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View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2018-06-18 18:22 [p.21182]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise today to speak in this important debate on Bill C-59. I want to thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, both past and present, who contributed to the in-depth study of our national security framework, as well as those who provided testimony on this bill. Thanks to that work, over 40 amendments were adopted by the committee, and I would like to highlight some of them.
First, there is an amendment that would add provisions enacting the avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act, which was introduced by my colleague, the MP for Montarville. Canadians find torture abhorrent and an affront to their values. In the past, the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of National Defence have issued directions to ensure that the Canadian government does not use, share, disclose, or request information that could put someone at risk of being tortured by a foreign entity. This amendment would enshrine in law a requirement for directions to be issued on using, disclosing, or requesting information. These directions would be made public and reported on annually to the public, to review bodies, and to the newly constituted National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians to ensure transparency and accountability.
I know that Canadians want to feel confident that their government is not complicit in foreign entities' use of torture, as it is well documented that information obtained through torture is unreliable. This amendment is a welcome reassurance, and I am proud that the committee adopted it, despite objections from the official opposition.
Second, the amended bill would strengthen privacy protections. Since referring the bill to committee before second reading, we have heard many stakeholders call for the strengthening of protections for information shared under the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, and we introduced rigorous new standards. The amended bill specifies that the receiver of information would be required to destroy or return any personal information that is not necessary for it to carry out its responsibilities related to national security.
I was personally proud to put forward an amendment that would formalize the relationship between the newly created national security and intelligence review agency and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which would ensure that the two agencies are not duplicating work. I was also proud to introduce an amendment that would require a ministerial authorization when CSE is collecting from foreign actors information that could inadvertently compromise a Canadian's privacy. I believe that these changes would help to get the mix right when it comes to ensuring Canadians' safety and security and preserving their rights.
Bill C-59 is a much-needed overhaul of our national security framework. The passage of this bill would mark the largest overhaul of our national security infrastructure since 1984, when CSIS was created. It is fair to say that we are at a critical turning point in how government approaches national security. That is why I am pleased that the government has introduced this bill, not only to add better protections for privacy but also to bring our framework up to speed with the realities of the 21st century. There is an urgent need to shed the old ways of doing business, integrate security efforts, and harness all the tools at our disposal to prevent and mitigate threats.
When Justice Noël released his decision last year on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's retention of associated data, he laid bare the challenge for us as parliamentarians. To quote Justice Noël, “the CSIS Act is showing its age. World order is constantly in flux...and priorities and opinions change. Canada can only gain from weighing such important issues once again.”
With Bill C-59, the government is showing that it is up to the challenge. It recognized that the CSIS Act of 1984 may have been an appropriate response at the time it was written, but it is outdated given the realities of today's world. Today, the government has recognized that appropriate, responsible, and comprehensive legislation for the 21st century would mean altering that act substantially.
Bill C-59 makes changes in three key ways: by addressing the collection of datasets, by making important amendments to threat reduction measures under the act, and by addressing outdated legal authorities.
First, on data analytics, acquiring large volumes of information for analysis, when it is relevant to an agency's mandate, is an indispensable tool in intelligence work. However, data collection and analysis require a strong framework, and this bill provides that framework.
The bill lays out a legal authority for CSIS to collect, retain, and use datasets, and, to ensure transparency, provisions would include safeguards on its collection and use. For example, the personal information of Canadians that is not publicly available would require Federal Court authorization to retain. When it comes to foreign datasets, approval from the proposed new independent intelligence commissioner would be required. The new national security and intelligence review agency would have the authority to refer its findings to the Federal Court if it takes the view that CSIS has not acted lawfully when querying or exploiting datasets. I also introduced an amendment to Bill C-59 that was adopted at committee stage, ensuring that CSIS could retain the results of a query of a dataset in exigent circumstances to protect life or acquire intelligence vital to national security.
Bill C-59 would provide the accountability and transparency on dataset collection that is needed in the technological reality of today. It would modernize the CSIS Act, enhance judicial oversight where needed, and strengthen review and accountability. The bill also addresses the fact that today's threats are fast, complex, dynamic, highly connected, and mobile. CSIS can and does play a role in addressing these threats, often behind the scenes, but the original CSIS Act could never have imagined the threats we face today. As Justice Noël noted, that leaves security bodies in an unreasonably difficult situation when it comes to interpreting the law while continuing to protect Canadians' rights.
Bill C-59 would more clearly define the current threat reduction mandate of CSIS. It lays out what types of measures could be authorized by judicial warrants to ensure full compliance with the charter. CSIS would be required to seek a warrant for any threat reduction measure that would put a charter-protected right or freedom at risk. What is more, a warrant would only be issued if a judge is satisfied the measure specifically complies with the charter.
Bill C-59 would also establish in law an authorization regime for certain CSIS activities required to investigate the complex threats we face today. This would be modelled on the regime that already exists in the Criminal Code for law enforcement officers, adapted to the particular context of security intelligence investigations. It would ensure more transparent, lawful, and modernized authorities for CSIS that would ensure effective intelligence collection operations, and it would it ensure robust accountability by clearly articulating reporting and review requirements.
Accountability, transparency, and respect for rights are at the heart of these proposals. That is what Canadians said they wanted; the government listened and it acted. During the consultation process, Canadians repeatedly emphasized the need for enhanced accountability and transparency. The Security Intelligence Review Committee, CSIS's current review body, pressed for enhancements as well. The new national security review agency and intelligence commissioner would ensure the most robust oversight and scrutiny possible.
We heard, loud and clear, from many witnesses and members of the public that protecting privacy and safeguarding human rights were missing under the Harper Conservatives' BillC-51. With Bill C-59 further strengthened by amendments made at committee, I am confident that Canadians' privacy rights would be reinforced alongside the strengthening of our national security. Bill C-59 is a comprehensive and visionary plan for Canada in today's world. It is my hope that colleagues will join me in supporting Bill C-59.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-06-07 19:42 [p.20491]
Mr. Speaker, I find myself surprised to have a speaking spot tonight. For that I want to thank the New Democratic Party. We do not agree about this bill, but it was a generous gesture to allow me to speak to it.
I have been very engaged in the issue of anti-terrorism legislation for many years. I followed it when, under Prime Minister Chrétien, the anti-terrorism legislation went through this place immediately after 9/11. Although I was executive director of the Sierra Club, I recall well my conversations with former MP Bill Blaikie, who sat on the committee, and we worried as legislation went forward that appeared to do too much to limit our rights as Canadians in its response to the terrorist threat.
That was nothing compared to what happened when we had a shooting, a tragic event in October 2014, when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered at the National War Memorial. I do not regard that event, by the way, as an act of terrorism, but rather of one individual with significant addiction and mental health issues, something that could have been dealt with if he had been allowed to have the help he sought in British Columbia before he came to Ottawa and committed the horrors of October 22, 2014.
It was the excuse and the opening that the former government needed to bring in truly dangerous legislation. I will never forget being here in my seat in Parliament on January 30. It was a Friday morning. One does not really expect ground-shaking legislation to hit without warning on a Friday morning in this place. There was no press release, no briefing, no telling us what was in store for us. I picked up BillC-51, an omnibus bill in five parts, and read it on the airplane flying home, studied it all weekend, and came back here. By Monday morning, February 2, I had a speaking spot during question period and called it the “secret police act”.
I did not wait, holding my finger to the wind, to see which way the political winds were blowing. The NDP did that for two weeks before they decided to oppose it. The Liberals decided they could not win an election if they opposed it, so they would vote for it but promised to fix it later.
I am afraid some of that is still whirling around in this place. I will say I am supporting this effort. I am voting for it. I still see many failures in it. I know the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety have listened. That is clear; the work they did in the consultation process was real.
Let me go back and review why BillC-51 was so very dangerous.
I said it was a bill in five parts. I hear the Conservatives complaining tonight that the government side is pushing Bill C-59 through too fast. Well, on January 30, 2015, BillC-51, an omnibus bill in five parts, was tabled for first reading. It went all the way through the House by May 6 and all the way through the Senate by June 9, less than six months.
This bill, Bill C-59, was tabled just about a year ago. Before it was tabled, we had consultations. I had time to hold town hall meetings in my riding specifically on public security, espionage, our spy agencies, and what we should do to protect and balance anti-terrorism measures with civil liberties. We worked hard on this issue before the bill ever came for first reading, and we have worked hard on it since.
I will come back to BillC-51, which was forced through so quickly. It was a bill in five parts. What I came to learn through working on that bill was that it made Canadians less safe. That was the advice from many experts in anti-terrorism efforts, from the leading experts in the trenches and from academia, from people like Professor Kent Roach and Professor Craig Forcese, who worked so hard on the Air India inquiry; the chair of the Air India inquiry, former judge John Major; and people in the trenches I mentioned earlier in debate tonight, such as Joseph Fogarty, an MI5 agent from the U.K. who served as anti-terrorism liaison with Canada.
What I learned from all of these people was BillC-51 was dangerous because it would put in concrete silos that would discourage communication between spy agencies. That bill had five parts.
Part 1 was information sharing. It was not about information sharing between spy agencies; it was about information sharing about Canadians to foreign governments. In other words, it was dangerous to the rights of Canadians overseas, and it ignored the advice of the Maher Arar inquiry.
Part 2 was about the no-fly list. Fortunately, this bill fixes that. The previous government never even bothered to consult with the airlines, by the way. That was interesting testimony we got back in the 41st Parliament.
Part 3 I called the “thought chill” section. We heard tonight that the government is not paying attention to the need remove terrorist recruitment from websites. That is nonsense. However, part 3 of BillC-51 created a whole new term with no definition, this idea of terrorism in general, and the idea of promoting terrorism in general. As it was defined, we could imagine someone would be guilty of violating that law if they had a Facebook page that put up an image of a clenched fist. That could be seen as promotion of terrorism in general. Thank goodness we got that improved.
In terms of thought chill, it was so broadly worded that it could have caused, for instance, someone in a community who could see someone was being radicalized a reasonable fear that they could be arrested if they went to talk to that person to talk them out of it. It was very badly drafted.
Part 4 is the part that has not been adequately fixed in this bill. This is the part that, for the first time ever, gave CSIS what are called kinetic powers.
CSIS was created because the RCMP, in response to the FLQ crisis, was cooking up plots that involved, famously, burning down a barn. As a result, we said intelligence gathering would have to be separate from the guys who go out and break up plots, because we cannot have the RCMP burning down barns, so the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was created. It was to be exclusively about collecting information, and then the RCMP could act on that information.
I think it is a huge mistake that in Bill C-59we have left CSIS kinetic powers to disrupt plots. However, we have changed the law quite a bit to deal with CSIS's ability to go to a single judge to get permission to violate our laws and break the charter. I wish the repair in Bill C-59 was stronger, but it is certainly a big improvement on BillC-51.
Part 5 of Bill C-51 is not repaired in Bill C-59. I think that is because it was so strangely worded that most people did not ever figure out what it was about. I know professors Roach and Forcese left part 5 alone because it was about changes to the immigration and refugee act. It really was hard to see what it was about. However, Professor Donald Galloway at the University of Victoria law school said part 5 is about being able to give a judge information in secret hearings about a suspect and not tell the judge that the evidence was obtained by torture, so I really hope the Minister of Public Safety will go back and look at those changes to the refugee and immigration act, and if that is what they are about, it needs fixing.
Let us look at why the bill is enough of an improvement that I am going to vote for it. By the way, in committee I did bring forward 46 amendments to the bill on my own. They went in the direction of ensuring that we would have special advocates in the room so that there would be someone there on behalf of the public interest when a judge was giving a warrant to allow a CSIS agent to break the law or violate the charter. The language around what judges can do and how often they can do it and what respect to the charter they must exercise when they grant such a warrant is much better in this bill, but it is still there, and it does worry me that there will be no special advocate in the room.
I cannot say I am wildly enthusiastic about Bill C-59, but it is a huge improvement over what we saw in the 41st Parliament in BillC-51.
The creation of the security intelligence review agency is something I want to talk about in my remaining minutes.
This point is fundamental. This was what Mr. Justice John Major, who chaired the Air India inquiry, told the committee when it was studying the bill back in 2015: He told us it is just human nature that the RCMP and CSIS will not share information and that we need to have pinnacle oversight.
There is review that happens, and the term “review” is post facto, so SIRC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, would look at what CSIS had done over the course of the year, but up until this bill we have never had a single security agency that watched what all the guys and girls were doing. We have CSIS, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Communications Security Establishment—five different agencies all looking at collecting intelligence, but not sharing. That is why having the security intelligence review agency created by this bill is a big improvement.
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