House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from Toronto—Danforth for raising some very specific and ongoing implications of the legislation.

It also occurred to me that the process of intending to leave the country could become a terrorist act. In conjunction with that, if we look at clause 83.23, we then have by association others drawn in, “A person who knowingly harbours or conceals any person who they know to be a person who has carried out a terrorist act or facilitates it”.

By extension, if planning to leave the country to go overseas for what is alleged to be a terrorist activity, such as camp training, would this sweep bring in others who, in normal context, would be seen to be doing an innocent activity?

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that, in fact, was discussed a little in the Senate hearings.

The general principles of the Criminal Code that connect one offence to other acts, such as complicity, various forms of aiding and abetting, they all apply. The question of a broader circle of people being drawn into the criminality that these new provisions would enact is very real.

The official government witnesses before the Senate committee tiptoed around this. They acknowledged that it was a real issue but there was a sense that we did not really want to criminalize other's assistance.

Now, of course, all the intention standards would have to be there. If one innocently helps a person leave the country by helping out with the person's passport but does not know why the person is leaving, then there is no connection. However, the moment one knows why, one would absolutely be drawn into the orbit.

One of the witnesses, I believe it was Mr. Fadden but it might have been another witness, commented along the lines that we should not be naive about how many people actually do assist others to leave for this purpose.

The idea of a wider circle beyond the person leaving does appear to be in contemplation.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his great contribution to this debate.

I would like to focus on the principle of the presumption of innocence, which is a foundational principle of our legal system. Does the member share some of my concerns about how this may question this fundamental principle?

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, confining myself to the leaving or attempting to leave the country provisions is not so much a question of presumption of innocence but the problem of proving intention in these circumstances to something that will be quite far removed in time. The underlying concerns for the principle of the presumption of innocence within our procedural criminal law system do circle back on concerns about what kind of evidence would be adequate to actually effect the detention at the border, then an arrest and then a prosecution. Would there be some kind of slippage toward less and less onerous standards of proof that might in the end not lead to prosecution but would certainly lead to detention and arrest? That would be my concern.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. In his view, does the Criminal Code currently contain the necessary provisions to investigate individuals who engage in criminal activities and to detain anyone who might pose an immediate threat to Canadians?

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I feel like I am in my law classes where a student asks me a question about something to which I do not know the detailed answer.

What I do know is that the Criminal Code does contain provisions that allow for a measure of preventive actions. The sections that deal with what we call peace bonds in English, do allow for preventive actions. We also have all kinds of measures that allow for arrests on the understanding of the arresting officer or agency that a criminal offence is about to happen.

We have to keep in mind that, for example, in the case of the Toronto 18, the kinds of arrests that were effected there were preventive in the sense that, apart from what was going on at the planning stages and the forays in the forest, the actual acts that we understand they were thinking about doing had not occurred. The system seemed to have allowed that to be detected. That has to do with the basic police and intelligence work that does allow for arrest when someone has started down the preparatory path of committing a crime. It is not just a matter of prevention where nothing has been done. People can be arrested and charged when they start down the path even if they have not been completed the path.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for increased penalties for those who harbour persons carrying on terrorist activities in this country, but are the factors that have led those people to support terrorists taken into account? Is the fact that certain persons are threatened and somewhat compelled to do so considered? For example, a family may be threatened in order to compel it to harbour such individuals or to remain silent. Does this bill draw a distinction based on the reasons that lead individuals to support terrorists?

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we would turn to the general criminal law and for various defences that would be available, including the defence of duress. That would enable people to say that they had no choice but to do what they did in harbouring. However, it is a pretty onerous standard and so it is not easily available if someone feels constrained versus actually threatened. If they are threatened, then they would have a defence.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk about Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act.

This bill is one of a series of anti-terrorism acts that started in 2001 following the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, aims to reintroduce anti-terrorism measures into our legal system. Those measures have been controversial since they were introduced in 2001.

In my opinion, those measures were introduced in 2001 because everyone was panicking. Everyone considers September 11, 2001, to be a turning point. We are all aware that everyone panicked and that we did not really know how to react to the attacks.

If I asked, every member of the House would be able to tell me where they were and what they were doing when the attacks took place.

For my part, on September 11, 2001, I was 17 years old and starting my college-level nursing studies; I was in my psychology class, and the professor entered the room to announce that there had been attacks in the United States and that a plane had flown into the twin towers.

One of my colleagues, somewhat in a panic, said, “My mother is in New York right now.” Everyone panicked. We all remember that day; we can all say what we were doing when we heard the news.

When all this happened, I was in my first year as a student in Sherbrooke, which is closer to the U.S. border further south, and my father, quite a sensible, brave man—I am really proud of him—called me to say that if I could return to Abitibi if I wanted. He understood that I might feel safer further north. A man like my father, whom I fully respect and who is really brave, was concerned and even in a bit of a panic knowing that I was far away. Everyone panicked.

Nobody knew what was going on, and laws were passed quickly because something had to be done. Elected representatives panicked, and so did the people. Something had to be done immediately. The main anti-terrorism acts passed after September 11, 2001, stem from that.

The text of the bill before us would amend the Criminal Code. It adds to and amends the list of terrorist activities, increases the penalties provided, particularly for harbouring a person who has committed a terrorism-related offence, and amends the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act.

It is true that terrorism in many forms is a threat to our society, and we must address it. However, it is always a good idea, when discussing crime bills, to consider what constitutes the hard line and what is the intelligent and effective line because the two may be synonymous at times and not at others. Consequently, we must take the time to consider exactly what we want, and I believe we must always aim for the intelligent and effective line.

These days, the opponents of a democratic regime are less and less likely the conventional forces they previously were; they are much more frequently rebel groups or terrorists, who obey no rules or international conventions, no treaties or rules for parties at war.

However, if our opponents do not abide by those rules, is it not appropriate for us to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to abandon those rules in order to guarantee public safety? Sometimes we have to take the time to think and ask ourselves whether we are not selling our soul to the devil by accepting things that go too far for the sake of public safety.

So we must be very cautious when we talk about these things. For example, should we endanger the human rights and individual freedoms that are truly dear to our country, to our democracy, and for which people have fought, for which Canadian forces have fought several wars? Should we set aside the progress we have made? The answer is no.

Why? The Combating Terrorism Act raises this question: are we discharging our public safety obligations? Anti-terrorism measures have previously been taken, and all those provisions remain in effect today, with the exception of those respecting investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions. A sunset clause, which expired in 2007, was put in place with respect to those provisions because they were viewed as a short-term solution to an emergency and because concerns had been expressed at the time. So it is somewhat as I was saying earlier: following the events of September 11, 2001, panic set in. We took measures, without knowing whether they should be maintained, in response, as it were, to the climate of panic that had set in.

Before they were eliminated, these measures were never useful. Before 2007 they were never necessary. They were used only one time, and it was not a success. But now the government wants to reinstate these same measures, which were never used in a situation that was considered to be an emergency situation at the time.

In more recent cases, it was not necessary to use these specific measures. The existing provisions in the Criminal Code were more than sufficient. We are in the process of bringing these individuals to justice, under the provisions and conditions that already exist in our Criminal Code. In 2007, when these measures came to an end, the House rejected the resolution to extend these provisions.

Our desire to be seen as doing something about law and order is making us lose sight of the notion of justice. Our system must not become focused on law and order instead of justice.

If we look at the application of our laws, we can see that the current provisions are already sufficient. Furthermore, the committees responsible for examining this issue heard the testimony of a number of stakeholders who said that existing Canadian laws were enough. For example, during the 2011 study by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on the old Bill C-17—which was the earlier version of Bill S-7—Denis Barrette, the spokesperson for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group; Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations; Ziyaad Mia, the chair of the Advocacy and Research Committee of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association; and James Kafieh, the legal counsel for the Canadian Islamic Congress, spoke out against this bill. They said it was unnecessary and violated a number of civil liberties and human rights.

Mr. Speaker, I will share more of what these people said when we continue our study of Bill S-7 and you give me 10 more minutes.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue will have 11 minutes to conclude her speech and another 10 minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on this motion.

World Food Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is World Food Day.

I am honoured to be able to tell the House about a wonderful event that is taking place in my constituency of beautiful Langley, British Columbia. Tomorrow at the Langley Events Centre, in the largest Canadian event of its kind, more than 1,600 people will come together, many of them local secondary school students, to bring attention to the needs of world food security.

World Food Day is a United Nations sanctioned day.

This incredible group of students and residents will be joining the Food for Famine Society to encourage all of us to do our part to end world hunger and poverty. This event will be livestreamed online at worldfooddaycanada.ca.

Please join me in encouraging this dedicated group of people for making a difference to end world hunger and poverty.

Passport Applications
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, why do only 25 out of 81 Service Canada centres in Quebec verify and pass along passport applications?

In Shefford, since I was elected, my staff has verified and forwarded no fewer than 2,767 passport applications. Considering that roughly 40 hours a week are devoted to this work and considering the cost of sending the applications, our MPs' budget no longer allows us to provide this service to our constituents.

Do not forget that my riding is close to the U.S. border. This service is essential to the people in my riding. I asked Service Canada about this a year ago and I got the same answer that I got last Thursday: the matter is still under review. What is the government waiting for to make a decision?

Local Leaders
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Friday I presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to 30 of southern Alberta's finest citizens. They are shining examples of the community spirit that thrives in southern Alberta.

All great movements have their great leaders, but the great movement can only come to pass and take root with the help of countless other local leaders working together to serve a great people.

India had Gandhi, and it needed Gandhi, but Gandhi also needed India, half a billion people willing to live as Gandhi lived.

The civil rights movement had Martin Luther King Jr., but it also had Rosa Parks and countless other individuals quietly and constantly practising what he preached.

Today Canada leads the world and we do so because of great local volunteers and leaders serving the world's greatest people, quietly working together not for praise and glory but out of a commitment to make the world a better place for their friends and neighbours.

It is through people like them that God keeps our land glorious and free.

Co-op Week
Statements By Members

October 15th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week is Co-op Week in Canada, a moment to highlight the 9,000-plus co-ops that make life more pleasant for millions of us.

Co-op enterprises have a long and proud history in Canada, from the Mouvement Desjardins and its more than five million members, to Vancity, to the United Farmers of Alberta; from the Fogo Island co-op to the new Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative and to the world-renowned Mountain Equipment Co-op, let us celebrate the values that drive this underestimated sector of our economy.

Last week, Quebec City was host to the International Summit of Cooperatives, the showcase event of the International Year of Co-operatives. Some 3,000 participants from around the world came to recognize the amazing power of co-operatives and to shape their future.

I am wearing this scarf as a tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who helped make the summit a success.

Finally, let me express a wish that the Government of Canada will use this co-op week to make amends and announce much awaited and deserved initiatives to support the Canadian co-operative movement.

Guinness World Record
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to the students from St. Anthony's Catholic School in Chalk River and Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Petawawa and the thousands of other students at 135 schools and other locations across Canada who participated in attempting to set the Guinness world record for the largest practical science lesson at multiple locations. The record-breaking event took place on Friday October 12 at exactly the same time across Canada.

The activity marked the official launch of National Science and Technology Week 2012, which this year runs from October 12 to October 21. It was a way to help celebrate the occasion by encouraging as many Canadians as possible to have fun with science.

The students from Chalk River and Petawawa benefited from living close to the Chalk River Laboratories, with help from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited scientists who volunteered their time to assist with the lessons.

Congratulations to all the students and their teachers who participated in the world's largest practical science lesson.