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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is conservatives.

NDP MP for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 33.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Environment December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Secretary-General of the UN told the Conservative government that it needed to do more about climate change, but the Conservatives responded by announcing that they would not regulate emissions from oil companies. Other sectors will have to do more to make up for excesses in the oil and gas industries.

Why do the Conservatives refuse to demand that these industries do their part in combatting climate change?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Québec for her question. I think she is absolutely right. This is not about balance. This is about two rights, two obligations that need to be respected.

Bills have to pass the test and justify themselves as laws in a free and democratic society. Unfortunately, I do not think that the bill before us passes that test. It should have been debated more thoroughly and improved in committee.

It is unfortunate that the government is in such a hurry to pass a bill that does not respect the rights and freedoms of Canadians or of parliamentarians, who have to ensure that all bills stand up to scrutiny.

As we all know, governments are supposed to ensure that their bills are constitutional. Unfortunately, in this case, perhaps the government's lawyers provided bad advice or made a mistake. Frankly, this bill does not deserve our support.

I hope that the Conservative Party members will take the time to read this bill closely so they can see how harmful it is in terms of taking rights away from Canadians, who do not deserve this.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a very valid question. I think there are an awful lot of improvements we could have made to the bill. His suggestion is certainly one that I think we should have taken much more seriously at the committee. Regrettably, although amendments were brought forward, none were retained by the current government. I think we should have taken a lot more time to review this bill.

I would remind the members that the Arar commission also made a series of recommendations, including recommendations to improve parliamentary oversight and to improve SIRC with a new agency, INSRCC. None of those proposals has been retained by the current government. We have not heard from the government how it plans to implement any of the recommendations from the Arar commission in any meaningful sense.

I wish the government would just allow the bill to go back to committee at this point and start over, because, frankly, the government botched it and we need to have another go at it.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today, I have the honour to rise to speak to Bill C-44.

The bill would amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other acts. It is a troubling bill, one that I do not believe I can support.

I will start by citing a recent article in The Globe and Mail, October 27. In that article, it states:

In recent rulings from several courts, Canadian judges had prevented CSIS from getting new powers through legal decisions, saying that these could only be conferred by Parliament.

For example, the Supreme Court last year declined to give CSIS informants a “class privilege” intended to better shield their identities in court proceedings. And, last year, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley reined in a telecommunications-intercept power--known in CSIS lexicon as a...domestic interception of foreign telecommunications” warrant.

CSIS officials have said the Federal Court ruling created a “black hole” obstructing their pursuit of “homegrown” terrorism suspects migrating to foreign war zones.

C-44 allows CSIS to better shield informants’ identities.

It would also allow CSIS--with a judge’s approval--to capture conversations involving Canadian suspects taking place abroad.

I will end with the final part, which states:

“Without regard to any other law, including that of a foreign state, a judge may in a warrant …. authorize activities outside Canada to enable the Service to investigate a threat to the security of Canada,” the legislation reads.

It is a very clear exposé of what this bill intends to do, so I encourage people to read that article. It shows exactly where we are going.

Let us go through a short history of why this bill is being presented in the House.

Back in the day when CSIS was created, it was assumed that because its enabling legislation made threats to Canadian security abroad, there may be an implicit right to do some of the things that this bill pretends to deal with. We will remember that CSIS was created after a barn burning ceremony in Quebec where the RCMP was found to have overextended its rights and obligations, and investigated Canadian citizens without legal warrant and legal cause. The Keable Commission in Quebec then was struck and the McDonald Commission, its parallel commission, was struck by our Parliament. After that, CSIS was born.

It has been a work in progress ever since. The government argues that we have not modified the legislation in 30 years. Perhaps a review is warranted. Certainly the Canadian public is becoming more conscious of security threats and having a more exhaustive debate on this subject is probably warranted. The problem is that we do not have an exhaustive debate; we have an express debate. We have a very fast debate and we do not have a lot of input from the experts.

If we look at the short history of why this is being brought forward, we can bring forward the question of the Supreme Court decision in 2007, where CSIS was seeking surveillance assistance from our allied spy services, which we have mentioned a few times in the House as the “Five Eyes”, the allied security services in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and United States.

There was a further court case in 2008 by Federal Court Justice Blanchard, which specifically stated that the CSIS Act did not contain extraterritorial provisions with respect to covert surveillance. There starts the slippery slide toward the new legal status quo where we do not believe CSIS has the overseas powers that it may need to do its job. However, the problem is that we may have gone too far. I will get back to that in a moment.

We further went on in 2013, where Federal Court Justice Mosley, as was referred to in The Globe and Mail article, not only suggested that CSIS had overstepped its bounds with extraterritorial powers, but if it continued, it would be illegal and he would take steps.

There was reason to bring the bill forward, and I do not discount that. Unfortunately, the government seems to not want to hear from the experts. One of those experts is the Canadian Bar Association, which is surely one of the better organizations to get an interpretation regarding current bills.

I will start with the statement that representatives of the Bar Association tabled with the committee, but were not able to present as they did not have time. Nor was the committee open to extending the time to give the representatives the chance to actually testify.

The Canadian Bar Association made it very clear that, in its opinion, section 18 of the proposed act would actually reduce the protection that Canadian citizens had. In fact, if a confidential human source provided information about a matter that did not result in a judicial hearing, the CSIS Act would no longer prohibit disclosure of either the information or the identity of the source. The proposed section 18 of the CSIS Act would protect disclosure from sources, but only if they were disclosed in judicial proceedings. However, the current article 18 of the act will actually protect those same informants regardless whether proceedings are in play or not.

Therefore, the question is this. Why in the world are we removing a protection that allows people to speak to CSIS without fear of their name being disclosed? The confidentiality may very well help, but in the case of the proposed legislation, we would actually reduce the confidentiality.

I remind people in the House of the Plame Affair back in the day of the Bush administration in the United States when the identity of a CIA worker was fully disclosed. I wonder if this amendment is not trying to replicate that disaster.

I would also point out a question that has been brought up many times in our courts. With the changing attitude toward international terrorism and international threats to public security, for good or for bad, we created the security certificate proceedings, and within that we created the special advocate regime. The special advocate, again for good or for bad, is an advocate for a person who is accused, such as Charkaoui or Harkat, which are recent cases that have made it to the Supreme Court. Individuals are detained by security certificate and they are named a special advocate who is well trained and well versed in security matters.

I really wish the representatives of the Canadian Bar Association had a chance to speak to the committee, because their presentations and concerns are well-founded and certainly worth listening to. However, I will point out, as did the Canadian Bar Association, that in Charkaoui, the Supreme Court accepted that the national security concerns could justify procedural modifications, including limits on the open-court principle, but indicated that those concerns could not be permitted to erode the essence of section 7 of the charter, and that meaningful and substantial protection would be required to satisfy section 7.

If members will recall, section 7 is the section that provides some protections, and I will read it into the record. It has been said but I will say it again:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

The problem with the bill as it stands now is that it seems to be going in a direction where we would removing people's fundamental rights as protected under section 7 of the charter. These matters would almost certainly be challenged in the courts.

I do not have a lot of time to bring other matters forward regarding the bill, but the only protection we seem to have is with the Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, which has been challenged on many occasions as being simply a part-time committee. It is not a committee of the House, but a committee appointed by the Prime Minister. Currently, two of the five seats are vacant. There is only an interim chair of the committee who has not had the opportunity to call meetings of the committee nearly as frequently as there should be.

I would like to have brought more issues forward, but I will leave it at that for now. I am open to questions if members have more concerns that they would like to raise.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his very interesting and and telling speech.

I would like to ask the member a question regarding the process. Indeed, there was very little time in committee, as he quite rightly mentioned in his presentation, to discuss the terms of this bill. We have heard from many experts in the field that a legal challenge is highly likely, meaning there will be an awful lot of wasted time and energy in front of the courts challenging the terms of this bill, likely meaning we will have wasted a lot of taxpayer money defending the undefendable.

Would it not have been a more judicious use of our time and energy in the House to put the bill through more exhaustive discussions instead of forcing individuals to spend their hard-earned money in front of the courts, perhaps having to ultimately bring it to the Supreme Court, a truly supreme waste of resources?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his interesting intervention today. It speaks to the quality of the research he has done on this bill.

It should alarm a lot of Canadians that we seem to yet again be going down a road with a bill that could likely be challenged in the courts. It is a bill that we yet again have spent insufficient time drafting in this House, and it is likely to fail in front of our tribunals. Quite frankly, I wonder why the government seems to want to support our esteemed lawyer friends instead of the Canadian public in its pursuit of rights and freedoms.

Be that as it may, I am interested in the member's discussion on SIRC and the recommendation that a new oversight committee should be established that may be more forceful and have more of a role to play than the current oversight committee, which we know as SIRC. I wonder if he could elaborate.

Drug-Free Prisons Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech given by my colleague from Québec. She raised some interesting points about how the bill contains some rather unrealistic measures. Since the Reagan years and the 1980s, it does not seem as though the zero tolerance policy has been working.

Today, there are almost 2,000 offenders in our prisons—2,400 if we count those who are on the waiting list to attend a substance abuse program. That is why I believe that the government is not investing enough in programs to help offenders overcome their addictions. Approximately four out of five offenders arrive at a federal institution with a past history of substance abuse. There is therefore a great need, and services are insufficient to meet it.

Would the member care to comment on that?

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I believe the member brings a fair point to this place.

If this House is going to take its responsibilities seriously, I would encourage all members to start reading the rulings of the Supreme Court that have, over time, become ever more forceful as to what the duty to consult and to accommodate looks like.

I believe the Supreme Court is showing a degree of frustration with this place because we simply are not taking that responsibility seriously. I believe the first nations are living through that frustration. We can see it in their testimony and we can see it in the disagreements that they have with the legislation brought to this place.

We need to take this duty to consult much more seriously. Unfortunately, an ideological government is badly placed to be able to take that role seriously. I think first nations would be much better off with a change in government, and I am looking forward to 2015.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first, I do not think that the bill has no support. It is clear that if the government brought it forward, at the least the government must support this bill, so I will give him that.

If there was a misunderstanding as to that, either I misspoke or he misheard. Either way, the limited support that this bill has will certainly please those it was drafted for. However, regrettably, the first nations have not been properly consulted, as is clear in the testimony. This House has a duty, an obligation to address those concerns, and in this bill, that duty has simply not been reflected.

The member may have a point that some people have been sufficiently addressed and may actually benefit from this bill, and more power to them. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made the legal obligations clear and has stressed them on so many occasions on so many challenges that were brought to its attention. I do not understand why the government has not taken the time to reflect on those decisions of the Supreme Court and wonder if this bill is not going to go down that same path and go down in flames.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

This bill has triggered a debate that should have been held in Yukon long before it reached the House. The government should have taken the time to hold consultations. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the government has chosen this approach. The government has invoked closure 84 times to limit the time we have to debate bills in the House. That is what it is doing on the ground too: limiting consultation with the first nations and people.

This government has made it very hard to achieve consensus or gain the support of community groups and organizations. Social acceptance is just not in the picture. That is a big problem.

We cannot continue to have a government that disregards its duty to help people and protect our rights. This government is very ideological and does whatever it wants. Unfortunately, that means that, sooner or later, many of these laws will be challenged in the courts and overturned. Then we will have to start all over again. What a waste.

I would sure like to know why the government wants to hand so much money over to lawyers.