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Results: 1 - 11 of 11
Guy Bujold
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Guy Bujold
2018-02-15 12:05
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Thank you.
Mr. Chair, honourable members, thank you for inviting me here today to speak to you about Bill  C-59, An Act respecting national security matters. As you said, Mr. McKay, I am accompanied by Ms. Joanne Gibb, Director of the Research, Policy and Strategic Investigations Unit of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
I will focus my comments today on part 1 of the bill, which seeks to establish the national security and intelligence review agency, thereby transferring certain powers, duties, and functions from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to this new agency.
As the head of the commission, I strongly believe in the importance of civilian oversight and review, whether it is related to national security or, for that matter, related to law enforcement more generally. Independent review fosters positive change and makes organizations better, and I think that's an objective we shouldn't lose sight of when we're talking about these changes. Consequently, the commission supports all of the efforts to enhance the national security review framework.
The trust that Canadians have in their public safety and national security agencies is predicated on accountability and transparency, to the degree possible. Independent review, whether it is by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, or by expert civilian bodies such as the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, or the Office of the CSE Commissioner, contributes to the overall accountability framework of the organizations entrusted with keeping Canada safe and secure.
As the government seeks to further strengthen that framework by creating the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, the commission welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with the new review body to ensure that RCMP activities are independently examined.
Created in 1988, the commission has significant experience and expertise in managing complaints and conducting reviews of the RCMP, whether it is into the RCMP’s actions in relation to the G8 or G20 summits, the RCMP seizure of firearms in High River, or policing in northern B.C., to name a few subjects.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, as it is known now, has long been a key element of the RCMP’s accountability structure. By independently reviewing complaints, and where necessary making findings and remedial recommendations, the commission strives to bring about constructive change in the RCMP.
Currently, the commission is undertaking a review of the RCMP's implementation of Justice O'Connor's recommendations in relation to the Maher Arar affair. That investigation is ongoing at this time and is expected to be completed before the end of the fiscal year. The commission will then prepare a report outlining any findings and recommendations pertaining to the six sectors examined by Justice O'Connor.
It is my hope that any findings or recommendations made by the commission would guide the new review agency in its future work in relation to the RCMP's national security activities.
In his 2006 report, Justice O’Connor stressed the importance of a review body being able to “follow the thread”. Through Bill C-59, the new national security and intelligence review agency will have the mandate to do just that, providing a more holistic approach to national security review. Justice O’Connor also stressed the need to eliminate silos and for expert review bodies to work more collaboratively. We're hopeful that this will be an outcome of the new legislation and new oversight structures.
Since the mandate of the RCMP is much broader than just national security, I am pleased that Bill C-59 permits the national security and intelligence review agency to provide the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission with information it has obtained from the RCMP if such information relates to the fulfilment of our own mandate. I believe that this is critical to the overall effectiveness of the expert review bodies.
For example, if in the course of a national security review the national security and intelligence review agency becomes aware of a policy issue unrelated to national security, that issue could be flagged to the CRCC for further examination. This is the reality of the world we're living in.
To further illustrate the importance of collaboration and co-operation, I would suggest that if a public complaint was received by the commission that pertained to national security, but also contained allegations related to RCMP member conduct, the two review bodies should be able to collaborate, within their respective statutory mandates, to deal with the complaint. That is the only way that the Canadians who had made a complaint would receive an appropriate response to all their complaints.
Although the legislation requires the complaint to be referred to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, the CRCC, as the expert review body in relation to policing and police conduct, could deal with the allegation related to member conduct. This would ensure a consistent approach in reviewing complaints of RCMP on-duty conduct.
In terms of changes to the commission's mandate relative to Bill C-59, certain elements in the legislation might benefit from further clarification, and that the members of this committee may wish to consider further. Proposed amendments to the RCMP Act require that the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission refuse to deal with a complaint concerning an activity that is closely related to national security and refer any such complaint to the national security and intelligence review agency. That means the CRCC will continue to receive all public complaints related to the RCMP, and thus will remain the point of intake for public complaints. The onus will then be on the CRCC to determine whether the complaint is, in the words of the legislation, “closely related to national security” before deciding on how it will dispose of it.
Absent a definition of national security, however, the commission must make a determination on whether to refer the complaint to the national security and intelligence review agency. Once referred to the national security and intelligence review agency, that agency must receive and investigate the complaint in accordance with section 19 of the new legislation. There is currently no authority, however, for a referral back to the CRCC if the national security and intelligence review agency were to deem, after it had examined a complaint, that it was not a matter closely related to national security. This is a matter that the committee may want to consider further.
Also, while Bill  C-59 prohibits the commission from dealing with or investigating complaints closely related to national security, as well as RCMP activity related to national security, there is no prohibition on the commission's chairperson from initiating a complaint related to national security. Further to the RCMP Act, if the chairperson is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to investigate the conduct of an RCMP member in the performance of any duty or function, the chairperson may initiate a complaint in relation to that conduct. Bill  C-59 does not amend subsection 45.59(1) of the RCMP Act and, as a result, the chairperson could initiate a complaint closely related to national security. I respectfully suggest that the committee may wish to consider whether this is consistent with the intent of the legislation.
As I indicated at the beginning of my remarks, I believe in the importance of civilian oversight of law enforcement, and we at the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP are fully committed to working with the new national security and intelligence review agency.
In closing, I'd like to thank the committee for allowing me to share my views on the important role of the independent civilian review. I welcome your questions.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-02-15 12:25
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I appreciate that, Chair. I'm just looking at the way police oversight happens in the context of...I think we've heard witnesses talk about that, but I appreciate that point.
The Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, provided for the sharing of information, further to Justice O'Connor's recommendation that we follow the trail. Has that changed the way you work? I can imagine that information or complaints might hypothetically be forwarded to the RCMP or, conversely, that the RCMP might forward them to CSIS.
You cannot get into the details, of course, but has this changed your approach regarding actions by the RCMP in situations that also involve other agencies?
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Guy Bujold
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Guy Bujold
2018-02-15 12:26
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I will ask Ms. Gibb to provide further information if necessary, but I can say that there are no problems with the sharing of information between the RCMP and the commission at this time, nor do we expect there to be any either when the changes in question come into effect. Under the current act, we have very broad powers to obtain the information we need to conduct investigations.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-02-15 12:27
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I'm sorry, perhaps my question was not clear.
Let's say you receive a complaint related to an action by the RCMP involving the sharing of information as set out in the former Bill C-51 and as amended, in a sense, by the current bill.
What do you do if you follow the trail from the complaint and arrive at the information forwarded by CSIS, for instance, and you find that it is the actions by CSIS that are the object of the complaint?
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Joanne Gibb
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Joanne Gibb
2018-02-15 12:27
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We don't have any public complaints of that nature, but I'll add that our ongoing national security review into Justice O'Connor's recommendations is looking at domestic information sharing as it is currently done by the RCMP.
When that's complete, we should have a better answer for you on whether or not BillC-51 affected how they share information, but I'm not aware of any public complaints regarding information sharing in that regard.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-02-15 12:28
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As regards national security, you made recommendations about how to proceed in this context and the need for a stronger definition. If I understand correctly, however, the ideal would be for you to work together rather than passing the buck back and forth.
You conduct parallel investigations, is that correct? How do you see this?
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Guy Bujold
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Guy Bujold
2018-02-15 12:29
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First of all, we want to meet the legal requirement, under the act, to refer cases involving national security to the new agency. However, in an investigation relating to a worrisome national security issue, if we find that an RCMP member did not fulfill their obligations, their conduct would be an issue. In our view, the commission should be able to continue that investigation. That would mean sharing information with the new agency and would allow us both to conduct our investigation to arrive at a conclusion.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
I will, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much to the members of the committee for their work as they are about to begin clause-by-clause study of Bill C-59, the national security act.
I am pleased today to be accompanied by a range of distinguished officials in the field of public safety and national security. David Vigneault, as you know, is the director of CSIS. Greta Bossenmaier, to my right, is the chief of the Communications Security Establishment, and the CSE is involved in Bill C-59 in a very major way.
To my left is Vincent Rigby, associate deputy minister at Public Safety. I think this is his first committee hearing in his new role as associate deputy minister. Kevin Brosseau is deputy commissioner of the RCMP, and Doug Breithaupt is from the Department of Justice.
Everything that our government does in terms of national security has two inseparable objectives: to protect Canadians and to defend our rights and freedoms. To do so, we have already taken a number of major steps, such as the new parliamentary committee established by Bill C-22 and the new ministerial direction on avoiding complicity in mistreatment. That said, Bill  C-59 is certainly central to our efforts.
As I said last week in the House, this bill has three core themes: enhancing accountability and transparency, correcting certain problematic elements in the former BillC-51, and ensuring that our national security and intelligence agencies can keep pace with the evolving nature of security threats.
Bill C-59 is the product of the most inclusive and extensive consultations Canada has ever undertaken on the subject of national security. We received more than 75,000 submissions from a variety of stakeholders and experts as well as the general public, and of course this committee also made a very significant contribution, which I hope members will see reflected in the content of Bill C-59.
All of that input guided our work and led to the legislation that's before us today, and we're only getting started. When it comes to matters as fundamental as our safety and our rights, the process must be as open and thorough as it can possibly be. That is why we chose to have this committee study the bill not after second reading but before second reading. As you know, once a bill has passed second reading in the House, its scope is locked in. With our reversal of the usual order, you will have the chance to analyze Bill C-59 in detail at an earlier stage in the process, which is beginning now, and to propose amendments that might otherwise be deemed to be beyond the scope of the legislation.
We have, however, already had several hours of debate, and I'd like to use the remainder of my time to address some of the points that were raised during that debate. To begin with, there were concerns raised about CSIS's threat reduction powers. I know there are some who would like to see these authorities eliminated entirely and others who think they should be limitless. We have taken the approach, for those measures that require a judicial warrant, of enumerating what they are in a specific list.
CSIS needs clear authorities, and Canadians need CSIS to have clear authorities without ambiguity so that they can do their job of keeping us safe. This legislation provides that clarity. Greater clarity benefits CSIS officers, because it enables them to go about their difficult work with the full confidence that they are operating within the parameters of the law and the Constitution.
Importantly, this bill will ensure that any measure CSIS takes is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. BillC-51 implied the contrary, but CSIS has been very clear that they have not used that particular option in Bill C-51, and Bill C-59 will end any ambiguity.
Mr. Paul-Hus, during his remarks in the debate in the House, discussed the changes we're proposing to the definition of “terrorist propaganda” and the criminal offence of promoting terrorism. Now, there can be absolutely no doubt of our conviction—I think this crosses all party lines—that spreading the odious ideologies of terrorist organizations is behaviour that cannot be tolerated. We know that terrorist groups use the Internet and social media to reach and radicalize people and to further their vile and murderous ends. We must do everything we can to stop that.
The problem with the way the law is written at the moment, as per BillC-51 is that it is so broad and so vague that it is virtually unuseable, and it hasn't been used. Bill C-59 proposes terminology that is clear and familiar in Canadian law. It would prohibit counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence. This does not require that a particular person be counselled to commit a particular offence. Simply encouraging others to engage in non-specific acts of terrorism will qualify and will trigger that section of the Criminal Code.
Because the law will be more clearly drafted, it will be easier to enforce. Perhaps we will actually see a prosecution under this new provision. There has been no prosecution of this particular offence as currently drafted.
There were also questions raised during debate about whether the new accountability mechanisms will constitute too many hoops for security and intelligence agencies to jump through as they go about their work. The answer, in my view, is clearly, no. When the bill was introduced, two of the country's leading national security experts, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, said the bill represents “solid gains—measured both from a rule of law and civil liberties perspective—and come at no credible cost to security.”
Accountability mechanisms for Canadian security and intelligence agencies have been insufficient for quite some time. BillC-22 took one major step to remedy that weakness by creating the new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. Bill C-59 will now add the new comprehensive national security and intelligence review agency, which some people, for shorthand, refer to as a super-SIRC, as well as the position of intelligence commissioner, which is another innovation in Bill C-59.
These steps have been broadly applauded. Some of the scrutiny that we are providing for in the new law will be after the fact, and where there is oversight in real time we've included provisions to deal with exigent circumstances when expedience and speed are necessary.
It is important to underscore that accountability is, of course, about ensuring that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected, but it is also about ensuring that our agencies are operating as effectively as they possibly can to keep Canadians safe. Both of these vital goals must be achieved simultaneously—safety and rights together, not one or the other.
Debate also included issues raised by the New Democratic Party about what is currently known as SCISA, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act. There was a suggestion made that the act should be repealed entirely, but, with respect, that would jeopardize the security of Canadians. If one government agency or department has genuine information about a security threat, they have to be able to disclose it to the appropriate partner agencies within government in order to deal with that threat, and you may recall that this has been the subject of a number of judicial enquiries in the history of our country over the last number of years.
That disclosure must be governed by clear rules, which is why Bill C-59 establishes the following three requirements. First, the information being disclosed must contribute to the recipient organization's national security responsibilities. Second, the disclosure must not affect any person's privacy more than is reasonably necessary. Third, a statement must be provided to the recipient attesting to the information's accuracy. Furthermore, we make it clear that no new information collection powers are being created or implied, and records must be kept of what information is actually being shared.
Mr. Chair, I see you're giving me a rude gesture, which could be misinterpreted in another context.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Ralph Goodale: There are a couple of points more, but I suspect they'll be raised during the course of the discussion. I'm happy to try to answer questions with the full support of the officials who are with me this morning.
Thank you.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
Mr. Motz, we listened very carefully to the public reaction and the parliamentary reaction when we tabled the bill in June. By and large, it was favourable.
However, with a piece of legislation this large, there will be differing perspectives and points of view. Over the course of the summer, there's been some elaboration on that. Some academic papers have been written, and various people who were involved in the consultations have come back to raise a question about this or a concern about that.
There are two areas that I would mention in particular. One is the provisions around SCISA, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, and whether those provisions can be improved or upgraded. Some of the experts, for example, Professors Forcese and Roach, have made some suggestions in that regard, which we're prepared to take a very careful look at. That is a critical mechanism here for agencies to be able to share information, but to do so on the proper legal basis, properly protecting privacy. The Privacy Commissioner made some observations as well. That's one area.
With regard to another area, you may have noticed that, earlier in the fall, I issued new ministerial directives to the security agencies about how they deal with information sharing with foreign entities. People have noted that a ministerial directive, by custom, has the force of law. It may be valuable to take that concept and find a way to put it in legislation so that there is a legislative anchor or hook for the ministerial directives.
Those are just two possibilities that we could consider, and I hope by the end of this conversation, you will agree that your optimism is not misplaced.
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View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2017-11-30 9:18
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Certainly.
Minister, I want to go back to the information sharing section. I want to understand, because this is what you said in the House: that there's a difference between the language of disclosure that's now there, versus the language of sharing that was there. I want to understand what legal grounds that has to create any sort of difference.
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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
In the presentation of this section we wanted to make it clear that no new power of collection is being created here. This is all in reference to information that already exists.
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