An Act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


John Manley  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:50 a.m.
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Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was not planning on speaking to Bill C-35 this morning, because the hon. member for Mercier, the Bloc critic, has worked so well on this issue that the Bloc's position has been very clear.

Given that the government has once again, through means at its disposal, prevented the opposition from doing its job on issues as important as this one, I feel compelled to rise to both speak to this bill and denounce it at the same time.

I do not completely agree, in fact, I would say that I completely disagree, with the government members who say that there is no link between bills C-35, C-36 and C-42. I think that we need to look at the big picture. It is very relevant to discuss this. It is so relevant to discuss this that the government has gagged debated on Bill C-36 in order to rush it through, so as to prevent us from having all of the legislative pieces in hand to discuss them as a whole.

There is one complaint that the Bloc Quebecois wants to make to the government regarding the September 11 events. Yes, September 11 is an extremely sad and tragic date. We all know the clichés such as “Nothing will ever be the same after September 11”. If the government had any political courage, it would have presented to us all the bills, its global vision, all at once, so that we could see how it plans to strengthen security—assuming it needs to be strengthened—and, as it says, fight terrorism.

But instead, the government is using a piecemeal approach. It resorted to closure with Bill C-36. As for Bill C-42, we learned yesterday that, because of a lack of political guts, the government has decided to split this legislation in two. As regards the very controversial part, it says “We will shove it down their throat later, when we get back from the Christmas break. Since all the other parts of the controversial bills will already have been adopted, there will only be this small part left and we will deal with it later”.

Today, in relation to Bill C-35, we heard another falsehood from members opposite. Bill C-35—unless I do not know how to read—was introduced on October 1, 2001. That was after September 11, 2001. Therefore, it reflects what the government intended to do following the September 11 events. Whether the bill was previously debated in committee or wherever, the fact remains that we have been here since November 2000 and the government had ample time to introduce this legislation, had it wanted to.

But probably because of a lack of political will, it waited for the events of September 11, and now it is in a great big hurry to see all its wildest dreams realized. It is passing bills. It is giving itself all sorts of powers to intervene, to ignore the information commissioner, a superior court judge, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is full steam ahead because of the events of September 11. The government is going to give itself so much power that, at some point, the criminal code will be affected. It will head in the direction of the Canadian Alliance, in the direction of the Canadian right, even if it means abandoning principles which have been years in the making and which are part of the criminal code. Not to worry. It is going to give itself far-reaching powers and it is going to use them.

This is absurd. That is why I wish to speak to Bill C-35. The preamble to the bill says that this will be a clearer piece of legislation and that it will also correct the deficiency in the existing statutory definition of international organization. When we examine this bill, we find that some of its provisions are even retroactive.

In Law 101, one of the most important considerations when examining a bill has to do with the retroactive effects, because this is contrary to many principles of Canadian law. There are even portions that are retroactive. On close examination, the provisions in clause 5 are absurd.

Under the guise of protecting our diplomats and people from outside the country, the government is preparing to give the police vast powers. Everything that is done currently will be set aside in order to tidy up and make things safer.

Let us have a look at clause 5. I understand that, because of the government's earlier motion, we can no longer introduce amendments at third reading. This is another way to gag the opposition. It is another way to ignore democracy in Canada.

It is rather strange that the government, which says it passes laws to protect democracy, is in fact ignoring democracy in order to get these laws passed. It is ignoring the elected representatives of the people, those with something to say to properly represent their constituents. They are ignoring all of these people in order to protect democracy, as they say. This is no doubt their democracy, their view of the things that, in terms of democracy, they want to protect.

Clause 5 of the bill amends the act by adding a new section. I think it is worth reading it. We are at third reading, and I think people have to understand what is happening. The amendment reads:

10.1(1) The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference in which two or more states participate, that is attended by persons granted privileges and immunities under this Act and to which an order made or continued under this Act applies.

Subclause (2) reads:

For the purpose of carrying out its responsibility under subsection (1), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police may take appropriate measures, including controlling, limiting or prohibiting access to any area to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances.

Subclause (3) reads:

The powers referred to in subsection (2) are set out for greater certainty and shall not be read as affecting the powers that peace officers possess at common law or by virtue of any other federal or provincial Act or regulation.

Is this clear? Has the proper legal terminology been used to give the clarity that is so greatly desired? If I answer this, I will be accused of petty politicking, and since it comes from the government, and the opposition has always criticized the government, it is certain that I will be told it is not true.

The bill was discussed in committee. People appeared before the committee, people who were not politicians, not evil separatists, as some may well think. Nor were they members of the Alliance, the NDP, the Progressive Conservatives, or anything else such as that coalition of members over there in the corner. No, they were specialists, people who had examined the issue.

What did these people have to say? They said that this amendment is either unnecessary to the extent that it purports simply to codify a status quo or, in the event that it's not unnecessary, it's woefully incomplete.

Those were the words used by a lawyer who came before the committee on November 6.

William Sloan, president of the American Association of Jurists, told the committee “You have ‘appropriate measures’ and then you have ‘to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances’. These are so many undefined terms; they are all terms the courts have found to be terms that confer discretion”.

He is right. When the courts interpret this, they will understand it to be a discretionary power given to the RCMP, or the Mounties, as the Prime Minister calls them. That is how they are going to interpret it.

Does giving discretionary power to police clarify the situation? I think not. The lawyers my colleague heard in committee—I was not a member but I am aware of certain facts—all said that it was not precise, not clear.

Wesley Pue, from the University of British Columbia, said that RCMP officers also need clarity. Ultimately, they are the ones who will face disciplinary measures, civil suits, investigations and possible criminal proceedings. The police deserves to have clear legislative guidelines.

This B.C. lawyer is surely not a Bloc Quebecois supporter. He said that, in order to protect police officers, the act has to be clear, because they are the ones who may be held liable by the courts if they go too far. Obviously, these officers, who deserve an appropriate framework to enforce Bill C-35, do not have the tools to interpret it correctly. They do not have legislative guidelines to do a good job. In opposing clause 5, we are also thinking about police officers.

As regards powers, if we want to change a situation, it is because there is a problem. What is the problem? How does the RCMP currently work? What are its powers? This is what we must look at if we want to properly assess clause 5 in Bill C-35.

Currently, there is no act that provides for the establishment of security zones. The RCMP's argument is based on a series of powers and judicial precedents.

So when the government tells us that we must stick to Bill C-35 and not look at other legislation, it is because it does not understand the bill. In its section on security zones, Bill C-35 refers to Bill C-42, which is now before the House. This is in the context of terrorism. We must also keep in mind the entire thrust of Bill C-36.

I can understand that it does not want us to look at all of them together, because the powers are truly excessive when lined up one beside the other. Canada is looking more and more like a police state. In any event, that seems to the objective of the Prime Minister, who claims to be the father of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. With bills like these, the child, which is the charter, must be renouncing its father right now.

So what powers does the RCMP's have right now? Does it have the legislative tools it needs? There is the Security Offences Act, section 2.3 of which provides that the RCMP has primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of individuals when, in paragraph ( b ):

the victim of the alleged offence is an internationally protected person within the meaning of section 2 of the Criminal Code

The entire first part of clause 5 of Bill C-35 is therefore unnecessary because there is already an enactment identifying very clearly those individuals the legislator wishes to protect.

Add to this the powers conferred to the RCMP under its incorporating act, which specifies, at section 18—and I will read it since clearly there are some government members who either cannot read, do not want to read, or do not take the time to read the existing legislation before wanting to amend it. Section 18 reads as follows:

It is the duty of members who are peace officers, subject to the orders of the Commissioner,

(a) to perform all duties that are assigned to peace officers in relation to the preservation of the peace, the prevention of crime and of offences against the laws of Canada and the laws in force in any province in which they may be employed, and the apprehension of criminals and offenders and others who may be lawfully taken into custody;

(b) to execute all warrants, and perform all duties and services in relation thereto, that may, under this Act or the laws of Canada or the laws in force in any province, be lawfully executed and performed by peace officers;

(c) to perform all duties that may be lawfully performed by peace officers in relation to the escort and conveyance of convicts and other persons in custody to or from any courts, places of punishment or confinement, asylums or other places; and

That is quite a few powers that the RCMP can already exercise:

(d) to perform such other duties and functions as are prescribed by the Governor in Council or the Commissioner.

This means the RCMP has the powers of peace officers, which powers are described and set out by the supreme court. It has spoken with respect to these powers over the years. It has established limits which we are looking for and which a number of international lawyers have said are absent from this legislation. The supreme court has set perfectly good guidelines for preserving the peace, preventing crime and protecting life and property.

Currently, before it intervenes in a situation, the RCMP considers the approach it will take based on existing case law in Canada. However, it takes years for case law, real case law reflecting supreme court decisions, to be incorporated in legislation—and it is worth remembering this, because the government members seem to have forgotten it as well, or actually did not know it.

There are certain principles of law that the supreme court has spent 20 or 30 years considering before establishing specific guidelines. In the matter before us this morning, the supreme court took some 20 years before clearly establishing the powers of the RCMP, what it can and cannot do, again in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was clarified over the years, obviously since its passage. Why change it?

Let us look at the most recent events, for example, the summit in Quebec City. Did it provide evidence of a glaring legislative failing? Was it shown that we failed, in legislative terms, in Canada, and thus in my beautiful Quebec? Did we not have what it takes to face the music, as they say?

I think things went well at the Quebec City summit. There were demonstrations, it is true, but this is a free and democratic country and we are proud of that fact. There have to be such things. Yes, the demonstrations got a bit out of hand. Yes, some went too far, but there is the criminal code. Those who acted improperly should be taken to court for it. For those who plotted reprehensible acts, there is a whole section on plots in the criminal code.

We must not change something that is working. This is illogical. As I have just said, the events of September 11 are being used to justify exorbitant powers. This situation, dreadful as I admit it was, is being used to change the rules of the game in a number of different Canadian statutes. What I find the most alarming is that, when amendments are made and incorporated into the criminal code or some other related piece of legislation, this is going to influence courts trying criminal cases.

As we know, one of the principles in Canada and in Upper Canada—this will be my final point—is that a law is interpreted according to its legislative text. When questions arise, however, similarities are sought, either in the criminal code or in specific statutes. When this is done and an interpretation of the changes arising out of Bills C-36, C-42 or C-35, the bill before us at the present time, is sought, individual and group rights will be restricted, which is extremely worrisome.

I will close by saying that, had clause 5 of the bill been eliminated, we would have supported it, and we have been straightforward about this. Given the government's lack of courage in the way it is proceeding, however, by putting such powers into the bill, we will be voting against it. We are proud to oppose it, in the interest of individual and group rights.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:50 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, obviously Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned. The two articles from which I quoted clearly show that journalists are waking up to the dictatorial manner in which the government is governing our country.

Is there a need for some of the legislation the government is bringing forward and passing? Of course there is. That is why from time to time we find ourselves supporting the legislation. All opposition parties are working quite hard to improve the legislation. I find it quite astounding that when we are working to improve legislation and trying to work with the government it constantly says that we are stonewalling. That was the argument used by the Minister of Justice when she brought in closure on Bill C-36.

Fortunately they have not moved to bring in closure on Bill C-35. Perhaps we should have put up more speakers and actually stonewalled on the legislation so that they could have at least had an excuse to ram it though. They certainly did not have that excuse with Bill C-36 yesterday. Canadians have awakened to that fact and are rightly appalled by the dictatorial manner in which the government continues to govern.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:50 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I can understand why the Liberals are a little sensitive when we raise the subject of closure. They used to whine and snivel about us using it and now they have used it twice as much. I can understand why the member would not want me to talk about closure and he would want me to focus on Bill C-35.

However it was raised by the member. He was talking about the significant and profound use of closure by the Liberals and how they do not hesitate to use closure to shut down parliament.

Would the member consider that approach to legislation along the lines of the Liberals reneging on their promises regarding GST and free trade and now changing their position on closure? Would he consider that a deceptive way to do politics?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:50 a.m.
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John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are debating Bill C-35, not Bill C-36. Could the member please concentrate his remarks on the debate at hand?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am sure the hon. member was listening intently to my remarks. At the outset I said that members were torn, as is often the case with legislation in the House, and it happened on Bill C-36 the other night. We were given the choice between being seen to be opposed to terrorism and the parts of the bill directed at that and being in support of civil liberties and civil rights and the parts of the bill directed at that.

That is often the case when the government brings forward omnibus bills that have both good and bad in them. Unfortunately all members regardless of party are subjected to making that choice.

In this case, as I said at the start of my remarks, we support clarification of the role of the RCMP in providing security for these international conferences. That is a good part of the bill. Clarification is necessary, but it does not make up for the bad part of the bill which would extend a blanket immunity to who knows whom at future conferences. I would ask the hon. member on the government side to consider that when he is deciding how to vote on Bill C-35.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
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John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, I regret actually that the member opposite did wander off the topic of Bill C-35. I would like to bring him back to Bill C-35 with a question.

The member for Palliser would have had us believe earlier in the debate that security perimeters should be as close as possible to the international meetings, that the RCMP should have limited powers because peaceful protesters are the only thing to be worried about; but is it not true that we have a problem now where there are violent protesters infiltrated within peaceful protesters and that there is the possibility that there are terrorists inside those masked violent protesters?

Is this not an imperative that we must address in Bill C-35 by giving or defining additional powers to the RCMP? Can we allow a situation to continue to occur where international protests occurring in Canada are dangerous and there is a chance that somebody could be killed and somebody from a foreign land could be killed?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have less than a minute. I am sure you allowed for the time that the hon. secretary of state used up. For a member of the government to rise to question relevance on the very relevancy of parliament indeed points to the problem in this place these days.

Whether we are debating Bill C-35, Bill C-36 or any other legislation, if parliament is not allowed to do its work appropriately then one has to question, as these journalists and as Canadians from coast to coast are increasingly doing, the very relevance of this institution.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
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Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would simply like to remind the House that the debate is on Bill C-35. There was a very long debate on Bill C-36. There was 82 hours of debate. I would like to know the members thoughts on Bill C-35, and I have already read this morning's papers.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:35 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for clearing up that confusing situation. I am sure when hon. colleagues from all parties have an opportunity to check Hansard they will see that indeed my colleague from Cumberland--Colchester clearly stated that he wished to split his time with the distinguished member, as I understand he put it. We even have confirmation from the government side of the House. I would like to thank all colleagues from all parties in the House who are present for allowing that to happen and allowing me to say a few words on Bill C-35.

At the outset I ask what Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, does, just so that people watching in the real world, if anyone is watching the debate today, might be better able to understand it. Its purpose is to broaden the scope of the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. It expands and further defines the privileges and immunities granted to international organizations. It defines the capacity of the RCMP to provide security for intergovernmental conferences which are held in Canada.

Very clearly, as is often the case with legislation presented in the House by the government, the opposition parties and indeed I think government members from time to time are torn because of conflict contained within legislation. Some of it is good. Some of it is not so good. In some cases some of it is bloody awful, I would suggest. That is the case here.

My colleague, our critic for foreign affairs, the member for Cumberland--Colchester, stood in the House and repeatedly spoke to Bill C-35, laying out our concerns and those parts of the bill that we support. Clearly we recognize there is a need to more clearly identify and clarify the role of the RCMP in providing security for these conferences which are increasingly held on Canadian soil.

He has also spoken on a number of occasions about what we perceive could be a problem in the future with extending the diplomatic immunity to other individuals and to a large extent to who knows whom. Very clearly he presented an amendment at committee that would have become part of the legislation and constricted the government or held the government more accountable as to who is accessing the immunity so that Canadians would know when someone was using this new loophole to circumvent the laws of Canada. I think that is of great concern.

The real irony is that it is simply quite unbelievable and in fact quite galling that the government on one hand would pass Bill C-35 through this place. Presumably it will be enacted into law once it passes through the Senate and receives royal assent. This will extend the immunity to who knows whom. We are not allowed to even know. It will not be put into law to force the government to always reveal the names and organizations accessing this immunity.

At the same time the government is very clearly moving with Bill C-36 to restrict the rights and civil liberties of Canadians. It is quite unbelievable why the government cannot see the contradiction in that.

On the issue of the closure of the debate after one day of debate the government tried to say there was more than one day of debate on Bill C-36, the anti-terrorist legislation. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 amendments to that legislation were brought forward. Most of them were from the government. It came forward on Monday of this week and the government used time allocation to ram it through the House.

Given the seriousness of what has taken place this week in parliament on the one year anniversary of the last election when unfortunately the Liberal government was yet again elected with a majority government, basically we have the same situation as the past two parliaments with an elected dictatorship.

A fellow by the name of Andrew Coyne wrote a column in the National Post yesterday entitled “The Death of Parliament”. I want to read into the record some of his comments, given the seriousness of this situation. Referring to Bill C-36 he wrote:

--this is a much different bill than it was. The Commons justice committee adopted more than 100 amendments--themselves rammed through in the space of an evening. Ordinary members of parliament, unless they were around over the weekend, would barely have seen a copy of the committee's report. And any chance they might have had to propose amendments of their own expired with the Saturday evening deadline. Not that it matters, I suppose. They'd never have passed.

He continued:

Closure and party-line voting are objectionable at the best of times. But to apply these parliamentary tourniquets to legislation such as this--hasty in drafting but permanent in effect, with all manner of implications for the rights of citizens and all sorts of potential for abuse--is simply beyond belief.

Further in the column he wrote:

If ever there were a time in which the legislature ought to play a leading role in the making of law--to air concerns, suggest improvements, and shape a consensus--it is now. And if ever there were any doubt that parliament has ceased to play that role, there is no more. As a watchdog on the executive, as a guardian of the public purse, as a house of deliberation, it is, as the constitutional scholars say, a dead letter.

I wish I had the time to read the remainder of the column into the record because it is incredibly appropriate. On the front page of today's Ottawa Citizen there is an article by Susan Delacourt. In it she also points to the problems inherent in legislation that the government is intent on ramming through the House. She wrote in part:

--there's always a reason for this Liberal government to find parliament inconvenient. Closure is more of a parliamentary rule than an exception now. It's the opposition's fault. It's obstructionism. It's our international obligations. It's just the way things are.

The use of closure on this bill, though, is particularly galling. For six weeks the most senior ministers of the Prime Minister's government assured critics and even their own Liberal MPs that parliament would be a check on any excesses within Bill C-36.

Further in the column she continued:

“Trust-us justice,” the critics called it, and now, with the use of closure, their skepticism seems appropriate.

These are just two articles that have been printed in the last 24 hours about the use of closure and ramming through Bill C-36. As I said, the debate on Bill C-36 unfortunately is over. Although many of us would have liked to have continued the debate on Bill C-36 and on the amendments, some of which never got to be aired--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:35 a.m.
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Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Bill C-35 predates September 11. I know all of you want to connect every dot and that is what you alleged. I grow tired of this constant fixation to attach it to something--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:30 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, the Liberals come up with an issue that is of great concern to Canadians, such as terrorism. Then they say they will pass a bill that will satisfy the concerns about terrorism, but they will bake in a whole lot of other things that will force members, both in the Liberal Party and opposition, to agree with it.

In order to achieve some of their goals, the Liberals take advantage of the great concern by Canadians. The goals are to concentrate power with the government. The Liberals give the power of more and more decisions to a smaller group of people on the government side and eliminate access to information and prevent members of parliament from having the information and tools to work with.

It is not only Bill C-35 and Bill C-36. It is many bills. The next one to come along will be Bill C-42 which is going to do exactly the same thing. Bill C-42 will restrict civil liberties. It will concentrate power in a very small circle on the government benches. It is exactly the same thing.

To answer the member's question, the excuse may be the concerns of Canadians but the real driving force is to concentrate power.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:30 a.m.
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Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments by my colleague for Cumberland--Colchester, on which I would like him to elaborate.

The Liberals claim to be the defender of Canadian values. There has to be an absolute reason that the Liberal government is bringing in one of the most regressive pieces of legislation to hit the House of Commons in a long time. The Liberals did it with Bill C-36 and now they are doing it with what I call the son of Sam legislation, Bill C-35.

The hon. member is a learned and experienced parliamentarian. Why does he think the Liberals are doing this?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 11:20 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the very distinguished member for Prince George--Peace River.

I think this is the fourth time I have spoken to the bill and I did not think I had a lot to add, or at least that is what I thought when I made my notes. However, the more I hear of it and the more I put it into relevance with everything else that is going on around us, the more I see that the overall approach here is an attempt by the government to take over everything. It is an attempt to exclude parliamentarians, to prevent us from doing our jobs in any meaningful way and to concentrate the decision making process in a very small circle.

Bill C-35 amends the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act to expand immunity to a lot of people and a lot of foreigners who have never had it before. It involves a lot of changes in procedure. It was presented as a housekeeping bill but the more we get into it, the more we see how profound and important it is. It changes the way we do many things and is a contradiction in many ways to the parallel bill, Bill C-36, which was passed last night.

Bill C-36 restricts Canadians, imposes new laws, new punishments and restricts civil liberties, while Bill C-35 expands immunity against all of our laws to a group of people that is not even named or identified. The system is not even named or identified to my satisfaction. To me it is a contradiction that we are expanding immunity to these unknown people who are going to come to Canada, while for Canadians we are creating new laws with new restrictions and taking away civil rights from people in order to deal with terrorism.

It is a complicated issue. I know Canadians want us to deal with terrorism and that is why Bill C-36 was passed last night, but there are things in Bill C-36 that make many of us feel uncomfortable.

One thing that really stands out in Bill C-35, and I have spoken about it many times, is the simple reluctance by the government to report to parliament who makes claims under the new expanded immunity regulations. I do not understand why there is reluctance to put this into legislation.

The minister says he will report four times a year on who files claims against immunity but he will not put it into legislation. The only conclusion I can come to is he will not put it into legislation because he wants to be able to change it, or a subsequent minister to be able to change the rules, or whatever and deny parliament and Canadians access to this information. There is a contradiction because under Bill C-36 the government just put in an amendment to include annual reporting for certain aspects of it.

The parliamentary secretary says we cannot put everything into legislation on Bill C-35 but the government put it in Bill C-36. The arguments do not wash; they are contradictory and do not make sense. The government for some reason does not want annual reporting. It does not want parliament to know what is going on or what is happening under this new expanded regime of immunity.

Another argument that comes up even more now than before is the argument that we have to do this because it is part of the Vienna Convention and we have reciprocal agreements. I do not believe that all the countries we deal with, or even very many of them, have reciprocal agreements. There are probably only a very few countries that have reciprocal agreements that are as wide ranging and broad as this bill is in coverage for diplomats and visitors to foreign nations.

I have asked that question. I hope I will get an answer from the parliamentary secretary. I did not get a chance to ask her directly but she knows the question is out there. I would like to know exactly how many countries qualify for the Canadian expanded immunity and how many countries give us the same immunity. I want to know exactly which countries give exactly the same immunity. My feeling is it is not going to be very many.

There are two other aspects of the bill I wish to touch on. The catalyst that generated the bill was the Hughes report on the convention in Vancouver, but it does not follow the Hughes report.

There is nothing in the bill that prevents politicians from interfering with the actions of the RCMP. It identifies the RCMP as the responsible police force in any case where there are more than two countries' citizens involved or meetings that involve more than two countries. That is a good thing. It makes it a lot simpler and a lot quicker to determine who is responsible, but there is nothing in it that says politicians are restricted from interfering with the RCMP which was a very clear message in the Hughes report.

On one hand the government says it is following the Hughes report and on the other it does not when it is convenient for the government, and as long as the government can retain power. A key part of all the bills is that the government either retains power or acquires more power in an ever lessening circle of people.

The other question I have had over and over again is how we determine what people qualify for the expanded immunity. I am not at all satisfied with the answers. One foreign affairs official said that if we give diplomatic privileges and immunities for a meeting, then all participants that we let in for that meeting will get it.

What kind of a broad based blanket immunity is that? In the past we did it one on one. Every participant was examined. There was a file on every person who applied for diplomatic immunity. We knew what we were doing. In this case the officials are saying that if there is a meeting and it is decided it will be subject to diplomatic immunity, then everybody will get diplomatic immunity. I certainly disagree with that philosophy. I do not know who will make the final decision. I am not satisfied with who will make the decision on what meetings qualify but it sounds like they will try to include every meeting and every person who is even remotely involved with the meetings.

It was very disappointing to see some of the amendments that were moved not only by my party but other opposition parties, refused, turned down or defeated by the government. I do not understand why the government has a policy of blanket turndowns even though the amendments make sense, whether they are from my party or another party. The government just does it on principle. It turns them down even when they will help make the bill better for Canadians.

We will not be supporting the bill. Unfortunately at the start we thought we would be supporting it but it is clear that the government is intransigent on changes, amendments or even common sense proposals. It will not make the minor changes for which we and other parties have asked so we will be voting against the bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 10:55 a.m.
See context


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, these are the games that get played around here. I am pleased to rise today to speak in opposition to Bill C-35. This is a bill that purports to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and to modernize the privileges and immunities regime. It is supposed to allow Canada to comply with its existing commitments under international treaties and to respond to recent developments in international law.

We are told its enactment would correct the deficiency in the existing statutory definition of international organization and provide the RCMP with primary responsibility to ensure security for the proper functioning of intergovernmental conferences. We are told this clear statutory authority would support security provisions taken by Canadian police in fulfilling the country's obligations to protect persons who have privileges and immunities under the act.

Before I get into the substance of my remarks I will comment a bit on the bill's diplomatic immunity provisions and the reference made by the member for the Alliance to the tragic incident of last January that involved Catherine MacLean and Catherine Doré.

I have never had a chance to speak in the House about this issue, but I consider myself a close personal friend of John Fryer who was the partner of Catherine MacLean. I worked with Philippe Doré who is the husband of Catherine Doré. What happened on that occasion was absolutely tragic. John Fryer and the children of Catherine MacLean know they have the full support, sympathy and understanding of myself and the members of the New Democratic Party caucus.

The fundamentals of Bill C-35 are not to protect the immorality, wrongdoing and drunken driving that happened in January last year. We ought to be primarily concerned about officials who come to Canada and receive diplomatic immunity, not about preventing protesters from getting close enough to make their case against them.

I will make reference specifically to what has happened since September 11. The government seems to be, as Naomi Klein pointed out in yesterday's Globe and Mail , ditching laws to avoid the messy street protests that started to occur in Canada in Vancouver in November 1997 and continued in Quebec City last year.

As Klein points out, civil libertarians and politicians have been duking it out over Bill C-36 since October 15. The justice minister who is responsible for the bill says the law is designed to target terrorists and terrorist groups. She insists it is not a crackdown on legitimate political activism and protest.

I welcome members to Bill C-35. It has been making its way through parliament while being downplayed by the parliamentary secretary as a housekeeping measure. On the surface all the bill does is expand the definition of an internationally protected person, those foreign dignitaries who are granted diplomatic immunity when they come to the country.

The concerns about protected persons tell only part of the story. The rest is revealed when Bill C-35 is cross referenced with several clauses in Bill C-36 that classify many actions taken against protected persons as terrorist activities. Together Bill C-35 and Bill C-36 form a one two punch that would knock out the right to protest outside international meetings that take place in Canada.

It would work like this. Bill C-35 defines internationally protected persons as “representatives of a foreign state that is a member of or participates in an international organization”. The principle is taken from the UN convention granting diplomatic immunity to politicians attending international conventions.

Members will recall that before the APEC conference in Vancouver the then Canadian foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy apologized to the prime minister of Indonesia for the campaign in Canada to portray Indonesia's brutal dictator, President Suharto, as a criminal. His picture appeared on a wanted poster.

Mr. Axworthy wrote at the time that it was outrageous and excessive and not the way Canadians behaved. He assured the Indonesian prime minister that General Suharto would not suffer the indignity of being in close proximity to any protest. The subsequent RCMP crackdown on peaceful dissent at APEC led to the Hughes report which we were discussing earlier today.

The excessive use of pepper spray and rubber bullets against protesters at the free trade agreement of the Americas meeting in Quebec City in April this year further demonstrated that the RCMP can treat Canadian protesters as criminals to protect foreign officials, even officials who preside over security forces that systematically arrest, torture and kill their own protesters back home.

Our concern is that Bill C-35 would help entrench some unjust contradictions into Canadian law. The Suhartos and Pinochets of the world would be more confident than ever when deciding whether to attend international events in Canada. Bill C-35 would allow them to feel totally secure during their visits because they would know two things. First, the law would exempt them from prosecution for their crimes. Second, it would mandate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to protect them from protesters who oppose their regimes.

Because they control their domestic security and legal systems the world's state terrorists have immunity from their own country's laws. I am concerned Bill C-35 would extend that immunity to their visits to Canada.

Ironically Bill C-35 comes at a time when the government is publicly pushing Bill C-36. We passed it yesterday and it is now in the other place. It contains sweeping new powers that may threaten the civil liberties of innocent Canadians. While giving much attention to the upcoming anti-terrorism law it seems there have been far too few references in the media to Bill C-35 that will be used to offer protection to foreign state terrorists during official visits.

I asked the parliamentary secretary if she could give examples where reciprocity had been used. One of the explanations of the need for Bill C-35 was that we needed reciprocal arrangements with other countries. The parliamentary secretary said she was unable to provide examples at the moment but would send us some.

She will have difficulty doing so. There have been no incidents in the past where Canadians were unable to attend international conferences because we did not have a law such as the one being proposed today.

I will focus a little of my remaining time on clause 5 of the bill. My colleague from Burnaby--Douglas did a thorough review of the clause in an earlier presentation at second reading of the bill. Clause 5 is a new clause that would extend unprecedented sweeping powers to the RCMP with respect to security at international meetings in Canada.

The government has told us it is only codifying existing laws. If that is the case the question is obvious: Why do we need the statute at all if would not broaden the powers but simply codify existing powers?

The hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas pointed out that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade reviewed the bill as an extraordinary step. He said Canadians have a right to know how concerned all members at the committee including government members were about provisions of the legislation.

The report the committee submitted to the House stated that expert legal testimony it had heard:

--raised serious concerns about the adequacy and interpretive clarity of the existing language in Article 5, notably in regard to the provisions regarding the primary responsibility of the RCMP for taking measures, including the establishment of security perimeters, that are appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances--

The report also stated:

Whereas, notwithstanding the existing authority of peace officers under the common law, of the RCMP under the RCMP Act and under other statutory authority pertaining to the security of internationally protected persons, Article 5 will for the first time in statute give the RCMP explicit powers to establish security perimeters for certain conferences of an international nature;

Whereas these codified RCMP powers may affect the rights and privileges of Canadian citizens in relation to such conferences;

Whereas the testimony heard by the Committee strongly pointed towards the desirability of a broader review of the statutory authorities governing police powers in respect of future situations within Canada where security perimeters may be warranted;

The Committee urges the Government to take into account the legitimate concerns which have been expressed in regard to the drafting of Article 5 of the Bill.

As the member for Burnaby--Douglas pointed out at the time, this was a strong signal from the foreign affairs committee that clause 5 which is in many respects the heart of Bill C-35 is unacceptable.

A unanimous report from the committee said to look out because it had real reservations about the clause. The government should have listened to the committee and voted to change the bill by amending or preferably deleting the clause. Instead of doing that and sending the issue back to the House, government members stood and voted against their own colleagues on the foreign affairs committee who had voiced caution about the clause. That is a significant point.

I am concerned that the two bills taken together would give the RCMP more powers than it ever dreamed it could acquire. This could have a significant negative effect on the right of people to protest peacefully. We are on the verge of criminalizing dissent in Canada.

I will quote Alan Borovoy, a long time head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Mr. Borovoy pointed out:

--to be minimally effective, a demonstration must be able to create an atmosphere of political and social tension for those whose decisions it is trying to influence. While it is appropriate to keep protestors far enough away so that they cannot physically intimidate, they must be sufficiently close in order to politically castigate.

Bill C-35 would leave wide open the question of whether that would be the case. We in the NDP caucus are opposed to the bill. The citizens of Canada need to look at Bill C-35 and Bill C-36 together. The government says it is a relatively small housekeeping amendment and not terribly significant. The proof will be in the pudding next summer when protestors go to Kananaskis to protest the G-8. At that time we will see whether peaceful protestors are able to object to what is happening with globalization or whether the security perimeter around Kananaskis will make it impossible for protestors to have their voices heard as world leaders head into the summit. That will be the test.

I think the legislation, once it is passed, as it will be by the majority, will prove that dissent is very much circumscribed in the country. I also believe that civil libertarians and people of goodwill, many of whom believe we have a very good record on civil and human rights and the ability to speak out and protest peacefully, will see those rights diminished a great deal as a result of Bills C-36 and C-35.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I think the last question posed to the parliamentary secretary shed a lot of light on the particular problem which is basically this whole idea of diplomatic immunity. Over the last five years we have had 76 crimes committed in Canada in which diplomats have been charged. We have some pretty egregious examples. I have laid out one.

The parliamentary secretary likes to claim that her government has a policy of zero tolerance on crimes committed by diplomats in Canada. Yet we have all sorts of examples, 76 of them, ranging from impaired driving, where there was a six week interval between two different incidents for the same individual, to sexual assault and interference, invitation to sexual touching, offences in relation to prostitution and criminal harassment. To me there is one that take the cake in terms of the so-called zero tolerance policy of the government, which I would claim does not exist. I think diplomatic immunity is abused. There are 8,000 individuals in Canada right now who enjoy the privilege of diplomatic immunity and over the last five years up to 13,000 people have enjoyed this type of privilege.

Let us look at some of these examples. One of the most egregious ones I can find is that of somebody who was charged with attempted murder in Canada and applied for a waiver of diplomatic immunity. It makes sense, I guess, if somebody is guilty as charged and realizes there is wiggle room to get out. Maybe that person's government allows the person the privilege of applying for diplomatic immunity. However, how can this parliamentary secretary can get up in her place and claim there is zero tolerance when the government grants the immunity? It is one thing for the government of a criminal to ask it but quite another for this government, which loves to claim it has zero tolerance, to grant it.

One might ask, then, what happened? Indeed, the criminal appeared in court and the case was dismissed. What is even more egregious is this policy of zero tolerance. Not only did the government grant the person the waiver of diplomatic immunity, but this person is still in Canada after having been charged with attempted murder and the woman across the way has the gall to stand in the House today and claim with a straight face that she has a zero tolerance policy with regard to criminals and diplomatic immunity. Shame on her.

I will go on to some of the problems I see in the bill. We have a situation where we have just recently had two terrible and tragic terrorist bombings in the United States. It is not as though Canada is immune. When Ahmed Ressam was interviewed by reporters previous to his capture in Seattle he was on his way, from Canada, to bomb the Los Angeles airport, planning what he was doing out of New York, which the Mujahedeen cult, for example, uses as a staging ground. Ahmed Ressam claimed there were 60 individuals like him who were trained in the preparation, delivery, et cetera, of bombs just for his particular proclivities and cause, never mind all the other terrorists that may choose to use Montreal or Canada generally as a base from which to stage operations. This was just for Ahmed Ressam alone. He claimed there were 60 other individuals like him residing in the Montreal area who were in favour of his cause and the government has the gall to extend and expand diplomatic immunity privileges.

Since the member across the way sees fit to heckle today, I will retort in terms of what he is talking about. I will explain to him why extending diplomatic immunity is bad in cases just like that. He is burrowing his head in his books and so he should.

The reason the diplomatic immunity extension is particularly bad in those cases, if the member happened to be reading about or paying attention to any of these things, is that at least a half dozen if not a dozen countries have misused diplomatic immunity over the last decade or two. They have abused the privileges of safe houses. They have abused the privileges of travel documents, visas and passports. They have abused the privileges with regard to money transfer in the country.

Does the member across the way not happen to remember that his own finance minister had to be accountable for the abuse of money transferring privileges in the country? Now of course someone has left the Chamber. The heat was a little too hot in the kitchen, I think.

It is egregious to consider that the government will go ahead and open up this Pandora's box of diplomatic immunity after it has gone ahead and restricted freedoms on Canadian citizens. Instead of going after the culprits, the ones who dare to actually plan bomb attacks against citizens in North America, no, instead of going after the people who purport these things and the governments who actually fund these activities and train these terrorists in their vicinities, instead of going after the people who come to Canada with allegiances other than our own, the government is going after our own citizens. It makes no sense whatsoever.

The parliamentary secretary across the way, with her elitist out of touch attitude this morning, sits guffawing and wonders why Canadians are upset. She cracks down and votes proudly for those things that would restrict the freedoms of Canadians, but would go ahead and happily and gaily stand up this morning and talk about how she will extend the diplomatic privileges for foreigners in the country when I have given her perfectly good examples of people who have abused diplomatic privileges in the country. Does she not understand? It is egregious.

A number of events will be coming up in our country. In my backyard we are to have the G-8 summit. It will be held in Kananaskis. I hope it goes off without a hitch and I hope the government provides all the necessary resources it is supposed to provide, which it still has not coughed up for Quebec City in terms of the costs of some of the meetings held there. Even though that event will be taking place, what do we have happening? The government wants to extend more diplomatic privileges for people, whether it is for a summit, for example, with diplomats from China, a known human rights abuser, coming to our country, or for an APEC summit, and we all know the Prime Minister's fondness for pepper spray and whether he has it on his plate too and all the rest of the fine quotes that man mumbled with regard to the whole APEC inquiry and the cover up involved with that.

With these meetings coming up we will have a lot of diplomats visiting the country. Instead of trying to limit the amount of immunity given out for potential crimes coming up, and we certainly know there are a whole raft of those as I have a document detailing 76 of them just in the last five years, instead of curtailing that in light of the terrorist attacks, the government, in its top-down wisdom, in its elitist pronouncements, has decided to go ahead and extend diplomatic immunity in this circumstance rather than place restrictions on it.

I will give the House some of the gruesome details because I think it is very important that people know about them. The gruesome details include, for example, that in committee when this came up, and I am hoping the parliamentary secretary was there because I will be able to judge by her face today whether or not she was by her reaction to this, the opposition, not just the Canadian Alliance but indeed all the parties in the opposition, put forward an amendment that would have kept the current reporting procedure in place. The current reporting procedure is that there actually has to be a ministerial permit and every year there has to be an annual report to parliament in terms of accountability.

Under Bill C-35 the Liberals wanted to get rid of it so that it would not be subject to the part of the Immigration Act we are dealing with. Opposition members in all parties put forward an amendment to keep the standard reporting practice in place so that there would have to be a ministerial permit and an annual report. The Liberal members across the way, the governing majority that has had no plan since the terrorist attacks in the United States and that has been coasting on cruise control, voted down an amendment by the opposition parties to keep the ministerial permit requirement in place and to make sure there was an annual report to parliament.

I see a former reporter across the way. I am sure that somewhere deep down it disturbs him that he will be asked by his government to vote for a restriction to the freedom of information given to the press and to people across the country. I ask the member to keep that in mind in terms of his vote. He has approached me personally in the past regarding matters of public record. I wonder how he feels about this matter of public record.

Not only that, there was an amendment that dealt with the entrenchment of the minister's promise in law. I guess the Liberals across the way do not like promises, because they break them and they certainly do not like entrenching them in law, and once again the Liberal majority voted against the provision, against very wise and astute amendments put forward by all opposition parties, I might add for the parliamentary secretary.

The third egregious point in terms of the nitty-gritty details of the bill is that it totally ignores the recommendation of the Hughes report with regard to the independence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We well know that Jean Carle, the Prime Minister and some others were involved in trying to tamper, tinker and interfere with the APEC summit. I am not sure why, because frankly some of the henchmen and violators of human rights who came into the country fully deserved some of the protest coming their way. However, our Prime Minister tinkered with that particular process for the APEC meeting and of course an inquiry resulted. Rather than listening to the Hughes report which was done as a result of the whole APEC situation, they have ignored it.

With what I have seen from the government over my last five years as a member of parliament, I cannot be that surprised. What often happens is that if there is a wrongdoing the government will create an inquiry of some sort, or a royal commission which is even nicer because it has a nice title. It will then shut down the inquiry the minute it gets a little too close to implicating the government with some of the problems and fire a couple of bureaucrats or someone else who had to carry out its orders, perhaps ending the careers of some fine RCMP officers who had to obey their political masters, in this case the Liberal Party of Canada. Conveniently the government will then shelve the report and, just like the parliamentary secretary did today, stand up as proud as a peacock and tell us it is in favour of a bill that will go against the Hughes report. Is that not special? We have another example of that happening here today.

As well, because of the Hughes report there was a third amendment that all opposition parties supported. It would have made political interference in RCMP operations at international conferences an offence. It was pretty clear. The RCMP's duty is to serve and protect the Canadian public. We want the RCMP to carry out that task without political interference from the Prime Minister's Office or any of the other Liberal henchmen across the way, including the parliamentary secretary. Instead of supporting an amendment that was supported by all opposition parties, the Liberal majority on the foreign affairs committee voted it down. Surprise, surprise.

We introduced an amendment for greater accountability that was backed by all opposition parties. The government killed that chance for accountability. We submitted a second proposal for the government to put some accountability back into the bill. It was put forward and proposed by all opposition parties, and again the government voted against accountability.

We did it a third time with regard to the RCMP, the people who are supposed to enforce the law and not the Liberals across the way. A third time we asked for greater accountability according to the Hughes report that the government said it would listen to. What did the government do? A third time in a row, three strikes and you are out, accountability went down again. That is the record.

We have a sad situation today. The government across the way is only too willing to go after websites created by Canadians. The government wants to expunge any of the material there and put Canadians through a laborious appeal process for which they do not get any specifications in terms of timelines. The government is willing to do all these things to restrict the freedom of speech of average Canadians because it is worried about terrorism.