Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
RSS feed based on search criteria Export search results - CSV (plain text) Export search results - XML
Add search criteria
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
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 Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-59. As we know, it is the government's national security legislation. After months of debate, hearing from many witnesses, and reading expert briefs with respect to the bill, it is light on actions that will actually improve public safety and national security. I believe that Canada would be weaker because of this legislation, which hampers our agencies, cuts funding to intelligence and national security, and is more concerned about looking over the shoulder of those protecting us than watching those who seek to harm us. Let us be clear on this point. National security and intelligence officers and public servants are not a threat to public safety or privacy. They show dedication to protecting us and our country in a professional manner. However, Bill C-59 is more concerned with what someone might do in an effort to protect others than what criminals, extremists, and others might do to harm us.
In a world with growing international threats, instability, trade aggression, state-sponsored corporate cyber-espionage, and rising crime rates, Canada is weaker with the current Prime Minister and the Liberals in power. As I have said in the House before, public safety and national security should be the top priority of government and should be above politics so that the safety and security of Canadians are put ahead of political fortunes. This bill on national security fails to live up to its title.
Looking at the body of the Liberals' work, we see a continuous erosion of Canada's safety and security. BillC-71, the recent gun legislation, ignores criminals who commit gun crimes. BillC-75 softens sentences and rehabilitation for terrorists and violent crimes. The legalization of drugs is being done in a way that all but assures that organized crime will benefit and Canadians are put at risk.
As world hostility and hatred grows, we need stronger support for our way of life, not the erosion of it. That means empowering front-line national security and intelligence workers, stronger border protections, a better transfer of information between policing and security bodies, plus assured prosecution of criminals and threats to Canada. We need to be looking proactively at emerging technologies rather than reactively trying to put the genie back in the bottle, as we have done with cybersecurity.
What was the intent with this bill? Canadians and parliamentarians alike can tell a lot from the language used by the minister and the people who the Liberal majority called to testify. The bill was positioned by the Liberals as protecting Canadians from the public servants who work to protect Canada and our interests, and the majority of witnesses heard at committee were law professors, civil liberties groups, and privacy organizations. While they have important and valid views, they shared essentially one point: be scared of public servants. It is funny that after the many times the Prime Minister has used public servants as a political shield, stating that he “always trusts and respects them”, they are apparently more scary than threats of cyber-attacks from Chinese state-controlled hackers, ISIS extremists, white supremacists, and organized crime.
There is not much in this bill for security forces to do their work. With the Liberals' plan, there will now be four oversight bodies looking over the shoulder of our intelligence and security forces: first, a new parliamentary committee on security and intelligence oversight; second, the new national security and intelligence review agency; third, the expanded intelligence commissioner; and, finally, the existing oversights of Parliament and executive branches like the minister, the Prime Minister, and the national security advisor.
The Conservatives offered positive amendments. We asked the minister to tell us how these groups would work together to make it clear to Parliament, senior government officials, and those affected. This was turned down by the Liberals without any reason. It would seem reasonable that the minister would be happy to provide clarity to Canadians, and to those who need to work with the various boards, agencies, committees, and advisers, on how it will all work together. We also recommended that, as this new central intelligence and security agency would see information from a variety of departments and agencies, they play a role in identifying threats and providing a clear picture on the state of national security. The Liberals on the committee for some reason would prefer that the agency focus on only complaints and micromanaging our security professionals. If their goal had been to improve public safety, this suggestion would have been taken more seriously.
When we heard from security experts, they raised valid concerns. Dick Fadden, the former CSIS director, noted that the bill would send a message to security teams to be more restrictive with the information that they share. He said:
I haven't counted, but the number of times that the words “protection of privacy” are mentioned in this bill is really quite astounding. I'm as much in favour of privacy as everybody else, but I sometimes wonder whether we're placing so much emphasis on it that it's going to scare some people out of dealing with information relating to national security.
Information sharing between national security teams is essential to protecting Canadians and Canada. In fact, several inquiries, including one of the worst terrorism attacks in Canadian history, the Air India bombing, determined that information sharing was critical to stopping attacks.
Mr. Fadden stated that his worst nightmare scenario was an attack on Canada that was preventable; that being that information was withheld by one agency from other agencies. With Bill C-59, we would move toward more silos, less intelligence sharing, and more threats to Canadians. In his words, security professionals would have a clear message from the many repeated insertions of privacy and charter references, and, as he put it, to share less information lest they run afoul of their political masters.
The Conservatives offered a mild amendment that public servants be required to share information they thought was a threat to Canada with national security agencies. This was so all federal employees would have no fear of reprisal for sharing valid concerns with relevant authorities, like the new security review agency. This was turned down, again reaffirming that the Liberals on the committee were not focused on improving public safety and protecting Canadians.
Retired General Michael Day pointed out that there was nothing in the bill or in the government's policies to deal with emerging threats, real dangers today and tomorrow to our economic prosperity and our societal values. When he was asked by the Liberal MP from Mississauga—Lakeshore, “on the questions of artificial intelligence and potentially also quantum computing, how confident are you that Bill C-59,...is a flexible enough framework to address unknown unknowns that may come at us through the cyber domain in those two areas”, General Day replied, “Zero confidence”.
There continues to be clear threats, but dealing with current and emerging threats were not the focus of the government with this bill. We have already missed the emergence of cybersecurity threats and are playing catch-up at a cost of billions of dollars in government spending, lost economic opportunities through stolen commercial secrets, and personal losses through cybercrime. We have not looked forward at the next problem, so we are heading down the same path all over again.
We heard from Professor Leuprecht, a national security expert who teaches at the Royal Military College. He raised a number of concerns. The first was that the increased regulation and administrative work needed to report to new oversight groups would effectively be a cut to those agencies, shifting money away from protecting Canadians. We did find out eventually how much that cost would be. Nearly $100 million would be cut from national security in favour of red tape. Sadly, we only received this information a few weeks after the committee finished with the bill. The minister had knowingly withheld that information from my request for over six months. Once again, a lot of lip service to open and transparent government but very little actual transparency.
Dick Fadden, Professor Leuprecht, and Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of CSIS and security expert with the Government of Ontario, also raised concerns of the overt hostility of China against Canada. When I asked him about our readiness for dealing with China's aggressions, he said:
I think that the answer is no. I don't think that we're oblivious to the threat...
I would argue that we do not really understand, in all of its complexity, how much China is different from Canada and how it aggressively uses all of the resources of the state against not just Canada but against any number of other countries in pursuit of its objectives.
At one meeting they noted that Chinese agents freely intimidated and threatened Canadians of Chinese descent, pushing them to support communist party initiatives. They or their families back in China could face the backlash of a highly oppressive regime and there was nothing that Canada did to protect them from such threats. China continues this trend, recently ordering Air Canada to call Taiwan part of China.
Mr. Boisvert said:
There's also the issue that China is now in the age of self-admitted “sharp power”, and they exercise that power with very little reservation anymore. There's no longer even a question of hiding their intentions. They are taking a very aggressive approach around resources and intellectual property, and they also are very clear in dealing with dissidents and academics. They've arrested some of them, and they punish others, including academic institutions in North America, at their will, so I think there's a value challenge that Canadians have to consider along with the economic opportunities discussion. The Cold War is over, but a new version is rapidly emerging, and I think our focus on counterterrorism is not always our best play.
We did not have the right people, the right information, and the right issues at committee to have a comprehensive law that would enhance national security. It appears that yet again the Liberals are bringing out legislation to deal with perceived threats at the expense of not dealing with actual threats.
If Canadians were being well served by the government, we would have dealt with serious questions ignored by the Liberals in this legislative process.
Canada has at least 60 returned ISIS terrorists in Canada. That number is likely low, as we have heard that as many as 180 or more Canadians have left our country to fight for ISIS. After the Liberals revoked Canada's ability to strip citizenship from such a heinous and despicable group as ISIS, Canada is now stuck simply welcoming them back with no repercussions and acting like nothing has gone wrong. We will likely never be able to prosecute them or extradite them because we cannot easily transfer intelligence; that is information gathered in other countries of these murders and rapists into evidence suitable for prosecutions in this country.
Canada needs to join the ranks of other modern countries in bringing known crimes conducted by Canadians abroad into our courts without compromising security agents and intelligence sharing agreements. We need to deal with the obvious intelligence to evidence gap that continues to exist in this legislation. This legislation has failed to do this, with Liberal MPs voting against Conservative amendments that tried to address this exact issue.
If we were serious about dealing with national security, we would have treated privacy and security as a single policy, not the competing interests that many civil groups suggested. Protecting Canadians includes protecting their privacy in addition to their economic opportunities, public safety, national security, and social values. These are a single policy, and for the most part those professionals who protect us know this.
Professor Leuprecht said:
We are not here because there's in any way some large-scale violation of the professionalism or the capabilities in which the community does its job....In the Five Eyes community, we have, by far, the most restrictive privacy regime. This is a choice that we have made as Canadians...other countries that have more rigorous parliamentary and other review mechanisms than Canada have also given their community more latitude in terms of how it can act, what it can do, and how it can do it.
Retired Lieutenant-General Michael Day stated:
...the trade-off between privacy and security, between the charter and the reasonable measures to protect Canadians. This is not, from my perspective obviously, a binary issue, or one that should be looked at as absolutes, but rather a dynamic relationship that should remain constantly under review. We should embrace that tension as opposed to pretending it doesn't exist, with a conversation being seen to have value in and of itself.
This is crystal clear when we look at the growing issue of cybercrime, such as identity theft, fraud, corporate espionage, and hacking. Privacy and other interests, social and financial, are one, and yet throughout this legislative process the Liberals presented this bill as a choice between one and the other.
The bill ignores the massive shift in issues with Canada's border security. Canada lacks the assets, people, and facilities to deal with the current threat to our borders. We know that an open border, which is internationally known as unprotected, is currently being exploited. It is being exploited not only by those who are shopping for a new home, but by human traffickers, smugglers, drug cartels, and other organized crime rings. While this issue is new, it is real and needs to be managed better than just hoping everything will sort itself out.
If we were serious about national security, we would be dealing more seriously with Canada's most important law enforcement agency, the RCMP. Beyond a glaring gap in personnel, failing equipment, and an increased lack of faith in its leadership, the RCMP is headed toward a crisis level of challenges: a growing opioid crisis; legalized marijuana; influx of ISIS terrorists; open borders without a plan to manage illegal border crossers; and increasing cybercrime, just to name a few. The RCMP is overwhelmed, while the Liberals present false information and sidestep questions on what to do.
The Liberals may have called this a national security law, but it is more like a regulatory bill. It would erode rather than help public safety. It deals with security from the federal government's perspective rather than from protecting Canadians first and foremost.
Results: 1 - 2 of 2