Interventions in Committee
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View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
No, that's great. Thank you.
First, this is quite lengthy legislation that we've been discussing. One question that comes to me when I speak to people in my community—and we do have a private member's bill in the House that's proposing it right now—is to just repeal BillC-51 and leave us where we were pre- Bill C-51. On that broad question, if I can ask either one of you, why not just repeal Bill C-51 and leave us where we were?
Craig Forcese
View Craig Forcese Profile
Craig Forcese
2017-12-05 10:12
My response would be that, certainly from my perspective, Kent Roach and I did not dispute the policy objectives that BillC-51 was trying to accomplish, with one exception, and that is the new speech crime. We thought it was unnecessary. If one were to repeal those provisions that Bill C-51 introduced, one would be left still with the policy issues that would have to be addressed. I see Bill C-59 is dealing with those same policy issues but putting each of the powers on a more sustainable footing.
I would agree with what my colleague Professor Carvin said earlier, that not only is this just a question of constitutional niceties. It's also a question of certainty. Many of the powers that were introduced by BillC-51 were clothed with such vagueness that the services might be disinclined to try to test them for fear they would run afoul of a court or a commission of inquiry subsequently.
Again, the policy objectives were real. The drafting, in my view, was insufficient.
Wesley Wark
View Wesley Wark Profile
Wesley Wark
2017-12-05 10:13
Just briefly, I would say something very similar but expressed slightly differently, which is that in my view, BillC-51 had good elements and bad elements. I think that was also the Liberal Party's position, frankly, when it was the third party in opposition, that there were some elements they could support and some elements that they were committed to overturning, if they ever came into office.
Bill C-59 represents some effort to fix the so-called problematic elements of BillC-51, but it also provides space to add what I think are important new dimensions that were not addressed in Bill C-51. I would think it would be a time-wasting exercise, frankly, to go back and just repeal and simply eliminate all of Bill C-51 from the law books. Better is the approach that's been taken here.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In her remarks, my colleague Ms. Dabrusin drew a comparison between Bill C-51 and Bill  C-59. That is important for the committee. It is my understanding that Bill C-51 was enacted in response to an emergency at that time. It was very important for national security. Today, Bill  C-59 is simply a refined version of Bill C-51. The latter was useful when it was adopted, but we want to clarify certain things.
Is that also your understanding?
Craig Forcese
View Craig Forcese Profile
Craig Forcese
2017-12-05 10:18
I wasn't party to the drafting of BillC-51 so I can't comment on the circumstances that drove its manner of drafting. Certainly, Bill C-51 opened the door to the service doing threat reduction of any sort, which before was a disputed issue. We know from what the director has said approximately 30 times now that, I believe, the service is engaged in threat reduction, albeit never crossing the line to threat reduction that might violate a Canadian law or transgress a charter right. Bill C-59 opens the door to a more assertive use of threat reduction where it could violate a Canadian law, which would require a warrant, but sets up a warrant system that I think would survive an inevitable Constitutional challenge. It broadens the ambit of useful powers for the service.
I can give you an example where this may come up. In the course of an investigation, the service is engaged in an intelligence investigation, and it decides for a public safety reason it needs to swap out an explosive materiel in the possession of a target with an inert material so that it no longer poses a security risk as the service continues its security intelligence operation. Now it's possible for the service to get with warrant authorization to do threat reduction to break and enter for the purpose of swapping out that material, and Bill C-59 makes it more likely that confronted with that request the court would think this regime was plausible.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
I will, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much to the members of the committee for their work as they are about to begin clause-by-clause study of Bill C-59, the national security act.
I am pleased today to be accompanied by a range of distinguished officials in the field of public safety and national security. David Vigneault, as you know, is the director of CSIS. Greta Bossenmaier, to my right, is the chief of the Communications Security Establishment, and the CSE is involved in Bill C-59 in a very major way.
To my left is Vincent Rigby, associate deputy minister at Public Safety. I think this is his first committee hearing in his new role as associate deputy minister. Kevin Brosseau is deputy commissioner of the RCMP, and Doug Breithaupt is from the Department of Justice.
Everything that our government does in terms of national security has two inseparable objectives: to protect Canadians and to defend our rights and freedoms. To do so, we have already taken a number of major steps, such as the new parliamentary committee established by Bill C-22 and the new ministerial direction on avoiding complicity in mistreatment. That said, Bill  C-59 is certainly central to our efforts.
As I said last week in the House, this bill has three core themes: enhancing accountability and transparency, correcting certain problematic elements in the former BillC-51, and ensuring that our national security and intelligence agencies can keep pace with the evolving nature of security threats.
Bill C-59 is the product of the most inclusive and extensive consultations Canada has ever undertaken on the subject of national security. We received more than 75,000 submissions from a variety of stakeholders and experts as well as the general public, and of course this committee also made a very significant contribution, which I hope members will see reflected in the content of Bill C-59.
All of that input guided our work and led to the legislation that's before us today, and we're only getting started. When it comes to matters as fundamental as our safety and our rights, the process must be as open and thorough as it can possibly be. That is why we chose to have this committee study the bill not after second reading but before second reading. As you know, once a bill has passed second reading in the House, its scope is locked in. With our reversal of the usual order, you will have the chance to analyze Bill C-59 in detail at an earlier stage in the process, which is beginning now, and to propose amendments that might otherwise be deemed to be beyond the scope of the legislation.
We have, however, already had several hours of debate, and I'd like to use the remainder of my time to address some of the points that were raised during that debate. To begin with, there were concerns raised about CSIS's threat reduction powers. I know there are some who would like to see these authorities eliminated entirely and others who think they should be limitless. We have taken the approach, for those measures that require a judicial warrant, of enumerating what they are in a specific list.
CSIS needs clear authorities, and Canadians need CSIS to have clear authorities without ambiguity so that they can do their job of keeping us safe. This legislation provides that clarity. Greater clarity benefits CSIS officers, because it enables them to go about their difficult work with the full confidence that they are operating within the parameters of the law and the Constitution.
Importantly, this bill will ensure that any measure CSIS takes is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. BillC-51 implied the contrary, but CSIS has been very clear that they have not used that particular option in Bill C-51, and Bill C-59 will end any ambiguity.
Mr. Paul-Hus, during his remarks in the debate in the House, discussed the changes we're proposing to the definition of “terrorist propaganda” and the criminal offence of promoting terrorism. Now, there can be absolutely no doubt of our conviction—I think this crosses all party lines—that spreading the odious ideologies of terrorist organizations is behaviour that cannot be tolerated. We know that terrorist groups use the Internet and social media to reach and radicalize people and to further their vile and murderous ends. We must do everything we can to stop that.
The problem with the way the law is written at the moment, as per BillC-51 is that it is so broad and so vague that it is virtually unuseable, and it hasn't been used. Bill C-59 proposes terminology that is clear and familiar in Canadian law. It would prohibit counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence. This does not require that a particular person be counselled to commit a particular offence. Simply encouraging others to engage in non-specific acts of terrorism will qualify and will trigger that section of the Criminal Code.
Because the law will be more clearly drafted, it will be easier to enforce. Perhaps we will actually see a prosecution under this new provision. There has been no prosecution of this particular offence as currently drafted.
There were also questions raised during debate about whether the new accountability mechanisms will constitute too many hoops for security and intelligence agencies to jump through as they go about their work. The answer, in my view, is clearly, no. When the bill was introduced, two of the country's leading national security experts, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, said the bill represents “solid gains—measured both from a rule of law and civil liberties perspective—and come at no credible cost to security.”
Accountability mechanisms for Canadian security and intelligence agencies have been insufficient for quite some time. BillC-22 took one major step to remedy that weakness by creating the new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. Bill C-59 will now add the new comprehensive national security and intelligence review agency, which some people, for shorthand, refer to as a super-SIRC, as well as the position of intelligence commissioner, which is another innovation in Bill C-59.
These steps have been broadly applauded. Some of the scrutiny that we are providing for in the new law will be after the fact, and where there is oversight in real time we've included provisions to deal with exigent circumstances when expedience and speed are necessary.
It is important to underscore that accountability is, of course, about ensuring that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected, but it is also about ensuring that our agencies are operating as effectively as they possibly can to keep Canadians safe. Both of these vital goals must be achieved simultaneously—safety and rights together, not one or the other.
Debate also included issues raised by the New Democratic Party about what is currently known as SCISA, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act. There was a suggestion made that the act should be repealed entirely, but, with respect, that would jeopardize the security of Canadians. If one government agency or department has genuine information about a security threat, they have to be able to disclose it to the appropriate partner agencies within government in order to deal with that threat, and you may recall that this has been the subject of a number of judicial enquiries in the history of our country over the last number of years.
That disclosure must be governed by clear rules, which is why Bill C-59 establishes the following three requirements. First, the information being disclosed must contribute to the recipient organization's national security responsibilities. Second, the disclosure must not affect any person's privacy more than is reasonably necessary. Third, a statement must be provided to the recipient attesting to the information's accuracy. Furthermore, we make it clear that no new information collection powers are being created or implied, and records must be kept of what information is actually being shared.
Mr. Chair, I see you're giving me a rude gesture, which could be misinterpreted in another context.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Ralph Goodale: There are a couple of points more, but I suspect they'll be raised during the course of the discussion. I'm happy to try to answer questions with the full support of the officials who are with me this morning.
Thank you.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Minister, for coming today.
The security framework is something that is very important to my constituents. As part of the consultations that took place, I held a meeting in my riding to which many people came. It was well attended. What came through were some very strong concerns about ensuring privacy rights and charter rights. That frames a bit of what I'm getting at with some of the questions I'm asking today.
The first is one you touched on briefly. Many people have come and asked me why do we not simply repeal the former BillC-51 from the prior government, the prior Parliament. Why is any new legislation required? Why not just repeal it and leave it as it is?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
The short answer, of course, is that BillC-51 as a single piece of legislation no longer exists. It is now embedded in other pieces of law and legislation that affect four or five different statutes and a number of different agencies and operations of the Government of Canada. It's now a little bit like trying to unscramble eggs rather than simply repealing what was there before.
Based on the consultation that you referred to, we meticulously went through the security laws of Canada, whether they were in BillC-51 or not, and asked ourselves this key question. Is this the best provision, the right provision, in the public interest of Canadians to achieve two objectives—to keep Canadians safe and safeguard their rights and freedoms—and to accomplish those two objectives simultaneously?
We honoured our election commitment of dealing with five or six specific things in BillC-51 that we found particularly problematic. Each one of those has been dealt with, as per our promise, but in this legislation we covered a lot of other ground that came forward not during the election campaign but as a part of our consultation.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
Yes. I can certainly get the list from our platform. They include making sure that civil protest was no in any way compromised; making sure that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was paramount, particularly with respect to the threat reduction measures; making sure that there would be a review of the legislation after a certain period of time, with the legislation providing for a five-year review when all the security framework of Canada will be re-examined; and clarifying a number of definitions, like the one about terrorist propaganda that I referred to. There are also the no-fly corrections that we undertook.
We also said that we would create the committee of parliamentarians. That's done. We said that we would create the office for dealing with counter-radicalization. That's done. With the passage of Bill C-59, all of the specific elements that we referred to in the platform will be accomplished.
View Dave MacKenzie Profile
View Dave MacKenzie Profile
2017-11-30 9:26
Thank you, Chair.
Thanks to the panel for being here.
With all due respect, Minister, BillC-51 was passed a few years ago, and I think that it received widespread support in the House. I believe you voted in favour of it. I think that it did make some changes that at the time were appropriate. Now in review three years later, we're looking at essentially a review. This is not a total rewrite, I think you would agree, of the original bill, but it does add some ingredients that are probably important.
When you mention the law expressly prohibiting protest and advocacy and so on, will the changes in the new bill result in charges that were not allowed for in BillC-51? Have we enhanced the probabilities of prosecution in Bill C-59 over Bill C-51?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
That's always difficult to predict, Mr. MacKenzie, as you know.
In the example I used in my remarks, I think my answer to your question would be, yes, in the tools that are available to deal with terrorist propaganda. The problem with the language in BillC-51 was that it was very broad, and in the language of lawyers in court, it was so broad that it was vague and unenforceable.
If you recall, there was some discussion during the election campaign in 2015 that the language in that particular section might have been used to capture certain election campaign ads, which obviously wasn't the intention of the legislation.
We've made it more precise without affecting its efficacy, and I think we made it more likely that charges can be laid and successfully prosecuted, because we have paralleled an existing legal structure that courts, lawyers, and prosecutors are familiar with, and that is the offence of counselling. Clearly, it doesn't have to be a specific individual counselling another specific individual to do a specific thing. If they are generally advising people to go out and commit terror, that's an offence of counselling under the the act they way we've written it.
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