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
Introduction and First Reading
(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.