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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is terms.

Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 42.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper February 27th, 2015

With regard to changes to the Large Business Audit Program, whereby audits may be performed by Canada Revenue Agency offices in cities other than the location of the business audited: what has been the effect of these changes for audits conducted after the change compared to those conducted before, particularly in terms of penalties, fines, and revenue collected per audit?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. There are certain areas, and I cannot think of the section, in the original Combating Terrorism Act extended in 2007, that have not been utilized. One should note that some of the current arrests were made under the old legislation.

Be that as it may, the point she has raised comes back to my original point. What is really needed is a lot of oversight, and we have expressed this at committee. Questions can be raised of the national security agencies. Why are they not using current laws? Is there a reason? Is there a problem on the prosecution side? Is the law not strenuous enough? Is the threshold too high?

It comes back to the whole substance around my remarks in which we would put members of both Houses on an oversight committee with expertise in the field, who could see classified information, who could ask the hard questions on a day-to-day basis of those security agencies to ensure that they were using the laws available, that they were doing their job and that they were not overextending their powers and getting into civil liberties and undermining our freedoms and values.

Natural Resources February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I really do not know whether that was a legitimate point of order on the part of the whip for the Conservative Party. That seemed to me to be a ministerial statement.

If the Prime Minister is going to make that announcement, he should be making in the House of Commons. This is where the issue is debated. On the very bill that we are debating today, Bill C-51, the Prime Minister had a grand show in Richmond Hill and went over the top in terms of pointing out that there was terrorism under every rock. That announcement should have been made here, too.

There is a problem with the way the government is operating, and that is that these kinds of announcements should be made in the chamber. which is called the House of Commons, so the official critics in the opposition parties can respond to that right away. This is just getting to be propaganda and messaging on the part of the Prime Minister rather than doing our job in Parliament as we should.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of areas of concern in the legislation that we think go too far.

The member for York West mentioned the fact that it says in the bill:

For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.

The word “lawful” really changes the ability of certain activist groups to show their dissent in many ways. We are going to ask the experts. We may put forward an amendment to remove that word.

In fairness to the House, I think we have between 26 and 30 amendments at the moment on technicalities in the bill. Therein lies the reason we need sound, robust parliamentary hearings with legal experts and people who work in the security field. It is to make sure that we get the bill right in all areas.

I would again emphasize the three key areas we are asking for: sunset clauses to allow certain laws to cease to exist; a statutory mandatory review, so we can look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the bill down the road; and parliamentary oversight, as our Five Eyes partners have in their democracies around the world.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I respect the member immensely. I actually quite enjoy being on a number of panels with him.

I think all we really have to do in response to that question is go to the article with the extensive number of signatures in today's Globe and Mail, entitled: “A close eye on security makes Canadians safer”.

Four former prime ministers signed that paper. I did myself, as well as a number of others who have been justice ministers and solicitors general. It is actually calling for more oversight.

The difference between the Liberals and the NDP is that we have been in government. We have made the hard decisions on public safety. We know that there are hard decisions, when the terrorist threat is higher, on public safety issues.

However, when we were in government, we also balanced that legislation. We believe this legislation can be balanced yet again. It can be amended to improve it. It can be balanced with sunset clauses, mandatory reviews, and oversight to make it better legislation to ensure that the security agencies really do what they ought to do.

If that does not happen, if the government does not accept our amendments, then we will put those three key amendments in our election platform, and Canadians will have the opportunity to decide on the balance of national security and civil liberties.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

My, my, Mr. Speaker, that was quite a line.

We have tried to be, and we have to be, non-partisan to a great extent, but we all have our partisan side. This place is a place of active debate and discussion, and so partisanship is going to show through. However, we are talking about national security. We are talking about doing things right.

The member and I fought over the Wheat Board. That is fine. We will put that behind us for the moment. However, I would ask the member to talk to his current House leader. When I was chair of the fisheries committee and the parliamentary secretary, the current House leader and I actually worked together. I think there were 32 motions, 20-some from government members, opposing government policy. They were all debated in public. All but one carried. Most of them were tough on the government, and when we wrote the report, with the member of the opposition, who was the critic at time, we actually sat down together and wrote the report.

This place could come back to that kind of time if the government would allow it. That is what we need to do on the bill. We need to improve it in many aspects, and we definitely need oversight. It is not there.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

I am serious, Mr. Speaker, and the member knows that is what happens. It happens at my committee. Members follow that direction. They are members in their own right; they can stand on their own two feet. What I am saying is that the process has to change if we are going to make this legislation good legislation. I ask members to really look at this issue seriously and not to take direction in that fashion. There is concern about the civil liberties of Canadians and freedom of expression. We have to listen to those witnesses.

I want to give an example of what a couple of people I have talked to have to said, people whom we will put forward as witnesses. First, there is quite a series of articles in the press these days by two individuals, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach. They have a paper they sent us that is close to 40 pages long. They are doing a summary of the key concerns with the bill. This is what they say at the beginning of the summary:

If Bill C-51 passes, CSIS will be expressly authorized to “take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce” very broadly defined “threats to the security of Canada”. Where authorized by Federal Court warrant, these “measures” may “contravene a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” or may be “contrary to other Canadian law”.

It does not matter whether I agree or disagree with that statement. There is a concern expressed there that we should look at seriously. These two individuals admit it themselves. They add an additional word relevant to this in a document dealing with CSIS. They say:

We are legal academics who have been researching and writing on issues of national security law (Canadian, international and comparative) for a sum total of 26 person years (between the two of us).... We are, in other words, an occasional and minor part of the national security “accountability sector”, to the extent that such a thing exists in Canada.

These people have a point of view. They have an expression of interest that we ought to listen to.

I also met with the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, which also has concerns. That association was founded in 1998 by a small group of Toronto based Canadian Muslim lawyers. It has over 300 members across Canada and active chapters in Ontario and Quebec. The association states:

Bill C-51 is deeply flawed legislation that should not become law. Before we begin to integrate and concentrate power in government agencies on national security matters, we should first implement the remedial findings of many commissions of inquiry into the matter, most notably the Arar Inquiry.

As national security functions become more integrated it makes sense that there is a concomitant and effective counterbalance in terms of independent review and oversight. Such a body would have jurisdiction over all national security agencies and functions, including CSIS, CSEC, the RCMP and a host of other agencies (some of them currently have no oversight).

That is their opinion. They are suggesting that there needs to be much broader oversight.

These are just two examples of witnesses that we need to listen to. However, in order to make the proper amendments, accept them, and bring in those ideas, the government has to be willing to make some amendments.

To turn specifically to the issue of oversight itself, sadly, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Safety, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and, today, the Minister of Justice have been misinforming Canadians. Let me repeat that. Some of the highest officers and political ministers in this land have been misinforming Canadians on what exists, and what is and is not in this bill. It really is troublesome that the top political office in the land either does not know the limits of the Security Intelligence Review Committee or has not been totally forthright. I do not know which it is.

Let me turn to what the Security Intelligence Review Committee itself has said. It said that it is not an oversight body. Let me turn to its annual report for 2013-14. On page 12 of that report, in section 2, it says:

An oversight body looks on a continual basis at what is taking place inside an intelligence service and has the mandate to evaluate and guide current actions in “real time.” SIRC is a review body, so unlike an oversight agency....

SIRC itself admits that it is not an oversight agency, but even if it were an oversight agency, which it is not, it is not broad enough to really review national security. If we look at schedule 3 of Bill C-51, another seven agencies have been included there. I think some of them were here before. We are adding the likes of the departments of health, national defence, and transport to SIRC, CSIS, CSEC, the RCMP, and police forces of local jurisdictions, all of which are involved in these security matters, and transferring information across departments. There needs to be a much broader oversight that even a slightly improved SIRC could handle.

I mentioned earlier the protections that we as a Liberal government put in place on the extended powers in the anti-terrorism act of 2001. There were sunset clauses in which laws would cease to exist. There was a mandatory review. In 2004, we recognized that there was still a greater need, which was for the oversight of all security agencies. As a result, an all-party committee was proposed and put in place. It held hearings and made some recommendations, and Bill C-81 was introduced. However, it died on the order paper. I will come back to that in a moment.

Simply put, a previous Liberal government introduced legislation to provide for oversight by parliamentarians similar to that of our Five Eyes partners, the U.K., the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, in The Globe and Mail, four former prime ministers put an article in the paper, signed by a number of justices and former attorneys general, et cetera, entitled: “A close eye on security makes Canadians safer”.

It starts by saying:

The four of us most certainly know the enormity of the responsibility of keeping Canada safe, something always front of mind for a prime minister.

They went on to say:

Yet we all also share the view that the lack of a robust and integrated accountability regime for Canada's national security agencies makes it difficult to meaningfully assess the efficacy and legality of Canada's national security activities. This poses serious problems for public safety and for human rights.

They went to say said:

Canada needs independent oversight and effective review mechanisms more than ever, as national security agencies continue to become increasingly integrated, international information sharing remains commonplace and as the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to expand with this new legislation.

People who have been in the same position as the Prime Minister are calling on the need for oversight. Such a security oversight agency was called for by a former public safety committee while the current Prime Minister was in office. In a report dated June 2009, tabled in the House of Commons, it called for that, in recommendation 5:

The Committee recommends, once again, that Bill C-81, introduced in the 38th Parliament [by a Liberal government], An Act to Establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians, or a variation of it, be introduced in Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

That recommendation was supported by six members who currently sit in the House: the member for Yorkton—Melville, who chaired that committee; the member for Oxford; the member for Brant; the member for Northumberland—Quinte West; the member for Edmonton—St. Albert; and the member for Wild Rose.

The previous recommendation for Bill C-81 was supported by the current Minister of Justice and the current Minister of State for Finance. What has happened to those members since the leadership changed and we have the current Prime Minister? How come they are not still calling for oversight? They know that SIRC is not oversight. SIRC has claimed that it is not oversight. Did they lose their voice? Do they not stand by what they previously believed in, what they held hearings on? Oversight is important, and that is what we must implement in this bill, as well as a number of other amendments we will be putting forward.

As a final point, I will report on what the British Intelligence and Security Committee does. The members of the committee are subject to the Official Secrets Act. In their annual report, they say this:

The Committee sets its own agenda and work programme. It takes evidence from Government Ministers, the Heads of the intelligence and security Agencies, officials from the intelligence community, and other witnesses as required.

They monitor on a day-to-day basis. They keep intelligence agencies honest. They protect on two sides, as Bill C-81 would have done. It would have ensured that security agencies are doing what they are supposed to do and second, that they are not going too far in terms of infringing on civil rights and freedoms.

Let me close with a quote from my leader in yesterday's speech:

We are hopeful that the government is serious about reaching across the aisle to keep Canadians safe, while protecting our rights and our values.

It can be done. We need sunset clauses. We need a mandatory statutory review, and we definitely need oversight. I am sure both the NDP and Liberal Party will have many amendments to improve the bill in other ways, but the government has to reach across the aisle and allow Parliament to work.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased to speak today to Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015. It is an important bill and all sides have expressed strong views about it. We saw that in the lead-off speeches yesterday and have seen it in some of the discussions here today.

The bill should not, and I underline this, become a wildly partisan debate. Let us show Canadians that in the House, the 300-plus of us who are here, we can make this a better bill. The government does not have all the answers, but collectively we can produce a better bill. I ask the government to allow amendments to improve the bill.

This is an extremely serious matter. It does indeed affect all Canadians. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to find the proper balance between national security and civil liberties and freedom of expression.

In my remarks today I do not want to get into all the technicalities of the bill, the unlawful versus the lawful distinction, et cetera, but to focus on two key areas: one, process; and two, oversight, which is extremely important. The last speaker said there is oversight. There is not oversight in this bill and the Conservatives should know that.

I will start with a statement by the leader of the Liberal Party yesterday:

...keeping Canadians safe in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values is our most sombre responsibility as legislators and community leaders. To ensure that we never lose sight of our Canadian values and never forget who we are, we should always aim to have both the security of Canadians and the protection of their rights and freedoms in mind when we set out to combat those threats.

The question is, how do we do that? How do we find that balance? We can do that, certainly by allowing witnesses from a strong cross-section of Canadian society to be heard, and when they speak at committee, we all have to listen.

The government must be prepared to accept amendments based on legal expertise, based on human concerns, and based on evidence-based testimony. I will in a moment outline some of those concerns, just to touch base with the concerns expressed in that area by individuals and groups and to make the point why they must be heard.

May I also say in fairness to the cabinet that I and a number of colleagues in this corner in the Liberal caucus understand the pressures that one is subject to when looking at an intelligence briefing in the morning about a terrorist threat. We understand the pressure that pushes government to give security and police agencies greater power and authority to challenge those threats.

I hope those threat assessments coming to the government are brutally honest, telling the facts as they are and are not exaggerated. I was not impressed, to be quite honest, by the Prime Minister's speech in Richmond Hill, where I do think he went over the top in terms of the threat to Canadian society. However, only those who have those assessments would really know what that threat is.

I can remember in my own caucus, as my colleagues here with me can recall, and certainly the member for Mount Royal, the strenuous debate we had and how fortunate we were to have that both there and within Canadian society and in committee when we brought in the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001 and expanded on it later.

However, because of that debate we put in sunset clauses to ensure that certain authorities granted to the police and CSIS would cease to exist at a certain point in time. We put in place a mandatory statutory review so that this chamber and the committee could review the good, the bad, and the ugly of that legislation at a certain period in time.

We do not see any of that in Bill C-51. Hopefully, amendments can be made that will draw in those points. However, in order to have amendments, the process has to change. Let us not fool anyone here. We all know what happens at committees. I talked about it earlier today. The parliamentary secretary sits fairly near to the chair of the committee on the government side. Government members are lined up in a row. Over against the back wall is the staff for the government side. Sitting among them is the staff for the whip's office. In there too is the staff for the PMO. Mike Duffy called them “The boys in short pants”. Well, they are both boys and girls because I have seen them, women and men. It is as if that guy or gal against the back wall is pulling the string of the parliamentary secretary.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, where did the member get the information from about my time as solicitor general? I was the solicitor general who named Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist entities. I know a lot of members over there like to think otherwise. I can table a document in the House tomorrow to prove that point, if the member desires.

This is not the first time. Over a year ago, the member for Winnipeg South Centre, in a Standing Order 31, made the same comments. Two weeks ago, the member for Wetaskiwin made a personal attack against me, saying the same thing again.

The member's information is incorrect. This is an important debate. We are talking about national security in our country. Some of us are trying to balance that against civil liberties. Some of us have been in the position of some of those people in the front row on the other side.

Why do you lower your honour by using those talking points that are—

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As solicitor general, I named Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist entities. This kind of misinformation cannot continue. Call the member to order for that misinformation. That is absolute—