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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
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I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
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Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-11 18:31 [p.28952]
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Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order.
In relation to the consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, I move:
That the debate be not further adjourned.
The Conservatives will do whatever they can to ensure that the government does not advance legislation, so we will use our tools.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-11 18:32 [p.28952]
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Pursuant to Standing Order 67(1), there will now be a 30-minute question period. Members are familiar with what we ask now. Those who are interested and wishing to participate in the 30-minute question period will rise. We will then ask members to keep their interventions to approximately one minute. That will allow all the members who have expressed an interest to have an opportunity to do so. I remind members also that in the course of these 30-minute question times, preference is given to members of the opposition. However, that is not to the exclusion of members from the government as well. We will now proceed with questions.
The hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.
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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
View Glen Motz Profile
2019-06-11 18:34 [p.28952]
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Mr. Speaker, Bill C-59 is the government's version of a supposedly improved national security framework. However, I am confused by what we heard from witnesses at committee and what the government continues to push forward. Therefore, I would be interested to hear from the minister why the government rejected an amendment to allow public servants across all federal governments to report information that they believe is connected or related to a national security threat. Why is the government blocking public servants from sharing information regarding threats with security forces or oversight committees? How does that improve national security?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:34 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, this legislation has been before Parliament for almost two years exactly. It has had the most thorough consultation of any national security law in Canadian history. It has been the subject of extensive debate, many amendments and the most thorough examination of the law this Parliament has ever had. It is a complicated piece of legislation. However, I can say that it enjoys the very strong support of the national security agencies of the Government of Canada, those agencies that are charged with the responsibility of keeping Canadians safe, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment, the RCMP and the CBSA. It also has the very strong support of some pre-eminent academics, such as Professors Forcese and Carvin. Together, they are very anxious to see this legislation become law at long last.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2019-06-11 18:36 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, prior to the 2015 election, we saw the Liberals decrying what they quite rightfully saw as the usurping of parliamentary rights and privileges. It was not just the omnibus character of the legislation the Stephen Harper government passed. It was also the fact that closure was invoked regularly by the Stephen Harper government. At the time, the Liberals and the Prime Minister, quite rightly, promised to do away with that. Instead, they have doubled down. We now have this extreme closure motion that has just been moved in the House by the Liberals, which permits 20 minutes of debate on this particular bill. This is the kind of extremism, in terms of cutting down parliamentary debate and scrutiny, that most Canadians reject.
We have an omnibus bill. People have raised concerns about the bill, such as the fact that sensitive data on Canadians, totally innocent Canadians, could be collected as a result of the passage of this bill. Is that not the real reason the government is doubling down with extremist closure motions that only give a scant few minutes of debate, when there are so many concerns raised about this legislation?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:37 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, I have to point out that this legislation has been before the Parliament of Canada for two years. This is not a precipitous debate or motion. The fact of the matter is that there were two years of public consultation, followed by two years of parliamentary debate, that has brought the legislation to the point where it is today.
Obviously, it is the function of Parliament to provide detailed scrutiny with respect to this legislation, which this Parliament has done to a great extent. The kind of inquiry this Parliament has made with respect to this law is absolutely unprecedented. However, it is also important for Parliament to actually decide and take a vote, and that time has arrived.
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View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2019-06-11 18:38 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, it is great that I get to speak to the closure motion, but I wish I could have spoken to the bill when we were debating it. I would have talked about a lot of the national security issues that are facing this country, particularly the grave threat of China, which has been building a cyber-army that has been taking on a lot of the things coming into Canada.
The other interesting thing about the bill is that it seems to be undoing a lot of the good work the previous Conservative government put in place, which is why my Conservative colleagues and I are not excited about the bill.
I was wondering what the minister's perspective is on whether we are going to allow Huawei onto the 5G network.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:39 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, that particular question does not relate to this particular legislation.
I will advise the member that there is an ongoing review process with respect to 5G technology. In examining the whole spectrum of that technology, it is designed, from a scientific point of view and a security point of view, not only to make sure that Canadians get all of the advantages but also that public safety and national security are absolutely and thoroughly protected. That review is ongoing, and the appropriate decision will be made at the appropriate time.
If the hon. gentleman is concerned about having limited time to debate today, I would remind him that this legislation has been before Parliament for two years and there has been ample opportunity for everyone to be involved.
With respect to the cyber aspect, this legislation is critical, because it presents the new legal framework for dealing with cybersecurity, including for the first time the authority to allow active cyber-operations when those are deemed appropriate to protect the Canadian national interest.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-11 18:40 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the efforts of the minister and his staff in bringing forward what I believe is a substantial piece of legislation. It provides a sense of security for Canadians and at the same time provides rights that can be traced right back to our charter.
In the last federal election, we made some serious commitments to Canadians about making changes to BillC-51. Bill C-59, in part, deals with Bill C-51. I look at the legislation before us as another way the government has delivered some of the tangible things it said it would.
Could the member comment regarding that aspect of the legislation, which I know is important to all Canadians? As a personal thought, it is nice to see the legislation going through this final process.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:41 [p.28953]
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Mr. Speaker, in the last election we were very specific about the things we found inappropriate, deficient or headed in the wrong direction that had been enacted by the previous government. We enumerated those things in our platform document. Bill C-59, together with other pieces of legislation before this Parliament, has dealt very effectively with the agenda of things that needed to be corrected.
For example, we said there needed to be a committee of parliamentarians to deal with national security and intelligence issues. We created that through BillC-22. We said we needed to protect the right to civil protest and dissent to make sure those civil rights were never impinged upon. That is dealt with in Bill C-59. We said we needed to make clear that threat reduction measures would not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That too is dealt with in Bill C-59.
If we went through each one of the items that were enumerated during the course of the election campaign, we would find that in Bill C-59 and in other pieces of legislation that have already been adopted by the House, commitments made in 2015 have, in fact, been satisfied by legislation.
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View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
2019-06-11 18:43 [p.28954]
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Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that I think it is a shame that the government is limiting debate on such essential issues as privacy and the fundamental rights of Canadian citizens.
For years, people like Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, have been expressing serious concern about the fact that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service collects personal information about people who have done absolutely nothing simply because it wants to conduct analyses.
In 2015, I do not think that the Liberal Party was as explicit as that. Bill C-59 states that “activity that undermines the security of Canada” could include significant or widespread interference with essential infrastructure. That is exactly the same language the Stephen Harper government used.
Could this include demonstrations against pipelines, for instance?
Can the government confirm that it indeed believes that major demonstrations against the construction of pipelines constitute activities that undermine the security of Canada?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:44 [p.28954]
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Mr. Speaker, it is clear in the amendments included in Bill C-59 that the right to civil protest, the right to demonstrate and the right to express one's point of view within the normal laws and procedures of Canada are all clearly protected. That was an issue under BillC-51, and we have corrected that by virtue of this legislation.
I point out as well that both the government and parliamentary committees have consulted about this legislation with the Privacy Commissioner, and the Privacy Commissioner's advice has been taken very seriously in the crafting of this legislation. As I say, the debate has been an extensive one. Every dimension of this new law has been thoroughly ventilated through one House of Parliament or the other.
I point out that the debate has gone on for so long that certain previous provisions of national security law have expired while waiting for the new law to come into effect, so it is time to vote and to take a decision.
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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
View Glen Motz Profile
2019-06-11 18:45 [p.28954]
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Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Bill C-59 leaves Canada with a larger, weaker national security and intelligence apparatus and is more focused on internal processes than external results. It is unfortunate, but the reality is that Bill C-59 focuses on policing the actions of national security intelligence agencies instead of criminals and extremists and what they do and plan to do to Canadians.
There are four oversight bodies that intelligence individuals need to be subject to, but it makes no sense to me to shift the security operations that protect Canadians to administration and paperwork. This bill would do just that. It would take $100 million from operations and put it into administration. That is $100 million focused on things other than defending national security.
I am wondering if the minister could comment on the reason for moving $100 million to administration.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:46 [p.28954]
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Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is just simply wrong.
In fact, the legislation would improve the security apparatus of the Government of Canada. It provides an unprecedented level of transparency, which is essential in ensuring that Canadians have confidence in their security and intelligence agencies.
The bill would correct a number of errors and deficiencies left to us by the previous government. It would provide brand new clarity about the legal and constitutional authorities necessary for the agencies to be able to do their jobs, and give those agencies critical new powers they would not otherwise have without this legislation. An example is the proper management and investigation of data sets, which is critical in this digital age. It is obviously important that it be done properly, and this legislation lays out the framework for doing it, which our security agencies would not otherwise be able to do.
It would also provide that new framework for cyber-activities, and in this era when cyber-threats, according to many experts, are the biggest threats we are going to face in the future, we need that capacity within CSE and other authorities of the Government of Canada to undertake—where necessary, and with the proper authorization—those active operations to keep Canadians safe. That is why this legislation is so important.
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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-06-11 18:48 [p.28954]
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Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I do not feel, as leader of the Green Party, that I had adequate opportunity to debate what has happened with Bill C-59, particularly since it went to the Senate.
However, I want to say on the record that although it is not the perfect bill one would have wished for to completely remove the damage of BillC-51 from the previous Parliament, I am very grateful for the progress made in this bill. What I referred to at the time as the “thought chill sections” of the language were removed. One example was the use of the words “terrorism in general” throughout Bill C-51.
The bill was tabled January 30, 2015, which was a Friday. I read it over the weekend, came back to Parliament on Monday and asked a question in question period about whether we were going to stop this bill that so heavily intruded on civil liberties.
Bill C-59 is an improvement, but I do not think I have had enough time to debate it. I wish the hon. minister could give us more time. I want to see it pass in this Parliament, but I wish there was a way to allow time for proper debate.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:49 [p.28955]
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Mr. Speaker, as we all know, there are limitations that apply with respect to members in this House who occupy positions of third parties, independents and so forth. That is an issue, I am afraid, that House leaders, whips and others will have to resolve in order to provide those additional debating opportunities.
This legislation has been thoroughly vented over a period of two years, and that followed a period of almost two years during which huge public consultations took place and 75,000 submissions were received as input from Canadians before the legislation was even drafted. Then, of course, the bill was actually referred to a committee before second reading to increase the scope of the debate and the possibility of amendments among members of Parliament.
I suppose no one can say any piece of legislation is perfect. This one is a vast improvement over what went before, and I am very pleased to have the endorsement of external experts like Professors Craig Forcese and Stephanie Carvin, who have described this legislation as the most important national security law in a generation.
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View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2019-06-11 18:51 [p.28955]
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Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security spent several weeks on Bill C-59. During that time, we heard from scholars like Mr. Forcese, who shared some very relevant remarks, as did the agencies.
I would like the minister to talk about the public aspect of the consultation. He said that tens of thousands of Canadians were consulted. I would like him to tell us how that historic public consultation met the needs that Canadians themselves had expressed.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:51 [p.28955]
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Mr. Speaker, let me first acknowledge the excellent work that was done by both the security and public safety committee of the House of Commons and its counterpart in the other place. They worked very hard on this legislation. The committee of the House actually did a pre-study before the legislation was introduced, and a good many of the recommendations that were made by the House of Commons committee found their way into the legislation when it was introduced.
However, the hon. gentleman is right. There was a very long period of public consultation that stretched across the country in town hall meetings, meetings with experts and ample online discussions. The hon. gentleman himself conducted extensive discussions among interest groups in the French language across the country, particularly in the province of Quebec. All of that was very helpful in making sure that when this legislation hit the floor of Parliament, it was well informed with the preferences and views of ordinary Canadians from coast to coast.
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister and the House that, when BillC-51 was introduced in the previous Parliament, the Liberals who were in opposition at the time voted in favour of Bill C-51, regardless of all the freedom of expression and privacy issues it might cause, not to mention other measures that endangered Canadians more than they protected them. In contrast, the official opposition New Democrats voted against Bill C-51.
Bill C-59 makes some improvements, but as civil liberties groups have said repeatedly, it fails to resolve a number of major problems related to use of data and privacy protection.
I would like to know why the government was in such a hurry to move forward without properly addressing the major issues with Bill C-51 that are still present in Bill C-59.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:54 [p.28955]
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Mr. Speaker, after two years of public consultations and then two years of parliamentary debate, the fact is that there has been enormous input into this legislation. I do not think anyone could call that a hasty process. We also took steps along the way to ensure that the parliamentary debate would be very thorough, like referring the bill to committee before second reading to increase the scope of the examination the parliamentary the committees could provide.
The other important provision in the legislation about further review and ongoing analysis is the fact that we have provided for the entire legislative package to be reviewed again by Parliament in three years' time. The original time frame was three years and during the debate it moved to five years. I acknowledged the work of the NDP to say that it should be three years, so the Senate moved the date back to three years, and we are accepting that proposal from the Senate.
Therefore, three years from now, there will be another opportunity for members to examine how the legislation has worked and make any further changes that need to be made.
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View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
2019-06-11 18:55 [p.28955]
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Mr. Speaker, in the minister's speech, he mentioned the use of datasets. He talked about sharing of information between interdepartmental agencies, and not necessarily law enforcement. Canadians saw earlier in this Parliament that Statistics Canada had been eager and very fervent in wanting to know our personal banking information.
What measures have been put in place to ensure that the data collection, the information the government is gathering on Canadians, is used for fighting terrorism as opposed to any other reason?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:56 [p.28955]
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Mr. Speaker, there are multiple safeguards in the legislation to that end. I would point out that we have consulted about many dimensions of the legislation with the Privacy Commissioner. The Privacy Commissioner has always been very generous and ample with the advice that comes from that very important organization. That advice has been heeded very carefully, particularly with respect to the sharing of information.
In fact, there is a specific part of the act that deals with the information-sharing rules and legislative framework that will apply to all agencies of the Government of Canada whenever information is being exchanged. It will be important for records to be kept about who gave the information, who received the information and what threshold was applied. All of that is laid out in explicit detail within the terms of this new law, which was not there before. Therefore, there once again is a very important enhancement to protect the rights of Canadians.
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View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-11 18:57 [p.28956]
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Mr. Speaker, I hear the minister talking about the bill having two years of debate and consultation. In fact, that is a time frame, but it is not two years of debate.
The debate has been limited at every stage of a very important bill, one that would collect people's personal data. Therefore, I want to challenge the minister when he says there have been two years of debate. I do not believe that is the right characterization. There has been debate, but it has been very limited and we are here this evening once again limiting debate.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 18:58 [p.28956]
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Mr. Speaker, I simply make the point that we began work on the legislation from the very first hours when the government was in office in 2015. We started with the learned judgments of Justices Iacobucci, O'Connor and Major. We started with reports that had been filed previously by Parliament, both the House of Commons and the Senate. We listened very carefully to the review reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
We conducted extensive public consultations, which involved 75,000 submissions online from ordinary Canadians. We had public meetings, town hall meetings and expert panels. Never before has there ever been an opportunity for Canadians to have input and for parliamentarians to debate the subject matter around Bill C-59. There has been the largest opportunity to do that in Canadian history.
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View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2019-06-11 18:59 [p.28956]
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Mr. Speaker, I have a good deal of respect for Craig Forcese and his opinion. However, there have been a couple of developments over the past two years since the bill was originally drafted, with the number of illegal migrants who have come across the border. This has created some security concerns. I know a great many of them have criminal records. The other one would be with the government not requiring visas for Mexican nationals. There are rumours and allegations that the Mexican cartels are operating more freely in Canada than they used to.
In light of those two developments in the last two years, does the bill adequately address those two situations and does it give our law enforcement the proper tools they need to do their job?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 19:00 [p.28956]
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Mr. Speaker, first, yes, the tools and powers provided for CSIS, for the CSE, for other security agencies of the Government of Canada, certainly for the RCMP, will enhance the work of all our security agencies.
I would point out for the hon. gentleman that in dealing with cross-border migration, over the last three years, we have faithfully applied each and every Canadian law in every case. We have also respected all our international obligations. The allegations of large numbers of criminals flowing into the country is completely wrong. In fact, it is a tiny part of a fraction. In those cases, they have all been identified, they have been detained as necessary and removal proceedings have been undertaken to get them out of the country.
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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
View Glen Motz Profile
2019-06-11 19:01 [p.28956]
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Mr. Speaker, the minister spoke early on about two academics who supported the bill. I want to remind him of what retired Canadian Forces Lieutenant-General Michael Day said. He said he had zero confidence in Canada's ability to combat emerging threats with Bill C-59.
We know that the charter is mentioned 26 times in the legislation, but the minister should know that every bill has to meet the scrutiny of the charter. Privacy appears 88 times in the bill. We do not know why the government is so concerned about trying to police the agencies that protect Canadians rather than going after those who would appear to do us harm.
The last point I want to make is this. The bill is called undemocratic and one of the reasons for that is the rarity that the Henry VIII clause was kept in it, which means there is the ability of the Prime Minister and cabinet to unilaterally change legislation without coming through Parliament. I am curious whether the minister would care to comment on that manoeuvre in the bill.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-11 19:03 [p.28956]
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Mr. Speaker, the conspiracy theories abound with the opposition. I am not quite sure what his source of research is, but this legislation has had the benefit of the largest amount of public consultation, the largest amount of parliamentary scrutiny and the best experts in the field of security law and human rights law. It has been vetted in every way possible. The end result would be three things.
Our agencies will have the powers they need to keep Canadians safe. They will have clarity with respect to their legislative and constitutional authorities. Old areas and weaknesses in previous laws have been remedied. There is unprecedented transparency for Canadians to see and know what goes on in the public interest to keep Canadians safe and to safeguard our rights and freedoms.
In the next three years, the next Parliament of Canada will have the opportunity to revisit all these rules and provisions to ensure they are serving Canadians. This is the right bill for now.
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View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-11 19:43 [p.28957]
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Is the hon. member for Calgary Skyview rising to indicate which way he wishes to vote?
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View Darshan Singh Kang Profile
Ind. (AB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-11 19:46 [p.28958]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to give a little ad at the beginning of my speech. Tomorrow is an important day. June 12 is Philippines Independence Day. I want to invite all members from all sides of the House to come out after their caucus meetings and walk across the street from West Block to SJAM to participate in the Filipino heritage event.
I want to add my thoughts in regard to Bill C-59 and I will approach it in two ways. First I will speak to the process that has brought us to the bill before us today and then I will provide thoughts in regard to some of the content of the bill itself.
To say that the issue of security and freedom is a new debate in the House of Commons would be a bit of a stretch. I can recall the debates surrounding BillC-51 several years ago when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. He brought in that piece of legislation. At the time, the Liberal Party, as the third party, actually supported that legislation.
However, we qualified that support in a very clear way. We indicated throughout the debate that there were some fundamental flaws in BillC-51, and that if we were to ultimately win in the election of 2015, we intended to bring forward some changes that would rectify some of those fundamental flaws.
I can recall the hours of debate that took place inside the chamber by members of all political parties. I can remember some of the discussions flowing out of the committees at the time. There was a great deal of debate and a great deal of controversy with the legislation. Even while campaigning during the last federal election, it was a topical issue for many people. It dealt with issues of an individual's rights versus having that sense of security. I always made reference to the fact that Liberals understand how important individual rights are. That is one of the reasons I often highlight that we are the party that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If we take a look at the original BillC-51, even though the principles were very admirable and we supported it and voted for it, even though at the time we received some criticism, we made it very clear that we would make changes.
This is the second piece of legislation that has attempted to make good on commitments we made to Canadians in the last election. I really enjoy is being able to stand up in this place and provide comment, especially on legislation that fulfills election commitments, starting with our very first bill, BillC-2. That is a bill I am very proud of, and I know my caucus colleagues are very proud of that bill. It concerns the tax break for Canada's middle class. There is the bill we are debating today, Bill C-59, the second part of a commitment we made to Canadians in the last federal election, which talks about the issue of public safety and privacy rights. Yet again, we have before us another piece of legislation that ultimately fulfills another commitment we made to Canadians in the last federal election.
I mentioned that I wanted to talk a bit about the process. In bringing forward Bill C-59, I do not think we could come up with a better example of a minister who has really understood the importance of the issue, or who has gone far beyond what any other minister in the Stephen Harper era ever did, in terms of consultation.
Even before the bill was introduced, we received input from thousands of Canadians, whether in person or through the Internet. We also received input from members of Parliament, particularly from many of my Liberal caucus colleagues. We were afforded the opportunity to share with the minister and the caucus some of the issues and concerns that came out of the last election. A great deal of consultation was done. The minister on several occasions indicated that the comprehensive dialogue that took place allowed for a substantial piece of legislation at the first reading stage.
Shortly after that, the bill was sent to committee prior to second reading, which allowed for a more thorough discussion on a wider scope of issues. The bill was debated at report stage and then at third reading. It was sent to the Senate, which has sent back amendments, which is where we are today. That process indicates that we have a government, as the Prime Minister has often indicated, that thinks the roles of our standing committees and the Senate can improve legislation. We have seen many changes throughout this process. This bill is a stronger and healthier piece of legislation than it originally was at its first reading stage.
I wanted to give that bit of background and then do a comparison regarding why the government had to move closure just an hour ago. I want to make it very clear to those individuals who might be following the debate, whether it is on Bill C-59 or other pieces of legislation.
We have an official opposition party that is determined to work with the NDP, and I often refer to it as the unholy alliance of the Conservatives and the New Democrats. They work together to try to prevent any legislation from passing. They will do whatever they can to prevent legislation from passing. It does not take much to do that. At the end of the day, a few members can cause a great deal of issues to prevent legislation from passing. There is no sense of responsibility coming from the opposition side in regard to working hard for Canadians and recognizing the valuable pieces of legislation that would be for the betterment of our society. In fact, those parties will put up speaker after speaker even on non-controversial legislation, because they have no real interest in passing legislation. If it were up to the Conservative opposition, we would still be debating BillC-2. The opposition members have many different tools, and they have no qualms about using them. Then—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2019-06-11 19:55 [p.28959]
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Madam Speaker, the extreme closure motion that was just passed does not give an opportunity for the opposition to reply. I just wanted to clarify that.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-11 19:56 [p.28959]
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Madam Speaker, let me cite a few examples. On the one hand, the combined opposition, that unholy alliance, will be critical of things like time allocation. The members will be critical because the government has prioritized bills and we want to pass them through. However, when it is a priority bill for the New Democrats, they have no problem saying that they want time allocation. They have supported time allocation.
When it comes time to get down and work hard for Canadians, we have the Conservative Party that will adjourn debate. The Conservatives will adjourn the House because of their unwillingness to spend time in a constructive way. The examples are endless. We remember the budget debate. I would not fault members if they do not remember the budget debate. That was when the member for Carleton stood in his place and literally talked out the whole clock. There was only one member who was allowed to speak to the budget, because the Conservative Party at the time wanted to allow its partners, the New Democrats, at least one opportunity to speak. One Conservative member talked for 14 and a half hours straight.
I raise this because the opposition members consistently do what they can to prevent legislation such as this from being able to move on. Then, they get upset if we use the tools that advance the interests of Canadians. The hypocrisy there—
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2019-06-11 19:58 [p.28959]
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Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like you to clarify that the extreme closure motion imposed by the Liberals does not give the opposition the right to reply to these absurd comments being made by the member for Winnipeg North.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-11 19:58 [p.28959]
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Madam Speaker, I am sorry if I am hurting some feelings on the other side. I recognize that the truth hurts at times, but that is the truth. Everything that I have said is true.
The opposition members can continue to play games all they want. I can assure them that they can stay in the gutter. They can try to put in all of the preventive measures that they want. They can attempt to adjourn the proceedings of the day all they want, but this government and this Prime Minister are committed to working day in and day out, right to the very last day for Canadians.
We will continue to be focused on bringing forward good, positive legislation, making a difference in the everyday lives of Canadians, whether it is through a legislative measure that we have today or the many budgetary measures that we have brought in. We know that our agenda is in fact having a positive impact on the lives of Canadians every day, and we are not scared to work hard.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-11 20:00 [p.28959]
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Madam Speaker, it is obvious that we have hit a nerve on the other side.
Let me focus on Bill C-59, which is a very important piece of legislation. If there were a part that I would highlight, it would be the national security intelligence review agency, an agency that would be more holistic in its approach. As opposed to having a review agency for the RCMP and a review agency for CSIS, we will have one review agency that ultimately has the responsibility for all of those security organizations, thereby ensuring we do not have independent silos all over the place.
This is really good stuff. I would encourage the members opposite to vote in favour of this legislation. Let us pass some legislation today.
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View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-11 20:44 [p.28961]
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I declare the amendment lost.
The next question is on the main motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:07 [p.28737]
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moved:
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, the House:
agrees with amendments 3 and 4 made by the Senate;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 1 made by the Senate because the intent of the legislation is to ensure ministerial responsibility and accountability, and the legislation provides that the Intelligence Commissioner must review whether or not the conclusions of the Minister of National Defence, when issuing a foreign intelligence authorization, are reasonable; additionally, subsection 20(1) already requires the Commissioner to provide the Minister with reasons for authorizing or rejecting a foreign intelligence authorization request;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 2 made by the Senate because it would limit the scope of subsection 83.221(1) and would create inconsistencies with the general counselling provisions contained in section 22 and paragraphs 464(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code.
He said: Madam Speaker, as many external experts have said, Bill C-59, which is before the House once again, is of extraordinary importance to Canada and the security and intelligence agencies that work every day to keep Canadians safe.
During the 2015 election, we promised to correct certain problematic elements in the previous government's national security legislation, BillC-51. In making that promise, we pledged that a government must be able to protect individual rights while at the same time keeping Canadians safe. This is not about striking a balance whereby rights and safety are traded off one against the other; this is about achieving and protecting both simultaneously.
Work on this legislation began very shortly after our government was first sworn into office in late 2015. The time and effort it has taken to get Bill C-59 to the point it is at today have ensured that this is the right bill at the right time for Canada.
We began by examining landmark court rulings, such as those issued by Justices Iacobucci, O'Connor and Major, as well as past reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the Senate and the House of Commons. We sought to implement their advice and their rulings.
We then looked at the legal authorities and powers our security and intelligence agencies have from a modern technological standpoint.
The Communications Security Establishment has been part of the Department of National Defence since the end of World War II, with its authorities embedded in the National Defence Act. In 2011, the CSE became a stand-alone agency. However, to this day, it still does not have its own enabling legislation with clear, delineated powers and authorities that reflect the necessary capabilities of signals intelligence in the modern era. Bill C-59 would fix that.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was written in 1984, following the Macdonald Commission report. It has been largely left in its original form since that time. To put that in perspective, in 1984, the Mac computer was first introduced to the public. If one had a PC instead of a Mac, one ran it on DOS, because Bill Gates had not released the first version of Windows yet, back in 1984. If one wanted to be one of the first people to buy a cellphone, one had to pay, in today's dollars, about $10,000, back in 1984. If one wanted to go online, one used a dial-up modem to access a bulletin board system, or BBS, because the Internet, with browsers, was still a decade away.
As Federal Court Justice Noël wrote in 2016, “the CSIS Act is showing its age”. Suffice it to say, as we looked at the enabling legislation for our security and intelligence agencies, we realized that they needed a lot of updating just to catch up to technology.
In September 2016, having done our basic research and homework, we launched a national security green paper outlining the challenges and the opportunities, and we asked Canadians to share their views. As it turned out, we heard back from them in spades. Over 75,000 submissions were received, and all of them are now summarized in an open and transparent manner on the Public Safety Canada website. During that process, we held town halls and public consultations from coast to coast. The public safety committee of the House of Commons also undertook a study and submitted its recommendations to the government.
Then, on June 20, 2017, after analyzing and synthesizing all of that input, Bill C-59 was tabled in Parliament.
We put it in the public domain before the House rose for the summer so that MPs and the public could truly digest the bill's contents before debate began in Parliament later that fall.
Once the House resumed that fall, the bill was referred to the public safety committee before second reading, allowing it to have more scope for possible amendments. The committee made numerous changes, improving the legislation, including a new requirement for public ministerial directives on receiving or sharing information that may have been tainted by torture. The House passed Bill C-59 on June 19, 2018, and sent it to the Senate, where it received even greater scrutiny and several more amendments.
Among them, the Senate has amended the legislation to require parliamentary review of the legislation three years after royal assent rather than five years, as originally proposed. The original intent of the review after five years was to take into account that some of the provisions of Bill C-59 may come into force quite a bit down the road, and those parts may not have had the time to mature enough for a fulsome review after just three years. However, as I said at the outset, this is a vitally important piece of legislation, and the majority of it will be fully in force in the near term, so a review after three years, as proposed by the Senate, is just fine with me. Plus, a review this quickly would ensure that any changes that may be required as a result of the review could happen sooner.
The Senate also improved part 1.1 of the legislation, the new avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act. While the bill lists five specific agencies involved in national security and intelligence operations that would have to comply with the provisions of the new act, the Senate added a schedule so that in future, new departments or agencies might be added by Governor in Council. This could include existing departments with a new national security component or future agencies that might be created.
I would also note that the Senate made eight observations about Bill C-59, which we will, of course, very carefully examine. I especially like the idea of the Senate undertaking a study it is proposing on converting intelligence to evidence in a court of law. This is a point that has bedevilled policy-makers for years, as well as Crown prosecutors and security and intelligence operators, and it is a topic that could benefit from detailed Senate examination.
The Senate also amended part 2 of the bill, which creates the new position and office of the intelligence commissioner. I thank the Senate for their consideration of this part, but will be asking my colleagues here in the House to respectfully decline this amendment.
The intelligence commissioner, under the new legislation, would have a vital role to play in determining whether the standard of reasonableness had been met in a foreign intelligence authorization. However, it would not be the role of the intelligence commissioner to determine how that standard should be met. There may be various methods to meet the standard, and the choice of which method is to be used would be at the discretion of the minister. There should be no confusion about ultimate accountability. It is important to ensure that the authority and accountability for a foreign intelligence operation would rest squarely with the Minister of National Defence.
My staff consulted very carefully on this point with the current Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, which will ultimately become the office of the new intelligence commissioner under Bill C-59, about this particular amendment. The office of the current commissioner indicated a very strong preference for the existing language in clause 20 of the future intelligence commissioner act.
The future clause 20 was amended by the House public safety committee to require the commissioner to provide reasons as to why he or she had approved any proposed authorization scheme or rejected it. That is the right step to take. The Minister of National Defence will consider those reasons when crafting any new authorization application. This approach allows the new commissioner to express his or her views very clearly, while the Minister of National Defence will retain the proper authority and accountability.
If, in the future, there were to be a situation where an authorization is ever challenged in court, it would be the Minister of National Defence, not the intelligence commissioner, who would be accountable to the court. The minister's argument in court should not be that the authorization scheme was explicitly what the intelligence commissioner told him to authorize in order for the CSE to undertake an important activity. In other words, the burden of responsibility should not be shifted to the intelligence commissioner; it must remain with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence needs to account for that.
With respect to the Criminal Code amendment that has been proposed by the Senate, I very much appreciate what the senators have attempted to do here. I understand very clearly the point they are trying to make, and we have heard the same point from a number of other stakeholders that have come forward with similar questions and concerns.
However, I make this point. The courts have set an extremely high bar for convicting individuals of counselling offences, which is why the language in the Criminal Code needs to be clear and consistent. It must be just as clear for section 83, terrorism offences, as it is for section 22 and section 464, which cover the counselling of other Criminal Code offences. This will help public prosecutors when they make a decision as to whether there is a reasonable chance of conviction in order to proceed to trial.
Unfortunately, the changes made by the previous government's BillC-51, back in 2015, had made the terrorist counselling provisions so obscure that they were never actually used. When Bill C-59 was tabled, the intent was to model the section 83, terrorism counselling offences, on the other Criminal Code counselling offences, which have been well used, successfully and are very familiar to police, prosecutors and judges alike.
The courts have already ruled that the terrorism counselling provisions in the Criminal Code, which refer to counselling “another person”, do not require the accused to have counselled a specific individual or even someone he or she knows. In practice, this broad principle will apply in section 83 as well.
If Parliament were to make the wording changes on counselling being suggested by the Senate, that could have unintended consequences for the rest of the Criminal Code's counselling provisions, such as counselling to commit a hate crime. A loophole could inadvertently be created, which I am sure some very assiduous defence attorney would attempt to exploit for a client facing a charge under section 464, for example.
Further, the use of the term “terrorist activity” in the amendment, rather than saying “terrorist offence” actually narrows the scope of what will be illegal under the terrorism counselling provisions. Terrorist activity is defined in the interpretation section of part II.1 of the Criminal Code, and that definition does not include all terrorism offences.
As an example, leaving Canada to join a terrorist group is an offence under the Criminal Code, but it is not contained within the definition of terrorist activity. As a result of the proposed amendment, it would be legal to counsel someone to travel to Syria to join Daesh. I am sure that is not what is intended by the proposed amendment, but that would be the actual consequence, and it is a consequence we need to avoid.
As I mentioned, I appreciate the spirit of the amendment and I have heard other representations to the same effect. However, what prosecutors have clearly told me is that if our goal is to have the terrorism counselling provisions used as frequently and effectively as possible, the best way to achieve that is to mirror the language used in the other counselling provisions in the Criminal Code where the notion of counselling “another person” already includes the counselling of an unknown individual.
I would like to remind all my colleagues of what Parliament is being asked to approve under Bill C-59 generally. We are looking to establish a single national security review body with a government-wide mandate to follow leads from one agency to another, such as from CSIS to the RCMP or elsewhere. This has long been recommended by experts, academics and parliamentary committees. Sometimes it is referred to as the super SIRC, and Bill C-59 does it.
We are creating a new act to govern the Communication Security Establishment, which includes a new regime for authorizing its activities for the first time ever. We are creating a closed list of threat reduction activities that CSIS may undertake so the service has clear direction from Parliament and knows what it can do, what it cannot do, and where the fences are. We are creating a justification regime for CSIS that will provide the lawful authorities it needs to perform the activities required to investigate threats and to keep Canadians safe. The same concept with respect to police officers has existed in the Criminal Code for many years.
We are also creating a dataset regime for the service that will allow it to collect, retain and query datasets subject to stringent safeguards. We are fixing the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, ensuring that it does not diminish lawful advocacy, protest and dissent. It will also have greatly improved safeguards to ensure federal departments share national security information only when it is necessary to do so, following appropriate procedures and keeping proper records.
Then there is the no-fly list, and I know we have all been lobbied on this one. Bill C-59 would enable the creation of a recourse mechanism for people whose names coincidentally match or closely resemble names that are listed in Canada's passenger protect program. This is the infamous problem of false positives, sometimes affecting small children.
I want to thank the members of the group known as the “no-fly kids”, whose tenacious efforts have kept this issue in the forefront for many parliamentarians, and Bill C-59 is part of the solution.
I can assure my colleagues that officials at Public Safety have compressed the timelines as much as humanly and physically possible. The required Treasury Board submissions and other orders in council required after royal assent of Bill C-59 will be moving as quickly as possible to get that recourse system up and running to deal with that issue for the no-fly kids.
That summary does not quite encapsulate everything that is in Bill C-59. However, as my colleagues can see, it is very comprehensive legislation that would strengthen and modernize our national security apparatus and architecture.
I want to thank all of the public servants across multiple departments who have worked on this and have appeared before many committees to provide technical answers to parliamentarians. I want to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who participated in our green paper consultation process and the many individuals who continue to provide advice as Bill C-59 moves through the parliamentary process.
Most of all, I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues who have given this bill the thorough scrutiny that it most certainly deserves, including Senator Gold and his colleagues in the other place who have sent us the report we are dealing with at this moment and to which we are responding.
With this comprehensive legislation, we are in fact achieving our original goal and obligation to keep Canadians safe and secure, while simultaneously safeguarding their rights and freedoms and the precious democratic qualities and values that make Canada, Canada.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his explanation.
However, I am still skeptical about part 7. I listened carefully when the minister explained the part about the commission of a terrorism offence. In the broader conversation, people are comparing Bill C-59 to BillC-51.
Bill C-59 is 260 pages long. Many parts of it are very administrative and relate to structural changes. I will talk about that later.
Everyone agrees that the government's approach here is wrong. National security experts say so. Conservatives sent the same message with our amendments. Even the Senate's amendment confirmed that the government's approach is wrong. Despite all that, the minister insists that he has the right solution.
Is the government butting heads with everyone just because it wants to keep its election promise to change Bill C-51 at any cost?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:28 [p.28740]
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Madam Speaker, the purposes of Bill C-59 are threefold.
First, it would address the deficiencies that existed in previous legislation, including not only BillC-51 but other pieces of legislation as well. There were errors or omissions that needed to be fixed, and Bill C-59 would do that.
Second, Bill C-59 introduces a broad range of new accountability mechanisms through the new national security and intelligence review agency, the creation of the new intelligence commissioner and a number of other procedures in Bill C-59 to improve transparency and accountability throughout our national security architecture.
Third, the legislation seeks to clarify and confirm legal and constitutional authorities so our security and intelligence agencies, whether that is CSIS, or the CSE, or the RCMP, or the CBSA or any others in the Government of Canada that deal with national security and intelligence issues, know explicitly where they stand, what their authorities are, where the fences are and what they can and cannot do.
This legislation works very hard to accomplish all three of those objectives.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 10:30 [p.28740]
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Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.
I have two questions for him. The first is about the Senate amendments before us today. Some may think I am getting hung up on what seems like a minor detail in an omnibus bill, but I just want to figure out the government's approach and go back to something my colleague mentioned.
This process should not be partisan, yet there is a certain partisan tinge to the amendment that changes the review period for the act from five years to three. I presented this amendment in committee, and it was rejected. Now that the Senate is presenting it, however, the government is all for it.
Could the minister explain to me why the government changed its mind about a detail that is so trivial but was recommended by the committee's witnesses?
My second question is about the Canada Border Services Agency. The minister has been promising almost since day one to create a review body for the Canada Border Services Agency. Now we finally have a bill that does that, but with so little time left in the session and the bill not even at committee stage yet, the odds of it passing are low.
Since the government was tabling an omnibus bill anyway, why not throw in what we now see in BillC-98, so that people whose rights are violated at the border can get at least some recourse?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:31 [p.28741]
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Madam Speaker, on the first point, about the review period, it is critically important that the principle is being embedded in the legislation. The entire national security and intelligence architecture of the Government of Canada, from end to end, needs to be revisited again at some period after the passage of this legislation. This is groundbreaking legislation that accomplishes more change within the security and intelligence system than perhaps ever before in our history, and it is important that the set of decisions we are making in Bill C-59 be revisited periodically in the future to make sure that we continue to get it right.
The original proposal the government had made was to do this after five years. There was a discussion in the committee about maybe moving it up to three years, which is a compressed but doable time frame. However, the government maintained the view that five years would be a good frame within which to accomplish that review. The Senate came back to the same point that had been raised by the hon. gentleman, saying that three is a better figure. I am prepared to—
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View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-06-07 10:33 [p.28741]
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Madam Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his clarification, but there was one thing he did not really clarify. My colleague asked about part 7. I want to ask him about threat disruption. Part 7 raises the threshold for recognizance orders and peace bonds, making it more difficult for law enforcement to disrupt threats before they occur.
This section proposes to change the Criminal Code from “the peace officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the detention of the person in custody is likely to prevent a terrorist activity” to “the peace officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the detention of the person in custody is necessary to prevent a terrorist activity.”
This is an extremely high bar when times are very short. Our Conservative BillC-51 aligned with our allies, including countries like Norway and Finland. Why has the minister made it more difficult for information sharing and also taken away the reasonableness that is in agreement with our allies, as far as that point is concerned?
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:34 [p.28741]
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Madam Speaker, I think the hon. gentleman will find that the whole pattern of our amendments to national security law over the last three and a half years has in fact been to become more aligned, rather than less aligned, with our allies.
For example, our allies have had, for years, the concept of a parliamentary mechanism for reviewing security and intelligence activities. Canada had never had that, until this House passed BillC-22 and created the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. All of our allies had that; we did not. We changed the law, and now that provision exists.
The point I was about to finish on the previous question was to give my colleague, the member for Beloeil—Chambly, some credit for actually having raised the three-year number in the first place. Now that it is going to be in the law, I think he can assume both some credit and some responsibility for that.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 10:36 [p.28741]
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Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for the acknowledgement. However, I would like to come back to the second question I posed to him in my first round, which is regarding CBSA.
As colleagues in the House know, CBSA is the only national security agency that does not have its own dedicated review and/or oversight body. The minister is proposing one in BillC-98, but I want to know why he did not do that in the legislation before us, when it has been promised for a number of years now. The fact is that BillC-98 has not even gone to a committee in the House yet, much less been brought to the Senate. Therefore, it seems less and less likely that it would be adopted, and we know that this is an important mechanism that is required.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-07 10:36 [p.28741]
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Madam Speaker, the reason is that the subject matter is different. Any security or intelligence activities of CBSA will in fact be reviewable under the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and under the provisions of Bill C-59. What remains to be done, and this is the subject of BillC-98, is a review mechanism for the activities of CBSA that do not relate to national security and intelligence. That is what BillC-98 covers. The intelligence and security part of CBSA is covered by Bill C-59 and by the previous bill, BillC-22.
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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!
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will continue my speech on this very serious matter.
This week the Liberals moved a motion declaring that they would accept just two of the four amendments proposed by the Senate and that they were rejecting the important amendment on terrorism. The two amendments they retained were administrative ones.
Also, we did not support this bill because it makes it harder for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent attacks on Canadian soil, since they no longer have any threat disruption powers. Furthermore, the bill creates information silos among our agencies, which creates problems. I have said this before and I will say it again: information sharing is fundamental.
The Senate's first amendment is to part 2 of the bill, which deals with the intelligence commissioner. The amendment adds a new clause under the “Foreign Intelligence Authorization” heading. This new clause would allow the intelligence commissioner to refer a matter back to the minister with a description of the condition that would have to be added to the authorization in order to make the conclusions reasonable. This amendment would affect the Communications Security Establishment in particular and was recommended by the commissioner.
We support this amendment because it improves the bill by increasing communication and feedback between the information commissioner and the minister, thus reducing administrative formalities. We also proposed this amendment at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Unfortunately, the government rejected it.
The second amendment pertains to counselling the commission of a terrorism offence—I keep bringing it up and we will talk about it again and again—under the “Criminal Code” heading. Those few words make a world of difference in these 260 pages. This amendment broadens the scope of the wording slightly, given that some of our witnesses felt that the term “counselling” was too narrow. We support that amendment because it significantly improves the wording, ensuring greater certainty regarding how counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence should be interpreted. For an offence to have been committed, there is no requirement that:
(c) the accused knows the identity of the person whom the accused counsels to carry out the terrorist activity; or
(d) the person whom the accused counsels to carry out the terrorist activity knows that it is a terrorist activity.
This amendment addresses concerns specific to online terrorist propaganda. We do not understand why the government rejected this amendment proposed by the Senate, which is dominated by independent Liberals.
Despite two positive amendments, this legislation is still flawed. Aside from our unconditional support of part 6, we cannot support Bill  C-59.
I will close by mentioning a few examples of serious flaws.
Part 4 amends threat reduction powers by limiting guaranteed powers to seven types of actions, one of which raises the question of whether non-invasive actions require a warrant. That action is described as interfering with the movement of any person. That means a CSIS agent on the ground would need a warrant to give false information to someone who could help the agent meet conspirators. It would also prevent a CSIS agent from warning the parents of a child who is being radicalized unless the agent has a warrant. These changes place an additional administrative burden on our agencies, which, without additional funding, will have to take agents out of the field so they can take care of paperwork.
Information silos are another problem. Part 5 was created in response to privacy protection groups that were unhappy with the fact that government institutions may share information, of their own accord or at the request of another institution, about activities that pose a threat to Canada's security. This creates a silo effect, which national security experts decried.
When ordinary Canadians look at the government, it seems complicated to them. There are many different public servants and many different departments. They often say that people do not talk to each other. Part 5 further complicates the exchange of information that is crucial to protecting national security. People have to be able to communicate. Information silos hinder communication. Leading national security advisors expressed concerns, but the government did not want to change its approach.
The third important element is threat disruption. Part 7 raises the threshold for recognizance orders and peace bonds, making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor problematic individuals and disrupt threats before they occur.
This clause replaces the following words from the Criminal Code, “suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity” with “suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.
It all comes down to two words: “likely” is replaced by “necessary”.
Instead of having serious concerns or information about a likely terrorist activity, we now have to be sure that the arrest is necessary. This complicates things. If there is any doubt, we have to back off. Terrorist activities tend to develop quite quickly. People who plot attacks might take months to think about and plan them, but others might quickly decide that they feel like doing something on Sunday, for example. When we get information quickly we have to be able to react quickly. Bill C-59 encumbers the process.
The powers provided for in Conservative Bill C-51 were aligned with those of our allies, including Norway and Finland. We modelled our bill on other democracies that believe freedom and security go hand in hand.
In summary, Bill C-59 is a heavy bureaucratic tool that will not ensure public safety, but will undo what the Conservative government put in place to safeguard the security of Canadians.
I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the order for the consideration of the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, be discharged and the Bill withdrawn”
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2019-06-07 10:58 [p.28744]
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The amendment is in order. We shall now proceed to questions and comments.
The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade Diversification.
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View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2019-06-07 10:59 [p.28744]
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Madam Speaker, I remember when the Conservative Party was in government and passed BillC-51. There was a lot of criticism by legal experts that the definition of counselling to commit terrorism was too broad and opened up a door to a lot of questionable practices. Then, lo and behold, the Conservative Party promoted an ad that quotes a video from a terrorist organization. Ironically, a lot of legal experts said that the Conservative government was violating its own law.
I have two questions for my colleague. First, does he think it is wise to quote a terrorist organization in an ad? Second, does he agree with me that having a clearer definition is better?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his question.
He asked me if it was appropriate to quote a terrorist organization. I believe it is. That is why it is also important to record the names of terrorist organizations in the Criminal Code. We have to state the facts and use the right words.
With respect to the definition of committing a terrorist act, the main objective should always be to be effective and ensure that we arrest those seeking to commit terrorist acts.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 12:23 [p.28761]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I would like to ask him a question.
I hardly need to remind him that the NDP and the Conservatives disagree on how to address some of the issues raised by Bill C-59. However, I think that we do agree on one thing, which is how the study of this bill was handled. It was sent to committee before second reading so more amendments could be made, more witnesses could be heard from and the bill could be studied more thoroughly. I do not remember exactly how many meetings we had, but we had more for the clause-by-clause study than for the study itself.
Does my colleague agree that more time should have been allocated to studying this important bill? The House could have studied it in greater detail, especially considering how much time the Senate spent studying it.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague.
Our visions are often very different. However, our common goal is to succeed in making things better. Bill C-59 is a 260-page omnibus bill with more than nine parts. The NDP originally suggested splitting the bill so that we could work on it in a different way. All of its requests were denied. That was the government's ideology. The Liberals had their hearts set on attacking BillC-51, and never mind everything else. Yes, I agree with my NDP colleague that our visions were different, but our objective was the same. Sadly, the Liberals were not willing to listen.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-07 12:24 [p.28761]
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Madam Speaker, I was here when the minister made his statements in regard to the necessity of this legislation and explained exceptionally well why we are at the stage we are at.
My question is related to the bigger picture. The member made reference to BillC-51. There were a series of changes that were required. We are seeing part of that in the legislation; it is only a component of it. The legislation also addressed one of the biggest things lacking in Bill C-51, and that was the parliamentary oversight committee, which put us on par with other Five Eyes nations. I think this is good, substantive legislation that is in Canadians' best interests, from a security and privacy perspective. Both issues are being addressed.
Would the member not agree that it is time we actually saw this legislation passed?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill. That will make it easy for the government to claim that the Conservatives voted against the bill as a whole, but that is completely untrue. I made that clear in my speech. For example, we agree with part 6, which makes changes to air travel legislation to fix problems with the no-fly list. There are also other parts where certain elements were changed. The fact remains that, overall, Bill  C-59 is a political document designed to attack BillC-51. In our opinion, the primary objective of fixing things that were problematic in the eyes of the Liberals or others has not been met, or has been met in a way that caters to certain interests.
As for security, this bill makes it harder for our agencies to do their job, especially the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS. It is wrong to say that we oppose Bill  C-59 as a whole, but we cannot support it, because it is an omnibus bill and the problematic provisions are simply unacceptable.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 12:27 [p.28761]
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Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today.
I ask for the indulgence of the House and I hope no one will get up on a point of order on this, but because I am making a speech on a specific day, I did want to shout out to two of my biggest supporters.
The first is to my wife Chantale, whose birthday is today. I want to wish her a happy birthday. Even bigger news is that we are expecting a baby at the end of July. I want to shout out the fact that she has been working very hard at her own job, which is obviously a very exhausting thing, and so the patience she has for my uncomparable fatigue certainly is something that I really do thank her for and love her very much for.
I do not want to create any jealousy in the household, so I certainly want to give a shout-out to her daughter and our daughter Lydia, who is also a big supporter of mine. We are a threesome, and as I said at my wedding last year, I had the luck of falling in love twice. I wanted to take this opportunity, not knowing whether I will have another one before the election, to shout out to them and tell them how much I love them.
I thank my colleagues for their warm thoughts that they have shared with me.
On a more serious note, I would like to talk about the Senate amendments to Bill  C-59. More specifically, I would like to talk about the process per se and then come back to certain aspects of Bill  C-59, particularly those about which I raised questions with the minister—questions that have yet to be answered properly, if at all.
I want to begin by touching on a more timely issue related to a bill that is currently before the House, Bill C-98. This bill will give more authority to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP so that it also covers the Canada Border Services Agency. That is important because we have been talking for a long time about how the CBSA, the only agency that has a role to play in our national security, still does not have a body whose sole function is to review its operations.
Of course, there is the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which was created by Bill C-22, and there will soon be a committee created by Bill  C-59 that will affect the CBSA, but only with regard to its national security related activities.
I am talking about a committee whose sole responsibility would be to review the activities of the Canada Border Services Agency and to handle internal complaints, such as the allegations of harassment that have been reported in the media in recent years, or complaints that Muslim citizens may make about profiling.
It is very important that there be some oversight or further review. I will say that, as soon as an article is published, either about a problem at the border, about the union complaining about the mistreatment of workers or about problems connected to the agency, the minister comes out with great fanfare to remind everyone that he made a deep and sincere promise to create a system that would properly handle these complaints and that there would be some oversight or review of the agency.
What has happened in four whole years? Nothing at all.
For years now, every time there is a report in the news or an article comes out detailing various allegations of problems, I have just been copying and pasting the last tweet I posted. The situation keeps repeating, but the government is not doing anything.
This situation is problematic because the minister introduced a bill at the last minute, as the clock is winding down on this Parliament, and the bill has not even been referred yet to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
I have a hard time believing that we will pass this bill in the House and an even harder time seeing how it is going to get through the Senate.
That is important because, in his speech, the minister himself alluded to the fact that in fall 2016, when the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, of which I am a member, travelled across the country to study the issue and make recommendations ahead of introducing Bill C-59, the recommendation to create a committee tasked with studying the specific activities of the CBSA was one of the most important recommendations. As we see in BillC-98, the government did not take this opportunity to do any such thing.
It is certainly troubling, because Bill C-59 is an omnibus piece of legislation. I pleaded with the House, the minister and indeed even the Senate, when it reached the Senate, through different procedural mechanisms, to consider parts of the bill separately, because, as the minister correctly pointed out, this is a huge overhaul of our national security apparatus. The concern with that is not only the consideration that is required, but also the fact that some of these elements, which I will come back to in a moment, were not even part of the national security consultations that both his department and the committee, through the study it did, actually took the time to examine.
More specifically, coming back to and concluding the point on BillC-98, the minister does not seem to have acted in a prompt way, considering his commitments when it comes to oversight and/or a review of the CBSA. He said in his answer to my earlier question on his speech that it was not within the scope of this bill. That is interesting, not only because this is omnibus legislation, but also because the government specifically referred the legislation to committee prior to second reading with the goal of allowing amendments that were beyond the scope of the bill on the understanding that it did want this to be a large overhaul.
I have a hard time understanding why, with all the indicators being there that it wanted this to be a large, broad-reaching thing and wanted to have things beyond the scope, it would not have allowed for this type of mechanism. Instead, we find we have a bill, BillC-98, arriving at the 11th hour, without a proper opportunity to make its way through Parliament before the next election.
I talked about how this is an omnibus bill, which makes it problematic in several ways. I wrote a letter to some senators about children whose names are on the no-fly list and the No Fly List Kids group, which the minister talked about. I know the group very well. I would like to congratulate the parents for their tireless efforts on their children's behalf.
Some of the children are on the list simply because the list is racist. Basically, the fact that the names appear multiple times is actually a kind of profiling. We could certainly have a debate about how effective the list is. This list is totally outdated and flawed because so many people share similar names. It is absurd that there was nothing around this list that made it possible for airlines and the agents who managed the list and enforced the rules before the bill was passed to distinguish between a terrorist threat and a very young child.
Again, I thank the parents for their tireless efforts and for the work they did in a non-partisan spirit. They may not be partisan, but I certainly am. I will therefore take this opportunity to say that I am appalled at the way the government has taken these families and children hostage for the sake of passing an omnibus bill.
The minister said that the changes to the no-fly list would have repercussions on a recourse mechanism that would stop these children from being harassed every time they go to the airport. This part of the bill alone accounted for several hundred pages.
I asked the government why it did not split this part from the rest of the bill so it would pass sooner, if it really believed it would deliver justice to these families and their kids. We object to certain components or aspects of the list. We are even prepared to challenge the usefulness of the list and the flaws it may have. If there are any worthy objectives, we are willing to consider them. However, again, our hands were tied by the use of omnibus legislation. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to make omnibus bills a thing of the past.
I know parents will not say that, and I do not expect them to do so. I commend them again for their non-partisan approach. However, it is appalling and unacceptable that they have been taken hostage.
Moreover, there is also BillC-21.
I will digress here for a moment. BillC-21, which we opposed, was a very troubling piece of legislation that dealt with the sharing of border information with the Americans, among others. This involved information on citizens travelling between Canada and the United States. Bill C-59 stalled in the Senate, much like Bill C-21.
As the Minister of Public Safety's press secretary was responding to the concerns of parents who have children on the no-fly list, he suddenly started talking about BillC-21 as a solution for implementing the redress system for people who want to file a complaint or do not want to be delayed at the airport for a name on the list, when it is not the individual identified. I think it is absolutely awful that these families are being used as bargaining chips to push through a bill that contains many points that have nothing to do with them and warrant further study. In my view, those aspects have not been examined thoroughly enough to move the bill forward.
I thank the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for recognizing the work I did in committee, even though it took two attempts when he responded to my questions earlier today. In committee, I presented almost 200 amendments. Very few of them were accepted, which was not a surprise.
I would like to focus specifically on one of the Senate's amendments that the government agreed to. This amendment is important and quite simple, I would say even unremarkable. It proposes to add a provision enabling us to review the bill after three years, rather than five, and make amendments if required. That is important because we are proposing significant and far-reaching changes to our national security system. What I find intriguing is that I proposed the same amendment in committee, which I substantiated with the help of expert testimony, and the Liberals rejected my amendment. Now, all of a sudden, the Senate is proposing the same amendment and the government is agreeing to it in the motion we are debating today.
I asked the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness why the Liberals were not willing to put partisanship aside in a parliamentary committee and accept an opposition amendment that proposed a very simple measure but are agreeing to it today. He answered that they had taken the time to reflect and changed their minds when the bill was in the Senate. I am not going to spend too much of my precious time on that, but I find it somewhat difficult to accept because nothing has changed. Experts appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and it was very clear, simple and reasonable. Having said that, I thank the minister for finally recognizing this morning that I contributed to this process.
I also want to talk about some of what concerns us about the bill. There are two pieces specifically with regard to what was BillC-51 under the previous government, and a few aspects new to this bill that have been brought forward that cause us some concern and consternation.
There are two pieces in BillC-51 that raised the biggest concerns at the time of debate in the previous Parliament and raised the biggest concerns on the part of Canadians as well, leading to protests outside our committee hearings when we travelled the country to five major cities in five days in October 2016. The first has to do with threat disruption, and the second is the information-sharing regime that was brought in by Bill C-51. Both of those things are concerning, for different reasons.
The threat disruption powers offered to CSIS are of concern because at the end of the day, the reason CSIS was created in the first place was that there was an understanding and consensus in Canada that there had to be a separation between the RCMP's role in law enforcement, which is making arrests and the work that revolves around that, and intelligence gathering, which is the work our intelligence service has to do, so they were separated.
However, bringing us back closer to the point where we start to lose that distinction with regard to the threat disruption powers means that a concern about constitutionality will remain. In fact, the experts at committee did say that Bill C-59, while less unconstitutional than what the Conservatives brought forward in the previous Parliament, had yet to be tested, and there was still some uncertainty about it.
We still believe it is not necessary for CSIS to have these powers. That distinction remains important if we want to be in keeping with the events that led to the separation in the first place, namely the barn burnings, the Macdonald Commission and all those things that folks who have followed this debate know full well, but which we do not have time to get into today.
The other point is the sharing of information, which we are all familiar with. We opened the door to more liberal sharing of information, no pun intended, between the various government departments. That is worrisome. In Canada, one of the most highly publicized cases of human rights violations was the situation of Maher Arar while he was abroad, which led to the Arar commission. In such cases, we know that the sharing of information with other administrations is one of the factors that can lead to the violation of human rights or torture. There are places in the world where human rights are almost or completely non-existent. We find that the sharing of information between Canadian departments can exacerbate such situations, particularly when information is shared between the police or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
There is an individual who was tortured abroad who is currently suing the government. His name escapes me at the moment. I hope he will forgive me. Global Affairs Canada tried to get him a passport to bring him back to Canada, regardless of whether the accusations against him were true, because he was still a Canadian citizen. However, overwhelming evidence suggests that CSIS and the RCMP worked together with foreign authorities to keep him abroad.
More information sharing can exacerbate that type of problem because, in the government, the left hand does not always know what the right hand is doing. Some information can fall into the wrong hands. If the Department of Foreign Affairs is trying to get a passport for someone and is obligated by law to share that information with CSIS, whose interests are completely different than those of our diplomats, this could put us on a slippery slope.
The much-criticized information sharing system will remain in place with Bill C-59. I do not have the time to list all the experts and civil society groups that criticized this system, but I will mention Amnesty International, which is a well-known organization that does excellent work. This organization is among those critical of allowing the information sharing to continue, in light of the human rights impact it can have, especially in other countries.
Since the bill was sent back to committee before second reading, we had the advantage of being able to propose amendments that went beyond the scope of the bill. We realized that this was a missed opportunity. It was a two-step process, and I urge those watching and those interested in the debates to go take a look at how it went down. There were several votes and we called for a recorded division. Votes can sometimes be faster in committee, but this time we took the time to do a recorded division.
There were two proposals. The Liberals were proposing an amendment to the legislation. We were pleased to support the amendment, since it was high time we had an act stating that we do not support torture in another country as a result of the actions of our national security agencies or police forces. Nevertheless, since this amendment still relies on a ministerial directive, the bill is far from being perfect.
I also proposed amendments to make it illegal to share any information that would lead to the torture of an individual in another country. The amendments were rejected.
I urge my colleagues to read about them, because I am running out of time. As you can see, 20 minutes is not enough, but I would be happy to take questions and comments.
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