House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provisions.

Topics

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

I was reading a book of yours. It didn't say that.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Now, now. I do not believe the hon. member has read my words correctly, but I continue.

The government has alleged that it is the opposition that is playing politics and is endangering national security by voting to sunset these clauses. However, it well knows that these clauses have not been used once in the entire time they have been on the statute books. The case that we are endangering public safety by our actions is fanciful.

Here we do come to material that I have considered in my previous work. Abridgments of civil liberties can be justified but only if public safety absolutely requires it and then only under strict conditions. If this is the test, the clauses should sunset because they have not proven absolutely necessary to the public safety. The government, in essence, has not proven its case, and, on these questions where our liberties are at stake, the government must prove the case of public necessity beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Sunset clauses are placed in legislation precisely to ensure that temporary and emergency provisions of the law enacted to cope with special circumstances do not anchor themselves permanently in our law and, by so doing, begin moving the equilibrium of the law away from where it should always be: balancing security and liberty, public order and individual freedom.

If we renew these clauses as the government proposes, we risk moving that plumb line of the law. Temporary measures will become permanent and what becomes permanent will become unbalanced. The law will begin to privilege security at the expense of freedom, to the eventual detriment of us all.

Let me go further. If we consider the ruling of the Supreme Court last Friday on the security certificate provisions of the Immigration Act and if we further consider the reports of the parliamentary committees, both in this House and in another place, it is clear that the entire anti-terrorist architecture on the statute books needs comprehensive revision.

That is the main challenge that this government, which has been in power now for 13 months, has refused to face. The Conservatives may say that they need more time, but they have had plenty of time. The parliamentary committee in charge of reviewing the sunset clauses submitted its report last October, five months ago. Has the government been asleep since then?

The foundations were well laid but the building needs revision, that is the point.

While the government was slumbering, the parliamentary committee made recommendations on the investigative hearing provisions to give authorities the powers they need to protect us against forthcoming threats. The government has thus far failed to take into account the conclusions of that committee.

For preventive detention, the other sunset clause at issue in this debate, members of the parliamentary committee pointed out that section 495 of the Criminal Code already gives the police the authority to arrest without warrant a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes is about to commit an indictable offence. This power is already in the criminal law of Canada and the additional powers sought in preventive detention are, in our judgment, strictly unnecessary.

If such powers exist in the criminal law, the government will need to prove, and it has failed to do so, that the preventive arrest provisions of the ATA have the overriding necessity that it claims.

That is the issue here. A free society can contemplate limited abridgments of the civil liberties of citizens only if the government offers clear public justification in Parliament of its case. It has failed to do so. These clauses must sunset and then the government should come back with redrafted measures and a case to justify them to the House and to the people. Should the government bring back measures that meet the test of public necessity and demonstrate that it has listened to the considered opinions of the committee of the House and the Senate, the opposition will respond.

The government needs to do more than just repair these defective clauses. It needs to give serious consideration to the opinions expressed by the honourable members of the Senate in the recent report entitled “Fundamental Justice in Extraordinary Times”.

This report makes my point. The entire architecture of Canada's anti-terrorism laws require substantial amendment. The foundations laid by the Liberal government are sound but there is room for substantial change if Canadians are to remain safe and have their liberties secure.

The report in the Senate, for example, recommends removal of the motive requirement from the Criminal Code definition of terrorist activity. It also recommends removing the reference to political, religious or ideological objectives from the definition of threats to security to Canada. All this, if done by a careful government, would provide greater protection for the free expression of opinion in Canada and prevent religious or racial profiling in Canada's anti-terrorist policy.

Without committing itself in advance to any specific initiative in this area, the opposition urges the government to listen to these suggestions and come back to this House with legislative amendments that meet public safety objectives while providing greater protection for Canada's minorities against religious and racial profiling.

In this and other areas, the report of the other house makes a convincing case. It states that our laws and policies to prevent and combat terrorism should be reformed to better reflect the objective of ensuring the security of Canadians while protecting the civil liberties that are the basis of our democratic society.

Why will the government not react positively to the sober second thought offered by the other chamber to Canada's anti-terrorism laws? Why will it not come to the House with proposals that reflect in detail these sensible recommendations? Why is it presenting members with a false, up or down, black or white choice to sunset or not to sunset? Sunset or not to sunset is not the question. Why has the government waited six months to take action to fix Canada's legislative framework on anti-terrorism? Why has the government, and it is a minority government after all, failed to reach out to the opposition and work with them to amend the laws we need to protect our citizens? Why has it decided that it is in its interest to jam the opposition rather than to serve the people?

I leave it to the other side to answer those questions but I would suggest that the answers tell us much about the character of the government and the character of the hon. member who leads it. For the government, politics comes first and good public policy comes a very distant last. Canadians deserve better.

The government has had plenty of time to review and improve these clauses, but it has done nothing. As a result, the sunset clauses will expire, if that is the will of this House. Once that happens, the government, which could have avoided that situation at any point in the past six months, will have to repair the damage it will have done itself. If it comes back to this House with reasonable measures that meet the test of public necessity, that protect the public while protecting civil liberties, the official opposition will be ready to do its duty constructively.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be clear right from the outset that the Anti-terrorism Act was tabled by a Liberal dominated House of Commons at the time. The act as it stands demands that an unamendable motion be laid before Parliament.

We are not here to debate a whole new bill. We are here to debate whether or not to renew the act due to the sunset clause for another three years.

The Liberals are under tremendous pressure. We are talking about the safety of Canadian citizens against terrorism. Former Liberal ministers have spoken against the current Liberal position; Anne McLellan and John Manley are two of them. The B.C solicitor general has also spoken against the Liberal position as it stands right now.

The families of the victims of the Air-India tragedy, one of the largest and most tragic terrorist events ever brought against Canada are asking the Liberals to reconsider their position on the Anti-terrorism Act.

Of course there is the Senate committee report which was released just last week which is asking the Liberals to reconsider their position and to act in the best interest of Canadians.

These are a lot of different groups, different in the sense that they do not necessarily have links between them. They are all asking the Liberal Party to reconsider its position because they know that the Liberal position is against the best interest of Canadians.

How would my colleague respond to that, especially to Canadians?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue is relatively simple. The sunset clause issue cannot be seen apart from the flaws in the anti-terrorist legislation in general.

The remarks that I made to the House were that the parliamentary committee and the Senate committee have said that we can renew these provisions only if there are substantial revisions to the provisions themselves and if there are revisions to other aspects of the anti-terrorist legislation. It is that duty to introduce companion legislation where the government has failed, presenting the House with a false up or down choice on sunset which neglects the wider context of legislative change that simply has to be made if Canada is to be adequately protected.

The other side of the House is presenting this as a choice between those who are soft on terror or tough on terror, which is an entirely false issue. This side of the House is prepared to work constructively with the other side of the House to put a comprehensive piece of legislation together that addresses the flaws that two parliamentary committees have now indicated very clearly.

We cannot in conscience vote to not sunset clauses. What would happen is that the entire architecture of the anti-terrorist legislation would lumber forward into the future encumbered with all these defects. Now is the time to act, and the government should act.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore the following question. Are there provisions other than those set out in the Anti-terrorism Act for preventing a terrorist plot in the works? How effective would these provisions be? Is it possible, among other things, to keep an arrested person in prison because they were plotting a terrorist act?

Could he also tell us what abuse he thinks there might be of these provisions, which would require persons arrested under the Anti-terrorism Act to sign a recognizance in order to be released, rather than be sent to jail. How could this be abused?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with some hesitation that I will answer this question.

I will simply say that the Supreme Court ruled on these issues last week. In its decision, the court stated that it is possible to detain a person preventively, but that person's rights must be protected.

According to the Supreme Court's decision, our system for protecting the rights of these individuals is obviously not good enough. We must make some changes. It pointed out the dangers. There are some individuals who have been held for six years in an irregular situation. The Supreme Court is trying to fix this situation, which is part of a larger problem. Our country's anti-terrorist architecture is flawed, and there are problems we must solve with new legislation.

I hope the member from the Bloc will support the other opposition parties in pressuring the government to take responsibility and fix these flaws.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention by the Liberal leader in waiting. Before he becomes Liberal leader, I think it is incumbent upon him to understand how Parliament works and how things have to go forward.

There is no question that the Liberals brought this legislation forward. They put a number of provisions and requirements in the legislation, including the fact that a single unamendable resolution be laid before Parliament and members had to say yea or nay.

He talked about negotiations and about the opportunity for the Liberals to have their say to make changes to the legislation. There is no provision for that according to the bill that was brought forward by the previous Liberal government. The Liberals simply have a responsibility to either stand with Canadians and protect them or to tell Canadians that their security and their safety do not matter. The future Liberal leader should make it clear to Canadians whether or not he supports the security of Canadians.

He talked about the Liberals not wanting to politicize this. The Liberals had the opportunity to delay this from happening and negotiate some type of an agreement, but they failed to do that. They have decided to proceed with politics and put the security of Canadians on the line.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite introduced a number of entirely irrelevant considerations. I am struggling to winnow out the elements of his contribution that are irrelevant and focus solely on those that are relevant.

I would simply make the observation that the sunset clause issue has to be seen in the context of an anti-terrorist legislation whose foundations are solid because they were created by the previous Liberal government and commanded the assent of both sides of the House. As we have lived with these provisions over five years, it has become apparent both to the parliamentary committee and to members of my colleague's own party that there are substantial defects in this legislation that need to be addressed.

The government has had six months, since October, since the parliamentary committee reported, to come back to the House with legislation. A responsible government would have come back to the House with legislation that would have addressed in a comprehensive form the defects this legislation faces. Then we would not be put in the false position of sunset or not to sunset.

The key point here is that even those who support the renewal of these clauses are troubled by some of their implications, troubled by their potential operation. A responsible government would deal with these problems and solve them.

Instead, we have been put in a situation which seems to me not to serve the public interest. In my judgment, the public interest should be served by a comprehensive review of this legislation. As I have said already several times, and the leader of my party has said many times, we would be prepared to respond positively to that initiative.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, in view of the ongoing debate concerning provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act subject to sunsetting, I felt it my duty to rise in the House to set the record straight. I ask all hon. members to listen with an open mind on what is unquestionably a matter of critical importance to our collective safety.

When speaking about these powers, investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, we must work by way of comparison to the anti-terrorism powers of other democratic states. They will clearly show that restraint is built into the scope of their application. Let me first discuss the investigative hearing procedure.

The United States has a grand jury system. The grand jury wields significant powers not shared by other investigative agencies. The federal grand jury may compel the cooperation of persons who may have information relevant to the matters it is investigating. Any person may be subpoenaed to appear and testify under oath before a grand jury. If individuals who are subpoenaed fail to appear or refuse to answer questions, they may be held in contempt absent a valid claim of privilege.

The grand jury may subpoena the owner of documents or other evidence to present them to the grand jury, on pain of contempt, absent a valid claim of privilege. If a witness or the custodian of a document asserts a valid privilege, he or she may be provided with use and derivative use immunity and then be required to comply with a subpoena to testify or produce evidence.

The U.S. Patriot Act represented a marked departure from past changes to grand jury secrecy rules. The act permits disclosure without court order to a list of federal agencies with duties unrelated to law enforcement. Although the material disclosed must relate to foreign intelligence or counter-intelligence, the Patriot Act defines those terms with considerable breadth. I would add that there are also equivalent investigative hearing provisions in Australia and South Africa.

By contrast, in the United Kingdom the onus is on the person having relevant information relating to terrorism to disclose the information to the police. A person who fails to disclose to the police information which he or she knows or believes might be of material assistance in preventing an act of terrorism is guilty of an offence and liable to punishment of up to five years' imprisonment.

Let me now turn to the recognizance with conditions power. In Canada the use of the recognizance with conditions provision is dependent on reasonable grounds to believe that a specific terrorist activity will be committed in addition to a reasonable suspicion that the imposition of a recognizance is necessary. Arrest without warrant is limited in scope where, for example, there are exigent circumstances and if the person is detained, the period of detention is limited, generally up to a maximum of 72 hours before the hearing takes place. If the person refuses to enter into the recognizance with conditions, he or she may be jailed for a term not exceeding one year.

Compare the scope of this provision to some of those found in the U.K. In the U.K. the police may arrest without warrant a person whom he or she reasonably suspects is a terrorist. This differs from normal arrest powers in that there is no need for there to be any specific offence in the mind of the arresting officer, thereby allowing for wider discretion in carrying out investigations. The maximum period of time that a person could be held in detention without charge under this power has been extended since 2000 from 7 days to 14 days, to the current 28 days.

There are other powers as well given to the police in the U.K. For example, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a constable in uniform, having received an authorization from a police officer having at least the rank of assistant chief constable, may stop a vehicle in the place set out in the authorization and search the vehicle, driver or passenger. It also extends to a pedestrian or anything carried by him or her in the area. The senior official may issue the authorization if it is considered expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.

The police are required to inform the secretary of state of the authorization as soon as is reasonably practicable, and to continue, it must be confirmed within 48 hours. An authorization may be up to 28 days and can be renewed.

As well, the U.K. also put in place in 2005 a system of control orders which may be imposed on a person to prevent terrorist attacks. These orders can be imposed on citizens and non-citizens alike. There are two kinds of control orders that may be imposed: those which do not derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights, and those which do derogate from the convention. The latter would arguably apply in cases of house arrest. Some of these control orders have been challenged in the lower courts and their lawfulness will ultimately be decided by the House of Lords.

In Australia, legislation has been enacted creating a system of control orders and preventative arrests of terrorist suspects. With regard to preventative detention, the Australian federal police may apply for an order for preventative detention of a terrorist suspect where there has been a terrorist act or where a terrorist act is imminent.

However, the period of preventative detention is limited to 48 hours. In contrast, and in addition, many Australian states and territories have enacted legislation allowing preventative detention for up to 14 days.

Given this comparison, I would suggest that far from being blunt instruments, these provisions in the Anti-terrorism Act designed to prevent terrorism are modest in scope and finely tuned to their purpose.

At this time, I would like to turn to another major issue that has been raised by opposition parties in deciding, to date, to oppose the recognizance with conditions provision found in section 83.3 of the Criminal Code.

The hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has argued that the recognizance with conditions power is not needed because paragraph 495(1)(a) of the Criminal Code has long provided a peace officer with the power to arrest without warrant a person whom he or she believes is about to commit an indictable offence.

It has been further argued that in such a case the person can be brought before a judge and released on recognizance with conditions. The hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has also contended that the recognizance with conditions power under the ATA is very different in nature from the peace bond process found in section 810 of the Criminal Code and has very different consequences.

He has argued that in his experience section 810 is often used with regard to apprehended domestic violence or stalking rejected lovers. In contrast, in his view, the recognizance with conditions under the Anti-terrorism Act can catch innocent people who may not be aware of the reasons for which terrorists are soliciting their aid.

He also states that under section 810 a person is subject to a summons to come before a judge and is not arrested, and that the judge cannot commit the person to a prison term unless the person refuses to sign the recognizance after listening to all the parties and being satisfied by the evidence educed that there are reasonable grounds for the fears.

Allow me to reply to these arguments in turn. There are a number of differences between section 495 of the Criminal Code and the provisions setting out the recognizance with conditions contained in the Anti-terrorism Act.

Paragraph 495(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, in part, sets out the power of a peace officer to arrest without warrant a person who is reasonably believed to be about to commit an indictable offence; that is, a serious crime.

The recognizance with conditions provision in the ATA requires, first, that a peace officer have reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist activity will be committed and suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person is necessary to prevent a terrorist activity.

In short, under the recognizance with conditions provision in the ATA the timeframe allowed for preventive intervention is longer than that provided for in section 495. There is no requirement that the terrorist activity be imminent; namely, about to be committed.

This represents a substantial difference that may, in practice, result in the prevention of terrorist activity and in saving lives.

The relevant arrest without warrant power in section 495 is restricted to those persons who, it is reasonably believed, are about to commit an indictable offence. These individuals, in other words, must be on the verge of committing a serious crime.

The recognizance with conditions provision in section 83.3 of the Criminal Code is not as narrow as section 495. It can apply to anyone who fits the statutory criteria set out in section 83.3 of the Anti-terrorism Act. A peace officer requires reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist activity will be committed and that the imposition of the recognizance with conditions is necessary to prevent a terrorist activity from being carried out.

For example, while the police may suspect on reasonable grounds that particular individuals have contributed to or been associated with certain terrorist activities, they may not yet have the grounds to arrest these individuals and charge them with having committed a provable crime. In other words, they would not have grounds to arrest without warrant for being about to commit an indictable offence under section 495 of the Criminal Code.

They would, however, be able to request a judge to impose a recognizance with conditions under the Anti-terrorism Act and place the person under judicial supervision in an effort to prevent any terrorist activity from actually occurring.

To be fair, the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin recognizes that the recognizance with conditions power is broader in scope than section 495 of the Criminal Code. However, he disapproves of this, expressing concern that a person placed under this kind of recognizance with condition can be branded a terrorist without ever being charged with a terrorism offence. He makes an analogy to a robbery about to take place, arguing that police can use section 495 to arrest the accused because he or she is about to commit a crime. The police, he says, can do the same with regard to a terrorist activity being planned.

This argument ignores the fundamental difference between terrorism and other forms of serious crimes, including organized crime. In this regard, the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has chosen to disregard the advice given to him by Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of the U.K.'s anti-terrorism legislation, who was questioned by the House subcommittee in November 2005.

In response to a suggestion from the hon. member that terrorist investigations are quite similar to those which must be undertaken into organized crime, Lord Carlile disagreed. He said:

With organized crime, it is often possible for the police investigating that crime to leave arrest until very late. Indeed, for example, there was a huge robbery at London Heathrow Airport a couple of years ago—I was involved in the case for a time professionally—in which they allowed the robbery to take place, and they arrested the robbers whilst they were committing the robbery, with the result that in the end most of them pleaded guilty. You can't run that risk with terrorism.

I could point to a number of operations, if I were able to describe them in detail, in which the police and the security services in the United Kingdom have felt they had to intervene very early because of the risk of frightened or nervous terrorists trying to bring an act to fruition much earlier than was originally intended. This means that a great deal of the evidence gathering has to take place after what is sometimes regarded as a premature arrest.

This reality of the need to intervene at an early stage to disrupt and deter a potential terrorist activity in its nascent stages lies at the heart of the difference between the recognizance with conditions in the Criminal Code and section 495 which, while appropriate for regular crime, including organized crime, is not adequate in order to prevent acts of terrorism most effectively.

Let us carefully examine the differences between section 810 of the Criminal Code from the recognizance with conditions power under the Anti-terrorism Act.

First, under the recognizance with conditions in the Anti-terrorism Act, as in section 810, a judge may issue a summons to a person to appear. The general rule is that a peace officer must lay information before a judge and have the judge compel the person to attend before him to determine if a recognizance with conditions should be imposed.

The arrest without warrant in section 83.3 is very limited in scope. It applies only where exigent circumstances make it impracticable to lay the information, or where a summons has been issued for the person to appear and the peace officer suspects unreasonable grounds that the detention of the person is necessary to prevent a terrorist activity from taking place. This is in sharp contrast with section 495, which is exclusively an arrest without warrant power.

Second, under the recognizance with conditions power in the Anti-terrorism Act, as in section 810, if the person signs the recognizance and abides by the conditions, he or she remains at liberty and will not be sentenced or have a criminal record.

Third, the suggestion has been made that the section 810 peace bond process deals only with cases of domestic assault or stocking that do not really rise to the high level of harm or notoriety that terrorism does.

It should be noted, however, that peace bonds in the Criminal Code can also apply in respect of other serious criminal conduct, such as the cases of fear on reasonable grounds that a person will commit a criminal organization offence. A person placed under a peace bond in these circumstances is also not guilty of any offence, and yet is placed under a severe stigma without necessarily being found guilty of any crime.

Finally, I would point out an important difference between the peace bond set out in section 810 and the recognizance with conditions power in the Anti-terrorism Act. Unlike the section 810 peace bond, the recognizance with conditions under the Criminal Code cannot be used unless the relevant attorney general consents to information being laid by a peace officer before a judge, and this applies in all cases.

This is a key and important safeguard that is curiously not mentioned by the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.

For the benefit of all members of the House, let me summarize the major safeguards found in the recognizance with conditions provision found in the Anti-terrorism Act.

First, the consent of the Attorney General of Canada or the attorney general or solicitor general of the province is required.

Second, a peace officer has limited power to arrest a person without warrant in order to bring him or her before a judge, such as in exigent circumstances.

Third, a peace officer who detains a person must either lay information with the consent of the relevant attorney general or release the person.

Fourth, in order to lay information, a person detained in custody must be brought before a provincial court judge without unreasonable delay, and in any event within 24 hours of arrest or as soon as possible thereafter if a judge is unavailable.

Fifth, only if the judge is convinced that the necessary reasonable grounds exist, may the judge order that the person enter into a recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and to comply with any other reasonable conditions for a period of 12 months. Only if the person refuses or fails to enter into the recognizance can the person be committed to prison.

A person subject to a recognizance has the right to apply to vary the conditions under the recognizance order.

Finally, federal and provincial attorneys general are required to report annually on most uses of this power. The Minister of Public Safety and ministers responsible for policing in the provinces are required to report annually on the arrest without warrant power.

Given these safeguards, it is apparent that this provision has numerous safeguards to prevent possible abuse.

Let me end by imploring the members opposite to consider the words of Lord Carlile of Berriew. Yes, there is a difference between organized crime and terrorism. The threat of mass murder is different from the threat of individual violence.

We need to have the tools to prevent these attacks at their nascent stages, not just when the crime is about to be committed, for to wait is to endanger the lives of those we wish to protect. It is a time for foresight, and foresight demands that these provisions be extended.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would nevertheless like to point out that these provisions have never been used in the past five years. I would like to remind the hon. member who spoke before me that the offence of conspiracy also exists. Conspiracy is an agreement between two people to commit an indictable offence. I do not see how the police can believe they should arrest an individual if they do not have any information to indicate that that individual has demonstrated, in one way or another, their intention to commit a terrorist act. When an individual has discussed such an act with someone else, or when they have begun preparations, only then has a conspiracy offence been committed and the police can arrest a suspect, bring that individual before a judge and charge them with conspiracy. The judge can even refuse bail if they believe that the plans are advanced or are dangerous.

Lord Carlisle tells us that we should not allow terrorist acts to be committed. However, it also seems to me that, if we use the conspiracy charge to bring a suspect before a judge, we interrupt the terrorist activity the same as if we bring that individual before a judge to enter into a recognizance.

How would the hon. member react if his son or one of his friends had met terrorists at school or university and had contact with them without knowing they were terrorists? How would he react if authorities concluded—as it was concluded in the Maher Arar case—that he was likely a terrorist and ordered to enter into a peace bond, because there was evidence and grounds to believe, given those meetings, that he may have been part of a terrorist plot? Does the hon. member think that his son could later travel to the United States or even keep his job?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, to answer the first part of the question regarding the point about how these powers appear not to have been used in the last five years and whether we really need them, just because they have not been used does not mean they are not important and that they will not need to be used in the next three years. I would like to point out as well that the member's very question undermines the position of the Liberal Party, in that it shows that great restraint is used by peace officers in actually applying the provisions we are talking about under this Anti-terrorism Act.

Second, the member asks about my son or daughter and how I would like it and so on. The provisions contained within the Anti-terrorism Act are constitutional. In 2004, in a reference related to the Air-India prosecution, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of these provisions. That is important to know.

Third, these provisions are used only under the most dire of circumstances. At the end of my speech, I read out for members the conditions that must apply and pointed out the caution that is taken before applying these two provisions. If somebody meets the circumstances of those provisions, then yes, these provisions should be brought against them, and if not, then they would not be. I think we have seen that in the lack of use of these provisions over the last five years.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for his work on this and many issues in making Canada truly a safer place for every Canadian and in ensuring that we have the tools necessary to keep Canadians safe.

Earlier I questioned the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore about this whole issue. He talked about bringing a resolution forward to amend the bill. I would like to ask the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell if it is his understanding that a resolution could amend this bill to include all the things that the Liberals want included. The Liberals are talking about all kinds of things in regard to changing it. Is it the understanding of the hon. member that a resolution could truly do what the Liberals are asking it to do?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

No, Mr. Speaker. It is my understanding, and it is common knowledge, that the Anti-terrorism Act that we are debating right now was brought forward by the Liberal-dominated government at that time and passed in Parliament. It was considered important legislation. It was considered well presented legislation as well.

Within the Anti-terrorism Act, it demands that an unamendable motion be laid before Parliament. As I was explaining to the member who spoke just before me, we are not here to discuss completely redoing the Anti-terrorism Act, but within the act is this provision regarding an unamendable motion at the end of the sunset period in order to renew the provisions contained within the Anti-terrorism Act.

What Liberal Party members are doing, of course, is throwing up a smokescreen, one of delay, duck and dodge. They do not want to address this issue head-on. They do not want to act in the best interests of Canadians. They are acting in a very partisan manner. As I also read out for the member previously, they are under tremendous pressure from different organizations across Canada to change their position for the best interests of Canadians.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest while the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell was explaining this to the House and particularly to Canadians, because in this House, of course, we are unfortunately beginning to see lines being drawn where lines should not be drawn. By lines being drawn, I mean that parties are taking positions surrounding the Anti-terrorism Act that historically they have not taken. In particular, our Liberal confreres across the way are now displaying what I believe to be an ill-advised stance with regard to the Anti-terrorism Act.

In regard to the act, I would like to ask my hon. friend a question. Why is the government not considering in this motion the changes recommended by the subcommittee? I will repeat that, in this particular motion, because this is a motion that has some procedural mechanisms surrounding it. Perhaps the hon. member would be able to respond to that.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I explained in my previous response, the Anti-terrorism Act as passed by a Liberal-controlled Parliament at the time demands that an unamendable motion be laid before Parliament, so we are not able to amend the motion.

What we want to do is implement the provisions contained within the Anti-terrorism Act for another three years, in which case there is another sunset clause after three years, and then Parliament will revisit the Anti-terrorism Act to weigh the security of Canadians, the threat of terrorism and the conditions within Canada at that time.