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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-59. As we know, it is the government's national security legislation. After months of debate, hearing from many witnesses, and reading expert briefs with respect to the bill, it is light on actions that will actually improve public safety and national security. I believe that Canada would be weaker because of this legislation, which hampers our agencies, cuts funding to intelligence and national security, and is more concerned about looking over the shoulder of those protecting us than watching those who seek to harm us. Let us be clear on this point. National security and intelligence officers and public servants are not a threat to public safety or privacy. They show dedication to protecting us and our country in a professional manner. However, Bill C-59 is more concerned with what someone might do in an effort to protect others than what criminals, extremists, and others might do to harm us.
In a world with growing international threats, instability, trade aggression, state-sponsored corporate cyber-espionage, and rising crime rates, Canada is weaker with the current Prime Minister and the Liberals in power. As I have said in the House before, public safety and national security should be the top priority of government and should be above politics so that the safety and security of Canadians are put ahead of political fortunes. This bill on national security fails to live up to its title.
Looking at the body of the Liberals' work, we see a continuous erosion of Canada's safety and security. BillC-71, the recent gun legislation, ignores criminals who commit gun crimes. BillC-75 softens sentences and rehabilitation for terrorists and violent crimes. The legalization of drugs is being done in a way that all but assures that organized crime will benefit and Canadians are put at risk.
As world hostility and hatred grows, we need stronger support for our way of life, not the erosion of it. That means empowering front-line national security and intelligence workers, stronger border protections, a better transfer of information between policing and security bodies, plus assured prosecution of criminals and threats to Canada. We need to be looking proactively at emerging technologies rather than reactively trying to put the genie back in the bottle, as we have done with cybersecurity.
What was the intent with this bill? Canadians and parliamentarians alike can tell a lot from the language used by the minister and the people who the Liberal majority called to testify. The bill was positioned by the Liberals as protecting Canadians from the public servants who work to protect Canada and our interests, and the majority of witnesses heard at committee were law professors, civil liberties groups, and privacy organizations. While they have important and valid views, they shared essentially one point: be scared of public servants. It is funny that after the many times the Prime Minister has used public servants as a political shield, stating that he “always trusts and respects them”, they are apparently more scary than threats of cyber-attacks from Chinese state-controlled hackers, ISIS extremists, white supremacists, and organized crime.
There is not much in this bill for security forces to do their work. With the Liberals' plan, there will now be four oversight bodies looking over the shoulder of our intelligence and security forces: first, a new parliamentary committee on security and intelligence oversight; second, the new national security and intelligence review agency; third, the expanded intelligence commissioner; and, finally, the existing oversights of Parliament and executive branches like the minister, the Prime Minister, and the national security advisor.
The Conservatives offered positive amendments. We asked the minister to tell us how these groups would work together to make it clear to Parliament, senior government officials, and those affected. This was turned down by the Liberals without any reason. It would seem reasonable that the minister would be happy to provide clarity to Canadians, and to those who need to work with the various boards, agencies, committees, and advisers, on how it will all work together. We also recommended that, as this new central intelligence and security agency would see information from a variety of departments and agencies, they play a role in identifying threats and providing a clear picture on the state of national security. The Liberals on the committee for some reason would prefer that the agency focus on only complaints and micromanaging our security professionals. If their goal had been to improve public safety, this suggestion would have been taken more seriously.
When we heard from security experts, they raised valid concerns. Dick Fadden, the former CSIS director, noted that the bill would send a message to security teams to be more restrictive with the information that they share. He said:
I haven't counted, but the number of times that the words “protection of privacy” are mentioned in this bill is really quite astounding. I'm as much in favour of privacy as everybody else, but I sometimes wonder whether we're placing so much emphasis on it that it's going to scare some people out of dealing with information relating to national security.
Information sharing between national security teams is essential to protecting Canadians and Canada. In fact, several inquiries, including one of the worst terrorism attacks in Canadian history, the Air India bombing, determined that information sharing was critical to stopping attacks.
Mr. Fadden stated that his worst nightmare scenario was an attack on Canada that was preventable; that being that information was withheld by one agency from other agencies. With Bill C-59, we would move toward more silos, less intelligence sharing, and more threats to Canadians. In his words, security professionals would have a clear message from the many repeated insertions of privacy and charter references, and, as he put it, to share less information lest they run afoul of their political masters.
The Conservatives offered a mild amendment that public servants be required to share information they thought was a threat to Canada with national security agencies. This was so all federal employees would have no fear of reprisal for sharing valid concerns with relevant authorities, like the new security review agency. This was turned down, again reaffirming that the Liberals on the committee were not focused on improving public safety and protecting Canadians.
Retired General Michael Day pointed out that there was nothing in the bill or in the government's policies to deal with emerging threats, real dangers today and tomorrow to our economic prosperity and our societal values. When he was asked by the Liberal MP from Mississauga—Lakeshore, “on the questions of artificial intelligence and potentially also quantum computing, how confident are you that Bill C-59,...is a flexible enough framework to address unknown unknowns that may come at us through the cyber domain in those two areas”, General Day replied, “Zero confidence”.
There continues to be clear threats, but dealing with current and emerging threats were not the focus of the government with this bill. We have already missed the emergence of cybersecurity threats and are playing catch-up at a cost of billions of dollars in government spending, lost economic opportunities through stolen commercial secrets, and personal losses through cybercrime. We have not looked forward at the next problem, so we are heading down the same path all over again.
We heard from Professor Leuprecht, a national security expert who teaches at the Royal Military College. He raised a number of concerns. The first was that the increased regulation and administrative work needed to report to new oversight groups would effectively be a cut to those agencies, shifting money away from protecting Canadians. We did find out eventually how much that cost would be. Nearly $100 million would be cut from national security in favour of red tape. Sadly, we only received this information a few weeks after the committee finished with the bill. The minister had knowingly withheld that information from my request for over six months. Once again, a lot of lip service to open and transparent government but very little actual transparency.
Dick Fadden, Professor Leuprecht, and Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of CSIS and security expert with the Government of Ontario, also raised concerns of the overt hostility of China against Canada. When I asked him about our readiness for dealing with China's aggressions, he said:
I think that the answer is no. I don't think that we're oblivious to the threat...
I would argue that we do not really understand, in all of its complexity, how much China is different from Canada and how it aggressively uses all of the resources of the state against not just Canada but against any number of other countries in pursuit of its objectives.
At one meeting they noted that Chinese agents freely intimidated and threatened Canadians of Chinese descent, pushing them to support communist party initiatives. They or their families back in China could face the backlash of a highly oppressive regime and there was nothing that Canada did to protect them from such threats. China continues this trend, recently ordering Air Canada to call Taiwan part of China.
Mr. Boisvert said:
There's also the issue that China is now in the age of self-admitted “sharp power”, and they exercise that power with very little reservation anymore. There's no longer even a question of hiding their intentions. They are taking a very aggressive approach around resources and intellectual property, and they also are very clear in dealing with dissidents and academics. They've arrested some of them, and they punish others, including academic institutions in North America, at their will, so I think there's a value challenge that Canadians have to consider along with the economic opportunities discussion. The Cold War is over, but a new version is rapidly emerging, and I think our focus on counterterrorism is not always our best play.
We did not have the right people, the right information, and the right issues at committee to have a comprehensive law that would enhance national security. It appears that yet again the Liberals are bringing out legislation to deal with perceived threats at the expense of not dealing with actual threats.
If Canadians were being well served by the government, we would have dealt with serious questions ignored by the Liberals in this legislative process.
Canada has at least 60 returned ISIS terrorists in Canada. That number is likely low, as we have heard that as many as 180 or more Canadians have left our country to fight for ISIS. After the Liberals revoked Canada's ability to strip citizenship from such a heinous and despicable group as ISIS, Canada is now stuck simply welcoming them back with no repercussions and acting like nothing has gone wrong. We will likely never be able to prosecute them or extradite them because we cannot easily transfer intelligence; that is information gathered in other countries of these murders and rapists into evidence suitable for prosecutions in this country.
Canada needs to join the ranks of other modern countries in bringing known crimes conducted by Canadians abroad into our courts without compromising security agents and intelligence sharing agreements. We need to deal with the obvious intelligence to evidence gap that continues to exist in this legislation. This legislation has failed to do this, with Liberal MPs voting against Conservative amendments that tried to address this exact issue.
If we were serious about dealing with national security, we would have treated privacy and security as a single policy, not the competing interests that many civil groups suggested. Protecting Canadians includes protecting their privacy in addition to their economic opportunities, public safety, national security, and social values. These are a single policy, and for the most part those professionals who protect us know this.
Professor Leuprecht said:
We are not here because there's in any way some large-scale violation of the professionalism or the capabilities in which the community does its job....In the Five Eyes community, we have, by far, the most restrictive privacy regime. This is a choice that we have made as Canadians...other countries that have more rigorous parliamentary and other review mechanisms than Canada have also given their community more latitude in terms of how it can act, what it can do, and how it can do it.
Retired Lieutenant-General Michael Day stated:
...the trade-off between privacy and security, between the charter and the reasonable measures to protect Canadians. This is not, from my perspective obviously, a binary issue, or one that should be looked at as absolutes, but rather a dynamic relationship that should remain constantly under review. We should embrace that tension as opposed to pretending it doesn't exist, with a conversation being seen to have value in and of itself.
This is crystal clear when we look at the growing issue of cybercrime, such as identity theft, fraud, corporate espionage, and hacking. Privacy and other interests, social and financial, are one, and yet throughout this legislative process the Liberals presented this bill as a choice between one and the other.
The bill ignores the massive shift in issues with Canada's border security. Canada lacks the assets, people, and facilities to deal with the current threat to our borders. We know that an open border, which is internationally known as unprotected, is currently being exploited. It is being exploited not only by those who are shopping for a new home, but by human traffickers, smugglers, drug cartels, and other organized crime rings. While this issue is new, it is real and needs to be managed better than just hoping everything will sort itself out.
If we were serious about national security, we would be dealing more seriously with Canada's most important law enforcement agency, the RCMP. Beyond a glaring gap in personnel, failing equipment, and an increased lack of faith in its leadership, the RCMP is headed toward a crisis level of challenges: a growing opioid crisis; legalized marijuana; influx of ISIS terrorists; open borders without a plan to manage illegal border crossers; and increasing cybercrime, just to name a few. The RCMP is overwhelmed, while the Liberals present false information and sidestep questions on what to do.
The Liberals may have called this a national security law, but it is more like a regulatory bill. It would erode rather than help public safety. It deals with security from the federal government's perspective rather than from protecting Canadians first and foremost.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is privilege for me to rise today to speak to Bill  C-59, which deals with the anti-terrorism measures put in place by the previous government.
For obvious reasons, I do not intend to support Bill  C-59, which was introduced by the Liberal government. First, this bill weakens the measures that we have available to us as a society to fight terrorism. It is important to remember that Bill C-51 was introduced in the wake of two terrorist attacks that occurred here in Canada, the first in Saint-Jean-Richelieu and the second here in Ottawa. That was in October 2014.
At the time, the Quebec minister of public security, Lise Thériault, called me and told me that there had been an accident in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I responded that that was unfortunate. Then she told me that someone had died. I told her that that was tragic. Finally, she told me that it was tragic but that they also suspected we were dealing with a terrorist attack.
We sometimes think that terrorist attacks occur only in other countries, but sometimes they happen in our communities, like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in the heart of Quebec. Hatred prompted an individual to attack a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, in this case Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
I remember the ceremony I attended in November 2014, before entering the House. We honoured Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent with members of his family. I remember the words of his sister, Louise Vincent, who said, “Patrice Vincent, my brother, the warrant officer, was a hero.”
Mr. Vincent had a successful career in the Canadian Armed Forces, although by no means an illustrious one. He was a good serviceman nonetheless, always ready and willing to serve. His plans for a well-deserved retirement were dashed when he was run down in a restaurant parking lot by an individual driven by extremist Islamist ideology. His sister also said she was surprised that Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was targeted specifically because he was in uniform. She said, “Losing a brother is one thing, but knowing that it was due to a deliberate act is something else entirely.”
The attacker had a specific intention. We know the criteria for determining whether an attack qualifies as an act of terrorism. There was a political desire to commit murder in the name of an ideology, which obviously goes against our Canadian values. At the time, Prime Minister Harper said that “our country will never be intimidated by barbarians with no respect for the maple leaf or any other symbol of freedom”. He added:
When such cowards attack those who wear our uniform, we understand they are attacking all of us as Canadians...We are going to strengthen our laws here in Canada to stop those intent on importing an ideology that incites hatred, cruelty, and death in other parts of the world.
It is important to note that regardless of the speeches we given in the House and the partisan positions we may take, one of the overriding responsibilities of Parliament is to ensure the safety of Canadians, especially since in the past decade we have witnessed the emergence of ideologies that are increasingly spread by social media. That is why the anti-terrorism act was put in place. It provided certain tools to ensure that we were better prepared.
Clearly, when we think of the death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was struck down by the vehicle of a radicalized young man in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in 2014, we realize that it is important to ensure that our police forces, intelligence service, and the RCMP have all the tools they need to intervene.
This also impacts the legal aspect. While acting within the limits of the law and respecting fundamental freedoms, the police, with the co-operation and authorization of independent people such as judges, must have the legal tools to prevent terrorist attacks. That was the objective of the anti-terrorism measures introduced by BillC-51.
Unfortunately, the Liberals decided to weaken this law. That is not surprising. As we saw during question period, the Liberals are showing a degree of spinelessness and indolence that is truly worrisome. For example, some jihadists, in particular members of ISIS, have created sites to spread propaganda in Canada. One of the pillars of the anti-terrorism act was to shut down websites promoting ideas that incite violence.
Unfortunately, the Liberals want to weaken these tools. There was the example mentioned in question period of a known terrorist who went to the Middle East and has now returned to Canada. We would expect the government to increase surveillance of this individual. However, we have learned that he parades in front of television cameras and boasts about his relations with ISIS terrorists. Furthermore, he even admits that he lied to CSIS so he could continue to conduct his activities.
This man's name is Abu Huzaifa. He is in contact with ISIS and appears to be fully in thrall to Islamic ideology. He is hiding information from the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and operates in such a way that our police officers do not necessarily have the tools to lay charges. He openly admits to having lied to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Here is our message to the government: we have these intelligence services, so the government has a political responsibility to signal zero tolerance for people who want to attack the pillars of our society. There have already been two tragic victims here in this country. We do not want that to happen again.
At this time, the government is lax and spineless, and that worries us. The individual in question, Abu Huzaifa, quotes the Quran and promotes all that hatred.
These people need to be kept under control. If charges are to be laid, that must be done so as to protect the people, because that is the government's job. A government's primary role is to protect its people. Unfortunately, Bill C-59 undermines the tools available to police forces and various other bodies to fulfill the state's primary responsibility.
For example, one of the provisions of the legislation would make it harder for the police to prevent a terrorist attack and would add red tape. When our intelligence services or police services are in the middle of the action and have sensitive information that could prevent a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, it is important that they can intervene. That is what the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, provides for. There has been no major problem regarding the enforcement of that legislation, which the Liberals supported, I might add. At no time were the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the different statues that exist in Canada affected by the anti-terrorism legislation.
The Liberals' idea of keeping a promise, as we saw with their approach to legalizing marijuana, is to force it down the throats of Canadians. They are using the same approach with Bill  C-59.
It is too bad because Canadians' safety is at stake. Again, the measures in Bill  C-59 do not address an actual problem. There is an adage in English that says:
“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
If something is working, we must leave it alone, because the day we need it, the day the police learn of a potential terrorist attack, they will need all of the necessary tools to prevent this attack, in accordance with Canadian laws, of course.
I want to talk about another aspect of the bill that will muddy the waters even more. In Canada, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, or SIRC, is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This body is the envy of all western democracies when it comes to the review of intelligence activities. The Security Intelligence Review Committee is an example to the world because it has the ability to dig through every nook and cranny of our intelligence agency. In other words, there is no spy in Canada who does not have SIRC constantly looking over his or her shoulder.
The current government created a committee that is so far off base. Canada already has a framework that allows for in-depth review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. I must point out that the Anti-terrorism Act strengthened this power, even for threat reduction activities. When the measures in the Anti-terrorism Act were adopted, we not only ensured that police officers and agents at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had more latitude, but we also ensured that all of these provisions would be covered by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. The act provides more powers, but there is also increased oversight.
We have a well-established and well-functioning system that is the envy of the world. It would have been smart for the government to expand the scope of that organization. The Liberals are obsessed with creating organizations and, as a result, they have just duplicated the Security Intelligence Review Committee and, in a way, created a new organization. We are talking about a new organization that has basically the same mission as the previous one, but it is not the same. In the end, they are undermining an excellent system in place for oversight of our intelligence agencies, and creating a new system that will duplicate it and cover other areas. They are creating confusion and more bureaucracy. What does this actually mean? Police officers are going to have more eyes looking over their shoulders. This will create confusion, more bureaucracy, and more red tape. The goal is for police officers and intelligence officers to be more accountable, but their primary mission is to protect Canadians.
Unfortunately, the Liberal approach is going to create more red tape and more obstacles. Meanwhile, we are learning that guys like Abu Huzaifa are free to roam this country, openly bragging about their associations with ISIS, and the government says it wants to welcome these people.
I think the government should be sending an important message, one that should convey zero tolerance for incitement to hate, for hate speech, and for anyone willing to use violence to achieve their ends. That is one of the flaws of this bill.
I mentioned the red tape and the duplication of an organization that, at the end of the day, is going to create confusion in the oversight of our intelligence activities.
On top of that, the government produced a huge document because it wanted to show that it supported the bill, but that there was still work to be done. It therefore added all kinds of regulations to the bill. In other words, it is creating a law and will make the regulations afterwards.
The regulations clarify the act. The advantage of that for the minister or the executive branch is that the regulations can be changed. The disadvantage of putting this sort of thing in an act is that then the government has to obtain the authorization of Parliament to change it, and we know how many steps are involved in that process. There is first reading, second reading, and third reading in the House of Commons, then the same in the Senate, and then Royal Assent. That is not to mention elections every four years, appointments, prorogations, and summer breaks.
Rather than having more flexible tools, the government is making the process unnecessarily cumbersome by putting most of the regulations for the Anti-terrorism Act into the grab bag it calls Bill  C-59. That moves us further way from the main goal, which is to develop effective, legal tools to protect Canadians. That is another flaw.
Speaking of websites, as I was saying, one of the pillars of the Anti-terrorism Act is that it attacks the source of the violence, the hate speech that incites violence. Violent words lead to violent actions. That is why it is important to crack down on online content that incites violence. Once again, the government should be more vigilant and provide additional tools to accomplish that goal. There are provisions in the Criminal Code that deal with this sort of online content. Incitement to violence was a crime even before the Anti-terrorism Act came into force. In fact, the Criminal Code has been around since the beginning of time, or at least since the beginning of our parliamentary system. Incitement to violence goes against Canadian values.
Why interfere with the work of those responsible for protecting us and reducing violence at its source, where it really begins, on extremist websites, whether they be extreme left or extreme right? Right now, we are talking mainly about Islamist extremist websites, but that could change. The government could develop a tool to identify websites that incite people to violence.
I was honoured to be with the family of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent following his tragic death. During Patrice Vincent's funeral, Louise Vincent said that she hoped her brother's death would not be in vain. As parliamentarians, it is incumbent upon every one of us to ensure that the people who have sacrificed their lives so we can live freely and debate here in the House—always respectfully, whether we agree with one another or not—have not done so in vain. People have fought for our freedom. Some have even shed blood quite recently. As parliamentarians, we must ensure that those who are responsible for keeping us safe have the tools they need to take action. That is why the Anti-terrorism Act was enacted.
It is for those very reasons that I will oppose this Liberal bill. It undermines the tools we gave our police officers so they could protect the people of this country, which is the primary responsibility of any state.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
At the time, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness decided not to give Bill  C-59 second reading and sent it directly to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. He said that committee meetings were needed to get additional information in order to improve the bill, so that is what we did.
During the committee's study of Bill  C-59, 235 amendments were proposed. The Conservative Party proposed 29 and the Green Party 45. The Liberals rejected all of them. Four NDP amendments and 40 Liberal amendments were adopted. Twenty-two of the Liberal amendments had more to do with the wording and with administrative issues. The Liberals also proposed one very important amendment that I will talk about later on.
The committee's mandate was to improve the bill. We, the Conservatives, undertook that work in good faith. We proposed important amendments to try to round out and improve the bill presented at second reading. The Liberal members on the committee rejected all of our amendments, even though they made a lot of sense. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security held 16 meetings on the subject and heard from a number of witnesses, including people from all walks of life and key stakeholders in the security field. In the end, the government chose to reject all of our amendments.
There were two key points worth noting. The first was that under Bill  C-59, our security agencies will have fewer tools to combat the ongoing terrorist threat around the world. The second was that our agencies will have a harder time sharing information.
One important proposal made in committee was the amendment introduced by the Liberal member for Montarville regarding the perpetration of torture. Every party in the House agrees that the use of torture by our intelligence or security agencies is totally forbidden. There is no problem on that score. However, there is a problem with the part about torture, in that our friends across the aisle are playing political games because they are still not prepared to tell China and Iran to change their ways on human rights. One paragraph in the part about torture says that if we believe, even if we do not know for sure, that intelligence passed on by a foreign entity was obtained through torture, Canada will not make use of that intelligence. For example, if another country alerts us that the CN Tower in Toronto is going to be blown up tomorrow, but we suspect the information was extracted through some form of torture, we will not act on that intelligence if the law remains as it is. That makes no sense. We believe we should protect Canadians first and sort it out later with the country that provided the intelligence.
It is little things like that that make it impossible for us to support the bill. That element was proposed at the end of the study. Again, it was dumped on us with no notice and we had to vote on it.
There are two key issues. The national security and intelligence review agency in part 1 does not come with a budget. The Liberals added an entity, but not a budget to go with it. How can we vote on an element of the bill that has no number attached to it?
Part 2 deals with the intelligence commissioner. The Liberals rejected changes to allow current judges, who would retire if appointed, and retirees from being considered, despite testimony from the intelligence commissioner who will assume these new duties. Currently, only retired judges are accepted. We said that there are active judges who could do the work, but that idea was rejected. It is not complicated. It makes perfect sense. We could have the best people in the prime of their lives who may have more energy than those who are about to retire and may be less interested in working 40 hours a week.
In part 3 on the Communications Security Establishment, known as CSE, there are problems concerning the restriction of information. In fact, some clauses in Bill C-59 will make capturing data more complicated. Our intelligence agencies are facing additional barriers. It will be more difficult to obtain information that allows our agencies to take action, for example against terrorists.
Part 4 concerns the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the privacy issue often come up in connection with CSIS. A common criticism of BillC-51 is that this bill would allow agencies to breach people's privacy. Witnesses representing interest groups advocating for Canadians' privacy and people whose daily work is to ensure the safety of Canadians appeared before the committee. For example, Richard Fadden said that the agencies are currently working in silos. CSIS, the CSE, and the RCMP work in silos, and the situation is too complex. There is no way to share information, and that is not working.
Dr. Leuprecht, Ph.D., from the Royal Military College, Lieutenant-General Michael Day from the special forces, and Ray Boisvert, a former security adviser, all made similar comments. Conservative amendment No. 12 was rejected. That amendment called for a better way of sharing information. In that regard, I would like to remind members of the Air India bombing in 1985. We were given the example of that bombing, which killed more than 200 people on a flight from Toronto to Bombay. It was determined that this attack could have been prevented had it been easier to share information at the time.
The most important thing to note about part 7, which deals with the Criminal Code, is that it uses big words to increase the burden for obtaining arrest warrants to prevent terrorist acts. Amendments were made regarding the promotion of terrorism. Section 83.221 of the Criminal Code pertains to advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences. The Liberals changed the wording of that section with regard to unidentified terrorist offences, for example, ISIS videos on YouTube. They therefore created section 83.221.
That changes the recognizance orders for terrorism and makes it more difficult to control threats. Now, rather than saying “likely”, it says “is necessary”. Those are just two little words, but they make all the difference. Before, if it was likely that something would happen, our security agencies could intervene, whereas now, intervention must be necessary. It is a technicality, but we cannot support Bill C-59 because of that change in wording. This bill makes it harder for security agencies and police to do their work, when it should be making it easier for them.
We are not opposed to revising our national security legislation. All governments must be prepared to do that to adapt. BillC-51, which was introduced at the time by the Conservatives, was an essential tool in the fight against terrorist attacks in Canada and the world. We needed tools to help our agents. The Liberals alluded to BillC-51 during the election campaign and claimed that it violated Canadians' freedoms and that it did not make sense. They promised to introduce a new bill and here it is before us today, Bill C-59.
I would say that Bill C-59, a massive omnibus bill, is ultimately not much different from Bill C-51. There are a number of parts I did not mention, because we have nothing to say and we agree with their content. We are not against everything. What we want, no matter the party, is to be effective and to keep Canadians safe. We agree on that.
Nevertheless, some parts are problematic. As I said earlier, the government does not want to accept information from certain countries on potential attacks, because this information could have been obtained through torture. This would be inadmissible. Furthermore, the government is changing two words, which makes it harder to access the information needed to take action. We cannot agree with this.
Now the opposite is being done, and most of the witnesses who came to see us in committee, people in the business of privacy, did not really raise any issues. They did not show up and slam their fists on the desk saying that it was senseless and had to be changed. Everyone had their views to express, but ultimately, there were not that many problems. Some of the witnesses said that Bill C-59 made no sense, but upon questioning them further, we often reached a compromise and everyone agreed that security is important.
Regardless, the Liberals rejected all of the Conservatives' proposed amendments. I find that hard to understand because the minister asked us to do something, he asked us to improve Bill C-59 before bringing it back here for second reading—it is then going to go to third reading. We did the work. We did what we were supposed to do, as did the NDP, as did the Green Party. The Green Party leader had 45 amendments and is to be commended for that. I did not agree with all her amendments, but we all worked to improve Bill C-59, and in turn, to enhance security in Canadians' best interest, as promised. Unfortunately, that never happened. We will have to vote against this bill.
Since I have some time left, I will give you some quotes from witnesses who appeared before the committee. For example, everyone knows Richard Fadden, the Prime Minister's former national security adviser. Mr. Fadden said that Bill  C-59 was “beginning to rival the Income Tax Act for complexity. There are sub-sub-subsections that are excluded, that are exempted. If there is anything the committee can do to make it a bit more straightforward”, it would help. Mr. Fadden said that to the committee. If anyone knows security, it is Canada's former national security adviser. He said that he could not understand Bill  C-59 at all and that it was worse than the Income Tax Act. That is what he told the committee. We agreed and tried to help, but to no avail. It seems like the Liberals were not at the same meeting I was at.
We then saw the example of a young man who goes by the name Abu Huzaifa. Everyone knows that two or three weeks ago, in Toronto, this young man boasted to the New York Times and then to CBC that he had fought as a terrorist for Daesh in Iraq and Syria. He admitted that he had travelled there for the purposes of terrorism and had committed atrocities that are not fit to be spoken of here. However, our intelligence officers only found out that this individual is currently roaming free in Toronto from a New York Times podcast. Here, we can see the limitations of Bill  C-59 in the specific case of a Canadian citizen who decided to fight against us, to go participate in terrorism, to kill people the Islamic State way—everyone here knows what I mean—and then to come back here, free as a bird. Now the Liberals claim that the law does not allow such and such a thing. When we tabled Bill C-51, we were told that it was too restrictive, but now Bill  C-59 is making it even harder to get information.
What do Canadians think of that? Canadians are sitting at home, watching the news, and they are thinking that something must be done. They are wondering what exactly we MPs in Ottawa are being paid for. We often see people on Facebook or Twitter asking us to do something, since that is what we are paid for. We in the Conservative Party agree, and we are trying; the government, not so much. Liberal members are hanging their heads and waiting for it to pass. That is not how it works. They need to take security a little more seriously.
This is precisely why Canadians have been losing confidence in their public institutions and their politicians. This is also why some people eventually decide to take their safety into their own hands, but that should never happen. I agree that this must not happen. That would be very dangerous for a society. When people lose confidence in their politicians and take their safety into their own hands, we have the wild west. We do not want that. We therefore need to give our security officers, our intelligence officers, the powerful tools they need to do their jobs properly, not handcuff them. Handcuffs belong on terrorists, not on our officers on the ground.
Christian Leuprecht from Queen's University Royal Military College said that he respected the suggestion that CSIS should stick to its knitting, or in other words, not intervene. In his view, the RCMP should take care of some things, such as disruption. However, he also indicated that the RCMP is struggling on so many fronts already that we need to figure out where the relative advantage of different organizations lies and allow them to quickly implement this.
The questions that were asked following the testimony focused on the fact that the bill takes away our intelligence officers' ability to take action and asks the RCMP to take on that responsibility in CSIS's place, even though the RCMP is already overstretched. We only have to look at what is happening at the border. We have to send RCMP officers to strengthen border security because the government told people to come here. The RCMP is overstretched and now the government is asking it to do things that it is telling CSIS not to do. Meanwhile, western Canada is struggling with a crime wave. My colleagues from Alberta spoke about major crimes being committed in rural communities.
Finland and other European countries have said that terrorism is too important an issue and so they are going to allow their security agencies to take action. We cannot expect the RCMP to deal with everything. That is impossible. At some point, the government needs to take this more seriously.
After hearing from witnesses, we proposed amendments to improve Bill  C-59, so that we would no longer have any reason to oppose it at second reading. The government could have listened to reason and accepted our amendments, and then we would have voted in favour of the bill. However, that is not what happened, and in my opinion it was because of pure partisanship. When we are asked to look at a bill before second or third reading and then the government rejects all of our proposals, it is either for ideological reasons or out of partisanship. In any case, I think it is shameful, because this is a matter of public safety and security.
When I first joined the Canadian Armed Forces, in the late 1980s, we were told that the military did not deal with terrorism, that this was the Americans' purview. That was the first thing we were told. At the time, we were learning how to deal with the Warsaw Pact. The wars were highly mechanized and we were not at all involved in fighting terrorism.
However, times have changed. Clearly, everything changed on September 11, 2001. Canada now has special forces, which did not exist back then. JTF2, a special forces unit, was created. Canada has had to adapt to the new world order because it could also be a target for terrorist attacks. We have to take off our blinders and stop thinking that Canada is on another planet, isolated from any form of wickedness and cruelty. Canada is on planet Earth and terrorism knows no borders.
The G7 summit, which will soon be under way, could already be the target of a planned attack. We do not know. If we do not have tools to prevent and intercept threats, what will happen? That is what is important. At present, at the G7, there are Americans and helicopters everywhere. As we can see on the news, U.S. security is omnipresent. Why are there so many of them there? It is because confidence is running low. If Americans are not confident about Canadians' rules, military, and ability to intervene, they will bring everything they need to protect themselves.
That is why we need to take a position of strength. Yes, of course we have to show that we are an open and compassionate country, but we still need to be realistic. We have to be on the lookout and ready to take action.
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