let us look at the essence of what the Conservatives did. They said these agencies shall share, but there was no real clear definition or outline in terms of how they would share information. That was a concern Canadians had. If we look at Bill C-59, we find more detail and clarity in terms of how that will take place.
Again, this is something that will alleviate a great deal of concern Canadians had in regard to our security agencies. It is a positive step forward. Information disclosure between departments is something that is important. Information should be shared, but there also needs to be a proper establishment of a system that allows a sense of confidence and public trust that rights and freedoms are being respected at the same time.
My colleague across the way talked about how we need to buckle down on the promoting and advocating of terrorism. He seemed to take offence to the fact that we have used the word “counselling” for terrorism versus using words like “promoting” and “advocating”. There is no doubt the Conservatives are very good when it comes to spin. They say if it is promoting or advocating terrorism, that is bad, and of course Canadians would agree, but it is those types of words. Now they are offended because we replaced that with “counselling”. I believe that "counselling" will be just as effective, if not more effective, in terms of the long game in trying to prevent these types of actions from taking place. It will be more useful in terms of going into the courts.
There is no doubt that the Conservatives know the types of spin words to use, but I do not believe for a moment that it is more effective than what was put in this legislation. When it comes to rights and freedoms, Canadians are very much aware that it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are a party of the charter. We understand how important that is.
At the same time, we also understand the need to ensure that there is national safety, and to support our security agencies. It was not this government but the Stephen Harper government that literally cut tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars out of things such as border controls and supports for our RCMP. This government has recognized that if we are not only going to talk the line, we also have to walk the line and provide the proper resources. We have seen those additional resources in not only our first budget, but also our second budget.
We have ministers such as public safety, immigration and citizenship, and others who are working together on some very important files. When I think of Bill C-59 and the fine work we have done in regard to the establishment of this parliamentary oversight committee, I feel good for the simple reason that we made a commitment to Canadians and the bill is about keeping that commitment. It deals with ensuring and re-establishing public confidence that we are protecting freedoms and rights. At the same time, it ensures that Canada is a safe country and that the terrorist threat is marginalized as much as possible through good, sound legislation. That is what this is.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-06-07 12:16 [p.20428]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-59. Listening to our Liberal friends across the way, one would assume that this is all about public safety, that Bill C-59 would improve public safety and the ability of our security agencies to intervene if a terrorist threat presented itself. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let us go back and understand what this Prime Minister did in the last election. Whether it was his youth, or ignorance, he went out there and said that he was going to undo every single bit of the Stephen Harper legacy, a legacy I am very proud of, by the way. That was his goal.
One of the things he was going to undo was what BillC-51 did. Bill C-51 was a bill our previous Conservative government brought forward to reform and modernize how we approach terrorist threats in Canada. We wanted to provide our government security agencies with the ability to effectively, and in a timely way, intervene when necessary to protect Canadians against terrorist threats. Bill C-51 was actually very well received across the country. Our security agencies welcomed it as providing them with additional tools.
I just heard my Liberal colleagues chuckle and heckle. Did members know that the Liberals, in the previous Parliament, actually supported BillC-51? Here they stand saying that somehow that legislation did not do what it was intended to do. In fact, it did. It made Canadians much safer and allowed our security agencies to intervene in a timely way to protect Canadians. This bill that has come forward would do nothing of the sort.
The committee overseeing this bill had 16 meetings, and at the end of the whole process, there were 235 amendments brought forward. That is how bad this legislation was. Forty-three of those amendments came from Liberals themselves. They rushed forward this legislation, doing what Liberals do best: posture publicly, rush through legislation, and then realize, “What have we done? My goodness.” They had 43 amendments of their own, all of which passed, of course. There were 20-some Conservative amendments, and none of them passed, even though they were intelligently laid-out improvements to this legislation. That is the kind of government we are dealing with here. It was all about optics so that the government would be able to say, “We are taking that old BillC-51 that was not worth anything, although we voted in favour of it, and we are going to replace it with our own legislation.” The reality is that Bill C-51 was a significant step forward in protecting Canadians.
This legislation is quite different. What it would do is take one agency and replace it with another. That is what Liberals do. They take something that is working and replace it with something else that costs a ton of money. In fact, the estimate to implement this bill is $100 million. That is $100 million taxpayers do not have to spend, because the bill would not do one iota to improve the protection of Canadians against terrorist threats. There would be no improved oversight or improved intelligence capabilities.
The bill would do one thing we applaud, which is reaffirm that Canada will not torture. Most Canadians would say that this is something Canada should never do.
The Liberals went further. They ignored warnings from some of our intelligence agencies that the administrative costs were going to get very expensive. In fact, I have a quote here from our former national security adviser, Richard Fadden. Here is what he said about Bill C-59: “It is beginning to rival the Income Tax Act for complexity.” Canadians know how complex that act has become.
He said, “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 be appreciated].” Did the committee, in fact, do that? No, it did not make it more straightforward.
There is the appointment of a new intelligence commissioner, which is, of course, the old one, but again, with additional costs. The bill would establish how a new commissioner would be appointed. What the Liberals would not do is allow current or past judges to fill that role. As members know, retired and current judges are highly skilled in being able to assess evidence in the courtroom. It is a skill that is critical to being a good commissioner who addresses issues of intelligence.
Another shortcoming of Bill C-59 is that there is excessive emphasis on privacy, which would be a significant deterrent to critical interdepartmental information sharing. In other words, this legislation would highlight privacy concerns to the point that our security agencies and all the departments of government would now become hamstrung. Their hands would become tied when it came to sharing information with other departments and our security agencies, which could be critical information in assessing and deterring terrorist threats.
Why would the government do this? The Liberals say that they want to protect Canadians, but the legislation would actually take a step backwards. It would make it even more difficult and would trip up our security agencies as they tried to do the job we have asked them to do, which is protect us. Why are we erring on the side of the terrorists?
We heard testimony, again from Mr. Fadden, that this proposed legislation would establish more silos. They were his nightmare when he was the national security director. We now have evidence from the Air India bombing. The inquiry determined that the tragedy could have been prevented had one agency in government not withheld critical information from our police and security authorities. Instead, 329 people died at the hands of terrorists.
Again, why are we erring on the side of terrorists? This proposed legislation is a step backward. It is not something Canadians expected from a government that had talked about protecting Canadians better.
There are also challenges with the Criminal Code amendments in Bill C-59. The government chose to move away from criminalizing “advocating or promoting terrorism” and would move towards “counselling” terrorism. The wording has been parsed very carefully by security experts, and they have said that this proposed change in the legislation would mean, for example, that ISIS propaganda being spread on YouTube would not be captured and would not be criminalized. Was the intention of the government when it was elected, when it made its promises to protect Canadians, to now step backward, to revise the Criminal Code in a way that would make it less tough on terrorists, those who are promoting terrorism, those who are advocating terrorism, and those who are counselling terrorism? This would be a step backward on that.
In closing, I have already stated that the Liberals are prepared to err on the side of terrorists rather than on the side of Canadian law enforcement and international security teams. The bill would create more bureaucracy, more costs, and less money and security for Canadians.
When I was in cabinet, we took security very seriously. We trusted our national security experts. The proposed legislation is essentially a vote of non-confidence in those experts we have in government to protect us.
Finally, the message we are sending is that red tape is more important than sharing information and stopping terrorism. That is a sad story. We can do better as Canadians.
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