House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Canadian Tourism Commission
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough Centre
Ontario

Liberal

John Cannis Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Canadian Tourism Commission's annual report for 1998-99 entitled “Transition”.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present to parliament the solicitor general's annual statement on national security.

Public safety is the mission of my ministry and it has been a priority of the government since we took office. The Prime Minister has said that safe streets are one of the things that define the health of a nation.

In the Speech from the Throne the government said it would continue to work to fight criminal activity which is becoming more global in scope, including money laundering, terrorism and the smuggling of people, drugs and guns.

Today I will focus on the government's response to the report of the Special Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence. The special committee, chaired by Senator Kelly, conducted a review of our security and intelligence sector and released its final report earlier this year. We studied the report and recommendations and prepared a response which I will be tabling today.

I was pleased to see the strong support of the government's progress on security and intelligence matters, but the committee quite rightly pointed out that Canada like other democracies needs to stay alert to emerging threats and to take appropriate action.

Our security is something that we cannot take for granted. It depends on a strong security intelligence capability, law enforcement readiness and international co-operation. Our national law and security agencies have effective mechanisms in place to meet their intelligence requirements.

On the international front Canada has been working hard with like-minded nations with the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs in a co-operative effort to share intelligence and deny terrorists the support and sanctuary they need for their operations.

The committee noted the close co-operation between Canada and the U.S. to ensure our special border relationship remains up to the task of detecting terrorists and organized criminals who move between our countries.

The cross-border crime forum has helped both countries improve security and law enforcement along our borders. For example, I announced last April an extra $15 million a year to post 100 more RCMP officers at three of our largest international airports. While Canada has been relatively free from terrorists attacks, in today's world we must be watchful and prepared.

The committee also praised the government's work on the national counterterrorism plan developed in co-operation with other jurisdictions. It is the key crisis management plan for responding to terrorist incidents, setting lines of communication and policy direction to guide first responders, senior government officials and ministers.

The committee was pleased with steps taken to develop the operational readiness program but noted the requirement to do more in this area. We are looking at strengthening the program to ensure a national level of readiness. Through workshops, seminars and exercises to strengthen our counterterrorism response capacity, these activities aim to raise awareness and interagency co-operation on the threat of terrorists or criminal use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in Canada.

The threat of such use is considered low, but all jurisdictions in Canada should still have a capacity to respond to the consequences of the uses of these weapons. That is why the government will lead consultations with other jurisdictions on a national strategy to strengthen Canada's capacity to respond to potential terrorist incidents.

Emerging technologies also present challenges to our efforts to ensure public safety and security. New technologies such as wireless telephones, Internet and cryptography are being used in both traditional and new types of criminal and terrorist activities. The government is dealing with this issue. Protecting Canada's critical infrastructure is a vital issue, and we are addressing it.

The government is committed to working to develop the best possible options to ensure public safety and security, but in addition to being safe Canadians need to feel that their security agencies are working well.

Canada has arguably the best and most effective review and accountability framework in the world in the security intelligence sector. The Security Intelligence Review Committee, an arm's length review body, issues an annual report on CSIS operations that is tabled in parliament. The inspector general of CSIS provides an additional level of security and ministers are directly responsible to parliament.

The committee noted that the public and parliamentary awareness of the activities of our security intelligence agencies is essential in a democracy.

SIRC's annual reports, this annual statement and the committee reports from the other place demonstrate important efforts to raise the knowledge and close involvement of parliament in the reviewing the security intelligence sector.

As we enter the new millennium, Canadians need to know that their government is protecting them and their national interests. I am pleased to note that the special committee recognized the significant progress made to improve our counterterrorism readiness and threat assessment capability. The chair and members of the committee should be congratulated on their hard work and on a report that highlights a number of important national security issues.

In closing, our security intelligence and police forces face many new challenges as we enter the new millennium. CSIS, the RCMP and other federal agencies are working around the clock to preserve public safety. I can assure the House that the government will continue to support them.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the solicitor general critic for Her Majesty's Official Opposition I find it very interesting to listen to the solicitor general's report to the House.

He reported on December 3, 1998. At that time I said that criminals involved in organized crime have successfully landed in Canada without any opposition due to our lax immigration policy and inadequate screening. Organized crime with foreign origins poses a serious threat in many metropolitan areas of Canada, particularly on the west coast.

The danger imposed by modern day organized crime is a serious and destructive force. It imperils the security of our citizens and our nation. This threat attacks us on our streets, in our businesses and in our schoolyards. Organized crime is a threat to our economic sovereignty because the cost of organized crime in our society is astronomical.

The counterattack will require additional resources, legislation and co-operation provincially, federally and internationally. Canada cannot afford the continuing lip service the government is providing to the problem. We need resources. We need action. We need it now. Canadians will feel safe and confident only when these resources are committed to this attack. Crime is organized. So should government efforts be.

Those were my words exactly a year ago. Unfortunately the words of the solicitor general today belie what has happened in the intervening period of time. We have discovered in the intervening year that in the early 1990s there was a compromise of CAIPS, the computer system in our Hong Kong office. This led to very free access to organized crime to be able to move its people into our society.

There was an RCMP review of the compromise of the CAIPS system which led to the Sidewinder project, a joint project of CSIS and the RCMP. That project was making strong headway during the mid-1990s, right up to the point when CSIS decided not only to shut it down but to shred every piece of information that was in the project.

Corporal Robert Read, whom I brought to the attention of the solicitor general repeatedly in the House, did a review of the review of the project and arrived at some very bad conclusions. We also understand that in 1996 CSIS lost a disk of very highly classified information in a phone booth. SIRC did the review the solicitor general has referred to in the House but interestingly the person who found the disk was never interviewed by SIRC.

This year there was a loss of a briefcase by one of the operatives of CSIS. The CSIS director informed the solicitor general but the solicitor general, in his questionable wisdom, did not inform SIRC that would be responsible for reviewing the entire disastrous affair.

On the legislative front I quote the minister on December 3, 1998 when he said “Early in the new year, 1999, the government will introduce legislation to curb money laundering”.

It did not happen early in 1999. In fact it happened in May 1999, but due to the agenda of the government that legislation ended up dying on the order paper. This vital legislation that was supposed to have been introduced, according to the words of the solicitor general, in early 1999 was finally reintroduced for passage by the House on December 15. December 15, I remind the solicitor general, is not early 1999.

He tells us he is spending $15 million to put 100 officers at international airports. That is terrific except that the province of British Columbia alone has a shortage of 500 members at this point. His $15 million for 100 officers at airports is very shallow.

We have traditions in the House. For example, a meaningful tradition is when the mace is brought into the House by the Sergeant-at-Arms, followed by the Speaker. This is to say that the people of Canada have given authority to the House to do something. That is a meaningful tradition. What I am talking about now is a meaningless tradition. The meaningless tradition of this and previous Liberal solicitor generals with statements that are vacuous, meaningless mumblings simply form part of the tradition. Those are my comments.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe I am entitled to say today that, with the exception of the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, the department that is the most topsy-turvy, the one that is in the most turmoil and surrounded with the most controversy, the most disliked, is the Department of the Solicitor General.

Reporting to the solicitor general, in addition to the department itself, are the RCMP, Correctional Services Canada, the National Parole Board, CSIS, the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the RCMP External Review Committee and the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. Out of all these, is there any one that is operating properly? One wonders.

What, for example, is going on with our secret agents? How can our secret agents be losing documents by having their cars broken into or by leaving them in phone booths?

How could students end up being pepper sprayed during Suharto's visit to Canada? How can prisoners find it so easy to escape? How can there still be drug dealing inside our prisons? What about the mess within the National Parole Board, whose board members themselves, duly appointed by this government, are telling us that a major cleanup is needed?

How is it that the auditor general, in his most recent report of November 1999, is still obliged to call the RCMP Public Complaints Commission to task, as well as the Office of the Correctional Investigator. He comments, moreover:

—both inmates and Correctional Service staff still misunderstand the role of the Office.

With a budget of $1.8 million, one might have expected inmates and staff to at least know what this office does on their behalf. It seems to me that things are far from clear. This leads me to conclude that the government is not all that clear in its supposed search for clarity. Hon. members will realize what I am getting at.

Let me give an example of a clause that illustrates my point. I will read the whole thing and it will not be over until I say end of sentence.

I begin:

  1. (1) Where the government of a province, following a referendum relating to the secession of the province from Canada, seeks to enter into negotiations on the terms of which that province might cease to be part of Canada, the House of Commons shall, except where it has determined pursuant to section 1 that a referendum question is not clear, consider and, by resolution, set out its determination on whether, in the circumstances, there has been a clear expression of a will by a clear majority of the population of that province that the province cease to be part of Canada.

All of this is a single sentence.

Members will have noticed that in that one sentence, the word clear or its derivatives is used four times. I say or its derivatives, because the term déclaré in French is a derivative of the word clair, in my opinion.

I consulted a French etymological dictionary to find out if this was indeed the case. I found the dictionary of Jacqueline Picoche here, in the Library of Parliament. Ms. Picoche is a grammar research associate and has a doctorate in literature.

If we look at the word clear, we see that it has two origins, a Greek one and a Latin one. Which is most appropriate in the present case? That is the question, but I am inclined to say the Latin one. However, I would rather rely on Ms. Picoche who tells us that in Greek, the origin is kalein—and now I need my glasses—the derivative is parakalein: to call for help, hence the word paraklêtos which means lawyer, protector, comforter, intercessor. There is also another derivative, ekklêsia, assembly by convocation, then congregation of the faithful and the place where that assembly meets, hence the adjective ekklêsiastikos.

The Latin root is calare, to proclaim, convoke, from which is derived intercalare, to proclaim an additional day or month to compensate for the discrepancies in the ancient Roman calendar.

The verb calare must have had a variation, calere, from which is derived calendàe, first day of the month, and in turn calendarium, agenda. And, in low Latin, calendar must have been a feminine, plural, verbal adjective in noun form; its root cal appearing as cil when combined with other roots, producing concilium derived from concalium, convocation or assembly, from which is formed conciliabulum, meeting place, and the verbs conciliare and reconciliare, to gather and to reconcile.

The verb calare is combined with the archaic agent word calator, which appears in classical Latin as the second element, in a diminutive form, in nomenclàtor, a slave whose job it was to remind his Roman master of the names of his clients at meetings.

I also have other derivatives, such as clamare, to shout, from which is derived clamor, as well as clamoris, shouting.

Mr. Speaker, you are signalling that I have only one minute left. But I cannot explain all this all this in one minute; it is not possible.

I would also like to mention verbs like dêclamare, to speak aloud; exclamare, to exclaim; proclamare, to plead loudly; reclamare, to cry out in indignation. Then there is clarus, clear or illustrious, an adjective that must have been used originally to describe the voice or sounds and have meant suited to call.

There are also families of words such as the clarus family, which also includes the word clarine, a bell for livestock.

I will close with clarifier, or clarify, which means to make clear. I hope I have been clear enough myself and that, from now on, in the House things will be unassailably clear.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure that the House was pretty amazed by the speech made by my hon. colleague. I am also convinced that the House will give its unanimous consent to letting my hon. colleague have at least 15 minutes to complete her speech, which, in my opinion, was very enlightening for the House.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent?

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would ask to share my time with my Bloc colleague. We have been talking a lot about clarity in the last number of days. One thing is very clear and that is this is probably the most poorly written and vacuous report we have ever received from the solicitor general's department. We do know one thing—

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The Chair is having great difficulty hearing what the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has to say.

I hope hon. members can contain themselves. I know everyone will want to hear his remarks.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, one thing is very clear. There is an astronomical void in the solicitor general's department and it begins at the top.

This document indicates quite clearly that the department is on complete auto pilot. We see meaningless comments littered throughout this document with respect to the priorities of the government and the department.

We know that cost cutting is the actual priority of the department. Although we hear time and time again about public safety being the number one priority, it has become clear that it does not even appear to rank in the top 10 when we look at this document and what is being done by the department.

There is a place in society for private security, but private security should certainly not be replacing our police forces. This seems to be a direction in which the department is headed.

The tabling of responses often comes after the fact, as we have seen in the case of leaked information in 1996 when a CSIS agent left sensitive CSIS documents on a disk in a phone booth. Almost two years later a report was filed. This report is even less relevant than the report filed on that lost information.

On the more recent leak that occurred at a hockey game in Toronto, I would think the solicitor general would be prepared to stand in his place to say “The puck stops here. I am head of this department. I will get to the bottom of this”.

We know that it took almost a month before there was any action by the department. There was no action whatsoever against the director of CSIS who was complicit with the solicitor general in keeping this information from SIRC, the watchdog that is supposed to oversee the actions of CSIS.

That information came to the attention of the head of SIRC through no other source than the Globe and Mail , which belays again the fact that quite clearly these very interconnected and supposedly co-operative departments are not co-operating at all. In fact they are operating in little fiefdoms separate from one another in an effort perhaps to try to compete for scarce resources. Perhaps they simply do not communicate because they are not getting any direction from the head of the department.

The solicitor general was armed with the information of the leak and chose not to pass that on to the head of SIRC. We know that he did not even pass it on to the Prime Minister although the Prime Minister was overseas and making comments about this not being a serious matter, that he was not too concerned about it, and that it was something that should not preoccupy Canadians. Yet he did not even have the information from the solicitor general.

It is an absolutely shocking revelation that this is going on at a time when we know that our borders and our coastlines are being inundated with the entrance of illegal immigrants and that organized crime is on the rise in this country.

I spoke to a member of the RCMP from Montreal very recently who was involved in internal operations. He told me that there has been a doubling of clubhouses of Hell's Angels in and around the city of Montreal in the past six months. We know that on both coasts the same is happening. The Russian Mafia, the Asian Mafia and our age old motorcycle gangs are all on the rise. All this is going on and the solicitor general persists in contemplating cuts to detachments.

We know that for a period of time on his watch our national training facility in Saskatchewan was closed. Very recently we had the rights of RCMP advertising turned backed over from the Disney corporation. The government is running this most serious and necessary department like a Mickey Mouse operation, so it is very ironic that Disney held the rights to the department.

What does the solicitor general do today? He comes before the House and tables a report that is littered with meaningless platitudes. A grade nine student could have come up with a better document to set out the current situation within our national security.

The solicitor general took great licence with the word “immediately” when he spoke of the theft of the documents from a car outside a hockey rink in Toronto. He told the House that he had informed the director of his department immediately. Weeks had gone by before the matter was even brought before the House, and it was not brought about because the solicitor general took any action whatsoever. Why were CSIS and and SIRC not brought to task over their handling of this? Serious communication breakdowns occurred.

We know the RCMP and CSIS do not communicate well already. Obviously the solicitor general does not communicate well with his own department or with the prime minister. We saw the worst breach of national security in 15 years. Obviously our partners outside our borders, MI5, the CIA, the FBI and other national security agencies, are looking at Canada right now with a very jaded view as a result of the way we have handled matters in the last six months.

When will we get some accountability and some responsibility from this department and particularly this minister? It is obvious that the shortcomings of CSIS senior managers were seen directly without the discovery of the mishaps. Yet the CSIS director has had no accounting and has never appeared before a parliamentary committee with any substance. In fact when he does come, he folds his arms and says “Gee, I would like to tell you more but I would have to kill you”. This is the attitude and the type of response we get from the director of national security to members of the House who are elected to serve the people of Canada.

The former CSIS chief of strategic planning criticized the way the matter was being handled by the government. This department and this office are on complete auto pilot. This latest fiasco is an international embarrassment. There is no mention whatsoever in this document, not even an acknowledgement, that there are problems within the department. This document completely betrays the fact that this department is out of control.

CSIS and the RCMP in particular have had their budgets cut to ribbons by the government. Agents and officers are working overtime and working with extremely large workloads. The National Post reported that this was the fourth time in the last four years that CSIS and the RCMP had lost documents as a result of who knows what.

Canadians are worried about personal and national security. They should get little solace or little comfort from the document tabled today by the solicitor general and his hollow, meaningless comments in this regard.

National Security
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to follow the comments of my hon. colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, who I think stated the case quite eloquently as to the problems with this report.

I taught in a university for a little while. When students did not have a whole lot to say, there were a few tricks they would use. They would take their paper and double space it, increase the size of the font and pass it in, thinking that maybe they could trick the teacher into thinking there was something of substance there.

I think the solicitor general has learned the same trick, because what we have presented to us today is a seven page statement on national security that for the most part is full of rhetoric. If we want to contrast the progress of the government we should contrast it with the statement from last year.

Let me talk about some of the things the solicitor general said in his statement last year. He talked about how one shipment of heroin landed successfully in Canada could lead to numerous deaths and human suffering in cities like Vancouver. My colleague from Burnaby—Douglas is here.

What action have we seen taken to stop the importation of drugs into cities like Vancouver? Absolutely nothing. It has come to the point where my colleague who represents Vancouver East has had to stand in the House to talk about the way the drug trade in heroin is wide open like an old fashioned farmers market in the city of Vancouver. Although the government recognized the problem a year ago, not a single thing has been done.

Let us look at what else was in the report from last year. Last year the solicitor general talked about creating a seamless net against organized crime. The seamless net has some pretty big holes in it, because this year we know of recent arrests and that a major organized crime ring dealing in bank and credit card fraud has been exposed.

How are Canadians expected to feel secure when the ports on both coasts and the border along the United States are not safe from organized crime? We know this is happening because even with its limited resources the RCMP has exposed rings that are using debit cards in fraud and are importing drugs into cities like Vancouver and Halifax. My colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has mentioned the motorcycle gangs that have increased in cities like Montreal.

When it comes to personal safety Canadians have every right to be concerned. When it comes to combating organized crime the people who live along our borders and coasts have every right to ask the government what measures it has taken to protect them. In reality, the measures taken have been to cut and gut the RCMP.

My colleagues from Kamloops, Regina and Burnaby have had to stand in the House to pressure and plead with the solicitor general to ensure that programs in Regina like the training centre for the RCMP not be shut down. My colleagues from Burnaby and Kamloops have had to stand in the House to plead for additional funding so their communities could have some RCMP presence where there are perhaps one or two for thousands of citizens.

This is what the government calls a statement on national security. National security is in real trouble. I made the point two years ago that the disbandment of the ports police would lead to an infestation of drugs on either side of the country through the ports. Cutting the RCMP, disbanding the ports police, and leaving it to our customs officers who have also been gutted in the government's race to build a surplus to try to deal with a sophisticated and powerful international network of organized crime just does not cut it. It does not cut it for the Canadians who live in Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver, Burnaby, Windsor, or anywhere along the border with the United States where we know that organized crime is winning the war.

I suppose I thank the solicitor general for tabling his report. However, as I said, sometimes I would get such papers when I was teaching in university and unfortunately with the double spacing, the large font and because it does not say much, it would get a failing grade. At this point I think that is what Canadian citizens would have to give the government.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, two reports of the Canadian delegation to the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association.

The first report relates to the second parliamentary conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, on “Sub-regional Economic Cooperation Processes in Europe Faced with the New Challenges”, that was held from October 13 to 15, 1999 in Nantes, France.

The second report relates to the attendance of the Canadian delegation at the expanded bureau meeting of the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It was a parliamentary assembly meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, from November 17 to November 19, 1999.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

George Proud Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the third report of the Canadian-NATO Parliamentary Association which represented Canada at the 45th annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands from November 11 to November 15, 1999.