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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-59. As we know, it is the government's national security legislation. After months of debate, hearing from many witnesses, and reading expert briefs with respect to the bill, it is light on actions that will actually improve public safety and national security. I believe that Canada would be weaker because of this legislation, which hampers our agencies, cuts funding to intelligence and national security, and is more concerned about looking over the shoulder of those protecting us than watching those who seek to harm us. Let us be clear on this point. National security and intelligence officers and public servants are not a threat to public safety or privacy. They show dedication to protecting us and our country in a professional manner. However, Bill C-59 is more concerned with what someone might do in an effort to protect others than what criminals, extremists, and others might do to harm us.
In a world with growing international threats, instability, trade aggression, state-sponsored corporate cyber-espionage, and rising crime rates, Canada is weaker with the current Prime Minister and the Liberals in power. As I have said in the House before, public safety and national security should be the top priority of government and should be above politics so that the safety and security of Canadians are put ahead of political fortunes. This bill on national security fails to live up to its title.
Looking at the body of the Liberals' work, we see a continuous erosion of Canada's safety and security. BillC-71, the recent gun legislation, ignores criminals who commit gun crimes. BillC-75 softens sentences and rehabilitation for terrorists and violent crimes. The legalization of drugs is being done in a way that all but assures that organized crime will benefit and Canadians are put at risk.
As world hostility and hatred grows, we need stronger support for our way of life, not the erosion of it. That means empowering front-line national security and intelligence workers, stronger border protections, a better transfer of information between policing and security bodies, plus assured prosecution of criminals and threats to Canada. We need to be looking proactively at emerging technologies rather than reactively trying to put the genie back in the bottle, as we have done with cybersecurity.
What was the intent with this bill? Canadians and parliamentarians alike can tell a lot from the language used by the minister and the people who the Liberal majority called to testify. The bill was positioned by the Liberals as protecting Canadians from the public servants who work to protect Canada and our interests, and the majority of witnesses heard at committee were law professors, civil liberties groups, and privacy organizations. While they have important and valid views, they shared essentially one point: be scared of public servants. It is funny that after the many times the Prime Minister has used public servants as a political shield, stating that he “always trusts and respects them”, they are apparently more scary than threats of cyber-attacks from Chinese state-controlled hackers, ISIS extremists, white supremacists, and organized crime.
There is not much in this bill for security forces to do their work. With the Liberals' plan, there will now be four oversight bodies looking over the shoulder of our intelligence and security forces: first, a new parliamentary committee on security and intelligence oversight; second, the new national security and intelligence review agency; third, the expanded intelligence commissioner; and, finally, the existing oversights of Parliament and executive branches like the minister, the Prime Minister, and the national security advisor.
The Conservatives offered positive amendments. We asked the minister to tell us how these groups would work together to make it clear to Parliament, senior government officials, and those affected. This was turned down by the Liberals without any reason. It would seem reasonable that the minister would be happy to provide clarity to Canadians, and to those who need to work with the various boards, agencies, committees, and advisers, on how it will all work together. We also recommended that, as this new central intelligence and security agency would see information from a variety of departments and agencies, they play a role in identifying threats and providing a clear picture on the state of national security. The Liberals on the committee for some reason would prefer that the agency focus on only complaints and micromanaging our security professionals. If their goal had been to improve public safety, this suggestion would have been taken more seriously.
When we heard from security experts, they raised valid concerns. Dick Fadden, the former CSIS director, noted that the bill would send a message to security teams to be more restrictive with the information that they share. He said:
I haven't counted, but the number of times that the words “protection of privacy” are mentioned in this bill is really quite astounding. I'm as much in favour of privacy as everybody else, but I sometimes wonder whether we're placing so much emphasis on it that it's going to scare some people out of dealing with information relating to national security.
Information sharing between national security teams is essential to protecting Canadians and Canada. In fact, several inquiries, including one of the worst terrorism attacks in Canadian history, the Air India bombing, determined that information sharing was critical to stopping attacks.
Mr. Fadden stated that his worst nightmare scenario was an attack on Canada that was preventable; that being that information was withheld by one agency from other agencies. With Bill C-59, we would move toward more silos, less intelligence sharing, and more threats to Canadians. In his words, security professionals would have a clear message from the many repeated insertions of privacy and charter references, and, as he put it, to share less information lest they run afoul of their political masters.
The Conservatives offered a mild amendment that public servants be required to share information they thought was a threat to Canada with national security agencies. This was so all federal employees would have no fear of reprisal for sharing valid concerns with relevant authorities, like the new security review agency. This was turned down, again reaffirming that the Liberals on the committee were not focused on improving public safety and protecting Canadians.
Retired General Michael Day pointed out that there was nothing in the bill or in the government's policies to deal with emerging threats, real dangers today and tomorrow to our economic prosperity and our societal values. When he was asked by the Liberal MP from Mississauga—Lakeshore, “on the questions of artificial intelligence and potentially also quantum computing, how confident are you that Bill C-59,...is a flexible enough framework to address unknown unknowns that may come at us through the cyber domain in those two areas”, General Day replied, “Zero confidence”.
There continues to be clear threats, but dealing with current and emerging threats were not the focus of the government with this bill. We have already missed the emergence of cybersecurity threats and are playing catch-up at a cost of billions of dollars in government spending, lost economic opportunities through stolen commercial secrets, and personal losses through cybercrime. We have not looked forward at the next problem, so we are heading down the same path all over again.
We heard from Professor Leuprecht, a national security expert who teaches at the Royal Military College. He raised a number of concerns. The first was that the increased regulation and administrative work needed to report to new oversight groups would effectively be a cut to those agencies, shifting money away from protecting Canadians. We did find out eventually how much that cost would be. Nearly $100 million would be cut from national security in favour of red tape. Sadly, we only received this information a few weeks after the committee finished with the bill. The minister had knowingly withheld that information from my request for over six months. Once again, a lot of lip service to open and transparent government but very little actual transparency.
Dick Fadden, Professor Leuprecht, and Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of CSIS and security expert with the Government of Ontario, also raised concerns of the overt hostility of China against Canada. When I asked him about our readiness for dealing with China's aggressions, he said:
I think that the answer is no. I don't think that we're oblivious to the threat...
I would argue that we do not really understand, in all of its complexity, how much China is different from Canada and how it aggressively uses all of the resources of the state against not just Canada but against any number of other countries in pursuit of its objectives.
At one meeting they noted that Chinese agents freely intimidated and threatened Canadians of Chinese descent, pushing them to support communist party initiatives. They or their families back in China could face the backlash of a highly oppressive regime and there was nothing that Canada did to protect them from such threats. China continues this trend, recently ordering Air Canada to call Taiwan part of China.
Mr. Boisvert said:
There's also the issue that China is now in the age of self-admitted “sharp power”, and they exercise that power with very little reservation anymore. There's no longer even a question of hiding their intentions. They are taking a very aggressive approach around resources and intellectual property, and they also are very clear in dealing with dissidents and academics. They've arrested some of them, and they punish others, including academic institutions in North America, at their will, so I think there's a value challenge that Canadians have to consider along with the economic opportunities discussion. The Cold War is over, but a new version is rapidly emerging, and I think our focus on counterterrorism is not always our best play.
We did not have the right people, the right information, and the right issues at committee to have a comprehensive law that would enhance national security. It appears that yet again the Liberals are bringing out legislation to deal with perceived threats at the expense of not dealing with actual threats.
If Canadians were being well served by the government, we would have dealt with serious questions ignored by the Liberals in this legislative process.
Canada has at least 60 returned ISIS terrorists in Canada. That number is likely low, as we have heard that as many as 180 or more Canadians have left our country to fight for ISIS. After the Liberals revoked Canada's ability to strip citizenship from such a heinous and despicable group as ISIS, Canada is now stuck simply welcoming them back with no repercussions and acting like nothing has gone wrong. We will likely never be able to prosecute them or extradite them because we cannot easily transfer intelligence; that is information gathered in other countries of these murders and rapists into evidence suitable for prosecutions in this country.
Canada needs to join the ranks of other modern countries in bringing known crimes conducted by Canadians abroad into our courts without compromising security agents and intelligence sharing agreements. We need to deal with the obvious intelligence to evidence gap that continues to exist in this legislation. This legislation has failed to do this, with Liberal MPs voting against Conservative amendments that tried to address this exact issue.
If we were serious about dealing with national security, we would have treated privacy and security as a single policy, not the competing interests that many civil groups suggested. Protecting Canadians includes protecting their privacy in addition to their economic opportunities, public safety, national security, and social values. These are a single policy, and for the most part those professionals who protect us know this.
Professor Leuprecht said:
We are not here because there's in any way some large-scale violation of the professionalism or the capabilities in which the community does its job....In the Five Eyes community, we have, by far, the most restrictive privacy regime. This is a choice that we have made as Canadians...other countries that have more rigorous parliamentary and other review mechanisms than Canada have also given their community more latitude in terms of how it can act, what it can do, and how it can do it.
Retired Lieutenant-General Michael Day stated:
...the trade-off between privacy and security, between the charter and the reasonable measures to protect Canadians. This is not, from my perspective obviously, a binary issue, or one that should be looked at as absolutes, but rather a dynamic relationship that should remain constantly under review. We should embrace that tension as opposed to pretending it doesn't exist, with a conversation being seen to have value in and of itself.
This is crystal clear when we look at the growing issue of cybercrime, such as identity theft, fraud, corporate espionage, and hacking. Privacy and other interests, social and financial, are one, and yet throughout this legislative process the Liberals presented this bill as a choice between one and the other.
The bill ignores the massive shift in issues with Canada's border security. Canada lacks the assets, people, and facilities to deal with the current threat to our borders. We know that an open border, which is internationally known as unprotected, is currently being exploited. It is being exploited not only by those who are shopping for a new home, but by human traffickers, smugglers, drug cartels, and other organized crime rings. While this issue is new, it is real and needs to be managed better than just hoping everything will sort itself out.
If we were serious about national security, we would be dealing more seriously with Canada's most important law enforcement agency, the RCMP. Beyond a glaring gap in personnel, failing equipment, and an increased lack of faith in its leadership, the RCMP is headed toward a crisis level of challenges: a growing opioid crisis; legalized marijuana; influx of ISIS terrorists; open borders without a plan to manage illegal border crossers; and increasing cybercrime, just to name a few. The RCMP is overwhelmed, while the Liberals present false information and sidestep questions on what to do.
The Liberals may have called this a national security law, but it is more like a regulatory bill. It would erode rather than help public safety. It deals with security from the federal government's perspective rather than from protecting Canadians first and foremost.
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 Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2017-11-20 12:32 [p.15292]
Madam Speaker, today, we begin debating Bill C-59. In fact, we are debating a motion to send the bill to committee before second reading. I will come back to that.
Bill C-59 is the result of a process that began more than two years ago, even before the current government was elected. We know that we can trace this bill to Bill C-51, which was introduced by the Conservatives and then passed by the Conservative majority, with the support of the Liberals, of course, including the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Prime Minister.
When I think about the Liberals' approach to national security in the last parliament, an certain expression comes to mind.
They want to have their cake and eat it too.
That is the problem. It is extremely worrying to see that someone can be so cavalier about an issue as fundamental as the rights of Canadians, their freedom, and their right to privacy. This is what was jeopardized, on several fronts, by the system introduced by the previous Bill C-51. Unfortunately, 10 minutes is not enough for me to review all the problematic elements, so I will instead focus on the Liberal government's effort, which is unfortunately a failure.
Of course, there are some elements that we could support in the current bill. The creation of what some are calling this new body of super SIRC is something we could support. The changes that are being brought forward are long overdue for the no-fly list, although much more needs to be done.
I would be remiss to not mention the importance of the fight we have been waging with groups like the no-fly list kids, fighting the false positives, and making sure the proper funding is there for a proper redress system, which is not something specifically addressed in the bill. It is an element that, at the very least, things have started to move, although not quickly enough for the needs of these families who pay the price in dignity and travel logistics every time they attempt to travel.
There are several elements that we are extremely worried about. There is the part about the information sharing system's name change, as the minister even admitted. This change was brought about with the previous BillC-51. A new name was given and there was a cosmetic change, but the concerns remain the same. That is what we are hearing from groups like the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. This group explained to us that, despite the good intentions, keeping a system that should have never existed in the first place is problematic. This is why the NDP is asking that the provisions brought about by Bill C-51 be outright repealed. That is what my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke proposed with his BillC-303, which was put on the Order Paper and was introduced. It proposes to eliminate all these problematic elements.
That is why New Democrats have always called for the full repeal of all elements that were brought in by former BillC-51. These cosmetic changes that are being proposed by the Liberals are not enough. The concerns still exist about sharing information between government departments. The minister can use the word “disclosure” and say it is already existing information, but the fact of the matter is, if we are considering, for example, a Canadian detained abroad and some of the horrific and tragic situations that have led to many of these national inquiries, which have led to some of the recommendations the government is attempting to act on, part of the problem has always been information sharing. For example, we can look at consular services and foreign affairs, that might be obtaining information about a Canadian detained abroad in a country with a horrible human rights record. That information is being shared with CSIS, that then might share it with the Five Eyes allies, like the U.S., that in the past has not been up to snuff on some cases of the way Canadians have been treated in some of these situations, where they have been stuck in countries with horrible human rights records. None of that would actually be fixed by what is being proposed in the bill.
We have other serious concerns about the bill. One has to do with the changes regarding cybersecurity and, in particular, the idea of creating cyber-weapons. Experts and civil society are very concerned, because the Liberals have not properly explained how these weapons will be protected. We are not talking about traditional weapons that can be stockpiled in a particular location to protect a physical place. We are talking about creating situations in which weapons can easily be moved around the digital world. This point was raised and it is worrisome.
I want to get back to the motion before us. The government is acting as though sending the motion to committee before second reading is a good thing. It claims that the process will allow us to have a more in-depth study. On the surface, it is hard to blame them. We would be happy to have an in-depth discussion on this in committee. It is extremely important.
Consider this. This motion would put us in a position, and the Liberals have attempted to find this loophole, where we can no longer fall back on a standing order specifically to prevent this kind of omnibus legislation from being put forward, once again something the government promised not to do. This is omnibus legislation, the creation of something like three new acts, and many acts being substantially changed. The National Defence Act would change. Different elements of acts under the purview of the public safety minister would change. These disparate elements require separate votes.
The fact is that at 150 pages long, with so many elements being tackled, it is of grave concern that we would have to go through it in such an expedited process. It deserves to be properly separated and considered. That is particularly concerning because that is exactly the approach that the government said it would not take. That was part of the problem with BillC-51. It changed so many elements of how we would deal with national security and protecting Canadians' rights in this country that it became almost impossible for the committee to give it proper study, despite the valiant attempts that were certainly made by the New Democrat opposition and with little help from the Liberals at the time.
I unfortunately have just 10 minutes, so I want to take this opportunity to say that we will be raising a point of order to try to convince the Chair that we must separate the different elements of this bill. We want to show our support for some of these elements, but we want to call the government to order by opposing the elements that were meant to repair the damage caused by the former Bill C-51. These elements make up the bulk of the bill, but they do not repair that damage.
Let me go back to some of the other problematic elements in this bill that were supposed to be fixed from BillC-51. Let us look at the threat-reduction powers that were given to CSIS. The very existence of CSIS was specifically to separate the powers of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Too many times, history pointed to occasions where the RCMP failed to juggle the dual responsibilities of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Different recommendations led to the creation of CSIS.
The minister is obviously fully aware of this because, as he mentioned in his comments, the CSIS Act was adopted over 30 years ago, with very little overhaul, until BillC-51 and this legislation being proposed. We have to understand that CSIS does not have threat reduction powers. That responsibility belongs to law enforcement, as well as the information-sharing regime brought in by Bill C-51. Once again, the changes being proposed by New Democrats are certainly an improvement, but when the bar is as low as it was with Bill C-51, it does not go far enough. These are the types of elements of the previous legislation under the previous government that need to be fully repealed. Unfortunately, CSIS was given this responsibility, which is not part of its mandate and should never have been, to begin with. It is exactly the opposite of why CSIS was created.
I see that my time is unfortunately running out. Since we are debating a motion, we have just 10 minutes to debate a 150-page bill. This is obviously one of the reasons why the elements should have been separated.
We are opposed to this motion. The only solution is to repeal all of the elements in the former Bill C-51.
View Karine Trudel Profile
NDP (QC)
View Karine Trudel Profile
2017-11-20 18:11 [p.15346]
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to say that the NDP opposes the motion to refer Bill C-59 to committee before second reading.
Bill  C-59 makes a lot of changes, but it does not chart a bold new course for Canada and make civil liberties and human rights central to Canadian security laws. The Liberals waited almost two years to hold a public consultation, promising to correct Bill C-51. They heard countless testimonies and received briefs from experts, and yet they failed to deliver.
Sadly, Bill  C-59 does not seek to correct Bill C-51. The NDP opposed Bill C-51 from the outset back in 2015. Now we are faced with legislation that violates civil liberties and privacy rights, and Bill  C-59 follows the dangerous path trodden by the Harper government.
The new, limited review and oversight mechanism set out in this bill does not make up for the disclosure of information and the almost limitless power given to our security agencies. The document that came out of the consultations, entitled “Our Security, Our Rights: National Security Green Paper, 2016”, was criticized by civil liberties advocates for being biased. It placed an inordinate amount of weight on safety and security at the expense of protecting Canadians' constitutional values.
The scenarios presented in this document seemed to favour the implementation of the most controversial provisions of Bill C-51. Although the green paper did not provide a balanced view that would allow Canadians to properly assess the potential negative impacts that giving the government too much power could have on individual rights and freedoms, the results of the consultations showed that Canadians still wanted Bill C-51 to be completely repealed and that they would not be satisfied with half measures.
The NDP has consistently called on the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal and replace the 2010 ministerial directive on torture to make sure Canada abides by the total ban on torture, and more specifically to forbid the use, under any circumstances, of information that other countries may have obtained through torture and the sharing of information that could lead to torture.
Canada must not forget the shameful part it played in the torture of Canadian citizens like Maher Arar. Even though the directive was not part of Bill C-51, it is a deplorable component of our national security framework and should have been addressed during the Liberals' study of the framework. Unfortunately, the new directive issued in October 2017 does not forbid the RCMP, CSIS, or CBSA from using information that may have been obtained through torture in other countries.
The new instructions are nothing more than semantic changes, since they authorize the use of information obtained by torture in certain cases, with a very low accountability threshold. This does nothing for public safety and security, since information obtained through torture is not reliable. The new directive, just like the old one, tarnishes Canada's reputation and goes against Canadian values.
Furthermore, if the bill passes, Canada will remain a police state, and Bill C-59 will even make things worse in some specific circumstances.
It will allow the Communications Security Establishment to launch cyberattacks against foreign targets.
The agents involved will thus become terrorists in the eyes of those countries. Ordinary citizens of those countries will have no other means than their own of protecting themselves from potential injustices caused by Canadian secret agents.
This new bill has very few measures that will reduce the broader powers granted to security agencies involved in information sharing under BillC-51. The fact remains that the definition of national security is still too broad. The legislation still allows departments to share far too much information in their quest to achieve rather questionable security objectives. However, despite the fact that a government has taken steps to create more solid frameworks for the Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, the no-fly list, the concerns raised by the introduction of C-51 remain unaddressed.
The government has not yet demonstrated why this intrusive bill is necessary. I am also concerned about the fact that Bill C-59 seems to create a legal framework that allows CSIS to keep data about citizens that used to be off limits and that there is no reasonable justification for expanding these powers. It also allows CSIS to keep its controversial disruption powers.
I will now turn to other elements of the bill that I have a problem with. Bill C-59 amends the definition of “activity that undermines the security of Canada” to include any activity that threatens the lives or the security of people in Canada or of any individual who has a connection to Canada and who is outside Canada. The definition includes activities that cause “significant or widespread interference with critical infrastructure”. We are concerned that this could be used against peaceful demonstrators protesting things like pipelines.
CSIS will maintain its threat-reduction powers. Bill C-59 just adds torture, detention, and serious damage to property that endangers the life of an individual to the list of things CSIS cannot do when disrupting a terrorist plot. CSIS must also check with other departments and organizations to see if they have other ways to reduce threats.
CSIS can prevent a person from travelling but cannot detain anyone. There is no clear distinction between the two, which creates dangerous legal uncertainty. The bill does not prevent CSIS from collecting related data from Canadians who are not considered a threat.
Finally, the bill fails to address two worrisome aspects of Canadian national security laws, namely security certificates and the ministerial directives on torture, which must be done away with.
In summary, the Liberals were elected on a promise to repeal the problematic provisions of Bill C-51, and they made us wait two years. Their current proposal does not even come close to solving the problems created by the former government's Bill C-51 regarding the violation of Canadians' privacy and the criminalization of dissent. What is more, the Liberal government is using this omnibus bill to create a legal framework that would allow CSIS to store sensitive metadata on completely innocent Canadians, a practice that the Federal Court deemed to be illegal last fall.
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