Mr. Speaker, right at the beginning of my speech, I would like to congratulate the hon. members for Berthier—Montcalm, Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, as well as the hon. member for Châteauguay, for the work they have accomplished. They worked extremely hard to try to make Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism act, an adequate bill that responds both to security needs and to rights and freedoms needs.
We must remember that in attacking the two towers of the World Trade Center, fundamentalist terrorists—they are unfortunately of every creed and political stripe—attacked first and foremost freedom, democracy, justice and fairness.
The best way to show them that they were wrong, that they did not win and that they did not undermine our basic, societal principles, is indeed to make sure that we uphold these values that they are fighting against.
To do the opposite would be to say they are right, to let all fundamentalists throughout the world see that, in fact, so-called liberal societies are vulnerable to terrorism and terror and respond by seeking greater safety, but at the very expense of the values that they claim to be upholding.
In this sense, there is a very important societal debate surrounding Bill C-36. I am surprised and shocked to see how casually the Liberals are dealing with these fundamental issues.
While we look at Bill C-36, we must not forget that Bill C-35 is also on the table. This bill gives new powers to the RCMP, including the power to set up security perimeters without being accountable to anyone.
During question period today, the leader and the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois both asked very relevant questions regarding Bill C-42 and they only got sarcasm in return.
A certain madness is now affecting our friends opposite. At the Sub-Committee on Investment, of which I am a member, they made a proposal to try and solve the traffic problem at the Canada-U.S. border, because there is a traffic problem there, by imposing a mandatory identity card.
Just imagine the disproportion between a necessary debate, and I am not saying that I am against this idea, and the fact that we are using the excuse that we have to ease the movement of people between Canada and United States, to impose an identity card to all Canadians without further debate.
There is some sort of a drift in Bill C-35 and Bill C-42, and in general, in the government approach to security. It is also obvious in Bill C-36.
I have the feeling that we are sailing on the Titanic and that the Liberals are having a ball without realizing the iceberg they have created.
Bill C-36 destroys the balance between rights and freedoms and security. Meanwhile, they are having fun, as if nothing were the matter, refusing to hear what the witnesses said and refusing to accept what the opposition parties, particularly the Boloc Quebecois, have brought forward in committee, in a non-partisan fashion. I am glad to see that the Progressive Conservative Party/Democratic Representative Caucus Coalition is bringing in a number of amendments to make some adjustments, but those amendments will likely not pass.
So, we are now witnessing some very worrisome indifference and nonchalance. The Liberals' haste in that regard is cause for concern, all the more so—we should not be naive—as there is a very strong temptation on the part of the Prime Minister and the government to take advantage of the legitimate concerns of Quebecers and Canadians in order to strenghten, in every respects the power that rests with the executive and with the police.
I want to remind the government that, of course, in the post-September 11 context, there is now major support from the Canadian population in particular, and to a lesser extent from Quebec, for the federal government to overcome that crisis.
I also remind this government that we saw the same kind of support during the gulf war. President Bush Sr. was on top of opinion polls after the gulf war. A year later, he lost the elections to Clinton. Why? Because he had not dealt with other issues of social justice and economic development. Let us recall how casually he dealt with the economic crisis of the early 1990s.
This government will continue to drift if it is not careful. Since I am not in favour of developing policy based on worst-case scenarios, I hope that the Liberal government will adjust Bill C-35, Bill C-36 and Bill C-42 and stop using the current climate to try transform us into state that is more totalitarian than democratic.
We will be voting against Bill C-36. I think that the previous speakers explained that this bill—with the inadequate, cosmetic amendments proposed by the minister—upsets the fair balance between security and freedom.
We supported the bill at second reading, because we support co-ordinated, special legislation to deal with the terrorist situation, as was the case with criminal biker gangs. Incidentally, we are anxious to see what the other place will do with the legislation.
We attempted to propose amendments in committee. The minister and the Liberals simply discarded the main amendments in an off-hand manner, except for one, as we mentioned, that was fairly obvious.
Once again, these were not amendments that we hatched out of the blue. They were developed after hearing the witnesses that appeared before the committee. This is the reason that we called for a sunset clause. Because we do not know where this bill will lead us. There needs to be a time limit to ensure that any problems that we have not been able to predict, despite all our good efforts, can be corrected.
Obviously we support maintaining all of the provisions in the bill dealing with international conventions. As for the rest, there would need to be another debate in three years' time. And the need for that debate still exists. All that the minster is proposing is a clause whereby only two provisions would be dropped after five years, that is preventive arrests and investigative hearings. It really is a complete farce.
Despite the fact that the bill comes up after three years, we still need to correct problems as they arise. Therefore, the annual review process is essential. What we are proposing is that different departments report. How will this work when they are acting as both judge and jury?
However, I want to focus on the definition of terrorist activity, particularly subsection 83.01( b ). I will give a fictitious example.
Suppose this is May 1, 1974. In September 1973, General Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected Allende government. Now, suppose that a group of students decided to peacefully occupy the Chilean consulate. If we go through all the clauses we have before us, we will see that this act corresponds perfectly to what is considered a terrorist act under the bill.
I will quote the subsection in question:
(a) in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and
Opposing the dictatorship of Pinochet in Chili, in 1973-1974—which lasted much too long—that is a political purpose.
...in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security...
That is not relevant.
...or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act...
What did these young people want to do? They wanted to make sure that the Chilean government would restore democracy in Chili. And this answers that.
Let us read a bit further. Clause ( e ) reads:
...causes serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private...
Of course, occupying a consulate can be considered serious interference with a foreign service.
Honestly, if you look at this bill, at this definition, because of they did in 1974, that group of students could be considered as terrorists under this bill.
However, it is not too late to bring in appropriate changes. By the way, I find it paradoxical, and I will conclude on that, that at the very same time that we are honouring Nelson Mandela by making him an honorary Canadian citizen, we want to pass a bill that would have made him a terrorist in the eyes of the Canadian government.
In dealing with terrorism, our main concern is unity. In the present context, the Liberal government is the one that has broken this unity and is forcing us to vote against Bill C-36. It is very disappointing.