House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cbc.

Topics

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

The members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote against the motion.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, Reformers vote against the amendment.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

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NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, as whip of the NDP caucus, the NDP caucus members present this afternoon vote no.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yea.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

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Independent

Gilles Bernier Beauce, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Guy Arseneault Restigouche—Chaleur, NB

Mr. Speaker, as this is Private Members' Business, I go on record as supporting the amendment.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division):

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

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The Speaker

I declare the amendment carried.

The next question is on the main motion as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
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An hon. member

On division.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
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The Speaker

I declare the motion carried on division.

(Motion, as amended, agreed to.)

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
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The Speaker

It being 6 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from December 13, 1994 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Communications Security Establishment
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this evening we are debating a motion put forward by the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River. The motion states that the operations of the Communications Security Establishment should be reviewed by another body, notably the Security Intelligence Review Committee or SIRC.

The Communications Security Establishment or the CSE carries on two functions. It listens to other people's communications and tries to ensure that no one listens to us. It is a spy organization supposedly involved in foreign intelligence. This sounds very interesting, knowing the kinds of technology out there, which allow the spies to gather all sorts of private information.

Today it is possible to intercept any telephone call, any telex or any fax. In fact, with a fairly inexpensive piece of equipment in the back of a van it is possible to reproduce through electromagnetic radiation emissions what somebody is typing on their computer screen three blocks away. This is called electromagnetic eavesdropping.

According to a House of Commons special committee report entitled "In Flux But Not In Crisis" dated September 1990, this technology has important implications-

Communications Security Establishment
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. I wonder if we could ask the co-operation of the House. So we might proceed with Private Members' Business in an orderly fashion, would those members who have business outside the Chamber please take it outside the Chamber.

Communications Security Establishment
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you. For a moment I thought I was still in question period. The report that was commissioned by the House of Commons special committee entitled "In Flux But Not in Crisis" dated September 1990 said that this technology has important implications with respect to individual rights and freedoms.

The report states that it is likely that CSIS uses this technology in its operations. The CSE is capable of employing it as well and that it shares information with CSIS. The report questions whether these intrusive techniques are used against Canadians and landed immigrants. There is even some question whether electromagnetic eavesdropping technology constitutes an offence under the current provisions of the Criminal Code. People

using this technology can go undetected because there is no need to break and enter or trespass other people's property in order to use it.

The report goes on to state that the committee believes the CSE should get a judicial warrant before using electromagnetic eavesdropping. Does the CSE do this before beginning its investigations of foreign governments, foreign companies or foreign individuals? Who knows?

There are a lot of things we do not know about this taxpayer-funded operation. We do not know how much it spends because its budget is buried somewhere in the Department of National Defence expenditures. We do not know how many people work there because those numbers are not published. We do not know whether the CSE is doing what it is supposed to do because it has no mandate. All we have are educated guesses.

In a background paper entitled "The Communications Security Establishment: Canada's Most Secret Intelligence Agency" dated September 1993, a parliamentary researcher concludes that in 1991 the CSE's budget was in the $100 million to $125 million a year range. This figure did not include an additional $150 million in personnel and other support provided by Canadian forces.

The same background paper places the number of employees at 875 in June 1993 although that does not include the 1,100 persons assigned from Canadian forces to operate in various monitoring stations in Canada, Bermuda and Germany.

The cold war is over. We may be involved in some minor external skirmishes over fish and some major internal battles over who stays in Canada and who does not and what stays in the federal budget and what does not. The rationale for keeping the Canadian public in the dark about this secret agency no longer exists, if it ever did in the first place.

The bigger danger is that this agency gets involved in something that it has no business in, like spying on Canadians, or that it does something illegal.

Right now the CSE is accountable to no one. It is true that the Minister of National Defence approves the major capital expenditures of CSE and its annual multiyear operational plan and its major initiatives that have significant policy or legal implication, but the CSE reports to the deputy clerk of security intelligence in the Privy Council on policy and operational management. The right hand cannot be held responsible for what the left hand is doing and vice versa.

No government agency should escape review. Every government agency should be accountable to someone or some body that is accountable to the Canadian public. Canadians have a right to know whether the CSE actually spent $125 million or even $275 million in 1991. Right now we do not know that. Furthermore, they have the right to know how much was spent last year and what the budget will be for next year.

The CSE has 875 listeners on its payroll who are intercepting communications of foreign government, foreign companies and foreign individuals. Someone should be watching and listening to the listeners.

My colleagues and I will support the motion made by this member on Private Members' Business and any amendments that will make this body more accountable to the Canadian public. My understanding is there are two amendments to this motion. The first is by the member for Bellechasse which asks the CSE to table an annual report in the House on its activities.

The second is by the member who proposed this motion in the first place. The second amendment changes the motion so that an independent body rather than SIRC reviews the Communications Security Establishment. This amendment serves to further strengthen the motion. I commend the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River for putting forward this motion and I hope he gets the support from all of his colleagues in the House.