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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

Petitions December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on Parliament to change the charge of impaired driving causing death to the offence of vehicular manslaughter.

Petitions December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.

The first petition calls on Parliament to pass a resolution to establish measures to stop the Chinese Communist regime's crime of systematically murdering Falun Gong practitioners for their organs.

Correctional Service of Canada December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the government rejected the key recommendation. Beyond Justice Arbour's point that solitary confinement was a barbaric cultural practice, the Correctional Investigator said that using solitary confinement to manage mental illness was unsafe and should be prohibited. His finding showed 14 of the 30 suicides reviewed occurred in segregation cells.

When will the minister realize the correctional action he allows is killing people under his care and custody?

Correctional Service of Canada December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government's response yesterday, with respect to the Ontario coroner's inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, was nothing short of shameful. How many reports, how many inquiries will it take to get the government out of the dark ages?

Retired Supreme Court Justice Arbour slammed the practice of solitary confinement as a barbaric cultural practice. The inquiry recommended that indefinite solitary confinement be abolished.

How could the government reject that key recommendation?

Veterans December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the treatment of our veterans by Conservatives is a national disgrace. The minister has clawed back over $1 billion from veterans. He has gutted the department, firing 1,000 front-line staff who delivered critical health services. He told those who suffered from PTSD to take a number. He closed nine specialized service centres. Canadians are appalled by this shameful Conservative neglect of veterans.

The government has a sacred obligation to veterans, and it failed. When will the Prime Minister stop defending and fire this minister?

Public Safety December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we continue to ask but fail to receive answers from the Minister of Public Safety on why agencies under his authority are failing to act to protect Canadians from known terrorists who have returned home to Canada. The minister confirmed that they violated the law. This definitely is not about a lack of laws. It is about a lack of government resolve to enforce the law.

Why is the government failing to act to keep Canadians safe from such terrorists returning home to Canada?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think the member's remarks show clearly why more time needed to be taken at committee, because the member does raise some very valid points.

I want to put into the record what Wesley Wark had to say in his testimony. Wesley Wark is a professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and is a quite well-known expert on these matters.

The member said there is certainly reason to bring the bill forward, but I think, as he indicated in his speech, there is so much more that we could have done. As Wesley pointed out before committee:

Bill C-44 does not add any new provisions to the CSIS Act to ensure proper consultation between the service and its minister, the Minister of Public Safety, and the two departments most likely to be impacted by expanded CSIS overseas operations—the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the Department of National Defence. Both of these departments engage in their own overseas intelligence and information collection through dedicated branches.

Does the member believe that we should have looked into that area and ensured that there is more information exchanged between government branches?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer, as usual, was basically a non-answer.

The question related to the fact that the minister claimed, some two months ago now, that a number of individuals had returned to Canada after engaging in suspected terrorist activities abroad. At that time it was 80. It is now up to about 93. He said at the time, “These individuals...have violated Canadian law”.

The minister is very clear on the violation. He is also the top cop. He is in charge of law enforcement in our country. The agencies that are under his authority, CSIS and the RCMP, work with other law enforcement agencies. If the minister claims these individuals have violated Canadian law, then why has the government, with all its authority, not taken these terrorists off Canadian streets?

That is the issue here. It does have the authority, in my view, under section 83.181 of the Criminal Code, which states that leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of participating in any activity of a terrorist group outside of Canada is indictable for 10 to 14 years. Why has the government not used that section? It has not answered that question. It continues to go around it. We need some answers.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is, I believe, one of the better security agencies in the world. What is in the bill is required as a result of court decisions and to give CSIS the authority to do what it has done in the past, protecting Canadian citizens who are informing the ministry of some serious endeavours that may be going on in Canada or around the world

The member asks a good question. In terms of oversight, there is at the moment SIRC, which does, after the fact, review the activities of CSIS. It has reported on that.

However, I believe there must be more robust oversight of all our national security agencies, CSIS, CSEC, et cetera, and even in terms of policing as it relates to terrorism and international affairs. All of our other Five Eyes partners have parliamentary oversight. The committee members are sworn to secrecy when seeing classified information. They would have information in a proactive way to ensure that our security agencies are doing their job under the law and are also not overreaching and violating the privacy of citizens.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin this debate at report stage of Bill C-44 by registering the concerns of the Liberal Party with respect to the manner in which the government has proceeded with this legislation. This was mentioned by my colleague from the NDP a moment ago as well.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has made a great deal about the importance of this legislation, and suggests that it is well thought out. I will mention a couple of points in that regard in a moment.

However, first, the minister has left the impression that if we adopt this legislation, it will be effective in dealing with the situation we are currently facing. On page 14 of the minister's own report, “2014 Public Report On The Terrorist Threat To Canada”, it states:

The Government is aware of about 80 individuals who have returned to Canada after travel abroad for a variety of suspected terrorism-related purposes.

That number ranges from 80 to 93 individuals. The fact is that although the government tries to leave the impression with the public that Bill C-44 would deal with that issue, it would not.

What I cannot understand for the life of me is why the government is not using the current authority that it has to get these terrorists off of Canadian streets. I asked the minister that question in the House today. I believe the government has the authority under section 83.181 of the Criminal Code, which covers leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of participating in any activity of a terrorist group outside of Canada. Under that section, they are eligible for a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, and that can go up to 14 years, depending on the offence.

It is very specific. It says “leave or attempt to leave Canada”. The minister went on at length, talking about the individual who released the video over the weekend. He is a Canadian who became radicalized abroad and is trying to inspire other Canadians to join ISIL and fight Canadians. I cannot understand why that authority has not been used to get those individuals off the streets. It is somewhere between 80 and 93 people.

The legislation we are dealing with would not deal with that problem, so why are the minister and the agencies he is responsible for not using what is currently available to them and at least testing it in the courts? Get these people off the streets and test it in the courts. If we have to fix something else, let us fix it, and ensure that we do not have terrorists operating within our own borders who were either home-grown radicalized or radicalized abroad. I have to make that point.

Bill C-44, on the other hand, is basically a bill that would ensure that CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has the authority to do what we always thought it could do. Its authority has been somewhat jeopardized, though that may not be the right word, by previous courts' decisions. This bill, to the government's credit, would try to address the concern outlined by the courts, and I believe that it does. As my colleague in the NDP said earlier, the government is overreaching in some aspects of the bill, which we tried to have amended and were not successful in doing.

The other aspect of the bill relates to protecting informants who are necessary for CSIS in order to operate.

The bill deals with those points, and not the current crisis that we face within Canada as a result of radicalized individuals taking on terrorist acts.

I said that I would note two things relating specifically to what happened during the process in bringing this legislation back to here.

First, the committee process was rigged by the government to prevent any serious consideration of the legislation. Canadians will note that no amendments were passed, even though it would have made good sense to pass some of the amendments that either the Liberal Party, the NDP, or the Green Party put forward. We all had one amendment, and it was the same amendment. The government did not see the wisdom in adopting those points.

The bill would enshrine in Canadian law, provisions that declare that our lead intelligence agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, will be empowered to seek a warrant from a federal court to conduct operations in any foreign country that would be in violation of the laws of those countries. That is an undertaking that requires far more scrutiny.

Incredibly, the committee, more precisely the Conservative majority on committee, permitted only two hours for witnesses to appear on this legislation. For example, we did not hear from the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees CSIS, in spite of the fact that this legislation would broaden the powers of the service. It would have been interesting to hear from SIRC, considering that in its most recent annual report for 2013-14, the review body found that “[...] the Minister of Public Safety is not always systematically advised of such activities”, referring to sensitive intelligence gathering, “nor is he informed of them in a consistent manner”.

Of even greater concern, and an issue on which the committee was denied the ability to question SIRC, is that the bill could permit possible illegal international operations. This was of great concern. We tried to propose an amendment that the Minister of Foreign Affairs be informed. We felt we needed to hear from SIRC on that issue. There could be an illegal operation that violates the laws of another country and our operatives are found out. If we are in a trading relationship or a security relationship or whatever with that country and the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not even informed, would it not put our country's trade and commerce in a bad position?

The Conservatives would not accept a simple amendment asking for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be informed of such illegal activities by CSIS in other countries. SIRC was making the point that before Bill C-44 was even tabled, the Minister of Public Safety was apparently willing to be kept ignorant of much of what CSIS might actually be doing.

The last point I would make is that there needs to be national oversight over all of our security agencies, as all of our Five Eyes partners have in place. Parliamentary oversight makes sense. We would be doing our job and being held responsible for the oversight of these national security agencies.

We have some concerns with the bill, in that the amendments were not accepted, but for the greater interest of our country and the authorities of CSIS, the bill does need to go through in order to protect our sources and to implement the other measures in it.