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Results: 1 - 60 of 137
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 12:48 [p.28764]
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Madam Speaker, we will have to disagree on information sharing. Both BillC-51 and now with a slight rejigging or perhaps cosmetic change at best in the bill before us is not going to necessarily increase public safety, but certainly forces us to run the risk of finding ourselves in a situation where human rights might be violated.
I will go back to the example I gave in my speech. On the surface, it might make sense to Canadians who are watching to think that we are going to share information between agencies. However, we said at the time of the debate on BillC-51 that the RCMP, CSIS and any other agency in Canada that worked to ensure public safety needed more resources to more effectively do their work to keep us safe.
We see some unintended consequences. If Consular Affairs has to share information with CSIS, for example, when CSIS might be engaged in a different type of activity or with different objectives, we know that is where we can find situations like the one Maher Arar went through when he was detained abroad and subject to torture, as well as many others, tragically and disturbingly. That is where we disagree.
Information sharing, as it existed pre- BillC-51, the Conservative legislation in the previous Parliament, was adequate. Again, additional resources to these agencies would have been the way to go. That is what we said at the time and that is what we continue to say today.
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View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
2019-06-07 12:50 [p.28764]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly for his speech, and also for all the diligent and hard work he has been doing on this file for months now.
At the end of his speech, my colleague made a point that I think is key and that I found very interesting. Because of time constraints, I did not hear enough details. He said that in committee, he proposed an amendment to amend the act to ensure that Canadian agencies and departments could not share any information that would lead, directly or indirectly, to the torture of Canadian citizens. That amendment was rejected.
What reason did the other committee members give for rejecting an amendment that, my goodness, seems entirely reasonable and in line with our values?
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-07 12:51 [p.28764]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and his kind words.
He is right; that is a very important aspect. The Liberals proposed an amendment, and we supported it. The amendment actually created a brand new law. Procedure allows us to do that.
Once again, amending the act to state that Canada condemns torture and forbids our agencies from sharing information or taking action that could lead to Canadian citizens being tortured is commendable. However, the law also said that deputy ministers and agency directors were required to obey ministerial directives, even though we know that ministerial directives forbidding anyone from sharing information that could lead to people being tortured already exist and are downright inadequate.
I wonder if the government decided not to make that prohibition law because it is worried people might sue the government and win. Many out-of-court settlements have resulted in payments to individuals who were victims of torture abroad because of the Government of Canada's actions. I do not think the government is bothered by these people winning. I just think it does not want to be humiliated in court when information about our agencies' bad behaviour gets out.
I think the government just wanted to protect itself, but what I want is legislation that protects citizens here and abroad. Unfortunately, the government did not want to go as far as experts, groups such as Amnesty International and, of course, the NDP, wanted it to go. This is yet another half-measure. We are not going to turn it down, but much more can be done. Human rights warrant nothing less than total protection.
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View Frank Baylis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Frank Baylis Profile
2019-06-07 13:21 [p.28769]
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Madam Speaker, interestingly, the member for Durham mentions his friend Sulemaan Ahmed, who also turns out to be my friend. I happen to know how much work he and his whole cohort of parents have put into making this bill come to life in terms of getting their children off the no-fly list, where they do not belong. I think he would be shocked to know that his friend from Durham is no longer supporting this measure.
Can he explain to us why he is doing this to his good friend Sulemaan?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the minister said that 36 witnesses appeared before the committee during its months-long study. One of them was Richard Fadden, the former national security advisor to the former and current prime ministers.
Mr. Fadden said that Bill C-59 was problematic because it was harder to understand and manage than the Income Tax Act. He said that the transfer of information seemed especially complicated.
Can the minister comment on Mr. Fadden's remarks? Does he agree with him? Is there still time to change things?
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 17:05 [p.21171]
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Mr. Speaker, certainly after hearing the minister go through the bill part by part, we just do not have time for in questions and comments, which I will do in my speech. However, there are three specific issues I want to raise with him.
The first is this talk of this big open and transparent process, notwithstanding the criticism that came from civil society about the government's green paper being too focused on giving law enforcement more flexibility and powers and not protecting rights and freedoms. The fact is that at committee nearly all those amendments were Liberal. Two NDP amendments were adopted, one because of a symbolic preamble. The other after agreeing to Liberal wording. Zero Conservatives and zero Green amendments were adopted. Therefore, when we talk about 55 amendments, it is important to put that into context.
Speaking of amendments, a lot of hay is being made of this great amendment the Liberals have adopted that codifies in law ministerial directives related to the information obtained under the use of torture. If the Liberals truly believe that this is not the right way to go, I want the minister to explain to me why his Liberal colleagues voted against my amendment that read as follows. The establishment in this case is CSE, and I presented similar amendments for other agencies, and it is prohibited from:
(a) disclosing information obtained in the performance of its duties and functions under this Act, or requesting information, if the disclosure or the request would subject an individual to a danger, believed on substantial grounds to exist, of mistreatment; or
(b) using information that is believed on reasonable grounds to have been obtained as a result of mistreatment of an individual.
(2) For the purposes of this section, mistreatment means torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment within the meaning of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, signed at New York on December 10, 1984.
If the Liberals truly think that we, as Canadians, believe it is fundamentally unacceptable to obtain information or to use information obtained in the use of torture, why did the Liberals vote on the record, in recorded votes, against every amendment I had that would read exactly like that, explicitly prohibiting the use of torture? Why do they settle for ministerial directives?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.
On June 20, 2017, almost a year ago to the day, the minister introduced Bill C-59 in the House. Shortly after that, he said that, instead of bringing it back for second reading, it would be sent straight to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security so the committee could strengthen and improve it. Opposition members thought that was fantastic. We thought there would be no need for political games for once. Since this bill is about national security, we thought we could work together to ensure that Bill C-59 works for Canadians. When it comes to security, there is no room for partisanship.
Unfortunately, the opposition soon realized that it was indeed a political game. The work we were asked to do was essentially pointless. I will have more to say about that later.
The government introduced BillC-71, the firearms bill, in much the same way. It said it would sever the gun-crime connection, but this bill does not even go there. The government is targeting hunters and sport shooters, but that is another story.
Getting back to Bill C-59, we were invited to propose amendments. We worked very hard. We got a lot of work done in just under nine months. We really took the time to go through this 250-page omnibus bill. We Conservatives proposed 45 specific amendments that we thought were important to improve Bill C-59, as the minister had asked us to do. In the end, none of our amendments were accepted by the committee or the government. Once again, we were asked to do a certain job, but then our work was dismissed, even though everything we proposed made a lot of sense.
The problem with Bill C-59, as far as we are concerned, is that it limits the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It also limits the ability of government departments to share data among themselves to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating and promoting terrorist offences in general. Finally, it raises the threshold for obtaining a terrorism peace bond and recognizance with conditions. One thing has been clear to us from the beginning. Changing just two words in a 250-page document can sometimes make all the difference. What we found is that it will be harder for everyone to step in and address a threat.
The minister does indeed have a lot of experience. I think he has good intentions and truly wants this to work, but there is a prime minister above him who has a completely different vision and approach. Here we are, caught in a bind, with changes to our National Security Act that ultimately do nothing to enhance our security.
Our allies around the world, especially those in Europe, have suffered attacks. Bill C-51 was introduced in 2014, in response to the attacks carried out here, in Canada. Right now, we do not see any measures that would prevent someone from returning to the Islamic State. This is a problem. Our act is still in force, and we are having a hard time dealing with Abu Huzaifa, in Toronto. The government is looking for ways to arrest him—if that is what it truly wants to do—and now it is going to pass a law that will make things even harder for our security services. We are having a hard time with this.
Then there is the whole issue of radicalization. Instead of cracking down on it, the government is trying to put up barriers to preventing it. The funny thing is that at the time, when they were in the opposition, the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Prime Minister both voted with the government in favour of BillC-51. There was a lot of political manoeuvring, and during the campaign, the Liberals said that they would address Bill C-51, a bill they had supported. At the time, it was good, effective counter-terrorism legislation. However, the Liberals listened to lobby groups and said during the campaign that they would amend it.
I understand the world of politics, being a part of it. However, there are certain issues on which we should set politics aside in the interest of national security. Our allies, the Five Eyes countries are working to enhance their security and to be more effective.
The message we want to get across is that adding more red tape to our structures makes them less operationally effective. I have a really hard time with that.
Let me share some examples of amendments we proposed to Bill C-59. We proposed an amendment requiring the minister to table in Parliament a clear description of the way the various organizations would work together, namely, the NSIC, CSE, CSIS, the new committee of parliamentarians, as well as the powers and duties of the minister.
In our meetings with experts, we noticed that people had a hard time understanding who does what and who speaks to whom. We therefore drafted an amendment that called on the minister to provide a breakdown of the duties that would be clear to everyone. The answer was no. The 45 amendments we are talking about were not all ideological in nature, but rather down to earth. The amendments were rejected.
It was the Conservative government that introduced Bill C-51 when it was in office. Before the bill was passed, the mandate of CSIS prevented it from engaging in any disruption activities. For example, CSIS could not approach the parents of a radicalized youth and encourage them to dissuade their child from travelling to a war zone or conducting attacks here in Canada. After Bill C-51 was passed, CSIS was able to engage in some threat disruption activities without a warrant and in others with a warrant. Threat disruption refers to efforts to stop terrorist attacks while they are still in the planning stages.
Threat disruption activities not requiring a warrant are understood to be any activities that are not contrary to Canadian laws. Threat disruption activities requiring a warrant currently include any activity that would infringe on an individual's privacy or other rights and any activity that contravenes Canada's laws. Any threat disruption activities that would cause bodily harm, violate sexual integrity, or obstruct justice are specifically prohibited.
Under BillC-51, warrants were not required for activities that were not against Canadian law. BillC-51 was balanced. No one could ask to intervene if it was against the law to do so. When there was justification, that worked, but if a warrant was required, one was applied for.
At present, Bill C-59 limits the threat reduction activities of CSIS to the specific measures listed in the bill. CSIS cannot employ these measures without a warrant. At present CSIS requires a warrant for these actions, which I will describe. First, a warrant is required to amend, remove, replace, destroy, disrupt, or degrade a communication or means of communication. Second, a warrant is also required to modify, remove, replace, destroy, degrade, or provide or interfere with the use or delivery of all or part of something, including files, documents, goods, components, and equipment.
The work was therefore complicated by the privacy objectives of Canadians. BillC-51 created a privacy problem. Through careful analysis and comparison, it eventually became clear that the work CSIS was requesting was not in fact a privacy intrusion, as was believed. Even the privacy commissioners and witnesses did not analyze the situation the same way we are seeing now.
BillC-51 made it easier to secure peace bonds in terrorism cases. Before BillC-51, the legal threshold for police to secure a peace bond was that a person had to fear that another person will commit a terrorism offence.
Under BillC-51, a peace bond could be issued if there were reasonable grounds to fear that a person might commit a terrorism offence. It is important to note that Bill C-59 maintains the lower of the two thresholds by using “may”. However, Bill C-59 raises the threshold from “is likely” to “is necessary”.
Earlier when I mentioned the two words that changed out of the 250 pages, I was referring to changing “is likely” to “is necessary”. These two words make all the difference for preventing a terrorist activity, in order to secure a peace bond.
It would be very difficult to prove that a peace bond, with certain conditions, is what is needed to prevent an act of terrorism. This would be almost as complex as laying charges under the Criminal Code. What we want, however, is to get information to be able to act quickly to prevent terrorist acts.
We therefore proposed an amendment to the bill calling for a recognizance order to be issued if a peace officer believes that such an order is likely to prevent terrorist activities. The Liberals are proposing replacing the word “likely” with the words “is necessary”. We proposed an amendment to eliminate that part of the bill, but it was refused. That is the main component of Bill  C-59 with respect to managing national security.
Bill  C-59 has nine parts. My NDP colleague wanted to split the bill, and I thought that was a very good idea, since things often get mixed up in the end. We are debating Bill  C-59 here, but some parts are more administrative in nature, while others have to do with young people. Certain aspects need not be considered together. We believe that the administrative parts could have been included in other bills, while the more sensitive parts that really concern national security could have been dealt with publicly and separately.
Finally, the public and the media are listening to us, and Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill with so many elements that we cannot oppose it without also opposing some aspects that we support. For example, we are not against reorganizing the Communications Security Establishment. Some things could be changed, but we are not opposed to that.
We supported many of the bill's elements. On balance, however, it contains some legislation that is too sensitive and that we cannot support because it touches on fundamental issues. In our view, by tinkering with this, security operations will become very bureaucratic and communications will become difficult, despite the fact the the main goal was to simplify things and streamline operations.
The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security heard from 36 witnesses, and several of them raised this concern. The people who work in the field every day said that it complicated their lives and that this bill would not simplify things. A huge structure that looks good on paper was put in place, but from an operational point of view, things have not been simplified.
Ultimately, national security is what matters to the government and to the opposition. I would have liked the amendments that we considered important to be accepted. Even some administrative amendments were rejected. We believe that there is a lack of good faith on the part of the government on this file. One year ago, we were asked to work hard and that is what we did. The government did not listen to us and that is very disappointing.
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View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2018-06-18 17:28 [p.21174]
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Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of working with my colleague on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. However, is he not getting a police state confused with the rule of law?
The limits he alluded to, such as requiring a warrant, are already enforced in criminal investigations. Since my colleague talked about limits, would he rather call into question the rights and freedoms that we fight so hard to protect, in favour of a witch hunt to seek out any information?
Instead, the proposed measures will help the CSE legally carry out offensive and defensive operations with integrity, and with access to better tools.
Is my colleague questioning the professionalism of the agents using these tools?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would never, ever, question the work being done by our CSIS and RCMP security officers. They are qualified professionals. There should not be any question about that. I will not allow it. What we are asking for is for these agencies to have the freedom to work effectively, since at the end of the day, it is the safety of Canadians that is at stake.
Yes, individual freedoms are important. I agree with everyone on that. We are playing around with words here, and words are important in a bill. I do not want a changed word to increase the risk of an attack because our officers were not able to intervene in time, all because the government wanted to play politics with the words. As the minister mentioned earlier, we need to find a balance between rights and security. We thought there was a balance, but the government thinks a change is needed. We simply have different ideas of what a balance means, but we are all focused on keeping Canadians safe.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 17:30 [p.21174]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. The problem that I have with the Conservatives' approach is that it minimizes the potential impact of the fight against radicalization and it minimizes the fact that ISIS is taking advantage of vulnerable young people. Rather than offering assistance, the Conservatives tried to minimize the importance of those efforts. They did away with the police recruitment fund, they took away all the public safety resources, and then they tried to use incidents that occurred around the world to justify expanding the legislative powers of our national security agencies. However, CSIS exists because a distinction needs to be made between the work of the police and that of intelligence agencies.
Bill C-51 gave CSIS threat disruption powers. That issue remains despite the bill's attempts at making some small improvements, all of which sadly amount to nothing at all given the potential for the human rights of Canadians being violated. On professors Carvin and Forcese's podcast entitled “Intrepid”, Bob Paulson, who as my colleague knows is a former RCMP commissioner, said that he was concerned about CSIS being given that type of power because that type of power belongs to the police.
Does my colleague agree with that? Why not focus on giving the police the tools they need to do their job rather than legislating to give CSIS powers that defeat the very purpose for which it was created?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I will come back to the very current example of Abu Huzaifa. We learned about him and what he did from an interview he gave to the New York Times. People from CSIS quickly descended on Toronto to question him and he laughed in their faces. How is it that an individual like him, who engaged in jihad, who admitted to killing people, who has committed known atrocities, came back to Toronto and gave an interview to The New York Times?
When we talk about opportunities for obtaining intelligence, it is for that type of individual. We do not want to harm the average, hard-working Canadian who minds their own business. It is because of people like Abu Huzaifa that we want to be sure to have the tools we need to be able to intervene on time. CSIS does intelligence work and has the means. I understand that it is not the same as police work. The police has its own job, but CSIS has to act on this type of situation quickly with the means that we gave them at the time.
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View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2018-06-18 17:33 [p.21174]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to know whether my colleague agrees that some of their recommendations, which were certainly the fruit of some very hard work, would be more useful in regulations than in the act itself.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. That is part of what I was saying about the omnibus Bill C-59. It has nine separate parts. Some parts are more administrative, and others are more related to the operational side of things. That is what makes this whole business more complicated. A year ago, we were asked to study this bill and work on it. It was a struggle for us to figure out how to make our work relevant. Our recommendations did include some amendments that were more operational and some that were more administrative, but that was because the bill itself was crafted that way.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question about cybersecurity. Just recently, a week or two ago, the Minister of Defence, accompanied by the Minister of Public Safety, made a public announcement about some new strategies. The strategy is a rehash of a Conservative strategy from 2013. It also misunderstands Canada's needs, which are significant, given everything that is currently going on with China and Russia. I hope the government will take the necessary steps to ensure that it is very effective with regard to cybersecurity. Right now, there are 200,000 Chinese hackers working ceaselessly to exploit flaws in security systems around the world. That is a lot of people.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 17:36 [p.21175]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their speeches. Here we are again, debating Bill C-59 at third reading, and I would like to start by talking about the process of debate surrounding a bill, which started not with this government, but rather during the last Parliament with the former Bill C-51.
Contrary to what we have been hearing from the other side today and at other times as well, the NDP and the Green Party were the only ones that opposed Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament. I have heard many people talk about how they were aware that Canadians had concerns about their security, about how a balanced approach was vital, and about how they understood the bill was flawed. They took it for granted that they would come to power and then fix the many, many, many flaws in the bill. Some of those flaws are so dangerous that they threaten the rights, freedoms, and privacy of Canadians. Of course, I am talking about the Liberal Party, which supported Bill C-51 even as it criticized it. I remember that when it was before committee, the member for Malpeque, who is still an MP, spend his time criticizing it and talking about its flaws. Then the Liberal Party supported it anyway.
That is problematic because now the government is trying to use the bill to position itself as the champion of nuanced perspectives. The government keeps trying to say that there are two objectives, namely to protect Canadians and to protect Canadians' rights. I myself remember a rather different situation, which developed in the wake of the 2014 attack on Parliament. The Conservative government tried to leverage people's fear following that terrible event to make unnecessary legislative changes. I will comment further on what was really necessary to protect Canadians.
A legislative change was therefore proposed to increase the powers given to national security agencies, but nothing was done to enhance the oversight system, which already falls short of where it needs to be to ensure that their work is done in full compliance with our laws and in line with Canadians' expectations regarding their rights and freedoms. Surveys showed that Canadians obviously welcomed those measures because, after all, we were in a situation where ISIS was on the rise, and we had the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which is not far from my region. We also had the attack right here in Parliament. They took advantage of people's fear, so there was some support for the measures presented in the bill.
To the NDP, our reflection in caucus made it very clear that we needed to stand up. We are elected to this place not only to represent our constituents, but also to be leaders on extremely difficult issues and to make the right decision, the decision that will ensure that we protect the rights of Canadians, even when that does not appear to be a popular decision.
Despite the fact that it seemed to be an unpopular decision, and despite the fact that the Liberals, seeing the polls, came out saying “We are just going to go with the wind and try and denounce the measures in the bill so that we can simultaneously protect ourselves from Conservative attacks and also try and outflank the NDP on the progressive principled stand of protecting Canadians' rights and freedoms,” what happened? The polls changed. As the official opposition, we fought that fight here in Parliament. Unlike the Liberals, we stood up to Stephen Harper's draconian BillC-51. We saw Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the measures that were in Bill C-51.
What happened after the election? We saw the Liberals try to square the circle they had created for themselves by denouncing and supporting legislation all at the same time. They said not to worry, because they were going to do what they do best, which is to consult. They consulted on election promises and things that were already debated in the previous Parliament.
The minister brought forward his green paper. The green paper was criticized, correctly and rightfully so, for going too far in one direction, for posing the question of how we could give more flexibility to law enforcement, how we could give them more tools to do their jobs, which is a complete misunderstanding of the concerns that Canadians had with Bill C-51 to begin with. It goes back to the earlier point I made. Instead of actually giving law enforcement the resources to create their tools, having a robust anti-radicalization strategy, and making sure that we do not see vulnerable young people falling through the cracks and being recruited by terrorist organizations like ISIS or the alt right that we see in these white supremacist groups, what happened?
We embarked on this consultation that was already going in one direction, and nearly two years after the Liberals coming into power, we finally see legislation tabled. The minister, in his speech earlier today, defended tabling that legislation in the dying days of a spring sitting of Parliament before the House rises for the summer by saying that we would have time to consider and contemplate the legislation over the summer. He neglected to mention that the very same powers that stood on shaky constitutional ground that were accorded to agencies like CSIS by the Conservatives' BillC-51 remain on the books, and as Michel Coulombe, the then director of CSIS, now retired, said repeatedly in committee, they are powers that were being used at that time.
It is all well and good to consult. Certainly, no one is opposed to the principles behind consultation, but when the consultation is about promises that were made to the Canadian people to fix legislation that undermined their rights while the very powers that undermined their rights are still on the books and being used, then one has to recognize the urgency to act.
The story continues because after this consultation the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security conducted a consultation. We made recommendations and the NDP prepared an excellent supplementary report, which supports the committee's unanimous recommendations, but also includes our own, in support of the bill introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, which is on the Order Paper. He was the public safety critic before me and he led the charge, along with the member for Outremont, who was then the leader of the official opposition, against BillC-51. The bill introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke entirely repeals all of the legislation in Bill C-51.
Interestingly, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness defended the fact that he did not repeal it all by stating that several MPs, including the member for Spadina—Fort York, said that the reason not to do so was that it would be a highly complex legislative endeavour. My colleague introduced a bill that is on the Order Paper and that does exactly that. With due respect to my colleague, it cannot be all that complex if we were able to draft a bill that achieved those exact objectives.
Bill C-59 was sent to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security before second reading, on the pretext that this would make it possible to adopt a wider range of amendments, give the opposition more opportunities to be heard, and allow for a robust study. What was the end result? A total of 55 amendments were adopted, and we are proud of that. However, of those 55 amendments, two come from the NDP, and one of those relates to the preamble to one part of the bill. While I have no desire to impugn the Liberals' motives, the second amendment was adopted only once the wording met their approval. None of the Conservatives' amendments were adopted. Ultimately, it is not the end of the world, because we disagree on several points, but I hear all this talk about collaboration, yet none of the Green Party's amendments were adopted. This goes to show that the process was rigged and that the government had already decided on its approach.
The government is going to brag about the new part 1.1 of the legislation that has been adopted. Contrary to what the minister said when answering my question earlier today in debate, that would not create any new legal obligation in terms of how the system currently works. The ministerial directives that are adopted to prohibit—despite loopholes, it is important to note—the use of information obtained under torture will remain just that, ministerial directives. The legal obligation that the minister or the Governor in Council “may” recommend the issuing of directives to deputy heads of departments is just not good enough. If it were, the Liberals would have had no problem voting for amendments that I read into record at committee. Time does not permit me to reread the amendments into the record, but I read them into the record in my question for the minister. The amendments would have explicitly and categorically prohibited acquiring, using, or, in way, shape, or form, interacting with information, from a public safety perspective, that may have been obtained under the use of torture. That is in keeping with our obligations under international law conventions that Canada has signed on to.
On a recorded vote, on every single one of those amendments, every member of the committee, Liberal and Conservative alike, voted against them. I invite Canadians to look at that record, and I invite Canadians to listen to what the minister said in response to me. When public safety may be at risk, there is no bigger admission that they are open to using information obtained under the use of torture than saying that they want to keep the flexibility when Canadians are at risk. Let Canadians be assured that it has been proven time and again that information obtained under the use of torture is of the most unreliable sort. It not only does nothing to protect Canadians and ensure public safety, but most of the time it does the opposite, by leading law enforcement on wild goose chases with erroneous information that could put their lives at risk, and Canadian lives at risk, not to mention the abhorrent and flagrant breach of human rights here and elsewhere through having those types of provisions. Therefore, I will let the Liberals explain why they voted against those amendments to explicitly prohibit torture, and why they feel that standing on ministerial directives and words like “may”, that are anything but binding, is good enough.
The Minister of Public Safety loves to boast that he has the support of various experts, and I have the utmost respect for those experts. I took the process in committee very seriously. I tried to unpack the extremely complex elements of the bill.
My Conservative colleague mentioned the Chair's decision to apply Standing Order 69.1. In my opinion, separating the votes on the different elements of the bill amounts to an acknowledgement that it is indeed an omnibus bill. A former director of CSIS, who served as a national security advisor to Prime Minister Harper and the current Prime Minister, said that the bill was beginning to rival the Income Tax Act in terms of complexity. Furthermore, several witnesses were forced to limit their testimony to just one part of the bill. In addition, elements were added concerning the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, and those elements fall within the scope of national defence, yet they were never mentioned during the consultations held by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security or by the Minister of Public Safety.
Before anyone jumps on me, I want to say that we realize the CSE's statutory mandate needs to be updated. We recognize that cybersecurity threats exist. However, when a government rams something through, as the government is doing with Bill C-59, we end up with flawed definitions, in particular with respect to the information available to the public, and with vague allocation of powers. Furthermore, the government is already announcing the position of a director of a new centre that is being created, under which everything will be consolidated, even though the act that is set out in the budget and, according to the minister, should be introduced this fall, has not yet been introduced.
This bill has many parts. The committee heard from some impressive experts, including professors Carvin, Forcese, and Wark, authors of some very important and interesting briefs, all of which are well thought out and attempt to break down all of the complicated aspects of the bill, including the ones I just mentioned. In their columns in The Globe and Mail, they say that some parts of the bill are positive and others require a more in-depth study. One of these parts has to do with information sharing.
Information sharing was one of the most problematic aspects of BillC-51.
Information sharing is recognized by the experts whom the minister touts as those supporting his legislation, by civil liberties associations and others, as one of the most egregious elements of what was BillC-51, and that is changed only in a cosmetic way in this legislation.
We changed “sharing” to “disclosure”, and what does that mean? When there are consequential amendments to changing “disclosure” everywhere else in all of these acts, it does not change anything. All experts recognize that. The problematic information-sharing regime that was brought in, which is a threat to Canadians' rights and freedoms, still exists.
If we want to talk about what happened to Maher Arar, the Liberals voted down one of my amendments to include Global Affairs as one of the governmental departments that Canadians could make a complaint about to the new review agency. Yet, when it comes to consular services, when it comes to human rights breaches happening to Canadians abroad, Global Affairs and consular services have a role to play, especially when we see stories in the news of CSIS undermining efforts of consular affairs to get Canadians out of countries with horrible human rights records and back here.
This has all fallen on deaf ears. The information-sharing regime remains in place. The new powers given to CSE, in clause 24, talk about how CSE has the ability to collect. Notwithstanding the prohibition on it being able to collect information on Canadians, it can, for the sake of research and other things, and all kinds of ill-defined terms, collect information on the information infrastructure related to Canadians.
Incidentally, as a matter of fact, it voted down my amendments to have a catch-and-release provision in place for information acquired incidentally on Canadians. What does that do? When we read clause 24 of part 3 of the bill related to CSE, it says that it is for the purposes of “disclosing”. Not only are they now exempt from the explicit prohibition that they normally have in their mandate, they can also disclose.
What have the Liberals done to the information-sharing regime brought in by the Conservatives under BillC-51? It is called “disclosure” now. Members can do the math. We are perpetuating this regime that exists.
I know my time is very limited, so I want to address the issue of threat disruption by CSIS. As I said in my questions to my Conservative colleague, the very reason CSIS exists is that disruption is a police duty. As a result, leaving the power to disrupt threats granted in former Bill C-51 in the hands of CSIS still goes against the mandate of CSIS and its very purpose, even if the current government is making small improvements to the constitutionality of those powers. That is unacceptable.
I am not alone in saying this. As I said in my questions to my Conservative colleagues, I am talking about the excellent interview with former RCMP commissioner Paulson. He was interviewed by Professors Carvin and Forcese on their podcast. That interview raised concerns about that power.
In closing, I would like to talk about solutions. After all, I did begin my remarks by saying that we do not want to increase the legislative powers, which we believe are already sufficient. I am talking here about Bill C-51, which was introduced in the previous Parliament. We need to look at resources for police officers, which were cut by the previous government. The Conservatives eliminated the police recruitment fund, which allowed municipalities and provinces to recruit police officers and improve police services in their jurisdictions. I am thinking in particular of the Montreal police, or SPVM, and the Eclipse squad, which dealt with street gangs. It was a good thing the Government of Quebec was there to fill the gap left by the elimination of the funding that made it possible for the squad to exist. The current government is making some efforts in the fight against radicalization, but it needs to do more. The Conservatives are dumping on and ridiculing those efforts. The radicalization that we are seeing on social media and elsewhere targets vulnerable young people. Ridiculing and minimizing the government's efforts undermines the public safety objectives that we need to achieve.
We cannot support a bill that so deeply undermines the protection of Canadians' rights and privacy. Despite what they claim across the way, this bill does nothing to protect the safety of Canadians, which, let us be clear, is an objective all parliamentarians want to achieve. However, achieving that objective must not be done to the detriment of rights and freedoms, as was the case under the previous government and as is currently still the case with this bill.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 17:58 [p.21178]
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Mr. Speaker, if the member has a problem with the validity or the quality of the NDP amendments, he can take it up with the folks who offered us the exact wording we used, like the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Citizen Lab at Munk School at the University of Toronto, or Jean-Pierre Plouffe, who is the current commissioner of the CSE, and who will likely fill the role of the intelligence commissioner created by this legislation, or the RCMP Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. These are the organizations from which we took the wording that we used in our amendments. Therefore, on that front, I am very comfortable with the quality of the amendments, because they come from esteemed experts and folks who are fighting the good fight in civil society.
That being said, if I were to give the Liberals a report card on this issue, they would get two failures. The first failure is with respect to leadership in the previous Parliament. They were spineless with respect to BillC-51 when the previous government brought in that draconian legislation. They can have all the revisionist history they want, but the reality is that real leadership is standing up for Canadian rights and freedoms. That is not what they did in the last Parliament. In conclusion, the second failure is with respect to what they have done with this legislation, which does nothing to fix any of the problems. Therefore, there was a failure to show leadership and to fix the problems that they allowed to happen in the first place.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 18:00 [p.21178]
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Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more arrogant than justifying a position by saying, “Don't worry, elect us, and we'll fix it”, because at the end of the day, taking a principled stand is not about what one will be able to do after one hopes to be elected. It is about standing up in the face of the very problems that are before us. That is what the then leader of the official opposition, the member for Outremont, did.
The fact is this. The Liberals have constantly, over the last number of years that I have been a parliamentarian, used the word “balance”, despite all the experts saying that it is not about balance, because balance means we are taking away from one side or the other: public safety and protecting rights and freedoms. I stood in the House and said that balance means that we are taking away from one or the other. What did I hear the minister say? He said those exact words today. The Liberals certainly like the NDP approach. I wish we would see it more in this legislation.
Let me get to the substance of my colleague's question. What is still on the books from BillC-51 in this legislation? There is rampant information sharing between agencies that threatens Canadians' rights and freedoms, threat-reduction powers for CSIS that go against the very reason CSIS was created in the first place, and separating intelligence gathering and law enforcement.
Not only that, the Liberals have added new breaches of Canadians' privacy and rights and freedoms by expanding CSE's powers without sufficient accountability, despite our being happy with new accountability. There are poor definitions of “publicly available information” and offensive cyber-operations. What do these things mean? There are a lot of unanswered questions. They were unanswered at committee. They remain unanswered.
Unfortunately, the government is plowing ahead, despite the fact that these serious concerns have been raised by numerous people, such as the folks I mentioned who helped us craft the amendments we proposed that seemingly were not good enough for the Liberals.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 18:04 [p.21179]
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Mr. Speaker, my colleague perhaps misheard me, because I specifically said that the minister always talks about balance, and funnily enough, after I made a speech the last time we debated this legislation, I am suddenly hearing exactly what our position has always been being restated.
Here is the thing. I do not want Canadians to let the Liberals' Goldilocks approach fool them. The member said that we have a closed mind. Let me tell him one thing. When it comes to legislation that attacks Canadians' rights and freedoms and their privacy, and when it comes to the voting done on amendments to specifically prohibit the use of information obtained under the use of torture, the member is darn right that I will always have a closed mind, and so will all New Democrats.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-18 18:05 [p.21179]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
That is precisely the problem. We adopted a Liberal amendment that says that the minister can issue directives. It is an amendment that I supported because of course we are very pleased to see these principles listed in the legislation. That said, the fact remains that the NDP amendments that specifically and explicitly sought to prohibit the use of information that may have been obtained through torture were defeated by the Liberals and the Conservatives. I invite Canadians to go look at the committee minutes. It is all there.
The other thing we have to acknowledge is that when we talk about protecting Canadians' rights and freedoms and when we talk about the charter, we are all on the same page and we invite our colleagues to support amendments to do just that. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Ultimately, we have to acknowledge yet again that there is still no room for that kind of openness. It was the minister who said that we need to remain flexible for some information that might protect public safety. To the NDP, when the information is obtained through torture, there should be no flexibility at all.
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View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2018-06-18 18:31 [p.21183]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite my colleague, a valued fellow committee member, to comment further on an important point relating to the court's important decision on data and megadata.
The court ruling said that the data were relevant but the legal structure did not allow CSIS to do what it was doing. The innovation we are putting forward in Bill C-59, together with other innovations proposed in committee on other aspects of BIll C-59, makes this bill a truly modern and contemporary document that aligns in every respect with its allies and especially with what we heard from people during the consultation.
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is privilege for me to rise today to speak to Bill  C-59, which deals with the anti-terrorism measures put in place by the previous government.
For obvious reasons, I do not intend to support Bill  C-59, which was introduced by the Liberal government. First, this bill weakens the measures that we have available to us as a society to fight terrorism. It is important to remember that Bill C-51 was introduced in the wake of two terrorist attacks that occurred here in Canada, the first in Saint-Jean-Richelieu and the second here in Ottawa. That was in October 2014.
At the time, the Quebec minister of public security, Lise Thériault, called me and told me that there had been an accident in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I responded that that was unfortunate. Then she told me that someone had died. I told her that that was tragic. Finally, she told me that it was tragic but that they also suspected we were dealing with a terrorist attack.
We sometimes think that terrorist attacks occur only in other countries, but sometimes they happen in our communities, like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in the heart of Quebec. Hatred prompted an individual to attack a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, in this case Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
I remember the ceremony I attended in November 2014, before entering the House. We honoured Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent with members of his family. I remember the words of his sister, Louise Vincent, who said, “Patrice Vincent, my brother, the warrant officer, was a hero.”
Mr. Vincent had a successful career in the Canadian Armed Forces, although by no means an illustrious one. He was a good serviceman nonetheless, always ready and willing to serve. His plans for a well-deserved retirement were dashed when he was run down in a restaurant parking lot by an individual driven by extremist Islamist ideology. His sister also said she was surprised that Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was targeted specifically because he was in uniform. She said, “Losing a brother is one thing, but knowing that it was due to a deliberate act is something else entirely.”
The attacker had a specific intention. We know the criteria for determining whether an attack qualifies as an act of terrorism. There was a political desire to commit murder in the name of an ideology, which obviously goes against our Canadian values. At the time, Prime Minister Harper said that “our country will never be intimidated by barbarians with no respect for the maple leaf or any other symbol of freedom”. He added:
When such cowards attack those who wear our uniform, we understand they are attacking all of us as Canadians...We are going to strengthen our laws here in Canada to stop those intent on importing an ideology that incites hatred, cruelty, and death in other parts of the world.
It is important to note that regardless of the speeches we given in the House and the partisan positions we may take, one of the overriding responsibilities of Parliament is to ensure the safety of Canadians, especially since in the past decade we have witnessed the emergence of ideologies that are increasingly spread by social media. That is why the anti-terrorism act was put in place. It provided certain tools to ensure that we were better prepared.
Clearly, when we think of the death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was struck down by the vehicle of a radicalized young man in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in 2014, we realize that it is important to ensure that our police forces, intelligence service, and the RCMP have all the tools they need to intervene.
This also impacts the legal aspect. While acting within the limits of the law and respecting fundamental freedoms, the police, with the co-operation and authorization of independent people such as judges, must have the legal tools to prevent terrorist attacks. That was the objective of the anti-terrorism measures introduced by BillC-51.
Unfortunately, the Liberals decided to weaken this law. That is not surprising. As we saw during question period, the Liberals are showing a degree of spinelessness and indolence that is truly worrisome. For example, some jihadists, in particular members of ISIS, have created sites to spread propaganda in Canada. One of the pillars of the anti-terrorism act was to shut down websites promoting ideas that incite violence.
Unfortunately, the Liberals want to weaken these tools. There was the example mentioned in question period of a known terrorist who went to the Middle East and has now returned to Canada. We would expect the government to increase surveillance of this individual. However, we have learned that he parades in front of television cameras and boasts about his relations with ISIS terrorists. Furthermore, he even admits that he lied to CSIS so he could continue to conduct his activities.
This man's name is Abu Huzaifa. He is in contact with ISIS and appears to be fully in thrall to Islamic ideology. He is hiding information from the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and operates in such a way that our police officers do not necessarily have the tools to lay charges. He openly admits to having lied to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Here is our message to the government: we have these intelligence services, so the government has a political responsibility to signal zero tolerance for people who want to attack the pillars of our society. There have already been two tragic victims here in this country. We do not want that to happen again.
At this time, the government is lax and spineless, and that worries us. The individual in question, Abu Huzaifa, quotes the Quran and promotes all that hatred.
These people need to be kept under control. If charges are to be laid, that must be done so as to protect the people, because that is the government's job. A government's primary role is to protect its people. Unfortunately, Bill C-59 undermines the tools available to police forces and various other bodies to fulfill the state's primary responsibility.
For example, one of the provisions of the legislation would make it harder for the police to prevent a terrorist attack and would add red tape. When our intelligence services or police services are in the middle of the action and have sensitive information that could prevent a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, it is important that they can intervene. That is what the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, provides for. There has been no major problem regarding the enforcement of that legislation, which the Liberals supported, I might add. At no time were the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the different statues that exist in Canada affected by the anti-terrorism legislation.
The Liberals' idea of keeping a promise, as we saw with their approach to legalizing marijuana, is to force it down the throats of Canadians. They are using the same approach with Bill  C-59.
It is too bad because Canadians' safety is at stake. Again, the measures in Bill  C-59 do not address an actual problem. There is an adage in English that says:
“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
If something is working, we must leave it alone, because the day we need it, the day the police learn of a potential terrorist attack, they will need all of the necessary tools to prevent this attack, in accordance with Canadian laws, of course.
I want to talk about another aspect of the bill that will muddy the waters even more. In Canada, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, or SIRC, is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This body is the envy of all western democracies when it comes to the review of intelligence activities. The Security Intelligence Review Committee is an example to the world because it has the ability to dig through every nook and cranny of our intelligence agency. In other words, there is no spy in Canada who does not have SIRC constantly looking over his or her shoulder.
The current government created a committee that is so far off base. Canada already has a framework that allows for in-depth review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. I must point out that the Anti-terrorism Act strengthened this power, even for threat reduction activities. When the measures in the Anti-terrorism Act were adopted, we not only ensured that police officers and agents at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had more latitude, but we also ensured that all of these provisions would be covered by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. The act provides more powers, but there is also increased oversight.
We have a well-established and well-functioning system that is the envy of the world. It would have been smart for the government to expand the scope of that organization. The Liberals are obsessed with creating organizations and, as a result, they have just duplicated the Security Intelligence Review Committee and, in a way, created a new organization. We are talking about a new organization that has basically the same mission as the previous one, but it is not the same. In the end, they are undermining an excellent system in place for oversight of our intelligence agencies, and creating a new system that will duplicate it and cover other areas. They are creating confusion and more bureaucracy. What does this actually mean? Police officers are going to have more eyes looking over their shoulders. This will create confusion, more bureaucracy, and more red tape. The goal is for police officers and intelligence officers to be more accountable, but their primary mission is to protect Canadians.
Unfortunately, the Liberal approach is going to create more red tape and more obstacles. Meanwhile, we are learning that guys like Abu Huzaifa are free to roam this country, openly bragging about their associations with ISIS, and the government says it wants to welcome these people.
I think the government should be sending an important message, one that should convey zero tolerance for incitement to hate, for hate speech, and for anyone willing to use violence to achieve their ends. That is one of the flaws of this bill.
I mentioned the red tape and the duplication of an organization that, at the end of the day, is going to create confusion in the oversight of our intelligence activities.
On top of that, the government produced a huge document because it wanted to show that it supported the bill, but that there was still work to be done. It therefore added all kinds of regulations to the bill. In other words, it is creating a law and will make the regulations afterwards.
The regulations clarify the act. The advantage of that for the minister or the executive branch is that the regulations can be changed. The disadvantage of putting this sort of thing in an act is that then the government has to obtain the authorization of Parliament to change it, and we know how many steps are involved in that process. There is first reading, second reading, and third reading in the House of Commons, then the same in the Senate, and then Royal Assent. That is not to mention elections every four years, appointments, prorogations, and summer breaks.
Rather than having more flexible tools, the government is making the process unnecessarily cumbersome by putting most of the regulations for the Anti-terrorism Act into the grab bag it calls Bill  C-59. That moves us further way from the main goal, which is to develop effective, legal tools to protect Canadians. That is another flaw.
Speaking of websites, as I was saying, one of the pillars of the Anti-terrorism Act is that it attacks the source of the violence, the hate speech that incites violence. Violent words lead to violent actions. That is why it is important to crack down on online content that incites violence. Once again, the government should be more vigilant and provide additional tools to accomplish that goal. There are provisions in the Criminal Code that deal with this sort of online content. Incitement to violence was a crime even before the Anti-terrorism Act came into force. In fact, the Criminal Code has been around since the beginning of time, or at least since the beginning of our parliamentary system. Incitement to violence goes against Canadian values.
Why interfere with the work of those responsible for protecting us and reducing violence at its source, where it really begins, on extremist websites, whether they be extreme left or extreme right? Right now, we are talking mainly about Islamist extremist websites, but that could change. The government could develop a tool to identify websites that incite people to violence.
I was honoured to be with the family of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent following his tragic death. During Patrice Vincent's funeral, Louise Vincent said that she hoped her brother's death would not be in vain. As parliamentarians, it is incumbent upon every one of us to ensure that the people who have sacrificed their lives so we can live freely and debate here in the House—always respectfully, whether we agree with one another or not—have not done so in vain. People have fought for our freedom. Some have even shed blood quite recently. As parliamentarians, we must ensure that those who are responsible for keeping us safe have the tools they need to take action. That is why the Anti-terrorism Act was enacted.
It is for those very reasons that I will oppose this Liberal bill. It undermines the tools we gave our police officers so they could protect the people of this country, which is the primary responsibility of any state.
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View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague, who says he is very concerned about the need to protect Canadians. I am sure we all share that concern.
Can my colleague comment on the Canadians who were arrested when he was minister, back when the law was written to suit his purposes? Can he comment on the former government's experience? Did officials arrest people who, in his opinion, deserved to be arrested?
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Transport for his question and for supporting our bill and the anti-terrorism measures that were put in place following the terrorist attacks.
Now the Minister of Transport is looking uncomfortable, because there are self-confessed terrorists roaming free. When I was a minister, I could not predict the future, but no one was giving interviews to the New York Times saying that they were a terrorist who was proud to be openly walking the streets of Canada with no interference from the government.
There is a line separating the political realm from intelligence activities, but the current government has a moral responsibility to condemn these totally unacceptable acts that are threatening the foundations of our democracy. I just wanted to tell my hon. colleague that his government has a responsibility to enforce zero tolerance for terrorists. It still has a year to do that, so it should hurry up.
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View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-06-18 19:14 [p.21189]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments, most of which I had already heard during the last Parliament. I had the pleasure of debating him from time to time and not sharing his opinions on BillC-51.
One thing he said this evening struck me. He said that the authorities need all the tools. In his opinion, should this toolbox also include information obtained through torture?
We know that that kind of information is usually weak precisely because it was obtained through torture and that the use of such information violates international agreements.
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows, I personally, the Conservative Party, and the government are against torture.
When I talk about the tools needed, I am talking about the measures needed to intervene. For instance, when a police force knows that a terrorist attack is being planned on Canadian soil or elsewhere, it must be able to intervene and stop it. We did not have that before the Anti-terrorism Act. Our intelligence agencies now have the capacity to stop such threats.
My colleague can sleep better at night since the Anti-terrorism Act was passed, because the authorities can step in proactively and save lives.
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to be in the House with the member.
In a nutshell, before the introduction of the Anti-terrorism Act, the right hand of the government did not know what the left hand was doing. That is why we introduced those measures, to share information. Unfortunately, in the Liberals' bill that is in front of us, the government is creating additional bureaucracy, including two oversight agencies, which is creating more silos, more confusion, more red tape, and less time for people on the ground to do their job, which is to protect us.
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View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2018-06-18 19:18 [p.21189]
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Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis was the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness for over two years. During that time, a certain phenomenon was taking place in Quebec. Young Quebeckers were leaving Quebec to go to Syria. Many of these young people returned after just a few months, when my colleague was minister.
What did the government of the day do to guarantee the safety of Canadians?
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer for his question. I sometimes stay in his riding when I am here in Parliament. It is too bad that he is a Liberal, because other than that I am sure he is an excellent MP.
My colleague was not a member of Parliament at the time. However, in the Anti-Terrorism Act, his party and ours put in place a measure to ensure that individuals were intercepted as soon as knowledge came to light of their intentions to commit terrorist acts. At the time, the only people who could be stopped from boarding a plane were those who wanted to blow it up mid-flight.
When it comes to anti-terrorist measures, this time we did something tangible to ensure that we had the tools to arrest someone who wanted to take part in terrorist activities abroad. Canada does not want to be an exporter of terrorists, nor does it want to import them. Canada wants to take the appropriate measures coming and going, and that is what we did in the legislation.
I hope that the current government can continue to prevent terrorists from coming to commit terrorist acts on Canadian soil.
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, had my hon. colleague supported the Anti-terrorism Act, she would have accomplished exactly what she was seeking, which is information sharing throughout the federal government when Canada is under threat. This is exactly what the Anti-terrorism Act achieves. She can be assured that this is now the law of the land.
What is unfortunate is that with the current Liberal bill, instead of expanding the authority of SIRC, the Security and Intelligence Review Committee, which is a gem, as I mentioned in my speech, the Liberals are creating another structure, adding more bureaucracy and more layers of approval, which would impact the efficiency of the work on the ground, bringing no results but more costs.
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View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-06-18 19:49 [p.21193]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
I would like to clarify with him, if possible, a discussion that I began with my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis on the use of torture. He said he was without a doubt against torture. He was clear and to the point.
However, my question is on the information obtained. Whether we are talking about the previous Bill C-51 or Bill  C-59 before us today, does the hon. member think it is acceptable to use information obtained through torture by countries other than Canada, countries that engaged in torture to obtain intelligence?
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2018-06-11 15:50 [p.20617]
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Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it, you will find agreement to apply the results of the previous vote to the current vote, with Liberal members voting no. Please add the member for Winnipeg South as well.
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View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2018-06-11 15:50 [p.20617]
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Mr. Speaker, the members of Québec Debout agree to apply the vote and will be voting yes.
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View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2018-06-11 15:50 [p.20617]
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Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois agrees to apply the vote and will be voting no.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-06-11 16:47 [p.20632]
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Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I will try to be brief out of respect for our Conservative colleagues because today is their opposition day. I am taking this opportunity because of the vote that took place earlier today to adopt Bill C-59 at second reading and report stage.
I will quote what the Chair said in response to a point of order I raised a while ago about applying Standing Order 69.1 to this bill.
The Speaker said:
However should the motion in fact be adopted to send the bill to committee before second reading and should the bill be concurred in at report stage and at second reading, I could certainly, as the Speaker, apply Standing Order 69.1 at third reading of the bill. At that time, one would anticipate that after it came back from committee, the bounds of the bill and its principles would be more clearly established.
For that reason, I come back with the same point of order. I would simply refer the Chair to the statements I made on November 20, 2017 to the record of that day. I made the same points. I would only add that the point is even more strongly made following the committee process. As we went clause by clause, different officials from different departments had to be present on different days as we went through different elements. That only reinforces the fact that not only under this legislation, but also where there are disparate pieces that obviously pertained to different acts in different departments, so they would be deserving of different votes.
I hope the Speaker will agree that there should be separate votes because there truly are different elements, especially concerning the Communications Security Establishment, which reports to the Minister of National Defence. The minister had to sneak into the committee at 10 to midnight to make a presentation. I think even the government acknowledges that some elements are in no way related except for some vague national security connection, which I feel is not a good enough reason for Standing Order 69.1 not to apply.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we are now at second reading of Bill C-59, an omnibus national security bill that the government introduced on June 20, 2017.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
At the time, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness decided not to give Bill  C-59 second reading and sent it directly to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. He said that committee meetings were needed to get additional information in order to improve the bill, so that is what we did.
During the committee's study of Bill  C-59, 235 amendments were proposed. The Conservative Party proposed 29 and the Green Party 45. The Liberals rejected all of them. Four NDP amendments and 40 Liberal amendments were adopted. Twenty-two of the Liberal amendments had more to do with the wording and with administrative issues. The Liberals also proposed one very important amendment that I will talk about later on.
The committee's mandate was to improve the bill. We, the Conservatives, undertook that work in good faith. We proposed important amendments to try to round out and improve the bill presented at second reading. The Liberal members on the committee rejected all of our amendments, even though they made a lot of sense. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security held 16 meetings on the subject and heard from a number of witnesses, including people from all walks of life and key stakeholders in the security field. In the end, the government chose to reject all of our amendments.
There were two key points worth noting. The first was that under Bill  C-59, our security agencies will have fewer tools to combat the ongoing terrorist threat around the world. The second was that our agencies will have a harder time sharing information.
One important proposal made in committee was the amendment introduced by the Liberal member for Montarville regarding the perpetration of torture. Every party in the House agrees that the use of torture by our intelligence or security agencies is totally forbidden. There is no problem on that score. However, there is a problem with the part about torture, in that our friends across the aisle are playing political games because they are still not prepared to tell China and Iran to change their ways on human rights. One paragraph in the part about torture says that if we believe, even if we do not know for sure, that intelligence passed on by a foreign entity was obtained through torture, Canada will not make use of that intelligence. For example, if another country alerts us that the CN Tower in Toronto is going to be blown up tomorrow, but we suspect the information was extracted through some form of torture, we will not act on that intelligence if the law remains as it is. That makes no sense. We believe we should protect Canadians first and sort it out later with the country that provided the intelligence.
It is little things like that that make it impossible for us to support the bill. That element was proposed at the end of the study. Again, it was dumped on us with no notice and we had to vote on it.
There are two key issues. The national security and intelligence review agency in part 1 does not come with a budget. The Liberals added an entity, but not a budget to go with it. How can we vote on an element of the bill that has no number attached to it?
Part 2 deals with the intelligence commissioner. The Liberals rejected changes to allow current judges, who would retire if appointed, and retirees from being considered, despite testimony from the intelligence commissioner who will assume these new duties. Currently, only retired judges are accepted. We said that there are active judges who could do the work, but that idea was rejected. It is not complicated. It makes perfect sense. We could have the best people in the prime of their lives who may have more energy than those who are about to retire and may be less interested in working 40 hours a week.
In part 3 on the Communications Security Establishment, known as CSE, there are problems concerning the restriction of information. In fact, some clauses in Bill C-59 will make capturing data more complicated. Our intelligence agencies are facing additional barriers. It will be more difficult to obtain information that allows our agencies to take action, for example against terrorists.
Part 4 concerns the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the privacy issue often come up in connection with CSIS. A common criticism of BillC-51 is that this bill would allow agencies to breach people's privacy. Witnesses representing interest groups advocating for Canadians' privacy and people whose daily work is to ensure the safety of Canadians appeared before the committee. For example, Richard Fadden said that the agencies are currently working in silos. CSIS, the CSE, and the RCMP work in silos, and the situation is too complex. There is no way to share information, and that is not working.
Dr. Leuprecht, Ph.D., from the Royal Military College, Lieutenant-General Michael Day from the special forces, and Ray Boisvert, a former security adviser, all made similar comments. Conservative amendment No. 12 was rejected. That amendment called for a better way of sharing information. In that regard, I would like to remind members of the Air India bombing in 1985. We were given the example of that bombing, which killed more than 200 people on a flight from Toronto to Bombay. It was determined that this attack could have been prevented had it been easier to share information at the time.
The most important thing to note about part 7, which deals with the Criminal Code, is that it uses big words to increase the burden for obtaining arrest warrants to prevent terrorist acts. Amendments were made regarding the promotion of terrorism. Section 83.221 of the Criminal Code pertains to advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences. The Liberals changed the wording of that section with regard to unidentified terrorist offences, for example, ISIS videos on YouTube. They therefore created section 83.221.
That changes the recognizance orders for terrorism and makes it more difficult to control threats. Now, rather than saying “likely”, it says “is necessary”. Those are just two little words, but they make all the difference. Before, if it was likely that something would happen, our security agencies could intervene, whereas now, intervention must be necessary. It is a technicality, but we cannot support Bill C-59 because of that change in wording. This bill makes it harder for security agencies and police to do their work, when it should be making it easier for them.
We are not opposed to revising our national security legislation. All governments must be prepared to do that to adapt. BillC-51, which was introduced at the time by the Conservatives, was an essential tool in the fight against terrorist attacks in Canada and the world. We needed tools to help our agents. The Liberals alluded to BillC-51 during the election campaign and claimed that it violated Canadians' freedoms and that it did not make sense. They promised to introduce a new bill and here it is before us today, Bill C-59.
I would say that Bill C-59, a massive omnibus bill, is ultimately not much different from Bill C-51. There are a number of parts I did not mention, because we have nothing to say and we agree with their content. We are not against everything. What we want, no matter the party, is to be effective and to keep Canadians safe. We agree on that.
Nevertheless, some parts are problematic. As I said earlier, the government does not want to accept information from certain countries on potential attacks, because this information could have been obtained through torture. This would be inadmissible. Furthermore, the government is changing two words, which makes it harder to access the information needed to take action. We cannot agree with this.
Now the opposite is being done, and most of the witnesses who came to see us in committee, people in the business of privacy, did not really raise any issues. They did not show up and slam their fists on the desk saying that it was senseless and had to be changed. Everyone had their views to express, but ultimately, there were not that many problems. Some of the witnesses said that Bill C-59 made no sense, but upon questioning them further, we often reached a compromise and everyone agreed that security is important.
Regardless, the Liberals rejected all of the Conservatives' proposed amendments. I find that hard to understand because the minister asked us to do something, he asked us to improve Bill C-59 before bringing it back here for second reading—it is then going to go to third reading. We did the work. We did what we were supposed to do, as did the NDP, as did the Green Party. The Green Party leader had 45 amendments and is to be commended for that. I did not agree with all her amendments, but we all worked to improve Bill C-59, and in turn, to enhance security in Canadians' best interest, as promised. Unfortunately, that never happened. We will have to vote against this bill.
Since I have some time left, I will give you some quotes from witnesses who appeared before the committee. For example, everyone knows Richard Fadden, the Prime Minister's former national security adviser. Mr. Fadden said that Bill  C-59 was “beginning to rival the Income Tax Act for complexity. There are sub-sub-subsections that are excluded, that are exempted. If there is anything the committee can do to make it a bit more straightforward”, it would help. Mr. Fadden said that to the committee. If anyone knows security, it is Canada's former national security adviser. He said that he could not understand Bill  C-59 at all and that it was worse than the Income Tax Act. That is what he told the committee. We agreed and tried to help, but to no avail. It seems like the Liberals were not at the same meeting I was at.
We then saw the example of a young man who goes by the name Abu Huzaifa. Everyone knows that two or three weeks ago, in Toronto, this young man boasted to the New York Times and then to CBC that he had fought as a terrorist for Daesh in Iraq and Syria. He admitted that he had travelled there for the purposes of terrorism and had committed atrocities that are not fit to be spoken of here. However, our intelligence officers only found out that this individual is currently roaming free in Toronto from a New York Times podcast. Here, we can see the limitations of Bill  C-59 in the specific case of a Canadian citizen who decided to fight against us, to go participate in terrorism, to kill people the Islamic State way—everyone here knows what I mean—and then to come back here, free as a bird. Now the Liberals claim that the law does not allow such and such a thing. When we tabled Bill C-51, we were told that it was too restrictive, but now Bill  C-59 is making it even harder to get information.
What do Canadians think of that? Canadians are sitting at home, watching the news, and they are thinking that something must be done. They are wondering what exactly we MPs in Ottawa are being paid for. We often see people on Facebook or Twitter asking us to do something, since that is what we are paid for. We in the Conservative Party agree, and we are trying; the government, not so much. Liberal members are hanging their heads and waiting for it to pass. That is not how it works. They need to take security a little more seriously.
This is precisely why Canadians have been losing confidence in their public institutions and their politicians. This is also why some people eventually decide to take their safety into their own hands, but that should never happen. I agree that this must not happen. That would be very dangerous for a society. When people lose confidence in their politicians and take their safety into their own hands, we have the wild west. We do not want that. We therefore need to give our security officers, our intelligence officers, the powerful tools they need to do their jobs properly, not handcuff them. Handcuffs belong on terrorists, not on our officers on the ground.
Christian Leuprecht from Queen's University Royal Military College said that he respected the suggestion that CSIS should stick to its knitting, or in other words, not intervene. In his view, the RCMP should take care of some things, such as disruption. However, he also indicated that the RCMP is struggling on so many fronts already that we need to figure out where the relative advantage of different organizations lies and allow them to quickly implement this.
The questions that were asked following the testimony focused on the fact that the bill takes away our intelligence officers' ability to take action and asks the RCMP to take on that responsibility in CSIS's place, even though the RCMP is already overstretched. We only have to look at what is happening at the border. We have to send RCMP officers to strengthen border security because the government told people to come here. The RCMP is overstretched and now the government is asking it to do things that it is telling CSIS not to do. Meanwhile, western Canada is struggling with a crime wave. My colleagues from Alberta spoke about major crimes being committed in rural communities.
Finland and other European countries have said that terrorism is too important an issue and so they are going to allow their security agencies to take action. We cannot expect the RCMP to deal with everything. That is impossible. At some point, the government needs to take this more seriously.
After hearing from witnesses, we proposed amendments to improve Bill  C-59, so that we would no longer have any reason to oppose it at second reading. The government could have listened to reason and accepted our amendments, and then we would have voted in favour of the bill. However, that is not what happened, and in my opinion it was because of pure partisanship. When we are asked to look at a bill before second or third reading and then the government rejects all of our proposals, it is either for ideological reasons or out of partisanship. In any case, I think it is shameful, because this is a matter of public safety and security.
When I first joined the Canadian Armed Forces, in the late 1980s, we were told that the military did not deal with terrorism, that this was the Americans' purview. That was the first thing we were told. At the time, we were learning how to deal with the Warsaw Pact. The wars were highly mechanized and we were not at all involved in fighting terrorism.
However, times have changed. Clearly, everything changed on September 11, 2001. Canada now has special forces, which did not exist back then. JTF2, a special forces unit, was created. Canada has had to adapt to the new world order because it could also be a target for terrorist attacks. We have to take off our blinders and stop thinking that Canada is on another planet, isolated from any form of wickedness and cruelty. Canada is on planet Earth and terrorism knows no borders.
The G7 summit, which will soon be under way, could already be the target of a planned attack. We do not know. If we do not have tools to prevent and intercept threats, what will happen? That is what is important. At present, at the G7, there are Americans and helicopters everywhere. As we can see on the news, U.S. security is omnipresent. Why are there so many of them there? It is because confidence is running low. If Americans are not confident about Canadians' rules, military, and ability to intervene, they will bring everything they need to protect themselves.
That is why we need to take a position of strength. Yes, of course we have to show that we are an open and compassionate country, but we still need to be realistic. We have to be on the lookout and ready to take action.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I must admit that is a very sensitive point. I agree. I never said that I was in favour of torture. On the contrary, we are fully against the use of torture. However, it is important to understand that when we get information from another country and not from one of our agencies it is harder to know how it was obtained. What we are saying is that if this information warns us that there will be an attack in a week or two, we will take that information and prevent such an attack to protect our citizens. Then we can talk to that country and pursue a remedy, making it clear that torture is unacceptable. However, I cannot turn down information from a foreign country when Canadians might be at risk. I cannot say that I will not accept that information.
Mr. Marco Mendicino: That is a slippery slope.
Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus: I know it is, Mr. Speaker, but then when will the government talk to China and Iran and tell them to do something about their human rights record? It is the same thing.
We are not advocating the use of torture. However, if it turns out that information that could help save Canadians was regrettably obtained through torture in another country, we will save Canadians and then address the situation. I realize this is a delicate situation, but I would never let Canadians die by refusing to take information.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
We did indeed take several trips together for NATO meetings. During these trips, we learned that the 27 other member countries have the same kinds of concerns and that terrorism is a serious problem.
I spoke about Bill C-51 a bit in my speech. I know there was talk about how BillC-51 is an attack on privacy rights. During the 2015 campaign, the Liberals and New Democrats made a lot of speeches against Bill C-51.
This is why the Liberals introduced Bill C-59, but at the end of the day, it is not much different from Bill C-51. The parts that were changed, as I mentioned, are the parts essential to obtaining strategic information against terrorism. At the end of the day, my colleague must not be happy with Bill C-59. I think the bill is acceptable, but it also lacks some fundamental elements.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, perhaps my colleague from Kingston should talk to his Prime Minister, who, as the leader of the second opposition party, voted in favour of BillC-51. We must never forget that intervention is required in some situations.
At the time, the Conservative government had to enact legislation quickly to make tools available to our law enforcement agencies. Let us not forget that when intervention is needed, as it is at the border these days, action must be taken. The problem has been going on for a year and a half, but the government is not doing anything. Put us in power, and we will fix the problem.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
My colleague's question is about the main purpose of Bill C-59, which is to keep Canadians safe. When our security agencies are limited in what they can do, that can compromise Canadians' safety. I do not want to be accused of fearmongering and divisiveness, but that is just the reality of the situation.
The Conservatives' 26th amendment to Bill C-59 would have replaced those two little words, “is likely”, with “is necessary”. That changes everything. That is the kind of change that makes a difference because it gives our officers the mandate to intervene and keep people from dying.
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View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-06-07 11:27 [p.20422]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
I would like him to compare BillC-51, which has been abundantly criticized, with Bill C-59 before us today. Obviously, we are all in favour of protecting our fellow Canadians, but we are facing a relatively new threat, since many terrorist attacks are not planned, controlled and ordered by a terrorist organization, but are rather thought up and carried out by a radicalized individual.
What was set out in BillC-51 to help fight radicalization, and what is now set out in Bill C-59 to remedy the same problem, which is getting worse?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very good question.
Once again, we are dealing with the complex issue of threat management. In Canada, there are groups like al Qaeda and ISIS that announce their demands; we can intercept communications and prevent attacks. However, there are also people who become radicalized at home in their basement. Bill C-59 includes no mechanisms to prevent this type of situation.
That is why we want to be able to question people suspected of plotting an attack based on information they might have sent or looked up, and make a preventive arrest if necessary. If there is no problem, so much the better, and if there is one, we could save lives.
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View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-06-07 11:58 [p.20426]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
I must say that, since we began debating Bill C-59, I have had a hard time getting a handle on the Conservatives’ position on several issues, in particular on the issue of torture.
The New Democrats are resolutely against the use of torture to obtain information, not only because it is inhumane, but also because history has shown time and time again that information obtained by torture is rarely reliable and often totally untrue. Earlier I heard some of his colleagues say that the Conservatives are also against torture, which I am happy to hear. However, they are prepared to use information from other countries that may have been obtained through torture.
Is the Conservatives’ approach really to do indirectly what they refuse to do directly?
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View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-06-07 12:14 [p.20428]
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Mr. Speaker, based on my current understanding of Bill C-59, the Liberals want to create a legal framework to authorize the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to store sensitive big data or metadata on completely innocent Canadians, something the Supreme Court has come down on in the past.
As proof, consider the testimony of Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who said:
We have seen real cases in which CSIS had in its bank of information the information about many people who did not represent a threat.
I have the same question as the commissioner, who asked the following as part of his testimony: is that the country we want to live in?
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2018-06-07 12:47 [p.20432]
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Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-59, which relates to issues of national security and how we deal with people suspected of terrorist acts.
This issue is quite different from those usually addressed. Usually, I have to talk about public finance. It is quite easy to say that the Liberals are wrong because they have a deficit and that we are right because we oppose deficits, which is very clear. In that case, this is very touchy. We are talking about so many great issues, and this issue should be addressed without partisanship. For sure, it is not easy.
That is why this really should be a non-partisan issue. This will not be easy, because obviously people are sharply divided on how this information should be dealt with in order to stop terrorism and how terrorists should be dealt with.
Bill C-59 is the current government's response to BillC-51, which our government had passed. I remind the House that the Liberals, who formed the second opposition party at the time, supported Bill C-51, but said that they would change it right away once in power. It was supposedly so urgent, and yet they have been in power for two and a half years now, and it has taken the Liberals this long to bring forward their response to the Conservative Bill C-51 in the House of Commons.
As I was saying earlier, some questions are easier to answer, because they are based not on partisanship, but on your point of view. For example, when it comes to public finances, you can be for or against the deficit. However, no one is arguing against the need to crack down on terrorism. The distinctions are in the nuances.
That is why the opposition parties proposed dozens of amendments to the bill; sadly, however, with the exception of four technical amendments proposed by the NDP, the Liberals systematically rejected all amendments proposed by the Conservative Party and the Green Party, and Lord knows that there is an entire world between the Conservative Party and the Green Party.
This bill is meant to help us tackle the terrorist threat, whether real or potential. In the old days, in World War II, the enemy was easily identified. Speaking of which, yesterday was the 74th anniversary of the Normandy landing, a major turning point in the liberation of the world from Nazi oppression. It was easy to identify the enemy back then. Their flag, leader, uniform and weapons were clearly identifiable. We knew where they were.
The problem with terrorism is that the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. They have no flag. They have a leader, but they may have another one by tomorrow morning. The enemy can be right here or on the other side of the world. Terrorism is an entirely new way of waging war, which calls for an entirely new way of defending ourselves. That is why, in our opinion, we need to share information. All police forces and all intelligence agencies working in this country and around the world must be able to share information in order to prevent tragedies like the one we witnessed on September 11, 2001.
In our opinion, the bill does not go far enough in terms of information sharing, which is necessary if we are to win the fight against terrorism. We believe that the Communications Security Establishment, the RCMP, CSIS and all of the other agencies that fight terrorism every day should join forces. They should share an information pipeline rather than work in silos.
In our opinion, if the bill is passed as it is now, the relevant information that could be used to flush out potential terrorists will not be shared as it should be. We are therefore asking the government to be more flexible in this respect. Unfortunately, the amendments proposed by our shadow cabinet minister, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, were rejected.
We are very concerned about another point as well: the charges against suspected terrorists. We believe that the language of the bill will make it more difficult to charge and flush out terrorists. This is a delicate subject, and every word is important.
We believe that the most significant and most contentious change the bill makes to the Criminal Code amends the offence set out in section 83.221, “Advocating or promoting commission of terrorism offences”. This is of special interest to us because this offence was created by Bill C-51, which we introduced. Bill C-59 requires a much more stringent test by changing the wording to, “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. The same applies to the definition of terrorist propaganda in subsection 83.222(8), which, in our opinion, will greatly restrict law enforcement agencies' ability to use the tool for dismantling terrorist propaganda with judicial authorization as set out in BillC-51. Why? Because as it is written, when you talk about counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence, it leaves room for interpretation.
What is the difference between a person and a group of people; between a person and a gathering; between a person and an entity; or between a person and an illicit and illegal group? In our opinion, this is a loophole in the bill. It would have been better to leave it as written in the Conservative Bill C-51. The government decided not to. In our opinion, it made a mistake.
Generally speaking, should we be surprised at the government’s attitude toward the fight against terrorism? The following example is unfortunate, but true. We know that 60 Canadians left Canada to join ISIS. Then, they realized that the war was lost because the free and democratic nations of the world decided to join forces and fight back. Now, with ISIS beginning to crumble, these 60 Canadians, cowards at heart, realize that they are going to lose and decide to return to Canada. In our opinion, these people are criminals. They left our country to fight Canadian soldiers defending freedom and democracy and return to Canada as if nothing had happened. No.
Worse still, the Liberal government’s attitude toward these Canadian criminals is to offer them poetry lessons. That is a pretty mediocre approach to criminals who left Canada with the mandate to kill Canadian soldiers. We believe that we should throw the book at these people. They need to be dealt with accordingly, and certainly not welcomed home with poetry lessons, as the government proposes.
Time is running out, but I would like to take this opportunity, since we are discussing security, to extend the warmest thanks to all the employees at the RCMP, CSIS, the CSE and other law enforcement agencies such as the Sûreté du Québec in Quebec and municipal police forces. Let us pay tribute to all these people who get up every morning to keep Canadians safe. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 4,000 or more police officers from across Canada who are working hard in the Charlevoix and Quebec City regions to ensure the safety of the G7 summit, these people who place their life on the line so that we can live in a free and democratic society where we feel safe. I would like to thank these women and men from coast to coast to coast that make it possible for us to be free and, most importantly, to feel safe.
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