Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:07 [p.28737]
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, the House:
agrees with amendments 3 and 4 made by the Senate;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 1 made by the Senate because the intent of the legislation is to ensure ministerial responsibility and accountability, and the legislation provides that the Intelligence Commissioner must review whether or not the conclusions of the Minister of National Defence, when issuing a foreign intelligence authorization, are reasonable; additionally, subsection 20(1) already requires the Commissioner to provide the Minister with reasons for authorizing or rejecting a foreign intelligence authorization request;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 2 made by the Senate because it would limit the scope of subsection 83.221(1) and would create inconsistencies with the general counselling provisions contained in section 22 and paragraphs 464(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code.
He said: Madam Speaker, as many external experts have said, Bill C-59, which is before the House once again, is of extraordinary importance to Canada and the security and intelligence agencies that work every day to keep Canadians safe.
During the 2015 election, we promised to correct certain problematic elements in the previous government's national security legislation, BillC-51. In making that promise, we pledged that a government must be able to protect individual rights while at the same time keeping Canadians safe. This is not about striking a balance whereby rights and safety are traded off one against the other; this is about achieving and protecting both simultaneously.
Work on this legislation began very shortly after our government was first sworn into office in late 2015. The time and effort it has taken to get Bill C-59 to the point it is at today have ensured that this is the right bill at the right time for Canada.
We began by examining landmark court rulings, such as those issued by Justices Iacobucci, O'Connor and Major, as well as past reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the Senate and the House of Commons. We sought to implement their advice and their rulings.
We then looked at the legal authorities and powers our security and intelligence agencies have from a modern technological standpoint.
The Communications Security Establishment has been part of the Department of National Defence since the end of World War II, with its authorities embedded in the National Defence Act. In 2011, the CSE became a stand-alone agency. However, to this day, it still does not have its own enabling legislation with clear, delineated powers and authorities that reflect the necessary capabilities of signals intelligence in the modern era. Bill C-59 would fix that.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was written in 1984, following the Macdonald Commission report. It has been largely left in its original form since that time. To put that in perspective, in 1984, the Mac computer was first introduced to the public. If one had a PC instead of a Mac, one ran it on DOS, because Bill Gates had not released the first version of Windows yet, back in 1984. If one wanted to be one of the first people to buy a cellphone, one had to pay, in today's dollars, about $10,000, back in 1984. If one wanted to go online, one used a dial-up modem to access a bulletin board system, or BBS, because the Internet, with browsers, was still a decade away.
As Federal Court Justice Noël wrote in 2016, “the CSIS Act is showing its age”. Suffice it to say, as we looked at the enabling legislation for our security and intelligence agencies, we realized that they needed a lot of updating just to catch up to technology.
In September 2016, having done our basic research and homework, we launched a national security green paper outlining the challenges and the opportunities, and we asked Canadians to share their views. As it turned out, we heard back from them in spades. Over 75,000 submissions were received, and all of them are now summarized in an open and transparent manner on the Public Safety Canada website. During that process, we held town halls and public consultations from coast to coast. The public safety committee of the House of Commons also undertook a study and submitted its recommendations to the government.
Then, on June 20, 2017, after analyzing and synthesizing all of that input, Bill C-59 was tabled in Parliament.
We put it in the public domain before the House rose for the summer so that MPs and the public could truly digest the bill's contents before debate began in Parliament later that fall.
Once the House resumed that fall, the bill was referred to the public safety committee before second reading, allowing it to have more scope for possible amendments. The committee made numerous changes, improving the legislation, including a new requirement for public ministerial directives on receiving or sharing information that may have been tainted by torture. The House passed Bill C-59 on June 19, 2018, and sent it to the Senate, where it received even greater scrutiny and several more amendments.
Among them, the Senate has amended the legislation to require parliamentary review of the legislation three years after royal assent rather than five years, as originally proposed. The original intent of the review after five years was to take into account that some of the provisions of Bill C-59 may come into force quite a bit down the road, and those parts may not have had the time to mature enough for a fulsome review after just three years. However, as I said at the outset, this is a vitally important piece of legislation, and the majority of it will be fully in force in the near term, so a review after three years, as proposed by the Senate, is just fine with me. Plus, a review this quickly would ensure that any changes that may be required as a result of the review could happen sooner.
The Senate also improved part 1.1 of the legislation, the new avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act. While the bill lists five specific agencies involved in national security and intelligence operations that would have to comply with the provisions of the new act, the Senate added a schedule so that in future, new departments or agencies might be added by Governor in Council. This could include existing departments with a new national security component or future agencies that might be created.
I would also note that the Senate made eight observations about Bill C-59, which we will, of course, very carefully examine. I especially like the idea of the Senate undertaking a study it is proposing on converting intelligence to evidence in a court of law. This is a point that has bedevilled policy-makers for years, as well as Crown prosecutors and security and intelligence operators, and it is a topic that could benefit from detailed Senate examination.
The Senate also amended part 2 of the bill, which creates the new position and office of the intelligence commissioner. I thank the Senate for their consideration of this part, but will be asking my colleagues here in the House to respectfully decline this amendment.
The intelligence commissioner, under the new legislation, would have a vital role to play in determining whether the standard of reasonableness had been met in a foreign intelligence authorization. However, it would not be the role of the intelligence commissioner to determine how that standard should be met. There may be various methods to meet the standard, and the choice of which method is to be used would be at the discretion of the minister. There should be no confusion about ultimate accountability. It is important to ensure that the authority and accountability for a foreign intelligence operation would rest squarely with the Minister of National Defence.
My staff consulted very carefully on this point with the current Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, which will ultimately become the office of the new intelligence commissioner under Bill C-59, about this particular amendment. The office of the current commissioner indicated a very strong preference for the existing language in clause 20 of the future intelligence commissioner act.
The future clause 20 was amended by the House public safety committee to require the commissioner to provide reasons as to why he or she had approved any proposed authorization scheme or rejected it. That is the right step to take. The Minister of National Defence will consider those reasons when crafting any new authorization application. This approach allows the new commissioner to express his or her views very clearly, while the Minister of National Defence will retain the proper authority and accountability.
If, in the future, there were to be a situation where an authorization is ever challenged in court, it would be the Minister of National Defence, not the intelligence commissioner, who would be accountable to the court. The minister's argument in court should not be that the authorization scheme was explicitly what the intelligence commissioner told him to authorize in order for the CSE to undertake an important activity. In other words, the burden of responsibility should not be shifted to the intelligence commissioner; it must remain with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence needs to account for that.
With respect to the Criminal Code amendment that has been proposed by the Senate, I very much appreciate what the senators have attempted to do here. I understand very clearly the point they are trying to make, and we have heard the same point from a number of other stakeholders that have come forward with similar questions and concerns.
However, I make this point. The courts have set an extremely high bar for convicting individuals of counselling offences, which is why the language in the Criminal Code needs to be clear and consistent. It must be just as clear for section 83, terrorism offences, as it is for section 22 and section 464, which cover the counselling of other Criminal Code offences. This will help public prosecutors when they make a decision as to whether there is a reasonable chance of conviction in order to proceed to trial.
Unfortunately, the changes made by the previous government's BillC-51, back in 2015, had made the terrorist counselling provisions so obscure that they were never actually used. When Bill C-59 was tabled, the intent was to model the section 83, terrorism counselling offences, on the other Criminal Code counselling offences, which have been well used, successfully and are very familiar to police, prosecutors and judges alike.
The courts have already ruled that the terrorism counselling provisions in the Criminal Code, which refer to counselling “another person”, do not require the accused to have counselled a specific individual or even someone he or she knows. In practice, this broad principle will apply in section 83 as well.
If Parliament were to make the wording changes on counselling being suggested by the Senate, that could have unintended consequences for the rest of the Criminal Code's counselling provisions, such as counselling to commit a hate crime. A loophole could inadvertently be created, which I am sure some very assiduous defence attorney would attempt to exploit for a client facing a charge under section 464, for example.
Further, the use of the term “terrorist activity” in the amendment, rather than saying “terrorist offence” actually narrows the scope of what will be illegal under the terrorism counselling provisions. Terrorist activity is defined in the interpretation section of part II.1 of the Criminal Code, and that definition does not include all terrorism offences.
As an example, leaving Canada to join a terrorist group is an offence under the Criminal Code, but it is not contained within the definition of terrorist activity. As a result of the proposed amendment, it would be legal to counsel someone to travel to Syria to join Daesh. I am sure that is not what is intended by the proposed amendment, but that would be the actual consequence, and it is a consequence we need to avoid.
As I mentioned, I appreciate the spirit of the amendment and I have heard other representations to the same effect. However, what prosecutors have clearly told me is that if our goal is to have the terrorism counselling provisions used as frequently and effectively as possible, the best way to achieve that is to mirror the language used in the other counselling provisions in the Criminal Code where the notion of counselling “another person” already includes the counselling of an unknown individual.
I would like to remind all my colleagues of what Parliament is being asked to approve under Bill C-59 generally. We are looking to establish a single national security review body with a government-wide mandate to follow leads from one agency to another, such as from CSIS to the RCMP or elsewhere. This has long been recommended by experts, academics and parliamentary committees. Sometimes it is referred to as the super SIRC, and Bill C-59 does it.
We are creating a new act to govern the Communication Security Establishment, which includes a new regime for authorizing its activities for the first time ever. We are creating a closed list of threat reduction activities that CSIS may undertake so the service has clear direction from Parliament and knows what it can do, what it cannot do, and where the fences are. We are creating a justification regime for CSIS that will provide the lawful authorities it needs to perform the activities required to investigate threats and to keep Canadians safe. The same concept with respect to police officers has existed in the Criminal Code for many years.
We are also creating a dataset regime for the service that will allow it to collect, retain and query datasets subject to stringent safeguards. We are fixing the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, ensuring that it does not diminish lawful advocacy, protest and dissent. It will also have greatly improved safeguards to ensure federal departments share national security information only when it is necessary to do so, following appropriate procedures and keeping proper records.
Then there is the no-fly list, and I know we have all been lobbied on this one. Bill C-59 would enable the creation of a recourse mechanism for people whose names coincidentally match or closely resemble names that are listed in Canada's passenger protect program. This is the infamous problem of false positives, sometimes affecting small children.
I want to thank the members of the group known as the “no-fly kids”, whose tenacious efforts have kept this issue in the forefront for many parliamentarians, and Bill C-59 is part of the solution.
I can assure my colleagues that officials at Public Safety have compressed the timelines as much as humanly and physically possible. The required Treasury Board submissions and other orders in council required after royal assent of Bill C-59 will be moving as quickly as possible to get that recourse system up and running to deal with that issue for the no-fly kids.
That summary does not quite encapsulate everything that is in Bill C-59. However, as my colleagues can see, it is very comprehensive legislation that would strengthen and modernize our national security apparatus and architecture.
I want to thank all of the public servants across multiple departments who have worked on this and have appeared before many committees to provide technical answers to parliamentarians. I want to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who participated in our green paper consultation process and the many individuals who continue to provide advice as Bill C-59 moves through the parliamentary process.
Most of all, I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues who have given this bill the thorough scrutiny that it most certainly deserves, including Senator Gold and his colleagues in the other place who have sent us the report we are dealing with at this moment and to which we are responding.
With this comprehensive legislation, we are in fact achieving our original goal and obligation to keep Canadians safe and secure, while simultaneously safeguarding their rights and freedoms and the precious democratic qualities and values that make Canada, Canada.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 10:36 [p.28741]
Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for the acknowledgement. However, I would like to come back to the second question I posed to him in my first round, which is regarding CBSA.
As colleagues in the House know, CBSA is the only national security agency that does not have its own dedicated review and/or oversight body. The minister is proposing one in BillC-98, but I want to know why he did not do that in the legislation before us, when it has been promised for a number of years now. The fact is that BillC-98 has not even gone to a committee in the House yet, much less been brought to the Senate. Therefore, it seems less and less likely that it would be adopted, and we know that this is an important mechanism that is required.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:36 [p.28741]
Madam Speaker, the reason is that the subject matter is different. Any security or intelligence activities of CBSA will in fact be reviewable under the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and under the provisions of Bill C-59. What remains to be done, and this is the subject of BillC-98, is a review mechanism for the activities of CBSA that do not relate to national security and intelligence. That is what BillC-98 covers. The intelligence and security part of CBSA is covered by Bill C-59 and by the previous bill, BillC-22.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 12:27 [p.28761]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today.
I ask for the indulgence of the House and I hope no one will get up on a point of order on this, but because I am making a speech on a specific day, I did want to shout out to two of my biggest supporters.
The first is to my wife Chantale, whose birthday is today. I want to wish her a happy birthday. Even bigger news is that we are expecting a baby at the end of July. I want to shout out the fact that she has been working very hard at her own job, which is obviously a very exhausting thing, and so the patience she has for my uncomparable fatigue certainly is something that I really do thank her for and love her very much for.
I do not want to create any jealousy in the household, so I certainly want to give a shout-out to her daughter and our daughter Lydia, who is also a big supporter of mine. We are a threesome, and as I said at my wedding last year, I had the luck of falling in love twice. I wanted to take this opportunity, not knowing whether I will have another one before the election, to shout out to them and tell them how much I love them.
I thank my colleagues for their warm thoughts that they have shared with me.
On a more serious note, I would like to talk about the Senate amendments to Bill  C-59. More specifically, I would like to talk about the process per se and then come back to certain aspects of Bill  C-59, particularly those about which I raised questions with the minister—questions that have yet to be answered properly, if at all.
I want to begin by touching on a more timely issue related to a bill that is currently before the House, Bill C-98. This bill will give more authority to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP so that it also covers the Canada Border Services Agency. That is important because we have been talking for a long time about how the CBSA, the only agency that has a role to play in our national security, still does not have a body whose sole function is to review its operations.
Of course, there is the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which was created by Bill C-22, and there will soon be a committee created by Bill  C-59 that will affect the CBSA, but only with regard to its national security related activities.
I am talking about a committee whose sole responsibility would be to review the activities of the Canada Border Services Agency and to handle internal complaints, such as the allegations of harassment that have been reported in the media in recent years, or complaints that Muslim citizens may make about profiling.
It is very important that there be some oversight or further review. I will say that, as soon as an article is published, either about a problem at the border, about the union complaining about the mistreatment of workers or about problems connected to the agency, the minister comes out with great fanfare to remind everyone that he made a deep and sincere promise to create a system that would properly handle these complaints and that there would be some oversight or review of the agency.
What has happened in four whole years? Nothing at all.
For years now, every time there is a report in the news or an article comes out detailing various allegations of problems, I have just been copying and pasting the last tweet I posted. The situation keeps repeating, but the government is not doing anything.
This situation is problematic because the minister introduced a bill at the last minute, as the clock is winding down on this Parliament, and the bill has not even been referred yet to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
I have a hard time believing that we will pass this bill in the House and an even harder time seeing how it is going to get through the Senate.
That is important because, in his speech, the minister himself alluded to the fact that in fall 2016, when the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, of which I am a member, travelled across the country to study the issue and make recommendations ahead of introducing Bill C-59, the recommendation to create a committee tasked with studying the specific activities of the CBSA was one of the most important recommendations. As we see in BillC-98, the government did not take this opportunity to do any such thing.
It is certainly troubling, because Bill C-59 is an omnibus piece of legislation. I pleaded with the House, the minister and indeed even the Senate, when it reached the Senate, through different procedural mechanisms, to consider parts of the bill separately, because, as the minister correctly pointed out, this is a huge overhaul of our national security apparatus. The concern with that is not only the consideration that is required, but also the fact that some of these elements, which I will come back to in a moment, were not even part of the national security consultations that both his department and the committee, through the study it did, actually took the time to examine.
More specifically, coming back to and concluding the point on BillC-98, the minister does not seem to have acted in a prompt way, considering his commitments when it comes to oversight and/or a review of the CBSA. He said in his answer to my earlier question on his speech that it was not within the scope of this bill. That is interesting, not only because this is omnibus legislation, but also because the government specifically referred the legislation to committee prior to second reading with the goal of allowing amendments that were beyond the scope of the bill on the understanding that it did want this to be a large overhaul.
I have a hard time understanding why, with all the indicators being there that it wanted this to be a large, broad-reaching thing and wanted to have things beyond the scope, it would not have allowed for this type of mechanism. Instead, we find we have a bill, BillC-98, arriving at the 11th hour, without a proper opportunity to make its way through Parliament before the next election.
I talked about how this is an omnibus bill, which makes it problematic in several ways. I wrote a letter to some senators about children whose names are on the no-fly list and the No Fly List Kids group, which the minister talked about. I know the group very well. I would like to congratulate the parents for their tireless efforts on their children's behalf.
Some of the children are on the list simply because the list is racist. Basically, the fact that the names appear multiple times is actually a kind of profiling. We could certainly have a debate about how effective the list is. This list is totally outdated and flawed because so many people share similar names. It is absurd that there was nothing around this list that made it possible for airlines and the agents who managed the list and enforced the rules before the bill was passed to distinguish between a terrorist threat and a very young child.
Again, I thank the parents for their tireless efforts and for the work they did in a non-partisan spirit. They may not be partisan, but I certainly am. I will therefore take this opportunity to say that I am appalled at the way the government has taken these families and children hostage for the sake of passing an omnibus bill.
The minister said that the changes to the no-fly list would have repercussions on a recourse mechanism that would stop these children from being harassed every time they go to the airport. This part of the bill alone accounted for several hundred pages.
I asked the government why it did not split this part from the rest of the bill so it would pass sooner, if it really believed it would deliver justice to these families and their kids. We object to certain components or aspects of the list. We are even prepared to challenge the usefulness of the list and the flaws it may have. If there are any worthy objectives, we are willing to consider them. However, again, our hands were tied by the use of omnibus legislation. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to make omnibus bills a thing of the past.
I know parents will not say that, and I do not expect them to do so. I commend them again for their non-partisan approach. However, it is appalling and unacceptable that they have been taken hostage.
Moreover, there is also BillC-21.
I will digress here for a moment. BillC-21, which we opposed, was a very troubling piece of legislation that dealt with the sharing of border information with the Americans, among others. This involved information on citizens travelling between Canada and the United States. Bill C-59 stalled in the Senate, much like Bill C-21.
As the Minister of Public Safety's press secretary was responding to the concerns of parents who have children on the no-fly list, he suddenly started talking about BillC-21 as a solution for implementing the redress system for people who want to file a complaint or do not want to be delayed at the airport for a name on the list, when it is not the individual identified. I think it is absolutely awful that these families are being used as bargaining chips to push through a bill that contains many points that have nothing to do with them and warrant further study. In my view, those aspects have not been examined thoroughly enough to move the bill forward.
I thank the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for recognizing the work I did in committee, even though it took two attempts when he responded to my questions earlier today. In committee, I presented almost 200 amendments. Very few of them were accepted, which was not a surprise.
I would like to focus specifically on one of the Senate's amendments that the government agreed to. This amendment is important and quite simple, I would say even unremarkable. It proposes to add a provision enabling us to review the bill after three years, rather than five, and make amendments if required. That is important because we are proposing significant and far-reaching changes to our national security system. What I find intriguing is that I proposed the same amendment in committee, which I substantiated with the help of expert testimony, and the Liberals rejected my amendment. Now, all of a sudden, the Senate is proposing the same amendment and the government is agreeing to it in the motion we are debating today.
I asked the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness why the Liberals were not willing to put partisanship aside in a parliamentary committee and accept an opposition amendment that proposed a very simple measure but are agreeing to it today. He answered that they had taken the time to reflect and changed their minds when the bill was in the Senate. I am not going to spend too much of my precious time on that, but I find it somewhat difficult to accept because nothing has changed. Experts appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and it was very clear, simple and reasonable. Having said that, I thank the minister for finally recognizing this morning that I contributed to this process.
I also want to talk about some of what concerns us about the bill. There are two pieces specifically with regard to what was BillC-51 under the previous government, and a few aspects new to this bill that have been brought forward that cause us some concern and consternation.
There are two pieces in BillC-51 that raised the biggest concerns at the time of debate in the previous Parliament and raised the biggest concerns on the part of Canadians as well, leading to protests outside our committee hearings when we travelled the country to five major cities in five days in October 2016. The first has to do with threat disruption, and the second is the information-sharing regime that was brought in by Bill C-51. Both of those things are concerning, for different reasons.
The threat disruption powers offered to CSIS are of concern because at the end of the day, the reason CSIS was created in the first place was that there was an understanding and consensus in Canada that there had to be a separation between the RCMP's role in law enforcement, which is making arrests and the work that revolves around that, and intelligence gathering, which is the work our intelligence service has to do, so they were separated.
However, bringing us back closer to the point where we start to lose that distinction with regard to the threat disruption powers means that a concern about constitutionality will remain. In fact, the experts at committee did say that Bill C-59, while less unconstitutional than what the Conservatives brought forward in the previous Parliament, had yet to be tested, and there was still some uncertainty about it.
We still believe it is not necessary for CSIS to have these powers. That distinction remains important if we want to be in keeping with the events that led to the separation in the first place, namely the barn burnings, the Macdonald Commission and all those things that folks who have followed this debate know full well, but which we do not have time to get into today.
The other point is the sharing of information, which we are all familiar with. We opened the door to more liberal sharing of information, no pun intended, between the various government departments. That is worrisome. In Canada, one of the most highly publicized cases of human rights violations was the situation of Maher Arar while he was abroad, which led to the Arar commission. In such cases, we know that the sharing of information with other administrations is one of the factors that can lead to the violation of human rights or torture. There are places in the world where human rights are almost or completely non-existent. We find that the sharing of information between Canadian departments can exacerbate such situations, particularly when information is shared between the police or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
There is an individual who was tortured abroad who is currently suing the government. His name escapes me at the moment. I hope he will forgive me. Global Affairs Canada tried to get him a passport to bring him back to Canada, regardless of whether the accusations against him were true, because he was still a Canadian citizen. However, overwhelming evidence suggests that CSIS and the RCMP worked together with foreign authorities to keep him abroad.
More information sharing can exacerbate that type of problem because, in the government, the left hand does not always know what the right hand is doing. Some information can fall into the wrong hands. If the Department of Foreign Affairs is trying to get a passport for someone and is obligated by law to share that information with CSIS, whose interests are completely different than those of our diplomats, this could put us on a slippery slope.
The much-criticized information sharing system will remain in place with Bill C-59. I do not have the time to list all the experts and civil society groups that criticized this system, but I will mention Amnesty International, which is a well-known organization that does excellent work. This organization is among those critical of allowing the information sharing to continue, in light of the human rights impact it can have, especially in other countries.
Since the bill was sent back to committee before second reading, we had the advantage of being able to propose amendments that went beyond the scope of the bill. We realized that this was a missed opportunity. It was a two-step process, and I urge those watching and those interested in the debates to go take a look at how it went down. There were several votes and we called for a recorded division. Votes can sometimes be faster in committee, but this time we took the time to do a recorded division.
There were two proposals. The Liberals were proposing an amendment to the legislation. We were pleased to support the amendment, since it was high time we had an act stating that we do not support torture in another country as a result of the actions of our national security agencies or police forces. Nevertheless, since this amendment still relies on a ministerial directive, the bill is far from being perfect.
I also proposed amendments to make it illegal to share any information that would lead to the torture of an individual in another country. The amendments were rejected.
I urge my colleagues to read about them, because I am running out of time. As you can see, 20 minutes is not enough, but I would be happy to take questions and comments.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to such an important bill today.
Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a very important turning point in the Second World War and one where Canada was overwhelmingly able to contribute and further the cause of peace and security in the world.
Why do I bring that up? This is a piece of legislation respecting national security matters and one that we must take very seriously, given the nature of the threats that are facing not only Canada here at home, but the world, at this point.
For the first time in many years, we are seeing the rise of great powers. We are seeing an increase in the number of threats that are facing our country, and those threats are not coming only in terms of troops on the ground or weapons or guns being fired. Those threats are coming from what we call non-traditional or asymmetric threats. We can be sitting at home and we find that information manipulation, cyber-threats and online instigating of violence are having a significant contribution on people who would want to commit these acts.
We must be vigilant. Democracy is fragile. Those men who sacrificed their lives 70 years ago for what we have today must be honoured. How do we honour them? Yes, we remember the incredible sacrifice they made, but we have also been entrusted with preserving the security and the values for which our nation stands going forward.
What are those values? Those values are safeguarding the freedom of individual liberty, the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Every time any one of those things is eroded, we must stand and be counted to ensure that we do honour their memory and we remember what exactly they fought for and what we must also fight for into the future.
What would Bill C-59 actually do? Bill C-59 is trying to make it appear that the Liberal government takes national security threats seriously. In a world of increasing threats, the government wants to show that it is doing something. Unfortunately, it is more about show than actual reality.
Significant parts of the bill take existing legislation and muddy the waters. They make it weaker. They make the wording so that it is more difficult to execute on. Instead of giving money to the areas that will further pointy-end national security efforts, the government is putting money into more bureaucracy and more red tape and ensuring that nothing actually gets done.
This is highly disconcerting. If Canadians do not understand what the threats are, and if our national security agencies and our law enforcement people have less ability, less legislation, weaker and more confusing legislation and more bureaucracy to execute on making sure we are safe and secure, then what exactly are we trying to accomplish?
That is one of the more fundamental reasons why Conservative members cannot support the bill. It is a lot of bureaucracy. It is a lot of smoke and mirrors. It is an attempt to make it look like the Liberals are taking national security seriously, when in fact it compounds the problem and confuses the issue.
The Liberals have combined it all into one organization, the national security and intelligence review agency, and we are not able to see what that organization is going to do and what its mandate will be.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-05-17 10:08 [p.27989]
Mr. Speaker, since the fall of 2016, our government has been dramatically reshaping Canada’s security and intelligence apparatus to ensure that it has the authorities and the funding it needs in order to keep Canadians safe. At the same time, we have been ensuring that those agencies, which we trust with tremendous power, have strong and robust independent review mechanisms so that the public can be confident that they are using their powers appropriately.
These mechanisms instill confidence in the public that these agencies are using their powers appropriately. Since 2018, following the passage of BillC-22, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, or NSICOP, has been reviewing classified national security information. The committee, which is formed of three senators and eight elected members of Parliament, recently released its first annual report. This brings Canada into line with all four of our other Five Eyes alliance allies when it comes to parliamentary or congressional review of national security activities.
Bill C-59, which is currently awaiting third reading debate in the Senate, would create a national security and intelligence review agency. This would be a stand-alone review body that would incorporate the existing Security Intelligence Review Committee, or SIRC, which reviews the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, and the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, which reviews the Communications Security Establishment, CSE.
The agency would also have the powers and authorities to review any department with a national security function. Some academics and experts have dubbed this idea a “super SIRC“. They have argued for years that such a body is needed so that it can follow the thread of evidence from one department to another rather than ending its investigation at the boundaries of a single agency. The Federal Court has also suggested that this kind of super review agency needs to be created. We have done all of this so that Canadians can be confident that our security and intelligence community has the tools it needs to keep Canadians safe.
This brings me to BillC-98. The one piece missing from this review architecture puzzle, should Bill C-59 pass, of course, is an independent review body for non-national security-related reviews of the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA. Bill C-98 would fill in that gap by creating PCRC, or the public complaints and review commission.
The new agency would combine the existing review body for the RCMP, known as the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, CRCC, with the yet to be created review body for the Canada Border Services Agency. It would add a mandatory new deputy chair position to the new agency. Budget 2019 has provided nearly $25 million over the next five years to ensure there is enough staff to take on this new important role.
I would now like to walk members through how the PCRC would work in practice. A Canadian who has a complaint about the actions or behaviour of a CBSA member would lodge a complaint with either the Canada Border Services Agency itself or the PCRC. Regardless of where it is filed, one agency would alert the other to the complaint. There will be no wrong door for Canadians to knock on. The system will work for them in either case.
The CBSA would then be required to investigate every complaint, much like the existing CRCC does for the RCMP. If the chair believes it would be in the public interest to do so, the PCRC can initiate its own investigation.
The vast majority of complaints to the CBSA are already handled to the satisfaction of the complainant. For those who are not satisfied, complainants would be informed that they can request a subsequent complaint review from the fully independent PCRC. The review agency would have full access to documents and the power to compel witnesses in order to ensure it can undertake a thorough investigation. If, upon review, the PCRC were not satisfied with the CBSA's investigations and conclusions, it would make a report with any findings and recommendations.
There are several areas that the CCRC would not be able to investigate because there are already existing bodies which could handle those types of complaints. For instance, officers of Parliament like the Privacy Commissioner and the Commissioner of Official Languages are best suited to deal with complaints that fall within their jurisdiction.
Should someone file a complaint with the CBSA or the CCRC that falls within those realms, either body would decline the complaint but inform that individual of the proper course of action.
The chair of the new PCRC would be able to conduct reviews of CBSA activities, behaviours, policies, procedures and guidelines not related to national security. National security reviews would, of course, be handled by NSIRA. The Minister of Public Safety could also ask the agency to undertake such a review.
In addition, the PCRC would be notified of any serious incident in which the actions of a CBSA officer may have resulted in serious injury or death. This includes immigration detainees who are being held in provincial corrections facilities on behalf of the CBSA. Further, the Minister of Public Safety or the president of the CBSA may deem that in incidents of such significance, the PCRC must investigate.
BillC-98 would complete the review architecture for the public safety portfolio by creating a review body similar to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, or the Office of the Correctional Investigator for Correctional Service Canada. This is another important step that would ensure Canadians have confidence in our border agency. However, it is far from the only improvement that our government has made over these past four years.
Let us take, for instance, the new immigration detention framework and its focus on best rights of the child, increased resources to combat gun and opioid smuggling at the border, and new money for detector dogs that will help to ensure African swine fever-contaminated meat does not enter Canada and decimate the stock of pork producers.
There is the new entry-exit legislation, which closes a major security gap by allowing us to know when someone is leaving the country, and the new Preclearance Act, which allows for the expansion of pre-clearance sites in all four modes: air, land, marine and rail. In addition, this act provides cargo pre-clearance to reduce wait times at the border.
Our government takes the security of Canada’s border seriously and knows that it not only needs to be secure from threats that would enter, but also be open to the legitimate travel and trade that drives our economy.
The time left in the 42nd Parliament is, unfortunately, growing short, and I am convinced that this piece of legislation would be, by leaps and bounds, an improvement over the status quo. There is a reason we committed to doing this particular action. We know that having independent oversight bodies will make a difference. We have worked hard to make that happen with the RCMP, and now our other national security agencies have the same kind of mechanisms. It is all about instilling confidence in the public that the powers our national security agencies have are being used appropriately and that their privacy, rights and freedoms are being respected. At the same time, our national security agencies are working hard to keep them safe.
One of the most significant steps forward was the implementation of BillC-22 and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, because now we have representatives from Parliament actually having access to classified security information and making judgments about where we should go, what the priorities are and what the major threats are, and the committee members can share that information among themselves in a non-partisan way.
The chair of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians went before committee and talked about the work it does. It has issued its first annual report. The chair talked about the ability of this committee of parliamentarians to act in a non-partisan nature. That is what allows it to do the kind of work we need it to do. There are three senators and eight elected members of Parliament, and it is working. The other Five Eyes alliance countries have a parliamentary or congressional review body, and now Canada does too.
Bill C-59, which we have talked about, would create the national security and intelligence review agency. This stand-alone body would incorporate the existing Security Intelligence Review Committee, which reviews CSIS, and the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, which reviews CSE. Having this review function under one single umbrella would give it the flexibility and ability to focus where it believes it needs to be done. It would also have the power and authority to review any department with a national security function.
I like the name super SIRC. I think it is representative of what we are trying to do, which is create an oversight organization that has the bandwidth and authority to review any national security agency's work to make sure that it is being done in terms of the legal authorities it has and that also has the ability to go across national security agencies if it needs to find information that pertains to a particular issue.
We have argued for years that we needed such a body that could follow a thread of evidence from one department to another, from one national security agency, across boundaries, to another. Even the Federal Court agrees that this kind of review agency needs to be created.
It comes back to having national security agencies that have the confidence of their people. I believe that now, with these independent oversight agencies that have been put in place, Canadians can be confident that our security and intelligence community has the tools to keep them safe while at the same time respecting their privacy, respecting their freedoms and respecting their rights.
The Canada Border Services Agency was the last piece. In BillC-98, we would create the public complaints and review commission, the PCRC. This new agency would combine the existing review body for the RCMP, known as the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, with the yet to be created review body for the CBSA. It would add a mandatory new deputy chair position to the new agency.
I would like to walk the members through how the PCRC, the public complaints and review commission, would work in practice.
A Canadian who had a complaint about the actions or behaviour of a CBSA member would lodge a complaint with either the CBSA itself or with the public complaints and review commission. There would be two options to file a complaint. The system would be designed so that once a complaint was filed with one agency, it would automatically be transferred to the other agency. Both would know what was going on, and both would be responsible for addressing the particular complaint. On top of that, even if a complaint had not been issued, if the chair of the public complaints and review commission believed that it was in the public interest to do so, the public complaints and review commission could initiate its own investigation.
If one submitted a complaint to the CBSA and was not happy with the result, one could request a subsequent complaint review by the fully independent public complaints and review commission. This would give the agencies two opportunities to address complaints from the public. This review agency would have full access to documents and the power to compel witnesses to ensure that it could make a thorough investigation.
I am convinced that this piece of legislation is, by leaps and bounds, an improvement over the status quo. While some may want to improve some parts, I think most of us would agree that Canadians would be better off if this bill were to receive royal assent before we rise this summer. As we all know, Parliament can move quite expeditiously when we are all of a mind to do something in the public interest. If any of my colleagues in this chamber, on either side of the aisle, would like to discuss the prospects of this bill's passage, I would be pleased to have that conversation with them.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2019-05-17 12:26 [p.28014]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to finally have the opportunity to contribute to a long-awaited debate on an oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency. It has been over a decade since Justice O'Connor recommended that there be an independent oversight for the CBSA. Since then, a chorus of voices have consistently and persistently called for accountability for the CBSA.
I will state very clearly that the NDP supports BillC-98, as this is something the NDP and stakeholders have been calling on the current Liberal government to act on for a very long time.
In fact, back in 2014, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, issued a joint press release and called for an independent review of all of CBSA's national security enforcement and border policing activities.
The CBSA is the only major federal law enforcement agency without external oversight. CBSA officers have a broad range of authority. They can stop travellers for questioning. They can take breath and blood samples. They have the ability to search, detain and arrest non-citizens without a warrant. They can interrogate Canadians. They also have the authority to issue and carry out deportations on foreign nationals. Many of these authorities are carried out in an environment where charter protections are reduced in the name of national security. However, despite these sweeping powers, it is astounding that there is no independent external civilian oversight for complaints or allegations of misconduct for the CBSA.
Without a doubt, the overwhelming majority of CBSA officers carry out their duties with the utmost respect for the individuals they engage with and recognize that the authority provided to them is to be used responsibly. However, stories of horrific misconduct have also come to light, and the complaint mechanism is anything but open and accountable.
Joel Sandaluk, a Toronto immigration lawyer, said, “CBSA, for many years, has been a law unto itself.”
Mary Foster of Solidarity Across Borders said, “We have enough experience to know that making a complaint to the CBSA about the CBSA doesn't really lead anywhere.”
It is my understanding that between January 2016 and the middle of 2018, the CBSA investigated around 1,200 allegations of staff misconduct. The alleged misconducts are wide-ranging. They include things like neglect of duty, sexual assault, excessive force, use of inappropriate sexual language, criminal association and harassment.
In 2013, there was a case where a woman, reportedly fleeing domestic violence, died in the CBSA's custody. An inquest into the death concluded that there is “no independent, realistic method for immigrants to bring forward concerns or complaints.”
In 2016, two more people died in the CBSA's custody within a span of just one week.
With incidents such as these, it is vital that there is accountability and transparency to ensure that procedures are respected and that there is no abuse of power. That means it is critical that there is an independent oversight body in the event that complaints are lodged.
Right now, if there is an incident where travellers, whether Canadians or foreign nationals, feel something is not right, be it harassment or use of force, the only recourse is to submit a complaint to the CBSA, which undergoes an internal review. We must keep in mind that the nature of the power imbalance that exists between border authorities such as the CBSA, and travellers, especially those in a foreign country, makes lodging any sort of complaint very difficult. Some people elect not to file a complaint. There are real fears, especially if the process is not well known and the body looking into the complaint is not an independent body. People fear, for example, that future travel could be impacted. People are afraid that by speaking out against mistreatment, they may be punished the next time that they try to travel.
We should keep in mind that for some, such as temporary residents and visitors to Canada, they simply are not around long enough to file a complaint or to see it through. We have a responsibility, especially as a nation that welcomes millions of tourists a year, has our own citizens exploring the world and welcomes hundreds of thousands of newcomers who immigrate here each year, to ensure that people feel safe, respected and protected by our border officials. This is why it is critical that there is a public, independent, civilian oversight body for the CBSA.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has studied this issue closely and has done a report on it. From its report, “Oversight at the Border: A Model for Independent Accountability at the Canada Border Services Agency”, it has recommended “two separate accountability mechanisms for the CBSA, one charged with providing real-time oversight of CBSA’s policies and practices, and one charged with conducting investigations and resolving complaints.”
I would be very interested to hear what it and witnesses say about this proposed bill, and whether or not they feel it meets the call for independent oversight and accountability measures for the CBSA.
I must note that while we debate BillC-98, another bill, Bill C-59, is currently moving to third reading stage at the Senate. We expect we will see that bill return here in the near future.
Bill C-59 introduces a review agency, the national security and intelligence review agency, or NSIRA. This new body would replace the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner and the Security Intelligence Review Committee, as well as the national security review and complaints investigation functions of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. This means that the new body would have jurisdiction over activities that fall under the umbrella of national security. As for what remains as the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, it will continue to have the external investigative body that reviews complaints from the public about RCMP conduct. However, the bill before us today would rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission to the public complaints and review commission and expand its mandate to have a similar review function to the CBSA.
As a result of these changes, depending on the nature of the complaint against the CBSA, a different body with different authorities will be the reviewer of conduct. This will undoubtedly cause confusion at times. Therefore, one wonders why this approach was taken and why it is being done in two separate bills.
However, more concerning is the lack of lack of consultation and the last-minute nature of this proposed legislation. Too often we have seen the government consult and consult, and then do nothing, but then in areas where consultation and study are vital to ensuring that the legislation is what it needs to be, the process is short-changed.
The Customs and Immigration Union, which represents over 10,000 Canadians working on our borders, was not consulted on BillC-98. This makes no sense to me. Why would the government not be seeking out the views of those individuals on the front lines who are doing the work and who would now have a new body reviewing them and their representative organization? This is not a good way to proceed.
Sadly, as the NDP critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I have become incredibly familiar with the Liberal government's failure to follow through on its promise on good governance.
As we have seen in BillC-97, the budget implementation act, the Liberals have decided to ram through dangerous changes to Canada's refugee determination system and put vulnerable lives, especially women and girls fleeing violence, at risk. I suspect that the Liberals are feeling the pressure from the right and want to be seen as being tough on asylum seekers. With an election six months from now, they are jamming draconian changes through in an omnibus budget bill.
I suppose, at least in this case with BillC-98, while the measures for the changes for the CBSA complaint process were announced in the budget, they at least are tabled in a separate stand-alone bill, BillC-98.
That is more than I can say about the changes to the refugee determination system, which are being rammed through with minimal study in the omnibus budget bill. In a rush to look tough on borders and caving to pressure and misinformation campaigns by the Conservatives, the Liberals again, without consultation, made very sweeping changes to the asylum system in the budget. Experts immediately called for the provisions to be withdrawn or, at the very minimum, to table them as a separate stand-alone bill. The Liberal government refused.
Some 2,400 Canadians wrote to the Prime Minister calling for the same action. That too fell on deaf ears. Its advice, as recently reported by the Auditor General, was that the 1.2 million calls to the IRCC last year did not get through to the government. I will say that BillC-98 is at least a stand-alone bill.
With that being said, it must also be recognized, given that the Liberals have failed to take action until the eleventh hour, that there is a chance this bill might not receive royal assent prior to the election. If that occurs, this would then represent yet another broken promise by the Liberal government, another broken promise through its failure to act.
I do wonder what took the government so long to table this bill. Why did it wait until there are only five weeks left in the sitting of the House to bring BillC-98 forward? I suspect that the Liberal government would employ time allocation measures to limit debate, a tool that Liberals consistently spoke against when the Conservatives were in government. I fear that they will once again have our debate in this place limited because the government could not get its legislation in order in a timely fashion.
The risk that this represents with a bill of this magnitude cannot be ignored. The government, in the rush to table it before the session ends, has failed to properly consult the experts on what the bill should look like. Now, in a race against the clock, the Liberals, if they want to be able to claim that they followed through on their promise, will need to limit the democratic debate of this bill. That is what I expect will happen.
This is not a good recipe for good legislation. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The government has stated that in 2017 and 2018, over 96 million travellers were engaged by CBSA employees, which is over 260,000 per day. They processed more than 21 million commercial shipments, which is over 57,000 per day. They processed over 46 million courier shipments, which is over 126,000 per day. This is a serious matter and deserves thorough debate.
It is our hope that the government will allow for a thorough study of this bill at committee. I also hope that the government, upon hearing from stakeholders and experts at the committee stage, will be amenable to any amendments that expert witnesses put forward. I hope that the government will allow for that work to be done in a proper fashion and is open to input by stakeholders.
This bill has been long awaited for by the community. I regret that the government has waited this long, until the eleventh hour, with only six months until the election and only five weeks of sitting in this place, to table BillC-98. Canadians deserve to have an independent, external civilian oversight process for the CBSA. The government should have done this work much earlier to ensure that the proper process is in place for all Canadians.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-05-17 12:47 [p.28017]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly support BillC-98. I share the views around this place that it is lamentable that it has come forward now.
I just wanted to share a brief experience, which chilled me to the bone, of how this country can treat people. This was in the 41st Parliament.
Richard Germaine is an indigenous man who was born in California and lived his whole adult life on Penelakut, in Nanaimo—Ladysmith. He is married. He is a community leader. Right before Christmas, with no warning that his citizenship papers were in any sort of disarray and that he should take steps, CBSA officials showed up at his home. They put him in leg irons. They took him away, in front of his wife, who is a residential school survivor, traumatizing her, their children and their grandchildren. In leg irons, they took him in a van to a detention centre in Vancouver, where he was ordered to be deported as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, he was working with an ethnobotanist from the University of Victoria, who contacted my office. I contacted the former minister, Chris Alexander. We stopped the deportation and got his citizenship. What was really chilling was that as Richard left there, everyone around him said, “We have never seen anyone get out of here. Everyone gets deported.”
We need a citizen overview agency for CBSA. I agree with my hon. colleague that we needed this bill sooner. It is a gap in Bill C-59, but I commend the government for fixing the gap. Let us get this bill through the House and to the Senate. If there is any way at all we can get unanimous consent to get this bill through third reading and report stage by unanimous consent, let us get it to the other place and then keep our fingers crossed.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McKay Profile
2019-05-17 12:50 [p.28017]
Mr. Speaker, we have just seen a classic example of people not being able to get out of their partisan lanes.
We now know that the Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Green Party agree that BillC-98 is a good bill and that it should move forward. However, what are we going to do? We are going to spend the rest of today, and possibly into the next sitting of the House, talking about a bill that we all agree is a good bill.
Every day that we talk about it here is a day we cannot talk about it in committee, which means that we cannot hear witnesses on the very issues the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands raised. We cannot deal with the issues the previous speaker raised, and we cannot bring in witnesses who have useful things to say about the operation of this bill.
This is a classic example of some dysfunctionality in this place at a level that is really quite distressing. Everyone agrees that this is a bill that needs to be passed. This is a bill that needs to hear witnesses. It is going before a committee that I have the great honour of chairing and that functions at a very high level. The member for Beloeil—Chambly is a very helpful and co-operative member, as is the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. Both are vice-chairs of the committee who help with getting legislation through. I daresay that there is not a great deal of distance between the government's position and the opposition parties' positions. The situation continues to evolve.
As the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said, this sounds like an egregious set of facts for which there is no oversight body. That is why we are here. It is to get an oversight body put in place for the CBSA.
The CBSA apparently interacts with between 93 million and 96 million people on an annual basis. That is about three times the population of Canada on an annual basis. Some are citizen interactions, some are permanent resident interactions, some are visitor interactions and some are refugee claim interactions. I daresay that with 93 million to 96 million interactions on an annual basis, not every one will go well. That is something we are trying to correct.
There is something in the order of 117 land border crossings, some of which are fully staffed, such as at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport or wherever, but others are simply a stake in the ground. There are about 1,000 locations across this long border over four time zones. The CBSA facilitates the efficient flow of people and goods, and it administers something in the order of 90 acts and regulations. It administers some of those acts and regulations on behalf of other levels of government.
In addition to having 93 million to 96 million interactions on an annual basis, the CBSA collects about $32 billion in taxes, levies and duties over the course of the year.
This is an enormous organization. It has enormous numbers of interactions with people, services and goods, and I dare say, not every one of them goes the way it should, as much as we would like to say otherwise. Hence the bill before us as we speak.
I heard the other speaker say that we have not had enough consultation, and the speaker before that said that all the government does is consultation. They cannot have it both ways. Either there is too much consultation or there is too little consultation.
All I know is that we have very little legislative runway left. We are speaking on a Friday afternoon about a bill that we all agree on, and by speaking on it, we are in fact preventing the bill from proceeding to committee, where it could be dealt with. I would be absolutely delighted to give up my time in order to let debate collapse and allow us to go to the vote, but there does not seem to be a huge amount of enthusiasm. Therefore, regrettably, members are going to have to listen to me talk for the next 15 minutes about a bill that we all agree on.
The unusual part of the situation in which we find ourselves is that unlike the case with the RCMP, unlike CSIS, unlike various other security services, there is no actual oversight body. That is a clear gap in the legislation.
Bill C-59, which I had the honour of shepherding through the committee, is an extraordinarily complicated piece of legislation.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that you love flow charts and appreciate the way in which legislation proceeds, and I commend you. The flow chart produced by Professor Forcese on Bill C-59 shows that Bill C-59 is extremely complicated in making sure that there are enough supervisory bodies for the various functions of CSIS, the RCMP, CSE, etc., spread over quite a number of agencies. There are at least three ministries responsible, those being defence, public safety and global affairs. It is an extraordinarily complicated piece of legislation. We anticipate and hope that it will return from the Senate and receive further debate here—though hopefully not too much—because it is really a revamping of the security architecture of our nation.
One of the gaps, as has been identified by other speakers, is the absence of an oversight body with respect to the activities of the Canada Border Services Agency. I expect to have an interaction with the Canada Border Services Agency in about two hours. Many of my colleagues will similarly be having interactions with the Canada Services Border Agency within a very short period of time, and I am rather hoping that my interaction and all of their interactions will go well, as I dare say they probably will.
The committee is now in place, and I want to talk about one further piece of legislation that has passed and is functioning, BillC-22, which established the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. In addition to its reporting function to the Prime Minister, there is a reporting function to the public safety committee. I know you, Mr. Speaker, were present as the chair of that committee presented his first report to the public safety committee. I have to say that while listening to the interactions with the chair of that committee, I felt that the questions by the members of the public safety committee were of quite high calibre and gave very pointed and useful insight into the work of that committee.
BillC-98 fills a gap. It is being strengthened and renamed the public complaints and review commission, or the PCRC, and will have, in effect, a joint responsibility for both the RCMP and the CBSA. If the PCRC were to receive a complaint from the public, it would notify the CBSA, which would undertake an initial investigation. I dare say that this would resolve a great percentage of the complaints the public may have. In fact, 90% of RCMP complaints are resolved in this way.
The PCRC would also be able to conduct its own investigation of a complaint if its chairperson was of the opinion that it would be in the public interest to do so. In those cases, the CBSA would not start an investigation into the complaint.
Therefore, in effect, there is an ability on the part of the CBSA to say it is not going to refer it to mediation or some further investigation, but to simply assume the jurisdiction and move forward with it. To make that request, the complaint would have to be made within 60 days of receiving notice from the CBSA about the outcome of the complaint. The idea here is that the complaint does not just languish.
When the PCRC receives a request for a review of a CBSA complaint decision, the commission would review the complaint and all relevant information and share its conclusions regarding the CBSA's initial decision. It could conclude that the CBSA's decision was appropriate, it could ask the CBSA to do a further investigation or it could assume the jurisdiction and investigate the complaint itself.
The commission can also hold public hearings as part of its work. At the conclusion of the PCRC investigation, the review body would be able to report on its findings and make recommendations as it sees fit, and the CBSA would be required to provide a response in writing to the PCRC's findings and recommendations.
In addition to its complaints function, the PCRC would be able to review, on its own initiative or at the request of the minister, any activity of the CBSA, except for national security matters. I think that is an important thing to take note of, because we do not want national security matters dealt with in an open and public forum, if at all possible. Then it would be reviewed by the national Security Intelligence Review Committee, under Bill C-59, which hopefully by then will be passed and brought into force.
PCRC reports would include findings and recommendations on the adequacy, appropriateness, sufficiency or clarity of the CBSA policies, procedures and guidelines, the CBSA's compliance with the law and ministerial directions, and the reasonableness and necessity of the CBSA's use of its power. On that latter point, the members previously have indicated instances where one would reasonably question the use, reasonableness and necessity of the CBSA's interactions with members of the public. Hopefully, with the passage of this bill and the setting up of the PCRC, those complaints would be adjudicated in a fashion that is satisfactory to both the service and members of the public.
With respect to both its complaint and review functions, the PCRC would have the power to summon and enforce the appearance of persons before it and compel them to give oral or written evidence under oath. It would have the power to administer oaths and to receive and accept oral and written evidence, whether or not the evidence would be admissible in a court of law. That provides a certain level of flexibility. As this is not a criminal case, we are not asking for a standard of beyond reasonable doubt; rather, by passing this legislation and giving these authorities, we are trying to create an environment in which issues can actually be resolved.
It would also have the power to examine any records and make any inquiries that it considers necessary. However, beyond its review and complaint functions, BillC-98 would also create an obligation on the CBSA to notify local police and the PCRC of any serious incident involving CBSA officers or employees. That includes giving the PCRC the responsibility to track and publicly report on serious incidents, such as death, serious injury or Criminal Code violations involving the CBSA. Hopefully, we could reasonably anticipate a reduction in these incidents by virtue of just the very existence of this entity because, as has reasonably been said by speakers previously, there is nowhere to go when one has a complaint with the CBSA.
Operationally, the bill is worded in such a way as to give the PCRC the flexibility to organize its internal structure as it sees fit, and to carry out its mandate under both the CBSA Act and the RCMP Act. The PCRC could designate members of its staff as belonging either to the RCMP unit or the CBSA unit. Common services, such as corporate support, could still be shared between both units. There are several obvious benefits that can be generated by operating in this fashion. For example, expertise could be shared between the RCMP and the CBSA. Hopefully, by doing so, the agency would be strengthened. Clearly identifying which staff members are responsible would also help with the management of information.
In addition, a vice-chair and chair will be appointed to the PCRC, which would be mandatory. It would ensure that there will always be two individuals at the top who are capable of exercising decision-making powers.
Under BillC-98, the PCRC would establish and publish an annual report covering each of its business lines, the CBSA and the RCMP, and the resources devoted to each. The report would summarize their operations throughout the year, such as the number and types of complaints and any review activities, and would provide information on the number, type and outcomes of serious incidents. I am hopeful that this will be a readily accessible report, transparent to all, so that those who follow these issues can operate from the same set of facts.
The annual report would be tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Presumably, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security would be able to review that report, call witnesses and examine the functionality of the entity.
The new public complaints and review commission proposed under BillC-98 would close a significant gap in Canada's public safety accountability regime.
As I said earlier, the number of interactions we have with Canadians, visitors, landed folks, refugee claimants and others is quite significant, because Canada is open to receiving not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, but millions of people crossing the border on an annual basis. The legislation is long overdue.
I would urge my colleagues to get out of their partisan lanes and let the bill move to committee. The complaint seems to be that the bill is last minute and will therefore never see royal assent. Well, the bill will certainly never see royal assent if the chamber holds it up. All parties are responsible for House management, and I would urge all party representatives who are responsible for House management to let the bill move to committee sooner rather than later.
View Glen Motz Profile
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address BillC-83. As we know, it is a bill that symbolizes the current government's approach to leadership in this country. It is an approach of ignoring the concerns of many, providing little in the way of moral leadership and transparency, and putting the safety of Canadians at risk for the benefit of political gain.
I have said many times in this place that it is and should be the top priority of the House to put the safety of Canadians first, ahead of any other issues or politics. With the bill, the House would fail to meet that expectation.
To paraphrase my NDP colleague from Beloeil—Chambly, I can think of no time when a bill has come before Parliament where there are no witnesses who support the legislation. That is exactly what happened with BillC-83. The minister claimed the bill would end administrative segregation. The witnesses who refuted the bill included prisoner advocacy groups, civil liberties groups, former wardens, professors, correctional unions, the correctional investigator and a senator. The overriding sentiment was that the legislation lacked the detail and information needed to back up such a claim by the minister.
The minister claimed the bill responded to issues raised by the courts that segregation caused the death of two inmates. However, the facts are clear in these two unfortunate deaths that they were the result of operational and management failures in both circumstances.
The minister claimed safety and security of staff were the top priorities. However, correctional workers and former inmates testified that segregation is essential to managing violent and volatile inmates, and that the bill would create more risk to staff.
Civil liberties groups called the bill unconstitutional and said it would make things worse rather than better. They noted the bill lacked external oversight, a check against the authorities of Correctional Service Canada. The minister actually acknowledged this lack of oversight existed.
Senator Pate testified before the committee and indicated that BillC-83 was a bad piece of legislation. The senator dismantled the minister's claims as to how the bill would end segregation. In a visit to a Nova Scotia Prison, Senator Pate noted that it had renamed the segregation unit, the “intensive intervention unit”. The minister will claim otherwise, of course. However, I will take the testimony of a senator and her eyewitness account over the minister's promise, especially given the minister's repeated track record of misleading Parliament and Canadians.
Perhaps the only accomplishment by the minister with respect to the bill is that he brought together the NDP, the Green Party and the Conservatives, who all oppose the legislation.
I would like to note the unexpected and very valuable contribution of written testimony from Mr. Glen Brown, someone who knows the system well. Mr. Brown is a highly experienced former warden and deputy warden, who now teaches criminal justice and criminology at Simon Fraser University and Langara College.
As someone once responsible for segregation units, he notes that the Ashley Smith and Edward Snowshoe cases were more about mismanagement of behavioural issues and neglect. These issues are not legislative problems. They are management, training and accountability issues. When in segregation, inmates should receive bolstered communication on current risks and mental health issues. They should have increased contact with officers and staff, and they should have an increased potential for services. All this should bring greater attention to an offender's rehabilitation plan.
Mr. Brown wrote:
The strength of a functioning administrative segregation process is that it should bolster all of those things: oversight is strengthened; case management should be more active; information sharing should be more robust; referral for clinical service should be prioritized and case management intervention to develop plans should be urgent.
After noting that science and research has shown that properly managed segregation units do not cause short- or long-term harm, Mr. Brown noted, “To respond to current circumstances with sweeping legislative reform is only to react ideologically, and to ignore science and evidence.”
On the minister's grand solution to segregation, which is to rename segregation units to “structured intervention units”, Mr. Brown noted that BillC-83 described SIUs in such broad and vague language that the consequences of implementation were very uncertain, that the details were unknown and the details were the key. The current layout of many segregation units did not facilitate socialization and programming. The emphasis on programming suggested longer-term stays in SIUs, weeks or maybe months. SIUs would not be suitable for short-term management of volatile inmates, such as those under the influence. There was the inability to have specialized staff for particular subpopulations in a prison. Finally, he noted that given the current layout of many prisons, a wing may need to be deemed a structured intervention unit, meaning up to 96 inmates may be subject to 20 hours a day of confinement where before it would be only 16.
To be clear, someone who is an expert and has worked for years in prisons with segregation says that he cannot discern the minister's plan. Moreover, he says that prisons often lack the infrastructure, are inappropriate to what is needed and could have the opposite effect to what the minister claims.
Perhaps the only potential value in the legislation could come from an external review mechanism of segregation, because it could provide Canadians with greater confidence in offender management. The minister, however, told the committee that we did not have the authority to do this, an order the Liberal MPs on the committee followed, while the opposition members put forward mechanisms to provide such oversight, which were soundly rejected.
When we pushed the Liberals at committee to amend the worst parts of the legislation and pointed to the glaring issues raised by the many expert witnesses, we were told that Liberal MPs were voting with “faith in the minister”.
The role of committees is not to provide support and faith to a minister. It is to conduct detailed examinations on challenging issues, to hear from experts and impacted Canadians, to examine programs, spending and legislation to determine if it will meet the needs of Canadians or, at the very least, what the minister claims it will meet. On this, our committee has failed.
At the conclusion of committee debate on BillC-83, my Conservative colleagues and I put our views on the record. We indicated that the committee failed in its role to review the legislation and ensure that it could make informed decisions. We also said that we believed the minister withheld information from committee that was clearly available to him at the time, namely the cost and how it would be used and implemented in the bill, which most witnesses said was essential to knowing if the bill would be useful. For the minister, it seemed more important that he withhold his plan from the committee. Half a billion dollars connected to a bill, where and how the money will be used is essential to know if the bill will work. We still do not have a plan necessarily for that money.
What was the response to the overwhelming criticism and skepticism of the bill? Government MPs stated that they were “making a leap of faith” and putting their trust in the minister. What was accomplished by the committee in reviewing this legislation? In my opinion, next to nothing. The Liberal members rejected amendments on how the money would be used. They rejected a requirement to publish the standards of the new SIUs. They rejected limits to reclassifying prisons. They rejected having the minister provide us with how he would implement this new plan.
On this legislation, the Liberals have turned their backs on Canadians. We are to trust the minister who has an extensive track record of misleading Canadians on things like the disastrous India trip, Bill C-59 and BillC-71, failure to provide funding for police to tackle gangs, and I could go on.
We as a House can do better. We must do better. We can all rise to a higher level. Personally, I feel this committee failed its constituents, its communities and its country. BillC-83 is yet another example of the many failures of the Liberal government.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-12-07 12:49 [p.24576]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the motion dealing with the Senate's amendments to BillC-21.
The story of BillC-21 is long and highly problematic, not to say sordid. I will read some excerpts, but first I would like to say that I am naturally in favour of the Senate's amendment. I will explain why.
The story of BillC-21 is an interesting one, because it was a bill tabled almost three years ago.
It is unfortunate. I am thinking in particular of the No Fly List Kids, a group well known to members of this house. It is a group of parents who have children on the no-fly list who are false positives, because they share a name with an individual on this list who has been flagged.
The reason I raise this issue is that when these parents originally came to Parliament Hill and asked the government to respect commitments that had been made to fix this issue, they were told by the government, and the Minister of Public Safety more specifically, that they would have to lobby the Minister of Finance, because it needed money to the redress system. They did that. They talked to the Minister of Finance. It was fantastic. The money was announced in the last budget. It was a non-partisan effort I was proud to be part of.
Then what happened? We heard that Bill C-59 needed to be adopted, an omnibus piece of legislation dealing with a whole slew of national security elements, one chapter of which, in a bill hundreds of pages long, dealt with the no-fly list. Conveniently, we were saying that the bill needed to be facilitated at the time the bill arrived in the Senate, and it was being held up there.
How does this connect to BillC-21? Allow me to explain. The Minister of Public Safety's press secretary made one thing clear to the media: the money is there, and Bill C-59 must be passed.
As the months passed, BillC-21, which was introduced in the House nearly three years ago, also got held up in the Senate. A month or two ago, at the same time the parents of the no-fly list kids were lobbying the Senate to quickly pass Bill  C-59 and fix this horrible problem, the same spokesperson for the Minister of Public Safety said that BillC-21 also needed to be passed more quickly. After three years, and one year in the Senate, the bill finally passed.
I do not want to cast doubt on anyone's good faith, but there is a problem, because I see nothing in Bill C-21 to address this scourge, which has been around for too long and makes life hard for these parents whenever they take their kids to the airport. This debate gives me the opportunity to say this to the House, because even though these parents are a non-partisan group, I am a partisan politician, and so I have no qualms about criticizing the government for trying to exploit this problem to rush its legislative agenda through. If it had done its work properly, the bill would not have gotten held up in the Senate the way it has.
With that point made, I want to address more specifically the amendments from the Senate. I am pleased to see that the Senate has improved on an amendment I presented at the public safety committee that was supported by all colleagues. My amendment was to actually prescribe a retention period for the data BillC-21 would deal with at the border.
Just to give the background on this, the New Democrats opposed BillC-21, despite some things in the media I read in June saying that the bill quietly passed in the House. No, we opposed this bill, and we raised some serious concerns about it at committee.
One of the concerns raised by the Privacy Commissioner was the fact that we would be collecting entry and exit data at the border and sharing with the Americans “tombstone“ data, as the Minister of Public Safety morbidly calls it. That data is concerning, because what we are seeing in the national security field, and CBSA is no exception, is a larger net being cast over the type of data we collect. The minister listed a bunch of laudable goals for collecting data dealing with kidnapped children in, for example, horrible custody cases, dealing with human trafficking and cracking down on people who are abusing EI and the OAS system. We will get back to that in a moment.
These goals, certainly on paper, sound laudable. However, that should not diminish the privacy concerns being raised, particularly with respect to the current administration we see in the U.S. collecting this type of information. What civil society tells us about these issues is that there is a web of inference. In this large net being cast in the national security field, data that might seem innocuous, collected for legitimate purposes, can be easily shared with other agencies through this information-sharing regime for a variety of objectives that might not necessarily be the intent of the legislation.
In that context, we heard the concerns that the Privacy Commissioner raised about the data retention period, which was essentially unlimited. The amendment I presented set a time limit of 15 years and was based on a recommendation from the commissioner himself. I read in the media that civil society felt that period was too long. I understand their concerns, but ultimately, we relied on the Privacy Commissioner's expertise.
After my amendment was adopted and the bill was passed by the House, in spite of the NDP's opposition, the Senate heard testimony from the Privacy Commissioner. He pointed out that the wording of the amendment as adopted could be interpreted to mean a minimum of 15 years rather than what we actually intended, which was a maximum of 15 years. He himself said that this might not have been the committee's intent.
The Senate therefore made a correction and improved an amendment that I was pleased to present. I was also pleased to have the support of the other parties on the committee. Obviously, we support the Senate amendment.
The amendment put forward by the government today also supports that amendment. Accordingly, although we oppose the bill, we do support today's motion to adopt the Senate's amendment.
I want to take a moment to address this. I raised some of the concerns at the time on BillC-21. Earlier I enumerated some of the things the minister said. However, there is another piece, and that is the issue of OAS and EI.
We had the appropriate ministry representatives at committee. They talked about all the great savings they were going to see and about the abuse of the EI and OAS systems. I find it fundamentally offensive to talk about savings in systems and programs that are there to help the most vulnerable in our society. The officials at committee even acknowledged that they believe in the good faith of the people who are claiming EI and receiving OAS.
Here is the problem. I will refer to some news articles that appeared in June of this year. For example, the Canadian Snowbird Association talked about its concern about the kind of information, or lack thereof, being shared, the personal information being shared, in an effort to potentially crack down on supposed abuses. For example, a situation as innocuous as people overstaying a day in a condo they own in the U.S. could mean that they would have their OAS payments or other government programs docked when they came back to Canada, in some cases. On the flip side, with the IRS in the U.S., people are being turned away at the border when they try to return to the U.S. to visit friends or family or to stay in a secondary residence they might have there. Certainly, there are concerns being raised.
I want to open some parentheses here and say that the NDP certainly understands and agrees that we do not want to see these systems abused, because essentially that would mean money is being stolen from those who actually need it. However, we also have to understand that when we are talking about information-sharing in an effort to crack down, I think there need to be more robust parameters in place with respect to how we are communicating with those individuals who could be affected.
Another concern I have obviously has to do with the employment insurance system. I am sure my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and my colleague from Churchill—I apologize, but I forget her riding's full name, which is long—can attest to how badly the EI system needs to be improved.
We are talking about the spring gap, the notorious 15 weeks, the problems that still have not been solved despite the government's rhetoric. What does the government do? It sends officials from the department in question to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security so they can boast about all the money being saved by sharing additional information on travellers with the Americans.
I do not mean any disrespect to our interpreters, but I am going to repeat what I said earlier in English. I completely understand that the government wants to stop the abuse of the system and make sure that the money is going to the right recipients. At the same time, I also understand that priorities seem to be a problem for this government.
It is funny that I talked about the no-fly list at the beginning of my speech. The minister was bragging about the fact that very few identifiers are shared in the system that Bill C-21 is proposing. He talked about basic information and said that that information appears on page 2 of the passport. This creates another problem, because when there are not enough identifiers, it can be very difficult to identify an individual in the context of a government program, the Canada Revenue Agency, and so on.
I need to look no further than in my own family. My younger brother's spouse has a twin sister with the same first initial, but a different social insurance number. They have the same surname, the same birth date and the same first initial, but a different SIN. What happens? They have to fight on a regular basis to have their identity recognized when undergoing a credit or background check. They have all kinds of problems with the CRA, government programs and banks. In short, they have had problems in the past. Unfortunately for them, they will continue to have these problems throughout their lives. Still, I hope they will not.
I am pointing this out because having only a few identifiers, as the minister reassures us, can create problems. For example, someone receiving EI who has not travelled to the United States, but who shares the same name and date of birth with another person who has, could be incorrectly identified by the department, which is not even the same one that receives the information. The Canada Border Services Agency receives the information, which it then passes on to the Department of Employment. As members, we work often enough with government agencies to know that mistakes can be made along the way. I say this with all due respect for our great public service.
Those mistakes are even more troubling for a variety of reasons. First, I specifically asked those representatives in committee about EI, OAS and other payments. I asked them what they would do if there was a mistake, or what if people had their EI cut off because they were told they had gone to the U.S., but they had not. The response I got, if people can believe it, was that they would need to take it up with CBSA.
What happens with CBSA? It is the only national security agency in the country that does not have a dedicated oversight body. Is that not convenient? That is extremely problematic and a far from satisfying response when the most vulnerable, who desperately need EI benefits, are cut off all because of a mistake was made in an effort to share even more information with the U.S., at its request. This whole system stems from that.
Moreover, I pointed out that there was a complaint system built into the law, but CBSA needed the proper oversight. The minister has promised that time and again over the last three years, since he has responsibility for this portfolio, and it has not happened.
Bill C-59, for example, would result in the biggest overhaul to our national security in the last 30 years. Despite all the reassurances about the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the new oversight body, colloquially called the super-SIRC, would only deal with CBSA in the specific context of national security. CBSA is always deals with national security at our borders. However, the question could be posed whether it is an issue of national security when people have their EI cut off because of information collected by CBSA. That question remains unanswered. The fact that it is unanswered is exactly why we have a problem, among other things, with BillC-51.
I want to raise one last point. Representatives of the Akwesasne First Nation came to both to the House committee and the Senate committee. The community lies across border. Representatives explained to us that they had children who were born in upstate New York and then lived in Canada. They had folks who sometimes worked in the U.S. Sometimes they needed to start in Canada, go through the U.S. and come back to Canada just for the commute home because of the geography of their location. I am pleased to hear they can cross those borders, because those borders should not be imposed on them as the first peoples of this land.
They already deal with certain difficulties, based on the information CBSA shares with appropriate ministries for different government benefits, with receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. Therefore, we can imagine that under a regime like that proposed in BillC-21, those problems could be exacerbated. Unfortunately, there is no special dispensation for folks like that in the legislation, and that is also a concern.
In conclusion, I am glad I was able to reiterate the reasons for which the NDP opposes Bill C-21. We understand the desire to improve the flow at the border, work with our allies, and ensure that nobody abuses our social programs. However, we believe that Bill C-21 allows for yet more information sharing, despite inadequate protection for citizens' rights and privacy.
We should all be particularly concerned about the fact that Bill C-21 is the first stage of what could become a more extensive information sharing regime in the coming years. The Prime Minister and the U.S. President committed to enhancing border co-operation, but this is not going to make things better. This is about fingerprinting people, searching cell phones, and possibly even having our officers and theirs work in the same space. That came up during talks between the U.S. President and the Prime Minister.
All of these plans are still in their very early stages, and I do not want anyone telling me I am getting worked up and scared, but we have every reason to be concerned, especially considering how the current U.S. President behaves and how we protect our citizens at the border and on our own soil when they need social programs they are entitled to.
The bill's intentions are honourable, but the execution is poor. We support the Senate's amendment, but we still oppose Bill C-21.
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
2018-10-22 15:41 [p.22680]
Mr. Speaker, I join with colleagues across the aisle and here on this side of the House today. My hon. colleague who just spoke mentioned Nathan Cirillo. I echo the sentiment expressed and pay homage to his memory, his service. I also wish to express gratitude for the work done in the House on the part of the Parliamentary Protective Service and certainly the RCMP. I am fortunate enough to be the member for London North Centre, where “O” Division Headquarters is based.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the motion. Members in the House do not always agree on everything, but I know we can always stand united in denouncing the depraved and barbaric acts committed by Daesh. We can salute courageous women such as Nadia Murad, who I have had the honour of meeting twice, the Yazidi Nobel Laureate who suffered unspeakable horrors under the Daesh rule and survived to tell her story. Mercifully this group's reign of terror is all but over.
Through defeats on the battlefield, it has lost the land it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, However, Daesh terrorists began returning to their countries of origin even while the so-called caliphate still existed. More of them may try to do so now that the group has been defeated.
We and our allies are well aware that our success on the battlefield has not eliminated the problem entirely. To an extent, we have only displaced it. Virtually every democratic country in the world is grappling with this issue. Some of our allies are dealing with hundreds or even thousands of potential returnees. The number we have to deal with is thankfully much smaller, but that is not cause for complacency.
In 2015, our security agencies were aware of about 60 people who had returned to Canada after engaging in terrorist activity abroad. That number has remained relatively stable since. While some of these people returned from former Daesh strongholds in Syria and Iraq, most of them were actually involved with other terrorist groups in other parts of the world.
Today, according to the most recent public report from CSIS, about 190 Canadians have left our country to join terrorist groups, Daesh or others, and remain abroad. Some of them may be dead. Some of them may not want to come back. However, we must be ready for those who do, and we are.
The professionals in Canada's national security agencies are working extremely hard to track these individuals, to bring criminal charges whenever possible and to carefully monitor them to keep us all safe. Here are a few facts. Facts are always important, but particularly in a debate such as this.
First, if extremist travellers attempt to return to Canada, there is a very high likelihood that our agencies will know about it. That is because of the information-sharing we do domestically and with our Five Eyes allies, on an ongoing basis, to identify individuals seeking to return. When Canadian authorities become aware of such travel, a process is activated to control and indeed to manage their return. Even before they are back on our soil, Canada's intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies actively assess and monitor the threat each individual poses. Threat assessments, monitoring and investigations continue for as long as necessary after their return. If evidence supports charges, terrorism charges under the Criminal Code can and will be laid upon their return. Since last year, in fact, four individuals have been charged for terrorism-related offences after their return to Canada and two have been convicted. It is also worth pointing out that under the Harper government that number was zero.
The task of collecting enough evidence about activity in a war zone on the other side of the world to support charges in a Canadian court is certainly a challenging one. While police and prosecutors go about the difficult work of collecting it, our security and intelligence agencies make full use of a broad range of tools at their disposal. For instance, they can issue peace bonds. They can cancel, revoke and refuse Canadian passports on national security grounds.
Under the passenger protect program, they use the no-fly list to ensure that people are prevented from travelling for terrorism-related purposes. They also engage in surveillance and legally authorized threat-reduction measures to keep Canadians safe.
At the same time, we should recognize that people do not travel to join a terrorist group and then become radicalized. Indeed, the radicalization happens at home. We should therefore be doing everything we can to prevent Canadians, mostly Canadian youth, from becoming radicalized in the first instance. The Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence supports community-based organizations that do this important work.
While I am on the subject, the Conservatives should stop denigrating counter-radicalization work. For example, think of parents whose teenage son has started bringing home extremist literature and visiting extremist websites. What would those parents prefer I ask? Would they rather the government have nothing to offer but handcuffs once it is too late? Or would they rather the government's support programs at their son's school, local community centre or place of worship to help extricate him from the clutches of extremism before he did something violent? I think we all know the answer to that question or ought to know it.
None of us should pretend this can only happen to other people's kids or only to Muslim kids. Counter-radicalization programs help prevent all our children from being victims or perpetrators. Of course, once someone does cross the Rubicon and engages in terrorist activity, we need a modern national security framework our agencies can use to keep us safe.
That is the purpose behind our landmark national security legislation, Bill C-59, which is currently being debated in the Senate. Bill C-59 would overhaul Canada's national security framework and bring it into the 21st century. It would modernize and enhance Canada's security and intelligence laws to ensure our agencies would have the tools they would need do their jobs. This would be achieved within a legal and constitutional framework that would be charter-compliant. For example, it would clarify definitions that are vague or overly broad. This includes the term “terrorist propaganda”.
The former BillC-51 created a new offence of knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general. Currently, the maximum punishment for it is a five-year prison sentence, but this provision is so unclear that it has hardly been used. That is why the government is revising the definition by using the clearer and more precise legal concept of counselling the commission of terrorism offences. This change would make it more likely that charges would be laid and successfully prosecuted.
It is crucial we get all this right, the legal authorities, the counter-radicalization programs and all the work our agencies do at home and overseas, because extremism of all kinds remains a real threat to our security. That includes extremism inspired by Daesh and al Qaeda, extremism inspired by white supremacists and all the other varieties that exist in our country and around the world. Canada is, by and large, a safe and peaceful place. We should not get hyperbolic about the threat of terrorism, but we must take it seriously.
I am not entirely convinced the Conservative motion takes this seriously enough. This motion seems to me more of a political game than anything else. However, we can all support the statement in it by Nadia Murad. I join all colleagues in their desire to see the villains of Daesh brought to justice.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-06-18 16:43 [p.21168]
That Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, as I open this final third reading debate on Bill C-59, Canada's new framework governing our national security policies and practices, I want to thank everyone who has helped to get us to this point today.
Historically, there were many previous studies and reports that laid the intellectual groundwork for Bill C-59. Justices Frank Iacobucci, John Major, and Dennis O'Connor led prominent and very important inquiries. There were also significant contributions over the years from both current and previous members of Parliament and senators. The academic community was vigorously engaged. Professors Forcese, Roach, Carvin, and Wark have been among the most constant and prolific of watchdogs, commentators, critics, and advisers. A broad collection of organizations that advocate for civil, human, and privacy rights have also been active participants in the process, including the Privacy Commissioner. We have heard from those who now lead or have led in the past our key national security agencies, such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, the Communications Security Establishment, the Canada Border Services Agency, Global Affairs Canada, the Privy Council Office, and many others. While not consulted directly, through their judgments and reports we have also had the benefit of guidance from the Federal Court of Canada, other members of the judiciary, and independent review bodies like the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and the commissioner for the Communications Security Establishment.
National security issues and concerns gained particular prominence in the fall of 2014, with the attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and here in Ottawa, which spawned the previous government's BillC-51, and a very intense public debate.
During the election campaign that followed, we undertook to give Canadians the full opportunity to be consulted on national security, actually for the first time in Canadian history. We also promised to correct a specific enumerated list of errors in the old BillC-51. Both of those undertakings have been fulfilled through the new bill, Bill C-59, and through the process that got us to where we are today.
Through five public town hall meetings across the country, a digital town hall, two national Twitter chats, 17 engagement events organized locally by members of Parliament in different places across the country, 14 in-person consultations with a broad variety of specific subject matter experts, a large national round table with civil society groups, hearings by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and extensive online engagement, tens of thousands of Canadians had their say about national security like never before, and all of their contributions were compiled and made public for everyone else to see.
Based upon this largest and most extensive public consultation ever, Bill C-59 was introduced in Parliament in June of last year. It remained in the public domain throughout the summer for all Canadians to consider and digest.
Last fall, to ensure wide-ranging committee flexibility, we referred the legislation to the standing committee before second reading. Under the rules of the House, that provides the members on that committee with a broader scope of debate and possible amendment. The committee members did extensive work. They heard from three dozen witnesses, received 95 briefs, debated at length, and in the end made 40 different amendments.
The committee took what all the leading experts had said was a very good bill to start with, and made it better. I want to thank all members of the committee for their conscientious attention to the subject matter and their extensive hard work.
The legislation has three primary goals.
First, we sought to provide Canada with a modern, up-to-date framework for its essential national security activity, bearing in mind that the CSIS Act, for example, dates back to 1984, before hardly anyone had even heard of the information highway or of what would become the World Wide Web. Technology has moved on dramatically since 1984; so have world affairs and so has the nature of the threats that we are facing in terms of national security. Therefore, it was important to modify the law, to bring it up to date, and to put it into a modern context.
Second, we needed to correct the defects in the old BillC-51, again, which we specifically enumerated in our 2015 election platform. Indeed, as members go through this legislation, they will see that each one of those defects has in fact been addressed, with one exception and that is the establishment of the committee of parliamentarians, which is not included in Bill C-59. It was included, and enacted by Parliament already, in BillC-22.
Third, we have launched the whole new era of transparency and accountability for national security through review and oversight measures that are unprecedented, all intended to provide Canadians with the assurance that their police, security, and intelligence agencies are indeed doing the proper things to keep them safe while at the same time safeguarding their rights and their freedoms, not one at the expense of the other, but both of those important things together.
What is here in Bill C-59 today, after all of that extensive consultation, that elaborate work in Parliament and in the committees of Parliament, and the final process to get us to third reading stage? Let me take the legislation part by part. I noticed that in a ruling earlier today, the Chair indicated the manner in which the different parts would be voted upon and I would like to take this opportunity to show how all of them come together.
Part 1 would create the new national security and intelligence review agency. Some have dubbed this new agency a “super SIRC”. Indeed it is a great innovation in Canada's security architecture. Instead of having a limited number of siloed review bodies, where each focused exclusively on one agency alone to the exclusion of all others, the new national security and intelligence review agency would have a government-wide mandate. It would be able to follow the issues and the evidence, wherever that may lead, into any and every federal department or agency that has a national security or intelligence function. The mandate is very broad. We are moving from a vertical model where they have to stay within their silo to a horizontal model where the new agency would be able to examine every department of government, whatever its function may be, with respect to national security. This is a major, positive innovation and it is coupled, of course, with that other innovation that I mentioned a moment ago: the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians created under BillC-22. With the two of them together, the experts who would be working on the national security and intelligence review agency, and the parliamentarians who are already working on the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, Canadians can have great confidence that the work of the security, intelligence, and police agencies is being properly scrutinized and in a manner that befits the complexity of the 21st century.
This scrutiny would be for two key purposes: to safeguard rights and freedoms, yes absolutely, but also to ensure our agencies are functioning successfully in keeping Canadians safe and their country secure. As I said before, it is not one at the expense of the other, it is both of those things together, effectiveness coupled with the safeguarding of rights.
Then there is a new part in the legislation. After part 1, the committee inserted part 1.1 in Bill C-59, by adding the concept of a new piece of legislation. In effect, this addition by the committee would elevate to the level of legislation the practice of ministers issuing directives to their agencies, instructing them to function in such a manner as to avoid Canadian complicity in torture or mistreatment by other countries. In future, these instructions would be mandatory, not optional, would exist in the form of full cabinet orders in council, and would be made public. That is an important element of transparency and accountability that the committee built into the new legislation, and it is an important and desirable change. The ministerial directives have existed in the past. In fact, we have made them more vigorous and public than ever before, but part 1.1 would elevate this to a higher level. It would make it part of legislation itself, and that is the right way to go.
Part 2 of the new law would create the new role and function of the intelligence commissioner. For the first time ever, this would be an element of real time oversight, not just a review function after the fact. The national security and intelligence review agency would review events after they have happened. The intelligence commissioner would actually have a function to perform before activities are undertaken. For certain specified activities listed in the legislation, both the Canadian security intelligence agency and the Communications Security Establishment would be required to get the approval of the intelligence commissioner in advance. This would be brand new innovation in the law and an important element of accountability.
Part 3 of Bill C-59 would create stand-alone legislative authority for the Communications Security Establishment. The CSE has existed for a very long time, and its legislation has been attached to other legislation this Parliament has previously passed. For the first time now, the CSE would have its own stand-alone legal authorization in new legislation. As Canada's foreign signals intelligence agency, CSE is also our centre for cybersecurity expertise. The new legislation lays out the procedures and the protection around both defensive and active cyber-operations to safeguard Canadians. That is another reason it is important the CSE should have its own legal authorization and legislative form in a stand-alone act.
Part 4 would revamp the CSIS Act. As I mentioned earlier, CSIS was enacted in 1984, and that is a long time ago. In fact, this is the largest overall renovation of the CSIS legislation since 1984. For example, it would ensure that any threat reduction activities would be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It would create a modern regime for dealing with datasets, the collection of those datasets, the proper use of those datasets, and how they are disposed of after the fact. It would clarify the legal authorities of CSIS employees under the Criminal Code and other federal legislation. It would bring clarity, precision, and a modern mandate to CSIS for the first time since the legislation was enacted in 1984.
Part 5 of the bill would change the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act to the security of Canada information disclosure act. The reason for the wording change is to make it clear that this law would not create any new collection powers. It deals only with the sharing of existing information among government agencies and it lays out the procedure and the rules by which that sharing is to be done.
The new act will clarify thresholds and definitions. It will raise the standards. It will sharpen the procedures around information sharing within the government. It will bolster record keeping, both on the part of those who give the information and those who receive the information. It will clearly exempt, and this is important, advocacy and dissent and protest from the definition of activities that undermine national security. Canadians have wanted to be sure that their democratic right to protest is protected and this legislation would do so.
Part 6 would amend the Secure Air Travel Act. This act is the legislation by which Canada establishes a no-fly list. We all know the controversy in the last couple of years about false positives coming up on the no-fly list and some people, particularly young children, being prevented from taking flights because their name was being confused with the name of someone else. No child is on the Canadian no-fly list. Unfortunately, there are other people with very similar names who do present security issues, whose names are on the list, and there is confusion between the two names. We have undertaken to try to fix that problem. This legislation would establish the legal authority for the Government of Canada to collect the information that would allow us to fix the problem.
The other element that is required is a substantial amount of funding. It is an expensive process to establish a whole new database. That funding, I am happy to say, was provided by the Minister of Finance in the last budget. We are on our way toward fixing the no-fly list.
Part 7 would amend the Criminal Code in a variety of ways, including withdrawing certain provisions which have never been used in the pursuit of national security in Canada, while at the same time creating a new offence in language that would more likely be utilized and therefore more useful to police authorities in pursuing criminals and laying charges.
Part 8 would amend the Youth Justice Act for the simple purpose of trying to ensure that offences with respect to terrorism where young people are involved would be handled under the terms of the Youth Justice Act.
Part 9 of the bill would establish a statutory review. That is another of the commitments we made during the election campaign, that while we were going to have this elaborate consultation, we were going to bring forward new legislation, we were going to do our very best to fix the defects in BillC-51, and move Canada forward with a new architecture in national security appropriate to the 21st century.
We would also build into the law the opportunity for parliamentarians to take another look at this a few years down the road, assess how it has worked, where the issues or the problems might be, and address any of those issues in a timely way. In other words, it keeps the whole issue green and alive so future members of Parliament will have the chance to reconsider or to move in a different direction if they think that is appropriate. The statutory review is built into Part 9.
That is a summary of the legislation. It has taken a great deal of work and effort on the part of a lot of people to get us to this point today.
I want to finish my remarks with where I began a few moments ago, and that is to thank everyone who has participated so generously with their hard work and their advice to try to get this framework right for the circumstances that Canada has to confront in the 21st century, ensuring we are doing those two things and doing them well, keeping Canadians safe and safeguarding their rights and freedoms.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 17:36 [p.21175]
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 Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-06-18 18:07 [p.21179]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington this evening.
I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-59. With this bill, our government is entrenching our commitment to balancing the primacy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with protecting our national security. We are enhancing accountability and transparency. We are correcting the most problematic elements of the Harper government's old BillC-51.
Our government conducted an unprecedented level of public consultation with Canadians about our national security in order to effectively develop the bill. Canadians told us loudly and clearly that they wanted a transparent, accountable, and effective national security framework. That is exactly what we will accomplish with Bill C-59.
The minister took the rare step of referring Bill C-59 to the Standing Committee on Public Safety after first reading, underscoring our government's commitment to Canadians to ensure that we got this important legislation right. Prior to the bill returning to this chamber, it underwent an extensive four-month study, hearing from nearly 100 witnesses. I would like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for their hard work in studying the bill extensively and for their comprehensive report.
Fundamental to our promise to bring our national security framework into the 21st century, we are fixing the very flawed elements of the old BillC-51, which I heard so much about from my constituents in Parkdale—High Park during the 2015 electoral campaign.
I am proud to support this evidence-based, balanced legislation, and I am reassured to see positive reactions from legal and national security experts right around the country, including none other than Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, two of the foremost legal academics in Canada who have been at the centre of concerns about the overreach of the Harper government's old BillC-51.
Professors Forcese and Roach have said, “ Bill C-59 is the biggest overhaul in Canadian national security since the creation of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 1984—and it gets a lot of things right."
Bill C-59 builds on our commitment to enhance accountability, which started with our government's introduction of BillC-22 in 2016. Bill C-22, which has received royal assent established an all-party committee of parliamentarians, representatives elected by the Canadian public, to review and critically analyze security and intelligence activities. For the first time in history, a multi-party group of members of this chamber as well as the Senate are now holding Canada's security apparatus to account.
We are building on BillC-22 with the current bill, Bill C-59, which would establish a national security and intelligence review agency. The NSIRA, as it would be known, would function as a new expert review body with jurisdiction across the entire government to complement the efforts of the recently established parliamentary oversight committee, which I just mentioned. This feature would incorporate one of the important recommendations of the Maher Arar inquiry, which called on the government to, and I am citing recommendation 16 from the Maher Arar inquiry, “develop a protocol to provide for coordination and coherence across government in addressing issues that arise” respecting national security.
With the establishment of a parliamentary oversight committee in BillC-22, and a new arm's-length review body in Bill C-59, we would be addressing the glaring gap that exists in our review bodies for national security agencies. Currently, some agencies do not have a review body or are in charge of reviewing themselves. We cannot allow the lack of such fundamental oversight to continue, especially with regard to the safety and security of Canadians.
As Professors Forcese and Roach have observed, with respect to Bill C-59:
the government is finally redressing the imbalance between security service powers and those of the review bodies that are supposed to hold them to account. Bill C-59 quite properly supplements the parliamentary review committee...with a reformed expert watchdog entity. Expert review will be liberated from its silos as the new review agency has a whole-of-government mandate.
This is a critical piece in our government's work, providing my constituents in Parkdale—High Park and indeed Canadians right around this country, with a comprehensive and responsible national security framework.
In addition to establishing the NSIRA, Bill C-59 calls for increased and improved communication between this organization and other relevant review bodies, such as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. This will not only boost efficiency and avoid duplication and unnecessary use of resources, but also promote a more holistic approach to protecting privacy and security at the federal level.
While speaking with the residents of Parkdale—High Park in 2015, I heard about the Harper government's old BillC-51 over and over again at the doors. The major concern the residents expressed to me was about the threat posed by the previous government's Bill C-51 to their constitutional rights and freedoms. The residents of my community are an intelligent and engaged group of citizens, and they were on to something. The federal government, under the guise of “public security”, cannot be permitted to infringe on the rights and freedoms that are fundamental to our very society, to what it means to be Canadian.
Yes, ensuring public safety is the pre-eminent responsibility of any government, but it is simply not acceptable to pursue security at any cost. My constituents, and indeed all Canadians, expect a government that respects fundamental constitutional rights, a government that will put in place mechanisms and safeguards to protect those rights.
That is precisely what Bill C-59 would achieve. How? First, it would tighten the definition of what constitutes “terrorist propaganda”. The narrower and more targeted definition would ensure that the sacrosanct protection of freedom of expression under section 2(b) of our charter is observed, and that our security laws in Canada are not so overreaching as to limit legitimate critique and debate.
Second, as a corollary to this point, Bill C-59 would also protect the right of all Canadians to legitimate protest and advocacy. One of the most searing criticisms of the Harper government's old BillC-51 was that bona fide protestors who dared to disagree with the government of the day could be caught up in a web of security sweeps, all in the name of public safety.
That is not how our Liberal government operates. We respect the charter and the right of all Canadians to engage in legitimate protest and advocacy, whether they represent a group with charitable status that opposes a government policy, or a gathering of students on a university campus who take up the call for more aggressive investment of federal funds to support the expansion of women's rights internationally.
That kind of advocacy is not a threat to our public security. To the contrary, it is an enhancement of our democracy. It is civil society groups and public citizens doing exactly what they do best, challenging government to do, and to be, better.
In Bill C-59, we recognize this principle. We are saying to Canadians that they have constitutional rights to free speech and protest, and that we are going to affirm and protect those rights by correcting the balance between protecting safety and respecting the charter.
Third, Bill C-59 would also upgrade procedures as they relate to the no-fly list. We know that the no-fly list is an important international mechanism for keeping people safe, but its use has expanded to the point of encroaching on Canadians' rights. In Bill C-59, we are determined to address this imbalance.
Our changes to the no-fly list regime would do the following. They would require the destruction of information provided to the minister about a person who was, or was expected to be, on board an aircraft within seven days following the departure or cancellation of the flight. It would also authorize the minister to collect information from individuals for the purpose of issuing a unique identifier to them to assist with pre-flight verification of their identity.
This is a critical step that would provide us with the legislative tools needed to develop a domestic redress mechanism. The funding for a domestic redress mechanism was delivered by our government this year, specifically $81.4 million in budget 2018. However, in order to start investing this money in a way that would allow Canadians, including children, who are false positives on the no-fly list to seek redress, we need legislative authority. Bill C-59 would provide that legislative authority.
Finally, with Bill C-59 we would re-establish the paramountcy of the charter. I speak now as a constitutional lawyer who practised in this area for 15 years prior to being elected. It is unfortunate that the paramountcy of the Constitution needs to be entrenched in law. As a lawyer, I know, and we should all know, that the Constitution is always the paramount document against which all other laws are measured. Nevertheless, the previous government's disdain for the charter has made this important step necessary.
Through Bill C-59, we would entrench, in black and white, that any unilateral action by CSIS to collect data in a manner that might infringe on the Constitution is no longer permitted. Instead, under Bill C-59, any such proposals would have to come before a judge, who must evaluate the application in accordance with the law, where protecting charter rights would be the paramount concern. Our party helped establish the charter in 1982, and our government stands behind that document and all the values and rights it protects.
As I and many others have said before in the House, the task is to balance rights and freedoms while upholding our duty to protect the safety of Canadians. That is not an easy task, but I am confident that Bill C-59, in partnership with BillC-22, would provide a comprehensive and balanced approach to national security. It is respectful of the charter and our Constitution. That is why I support this bill, and I ask all members to do the same.
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