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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to speak to Bill  C-59, an omnibus bill that is over 260 pages long and has nine major parts. I listened to the minister's speech, which addressed the Senate amendments, but I would first like to focus on Bill  C-59 itself.
As I have been saying from the outset, the problem is that most parts of Bill  C-59 are administrative in nature. They make changes to the various intelligence and communications agencies. That is fine, but the main goal of Bill  C-59 was to respond to Bill C-51, which was implemented by the Conservatives following the attacks that took place here in Ottawa. Bill C-51 was specifically designed to counter terrorism and ensure that anyone seeking to commit terrorist acts in Canada was stopped to avert disaster.
Overall, the omnibus bill has some parts that are fine. They contain the sort of changes that need to be made from time to time. However, other parts are very administratively heavy and will be very costly for the public purse. Essentially, this is a bill on national security. The public expects the government to protect people properly and ensure that the offenders and would-be terrorists of this world are stopped.
Despite what the minister says, we believe that Bill  C-59 limits CSIS's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It also limits the departments' ability to share information in order to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general and raises the threshold for obtaining terrorism peace bonds and recognizance with conditions.
At the end of the day, Bill C-59 is going to make life difficult for CSIS agents and telecommunications services people. The bill makes it harder to exchange information. It will once again clog up a system that is already burdensome. People working on the ground every day to ensure Canada's security and safety will be under even more restrictions, which will prevent them from doing their jobs.
Here is a snapshot of the nine parts. Part 1 establishes the national security and intelligence review agency.
Part 2 enacts the intelligence commissioner act. It deals with everything pertaining to the commissioner and the various tasks he or she will have, but abolishes the position of the Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment and provides for that commissioner to become the intelligence commissioner. It transfers the employees of the former commissioner to the office of the new commissioner and makes related and consequential amendments to other acts. In other words, it shuffles things around.
Part 3 enacts the Communications Security Establishment act. CSE's new mandate includes the ability to conduct preventive attacks against threats in addition to its role in signals intelligence and cyber defence. We really do not have a problem with that, provided it remains effective. That is an important point.
Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. It changes the threat reduction powers by limiting them to seven types of measures, one of which gives rise to the issue of whether non-invasive actions require a warrant. The measure in question is described as interfering with the movement of any person. This could mean that a CSIS officer requires a warrant to give misleading information to someone on the way to meeting with co-conspirators.
During operations, officers will sometimes provide individuals with false information to be passed on to those organizing terrorist or other plots. That is one of the work methods used in the field. Henceforth, warrants will have to be obtained, making the work more complicated. The officers will have to spend more time in the office doing paperwork and submitting applications instead of participating in operations.
Part 5 amends the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which was enacted by the Conservative government's Bill  C-51. Individuals and privacy groups were unhappy that government institutions could, on their own initiative or at the request of another institution, share information on activities that undermine the security of Canada. BillC-51 was criticized for permitting the sharing of citizens' personal information.
Although Bill C-59 maintains part of the departments' ability to share information, it is much more restrictive. This means that the departments operate in silos, which was harshly criticized by the national security experts who testified.
Part 6 is the most positive part, and we fully support it. This part deals with the Secure Air Travel Act and the problems with the no-fly list. When travellers have the same name as a terrorist, they encounter major problems, especially when it happens to children and they are not allowed to travel. This part will help fix this problem, and we fully support it.
Part 7 amends the Criminal Code by changing the offence of advocating or promoting terrorism offences in general to one of counselling the commission of a terrorism offence, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
I will read the next part, which does not pose any problems:
Part 8 amends the Youth Criminal Justice Act to, among other things, ensure that the protections that are afforded to young persons apply in respect of proceedings in relation to recognizance orders, including those related to terrorism, and give employees of a department or agency of the Government of Canada access to youth records, for the purpose of administering the Canadian Passport Order.
Finally, here is the last part:
Part 9 requires that a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this enactment take place during the sixth year after section 168 of this enactment comes into force.
These are additional administrative measures.
In short, of the nine parts of Bill  C-59, we fully support part 6 on the no-fly list. The other parts contain a lot administrative provisions that will make the system more cumbersome. Part 7 is the most problematic.
We believe that the Prime Minister and the minister are weakening Canada's national security agencies and their ability to keep Canadians safe. This legislative measure will make it more difficult for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent attacks on Canadian soil because it takes away their authority to counter threats. The information silos this bill will create within our federal agencies are dangerous and foolish. Rather than countering radicalization, the Liberals are creating loopholes that could be exploited by those who want to radicalize our young people.
The Conservatives take the safety of Canadians very seriously. That is why the previous government brought Canada's national security laws into the 21st century and aligned them with those of our allies. While all of the Five Eyes allies are taking measures to strengthen national security, this government is bringing in legislation that will eliminate our intelligence service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. The Liberals' irresponsible approach will put Canadians' safety at risk.
I was pleased with the four amendments proposed by the senators, who also took the time to work on Bill C-59 and hear witnesses. We know that the independent Liberals have a majority in the the Senate, so we would not normally expect to see amendments that reflect the Conservatives' views. This time, however, we think all four amendments are excellent and deserve our support. We waited for the government's response.
Two of the amendments had been proposed by me and my Conservative colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but the Liberals had rejected them. One of them sought to clarify the definition of the phrase “counselling commission of terrorism offence”. This short phrase really embodies the problem we have with Bill C-59. For the benefit of our viewers, I would like to quote the specific wording.
The bill would amend the Criminal Code by changing the following existing definition:
Every person who knowingly instructs, directly or indirectly, any person to carry out a terrorist activity is guilty....
The bill would change it to the following:
Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence...is guilty....
What is the Liberals' real goal here, if not to just strike out the Conservative government's Bill C-51 so they can say they made a change?
Did they make this change with the intention of improving the legislation? No. Even the senators advised the government to preserve the essence of the definition set out in the Conservatives' Bill C-51.
The minister says that in 2015, when Bill C-51 was introduced by the Conservative government, no charges were ever laid. Is it not possible that no charges were laid because people got scared and decided not to run any risks, in light of the legislation and resources that were in place, as well as the enforcement capability?
Maybe that was why nothing happened. Does watering down and changing this—
An hon. member: Oh! Oh!
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.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2018-06-07 12:47 [p.20432]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-59, which relates to issues of national security and how we deal with people suspected of terrorist acts.
This issue is quite different from those usually addressed. Usually, I have to talk about public finance. It is quite easy to say that the Liberals are wrong because they have a deficit and that we are right because we oppose deficits, which is very clear. In that case, this is very touchy. We are talking about so many great issues, and this issue should be addressed without partisanship. For sure, it is not easy.
That is why this really should be a non-partisan issue. This will not be easy, because obviously people are sharply divided on how this information should be dealt with in order to stop terrorism and how terrorists should be dealt with.
Bill C-59 is the current government's response to BillC-51, which our government had passed. I remind the House that the Liberals, who formed the second opposition party at the time, supported Bill C-51, but said that they would change it right away once in power. It was supposedly so urgent, and yet they have been in power for two and a half years now, and it has taken the Liberals this long to bring forward their response to the Conservative Bill C-51 in the House of Commons.
As I was saying earlier, some questions are easier to answer, because they are based not on partisanship, but on your point of view. For example, when it comes to public finances, you can be for or against the deficit. However, no one is arguing against the need to crack down on terrorism. The distinctions are in the nuances.
That is why the opposition parties proposed dozens of amendments to the bill; sadly, however, with the exception of four technical amendments proposed by the NDP, the Liberals systematically rejected all amendments proposed by the Conservative Party and the Green Party, and Lord knows that there is an entire world between the Conservative Party and the Green Party.
This bill is meant to help us tackle the terrorist threat, whether real or potential. In the old days, in World War II, the enemy was easily identified. Speaking of which, yesterday was the 74th anniversary of the Normandy landing, a major turning point in the liberation of the world from Nazi oppression. It was easy to identify the enemy back then. Their flag, leader, uniform and weapons were clearly identifiable. We knew where they were.
The problem with terrorism is that the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. They have no flag. They have a leader, but they may have another one by tomorrow morning. The enemy can be right here or on the other side of the world. Terrorism is an entirely new way of waging war, which calls for an entirely new way of defending ourselves. That is why, in our opinion, we need to share information. All police forces and all intelligence agencies working in this country and around the world must be able to share information in order to prevent tragedies like the one we witnessed on September 11, 2001.
In our opinion, the bill does not go far enough in terms of information sharing, which is necessary if we are to win the fight against terrorism. We believe that the Communications Security Establishment, the RCMP, CSIS and all of the other agencies that fight terrorism every day should join forces. They should share an information pipeline rather than work in silos.
In our opinion, if the bill is passed as it is now, the relevant information that could be used to flush out potential terrorists will not be shared as it should be. We are therefore asking the government to be more flexible in this respect. Unfortunately, the amendments proposed by our shadow cabinet minister, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, were rejected.
We are very concerned about another point as well: the charges against suspected terrorists. We believe that the language of the bill will make it more difficult to charge and flush out terrorists. This is a delicate subject, and every word is important.
We believe that the most significant and most contentious change the bill makes to the Criminal Code amends the offence set out in section 83.221, “Advocating or promoting commission of terrorism offences”. This is of special interest to us because this offence was created by Bill C-51, which we introduced. Bill C-59 requires a much more stringent test by changing the wording to, “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. The same applies to the definition of terrorist propaganda in subsection 83.222(8), which, in our opinion, will greatly restrict law enforcement agencies' ability to use the tool for dismantling terrorist propaganda with judicial authorization as set out in BillC-51. Why? Because as it is written, when you talk about counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence, it leaves room for interpretation.
What is the difference between a person and a group of people; between a person and a gathering; between a person and an entity; or between a person and an illicit and illegal group? In our opinion, this is a loophole in the bill. It would have been better to leave it as written in the Conservative Bill C-51. The government decided not to. In our opinion, it made a mistake.
Generally speaking, should we be surprised at the government’s attitude toward the fight against terrorism? The following example is unfortunate, but true. We know that 60 Canadians left Canada to join ISIS. Then, they realized that the war was lost because the free and democratic nations of the world decided to join forces and fight back. Now, with ISIS beginning to crumble, these 60 Canadians, cowards at heart, realize that they are going to lose and decide to return to Canada. In our opinion, these people are criminals. They left our country to fight Canadian soldiers defending freedom and democracy and return to Canada as if nothing had happened. No.
Worse still, the Liberal government’s attitude toward these Canadian criminals is to offer them poetry lessons. That is a pretty mediocre approach to criminals who left Canada with the mandate to kill Canadian soldiers. We believe that we should throw the book at these people. They need to be dealt with accordingly, and certainly not welcomed home with poetry lessons, as the government proposes.
Time is running out, but I would like to take this opportunity, since we are discussing security, to extend the warmest thanks to all the employees at the RCMP, CSIS, the CSE and other law enforcement agencies such as the Sûreté du Québec in Quebec and municipal police forces. Let us pay tribute to all these people who get up every morning to keep Canadians safe. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 4,000 or more police officers from across Canada who are working hard in the Charlevoix and Quebec City regions to ensure the safety of the G7 summit, these people who place their life on the line so that we can live in a free and democratic society where we feel safe. I would like to thank these women and men from coast to coast to coast that make it possible for us to be free and, most importantly, to feel safe.
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