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Results: 1 - 15 of 146
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-05-11 16:05
Staying on the topic of court cases, Mr. Minister, the government has spent $425,000 with respect to litigation around safe injection sites in the Vancouver downtown eastside, $350,000 with respect to the Nadon reference, and $1 million with respect to the health care refugees case.
There has been some coverage of it, certainly, through the media. Here's my question for you, Mr. Minister. Given that all of these cases and all of these expenditures relate to the government's attempted defence of a violation of charter rights, is this a good use of federal money?
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
Well, I disagree with the premise that it is in defence of charter violations, for starters.
We've actually lowered, in some cases, the number of ongoing litigation cases that are making their way through the court. We're looking at ways, obviously, in many instances, to settle cases rather than have them drag on. The reality is that the vast majority of cases in which the Government of Canada—and our department directly—finds itself are not initiated by the Government of Canada.
That said, we still have a very laudable success rate in terms of defending positions that we take on principle and that we take because we believe it's in Canadians' interests and in taxpayers' interests.
Hassan Yussuff
View Hassan Yussuff Profile
Hassan Yussuff
2015-03-25 19:36
I think there may be some aspects of the bill that would be necessary, but in the context of carrying those out, I think this bill overreaches to the furthest extent. I don't think any security agency in this country should be granted the right to override my constitutionally protected rights before a legal process for me to defend myself.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Let me go to that, then, because I think Mr. Hay brought that up as well. I certainly have concerns about that and I think the bill should be amended so that there should be no allowance to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The bill basically says that the service shall not take measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada.... I'll read it all:
The Service shall not take measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada if those measures will contravene a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or will be contrary to other Canadian law, unless the Service is authorized to take them by a warrant issued under section 21.1.
The key point is the warrant. This is a conundrum. A judge would grant a warrant for the service to basically violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I believe that's what you're getting at, Mr. Hay.
Do you believe that should be amended out, that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is supreme, the service should not be able to violate that, and a judge shouldn't be asked to make such a decision?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Okay. Thank you. I think that's an extremely important point. This is our Constitution. It is our charter. Ms. Raza mentioned that as well.
Ms. Raza, you talked about the need to expand the mandate of SIRC to review more of these measures. I would submit that's not enough. I look for your opinion on this. I may be a little biased—that's unusual for me. I've had a private member's bill in Parliament for some time, asking for a national oversight committee of parliamentarians of all parties, similar to that of our Five Eyes partners. In fact, the current Minister of Justice and the Minister of State for Finance were on the same committee as I when we proposed such a body.
SIRC is only going to look at CSIS. In my view, we need an oversight agency that looks at the Canadian Communications Security Establishment and any agency that's involved in security, to do two things: first, ensure they're following the law and using all of their authorities under the law; and second, ensure they're not going beyond the law and affecting civil liberties.
Could I get comments from each of you on that? Do you see that as necessary, as at least a measure to give Canadians, civil society, some confidence that our security agencies are not going too far?
I'll start with you, Ms. Raza, and then Mr. Hay.
Raheel Raza
View Raheel Raza Profile
Raheel Raza
2015-03-25 19:39
I would clarify here that I spoke not about oversight but review. I think that's an important differentiation. If you go back, the current, more comprehensive, rights-driven Constitution was enacted in 1982, so obviously we have a level of constitutional protection today that would have been undreamt of throughout most of the period in the early 1980s. This has evolved through time and I think this is how it has evolved; it has evolved through review. I would focus more on the power of review than on oversight.
Thomas Quiggin
View Thomas Quiggin Profile
Thomas Quiggin
2015-03-25 19:56
Mr. Chairman, honourable members, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your invitation for my being here this evening.
I'll talk a little less about terrorism and perhaps a little more about political violence and extremism, and less about over there and more about over here. Public discussions recently have focused on ISIS-inspired attacks in Canada, France, Tunisia, Australia, and Denmark. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Starting in the early 1980s, Canada has produced a steady stream of individuals dedicated to Islamicist causes, and I use that term in the Raheel Raza sense of the term.
Ahmed Said Khadr, for instance, was radicalized in the early 1980s while a part of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Ottawa. He became a major financial and operational figure in al Qaeda, using taxpayers' money funnelled through the Human Concern International charity.
As noted by Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, and by the Muslim Brotherhood itself, the Muslim Students Association was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qutbi al-Mahdi was a part of the Muslim Students Association at McGill University before becoming head of the foreign intelligence services of Sudan in 1989, when a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired government was running that country. Salman Ashrafi was president of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Lethbridge before he became a suicide bomber in Iraq, killing some 20 to 40 people, depending on which report you believe.
This recruiting, this extremism, does not occur in isolation. Canada has a deep series of networks that have the money, ideology, and infrastructure to encourage this activity. The intent of these organizations is to create a political, social, and cultural space where issues of extremism and political violence could be advanced, while opposition is silenced through claims of Islamophobia and racism. These extremist networks are created by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and those loyal to Iran's Khomeinist movement. Information also suggests that in Canada right now Babbar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation are making a comeback—separate and distinct, of course, from the Islamicist groups.
Given the limited time this evening, I'll focus only on the brotherhood. According to the Quilliam Foundation, perhaps the world's leading institute on extremism, the Muslim Brotherhood is the intellectual inspiration behind virtually all of the Islamicist groups in operation today. This view is also held by a number of Middle Eastern scholars and by President el-Sisi of Egypt, who recently just made this rather clear in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, has an objective of creating a global Islamicist state governed by their highly politicized interpretation of Islam. According to the Quilliam Foundation and the Muslim Brotherhood itself, they operate through a series of front organizations. The Muslim Brotherhood stated in the mid-1970s that they had walked away from violence, albeit their spinoff groups, such as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, maintained their violent tendencies.
In January of this year, however, the Muslim Brotherhood officially announced through Ikhwanweb, their website, that they would return to a new path. They would seek out violence. They said, “a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom”.
In addition to being anti-democratic, anti-secular, and anti-pluralist, the Muslim Brotherhood is also anti-female. I think it's reasonably fair to say they're flat-out misogynistic. For instance, the Muslim Students' Association of York University handed out free books for its annual Islam awareness week in February of this year. One of the books has a section on wife disciplining. It advises that wives should only be beaten as part of a three-part correction and educational process.
It also notes that there are different kinds of women in the world, and I quote, “Submissive or subdued women. These women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern.” The name of the book, ironically, is Women in Islam & Refutation of some Common Misconceptions. Let me just say that again, “These women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern.”
Hello, Margaret Atwood. Hello, feminists. Where are they on this sort of situation?
Also, last year Le Journal de Montréal raised the possibility that Mr. Chiheb Battikh, who had attempted to kidnap a Montreal billionaire's grandson for ransom, may have been a Muslim Brotherhood adherent and the kidnapping was to profit them. The five-page story was written by Andrew McIntosh in June 2014.
What about the view from the Middle East? In 2014 the United Arab Emirates produced a list of 86 organizations that are terrorist entities, front groups, proxy groups, finance providers, and/or weapons providers. The list was welcomed and approved by the Arab League. Among the global list of front organizations, two have their headquarters in the United States, with offices and personnel in Canada. These are CAIR-USA and the Muslim American Society. It is worth noting that there are more than 20 statements that have been made by CAIR-USA, CAIR-CAN, or NCCM, and the United States State Department. Among them, first, the United States State Department has identified that CAIR-CAN, now NCCM, is the Canadian chapter of CAIR-USA. CAIR-USA repeatedly claims that it has a Canadian chapter, which it calls CAIR-CAN. CAIR-CAN, NCCM itself, has repeatedly claimed in its own legal documents that it was formed to support CAIR-USA.
Quickly take a look at the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood. In their own words, in a 1991 document, after a 10-year review, they came out with this statement as part of a larger document:
The [Brothers] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands.
We see similar statements being made here in Canada. As of last week, Young Muslims in Canada still had their website up and we find a Dr. Fahmy quoting Hassan al-Banna, the founder the Muslim Brotherhood. What does he say? “Therefore prepare for jihad and be the lovers of death. Life itself shall come searching after you.”
If you wonder where the radicalization and extremism comes from, if you wonder why young people sometimes go off and do crazy things, you may want to start looking at some of this.
What are the effects of these networks? What's been happening? In October of 2014 the Ottawa-based president of the Assalam Mosque Association, a gentleman by the name of Abdulhakim Moalimishak, said that mainstream mosques in Canada are being challenged by extremists.
He says:
I would not say this is an isolated incident. I would say there are groups out there that are trying to have a foothold in Islamic centres.
In February of this year, a Calgary man testified to the senate, which I believe I'm supposed to call “the other place” when I'm here, that terrorist ideology is being preached in Canadian mosques and universities and that Ottawa—I presume he means the government—is slow to stop the “brainwashing”.
The CBC sent an undercover reporter into Montreal's Al Sunnah mosque. The video revealed a number of interesting statements, including the idea that they should, “kill all the enemies of Islam to the last.”
An Environics poll concerning the Toronto 18 arrests said that 12% of Canadian Muslims believe that the Toronto 18 attacks would have been justified and 5% of them said that they would welcome a terrorist attack in Canada.
My suggestion, Mr. Chair, and honourable members, is the denialists who say this sort of thing is not happening in mosques, it's not happening in our schools, it's not happening in our universities, are incorrect because we see a series of Canadian imams raising the issue, we see physical evidence coming out of the universities, and we see a variety of media examples.
With respect to Bill C-51, non-violent extremism can shroud itself in legitimacy. As far as Canadian values, the Constitution, and the Charter of Rights are concerned, I believe they're every bit as dangerous as those groups that are overtly dangerous and overtly violent. To face this, we need to change the definition and practices of security, including terms such as “deradicalization”. The bill does not address entryism in Canada or how the political process, charities, schools, and universities may be used to advance the cause of extremism. The honourable members may wish to follow the governments of the United Kingdom and France right now as they tackle these issues. You will see words such as “disrupt”, “entryism”, and “challenging the discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood” used in that context.
In closing, Mr. Chair, as in intelligence analyst—and I've been in that racket since 1986—I believe we're facing a rapidly evolving world where Canadian values and Canadians are now in the crosshairs of those who would undermine us from within, attack us from within, and attack us from without. As a former soldier deployed overseas, I have seen the results of what happens when extremists get in control. Bosnia and Croatia are good examples. People in Canada are currently shocked by the pictures of heads being cut off and held aloft as trophies. For those of us who served on the ground in Bosnia and Croatia, we saw pictures of severed heads being held aloft by foreign mujahedeen and by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. These were depressingly common sites and they showed up again when we were working at the war crimes tribunal.
As a citizen I have a slight different direction on this.
My belief is that we must keep the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Federal Court, and the criminal courts as open as possible. As a court expert on terrorism and as an individual who has expertise on the reliability of intelligence as evidence in the Federal Court, I helped train special advocates and judges. I believe they provided a valuable service to the country and to the intelligence community. The courts, admittedly, may be slow, awkward and on occasion, painful, but they are the key partners in the defence against extremism. I believe they are the ultimate form of oversight for the intelligence community and the law enforcement community. If we keep the courts open, if we keep them functioning, and if citizens and those charged have access to a court system, I believe we're good.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members, thank you.
View LaVar Payne Profile
CPC (AB)
View LaVar Payne Profile
2015-03-25 20:33
I'll just touch a bit more on how CSIS will perform disruptive activities, and I stress, with judicial warrants that are required. We've heard all kinds of different examples of how this is not necessarily meeting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As I understand it under the charter, safety and security are pre-eminent for our country. We know that police have to get warrants to put wiretaps on the personal phones of individuals. I think it's important that, if there is such terrorism, doing so should be allowed. I also understand that when these warrants are issued by the judiciary, there can certainly be conditions under which they might have to report back on exactly what has happened with regard to those kinds of issues. I wonder if you have a comment on that.
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for being with us today.
My questions are for the Canadian Bar Association representatives.
I had a brief look at your submission, and I found your proposal extremely interesting. I'd like to discuss it in more detail, but first, I'd like to ask whether you think Bill C-51 is constitutional and respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Peter Edelmann
View Peter Edelmann Profile
Peter Edelmann
2015-03-25 20:37
I'd like to start by pointing out that certain parts of Bill C-51 are clearly unconstitutional. According to the bill, a judge can authorize violations of the charter. No such precedent exists in the law. I think it's important to stress the fact that none of the legal experts who appeared before the committee stated clearly and in no uncertain terms that the provision was constitutional. Even the Minister of Justice was ambiguous about that. He said that the legislation had been studied and adopted but that no opinion had been formed, pursuant to the Department of Justice Act. If you really consider what he said, you will see that his position wasn't clear.
In short, I would say that certain provisions are clearly unconstitutional. And as for judges being empowered to authorize charter violations, I don't think judges will get on board.
To be clear, when we're talking about search warrants, a search warrant is not authorizing a breach of the charter. A search warrant is authorization for a search that renders the search legal, and therefore is not a breach of the charter. It's very different from saying that you're going to authorize a breach of some other section. Section 8 functions very differently than other sections of the charter. When we talk about section 8 authorizations, those are not charter violations.
We have no precedent in Canadian law for judges authorizing breaches of the charter.
Christian Leuprecht
View Christian Leuprecht Profile
Christian Leuprecht
2015-03-23 20:14
Monsieur le président, merci de l'invitation.
Security is like the air we breathe: you don't realize that it's gone until it's too late. I think part of the discussion that we have about security policy is so difficult because we've all been to schools so we think we understand the education policy and we've all been to the physician so we think we understand health care policy. For most of us, the worst that's ever happened to us is that we got a speeding ticket from someone on the highway. I think people have a very profound and inchoate misunderstanding of how our security agencies operate, their legislative framework within which they operate, and the accountability and the review structures that are in place. Having this discussion is so important because it elevates the level of the debate.
I'd like to point out some of what is the hypocrisy of some of the critics, perhaps some of the ignorance of some of the professionalism of our security agencies and those who work in our national security system, and the accountabilities that are in place. By hypocrisy I mean that it is those people who complain bitterly about the bill who will also be the first ones to ask why the state did not do more when it is their kid that leaves for abroad, or it is their kid that is injured or killed in an attack. We need to strike a balance here.
I think there is also a naïveté about the rapidly changing security environment, because in Canada for a long time we've lived far away from the shores of instability and political violence. I think that has profoundly changed as a result of globalization and two revolutions. One is the transportation revolution. The other is the communications revolution that brings all this instability immediately to our shores. The propositions that have been put forward in this bill many of our allies already have in one instantiation or another in their systems. We can show that democratic countries can handle these types of powers and reconcile freedom and security. The Nordic states have not turned into police states simply because they adopted certain disruption provisions for their security police, as they call them.
The institutions of the modern state are not well matched to the flows and to the movements of a globalized 21st century world, in particular, the illicit ones. The flows and movements are global and yet they have institutions that are still in a 1648 statute of Westminister type of framework. One of the challenges is how to reconcile the institutions we have with the flows and challenges we face. I would submit that we would need to ask, as in any type of security environment, three basic questions.
Who is it that is threatening our existence or that we are trying to address with regard to these laws?
What is our goal? Do we want to eliminate terrorism? Do we want to contain terrorism? Do we want to destroy groups that use terrorism tactics, or do we want to reduce the vulnerabilities and the effects of terrorism? I think it is this latter one that we are trying to aim for.
How much are we willing to spend?
I think there are a couple of answers here. One is that we are celebrating the 800th anniversary this year of the Magna Carta. What we all appreciate is living in a limited state where we clearly put constraints on state intervention. The state, under the preamble of section 91, also has an obligation for peace, order, and good governance in this country. We need to reconcile the limited state and the freedoms that it provides with the ability of the state to protect its citizens. We also need to make sure that the treasure that we spend is appropriate. In that regard, I much prefer to ensure that our security agencies have the right tool kit than simply putting more money into agencies that we have without giving them the appropriate tools to deal with what's.... I think making sure that our agencies have the appropriate tools is less of a threat than putting more money into these agencies, because ultimately, these are powerful agencies. I think we need to have the right balance here.
I would like to draw a clear distinction between anti-terrorism and counterterrorism, two concepts that are confounded in this debate. Anti-terrorism is about actions taken to prevent, deter, or reduce the impact of terrorism and terrorist acts. Counterterrorism is the kinetic actions taken directly against terrorist acts. I think we fall short in this country with regard to the latter. Let me give you some examples. You've already heard some. We have youth leaving this country to go fight with ISIS, and apparently we have a security intelligence service that cannot even under strict reading of the current legislation tell the parents that their children or their child might be up to no good. We have innocent lives lost, as we've just heard. We have individuals who can board planes and are on the terrorism watch list because they do not under current legislation pose an immediate and direct threat to airline safety. You might have already flown next to a terrorist. We cannot stop foreign terrorist fighters from boarding planes back to Canada. This bill would address that by allowing some security agents to be placed on planes with them and other measures.
Concerning consular officials, when somebody shows up at our embassy in Beirut saying, “I have lost my passport and I need a travel document back to Canada”, well, Canadians regularly lose their travel documents. When somebody shows up at the embassy in Beirut with a bullet hole through their shoulder and is looking to return to Canada, well, Canadians often fall sick on their travels and they go to their consular officials, but when we have somebody who apparently has lost their passport and shows up with a bullet hole through their shoulder and the consular official is asked to provide an emergency travel document and that consular official can't even call CSIS to tell CSIS that somebody who might be a suspected foreign terrorist fighter is returning to Canada, that in my view is wrong. We need to share that type of data.
We need to protect Canadians, but we also need to protect Canadian interests, and we need to protect Canadians from themselves. These youths are some vulnerable individuals in our country. I have teenage children. We know that teenage children at times make poor decisions. The state has a certain obligation, I think, towards individuals to make sure that they don't harm themselves.
We also need to make sure that we don't inadvertently export terrorists or provide terrorist financing or material support from Canada to other countries because we don't have the adequate means to contain them.
I hope I have made a case for there being operational requirements to have a more diverse and a more nuanced tool kit than we have now, which is essentially surveillance on the one hand and powers of arrest on the other hand.
I also think that Bill C-51 makes an important contribution to Canada's meeting its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1373, 1624, 2178, and 2195. These are resolutions that are adopted under chapter VII of the United Nations charter. That means they are legally binding on all member states. These resolutions include such things as preventing radicalization leading to politically motivated violent extremism, prohibiting incitement of terrorist violence and recruitment for such purposes, disrupting financial support for terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters, and interdicting travel by foreign terrorist fighters. I hope I've demonstrated that we fall short on at least some of those.
I want to make two very short propositions as to what I think might be changed in this bill.
I think we need to expand the remit of SIRC to be able to follow intelligence once SIRC hands that intelligence over to one of, depending on how you count them, the about 15 other security agencies. The problem with SIRC right now is that once the intelligence is handed over, SIRC can call the RCMP or CBSA and tell them they would like to know what happened with that intelligence, but it turns out that SIRC does not have jurisdiction, and so the RCMP and CBSA just tell SIRC that unfortunately they are not going to answer that particular question.
I think that SIRC needs to be able to follow the intelligence. I'm not proposing a super-SIRC. I'm not suggesting that SIRC should have remit over national security investigations. But I do think SIRC needs to be able to follow the bread crumbs and make sure that intelligence is being handled by other agencies, once it is handed off, within the confines of the law in which it was collected and under the mandates and conditions under which that intelligence was shared with other agencies.
The other proposition I have is that review in and of itself I think is not the problem. CSIS is the most reviewed intelligence security service in the western world and therefore, I think we can safely say in the world as it is. I think the challenge is that Canadians are asking what the government can do to assure them that their rights and freedoms have not been violated. That means that it's not the challenge of review; it's the challenge of demonstrating to Canadians that the review mechanisms that we have in place are effective at making sure that agencies operate within the confines of law and within the constitutional and charter constraints that are being placed upon them.
To that effect, I would submit to the committee to consider adopting a version of the British system, whereby opposition parties can put forward a list of members and the Prime Minister can pick from that particular list. Those individuals would then be security cleared to a top secret clearance. They would be sworn in as privy councillors. We would set up a separate parliamentary committee that would allow the members of that committee to read the commissioner of CSE's report, to read the SIRC report, and to debrief with SIRC and with the commissioner.
I know that some members of the government will say that this is not a good idea because loose lips sink ships, but I think we have very experienced, very mature legislators among the people who sit in Parliament, and by Parliament I mean not just the House of Commons but also the Senate, so I would enlarge the list to be able to include members from both Houses of Parliament.
I think that this type of debriefing with the commissioner and with SIRC in an all-party committee is the sort of conversation that Canadians need to see happen in order to be assured that their rights and freedoms are not being violated. By virtue of their being cleared and sworn in as privy councillors, these people wouldn't be able to talk about anything that happens within that committee anyway.
In closing, let me say that these propositions are not costly, and they would require only minor legislative changes.
I would also like to remind the committee that we are not just making legislation for today, because inherently, as a result of the globalizing dynamics that I described, I would submit that both our legislative framework and the way our agencies operate are already behind the times. The bad guys are always quite happy to exploit vulnerabilities. We saw this amply during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the way Sikh extremists exploited vulnerabilities in Canada's security system.
I would say that we are also making legislation here for tomorrow. We are also making legislation for circumstances in which, in the unlikely event that Canada should find itself faced with a major calamity, we would not need to operate by orders in council, but would have robust legislative frameworks in place for agencies to deal with the calamity.
Let me end with this particular quote: the terrorist only has to be lucky once; the counterterrorist must be lucky every time.
Hugh Segal
View Hugh Segal Profile
Hon. Hugh Segal
2015-03-23 20:38
It wouldn't have been my most serious excess in the bill.
My most serious excess is the provision that would allow a judge with respect to lawful interruption to set aside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is a principle which I think is overdone. It's excessive, it's unconstructive, and it violates a core Canadian value. Were there an amendment on that, it would be constructive. If there were not an amendment on that, I think the courts would strike it down very soon under any circumstance.
The notion that we would give any judge the ability to, in a less than public context, set aside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to facilitate a security agency being involved in lawful disruption strikes me as a core contradiction and deeply problematic.
View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you for that.
With specific respect to that, I totally agree with Professor Leuprecht that the kinds of disruption that involve talking to parents and the community, etc., no reasonable person is going to have a problem with those. The problem is the bill is written very broadly to say the only absolute exclusions are causing death or bodily harm, some kind of affronts to sexual integrity and obstruction of justice. Everything else is potentially warrantable by a judge.
When we've asked in the House a couple of times if this potentially includes secret detention, and it's important to know that overseas activities of CSIS are included here, the government has specifically refused to say, “No, no, no, of course it doesn't include that”. This gives me cause to worry that, yes, it could go to that extent. Bodily harm does not include detention.
Is this a reasonable concern even though we might want to think that it would at the outer limits of anything ever considered by CSIS?
View Diane Ablonczy Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
Mr. Segal, I want to be an equal opportunity questioner here. As you know, I have huge respect for you. I sought your advice on occasion and appreciated it. I'm glad to see that you in general feel that the bill is helpful and appropriate.
I have to say I was a little surprised by your criticisms of the bill and I'd like to give you a chance a talk about that. You talked about the bill being possibly rapidly drafted as new law. I joined this committee in September. At that time we were told that a bill to give better tools to our security agencies to protect against terrorist acts was in the works. Here we are now, six months later, on committee study of the bill. There has to be a third reading of the bill in the House, and as you know as a former senator the whole process is repeated in the Senate. We'll be fortunate to have the bill passed into law by summer. It will be almost a year, so it seems to me this is hardly a knee-jerk reaction by any means.
You also mentioned that the interruptions by the security forces could operate outside the provision and protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Isn't that what warrants always do? If you want a wiretap, for example, you have to get a warrant because it's not normally a lawful activity. It's also fair to say that the protections of the charter are not unlimited. Did you know that section 51 talks about charter protections that are subject to the limits that can be demonstrably justified and demonstrated in society? We already have activities by security that deal with charter rights and how they can be properly balanced to ensure security.
You talked about provisions that might make us resemble those we are struggling to defeat. We're struggling to defeat an entity that slaughters entire communities based on their religious affiliation, that takes women and sells them as chattels, that believes that enslavement of populations is legitimate, that indulges in crucifixions by the hundreds and thousands, and that taxes the remaining survivors to the point where they lose all of their personal property and their ability to provide even the most basic necessities of life for themselves and their families.
I'm curious as to how you believe that any provisions of this bill might in any way make us resemble the entities we're struggling to defeat. It seems to me there's such a lack of proportionality in that comment that I struggle with its relevance.
Hugh Segal
View Hugh Segal Profile
Hon. Hugh Segal
2015-03-23 20:47
Very briefly, after that vicious personal attack.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Hugh Segal: Let me say three things. I don't view this as a piece of legislation or that it's about ISIS or al Qaeda. It's about providing the capacity for our security agencies to do their job. It's my fundamental view that wherever that can be done within the context of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it strengthens our democracy and protects our democracy.
I buy the view that was advanced by Mr. Churchill during World War II when he reported on the status of the war effort—at a time when they faced a risk, if I may say so, more substantial than ours—to the entire British Parliament in a secret session because he believed that the core premise of British democracy had to be sustained so that they did not become like the enemy they were facing across the sea, namely, the Nazis.
I would argue with you, with the greatest of respect, that any time we set aside any freedom if we don't have to, any time we set aside any core constitutional protection if it's not absolutely necessary, we're going down the wrong road and we should do our best not to do that.
It is true that in Canada the Supreme Court and other courts have decided that the charter is not absolute. There are reasonable circumstances during which it has to be set aside. Having that process take place in our courts is part of what makes us a society of laws and not just people with individual views that are deployed any particular time.
I said to you the War Measures Act was the worst violation of any individual security and freedom of assembly and speech that we've ever seen. Nothing in this legislation troubles me to that extent. It's important to keep historical perspective when we go through these kinds of undertakings.
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