Combating Terrorism Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment replaces sections 83.28 to 83.3 of the Criminal Code to provide for an investigative hearing for the purpose of gathering information for an investigation of a terrorism offence and to allow for the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person to prevent them from carrying out a terrorist activity. In addition, the enactment provides for those sections to cease to have effect or for the possible extension of their operation. The enactment also provides that the Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness include in their respective annual reports their opinion on whether those sections should be extended. It also amends the Criminal Code to create offences of leaving or attempting to leave Canada to commit certain terrorism offences.

The enactment also amends the Canada Evidence Act to allow the Federal Court to order that applications to it with respect to the disclosure of sensitive or potentially injurious information be made public and to allow it to order that hearings related to those applications be heard in private. In addition, the enactment provides for the annual reporting on the operation of the provisions of that Act that relate to the issuance of certificates and fiats.

The enactment also amends the Security of Information Act to increase, in certain cases, the maximum penalty for harbouring a person who committed an offence under that Act.

Lastly, it makes technical amendments in response to a parliamentary review of these Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • April 24, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Oct. 23, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to Bill S-7 at third reading. I am doing so not without some soul-searching because I do believe that members of Parliament must address the issue of terrorism seriously. The question remains: is Bill S-7 the right way, and the right response to the threat of terrorism?

In my speech at second reading, I mentioned my personal and family connections to 9/11, a day when my mother was flying out of Washington, D.C. and one of my partner's close friends was flying out of Boston. My mother was fortunate and she was located, safe, later that night on the ground in Denver. However, my partner's friend was not so lucky in his choice of flights from Boston, and we were in the unfortunate situation of having to inform his parents in Indonesia that indeed their son had been on that second plane to hit a tower in New York.

What I did not talk about during second reading was my international human rights work. I have experience working where the threat of terrorism was a constant. I worked in the field in East Timor, in Ambon in Indonesia, and in Afghanistan. In each of these situations, bombing campaigns were a daily threat and all too often a daily reality. I have seen up close, communities torn apart by terrorist violence. I still remember the day in Ambon where my partner and I were working on a peace-building project between Christian and Muslim communities. That was the day that the market was bombed, and from our office we could see the smoke rising. That was the same market where my partner was supposed to be at that moment, but fortunately was late and was not there.

Therefore, I do have some understanding of the reality of terrorist threats, and I have always taken a clear and unequivocal position against terrorism. I have always said there was no justification, no excuse for the use of violence against civilians, none, never, and I fully believe that those who use terror should be met with the full force of the law. I take seriously that we must take measures that will protect us against terrorism, but I also believe we have an equal responsibility to preserve the rule of law and respect for our basic rights and freedoms. Otherwise, what is it that we are protecting? As so many of my colleagues have said, this is truly a question of balance. How do we protect our society in a way that protects its most fundamental values?

In my second reading speech, I spoke not just about my own experience, but also about the unfortunate history of the deportation of Japanese Canadians during World War II. When we look back now, it is very clear that fear, and fear alone, caused us to trample the rights of a minority in this country, using the War Measures Act, an act which the majority at the time argued was necessary to preserve our rights, despite the lack of any evidence at the time or subsequently that this was the case. I emphasize once again that not a single Japanese Canadian was ever charged, let alone convicted, of any collaboration with the enemy during World War II. However, our panic and our fear caused us to uproot a community and the lives of thousands of Canadians for no reason other than their heritage. This is a fear that I have, that we will make these same kinds of mistakes if we panic and adopt measures that would lead to the targeting of certain communities today based on their heritage.

Therein lies the dilemma. How do we keep communities safe without trampling the very rights that are the foundation of a free community and a tolerant society? Then the question is, what are those threats that I see to rights in Bill S-7? What do we in the NDP think is the problem with Bill S-7? There are two major problems, and one associated problem.

The two major problems are that investigative hearings and preventative detention both run against the grain of our fundamental rights in our legal system. Whether we view these measures through our British legal traditions, through our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or through Canada's international legal obligations under international covenants, both of these would challenge our fundamental values. Investigative hearings wreck the fundamental protections against self-incrimination that we have built into our system for 300 years. Preventative detention would violate the principle that one should be punished only for a specific wrongdoing. Bill S-7 would allow the incarceration for up to a year of individuals never even charged with, let alone convicted of, a criminal offence. And, as we discovered in the debate in committee, the government intended for those provisions for preventative detention to be quite broad and to perhaps include people who were merely associated with or inadvertently giving assistance to those who might carry out a terrorist act. While intention is a fundamental element of a criminal act in Canadian law, intention alone has never before been the crime. Therefore, I find these two measures excessive and threatening of those basic rights and values.

In committee, New Democrats pointed out the most basic flaws of this legislation and introduced 18 amendments to address the most egregious problems. However, as usual, the Conservatives were having none of that. As we have seen time and time again in committee, despite statements to the contrary by ministers when they introduce legislation, Conservatives are not actually prepared to consider reasonable amendments at the committee stage, not even in the case of Bill S-7 when it came to an amendment that simply asked that the rights of children be protected under these two measures so that children might not be caught up in investigative hearings and preventive detentions. Not even that amendment on the rights of children were the Conservatives prepared to accept.

The third party, at the other end of the House, which initially introduced these two measures in 2001, not only failed to introduce any amendments of its own but also refused to support the NDP amendments. Now Bill S-7 is back in the House for third reading unamended.

The argument the Conservatives seem to be making in favour of Bill S-7, insofar as they are bothering to make any argument at all—and I should point out that we do not see Conservative members rising to try to convince both the opposition and the public that this measure is indeed necessary—is that if Bill S-7 does not pass, we will not be kept safe from terrorism and that we need investigative hearings, preventive detention and new measures to make it illegal to go abroad for the purposes of committing a terrorist act.

This necessity argument, I believe, fails on several grounds. First, as it is easy to point out, there were no successful uses of investigative hearings or preventive detention when they were previously in force. If they are so necessary to protect against terrorism, why were they not used? Why do we not have examples of how they contributed to that safety?

The second ground on which I would argue that the necessity argument fails is the actual record of the RCMP, which has been able to apprehend those involved in terrorism and get convictions in the absence of these extreme powers. Examples include the Khawaja case, the Toronto 18 and even the arrests just yesterday. If these powers were so necessary, how have the police been able to make such progress against terrorism over the last 12 years? If for 12 years we have appeared to get along well in the struggle against terrorism without these powers, where is the argument for their necessity now? I have heard no one on the other side actually make the argument, in any kind of fashion, that we must have Bill S-7 at this time to keep us safe.

Of course, when it comes to going abroad to engage in terrorist acts, anyone who looks closely at the existing law will find that it is already illegal to do so. Therefore, what is Bill S-7 adding to the existing law? It is really not clear to me why this new provision is there.

If the measures proposed in Bill S-7 are neither effective nor necessary, then are we, in fact, left helpless in the face of terrorism, as the Conservatives' insistence on passing this bill would imply? The timing of the reintroduction of this bill in Parliament and the timing of the arrests yesterday on charges of terrorism are indeed suspicious, which is I guess the best word I can use. The coincidence seems too large to me. It seems to me that the Conservatives are trying to use a climate of fear to push forward this legislation. Again, I refer to the example of Japanese Canadians in World War II, when fear caused us to do things that destroyed an entire community in Canada, which has taken many years to rebuild, based on fear and fear alone.

I fear that the Conservatives are using this climate in the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing, and in the aftermath of very good police work done to bring charges against those who would have derailed a VIA Rail train through their connections with al Qaeda, to create a climate that will cause people to not ask the questions they need to ask about this legislation.

I was very proud that members in the House came together unanimously to condemn the tragic bombing in Boston, but I am a little less proud about the timing of the reintroduction of Bill S-7 in the aftermath of that bombing.

At the time of the bombing, I argued that we ought to be careful not to draw conclusions too quickly. I still argue that it is probably too early to draw many firm conclusions about how the U.S. should respond to what happened at the Boston Marathon. It is necessary to take reasonable precautions when we are met with terrorist acts, but it is also necessary to find out what actually happened before we can figure out what might be the proper measures to take.

However, I would argue that there is one quick lesson from the tragedy in Boston. The quick conclusion that can be drawn, I think, is that when law enforcement agents are given sufficient resources, they can produce results remarkably quickly. They can produce those results using traditional methods, and they can produce those results without resorting to extreme legal powers that threaten basic civil liberties.

The sad fact is that where the government is falling down when it comes to the everyday fight against terrorism is on the question of resources. Without resorting to a very long string of figures documenting budget reductions in everything from policing to emergency preparedness, let me cite just two facts. I think they are two very important facts when we talk about the struggle against terrorism.

The Conservatives are in the process of cutting 325 front-line CBSA officers and 100 intelligence officers from the CBSA. It is certainly good news for gun and drug smugglers and almost assuredly is also good news for potential terrorists. If we reduce our front-line resources, if we reduce our front-line intelligence activities, then, in fact, we increase our risks of terrorism. It is not a question of legislation. It is a question of resources at the front end to do the investigative and law enforcement work we need to have done, just as the RCMP has just done in the charges that came up yesterday.

Again, there are cynics who believe that the Conservatives are bringing forward Bill S-7 simply for political reasons and to create more support in their base community. There are cynics, and I guess in this case I include myself, who believe that the Conservatives are taking advantage of this atmosphere in which few are asked the hard questions about how we keep our communities safe without trampling the very rights that are at its heart.

When New Democrats have tried to address this fundamental question in debate in the House, I have frankly wondered if Liberals and Conservatives have even been listening. If this bill is so transparently necessary, why have the Conservatives refused to carry on a serious debate?

Instead, as far as I know, there has only been a single speaker at third reading from the Conservatives. It has been hard to take seriously their questions after opposition members have spoken, as their comments have been reduced to little more than sloganeering.

Yesterday afternoon in this House, I witnessed the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia and Winnipeg responding to a speech by one of my colleagues by asking about the NDP's “hug-a-thug” and “kiss-a-terrorist” policies.

I have referred to this member by his riding name only, even though he is a minister of the Crown. I did so not only because I believe that these comments fail to engage the substance of debate but because I do not believe that they are worthy of a minister in the Canadian government.

While the response of many Conservatives on this serious topic has disappointed me, the response of the Liberals has been perplexing. Here is the once proud Liberal Party, which likes to claim the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and which recognized the basic threat to civil liberties when they introduced the main provisions, which are coming back in Bill S-7, by including a sunset clause.

Here they are now taking part in the debate, actually almost even carrying the debate on behalf of the government in favour of Bill S-7, in favour of those very same provisions that were in the original Anti-terrorism Act but with a sunset clause. Now they are arguing for them without any sunset in sight.

In 2007, when the sunset date was approaching for recognizance with conditions and investigative hearings, and it was time to vote on the proposed renewal, the Liberals voted with the NDP to kill those provisions. Now, in 2013, they seem to be even more enthusiastic supporters of the bill than the Conservatives are themselves, reminding us, I suppose, that these ideas, which I believe threaten our basic liberties, were originally Liberal ideas in 2001.

I am probably coming close to the end, so let me start to conclude my remarks. I am speaking not with any hope today that Conservatives or Liberals will listen to reason on this bill. I do not believe that many of them have done the soul-searching that those on our side of the House have done about this threat to basic civil liberties. I am comforted only by my hope that most Conservatives are acting in good faith and out of a genuine belief that the measures proposed in this bill will actually keep us safe.

All I would ask is that a single Conservative stand up on that side and point to the evidence that investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, or preventive detention, as it is called, would provide effective protection against terrorism. I have yet to hear from anyone on that side of the House making that argument and providing that proof.

I do not believe that these measures will make any contribution to our safety. Rather, they pose a genuine risk to the free society they are supposed to defend.

When I think back to my own experience with 9/11, which touched me in a very personal way, as it did many other Canadians who lost friends and relatives, I ask myself what was under attack that day. I believe that it was a free society that values tolerance and diversity and that protects the fundamental rights of all its citizens.

I think back to the time when I worked in zones of conflict, where bombing was a daily occurrence, where communities were torn apart over what in the end seemed to be trivial issues when compared to the losses in those communities. I think back to when we knew who were responsible and their supposed reasons for carrying out those attacks. It was impossible to understand how they could have inflicted such violence on their friends and neighbours over, when we take the time to step back from them, such fundamentally unimportant issues.

Instead of enacting measures that potentially undermine fundamental rights in Canada and measures for which there is no evidence of effectiveness, we should be strengthening our intelligence and enforcement programs in ways that would enhance as well as protect the rule of law and respect for rights.

Because of my experience on police boards and as a municipal councillor with the police force, I know that the vast majority of police officers are committed to the rule of law and are committed to respect for rights. I know that they would like to have the resources they need to keep our communities safe from terrorism. I again stress that my major concern with respect to terrorism is not the lack of legislative provisions or legislative powers. Rather, it is the lack of commitment by the Conservative government to providing the resources our front-line officers and front-line intelligence agencies need to do the hard, slogging work that keeps us safe from terrorism.

It is a parallel to the whole approach by the Conservatives when it comes to crime. They think the solution is to make more legislation, to make more acts criminal and to increase penalties. However, we know that in everyday policing what makes us safe are boots on the ground at the front-line doing the enforcement and the social services that help reintegrate people into their communities.

When people eventually draw conclusions about the Boston Marathon, the conclusions I believe they will draw will be that the main protection of a free society is its ability to accommodate and tolerate diversity, its ability to respect rights for all, its ability to protect free speech, and its respect for those fundamental legal traditions that say that no one should go to jail who has not committed a specific criminal act and that people should not be forced to appear in an investigative hearing to give testimony against themselves, which is one of our fundamental legal protections.

When we draw those conclusions, we will see that rather than offering support in our fight against terrorism, Bill S-7 undermines those very values we intended to protect when we founded this country, when we introduced the Charter of Rights and when we signed those international covenants.

I will conclude today with a final appeal to both the Conservatives and the Liberals, which I know will not be listened to. Think again about what is most important to this country of Canada: our tolerance, our diversity, the rule of law and respect for basic, fundamental rights.

For those reasons I will be voting against Bill S-7 at third reading.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's statements. He has put together a number of decent arguments. However, I say that he is missing the point in a couple of key areas.

He said what is most important is the protection of our freedoms and our civil liberties. I agree. The freedoms that Canadians enjoy are a big part of what makes this country so special, but it is those very freedoms that people in this place are tasked with protecting.

Every time we see a terrorist act that targets civilians, we see those freedoms taken away. We see some of them infringed upon as everyday Canadians and everyday citizens are asked to go through more and more clearances, more tests and more challenges simply to do the things we have always done. This is the cost of terrorism.

We also have people feeling under threat in their own neighbourhoods and in their own homes. They ask for us to be able to provide the basic protections.

Our law enforcement officials have asked for these measures to be put in place. They have asked for them as tools they can use to protect Canadians if necessary. It is only responsible that the people in this place would provide those protections so that we can protect Canadians at all times.

I would like to hear the member's response.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Peterborough for his response and for taking seriously the debate we are having here, because I think he raises important questions. However, when we talk about the tools that law enforcement has asked for, the tools they need, the main one they continue to ask for is the resources they need to do the job.

When we talk to CBSA agents who work on the front line, they cannot understand how they are expected to prevent gun smuggling, which is a fundamental part of most possible terrorist activities. How are they supposed to do that when gun seizures have been going up at the border over the last year but suddenly there will be 325 fewer people to actually do that enforcement work?

When it is a question of giving people the tools they need to do the job, the member and I agree. We just differ on which of those tools would be effective. The evidence says that traditional law enforcement and traditional investigation activities are what we need to put our resources to, and not these new measures, which actually, as I said, threaten our basic fundamental rights.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent analysis. All Canadians are deeply frustrated with the level of incoherent violence we are seeing, especially with what happened in Boston, and we have seen it in other communities.

In terms of the so-called solutions being offered here, two of the key provisions of the bill were brought forward by the Chrétien Liberals in 2001, at a time when they were telling us that basic freedoms could be done away with. It was an era in which they were going to support rendition and torture.

Those two provisions—the ability to hold someone without charge and to force someone before a judge to give evidence against themselves, which would undermine one of the most basic civil rights—were so contentious that even the Liberals agreed to sunset them. In the years they were in place, they were never used once.

I ask my hon. colleague why he thinks it is now, after the Liberals had promised to sunset these very fundamental threats to the legal landscape of Canada, that they are sneaking in behind the Conservatives to once again push through two provisions that undermine basic rights of any Canadian?

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the question from the member for Timmins—James Bay points to something I mentioned in my speech, which is that I am very perplexed about the Liberals' response.

They have two choices: either they were disingenuous in 2001 when they suggested they needed sunset clauses and they were only doing it to get the support of the public at that time, or they are disingenuous now. They cannot have it both ways. Either these were dangerous things that threatened our rights, as they said in 2001, or they are dangerous things that threaten our rights now, when the Liberals are supporting the bill without sunset clauses.

I am, again, perplexed by the position of the Liberal Party on Bill S-7. I am very disappointed to see the Liberals voting in favour.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is also a neighbour in the riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

On a related but different point, I want to thank him for raising in question period yesterday the need to support our firefighters. Motion No. 388 went through, although we seem to have no action to bring it into place, and that relates to terrorist acts, as we noted in the Boston Marathon. Everyone was amazed to see the first responders run toward danger when everyone else was running in the other direction.

However, I stand with him in finding, despite my concerns about terrorism, that this current law, Bill S-7, goes too far, and that the existing tools and law in the Criminal Code are more than adequate. I stand with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, the international civil liberties organizations, as well as with the concerns expressed at committee by the Canadian Bar Association, in believing that the bill potentially violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and will therefore be struck down later.

I wonder if he could comment on the futility of passing laws in this place when there are significant doubts that they are charter compliant.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and I stand in somewhat the same place on this issue. The NDP has had this question for a long time. When legislation is introduced, the Minister of Justice has a responsibility to certify that it would not violate the charter, but the minister has set a very low bar: we have heard reports that if there is even a 5% chance that the law will be upheld in the courts, the government is willing to go ahead and introduce that bill.

I also want to thank my colleague for raising the issue of first responders. The Conservatives say that we have the resources we need, that we have done the things we need to do. Firefighters would be one of our most important resources in any terrorist attack and they were one of the most important resources in Boston, so it shocks me that in this country we have failed to implement a compensation fund for the families of fallen firefighters. The only argument made by the government yesterday against this fund was that it would be simply too expensive. I was disappointed to hear that argument. It was quite a shocking statement, because the tragic loss of firefighters has a cost, and right now those costs are borne by their families.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Marc-André Morin Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to talk about something that has not really been explored.

In most cases—such as Boston and many other examples—the perpetrators of the attacks had already been identified by the police as radicals. Could the answer simply be to provide more resources in order to conduct investigations in those countries and make sure that the people identified as radicals are not dangerous? I think that would solve the problem. It is all well and good to provide tools to the police, but you do not give someone a hammer to kill a fly on a window.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question brings me back to one of the major points in my speech. One of the major things that is lacking in the debate about this legislation is the question of resources. Why do police agencies miss people who have been identified as radicals? Probably because they have too much work to do to devote the necessary resources to identifying those who could be potential threats.

As we saw in the case of the Boston Marathon, the police were given virtually unlimited resources in a short period of time and using traditional enforcement investigation methods, basic police tactics not extreme laws which threaten people's rights, they were able to produce results in very short order.

Rather than creating this law which would threaten basic liberties, we need to turn our attention toward providing resources to the police and our security agencies so they can get the job done.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, like a number of my colleagues, I will start by denouncing the reasons behind debating this bill today.

Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, could have been brought back to the House quite a while ago. If the government really believed that this bill was vital to the safety of Canadians, it could have decided to debate it a long time ago. If the government truly believes that this bill is vital and it did not put it on the agenda until yesterday, then it is negligent.

However, I do not think that is the case. I really think the government decided to take advantage of recent events in order to muster public opinion. That is also what the editorial team of The Globe and Mail thinks.

Let us be clear. Like all my NDP colleagues and all my colleagues in the House, I condemn terrorism. To quote the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, “terrorist acts are never justified, no matter what considerations may be invoked.” I condemn the Boston bombing and I condemned the September 11 attacks. I condemn the bombings that take place throughout the world every day. I want to take this opportunity to commend all the law enforcement officers who in any way participated in the investigation that led to yesterday's arrests. Well done.

Many of my loved ones have been affected by terrorism. Whether it was because of the Algerian war or the Islamic Army in the 1990s, my loved ones have lived in fear. I have learned one thing from this: it is always civilians who pay the price for such senseless violence.

I also had the experience of being in a place where bombs were dropped when I worked as a medical volunteer for the Red Crescent during the first Gulf War, and so I know the effects and dangers of terrorism. I am therefore proud to stand in the House and oppose this bill.

I am opposed to this bill for many reasons. The first, but by no means the least of these, is that I believe in the rule of law. This bill, as it currently stands, violates the most fundamental civil liberties and human rights. I want to prevent attacks on Canada, but I also want to prevent the arbitrary arrests and the abuse we see in police states.

In Canada, we already have laws that punish crimes of terror and give law enforcement officers the tools they need to protect national security. In this morning's edition of Le Devoir, there is a great quote by Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In reference to the case of Canadians involved in the hostage situation at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria, she said:

If the police had had any evidence, they would have done something. There are many provisions in the Criminal Code under which these individuals could have been arrested.

Denis Barrette, a spokesperson for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, made a similar speech in 2011. He said:

We know as well that these provisions could, as we see it, be abused. I am thinking here of the Air India case. We believe that Canadians will be better served and better protected under the usual provisions of the Criminal Code, rather than others that are completely unnecessary. Reliance on arbitrary powers and a lower standard of evidence can never replace good, effective police work.

The NDP wants to strike a balance between safety and people's rights and freedoms. We proposed numerous amendments to the bill in order to strike that balance. The government rejected them all. However, I found them to be quite reasonable.

The committee members would have had plenty of choice if they had wanted to pass even one amendment as a sign of goodwill, which they obviously did not do, because my colleagues proposed 18 amendments. I would like to mention a few of the amendments so that Canadians can judge for themselves just how stubborn this Conservative government is, how obsessed it is with always being right and how it believes itself to be infallible.

Here are a few of them: ask the Security Intelligence Review Committee to look at the possibility of an inter-agency co-operation protocol to ensure that it would be effective and that rights protected by law would be respected, and have that protocol in place before the leaving the country offences could come into effect; establish the right to state-funded legal aid if a person had to attend an investigative hearing; add a comprehensive review of the government's implementation of the Arar commission's recommendations with regard to accountability and oversight mechanisms, with particular attention to oversight and activities among agencies; and include the advice of the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the racial discrimination and profiling issues surrounding Bill S-7.

Really? I thought it was impossible to be against virtue. These are just a few examples of the amendments put forward by the NDP, but to no avail. The members of this government rejected them all, one by one. I would also like to point out that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals even bothered to propose any amendments to this bill.

Many of the measures in this bill were suggested in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. These measures expired in 2007, so they have not been in force for the past five years, and when they were in force, they were used a grand total of zero times. Zero, zéro, sifr, none, nada, never.

I would like to quote something former CSIS director Reid Morden said in 2010 about some of these measures:

I confess I never thought that they should have been introduced in the first place and that they slipped in, in the kind of scrambling around that the government did after 9/11.

He added:

Police and security forces have perfectly sufficient powers to do their jobs. They don't need more powers.

We in the NDP will continue to fight to achieve a balance between personal rights and freedoms and people's safety. We believe that the provisions included in this bill provide no additional protection to anyone in this country. I would remind hon. members that this bill is in its present form because the government refused the 18 amendments we proposed in committee in order to strike a balance between safety and rights and freedoms. Accordingly, I cannot support this bill.

Furthermore, this bill leaves out some of the additional protections that were included in the 2001 legislation. An editorial published in today's Ottawa Citizen entitled “No need for new laws” shares many of our concerns. To quote that article:

The idea that the state can arrest and detain someone who has not done anything criminal runs counter to the fundamental values of our society.

For all these reasons, I will oppose this bill and I will vote against it with pride and with my head held high.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
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Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I think the member realizes that the first job of any government is to keep Canadians safe from those who wish to harm us. International terrorism is going to continue to be a threat in the foreseeable future. Bill S-7 would provide law enforcement and national security agencies with further means to anticipate and respond effectively to terrorism.

That is what I want to ask her about, anticipation, because the bill would assist law enforcement in disrupting terrorist attacks by compelling suspects to appear before a court in advance of a suspected terrorist attack. Once the attack occurs, there is nothing we can do about it. This would create new offences for leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of committing a terrorist offence.

Does the member think these new initiatives are a good idea, and if not, what does she suggest we put in place to stop terrorist attacks before they occur? If there are any other ideas she has, I would like to hear them.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite, who is a fellow member of the Standing Committee on Health, which runs smoothly.

Unfortunately, I do not agree with this bill. The NDP believes that Canada must give serious consideration to the issue of terrorism while maintaining the rights and freedoms of all Canadians.

This bill is not the right response to the threat of terrorism. It would reintroduce measures that, in the past, have proven to be unwarranted and ineffective.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a sad reminder that police forces are needed to combat terrorists.

How can the government claim that it wants to combat terrorism with legislation when the budgets of counter-terrorism organizations are being slashed? There was a subsidy to help municipal police combat street gangs and stop recruiters from getting young people involved in terrorist organizations. That subsidy has disappeared.

How can we fight terrorism when the only tools we have are laws that take away our rights and the tools police need to fight terrorism?

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I truly understand how he feels about this bill.

We know that this Conservative government is slashing budgets everywhere, including the budgets for community police services.

How can we expect community police, or other enforcement services, to do their job properly if they do not have the required means? We know very well that satellites and sophisticated devices are not the way to collect reliable information.

We have to provide the tools and the means, even if only to those in the field, to detect any activity that could result in a terrorist act.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2013 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and riding neighbour.

As I just mentioned, many important people support our position, including Denis Barrette, a spokesperson for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group; Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations; Ziyaad Mia, the chair of the Advocacy and Research Committee of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association; Carmen Cheung, a lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association; and Nathalie Des Rosiers, the general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. All of these people agree with us.