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.

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Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

February 26th, 2007 / 3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the hon. member's presentation. He and I had the opportunity to be members of the subcommittee appointed by the public safety committee to examine the Anti-terrorism Act. Indeed as he mentioned in his remarks, an interim report of that subcommittee was presented to the main committee, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. The main committee adopted that subcommittee report and reported it to this House in October.

I note since I was one of the authors of the report along with the hon. member, that the subcommittee made a number of recommendations to, in its view, improve the operation of the two sections in question. I wonder if he would like to comment on them.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his hard work. As he knows, I cannot get into certain specifics but I can tell the House that the hon. member provided the committee with what I would say was the major part of the revisions that were enacted. The reason we did so is a testament to his work ethic and desire to ensure the Anti-terrorism Act is fine-tuned in order to make it more relevant to today's needs.

During the committee's deliberations, we discussed the powers the police or the state actually have and whether those power were radical. We decided they were not. At one point we were specifically referring to recognizance with conditions. Recognizance with conditions was inspired by the existing powers of the Criminal Code, such as recognizance with conditions under section 810 where personal injury or damage is feared. We know those provisions have been and continue to be used.

As well, we know that section 49 of the Criminal Code permits a police officer to arrest without warrant anyone he or she believes is about to commit an indictable offence. One of the great protections of the Anti-terrorism Act is that it permits police to apprehend individuals before the terrible thing happens, before an aircraft is blown out of the sky or flown into a building. This is one of the necessary components of the Anti-terrorism Act.

With regard to investigative hearings, witnesses can be compelled to testify at the investigative stage, which is new to the Criminal Code, but witnesses' testimony has always been compellable at trial. However, as I mentioned before, it parallels the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, the Competition Act, as well as in public inquiries and coroner's inquests.

The committee deliberated and considered those provisions and I am confident that the Minister of Public Safety will be introducing them as a result of the comprehensive work my friend has alluded to. He will continue to ensure that the Anti-terrorism Act provides the protections necessary for Canadians.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Scarborough—Agincourt.

As I get into the debate, I will deal with a few thing. Today the Prime Minister accused the Leader of the Opposition of threatening members of his own party that they had to vote a certain way. I am a member of Parliament. I have a free mind and I can vote whichever way I want. I want to put that on the record because I think it is important for members opposite to understand.

When we first dealt with the anti-terrorism legislation, I, as a member of Parliament, spoke to the issue three times. I took in the debates, read the information and at the end of the day I came to the conclusion that I could not support the anti-terrorism bill. I could not support it because I listened to a lot of folks and I looked at my own experiences.

One of the people who really made very much of an impression on me in his speech, which I made reference to, was the member for Edmonton—Strathcona who, at that point in time, was a member of the Canadian Alliance. He said:

I would like to quote from an editorial entitled, “Terrorism and Freedom” from the November 17 edition of the Economist:

Infringements of civil rights, if genuinely required, should be open to scrutiny, and considered a painful sacrifice, or a purely tactical retreat, not as the mere brushing aside of irritating legal technicalities. Those who criticize such measures should be given a careful hearing, even if their views must sometimes be overridden. After all, one of the chief aims of most terrorists, including Osama bin Laden and his ilk, is to undermine the long-established, hard-won freedoms of liberal societies. In a democracy, one of the chief aims of those in office should be to preserve them.

The member goes on further to state:

I am a Muslim, the targeted group of this particular anti-terrorist legislation and investigation.

He goes on to give a very emotional speech as to what we must watch out for.

I have my own background. I have experienced lack of freedom, living in a totalitarian society. I must say that I have a great deal of concern when I notice in Canada now that we have both the former commissioner of the RCMP and the present Chief of the Defence Staff becoming political.

Susan Delacourt, the Ottawa bureau chief of the Toronto Star, made a profound statement the other day when she said, “Men with guns getting political”.

The two clauses on which we are sunsetting, preventive arrest and investigative hearings, have not been used. However, a person in this House has already been a victim of a drive-by smear as his name was linked to those investigative hearings that are supposed to be secret. Even though we never used the legislation, we saw the drive-by smear happen right in the House.

I really must ask my colleagues in the House a question. Let us think back to 9/11 and those terrible times. In spite of all the actions that we have taken: the American invasion of Iraq; us going into Afghanistan; the naming of the axis of evil by the President of the United States, Iraq, North Korea, Iran and Syria; the building of Guantanamo north; and the holding of people without charge, have they made our world a safer place?

I think that is a critical question to ask because we are heading down a path that threatens every civil liberty and human right that we have.

We all know what happened at the Maher Arar inquiry. We all know that officials involved in those hearings have undertaken a systematic campaign to smear Mr. Arar.

Who is Mr. Arar? He is a Canadian citizen with the highest profile case of anyone who has fallen victim to the fight against terror. When we see what happened to him and how our security officials conspired with the American security folks to send him off to be tortured in Syria and when he came back and we knew he was innocent, those very same officials continued to smear his name.

Mr. Arar is still on the no fly list in the United States. I think that is relevant. This man was completely exonerated and the Government of Canada belatedly apologized to him but he is still on the no fly list in the United States of America. That speaks to the kind of impact Canada has with the United States.

One of the biggest things that bothers me about the investigative hearings is that on Friday we heard that the security certificate process is unconstitutional. The security certificate process is the biggest assault on anyone's civil liberties in this country. Canadians should not become too comfortable and believe that it does not apply to them.

Let us take a look at it. In 1977, the security certificate was put in for non-residents. Under a security certificate, people can be held without knowing the charge against them. They can be held, have trials where they cannot attend, have the decision made by one judge and the only person that person can listen to is the police and the prosecutor. Then we have places to lock them up indefinitely.

The 1977 security certificate was only happening to those people with no status in the country. In 2001 we extended that to immigrants with status in the country. All of a sudden they fell under this draconian piece of legislation.

In 2002, an attempt was made, lest Canadians feel too comfortable that it did not apply to citizens, to put the security certificate into the proposed citizenship act.

Why is this so incredibly dangerous? It is very simple. Any information that is given for a security certificate is never tested. All there needs to be is an investigative hearing, go on a fishing expedition and someone else from the security service takes it into a security certificate hearing and, bingo, untested evidence, a rumour, third source removed, can be responsible for locking people up indefinitely.

I am saying that if a security certificate is combined with the investigative hearing there is a real possibility of disaster, which is why the Supreme Court struck down the security certificate. Unfortunately, it will not strike down the security certificate for at least one year to give Parliament time to fix it, if it is fixable.

I reiterate that our collective safety depends on no one community in our country being stigmatized. I think this is important. We know that racial profiling does not work. Every minority group in our country has some bad people and Canada is a country of minorities.

We have legislation under the Criminal Code that can deal with it. What we must ensure is that we do not let our freedoms, rights and civil liberties become a victim of terror.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member. I am very concerned that a member of this House would make statements basically saying that the very people who are employed by this country, the police, members of CSIS, people who protect our borders, and give of themselves day in and day out, conspired with another country in the Arar case.

We looked at the Arar case when the subcommittee was giving its input into the Anti-terrorism Act. The current government accepted all 23 recommendations. That member's government under the previous prime minister actually commissioned the Arar report. What country on the face of this earth gives its citizens more protection than this Dominion of Canada?

Yes, occasionally things do happen, but there was no conspiracy. If there were, there would have been criminal charges underway in this country.

To take a few little facts and to make them out to be that everything is wrong is totally inaccurate. I do not believe for one minute that there was a conspiracy. I would ask my colleague to please guide us to where in the Arar report it says there was a conspiracy by people of this country with people of another country as--

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Kitchener--Waterloo.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the answer is very simple. Maybe the hon. member could rise and tell us who has systematically tried to smear Mr. Arar. Maybe the hon. member could let us know who it was. It certainly was not his defence attorneys.

Looking at investigative hearings, whatever happened to having some charges laid against the people who were responsible for destroying evidence on Air-India? Who has been held accountable? The member on the opposite side said 329 people died. Yes, 329 people did die, but what happened to the bungled investigation by CSIS and the RCMP? What did those officials say? Who is accountable? Nobody is accountable.

Accountability always has to be the foundation of any level of security because the people we give power to have to be accountable and at least transparent to an oversight committee of Parliament.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, my friend and I are in the same party and he was telling us that when the Anti-terrorism Act was brought before the House by the previous Liberal government he voted against it. I voted for it. We have a divergence of views.

However, we can have a divergence of views on an issue like this. That is what the House is all about. I think it is very important that we have a divergence of views on the basis of fact and not on the basis of opinion or innuendo.

I am wondering if the hon. member would reconsider his statement that the Supreme Court struck down security certificates as being inaccurate. It is my understanding and my reading of the decision that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the method whereby security certificates are judged to be reasonable or unreasonable, and gave the government one year to come up with a more compliant methodology to ensure that the certificate is deemed reasonable or unreasonable with the accused having proper access to the appropriate evidence against them so that they can answer that evidence. I wonder if the hon. member would reconsider his words.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, lawyers will argue about decisions rendered by the Supreme Court. One thing I do know is that it is still in effect for one year. I do know that if individuals miss a security certificate hearing where there is absolutely no representation for these people whose liberty is at stake, and who do not know about the charges against them, or who is giving evidence against them, that there is no testing of evidence whatsoever. Like I said, combine that with an investigative hearing and it is like a neutron bomb against civil liberties and human rights.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Kitchener—Waterloo, for allowing me to share his time.

The legislation with the sunset clauses that we are discussing today came into being right after 9/11. There was a need for reaction. We were getting pressure from all sides. The government of the United States was certainly pointing a finger at Canada and saying the terrorists had come from Canada. Later on it came out that this was not the case. Plane after plane of individuals flying to North America had come to seek warmth in Canada. Planes were landing on our tarmacs. I do not even remember the President of the United States, Mr. Bush, thanking Canada for what we did for our cousins to the south.

However, times have changed. Yes, terrorism is here. Osama bin Laden is said to still be alive. Things are a mess in many parts of the world, be it in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, Iraq or Afghanistan. However, the need to have investigative tactics and to take people's civil liberties away, especially from our citizens, is something that I personally never favoured and find very hard to support, and I will tell members why.

I was born in a country where there were two extremes: the right and the left. People who were fighting for freedom against the Nazis during World War II, after the freedom fight was over, were branded as being communists and were labelled pretty close to being terrorists. Some of those individuals and part of that legacy remains with my family.

I remember hearing from my family members how they were incarcerated on islands. One of the techniques that was used to interrogate people was to put a man in a flour sack, put a cat in the same sack, and then dump the sack into the sea. The cat would panick and begin to scratch the individual. This would just demoralize the individual that was put into the water with the cat. Tactics such as those are still used in some countries.

We have seen what happened to Mr. Arar when we gave wrong information to the folks in the United States and he was sent to Syria, and certainly we apologized for it.

But there is still the situation today, although it is not as bad, of the three detainees, at what a lot of people and myself have called Guantanamo North. These are the three detainees that were detained under security certificates issued by the Liberal Party, and they certainly continue today.

However, whether those certificates are right or wrong or these people are tourists or not is not the question that I want to address. The question that I want to address is the way they are treated at Guantanamo North, Millhaven, or whatever we want to call it.

These individuals have had all their rights, their right to appeal, their right to speak, and their right to ask for privileges, taken away from them. They do not have a means of redress. If people come to a disagreement, they have an ombudsman they can go to.

At Correctional Service Canada we have what is called the Correctional Investigator. Although this individual is part of Correctional Service Canada, with a memorandum of understanding with Citizenship and Immigration and with CBSA, we still do not know who is looking after the detainees. The Correctional Investigator has absolutely no way of dealing with what they need. They had 20 issues that they wanted to deal with and all 20 issues were struck down. The citizenship and immigration committee members went to see them. As a matter of fact I, myself, went to see them three times. These individuals are on a hunger strike in order to address their needs and their complaints.

There must be a protocol in place, should we tomorrow have more detainees, on how we deal with them. Certainly, the current minister of CBSA is not willing to listen to this committee's requests, nor suggestions from members from both sides of the House. The Conservative Party wants to extend the clauses in the legislation that would be sunsetting.

I remember when the minister was the leader of the opposition, when it was the Alliance. I remember him taking a brush and painting all the Tamils in Canada, and came close to calling them terrorists in relationship to the LTTE.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Come on, that is not true.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

For the members across who are making some noise, I had an exchange with the minister, and it certainly can be read in Hansard. I questioned him on how he was willing to use a paintbrush and call the whole Tamil community terrorists, how children were being affected who were going to school and being asked by their schoolmates if they were terrorists. It sort of went in one ear and out the other of the former leader of the opposition.

Now he is the Minister of Public Safety and certainly the government has listed the LTTE, but it has done absolutely nothing to reassure Tamil Canadians in my community of Scarborough that they are not being targeted. It has done absolutely nothing to reassure Canadians who could have been under scrutiny, be it people from Lebanon who associate themselves with Hezbollah, or all kinds of people who are Canadians first and foremost. These organizations are the ones we are looking at and the government has done absolutely nothing.

Yes indeed, this issue will be an election issue. Let us not fool anybody. Let us not for 30 seconds forget that the Conservative Party has deep roots in the reform party, and the roots of the reform party are very simple: pit one Canadian against another Canadian. One is Caucasian, one is African--

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Quit lying in the House. That is not true.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Did we forget what the government did with the Lebanese? No, we did not. Did we forget how members of the Conservative Party pitted one Canadian against the other Canadian? Did we forget when members of the Conservative Party said, “Those people who are Canadians may be Canadians by convenience and we should leave them behind”. Let me reassure the member opposite that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Come on, cut it out.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Which part of that do you not understand? Which part of that do you want to debate?