Bill C-35 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
John Manley Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 29th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC
Madam Speaker, I am not necessarily happy to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill C-55, however, it is important that I do so.
This bill comes after others that were passed in this House. I think that we must take them into account when we make a decision on Bill C-55, which will allow for the creation of controlled access military zones.
I want to remind the House that, over the last few months, since the events of September 11, we have passed, in spite of the Bloc Quebecois' opposition, Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act, and Bill C-35, where section 5 allows the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to take measures, including building walls around any area where events are taking place, in accordance with procedures to be determined by the RCMP alone.
So we already have, over the last few months, passed two bills that are very disturbing from a civil liberties standpoint. Amnesty International, in a report published yesterday and discussed today in the media, says that, since the tragic events of September 11, freedoms and democratic rights in general have regressed, and this is true in Canada.
Clearly, in a number of countries these days, including our neighbours to the south, arbitrary arrests are taking place, detentions without warrant, or even, as was done with the prisoners brought out of Afghanistan, the creation of special courts that do not come under any civil authority.
This morning Amnesty International announced that democratic freedom had experienced setbacks in almost all of the western world. Canada is not, unfortunately, an exception. Bill C-55, along with Bills C-36 and C-35, which have unfortunately already been passed, is one more proof of this. Canada's reputation is exaggerated as far as democratic freedom is concerned. One of the signs of this is that, ever since Canada has become a member of the Organization of American States ten years or so ago, it has signed not one of the regional conventions on basic rights. I feel obliged to denounce this.
Moreover, more and more stakeholders, including Amnesty International, have emphasized this exaggerated reputation Canada has as far as democracy is concerned. For instance, the latest issue of the Quebec chapter of Amnesty International's publication Agir spoke out against the Canadian government for its attacks on democratic freedoms.
We now have before us a new bill, Bill C-55, which is in fact a reincarnation of Bill C-42, which the government was trying to ram through, like Bills C-36 and C-35, but which was withdrawn as a result of criticism by the opposition, the Bloc Quebecois in particular.
So now we have its replacement, Bill C-55. This is the same bill again, except for a few cosmetic changes. For instance, the new terminology: controlled access military zone, instead of what was used in Bill C-42, that is, military security zone. Whatever the terminology, we are talking about exactly the shame negative effect on rights and freedoms.
One might argue that some of the criteria for establishing these controlled access zones have been tightened up. Nevertheless, it is still the minister of defence alone who has the power to establish such zones.
Let us not forget that it was the minister of defence who, just recently, neglected to inform the Prime Minister about Canadian troops taking prisoners in Afghanistan and handing them over to the Americans, information which was quite important in the context. Moreover, this minister had to resign just days ago; he was fired from cabinet for reasons related to conflict of interest.
One can wonder about the adequacy of giving one minister, namely the Minister of National Defence, the power to create controlled access military zones. It seems excessive to us and it opens the door to much arbitrariness and dangerous situations, especially since the bill does not even require the approval of the Quebec government or any provincial government as far as the creation of a controlled access military zone is concerned.
As we know, unfortunately, there have been a number of federal interventions in Quebec that were not requested by the Quebec people. I am also convinced that a controlled access military zone would have been established at the Quebec summit in April 2001. If the Quebec government had objected, the minister of defence would have ignored it, just as they denied the Quebec Prime Minister the right to address the heads of state visiting our national capital.
In Bill C-55, the only criterion governing the designation of these controlled access military zones is that they must be reasonably necessary. This is a criterion that is elastic to say the least, both in terms of the dimensions of the zones and their period of designation.The provisions included in Bill C-42 and Bill C-55 are basically the same. No improvements have been made. There is only the following, in clause 260.1(4), which reads:
(4) The dimensions of a controlled access military zone may not be greater than is reasonably necessary to ensure the safety or security of any person, thing or property for which the zone is designated.
As we can see, there is a grey area, an arbitrary wording that will allow the Minister of National Defence, the federal government to do what it wants with these zones. Again, Bill C-55 complements Bill C-35, which gives the RCMP the power to erect walls, as it did in Quebec City. What were meant to be exceptional measures will now become the norm during any important event, any event of international scope. Bill C-55 has the same flaws as Bill C-42 in terms of the applicable criteria, and this is what makes it just as unacceptable.
Another aspect of the bill is that in these controlled access military zones, the people could lose certain rights. They will not be able to sue for damages, losses or injuries. It is written in the bill. For example, subsection 260.1(12) says:
(12) The Canadian Forces may permit, control, restrict or prohibit access to a controlled access military zone.
No reference whatsoever is made to the rights of people within this zone who, for example, would want to hold a peaceful demonstration, which is consistent with our charter of rights and freedoms and all the international conventions. Once again, nothing could be more totally arbitrary.
Finally, while in Bill C-42, a number of reasons, such as international security, defence and national security reasons, were given for the creation of such zones, in Bill C-55, all these references have disappeared. This bill essentially expands the reasons for designating controlled access military zones.
When we look at the bills passed since September 11, we find that not only Canada's reputation concerning human rights before September 11 was overrated, but the varnish is starting to peel off. The balance between rights and security needs was broken. Now, we are living in a state where civil liberties and democratic freedoms are more vulnerable than a few months ago.
In this context, the Bloc Quebecois has no other choice but to oppose this bill.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 27th, 2002 / 6:05 p.m.
Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC
Mr. Speaker, I believe it is very important to speak to this bill, which deals with terrorism. This bill, which was formerly introduced as Bill C-42, was modified to take into account some harsh criticisms made by the House, by the Bloc Quebecois in particular. Bill C-55 is totally unacceptable as it now stands. That is why we would prefer that it be considered in committee and that significant amendments be made to it.
I will take a different approach to criticize this bill. I am the Bloc Quebecois foreign affairs critic. Some time ago, I had to debate a bill, Bill C-35. All the clauses in that bill had the unanimous support of all parties in the House, except one clause consisting of three elements.
What did the bill say? I will refer to the fact that in these military zones that we have heard so much about, we are thinking about security at Kananaskis. Here is what Bill C-35, that we passed, says:
10.1(1) The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference in which two or more states participate, that is attended by persons granted privileges and immunities under this Act and to which an order made or continued under this Act applies.
It says “for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference”.
In the following paragraphs, it says:
(2) For the purpose of carrying out its responsibility under subsection (1), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police may take appropriate measures, including controlling, limiting or prohibiting access to any area to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances.
(3) The powers referred to in subsection (2) are set out for greater certainty and shall not be read as affecting the powers that peace officers possess at common law or by virtue of any other federal or provincial Act or regulation.
I want to draw to the attention of the House that the military security zones in Bill C-42, which became controlled access military zones in Bill C-55, are being proposed, among other functions, to protect people or property that would be deployed here during international conferences or when public figures are present on our soil.
At the outset, I could ask the following question: which legislation will have precedence? How will the security measures that the RCMP and the armed forces will provide be negotiated, particularly since, in Bill C-55, clause 260.1(12) says:
(12) The Canadian Forces may permit, control, restrict or prohibit access to a controlled access military zone.
As is also the case for a perimeter determined by the RCMP.
The arguments that are being used are the same. One may ask: who indeed will be responsible? What is even more worrisome is that the spirit is the same. The spirit is to prohibit access. However, on this issue, at the foreign affairs committee, we heard very direct and blunt evidence from some witnesses. We were told that the government cannot prohibit such access without violating the existing rights under Quebec's charter of freedoms and rights and under Canada's charter of human rights. It cannot do so without attacking these rights.
Yet, nothing in these bills, be it Bill C-35 or Bill C-55, can lead us to believe that the citizens would be in a position to defend themselves, to negotiate and discuss things. Even the provinces are in no position to do so.
When we debated Bill C-35, which creates security zones or perimeters, we said “Why change the present dynamics?”. In this respect—let us take the Quebec summit of the Americas for example, where all was not perfect, but lessons were learned so as not to repeat the same mistakes—there were some positive aspects.
There were negotiations between Quebec, the RCMP and the Quebec City security forces. Finally they came to an agreement in a context of respect for the police force which normally enforces the law in Quebec City.
As far as the creation of controlled access military zones is concerned, the full authority is given to the defence minister. He is the one who can create those zones. Now they say that this authority is more limited than it was in Bill C-42, the previous bill.
However, it is still clear that this boundary can shift. It is always interesting to read legislation. I always enjoy reading it. Although it is sometimes a bit obscure, one can still see the intentions of the legislator.
Subsection 260.1(3) in Bill C-55 provides that:
A controlled access military zone may consist of an area of land or water, a portion of airspace, or a structure or part of one, surrounding a thing referred to in subsection (1),—
This has to do with defence establishments, and so forth.
—or including it, whether the zone designated is fixed or moves with that thing.
So the zone can shift.
The zone automatically includes all corresponding airspace above, and water and land below, the earth's surface.
Subsection 260.1(2) in the same bill provides that:
The Minister may designate a controlled access military zone only if it is reasonably necessary—
Bill C-35 also contained the word “reasonable”. It would be helpful if a court could be asked to determine the meaning of “reasonably” or “reasonably necessary”. But this cannot be done after the fact. And again, we know how long this can take.
Clearly, a controlled access military zone can be designated. For instance, one could be designated in relation to:
—a vessel, aircraft or other property under the control of a visiting force that is legally in Canada by virtue of the Visiting Forces Act or otherwise.
Clearly, President Bush's plane in flight may be sufficient grounds for the designation of a military zone.
The public must realize that it makes no sense for the minister of defence to be able to make decisions on these zones alone, to have full discretion and be required to go to parliament only within the next 15 days, and that is if we are sitting. If parliament is not in session, he can take the 15 days but can make the decision and, anyway, we know that any debate will be a theoretical one, thanks to the party over there.
This means that the minister of defence has the full and complete power to create controlled access military zones wherever he pleases, without Quebec's consent—and I speak for Quebec—or that of the province concerned. He can use force to extract from that zone people who should not be there, people who do not have a right to be there even if that is where they live. They are not entitled to any compensation. This is most regrettable.
Excise Act, 2001
The Royal Assent
April 30th, 2002 / 3:10 p.m.
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Deputy of the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-33, an act respecting the water resources of Nunavut and the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 10.
Bill S-22, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada--Chapter No. 11.
Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act--Chapter No. 12.
Budget Implementation Act, 2001
March 18th, 2002 / 7 p.m.
Lynn Myers Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Cumberland--Colchester proposes that Bill C-35 be amended to require the Minister of Foreign Affairs to report every six months to both Houses on the criminal and civil immunity of foreign diplomats in Canada.
Following the tragic events involving Catherine MacLean and Catherine Doré, the government adopted a zero tolerance policy toward impaired driving, sending a strong signal that impaired driving will not be tolerated in this country. The government took a number of steps, including contact with police authorities and meetings with representatives of the diplomatic community to ensure that the government's zero policy, zero tolerance policy, for serious crimes was understood and implemented.
The policy of zero tolerance and the consequences are firm. The department will suspend a diplomat's driving privileges even where charges are not laid by police. In most cases a first offence will result in a one year suspension of the licence. A second offence or a first involving death or injury will result in the diplomat's recall or expulsion.
The government has already put in place a policy of careful monitoring and record keeping on foreign diplomatic behaviour amounting to alleged criminal misconduct. The chief of protocol in the Department of Foreign Affairs has been instructed to prepared a detailed quarterly report on diplomatic misbehaviour to the department's deputy minister. These quarterly reports are available under the Access to Information Act to any member of the public. In releasing the quarterly reports we have to adhere to privacy considerations under the Privacy Act. Once the reports have been released under an access request they are made available to the public on request.
I would like to point out that the minister takes very seriously his commitment to the people of Canada to strengthen the procedures responding to incidents of foreign diplomatic misbehaviour. That is why a policy of frequent reporting requiring not annual or biannual reporting but rather quarterly reports has in fact been implemented. As these reports are being made available to the public there should be no reason to question the transparency of the policy.
This system of reporting would be duplicated by a statutory requirement to make reports. This issue was raised in committee, and the committees of both the House and the Senate accepted the view of the government that such a statutory reporting requirement would not add to the system already in place. A statutory reporting requirement, then, is neither necessary nor appropriate for every government function. Such a requirement is not necessary in this case.
As noted in committee, the system in place provides for quarterly reporting on alleged criminal misconduct. While the Department of Foreign Affairs can expect to be notified by the police of any alleged criminal activity by foreign representatives, there is no guarantee that the department would be made aware of a civil action involving a diplomat if the status of the diplomat is not contested. For this reason, the hon. member's suggestion of reporting on the civil actions involving a foreign diplomat would then not be practical. I would submit that this being the government position it is a credible one and worth supporting.
Budget Implementation Act, 2001
March 18th, 2002 / 6:55 p.m.
Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS
Mr. Speaker, on November 19, 2001, I asked a question of the Minister of Foreign Affairs about an amendment he might consider which would provide information in the form of an annual report to parliament on offenders who claimed immunity under Bill C-35 which has been expanded to include a whole new category of foreigners under the immunity act.
The minister did not agree to do this. He refused the request despite the fact recent circumstances have proven we need access to the information. It is a matter of public safety, a matter of safety to Canadians, that we know who is using the immunity protection for diplomats. With this new expanded coverage for immunity it is even more important than ever.
The refusal of the request is typical of the Liberal government. It is consistent with the refusal to provide information to parliament, limiting access to information under the guise of security issues and security concerns, the refusal to provide ministers' budgets, and so on. It is very consistent that the government refuses to give parliament and Canadians the information we need simply to protect ourselves.
A Russian diplomat is on trial in Russia at this moment for a terrible offence in this country that could have been prevented had the information been made available which we are asking to have available now. This information was completely ignored by the authorities. We knew that the Russian diplomat had a bad track record of driving while under the influence and it was ignored. It was not available to us. All we are asking now is that this information be made available to parliament once a year so that we can know how to protect ourselves if there is a dangerous situation.
Once again, will the minister provide parliament with an annual report on those who file for immunity under the diplomatic immunity process?
March 12th, 2002 / 1:10 p.m.
Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on behalf of the NDP caucus today.
I begin by saying, with respect to the controversy earlier today about whether or not this motion by the Conservative Party should be votable, that one wonders whether or not, as someone who contests whether or not the motion should be votable, we will in fact actually vote.
However the matter before us is the motion and, I would say, without prejudice to whether or not we should be voting on it, that the motion is far too general to elicit the kind of support that I think perhaps the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough might have been looking for from all opposition parties.
While there are certainly things for which we would want to be critical of the government and criticisms that we might well share with the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, there might be other criticisms that we do not share. The member cannot simply ask us to sign on to a general condemnation of the government for its failure to implement a national security policy to address the broad range of security issues when we do not know the list of issues that the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough wants the government to address. I realize that he outlined some of those things in his speech but the motion, as it reads and if it were to be passed or, for that matter, approved by any party or individual, would be open to interpretations.
For instance, the NDP was critical of the government, not for its failure to implement a particular security policy when it came to anti-terrorism legislation but for, in our judgment, going too far when it came to anti-terrorism legislation. Therefore it would be difficult for us to support the motion because it seems to imply that, with respect to a broad range of issues having to do with security, the government has not gone far enough.
When Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation, was before the House, one of our criticisms was that we felt the government had gone too far. We also felt that way with respect to Bill C-35 and we feel that way with respect to Bill C-42, which now seems to be on the back burner but which is nevertheless still on the order paper. Is it the position of the Progressive Conservative Party that Bill C-42 is part of the government's failure, that it does not go far enough?
These are all the kinds of interpretations that could be attached to support this particular motion because it is in fact so general. It is one of the reasons why I do not see how we could support this particular motion as it stands.
Because it has come up in debate, is the motion intended to refer in some codified way to the Senate report on security? If that is the case, perhaps a motion saying that we adopt the recommendations of the recent Senate committee on security would have been in order. At least we then could have debated what was in that particular report.
Having listened to the debate a bit today, it seemed to me from time to time that we were vicariously debating the report that was brought forward in the Senate with respect to security. The allusion in the motion to ports of entry and borders, for instance, is clearly a reference to a subject matter of concern that the Senate committee report addressed itself to.
Having said that, with respect to ports and security matters having to do with ports, I would like to put on the record once again that the NDP felt at the time and feels still that the privatization of ports and the elimination of the national harbour police were serious mistakes.
Addressing whatever security concerns there may be with respect to our ports would be to reinstitute a police force dedicated to port security, instead of having the municipal police and the RCMP trying to do a job that in our judgment should be done by a police force dedicated to that particular purpose.
To me, it always makes sense to have people who are vocationally attached to a particular task. I think that is the way the members of the national harbour police worked when they were in existence. They were not municipal police who might be looking after port security this year, looking after the vice squad next year and looking after something else the next year. Their job was port security and they were there for the long haul.
However it has become a fad in the last 10 to 20 years to do away with dedicated services of any kind and to turn everything over to--I am not sure what to call it, but nobody ever does anything for the long haul any more. They are just in there for the duration of a contract when things are privatized, or in the case of what we are talking about here in terms of ports police, we do not have a police force dedicated to port security but we have a number of police officers in various police forces who are assigned from time to time to port security. This is not a criticism of them. They are put in a very difficult position and, as the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough and others have said and quite rightly, are often asked to do the job without adequate resources.
We cannot have security on the cheap. Yet in some ways we are reaping now what was sown over the last 10, 15, 20 years whereby governments, through various public policy initiatives, generally in the way of deregulation, privatization, contracting out and doing away with things that were directly funded by government, tried to do things on the cheap that they used to do in a dedicated way and they used to do by way of paying whatever it cost to get the job done and to have the job done well.
Now the chickens are coming home to roost. It was fine as long as, to put the obvious, everything was fine, but now that things are not fine we find that there are all kinds of holes in the system.
It will not do, while we are alluding to the Senate report, to impugn the integrity of a lot of people who work at the ports.
There seems to be an underlying theme in the Senate report that is of concern to us and I think of concern to many others that somehow its the workers in the ports who are the problem.
A very good article in the Province by Christina Montgomery talks about some of the things wrong with the Senate report. She highlights, for instance, the disbandonment of the ports police which I have already mentioned. She also takes issue with the way in which the report implies that somehow its the unions that are at fault for whatever security problems there may be at our ports. I would like to put that on the record.
Returning to the matter of resources, the fact is that a lot of our ports are underpoliced. Whether we return to a national harbour police, a national ports police or however we do it, we will need a lot more resources at our ports, along the borders. Others have spoken of the longest undefended border. It is undefended and that is part of the problem. It is undefended from a lot of things.
I do not, and I do not think anybody does, want to see the border become a difficult place for ordinary Canadians and Americans to go back and forth and for commerce to transpire. The fact is that we have been under-resourcing our security personnel wherever we find them, whether we find them at customs, in the ports, in the RCMP or wherever Canadians are called upon to engage in security tasks for the public there has been a pattern of underfunding and under-resourcing these tasks for a long time and it is coming home to roost.
If the government is serious about security, I would urge it to get serious about funding security. Its only major initiative so far, which I think was wrong, has been to bring in the anti-terrorism legislation which I think, in some respects, goes beyond targeting terrorists to making it possible to make life miserable for legitimate, democratic dissent in this country.
A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet at a forum with the United Steelworkers of America which has many thousands of members in the security industry. The United Steelworkers were saying to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is in charge of security, that they wanted to sit down and talk about the security industry and talk about national standards for training, certification and pay.
One of the problems in the security industry, particularly as it pertains to the private security industry which guards much of our infrastructure, which we are now told we should be worried about in terms of possible terrorist attacks, is that a lot of that infrastructure is provided on a private for profit basis. It is also not necessarily the best kind of security that we could ask for. People in the security industry know that. They would like to see higher standards, better training and the kind of pay that would create in that industry people who would be dedicated to that particular task. If they were paid well enough they would stay at it and do the job properly. They would not feel that they had to move on because of an offer of a better paying job somewhere else.
All these things are on our mind as we reflect upon the Tory motion that we have here today. We cannot support the motion as it is. We reiterate our contention that part of the solution for addressing the security problems at our ports is the reintroduction of a dedicated national harbours or ports police.
We agree with others who say that the resources are a great part of the problem and that there is a need for the government to make sure that our police and security forces, in the broadest possible sense of the word, have the resources to do the job that they are being asked to do.
The NDP cannot support the motion because we find it to be too general. We do not want to condemn the government holus-bolus or support the government holus-bolus on this. It has done some things right and some things wrong. Simply to have a motion which condemns the government without saying what it is it is being condemned for does not provide the opportunity for the kind of detailed debate that we would like to have in the House.
I remind hon. members that even though they might not have supported the NDP motion during the week before we broke, there were 12 things that we thought the government should be doing. Members could get up and disagree with those 12 things but they knew what we were talking about. We do not have a similar kind of motion before us here today.
With respect to the final phrase in the motion calling “on the government to reassert Parliament's relevance in these and other public policy issues”, I am not entirely sure what the member means here. If this is a general call for parliamentary reform, which would restore parliament's relevance in these and other public issues, of course we support that. I would say that as an individual member of parliament I have supported this kind of effort all the time I have been here.
However I am not sure whether this final phrase was supposed to entice people to vote for the rest of the motion, in spite of the fact that it had so little content, out of our love for parliamentary reform, or what effect it was supposed to have on us. In any event, we certainly would like to see parliament's relevance reasserted in these and other public policy issues.
With all due respect to the members of the PC/DRC coalition who are in the House now, and I know none of them were here when what I am about to speak of happened. One of the reasons why parliament suffers from a lack of relevance in these and other public policy issues is because of what was done to parliament between 1984 and 1993 when the Conservatives were in power.
Much of what we now experience in opposition, the frustration and powerlessness, the feeling of being left out of decisions taken in the Prime Minister's Office and elsewhere, a lot of these trends, if not begun, were solidified and consolidated under the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party between 1984 and 1993.
What is of course tragic, ironic and, in the final analysis, despicable is that the party that in its days as official opposition that opposed these measures has now been in power for nine years and has done absolutely nothing to undo the damage that it so loudly protested at that time.
I certainly join with members of the PC/DRC in calling once again on another government, in another time, in the same place, to reassert parliament's relevance in these and other public policy issues.
December 6th, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I will utilize all my time, but listening to the debate today I thought it would be a good opportunity to participate in the larger issue of the way the government is conducting the business of the House in its so-called fight against terrorism.
As I said to my colleague from the Bloc during questions and comments, I found myself agreeing with his overarching statement that one of the problems we in the House, let alone Canadians out in the real world, have with the government's approach to the war on terrorism is the way it is bringing in legislation.
We all recognize that while the legislation is hurried it must be done properly. There is not only a great need for the government to bring forward thoughtful legislation that will stand the test of time. It must allow the legislation to be open to amendments from all parties in the House. It must listen attentively to representations by people and organizations out in the real world who would ultimately be affected by the legislation we pass in this place.
Unfortunately what we have seen in the last two months or so, as my colleague was saying, is Bill C-36, the so-called anti-terrorism legislation; Bill C-35; and Bill C-42. Bill C-44 which we are debating today was hived off Bill C-42 because of the sense of urgency that the clause needed to be passed before the House rose for mid-winter break.
It is this approach that is causing consternation and concern among all opposition parties and to a certain degree the Canadian public. The government has not communicated an overall vision of what it intends to do to address the issue. It is encouraging the Canadian public to get back to business as usual.
We want to minimize the economic impact of the war on terrorism and the aftermath of the horrendous attacks. We all understand that. However the world has changed forever. People outside the Ottawa bubble recognize that at least as much as we do and possibly more. The world is not the same place. Canadians are looking to the government for leadership.
The government is bringing bills before the House one at a time. We in the opposition are expected to assist the government in making sure the best possible legislation is ultimately put into law, or at least sent to the other place for the Senate to consider. While we struggle with this it is extremely difficult if we do not understand the government's overall vision and exactly what it intends to bring forward.
As a number of individuals said prior to my remarks, we might react quite differently to legislation if we could see it within the overall context of what is coming down the road. We might be more supportive or more opposed.
We have no idea what bills the government may introduce between now and when the House rises next week. We do not know what it will bring forward in late January or early February to address different facets of the huge issue of terrorism and try to make our country, society and people safer and more secure.
As the previous speakers have said, we are supportive of the fact that the legislation before us today, Bill C-44, is very simple in nature. We are concerned about the lack of vision and foresight that the government continually exhibits and what that elicits in the minds of the public. It is not very comforting for the people of a country, who are looking for leadership, to see this piecemeal approach wherein legislation is very hurriedly brought in and then amended by the government amends.
In the case of Bill C-36, there were somewhere in the order of 100 amendments, the vast majority of which were brought forward by the government. Those types of procedures send a very clear message to Canadians that the government is not in control and that it does not have a clear plan. If it did, it would not have brought the bill forward and before it was barely in the House start looking at possible amendments, tearing it apart and rejigging it.
With Bill C-42, the government brought the bill forward, then rushed around and talked to all the opposition parties to see if there was some way the bill could be shuttled off to committee right away so the committee could hive off the clause that was needed right away. The government had some concerns about that because it wanted to adequately debate Bill C-42 on the floor of the House.
When the government ran into resistance with that, it then thought it could perhaps get unanimous consent to carve off one piece of the bill, submit it as new legislation in the form of Bill C-44 and then rush it through the House. That type of activity by the government is far from comforting or reassuring to Canadians, let alone to Americans.
I can well remember rising in my place to speak shortly after the House reconvened in late September. I believe it was the September 18, if memory serves me correctly. In my remarks at that time I suggested that it was incumbent upon the government to communicate to the Canadian people and Americans a vision of what it intended to do to make our country, and indeed our continent, more secure. Sadly, over two months have passed since the House reconvened and we have not seen that type of vision or comprehensive plan put forward by the government. We have not seen it communicate its plan is to Canadians and Americans or North Americans as a whole.
Instead, as my colleague from the Bloc just said, the government has brought forward one piece of legislation at a time thinking it could perhaps plug the problem with airline security, or airport security, or passenger lists or some potential problem at a seaport. I believe it is this piecemeal approach that is of great concern to the Canadian people. It does not send the proper message to Canadians or Americans that the government knows what it is doing on this all important issue.
My colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley who spoke earlier on this legislation has done an incredible amount of work, not just in the last couple of months but in the last few years on the issue of border management. The issue of trade corridors is obviously of huge importance to her because her riding is very close to the U.S. border.
Cross-border trade is a big issue, not only to all Canadians but to the Americans as well. Eighty per cent of our trade is with the Americans and one-quarter of theirs is with us. However it also is a huge issue for her and to people of her riding. She has done an incredible amount of work on this very complex issue of border management, even prior to the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11 and the fallout those attacks.
Unfortunately what we are witnessing now is a tightening of security at the U.S. border. The coalition has argued that that tightening of our entry points should be on a continental perimeter rather than restricted only to the American-Canadian border. I know this is of grave concern to local politicians. The mayors and councils of the cities closest to the U.S.-Canada border have become quite involved because they have recognized the fallout. Whether it is Quebec and the New England states, or the Windsor border area of Ontario or at different points across western Canada, this problem has affected the vast majority of Canadians, and we want to see it solved.
That is why my colleague, on behalf of the coalition, put forward more of a comprehensive plan, or a vision, on greater border management and security. One of the facets of the plan is a binational or bilateral agency to exchange freely information between the United States and Canada by setting up a databank computer system. By doing that our systems would be fully integrated and both countries would know exactly what was going back and forth across the border. We would then have the reassurance that both countries would know what is going on.
I am reminded of the example I used when I spoke to the issue back home in my riding of Prince George--Peace River during the November break week. I was talking to some Rotary clubs and chambers of commerce in the riding. I made the comment about the banks designing a bank card which could be used almost everywhere in the world. People could go to an international bank, put in a bank card and get money out in local currency. That truly is amazing when one thinks about it. If the banks could design something like that, then surely to goodness two countries with so much at stake, as Canada and the United States have on the issues of security and safety for our citizens, could design an integrated computer system and establish an agency to monitor that system. By doing that, both countries could feel comfortable in knowing who and what goods were travelling back and forth across our common border.
I commend my colleague for the work she has done on this issue and I commend our proposal put forward by the coalition on November 1. I know that she has had discussions with some Americans and American agencies on this issue and that the vision of a new way of managing the border between the U.S. and Canada has been relatively well received. It could bear some great fruit on how we approach this.
December 6th, 2001 / 1:20 p.m.
Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will try to be a little bit clearer. The Bloc Quebecois and, I believe, Quebecers and Canadians as a whole, would have liked to hear the government say: “This is what we intend to do to fight terrorism. A bill will deal with an issue, and another one with another issue. Bill C-42 will be about this and that”. We would have liked the government to explain the approach on which is based the anti-terrorism legislation we are going to pass.
This does not mean that everything should be put in a single bill. I agree with the member who said that an omnibus bill always contains elements that are frightening or that we would like to oppose, and others elements that are interesting and we would like to support.
Right now, we are in between: we do not know what to do and we feel the government tried to slip us a pill we did not want along with something we did. I have always been against such an approach. I have always said that the government should not proceed in such a way and I still hold that view.
We would have liked the government to show the political courage it seems to lack and spell out everything it wanted in terms of the legislation to fight terrorism.
I can immediately say that if we had been shown Bills C-35, C-36, C-42 and C-44, and if I had examined them with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, we would not have supported Bill C-36 at second reading, because it went too far, because it was not consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and because it lacks the proper balance between national security and individual and group rights.
The government decided to introduce Bill C-36 first, and then Bill C-35. Still later, it came up with Bill C-42, which was supposed to be extremely important and which had to be passed in a hurry before the holiday season. Suddenly, we found out that the only very important part in this 100 page bill could hold on a single 8½ X 11 sheet of paper.
What are we to believe in everything this government is saying? This is called a piecemeal approach.
I congratulate the government on this initiative to have the minister remove a clause from the bill and introduce new legislation, Bill C-44. I agree with the splitting of this part, which will allow us to support it, although not wholeheartedly as I was saying earlier on Bill C-44, but in general. My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel made a very eloquent speech in this regard.
We will indeed support this bill, even if we might add that the government has gone too far and that it is not abiding by the promises it made regarding the regulations. We will support it because life has to go on, particularly since many people deal with the United States in Quebec and in Canada. A lot of people travel, et cetera. On January 18 or 19, there would be a problem if we did not have legislation. Therefore we are going ahead with this.
But the government might be going too far. For the rest of Bill C-42, when the debate will be held, when all of that will be examined in committee, we will realize once more that it is really going too far and that we have to analyze all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the government's approach to the fight against terrorism.
I sincerely hope that there will be opposition members, who have done an excellent job on these rights, as well as some government members, such as the hon. member for Mount Royal, who told reporters before the bill was passed that it made no sense and he would be voting against it, but yet when the time came to vote, he stood up and voted the same as the rest of the government.
I trust they will be logical in their thinking, and will not yield to the government's pressure, the pressure it puts on every time it introduces bills of this kind.
I think I have been sufficiently clear this time on how I see things, and I believe I am not alone in my views. I think this is what the public wants, and it deserves to have the government act according to its wishes.
December 6th, 2001 / 1 p.m.
Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC
Mr. Speaker, since this morning, I have been listening carefully to the debate about this very important bill. When I heard what the Bloc Quebecois member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had to say, I decided to speak to the bill myself, given its importance.
The House will understand that this is an issue which the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has followed closely and on which he has done a considerable amount of work. He advises and informs the Bloc Quebecois members on this topic. I listened to him earlier and several things that he said about Bill C-44 caught my attention. I am thinking of such things as all the legislative measures that the government has put in place to fight terrorism, and the atmosphere that has been created as a result.
I simply had to speak because this is an issue that is terribly important to me, since it touches on key concepts, on the criminal code and related legislation. It is important for the legal system of Canada and of Quebec. I therefore decided to rise and speak.
As my colleague said, this is a very important bill, which will influence our justice system for years to come. To give a bit of context, it must be recalled that the government began by introducing Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. This bill gave various powers to ministers, including the solicitor general and the Minister of National Defence, with respect to arrests without warrant, very broad electronic eavesdropping, and so forth. It is a very complex piece of legislation, whose principle we agreed with, and we thought we should support it. That is what we did.
But we had such major reservations that, in the end, we voted against the bill at third reading. At the time, we thought that this was the government's anti-terrorism measure. Surprise, surprise. We see that Bill C-35 contains all sorts of clauses giving increased powers to the RCMP, special powers to peace officers during visits by foreign heads of state. So there is another anti-terrorism measure.
Then came another such measure—this is basically how Bill C-44 came about—it was Bill C-42. Bill C-42 is highly complex. As we said earlier, it is about a hundred pages long. Once again, more powers are given to ministers, the solicitor general and the Minister of Defence. Interim orders may be taken and military zones may be created. This is another legislative measure to combat terrorism.
That is when we said “This is too much, this is going too far”. We cannot even support Bill C-42 in principle, because it disregards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and gives far too broad powers to one single man or woman. We need to examine this more closely. We need to take time to study the whole issue.
Once again, the government is rushing us. The government is gagging us. It introduced motions to study all of these bills quickly under the pretext that we had to meet international requirements.
According to the government, Bill C-42 responds to important international requirements. Is this not strange? When the government realized that it was not able to rush the bill through before the holidays, is it not strange that it managed to limit to one page what had to be passed by then? It is as though all of the rest of Bill C-42 confirmed what we on this side of the House have been saying all along: the events of September 11 were a pretext for this government to turn upside down a number of statutory approaches.
The events of September 11 have provided the government with the opportunity to grab the powers it has always dreamed of, but lacked the political guts to.
This is so much the case that they have taken what was important on the international scene and put it into a bill to be called Bill C-44, the provisions of which fit on an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.
These important provisions concern air travel, and I will be returning to that later.
What is of concern to me is the improvisational approach the government, which claims to be a responsible government, is taking at present. It is improvising legislation of great importance, seemingly not knowing where it is headed.
This is so much the case that, at one point, the government imposed a gag order for Bill C-36, and the next day we were forced to adjourn at 4 p.m., or maybe it was 5 or 5.30 p.m., I do not remember, because there was nothing left on the order paper. There was nothing more to look at. That shows lack of vision, not knowing where they are headed.
This improvisation goes back to the very start. For weeks on end, the response from the other side when opposition members, particularly the official opposition, were asking the government whether there ought not to be anti-terrorism legislation in Canada, was that it was not needed, that we already had all the legislation required.
Then overnight, two weeks later, a complex bill was introduced; a week later, another; a week later, yet another. Today, the government came up with a bill that we absolutely must pass before Christmas, one that is going to be divided in two. When it comes down to it, it all boils down to one clause.
I feel the government does not know where it is going. This is dangerous when something as important as rights and freedoms are concerned.
The objective we have always tried to attain, with bills C-36, C-35, C-42 and now C-44, is to strike a balance between national security and individual and group rights. This is hardly complicated.
We have an international reputation, and deservedly so, of being a country where rights are preserved. At least, that reputation used to be deserved. We have case law, lawyers to apply it, judges who bring down good decisions. There are some very important elements on which to focus, to invest. It is a good thing for the country, in a way,to live in a place where that balance can be sought.
In all these bills, including Bill C-44 currently before us, we have always been able to draw on the expertise of lawyers, people who for years have worked with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with individual and group rights. There are even experts among the Liberal government members, including the member for Mount Royal, who claims to be—and I think it is true—a great defender of individual and group rights.
They all, including the member for Mount Royal, criticized bills C-36, C-42, and C-44 now before us.
I read in the papers that the member for Mount Royal criticized Bill C-42, which is in a way the starting point for Bill C-44. He said it was problematic because it upset the balance between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The executive is being given more powers. He says he will oppose it.
I should be rejoicing, but I will not be. Why? Because the member for Mount Royal said the same thing about Bill C-36.
Once the steam roller passed on the other side, he did what the majority of Liberals did, he voted in favour of Bill C-36. But those who appeared before the committee, the civil liberties union of Canada, the great and true defenders of individual and group rights continues to condemn this bill, which will come into effect one day, because it has been passed by the House.
I have no illusions about Bill C-42 and Bill C-44. However, I must say that the government opposite has a knack. It has a way of getting many people to swallow affronts. It has a magic potion that makes people accept things they would otherwise reject. It worked with us at first and second reading of Bill C-36. But it did not work afterward, because we saw them coming from miles away.
However, this way of doing things may work with the public as long as it does not see the real impact of the legislation. This is the case with Bill C-44.
The government tells us “We moved an amendment in committee, with the result that the privacy commissioner agrees with the whole thing. Things are fine. There is no problem”. Still, when I look at Bill C-44 and at the amendment, I am very concerned.
What is Bill C-44? It is an act which, once in force, will allow the government to provide information on air travellers. This information will not only include names, addresses and passport numbers: it will be much more detailed. The government says that, thanks to this amendment, the privacy commissioner agrees with the legislation and there is no problem, since everything will be secure. I will read the amendment.
No information provided under subsection (1) to a competent authority in a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by a government institution, within the meaning of section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless it is collected for the purpose of protecting national security—
I have no problem with that.
—or public safety.
This is where I have a problem. Public safety is a very broad concept. What is public safety? For example, could a department such as Human Resources Development Canada get from the United States information relating to a monetary issue, for reasons of public safety?
It will be up to the courts to interpret this provision. But in the meantime, how will this provision be applied? Will there be abuse? We must never forget that, to fully understand the meaning of this bill, it must be examined along with all the other acts that will come into effect at the same time. We need all the pieces of the puzzle to fully understand the scope of the government's anti-terrorism legislation.
This is worrisome. I cannot see how this amendment can reassure the privacy commissioner, particularly since the governor in council will define through regulations the information that travellers will have to disclose to the government. The government had promised us that we would have the regulations.
As the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel has said on numerous occasions, we asked for copies of these regulations. We asked for the information. The government always stalled.
At some point, we felt that we could not wait any longer, that we wanted something in our hands. It sent us a summary of what might be in the regulations. As everyone knows, a summary is always the minimum. When we see the actual regulations, it is clear that the government added little things that it never told us about. It is clear even from the summary that a lot of information is required, even a passenger's social insurance number, telephone number, itinerary, everywhere he has travelled. This is far-reaching.
Using public safety as an excuse, a minister can ask the United States for this information. In other words, it will be possible for someone to invoke public safety and do indirectly something that is outright illegal in Canada. This is using the events of September 11 for highly political ends.
The more we look at the legislative measures, such as Bill C-36, Bill C-35, Bill C-44 and Bill C-42, the closer we get to a police state. That is what is disturbing. I am not saying that this will happen tomorrow morning, but all the ingredients are there to set the stage for a rather ugly situation, a way of doing things which is foreign to Canada and to Quebec. I do not want to live in such a country.
Everyone knows our party's platform. This shows once again that it is high time that Quebecers cast off this central authority, which shows unbelievable arrogance in passing legislation as important as this.
The principle of the bill is understandable, as is the fact that we must have legislation to comply with certain international obligations and with American legislation. The Americans have the right to pass the laws they wish when it comes to their country's security. If they want to allow our carriers to land in their country, I understand that we do not have a big say.
This is why we will support Bill C-44. However, this is another example of the way the government really thinks. It uses an obligation to give itself even greater powers and to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. This flagrant lack of political courage needs to be stressed. But we should stress even more the ad hoc attitude this government has shown throughout the whole process by introducing piecemeal legislation to deal with terrorism.
The opposition would probably have had cooperated fully with the government if it had proceeded through a single bill. However, to do so you must know what you want to do. This may be where the problem lies: the government does not know where it is going, which explains why it deals with such an important issue in a piecemeal way. This is very concerning, because this approach will taint the legislation as a whole and the Canadian way of doing things.
I conclude by saying that we will support Bill C-44 reluctantly, considering that its object is to meet certain obligations. But the government should get its act together and deal with such an important issue much more seriously.
Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
December 4th, 2001 / 6:05 p.m.
I declare the motion carried.
The next question is on the motion that Bill C-35 be read a third time and passed.