Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2017-12-04 15:36 [p.15937]
Madam Speaker, at the outset, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest.
Today, I am rising to speak against the motion brought forward by the Conservative opposition, and my reasons for doing so are straightforward.
Contrary to what this motion suggests, our government has already unequivocally condemned Daesh for committing acts of terrorism and genocide, as they should be. In addition, the Canadian Forces, law enforcement, and intelligent communities are fully engaged in combatting and preventing terrorism in all its forms, both abroad and at home. This is work of which we should all be proud.
Finally, Canadians can be confident that we have enacted a robust set of criminal laws, offences and preventative tools for law enforcement, to address terrorism, which are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, wherever and whenever appropriate.
In a moment, I will expand on how these measures are collectively working to keep Canadians safe, but first I need to express how regrettable it is to hear the opposition politicize national security time and again.
Far too often, we see the Conservatives wagging their fingers, lecturing Canadians, and pandering fear on this subject. However, one need only look at their record to see it is heavy on rhetoric and light on substance.
I hear hon. members heckling from the other side, and that will not change the facts. Let me tell everyone what some of those facts are.
During their 10 years in government, the Conservatives imposed dramatic cuts to national security. Indeed, in their last four years in power, they slashed close to $1 billion in resources to the RCMP, CBSA, CSIS, CATSA, and CSE. The opposition would do well to remember these figures, as I know Canadians will in sizing up the validity of this motion and the credibility of the Conservatives on the whole of national security.
Let me now say a few words about a number of the terrorism provisions within the Criminal Code that specifically apply to terrorist travel.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that thousands from around the world have indeed travelled to join terrorist groups and that this is indeed an important issue, which our government is grappling with domestically, internationally, and abroad with all our partners in the combat against terrorism.
Within the law as it exists in Canada, there are four specific offences of leaving Canada, or attempting to leave Canada, for the purpose of committing specific terrorism offences. In this way, the criminal law addresses the terrorist traveller phenomenon by having the substantive offence crystallize before the person leaves Canada and by applying the same maximum punishment to attempting to leave Canada, as well as leaving Canada, to commit these offences.
Over and above these targeted offences, the Criminal Code includes terrorism provisions designed to prevent the carrying out of terrorist activity and have a preventive focus. They are in large part designed to permit law enforcement to intervene and charge someone with a terrorism offence before a terrorist attack can take place. Such offences include knowingly facilitating terrorist activity and knowingly instructing someone to carry out a terrorist activity.
A particular example of this can be found in the participation offence, which is under section 83.18 of the Criminal Code. Terrorist travellers could be, and have in fact been, prosecuted under the offence of knowingly participating in any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to carry out a terrorist activity.
I will pause for a moment to say that in my former career as a federal prosecutor, I have first-hand experience dealing with these provisions. Again, I would draw the attention to Canadians that they can take great satisfaction and confidence in knowing we have a rigorous criminal law enforcement provision. I was honoured to serve with many prosecutors and members of the RCMP and CSIS, who continue to do a good job today in keeping our country safe.
As well, it is notable, in the current threat environment, individuals are often radicalized to violence and encouraged through online interactions and messaging. In Bill C-59, the national security act, 2017, the government proposes to revise the offence of advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general to be one of counselling the commission of a terrorism offence, whether a terrorism offence is committed and whether a specific terrorism offence is counselled. The advocacy or promotion offence has been much criticized since its enactment in 2015 for being vague or overbroad. Bill C-59 proposes to revise this offence to use well-known criminal law concepts and facilitate its prosecution.
The bill continues to support the view that the active encouragement of others to commit terrorism offences, even without being specific as to which terrorism offence is being encouraged, should be an offence in the same way as it is an offence to counsel a specific terrorism offence.
Some of these criminal offence provisions have already been successfully used in court. To date, there have been 26 terrorism convictions in Canada and three trials are currently in progress.
I will now speak about preventive enforcement tools.
Certainly one of the most fundamental tools police and prosecutors have to keep Canadians safe from individuals who may have associated with terrorism groups abroad is the terrorism peace bond. This is a powerful preventive tool that can help to protect Canadians from terrorism offences.
In situations where police may not have enough evidence to justify charging a person with a terrorism offence, the terrorism peace bond is available to bring the individual before a judge rather than wait until it is too late. In such cases, the court has the power to impose “any reasonable conditions” to counter the threat posed by the individual concerned.
The Criminal Code also sets out that the provincial court judge shall consider whether it is desirable, to prevent a terrorist activity from being committed, to include in the recognizance a condition that the defendant deposit, in the specified manner, any passport or other travel document issued in their name that is in their possession or control. If the judge decides that it is desirable, the judge shall add the condition to the recognizance and specify the period during which it applies.
Furthermore, the provincial court judge shall consider whether it is desirable, to prevent a terrorist activity from being committed, to include in the recognizance a condition that the defendant remain within a specified geographic area unless written permission to leave that area is obtained from the judge or any individual designated by the judge. If the judge decides that it is desirable, the judge shall add the condition to the recognizance and specify the period during which it applies. Furthermore, If the provincial court judge does not add a condition, the judge shall include in the record a statement of the reasons for not adding it.
With respect to the recognizance to keep the peace related to terrorism, this tool has been used by law enforcement agencies and by Crown prosecutors. The use of this tool has been on the rise since 2015. Specifically, there have been 19 applications for this recognizance in the past two years, compared to six between 2001 and 2014.
I would note that during the 2016 national security consultation, some called into question the threshold for a terrorism peace bond that was enacted in 2015 by former BillC-51. That act lowered the threshold of the terrorism peace bond from “will commit” to “may commit”. After careful consideration, the government has determined that the lowered threshold is a balanced approach between the constitutional rights of Canadians and the need to protect the security of Canadians. This threshold has also been upheld as constitutional in the recent Manitoba case of Regina v. Driver in 2016.
Another preventive tool is the recognizance with conditions, which is available for law enforcement in the appropriate case to disrupt nascent terrorist activity.
The Canadian Passport Order contemplates that passports can be denied or revoked in certain instances of criminality and where necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorism offence or for the national security of Canada or a foreign country or state.
As can be seen, Canada already has a broad range of offences and tools to assist in the fight against terrorism. As the hon. Minister of Public Safety has said, we need them all and we use them all.
Opposition members have spent the last week criticizing national security, national defence, and deriding effective counter-radicalization measures that go a long way toward both combatting and preventing terrorism. Instead of that kind of partisanship we need a thoughtful debate that will strike the right balance between protecting Canadians as well as their charter rights.
I encourage all hon. members in the House to reject the opposition motion and to support the important measures this government is taking on this file.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2017-12-04 16:03 [p.15942]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time this afternoon with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
Women and girls held captive, used, and sold as sex slaves; gay men pelted with stones, thrown from the rooftop because they are homosexual; children taken from their families and turned into suicide bombers; tens of thousands of innocent humans placed in mass graves: these are just a sample of the awful, horrible, and repugnant stories we have heard time and time again from territory controlled by ISIS and its fighters.
However, these awful tragic events are happening literally on the other side of the world, so we actually have nothing to worry about, right? I guess that is what some would think. We, on this side of the House, are being called fearmongers, because we are actually suggesting that what is happening in ISIS-controlled territories on the other side of the world actually does affect Canada and could have an even more lasting effect on Canada. We are being told we are wrong and that we are fearmongers.
In our present day, with our modern technology, terrorism and terrorist groups are not geographically limited. They recruit, they inspire, and they fundraise right around the globe, including here in Canada. Do not take my word for it. Let us look at what the experts say.
In its most recent annual report to Parliament, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said:
The principal terrorist threat to Canada remains that posed by violent extremists who could be inspired to carry out an attack in Canada. Violent extremist ideologies espoused by terrorist groups like Daesh...continue to appeal to certain individuals in Canada.
This is a concern to us. Let us talk not just about those individuals here in Canada who may espouse these values but about those who have taken that additional step to go to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and fight with them and have then returned to Canada. With that in mind, let us think about potential dangers these ISIS fighters pose to Canada.
Sadly, shockingly even, this does not seem to trouble our Prime Minister. In fact, when our Conservative leader pressed the Prime Minister last week, right here in the House of Commons, on the troubling pattern of Canadians fighting for ISIS and then returning to Canada, we did not get an answer. What did we get? We got an angry, attacking Prime Minister who tried his very best to slap a racist label on those important questions.
Islamophobia is what the Prime Minister called our concerns and the concerns of Canadians. Invoking that label is wrong, and it is cheap politics. It ought to be beneath the Prime Minister. These are concerns Canadians have. These are letters, emails, and social media that are full of the concerns Canadians have. These are legitimate questions that should not be dismissed with name calling, including fearmongering or Islamophobia. That is wrong.
ISIS does not represent Islam, nor does it represent the overwhelming majority of the almost two billion peaceful and peace-loving Muslims on this earth. What ISIS does do is represent a narrow-minded, extremist, and radical ideology, rooted in violence, seeking a religious cloak.
Sadly, we know that some Canadians have fallen prey to these extreme ideologies and recruitment approaches. Some have even travelled to the Middle East in aid of ISIS. Some of these fighters have come back to Canada, and that is what we are talking about today.
Although it does not seem to be a major concern for the Prime Minister, it is a concern for our professionals in the security and intelligence field.
Retired CSIS director Michel Coulombe, said:
Daesh, in particular, has developed a robust social media presence, allowing it to successfully recruit thousands of individuals, including Canadians, to travel to Syria and Iraq.
These extremists also pose a potential threat if they return to Canada.
Those are not our words. Those are the words of CSIS director Michel Coulombe. Let me continue his words:
For instance, they may radicalize others, help with logistics and financing for those who may want to travel abroad, or engage in attack planning here in Canada.
Terrorism is a global threat and we are not immune from its reach.
It is a global threat from which Canada is not immune. That principle has been recognized by successive governments in their approach to fighting terrorism.
Jean Chrétien's Liberal government, following the 9/11 terrorist attack, brought in the Anti-terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act, 2002, to establish a legislative framework to address terrorist crimes. Paul Martin's Liberal government authorized the deployment of Canada's troops to Kandahar to support our allies in Afghanistan.
Stephen Harper's Conservative government, in which I had the honour to serve, had a very long track record of fighting terrorism. We extended the mission in Afghanistan, brought in stronger anti-terrorism laws, and made it an offence to travel abroad to engage in or facilitate terrorist activities. It is against the law. When they come back to Canada, they could be prosecuted for that. That is the law we brought in, but this government refuses to actually enforce it. Conservatives also created a process for removing Canadian citizenship from convicted terrorists who were dual citizens. Under Stephen Harper, Canada joined a global coalition to fight ISIS.
Then these Liberals took office, and everything changed. The Liberals withdrew Canada from the global anti-ISIS coalition. These Liberals passed legislation allowing convicted terrorists to retain Canadian citizenship and enjoy their Canadian passports. These Liberals introduced Bill C-59 to unwind and roll back the tools our police and intelligence agencies have to fight terrorism. These Liberals are welcoming ISIS fighters back to Canada with a reintegration program, thinking they can de-emphasize violent terrorist instincts. These Liberals cut a $10.5 million cheque to a convicted terrorist, Omar Khadr. That is the shameful record of these Liberals.
Canadians expect their government to protect them and to keep them safe. Knowing that terrorist fighters are in Canada is worrying enough. Our government welcomes these fighters, arranging group meetings and supportive meetings and asking them to please stop being involved with those bad people and running around with bad gangs. The Liberals think that will be sufficient.
No wonder Canadians are upset. No wonder we are hearing from our constituents. Right across the country, people are concerned. When we label those concerns and call them names, it does not stop the concerns. It actually makes them even worse.
What the federal government, and the Prime Minister, really ought to be doing is making sure that we can, and do, bring these fighters to justice. ISIS fighters and other terrorists should be made to face the full legal consequences for their actions. They should be charged, they should be prosecuted, and they should be in jail. The federal government ought to make sure that the RCMP and its provincial and municipal partners have the tools, the legal authority, and the resources needed to bring charges and secure convictions against these returning terrorists.
We need to keep strong relations with our allies in fighting terrorism to ensure that we have the information, the intelligence, and the evidence necessary to prosecute terrorists and to protect our citizens. However, that is not what we have been seeing from the other side of the House. Instead of focusing on what can be done to keep Canadians safe, we see a government obsessed, for reasons we just do not understand, with avoiding any appearance of being tough on terrorists here in Canada. As Professor Randall Hansen, the interim director of the Monk Centre, said last year, “there's nothing admirable in letting other countries do the fighting while you hide behind liberal pieties”.
Canada's contribution of fighter jets to the anti-ISIS coalition was pulled, abandoning our allies. We have deprogramming coffee circles set up for ISIS fighters who come back to Canada.
When Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist, sued the federal government, what did the Liberals do? They gave in. Let us not be fooled that this was somehow a charter issue. No court ruled that Omar Khadr should receive $10.5 million. The Liberals hiding behind that is a fraud. Repatriation was the settlement. Repatriation is what happened. The Liberals could have fought the lawsuit. They could have said that the Supreme Court's ruling was enough, but they decided to make this terrorist, a videotaped bomb-maker and convicted killer, into a multi-millionaire.
Let me just finish with this. Canadians are concerned, but in less than two years, these Liberals are going to have to take their record to the country, and they will answer. The year 2019 cannot come soon enough.
View Alain Rayes Profile
View Alain Rayes Profile
2017-12-04 17:00 [p.15950]
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil.
I am pleased to rise today to discuss this important national security issue. A report issued by the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in 2016 estimated that 60 jihadists had already returned to Canada and that 180 others “were abroad and...were suspected of engaging in terrorism-related activities”.
It is estimated that 90 individuals who fought for terrorist groups will try to return to Canada in the coming months, now that ISIS is losing ground in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the government wants to implement a reintegration program. The Prime Minister also said a number of times that he would create the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to counter radicalization.
While the government is trying to reintegrate and monitor the Canadians who went to fight with ISIS, Canadians are worried about the impact the return of these fighters will have on national security. The government must address that concern. It has a duty to reassure us.
Anyone who has taken part in the activities of a terrorist group, whether as a fighter, a teacher, or a nurse, is a criminal. Canada has every right to charge such individuals with terrorism offences when they return to the country. We know that so far, about 60 Canadians who were involved with ISIS have returned to Canada. Only two of them have been charged; the others have not been charged with anything whatsoever.
We also know that it is difficult to gather the evidence needed to charge these individuals with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, but that should in no way interfere with the government's work. This is a priority issue. These people can unfortunately pose a risk to the security of our country.
The RCMP does not currently have the resources for round-the-block monitoring of all the fighters who have returned to Canada. The government needs to set priorities, take appropriate measures based on the risk posed by each individual, and create a bulletproof safety net that will make all Canadians feel secure.
Today we are asking the government to send a clear message to all Canadians. What are the repatriation procedures? What is it doing to ensure national security? How will it provide assurances to Canadians about that? How many and what kinds of resources will be invested? How many Canadians are under surveillance?
ISIS is losing ground every day. More and more Canadians who joined ISIS will return to Canada. It is time to establish a clear national policy that covers the psychosocial aspects of the problem and, above all, the security aspects.
Those who have joined a terrorist group and fought against Canada and its allies must be brought to justice. It cannot be denied that those people decided to fight against our own soldiers, Canada's soldiers. We know that those individuals who return to Canada must be arrested and charged upon arrival, or authorities could quite simply lose track of them in our country.
Canadians' desire to feel safe in their own country is a basic and perfectly legitimate issue. The Liberal government must do everything possible to detain and bring to justice the Canadians returning to Canada after collaborating with ISIS, and it must do so quickly.
On November 30, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness testified before the committee about his bill, which will address the alleged gaps in the Anti-terrorism Act. He explained that Bill C-59 would restrict the powers of Canada's secret services to disrupt terrorist plots while they are in the planning stages.
However, we should be working on prevention. Many Canadians get the impression that the government is spending more time protecting the criminals than the victims and Canadians themselves. This is fuelling a deep and understandable concern that the government must address.
The political choice to give priority to respecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for criminals instead of doing everything we can to ensure that they are arrested does not fly. The political choice to give priority to respecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for criminals instead of doing everything we can to ensure the safety of Canadians does not fly. Those who made the personal choice to fight alongside terrorist groups also made the deliberate choice to fight our own soldiers and our allies.
That is why so many Canadians do not understand anything the Liberal Party is saying right now. This government has to demonstrate that it is listening, respect people's intelligence, and address their concerns about our country's national security.
Our motion today proposes:
That the House:
(a) condemn the horrific acts committed by ISIS;
(b) acknowledge that individuals who joined ISIS fighters are complicit in these horrific acts and pose a danger to Canadians;
(c) call on the government to bring to justice and prosecute any ISIS fighter returning to Canada; and
(d) insist that the government make the security and protection of Canadians its priority, rather than the reintegration of ISIS fighters, or the unnecessary financial payout to a convicted terrorist, like Omar Khadr.
The opposition is very worried about how this Liberal government is handling this national security issue. We, like everyone else, see these incidents and attacks carried out all over the world. We are very worried to know that Canadians made a deliberate choice to go to these countries to fight alongside ISIS soldiers. By fighting alongside them, these individuals also made the choice to fight our own soldiers.
We just marked Remembrance Day, on November 11. We all took part in various commemorative ceremonies. We have seen how hard our soldiers have worked to protect democracy and peace here in Canada and around the world. These individuals did so proudly, and based on directives from our Parliament and our army, which believed in justice everywhere.
Knowing that some Canadians will be able to or have been able to go and fight overseas and then return to this country without facing any justice whatsoever, that worries us. To hear this government hide behind the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms again and again instead of bringing in the measures needed to keep Canadians safe is worrisome.
I look forward to questions from my colleagues across party lines. I hope the members of the House will stand up and send a clear message by voting in favour of our motion before the House.
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