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.

Sponsor

John Manley  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

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.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 10:20 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, rise on a point of order. I have a question with regard to this. I did not hear a mention of Motion P-3 in the member's comments. Does this apply to Motion P-3 or does it apply to the bill that is being debated currently, Bill C-35?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 10:15 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, my question does not pertain to the principles of Bill C-35, but rather to the principles of access to information.

Why will the government not commit to a report to parliament? The government acknowledges that it is necessary, because the minister has said that he agrees to report on the people who apply to make use of a claim for immunity four times a year, but it will not put it in legislation. It seems to me that the minister is saying it is necessary and he will do it, but he wants to keep that flexibility so he can change his mind later on.

This kind of goes along with what is in Bill C-36, with restrictions to access to information. There seems to be a reluctance on behalf of the government to share information with parliament. All we are asking is if the government will provide a list of those people who claim immunity under these very significantly expanded immunity rules.

When I talk to Liberal members individually, they seem to agree that this is a good thing to do. Could the parliamentary secretary indicate if there has been a change of heart? Will the government add an annual report to parliament in the bill?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
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Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin speaking on third reading of Bill C-35 which amends the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. We worked on this in committee and had good discussions and the opportunity to hear from some excellent witnesses, and in so doing better understand the issues.

The bill extends immunities in Canada to non-treaty based international organizations such as G-8 and other meetings that will be held in Canada. It allows for the application of diplomatic immunity to people participating in those meetings, whereas in the past immunities such as those included in the bill could only have been extended to treaty based organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization which is in Montreal. Another treaty based organization of course is the United Nations.

In providing for this application in Canada, we are not in any way enhancing the levels of diplomatic immunities. We are only extending them to include persons coming to Canada for the reasons I outlined. Other developed countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, have provisions in their law as well to grant privileges and immunities to non-treaty based organizations.

As well, I want to say a word concerning the proposal in the bill to clarify that an order in council for an international organization or meeting excludes the obligation now to issue a minister's permit to allow entry to Canada of persons who fall within the inadmissible classes under the Immigration Act.

The opportunity now to treat the application of such persons on a case by case basis will reside with an order in council, but it moves it within the ambit of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was the view of some of the top experts who spoke to us that it was exactly where such an action should be located. It provides therein for continuity and keeps all of what is related to persons attending international organizations in Canada within the ambit of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

There has been discussion in the media about this bill. While I can understand some of the discussion related to other bills, I fail to see the hyperbole of some articles recently concerning Bill C-35, as the bill is not about enhancement or enlargement. It is but merely the horizontal application of the diplomatic immunities to include persons falling within the categories I described.

Therefore, I move:

That the question be now put.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2001 / 3:10 p.m.
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The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-35. The question is on the amendment.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2001 / 4:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take part in this debate from the perspective of my short experience as a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Even though this bill deals with internal security in Canada, I would like to express my views with that new experience in mind.

Witnesses from various countries and international associations who appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Rights and International Development told us how important and urgent it is that Canada intervene to uphold human rights in other countries.

We should acknowledge that, over the years, Canada has earned an excellent reputation because it advocated the protection of human rights and it has been, to use the Prime Minister's words, the best country in the world as far as the defence of human rights goes.

But, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the government has introduced a series of bills, including Bill C-36, dealing with judgments, arrests, and so on, in response to terrorist activities.

At the same time, the government has introduced Bill C-35, aimed at changing international conventions, and Bill C-42, on public transportation safety. We realize that the government reacted in a state of panic.

Although the importance of the terrorist actions of September 11 must not be diminished, including what occurred at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, actions that are unacceptable, we have reacted, because something had to be done. But it had to be done without losing sight of the balance to be maintained between safety and the right to individual freedoms.

Otherwise, as some members of my party have said before me, it would be an inappropriate reaction, playing into the hands of those who were responsible for the September 11 terrorist actions, that is, changing our democracy, our system of individual and group rights to suit the objectives of those rightly called terrorists.

This is not the intent. Safety may be increased and all measures improved, with new ones even being added, in order to increase security.

I personally have nothing against the fact that, for example, we spend more time in line-ups at the airports in order to get to our ridings, because I understand that to fight effectively against attacks like those carried out with planes on September 11, we must all accept that things take longer. I do not think many people in our country are against that.

We have all accepted measures, and there could be others, of course. But there is a limit. I am going to make a comparison. A bill was unanimously passed by MPs last spring against organized crime. There were a lot of deaths—I do not have the figures, but it seems to me there were over 160—which resulted from bikers' wars. Sometimes, it was a settling of accounts among criminals, but sometimes there were innocent victims too. The bill is still awaiting passage in the Senate. It must be following a fairly singular process, since, according to the government, there is some urgency.

There are therefore two processes, so that they are jostling each other at the doors, so to speak. So the bill was passed in a panic during the night.

My colleagues, the hon. members for Berthier—Montcalm, Châteauguay and Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, spent the night proposing a series of amendments in reaction to the pile of amendments proposed by the government, and discussed very rapidly. The whole thing had to be passed within hours.

They proposed some 60 amendments themselves, close to 66, in keeping with the Bloc Quebecois’ objections and aimed at improving this bill. To us, these amendments were a way of being consistent with our vote on second reading, which addressed the principle of the bill and was aimed at improving the situation in order to adopt new measures so that there could be an effective battle against terrorism and at the same time protection of our rights and freedoms.

When one speaks of preventive arrests, these are based on presumptions and on information received, without much idea of where it will lead. Preventive arrests are going to be made only on that basis, without complete evidence, supposedly in the name of national security. This information may sometimes come from the information services of other countries without any decision on them being made by the information commissioner; instead it will be the Department of Justice, or one might almost say the Minister of Justice, because there is sometimes much differentiation.

Hon. members will realize that the definition of terrorism is not clear, even though an attempt was made by a colleague to clarify it. In our opinion, this is not enough. This is why we feel that Motion No. 1 is incomplete. We agree with the other three motions, which are in line with the amendments that the Bloc Quebecois proposed in committee, but that were rejected.

The democratic process is at stake. The government prides itself in being a model for democracies. It keeps making that comment at every opportunity, whether it is when making representations or sending a delegation abroad, and even within the country. The government is very concerned about how human rights are respected elsewhere, but here some parts of the legislation will not be governed by the 1982 charter of human rights, the Trudeau charter. And it wants us to pass this bill very rapidly, after hearing witnesses very quickly.

This is an extremely important bill, yet the provinces were not consulted and no consultations took place outside Ottawa. And the government is gagging us once again. It is telling us that it will use closure, because it is in a hurry to pass this bill as quickly as possible.

As the NDP member said earlier, generally speaking, when a bill has a major impact and includes several new measures, parliament takes all the time necessary to review it. Hon. members do not feel pressured, as is the case now, to do things as quickly as possible and to discuss the legislation as little as possible.

Yet, the government has the necessary tools, including the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which could broaden its consultation. But instead the government is resorting to closure. We must always go faster. It is this kind of pressure which, in the end, generates even more concern, as was pointed out by several organizations, including one in particular.

I went to the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development. Amnesty International is concerned. It feels that the definition of terrorism is not specific enough and that this puts at risk those who may openly express their opinions. We should at least have the support of an organization like Amnesty International.

I would still have a lot to say but I will conclude by congratulating once again my three colleagues who worked really hard to try to propose an acceptable position.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

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.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

November 22nd, 2001 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as hon. members know, the House will not sit tomorrow as is the usual courtesy to a political party holding a national convention, in this case the New Democratic Party.

Our business for next week is fairly straightforward. First, we will deal with report stage and third reading of Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation. When this is completed we will turn to second reading of the public safety bill that was introduced earlier this day by the Minister of Transport.

On any days next week, particularly in the early part of the week, should the debate on any of these items end earlier in the day, it would be my intention, then, on Monday to call for report stage and third reading of Bill C-27, the nuclear safety bill and, if time permits, second reading of Bill C-43, the technical legislative amendments bill which I introduced earlier this day.

If debate collapses on or after Tuesday, it would also be my intention to add to the list that I have just made Bill C-35, the foreign missions bill, at third reading.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 1:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been studying further the legislation proposed in Bill C-35. Once the bill is passed and we extend the immunity to all sorts of individuals who attend an international gathering, conference, convention or whatever, what would happen to those individuals who committed a crime while in Canada? It would not have to be a horrendous crime, such as murder, or drunk driving causing death, or rape or something like that. It could be a white collar crime from which they financially benefited.

What would happen if those individuals turned around, as is often the case with foreigners who land on our shores, and requested asylum in Canada? Would that diplomatic immunity, which would prevent them from being prosecuted for that crime, be extended if they stayed here? It is not very clear in the bill. I suspect lawyers might have a field day with that one as well.

This one of the instances that for the life of me I cannot understand why the government is doing this or what has possessed it to bring this forward, especially at a time when the symbolized freedom loving peoples of the western world are concerned about potential terrorists, those who would commit crimes, coming to our land. The timing of this is just unbelievable.

I pose that question to my hon. colleague from the Bloc who has just spoken.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-35, a bill introduced by the federal government to modernize in various ways the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

It should be understood that the legislator had no other choice but to modernize the act since it dates back to 1991. Increasingly, society is changing; there is more talk about globalization. Over the past ten years, we have seen a range of organizations being created and meeting on a regular basis all over the world. This caused the Canadian government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to look at this new phenomenon.

Among the various international organizations created during this period, there is the OSCE, the G-8—which will meet in Western Canada next year—, APEC, which met here in 1997. We all recall the unfortunate events which marred this international meeting held here.

One should also realize that this international phenomenon has triggered protests all over the world. We are living in a democratic universe, or at least we are fighting to keep it that way, and increasingly these large diplomatic events are attracting demonstrators who come to voice their disagreement about these international meetings.

Before getting further into the debate on Bill C-35, I would like to draw your attention to the way our Liberal colleagues are behaving in general, which is becoming increasingly obvious.

Since the September events, this government has tried very opportunistically to take advantage of the situation to set in motion a steam roller with, as a sole purpose, the trampling of every civic right and every gain for which we have fought so hard here in the Canadian Parliament over the past few years.

Last Tuesday night, I did not have the time to take part in the proceedings of the standing committee on justice but I was able to take 30 to 45 minutes to watch them on television. As for the behaviour of the government across the way, I must say that it is increasingly more undemocratic, and that was obvious that night. You should have seen how the chairman of the standing committee on justice was pushing through the amendments and also how the Liberal members ganged up and voted against every single amendment moved by our party, and this during the all important debate on Bill C-36.

In Bill C-35, even though this legislation is needed, here again, we are taking advantage of the attacks on New York and Washington. We are trying to give the police and RCMP officers powers they do not need. Our legal system already has all the powers it needs for dealing with these kinds of events.

It is clear again that the situation is being exploited and that the RCMP are being imposed everywhere they can be. They are not only being imposed, but they are being given the authority to rummage around in the personal lives of Canadians and Quebecers. Furthermore, these laws are so important that a time limit on them is out of the question. So we are moving toward the creation of a police state where they will have powers that will allow them to do whatever they want. I do not agree with that.

I do not know what has happened since September 11. There must have been bills on the back burner because, ever since, excessive security measures have been implemented anywhere Canadians might want to show their dissatisfaction with global and globalizing tendencies that they oppose. Where are we going with this government?

Today, we are debating Bill C-35. My colleagues and myself are against clause 5. We will, therefore, vote against Bill C-35, even though at the outset we were favourable to the basic principle. Members have also heard our views on Bill C-36.

This morning the Minister of Transport has done it again with yet another bill. Once again, this is a bill that reduces the powers of the public. He is going to give an unbelievable amount of leeway to our police forces. When the events of September 11 have been settled—one has to remain optimistic—at the rate things are going, what is the Canadian government going to do with this series of measures with no time limits that it has steamrollered through? We will need three to five years to get back to where we were after years of effort.

I would like to point out as well that other countries' laws are often said to be better. That is certain. Once again, during the debate on second reading, the Liberals claimed that this codification of the powers of the RCMP concerning the security perimeter was fully justified and was inspired by similar legislation in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian legislation, passed by the state of Queensland, is temporary in nature, not permanent as the people over the way would have us believe. It addresses security perimeters for a specific event only. The same holds true for New Zealand. It was for the APEC summit in Auckland in 1999.

As well, the New Zealand legislation set limits on the size of the perimeter, and how long it could be in place. Bill C-35 has nothing of the like. Absolutely nothing. This government functions—and the hon. members will understand this example—like a NHL team suddenly demanding that the league change the rules. Instead of having three forwards and three defencemen, they want four players on defence and one on offence. That would not produce much of a game.

With the bills the government is presenting, and with Bill C-35, this means we are going to turn into a passive democracy rather than an active one.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 1:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was a pleasure for me to listen quite attentively to the remarks of my hon. colleague from Saskatoon--Humboldt on Bill C-35. I could not agree more with the sentiment of his comments. He did highlight the one good thing about Bill C-35, that it deals with a clearer definition of the role of the RCMP when Canada is hosting international conferences. Certainly that is a valid issue to address.

We need only look back to last weekend in Ottawa and the G-20 summit and the violence that was committed by protesters here in our capital to note the importance of clarifying what the role of the security forces are when we host these conferences. As everyone knows we were not even slated to host that G-20 conference. It just shows us how often we are called upon to do things like that especially at this time because of the greater concern for terrorism.

As my colleague pointed out, it strikes me more than a little bit odd. Rightly or wrongly, Canada is perceived to be somewhat of a safe haven for terrorists and organized crime because of what I think is widely believed in the international community to be some pretty lax laws. Yet once again the government is moving in an area to allow more foreigners who visit our country to have diplomatic immunity from some of our laws.

What I especially find troubling is that this legislation once passed, and it is virtually certain that the government will crack the whip and all the government members will stand up and vote for it, will give diplomats immunity from taxes and duty on the importation of alcohol. That is especially troubling. That is clearly sending the wrong message. It is sending the message that alcohol consumption, when someone is on a diplomatic mission to Canada, is quite acceptable. In fact, we are willing to help them with that by making them immune to any of the attributable taxes on alcohol. As my colleague said, especially in light of the tragedy last winter, I cannot believe the government is moving in that area.

There could be some argument put forward by the government for something like this if there were reciprocal agreements with some countries; in other words, if our delegates to a convention somewhere were to receive that. Oftentimes there are reciprocal agreements between nations in a wide variety of areas.

For our country to carte blanche give this blanket immunity to anyone that is going to land on our shore is a dangerous precedent. I have not heard a big hue and cry for it across the land or even from other countries. Perhaps the member would want to comment on the idea that at least there could be some argument put forward if it was specific to certain countries where there were reciprocal agreements negotiated. However, to just carte blanche bring in this blanket immunity is a dangerous precedent.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 1:05 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-35 entitled an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

The title of the bill of course does not very clearly delineate the purpose of the bill which essentially can be broken down into two parts. The first one relates to more clearly delineating the role of the RCMP in providing security measures when Canada hosts international events and conferences.

The problem with the bill is the aspect of it with regard to diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity extends from the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations and it grants privileges and immunities to foreign representatives and members of international organizations. The bill would expand that immunity needlessly. It would expand it to delegates, to family members of officials and to staff. These would be people visiting our country for a few days to attend an international conference and they would have a licence to break whatever Canadian law they want while they are here. It makes no sense to expand that type of immunity to people who are temporary visitors to the country. Not only is there no need for it, there is no public interest in it. There has not even been a request from any foreign country or organization to expand the privileges of diplomatic immunity.

This really begs the question: Why is the government embarking on this venture when there is no appetite for it by the public? In fact, it is a cause for concern, especially in light of increased awareness and the need to clamp down on terrorists and criminals. Why would we be opening our doors to trouble? What this is, is an invitation to trouble.

The process that is set out in the bill would extend to the entire delegation that is coming from a given country to attend an international conference, so there is improper individual scrutiny. Individuals who would otherwise be barred from entering Canada could be given a special visa to enter our country and be exempt from our laws. Those special visitor visas would supercede the immigration minister's power to disallow potential visitors with criminal pasts from entering Canada.

The other inherent problem is that the bureaucrats in the Department of Foreign Affairs would be the ones making these decisions. Not only is the bill needlessly and irresponsibly empowering foreign affairs bureaucrats but it is potentially putting them in a conflict of interest. As the organizers of the event, they may have reasons for wanting specific individuals or groups to attend an international conference without regard to whether they have had a criminal past. I think it is very irresponsible to put that kind of power into the hands of those bureaucrats.

Furthermore, rather than expanding diplomatic immunity and creating a potential for trouble, the government should be focusing on the current loopholes in the immigration and refugee system that have been exploited by people with criminal pasts. In fact, in a five year period, I think 1993-98, 25,000 people who were issued deportation orders in Canada did not show up for their hearings and are on the loose in Canada. That is a great cause of concern. In light of that, why would the government be opening the door to further abuses of our laws by people who will be here for a very temporary period of time?

Over the past five years there have been 90 incidents of criminal misconduct by diplomats and their staff in Canada. We already have a problem. The government should be focusing on that instead of expanding the opportunity for more trouble.

The hon. member for Cumberland--Colchester, in the clause by clause stage at committee, proposed an amendment to the bill that would have required the annual reporting of anyone who claimed diplomatic immunity to be built into the legislation but the Liberal government voted against it. The member tried to reintroduce it in the House but was denied the opportunity to do so. What is even more disturbing is that this is yet another example of the Liberal government's tendency to hide information or not be as forthcoming as possible.

What possible harm could be done? The amendment proposed by the member for Cumberland--Colchester made good common sense. It would have given the House of Parliament and the Canadian public the right to know who had claimed diplomatic immunity. Not only was it common sense, it was responsible. It would have been a preventive measure, a method of monitoring warning signs so we could then bring pressure to bear on the embassy responsible for the individuals perpetrating the crimes. If this had been done perhaps the tragedy that occurred last January could have been prevented.

I am sure members are aware of the Russian diplomat who, by driving recklessly, killed a pedestrian. This caused a lot of public outrage. Even worse, that particular diplomat had a previous history of a series of criminal infractions. Had there been annual reporting of incidents of people who claimed diplomatic immunity, perhaps a tragedy like that could have been prevented.

This raises the point that when criminal acts are committed, there is usually a victim. We ought to be much more conscious and sympathetic to that. While there is a role for diplomatic immunity to be in place for foreign diplomats, it does not make any sense to extend that to delegates to a weekend convention or conference.

The Liberal government is actually enacting a double standard. On Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill, the committee passed an amendment for the annual reporting of incidents of preventive arrest and investigative hearings. If the solicitor general and the justice minister see the need for implementing a system of annual reporting of incidents within their legislation, why does the Minister of Foreign Affairs not see the benefit? It is a clear and obvious double standard.

My point is that there is a role for diplomatic immunity. However, as evidenced by these 90 incidents of criminal acts in the past five years by existing diplomats, we should be focusing on that. A system of annual reporting is one way to accomplish that. Perhaps there are other ways we could tighten this. The concept of diplomatic immunity, if anything, should perhaps be scaled back, re-examined or made more accountable. It certainly should not be expanded in such an irresponsible manner.

As I previously mentioned, there is a good aspect to the bill, which is to provide clear authority for the RCMP to fulfill their security requirements at international conferences. Following the APEC incident, it is obvious that there is a need for greater clarity in the role of the RCMP to provide security measures and to be independent from political interference from the Prime Minister's Office. The clear parameters for the RCMP is one good aspect of the bill but it is overshadowed by the very flawed and irresponsible concept of expanding diplomatic immunity to delegates, officials, staff and families who attend weekend international conferences in our country.

We do recognize the importance of the concept of immunity for diplomats in carrying out their work in countries around the world, particularly in countries that do not have the same degree of respect for democracy and human rights that Canada has. While there is a role for it, if we think about Canada and the degree of our democracy and of our legal code and our criminal code, why would we need to extend diplomatic immunity to people who are coming to our country to attend a conference?

The same would go for Canadians visiting other highly developed countries. If a Canadian delegate to a conference goes to England or to the United States, what would be the need for them to be granted diplomatic immunity while they were there? It would be nothing more than a licence or an invitation to break the laws of that country which are fair, reasonable laws.

The use of diplomatic immunity in the bill is becoming distorted by the Liberal government. The concept of diplomatic immunity is intended to protect foreign representatives from arbitrary harassment in the legal conduct of their affairs but not to be an invitation to commit crimes. The bill is even out of step with the government's own agenda. On the one hand the government has Bill C-36 which is seeking to improve security measures and increase police powers. At the same time it has Bill C-35 which is a complete contradiction of increasing security and an invitation to more criminal acts, inviting people and granting them diplomatic immunity if in other circumstances they would not even be allowed to enter our country. It does not make any sense.

It certainly once again raises the issue of priorities of the government. We have a health care system that is very dysfunctional right now. Waiting lists are unacceptably long for surgery and for seeing specialists; and the equipment, it is an underfunded system. Yet the government went ahead with its firearms registry. It has been willing to pump $500 million so far, and that number is climbing every day, into a system to make hunters and farmers register their rifles but it is not willing to put that money into health care. While perhaps we do need to examine our transportation security measures, and the government is moving in that direction, at the same time it has this contradictory desire to expand diplomatic immunity to people who are not justified in having it.

Our country is faced with a $579 billion national debt. The interest on servicing that debt is $42 billion a year. This is highly irresponsible fiscal management. There is a complete lack of accountability on monitoring the expenditures of government departments. There are annual increases in taxes. And the government is bringing in a bill to expand diplomatic immunity.

There are all these problems. We have a crime problem. There is the fiscal situation in Canada with the low dollar and our struggling economy. Yet the priority of the government is to expand immunity to delegates to international conferences. It does not make any sense. It is contradictory to the government's own legislative agenda vis-à-vis the transportation security measures and the anti-terrorism measures. It is simply irresponsible.

I speak today in the most definitive terms in speaking against this legislation. The Minister of Foreign Affairs should take the bill, shred it and forget about it.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will remind members of the House that the Bloc Quebecois voted in favour of Bill C-35 at second reading because we support the principle of modernizing the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

Since the last review of this act, which was in 1991, the world has changed a great deal. There is now a whole series of international organizations that have been created, but not through treaties, which are therefore not covered by the old act. Given that diplomatic relations have changed, with summits as an example, whether it be the one in Quebec City or the APEC summit in Vancouver, it is important to broaden the definition of international organization and to ensure diplomats and foreign representatives who come here for this type of event are covered.

Nor did the old law cover missions here with international organizations. The International Civil Aviation Organization for example, with its head office in Montreal, has 40 different missions that are accredited with the organization, but that have not benefited from any status under the old law.

All of these provisions therefore, are extremely positive. We were quite surprised, at first, not to find any provisions to correct certain irregular situations, such as the incident in which a Russian diplomat used his diplomatic immunity to avoid answering for a crime related to an offence in which he hit a woman while driving his car in a state of intoxication. We were stunned that Bill C-35 contained nothing to correct this situation.

The explanation that was given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and others during the committee hearings convinced us that introducing this type of provision in Bill C-35 would contravene the Vienna Convention. The directive issued by the minister to ensure that people who are considered persona non grata be removed, satisfies us.

From this perspective, Bill C-35 was a positive contribution to the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and modernized it so that it would take into consideration new diplomatic relations and the new reality of these relations.

But the bill also includes clause 5. Since we supported the principle of modernizing the legislation, the hon. member for Mercier and I moved an amendment to remove this clause because, as I said, it is unclear, incomplete, dangerous and does not belong in this bill, since it is more a matter for the justice department than a foreign affairs issue.

Let me remind the House that clause 5 sets up a number of responsibilities for the RCMP. It purports to amend the foreign missions act so that the RCMP is the organization in charge of security of events, whereas it was traditionally responsible for the protection of individuals, foreign dignitaries in our land.

This is a very significant change. The RCMP could interfere with the work of other police forces, and it is not given any criteria. One witness who appeared before the committee stated that, if we want the RCMP to be the lead agency for security during international events, we should help it by establishing a series of criteria. Those in charge sometimes have to make snap decisions, and, if they to not have any criteria to go by, they might disregard fundamental rights.

This is all the more likely because this same clause 5 says:

—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.

This institutionalizes the creation of security perimeters, such as the one in Quebec City, which were the exception. Why institutionalize a practice which is the exception in legislation on foreign missions? This is a very serious question. Particularly as the RCMP would make its own decisions about the measures that were appropriate in the circumstances.

The RCMP is not limited in any way in establishing these security perimeters. As I have already mentioned, a Montreal lawyer challenged the existence of the security perimeter in Quebec City, saying that it violated his freedom of expression and his freedom of movement. The judge ruled that, while it violated his rights, this was compensated for by the fact that the perimeter was necessary to ensure the safety of the dignitaries visiting Quebec City.

So the RCMP already has the authority to establish these security perimeters under existing legislation. Obviously, court challenges are always possible. It is up to the RCMP to demonstrate the need for and appropriateness of these security perimeters. Now, with clause 5, it will be able to establish them whenever it wishes, without being accountable to anyone.

Subsection (3) says:

The powers referred to in subsection (2)...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.

On the one hand, we are told that the status quo will not do, because clause 5 must be included and, on the other, we are told that this will not in any way change the existing legislation. This is hard to believe. I think that this parliament would have done better to pass the amendment put forward by the member for Mercier and myself.

Besides I was happy to note that all opposition parties supported the amendment aimed at deleting clause 5. On the other hand government members, somewhat by principle, insisted on keeping clause 5. But, as we know, certain Liberal members are not comfortable with this clause because it could lead to infringement of rights. They are ill at ease because the provision is not where it should be. These changes should have been put in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, not in legislation dealing with foreign missions.

These Liberal members even tried to submit a recommendation in the committee report pointing out to the government the dangers presented by clause 5. But in the end, everything was watered down. We would have wished that these members, when the moment came to vote on our amendment, had voiced their concern by voting in favour of the amendment.

For those reasons, since clause 5 remains in Bill C-35, we will have to vote against the bill, all the more so since it comes with another legislation that will be discussed in the days ahead, Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism act.

I fully agree with the previous speaker. We are now witnessing in Canada a dangerous shift with regard to civil liberties and a strengthening of tools of repression that can lead to major drifts with which we do not want to be associated in any way.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 12:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to speak on Bill C-35, which, my Liberal colleague reminds us, deals not with immigration or antiterrorist measures, but rather international meetings and foreign missions. This is what we are talking about now. We are now at third reading and realize that the government is refusing to withdraw clause 5. Most of my comments will focus on this.

Despite our voting in support of the principle of this bill at second reading, the fact that clause 5, which basically confers more powers to the RCMP, unrestricted powers, is being maintained, we do not believe it is appropriate to include powers for the RCMP in a bill that deals with the Department of Foreign Affairs. There are already provisions or powers granted to either the Minister of Justice or the Solicitor General

It is somewhat strange to have measures dealing with powers conferred to the RCMP suddenly appear under the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I have not researched the laws in other countries, but I am told that this is not the usual approach.

So one has to ask why, all of a sudden, RCMP powers, including the power of determining safety perimeters during international meetings, have to be included in a bill under the jurisdiction of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Apparently some of the government witnesses who testified before the committee—I was not present myself—have said themselves that for the next G-8 meeting in Alberta next June, there is no need at all to amend Bill C-35.

Since this is the only international meeting planned for now, one has to ask why? If it is not necessary for this meeting, which is only planned for June, why do it?

Everyone can hypothesize as to why. My own feeling is that the answer can be found in the effects of the unfortunate events of September 11 at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States. One cannot help but feel sad and we do, but, at the same time, I believe that governments around the world must refrain from contributing to spreading panic needlessly by using these events to broaden the powers of the police. I am not taking aim at the police per se. Giving more powers to the police without giving them guidelines on their use is like giving a hot potato to my neighbour who might not know immediately how to handle it.

I do not want to impugn motives and say that in general the police do a poor job. However, occasionally they can make mistakes because of tiredness or for all sorts of other factors.

The Quebec City summit where the blame could be laid on both sides is a case in point. I am not here to applaud people who carry out acts of vandalism, but at the same time as a member of the standing committee on foreign affairs and human rights , where all year long and as events unfold we hear witnesses and observers testify that human rights are consistently being trampled, we at home should not be too free about giving increased powers to the RCMP. It could arrange to be less lenient. Then, we would have less freedom of speech. Again I must stress that we are not talking about the anti-terrorism bill neither are we discussing the changes to the Immigration Act.

We are discussing a bill intended to support the desire of the minister, of the Canadian government, to hold international meetings here. Unless, of course, no more are wanted. Judging by what the previous speaker just said, every time foreigners come here, we would have to take care.

On the other side of the coin, when we take part in international meetings outside the country, we have a right to expect a certain number of rules and guidelines relating to immunity and security, because not many would go to an international meeting if told “In that country, the Geneva convention is not applied, nor the various other international conventions. It is not certain that there will really be security, and the agenda topics will be highly controversial. But feel free to go”.

I am pretty sure that no hon. members would go to international meetings if that were the case. We are, like it or not, fully into an era of globalization: communications, faster and faster air travel and so on. Whether we like or dislike globalization, it is here to stay. Increasingly, problems are international in nature.

At the same time, every nation wants to see its representatives address these questions. It is like politics. When I was younger and less interested in politics than my father was, he kept on telling me “You may not be interested in politics, but politics will be interested in you”.

I would say the same about international politics, about globalization; it will be interested in us. So we have no choice but to deal with it. This means taking part in foreign missions and receiving in our country international bodies that are organizing meetings here.

I forgot to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Joliette, provided he arrives in time. If not, I have a pinch hitter lined up in the person of the hon. member for Lotbinière, who will step up to the plate as soon as I have finished my allotted ten minutes. I still have three minutes to find out who will be speaking next. I apologize for doing things this way, but I wanted to make sure I was following the parliamentary rules, since I am talking about respecting rules internationally. Needless to say, the rules here have to be respected as well.

Let us now talk about these three new provisions under clause 5. The first one is very direct and cannot be said to be engaging in excessive diplomacy, since it says:

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.

As for the other provisions, they relate to the first one and refer to security perimeters and all such issues.

Again, the rules governing diplomatic immunity do not apply to a refugee who wants to come to Canada. They are rules on temporary immunity that apply to someone who comes from abroad in the context of an international meeting. Of course, there are also ambassadors, consuls and consular staff who are here all year round.

This legislation will modernize and update what existed previously, but did not include some international meetings and non-governmental organizations that are present in Canada on a permanent basis and are entitled to be treated as international organizations, just as we expect our people, whether they are volunteers or have some other status, to be treated in the same fashion when they belong to international organizations abroad.

There is no reason to keep clause 5, which gives greater powers to the RCMP, particularly since these powers are not limited. The RCMP—or the mounted police as the Prime Minister would say— might not know what to do with these powers, since there are no controls. Some would interpret the act in their own way, which would sometimes be the proper way, sometimes the not so proper way, and sometimes the wrong way, because there are no controls.

The Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice already have powers under several acts.

Because of the new context resulting from the September 11 events, we would not want to see a tightening of rules bringing us closer to a police state. This is not what we want. I am not saying this is the case, but we must not take steps in that direction.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 12:40 p.m.
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Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby--Douglas spent much of his time discussing Bill C-36, the terrorist bill and now the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca has spent much of his time discussing Bill C-11, the immigration bill. However the bill we are discussing today is Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

This proclivity on the part of two members who usually exhibit some knowledge in foreign affairs to ignore the fact that we are debating at third reading stage Bill C-35, is beginning to impact negatively on my self-esteem. Not to sound petulant, but it is my job as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to try to bring forward a particular bill. My difficulty is trying to get some members to focus on that bill.

That said, I will attempt to reach to the hon. member's strong background and suggest that his idea that we should move out of the Vienna conventions and into an international court, perhaps the international criminal court of the treaty of Rome which has not yet received near the number of ratifications to bring it into existence, is naive. I say that most honestly. The Vienna convention is already established. Many nations participate. To tear that down and begin again as the hon. member is suggesting is something that is almost impossible to commence.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca when talking about refugees arriving here without proper documentation, took the opportunity of a debate on Bill C-35 to actually make comment on Bill C-11, the immigration bill that received royal assent two weeks ago. Since the hon. member has done that, with your permission Mr. Speaker, I would like to rebut his remarks on Bill C-11.

His proposition was that people who arrive in Canada by air who do not have proper identification or have no documentation whatsoever should be immediately turned around and sent back.

I would remind him that in the real world of people fleeing state terrorism, it is very difficult for genuine refugees to get proper documentation. They often travel on false documentation. When they arrive by aircraft, the people who make those false documents often encourage them to destroy that documentation.

What happens is when they land in Canada there is no documentation, false or otherwise, so their identity is in question. What now occurs is they are very carefully questioned to establish what their actual identity is and then they go through the process.

What is at issue is the abuse. Sometimes false refugees arrive and refuse to undergo the questioning that will determine their identity.

During the report stage of Bill C-11, I moved an amendment that was adopted by the House. The amendment determined that all those who refused to co-operate in determining their identity when they had false documentation or no documentation would be detained until deported.

The loophole was plugged at the same time that we, as a compassionate nation, still permit genuine refugees to arrive without proper documentation. If they co-operate they are landed.

When Bill C-11 went through third reading, the opposition party voted against it. So the very party that the member belongs to and who is criticizing the legislation of Bill C-11 that closed the loophole on improper refugees coming in and refusing to co-operate in disclosing their identity, voted against it.