Bill C-6 (Historical)
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
An Act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.
Anne McLellan Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
April 1st, 2010 / 10:15 a.m.
Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In response to questioning from Mr. Watson, yes, the NDP has fought long and hard on the safety issues, and we did fight on Bill C-6--and later on Bill C-7--because it wasn't simply the whistle-blower content of that bill that was offensive to us. I think the record will show that over and over again.
I'm interested in going back to this policy, because I think the policy is very important here. I'm glad you brought it in front of us. I have some questions. You say that section 5.0 has been added on. When was it added on? In February of 2010?
October 31st, 2007 / 3:50 p.m.
Brian Masse Windsor West, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to again speak to Bill C-7. As the debate resumes in the House, I want to wish Canadians a safe and happy Halloween. I also would like to take this moment to wish my son, Wade, and daughter, Alexandria, fun tonight. I will not be with them but a lot of Canadians will be out having fun tonight.
With regard to Bill C-7, it is important and ironic that we have been able to carry over the debate to today because there have been significant movement with regard to this situation, in the last few hours in fact.
The member for Burnaby—New Westminster, who has termed the bill the “unsafe skies act”, has been defending the interests of consumers and safety in this country by himself and is not getting any support in the last repertoire of debate between the Liberals and the Bloc.
It is important to note that today NASA actually had to come forward to the U.S. Congress with information showing there are far more safety issues out there than were ever recognized before. This bill would protect the interests of the industry, would remove accountability and it would not provide the security that is necessary.
The survey, which will be released by NASA, regarding pilots, which I will get into a little later, shows the amount of concern in the United States that this issue has in terms of airline safety.
I need to back up a little with regard to Bill C-7 so that those who are watching this debate understand the importance of why the airline industry needs the respect and the investment through Transport Canada and also the independence to be able to provide the type of supports and evaluation of safety and management risks that are so desperately needed.
We need to talk about a couple of facts. Canada actually has the second largest population of licensed pilots. We also have the second largest fleet of aircraft vehicles in the world. Right now there are more than 1,000 air operators carrying passengers across our skies. It is important to note that this is part of the national infrastructure. Our airline industry and how it supports passengers and cargo are very important to the future of economic prosperity.
The safety management system that the government is trying to introduce and which is being supported, although I cannot understand why, by the other parties, is something that loses the accountability aspect and will also threaten the viability of the industry if we actually have an erosion over safety and an erosion over the type of accountability that is necessary to ensure, first, that passengers feel confident in their airline services, and second, it does not address some of the issues that the airline industry faces that are challenges.
I did not get a chance to note the other day the fact that we in the industry committee have been studying a number of different intellectual property and theft issues. In my riding, the tool and die mould making industry, for example, we have seen parts from that industry replicated, ripped off and fraudulently put in automotive and aerospace products. That is important because what has ended up happening is some of those materials that are used are not validated or safe products.
In the industry committee we tabled a report on counterfeiting and we had evidence in front of us. It is not just the dollar store knock-off things happening out there. Hospitals in Canada is a good example where it was shown that one hospital actually had a circuit breaker that was supposedly CSA approved but it was a knock-off of a Canadian product.
In the past, we have seen aeronautic parts being used as part of the scam and scandals coming from overseas. These were not proper parts going into our vehicles. That was some of the evidence that we heard.
It is important to note that groups have said that the safety management system in Bill C-7, formerly Bill C-6, is problematic. We had a number of different witnesses before committee, but it is not just the witnesses who came forward who identified the problems in this industry and that there would be further problems, the department itself also said that.
There was an interesting report in the National Post entitled:
Report decries reduction of airline safety audits; Transport Canada reducing aviation regulations.
The government's own department actually identified that the assessment and risk in the industry would be increased. It disagreed with regard to the fact that a safety management system would be the best way to go. It identified that there would be further problems.
That is important because that validation is everything that the member for Burnaby—New Westminster has been saying. It also comes at a time when we see airline companies, like Air Canada for example, outsourcing some of their maintenance contracts.
What we are witnessing is a lack of accountability. When some of the maintenance contracts are outsourced, they are actually being moved overseas. What ends up happening is that we do not have the greater inspection, the accountability and the maintenance capacity. All those things become off jurisdiction and then Canadian passengers are very much put at risk.
I do want to move to the evaluation done by the NASA aviation system. This was big news in the United States. NASA actually did an independent survey of pilots across the United States related to everything from close calls to problems with the industry. When it completed the survey it would not release the results. In fact, under the freedom of information act, the Associated Press was able to get a hold of it but it took 14 months to get out. NASA at one time did not want to release the information because in its talking points on this, in terms of all the media, such as CNN and USA Today, it identified that it did not want to disclose the data and the information because it thought people would be scared.
What does that tell us? It tells us that even in the United States there are serious problems with the potential mishaps that can happen in the airline industry. Why would we want to abandon the whole operations, the controls and the accountability, and give the corporations basically a blank cheque in that department, whereas they will be the ones that will bring forth the problems and we will not even see all of them? That is unacceptable.
In this corner of the House, we have talked in the past about the fact that Canadian consumers want more information about everything from fees that are charged to the issues related to safety, and all those things. They did not want to have less of that.
The NASA report is actually in congress today. NASA spent $11.3 million on the research. The study was done on over a thousand pilots and it identified a series of problems that were happening.
I would say that study is another reason we need to back up at this point in time. We need to ensure we are doing the right thing. We know the Aeronautics Act has not been significantly changed in 20 years and we are supportive of some measures to change it but we do not want to lessen the accountability.
However, that has been the exact opposite of what we have actually had to do on major industries recently. I would point to the fact that the New Democrats were able to fight to get the Westray Mine bill passed through the House of Commons which actually created greater accountability.
Why are we backing up on this issue right now for the airline industry? I know, let us say for example in Ontario, we have witnessed deregulation through Transport Canada and a lessening of inspections on the railway systems and that has caused significant problems. That has been, I think, a loss. I think there is a greater accountability necessary, which is why I believe Transport Canada should play a better role.
We have had derailments in Ontario and in British Columbia. Those are things I think Canadians are concerned about. They do not want to have just an independent kind of incestuous examination of their own practices in-house by corporations.
What they do want is public accountability so that when they are travelling with their loved ones they know they will be safe. Also, for economic prosperity, we need to ensure that those companies that are investing in Canada, that have operations here, will get their goods and services appropriately on time to their destinations but without derailments and other types of problems.
We know that has happened in the rail sector, but now we are moving to the whole transport sector. We understand that the path to the future will be multimodal. It will be rail, air and cargo through trucks and transport and air will be a significant part of that new modern movement.
Why would we then start to abandon a system that, quite frankly, is one of the best in the world? We have some of the best air safety in the world. That is an asset for this country's economy, I would argue, and I would say it is worth making sure that we continue to have our own independent watchdog to complete the task that is necessary.
This industry has its ups and downs and a lot of turbulence and I quite frankly just cannot believe that the government is going to have the industry come forward and speak publicly about its problems. That could create concerns for its customer and it will not be the industry's first priority. Once again, that is another reason why we need to continue to have independence. When we have these types of changes, there certainly is a consequence for consumers. That is why we in the NDP do not accept this.
In wrapping up, I want to note that I appreciate the work the member for Burnaby—New Westminster has done on this issue.
Given the situation with NASA in the United States, in which NASA is currently before Congress, I think this is an opportunity for us to take a step back and improve the bill. Pilots in the United States were independently surveyed and have noted double the problems of ours in airline safety, with everything from near misses to other types of problems on the aircraft. This is an opportunity for us to take a step back and improve the bill, an opportunity to get the proper amendments in place so that we will have accountability and confidence in the system, not the erosion that we have now.
It is amazing to think that NASA, an agency in the United States, was more concerned about the profits of the airline industry as opposed to the interests of American citizens. NASA has been caught out there on this and is getting a lot of criticism for this. This type of scenario is not mythological scaremongering. This is happening today. Once again, it is time to take a step back, improve the bill and then move forward.
Therefore, I move:
That Bill C-7 be read a third time six months hence.
RCMP and Law Enforcement in Canada
April 12th, 2005 / 10:05 p.m.
Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Madam Chair, I am very pleased to participate in the debate on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and law enforcement in Canada.
Our national police force and law enforcement agencies play a vital role in today's uncertain global environment. We face numerous threats, both natural and man made. While Canada may not be a primary target for a terrorist attack, the inclusion of Canada on a list of countries threatened by Osama bin Laden was a chilling reminder of these threats.
The complex and dangerous times in which we live demand a comprehensive, integrated approach to public safety and security, an approach which manages the multi-faceted nature of the threats we face and which considers the need to work cooperatively across disciplines, jurisdictions and borders to achieve our shared objectives.
As the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have pointed out on a number of occasions and as Canada’s national security policy emphasizes, a government’s most important duty is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens .
For this reason, in December 2003, the minister created the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and its portfolio. On April 6, 2005, Bill C-6 establishing the department came into effect.
The objective of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada is to reduce a number of risks Canadians must face, from crime to threats involving national security to natural disasters.
Its mandate consists in meeting people's need for public security, ensuring that civil protection agencies are prepared to confront the range of threats facing the public, and protecting our interests abroad.
This new department is part of a larger portfolio that includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Correctional Service of Canada, the National Parole Board, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Firearms Centre and three review bodies.
By integrating these closely related roles and responsibilities, the government has maximized emergency preparedness and responses to natural disasters and security emergencies. It is also advanced crime prevention and improved connections to provincial and territorial public safety partners.
The creation of the Canada Border Services Agency in December 2003 enhanced the safety and security of Canada by bringing together all the major players involved in facilitating legitimate cross-border traffic and supporting economic development, while stopping people and goods that pose a potential risk to Canada.
Using innovative and state of the art technology and risk management techniques, the Canada Border Services Agency ensures our borders are open to low risk people and goods, but closed to terrorists and criminals who would threaten the safety and security of our country. The Canada Border Services Agency also detains and removes inadmissible individuals in accordance with Canadian law.
Established within the CBSA in January 2004, the national risk assessment centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It acts as a focal point between intelligence agencies at the international, national and local levels. It increases Canada's ability to detect and stop the movement of high risk people and goods into the country by using sophisticated intelligence techniques and technology.
The government has also improved coordination among public safety agencies, both domestically and abroad. The RCMP, CSIS and other agencies continue to share relevant and timely information with other departments and agencies on activities that may constitute a threat to Canada's security.
The Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has also managed the integration and improvement of federal emergency intervention systems set up to respond to incidents—real or virtual— threatening national security. This work led to the development of the national emergency response system.
That system was designed so Canada would always be ready to act in the event of an emergency or national threat of any sort. It will permit highly orchestrated federal intervention and collaboration with many intervenors country wide required to take measures in a national emergency.
It should be noted that the government did not create the portfolio of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for it to work in a vacuum, but for it to be an integral part of a co-ordinated strategic approach to protect the public and national interests. This action is set out in the national security policy, which was made public last year.
The new policy adopts an integrated approach to security issues across government, employs a model that can adapt to changing circumstances and reflects the Canadian values of openness, diversity and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. In addition, the government invested $15 million to establish a government operations centre to provide stable, around the clock coordination and support across government to key players in the event of national emergencies.
While housed in the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the government operations centre functions on behalf of the Government of Canada. It serves as its strategic level command and control centre providing 24/7 response to emergencies affecting the national interest.
In order to connect with the communities that might see themselves at the front, unwillingly, in the fight against terrorism, the government recently set up the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security . It brings together men and women from various ethnocultural groups in order to engage the Canadian public in an ongoing dialogue on matters of national security within a diversified and multicultural society.
Canada's national security policy is far reaching and aggressive. The government remains fully committed to its implementation.
Since September 11, 2001 the government has invested $9.2 billion on security enhancements. In budget 2001 alone, the RCMP received more than $800 million over six years for public security and anti-terrorism initiatives. For fiscal year 2004-05 the RCMP was allocated $82 million for counterterrorism initiatives.
More recently in budget 2005, $433 million was earmarked for strengthening the delivery of secure and efficient border services. Some $88 million was committed for improving automated targeting and the sharing of information between Canada and the U.S. on high risk cargo. Some $222 million was allocated for marine security systems.
With these significant investments, the government will greatly enhance the investigative and intelligence collection capacities of our law enforcement agencies, increase the number of our border personnel, and allow strategic investments in technology.
In closing, I would like to note that it is through the use of better tools and coordination that security intelligence and law enforcement communities are able to work in a more integrated fashion to counter threats to Canada's security. The creation of the public safety and emergency preparedness portfolio brings greater collaboration and focus to the government's efforts. Through the national security policy we must do what we can to ensure our nation is secure from threats, natural or man made, and our citizens are safe in their communities.
The government remains committed to implementing Canada's national security policy. It will continue to do everything it can to help keep Canadians safe and secure in the most effective way possible.
Message from the Senate
The Royal Assent
March 23rd, 2005 / 6:40 p.m.
The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)
Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
March 23, 2005
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 23rd day of March, 2005, at 4:56 p.m.
Policy, Program and Protocol
The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill S-17, an act to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Gabon, Ireland, Armenia, Oman and Azerbaijan for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion--Chapter No. 8; Bill C-20, an act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 9; Bill C-6, an act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain acts--Chapter No. 10; Bill C-39, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to enact an act respecting the provision of funding for diagnostic and medical equipment--Chapter No. 11; Bill C-41, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2005--Chapter No. 12; Bill C-42, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2006--Chapter No. 13; and Bill C-18, an act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another act--Chapter No. 14.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
November 17th, 2004 / 5:30 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his presentation. He talked like an expert on the topic.
I am pleased to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-6, which seeks to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
My party supports the bill. However, it has some concerns regarding measures that could jeopardize the delicate balance between security and the freedom of Quebeckers and Canadians.
We will recall that on December 12, 2003, the Prime Minister created the portfolio of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which combines the activities of the solicitor general aimed at protecting Canada from natural disasters. The department ensures policy cohesion among six agencies, namely the RCMP, CSIS, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Firearms Centre, Correctional Service Canada and the National Parole Board.
Looking at Bill C-6, we realize that the minister has huge powers. He plays a leadership role relating to Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness while respecting the Prime Minister's prerogative in matters relating to national security and the statutory authorities of other ministers.
The minister establishes strategic priorities for and coordination of portfolio agencies, while respecting their distinct mandates, cooperates with provinces and foreign states, and facilitates the sharing of information among public safety agencies as authorized under current Canadian law.
I will now talk about emergency measures in case of disasters. In 1996, I personally lived through the Saguenay floods. When a major disaster happens, concrete measures must be taken quickly.
I speak about them first hand having spent all my professional life in Chicoutimi where I was involved in emergency measures planning. In case of an emergency or a disaster, my role was to coordinate.
We all remember the July 1996 flood in the Upper Saguenay, the Lower Saguenay and the majority of the municipalities of my riding, Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, including Chicoutimi, La Baie, Laterrière, Lower Saguenay, Anse-Saint-Jean, Ferland-et-Boileau and other cities and communities outside my riding, like the city of Jonquiere and other surrounding municipalities, with a population of about 160,000 persons. This area includes two large basins collecting water used to produce electricity. I am of course talking about the big Lake Kénogami and the big Lake Ha! Ha!
For almost a week, we had heavy rains in the region covering the Upper Saguenay, all the cities that I just mentioned, and the Lower Saguenay. The two basins overflowed of course. They filled up just like this glass would fill up if I were to put it under a tap. It would of course fill up, and then it would overflow.
Rivers and waterways helped to drain off the water, but because of the dams holding back the waters, the basins were flooded and expanded. Large communities located on those waterways and basins were flooded. We had to relocate a lot of people. That brings me to the importance of quick emergency response.
This happened on a Saturday when I was on holiday. The public safety authorities in my area and the emergency planning committee called me. We got together to evaluate the situation. After a few hours, of course, the situation was so bad that already there was a real overflow. We immediately contacted the mayor of Chicoutimi who was an active participant in emergency planning.
A few hours after becoming aware of the situation, he declared emergency measures in Chicoutimi because of the flooding and the overflow of the main reservoir. In the case of Chicoutimi, it was Lake Kénogami. Other municipalities in similar locations made the same decisions at about the same time: to implement emergency measures or to implement an emergency plan, which meant evacuating the population, setting up structures to accommodate and feed them, and all the other details such a plan requires.
A great deal of cooperation is also required among all levels involved. Since I am here in this Parliament, which has responsibility for the federal services available in my region, I can state that I am aware of this great collaborative effort and the great responsibility these emergency plans entail. They are implemented by Quebec emergency preparedness, by a delegation in each region. The emergency plan, under the direction of the mayor of the municipality and all the municipal departments, is where the responsibility remains. The federal services in that area were the army—we have a base at Bagotville, in Haut-Saguenay—and the RCMP and weather services. These all put themselves under the leadership and responsibility of the emergency measures plan. As far as the army was concerned, more specific measures were involved, and it was mandated to look after a specific area of intervention.
All this shows the need for collaborative efforts, and there certainly was cooperation. An emergency measures plan was put in place, and put in place promptly. As a result, the population was spared a good many problems.
I was also able to see what help was provided by the various players in society. As you remember, all of Canada was made aware. In my region of Quebec, the population was mobilized to help our community, our people. When a disaster hits, political allegiance does not count any more.
I can bear witness: there is simply cooperation and it is important in this type of situation.
Indeed, who is in a better position than the people who live in regional county municipalities and who work with the Government of Quebec to monitor the arrangements made to ensure the safety and the operation of those emergency measures.
Let me go back to the emergency measures. In municipalities, they are periodically reviewed. Needless to say, when an emergency plan is redone, it is as if, tomorrow morning, a disaster will happen. That means that some people are in charge in that structure and their telephone number and address must be available so that they can be contacted rapidly.
The Government of Quebec has established public emergency measures in cooperation with community stakeholders in order to have in place the means to better forecast such incidents. The Government of Quebec has the tools to manage the procedures to be followed in case of a disaster in the province.
At home, we had the flood, the flood of 1996 and the ice storm of 1998, which have contributed to making the population aware that it was exposed to certain risks.
These two events also gave rise to serious questions as to the ability of the Quebec civil security system to ensure adequate protection of people and property in the case of major disasters.
The Quebec government thus elected to have both these events analyzed by a scientific and technical commission called the Nicolet commission. This body made recommendations, of a technical, as well as a legal and legislative nature. It led, on December 20, 2001, to the creation of a new law which replaced the Act respecting the protection of persons and property in the event of disaster. The implementation of this legislation concerned citizens as well as businesses, municipalities as well as the government.
Today, Bill C-6 seek to create a national security structure. Its objectives are legitimate and we understand them. We simply want to stress that the Government of Quebec possesses a department of public safety which is already in tune with the situation in Quebec and that public safety comes under the jurisdiction of Quebec.
Nonetheless, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-6. We remain concerned, however, by measures which could imperil the balance between the security and freedom of Quebeckers and Canadians, as well as by intrusions into the public safety activities of the Government of Quebec.
Today, I ask the Liberal government to explicitly recognize in this bill respect for the jurisdiction of Quebec. On June 28, Quebeckers and Canadians demanded changes in the way the country is being governed and more compromise in our policies.
The availability of a Canada national safety policy might lead the federal government to interfere in areas of Quebec's jurisdiction. It is time for federal intrusions in the areas of jurisdiction of the provinces and of Quebec to stop.
Today, the federal government spends more in areas under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces than in its own areas of jurisdiction. We must draw a line somewhere to avoid confusion.
Fortunately, concerning emergency plans, as I was saying, this has not happened, nor will it, I hope. Emergency plans come under the jurisdictions of municipalities, and municipalities are the creatures of the Quebec government. Emergency plans become the responsibility of the Quebec government.
We believe in the principle of Bill C-6, because it will allow for better cooperation between the various government organizations. It will facilitate the exchange of information between the various public safety organizations that enforce Canadian laws.
However, we have some concerns about the exchange of information between organizations and states, because this may have an effect on Canadians' right to privacy.
Since 1993, the Bloc Québécois has steadfastly denounced the ever-increasing federal interference in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. We were elected by the people to represent their interests. We are in favour of this bill, but we will ensure the respect of jurisdictions and of citizens' individual freedom.
I conclude by reminding members of the House that the Quebec government must still be responsible for the implementation of emergency plans. Under these plans, there must be cooperation and integration of the federal government services that we find in a region affected by a disaster.
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
November 17th, 2004 / 5:20 p.m.
Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development (Social Economy)
Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this House to support this very important legislation, namely Bill C-6, An Act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain Acts.
We all know that this bill is part of the government's strategy in response to the September 11, 2001, events, which raised public safety concerns all over the world, and particularly on the North American continent, to unprecedented levels.
I want to draw the attention of all members of this House by asking how we could contemplate imposing limits on the relentless fight against international terrorism.
All Canadians know that national safety knows no borders. We all know that the obligation imposed on all levels of government, in this country and in every other country, is to promote cooperation, partnership and the exchange of critical information to ensure the success of our common fight against terrorism.
The same is true in all areas of public safety and emergency preparedness. The fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering, for example, cannot stop at the borders of a country, a province or a state. On the contrary, all the authorities involved have an obligation to cooperate, to unite their efforts in order to succeed in deterring criminals, intercepting them and prosecuting them.
When we say that we are living in an era of globalization, we are not only referring to the economy, to trade or to the assistance provided to developing countries. No municipality, province or country can successfully overcome threats to public safety by acting alone.
This applies to emergency preparedness as well. If a natural disaster occurs, the primary responsibility lies with the provinces and local authorities, and the Government of Canada has never disputed that fact. We get involved when asked to do so by these authorities, under protocols that have been in place for a number of years.
This gradual response system works well, as we saw, for example, when the Quebec government, through then premier Lucien Bouchard, requested the presence of the Canadian army to help deal with the terrible effects of the ice storm in January 1998.
Natural disasters know no borders. Last summer, fires destroyed forests in British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. I saw that with my children, because I had an opportunity to be there, and it was an unmitigated disaster. This is the most telling example that collaboration between all authorities, local, provincial, territorial and national, is required, and it must be effective, in order to combat such disasters and assure the safety of all citizens.
Public safety and emergency preparedness are two components of the name for the entirely new department the government intends to create through the bill under consideration in this House.
Security concerns of all Canadian women and men, of all ages, and of all regions of our vast land have become global concerns, eliminating the traditional distinctions between national security and international security.
That this the great lesson, the unavoidable legacy of the September 11, 2001, attacks against the Americans, their territory and their institutions. We have all been called to reflect, no matter where we live on this planet, no matter what what our ties are at the local, provincial or national levels.
Since these sad events, the Government of Canada has been working relentlessly to ensure the safety of Canadian women and men, together with all its neighbours, allies and provincial and municipal partners, non-governmental and private. It really is collaboration at all levels.
Bill C-6 marks an essential step in the effective integration of efforts by the Government of Canada to meet that fundamental objective of reassuring Canadians.
I also want, at this point, to reassure other people from the cultural communities who have some concerns about this bill. Yesterday, I had the opportunity of meeting some representatives of the Canadian Arab Federation who came to Parliament Hill. I informed them that all the members of the House will make sure that this bill is not used to the detriment of any specific community or minority.
As for the debates at the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, even if I do not sit on this committee, I was given the assurance that this is the type of issue discussed by all members. We will ensure that this bill provides protection and respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the other laws of this country. I simply wanted to reassure all Canadians from other ethnocultural backgrounds because some of them are concerned about this bill.
Canadians, including those of other national origins, know very well that we need a collective security that goes well beyond our borders, real and imaginary. They know that cooperation from all stakeholders and governments as well as from all departments and agencies of the same government, must necessarily converge to be effective.
The establishment of the new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness confirms this approach taken since the Prime Minister's announcement on December 12 last. This is a department integrating all federal efforts in these matters of security and protection, a department providing the leadership required for effective federal-provincial-territorial cooperation as well as the indispensable collaborative national and international efforts.
Crime, in any form, knows no borders. There are no borders defined where crime is concerned. It is well known that, today, with the new technology, there are fewer and fewer borders. Crime dictates that we cooperate in our efforts to fight crime beyond all borders, so that together we can efficiently flush out those criminals who are trying to hide behind them.
In matters of air safety, maritime safety, threats to public health, protection of essential infrastructure, cybersecurity, emergency measures management in the event of natural disasters, in all these matters, the security of all Canadians knows no borders, as I said. In all these matters, open and efficient cooperation between all the authorities is critical at the global, continental, national, provincial and local level.
All of our allies, neighbours, and national partners must join forces, be extremely vigilant and respond quickly, in the best interest of all the citizens of this country. In the moments following the events of September 11, 2001, all strengthened their ties of solidarity and networks of cooperation. We all worked together to ensure the safety and security of our fellow citizens.
The best examples I can give are very simple to understand. Just last weekend, another severe snow storm swept across Nova Scotia. Every effort was made by the authorities to ensure the safety and security of everyone. The hospitals, the streets, tens of thousands of people in shelters, no effort was spared to provide heat, food and comfort to Nova Scotians.
We are going to work on this bill. This is a bill that will not only ensure safety and security but also, at the same time, ensure that our rights and freedoms are respected, should some of our fellow citizens wonder.
Such is the price of efficiency, of safety and security, and even of freedom when under threat from malicious individuals or natural disasters.
For all these reasons, I encourage all the members of this House to support Bill C-6.
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
November 17th, 2004 / 5:05 p.m.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Ahuntsic.
I rise to speak in support of Bill C-6, which establishes the new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The legislation is essential to ensuring the safety of Canadians and our communities. It will help give police and other first responders the tools they need to make the right decisions at the right time on the front lines where it matters most.
Bill C-6 provides that one department, the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, will take a leadership role and coordinate the setting of priorities with other departments and with the agencies in the portfolio, in order to act as a central point for issues of public security and emergency preparedness and to strengthen accountability for the way the government assumes its security responsibilities.
Simply put, the legislation provides greater support for police and other law enforcement personnel. This is where I would like to focus my attention today.
This summer Statistics Canada released a study that found that 82% of Canadians said that they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the police. This fall an Ekos survey showed that a full 90% had moderate or high confidence in the RCMP. These are numbers of which we should be very proud.
We need to ensure that Canadians continue to respect and trust these organizations and do so with good reason. We need to support our police and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to do the job right.
We operate in a much different criminal environment than we did 50, 20 even 5 years ago. We are also entering a new frontier in law enforcement that requires us to think about policing and law enforcement much differently.
As a government, we must re-examine how we approach our safety and security responsibilities on a local, national and international level. We know that increasingly, situations that happen in one part of the world have far-reaching ramifications in other areas. In today's environment a small drug dealer who is arrested in a Canadian community could have links to a terrorist group halfway around the world.
This reinforces the need for governments and law enforcement agencies to work together locally, nationally and internationally to properly address common issues with a unified approach. Bill C-6 provides the foundation for our government to do exactly that.
Since the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness portfolio was created nearly a year ago, the department and agencies have worked more cohesively to ensure the security of Canada and the Canadian public.
This bill will not change these new working relationships. In fact, it will provide an opportunity to solidify them and give clear direction to the department and the agencies within the portfolio.
When it comes to policing and law enforcement, there have been a number of recent accomplishments that I would like to highlight as evidence of this new and improved working relationship. These success stories are proof positive that when the Prime Minister created this new department last December, he did the right thing for Canada and for Canadians.
This October the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness met in Ottawa with then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for the eighth annual Canada-U.S. cross-border crime forum.
At this year's forum, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Mr. Ashcroft made a number of important announcements that would reinforce the new era of more and better collaboration among law enforcement agencies at home and with our U.S. counterparts.
First, the two officials released the 2004 Canada-U.S. border drug threat assessment. This report examined the nature of drug trade between our two countries, highlighted successes achieved together and looked at how to better respond to this shared problem.
As a result of better international cooperation arising from the cross-border crime forum, this past March law enforcement officials from both sides of the border executed the largest single binational enforcement action ever taken against ecstasy traffickers. Over 130 individuals were arrested in 19 cities. Officers seized over 877,000 ecstasy pills, 120 kilograms of powder and $6 million.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Mr. Ashcroft also announced new measures to enhance intelligence gathering and information sharing to combat cross-border crime and terrorist activity. At four of our integrated border enforcement team, or IBET, locations, Canada and U.S. law enforcement intelligence officers will now be co-located. At two locations here in Canada and two locations across the border in the United States, Canadian and American intelligence staff will literally and figuratively work shoulder to shoulder to secure our shared border.
The cross-border crime forum is an innovative vehicle to promote collaboration with our Canadian and American partners. It is co-led by the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and the U.S. department of justice. It has been showcased as a model for cross-border law enforcement collaboration by other organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Organization of American States.
The accomplishments of this forum are but a few examples of the excellent work being done thanks to a better targeted approach that has made increased collaboration possible since the creation of the new department.
Among the very important questions for police forces, for this government and in fact, for the entire Canadian public, are the identification, disruption and dismantling of organized crime groups.
Organized crime is an issue that affects ordinary Canadians. While many of its activities seem to have no direct bearing on the lives of law-abiding citizens, the consequences of organized crime are far-reaching. For example, we are seeing a rise in marijuana grow operations, most of which have a direct link to organized crime groups. Grow ops defraud hydro and insurance companies. They are a serious fire risk and threaten the lives of citizens who live nearby. Proceeds from the sale of drugs are often used to buy weapons and allow criminal groups to branch into other illicit businesses.
Furthermore, the days of these organizations operating as independent, mutually hostile factions is ending. We are seeing a new level of collaboration among organized crime groups that calls for, in fact demands, a response that is even more cohesive.
Simply put, the security, intelligence and law enforcement communities must continue to collaborate, and in fact look to enhance this integrated approach if we as a country and as a society are to succeed in fighting larger, more sophisticated organizations.
The creation of the public safety and emergency preparedness portfolio brings greater collaboration and focus to the government's efforts. It provides a vehicle and foundation for the department and its portfolio agencies to work together more and work together more effectively in combating shared threats like organized crime.
Our police and law enforcement community has benefited from the leadership of one department and one minister who is dedicated to greater cohesion within our borders and greater collaboration with our allies around the world.
We must do what we can to enshrine this leadership and accountability into law. We must provide our policing and law enforcement community with the tools they need to continue to fight against issues like drugs and organized crime and whatever other challenges come our way. We must do what we can as a government to ensure our nation is secure from threats, natural or man-made, and our citizens are safe in their communities.
Finally, we must ensure we are reaching out to all of those with a vested interested and a role to play in our safety and security mandate with one voice, under one minister, with a clear set of priorities and a decisive path forward.
I am confident that with the passage of Bill C-6 we can do just that.
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
November 17th, 2004 / 4:35 p.m.
Brian Masse Windsor West, ON
Mr. Speaker, I know the member talked about partnerships and Bill C-6 really is about putting groups and organizations together and about reaching beyond our traditional partnerships. However one group that I have not heard a lot of discussion about and one that is very important for national security and being able to respond to emergencies is our firefighters.
Firefighters from many municipalities require training for emergency preparedness. They have requested some additional resources to be able to be trained properly to deal with that.
Does the hon. member support the proposition that our firefighters be brought into the fold to make sure that our first responders are very well-equipped and well-trained to ensure they could be on the ground level supporting men and women in our community in times of emergency?
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
November 17th, 2004 / 4:05 p.m.
Brian Masse Windsor West, ON
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-6 is precipitated a lot from the dealings with the United States and having to coordinate our trade and other policies for national security. That is also going to require massive infrastructure and investment by the government because those policies conflict with our current streets, roads, bridges and tunnels, all those things.
My concern is whether the Conservative Party will support that infrastructure investment that is so necessary. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, for example, said that the border in my area lost about $4 billion this year alone because of lack of infrastructure. Will his party support that in a balanced approach as opposed to just tax cuts?
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act
November 17th, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.
Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the report stage debate on Bill C-6. It is an important bill, given the current climate around security. It is an enabling bill, legislation that in essence puts in the place the legislative framework for the new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. It is worth noting that the department has been operating for six months or more. The legislation is somewhat late in coming.
It is also worth noting that the bill itself will, for all intents and purposes, do away with the very traditional name of the Solicitor General. I hasten to add that I am somewhat saddened to see that label disappear, given that my father served in that office in the years 1984-85. I know the member for Calgary Centre sat with my father in the House of Commons, and I am pleased to be speaking in his presence today.
The bill brings together a number of departments under one umbrella. It is intended clearly to create a more coordinated effort, and one would hope that information sharing would be improved as a result of the bill.
As I noted earlier, I am encouraged by the efforts made by the minister and the parliamentary secretary to consult more broadly within the House, within Parliament, to ensure that on legislative initiatives, even a bill as technical, and one that could be described as a housekeeping bill, as this, to include the opposition. Given the dynamic and the numbers in the House, in the committee and in the chamber, the opposition already has played a more effective role in amending the bill.
The legislation will bring together, under a single department, departments such as the RCMP. CSIS will have efforts made to include a more coordinated effort around response to provincial disasters, as we have seen in the Saguenay region and even in my own province of Nova Scotia as recently as last week with a devastating snowstorm. Similarly, just under a year ago we suffered the effects of hurricane Juan. The ability of the federal government to intervene in a more meaningful and expeditious way will hopefully be aided and abetted by a more coordinated department such as this.
I would also add that the Conservative Party, under then Prime Minister Kim Campbell, had proposed a similar bringing together of departments such as this and it was vigorously opposed by the Liberal Party of the day. Therefore, we are pleased once again to note that an idea that was proposed some years ago, much like free trade and some of the other initiatives that were taken by a previous government, has now been endorsed and very much embraced by the government.
The legislation brings into being the new department. The legislation also touches upon areas of Canada's border security, which is an extremely important entity at this time. We hope to have a more fulsome debate in the future around the issues of the border security officers themselves in terms of their own personal safety; the ability to carry firearms, for example sidearms, to issue vests and a more coordinated effort with their counterparts on the other side of the border.
The smart border initiative is something that will be the subject of further debate. More important, we hope to see implementation of some of the initiatives that have been discussed around the important issue of our border security, such as putting in place the necessary critical infrastructure and fast lanes, funding and resource allocation for the technology that will accompany the efforts to improve greater ease of traffic flow at the border and at the same time ensure the very critical level of security needed. In the future I would suspect we will also be engaging on the subject matter of a larger North American security perimeter.
Then we would get into the context of discussions around improving, in particular, our ports. This is perhaps the most vulnerable point of entry in the country today. I know there is reported activity of organized crime at ports like Halifax, Vancouver and even the port of Montreal . There is the ability currently, with the resources and technology, only to examine I believe it is in the range of 1% of the amount of container traffic that comes through the ports.
We had an incident in Halifax quite recently where an entire container went missing. That is alarming in the sense that those containers are large. We hear repeatedly of efforts made to bring contraband material and illegal immigrants into the country through the ports of entry.
While the airport security has been incredibly improved in the wake of 9/11, it is our ports now that need greater emphasis. The disbanding of the ports police by the Liberal government in 1994 has contributed to the vulnerability. That specialized police force was tasked solely with protecting and enhancing security in ports throughout Canada. I state simply for the record that this is an interest and a pursuit of the Conservative Party. We will continue to advocate for a greater degree of funding and protection of ports in Canada.
The Conservative Party and my colleague from Palliser as well as my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London have spoken out repeatedly against the proliferation of the long gun registry and the incredible waste that has flowed, now approaching $2 billion. Under the questionable guidance of the previous finance minister, this legislation was brought forward back in the early nineties in the wake of a terrible disaster in Montreal. It was done at that time, I would suggest, for political posturing rather than actual public safety.
It was stated at that point that the cost of such a registry would be somewhere in the range of $2 million. As it approaches $2 billion that has been identified by none other than the very impartial and very able Auditor General, this is probably the largest fraud ever perpetrated on the Canadian public in the history of this country.
The bill puts in place or brings along with the new department the Canadian Firearms Centre. The reason we moved an amendment was to ensure that there was actual clarity and actual enunciation of the various departments as opposed to the way in which it was referred to originally, simply as entities. We want to be able to track the activities and in particular the monetary shenanigans that we have seen in the past when it comes to the firearms registry, the long gun registry, which we continue to oppose on principle, not because in any way, shape or form should it ever be misconstrued as the Conservative Party not being for effective gun control.
That is a completely different issue. Hon. members know very well that the Conservative Party of the day brought in some of the most effective public safety gun control measures ever seen in this country: issues related to safe storage, to the storage of ammunition and keeping that separate from firearms.
We have had handgun registration in this country since the 1940s. The biggest problem today on the streets of large cities, even in small towns and communities, is not long guns; it is not rifles or shotguns. It is handguns; it is nine millimetres that are coming into this country illegally.
We know that the resources that have been put into this useless fiasco of a gun registry, this bureaucratic quagmire, if that money had been placed into front line policing, training or even a registry of sex offenders as opposed to inanimate objects, the public safety, the crime control, and the ability of police to enforce crime control would have increased exponentially.
The bill itself, as I indicated, is one that the Conservative Party supports in principle. It is enabling legislation that will bring together these various entities, referred to already as the firearms centre. I hope it will also lead to a greater degree of sharing of information, in particular between the RCMP and CSIS.
There is as well an effort to set up an oversight body in Parliament that will allow for a greater review by parliamentarians of the activities of CSIS, the activities of CSE, and security information gathering within the country.
I note as well that Bill C-36, the antiterrorism legislation, will be back before a committee for a mandatory review. That was put in place and will require a review of the provisions and in fact the use of those new enabling powers that were put in place under Bill C-36. I look forward to taking part in the discussions in committee on behalf of the Conservative Party along with my colleagues and members from all sides of the House. There is certainly a need for a vigorous and vigilant review of security measures in the country.
It is our hope that this new department will continue in the same vein of cooperation that we have seen thus far. We hope that continues. We hope that the minister will continue to come before the committee, as she has already done in this Parliament.
We call upon all parliamentarians to be very vigilant and serious in their examination of issues such as this that pertain to the critical area of security, given the heightened degree of threat that exists in the world today. Canada has been specifically named by none other than Osama bin Laden as a potential target. We know that there continue to be active threats in this country. The raising of funds to support terrorism continues, sadly, in Canada today.
There is much to do. There is much that we and the government can do with respect to our security forces in Canada today. Providing them with the proper resources, tools and support, first and foremost, should factor very highly on the parliamentary agenda. This legislation is now giving this department the mandate to do just that.
I see in this legislation wherein subclause 6(2) a commission or advisory committee will be set up. Given past practices, we have reason for skepticism, but it is certainly our hope that this will not become another area of patronage or an area in which the government will simply put people into positions without any form of consultation, at least not the token consultation that we saw in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. That is one other area that I highlight that appears in the bill itself.
We look forward, on behalf of the Conservative Party, to participating fully in the further discussion around this legislation.