House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there has been consultation among House leaders this morning. I want to thank the House leaders for their excellent co-operation for the following motion which I am now prepared to move to be adopted without debate. I move:

That Bill C-16 be withdrawn;

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, immediately upon the adoption of this order, a minister of the crown shall table a Notice of Ways and Means motion, which shall immediately be deemed to have been concurred in, whereupon the House shall proceed immediately to the ordinary daily routine of business, except for introduction of private members' bills, presenting petitions and questions on the order paper, which shall be taken up at 3 p.m. this day;

That private members' business shall not be taken up this day, but the House shall proceed directly to government orders; and

That, at the ordinary time of daily adjournment this day, the House shall continue to sit and shall resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider a motion “That the committee take note of the international actions against terrorism”, provided that, during consideration thereof, (a) the Speaker may from time to time act as Chair of the committee, (b) the Chair of the committee shall not receive any quorum call or any motion except a motion “That the committee do now rise”, (c) after the first spokesperson for each party, no member may speak more than once or for more than ten minutes, (d) when no member rises to speak, the committee shall rise and (e) when the committee rises the House shall immediately adjourn to the next sitting day.

Business of the House

11 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have the unanimous consent of the House to present this motion?

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House

11 a.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House

11 a.m.

The Speaker

Accordingly, private members' business is dispensed with this day and the item to be debated today is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence. Is it agreed?

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ways and Means

11:05 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to a special order of this House, I wish to table a notice of ways and means motion relating to the Registration of Charities Act under the Income Tax Act.

Ways and Means

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order adopted earlier this day this motion is deemed adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Anti-terrorism Act
Routine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities, in order to combat terrorism.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Fight Against Terrorism
Routine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I have presented to the House today, legislative measures that seek to strengthen our national security. This legislation is part of the government's anti-terrorism plan.

We have carried out our work in recognition of the following considerations. We believe that people everywhere are entitled to live their lives in peace and security. We believe it is the responsibility of government to ensure that peaceful existence.

Terrorist acts like those that occurred on September 11 constitute a substantial threat to domestic and international stability. The challenge of eradicating terrorism requires co-operation among the community of nations and a strengthening of our capacity to suppress, investigate and incapacitate terrorist activities. To achieve this we know that Canada must work with other nations to combat terrorism.

Furthermore, we believe that parliament must act to combat terrorism while continuing to respect and promote the values reflected in and the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, we believe that legislation is one part of a comprehensive government response against terrorism.

These are the considerations that motivate our legislation and they are reflected in its preamble and in its contents.

The legislative package we are introducing seeks to amend not only various portions of the criminal code but also a number of other federal statutes, including the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Charities Act, just to name a few.

The three main objectives of the new measures are: to suppress the very existence of terrorist groups; to provide new investigative tools; and to provide a tougher sentencing regime to incapacitate terrorists and terrorist groups.

There are also measures that make general improvements to our ability to respond to terrorism and threats to national security. Other measures would enhance the Canadian values of respect for diversity and of preventing hatred and discriminatory actions fostered on the basis of race, religion and other unacceptable grounds.

I would like to say a few more words about Canadian values. These values receive an important part of their legal expression in the charter of rights and freedoms. Charter rights have been considered and preserved against the objectives of fighting terrorism and protecting national security. I assure everyone in the House and all Canadians that we have kept the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians directly in mind in developing these proposals.

The government is steadfast in its resolve to combat terrorism and its commitment to democracy is stronger than ever. As the Prime Minister stated last Sunday “I cannot promise that the campaign against terrorism will be painless but I can promise that it will be won”.

Fight Against Terrorism
Routine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add a few comments on the record at this time. I certainly echo the remarks of my leader earlier in stating that our party and members stand with the Prime Minister in fighting terrorism and ensuring that Canadians are secure. I also echo many of the statements that the minister made with respect to the fact that people everywhere were entitled to live their lives in peace and security and that it was the responsibility of government to ensure that peaceful existence.

The bill that has been tabled today is an important step forward and reflects many of the issues that the Canadian Alliance Party has been raising in the House, unfortunately to little avail until the very tragic events of September 11. We even moved a motion in the House that asked the government very recently to take steps to name all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada and to not only take away the charitable status of these terrorist organizations but also to have a complete ban on fundraising for activities in support of terrorism and provisions for the seizure of assets.

We wanted immediate ratification of the suppression of financing of terrorism. We asked for the suppression of terrorist bombing, two very important conventions that the government neglected to put into place to the detriment of the security of the people of Canada.

We raised concerns about the abuse of our immigration and refugee systems. We are all very mindful of the important role that immigrants and refugees play in Canada, yet we are also very mindful of the concerns that criminals abuse those systems.

Every time we raised these issues we were called racist and worse. That was very disturbing, especially when it came from ministers of the crown. We were concerned about the very issues that the minister has now raised, but the government voted against the motion we brought to the House. Now, having woken up, it realizes the very grave situation. Hopefully the government has got past name calling.

It was very difficult to stand and express concerns about issues and then be called racists for our efforts. The intentions of members on this side certainly were honourable, yet that was the standard defence of government. It was unfortunate that we could not have moved much quicker in dealing with these issues.

We let down our American allies who suffered a terrible tragedy in New York City. It is one thing to say now that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans, which we do, but it is quite another thing to not have come to that realization that it was our obligation to do that prior to the horrific events of September 11.

The bill is a complicated one. The National Post tells us it is approximately 150 pages long. We look forward to reviewing that in the House and in committee. I would urge all members to ensure that we move quickly and work overtime in the House to get this matter to committee, hopefully by Thursday.

Fight Against Terrorism
Routine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues who spoke before me mentioned, it is clear that such a bill deserves our undivided attention, and we must seriously consider whether or not we need this type of legislative tool.

When it comes to the safety of Canadians and Quebecers, we require legislation that is functional and effective. Democracy and the future of nations are at stake. This is critically important. Terrorism will not be tolerated on our respective territories and we must fight against it with all of our might.

What concerns me this morning and concerned me last week, however, is that terrorism existed prior to September 11. In Canada, information has been collected by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, by the RCMP, by Canada Customs, and in airports. We knew that there were things happening on Canadian and Quebec territory. This information was funnelled, I hope, to Canada's solicitor general, and to the justice minister. They waited until September 11 to act.

Obviously, it is never too late to do the right thing. However, it would have been nice if Canada had set an example to other countries by introducing a bill on terrorism, given the information that the government has had for a long time now, by reacting in time with the required legislation.

This is a very lengthy bill, and one that I am sure is also very complex. Nothing is simple when it comes to terrorism, criminal gangs and the like.

I would like to tell the minister at the outset that the Bloc Quebecois will act responsibly and support the government, as we have always done on this issue.

As far as provincial consultation is concerned, I would hope that the government did consult them, since a bill as complex as this will have to be put into effect by the provinces. I would also hope that the government has an estimate of the costs involved in implementing the bill. They tend, on the other side of the House, to introduce bills and then look at the cost of them afterwards, knowing full well that the administration of justice is a provincial matter. The Quebec nation will support it for Quebec's part, and Quebec and the provinces will foot the bill in the end. I would hope that the government has given thought to the implementation of the bill and to consulting the provinces in this regard.

Canada has signed international treaties. We have heard this said in recent weeks. Canada has signed at least two international treaties. They were signed a long time ago. Why has Canada not implemented them? I can understand that it wants to make up for lost time. It will probably include them in the bill the House will be considering. I would also have liked to see this bill introduced prior to the events of September 11.

I feel things were improvised a bit in all that. I would hope that the bill will not reflect this improvisation. The government reacted to an event. Bills such as C-16 are currently before the Senate. What will the government do about them in connection with the one before us now? I can hardly wait to see.

Once again, there is a feeling of improvisation, but we will co-operate as best we can with the government in order to have a bill that is important both to Quebec and to Canada. We will be there when it counts.

Fight Against Terrorism
Routine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps we should first take note of the fact that we are using a new procedure here that comes from the modernization report, which gives us an opportunity to comment, however briefly, on legislation. I say briefly deliberately because it is a very large bill and in some senses very complicated. Certainly we would want to reserve our final judgment on the bill until we have a chance not only to study it ourselves, but to hear from various elements within Canadian society as to what they think of this bill.

I think everyone would agree that something needs to be done. There is no disagreement there. The status quo is not acceptable. On the face of it, the very fact that we have not yet ratified these UN conventions is something we could argue about when it should have been done. However, we certainly do not want to argue any more about whether it should be done. The fact that the government is moving to do this is welcome.

At this point I would say that the approach of the NDP will be to examine the bill with a view to making sure that the legitimate rights of Canadians to domestic political dissent are not in any way threatened or curtailed. That is to say, that rights to peaceful dissent are not curtailed in any way. That would be the guiding principle in our examination of the bill, and we will be interested to see what other Canadians have to say with respect to that concern as well.

Fight Against Terrorism
Routine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to respond initially to a new piece of legislation, perhaps one of the most comprehensive we will see in this parliament.

I want to begin by commending the minister, her department and all departments that have been involved in the process of drafting what is a very comprehensive, somewhat complicated but an extremely important piece of legislation.

We will obviously have an opportunity on the part of the coalition and on the part of members of the opposition to review this at the committee level. We will hear from experts and from those who may very well raise concerns about civil liberties. However, I believe an initial reading of the bill indicates that it sought to strike a careful balance between civil liberties and the protection of Canadian citizens, which is certainly very much the backdrop to Bill C-38 before us.

There are concerns with respect in particular to the preventive arrest provisions of the legislation. This, I suggest strongly, will have to be coupled with training and with follow up from municipal, RCMP and military police to ensure that there is no abuse of this element of the legislation. As well, I suspect there will be resources attached to this type of legislation. Clearly there has been an indication on the part of the government that this is forthcoming.

The Conservative coalition is tentatively supporting the legislation. We look forward to participating at the committee level to look at some of the gaps that the legislation seeks to fill. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union, have taken steps in this direction to comply with international conventions and to comply with this new threat that came to fruition on September 11, but has been with us for a long time.

The minister, in quoting the Prime Minister, stated in regard to the legislation that the campaign against terrorism would not be painless but would be won. We take them at their word, but it will take time. Obviously this type of legislation goes a long way toward giving our law enforcement community, our defence and internal security the tools they will require to embark on this lengthy and in many cases extremely dangerous venture to combat international terrorism.

The bill itself has safeguards for parliamentary review. Some have suggested that a sunset clause of sorts might have been preferable. However, a parliamentary review in three years certainly gives parliamentarians and Canadians an opportunity to try the legislation on.

We share the sentiment of all Canadians that the preservation of peace, order and good government is the primary objective behind this type of legislation. We in the coalition very much attach ourselves to the comments of the minister in that regard.

We look forward to reviewing, as I said, elements of the arrest provision. Investigative hearings is another element that is some cause for concern. We will look at the investigative tools themselves to see how far they will go and how far they might be carried out in the pursuit of curtailing terrorism in this country.

We look forward to working with the government and with all members of the opposition in the pursuit of this very lofty but extremely important activity which we are undertaking at this time to combat terrorism in this country and abroad.