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Liberal MP for Mount Royal (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 41.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Armenia April 24th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, this is a poignant time, a time to remember, to commemorate and to bear witness. I rise today on the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, which reminds us of the dangers of indifference and inaction in the face of incitement and mass atrocity.
This fact of history has been recognized by the House, documented by scholars and confirmed by the anguished testimony of survivors.
I have just come from meeting with the Armenian community here assembled. The present Turkish government and the people are not to blame for Ottoman injustice. We trust that the process of Turkish Armenian reconciliation will lead to both recognition of truth and healing between peoples.
As we say on occasions such as this, never again.
Foreign Affairs April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the government has listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and Iranian footprints are reported in yesterday's aborted terror attack, but while the government removed Iran's immunity from civil suit from victims of Iranian terror, allowing Iran to be held civilly accountable, the government is now invoking that very diplomatic immunity to protect Iran against civil suits by victims of Iranian terror.
Why is the government standing up for Iran in Canadian courts? Why is the government undermining the very recently enacted civil remedies for victims of terror act? Why are we defending the rights of Iran against the victims of Iranian terror?
The Holocaust April 23rd, 2013
Holocaust remembrance reminds us, as the survivors know only too well, of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened. The Holocaust, as Elie Wiesel reminds us again and again, was a war against the Jews in which not all victims were Jews, but all Jews everywhere were targeted victims.
However, Yom Hashoah ve Hagevurah reminds us also, on this 70th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, of the heroic, defiant struggle of a starved, decimated Jewish remnant, the most heroic act of resistance in the whole of the Second World War and now a universal symbol of courage and dignity.
I say to the survivors here today that they are the true heroes of humanity. They witnessed and endured the worst of inhumanity, yet they somehow found in the depths of their own humanity the courage to go on, to rebuild their lives as they rebuilt our communities. Together with them, we pledge to never again be silent or indifferent in the face of evil and to speak and to act always on behalf of our common humanity.
Plus jamais. Never again.
Combating Terrorism Act April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am saying that the approach is what I would call the principle of least injustice. In other words, bearing all the facts and circumstances that are known to us, for now these provisions can be helpful, may be necessary and a parliamentary review is mandated. I trust it will take place, and we may have a better appreciation at that time as to how to go forward.
Combating Terrorism Act April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, as I said, the fact that they had not been used does not mean that they may not yet be needed. In fact, it may demonstrate they were not abused. They may yet still need it.
In terms of the Supreme Court's contextual principle, we must appreciate the contextual environment in which the transnational terrorist threat operates.
I would remind the hon. member, and I suspect he knows, that if one takes a comparative perspective here, we have a situation where, in the United States, simply by designating a suspected terrorist an enemy combatant, he or she can be indefinitely detained. Detention in the United Kingdom has been extended from 6 days to 18 days. We are talking about a requirement to bring a person before judge within 24 hours. As I said, there is an inventory of safeguards at the executive level, at the legislative level, at the judicial level and through other commissioners, such as the Privacy Commissioner and the like.
While this is an imperfect approach, nonetheless it was something that was supported after there was review of these provisions by parliamentary committees in the House and in the Senate. It is not as if we did not have any review or appreciation of these principles as well.
I do agree that we need to do more on these matter. For example, members in the House need to have more information in the matter of intelligence gathering, which my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis recommended. Our government re-established a parliamentary committee to provide oversight with respect to intelligence gathering, and here, too, to invoke more principles of transparency in that regard.
Combating Terrorism Act April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on the matter of Bill S-7, legislation that proposes a number of amendments to Canada's anti-terrorism regime, including provisions respecting the re-enactment of preventive arrests and investigative hearings. As members will know, these provisions expired in 2007 and have, on numerous occasions, been the subject of my remarks in the House and in writings of mine over the years, dating back to the tabling of the original Anti-terrorism Act, Bill C-36 in 2001.
It perhaps goes without saying that this debate began in the period following the horrific events of 9/11, which was characterized at the time as a period when the whole world was changed. Back then the Liberal government of the day introduced provisions for preventive arrests and investigative hearings as components of the larger Anti-terrorism Act. Soon after Bill C-36 in the House in its original form was tabled, I rose in the House and expressed some 10 civil libertarian concerns with respect to that projected draft of the Anti-terrorism Act, including the provisions relating to preventive detention and investigative hearings. I elaborated on these matters in a series of articles and recommended that the provisions be sunsetted after three years, later extended to five years, pending comprehensive parliamentary review, and the government agreed. With that as well as the majority of my other concerns being addressed, some eight out of the ten, I ended up supporting the legislation.
Regrettably, by 2007, when the provisions were scheduled to sunset pending a parliamentary motion to extend them, the House and special Senate committees had not yet completed their studies of the Anti-terrorism Act due to repeated delays including the dissolution of Parliament in 2004 and 2006. Nevertheless, the Conservative government went ahead with proposing the extension of the provisions without taking the views of these parliamentary committees into account, leaving House members with little insight into the experience of the provisions in effect. The result was a highly politicized and partisan debate, rife with what I could only describe at the time as bumper-sticker slogans and smears instead of a debate on the merits of the policy, a policy with which reasonable people can and do reasonably disagree. Indeed, I regretted the references made by ministers of the Crown at the time that somehow our party was soft on terrorism for simply wanting to debate these provisions, especially considering that it was a Liberal government that introduced the Anti-terrorism Act in the first place.
With Bill S-7 now stipulating that preventive arrest and investigative hearings be once again subject to a five-year sunset clause, I offer my support today with the expectation that if enacted, parliamentary committees will be given the opportunity and resources necessary to undertake full review of the provisions in question during the next trial period and well in advance of any debate to extend it once again. Indeed, any decision made by Parliament that affects the security and rights of all Canadians must be reasoned, thoughtful, evidence-based and not rushed as a matter of political expediency.
The critical issue here is one of principled balance. We must, on the one hand, seek to combat terrorism and keep Canadians safe from terrorist threats and attacks, while at the same time protecting our individual freedoms as enshrined in the charter. These are not, however, mutually exclusive objectives. Indeed, an appropriate and effective anti-terrorism strategy must view security and rights not as concepts in conflict, not as a zero sum game, but as values that are inextricably linked.
Let me articulate a number of basic principles in this regard. First, terrorism itself must be seen as being, in effect, an assault on the security of a democracy like Canada and an assault on our fundamental rights such as the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Accordingly, anti-terrorism law and policy may be said to constitute the promotion and protection of the security of democracy and fundamental human rights in the most profound sense. At the same time, however, the implementation and enforcement of such anti-terrorism law must always comport with the rule of law, must always adhere to the principles of the charter. Torture, for example, must never be allowed to be used and must always comport as well with our international legal obligations.
The second and related principle is that we are not simply talking here about a domestic criminal justice model. We are talking about is an international criminal justice model. We are not talking, as the courts and others have said, of the ordinary criminal. We are talking about the transnational terrorist threat.
This brings me to a third principle, which the Supreme Court has itself enunciated, namely the contextual principle; that we cannot view these issues in the abstract but we must view them in terms of the realities as they have unfolded in this regard. Also, we must appreciate that Canadian anti-terrorism law is inextricably bound with the international criminal justice system and the invocation and application of international law treaties, the invocation of general principles of law recognized by the community of nations. For example, section 11(g) of the charter on this point says that retroactivity shall not avail when the crimes are those that run afoul of “the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations”. Therefore, in this regard, it recognizes that the international criminal justice model departs sometimes from the domestic model.
UN Security mandates must also be taken into account, bilateral and multilateral agreements and so forth. In particular, Security Council resolution 1373, enacted following 9/11, mandates that all states take “additional measures to prevent and suppress, in their territories through all lawful means, the financing and preparation of any acts of terrorism”. These standards must be met by our anti-terrorism legislation, if for no other reason than that we cannot have the appropriate or factual understanding of the dynamics involved in our domestic counterterrorism measures if we view them in a vacuum, if we view them as abstracted from the global circumstances and precedents or if we view them, as the Supreme Court has said, out of context without resort to an appreciation of the contextual principle.
However, beyond the abstract in that regard, let us be clear. The threat of transnational terrorism is real and Canada is not unaffected by it, as the recent events, whether they be in Boston or the aborted terrorist attack now in Canada, indicate. Indeed, Canadians have been implicated in terrorist attacks abroad as recently as last month in Algeria, last year in Bulgaria and just two days ago with regard to an arrest in Bulgaria. This is precisely why Bill S-7 also makes it a crime to leave or attempt to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activities. Moreover, Canadians have been killed in terrorist attacks, tragically in the case of 9/11 but also thereafter.
Accordingly, our commitment to civil liberties must always be consistent with regard to the protection of human rights as a whole, and we must take the necessary concrete and decisive actions to prevent terrorist attacks. In the words of two former Supreme Court justices, the Hon. Frank Iacobucci and the Hon. Louise Arbour, who also spent several years as the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, the Constitution is not a suicide pact and “[t]he challenge for democracies in the battle against terrorism is not whether to respond, but rather how to do so”.
Preventive arrests and investigative hearings can be effective, limited and lawful counterterrorism measures. Indeed, the Supreme Court, in the matter of investigative hearings has held them to be constitutional, stating that they do not violate an individual's charter rights against self-incrimination, as evidence derived from such hearings cannot be used against the person except in perjury prosecutions. Moreover, the provisions are not otherwise unknown in Canadian law, and similar provisions already exist in the Coroners Act and the Inquiries Act, and I can go on.
In the matter of preventive arrests, these too are not a new invocation of principle and policy. Preventive arrests are effectively the invocation of a peace bond process set forth in section 810 of the Criminal Code, which has been used to protect against criminal violence such as domestic violence, sexual violence and organized crime, and now extends them to suspected terrorist activities.
In addition, preventive arrests and investigative hearings as set forth in Bill S-7 seek to respect Canadians' individual and collective rights through safeguards and principles of transparency. In this regard, it is important to appreciate that there are three safeguards in the bill, and I was involved with respect to the initiation of these safeguards. Reference has been made to the safeguards, and we must appreciate that there is an executive requirement for the consent of the Attorney General and therefore objective oversight in that regard. With parliamentary oversight and the requirements for annual reports from both federal ministers concerned and with Bill S-7, they must not only detail how often the provisions are used, but also make a case for why they should be extended.
Furthermore, there is judicial oversight with respect to investigative hearings, and in the event of an arrest, the individual must be brought before a judge, typically within 24 hours, contrasting with the situation that is in the United States or with the situation in the United Kingdom and the like.
Notwithstanding these safeguards, I understand why some members, maybe even from all parties, remain uncomfortable with the proposed measures. They are indeed extraordinary provisions, though extraordinary provisions to combat extraordinary threats.
I do not, however, share the view offered by some in the House that because the provisions, and we heard this again in debate, were seldom used, in effect they are somehow unnecessary now. In fact, their lack of use can equally demonstrate that they are not abused, that they are truly measures of last—
Rwanda April 19th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, last week I commemorated the 19th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which targeted the Tutsi population, and the Rwandan diaspora.
This unspeakable horror where one million Tutsis were murdered in a three-month genocidal onslaught, itself preceded by an orchestrated dehumanization and demonization of the minority Tutsi population.
What makes this Rwandan genocide so unspeakable is that it was preventable. No one can say that we did not know. It was the indifference and inaction of the bystander international community that made this genocide possible. While the United Nations and government leaders in the U.S. and Europe dithered and delayed, Rwandans died.
What makes this genocide so painful today is that it is being forgotten, or worse, being denied. Therefore, may this Rwandan genocide be an occasion not only to remember but to learn the lessons of the crime whose name, genocide, we should even shudder to mention.
Business of Supply April 15th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying I join with the hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex in expressing concern for the victims of the bombing, and I appreciate him bringing that before the House.
The hon. member began his remarks by saying, “Let us look at the facts”, and in the course of his remarks, made reference to the issue of tax credits for children. In that context, I ask him a question about a misstatement of fact made earlier in this debate by the member for York Centre in the matter of tax credits.
The member for York Centre said that the Liberals in 2005, in critiquing the Conservative plan at the time to give families of young children $1,200 a year for child care, had said, “Do not give people $25 a week to blow on beer”.The person who made that statement at the time was an aide to the Prime Minister, who then publicly apologized, and for the record, the Prime Minister at the time, Paul Martin, said, with respect to the Conservative plan, and I think the House needs to have that on the record, “They are going to use that money in a way that I am sure is responsible. Let there be no doubt about that.”
Since the debate that took place at the time was about the issue of tax credits for children, I have put on the record what the response of the Prime Minister and my government was at the time, but the proposal that we put forward at the time was for a comprehensive, early learning and child care agreement, which had secured unanimous agreement among the provinces for that purpose.
Does the hon. member not think that a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial agreement that would provide for early learning and child care, and which at the time would have provided for 250,000 spaces for child care by 2009, which we never got, would be a better proposal—
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 15th, 2013
With regard to federal properties: (a) what is the address or location, and description, of each building, facility, or other real estate property owned or leased by a department, agency or Crown corporation in Iqaluit, Nunavut; and (b) for the leased properties, what is the start date, end date and file number of the lease?
Questions Passed as Orders for Return March 27th, 2013
With regard to C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (mental disorder): (a) in developing this legislation, on what (i) studies, (ii) case law, (iii) doctrinal sources did the government rely; (b) what statistics does the government track with respect to people found not criminally responsible (NCR) on account of mental disorder; (c) for each of the last ten years, broken down by province and territory and by type of offence, (i) how many people have been found NCR, (ii) which people found NCR have been released without conditions, (iii) which people found NCR have been released with conditions, (iv) how long has each person found NCR spent in treatment prior to release, (v) which people found NCR and released have been convicted of a subsequent offence, (vi) what was the nature of the subsequent offence, (vii) which people found NCR and released have been found NCR of a subsequent offence, (viii) what was the nature of the subsequent offence; (d) for each of the last ten years, what was the recidivism rate for all federal offenders; (e) broken down by province and territory, (i) which treatment facilities accept people found NCR, (ii) which of these facilities are privately owned, (iii) what is the capacity of each facility, (iv) how many people are currently housed in each facility; (f) what analysis has the government performed to determine whether this legislation will result in a need for increased capacity in these facilities; (g) what are the conclusions of this analysis; (h) what steps is the government taking to ensure adequate capacity in these facilities; (i) what funds are currently designated for (i) the construction of new facilities to house people found NCR, (ii) the expansion of existing such facilities; (j) what government programs exist to fund any such facilities that are privately owned; (k) what funds have been allocated to any such programs for each of the past ten years; (l) what steps is the government taking to mitigate Charter litigation with respect to people found NCR who may be unable to secure space in an appropriate facility; (m) has Bill C-54 been examined by the Department of Justice to ascertain consistency with the Charter; (n) which officials performed the examination, (i) when was the examination initiated, (ii) when was the examination completed, (iii) what were the conclusions of this examination; (o) when was the Minister of Justice presented with these conclusions; (p) was a report of inconsistency prepared; (q) was a report of inconsistency presented to Parliament; and (r) has there been an assessment of the litigation risk relative to the enactment of this legislation and, if so, what are the conclusions of this assessment?