Bill C-42 (Historical)
Public Safety Act
An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
David Collenette Liberal
Not active, as of Nov. 22, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)
Combating Terrorism Act
April 22nd, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
Francine Raynault Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the issues raised by Bill S-7. However, I would first like to offer my condolences to the families of the Boston Marathon victims and express my support for this extraordinarily resilient community.
Terrorism is a horrible thing, and we need a responsible approach to combat it without losing what defines us as a society. When Osama bin Laden launched the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, he said that he wanted the North American way of life to disappear forever.
Since those attacks, Western countries have lost a little bit of their candour, and we have had to face our own limitations. At the centre of the lifestyle we share with our American neighbours is the rule of law and the civil liberties enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These social markers are at the heart of Canadian identity, and we must protect them as our most precious treasure, because if we willingly abandon our fundamental rights, then what is the point of combatting terrorism?
This is the main question behind my opposition to Bill S-7. In my opinion, this bill is ineffective and pointless in the fight against terrorism and it directly threatens my constituents' freedom.
We all know that Bill C-36 was rushed through in 2001 following the attacks on New York, which made a deep impression on our minds. Who does not remember those events, even 12 years later? Yet very few people remember Bill C-42, which allowed the government to declare temporary military zones in which fundamental freedoms were suspended. This millennium opened with a new interpretation of our most fundamental freedoms.
Why this aside when talking about Bill S-7? It is simply to show the House the risks of passing a bill such as this one in a time of emotional distress.
What happened in Boston has had an effect on all of us, but if Bill S-7 was so urgent, why did the Conservatives wait until now to introduce it? If I did not trust in the good faith of the members opposite, I would be tempted to say that they are trying to use this tragedy to conclude the debate on Bill S-7 so that they never have to hear about freedom of expression within their own caucus again.
Among other things, Bill S-7 would reinstate sunset provisions contained in Bill C-36, which expired in 2011. That is the case for recognizance powers, which the government is trying to put back on the table for no apparent reason. Other provisions, such as investigative hearings, are cause for concern.
The fact that these provisions were not applied between 2001 and 2007 does not seem to be of great concern to this government. Moreover, with respect to recognizance powers, the Conservatives insisted at report stage that this provision apply to individuals who are not suspected of conducting terrorist activities.
In summary, with Bill C-36, we introduced the idea of preventive detention and provisional judgments grounded in mere suspicion. Is there anyone here who wants to be the object of such suspicion? Bill S-7 goes even further. It reintroduces a sunset clause for an obvious purpose and, moreover, it tries to apply the provision to people who are not even suspected of being terrorists. It is not a mistake: the broad scope of the provision is intentional.
What are we doing? Are we going to put people in jail on the grounds of a suspected suspicion? I am sorry, but that is not the democracy in which I want my grandchildren to grow up. Suspending an individual's freedom because of a suspicion is very arbitrary. No longer requiring this suspicion would be utter madness. Furthermore, this provision could result in 12 months of preventive detention, 12 months of imprisonment without a conviction. What has happened to Canada?
The reading of Bill S-7 raises questions for me that I must ask. If the government wants to extend an anti-terrorist provision not only to terrorists, but also to those suspected of terrorism and, basically, everyone in general, where is this all leading to?
Anti-terrorism legislation like this is not worthy of a state governed by the rule of law. It is not actually used anyway, and our Criminal Code has up to now proved to be adequate for tracking down terrorists. With this type of legislation, we are opening the door to broader applications, which we are already seeing in Bill S-7.
If memory serves, Bill C-42 was used when the government declared the community of Kananaskis to be under military jurisdiction for a G8 economic meeting in 2002. Who were the terrorists? Al-Qaeda, or the global justice movement? Bill C-36 may not have been able to defend the country, but it sure got the authorities all worked up in 2010 during the notorious “Torontonamo”, when the city centre was locked down and $1 billion was spent on security for a simple G8 meeting on the economy. The result was 1,000 Canadians imprisoned and convicted with no evidence, and civil liberties taken away, first inside the security perimeter, then around it, and finally all over the city.
If the authorities feel that they can act like that at a simple demonstration about the economy, what will they do in other situations? I firmly believe that anti-terrorist laws give quite the wrong message to our forces of law and order. “Torontonamo” was strongly criticized in official government reports, but the harm was done. How many other accidents like that are we going to have to deal with before we realize that anti-terrorist legislation can become “anti-Canadian” legislation?
If the Conservative government really wanted to improve security in Canada, why did it cut the budget of our border intelligence unit by half? Why did it end a program designed to recruit more police officers in our communities, and why did it abolish the position of Inspector General of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service?
Furthermore, the NDP proposed a number of amendments that would have made Bill S-7, if not satisfactory, at least tolerable. But the Conservatives rejected all of our amendments. So we have to learn to live with investigative hearings, a technique worthy of medieval witch hunts, that could well pervert our justice system. Rather than confronting the potential threats hanging over our country, the Conservatives seem to be more interested in using them to significantly change the nature of justice in this country.
In my opinion, Bill S-7 is poorly designed and does not add anything substantial to the Criminal Code, other than the potential for misuse and abuse that we will all regret one day. Bill S-7 should be examined much more carefully before it is passed, since the issues this bill raises are much too important to be left to the whim of the government in power.
Violence against Women
June 18th, 2002 / 2:40 p.m.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, let me try to put the question more directly then.
We have had from the government a string of anti-terrorism bills, Bill C-36, Bill C-42, Bill C-44 and Bill C-55. The government spends millions of dollars fighting terrorism yet women in this country live with violence every minute of their lives. The government refuses to make the issues pertaining to women in abusive relationships a priority.
My question is, where is the money to protect women and for public security for women in violent situations? Where is a national strategy on domestic violence against women?
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 5:20 p.m.
Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC
Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak earlier today when we were not discussing the amendment now before us, and I had a few more things to say. I am happy that our last amendment incorporates things said by Amnesty International. This is not without insignificance, in the current context. Perhaps it can enlighten us before we proceeed any further with consideration of the bill before us.
Bill C-55 is a new version of a bill that was even worse initially, that is Bill C-42. Today, a certain amount of time has gone by since September 11, so that we can now better assess things. As more time goes by, we will be able to determine what we must do even better.
In my opinion, we must first ask this question: would we have thought of passing measures such as those in Bill C-55 this time last year? Certainly not. Have things changed since September 11? Yes, of course. But nothing justifies the current panic and psychosis. That is what Amnesty International is saying.
This is what we find in the newspapers. In the Journal de Montréal , Michel C. Auger writes:
Almost everywhere in the world, national security and the war against terrorism are becoming the best excuses to violate fundamental human rights.
It is disturbing to see such a tendency in many countries. It is not unique to this government. What is shameful is that we find the same tendency in our government in Ottawa, that is possibly to encourage abuse or create a climate that could lead to further measures. People wanted more security. After September 11, they felt very insecure, but not to the point of violating some fundamental rights as we are doing now.
We see it again today in Le Devoir . The editorial is entitled “Security versus freedom”. When we have to ask ourselves these types of questions, it means that there is a problem with what is being done here and we really have to think about it.
Few members on that side of the House addressed this issue today. The member from Mount Royal did it in the media but his colleagues remained silent throughout the day. Their silence disturbs me. We do not know their views, their positions in this important debate for our society. Our role is to step back as much as possible before passing these kinds of legislation, which will put so much power in the hands of a minister. It is all the more worrisome, members will agree, when this minister's competence is questionable. We have had these kinds of ministers throughout history and there will be more of them.
I do not have any problem with ministers having powers in a number of areas, but when these powers have an impact on fundamental freedoms, this is going too far. A minister is given the ability to act without following the usual procedure whereby a whole series of assessments is done before any legislation is passed. The problem with these powers is that they are often exercised in an atmosphere of sheer panic.
For example, one would never think of holding a debate here on something like the death penalty two days after some heinous crime. Often, government members are critical of the Canadian Alliance for using events in the news to make a dramatic plea for a tougher criminal code. They are doing exactly the same thing by giving themselves these powers in the wake of September 11. That is what we are seeing right now, and we must say “Enough is enough”.
Another thing that worries me is the constant tendency of the government to almost blindly follow the lead of the Americans in everything. Canada never stands out from the Americans in any original way. It is all very fine and well for us to have common standards on a certain number of things, but we are always falling in with what they want.
If the last federal budgets had been prepared in Washington, they would not have been any different from what we saw here. We had the impression that the government just tabled a carbon copy here and read it out in parliament.
We wonder where bills are written. Earlier, the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie spoke about international treaties which were not signed by some countries. Oddly, when Canada was missing from the list, so was the United States. One might wonder just how real a voice Canada has internationally. Is it not increasingly seen as a mascot of the United States?
At some point, we must ask ourselves some questions. If I were in the shoes of the folks who are so full of advice about Canadian sovereignty and so on, I would be worried, because we are seeing less and less of it. On issues as important as this one, if there are differences—and I think there are in the public—we must ensure that they reflect our values and act responsibly when it comes to—
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 5:10 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to speak again to Bill C-55. The government revamped this bill in order to introduce, for all practical purposes, some rather special measures.
In doing so, it set the tone for what the government probably did not foresee in terms of an impact on the international stage. It triggered in the rest of the world a movement restricting fundamental human rights and freedoms.
I will come back to this in a moment, because the very essence of my whole argument lies in the amendment moved by my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. This amendment puts the emphasis on Amnesty International's recent report. According to this report, in the aftermath of September 11, measures were taken and legislation was passed in many countries, but these also resulted in a restriction of the most fundamental freedoms.
On the international stage, Canada has always boasted of being one of the greatest champions of fundamental human rights and of passing a charter of rights. Some countries—Zimbabwe or India, for example—were inspired to a certain degree by the measures taken by this government in Bill C-55.
As several editorial writers have indicated this morning, whether in the Journal de Montréal or in Le Devoir , Bill C-55 would clearly lead to abuse, which is totally unacceptable. Why? Because, where controlled access military zones are concerned, for example, it is still the minister alone who would have the power to designate such zones, the same minister who omitted to inform his government in the prisoners of war matter. It is not only the Bloc Quebecois that said this several weeks and several months ago. Earlier this week, even Amnesty International indicated in its report, and I quote from the editorial in this morning edition of Le Devoir , “The Canadian section of Amnesty International said that it was concerned with policies that have been developed for refugees, with Ottawa's cowardly agreement with the legal status given by the Americans to prisoners of war”.
This was already part of our arguments on Bill C-55. My colleagues pointed that out several weeks ago. These are essentially the same findings that were made in an Amnesty International report that was made public yesterday or the day before.
The first argument of the Bloc then is to the effect that it is still the minister who would have the power to designate these controlled access military zones. The Amnesty International report said that this is totally unacceptable, given the way prisoners of war are being treated.
Another aspect is the fact that the consent of the Quebec government is still not required to establish a controlled access military zone on its territory. It seems essential that the federal government would inform the Quebec government of its intention to set up such controlled access military zones.
This is cause for concern, because a number of countries refer to Canada as a protector of fundamental rights. This bill gives some legitimacy to and, unfortunately, justifies up to a point measures taken in Zimbabwe or in India, because Canada itself, which is seen as a protector of rights, adopts measures that violate freedoms. So, this is rather disturbing. The message sent by the federal government today is that it is now prepared to adopt measures that, until now, were associated with totalitarian countries and states.
One would never had thought that Canada would adopt such measures. No one would ever have believed that. I see that the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord is smiling. He does not agree with my comments. Yet, the Bloc Quebecois is not the only saying it. The privacy commissioner condemned Bill C-55, as the Bloc Quebecois did, when he said—and I would ask the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord to listen—“that some practices are similar to those that exist in totalitarian states”.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 5 p.m.
Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS
Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague from British Columbia for his remarks. He has given a thoughtful and detailed analysis of the shortcomings and the dangers associated with this legislation. He has pointed out the lack of the government's ability to justify the need for the bill, to bring forward logic behind cutting off these interim orders, and to remove some of the safeguards that exist under existing legislation.
A number of members who have spoken have highlighted the fact that we already have in place an Emergencies Act. Let us look at the chronology and the history of how that particular legislation came about. The government House leader and other members present who have more history in this place will be quick to acknowledge that the Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act. The War Measures Act, under the Liberal administration of the time, was invoked and led to perhaps one of the most egregious assaults on civil liberties that this country has experienced.
There were numerous detentions and arrests that aggravated and inflamed the passions of Quebecers in particular, but Canadians generally. In invoking this type of Draconian approach and the denial of civil liberties, Canadians bore witness to a sad and dark chapter of Canadian history.
When one goes back further an example comes to mind and that is the Steven Truscott case. An individual was sentenced to hang in a judicial process where disclosure was not mandatory and where there were many shortcomings that led to egregious errors in law and almost cost young Steven Truscott his life.
I do not point out that type of example to torque up or engage in rhetoric, but to exemplify the fundamental breaches that could occur when there are parameters of the law that are stretched and ignored, which is what could happen in instances if the bill were to pass in its present form. There could be instances where basic rights could be denied such as the rights to enjoy privacy, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, and the free use of a person's property. That is how fundamental these infringements may become.
Many members who have spoken have pointed very quickly and earnestly to the declaration of controlled military zones and the ramifications that could flow from such declarations. What we are talking about here, because of the nebulous language contained in the bill, is that by simply moving a single piece of military equipment into any region, province or property within our nation's boundaries a declaration could be made deeming that area, in the immediate vicinity of this military vehicle, a controlled military zone. Being deemed a controlled military zone would create certain ramifications that would have grave implications for human rights and liberties. That is of concern when one examines the context of what happened in APEC, Quebec City, and what might happen in Kananaskis.
There is some question as to the timing, the need and the necessity for bringing this legislation forward now. In the aftermath of September 11, as all members rightly have been quick to point out, we are living in a brave new world. We are living in a new environment that recognizes the grave consequences and the real tangible threat that is out there, yet we have seen legislation passed hastily through the House in Bill C-36.
There was great rush and trepidation on the part of the Liberal government to bring forward Bill C-42 which encompassed many of the same elements as the bill we see before us. One could say that to a large extent Bill C-55 is a stripped down version of Bill C-42. Bill C-42 was part of this crass rush to bring in legislation that was supposed to take advantage of the prevailing public attitude and fear that existed.
Thankfully calmer thoughts and introspection have prevailed. What we see with Bill C-55, though, is a very dangerous piece of legislation, particularly when we look at the new powers that would be placed in the hands of ministers. A single minister would have the ability to make these designations and judgments based on information that could be very nebulous, could in fact be secret and could be withheld from parliament or from an individual who might fall victim to the enactment of this type of arbitrary power.
What is perhaps most fundamentally offensive and disturbing about elements of this bill is that once again we see in this legislation a deliberate effort on the part of the drafters, and therefore on the part of the government, to circumvent the role of parliament for scrutiny and for responsible criticism and questioning of the government's actions in the state of an emergency. What this does is waters down what might be deemed an emergency.
Under the current legislation the government rightly has to justify itself. It has to come before parliament within a very short period of time and say that the existing circumstances are so grave that the legislation is necessary. In the aftermath of September 11 there was no such attempt by the government to bring forward a request to invoke the Emergencies Act.
Reflecting on the sentiment of this nation and our brothers and sisters in the United States, clearly there was panic afoot. Yet even in that atmosphere there was no attempt by the government to declare the Emergencies Act in effect in Canada.
What, pray tell, is behind the government's intent to bring in a piece of legislation that is a watered down, interim measure that falls somewhere between no emergency and no need to invoke that type of legislation and something where the government can make a decision to invoke very severe and arbitrary powers without coming before parliament and without bringing it to the House for a vote where the people's representatives are given an opportunity to ask relevant questions, to press the government to justify its actions, to do what parliament is supposed to do in its finest hour, which is to ensure that people's rights are protected, that we are invoking due process and that we are in fact following the democratic process?
There is much to be discussed. There is much answer that the government must provide to convince members present. The previous speaker referred to the fact that there is much opposition and not only in the ranks of assembled members of parliament. Clearly groups that we have heard from around the country share these concerns and are looking forward to the occasion in which they might come before a parliamentary committee to force the government to bring forward its justification for the bill in the very same manner which we are attempting to do through this debate.
By example, if we are not permitted to have a full and open debate and to press the government on this type of legislation, it demonstrates the dangers, should this bill pass, and the inability for members of parliament to invoke this process of questioning and criticism. That is the danger. This debate in and of itself demonstrates what is wrong with having the type of legislation that allows the government to hide, to cover up, to keep secret its justifications for making designations that are tantamount to an emergency or a military zone. People have to understand that this is what will take place, if the legislation were to pass.
Like previous speakers to the legislation, I am encouraged by the fact that members have brought forward thoughtful criticisms, pressed the government on issues that will be affected, issues that pertain to immigration, the Aeronautics Act, the criminal code and the effect that will have, the transportation and security bill and the passing of information between government agencies. All that has caused many, including independent parties who answer to parliament, to question the government's motive, intent and public trust, which is an important element in all of this.
I hope members will continue to question that not only in the House but before the committee, which is the true test as to whether this open, transparent and honourable legislation.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 4:50 p.m.
James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this amendment to the amendment. Before getting into my speech, I would like to congratulate my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois for their great effort in fighting the government on Bill C-55.
We understand very well why the Bloc Quebecois and Quebecers in general do not trust this government since the events of 1970. They have good reason to be suspicious of this government because of past decisions that affected the province the Quebec.
The situation is similar in western Canada. Historically, a Liberal government appropriated natural resources in that region. We understand perfectly the issue of civil liberties and the reason why members of the Bloc Quebecois are so intent on protecting these liberties from this government.
When the government decided to introduce Bill C-55 members from every party and every part of the country were hopeful that the lessons of the defeat of Bill C-42 that the government experienced had been learned.
The big problem with Bill C-55 is twofold. A number of the complaints raised by my colleagues from the Progressive Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois are entirely in sync with those of the Canadian Alliance. We also find it frustrating that the government does not take seriously the idea of fighting the war on terrorism, getting involved and making a substantive contribution.
Let us look at the way the armed forces have been treated by the government during Canada's contribution to the war on terrorism in Afghanistan. The troops are now being withdrawn but, lo and behold, their desert environment camouflage uniforms will be ready in the second week of July. The government's timing is impeccable.
Bill C-42 had a number of problems that the government belatedly acknowledged. The unfortunate thing about politicians, and maybe this is the alpha male side of politics coming out, is that for some reason no matter how many times Canadians beat them over the head, they cannot admit when they have made a mistake. We consider the war on terrorism a serious crisis. When the attacks took place in New York city, Washington, D.C., and on the flight over Pennsylvania, the Americans said that anybody who participated in the war on terrorism should consider having a war declared upon them.
Canada had a war declared on it by terrorists, people who were willing to murder civilians to make some obtuse and nonsensical political point. However, the government acted about as quickly as molasses. It was embarrassing.
When the government introduced Bill C-42 it was full of holes. It knew it was full of holes. It was inadequate and did not fund our armed forces, did not secure the civil liberties of Canadians, and did not do many of the things that Canadians expected at a time of war. The government should have admitted it had made a mistake, pulled it back and moved forward to introduce a new piece of legislation.
Bill C-42 was pulled back just prior to Christmas. Bill C-55 was introduced and even the transport minister who was the minister responsible, which is a curious person to be responsible for the bill, said Bill C-55 was 90% the same as Bill C-42. Surely the government had received the message between September 11 and February or March when the bill was introduced that Canadians expected more from the government in terms of supporting the armed forces.
More was expected in terms of the Sea King helicopters, submarines and desert environment camouflage uniforms. However, the government put in place interim orders for cabinet ministers. What is interesting is that when the government introduced Bill C-42 the timeframe that a number of cabinet ministers were allowed to invoke interim order was 90 days. That was pulled back in Bill C-55. The government said it understood the concerns of Canadians about the idea of giving interim order powers to cabinet ministers so it reduced it from 90 days to 45 days.
That was an arbitrary, ad hoc cutting of 90 days in half to 45 days. When we had our briefing prior to the public announcement and tabling of Bill C-55 we asked department officials what new principle was being accomplished or achieved by cutting from 90 to 45 days. They shrugged and said they are were cutting it in half because it was more accountable. There was no new principle being put in place. Nothing has been learned. I find this a curious thing.
I want to discuss the idea of putting in an interim order measure for cabinet ministers, and believe me the Canadian Alliance takes seriously the idea of working on a non-partisan basis to advance the country's national interest particularly in time of war. However, the only reason we can see behind cutting the latitude for imposing interim orders without getting cabinet approval from 90 to 45 days is to isolate the decision of invoking an interim order around a particular cabinet minister. The political damage associated with putting in place a bad interim order would be isolated to that one cabinet minister and would not spread throughout the entire cabinet.
There is no reason whatsoever for that, even if we take the example of September 11, and the House leader for the government knows this very well. On September 11 there were 300 or 400 planes that were grounded and hundreds of those planes were grounded in Gander, Halifax, and Toronto because the United States did not want them flying into the northeast of the United States. Those planes were grounded on the order of the government, the Prime Minister and the transport minister. It happened within minutes of knowing that planes had flown into the World Trade Center towers.
The government did not need any interim order measures to do that. It just did it. Those powers were there. They were in existence and the government did not need Bill C-55 to ground those planes. The government does not need these powers.
I will now give a private sector example. If General Motors were to have a vehicle with faulty airbags it would decide to recall this particular vehicle. In order to make that decision all it has to do is get a quorum of the board of directors together and have a majority of the quorum decide to do that.
My guess is that a majority quorum of the board of directors of a large company like General Motors could probably get themselves organized together inside of about six hours if it is a serious emergency. We are a G-8 nation with unlimited technological capacities to get members of cabinet together. If we cannot get a majority quorum of cabinet together to decide to invoke an interim order then I question the capacity of the government's ability to tie its shoes and to remember to put on its underwear before it does that.
This is simple stuff. We have all the technological capacities to do this. We have telephones and video conferencing, all of which count in terms of getting people together for cabinet meetings. There is no reason why that standard could not be put together.
I would suggest, within the context of criticizing the government's interim order measures in Bill C-55, that given the recent scandals that we have seen in the House, and we have seen the minister of immigration who has the Speaker's ear which is always good, that Canadians are thinking about their leaders. We see scandals associated with the minister of immigration who does not like to answer those questions in the House. We see scandals associated with the former minister of public works and the former former minister of public works. We see scandals associated with now the former minister of defence. We see scandals associated with the current justice minister, and the current solicitor general.
The idea right now of giving individual cabinet ministers the ad hoc power to invoke interim orders without having to go to cabinet for full approval for 45 days is more than a little suspicious for every day Canadians. Canadians are thinking to themselves about this group of people in power. This is a group of people who are anxious to avoid accountability for their actions, who do not even stand up in question period and answer simple, obvious questions, such as those asked of the minister of immigration about why he changed his story about staying at the Boulay lodge. One day he said he was not there and the next day the minister said he was there.
The solicitor general is hiding behind the Deputy Prime Minister. For whatever reason he cannot seem to summon the will to stand up in the House and answer the most simple questions. With that reality, Canadians are suspicious of the capacity of the government to take responsibility for its actions, face the cameras and face the nation through this House. The government does not seem to be able to answer those simple questions.
Canadians are more than a little suspicious and would look rather jaundicely at giving cabinet ministers more power to invoke interim orders on an ad hoc basis without cabinet or parliamentary approval. Canadians have every reason to be suspicious of that. The government has not addressed the concerns of Bill C-42. Bill C-55 is a terrible piece of legislation. I congratulate all my colleagues for opposing it.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 4:35 p.m.
Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB
My colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, who put forward a wonderful amendment, asked whether we trusted the government. Do Canadians trust the government?
I think if we were to do a poll today on Sparks Street, on Main Street in Virden or in the Atlantic region we would get the same answer. Canadians have no trust in the government. There is no trust in its ability to manage its own portfolios. We have seen no trust in the government's ability to manage taxpayer dollars. We do not believe there is trust in the government to manage this very serious piece of legislation.
What would the bill actually do? The bill would grant the cabinet a whole host of new powers, including the right to arbitrarily declare certain military zones off limits to Canadians. It would also violate the rights of Canadians by supplying passenger information to the RCMP without any cause. Can anyone believe that the legislation would give cabinet the ability to pass on information about all of us, our families and the people in our constituencies? It would arbitrarily allow them to pass on that information to the police.
We are a free country. We have the right to travel. We have the right to practice our religions. We have freedom of speech. We have the right to stand and say what we will about the government. What would happen if I were to make some comments that the government did not like? Would they pass on information about me to the police? The legislation that we have before us would allow the ministers to do that.
Other pieces of legislation that granted similar powers were all withdrawn, some over time, such as the War Measures Act and even Bill C-42, but they were withdrawn because we recognized the danger. However Bill C-55 came forward and it is still here. The bill would grant the government both the power to protect and the ability to abuse this power. Unfortunately it is most likely the latter that will prevail.
The existing law, the Emergencies Act, ensures this does not happen by protecting the principles of a free and democratic parliament. Something which Canadians may not even know or realize is that legislation already exists that allows the government to do what it has to do. The Emergencies Act, which is in effect now, allows the government to do what it wants to do but it does have checks and balances.
We have the checks and balances that parliament applies under the Emergencies Act but those checks and balances would be taken out by this act. Why do we need Bill C-55 when the checks and balances are already available under the Emergencies Act.
The Emergencies Act provides a system of checks and balances which not only ensure that emergency power is used appropriately but it gives Canadians a sense of comfort knowing that their government cannot overstep the boundaries of this free and democratic society.
Parliament would have no say under the bill. Bill C-55 would make parliament irrelevant during a time of emergency. It would leave the rights of Canadians unprotected and at the beck and call of cabinet and the ministers. They would have the right to imply and impact Canadians with whatever they felt was right and necessary, which would not necessarily be what is right and necessary for us as Canadians.
Bill C-55 would permit the government to enact a security measure without the consideration of the House of Commons, whereas the Emergencies Act, which is already in place, allows parliament to review any order issued under that act. As Bill C-55 is written right now, parliament would become totally irrelevant. It would be taken out of the picture and would have no opportunity to speak to whatever those ministers and the cabinet table felt was necessary to enact.
The most serious concerns lie with the provision that allows for interim orders, and it is where our most serious objection to Bill C-55 can be found. Ministers should not be granted new powers that will exist outside parliamentary scrutiny.
There are quite a number of ministers who are given this power. I believe the member for Regina--Qu'Appelle talked about the Minister of Transport.
I see I am running out of time so I will wrap up. I will have an opportunity to talk about the other ministers who may well go beyond their bounds of power. However I will do that when the subamendment of the Bloc is approved and then I will to speak to it at that time.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 4:30 p.m.
Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB
Mr. Speaker, I again rise in the House to give my comments to Bill C-55. I would first like to congratulate the previous speaker from Regina--Qu'Appelle. He has been in the House much longer than I and probably the majority of people in the House. He can certainly speak from experience with respect to the protection of the civil liberties and civil rights of our constituents and all citizens of the country. I thank him for his historical comments which were as a result of his long tenure as a member of parliament.
I also want to congratulate my colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough who has put forward what I believe is a very necessary amendment. I would ask all members, not only those in opposition but those thinking members of the government, to seriously consider the amendment which states:
this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-55...because it constitutes an autocratic power grab by the Liberal government at the expense of parliamentary oversight and the civil liberties of Canadians.
Some may think that is harsh language but when one looks at the actual wording, the actual nuances, the actual clauses and the actual power that the legislation would give to members of the government, particularly certain ministers of the government, that language is not strong enough. The bill would provide an opportunity for some minister to take this power way beyond what it is that Canadians wish to have implemented.
I would like to go back a stage to Bill C-42. This was legislation that was brought in by this same government and was a total knee-jerk reaction to a very serious situation, make no mistake about that. Our party has stood time and again in the House stating that we did not condone terrorism or any type of action taken against citizens. However we still do not condone the power grab the government is trying to put in place that would cut off all the civil liberties that we share as Canadians.
Bill C-42 was a knee-jerk reaction to September 11. People on that side of the House and officials in departments had lights burning late into the night trying to put together what they thought was a package that would quell the issues that came out of September 11, the terrorist attacks that we deplored.
People put clauses in pieces of legislation that when they rethink them are obviously very wrong. We recognized that in this particular bill. I have to admit that the government, and it was probably the first good logical thing it has ever done, listened not only to members of the opposition and members of committee but to hundreds of witnesses who came before committee. Those witnesses said that the bill was wrong for certain reasons. No one accepted what was written in Bill C-42. None of the people who came forward, who wrote to my office or who visited my constituency office or my office here in the House said that Bill C-42 had to be passed because it was good legislation.
On the contrary, everybody said that the bill should not be supported nor passed because it was terrible and draconian. The Liberal government of the day pulled the bill. It did not let it go through. It let it die. The government asked if we would mind having it removed from the order paper. That was probably the only good thing that has happened in the last nine years of this government but it was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately the government has massaged and manipulated the legislation. It has changed some words and put in other words. In effect, Bill C-55 reflects the mentality, the psychology and the ideology of the Liberal government, and that has been brought forward in the bill. It has not changed the concept of too much power which would go to the ministers.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 4:10 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Quebecers and Canadians who are listening to us, I am pleased to rise for the second time today in the House in the debate on Bill C-55 and on the amendment moved by our colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party.
A few Liberal members have spoken today. We have been dealing with Bill C-55 for about three days now and they have not really taken part in these discussions. The same goes for the Canadian Alliance members. It shows that human rights and freedoms are not of major interest to Liberal members from Quebec and Canada, as well as to Canadian Alliance members.
Why? Because the Liberal government is a centralizing one and the Canadian Alliance is no better. It would probably want to centralize powers much more in the hands of the central government. For those who are listening to us, I will try to drive home the importance of the statements that have been in the newspapers for over a month now.
I will mention only the titles. On Thursday, May 2, 2002, a La Presse headline read “The privacy commissioner condemns Bill C-55. Some measures are taken directly from some totalitarian states, he said”.
On May 19, a headline read “The fight against terrorism: half-truth and misleading statement. The privacy commissioner accuses the solicitor general of using the September 11 attacks to give police undue extra powers”. We must never forget that the solicitor general is responsible, among other things, for the RCMP and CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The privacy commissioner therefore made a serious accusation.
Even yesterday, another headline read “Amnesty International takes stock. September 11 has hurt human rights”.
This is what we are facing in Bill C-55. In the short time that I have, I will try to explain the elements that have been added, that is, that were not in Bill C-42 and that we find in Bill C-55, concerning the provision of personal information.
For example, clause 4.81(1) says:
4.81(1) The Minister, or any officer of the Department of Transport authorized by the Minister for the purposes of this section, may, for the purposes of transportation security, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide the Minister or officer, as the case may be, within the time and in the manner specified by the Minister or officer, with information set out in the schedule—
This means that from now on airlines will be required to release this information to the Department of Transport for security reasons. I will explain later to whom the Minister of Transport or his officials are required to release this information.
First, I would like to refer to the information listed in the schedule which you will have to give to your airliner:
The number of the person's passport—
The city or country in which the travel included in the person's passenger name record—
The itinerary cities—
The name of the operator of the aircraft on which the person is on board or expected to be on board—
The phone numbers of the person—
The person's address—
that means your address and your phone number;
- The manner in which the person's ticket was paid for
which means how you paid for the ticket
We are talking here about your credit card. They will have your credit card number.
- If applicable, a notation that there are gaps in the itinerary included in the person's passenger name record that necessitate travel by an undetermined method—
Therefore you will have to say where you are going, to what city and how you will travel from one point to another in that city. Also:
- Routing information in respect of the travel included in the person's passenger name record—
This means your whole itinerary.
The Department of Transport requires airlines to release this information. What will the Minister of Transport and his officials do with it? This is how they will be able to use it and, again, I quote from section 4.81 of the Bill:
(3) Information provided under subsection (1) may be disclosed to persons outside the Department of Transport only for the purposes of transportation security, and it may be disclosed only to:
(a) the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration;
(b) the Minister of National Revenue;
(c) the chief executive officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority—
A new agency, which does not exist yet, will be responsible for security across Canada.
(d) a person designated under subsection 4.82(2) or (3).
What is important in subsections (2) and (3) is very simple: the reference to the commissioner of the RCMP in (2) and to the dIrector of CSIS in (3).
Now the Minister of Transport can require the air carrier to provide him with information when he deems there is a security problem, and can transfer them to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Minister of National Revenue, the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
And what can these people do? We are told that, within citizenship and immigration, customs and excise and air transport security, this information cannot be disclosed except for security purposes.
But how long will they be kept? The three departments or agencies I have listed, citizenship and immigration, customs and revenue and transportation safety, can retain them for seven days. These individuals and organizations, as well as the Department of Transport, can therefore retain the information for seven days. You are off on a trip, on vacation, but your itinerary, your credit card number, your home phone number, your address, will be wandering about the various departments for seven days, in the name of security.
What is going to be done with this information you provide? They want to use it for security purposes and so they can carry out investigations. What if they turn up a security problem? They are going to transfer the information to the RCMP and CSIS, both of whom have no obligation to destroy them after seven days. The other organizations have that obligation, but they do not. The RCMP and CSIS can retain them as long as they please.
People who are listening have certainly understood that new powers are being granted to these organizations. That is why the privacy commissioner has protested that this is pure nonsense. On top of that, you would have to give this information before you leave and it can be kept for seven days. If you are unfortunate enough, you will board the same plane as one of those Hells Angels we were talking about this morning, who have been invited to the festivities in England for the Queen and will be allowed on their bikes in the Queen's parade. If that biker has a criminal record, he could be inspected, searched and investigated. Of course, all passagers aboard the same plane could undergo the same procedure.
That is the purpose of the bill. We are now in the same situation as in the US. They asked for this information a few months ago, so we passed Bill C-44. What are the Americans doing now? When the Americans see people, men or women, who are in the company of people who have been flagged, especially when they all want to go to international meetings, the investigation drags on so much that it so happened once that more than 40 passengers could not board their plane. The intelligence people came and decided to investigate and hold back all those who were going to campaign for an association. This procedure was used to restrict their freedom. They had to miss their flight. Why? Because there was an investigation on the information they had given. One of them had a criminal record, so they decided to investigate all the other people.
So if you are a man or a woman boarding a flight with a potential criminal, you might have the misfortune of being submitted to an investigation, something that I do not wish to you. In the country you are heading to, they might not have the same respect for human rights and you might get arrested by that country's military police, who will tell you that Canadian authorities called to know where you are now. That is where we are at now, and that is not funny. That is what the privacy commissioner was describing.
Mr. Speaker, allow me to move an amendment to the amendment under consideration. I move:
That the motion be amended by adding the following:
“and a denial of rights and freedoms that was denounced by Amnesty International in its most recent report.”
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 3:40 p.m.
Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC
Mr. Speaker, now it is my turn to say that I am a little, more than a little, shocked by Bill C-55.
When advantage is taken of events like those of September 11 to violate people's privacy, the bills almost start to look worse than terrorism itself. It makes no sense to use an event like September 11 to take away people's freedom.
Journalist Michel C. Auger used the phrase “The right to terrorize” in the Journal de Montréal . It is quite unbelievable to see how far the government will go to take away people's rights. The privacy commissioner says the same thing. The government takes advantage of occasions such as September 11 to invade people's privacy.
Even in a country well known for its respect of privacy, a country where commitment to the charter of rights and freedoms was recently celebrated, a country which serves as a model for other countries which are not very good at respecting privacy, even in a country such as ours, the government has stooped to taking advantage of events such as those of September 11 to invade people's privacy. We cannot agree with a bill such as this, particularly when it talks about security zones and when we see how little credibility our ministers have.
When I hear that the minister would have powers like those provided for in this bill, it scares me. We see how, when things happen and questions are asked, the minister suddenly does not have enough authority.
It is the job of public servants. It is just about everybody's fault. The Minister of Justice even told us today that he did not have enough power. He would like to be able to have decision making authority on even more things. This bill definitely gives the minister too much power.
I had the opportunity to talk about it. When I talk about security zones, one thing comes to my mind. I think of Lake Saint-Pierre, in my region. Talk about a security zone. Since 1952, the lake has been used as a firing range. It is supposed to be a security zone. Because of these training activities, there are still 300,000 mortar shells at the bottom of Lake Saint-Pierre.
The minister has powers in this regard. How does he use these powers? Does he use them to clean up Lake Saint-Pierre? Does he use them to clean up the Jacques-Cartier River? Does he use them to clean up the locations where military personnel practice shooting, where there are weapons and where the so-called security zone is located? There is a security zone at Lake Saint-Pierre. There are places where we cannot even go fishing or hunting. So, there is a so-called security zone at Lake Saint-Pierre. What security? There are 300,000 shells at the bottom of Lake Saint-Pierre.
Of these, 10,000 could explode at any moment. In fact, some people have been killed by shells that had been pushed up by the ice on Lake Saint-Pierre.
During the eighties, a couple who was preparing for retirement built a beautiful boat to sail around the world. One evening, before leaving, they decided to make a bonfire along the security zone of Lake Saint-Pierre. Someone found a shell. Not knowing what it was because it had been damaged over time, the person threw the shell in the bonfire. The celebration turned into a nightmare when the shell exploded, killing one person.
To this day, every year, we must fly over the shores of the St. Lawrence River, all the way to Île d'Orléans, to try to recover shells that may have made their way out of Lake Saint-Pierre. We ask questions in the House on this issue. The minister has powers. We are told to trust the minister. He does have powers. But when will Lake Saint-Pierre be cleaned up?
I am told about security zones and not to worry. In my opinion, terrorism often lies in the government's behaviour. I am often more concerned about that. I have no problem with such powers being given to the minister, provided these powers are respected and the government first answers the questions asked by members of parliament.
We ask questions on almost every issue, but the answers we do get are very evasive. Some ministers have not said a word in the House in the last two or three days because they have been told not to answer, to avoid being caught red-handed. Is that the security of the future? Is that the way to make the public feel secure? Is that the way to ensure public confidence?
I can see a member opposite laughing. This is no laughing matter. It is sad, because the hon. member would have said the exact same thing I am saying in the last parliament. Unfortunately, he has now become mute and when he does talk, he has to say what the government tells him to say.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.
Dick Proctor Palliser, SK
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak to the amendment that, as my hon. colleague from the Bloc indicated, has been put forward by the member of parliament for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough. The amendment states:
That all the words after “that” be deleted and the following be substituted,
“this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-55 because it constitutes an autocratic power grab by the Liberal government at the expense of parliamentary oversight and the civil liberties of Canadians.”
A number of acts come into play in Bill C-55: the Aeronautics Act; the National Defence Act; the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act; the Marine Transportation Security Act; the Criminal Code of Canada; and interim order powers.
A lack of specifics with respect to the Aeronautics Act was one of our concerns about the original bill, Bill C-42, which was introduced last fall in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. There have been modifications to the part of Bill C-55 dealing with the Aeronautics Act.
The part of the bill dealing with the National Defence Act has been somewhat changed. The proposed military security zones would now be called controlled access military zones. Canadians will find out all about this next month in Kananaskis. Bill C-55 stipulates that the zones could only be created to protect DND property or foreign military assets in the country. The changes are relatively insignificant.
With respect to interim order powers, the bill would now require orders to be approved by governor in council within 45 rather than 90 days. They would need to be tabled in parliament within 15 days. The changes are relatively insignificant and do not substantially address concerns about abuse of power and interim order making.
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act received royal assent after Bill C-42 was tabled last fall. Bill C-55 has been updated to reflect that the act was passed. If Liberal members opposite had their act together this section of the bill would have initially appeared as a conditional amendment. The fact that it did not further underlines how the government has been making up its security policy on the fly for the past several months.
Unlike Bill C-42, Bill C-55 would add a new section to the Marine Transportation Security Act that would empower the government to contribute funds to port authorities to help pay for new security measures. Peter Mancini, our justice critic in the House from 1997 to 2000, said the Liberal government would rue the day it privatized port authorities. That day has arrived even more quickly than Mr. Mancini predicted.
Bill C-55 would broaden the scope of the criminal code with respect to hoaxes.
There have been a number of changes to Bill C-55 but as civil libertarians we still have concerns about it. In one sense it is an improved public safety package. However it needed improving. In the wake of September 11, Bill C-42 was rushed in. The government sat on it from November until April when it brought in the revised bill, Bill C-55. It should have made significant improvements at the time. It did not. It should therefore come as no surprise to people who follow politics and are aware of the New Democratic Party's strong support for civil liberties over the years that we will continue to oppose this piece of legislation.
The government wants to give itself powers to spy on passenger lists of people travelling on airplanes bound for domestic or foreign destinations. That is too much. It introduced anti-terrorism Bill C-42 which was widely criticized by civil libertarians as being draconian and dangerous to the freedom and liberty of Canadian citizens. That may have been why the government paused last fall and did not proceed with the bill.
As I have indicated, we in our party do not believe the new version has been substantially approved. It is overly heavy handed. Some people have indicated that it is draconian in its present form. As I said, it is understandable that mistakes are made when bills are formulated on the fly after a tragedy. However with the benefit of hindsight it is unfortunate that so many mistakes remain in the legislation.
The New Democrats are not the only ones opposed to Bill C-55 and speaking out against it. The privacy commissioner has deep concerns, so much so that he took the relatively extraordinary step of publicly releasing the letter he wrote to the transport minister on the topic. The letter related specifically to clause 4.82 of the bill. The privacy commissioner's concern was that the provisions of Bill C-55 could fundamentally and unnecessarily alter the balance between individuals and the state that exists and should exist in a free society such as our own.
The privacy commissioner Mr. Radwanski said he feared deeply for the privacy and civil rights of Canadians. So do we all. So should we all. The privacy commissioner is not alone. At least one backbench Liberal has publicly expressed concern that the bill in its present form would give undue powers to cabinet ministers over the civil liberties of Canadians.
We are making the same call in the House of Commons for caution, prudence and the protection of civil liberties as did our predecessor giants. Men like Tommy Douglas and David Lewis stood in the House in the fall of 1970 and spoke out against the War Measures Act. That was a time of emergency. On reflection, this is also a time of emergency. It is unworthy of the government to proceed in this way on this bill at this time.
As I have said, the government has waited four months to introduce the bill. All of a sudden it is in a rush to have it pass through the House before we rise in little more than three weeks time. Where has the government been since the bill was introduced in November? Why was it not brought back to the House until the spring? We have been dealing with a number of relatively miniscule items since then. We could have dealt with a more substantive bill like this but we did not.
It is our duty as parliamentarians to give the legislation the depth and scrutiny it deserves and requires. We are asking the questions Canadians want answered. In doing so we hope to give the government and the public time to hone in on exactly what is going on.
We in our party oppose the legislation and welcome the amendment produced by the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough. We call on the government to reconsider the tight, unrealistic time frame it has indicated and give us the space necessary to consult all Canadians and parliamentarians on Bill C-55.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 3:15 p.m.
Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-55. I am eager to see the decision that you will hand down on the amendment brought forward by my colleague from the Conservative Party, since I totally support that amendment. It asks that this bill be scrapped, and I agree with the Conservative member on that.
This government never justified why we, in the House, should pass legislation that would restrict individual freedoms. It never justified why such harsh legislation was needed following the events of September 11. September 11 has become the perfect excuse for limiting the rights of citizens.
I want to congratulate my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville, who this morning received telephone calls from two women's associations informing her of their objections to Bill C-55. It is nice to see that, again, it is the women of this country who are telling these men who are in the majority in the House that they must stop restricting the freedoms of Canadians and Quebecers.
I want to thank these women and tell them that I heard their message and that, as a woman myself, I know that they are right. Restricting rights and freedoms is useless. We already have, in the existing laws, all the means we need to counter terrorist acts.
If the government were willing to enforce these laws that we already have here, in Canada, we would not be talking about Bill C-55.
Before oral question period, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord tried to fool everybody by saying that it is good legislation. Strangely enough, it seems that only this government is right. Many people, including editorial writers, Amnesty International and other organizations, said “This bill should suffer the same fate as Bill C-42. It should be withdrawn. And this government should do its homework properly”.
When a member from a party on this side of the House wants to become a government member, we see a radical change in his or her position. In that regard, I would like to quote what the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord said in a statement that he made on February 22, 2000, when he was in opposition:
The Liberals absolutely do not want to consult the public to find out what it thinks of this measure... Arrogance, contempt and indifference toward the House of Commons and toward all Canadians are now part of a behaviour that is beginning to spread throughout this government.
Curiously, when someone is in the governing party, he is at a loss for ideas. I thought the hon. member was right about the government, when he was in the opposition.
If he really believes in Bill C-55, why does he not consult the public before it becomes law? This type of legislation will lead us up a dead-end alley of repression.
We, of the Bloc Quebecois, have experienced the War Measures Act. I referred to that in my last speech. Some of my friends were arrested without explanation. They were held in very secret places and not told why they were being held.
The government will be empowered to designate controlled access military zones and a single minister, the Defence Minister, will determine the dimensions of these zones.
He will order defence staff to create military zones. He will be the one to decide. This is serious. A single person cannot be given the unlimited power to restrict civil liberties.
This government always says “Rights and liberties are important. We celebrated the anniversary of the charter of rights and freedoms. Canada is known throughout the world as a great democratic country”. With this bill, however, it is following in the Americans' footsteps, who have lost control over what they are because of the events of September 11. They put everything in the same basket and say “From now on I can do anything, even violate the rights and freedoms of people.”
Now, I do not belong to this country, namely because of the way this government considers the need to have restricting laws in Canada. This is why I want to get out of this country. If this is where this government is going, no way, I want no part of it. I say to this government “Go to the centre. Meanwhile, we will go our own way and respect the rights and freedoms of people”.
On behalf of the people of Jonquière, I say that such a bill should not be passed. It is a repressive bill that will never give the people from Jonquière the opportunity to express themselves. If the defence minister decides to create a zone around the Bagotville military base, we will never know whether we are in or out of that zone. Moreover, the minister will not even have to consult the provincial government to decide what should be included in that zone. He will not even have the courtesy to do it. He will only say “I am the boss, I am going ahead and I am making the decisions”. The people from Jonquière and from Quebec will never accept the government acting in such a way.
I ask this government to withdraw Bill C-55, to toss it out and to say “We will review all the legislation we have. We are convinced that we have everything we need to protect Canada from terrorist attacks like the ones carried out on September 11”. It is never too late to step back and say “I am wrong”. It is never too late to say “After some discussion, I admit that it is true”.
Oddly enough, we hear nothing from across the way. They are so silent. What is happening with this bill is serious business. Why are they keeping quiet? Like me, they represent citizens, and are here to speak on their behalf and to protect their rights and freedoms. It is odd that they have nothing to say. Does this mean they are so out of touch with the needs of their fellow citizens and are so much on a different plane that the things that affect people's everyday lives are of no importance to them.
These are very important questions and need answers before there is any vote on Bill C-55. I am therefore most humbly requesting that this government withdraw Bill C-55 and redo its homework so that it can introduce another bill, consulting the provinces and the mayors of major Quebec centres as well.
In my region, the Saguenay, there is one mayor who represents close to 148,000 voters. Our new mayor, Jean Tremblay, will not even be consulted. He will not be very thrilled about that. He has been in the visitor's gallery here in the House of Commons and he was far from a silent presence. They will have a hard time with him. I told them “Before you have to deal with the mayor of Saguenay, you might be better off to sit down with the stakeholders, withdraw your bill and see that what gets passed reflects a concern for the wellbeing and the rights and freedoms of all those who are in Canada at this time”.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 1:45 p.m.
André Harvey Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-55. I think that the important thing is to approach it with the greatest respect possible.
Let us remember that a legislative committee was formed to study every aspect of the bill. Obviously, we are not necessarily claiming to have come up with the perfect bill. We are here to exchange views and discuss ideas. I think that it is particularly important to bring out certain points.
There is much talk about the bill violating various rights. I think that Canadians' most fundamental right is the right to live in peace. It is the government's responsibility to do everything it can, through Bill C-55 on public safety, to ensure that Canadians can lead a normal, peaceful life, with the government assuming its responsibilities.
On occasion, we have been known to exaggerate, as has the opposition. In our profession, moderation is not always our strongest suit. However, I am certainly going to try to bring out those features of the terminology which strike me as important and which have generated, I think, considerable confusion. It is not always easy to see things clearly.
The most important thing to understand is that our country, like most western countries, is facing an extremely vicious and ruthless adversary, namely international terrorism.
This bill affects almost every department. It will require us to amend approximately 20 statutes—no small number—and in particular the most important tool that our ministers, the government and the House of Commons will subsequently have occasion to use—interim orders.
Solely for the benefit of the House—and if other colleagues have anything to add which would help us better understand what Bill C-55 is all about, they are welcome to do so—I would like to make the following point about interim orders.
We are sometimes given the impression that all of Canada is going to be a controlled access military zone. In reality, this will not be the case. Controlled access military zones will mainly be connected with military equipment and troops, in a spirit of co-operation with all other countries.
The interim orders referred to in the bill merely allow ministers to speed up processes which already exist under Canadian law. They do not authorize them to do anything beyond what Canadian law permits. Interim orders allow us to speed up the process, which is a minister's privilege.
Interim orders, against which we have heard many members speak out, are necessary to allow a minister to immediately deal with a situation that requires an urgent response to protect Canada and Canadians as a result of a major threat to health, safety or the environment. Interim orders are simply designed to deal with circumstances that do not provide enough time to make regulations as legislation would normally require. Interim orders are aimed at providing a minister with the regulatory tools necessary to deal with a particular threat in a very targeted manner.
The accountability of parliament would not be diminished. Unlike regulations, all interim orders must be tabled in parliament within 15 sitting days. Interim orders are common sense emergency measures to accelerate our current process.
Interim orders are necessary to allow a minister to act immediately to deal with a major threat to health, safety or the environment. Interim orders can only be made in relation to powers that may already be exercised under an act of parliament for which the minister is responsible. This minister would not invent anything. The ministers must act in accordance with legislation passed by parliament. Interim orders are simply designed to deal with circumstances that do not provide enough time to make regulations, as legislation would normally require.
The confusion comes mostly from the distinction between emergency measures and interim orders. Interim orders and the Emergency Measures Act are used for different kinds of problems and in different areas of jurisdiction.
The Emergency Measures Act is a last resort and a far-reaching legislative measure. It is used in an emergency at the national level and only if it is determined that no other law in Canada can effectively resolve the issue and if the emergency is such that one province alone cannot deal with it or that it seriously threatens the capacity of the Government of Canada to protect the nation's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
The Emergency Measures Act applies--quite clearly--to four categories of emergency situations: disasters, public order emergencies, international crises and a state of war. In the two first cases, it is up to the provinces to react. In the last two cases, the federal government would exercise a planning function centered on the mobilization of national resources, with the help of provincial and territorial governments as well as the private sector.
By contrast, the interim orders provided for in Bill C-55 are more modest measures designed to deal with situations in areas of federal jurisdiction where regulatory changes are necessary and urgent.
All in all, what is essential is first to read the bill carefully. When dealing with Bill C-55, a major piece of legislation for the security of our fellow citizens, it is very important to examine all the elements we feel are a source of problems, such as providing the list of passengers. How, if we provide a list of passengers to U.S. security services, can we not co-operate with the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service? This is utter nonsense.
All the information provided must be destroyed within a week, unless it had been proved that this information is extremely important for national security reasons.
As for the controlled access military zones, the Emergencies Act is already in place. It is strictly an interim order allowing the minister to act swiftly within the current legislative framework. We will not designate all of Canada as a controlled access military zone. It is strictly for the purpose of protecting our own military equipment and personnel.
All in all, I am sure that the legislative committee, made up of extremely capable members with whom I am anxious to work on Bill C-55, will be able to give careful consideration to Bill C-55, which replaces Bill C-42 and is much more flexible.
What is important, as I said, is to make the distinctions with regard to three or four key elements: the provision of information, the interim orders made under the Emergencies Act, and so on.
I am sure that all my colleagues will easily understand the validity of this legislation. I am sure also that by avoiding exaggeration we will be better able to continue with consideration of this bill, which is extremely important for the security of all our fellow citizens and also to strengthen our co-operation with all the countries fighting against international terrorism.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 1:25 p.m.
Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the time to speak to Bill C-55. I feel like calling my speech “Security vs. freedom”.
To begin, I would like to quote Irene Khan, the secretary general of Amnesty International. Members will recall that this is the organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Ms. Khan said that “the respect for human rights must encompass not only the universality, but also the indivisibility of all rights... There can be no trade-off between human rights and security, between justice and impunity”.
Having given some thought to Bill C-55 and fundamental freedoms, how can we not believe that the bill will go against these freedoms, when the ministers of transport, defence or health are able to intervene directly, without having to go through the House? Let us not forget that they have 45 days to table their orders here.
How can we leave it up to the new Minister of National Defence alone—and incidentally, I wish him good luck and my best wishes in his new position, I think it is fair to say that he will make a better minister than the former defence minister—to determine the reasonable dimensions of a controlled access military zone?
What are reasonable dimensions? Describe to me reasonable dimensions, Mr. Speaker. Your description will differ from mine, because your reason will never be the same as mine. We may come close on some issues. We may be close, but there will always be a nuance between your reason and my reason. I could never win by trying to argue that my reason is better than your reason, and vice versa.
Now this is will be up to one person. This person will be able to say “I am determining what the reasonable dimensions of this controlled access military zone will be”. I expect that if I step inside this zone, there are good chances that I will have my toes cut off.
So it is important for the House, the people sitting here in this chamber, to take part in determining controlled access military zones.
I would like to digress to let the House know how I feel. I do not want to condemn or moralize, but I find it very improper that our colleagues on the other side are remaining silent while we are debating a bill of this importance.
I feel our Alliance colleagues should participate a bit more in the discussion. Our friends from the NDP should get involved a bit more. Should we not all get involved in this debate?
This bill is of major importance and will have a direct impact on the freedom of people. But our colleagues are saying nothing.
In passing, I would like to commend the painstaking and very professional work of my colleague, the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. He made several presentations in caucus on this issue and did some wonderful work.
Another aspect of this bill bothers me, and it is the fact that while the government is bragging about wanting to co-operate with the provinces, talking with them and taking their opinion into account, this bill totally ignores the provinces. This bill says to the provinces “you are nothing, you are insignificant and we will not consult you. Even if we create a controlled access military zone in Quebec, Alberta or Ontario, the elected representatives of those provinces have nothing to say about it”. This is outrageous. They should at least talk with the provinces in question.
What assurances do we have that, in June, when the next G-8 summit will take place in Kananaskis, the whole area will not be declared a controlled access military zone? The bill would allow for the creation of ia controlled access military zone for reasons of international relations or international security, or for other reasons.
This is cause for concern. We are in 2002. As you see, I disagree with what the government is doing, but we must look at what other governments are doing.
If it were not for September 11 and what happened in the United States, some legislation would not have been amended. Would they have put military personnel at the border between Canada and the United States? The biggest problem I have with this bill is that it is hypocritical. The government wants to grab more power. But in every country there are laws to ensure the safety of citizens.
For example, here we have an act we owe to Mr. Trudeau, the War Measures Act. It is on the books and it had an impact on individual freedoms. I remember quite well, and I hope I am not mistaken, but the member for Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies was affected by this act. He was imprisoned for 30 days without knowing why.
Personally, at noon on a Friday, while I was in a tavern in Ville-Saint-Laurent with twelve of my colleagues, I was arrested and taken to Collège Saint-Laurent where I spent the weekend. Why? I do not know. Maybe they did not like the colour of my hair or the colour of my eyes, maybe they did not like my height, I do not know. During the whole weekend, I slept on a cot and I really do not know why I was arrested.
It might have been because we were speaking French or discussing the events triggered by the FLQ at the time. I really have to idea.
But this bill is worse. I believe we should adopt the motion put forward by the Progressive Conservative Party and toss out Bill C-55 and start all over again.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 12:45 p.m.
Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join the debate on the main motion of Bill C-55. I recently had an opportunity to speak to the amendment. I also have had the opportunity now to listen to a number of other speakers and very thoughtful presentations as we work our way through this very complex bill.
On behalf of the NDP caucus, I would like to address the remarks of the previous speaker from the Liberal Party, the member for Bonavista--Trinity--Conception, who found fault with the NDP's analysis of Bill C-55. He felt that perhaps we were being too harsh and that we were not looking hard enough to find the merits and benefits of the bill.
I would like to point out that we have made a very detailed, in-depth analysis of the bill and we still find it flawed, we still find it worrisome and we still find it necessary to caution the Canadian public that some of the very values by which we identify ourselves as Canadians will be jeopardized by the bill.
I do not think my colleague from the NDP caucus who spoke previously overstated things at all in her speech. Perhaps the hon. member from Bonavista should have paid closer attention to some of the concerns we have raised. We do not raise them just to be obstinate. We raise them as a way of cautioning the Canadian people that this massive power grab of an omnibus bill raises serious concerns and could jeopardize the very way we view ourselves as Canadians, because some of those basic freedoms and principles that we enjoy and are committed to are the very things of which we are most proud.
When I raise specifics, I hope the hon. member listens. He said that the NDP had nothing positive at all to say about Bill C-55. I would like to put it on the record that there are points in Bill C-55 that we find important. In fact I would point out that Bill C-42, which was so hastily thrown together after the tragic events of 9/11, had to be done away with and put out of its misery. Some of the changes in Bill C-55 are improvements over Bill C-42, such as the change to the Aeronautics Act whereby the transport minister's regulation making powers concerning aviation safety will be better defined under Bill C-55 than they were under Bill C-42.
There are specific areas, to which I am happy to point, where we find Bill C-55 better than the previous bill. I would start by saying though that Bill C-42 was thrown together hastily and when it was pulled, we waited for four or five months for Bill C-55 to come forward. Now we are being told by the government that we must get Bill C-55 through immediately and hastily because it is an urgent issue. Where was the urgency when Bill C-42 languished for five months in bureaucratic limbo prior to us seeing the introduction of Bill C-55?
I do not accept the argument that the same sense of urgency exists as may have existed the day after 9/11. Certainly we are all interested in national security. A lot of Canadians feel that the government currently has a great deal of authority or ability to intervene, if it really thinks there is a clear and present danger. The War Measures Act for instance was always there as a tool, as an instrument for ministers to use.
One of the worrisome things that has been pointed out is a difference between Bill C-55 and the War Measures Act. Under the War Measures Act, the government had to come back to parliament within 48 hours. Under Bill C-55, a minister could exercise this expanded authority, not even report to cabinet for 15 days and not have it dealt with in parliament for 45 days. That is a broad and sweeping power. A lot could happen in 45 days and we would not have a chance to give it parliamentary oversight or scrutiny for 45 days. That alone should be cause and concern enough to the Canadian people that they should be asking us to put the brakes on the bill, let it sit over the summer and rethink if we really want to trade this amount of personal freedom for that amount of national safety.
This is one thing of which I am very critical. I guess to summarize the trend or theme of the bill, it very much expands ministerial authority. It very much diminishes parliamentary oversight. That is a very worrisome theme. That is actually a motif that I have noticed in virtually every piece of legislation introduced by the Liberals in the years that I have been here. There has been a tendency to expand ministerial authority and to diminish the ability of parliament to have true parliamentary oversight.
It is a slippery slope. It is a very tempting and seductive thing I suppose for the ruling party. I would remind the ruling party that it will not always be the ruling party. As it strips away parliament's abilities and powers in the way the government was intended it to be, the Liberals will find themselves on the opposition benches wondering why they do not have any opportunity to intervene, to make legislation and to act as a true parliament. The government will have been the architects of dismantling and downsizing the authority of parliament.
That is a very worrisome trend that is very evident in Bill C-55, enhancing the discretionary authority of ministers and diminishing our ability to exercise parliamentary oversight, especially as it pertains to such sensitive issues of personal freedom.
Another thing is, when we talk about an omnibus bill, most people are tempted to call it a Trojan horse. To achieve what most Canadians would support, which is an enhanced sense of national security, we believe that the bill has been loaded up as an absolute catch-all for other things that are incidental. They were perhaps part of a plan of the Liberal Party to have them introduced. The government is using this as the vehicle, the Trojan horse, for all kinds of other measures.
There are 15 different acts that will be amended by Bill C-55. These 15 different acts are under the jurisdiction of nine different standing committees. Yet the bill will only go to one standing committee, the transport committee.
I should point out for the record some of the acts that will be amended by the bill; the Aeronautics Act, the biological and toxin weapons convention implementation act, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Criminal Code of Canada, the Explosives Act, the National Energy Board Act, the National Defence Act, the Hazardous Products Act and many more will be affected by Bill C-55. However the people in our caucus who are experts in these fields and sit on the appropriate committees will not have the chance to view this document or to move amendments at committee stage or to even scrutinize it at committee stage. They do not sit on the transport committee.
Our health expert, the member for Winnipeg North Centre, sits on the health committee. If this bill will have an impact on the health act, why is it not before the health committee so it can receive the all party scrutiny that we do at committee?
I am trying to itemize the number of legitimate reasons why the NDP caucus cannot support Bill C-55. This is why we are trying to alert the Canadian public that it needs far greater attention and scrutiny.
I am not only asking for more time to debate and less of a rush so that we can hear more brilliant speeches in the House of Commons. I am asking for more time so that we can engage Canadians, so that we consult Canadians, so that we can ask Canadians are they willing to trade these personal freedoms for these issues of national security? How much are Canadians willing to trade? How far as they willing to go?
Those are the questions Canadians deserve to be asked and we need to undertake a process by which we can get input and feedback.
We know it takes time for an issue to percolate from the House of Commons through the general public consciousness. I am sure Canadians are not aware that we are dealing with such a broad and sweeping piece of legislation right now. By the time this gets rammed through it will be too late.
By the time this session ends in a couple of days or a couple of weeks, Canadians still will not have been aware that we are undertaking changes to their personal freedoms that will change the way they live in this country and the way they view this country.
The one example people are fond of is the expanded enhanced ability to declare a military security zone. I think it is not being paranoid to assume this may be tied into the upcoming G-8 demonstrations scheduled for Kananaskis.
We saw how the government dealt with the gatherings and crowd control at APEC. We saw it again in Quebec City, ducking tear gas cannisters as we did. If the bill goes through, the government will have far broader, more enhanced sweeping powers and authorities in dealing with even peaceful demonstrators. That is another good reason why Canadians are concerned and why the NDP caucus has been critical of Bill C-55, just as we were of Bill C-36 and Bill C-42.