Mr. Chair, amendment CPC-27 proposes a bill in the bill, just as the Liberals proposed a bill on torture.
I will now briefly outline Bill C-371, which was created by my colleague Tony Clement, in 2017.
This bill gives the government the ability to establish a list of foreign states, individuals and entities that impede freedom of religion, impose punishments based on religious beliefs, or carry out or support activities that encourage radicalization.
It deals with what is called the “secret ways” through which money is poured into organizations and institutions in Canada that support radicalization. It would prevent an individual, entity or foreign state that supports or encourages radicalization or is associated with it to fund an institution through donations or gifts.
Individuals and institutions in Canada would be prohibited from accepting money or gifts from states, individuals or entities on the list. Three amendments to the Income Tax Act are included to recognize the provisions of the bill.
It should be noted that in 2015, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence completed a study entitled “Countering the Terrorist Threat in Canada”. In its recommendations, the Senate report urges the government to take steps to prevent the entry of foreign funds into Canada in cases where funds, donors or recipients are associated with a radicalization movement.
Currently, the Income Tax Act allows the removal of charitable status from groups affiliated with terrorism. In addition, the government maintains a list of designated terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, ISIS and Hezbollah. This bill would improve the government's ability to control incoming funds beyond charities and designated terrorist groups.
By developing and maintaining a list of foreign states, individuals and entities that promote radicalization and that facilitate the funding of groups that promote or participate in radicalization, the government would have a better set of control measures. We have known for a long time that there are gaps that allow money to come into Canada to support radicalization. The legislation includes provisions on flexibility and review and allows the groups on the list to appeal. This flexibility allows the government to act quickly when sources of funding are identified, but also to be fair when a group or individual has adequately demonstrated that they should no longer be on the list.
Several witnesses have testified, and I want to mention some important people, such as Richard Fadden, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former director of CSIS, who confirmed that there are concerns about foreign funding of Canadian religious and quasi-religious institutions. He testified before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence:
I think it is a problem. I think it's one that we're becoming increasingly aware of. It's one that we share with a number of our other Western allies and, insofar as I've been able to make out, nobody has found a systemic solution. What I think has occurred on a number of cases, you can find out about a specific case and you can do something about it; the problem is finding out about the specific case.…
In fact, in my previous job, I actually raised with representatives from some of the countries who might be involved in this and suggested to them this was not helpful. The difficulty in most cases is that the monies are not coming from governments. They're coming from fairly wealthy institutions or individuals within some of these countries. It makes it doubly difficult to track. It doesn't mean you're not right in raising it. I just don't have an easy solution.
I would now like to raise an important point, Mr. Chair. Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary and other witnesses told the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence that the jihadist extremist ideology is advocated in schools and universities, often under the guise of academic freedom and far from the oversight of CSIS. He told the committee:
The money comes in different ways, in secret ways. Money comes through institutions. There are two organizations in Canada. Basically they are U.S. organizations that are operating in Canada. One is called AIMaghrib Institute, the other is called AIKauthar Institute. Both work in universities, not in mosques. Both give lectures. Both organize seminars. They are the ones who brainwash these young kids in lectures.
Shahina Siddiqui, from the Islamic Social Services Association, appeared before the Senate committee in 2015. She said:
I can tell you that my own organization was offered $3 million. We refused, even though I had not a penny in my account at that time, when I started the organization, because this is a Canadian organization, and we don't need funding from anywhere else.
The same thing with our mosques in Manitoba. We were offered money from Libya when we made our first mosque. We refused it.
Are there some mosques that have accepted money from overseas because it was legal to do so? If we want to curtail them, we have to make it illegal, not just for Muslims but also for all groups, for you to raise funds from abroad. That would be my response.
That said, I think amendment CPC-27 is of paramount importance to Bill C-59. We have heard that there are finance-related elements that already exist in another act. Therefore, it seems that it is more or less effective. So I strongly recommend that the committee accept our bill in Bill C-59.