Debates of Nov. 28th, 2001
House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was broadcasting.
- Community Heroes
- Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
- La Catapulte Theatre
- Canadian Stage Company
- Bill C-36
- World Aids Day
- Shah Ismatullah Habibi
- Ken Hechtman
- The Winter Olympics
- Canada-U.S. Relations
- Bill C-36
- Diabetes Month
- National Security
- The Budget
- Public Safety Act
- Anti-terrorism Legislation
- Public Safety Act
- Anti-terrorism Legislation
- Air Transport
- Air Transport
- Foreign Affairs
- The Economy
- Canada-U.S. Relations
- Airline Industry
- Genetically Modified Organisms
- Amateur Sport
- Revenue Canada
- Cité du Havre Park
- Tobacco Industry
- National Defence
- Business of the House
- Government Response to Petitions
- Aeronautics Act
- Committees of the House
- Housing Bill of Rights
- Committees of the House
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Question No. 78
- Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
- Question No. 54
- Motions for Papers
- Committees of the House
- Anti-Terrorism Act
- Business of the House
- Broadcasting Act
Question No. 54
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
Question No. 54
Is that agreed?
Question No. 54
Some hon. members
Motions for Papers
November 28th, 2001 / 3:20 p.m.
Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.
Motions for Papers
Is that agreed?
Motions for Papers
Some hon. members
Motions for Papers
Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask for unanimous consent to revert to presenting reports from committees.
Motions for Papers
Is there unanimous consent to revert to presentation of reports from committees?
Motions for Papers
Some hon. members
Committees of the House
Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding its order of reference of Friday, November 9, in relation to Bill S-31, the Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001. The committee has considered Bill S-31 and reports the bill without amendment.
Claudette Bradshaw for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
moved that 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, be read the third time and passed.
Stephen Owen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak at third reading of Bill C-36, known in short form as the anti-terrorism act. Bill C-36 was introduced in the House to provide needed enhancements to Canada's ability to address terrorism under the criminal code, to make related changes to other laws and to amend Canadian law to improve our ability to respond to discrimination and hatred.
The bill responds to the events of September 11 and the new face of terrorism that was revealed that day. While more than two months have passed since the events of that day, I am sure that none of us can forget the horror of the mass murder that took place.
Since that time this government and other governments around the world have taken significant and immediate steps to improve security. Also, through military and other efforts we have taken very significant steps toward dismantling the base of Osama bin Laden, a terrorist network in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless it would be very wrong to conclude that the threat of terrorism has disappeared, whether from al-Qaeda or from other potential terrorist organizations. We must remain vigilant as a country. Further, we must act in concert with other countries in the global effort against terrorism. It is recognized throughout the world that we need a long term approach to the problem.
The measures in Bill C-36 are a key part of Canada's long term plan to address terrorism. While as I have said the bill is responsive to the events of September 11, it would fill gaps in Canadian law that need to be filled regardless of the events of that day. September 11 has given us a great impetus to act without delay. It is important to emphasize, as the Minister of Justice has done, that these are not emergency measures but rather measures that would allow us to remain vigilant to an ongoing threat.
I will take a few moments to go over the major elements of Bill C-36. I then intend to review the changes accepted by the standing committee which have been reported back to the House.
I now turn to the major elements of the bill. Bill C-36 would implement the international convention on the suppression of financing of terrorism and the international convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings, the two remaining international conventions on terrorism that Canada has not yet implemented. The term terrorist activity is defined under this bill. The definition makes reference to offences that are set out in international conventions relevant to terrorism.
In addition, a general definition is provided referring to acts or omissions undertaken for political, religious or ideological purposes intended to intimidate the public or compel government to act and cause death, serious bodily harm or a number of other serious harms specifically set out in the definition.
The bill would provide for a list of terrorist groups and persons to be made by order of the federal cabinet on the recommendation of the Solicitor General of Canada. Under Bill C-36 comprehensive new terrorism offences under the criminal code would be created.
These include offences relating to participating in, facilitating or instructing terrorist activity and harbouring others who carry out terrorist activity. These offences would criminalize a full range of activities related to terrorism.
The bill would provide for limited and strictly safeguarded preventive arrest as a means of assisting law enforcement officers to disrupt the planning of terrorist attacks.
The bill would also provide for investigative hearings under the criminal code. These hearings, permitted under limited conditions, would be judicially supervised and would require the individual to give evidence to assist the investigations of terrorist offences. Such evidence could not be used against that individual and so protects a person's right to remain silent in his or her own criminal proceeding.
The bill would implement an aggressive sentencing and parole regime for terrorist offences including a maximum of life imprisonment for many offences as well as restricted parole eligibility.
Under Bill C-36 measures would be added to the criminal code on the financing of terrorism. Included within these measures are provisions on the seizure, restraint and forfeiture of terrorist property.
In addition, the bill would amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act. The mandate of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Fintrac, under this act would be expanded to gather, analyze and disclose information on terrorist money laundering.
Also, as a way to assist in drying up the source of funds for terrorist groups and to prevent abuse of Canada's laws on charities, Bill C-36 would enact the charities registration security information act. This act would allow for the removal or denial of charitable status from organizations where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the organizations make their resources available to terrorists.
The focus of these measures is the prevention of terrorism. While our current laws allow us to charge and convict terrorists after they engage in terrorist acts we clearly must be able to do more. The measures in Bill C-36 would significantly enhance our ability to charge and convict those who are in the planning stages of terrorist attacks, to go after those who direct terrorist activity even before the activity occurs, to arrest and impose conditions on the release of persons where this is necessary to prevent terrorist activity, to dismantle the financial networks that support further terrorist activity and to incarcerate for a long period of time those found guilty of terrorism.
There are a number of other significant provisions in the bill. The bill would update and refine the Official Secrets Act to better address national security concerns. The bill would also amend the Canada Evidence Act to allow for enhanced protection of sensitive information during legal proceedings. I also highlight measures under Bill C-36 that are relevant to targeting discrimination and hatred within Canada.
Under the bill a new criminal code offence of damage committed against religious groups and their places of worship would be created. This new provision would send a strong signal that behaviour such as destroying or damaging a church, mosque or temple or interfering with religious activities is completely unacceptable in Canada.
As well the bill would provide a new power to order the deletion of hate propaganda made available to the public through computer systems such as the Internet. The Canadian Humans Rights Act would be amended under the bill to clarify that communication of hate messages using new technologies such as the Internet is a discriminatory practice.
It is now my intention to explain some of the amendments that were accepted by the standing committee and that have been reported back to the House. Under these amendments the major elements of the bill would remain. However the amendments would make a number of improvements and refinements to these elements.
Certain of the amendments would help to clarify aspects of the bill for which misunderstandings might otherwise have arisen. The changes would reflect the government's intent in the bill but would help to ensure that this intent is clearly understood and would be appropriately implemented. Other changes would help to provide additional oversight and control of certain of the provisions of the bill.
In addition to these amendments a number of technical corrections and refinements were made to Bill C-36. I do not intend to review these in detail.
In making these major and minor changes the standing committee listened to the concerns of parliamentarians as reflected in the report of the special Senate committee on Bill C-36, as reflected by comments made by members of the standing committee and as reflected by the debates in the House. The changes would also take into account comments made by numerous other Canadians whether in submissions before the parliamentary committees or elsewhere.
Of course not all the suggestions that were received were accepted by the standing committee. We are grateful nevertheless for the close attention that has been paid to the bill and the thought provoking and useful ideas that have been provided.
Let me begin with the definition of terrorist activity, which has received considerable attention during the examination of the bill. One of the provisions of the definition as originally put before the House excluded “lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work” from the scope of the definition. Some have questioned whether because of the use of the word lawful activities of this type which include unlawful conduct such as assault, trespass and minor property damage might be interpreted as being terrorism.
This was never the government's intent. The fact that an activity is otherwise unlawful does not by itself mean that it amounts to terrorism. Quite the contrary. Therefore the committee has accepted an amendment removing the word lawful.
This would not have the effect of making protests lawful that are otherwise unlawful due to violations of other criminal laws. It would, however, clarify that this specific exclusion from the scope of the definition of terrorist activity applies whether or not the advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work is lawful.
While discussing the definition of terrorist activity I also wish to observe that certain words in the definition that have provoked some discussion were not amended by the committee. These are the words “political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” that refer to the motivations for terrorist activity under the definition.
These words have been retained in the definition as they are absolutely necessary to appropriately define and limit the scope of Bill C-36. It is important to emphasize that nothing in these words would target any particular cultural, religious or ethnic group or political or ideological cause. Rather, the words would help to distinguish terrorist activity from other forms of criminality that are intended to intimidate or compel people by the use of serious violence.
The committee nevertheless recognized that it was advisable to clarify the definition to provide with further certainty that the enforcement provisions in the bill are not to be interpreted or applied in a discriminatory manner or in a manner that could suppress democratic rights.
The committee considered and accepted an amendment that stipulates in this regard that the definition of terrorist activity would not apply to the expression of political, religious or ideological ideas that are not intended to cause the various forms of perverse and extreme harm set out in the definition.
Proper review and oversight of the powers provided under Bill C-36 would also help ensure that the powers are applied appropriately. Many such review and oversight mechanisms were already part of the bill when introduced. The government is committed to ensuring that the enhanced enforcement powers under the bill contribute to the safety and security of Canadians but do not undermine fundamental rights.
The standing committee listened to submissions that additional monitoring was necessary. However, further to these submissions, it accepted an amendment requiring an annual public report by the Attorney General of Canada, the Solicitor General of Canada and their counterparts in the provinces and territories.
This report would concern the powers of investigative hearings and of preventive arrest under Bill C-36. This information would provide an annual check on the use of these provisions and inform the parliamentary review which is to occur within three years.
Let me assure the House that a substantial amount of information is required to be reported. This information is analogous to information required to be reported on the interception of communications under the requirements currently established under the criminal code and analogous to information required to be reported with respect to the law enforcement justification under requirements that would be established by Bill C-24 regarding organized crime which the House approved.
I emphasize with respect to the investigative hearings and the preventive arrest that the provisions for an annual report are supplementary to the considerable checks and balances already provided with respect to each power. We have all seen reports and commentary to the effect that these provisions would allow uncontrolled and unprecedented powers that jeopardize the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
In response to these suggestions it is important to emphasize that both the investigative hearing and the preventive arrest in fact build upon powers already found in Canadian law. Both build upon these powers only for the special purpose of helping preserve Canada's safety and security against terrorist activity. Both are subject to very significant limits and controls and both are subject to direct judicial supervision. Further, both powers have been extensively reviewed to provide confidence that they comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Additional review and monitoring of the powers of investigative hearing and preventive arrest would be provided by making these provisions subject to a sunset clause. The standing committee has accepted an amendment under which each of these measures would be subject to the expiry provided for after five years. Parliament would be authorized to extend this expiry period on resolutions adopted by a majority of each chamber but no extension may exceed five years.
The best sunset clause would be the circumstances that occur where it is never necessary to use these provisions. It is important to note the committee did not accept a sunset clause for the whole of the bill. Such a clause would negate our ability to fulfill international obligations to address terrorism. Further, it would fail to recognize that the need to maintain vigilance against terrorism is a continuous one and that the measures in the bill are balanced, reasonable and subject to significant safeguards.
The power to issue certificates by the attorney general under the Canada Evidence Act, the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act and other acts prohibit disclosure of sensitive information relating to national defence or security or received in confidence from a foreign entity.
The power to issue such certificates would be a vital addition to our ability to prevent the disclosure of information injurious to international relations, national defence or national security.
At the same time the standing committee agreed that the provisions could be better circumscribed and should be subject to review. For these reasons it accepted amendments under which the certificates would have a maximum lifespan of 15 years unless reissued. The certificates would be reviewable by a judge of the federal court. The certificates may only be issued after an order or decision for disclosure in a proceeding. The certificates would be published in The Canada Gazette .
These changes would substantially enhance the controls on certificates. I observe that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Mr. George Radwanski, sent a letter to the Minister of Justice stating that these amendments fully and effectively address the concerns he previously raised about this aspect of Bill C-36.
I want to speak briefly to a matter which was raised at committee hearings and which, it has been said, might relate to the privilege of the House and the Senate to send for persons, papers and records. As the House knows, the subpoena power of parliamentary houses has existed for over 300 years and is essential to their functions.
There are provisions in Bill C-36 which refer to “a court, person or body with jurisdiction to compel the production of information” and related procedures in clauses 43 and 70 which would protect sensitive security information from public disclosure. It would not be the intention of the bill to alter the current status of parliament's subpoena powers and privileges. In fact similar provisions already exist in sections 37 and 39 of the Canada Evidence Act.
Having stated this for our parliamentary record so that the intention of the House is clear, an amendment was made to the bill under Motion No. 7 yesterday for the same purpose of clarifying our intention that parliament's privilege to send persons, papers and records not be affected by this legislation.
Canadians can be assured that the government is taking timely action against the threat of terrorism while at the same time ensuring that rights and freedoms are preserved.
Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition
Madam Speaker, approximately 50 terrorist organizations have been identified in Canada. If I were a leader or involved in one of those terrorist organizations advising fleeing fugitive terrorist agents in other countries which country to run to, especially in light of the new laws that have been passed and recent laws in Great Britain, the United States and western Europe, I would be tempted to tell them to come to Canada.
The reason I say this is that in spite of Bill C-36 individuals could still get into Canada without documents. They could still be in Canada and be a member of a terrorist organization. They could still escape to Canada if they are pursued in other countries for their crimes and have some reasonable sense that they would probably not be extradited to face those crimes.
If terrorists mass murder Canadians by the hundreds or the thousands in Canada they would still be eligible for parole after 25 years. As a result of Bill C-36 these gaping holes in the walls of protection would undermine the portions of the bill that are there in a protective way.
I want to address in my remarks today why I will be reluctantly supporting the bill. I will talk about the gaping holes that exist in the legislation and where Canadians won and lost in this legislation. I will address the fact that the safety and security of a country's citizens should be the foremost role of any government as it has failed to address that area. I will talk about civil liberties and what happens in a time of crisis or a time of war and the process that was involved as the bill proceeded.
I am disappointed and concerned that the government decided to rush through this complicated, controversial and powerful piece of legislation without debate and input. That was necessary for legislation of this nature.
The Canadian Alliance has consistently called for legislation that would give the government the tools to fight terrorism. However the government has cut off debate and cut it off in a premature fashion.
This reveals what we have pointed out before: an ongoing contempt for the democratic process and a complete disregard for the contributions that elected members can make to this process. The government disregards millions of Canadians by disregarding elected members. That has been the pattern of the government in the past and it unfortunately appears to be continuing in the present and into the future.
A columnist wrote something interesting today. He wrote that in his view the decision to invoke closure on the bill represented in some ways the death of the true meaning of parliament. Parliament is the ability to gather together as elected representatives to talk, discuss, debate and hopefully do things that can enrich the lives and in this case the safety and security of Canadians. The federal Liberal government has failed Canadians.
Bill C-36 is being pushed through without full and detailed debate. Since 1993 the Liberal government has shut down debate on 73 different occasions. It is not surprising that it is doing it again. Members of the opposition are shocked that the government would employ this tactic on this important and unprecedented piece of legislation.
It would be different if we were unnecessarily and frivolously filibustering for hours, days, weeks or months on end. There is a time when the government must step in and do something. The precious little time that was spent on the key issues in this debate reveals a very obvious flaw of the government. It has a disrespect for democratic positioning and democratic choice.
The Canadian Alliance has been very co-operative in the House and in committee. It is a matter of record that we have tried to move the bill forward. We support the intent of the bill and we want to see it passed in a timely fashion. The government's attempt to muzzle MPs by prematurely cutting off debate reveals its appalling arrogance and lack of respect for the entire democratic process.
The minister and others have used the excuse that the bill had been discussed in committee at great length. There are 283 members of the House who do not sit on that committee. A large majority of the members will not get a chance to have their say before they are forced to vote on the bill a little over two hours from now.
The bill was set to pass by the end of the week in any event so it is inexcusable for the government to act as it has by suppressing debate. The government said it could go to the end of the week. Here we are mid-week and it is slamming the door. The late Stanley Knowles, certainly not of the same ideological stripe as the Alliance but at one with us on the importance of parliament, once said:
Debate is not a sin, a mistake, an error or something to be put up with in parliament. Debate is the essence of parliament.
As it is, I acknowledge and I am thankful that I can put my concerns on record. Unfortunately many of my colleagues who wanted to speak at third reading have been denied that opportunity. Nevertheless, even though the government has given us only a few precious hours to debate the bill, I am pleased to represent the official opposition and put forward our views on the strengths and weaknesses of this historic legislation.
The importance of the debate must not be underestimated. As we analyze and debate the fine points of the bill we must not forget that the introduction of the bill was a direct result of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was the largest individual act of mass terrorism by any group in the history of modern terrorism. More people were killed in that terrorist attack than have been killed in 35 years of terrorism in all of western Europe.
The problem of international terrorism will not go away. It seems to be getting worse both in scope and magnitude. One expert recently said that terrorists have passed the point where they “want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead”.
In testimony before the justice committee of the House of Commons a renowned British expert, Professor Paul Wilkinson, warned Canadians that it was a mistake to view the present military action in Afghanistan as the sole means of ending the threat from these terrorists. He said that killing or capturing bin Laden might seriously disrupt and weaken his terrorist organization. He added that this would not mean that Americans, Canadians and our allies would be safe nor would the threat end. He observed:
--the tentacles of the network, which, as we are now discovering through the belated intensive efforts of intelligence agencies and police in so many countries, is spread over at least two dozen countries...including Canada, there is a continuing danger of further attacks.
That is not fearmongering. That is proper concern for our safety and security. The professor also noted that it would be unwise for Canadians to assume that the international effort against terrorism could be dealt with in a period of just over a few years.
It was for that reason that he urged members of parliament to enact strong anti-terrorist legislation which would provide Canadian police and security agencies with the appropriate ongoing legal authority to continue to deal with this very serious threat.
Peace is essential to freedom. In Canada, we have become complacent about our freedoms and have taken peace for granted. While others have fought for that peace, most of this generation did not, until now.
The continued presence of a real terrorist threat compels us in the House to advocate for thoughtful changes that respond to the climate of fear that prevails. What could be more important than safeguarding the domestic security of Canadians?
However, our response to the terrorist threat to our freedom must not imperil that very freedom. We must not respond to a fear of losing our personal liberty by legislating it away. That truly would be a victory for terrorism.
That is why it is so critical that we address the root cause of these threats in co-operation with and in support of our allies at its source, rather than simply reacting and responding to it domestically.
There are some areas where Canadians won. It was on September 17 that I rose in the House, as did others, to urge the government to bring in a comprehensive package of anti-terrorist measures including tough, new anti-terrorism legislation modelled after the legislation already in place in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The next day the official opposition moved a supply day motion. We urged the government to bring in a comprehensive anti-terrorism bill modelled after the British terrorism act 2000. We recommended several specific measures that we hoped the legislation would contain, yet to our dismay the government used its majority to defeat the motion that would have set in motion in a more rapid fashion the very things we needed to protect Canadians. The government used its majority to defeat the motion.
The government said the measures we were recommending were too radical and contrary to Canadian values. The Canadian Alliance called for anti-terrorism legislation long before September 11. I am certainly encouraged that many of the provisions we have called for may in fact become law before Christmas. For that, I thank Canadians across the country from coast to coast who over the last number of years worked hard with the Canadian Alliance to develop the policies and principles that would lead to the safety and security of our citizens.
I am thankful for our critics and other members of our caucus who have worked hard to take the information toward this goal. Bill C-36 in fact includes many of the elements of the Alliance opposition motion of September 18, which the Liberal government voted against at one point.
Our list of anti-terrorist measures was long. We called for the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada. We called for a ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism and for provision for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations. We called for the ratification of the international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing and we called for the creation of specific crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist acts abroad from Canada.
I will say that Bill C-36 has incorporated these elements, but after the Canadian government voted down these elements at one point and then some time later brought them back, it then took the government another five weeks after the fact to bring in the anti-terrorist legislation. That is in contrast to the United States and the United Kingdom, both of which had similar legislation long before September 11, just as we were advocating for these things long before September 11.
Nonetheless, I do not mind going on record and thanking the minister for bringing the bill forward and for taking many of the past recommendations of the Canadian Alliance and putting them into consideration in this legislation.
After the events of September 11, even a country like Canada, which is used to thinking of itself as a peaceful and non-violent country, finds itself at risk. Of course, we are not immune. One need only recall the tragic Air India bombing which killed 329 people. That flight originated in Canada.
Thankfully, we have not often seen lethal acts of terrorism on our soil. However, other countries have not been so fortunate. They have had the bitter experience of dealing with terrorism and have been forced to modernize their laws to deal with these threats. Two countries with very similar democratic values to our own, the United Kingdom and the United States, have already brought in comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation.
While the events of September show that strong laws alone will not in all cases stop determined terrorists, they can at least give to police, prosecutors, border security and others the tools they need to fight terrorists and terrorism.
We must examine and learn from the experience of the British and Americans and see where their legislation could possibly be a model for our own.
In 1995-96, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the United States brought in comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation in the form of the anti-terrorism and effective death penalty act which was signed by President Clinton.
In Canada, the interdepartmental intelligence policy group reviewed the U.S. legislation in 1997 and made a conclusion saying that the need for such a scheme could not be established.
In 2000, the United Kingdom, which already had strong anti-terrorism legislation on the books to deal with the threat of the IRA, brought in new sweeping anti-terrorism legislation to deal with international terrorism that could possibly be operating within the U.K.
The official opposition has pointed to the British terrorism act of 2000 as an example of the kind of effective legislation that Canada should look at. The U.S. and the U.K. governments, under the Clinton Democrats and Tony Blair's Labour Party, felt that it was possible to bring in comprehensive terrorism legislation without endangering the democratic values that are important to us.
This is not about posturing politically. This is about being able to stand tall together and to protect our citizens and answer their concerns and their cry for security. This is one of a number of areas. Security of markets is something we will also be pursuing, but we need to look at this in terms of security of the person and the people of Canada.
After the bill was tabled, debated at second reading and considered at the justice committee, I was again encouraged that the minister took some of the concerns of the members of the Canadian Alliance into account and agreed to amend the bill. We acknowledge that.
For example, we told Canadians that we needed to have a mandatory review mechanism for Bill C-36 which would ensure that the minister is accountable to parliament. The minister agreed with us and introduced an amendment that requires the Attorney General of Canada and the Solicitor General of Canada, as well as the ministers responsible for policing in the provinces, to publicly report to parliament their use of the Bill C-36 powers of preventive arrest and investigative hearings. This is not the option that would provide the strongest or the most comprehensive review mechanism, but it is a start. We acknowledge that.
We told Canadians we must have assurances that ongoing investigations under the powers of Bill C-36 would not be affected by the expiration of that legislation. Canada's police forces, including the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, had expressed concerns that the legislation would lapse, leave ongoing investigations in peril, and in fact be a deterrent to beginning investigations at all.
We had to listen to the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and impress upon the government that necessity. We did that. The minister then agreed with us and introduced a grandfathering provision for preventive arrest and investigative hearings which allows ongoing investigations to continue and evidence gathered to be admissible.
We also told Canadians that in order to prevent abuse of power by government there must be an independent review of the ministerial certificates that are issued to prohibit disclosure of information. This is very important in terms of Canadians' ongoing freedoms and liberties. The minister then agreed with us on that point and her amendment mandates that the certificates must be reviewable by a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal.
We told Canadians that there must be increased protection within the legislation for religious and political groups. The minister agreed with us. Her amendments to the definition of terrorist activity offer an added degree of protection to these groups and distinguish their activities from those of actual terrorists. That was an important consideration and we acknowledge that she agreed with us.
Unfortunately the government did not remove the provision of the bill that would provide for prosecution of a terrorist act based on a political, ideological or religious motivation. That was and continues to be of concern to us. The minister has failed on several occasions to give us any concrete reason as to why that clause is necessary. That clause has huge potential for abuse. We will monitor it very carefully. It should not be used against those who want to protest because of political, ideological or religious motivations.
We told Canadians it was necessary to secure protection for charities and other groups that may be affected if they are inadvertently facilitating a terrorist offence. Members will note that I used the word inadvertently. The minister agreed with us and the bill has been amended so that the person or group would clearly have to be knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity.
Unfortunately there are some areas in the legislation where Canadians lost. Although we have been somewhat reassured by the minister with respect to her concessions on some aspects of the bill, there are a number of shortcomings which I have asked the minister to reconsider.
One is that Bill C-36 fails to eliminate the possibility of parole for all perpetrators of terrorist attacks. I ask members to think of that. A terrorist here in Canada wanting to emulate the mass murder of innocent citizens, as has so tragically occurred in the United States, could kill dozens, hundreds or even thousands of Canadians and after due process be found to be guilty of a horrendous crime like that and still be eligible for parole. That is ridiculous.
Parole should not be available to a mass-murdering terrorist.
Jim Peterson Willowdale, ON
What about forgiveness?
Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC
I do not often respond to ridiculous interjections but a Liberal member just said “what about forgiveness”. To forgive somebody who killed 3,000 people and send a message to him that, hey pal, it is not a problem, he will be up for parole; that is not forgiveness following that act, that is stupidity.
The bill does not make it illegal to be a member of a terrorist organization. Those who are thinking of fleeing to a country where they can still be a member of their terrorist organization though banned from doing so in other freedom-loving countries would be welcome here in Canada. That is ridiculous.
By saying “recognized terrorist organization”, I mean one that has met the burden of proof that is set out in the bill to be included in the list of entities. The minister maintains she has done this for the purpose of targeting terrorist acts and terrorist activity, but we are all aware that joining a terrorist organization has only one purpose: to participate in or to facilitate terrorist activity. That is the only reason for joining.
The minister has argued that banning membership may contravene the right to freedom of association. Surely our courts would rule that such misguided tolerance is an affront to the rule of law and abuse of the concept of freedom of association.
By far the most glaring omission of Bill C-36 is the minister's failure to deal with the issue of extradition. The Canadian Alliance long before September 11 had called for prompt extradition of foreign nationals who are charged with acts of terrorism. We will continue to ask the government to take steps to ensure that Canada no longer remains a safe haven for terrorists who come to Canada to escape the consequences of their actions in other countries. These terrorists should never be allowed to exist freely in our society and endanger Canadian citizens.
Canada quite rightly has earned a reputation of being welcoming to people from all over the world who want to come here to love and respect freedom and liberty, to pursue their hopes and dreams and see their children grow up to pursue and achieve their hopes and dreams. That is a reputation of which we are proud. But we also have a reputation of being a haven for those who do not respect freedom and liberties and for those who would tear freedom and liberty from others and those who would destroy life in the process and then would come to Canada knowing that our legislation would keep them from facing the consequences of their actions in other jurisdictions. That is ridiculous. That door must be slammed.
In addition to these shortcomings, unfortunately, the Liberal government has not yet allocated sufficient resources to the military, to police services or to the intelligence activities that we must have if we are going to properly fight terrorism.
It is no secret that the costs of fighting terrorism and organized crime are huge. These are huge costs. In a recent case that was prosecuted in Edmonton, it took $5 million to convict just three members of the Hell's Angels. Convicting terrorists will be no different. They will use every legal loophole and other means available to them to fight their convictions. The cost will be significant.
In a written brief submitted to the justice committee last spring, the Canadian Police Association wrote of the extraordinary fiscal consequences that the police face when they are investigating and prosecuting these kinds of crimes. They said that these fiscal consequences “defy any modern sense of efficiency or effectiveness”.
Although Bill C-36 will to some extent help to combat terrorism, this legislation in itself is not enough to effectively prevent terrorist activity on Canadian soil. Bill C-36 is only one piece of a very necessary puzzle. There need to be other issues addressed also, such as tightening our refugee determination system and giving powers to CSIS to operate overseas.
If we do not tighten our refugee determination system, then the genuine refugees, who should be here in this country experiencing freedom for the first time in their lives, will be jeopardized by those who continue to abuse the system and continue to be allowed to abuse the system because Bill C-36 will not slam the door on that abuse the way it should.
The legislation will be of no use whatsoever if we do not also have the resources in place to enforce it. Norman Inkster, the former commissioner of the RCMP, supports the bill's provisions that allow police to perform preventive arrest, as do we, but there have to be safeguards provided. He has said that other measures must be added, such as stepping up screening procedures at Canada's overseas missions and harmonizing border policies with the United States. He was clear on that and we are clear on that, as are many other associations and provinces.
Mr. Inkster believes it will be easier to deal with this issue offshore than it is to deal with the people when they are inside our borders and that makes ultimate sense. The former RCMP commissioner says that Canada should definitely be gathering information overseas and more important, Canada should be more diligent in whom we allow into the country in the first place.
Another RCMP officer, Sergeant Philippe Lapierre of the National Security Investigation Section, the counterterrorism branch of the RCMP, said at a conference on money laundering in Montreal that some people are sent here with a mission and some people come and are recruited, but once here, they all have the same modus operandi. Then he described what they do when they come here. These are the illegal ones who should not be here, who are allowed to get through and will continue to be allowed to get through by the gaping holes left in the legislation.
He also said that the first step is they claim refugee status, allowing them to remain in Canada as long as their claim is working its way through the cumbersome refugee determination process. He went on to say that the second step is to claim Canadian social benefits, applying for welfare and health cards, to ensure a stream of income. He said that the third step is to become involved in petty crime, such as theft and credit card fraud. Then he said that the fourth step is to launder their money through legal businesses that are set up as fronts. If we are to break this terrorist modus operandi, we must start at the front end and stop false refugee claimants who are security threats from getting into the country in the first place.
Every time we talk about the gaping holes in our refugee determination system, the government assures us that all will be well under the panacea of Bill C-11, but Bill C-11 was in the pipeline long before September 11. It is not a bill designed to deal with the clear and present danger of international terrorists coming into our country.
As a matter of fact, Bill C-11 creates a whole new level of appeals for refugee claimants. In some ways, it makes the matter worse. This vaunted front end screening the minister talks about simply means that we will begin security checks a few weeks earlier in a process that could take 18 months to complete just at the preliminary stage.
What is completely lacking in the bill is the kind of tough measures that are found in comparable U.S. and U.K. legislation.
If refugees arrive in the country on airplanes or on ships without documentation, they must be detained until it can be determined what their true identity is. That has to be checked against existing databases. Then and only then can a determination be made that they are not a security threat, because to have arrived here either by airplane or ship from an international destination, they had to have some kind of document or paper in their possession to get on that plane or that ship. That means somewhere in the process of coming over here, they destroyed their documents. They threw them overboard, tore them up, or did something to them. That automatically makes them suspicious. Those individuals need to be detained until they can be cleared totally of being any threat to security.
In addition to dealing with potential security risks before people show up in the country, we need to provide more resources to the RCMP. The RCMP has served a vital role in the protection of Canadians over the years of our history. This national police force is a source of pride and comfort to Canadians.
Funding problems facing the RCMP during the last decade are well documented. The 2000 Conference Board of Canada report finds that in the past decade, the RCMP lost 2,200 positions and close to $175 million in funding. The report found the results of these cuts were heavy workloads, inadequate operating budgets in the field, loss of trust in senior management and officers who were overworked and demoralized.
Examples of the repercussion of Liberal funding cuts to the RCMP are all over the place. In 1999 in British Columbia the RCMP reported being understaffed and overworked. One 30 month investigation involved numerous hours of unpaid overtime due to an acute lack of financial resources. In RCMP A division, which operates in Ottawa, investigators were denied voice mail, cellphones and pagers. They were even told that they could not spend $20 for new business cards. That is no way to treat the men and women who are serving with their lives to protect Canadians.
In British Columbia the RCMP closed dozens of commercial crime files because there simply were not enough resources to investigate those files. Some officers were responding to calls with their own personal vehicles. This situation existed before September 11. Now post-September 11, we find a massive reallocation of limited resources to the fight against terrorism. What we do not see is a commitment from the government to provide long term, stable and sufficient funding for the force.
This piecemeal approach that the Liberals have taken does not address the severe shortage in human resources that is facing the RCMP. What is most disturbing however is the contradictory messages that we are receiving from the leadership of the RCMP and from those who represent the front line officers.
The front line officers have recognized the desperate situation. They are calling for action. RCMP Sergeant Mike Niebudek revealed that the new war on terrorism has put a severe strain on a force whose resources were already stretched to the limit. David Griffin, who is a Canadian Police Association representative, stated recently: “Before September 11, new squads were being created within the RCMP to deal with organized crime. That priority is being abandoned”. That is what he said. The priority of organized crime is being abandoned. That is simply unacceptable. We cannot simply drop everything that the RCMP was working on prior to September 11, but the funding situation is driving it in that direction.
Statistics Canada just released its statistics for homicide in Canada. It found that over the past five years gang related murders in Canada have more than tripled. The solicitor general must realize that the RCMP needs the resources not only for the fight on terrorism which is so important, but to continue to ensure that Canadians are protected from other threats. What will be done to ensure that in the effort to fight terrorism other responsibilities of the RCMP will not be dropped?
The RCMP has been chronically underfunded by the Liberal government. The Canadian Police Association has recognized this. It passed a resolution at its 2001 annual meeting calling on the federal government to increase funding. The resolution states:
Whereas the RCMP budget has been reduced to the point the force cannot meet its obligations in many parts of Canada,
Whereas RCMP officers are being removed from federal services to augment shortfalls in municipal and provincial complement, and
Whereas the Government of Canada does not adequately fund the RCMP budget as it pertains to areas of federal and national responsibilities, and
Whereas these responsibilities provide vital support to all police agencies in Canada.
The resolution concludes by saying:
Be it resolved that the Canadian Police Association, in co-operation with its member associations, implores the government--
Our police officers should not have to come on bended knees, begging and imploring the government. They are literally begging the Government of Canada “to provide adequate funding to the RCMP budget, to maximize the effectiveness of federal and national policing responsibilities”. The association passed that resolution before September 11.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 5,180 RCMP officers designated as federal in 1994. These officers handled criminal investigations involving organized crime, immigration fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking. Last year that number had dropped to only 4,341 personnel. That is a drop of 839 people through a period now of increased threats from terrorism and organized crime, not to mention an increase in the population.
The threats from organized crime, drug trafficking and immigration fraud did not go away after September 11. They are still here and perhaps even enhanced, yet we hear reports of up to 2,000 mounties being reassigned to investigate terrorist threats. Even Commissioner Zaccardelli has stated that the RCMP is curtailing some work as an effect of the reallocation of these human resources.
We hope the upcoming budget will address the crucial need for more resources for the RCMP. We will be watching very carefully to see that it does.
Another area where the government has shown great neglect, which the bill and actions taken by the government to date have done nothing to address, is CSIS.
Wesley Wark, a University of Toronto associate professor, who was speaking before the justice committee, said that we are at a crisis point in the evolution of Canadian security and intelligence. He believes that parliament has turned a blind eye in the past to security and intelligence matters.
I would only debate with him that parliament has not turned a blind eye to security and intelligence matters. The Canadian Alliance official opposition has had both eyes on that target. The federal government has turned its eyes away from these concerns.
The Toronto professor pointed out that while the United States spends $30 billion a year on intelligence collection and on analysis, Canada spends a laughable fragment of that sum on these matters. That is not acceptable. He also said that CSIS needs more money, something we have been pushing for a long time but to no avail. Even this expert said that money alone is not enough.
CSIS is on the front line protecting Canadians from terrorism. Over the past years CSIS has warned of the threat that terrorists pose to Canada and its allies. However, like the RCMP, funding cuts to CSIS have undermined its ability to operate effectively. According to its 2000 public report, financial resources were $244 million in 1993. In 1999 the figure was down to $179 million. The number of people working for CSIS went from 2,760 in 1993 to less than 2,000 in 1999. This represents a 40% decline in human resources for Canada's counterintelligence service. Today the budget for CSIS is only $194 million and it employs just over 2,000 people.
The lack of both human and financial resources has left the agency and its workers swamped with work, as are RCMP officers. Threat assessments are conducted in years rather than days according to the Security Intelligence Review Committee. The agency simply was not a priority of the government.
According to the solicitor general's 2001 estimates, funding for CSIS would decline further, unbelievably, to $169 million in 2002. This was despite the warning that the terrorist threat to Canada and its allies was at an all time high. This was before September 11.
Paule Gauthier, chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, says that the extra $10 million that was announced for CSIS will go largely toward new equipment. What is needed is long term, reliable funding that will enable this important agency to employ the human resources necessary to deal with the mountains of information that must be processed. Dealing with potential threats expediently and efficiently is what CSIS needs to do but it is unable to do that because of the resource cuts the government has hit it with over the last years.
It is the responsibility of CSIS to perform background checks on immigrants and refugee claimants. The Security Intelligence Review Committee reports that CSIS is so overloaded with work it can take years to determine if a person poses a security threat. That is simply not acceptable. The chair of the committee, Paule Gauthier, stated that the agency needed more resources and that it was stretched to the maximum. The screening of refugees and immigrants is one of the most important elements in this fight against terrorism and it requires adequate human resources.
The government's priorities simply must change. We all know the Liberal leadership race is on and the ministers seem to be funding their own pet projects to the detriment of Canada's security. We continue to hear, regardless of what is leaked out in the headlines, that the Minister of Industry wants $1.5 billion for broad band Internet access. Canadians already lead most other nations in the world in terms of personally making the choice to get on the Internet and to have their own personal computers at home. Canadians have done this on their own initiative and yet the minister wants $1.5 billion to enhance chat lines.
The Minister of Justice has asked for an additional $114 million to top up the over $500 million that taxpayers have had to pay out for a firearms registry system that simply is not working.
To put these costs in perspective, we must remember that the total budget for CSIS is under $200 million. We have been told that the accumulated cost of the firearms registry system, which is not working, will be $685 million this year. Where are the priorities? We ask people to think in these terms: $200 million for the war on terrorism and $685 million for the war on duck hunters. The government has to get its priorities in order.
The government must address CSIS funding if Bill C-36 is to be effective at all and not simply a paper tiger.
CSIS also needs, to quote Dr. Wark:
--talent and expertise, and, above all, highly-trained analysts to make sense of the information that is going to be collected by Canadian operatives and be passed to Canada, if we stay in the alliance game, by our allies.
That is absolutely necessary.
He went on to say:
--making sense of the information that comes into a security and intelligence community, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, analysing it well, packaging it in a credible way that will be read and understood.
It is equally and vitally important in Dr. Wark's perspective.
Dr. Wark also believes that there is an enormous deficiency in terms of the way in which intelligence gets to cabinet level for decision making. I feel like making an analogy about intelligence and cabinet level decision making but I am resisting. Dr. Wark ponders the idea of the creation of a cabinet level ministerial position responsible for national security and intelligence. I am not saying I am completely in agreement at this time with that proposition but I do think we need to bring together all the departments responsible for analytical issues in the security and intelligence field. That definitely has to happen.
Furthermore, concurring with the Toronto professor, I believe we need a foreign secret service capacity. Right now under the CSIS Act, CSIS has a restricted mandate for collecting foreign intelligence. That is not good enough today in the war on terrorism.
Dr. Wark goes on to say:
We need such a capacity for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to allow Canada to continue to play a role as an independent actor in the global intelligence business; and, in addition, to allow Canada to maintain its place at the allied intelligence table, which has historically been so vital to any of the successes it has had in that field.
If Canada is not there carrying the weight and carrying the freight, it will be excluded from a position of prominence around that intelligence gathering table internationally. We cannot afford that.
Former RCMP commissioner, Norman Inkster, and former CSIS deputy director, James Corcoran, believe that the CSIS Act requires a full overhaul and they have therefore urged the government to review that 1984 act, and we agree with them.
Under Bill C-36, the CSIS Act has received a minor amendment in that it adds the terms “religious or ideological” to the definition of a security threat. I do not see bin Laden and his troops shivering in fear when they read that.
Appearing before the Senate defence committee, both Inkster and Corcoran said “within Canada needs to be removed from the act to give CSIS a clear international mandate”.
So again, there are still large weaknesses in the powers that are given to the RCMP and to CSIS under the bill, and there is still no guarantee that the resources they will need to be effective, even with this somewhat weakened bill, will be there for them.
Nonetheless, there are provisions in the bill which we support, as I have said, and we will vote for the bill on third reading despite the shabby way the government has dealt with it in the House.
These elements are of grave concern to Canadians, especially in the area of supporting those security forces that need to be there for us.
In 1998, CSIS stated that some 50 international terrorist groups were operating in Canada and that the names included some of the most deadly enemies of peace and democracy in the world today. Some of the groups that were banned by the British terrorism act of 2000 and are known to have operated, and do operate in Canada, are the Babbar Khalsa, the International Sikh Youth Federation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Irish Republican Army.
The Kelly report, a recent report from the Senate special committee, stated in 1999 that Canada was a primary venue of opportunity to support, plan or mount terrorist attacks, contrary to what some people wishfully think.
What happened in New York City can happen here, perhaps even worse. Attacks like the New York City attack could be planned and orchestrated from Canadian soil by groups attempting to take advantage of the weaknesses of our legislation.
In 1999, Canada signed the UN international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism. We need to do more. We need to take extra steps in that regard.
If a government like the United States seeks people accused of terrorism in Canada, we must be convinced that there is reasonable evidence. This is a very important point.
I know some of our colleagues in the House have some sensitivity on this. If there is reasonable evidence, we should turn terrorists over, regardless of the fact that they may face a penalty in that country, for instance in the United States, that would not apply here. That move would require a change in Canadian law to send a signal to terrorists that they cannot take advantage of Canada to avoid facing justice for their crimes.
One can only imagine the outrage if one of the perpetrators of the acts in New York City and Washington, perhaps even the criminal mastermind who so carefully co-ordinated the flight schedules of the terrorists, found his way to Canada and we found ourselves unable to extradite such a person to the United States to face justice. Canadian law must address this possibility now because Canadian citizens will demand it.
Before concluding I must turn to address my friends in the Progressive Conservative/Democratic Representative Caucus Coalition. The Canadian Alliance was pleased that they supported our September 18 motion calling for tough anti-terrorism legislation. At the time and in the days immediately following September 11, they did seem to stand with us in supporting tough action on terrorism, but as the days went by various interest groups started criticizing the bill for giving Canadian police the same kinds of powers as those of police in the United States, Britain and Europe. The interest groups say there are valid concerns about information and privacy rights under the bill and say that we need parliamentary review.
We are pleased that the government has made some amendments in the area, but Canadians deserve tough anti-terrorism legislation to protect them. Our police deserve the powers and resources they need to break up terrorist cells in Canada. Our biggest concern is that the bill is not tough enough in some areas and does nothing to provide the resources that our police and security services need.
Very soon we will all have a fundamental choice. Our colleagues in the PC/DRC will have a fundamental choice. Will they stand with the lobbyists and special interest groups who do not believe in giving police officers the powers they need to do their job or will they stand up for the safety and security of Canadians and our allies? That will be the vital question that we will be asking today, tomorrow and in the days ahead.
We have asked for and received, not perfectly, some of the steps necessary to review the legislation in a proper way at a proper time. In a time of crisis, a time of war, we do recognize that certain liberties we may enjoy at a certain time may in fact be somewhat curtailed because of a crisis that is upon us. That should not be permanent, but it must be in place so that we can prevent the terrible acts happening that otherwise would were it not in effect.
That is why we support the government on the provisions it made. We deplore its complete lack of recognition of the gaping holes that it leaves unattended. We also recognize that there are provisions in place to, at a convenient and proper time, review the legislation and make adjustments if necessary.
The official opposition will continue to ask for the kinds of changes that we feel are necessary to restore confidence to our citizens, confidence in safety and security, confidence in the markets and confidence that we continue to grow both socially and economically.
However, the one thing we cannot afford is complacency. As Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. Changing laws alone will not stop terrorism. We are legislators and drafting and changing laws is what we do.
Let it not be said after the next horrific terrorist incident that it happened because the good men and good women of the House chose to do nothing.
There was an unfortunate incident that took place in the development and discussion of Bill C-36. It must be addressed. We were all dismayed when we learned earlier that the contents of the bill were actually leaked to the media before being tabled in the House. Our House leader raised it as a question of privilege.
The matter was referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. What is disturbing is that the committee was too quick to give up. More disturbing was the fact that nobody on the government side took responsibility for this glaring act of abuse of the parliamentary process. When the minister leaked the contents of Bill C-15, she took responsibility.