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.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 29th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I am not necessarily happy to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill C-55, however, it is important that I do so.

This bill comes after others that were passed in this House. I think that we must take them into account when we make a decision on Bill C-55, which will allow for the creation of controlled access military zones.

I want to remind the House that, over the last few months, since the events of September 11, we have passed, in spite of the Bloc Quebecois' opposition, Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act, and Bill C-35, where section 5 allows the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to take measures, including building walls around any area where events are taking place, in accordance with procedures to be determined by the RCMP alone.

So we already have, over the last few months, passed two bills that are very disturbing from a civil liberties standpoint. Amnesty International, in a report published yesterday and discussed today in the media, says that, since the tragic events of September 11, freedoms and democratic rights in general have regressed, and this is true in Canada.

Clearly, in a number of countries these days, including our neighbours to the south, arbitrary arrests are taking place, detentions without warrant, or even, as was done with the prisoners brought out of Afghanistan, the creation of special courts that do not come under any civil authority.

This morning Amnesty International announced that democratic freedom had experienced setbacks in almost all of the western world. Canada is not, unfortunately, an exception. Bill C-55, along with Bills C-36 and C-35, which have unfortunately already been passed, is one more proof of this. Canada's reputation is exaggerated as far as democratic freedom is concerned. One of the signs of this is that, ever since Canada has become a member of the Organization of American States ten years or so ago, it has signed not one of the regional conventions on basic rights. I feel obliged to denounce this.

Moreover, more and more stakeholders, including Amnesty International, have emphasized this exaggerated reputation Canada has as far as democracy is concerned. For instance, the latest issue of the Quebec chapter of Amnesty International's publication Agir spoke out against the Canadian government for its attacks on democratic freedoms.

We now have before us a new bill, Bill C-55, which is in fact a reincarnation of Bill C-42, which the government was trying to ram through, like Bills C-36 and C-35, but which was withdrawn as a result of criticism by the opposition, the Bloc Quebecois in particular.

So now we have its replacement, Bill C-55. This is the same bill again, except for a few cosmetic changes. For instance, the new terminology: controlled access military zone, instead of what was used in Bill C-42, that is, military security zone. Whatever the terminology, we are talking about exactly the shame negative effect on rights and freedoms.

Bill C-55 cannot therefore be supported by the Bloc Quebecois, as indeed Bills C-35 and C-36 were not, because of their totally arbitrary nature. Bill C-55 merely repeats what was in Bill C-42.

One might argue that some of the criteria for establishing these controlled access zones have been tightened up. Nevertheless, it is still the minister of defence alone who has the power to establish such zones.

Let us not forget that it was the minister of defence who, just recently, neglected to inform the Prime Minister about Canadian troops taking prisoners in Afghanistan and handing them over to the Americans, information which was quite important in the context. Moreover, this minister had to resign just days ago; he was fired from cabinet for reasons related to conflict of interest.

One can wonder about the adequacy of giving one minister, namely the Minister of National Defence, the power to create controlled access military zones. It seems excessive to us and it opens the door to much arbitrariness and dangerous situations, especially since the bill does not even require the approval of the Quebec government or any provincial government as far as the creation of a controlled access military zone is concerned.

As we know, unfortunately, there have been a number of federal interventions in Quebec that were not requested by the Quebec people. I am also convinced that a controlled access military zone would have been established at the Quebec summit in April 2001. If the Quebec government had objected, the minister of defence would have ignored it, just as they denied the Quebec Prime Minister the right to address the heads of state visiting our national capital.

In Bill C-55, the only criterion governing the designation of these controlled access military zones is that they must be reasonably necessary. This is a criterion that is elastic to say the least, both in terms of the dimensions of the zones and their period of designation.The provisions included in Bill C-42 and Bill C-55 are basically the same. No improvements have been made. There is only the following, in clause 260.1(4), which reads:

(4) The dimensions of a controlled access military zone may not be greater than is reasonably necessary to ensure the safety or security of any person, thing or property for which the zone is designated.

As we can see, there is a grey area, an arbitrary wording that will allow the Minister of National Defence, the federal government to do what it wants with these zones. Again, Bill C-55 complements Bill C-35, which gives the RCMP the power to erect walls, as it did in Quebec City. What were meant to be exceptional measures will now become the norm during any important event, any event of international scope. Bill C-55 has the same flaws as Bill C-42 in terms of the applicable criteria, and this is what makes it just as unacceptable.

Another aspect of the bill is that in these controlled access military zones, the people could lose certain rights. They will not be able to sue for damages, losses or injuries. It is written in the bill. For example, subsection 260.1(12) says:

(12) The Canadian Forces may permit, control, restrict or prohibit access to a controlled access military zone.

No reference whatsoever is made to the rights of people within this zone who, for example, would want to hold a peaceful demonstration, which is consistent with our charter of rights and freedoms and all the international conventions. Once again, nothing could be more totally arbitrary.

Finally, while in Bill C-42, a number of reasons, such as international security, defence and national security reasons, were given for the creation of such zones, in Bill C-55, all these references have disappeared. This bill essentially expands the reasons for designating controlled access military zones.

When we look at the bills passed since September 11, we find that not only Canada's reputation concerning human rights before September 11 was overrated, but the varnish is starting to peel off. The balance between rights and security needs was broken. Now, we are living in a state where civil liberties and democratic freedoms are more vulnerable than a few months ago.

In this context, the Bloc Quebecois has no other choice but to oppose this bill.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 27th, 2002 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is very important to speak to this bill, which deals with terrorism. This bill, which was formerly introduced as Bill C-42, was modified to take into account some harsh criticisms made by the House, by the Bloc Quebecois in particular. Bill C-55 is totally unacceptable as it now stands. That is why we would prefer that it be considered in committee and that significant amendments be made to it.

I will take a different approach to criticize this bill. I am the Bloc Quebecois foreign affairs critic. Some time ago, I had to debate a bill, Bill C-35. All the clauses in that bill had the unanimous support of all parties in the House, except one clause consisting of three elements.

What did the bill say? I will refer to the fact that in these military zones that we have heard so much about, we are thinking about security at Kananaskis. Here is what Bill C-35, that we passed, 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.

It says “for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference”.

In the following paragraphs, it says:

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

I want to draw to the attention of the House that the military security zones in Bill C-42, which became controlled access military zones in Bill C-55, are being proposed, among other functions, to protect people or property that would be deployed here during international conferences or when public figures are present on our soil.

At the outset, I could ask the following question: which legislation will have precedence? How will the security measures that the RCMP and the armed forces will provide be negotiated, particularly since, in Bill C-55, clause 260.1(12) says:

(12) The Canadian Forces may permit, control, restrict or prohibit access to a controlled access military zone.

As is also the case for a perimeter determined by the RCMP.

The arguments that are being used are the same. One may ask: who indeed will be responsible? What is even more worrisome is that the spirit is the same. The spirit is to prohibit access. However, on this issue, at the foreign affairs committee, we heard very direct and blunt evidence from some witnesses. We were told that the government cannot prohibit such access without violating the existing rights under Quebec's charter of freedoms and rights and under Canada's charter of human rights. It cannot do so without attacking these rights.

Yet, nothing in these bills, be it Bill C-35 or Bill C-55, can lead us to believe that the citizens would be in a position to defend themselves, to negotiate and discuss things. Even the provinces are in no position to do so.

When we debated Bill C-35, which creates security zones or perimeters, we said “Why change the present dynamics?”. In this respect—let us take the Quebec summit of the Americas for example, where all was not perfect, but lessons were learned so as not to repeat the same mistakes—there were some positive aspects.

There were negotiations between Quebec, the RCMP and the Quebec City security forces. Finally they came to an agreement in a context of respect for the police force which normally enforces the law in Quebec City.

With Bill C-35, this obligation to take into account the local police force no longer stands. Bill C-35 gives full authority to the RCMP.

As far as the creation of controlled access military zones is concerned, the full authority is given to the defence minister. He is the one who can create those zones. Now they say that this authority is more limited than it was in Bill C-42, the previous bill.

However, it is still clear that this boundary can shift. It is always interesting to read legislation. I always enjoy reading it. Although it is sometimes a bit obscure, one can still see the intentions of the legislator.

Subsection 260.1(3) in Bill C-55 provides that:

A controlled access military zone may consist of an area of land or water, a portion of airspace, or a structure or part of one, surrounding a thing referred to in subsection (1),—

This has to do with defence establishments, and so forth.

—or including it, whether the zone designated is fixed or moves with that thing.

So the zone can shift.

The zone automatically includes all corresponding airspace above, and water and land below, the earth's surface.

Subsection 260.1(2) in the same bill provides that:

The Minister may designate a controlled access military zone only if it is reasonably necessary—

Bill C-35 also contained the word “reasonable”. It would be helpful if a court could be asked to determine the meaning of “reasonably” or “reasonably necessary”. But this cannot be done after the fact. And again, we know how long this can take.

This means that these words can be used at the total discretion of the Minister of Defence, in the case of Bill C-55, and of the RCMP, in the case of Bill C-35.

Clearly, a controlled access military zone can be designated. For instance, one could be designated in relation to:

—a vessel, aircraft or other property under the control of a visiting force that is legally in Canada by virtue of the Visiting Forces Act or otherwise.

Clearly, President Bush's plane in flight may be sufficient grounds for the designation of a military zone.

The public must realize that it makes no sense for the minister of defence to be able to make decisions on these zones alone, to have full discretion and be required to go to parliament only within the next 15 days, and that is if we are sitting. If parliament is not in session, he can take the 15 days but can make the decision and, anyway, we know that any debate will be a theoretical one, thanks to the party over there.

This means that the minister of defence has the full and complete power to create controlled access military zones wherever he pleases, without Quebec's consent—and I speak for Quebec—or that of the province concerned. He can use force to extract from that zone people who should not be there, people who do not have a right to be there even if that is where they live. They are not entitled to any compensation. This is most regrettable.

Excise Act, 2001The Royal Assent

April 30th, 2002 / 3:10 p.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Deputy of the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-33, an act respecting the water resources of Nunavut and the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 10.

Bill S-22, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada--Chapter No. 11.

Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act--Chapter No. 12.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Adjournment Proceedings

March 18th, 2002 / 7 p.m.
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Waterloo—Wellington Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Cumberland--Colchester proposes that Bill C-35 be amended to require the Minister of Foreign Affairs to report every six months to both Houses on the criminal and civil immunity of foreign diplomats in Canada.

Following the tragic events involving Catherine MacLean and Catherine Doré, the government adopted a zero tolerance policy toward impaired driving, sending a strong signal that impaired driving will not be tolerated in this country. The government took a number of steps, including contact with police authorities and meetings with representatives of the diplomatic community to ensure that the government's zero policy, zero tolerance policy, for serious crimes was understood and implemented.

The policy of zero tolerance and the consequences are firm. The department will suspend a diplomat's driving privileges even where charges are not laid by police. In most cases a first offence will result in a one year suspension of the licence. A second offence or a first involving death or injury will result in the diplomat's recall or expulsion.

The government has already put in place a policy of careful monitoring and record keeping on foreign diplomatic behaviour amounting to alleged criminal misconduct. The chief of protocol in the Department of Foreign Affairs has been instructed to prepared a detailed quarterly report on diplomatic misbehaviour to the department's deputy minister. These quarterly reports are available under the Access to Information Act to any member of the public. In releasing the quarterly reports we have to adhere to privacy considerations under the Privacy Act. Once the reports have been released under an access request they are made available to the public on request.

I would like to point out that the minister takes very seriously his commitment to the people of Canada to strengthen the procedures responding to incidents of foreign diplomatic misbehaviour. That is why a policy of frequent reporting requiring not annual or biannual reporting but rather quarterly reports has in fact been implemented. As these reports are being made available to the public there should be no reason to question the transparency of the policy.

This system of reporting would be duplicated by a statutory requirement to make reports. This issue was raised in committee, and the committees of both the House and the Senate accepted the view of the government that such a statutory reporting requirement would not add to the system already in place. A statutory reporting requirement, then, is neither necessary nor appropriate for every government function. Such a requirement is not necessary in this case.

As noted in committee, the system in place provides for quarterly reporting on alleged criminal misconduct. While the Department of Foreign Affairs can expect to be notified by the police of any alleged criminal activity by foreign representatives, there is no guarantee that the department would be made aware of a civil action involving a diplomat if the status of the diplomat is not contested. For this reason, the hon. member's suggestion of reporting on the civil actions involving a foreign diplomat would then not be practical. I would submit that this being the government position it is a credible one and worth supporting.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Adjournment Proceedings

March 18th, 2002 / 6:55 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, on November 19, 2001, I asked a question of the Minister of Foreign Affairs about an amendment he might consider which would provide information in the form of an annual report to parliament on offenders who claimed immunity under Bill C-35 which has been expanded to include a whole new category of foreigners under the immunity act.

The minister did not agree to do this. He refused the request despite the fact recent circumstances have proven we need access to the information. It is a matter of public safety, a matter of safety to Canadians, that we know who is using the immunity protection for diplomats. With this new expanded coverage for immunity it is even more important than ever.

The refusal of the request is typical of the Liberal government. It is consistent with the refusal to provide information to parliament, limiting access to information under the guise of security issues and security concerns, the refusal to provide ministers' budgets, and so on. It is very consistent that the government refuses to give parliament and Canadians the information we need simply to protect ourselves.

A Russian diplomat is on trial in Russia at this moment for a terrible offence in this country that could have been prevented had the information been made available which we are asking to have available now. This information was completely ignored by the authorities. We knew that the Russian diplomat had a bad track record of driving while under the influence and it was ignored. It was not available to us. All we are asking now is that this information be made available to parliament once a year so that we can know how to protect ourselves if there is a dangerous situation.

Once again, will the minister provide parliament with an annual report on those who file for immunity under the diplomatic immunity process?

SupplyGovernment Orders

March 12th, 2002 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on behalf of the NDP caucus today.

I begin by saying, with respect to the controversy earlier today about whether or not this motion by the Conservative Party should be votable, that one wonders whether or not, as someone who contests whether or not the motion should be votable, we will in fact actually vote.

However the matter before us is the motion and, I would say, without prejudice to whether or not we should be voting on it, that the motion is far too general to elicit the kind of support that I think perhaps the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough might have been looking for from all opposition parties.

While there are certainly things for which we would want to be critical of the government and criticisms that we might well share with the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, there might be other criticisms that we do not share. The member cannot simply ask us to sign on to a general condemnation of the government for its failure to implement a national security policy to address the broad range of security issues when we do not know the list of issues that the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough wants the government to address. I realize that he outlined some of those things in his speech but the motion, as it reads and if it were to be passed or, for that matter, approved by any party or individual, would be open to interpretations.

For instance, the NDP was critical of the government, not for its failure to implement a particular security policy when it came to anti-terrorism legislation but for, in our judgment, going too far when it came to anti-terrorism legislation. Therefore it would be difficult for us to support the motion because it seems to imply that, with respect to a broad range of issues having to do with security, the government has not gone far enough.

When Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation, was before the House, one of our criticisms was that we felt the government had gone too far. We also felt that way with respect to Bill C-35 and we feel that way with respect to Bill C-42, which now seems to be on the back burner but which is nevertheless still on the order paper. Is it the position of the Progressive Conservative Party that Bill C-42 is part of the government's failure, that it does not go far enough?

These are all the kinds of interpretations that could be attached to support this particular motion because it is in fact so general. It is one of the reasons why I do not see how we could support this particular motion as it stands.

Because it has come up in debate, is the motion intended to refer in some codified way to the Senate report on security? If that is the case, perhaps a motion saying that we adopt the recommendations of the recent Senate committee on security would have been in order. At least we then could have debated what was in that particular report.

Having listened to the debate a bit today, it seemed to me from time to time that we were vicariously debating the report that was brought forward in the Senate with respect to security. The allusion in the motion to ports of entry and borders, for instance, is clearly a reference to a subject matter of concern that the Senate committee report addressed itself to.

Having said that, with respect to ports and security matters having to do with ports, I would like to put on the record once again that the NDP felt at the time and feels still that the privatization of ports and the elimination of the national harbour police were serious mistakes.

Addressing whatever security concerns there may be with respect to our ports would be to reinstitute a police force dedicated to port security, instead of having the municipal police and the RCMP trying to do a job that in our judgment should be done by a police force dedicated to that particular purpose.

To me, it always makes sense to have people who are vocationally attached to a particular task. I think that is the way the members of the national harbour police worked when they were in existence. They were not municipal police who might be looking after port security this year, looking after the vice squad next year and looking after something else the next year. Their job was port security and they were there for the long haul.

However it has become a fad in the last 10 to 20 years to do away with dedicated services of any kind and to turn everything over to--I am not sure what to call it, but nobody ever does anything for the long haul any more. They are just in there for the duration of a contract when things are privatized, or in the case of what we are talking about here in terms of ports police, we do not have a police force dedicated to port security but we have a number of police officers in various police forces who are assigned from time to time to port security. This is not a criticism of them. They are put in a very difficult position and, as the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough and others have said and quite rightly, are often asked to do the job without adequate resources.

We cannot have security on the cheap. Yet in some ways we are reaping now what was sown over the last 10, 15, 20 years whereby governments, through various public policy initiatives, generally in the way of deregulation, privatization, contracting out and doing away with things that were directly funded by government, tried to do things on the cheap that they used to do in a dedicated way and they used to do by way of paying whatever it cost to get the job done and to have the job done well.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. It was fine as long as, to put the obvious, everything was fine, but now that things are not fine we find that there are all kinds of holes in the system.

It will not do, while we are alluding to the Senate report, to impugn the integrity of a lot of people who work at the ports.

There seems to be an underlying theme in the Senate report that is of concern to us and I think of concern to many others that somehow its the workers in the ports who are the problem.

A very good article in the Province by Christina Montgomery talks about some of the things wrong with the Senate report. She highlights, for instance, the disbandonment of the ports police which I have already mentioned. She also takes issue with the way in which the report implies that somehow its the unions that are at fault for whatever security problems there may be at our ports. I would like to put that on the record.

Returning to the matter of resources, the fact is that a lot of our ports are underpoliced. Whether we return to a national harbour police, a national ports police or however we do it, we will need a lot more resources at our ports, along the borders. Others have spoken of the longest undefended border. It is undefended and that is part of the problem. It is undefended from a lot of things.

I do not, and I do not think anybody does, want to see the border become a difficult place for ordinary Canadians and Americans to go back and forth and for commerce to transpire. The fact is that we have been under-resourcing our security personnel wherever we find them, whether we find them at customs, in the ports, in the RCMP or wherever Canadians are called upon to engage in security tasks for the public there has been a pattern of underfunding and under-resourcing these tasks for a long time and it is coming home to roost.

If the government is serious about security, I would urge it to get serious about funding security. Its only major initiative so far, which I think was wrong, has been to bring in the anti-terrorism legislation which I think, in some respects, goes beyond targeting terrorists to making it possible to make life miserable for legitimate, democratic dissent in this country.

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet at a forum with the United Steelworkers of America which has many thousands of members in the security industry. The United Steelworkers were saying to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is in charge of security, that they wanted to sit down and talk about the security industry and talk about national standards for training, certification and pay.

One of the problems in the security industry, particularly as it pertains to the private security industry which guards much of our infrastructure, which we are now told we should be worried about in terms of possible terrorist attacks, is that a lot of that infrastructure is provided on a private for profit basis. It is also not necessarily the best kind of security that we could ask for. People in the security industry know that. They would like to see higher standards, better training and the kind of pay that would create in that industry people who would be dedicated to that particular task. If they were paid well enough they would stay at it and do the job properly. They would not feel that they had to move on because of an offer of a better paying job somewhere else.

All these things are on our mind as we reflect upon the Tory motion that we have here today. We cannot support the motion as it is. We reiterate our contention that part of the solution for addressing the security problems at our ports is the reintroduction of a dedicated national harbours or ports police.

We agree with others who say that the resources are a great part of the problem and that there is a need for the government to make sure that our police and security forces, in the broadest possible sense of the word, have the resources to do the job that they are being asked to do.

The NDP cannot support the motion because we find it to be too general. We do not want to condemn the government holus-bolus or support the government holus-bolus on this. It has done some things right and some things wrong. Simply to have a motion which condemns the government without saying what it is it is being condemned for does not provide the opportunity for the kind of detailed debate that we would like to have in the House.

I remind hon. members that even though they might not have supported the NDP motion during the week before we broke, there were 12 things that we thought the government should be doing. Members could get up and disagree with those 12 things but they knew what we were talking about. We do not have a similar kind of motion before us here today.

With respect to the final phrase in the motion calling “on the government to reassert Parliament's relevance in these and other public policy issues”, I am not entirely sure what the member means here. If this is a general call for parliamentary reform, which would restore parliament's relevance in these and other public issues, of course we support that. I would say that as an individual member of parliament I have supported this kind of effort all the time I have been here.

However I am not sure whether this final phrase was supposed to entice people to vote for the rest of the motion, in spite of the fact that it had so little content, out of our love for parliamentary reform, or what effect it was supposed to have on us. In any event, we certainly would like to see parliament's relevance reasserted in these and other public policy issues.

With all due respect to the members of the PC/DRC coalition who are in the House now, and I know none of them were here when what I am about to speak of happened. One of the reasons why parliament suffers from a lack of relevance in these and other public policy issues is because of what was done to parliament between 1984 and 1993 when the Conservatives were in power.

Much of what we now experience in opposition, the frustration and powerlessness, the feeling of being left out of decisions taken in the Prime Minister's Office and elsewhere, a lot of these trends, if not begun, were solidified and consolidated under the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party between 1984 and 1993.

What is of course tragic, ironic and, in the final analysis, despicable is that the party that in its days as official opposition that opposed these measures has now been in power for nine years and has done absolutely nothing to undo the damage that it so loudly protested at that time.

I certainly join with members of the PC/DRC in calling once again on another government, in another time, in the same place, to reassert parliament's relevance in these and other public policy issues.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I will utilize all my time, but listening to the debate today I thought it would be a good opportunity to participate in the larger issue of the way the government is conducting the business of the House in its so-called fight against terrorism.

As I said to my colleague from the Bloc during questions and comments, I found myself agreeing with his overarching statement that one of the problems we in the House, let alone Canadians out in the real world, have with the government's approach to the war on terrorism is the way it is bringing in legislation.

We all recognize that while the legislation is hurried it must be done properly. There is not only a great need for the government to bring forward thoughtful legislation that will stand the test of time. It must allow the legislation to be open to amendments from all parties in the House. It must listen attentively to representations by people and organizations out in the real world who would ultimately be affected by the legislation we pass in this place.

Unfortunately what we have seen in the last two months or so, as my colleague was saying, is Bill C-36, the so-called anti-terrorism legislation; Bill C-35; and Bill C-42. Bill C-44 which we are debating today was hived off Bill C-42 because of the sense of urgency that the clause needed to be passed before the House rose for mid-winter break.

It is this approach that is causing consternation and concern among all opposition parties and to a certain degree the Canadian public. The government has not communicated an overall vision of what it intends to do to address the issue. It is encouraging the Canadian public to get back to business as usual.

We want to minimize the economic impact of the war on terrorism and the aftermath of the horrendous attacks. We all understand that. However the world has changed forever. People outside the Ottawa bubble recognize that at least as much as we do and possibly more. The world is not the same place. Canadians are looking to the government for leadership.

The government is bringing bills before the House one at a time. We in the opposition are expected to assist the government in making sure the best possible legislation is ultimately put into law, or at least sent to the other place for the Senate to consider. While we struggle with this it is extremely difficult if we do not understand the government's overall vision and exactly what it intends to bring forward.

As a number of individuals said prior to my remarks, we might react quite differently to legislation if we could see it within the overall context of what is coming down the road. We might be more supportive or more opposed.

We have no idea what bills the government may introduce between now and when the House rises next week. We do not know what it will bring forward in late January or early February to address different facets of the huge issue of terrorism and try to make our country, society and people safer and more secure.

As the previous speakers have said, we are supportive of the fact that the legislation before us today, Bill C-44, is very simple in nature. We are concerned about the lack of vision and foresight that the government continually exhibits and what that elicits in the minds of the public. It is not very comforting for the people of a country, who are looking for leadership, to see this piecemeal approach wherein legislation is very hurriedly brought in and then amended by the government amends.

In the case of Bill C-36, there were somewhere in the order of 100 amendments, the vast majority of which were brought forward by the government. Those types of procedures send a very clear message to Canadians that the government is not in control and that it does not have a clear plan. If it did, it would not have brought the bill forward and before it was barely in the House start looking at possible amendments, tearing it apart and rejigging it.

With Bill C-42, the government brought the bill forward, then rushed around and talked to all the opposition parties to see if there was some way the bill could be shuttled off to committee right away so the committee could hive off the clause that was needed right away. The government had some concerns about that because it wanted to adequately debate Bill C-42 on the floor of the House.

When the government ran into resistance with that, it then thought it could perhaps get unanimous consent to carve off one piece of the bill, submit it as new legislation in the form of Bill C-44 and then rush it through the House. That type of activity by the government is far from comforting or reassuring to Canadians, let alone to Americans.

I can well remember rising in my place to speak shortly after the House reconvened in late September. I believe it was the September 18, if memory serves me correctly. In my remarks at that time I suggested that it was incumbent upon the government to communicate to the Canadian people and Americans a vision of what it intended to do to make our country, and indeed our continent, more secure. Sadly, over two months have passed since the House reconvened and we have not seen that type of vision or comprehensive plan put forward by the government. We have not seen it communicate its plan is to Canadians and Americans or North Americans as a whole.

Instead, as my colleague from the Bloc just said, the government has brought forward one piece of legislation at a time thinking it could perhaps plug the problem with airline security, or airport security, or passenger lists or some potential problem at a seaport. I believe it is this piecemeal approach that is of great concern to the Canadian people. It does not send the proper message to Canadians or Americans that the government knows what it is doing on this all important issue.

My colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley who spoke earlier on this legislation has done an incredible amount of work, not just in the last couple of months but in the last few years on the issue of border management. The issue of trade corridors is obviously of huge importance to her because her riding is very close to the U.S. border.

Cross-border trade is a big issue, not only to all Canadians but to the Americans as well. Eighty per cent of our trade is with the Americans and one-quarter of theirs is with us. However it also is a huge issue for her and to people of her riding. She has done an incredible amount of work on this very complex issue of border management, even prior to the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11 and the fallout those attacks.

Unfortunately what we are witnessing now is a tightening of security at the U.S. border. The coalition has argued that that tightening of our entry points should be on a continental perimeter rather than restricted only to the American-Canadian border. I know this is of grave concern to local politicians. The mayors and councils of the cities closest to the U.S.-Canada border have become quite involved because they have recognized the fallout. Whether it is Quebec and the New England states, or the Windsor border area of Ontario or at different points across western Canada, this problem has affected the vast majority of Canadians, and we want to see it solved.

That is why my colleague, on behalf of the coalition, put forward more of a comprehensive plan, or a vision, on greater border management and security. One of the facets of the plan is a binational or bilateral agency to exchange freely information between the United States and Canada by setting up a databank computer system. By doing that our systems would be fully integrated and both countries would know exactly what was going back and forth across the border. We would then have the reassurance that both countries would know what is going on.

I am reminded of the example I used when I spoke to the issue back home in my riding of Prince George--Peace River during the November break week. I was talking to some Rotary clubs and chambers of commerce in the riding. I made the comment about the banks designing a bank card which could be used almost everywhere in the world. People could go to an international bank, put in a bank card and get money out in local currency. That truly is amazing when one thinks about it. If the banks could design something like that, then surely to goodness two countries with so much at stake, as Canada and the United States have on the issues of security and safety for our citizens, could design an integrated computer system and establish an agency to monitor that system. By doing that, both countries could feel comfortable in knowing who and what goods were travelling back and forth across our common border.

I commend my colleague for the work she has done on this issue and I commend our proposal put forward by the coalition on November 1. I know that she has had discussions with some Americans and American agencies on this issue and that the vision of a new way of managing the border between the U.S. and Canada has been relatively well received. It could bear some great fruit on how we approach this.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2001 / 1:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be a little bit clearer. The Bloc Quebecois and, I believe, Quebecers and Canadians as a whole, would have liked to hear the government say: “This is what we intend to do to fight terrorism. A bill will deal with an issue, and another one with another issue. Bill C-42 will be about this and that”. We would have liked the government to explain the approach on which is based the anti-terrorism legislation we are going to pass.

This does not mean that everything should be put in a single bill. I agree with the member who said that an omnibus bill always contains elements that are frightening or that we would like to oppose, and others elements that are interesting and we would like to support.

Right now, we are in between: we do not know what to do and we feel the government tried to slip us a pill we did not want along with something we did. I have always been against such an approach. I have always said that the government should not proceed in such a way and I still hold that view.

We would have liked the government to show the political courage it seems to lack and spell out everything it wanted in terms of the legislation to fight terrorism.

I can immediately say that if we had been shown Bills C-35, C-36, C-42 and C-44, and if I had examined them with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, we would not have supported Bill C-36 at second reading, because it went too far, because it was not consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and because it lacks the proper balance between national security and individual and group rights.

The government decided to introduce Bill C-36 first, and then Bill C-35. Still later, it came up with Bill C-42, which was supposed to be extremely important and which had to be passed in a hurry before the holiday season. Suddenly, we found out that the only very important part in this 100 page bill could hold on a single 8½ X 11 sheet of paper.

What are we to believe in everything this government is saying? This is called a piecemeal approach.

I congratulate the government on this initiative to have the minister remove a clause from the bill and introduce new legislation, Bill C-44. I agree with the splitting of this part, which will allow us to support it, although not wholeheartedly as I was saying earlier on Bill C-44, but in general. My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel made a very eloquent speech in this regard.

We will indeed support this bill, even if we might add that the government has gone too far and that it is not abiding by the promises it made regarding the regulations. We will support it because life has to go on, particularly since many people deal with the United States in Quebec and in Canada. A lot of people travel, et cetera. On January 18 or 19, there would be a problem if we did not have legislation. Therefore we are going ahead with this.

But the government might be going too far. For the rest of Bill C-42, when the debate will be held, when all of that will be examined in committee, we will realize once more that it is really going too far and that we have to analyze all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the government's approach to the fight against terrorism.

I sincerely hope that there will be opposition members, who have done an excellent job on these rights, as well as some government members, such as the hon. member for Mount Royal, who told reporters before the bill was passed that it made no sense and he would be voting against it, but yet when the time came to vote, he stood up and voted the same as the rest of the government.

I trust they will be logical in their thinking, and will not yield to the government's pressure, the pressure it puts on every time it introduces bills of this kind.

I think I have been sufficiently clear this time on how I see things, and I believe I am not alone in my views. I think this is what the public wants, and it deserves to have the government act according to its wishes.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2001 / 1 p.m.
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Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this morning, I have been listening carefully to the debate about this very important bill. When I heard what the Bloc Quebecois member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had to say, I decided to speak to the bill myself, given its importance.

The House will understand that this is an issue which the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has followed closely and on which he has done a considerable amount of work. He advises and informs the Bloc Quebecois members on this topic. I listened to him earlier and several things that he said about Bill C-44 caught my attention. I am thinking of such things as all the legislative measures that the government has put in place to fight terrorism, and the atmosphere that has been created as a result.

I simply had to speak because this is an issue that is terribly important to me, since it touches on key concepts, on the criminal code and related legislation. It is important for the legal system of Canada and of Quebec. I therefore decided to rise and speak.

As my colleague said, this is a very important bill, which will influence our justice system for years to come. To give a bit of context, it must be recalled that the government began by introducing Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. This bill gave various powers to ministers, including the solicitor general and the Minister of National Defence, with respect to arrests without warrant, very broad electronic eavesdropping, and so forth. It is a very complex piece of legislation, whose principle we agreed with, and we thought we should support it. That is what we did.

But we had such major reservations that, in the end, we voted against the bill at third reading. At the time, we thought that this was the government's anti-terrorism measure. Surprise, surprise. We see that Bill C-35 contains all sorts of clauses giving increased powers to the RCMP, special powers to peace officers during visits by foreign heads of state. So there is another anti-terrorism measure.

Then came another such measure—this is basically how Bill C-44 came about—it was Bill C-42. Bill C-42 is highly complex. As we said earlier, it is about a hundred pages long. Once again, more powers are given to ministers, the solicitor general and the Minister of Defence. Interim orders may be taken and military zones may be created. This is another legislative measure to combat terrorism.

That is when we said “This is too much, this is going too far”. We cannot even support Bill C-42 in principle, because it disregards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and gives far too broad powers to one single man or woman. We need to examine this more closely. We need to take time to study the whole issue.

Once again, the government is rushing us. The government is gagging us. It introduced motions to study all of these bills quickly under the pretext that we had to meet international requirements.

According to the government, Bill C-42 responds to important international requirements. Is this not strange? When the government realized that it was not able to rush the bill through before the holidays, is it not strange that it managed to limit to one page what had to be passed by then? It is as though all of the rest of Bill C-42 confirmed what we on this side of the House have been saying all along: the events of September 11 were a pretext for this government to turn upside down a number of statutory approaches.

The events of September 11 have provided the government with the opportunity to grab the powers it has always dreamed of, but lacked the political guts to.

This is so much the case that they have taken what was important on the international scene and put it into a bill to be called Bill C-44, the provisions of which fit on an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.

These important provisions concern air travel, and I will be returning to that later.

What is of concern to me is the improvisational approach the government, which claims to be a responsible government, is taking at present. It is improvising legislation of great importance, seemingly not knowing where it is headed.

This is so much the case that, at one point, the government imposed a gag order for Bill C-36, and the next day we were forced to adjourn at 4 p.m., or maybe it was 5 or 5.30 p.m., I do not remember, because there was nothing left on the order paper. There was nothing more to look at. That shows lack of vision, not knowing where they are headed.

This improvisation goes back to the very start. For weeks on end, the response from the other side when opposition members, particularly the official opposition, were asking the government whether there ought not to be anti-terrorism legislation in Canada, was that it was not needed, that we already had all the legislation required.

Then overnight, two weeks later, a complex bill was introduced; a week later, another; a week later, yet another. Today, the government came up with a bill that we absolutely must pass before Christmas, one that is going to be divided in two. When it comes down to it, it all boils down to one clause.

I feel the government does not know where it is going. This is dangerous when something as important as rights and freedoms are concerned.

The objective we have always tried to attain, with bills C-36, C-35, C-42 and now C-44, is to strike a balance between national security and individual and group rights. This is hardly complicated.

We have an international reputation, and deservedly so, of being a country where rights are preserved. At least, that reputation used to be deserved. We have case law, lawyers to apply it, judges who bring down good decisions. There are some very important elements on which to focus, to invest. It is a good thing for the country, in a way,to live in a place where that balance can be sought.

In all these bills, including Bill C-44 currently before us, we have always been able to draw on the expertise of lawyers, people who for years have worked with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with individual and group rights. There are even experts among the Liberal government members, including the member for Mount Royal, who claims to be—and I think it is true—a great defender of individual and group rights.

They all, including the member for Mount Royal, criticized bills C-36, C-42, and C-44 now before us.

I read in the papers that the member for Mount Royal criticized Bill C-42, which is in a way the starting point for Bill C-44. He said it was problematic because it upset the balance between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The executive is being given more powers. He says he will oppose it.

I should be rejoicing, but I will not be. Why? Because the member for Mount Royal said the same thing about Bill C-36.

Once the steam roller passed on the other side, he did what the majority of Liberals did, he voted in favour of Bill C-36. But those who appeared before the committee, the civil liberties union of Canada, the great and true defenders of individual and group rights continues to condemn this bill, which will come into effect one day, because it has been passed by the House.

I have no illusions about Bill C-42 and Bill C-44. However, I must say that the government opposite has a knack. It has a way of getting many people to swallow affronts. It has a magic potion that makes people accept things they would otherwise reject. It worked with us at first and second reading of Bill C-36. But it did not work afterward, because we saw them coming from miles away.

However, this way of doing things may work with the public as long as it does not see the real impact of the legislation. This is the case with Bill C-44.

The government tells us “We moved an amendment in committee, with the result that the privacy commissioner agrees with the whole thing. Things are fine. There is no problem”. Still, when I look at Bill C-44 and at the amendment, I am very concerned.

What is Bill C-44? It is an act which, once in force, will allow the government to provide information on air travellers. This information will not only include names, addresses and passport numbers: it will be much more detailed. The government says that, thanks to this amendment, the privacy commissioner agrees with the legislation and there is no problem, since everything will be secure. I will read the amendment.

No information provided under subsection (1) to a competent authority in a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by a government institution, within the meaning of section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless it is collected for the purpose of protecting national security—

I have no problem with that.

—or public safety.

This is where I have a problem. Public safety is a very broad concept. What is public safety? For example, could a department such as Human Resources Development Canada get from the United States information relating to a monetary issue, for reasons of public safety?

It will be up to the courts to interpret this provision. But in the meantime, how will this provision be applied? Will there be abuse? We must never forget that, to fully understand the meaning of this bill, it must be examined along with all the other acts that will come into effect at the same time. We need all the pieces of the puzzle to fully understand the scope of the government's anti-terrorism legislation.

This is worrisome. I cannot see how this amendment can reassure the privacy commissioner, particularly since the governor in council will define through regulations the information that travellers will have to disclose to the government. The government had promised us that we would have the regulations.

As the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel has said on numerous occasions, we asked for copies of these regulations. We asked for the information. The government always stalled.

At some point, we felt that we could not wait any longer, that we wanted something in our hands. It sent us a summary of what might be in the regulations. As everyone knows, a summary is always the minimum. When we see the actual regulations, it is clear that the government added little things that it never told us about. It is clear even from the summary that a lot of information is required, even a passenger's social insurance number, telephone number, itinerary, everywhere he has travelled. This is far-reaching.

Using public safety as an excuse, a minister can ask the United States for this information. In other words, it will be possible for someone to invoke public safety and do indirectly something that is outright illegal in Canada. This is using the events of September 11 for highly political ends.

The more we look at the legislative measures, such as Bill C-36, Bill C-35, Bill C-44 and Bill C-42, the closer we get to a police state. That is what is disturbing. I am not saying that this will happen tomorrow morning, but all the ingredients are there to set the stage for a rather ugly situation, a way of doing things which is foreign to Canada and to Quebec. I do not want to live in such a country.

Everyone knows our party's platform. This shows once again that it is high time that Quebecers cast off this central authority, which shows unbelievable arrogance in passing legislation as important as this.

The principle of the bill is understandable, as is the fact that we must have legislation to comply with certain international obligations and with American legislation. The Americans have the right to pass the laws they wish when it comes to their country's security. If they want to allow our carriers to land in their country, I understand that we do not have a big say.

This is why we will support Bill C-44. However, this is another example of the way the government really thinks. It uses an obligation to give itself even greater powers and to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. This flagrant lack of political courage needs to be stressed. But we should stress even more the ad hoc attitude this government has shown throughout the whole process by introducing piecemeal legislation to deal with terrorism.

The opposition would probably have had cooperated fully with the government if it had proceeded through a single bill. However, to do so you must know what you want to do. This may be where the problem lies: the government does not know where it is going, which explains why it deals with such an important issue in a piecemeal way. This is very concerning, because this approach will taint the legislation as a whole and the Canadian way of doing things.

I conclude by saying that we will support Bill C-44 reluctantly, considering that its object is to meet certain obligations. But the government should get its act together and deal with such an important issue much more seriously.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2001 / 6:05 p.m.
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The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The next question is on the motion that Bill C-35 be read a third time and passed.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2001 / 6 p.m.
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The Speaker

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

Bill C-35Oral Question Period

November 29th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.
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Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first, Bill C-35 breaks no such promises. Second, the actions that I took following the terrible incident last January were exactly what were required in order to ensure that as much as possible we could prevent this ever happening again.

This happened in my community. I am ashamed that I have to face a member across the aisle who tries to play cheap political games with a tragic incident.

Bill C-35Oral Question Period

November 29th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, tragically 10 months ago this week Catherine MacLean of Ottawa was killed by a drunken diplomat who could not be prosecuted under Canadian law because he was given immunity.

The minister expressed regrets. The minister said it was unjust. The minister made promises. Bill C-35 breaks those promises by expanding immunity to thousands of additional non-Canadians. Will the minister do the right thing and pull Bill C-35 today, or will he break his promises?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 12:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties and there is an agreement, pursuant to Standing Order 45(7), to further defer the recorded division requested on Bill C-35 until the end of government orders on Tuesday, December 4, 2001.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not rise at third reading to address this important bill, as I did at the other stages.

As the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm just did so brilliantly and eloquently, I too will explain that we agree with the main purpose of this bill, which is to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. However, we are totally opposed to the three paragraphs in clause 5 that seek to give new, unrecognized powers to the RCMP.

I know that Liberal members agree with this statement. These three paragraphs in clause 5 give to the RCMP new powers that go against individual and collective rights.

The Bloc Quebecois supported the bill at second reading, but with some reservations. The research done and the evidence heard in committee convinced us that these three paragraphs should not be included in Bill C-35, because they give new powers to the RCMP, because they change the relations with other peace officers, and because they change the RCMP's relations with other provincial and municipal administrations during international conferences.

Now that Bill C-36 will become law and that Bill C-42 is before us, we are all the more concerned about these three paragraphs in Bill C-35.

Briefly, I want to say that the rest of the bill seeks to modernize the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and that, contrary to some other parties in the House, we agree with that change. We think that the increase in multilateral international relations over the past 10 years requires us to have more flexible mechanisms to guarantee full protection to those come here to represent their country at various international conferences.

However, as all the witnesses heard by the committee said, clause 5 is unnecessary. As my colleague showed, the powers of the RCMP are already clearly established elsewhere. They are established because they were defined by the supreme court, since common law differs from civil law—but as members know this is not my forte—in that the law is the result of the whole jurisprudence.

This bill, which authorizes the RCMP to establish the perimeters that it deems reasonable, without any further guidelines, gives a new power to that police force.

The minister said “This is a codification”. I am sorry to report that witnesses said this was a new power being conferred on the RCMP. It is not to be found elsewhere. And incidentally, it is not clear whether or not the supreme court would allow the RCMP to establish perimeters based on what it believes is reasonable.

What is the impact of this power being given to the RCMP? There are consequences for the police themselves, and serious consequences when it comes to the rights of citizens. Regarding the police, witnesses who appeared before the committee testified that it was not wise to allow police—who have neither the time, nor the resources to decide at any given moment when they are on duty, what they are permitted to do based on jurisprudence—to make this type of decision, for which they will be held accountable, this decision to determine the perimeter that is required and how to then manage the fact that numerous rights are being violated.

Which rights would be violated? I am quoting from Wesley Pue, professor of law and incumbent of the Nemetz Chair in legal history at the University of British Columbia. He states:

—the right of free movement within Canada, the right of assembly, the right of free expression, the right to enjoyment of your property—because the erection of a security perimeter to limit a private area amounts to an expropriation, limited though it may be in time—the right to work, if one's business is located within the security perimeter, and limited by the existence of the perimeter, without being interrupted or harassed by the police.

We could add to that, subject to tear gas, as many people experienced during the Quebec City summit.

A security perimeter compromises all of these rights and raises a number of questions. How long before and after an event can it be erected? What kinds of solutions can be offered to those whose rights are violated? Will there be compensation or recourse for them? Will there be security passes? Who will be admitted?

I could go on for quite a while but I realize that I am running out of time. As Mr. Pue put it:

These are serious questions.

He adds:

It can of course be assumed that most RCMP agents will conduct themselves as responsible policemen. But their desire to act in a responsible way will not be enough to protect the public anymore than the imposition of an obligation that is brutal but sufficient in police terms. According to the rule of law, the law must specify as clearly as possible the conditions in which these violations of fundamental rights are foreseen.

None of this is in the bill. When we asked whether a simple amendment could be made to these three paragraphs so that they reflect citizens' rights, the answer was no. It is unacceptable that the government has continued to allow these three paragraphs to spoil the rest of the bill.

In fact, many Liberal members of the committee were extremely troubled by the evidence given and tried to get these paragraphs withdrawn. I give them credit for that. They know that this is not where we should be headed. They felt so strongly that they presented a motion in the House, part of which I will read:

Whereas the codified powers of the RCMP could affect the rights and privileges of Canadian citizens during conferences—

Just that is enough. The Liberal members submitted a motion to the committee, which adopted it unanimously. This motion said that the government should review clause 5 in order to ensure that citizens' rights and freedoms were not being violated. We know that our colleagues opposite rarely run the risk of rebelling. This is confirmation which we did not need, but of which we are proud, that we absolutely had to oppose this bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

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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.

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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?

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

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?

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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.

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

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?

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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.

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

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.

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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--

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

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--

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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.

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

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?

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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.

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

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.
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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.

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.
See context

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.
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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.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 12:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, may I add my voice to that of my colleague and thank all those who were elected in 1988 for their sacrifice to the country. It is not a joke. It is honestly said.

Bill C-35 is a very important bill because it has wide ranging implications and ramifications for a number of issues, including foreign policy, diplomatic immunity, immigration, international organizations and such. In regard to the debate that has gone on so far, I want to say that the Vienna convention is necessary not only to protect our diplomats in doing their jobs but to protect those who do the job internationally. However, it does not protect against individuals who hide behind diplomatic immunity and commit indictable offences.

The Vienna convention, in spirit if not in word, does not protect us against individuals who are willing to commit, as my colleague mentioned, murder, rape, theft and the destruction of private property, to knowingly do that and hide behind the Vienna convention and the diplomatic immunity that it affords. That is why we have concerns with the bill and the extension of that immunity.

What we would like to see is the government working with opposition parties to proffer an international solution. We would like to see that for those individuals who are criminals hiding under a diplomatic cloak there is an avenue through which they can be brought to justice, so that they are not immune from justice and above the law, so that indeed, under the common principles that we share as part of the international community, these individuals who do commit crimes, be it in Canada or in another country, be it our own diplomats or those from another nation, will be met with the common law that we share.

There are opportunities, as my colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party mentioned. One of the things that can be done is to have the crimes of those who acquire diplomatic immunity made public and transparent. Another option, perhaps under the Hague, is to have a group of two or three judges sent to a country where there are allegations of a diplomat committing an indictable offence. They would preside over a hearing and a court under common international law and the norms of international laws that the international community supports.

Why would we do that? It would ensure that individual diplomats would not be used as scapegoats or unfairly treated by the country in which they are working. It would ensure that their work would not be compromised by virtue of being used or set up by the leaders of the country they are working in. Yet it would provide the civilians of that country with protection against the small number of individuals like the Russian diplomat who killed a Canadian woman here in Ottawa while he was drunk. Now there is no protection from those individuals.

That is something the Minister of Foreign Affairs can take up. It is something he can bring up at the United Nations. I suggest to the government that there would be widespread support in the international community for ensuring that in regard to those people who are criminals hiding behind diplomatic immunity there is a fair and transparent avenue through which they can be brought to justice. That is what we are talking about. Indeed, if the minister would do that I am sure that he would find a great deal of support across party lines.

On the issue of immigration, we brought up the fact that a very small number of individuals coming into the country are criminals. Some of them do come to this country feigning refugee status. Our current system is not able to ensure that we have a steel sieve, as I call it, that enables true immigrants, law abiding immigrants and true refugees to enter Canada but keeps out those individuals who are criminals. We do not have that and my party has been asking for it for a very long time. Can it be done? Absolutely, but it requires a commitment on the part of the minister and the government.

We need appropriate checks and balances at the exit point from which they are coming. We need to differentiate between true and false refugees. We need proper background checks on individuals who are coming in through the usual immigration process.

Individuals who come to this country by plane claiming to be refugees and who do not have identification should be sent back home unless they have a very good excuse for why they do not have identification upon landing at places such as Pearson international airport.

Surely those individuals from other countries had identification when they boarded the plane. They could not have entered the plane without identification. Why do we accept individuals who claim refugee status and do not have any kind of identification? That should not be allowed, with very few exceptions.

I am sure the public would be flabbergasted to know that 40% of individuals claiming refugee status come from the United States. Why are we accepting individuals claiming refugee status who have been living in the United States? I raise this issue not because we are against individuals who claim refugee status but because we are trying to streamline the process so that people who are true refugees can get access into Canada.

The failure of the government to have an adequate refugee assessment policy hurts those individuals who are true refugees trying to get into Canada because either their lives are at stake or they are being persecuted. Above all else, we do a grave injustice to those individuals when we do not fix and get our house in order.

In my office, and I am sure in the offices of many of our colleagues, we are continually confronted by numerous individuals who would be superb immigrants to Canada and would make enormous contributions but numerous obstacles are put in their way. In fact many are sent home.

I am an immigrant and I am beyond being extraordinarily grateful for what Canada has given me. It breaks my heart to see individuals who can make effective contributions, who are working and can work but cannot stay in Canada after they have been here a while.

It is unbelievable that we have a system which does not allow these individuals to stay. Our country needs a larger immigrant population but needs to ensure that the population represents people who can make an effective contribution and integrate into Canadian society and that we truly allow real refugees into Canada.

Heaven knows there are enough of them in the world who need our embrace and protection. We must not allow individuals in who are criminals, false refugees or economic refugees masquerading as refugees.

We are a party to a number of international organizations and we have been signatory to many international treaties. While the treaties are superb on paper they have not prevented numerous tragic, gross violations of the basic rights those treaties purport to support. I am talking about Sierra Leone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe, East Timor, Burma, and the list goes on. It is a serious problem that the treaties do not have any teeth as they are unable to back up what is on paper with effective action.

Our country needs to take a number of actions with the international community. It needs to assess and determine with our counterparts how to put teeth into these treaties. How can we ensure that treaties will be backed up by action, punitive if necessary, when they are not upheld? What is a piece of paper if there is no consequence to not adhering to it? That is a serious problem and that is the failure of many treaties that we have today.

Another thing we need to look at is how and why we are members of so many organizations. If our participation in an organization is effective then we should participate. We should at least ask whether or not our participation in an organization is worthy, whether that organization is effective, and whether the actions and responsibilities of that organization can be merged with another, thereby saving money, limited resources and indeed our effect.

Umpteen organizations work on the same types of issues all over the world all of the time. The problem is that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing and we do not get commitments from all the countries. We tend to have hodgepodge fractured activities, be it the environment or foreign policy.

If September 11 demonstrated anything it shone a bright light on our strengths but more so on our flaws. What it has shown is that we have been living in a bit of a Pollyannaish world over the last nine to ten years. We have been thinking that we were making enormous strides internationally, living up to our defence policy commitments internationally and doing very well economically.

The reality is that Canada has been punching far below its weight for a long time. No one, particularly the government, is looking at a critical analysis of defence, foreign policy, immigration and economic competitiveness which needs to be looked at if Canada is to be competitive internationally and do its part. The hard questions of Canada's role in the world are not being asked. Nor are they being answered other than with the usual rhetorical flourish.

We have to ask those tough questions. We have to find the answers and we have to act on them. Can we? Absolutely. We have an extraordinary wealth of talent within the House as well as across Canada. We have an extraordinary number of individuals that can make effective contributions to answering those questions.

One of the first things we need to do is to conduct a review of our defence and foreign affairs policies. The review of defence and foreign affairs policies must go hand in hand because defence is merely the arm of our foreign policy. If we do not know where we are going from a foreign policy perspective, we do not know where we are going from a defence perspective and we cannot arm and outfit our soldiers to meet our needs effectively.

Where is Canada's niche in the world? What can we do? Is it as a player as it was during and after World War II when it had the fourth largest military in the world? Or, is it to take the other extreme and completely back away from its international obligations and set up a wall around the country? I hope the latter is not the case. Somewhere in between is the balance that we have to strike. Somewhere in between are the effective questions that must be answered.

What is our role in the world? We need to ask ourselves what organizations we will participate in. What are our obligations under NATO? Will we live up to them? We must live up to our NATO obligations, but we also have an incredible role to play internationally in being a peacemaker in a new world order or a new foreign policy that makes the 21st century safer. We can strike while the iron is hot.

The reason I say that is that we have built a coalition. We are a member of a coalition to defeat terrorism. In the construction of this coalition we are partners with groups such as Pakistan, members of the Arab world and others that we had never imagined before. There is an opportunity to work with these groups to ameliorate some of the large challenges that exist today in the world such as Kashmir, Palestine, Israel and the divide between the west and the Arab world. All those issues must be addressed.

If we walk away from this coalition after the so-called war in Afghanistan is won, which is not the end of the issue of terrorism at all, we will have missed an unbelievable opportunity to make the world a safer place. Our country can play an extraordinary role in that for many reasons.

We do not have a history of colonialism. We are respected internationally as a fair player. We do not move the goalposts around in the middle of a game. We sit as a divide between the Far East and Europe, between the north and the south, between the United States and the rest of the world. That is a role and opportunity that no other country in the world has. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs, our government and the House can work together to address those challenges in a pragmatic way.

One of the things we need to do on the Kashmir situation is to set up a dialogue between President Musharraf and the prime minister of India. That can be done now in conjunction with the developments in Afghanistan.

We need to work with the Americans and put pressure on the Israeli government to recognize a Palestinian state. Israel must stop building new settlements in Palestinian territory. It must remove those settlements from Palestinian territory forthwith in an effective plan, much as it did in the Sinai when it was setting up a peace agreement with Egypt. Large settlements were removed. So it can be done.

Along with the international community we must say to the Palestinian authority that it must apprehend, arrest and ensure that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups stop the killing of innocent Israeli civilians. The Palestinian authority must clean up its act. The corruption must be routed out. If it is not the economic taps should be turned off. We can enter into a dialogue and bring moderate Israelis and moderate Palestinians together to engage in economic and social co-operation.

We need to look at our economic situation. We have seen a significant slide in our dollar. The slide in our dollar represents many things, but one thing it represents is a tolerance to allow our competitiveness to be held artificially high by allowing our dollar to decline rather than dealing with the roots of competitiveness: education, a lower tax structure, the removal of rules and regulations, and others.

If those questions are addressed we will have an opportunity to ensure that Canada will become economically competitive once again. We owe this to Canadians. If we do not do this we will be left behind.

Unfortunately the government has chosen to paper over cracks and holes in the problems of our country rather than fill them in. It has not sought out the best minds and the best practices in our country and abroad to deal with our problems. If it did that then we would have a country to be proud of. We would have a country that was competitive economically and internationally. We would have a nation that could be at the table as a fair and equal player in the challenges facing us today and tomorrow.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Diane Marleau Liberal Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am a longstanding member of the House as you yourself are. November 21 was the 13th anniversary of my first election to the House. It is also the anniversary for a number of other members in the House of Commons. I also had the opportunity of sitting as a member of the opposition for five years, and have now been in government since 1993.

Opposition members oppose everything. They are there to cause trouble and to exaggerate. I have been there and I know what is done in opposition. The difference is though that suddenly the opposition becomes the government and members have to be responsible and put forward legislation that is necessary at the time. That is what we have been trying to do since 1993, and I believe we have been doing it fairly successfully.

With regard to Bill C-35, we all know that Canada will be hosting the G-8 meeting next year. We do have a responsibility to clarify our authorities in statute to ensure that this event can be properly handled. There is no problem in looking at how things can be done better but that does not mean that we are granting new immunities.

I have sat here and listened to two previous speakers and I can say that there was gross exaggeration. We are not extending immunities. All these people would have come here either through a minister's permit or whatever.

What we are doing is ensuring that it is all done under the authority of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Bill C-35 does not affect the immunity of diplomats or consuls who are already accredited to embassies and consulates in Canada nor does it affect their families. Its primary focus is on international organizations and in that regard it does not expand the level of immunities which the law provides for representatives of foreign states to international organizations or to conferences of such organizations in Canada.

What the bill does ensure is that Canada can treat international organizations or conferences that are not created by treaty, such as the G-8 summit or the summit of the Americas, in the same way that we treat a conference by a body created by treaty. Here I will refer members to the UN and to la francophonie.

However that does not mean that there will be no screening of individuals. I will use la francophonie as an example. Canada asks each individual representative to give a list of their representatives who will be coming into the country. Those people are screened in the usual fashion, by going through CSIS and Immigration Canada. We do not automatically allow everybody into the country. With the falsehoods being stated here it is very important for us to set the record straight.

People will come into the country but only after they have been screened. This has always been the case, whether they come under ministerial permit or otherwise. These screening procedures are in place and there are regular consultations between the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, CSIS and the RCMP. None of that will be bypassed, nor should it be, nor do we want it to be. We are the government. We are responsible people. We do not want people in Canada who average Canadians would not want. This is not a blanket okay to let anybody in. I would be the first to say absolutely not if it were the case. Let us not exaggerate. It is just a better way of being able to handle certain conferences, such as the G-8 which is not a treaty organization.

We talk about diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity is not a licence to commit crimes. The Vienna convention expressly obligates states and their diplomats to obey local laws. The vast majority of diplomats in Canada respect our laws. Everyone listening here today should realize there are hundreds of good people living in Ottawa who follow the laws and with whom we work closely.

Let us not pretend there is a massive problem. There is not. There have been problems. We know of the tragic event involving Ms. Catherine MacLean and Ms. Catherine Doré. That was a terrible event. The person who committed the crime has been charged and we are awaiting his indictment.

That being said, the incident pointed to shortcomings. No one is perfect. It is important to note that we have taken steps to address the shortcomings that were in place before the incident. We all regret the incident and wish we could have done this before. Unfortunately we did not. Hindsight is always 20:20.

However at least I can say our Minister of Foreign Affairs has taken steps. I am told he has demanded quarterly reports with lists of foreign diplomats in Canada who are involved in criminal misconduct. It is important to state that. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said he wants to know every four months what has been happening so this kind of incident will not be repeated. He has also indicated that quarterly reports will be made available subject to appropriate privacy considerations following an access request. As with anything else we cannot just publish the names of individuals.

What is important is that the foreign affairs department will be on top of these situations. It is committed to ensuring accountability and proper examination and control of unacceptable behaviour by foreign representatives. As far as I know all embassies have been notified of this. Procedures are in place to take care of it. We will be as vigilant as members of the opposition. I thank them for that. It is important that we all work together in these cases. Not one of us, whether on this side of the House or that side, wants a repeat of what happened in the past.

I spoke about responsibility in terms of putting legislation forward. My colleague in the NDP spoke about a motion that was passed having to do with clause 5 and police powers in Bill C-35. Yes, there are concerns. We the Liberals on the committee who are the majority passed the motion. We want the solicitor general to come back and report to the House on our concerns regarding police powers within the next 150 days.

We did not do that lightly. We did it because we thought it was important. We want police to have the powers they need to deal with these international events. We are all concerned about the increased violence we have seen around these events. No one wants to see it continue. These events are good. There is dialogue. It is important that Canada participate, especially now in this century, because Canada is probably the first country that can show a face of multiculturalism.

We are the country that is most advanced in terms of dealing with different peoples from different parts of the world. We are populated by immigrants from everywhere. Some of us came a long time ago, some of us have grandparents who came, and some of us are more recent.

While we cannot purport to be perfect we have a way of dealing with new arrivals and making them feel comfortable. We have a way of accepting who they are and where they are from, celebrating our differences and working together.

As many members know, when we travel internationally people ask how Canada has done this. They are impressed by it. We need to continue to lead the world and show others how to live together and build a great country. This is something we have done and on which we need to continue to work. It is something in which we need to play a key role in a century where the migration of peoples means diverse populations must live together. They must all learn to live together as equals because it is the only way this globe will move forward. It is therefore important for Canada to be involved in these conferences.

Bill C-35 by and large is about housekeeping. There are a number of points. It would modernize the legislation to comply with Canada's existing commitments under international treaties and respond to important new developments in international law. It is necessary to correct deficiencies in the existing definition of international organization. That is what Bill C-35 would do. It would not create any new powers. It would simply enable us to deal with them in a similar fashion.

The bill contains amendments designed to provide clear statutory authority to support the security measures necessary for our police to fulfill Canada's international obligations. This is extremely important. Our police forces are very good. They must continue to work together. We have added an amendment to make sure they do. This is important because we need to rely on them more and more.

Does that mean we would give them carte blanche? No, it does not. They are not asking for that. They need to be allowed to do their job. They do their job well and must be allowed to continue to do so. By and large I have confidence that the different levels of policing will continue to behave in a way consistent with the makeup of our country and the kinds of meetings that go on in it.

We talk about people who march for different causes. There many of them. They have legitimate concerns and I want them to be heard. Unfortunately there are hooligans who use legitimate protest marches to do damage. Frankly they detract from the message being brought forward.

I would hope and beg that as much as possible we allow legitimate protestors to protest. However legitimate protestors must be careful they do not condone the kind of wilful damage that sometimes goes on at these conferences. I do not think any Canadian wants that.

As an MP I have had many protests in front of my office in Sudbury. I have no objection to that whatsoever. However over a number of years the protests have become somewhat more violent. The last few times some of the protesters came into the office with drums and loudspeakers. The office is staffed by two people who are by themselves most of the time. They were absolutely terrified. They still are to this day. Whenever there is a new protest we are less likely to ask them to come in because they are afraid.

I often tell them people have the right to protest. They agree but wonder what good it is if protesters can come into the office and frighten people. They wonder why we would want to listen to them. My message to protesters is that they should beware. If they get carried away their message may be lost.

Bill C-35 is a necessary piece of legislation. As I said, we had concerns. We have brought forward amendments that would address those concerns. We have asked for a report. It is important for everyone to realize we want to be responsible. We want to have the proper legislation and tools to deal with these people.

However at no time do we want to let people into Canada who we feel will cause trouble. We will continue to insist on the screening that has always gone on. We will deny access to people on the lists whom we do not want in our country. It happens all the time. Maybe we do not hear about it but I have been there and it happens. Lists must be submitted and every person on the list is screened.

We should support this piece of legislation. Opposition members should support the legislation. However if they do not want to support it they should not exaggerate the things that are in it. What I have heard this morning is a total gross exaggeration. Frankly it is not responsible. We on the other hand must pass legislation that is responsible and that will work for us in Canada. That is what is important.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite suggested that Bill C-35 is going to extend immunities in a sweeping fashion to all kinds of classes of individuals coming to international conventions in Canada.

In my reading of the bill unless I am terribly mistaken the decision of extending the immunity rests with the governor in council. Therefore it is not something that is a sweeping power that is granted in the bill at all. The government will still have discretion to not extend this immunity except in those situations where it thinks it is appropriate.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a point of debate which I intend to ignore completely because it is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is we are talking about a bill that deals with police powers. It is very much relevant to look at the broader context in which these police powers are going to be exercised.

We have already seen the extent to which the police are abusing their existing powers and perhaps testing out the powers that they do not even have yet under Bill C-36. We have seen that in the context of Quebec City and the abuse of police power there. We saw it just last weekend in Ottawa where the police waded into a crowd of peaceful, non-violent protesters and singled people out for preventive detention. They sicced unleashed German shepherd dogs on innocent, non-violent, peaceful protesters. It was a disgrace. And this same government wants to give them more powers? I do not think so.

As I was saying before I was interrupted by the hon. member, it is ironic that this week as well the House of Commons joined in celebrating the extension of honorary citizenship to Nelson Mandela. Under the provisions of that same anti-terrorism legislation, Nelson Mandela would have been very likely branded as a terrorist and those Canadians who supported his struggle against apartheid would have been branded as terrorists as well.

As Michel C. Auger wrote recently in the Journal de Montréal ,

The definition remains so broad that it still includes many unpopular or marginal political activities. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

Twenty years ago, the present Vice-President of the United States, Dick Cheney, voted in Congress in favour of Nelson Mandela's being considered a terrorist. Today, Mandela is an honorary citizen of Canada. Today, we also have a Canadian Alliance member who described Nelson Mandela as a terrorist.

What is certain is that anyone who is a citizen of Palestinian origin, for example, who comes from a troubled area, will now have much more difficulty even discussing the situation in his country.

That is the context within which we have to look at these sweeping new powers that are being requested by the RCMP in this bill. We heard eloquent evidence from a number of witnesses, including Bill Sloan, the president of the American Association of Jurists, and Professor Wesley Pue from the University of British Columbia law school on this issue.

Professor Pue raised deep concerns about the scope of clause 5, proposed section 10.1. He pointed out that there are two major problems with clause 2 around the issue of security perimeters. First of all he noted that the police are given the power to create security perimeters only at international conferences and second, there is absolutely no guidance given to police officers in determining what is appropriate and in which circumstances. When the RCMP erect a security perimeter, this affects a whole range of the rights of Canadians, such as the right of free movement within Canada, the right of assembly and the right of free expression.

On the subject of freedom of speech, I wish to denounce in the strongest terms possible the shameful treatment inflicted by Radio-Canada on journalist Normand Lester. I call upon the government to ask Radio-Canada to cancel his suspension. That is unacceptable in a democracy.

There are other fundamental rights as well: the right to enjoyment of property, the right to work, the right to go lawfully about one's daily life without interruption or harassment by the police.

As Professor Pue notes, a security perimeter affects all of these rights among others. How long will it last? Whose property rights can be derogated from under this security perimeter? Are police required to give notice to affected parties? What is the extent of the perimeter? How big would the perimeter be?

Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has 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 protesters far enough away so that they cannot physically intimidate, they must be sufficiently close in order to politically castigate”. This legislation, Bill C-35, leaves wide open the question of whether indeed that will be the case.

For all of these reasons, because of the sweeping extension and unwarranted extension of diplomatic immunity, because of the removal of the provisions for ministerial orders in the case of those who would attend these international conferences who have criminal records, and finally and most important, because of the very dangerous extension of powers to the RCMP under clause 5 of the bill, my colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party will be voting against this bill at third reading.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is my understanding, and certainly it is written in the House order for the day, that we should be discussing Bill C-35. I would ask that the hon. member constrain his remarks to that bill and perhaps look to another opportunity to discuss Bill C-36.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased at the final stage of debate at third reading of Bill C-35 to speak on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic caucus and once again to oppose strongly the passage of the legislation.

I regret that the amendment put forward by the hon. member for Mercier at the report stage of this bill was rejected. That amendment was to delete clause 5 of the bill, a very dangerous provision.

However the House voted against the amendment of my colleague from Mercier and we are now at the point of reviewing the overall legislation.

I have to pick up on the comments of my colleague from Cumberland--Colchester. He asked quite eloquently why we even needed the legislation.

There are three major elements to the legislation. The first element which I want to touch upon is the issue of extending diplomatic immunity in a very sweeping way. We were told in committee that the reason for this was reciprocity and that we had to amend our legislation to extend, in a very dramatic way, immunity to people coming into Canada for a conference so that Canadians would be protected in other countries in similar circumstances. It might just be an informal conference between Canada and another country, but anyone associated with the meeting would have full diplomatic immunity.

When I asked in committee for the proof or evidence that there was a problem for Canadians attending conferences in other countries, the government ministers were silent. They simply could not answer the question. I asked them to give us a single example of a circumstance in which we had a problem at an international conference as a result of the absence of the reciprocity they were trumpeting. It did not exist.

What is the underpinning for this extension of diplomatic immunity? The Liberals can argue that this will only be the case for a conference and that people will only be here for a few days. However I think Canadians are more and more concerned about the whole nature of the sweeping immunities given to those who are considered diplomats and others attending foreign conferences in Canada.

That is the first point I want to make. We categorically reject those provisions of the legislation that would extend even further the ambit of that diplomatic immunity. Rather what we should be doing is promoting far greater awareness, accountability and transparency in the area of the existing diplomatic immunities.

My colleague from Cumberland--Colchester has proposed an annual report of the extent upon which these immunities are being relied by diplomats in Canada. That is an important step but it is one which unfortunately the government has rejected.

The issue came to the fore a few months ago with the tragic death of an Ottawa woman who was out walking her dog with a friend. A drunken Russian diplomat ran into her and killed her. This was not the first time this diplomat had been involved in drunk driving. He had been warned before and sent back. Why did it take the death of an innocent woman who was out walking her dog before the government finally tightened up the provisions on drunk driving by diplomats in Ottawa?

It is shameful that the government did not tighten this up significantly before then. The first time diplomats are involved in that kind of disgraceful conduct of drunk driving or refusing to take a breathalyzer, they should be given the boot and kicked out of the country immediately under the provisions of the Canadian law. They should not be given more opportunities to break that law. That is our first concern. We do not accept the extension.

The second concern is with respect to the issue of the permits under the Immigration Act. This issue is a straightforward one. As it now stands, participants who wish to come to Canada to involve themselves in international conferences, and who have a criminal record which otherwise would render them inadmissible to Canada, are required to get a minister's permit to attend that conference.

What is the problem with that?. Why should that not continue to be the case? Any other person who wants to enter Canada, who has that kind of criminal record, is required to have a permit. The law has worked quite effectively so far. It has not barred anyone. The example the minister gave was Nelson Mandela. My recollection is that Nelson Mandela came to Canada with no difficulty whatsoever.

Why should there be one standard for those diplomats or international officials who come here to attend conferences and another standard for everybody else? I do not accept that and my colleagues in the New Democrat caucus do not accept that double standard.

A minister's permit is a minister's permit and it does not unduly inconvenience those who would participate in these conferences whatsoever. But surely, if an individual has been involved in serious criminal wrongdoing, we have a right to ask that the person apply, just as any other person would apply, for a permit to be able to participate in these international conferences. That is the second major element that we oppose in the bill.

The third and by far the most important and dangerous provision is clause 5. It is a new clause that extends unprecedented sweeping powers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with respect to the issue of security for international meetings in Canada.

We are told that all this is doing is just codifying existing law. If that is the case, the obvious question would be why do we need this statute at all if it is not broadening the powers but simply codifying the existing powers? We do not need it at all.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, on which I have the honour to sit, took what is not an unprecedented but what is an extraordinary step. After passing the bill on division, with all opposition parties opposing the bill, a couple of members on the Liberal side of the House actually abstained in the vote. That is almost unprecedented as well. After the bill was reported, the same committee that heard the evidence submitted a separate report to the House on the bill. It virtually never happens that a standing committee that deals with legislation feels the necessity to submit a strong report to the government asking it to hold on because the committee has grave concerns about the bill.

I will quote from the report. I think Canadians have a right to know just exactly how concerned all members, including government members, were about the provisions of the legislation. The report submitted to the House said that whereas the testimony of expert legal witnesses before the foreign affairs committee on Bill C-35 has dealt with the issue of article 5:

--and has 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;

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.

That is a very strong signal from the foreign affairs committee that clause 5 in the bill, the heart of the bill in many respects, is not acceptable. When there is a unanimous report from the committee saying to look out, that there are some real reservations about the clause, instead of listening to that and voting to amend the bill by deleting that clause and sending the issue back to the government, what did the trained seals on the government side do? They stood up and voted against their own colleagues on the foreign affairs committee who said to watch out for that particular clause.

They said that rightly. We are looking at this bill in the context of other legislation, in particular in the context of Bill C-36, the government's proposed anti-terrorism legislation. It is very dangerous and draconian legislation. This week the Minister of Justice introduced some amendments to that bill, but it still falls far short of what is acceptable.

She did not touch the sections for example on the Official Secrets Act. She did not touch the sections on investigative hearings. She did not even subject them to sunset clauses. The definition of terrorist activity is still far too broad. Her so-called five year sunset clause in reality is a 10 year sunset clause because it can be extended by a simple majority vote in the House. That is not a sunset clause at all.

The fact is that the sun should never have risen on a number of the key provisions of that anti-terrorism bill. It is ironic that in the same week in which Nelson Mandela--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2001 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise again to talk about Bill C-35, which we spoke about last night. I appreciate your indulgence.

The fact of the matter is that I find it rather strange that we have this contradictory situation. The Minister of Transport has just introduced a bill increasing security and is spending a great deal of attention on focusing on enhancing security in the transport system, and as well we have Bill C-36 which increases police powers and creates new arrest powers for police, and here we are talking about Bill C-35 which expands immunity from our laws. It seems we are going one way with the two bills we are discussing today, and with Bill C-35 we are going in a completely different direction.

Bill C-35 is an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. Essentially it expands immunity far beyond anything we have ever done. Most Canadians think of diplomatic immunity as applying only to diplomats. The bill expands it much more broadly so that it is not just for diplomats. The bill expands it in a whole new definition of people who would quality for immunity under our new laws.

I will quote from one newspaper, in which Greg Weston states about the bill that:

Under it, anyone showing up at international...[conferences]...that's delegates, officials, staff, families, bag-carriers, mistresses--would have diplomatic immunity to rape, steal, drive drunk and otherwise break Canadian laws with impunity, compliments of our national government.

The bill includes delegates, officials, staff, family, bag carriers, everyone, along with the diplomats, so it is no longer diplomatic immunity; it is immunity that covers everyone who attends an international conference in Canada. We think it is unnecessary and goes far beyond anything that is required.

The newspaper article continues with respect to how immunity would be determined. One foreign affairs official quoted in the newspaper states:

If we give (diplomatic) privileges and immunities for a meeting, then all of the participants we let in for that meeting will get it.

This direction is completely different from the one we have taken before with respect to diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity was always provided in order to avoid harassment of diplomats and to ensure that the senior diplomats were protected from harassment by foreign governments, and in any case this does not happen in Canada, but now we have expanded it to a wide range of officials, assistants and staff so that they can come to Canada, break our civil and criminal laws and completely disregard the laws because they can claim immunity, even though it is far more than diplomatic immunity now.

It is so ironic that Bill C-36 is imposing new penalties on Canadians, giving police new powers and even creating new laws against Canadians at the very same time that we are debating Bill C-35 in the House, which is giving diplomatic immunity to a whole new range of people who attend meetings in Canada. It is completely contradictory and makes no sense.

Yesterday one of the government members suggested that we needed this very desperately so we could allow conferences like the upcoming G-8 conference in Alberta to be held. I disagree. We do not need this for that purpose. I do not think we have ever had a complaint. No one has ever said “I am not coming to Canada because I do not have diplomatic immunity. I am not coming to Canada because I cannot break civil laws and criminal laws and get away with it”. We do not need this expansion of diplomatic immunity and we should not be doing it.

There is absolutely no transparency in the bill. It removes the accountability to parliament about who claims diplomatic immunity. There is no obligation for the Department of Foreign Affairs to tell Canadians or parliament or the foreign affairs committee who claims diplomatic immunity. There should be a clause in the bill which states that every year or twice a year or four times a year the government must come to the foreign affairs committee or to parliament and present a report on who claimed diplomatic immunity and why.

Furthermore, it puts Canadians at further risk. Instead of tightening up security, the bill reduces security and increases the risk to Canadians. Not having an annual report creates an enhanced opportunity for repeat actions, such as the awful accident that took place on January 27 last year and to which we refer quite often.

In that case, a foreign diplomat had repeat offences but no one knew about it except the department. No one knew about it because there was no requirement for annual reporting. Had there been a requirement for annual reporting, this diplomat who had a series of offences would have been well known to the public, to the parliamentarians and to the foreign affairs committee. I am absolutely convinced that if this knowledge had been available he would not have had the opportunity to offend one more time. However, it was not available and he did offend one more time.

The bill does nothing to address that. The same thing could happen again without an amendment which requires an annual reporting. It just seems like such a common sense amendment and it is very disappointing that the government has refused this amendment. Many other amendments have been proposed and turned down. In fact, to the best of my knowledge all amendments were turned down even though many of them were sensible and were not intended to distort the bill or change the direction of it in any way, shape or form. They were common sense, thoughtful amendments but they were just turned down on principle.

The whole purpose of the bill is to avoid inappropriate harassment and we do not have any examples of that in Canada. We do not have any claims about inappropriate harassment against diplomats so I do not know why we are expanding this to cover more people. Even the people who are now covered have never complained, to the best of our knowledge. Staff members, assistants or officials have never said they would not come to Canada because Canada does not have immunity for them, and so what if they did say they were not coming to Canada if they did not have immunity? If they need immunity to avoid our laws and our criminal and civil actions we do not want them anyway. I do not know why we are expanding this immunity to cover all these new officials. Broadening the scope of coverage for diplomatic immunity really distorts it and creates more security risks for Canadians. It does not deal with it in an appropriate way.

Again, at the very least there should be an annual report about who claims diplomatic immunity in the country. There is not one, so in effect there could be diplomats who have a series of offences and claim diplomatic immunity time and time again. No one would ever know and the action that could be taken if parliament and public knew would not be. Again, let me say one more time that there should be an amendment for including annual reporting.

It is not all negative. We support some aspects of the bill. Certainly one is that the bill provides greater clarity for the role of the RCMP. In the international conferences I have been involved with there was a lot of confusion about who was in charge, about whether it was the local police, the provincial police, the RCMP or whatever. The bill makes it very clear that the RCMP is in charge of security at international conferences and that is a good thing. However, that was generated perhaps to some extent by the Hughes report on the APEC conference in Vancouver, which was such a fiasco. That report also suggested that there should be regulations to prevent politicians from interfering with the RCMP and there is no condition or clause in the bill that requires politicians to not interfere with the RCMP in the course of its duties. That was a recommendation by the Hughes report which was not addressed, so although the RCMP clearly is now in charge there is no restriction on politicians interfering with the RCMP while it is doing its job.

Another aspect of the bill our party does not like is that it further centralizes within the bureaucracy the power to allocate immunity from the law. For instance, special visitors now have to apply to the immigration minister's office to come to Canada if there is some concern about whether they qualify to come here. If there is some concern about whether or not they qualify for a visa they can apply to the minister of immigration. That will go with the enactment of this bill. They would apply through officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs, whose job is probably to encourage the international meeting to take place in the first place. They may not be objective or they may be overwhelmed with applications from people who are coming to these conventions. As the newspaper article says, if we give immunity to one we have to give immunity to all, as a Department of Foreign Affairs official was quoted as saying.

Again, instead of having the department of immigration, which has expertise in this field, examine these visas and applications, it will be locked in with the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is most anxious to see these conventions occur and be well attended. Perhaps its officials will not analyze these applications. The foreign affairs official said that if we give immunity to one we must give it to all. It does not bode well. It does not give us any level of comfort that these immunity conditions will be granted with the proper authority and the proper consideration. We think they may be given too broadly. Even though the bill is broad, they may be expanded under the licence provided by the bill.

Again, the amendment our party proposed would have required annual reporting. Had that been in place there is a really good chance that the accident on January 27 of this year would never have happened. The diplomat had a track record of offences but no one knew about it. No one knew about it because he claimed diplomatic immunity, so there was no record. The public and parliament did not know that the man was a repeat offender. Had there been a public accounting annually, quarterly or even twice a year, parliament would have known. The embassy certainly would have been uncomfortable knowing that one of their diplomats was publicly named over and over again for offences. I believe that if the embassy involved would not have sent the diplomat home we would have insisted that he go home. However, we did not know about it because there was no requirement to report to parliament. This condition is still the same. The same thing could happen again. There could be a diplomat who is a repeat offender out there right now who we do not know about and never will know about. There is no requirement in the bill for an annual reporting on who applies for diplomatic immunity.

We hope that the minister will see the sense in this. It is interesting that Bill C-36 was amended by the attorney general to allow exactly what we are asking for in Bill C-35. The attorney general said that because of the opposition motions and the attention the opposition has put on this the government will have included in Bill C-36 a requirement for an annual report. This only happened two days ago, when she announced that the bill would be amended to include an annual report. Bill C-35 will still not have an annual report requirement, even though the same criteria and the same reasoning apply to Bill C-35. The government is going one way on one bill and another way on the other bill. There is no reason not to have annual reporting.

Another disconcerting part is the fact that the permission to come to Canada is transferred from the minister of immigration through special permits to the department. It is lumped in with many other aspects of the applications for the meetings.

These are our main concerns about the bill. Our party will not support the bill because of these very clear shortcomings. If the amendments were accepted we would probably support the bill, but instead of increasing security for Canadians it reduces it when everything else we are doing in the House is trying to increase security.

This morning the Minister of Transport tabled a bill to increase security regarding transport. The Minister of Finance said upcoming budget will focus totally on security. Bill C-36 is the anti-terrorism bill and is totally focused on security. Yet we have Bill C-35 in the middle, which expands immunity and allows people to avoid being held accountable under our civil and criminal laws. It is a complete contradiction to everything else the government is doing. Our party believes the bill should be sent back, as the amendment we are speaking to today refers to. The amendment asks that the bill be sent back to committee for reconsideration. Our party supports the amendment. If the bill goes back for reconsideration to the committee and is amended, then perhaps our party will change its position. If it does not, our party will not be supporting the bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could have asked government members some questions when they spoke, but under the rules I cannot do so. I was quite surprised at some of the things that both parliamentary secretaries said. Had I had the opportunity to ask them questions I would have done so. Perhaps I will pose those questions now, not that I will get any answers because seldom do we get answers here.

One of the parliamentary secretaries raised the accident involving Catherine MacLean and the tragedy of her death. She said the government did all that it could. I take exception to that. The government did not do all that it could. In fact amendments proposed in committee would have done more to help and those amendments were refused.

The amendment I proposed was to have a public list every year of what foreigners had applied for immunity under these new expanded immunity laws. I believe the Russian diplomat involved in the accident with Ms. MacLean would not have been here had that rule been in place. He would have been on the record at least once or twice before and would not have even been here had there been an annual reporting of people who claimed immunity.

The government could have implemented an annual report where it would list which foreigners had applied for immunity. It cannot say that it did all that it could do.

Another comment indicated that the government would request a waiver of immunity if there were a criminal or civil act where a foreigner claimed immunity. That does not make sense. Why would the government ask for a waiver of immunity when it is bringing forth legislation to create the immunity?

Why not just forget the whole thing? Why not drop the bill or send it back to committee as has been proposed by the amendment we are debating now? Why not reassess the bill and find ways to avoid a situation where our government would apply for a waiver of immunity when it just gave immunity?

These are some of the questions that I would have asked. Why are we creating immunity if we are planning to apply for waivers of immunity? Why would the government not agree to provide parliament with an annual report of who applied for immunity under these new expanded rules as proposed in Bill C-35?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 5 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too rise to speak to Bill C-35 and to respond to the comments made by the parliamentary secretary. As she knows, the Bloc Quebecois voted in favour of the bill at second reading because, among other things, it agrees with bringing up to date the whole way we look at foreign missions and international organizations.

But what my honourable colleague does not say—I am not saying she is lying, she is an honourable colleague after all—is the fact that in the original bill, which amends a considerable act, a thick piece of legislation in the good meaning of the term, there are three sub-clauses under clause 5 which give increased powers to the RCMP without enough controls. This is why we will vote against the bill even though we supported it at second reading.

I will add that witnesses, including the one mentioned by the parliamentary secretary, said unanimously that this clause should be somewhere else than in this bill because it is either useless or quite incomplete. The witnesses agreed that this could not be amended lightly. On the contrary, to make sure that the powers of the RCMP do not go unchecked and for other considerations I will highlight later, these sub-clauses should have been included in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. These provisions being thusly taken out of their proper context, we cannot support the bill because of the implied consequences.

However, we want to say that we are very much in favour of the part of the bill aimed at modernizing in various ways the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, which is the main purpose of the bill. This bill recognizes international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, the G-8, the G-20 and other international organizations which are not treaty based and which, as a result, are not currently covered by the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

Also, in granting the required immunity to international inspectors who come to make sure that Canada is respecting its commitments in terms of land mine or nuclear test bans, we are simply adapting the circumstances of the legislation to the needs of the moment, as did the first act.

The bill recognizes permanent missions to international organizations in Canada, by granting them the privileges that come with their status. More than 40 missions are accredited with ICAO in Montreal without having access to the privileges they should have. Bill C-35 corrects this anomaly.

Bill C-35 also grants the status of international organization to international summits and meetings by amending the Immigration Act as well to facilitate the travel of delegates during international meetings.

Since we agree with most of the bill's contents, we denounce the oft-repeated comments made by our colleague from the Alliance, as though the diplomatic corps in Ottawa was a den of undesirables.

Speaking of which, I want to point out that I learned that there are 102 embassies in Ottawa with 3,000 diplomatic staff persons who benefit from immunity to some extent or another. Therefore, in my opinion, the 76 offences over five years, almost all of which were minor, does not seem to be an alarming crime rate.

I believe that, to the contrary, we must highlight the importance of the diplomatic corps here and the role they play, and also how important the international meetings that take place here are to us in helping improve the affairs of the international community.

The world has changed and it has changed quickly. Globalization, which some people believe must be humanized, means that various governments co-operate on many levels, and consequently, have to travel.

There has also been much criticism of the provision to discontinue the use of the Immigration Act to grant immunity to persons arriving to fill positions in embassies at various levels. We know that immunity does not mean the same thing when applied to an ambassador, a consul, or the embassy cleaning staff. Embassy staff play an important role, and we are happy to point this out.

From now on, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be responsible for ensuring immunity at international meetings. It should be pointed out that because of his role in the liberation of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was associated with activities which, when documented in his application to come to Canada, mean that he is refused a visa and has to apply to the minister for an exception to be made. This means that, in future, he will no longer be refused a visa.

However, after any investigation conducted in the same way, but without the objectionable aspects of this procedure, international figures whom the government thinks it would be appropriate to invite here, respecting its international obligations, as I realize, will not have to go through this long and sometimes difficult process.

However, I wish to spend most of my limited time explaining why the three paragraphs of clause 5 should not be included in this bill and in what will be the core of the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

First, I wish to reply to the first member who spoke to this. In the testimony given before the committee, there was no mention of the fact that it was necessary to include these three paragraphs in order to ensure the security of international meetings and of international figures and all those who accompany them in the course of their duties as international representatives.

I myself called for this, and it was called for on a number of occasions. It is not necessary to have the three paragraphs that make up clause 5. It would be worthwhile looking at the content of these three paragraphs.

The first gives the following power to the RCMP, and I quote:

10.1 (1) The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference...

An added amendment states that this must be done in conjunction with other police forces. Had this paragraph, as amended, been the only one, we could have lived with it.

But there is a second paragraph, which reads:

(2) 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.

This means the institutionalization of the famous perimeters. Until then, the RCMP, in collaboration with the municipal or provincial police forces, as it did in the last Quebec City Summit, had to negotiate, taking into account pressures from lobby groups, mayors and governments, as well as logistical considerations, what type of perimeter would be set up. They were forced to take living breathing reality into consideration.

According to section 7, which is not restricted in any way whatsoever, they may do so “to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances”. I will come back to this later. It gives them every latitude to decide whatever they want.

What is a source of concern is that there is no rush to get these three little paragraphs into the bill. There is no urgency. The only international meeting of any importance that is upcoming is the G-8 at Kananaskis. One of the witnesses who came before the committee said that the RCMP, or the government, did not need this clause to be able to ensure people's safety, as it was ensured, moreover, in Quebec City. Even if one could mention this or that aspect which could have been better handled in Quebec City, as far as the security aspect was concerned, the mission was accomplished.

There is no rush. All of the witnesses we heard say that these clauses, lacking any specification, ought not to be there, that they are undoing any balance that was in place, that they are conferring additional powers. I beg to differ but while the minister described this as merely a codification of the common law, all those who appeared before us, not those we invited—who were unfortunately unable to come—but those who came at the invitation of other MPs, said the same thing: this clause of the bill was extremely inappropriate, not to mention incomplete.

I will read part of the testimony made by the lawyer to whom the parliamentary secretary referred. He said, with regard to this issue:

It will be up to the courts to decide what is reasonable under the circumstances, should the behaviour of the police be challenged.

But already, the fact that people will have to go to court when there are no guidelines in the bill speaks volumes about the problems that individuals and groups will face. Think about the people in Quebec City who had a business or a home inside the perimeter. They did not know ahead of time. The bill is silent on issues such as what happens to their rights, when they can enter the perimeter, the damages that they may suffer, how long the perimeter may remain in place, other rules that may apply, or the distance of the perimeter.

Let us also think about the Hughes report, which says that protesters have a right to be heard by those to whom they want to talk.

Therefore, there is nothing to ensure, in a preventive fashion, that people's rights and freedoms will be protected. This means that they would have to go to court after the fact.

Let us see what this expert says:

Such a broad mandate could also be found to be unconstitutionally vague by a court or a royal commission, to the extent that it affects fundamental freedoms protected under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Therefore, it seems appropriate to define the mandate more clearly, in the interest of the peace officers responsible and of those who might be the targets of police operations. Otherwise, it might be much wiser to leave this potentially controversial issue in the common law arena, where it currently may be found.

So, this does not exist there or, as the expert later said in response to a question “Yes, it would be better if it were in the RCMP Act, since it includes a number of guidelines”.

So, this provision is not necessary. And if it is not necessary, why try to ram it through parliament? I have to say that the witnesses were unanimous and the committee members would also have been unanimous had they been left to use their own good judgment.

The best evidence of this is that the Liberal members of the committee have done excellent work, even if sometimes there harsh words were exchanged between some opposition MPs and others. The thrust of the work done was that those paragraphs should in fact be part of the RCMP Act, as witnesses had suggested.

Liberal members introduced a motion which was adopted by the committee and tabled in the House and which is based on the arguments used before us. Allow me to read the motion:

Whereas witnesses have expressed serious reservations about the appropriateness and interpretative clarity of the existing wording of clause 5, including the provisions which make it the RCMP's primary responsibility to take appropriate and reasonable measures in the circumstances, such as setting up security perimeters;

Whereas, despite the powers already granted to peace officers under the common law and to the RCMP under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and other statutes pertaining to the security of internationally protected persons, clause 5 will have the effect of granting for the first time the RCMP the explicit power to set up security perimeters during some international conferences;

Whereas the codified powers of the RCMP could affect the rights and privileges of Canadian citizens during conferences;

Whereas the witnesses heard by the committee clearly supported a broader review of legislative texts—

And I have commented on that.

—governing the powers of the police in circumstances where it could be necessary to set up security perimeters in Canada.

The original version of this motion read as follows:

Be it resolved that the committee urge the government to consider the legitimate concerns expressed regarding the wording of clause 5 of the bill—

Again, this proposal was submitted by the Liberal members of the committee. They added:

—the committee also proposes that the broader issues raised in connection with the powers needed by the RCMP to set up security perimeters, as well as legislative or other basis of these powers, be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the House of Commons for further examination.

They finally introduced an amendment which was adopted and which said that the matter was being referred to the House and that, depending on the response of the government, other measures might be taken by the committee.

This motion, put forward by the Liberal members, basically confirms all that we know for certain—not suspect, but know—from the work done by the committee and from the testimony we heard.

I will follow my thought through. Since we have been here, we have become used to wondering about what lies behind a particular measure. We also know the various ministers and departments. Why are they determined to keep paragraph 2—the key item in the clause—which gives unlimited authority to establish perimeters? Is it because the government thinks it will have problems establishing the perimeter for Kananaskis? Is it possible that in Kananaskis the government will be unable to follow the recommendations of the Hughes report, which says, and I will repeat the provision:

Protesters have a right to be heard by those to whom they want to talk.

I think that a lot more could be said about this. But if this is the way things are, I would have appreciated being told. Once again, we asked the question in various ways.

Is this clause necessary to ensure the safety of those attending the event? The answer we were given was no, that they were using the opportunity to codify the common law.

I will elaborate. The expert witnesses who appeared before the committee all said the same thing about the common law in different ways. The third paragraph says that peace officers possess powers at common law. They therefore do not lose them. We are speaking here about all peace officers, including those in the provinces.

The interesting thing about the common law—which is not the tradition in Quebec, which operates under French civil law—is that all those living under the tradition of the common law know that, along with its advantages, it has the disadvantage of not being available to peace officers, who have neither the resources nor the time to find out exactly what their rights and obligations are because they have to stay on top of the entire range of case law and all the latest interpretations.

So, with respect to the common law, when the government says that perimeters are already covered in the common law, we are told that that is not what is in the common law. Saying that the RCMP is responsible and so on for establishing perimeters is adding to the powers of the RCMP.

The government tells us: “We are codifying.” However, witnesses have said: “The government is adding, enhancing”, which was the imperfect translation of Mr. Fairley's text that was alluded to earlier.

As for Mr. Pue, a law professor who holds a chair in British Columbia, he said several times that this provision would provide powers to the police, without them knowing their obligations.

This worries me. I have problems with the fact that, out of a context, the government would give increased powers to the RCMP without any restriction.

I will use the last minutes that I have left to deal with this issue. I will mainly quote Wesley Pue. I will read again a passage where he somewhat condemns the fact that the government is saying that this is only codification.

We should not believe that Bill C-35 is only reiterating the common law principles governing the police. If it were only that, this bill would not be necessary. Legislation is used to correct shortcomings, to change the law, to clarify the law or to freeze it to avoid ulterior legal interpretations. Obviously, no Canadian court that would be called to interpret this clause would start from the principle that the Parliament of Canada has agreed to it without any reason. This clause affirms the prominence of the RCMP.

I agree there was an amendment to this clause.

This would be the first legislation that would explicitly give to the RCMP the power to establish security perimeters. The clause would give the RCMP special responsibilities in an area, “international affairs”, where the federal executive enjoys a major discretionary power, which is often invisible and almost always beyond judiciary control.

But where I especially want to quote him is when he talks about the effects on citizens. He says:

Which rights might be violated by erecting a security perimeter? The right to freedom of movement in Canada, the right to organize, the right to freedom of expression, the right to own property—the erection of a security perimeter to limit a private area amounts to an expropriation, limited though it may be in time—the right to work, the right to conduct one's daily business legally without being interrupted or harassed by the police.

The erection of a security perimeter compromises all of these rights. Depending on the time and place, it can compromise the freedoms of thousands of people. The vague legislative wording does not tell the police what measures are appropriate. How, in this case, could the police decide on the following issues: how long prior to an event can a security perimeter be erected? One day, one week, one month, more? Violation of property rights. Whose property rights could be violated? Private Canadian businesses? Private businesses from other NAFTA countries? Property owners, municipalities, churches, religious organizations, the media, provincial governments, Indian bands?

What is the legal recourse for property owners to object? What would happen if another level of government or an Indian band were to object? If the government confiscated private property for such purposes, would there be compensation? If so, would payment be considered a favour or a right? Where would the money come from? Would the security measures taken depend on whether or not compensation would be paid to property owners whose rights were violated? If so, who would pay? And how is the RCMP to assess this? The clause says nothing about all of these aspects.

He continued on the subject of the area covered by security perimeters. This is still Wesley Pue speaking:

One can presume that the security of an event is better ensured with a larger perimeter.

That is the mandate that they have. The mandate is not to ensure that protesters' rights are recognized, or that the rights of citizens who live inside the perimeter are recognized. Mr. Pue continues:

Are there limits to the size of these security perimeters, which appears to be growing? How is the police to balance the area of the perimeter, security, and constitutional rights?

Jeopardized rights. Canada's constitution is clear: Canadians who respect the law have the right to organize, to express themselves and to protest. Allan Borovoy from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says that in order to be the least bit efficient, a demonstration must create a climate of political and social tension for those who make decisions in an attempt to influence them. It is acceptable to keep demonstrators at a sufficient distance to prohibit them from being physically intimidating, but they must be sufficiently close to have a political effect.

This bill does not remind the police that they must protect these rights. It is woefully mute on the principle of balancing security with freedoms.

He goes on talking about security passes, since the establishment of a perimeter, particularly if it is long, and we have no indication and no directive whatsoever in that regard, means that the police will have to issue passes and accredit the media to make sure that only certain people have access to protected areas.

This clause does not specify the criteria, nor the information that the police can rely on, or the responsibilities that it must assume regarding the justification of its decisions to people who had their request for a pass turned down or regarding the appeal procedure in case of abuse.

He gives a whole list and concludes by saying:

These are all important questions. It can of course be assumed that most RCMP agents will conduct themselves as responsible policemen. But their desire to act in a responsible way will not be enough to protect the public anymore than the imposition of an obligation that is brutal but sufficient in police terms. According to the rule of law, the law must specify as clearly as possible the conditions in which these violations of fundamental rights are foreseen.

Once again, I have read the extracts from testimony because they show that the Committee had, unanimously if I may say so, reached the conclusion that if the clause could not be eliminated from the bill, the Liberal members would table in the House this afternoon a motion adopted in committee.

This motion expresses, in diplomatic but clear terms, the reasons why all those involved in the committee work, including the witnesses, think that these provisions should have been incorporated in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, after a proper review by the committee to which these provisions are normally referred to, which is the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Let me remind the House that, at second reading, the Bloc Quebecois supported the bill even if it wondered about certain clauses, particularly clause 5. In committee, we argued and voted against it. Amendments to remove clause 5 were not allowed at that stage.

At report stage, we moved an amendment to remove clause 5. Since it has not been deleted, I deeply regret that we have to vote against this bill at third reading, even if we totally agree with the provisions to modernize the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

We fully recognize the need to protect adequately foreign dignitaries and their officials who come to Canada for the important meetings made necessary because of repeated changes in the world and a growing globalization and interdependence.

But no one has proven to us that clause 5 is essential and urgent in Bill C-35 in order to protect the security of those we must protect.

We will vote against the bill in the hope that the government will listen to our arguments, which have been supported by witnesses and Liberal members of the committee.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 4:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

The development in the modernizing aspect is necessary because in modern diplomatic practice important governmental, international and multilateral matters are increasingly dealt with at international conferences by international organizations that are not created by treaty, which we have discussed. That represents a change from the past.

The traditional mode of diplomacy was frequently and usually conducted on a bilateral basis and that is indeed the work of our missions abroad. Our ambassadors in Washington are frequently dealing in a bilateral manner with their counterparts in Washington. Our diplomats in Paris and Beijing do the same.

More and more we see that the work of diplomacy, the coming together and creation of an international agreement, takes place within a multilateral setting and not as in the past in the traditional bilateral setting. Because of that we have felt compelled to extend in Canada, within a reciprocal nature, exactly what is given in other countries and to allow this newer method of diplomacy to be conducted and to be so protected by the extension of immunities.

The bill would ensure that we can do that. I would again emphasize that it is all done within very clear and precise rules and regulations as inscribed within the Vienna convention and has been accorded with those rules very much in mind. Again I caution the House against the misinterpretation we have been hearing that this is a very loose, unguarded methodology which is being introduced. It is anything but.

In addition not just to the rules of the Vienna convention and the further development within Bill C-35, all international organizations and their meetings are subject to careful and stringent screening procedures and consultations among the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, CSIS and the RCMP. Nothing changes. All of that stays very much in play.

It is important that with respect to instances where persons with immunity commit a serious crime in Canada, the Canadian government has developed one of the most stringent policies in the world. We are not in the middle of the scale. We are not even close to the top. We are at the very top.

After the tragic incident involving Catherine MacLean and Catherine Doré, of which much mention was made earlier by a member from across the floor, the department adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding criminal acts committed by persons with immunity. The policy has been implemented by law enforcement authorities across Canada with the full understanding and co-operation of the diplomatic community.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs was absolutely appalled after the incident that was discussed, in reference frequently to Catherine MacLean and Catherine Doré, as were officials in the department. The instant response was to do all that was possible to ensure that first and foremost this never occurred again but wherever an incident of a similar nature did occur, that we had protocols in place that would mean an instant bringing to justice of any person implicated in such an act.

I am disappointed that earlier in a very cavalier way the member made mention of the fact and to quote him directly, he said “Come in and do whatever you want to do”. That kind of hyperbole, fearmongering, and deliberate misleading obfuscating as it is assigns his words no credibility. It is so obvious when one goes to that level of hyperbole and heads all over the Chamber drop almost in embarrassment for him, there is not much necessity for me to countermand his thoughts as the thoughts were few while the emotions were rampant.

As I said, while even the strictest policy cannot altogether prevent incidents from occurring, this policy makes it very clear to the diplomatic community that Canadian laws are to be respected and that if a crime is committed, Canada will seek first a waiver of that very immunity in order to prosecute the individual. Where the request for a waiver is refused, other sanctions, including expulsion from Canada, will be taken.

The same policy will be applied to the degree possible to all persons with immunity in Canada who commit crimes, whether here as diplomats or to attend at conferences.

A great deal of attention was given to the bill's proposal that serves as the legislative basis for the orderly holding of international government conferences in Canada.

We are concerned that this proposal might give police forces greater powers to restrain legitimate protests at international conferences.

Let me assure the House that this proposal does not affect the policing powers of the RCMP and other forces, such as provincial and municipal, under common law as well as federal and provincial legislation.

The amendment has been carefully drafted in light of the common law and the statutory duties conferred on the police to keep the peace, to protect persons, including internationally protected persons from harm and to protect persons engaged in lawful demonstrations from unlawful interference. Any security measures taken by the police will be subject to charter scrutiny and must be justified as reasonable in the circumstances. Those are the traditions of our jurisprudence. Those are the protections of the charter and checks and balances that already exist within the Canadian policing system. In other words, any police measures that limit a charter right, for example freedom of expression or freedom of assembly, must be justifiable in this free and democratic society.

The provision says that the RCMP has primary responsibility to ensure security for the proper functioning of an intergovernmental conference. A question was raised in committee as to the meaning of primary and the RCMP's co-ordination with its other two counterparts at the provincial and municipal levels. In response the government brought forward a motion to facilitate consultation and co-operation between the RCMP and provincial and municipal police forces.

When we spend the weeks we do in committee, an institution which I highly value and I know all of us do, as that is where the appropriate development of public policy and good laws begins and where it usually ends, the people who give of their time to come from across Canada and give us the benefit of their wisdom and experience are invaluable to the process. We come as legislators. We are not specialists. We depend greatly on the wisdom of specialists as we develop our laws.

One of the witnesses who came before the committee was actually a former national chair for both the international and constitutional law sections of the Canadian Bar Association. While he is a practising international business lawyer, he came in his personal capacity; I want to make that clear.

He spoke very favourably on some aspects of the bill. The reason I am choosing his testimony is that he directly dealt with a large portion of what was said by the hon. member earlier this afternoon. He dealt with retaliation and reciprocity which are key elements of the bill. He said:

Overall, my own view is that these provisions taken as a whole, are overdue, give the executive the necessary tools to respond quickly, as, and for as long as necessary, to inappropriate acts by foreign nations directed at Canadian missions abroad, and at the same time remain consistent with our international obligations under the Vienna conventions.

There has been no focus whatsoever by the hon. member on all of the strong aspects the bill has brought together. The witness continued:

The core principle in those instruments is that of immunity...once granted through the accreditation process.

He went on to say that core principle cannot be deviated from. If Canada is to continue to adhere to the Vienna conventions, then these things must be in place. He further said:

Nevertheless Canada can certainly tighten up the process of accreditation and be more rigorous in withdrawing accreditations in the face of improper conduct by foreign countries and by their agents in Canada and this Bill C-35 does well.

Finally he made mention and was very pointed in the criticism of the bill about moving the decision from the minister of immigration to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The witness with all of his considerable background said that it is a good amendment providing greater certainty than the prospect of a judicial determination, that it is consistent with our treaty obligations on point, but that, he thinks, is something government can only resolve on a case by case basis. That is exactly what we will be allowed to do with our order in council approach.

It is, then, in his view the right one for this purpose. We have received a lot of very strong views in support of the bill. It is unfortunate that the comments made in the House were very selective but perhaps that is the job.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 4:40 p.m.
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Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address you and members of the House regarding Bill C-35. I have prepared some notes and I will deliver those notes, but obviously the temptation to respond to the member opposite who has now left the House is such that I will indeed enjoy addressing a response to the House upon the conclusion of my prepared speech.

I am pleased to address Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade conducted an indepth review of the bill and recommends that it be referred to the House for third reading.

I would like to take this opportunity to give an outline of the main proposals contained in this bill. These proposals were raised and discussed in committee. I also want to comment on the new amendment proposed by the government to the bill.

The proposals in the bill come at a time when it is imperative that we demonstrate leadership in the international arena on the issues that are of major importance both to Canada and to Canadians, such as the environment, international trade and human and national security.

Canadians are supportive of the role that we play as a member of international bodies that are tasked with the conduct of international relations, such as the G-8. Canadians also understand that hosting important intergovernmental summits in Canada and establishing the head offices of international organizations, such as the ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, bring enormous economic and political benefit to Canada.

I think it is necessary to clarify certain misleading information that has been in the press recently regarding this bill. It suggests that Bill C-35 surreptitiously expands diplomatic privileges and immunities to all kinds of people entering Canada without maintaining safeguards to protect Canadians from known or potential criminals. To go further, if what I heard earlier could be believed, it is to throw open the doors of the country, almost inviting and enticing every conceivable criminal we can reach to get in here and attend a meeting and wreak havoc on the people and institutions of Canada.

I would like to emphasize that the clear purpose of the bill is not to do that and I think most people found it difficult to keep from giggling at the very suggestion. Rather, it is to modernize the legislation with respect to international organizations.

This development is necessary because in modern diplomatic practice, important governmental, international and multilateral matters are increasingly dealt with at international conferences by international organizations that are not necessarily created by treaty, such as the G-8 or the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Both of these meetings and annual conferences, and in fact the OSCE meets far more regularly than the G-8, are not treaty based. To explain the difference, the United Nations is treaty based. What we have done here is create a safe environment for the functioning of the diplomatic process within meetings and organizations that are not treaty based. There is no reason not to be open about the fact that Canada is hosting the G-8 summit in Alberta next summer and we very much want to have this bill in place in order to provide just that kind of ambience and security.

At present, the legislative definition of international organization has been interpreted to permit orders to be made under the act only for international organizations that were created by treaty, such as the United Nations, but this bill would ensure that we can treat important meetings such as the G-8 in the same manner that we treat international organizations like the United Nations and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

I would emphasize that the immunity granted to the people attending these meetings, both under the present legislation and following the amendments, is not and would not be an absolute immunity from criminal prosecution.

The point of departure for all of what has led to the discussions both within our committee and here in the House are the Geneva conventions. The Geneva conventions are international treaties signed by many countries which produce a set of rules and regulations allowing for diplomatic immunity at diplomatic and consular levels. The reason they do is historically based and it has been an evolving process.

In ancient times when a diplomat would be assigned to the court of perhaps Catherine the Great or perhaps earlier than that back in the time of early Egypt, the role of the diplomat then was, as it is in many ways today, to convey the views of the government and to participate in discussions for bilateral arrangements.

In some ancient times when the said diplomat did not please said monarch, the consequences were permanent and in many ways gruelling. Pieces of the diplomat were frequently sent back to the home court to convey the sense of displeasure of the resident monarch. Fortunately we have come a long way in creating a world in which women and men who are diplomats or consular officials can function safely in the many capitals of the world and accomplish the tasks they were sent to do.

At times when I listen to what is said across the floor of the House, as I did earlier, it seems we are back in those same times, as most of the stories referenced appear to be focused on gruelling crimes and the most excessive and unusual of circumstances, always the exception to the rule, attempting to convey to all of us and through us to the people who read and watch what we say that in fact we have criminals loose in the country wearing the T-shirts of diplomats. In actual fact there are very few instances of crime. When there is an instance, there is an instant response by the government using the rules that have been set up to allow it exactly that kind of response. However, those stories are consistent with what often takes place during question period where the crime of the week appears to set the tone, draw the focus and is rarely of interest in good public policy.

Continuing with my prepared notes, I would like to emphasize that the clear purpose of this bill is to modernize the legislation with respect to international organizations.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have followed closely the debate on Bill C-35. It is an important bill and certainly one the House should take time reviewing, which is precisely what we are doing today. Its proposed amendments to the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act aim at modernizing the privileges and immunities regime contained in the existing legislation which was passed in 1991.

These amendments will enable Canada to comply with its commitments under international treaties and to respond to recent changes in international law. In addition, the bill amends the current act in order to correct several technical difficulties that over the course of time since 1991 have been identified. Certainly we want to enable us as a House to do it properly.

I listened to the member prior to me speak. There were a number of misconceptions, some misinformation and misconstrued ideas tossed about. It was a little disheartening to have to listen to him speak and in a cheap partisan way drag into play the name of Catherine MacLean. I thought dragging in Justice Hughes' report was inappropriate as well because it really had nothing to do with what we are talking about here today.

We need to correct the record when he talked about spies and terrorists coming here to, I think his words were, rape and murder and do all kinds of things. It is outrageous. It is pathetic really, extremism to the nth degree. It really is inappropriate in this House when we are really dealing with a very substantial piece of legislation. This piece of legislation is very serious and is one that commits the government to meet its international obligations in a manner consistent with the great ideals and the great values of our country.

Those misconceptions and half truths and everything else tossed aside, we can now proceed into a serious debate about what we are doing in Canada and what the bill really means and the impact not only on this great country of ours but also, as we play out on the international scene, the obligations our great country has in terms of foreign affairs.

I also want to correct the record. I was at the justice and human rights committee meeting until almost 3 o'clock this morning. It sat late last night and into early today. We dealt with Bill C-36. Bill C-36 and Bill C-35 in no way contradict each other. That too was mentioned and it is simply not true.

The member for Portage--Lisgar indicated that we are somehow putting Canadians at risk by what we are doing. That is absolute nonsense. On the contrary, more than ever, in light of not only events prior to September 11 but after, what we are doing is making sure that our towns, villages, neighbourhoods, cities and rural areas continue to be safe and secure in a manner consistent with the great values of Canadians wherever they live in this great country of ours. That is always the objective in trying to pursue a legislative agenda that makes sense and is consistent with those values in a meaningful way. That is precisely what we are doing with Bill C-35.

Going back to the events of September 11, those events in New York and Washington reminded us that the threats to public safety are of global concern. That is an obvious statement now. The recent trend of increasing violence at international summits for example has shed light on the need for appropriate action to be taken at international meetings. We have seen that Canada is repeatedly called upon to do its share and in some cases more than its fair share, for example, the G-20 meeting this past weekend in Ottawa.

Why? Because Canada, first, has professional policing services in place and security personnel and peace officers who know what they are doing in a manner consistent with not only Canadian values but the values of the international community when it comes to hosting these international meetings.

Canada will be called upon next summer, as well, in Kananaskis, Alberta with the G-8.

We have a great history and a great tradition of being able to host these meetings in a way that enables security and safety for everyone, the participants, even the protestors, the news media and others who are there, in terms of what is taking place.

We can be justifiably proud, not only in the House but also in this great country, to know that Canada has the ability to do these kinds of measures and do them in a reasoned, proportional way that is consistent with the values of Canada but, more important, ensures the safety and security of all concerned.

As the host of the G-8 next year, as I indicated, Canada has an obligation, which we take very seriously, to take all the steps to protect our international visitors and to ensure that the meeting is done in a safe and secure manner.

I think it is fair to say that never before has the need to respond effectively to security challenges been more acute. The time is ripe to clarify and underscore our duty to fulfill our obligations to protect international visitors.

When we look at the proud tradition of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the provincial police services, the local police and the regional police across Canada, we can be justifiably grateful that these men and women are there doing the kind of professional job that they do to enable us to all sleep better at night and, further, to let Canada do the kind of things that are important on the international scene, which is to host meetings and be the host for people from around the world, to enable us to carry on the great commitment that Canada has in this area and, furthermore, to enable Canada to carry on the proud tradition started by many people in the past who have brought us to this point.

Bill C-35 allows us to do just that.

I would now like to address the security provisions in the bill, what they will do, how they will be developed and how they will ensure that the basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by our great charter of rights and freedoms are in fact preserved.

The amendments would provide clear statutory authority to ensure security for the proper functioning of an international event hosted in Canada thereby promoting public safety and the safety of foreign delegations attending these events.

The amendments, contrary to the speaker prior to me, were carefully drafted in light of the common law and the statutory duties that the police already have to keep the peace, to protect persons attending an international conference from harm and to protect persons engaged in lawful demonstrations from unlawful interference.

Those are sacrosanct principles that we need to ensure are in place in Canada for the benefit of all concerned. For example, I want to point out that the Security Offences Act already gives the RCMP primary responsibility to protect internationally protected persons from being the target of criminal activity.

I would also like to assure members that the primary responsibility of the RCMP does not suggest that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will now be solely responsible for security at international events.

The amendments also accurately reflect the practical arrangements between the RCMP and the local police, either provincial, local or regional, in sharing responsibilities for security measures. That is the way the partnership works in Canada, to ensure that peace, order and good government prevails and that security and measured response are the order of the day.

As in the past, the RCMP would continue to share responsibility with the police forces of local jurisdictions and would continue to consult and co-operate with each police force to determine who will be responsible for specific activities.

That pattern will be repeated next year with the G-8 in Kananaskis. We have seen it before. We saw it in Quebec City. I want to commend those police and peace officers who did such a tremendous job at those events. Those are the kinds of security measures that will be carried on and carried forward because they work and they afford all concerned the protection that is so valuable in this kind of forum.

I want to indicate that it might be decided that a provincial police force would be responsible for keeping the peace around a perimeter and controlling access to that perimeter while the RCMP might be responsible for the protection of internationally protected persons. I give that as an example of how that kind of co-operation can take place. Each police force would make the call in its respective area of responsibility based on the kind of dialogue and pre-planning that goes into this kind of important event, pre-planning, by the way, that is already well in hand when we talk about the G-8 in Kananaskis.

The RCMP, for example, would retain the lead in ensuring that whatever police action is being contemplated will be geared toward ensuring the overall protection of international visitors and the proper functioning of the event.

With respect to the erection of a security perimeter, a fence or whatever else that might entail, I think we are all aware of the Tremblay case where the Quebec superior court held that the security fence erected at the Quebec summit was reasonable and justified and did not breach the charter of rights and freedoms. That is important because it underscores that the kind of planning and foresight which went into the security perimeter in Quebec City was in fact appropriate. More to the point, it withstood the test of the charter of rights and freedoms. That underscores the kind of good common sense that went into the planning of that particular summit.

Several years ago, in a case called Knowlton, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the establishment of a security perimeter at a hotel entrance during the official visit of the premier of the then U.S.S.R. was necessary and reasonable in light of the duty of the police to keep the peace.

Although some members of the House have described these amendments as vague, let me assure them that the terms “appropriate measures” and “reasonable in the circumstances” are well understood by the courts of the land. These are held to be those measures that the police believe they should and must do in order to ensure that an international conference can be carried out properly and safety, again in keeping with the values of Canada.

I would also like to emphasize that the security measures that these amendments authorize do not in any way restrict or infringe the rights that citizens enjoy under the charter of rights and freedoms. Those rights are guaranteed, as well they should be in a great democracy like Canada. They will be carried forward in a manner consistent with the wishes of Canadians wherever they live.

The police are and will continue to be liable for any excess use of force in managing the security at an international event. Moreover, any police measure that limits a charter right, such as freedom of expression or assembly, must be justifiable in a free and democratic society.

I mention those things because it is important to get on the record and to understand that there are certain obligations, rights and responsibilities that exist. In all cases we temper them in a tripod or three pronged lens. On the one hand, human rights. On the other hand, civil liberties. On the third side we have the whole issue of national security. These are fundamental lenses through which we look to see that all things are covered. I think it is in keeping with what we expect in our country.

I want to point out that Bill C-35 has amendments that fall into five broad categories. I think it is important to underscore these five, to get them on the record and to make sure that all members in the House present today understand the importance of what is being created here. Again, it is substantial, good legislation that is in keeping with commitments, not only in Canada but also on the international scene.

I want to point out that the amendments are needed to modernize the legislation, in order to comply with Canada's existing commitments under international treaties as well as to respond to important new developments in international law.

The exercise is simple. Canada is catching up with the new developments that are happening around the world. We are always modernizing. We are always making sure that we are in synchronization with other countries around the world, for example, by extending privileges and immunities to international inspectors employed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who come to Canada on temporary duty to carry out inspections under the chemical weapons convention. That is an example of how this will be used, how we need to bring our legislation into focus to enable us to make sure that is carried out and carried out appropriately. These amendments would enable the inspectors to import specialized technical equipment without paying customs duties.

In a broad category are those necessary to correct deficiencies in existing definition of international organizations. The existing definition covers only international organizations of a formal, institutionalized nature based on treaty, such as the United Nations and not more unconstructed intergovernmental organizations such as the G-8 or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Another broad example of this are those designed to provide clear statutory authority to support security measures necessary for the Canadian police to fulfill Canada's international obligations regarding the protection of persons who attend high level meetings held in Canada for international organizations.

Those needed to clarify the provision granting immunity from immigration restriction and alien registration override the Immigration Act provision that prohibits the entry to Canada of inadmissible persons but does not override the Crimes Against Humanities and War Crimes Act. That is important because it underscores Canada's commitment in this very important area in a manner keeping with all other laws and regulations that we have in this great country.

I have already addressed the housekeeping measures to correct technical inadequacies that have been identified since 1991 so I do not intend to go into those now.

We have a very proud history of ensuring the safety and security of people who attend meetings, international conferences and other events. Bill C-35 is an act that would enable us to carry on that proud tradition.

In light of the things that have happened since September 11, it is even more important to ensure that is in place. I think it is fair to say that we now live in a different environment as a result of those events. We need to move in a manner consistent with what has taken place knowing that we need to commit to our international obligations consistent with what Canada has been able to do in the past and consistent with the repeated requests by countries and organizations around the world to ensure that we carry on that great and proud tradition, something for which all members of the House and all Canadians can be very proud.

As the host of the G-8 next year, it will be important for Canada to clarify its authorities and statutes to ensure the proper functioning of the international conference again in a manner that I believe will benefit us all and make us proud.

We on this side of the House will continue to work very hard to ensure that we meet our international obligations and make the right decisions when it comes to safety and security. We will do so consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for which all Canadians are proud. We will do so by meeting our obligations under human rights and civil liberties knowing that those carrying out the security measures, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the police services that exist around and across Canada, will follow due process and the rule of law.

Foreign Missions And International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 3:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to further discuss Bill C-35 which would extend diplomatic immunity to a far broader number of people than is currently the case in our country and beyond the requirement of the Geneva convention on this subject.

It continues the government's tradition of extending far greater immunity to a member of the mission staff of another nation in Canada than is the case in most countries in the world with which we are allied. It puts far more people above the law when they come to Canada.

This bill deserves to be shredded. It is a bill that would restrict the rights of law abiding Canadians. It is one which the department wants to see in place for some unknown reason. It would extend immunity to potentially a vast crowd of foreigners who do not even work for embassies in our country.

As it quietly makes its way through the House it carries the mundane title of an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. It is anything but mundane in its effect.

Under the bill a delegate, official, staff member, family member or a bag carrier showing up for an international gathering would have diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity gives the person who comes here the right to rape, steal, drive drunk, and break Canadian laws without consequence and with impunity.

When a foreign affairs official was asked why this should be done, the comment was that we would not go through a list and say that this person can have immunity and that person cannot. The official further stated that if we give diplomatic privileges and immunities for a meeting then all participants we let in for that meeting will get in.

The same legislation gives the department the authority to issue special visas to conference delegates who might otherwise be barred from entering Canada. It puts interesting people such as known criminals not only in a position of being able to come into the country but of being able to break the laws without any consequence whatsoever.

The Canadian public is already sufficiently concerned by recent incidents involving law breaking diplomats that we do not need to add to the problem. I cannot understand how a government could possibly defend extending immunity to even more people when we have not even set up a mechanism to deal with the abuse of the current system.

There have been about 90 acts of suspected criminal misconduct by diplomats, their families and other personnel posted in Canada in the last five years. The worst case that comes to mind is that of the Russian diplomat accused of killing Ottawa lawyer Catherine MacLean last January while driving drunk.

These concerns were shared by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time who talked about getting tough on the issue. That has not been the case and the bill takes us in a direction quite contrary to the one that we should be going in.

The department has given a number of reasons as to why and some Liberals who participated in the debate, though very few, gave us some arguments which I would like to refute.

One member opposite stated that we must do this to keep up with our international allies. That is not the case. Research shows that our allies do not extend diplomatic immunity to the degree that we do in such a broad based way. They may extend immunity in part at times for some acts, for some responsibilities in the course of one's duties, but they do not give blanket immunity to people on mission staff, let alone people who visit their country for meetings.

The bill goes completely counter to the reality in the United Kingdom or the United States of America. To argue that we must do this to keep up with international trends is quite false.

Let us put that rumour to rest because there is no such international trend. It is quite the contrary. I would expect that since September 11 each of the countries in the western world would be taking a serious look at all aspects of security. This would be one of those aspects.

I would expect a tightening up of the security around international events when they are hosted, not an extension of blanket immunity to all who participate. The government's bill is completely out of touch with the reality of post-September 11. Frankly it is not really in touch with the reality of pre-September 11.

We are told we should support the bill because of the need for us to give reciprocity for Canadian diplomats abroad. It is suggested that we have to give blanket immunity to everyone who comes to Canada for a convention in order for our diplomats to be protected in other countries of the world. That is not true either.

There were only three incidents in the last several years where a Canadian member of a diplomatic mission was involved in any criminal activity whatsoever. Yet there were close to 40 times as many incidents where members of foreign delegations were involved in crime in Canada.

It is a specious argument to expect further immunity to be given and to create more problems when some problems have been clearly noted and not dealt with.

The argument that we need to have diplomatic immunity is a valid one. Diplomatic immunity is an old and well understood way of making sure that the diplomats who travel around the world are not beheaded when they give a message that the local ruler does not like. Rules governing diplomatic immunity are set out very clearly in the Vienna convention.

The Vienna convention was written back in 1961. Canada played a major role in the wording of the Vienna convention. We are not abiding by Canada's wording today. It says that complete diplomatic immunity is not given to any but the most senior diplomatic staff.

The government is not abiding by the Canadian compromise in the Vienna convention that was adopted in 1961. Our parameters are far more liberal as we go far beyond it.

Aristotle said, before Jesus Christ was born, that liberalism would grow until chaos reigns supreme. Some would argue such is the case today with regard to the policy of extending diplomatic immunity more broadly than is currently the case. We accept reciprocity for Canadian diplomats abroad to a degree. Such is the case today.

To accept that we must go further still and extend complete diplomatic immunity to people who come here for conventions and meetings of various kinds is of course illogical and not supported by the facts.

Another argument that is made by some is that the committee on scrutiny of regulations recommended that we adopt the bill. This is not the case. Those who are watching at home or who have been in the House much longer than I have know that the committee on scrutiny of regulations does not advocate for legislation to be adopted. It tells people when they are in violation of certain regulations and rules.

The committee on scrutiny of regulations has notified the Department of Foreign Affairs since 1991 that orders in council on the recommendation of the foreign affairs minister extending immunity to participants in international conferences were illegal. Each of the last four foreign ministers was notified of the problem.

The problem is not that we need legislation to legalize what is a questionable practice. The problem is that we have ministers who consistently adopt that questionable practice and need to stop. That is the problem.

Most Canadians, if they were privy to the facts as members of the House are, would question the adoption of legislation to legitimize this practice. The practice is totally illogical.

Passing the bill would legitimize the practice of extending diplomatic immunity to people who do not deserve it under the Vienna convention. It would give people the right to live above the law without consequence. That should not be done. It is totally wrong to do it. To suggest that the committee on scrutiny of regulations called for us to adopt it, as some have, is totally false and misleading. It is quite the contrary. What the committee pointed out was that the government was acting without regard to the law.

I question whether the bill should be adopted. It should not be adopted as a basis of fact because the scrutiny of regulations committee asked for it to be adopted. That is not true. The scrutiny of regulations committee does not advise the government on how to remedy problems which it identifies.

In this case the committee simply told the government that foreign delegates to international conventions were not to be among those included in the definition of who was eligible for immunity under current law.

The government has chosen to adapt the law to its practice when what it should do is adapt its practice to the law. What are the Liberals real reasons for doing this? I think they are two-fold. My colleagues in other parties have addressed some of them but I will certainly talk about just two very quickly.

I think the real reasons are tourism and a legacy. They want a legacy for the Prime Minister so he can be the senior statesman hosting a variety of meetings. That is nice. We are all proud of the fact that we can host meetings in this country.

However, the second is the tourism aspect. It is being suggested that we should pass this bill so we can attract more people to come to international conventions, and that is the other argument members opposite are making. The fact is we host many international meetings, more than our share, and Canadians pay the price for hosting them too.

The reality is that after September 11 the price for hosting international meetings has gone up because the security provisions that have to be taken are very costly. We have no trouble attracting international meetings. We just had the G-20 meetings here last weekend. We have the G-8 meetings coming to Kananaskis next year.

Over the last number of years, and increasingly so in recent months, we have had many other meetings where international diplomats, their families and entourages have come to Canada. Without telling them that they can come and be above the law, they come anyway. I would suggest they will continue to in the absence of this downright silly piece of legislation going forward because, as people at the American embassy told us in meetings we had with them, Canada has a reputation for being an excellent host to international events.

Today we do not need to tell people that they can come here and have no consequence under Canadian law for criminal acts in order to get them here. They come anyway. To suggest we need this as a tourism initiative is specious as well.

The arguments the Liberals make to advance this piece of legislation are specious arguments. They do not carry any significant weight.

Why are they putting this forward? Perhaps they are putting it forward so that a bigger category of people can be immune from criminal acts and therefore they can legitimize increasing the use of the RCMP at events. If that is the case, they should say so but no one has. Therefore, I cannot argue that that is their reason. I will not impugn their motives. However I do know that this seems to be the only legitimate motive that anyone can come up with when they read this legislation.

All of this would be just a fine little theoretical debate, if there were not consequences paid by Canadians for criminal acts by people who are given diplomatic immunity. The minister has said that it is an infrequent thing, that it rarely happens and so on. I will let Canadians be the judge of this, but in the last five years we have had close to 90 cases of crimes attributable to people given diplomatic immunity. That is more than one case per month where people have committed a criminal act and there has been no price or consequence to be paid. Each of those acts leaves at least one Canadian victim. We should be considering that.

In the past five years 13,000 foreign diplomats have been in Canada. If this bill is passed it would extend diplomatic immunity to visitors. I asked the department to estimate the number of people who would become eligible if this bill was adopted and it could not give me a number.

We can safely assume that the rate at which crimes are committed by people given diplomatic immunity will multiply the number of crimes because the number of people receiving it will have increased. Any basic student of psychology understands that when the consequences of an act are removed the likelihood of such an act is increased. When we remove the consequences of a criminal act from anyone, we must understand and accept the fact there will be an increased likelihood of conduct unbecoming. Such has been the case.

In Great Britain it took the event at a Libyan mission of people given diplomatic immunity before Britain woke up and said that it was ridiculous that it could not prosecute people when they murdered in its own country. During a protest in front of the mission, people were fired on and a British policeman was killed. Great Britain took a serious look at adopting measures, and did, restricting the bestowing of diplomatic immunity to people in its country.

Britain screened missions. It asked for lists in advance. It encouraged and successfully fought for the presence over the size of each mission to be relevant to the relations it had with that particular country. It exercised the controls it had to make sure that diplomatic immunity was not extended unnecessarily, without validity or without just reason or cause.

Exactly what they did in Great Britain, they are not doing here. In the United States the son of a Saudi diplomat raped a woman and then within an hour was released because he successfully claimed diplomatic immunity. He was followed to a bar where he bragged to his friends about his conduct. That is the reality of what happens when diplomatic immunity is given out like candy at Halloween. This government is proposing to do it again for people who visit Canada for meetings, and it is ridiculous.

Let us just chronicle these events because each of them has a Canadian victim. If the member opposite wants to speak to the families of those victims, I would encourage her to do that because I have. There have been five incidents involving Canadian diplomats in the same time period. She is fond of mentioning that we have to quid pro quo this and that if we limit in any way the extension of diplomatic immunity to people here that somehow our diplomats would be placed in great danger. There have been only five incidents where Canadian diplomatic people have violated the trust put in them by foreign countries in the last five years. There have been 90 incidents where people in Canada have violated that trust.

Let us talk about the victims for a second. Of these incidents: 19% involved impaired driving; 20% were assaults; 19% were sexual offences; and 5% involved shoplifting. There was an attempted bribery case. There was an attempted murder case. There was even a charge of keeping a common bawdy house. We cannot even prosecute people when we give diplomatic immunity to them.

There are 1,000 diplomatic households currently in Canada. Currently there are 8,000 people who qualify for diplomatic immunity. If we adopt this legislation, that number will escalate dramatically.

Next time an action is taken by someone who is given diplomatic immunity, there will be a consequence for a law-abiding Canadian person or family. When that happens, Canadians will ask what the government is doing about it, just as they did when Catherine MacLean was killed, and they should ask.

However, let us ask right now. Let us ask why we are extending this immunity more broadly than is currently the case, when the government has not taken a step to limit the harmful effects of diplomatic immunity, when people commit these acts.

During the five years before Mrs. MacLean's death, foreign diplomats in Canada have committed 76 criminal offences that we know of, including physical and sexual assaults and impaired driving. There were also instances of drug trafficking and smuggling of aliens. These are all serious crimes that constitute a danger for Canadians.

Diplomatic immunity was waived in just 3 cases out of 76, and Bill C-35 will make a bad situation even worse.

The reality seems to escape the members opposite.

I would like to move on and talk a little about the police power that we are expanding under the bill. This is something I know that concerns many people in the House. In fact a growing number of people on this side of the House, as they research the bill, have become more concerned about the powers of the police force and the implications that has for our country when increased powers are given to our police force without constraining the power of politicians to manipulate that same police force. That is the concern many people have.

The powers being granted to police forces in Bill C-35 run directly against the freedoms of all Canadians.

This bill tends to limit the right of Canadians to protest openly against initiatives they consider dangerous for them and those they want to protect.

It has allowed the RCMP to limit access to international events in order to protect participants. It is a flimsy argument to allow the RCMP to smother any protest to avoid offending foreign representatives.

This clause of the bill is contrary to the recommendation made in the Hughes report that protesters ought to have access to meeting sites.

I will read from recommendation 31.1.1 of the Hughes report, which states:

When the RCMP is called upon in future to police public order events the leadership of the Force should ensure, that: generous opportunity will be afforded for peaceful protesters to see and be seen in their protest activities by guests to the event...

Recommendation 31.3.1 states:

The RCMP should request statutory codification of the nature and extent of police independence from government with respect to:

  1. existing common law principles regarding law enforcement; and

  2. the provision of and responsibility for delivery of security services at public order events.

I will quote a small section of recommendation 31.3.2. which states:

--that (the RCMP) are to brook no intrusion or interference whatever from government officials as they meet the responsibilities of providing the agreed upon security services.

In short, what the Hughes' recommendations said was that the RCMP separation from politicians should be made clear. This act would do nothing about that. It ignores those recommendations and simply expands police involvement without limiting political intrusion, and this is wrong.

As well, the bill ignores the Hughes report recommendation that the RCMP be free of political influence by the Cabinet or the PMO.

The Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade defeated an amendment, which was supported by all members of the opposition, which would have made it an offence for there to be political interference into the affairs of the RCMP when international meetings were being held.

What is more, Bill C-35 makes it possible for the minister to unilaterally grant entry into Canada to delegates, regardless of their criminal background, and to put them above our laws, at the very moment Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill, is threatening the rights of Canadians.

At the present time it seems both unjustified and unjustifiable to give foreign delegates rights that are being taken away from honest Canadian citizens.

Oversight is a concern as well. Parliamentary oversight would be lessened by the passage of the bill. Parliamentary oversight is an important principle we should support in Canada.

In the amendments proposed under the bill adjacent to this one, the anti-terrorist legislation Bill C-36, the minister has agreed to file annual reports when police forces expand their powers and use additional powers which may restrict the civil liberties of Canadians.

In other words the minister has agreed to give parliament a greater opportunity to debate and be aware of the concerns Canadians would justifiably have that the liberties they treasure are being infringed on unnecessarily. That is wise.

We proposed in the adjacent Bill C-35 that the minister file an annual report on the criminal conduct of people given diplomatic immunity in our country. He has promised to do this but has not. The Liberal majority on the committee defeated the amendment, which gives the lie to the minister's commitment and promise. That is too bad. It is a shame. I would hope if the minister were there he would have risen in his place and urged his colleagues to vote for the amendment.

Right now in terms of oversight we use the Immigration Act. In the current process the Immigration Act allows the minister to sign a certificate and let people come in who otherwise would not be admissible to Canada. The minister must report to parliament each year and say who was let in who would not have been let in, in any other way. That way parliament gets to know what is happening and to debate it.

Bill C-35 would transfer responsibility to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and remove the requirement to report to parliament. That is a shame because this is who will be let in when we sign the certificate.

We would not just be letting them in. Let us understand that. We would be giving them diplomatic immunity. That means we would let in these kinds of folks and tell them they could do whatever they want when they came here. We could not prosecute them. They could do anything they want. These are people whom we would not normally allow into Canada but the minister would be allowed to let them in.

I will quote from the act. It describes inadmissible persons as:

(e) persons who there are reasonable grounds to believe

(i) will engage in acts of espionage or subversion against democratic government, institutions or processes, as they are understood in Canada,

(ii) will, while in Canada, engage in or instigate the subversion by force of any government,

(iii) will engage in terrorism, or

(iv) are members of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe will

(A) engage in acts of espionage or subversion against democratic government, institutions or processes, as they are understood in Canada--

Normally such people are not admissible to Canada and I think Canadians would say hear, hear. Bill C-35 would allow the minister to let them in with a signature. More than that, it would let the minister give them permission to be above Canadian law.

The government does not want to make it a crime for people to belong to a terrorist organization. That we understand. However to suggest the minister should have the right to let in people who he knows are members is another thing.

The bill would go further. It would not only say we have the right to let in people we know are members of organizations like that. It would allow the minister to say they do not need to abide by our laws while they are here. I can see that even you, Mr. Speaker, are in total agreement with me on this point.

It could be justifiably argued that people who engage in these kinds of activities should not be allowed into our country. This is blanketed by the more popular and current Bill C-36. If Canadians were part of the debate they would ask why in heaven's name the government would let a bunch of people into Canada who would not abide by our laws when we already have a problem with the ones who do. They would say we should not let in these types of people.

I will again quote from the act. It describes as inadmissible:

(g) persons who there are reasonable grounds to believe will engage in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada--

(j) persons who there are reasonable grounds to believe have committed an offence referred to in any of the sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act--

(l) persons who are or were senior members of or are senior officials in the service of a government that is or was, in the opinion of the Minister, engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or any act or omission that would be an offence under any of sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act--

Bill C-35 would remove these provisions. It would essentially say the minister has the right to let any of these people into the country that he wants. That makes no sense. It is hard not to get a little fired up about my opposition to the bill. Many of the people I talk to say it is so illogical it is no wonder I am fired up about it.

Catherine MacLean and her friend Catherine Doré went out for a walk in their neighbourhood 10 months ago. They went out for a walk on a nice winter morning. Around the corner came a car driven by a drunk. The drunk killed Catherine MacLean and seriously injured Catherine Doré who is still trying to recuperate.

The consequences of that act are nothing to the government. It has brought forward a piece of legislation which does nothing to address the problem. It would simply make it bigger. That is thoughtlessness. It disregards and disrespects the memory of Catherine MacLean. I am disappointed that the government would proceed with this legislation.

When Catherine MacLean went for her walk she could not have anticipated the consequences, but we could have. We knew the Russian diplomat was a drunk driver. We knew it. We knew it twice before and we still did nothing. We knew it after the fact. It is to the credit of the foreign affairs critic at the time that he raised the issue intelligently and forcefully. I thank him for doing that.

It is not enough to say we now have new protocols. The department has said it has new protocols. People would get one chance for drunk driving and the second time they would be out. That is fine. We will deal with the consequences of drunk driving after the fact. Is that the best we can do? I do not think so.

We can do better. We can develop foresight. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are committed to repeat their mistakes. The reality is that we should know better.

We saw what happened when we did not inform the House of the consequences of these acts. Now we are going in the wrong direction. We will not inform the House of whom we let into the country. If we adopt the act we will not inform the House of violations that occur. We will not know about drunk driving because the government will not have to report it to us. That is wrong.

I feel badly for Catherine MacLean. I feel badly that I have to raise this issue. However the government is ignoring the consequences of actions like that with the legislation it has brought forward. We all know and should know that the best way the government could have acted was to deal with the problems around diplomatic immunity and not bring forward a piece of legislation that expands the problems.

A better thing would have been to do nothing. Nothing at all would have been better than bringing this piece of legislation to the House.

Do hon. members know what happened when Mr. Knyazev, the Russian diplomat that killed Catherine MacLean and seriously injured Catherine Doré? The Russian people demanded an apology. The Russian embassy demanded an apology from the Canadian government for trying to hold the man. They got it. They got an apology.

We asked the Russians to waive diplomatic immunity. They refused. I say good for the minister for asking, but would it not be better if we did not have to ask? Would it not be better if we made sure through foresight and preparedness that these kinds of things did not happen again? Would that not be a lot better? Would it not be better for Catherine MacLean's family if we showed respect for her and acted accordingly?

There were two young teenage girls whom a Ukrainian diplomat tried to accost into his car with an anesthetic soaked rag. We could not charge him either. Would it not be better for the victims of these people if we could do something about it? We can. We can throw this bill in the garbage where it belongs.

When Catherine MacLean died, the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed sympathy and said that diplomatic immunity should not be used to shelter people who commit crimes that are not connected to the performance of their duties.

The minister said at the time that he had no sympathy for people who commit these acts outside the realm of their responsibilities. Yet immunity was given. The reality is that immunity is given by the government in a broad based way, not just to senior diplomats but to computer programmers and chauffeurs.

The minister promised several things. He promised he would look at the issue but there is no evidence he has. He promised he would put on the departmental website a complete list of all the violations. We have not seen it. He promised he would present quarterly updates of cases where diplomatic immunity was violated. That has not happened. There has been a litany of broken promises on this file. That disappoints me.

We all understand and respect that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has a tremendous burden to bear right now. However we cannot allow this piece of legislation to move forward and make him break his word to Catherine MacLean and her family just because his attention is elsewhere. That would be wrong.

We asked government members to consider a number of reasonable and thoughtful amendments. We asked that it be made an offence for government representatives to influence or instruct police on operational matters around protest sites at international meetings. They should not do this. The Hughes inquiry clearly spelled that out. It is against the best interests of the RCMP to impugn its motives and integrity. It should not be done.

We asked that the minister account to parliament for any foreign representatives he admits who would not be admissible under the Immigration Act. In other words, we asked that he tell us in a report whom he is letting into the country who would normally not be allowed in.

We asked that the minister be prohibited from granting immunity for criminal acts beyond what is required under the Vienna convention. To put it simply, we asked that he comply with the Vienna convention but go no further. All these amendments were rejected.

We asked that immunity be restricted for representatives at conferences. We asked that they not be given immunity except when it applied to the normal course of their duties. Giving them that degree of protection would comply with what the minister said he would like to see after Catherine MacLean's death. It would comply with what the Vienna convention says about the issue. It would comply with what our allies do, if they go that far at all. Many of our allies do not give immunity to people who come for international meetings.

My colleague from Cumberland--Colchester proposed a reasonable and well thought out amendment. I congratulate him on it. His amendment would have allowed the minister to keep his promise by publishing quarterly reports of crimes committed by those who are given immunity. It was a thoughtful amendment. We supported it as did every non-governmental member of the committee. The government of course used its majority to defeat the member's thoughtful and reasonable amendment.

There are some key reasons Bill C-35 must be defeated. First, Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill, contradicts Bill C-35. Bill C-35 would restrict the rights of Canadians and put foreign representatives above the law. At the same time Bill C-36 tells Canadians they should be willing to sacrifice their liberties and rights to be more secure.

Benjamin Franklin said some years ago that those who are willing to sacrifice security for liberty deserve neither and put both at risk. That is what we are doing here. Allowing the government to extend to people from other countries the right to come here and place themselves above the law would be a serious error in judgment.

Second, Bill C-35 would remove accountability. It would remove the reporting requirements from the government. It would remove the transparency from the bill that is there now which requires the immigration minister to report to the House when exceptions are made in giving people the right to come into the country. We need to have that kind of transparency. We need to know when those kinds of decisions are made by the government.

The government acts as arrogant majorities sometimes do. It acts as if it will always be arrogant and a majority. It may always be arrogant but it will not always be a majority. It needs to understand that the decisions it makes today are decisions which the country will have to continue to pay the price for.

The third key here is that we put Canadian security at risk. We know this when we let undesirable people into the country. We have done that. We already have an immigration department which is certainly under attack. Within the Liberal caucus I am sure there are some thoughtful members who have pointed out in closed door sessions the lack of integrity of the current system in terms of the loopholes, the way in which it encourages people to come into the country who should not be permitted in. It allows people to enter the country and escape detection thereafter. Those kinds of undesirable people should not be allowed into the country. Most important, they should not be put above our laws.

That is exactly what this bill does. It was out of step with global trends even before September 11 but it is especially now. Most of all, it is an insult to all the victims and their families of diplomats' crimes in the country. In particular it is an insult to the memory of Catherine MacLean.

I now propose an amendment to the bill. I move:

That Bill C-35, an Act to Amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, not now be read a third time, but be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for further consideration of clause 5, with due respect being given to recommendations 31.3.1 and 31.3.2 of the Interim Report of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, which call for greater independence of the RCMP from political influence; for further consideration of clause 3, with due respect being given to the view expressed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs that diplomatic immunity ought to apply only to acts committed in the course of diplomatic duties; and for further consideration of clause 3, with due respect being given to the principle that any admission into Canada of foreign representatives who would normally be inadmissible under Section 19 of the Immigration Act due to having engaged in, or being likely to engage in acts of violence, subversion, terrorism, crimes against humanity, and offences under the Criminal Code of Canada ought to be reported to Parliament; and, for further consideration of clause 2, with due consideration being given to the need for increased national security measures in consequence of the events of September 11.

Foreign Missions And International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2001 / 3:35 p.m.
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Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberalfor the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved: that Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, be read the third time and passed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 21st, 2001 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on the subject matter of Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

Anti-terrorism LegislationOral Question Period

November 21st, 2001 / 3 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago the Prime Minister said that the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Industry are sitting together so they can communicate well. I wonder if he could say the same thing for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the attorney general who also sit together.

Last night the attorney general amended Bill C-36 to include annual reports. Would she lean over and explain to the Minister of Foreign Affairs why annual reports are good and why he should apply the same amendment to Bill C-35?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 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 report stage of Bill C-35. The question is on Motion No. 2.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / noon
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Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-35. We know of cases involving the abuse of diplomatic immunity that have occurred in Canada and in other countries. In fact incidents have occurred in D.C. where diplomats have abused the privilege of diplomatic immunity to escape punishment and justice for crimes they committed. There is a growing recognition of the problems inherent in diplomatic immunity as applied now.

The notion of expanding the definition of diplomatic immunity to a broader category of individuals who are not necessarily diplomats but are involved in organizations and NGOs with fairly loose connections with government is deeply concerning.

Very little accountability is provided by a loose arrangement between a foreign NGO and that country's government. It will be very difficult for Canadian authorities to ask foreign governments to ensure that justice is done when individuals belonging to a non-government organization or some loose organization based in countries represented in Canada fall on the wrong side of the law.

We have not been successful in Canada in forcing foreign governments to actually ensure that justice is done when their government employees, diplomats or foreign service officers are found to have violated Canadian law. In some cases they have taken Canadian lives through their unlawful actions. The idea of expanding this immunity to a group that is less accountable to a foreign government and as such to Canadian authorities is absolutely wrongheaded.

The juxtaposition of the legislation with the proposed anti-terrorist legislation which would reduce Canadian civil liberties is telling because the government has a history at times of reducing the rights of individual Canadians, whether it is reducing the rights and privileges of parliamentarians or using extraordinary force such as that used at the Apex summit in Vancouver. In that case the government was trying to protect what it perceived to be the rights of foreign dictators, particularly at that point President Suharto of Indonesia.

In a foreign policy context the notion of engagement is that we should engage people like Suharto and governments like that of Indonesia in a dialogue such that we can teach them something about democracy, free market principles, freedoms and the principles we treasure in our democratic society of Canada.

Instead of our teaching Suharto something about democracy and freedom, what happened in Vancouver is that he taught the Canadian government a great deal about oppression and taking inordinate and extraordinary steps to crush legitimate protest. In times past I think the government has proceeded with policies that were not consistent with the principles of democratic freedom we value in Canada.

Clearly the legislation is wrongheaded. We cannot move further in the wrong direction. The government ought to be considering ways to ensure that we do not see any further loss of life and damage to Canadian families and property as a result of diplomatic immunity. Instead it is going in exactly the opposite direction and that is clearly wrong.

There is a role for Canada to play in a time as increased levels of demand exist for multilateral efforts on criminal issues. The notion of an international court and of greater powers, not just simply national powers, but authority transcends borders. In time we will see an increased level of pressure, even from countries like the U.S. which has traditionally been opposed to the growth of multilateral, multinational bodies in areas, for instance, of a world court.

As the U.S. becomes more multilateral and more supportive of multilateral efforts, for instance now in the war against terrorism, we may see some movement toward a greater level of international law and a judicial system that will be less nationally based and more multilaterally based, and these issues will become less germane.

Right now, until we have the ability through international law and through an international court system to ensure justice is done, we need defend the sanctity of our domestic laws and our domestic judicial system. Until we can do that in the current context, the idea of providing expanded levels of diplomatic immunity to a broader category of individuals, who would be less accountable to their foreign governments, is absolutely wrong. I certainly hope the government will see this prior to the passage of the legislation.

I am certain if Canadians at large were aware of what the legislation had the capacity to do, there would be overwhelming opposition to the it. It is going in the wrong direction and is worsening an already bad situation.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11:50 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I share many of the same concerns my colleagues have mentioned already on Bill C-35. As it made its way through parliament, as my colleague from Cumberland--Colchester mentioned, the bill seemed rather innocuous at first. However when we take a look at it we realize some of the outstanding contradictions in the bill as compared to Bill C-36. My friend from Surrey North mentioned that in his speech. Others have mentioned it as well, and I agree.

The government has quietly attempted to extend diplomatic immunity and privileges to a whole host of new foreign visitors that would come to Canada to attend international conferences. Special visitor visas would supercede the immigration minister's power to allow potential visitors with a criminal past to come to Canada. They could otherwise be refused entry because of a criminal record.

I have to ask this question. Is this intended to take the heat off the minister of immigration? It seems this clause supercedes the issuance of a special permit.

When I was on the immigration committee for two years we had all kinds of debates on issues about the whole idea of issuing a special permit to an individual who would come from abroad.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I read Bill C-35 and was astonished to see what was written. I thought the bill was a response by the Government of Canada to the horrific crime which took place about a year ago when Catherine MacLean was run down by a Russian diplomat in Ottawa. He had apparently been on some recreational trip and on his way home ran two people down. One died. The other was severely injured and I understand will remain so for the rest of her life. It was a tragic event. The Russian was sent home. No charges were laid. He claimed diplomatic immunity. I thought that Canadians said there should be no diplomatic immunity for someone conducting himself in such a manner outside his responsibilities.

Going back to the concept of diplomatic immunity, it was created to enable countries to dialogue with each other without locking people up and throwing them in prison. We developed the convention that diplomats are immune in order that they may represent their governments to the host government where they reside. In this modern day, we are quite prepared to maintain diplomatic immunity when doing the job, but when Canadian laws are broken to the extent that the Russian diplomat broke the law, there should be repercussions. I thought I was going to find it in this bill.

What did I find? I found that the minister has extended diplomatic immunity to other people. He has not restricted diplomatic immunity to people who are living in this country and representing their nation to the Canadian government. At the beginning of the bill diplomatic immunity has been extended. Clause 1.(1) on page 1 states in part:

“International organization” means an intergovernmental organization, whether or not established by treaty, of which two or more states are members, and includes an intergovernmental conference in which two or more states participate.

I have heard my colleagues talk about not letting anyone in simply because someone wants to attend a conference. That is not representing one government to the Canadian government. That is not being a diplomat. Why should they expect diplomatic immunity? They are coming here enjoying our hospitality while hopefully participating in a conference. There was a conference down the street just last week with all kinds of demonstrators and so on.

When diplomatic immunity is extended to people who want to participate in a conference held in Canada, that goes way beyond the fundamental concept of diplomatic immunity, including extending that privilege to ambassadors, even though we may be at war and in a hostile environment where they can come and speak without fear of arrest while doing their jobs. It should never allow people to come into Canada and while drunk run down women and children and think they can get off scot-free. It should never, ever be that way.

The bill on page 2, line 20, states “representatives of a foreign state that is a member of”--and these are the new words--“or participates in” an international organization shall, to the extent specified be entitled to more privileges.

I started thinking. As we all know, the world's most wanted man today is Osama bin Laden. If he wants to participate in an international conference in Canada, he can walk right in, say “Hi, folks”, and we cannot touch him. Is that what we really want? Do we want crooks, criminals and people on the world's most wanted list to be granted diplomatic immunity not because they want to represent the government and speak on someone's behalf but because they want to participate in a conference in Canada? I cannot believe what I am reading in the bill. The Minister of Foreign Affairs says that out of the goodness of his heart, he will report to the House of Commons periodically if he is so inclined.

Where is it in the legislation? It is not there. Therefore the bill is being presented to the House of Commons and to the Canadian people under the false pretense of protecting Canadians from drunk diplomats running them down. It is not that at all.

We will now extend diplomatic immunity to anybody coming into Canada on a government passport who is here on a government mission. I cannot believe it. I do not think I have much else to say.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11:40 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this legislation, although it is difficult to comprehend the logic of the government.

Bill C-35 is an insult to the victims of crimes perpetrated by foreign diplomats or their staff in Canada. In all fairness, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has done good work on the terrorism file. I simply do not understand what he can be thinking by insisting that the legislation become law. Many of the proposed changes in Bill C-35 are best suited for the shredder.

While I understand that the Vienna convention requires that certain immunities are necessary in order to maintain diplomatic relations with other countries, the proposals in Bill C-35 go far beyond what is necessary. It opens up an even larger possibility for crimes committed in Canada by foreign nationals protected by diplomatic immunity to go unpunished. This is not acceptable to Canadians and I am sure the minister knows it.

The most recent example of diplomatic immunity gone awry was when a Russian diplomat who allegedly was driving drunk killed Catherine MacLean. At the time the minister rightly said that he felt immunity should not apply to the Russian as the offence had nothing to do with his duties as a diplomat. The minister promised to study ways to prevent such abuses of immunity in the future. Instead he is ensuring that the possible abuse of diplomatic immunity will be extended to anyone coming into Canada for an international conference, including support staff. These people currently are not covered by immunity and therefore are subject to Canadian laws.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade reported recently that there have been 76 crimes listed as having involved foreign diplomats. The charges include such serious offences as sexual assault, assault, impaired driving, impaired driving causing death, alien smuggling, and drug trafficking to list just a few. These are not petty crimes. These are crimes for which Canadians and especially their victims expect to see justice carried out. Only three of the 76 cases had their diplomatic immunity waived. This means that 73 of these crimes saw no justice whatsoever.

Bill C-35 puts even more foreign representatives above Canadian law, thereby increasing the potential for abuse of immunity in the future. This cannot possibly be what the minister intends, so why not allow for changes to the legislation in order to ensure that justice can be carried out? Perhaps the minister should put himself in the shoes of the victims for a few minutes just to experience justice denied.

I find it shocking that Bill C-35 will give the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade a blank cheque to allow foreign representatives into Canada without proper security screening. Department officials and the minister will have free rein to allow anyone they want into the country with absolutely no accountability to parliament or to the Canadian public. With the simple stroke of a pen, an official will be able to allow foreign nationals possessing criminal backgrounds, human rights abuses or terrorist ties into Canada.

In the current post-September 11 climate the government is moving to restrict the rights of Canadians with Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation. It is mind-boggling that at that same time the same government is moving to allow potentially dangerous foreign nationals into Canada without any checks and balances. As it currently stands, when foreign diplomats seek entry into Canada for the purpose of a diplomatic function or an international conference, they are subject to our immigration laws. Individuals found to be inadmissible currently are required to ask the minister of immigration for a special permit. At the end of each year, parliament has the opportunity to scrutinize the number of permits issued, thereby establishing a degree of accountability, albeit a very small degree of accountability.

With Bill C-35 in place, Canadians will never know who is being allowed into the country. Even worse, if a visitor commits a crime, he or she virtually is guaranteed not to face Canadian justice. It is long past time for Canada simply to stop sitting at international trade tables with countries and leaders that perpetrate serious human rights abuses and condone acts of terrorism.Yet the Minister of Foreign Affairs is giving himself and his department carte blanche to invite whomever they please to come to Canada with little, if any, security considerations.

Furthermore the legislation will ensure that foreign despots will be spared from embarrassment by protesters. It is simply wrong for the government to extend diplomatic immunity beyond what international convention requires. It is wrong for the minister to be able to forgo our immigration laws to invite the likes of President Suharto and shield him from criticism. Is it so awful that someone like Suharto occasionally is reminded of his deeds?

I am discouraged to see that the government seemingly has learned nothing from the APEC experience in 1996. The legislation actually contradicts the Hughes report which recommended that “generous opportunity...for peaceful protesters to see and to be seen...by guests of the event”.

This legislation creates not only the authority but also the obligation for the government and the RCMP to repeat the 1996 APEC performance. Canada needs to lead by example by allowing Canadians not only to dissent peacefully but also to be seen by those they are demonstrating against.

Bill C-35 expressly states that our country should protect the dignity of foreign representatives. I suggest that if a foreign dictator comes to Canada, it is only his guilty conscience that would be troubled by peaceful protesters reminding him of his actions, not his dignity.

The advancement of Canadian values is supposedly the third pillar of Canada's foreign affairs policy according to the department. I fail to see how giving the minister a free hand to invite criminals into the country, how giving the police a blank cheque to restrict the movements of Canadians while at the same time failing to prevent government interference with police matters, advances Canadian values.

Diplomatic considerations such as the granting of immunity should never be allowed to override security considerations. Permission for individuals to enter Canada should remain entirely separate from the process of granting diplomatic immunity to foreign diplomats.

In conclusion, the government should not extend immunity from the criminal code beyond the requirements of international law and convention. The bill is deceitful. The Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act is not the appropriate place to legislate new statutory powers and responsibilities for the RCMP or to give the foreign minister new powers to override the Immigration Act.

The government is trying to slip these major changes through parliament by hiding them in an innocuous-looking act surrounded by mundane housekeeping provisions. No press release accompanied the tabling of the bill. No legislative summary or explanation was provided. The government is rushing the bill through the House to avoid scrutiny.

The Canadian Alliance has scrutinized Bill C-35 and as the official opposition we have highlighted the failures of this legislation. I hope the minister will heed our recommendations and do what is right by reconsidering some of the draconian powers being enacted by the bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11:30 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the report stage debate on Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. I am opposed to the bill not only because the premise is flawed but because its best before date expired 10 years ago.

Following September 11 trends regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity are headed toward restricting access rather than enlarging it. Bill C-35 would extend immunity far beyond what many other countries grant diplomats. Bill C-35 and Bill C-36 clearly contradict one another. Bill C-35 would render foreign diplomats above the law with a minister's permit. Bill C-36 would impose broad limits on the rights of law abiding Canadians.

Bill C-35 would allow the foreign affairs minister to overrule the immigration minister if he believed there was good reason for allowing foreign delegates into the country. This could mean foreign delegates guilty of criminal offences or terrorist attacks would be allowed into the country if the foreign minister thought it would further Canada's interest.

This shows that the government's priorities are confused and contradictory. Like many others I am left wondering where they are going.

Bill C-35 and Bill C-36 show that the government is headed madly off in all directions. Together they illustrate the inconsistency of the government which acts one way internationally and another way domestically. Internationally it promotes the image of Canada as an open society. At home it curtails the freedom of Canadians.

Returning to my first point, the staff of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations pointed out in 1991 that the external affairs minister's orders to extend immunity to delegates at intergovernmental conferences were illegal since these conferences were technically not international organizations. One proposed remedy was to redefine the meaning of international organization to include multilateral conferences.

During a 10 year letter writing campaign the minister in question indicated the willingness of the government to co-operate with the request of the committee in due course. The course was a long and tortured one but the government finally developed the will to act.

Bill C-35 is the result of 10 years' worth of pressure by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. Instead of being too little too late, the bill is too much too late. September 11 irreversibly altered the foundations of foreign policy debate. Viewed through this prism Bill C-35 is no longer appropriate to today's increased security needs.

The DFAIT report issued in May of this year stated that 90 crimes involving foreign diplomats in Canada were reported in the last five years. These included human smuggling, narcotics trafficking, impaired driving and sexual assaults. Bill C-35 would extend the same immunity abused by Knyazev, the Russian diplomat who killed Catherine MacLean while driving drunk, to an unknown number of people. It is still government practice to extend blanket immunity to support staff who are not entitled to it under the Vienna convention.

We are already losing our traditional role of diplomatic leadership in the international arena. For example, American officials have already said Bill C-35 would never fly in their country since it would extend diplomatic immunity further than they would be comfortable with.

We all remember the APEC conference in 1996 where protesters were pepper sprayed to save the Prime Minister from embarrassment. Nor has anyone forgotten how the government tried to make a scapegoat out of an RCMP sergeant for the whole incident. Rather than raise further embarrassment at meetings of the G-8, G-20, IMF, World Bank and so on, the Prime Minister is trying to ram the bill through as quickly as possible.

Bill C-35 would continue the government's habit of passing the buck to law enforcement. Not only has the government slashed its net financial commitment to the nation's police force. It is trying to enshrine in law additional responsibilities for officers who are already overworked and stretched to the limit.

Recently the Canadian Police Association said the government was playing a shell game with the security of Canadians. It said when it comes to security at our borders and airports Canadians should not be lulled into a false sense of security. It said the RCMP must steal from Peter to pay Paul. In countries like Australia and New Zealand the authority of police has been enshrined into the common law. Why not in Canada?

On a number of occasions I have pointed out shady dealings at our foreign missions. In dealing with foreign missions the bill has not addressed fraud and corruption. Our security begins at our foreign missions abroad because they screen people before they enter Canada. They are our first line of defence. However there is nothing in the bill that deals with the issue.

In light of this some RCMP officers and immigration officers who blew the whistle were crucified by the government and the investigation was covered up. Today at 12.30 p.m., about an hour from now, I will be hosting a presentation on whistleblowing in room 200 of the West Block. I invite all members as well as those who are watching to join us.

On another point, the roles of hundreds of international organizations and Canada's membership in them remain unaddressed in the bill. We the opposition members on the foreign affairs committee introduced excellent amendments that would have made it possible for me to support the bill. Some of the amendments sought to insulate the RCMP from political interference, limit the scope of the immunity of delegates and publicize cases where diplomatic immunity was invoked by foreign dignitaries.

The minister promised to post quarterly reports of crimes by diplomats on the DFAIT website but that has not been done. The Liberals voted against an amendment that would have entrenched the minister's promise into law.

The Liberals also ignored the recommendation of the Hughes report after the APEC inquiry that the independence of the RCMP and its role in providing security at international conferences be clarified in law. The government majority on the committee voted down those amendments.

The amendments would clearly have improved the legislation and could have helped smooth the passage of Bill C-35 through the House. Instead of fixing the hole in the fence or at least closing the gap the government seems determined to make it even bigger.

Bill C-35 would hide and neglect important and significant measures. I therefore register my vote to oppose it.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11:20 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

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

Before I start, I would like to say that, in general, diplomatic immunity that is given to diplomats is well upheld by the diplomats who live in this country. There have been incidents of one or two that have cast a bad light on the diplomatic community but overall the diplomats who represent their countries in Ottawa, who on many occasions I have had the pleasure of meeting, are very dedicated people working for the benefit of their country and good relations between Canada and their country. It has always been a pleasure meeting them. I do not think anything that we say here today should in any way reflect the excellent work they have been doing over here.

I wonder whether the bill was brought here as an aftermath of the APEC fallout in Vancouver. I am surprised our government would take this route after what happened in Vancouver when Canadians tried to hold a legitimate protest against certain diplomatic visitors and heads of states from other countries. Canadians do have freedom of speech and they have every right to protest.

What I do not understand in the bill is the rationale. Why would the government create a bill that would give it open authority to bring people into this country from any part of the world whether we agree or not? Is it because we want to show to the world that Canada welcomes anyone who wants to attend conferences here?

The bill would allow the Minister of Foreign Affairs to override the requirement of foreign representatives, who may or may not have criminal records, to come into this country and claim immunity protection against our laws.

Our laws are made after a tremendous amount of debate in parliament and in committees and here we are now extending this immunity to individuals who are coming over here for conferences at the whim of the foreign affairs minister.

To me the bill is being sent silently through parliament without debate. Most Canadians do not even know what repercussions the bill would have. I am sure the government is aware that there is a heavy degree of concern, which is why the press secretary said that the government would use the website to put out information and put more transparency into the bill so it will become more acceptable to the Canadian people.

From the record of the government we can see that transparency is not enshrined in the bill. The bill would still allow the government to do what it wants or does not want.

What happened in Vancouver and the subsequent inquiry that took place should never have happened. Millions of dollars went down the tube in trying to understand whether there was interference from the PMO's office. This inquiry would have never taken place if Canadians had been allowed to protest as they are allowed to do under Canadian law.

The other issue concerns the government's decision to grant broad based immunity to individuals coming into this country who represent their governments. We will have no control over who comes into the country. Governments can send representatives of their choice, and rightly so, but what control do we have over that? We have none.

The government does not like taking action. The bill does not promote Canadian values and I can say without any doubt that it will not sit well with the Canadian public. It would give the Minister of Foreign Affairs the power to bring anyone into Canada and override the laws we have created and put in place to protect Canadians. There does not seem to be any sense of rationale.

If we find individuals are not acceptable to come to Canada because of their past records all we have to do is advise their governments that their representatives may not be allowed into the country. What is wrong with that? Why are we not taking that route? We are instead taking a route where the minister signs a waiver and lets the individual come into Canada. It does not make any sense.

It is becoming difficult to support the bill. I do not know how far we can go with this. We are holding international conferences here and we have seen a lot of people making protests. Some of them make legitimate protests but others take the violent route and we use our laws to stop them.

This is a far fetched scenario, but considering the road the government is going down we will soon have demands from NGOs and others asking for protection when they come here as well. I hope the government does not go that route. However in looking at the bill I do not have much faith in the government.

I listened to my colleague in the NDP. We in the Canadian Alliance find it difficult to support the bill for many of the reasons we have stated. What happened in Vancouver at the APEC conference is still fresh in the minds of Canadians. An inquiry was held to find out if there was any interference from the PMO. Nothing in the bill gives us confidence that there will be no political interference in demonstrations.

What was the real rationale for the government to introduce the bill? I do not think the real rationale was to stop people from coming into Canada. Perhaps the real rationale was to enable the government to control protesters so they do not become an embarrassment.

I have travelled on behalf of Canada with the minister to many international conferences. In general terms there is no need for this kind of bill. There is no need for these draconian measures at all. We should be careful.

After September 11 the anti-terrorist bill was introduced. Now we have a concern about the civil liberties we are debating here. Bill C-35 would override that and extend blanket immunity. That is where the problem arises for us. We in my party will have a difficult time supporting the bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the name of my colleagues of the NDP to support the amendment moved by the hon. member for Mercier to delete clause 5 from Bill C-35.

I am very happy that the hon. member for Mercier has moved this amendment, in the name of the Bloc Quebecois, because clause 5 of the bill is very dangerous. I remember that during the second reading debate of this bill, I tried to underline the fundamental importance of this clause. I was against the bill. I said it was an attack against the democratic values of Canada, an attack against democracy itself.

My Bloc Quebecois colleagues had indicated that they would support the bill. I hope that now, after hearing the evidence in committee, they realize that the bill is dangerous. If the government refuses to delete clause 5, I hope that all the members will vote against Bill C-35.

I thank the member for Mercier, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Bloc Quebecois, for bringing forward the motion that is now before the House. When we look at the provisions in the clause which is now before the House, we recognize how profoundly dangerous it is.

We heard compelling evidence in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in particular from two independent witnesses. We heard from William Sloan, the president of the American Association of Jurists from Quebec, and from Wesley Pue, a respected professor from the University of British Columbia. Both of them highlighted the dangers of clause 5.

Other provisions of the legislation also raised grave questions, one being the sweeping extension of diplomatic immunity to a whole range of people who are in Canada only for a very limited period of time. They come in for a conference, perhaps only involving two or three governments, and they are given the full range of diplomatic immunity. We certainly heard strong evidence against that in the committee.

When we look at the tragic impact of that sweeping diplomatic immunity and the failure to enforce criminal law in the area of drunk driving that led to the death of an Ottawa woman who was out walking her dog one morning, we recognize surely that we do not want to be expanding in any way those kinds of immunities. If anything, we want to make sure we tighten considerably the opportunity to avail one's self of those immunities.

My colleague from Joliette has read the provisions of clause 5 of the bill. We were assured by the officials that we did not have to worry about this clause because all it would do is codify the existing provisions governing police powers.

However, during the course of the committee hearings, it very quickly became clear that was not the case at all; it was a sweeping and dangerous extension of police powers. Why on earth would we want to extend those powers when we look at the serious abuses that have already taken place because of the existing powers of the police?

My colleague from Winnipeg--Transcona raised this issue yesterday in the context of the so-called anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-36, which is seeking sweeping new powers for the police. He asked a question and he asked it eloquently. He wanted to know why we should be accepting the demands of the Minister of Justice for these sweeping new powers when we have seen such abuses of the existing powers.

We do not have to look back very far for evidence of those abuses. We saw it at APEC, in Windsor and in Quebec City: over 900 rubber bullets and over 5,000 tear gas canisters, many of them used against peaceful, non-violent protestors who were simply exercising their rights as Canadians under the charter of rights to speak out against the impact of corporate globalization.

Just this past weekend we saw it here in Ottawa. I was appalled at the scenes I witnessed on television of police officers, not all police officers but of a number of police officers who waded into a crowd of some 2,000 peaceful, non-violent protestors who were peacefully marching on Saturday morning from LeBreton Flats up to the Supreme Court of Canada. A number of police officers waded into the crowd, arrested people with some sort of preventive arrest based on what they looked like and, in some cases, sicced German Shepherd dogs on those people.

This abuse of police power was shameful and undemocratic. Why on earth would we want to codify in the sweeping form of clause 5 those kinds of powers in the context of international conferences?

Having heard the evidence, I was very pleased that at least two members of the Liberal Party who sit on the foreign affairs committee had the courage not to vote for the bill.

When it came time to vote on clause 5 and on the bill, those Liberal members were not prepared to support their own government's legislation. I certainly hope the government will accept the amendment to clause 5 and delete this very dangerous provision in the bill.

I mentioned Professor Wesley Pue. In Professor Pue's evidence before the committee he said that this was not only dangerous for Canadians who peacefully protest but that it was also dangerous for the RCMP. He said that under clause 5 the RCMP at all levels would understand this statute in its most natural meaning: that they could do anything they consider reasonable and appropriate but that what is reasonable and appropriate lies in the eyes of the beholder and that the touchstone there to be guided by is security alone.

He also pointed out that the legislation fails to provide guidance to the RCMP and that it leaves RCMP officers at all levels in a very vulnerable position, for example, if they get improper demands from foreign governments on security concerns.

He went on to point out that it was dangerously vague with respect to the issue of security perimeters. Just how far can the RCMP move in establishing those perimeters? Whose property rights can be derogated from in this way? What kind of compensation will be made available to those who are affected by these security perimeters? What about the fundamental rights of free movement within Canada, the right of assembly, the right of free expression and the right to enjoyment of property? The bill, and in particular clause 5, just tramples on all of them.

In closing, once again, I wish to thank the hon. member for Mercier for having moved this amendment. In the name of my colleagues of the NDP, I say that we will support this amendment. If the amendment is rejected by the House, we will vote against the bill, which is dangerous for democracy and the right of free speech in Canada.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 11 a.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Mercier for her amendment. This provides us with the opportunity not only for an important debate on Bill C-35, but also for one on the situation in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11.

It is my impression that Bill C-35, and Bill C-36 likely as well, are part of the tendency of a number of governments, including those of Canada and the U.S., to make use of the legitimate fears triggered by the events of September 11 among the population of many western countries, Canada and the U.S. among them, to concentrate more power on the executive, in order to ensure that they will have a whole series of means at their disposal to maintain what they consider to be the established order of things.

This bill, its clause 5 in particular, is imprecise, incomplete, dangerous and inappropriate. I must therefore thank the hon. member for Mercier for giving us the opportunity, those of us in the Bloc Quebecois, and members of all parties, the government in particular, to reflect a little on its scope before reaching a decision. Given the concerns voiced by certain Liberal MPs during the hearings of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, there is some hope that the government will backtrack on its desire to get this bill, with clause 5, passed, and will remedy the situation.

I will quote clause 5 if I may, which amends a section of the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act as follows:

The first paragraph stipulates that:

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.

This first clause goes way beyond current practice, as the RCMP has the responsibility to protect individuals and not events. This initial slip is of some concern, especially since a number of duties are shared among various police forces—the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec in Quebec and municipal police forces.

In the case of court action, and I use the example of the Quebec City summit—and this is public knowledge—the RCMP shot a lot more rubber bullets than all the other police forces. Had the Sûreté expressed its concerns over the excessive use of rubber bullets to the RCMP, could it have continued shooting rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators citing this clause, which sets out its primary responsibility?

It seems to me this clause represents an exceedingly dangerous shift compared to practices set out in current legislation.

Subclause 10.1(2) provides that:

(2) 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.

The government is now institutionalizing a practice that was to be exceptional, that is, the setting up of security perimeters, not to protect individuals or dignitaries anymore, but to ensure the proper functioning of events. This is obviously something that represents a very significant threat to individual rights, especially in connection with sections 2 and 3 of the charter of rights and freedoms.

Is this in fact nothing more than the codification of existing practice as members of the government including the minister have said on a number of occasions? Is this the status quo or does this clause not in fact increase the powers of the RCMP? We think it increases them. It increases powers that are not limited and this is lamentable. What the government calls reasonable measures and terms in such circumstances can be interpreted in any number of ways.

During the summit in Quebec City, a Montreal lawyer, Mr. Tremblay, contested the security perimeter in Quebec City set up around the congress centre on the grounds that it infringed his rights.

The judge ruled that his fundamental rights had indeed been violated, but that the installation of this perimeter had been necessary to protect the dignitaries taking part in the event, the summit of the Americas in Quebec City. So, existing legislation permitted the installation of perimeters when justified.

Now, this bill is institutionalizing the RCMP's right to install perimeters not to ensure the safety of dignitaries and visitors to these important events, but to ensure that the events themselves can be held. This is a violation of individual freedom of expression because—and the RCMP commissioner pointed this out—these perimeters must allow demonstrators and protestors to be heard by dignitaries and those holding these intergovernmental meetings.

Given the current tendency for these perimeters to grow ever wider, this fundamental right to be heard would be violated by this second paragraph. Paragraph 3 of clause 10 says:

10.1 (3) 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.

The question still remains: if existing legislation allows the RCMP to exercise its responsibilities, why include a clause such as clause 5 in Bill C-35? If it maintains the status quo, it is not necessary. If it does not, it must be clarified and further codified, which is what governments in other countries which have used similar legislation have done.

During the debate on this bill in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Australia and New Zealand were often held up as examples. A closer examination reveals that the legislation adopted by the province of Queensland in Australia was of temporary application and provided for the creation of a security perimeter for a specific event only, the APEC summit in 1999. This is a far cry from clause 5 of Bill C-35, which institutionalizes for all time the creation of such perimeters for whatever reason.

In the case of the New Zealand legislation, limits are set on the duration and size of the perimeter. There is also a requirement to show need.

Clause 5 of Bill C-35 contains no such provisions. The RCMP would be able to decide on the extent and duration of such perimeters with no legal obligation to show need of any sort.

As the member for Mercier said, this bill is being considered at the same time as debate on Bill C-36, in which the definitions of terrorist act and terrorism are extremely broad. The Bloc Quebecois will also be proposing a number of amendments to that bill. We would hope that the governing party will open its eyes and see fit to restrict the scope of the legislation.

However, as I mentioned at the outset, what we are dealing with here is an offensive by the Canadian executive, the cabinet, in an attempt to arm themselves with tools that have the potential to be extremely repressive and that could very well violate fundamental rights. This situation—which, as I mentioned, has also caused concern among some of the Liberal members—must be reversed. Some statements were made outside the House, but also among committee members. A certain number of members spoke of their concern about the scope of clause 5.

Incidentally, until quite recently, there had been a resolution, submitted by the parliamentary secretary. This resolution warned the government against using clause 5, and asked that the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for further study. If this recommendation had been adopted by the committee as proposed, we might have believed that the government was shifting its position. However, this morning, something quite different was proposed.

So what we are witnessing, is a form of sectarianism, that is the word for it, of dogmatism, practiced by the Liberal government. Many of them know it, clause 5 is extremely dangerous. It is a very dangerous shift in the balance between fundamental rights and security.

I hope that there will be enough members of the House, as a group, who are reasonable enough to vote for the amendment moved by the member for Mercier, an amendment that will ensure that Canada remains a land of rights and freedoms. If not, all I can say is that we are shifting towards an unexplainable form of totalitarianism.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 10:40 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to speak to the bill today. Like so many bills, they sneak up on us and catch us by surprise. I thought this was fairly innocuous when I first heard about it. However, the more I learn about it, the more I realize that it is not innocuous. It is quite profound and should be reconsidered totally.

I moved amendments in committee and I tried to move amendments in the House, but even those amendments are short of what they should have been.

A paragraph from a precis on Bill C-35 states:

The current Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act fails to recognize those organizations which are not created out of an international treaty, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (AEPC), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), or the G-8. As such, these organizations are not entitled to the benefits given to organizations established by treaty.

In other words, they are not subject to immunity. Why would they be? Why do people who come to Canada for these meetings have to be subject to immunity? Why are we granting people immunity from our laws?

The amazing thing is that while we are considering Bill C-35, we are also considering Bill C-36, which restricts the rights of Canadians. We are restricting the rights of Canadians, reducing their civil liberties and increasing the policing powers on Canadians. At the very same time, we are granting immunity to a whole new group of people from foreign lands. It seems to be totally ironic, inconsistent and contradictory that we would nail Canadians but release foreigners from any obligations to obey Canadian laws.

The more I read this, the more I realize the impact of the bill. I have come to conclusion that we had better put the brakes on this and stop and think about this some more.

There are so many issues in the bill that go against Canadians and restrict them, yet at the same time free up people who come to Canada for meetings. While here, they are not required obey our laws. It makes no sense. Why are we holding Canadians responsible but saying people can come to Canada and there is no obligation for them to respect our laws?

It is disrespectful to Canadians, especially since we are considering at the same time Bill C-35 and Bill C-36; one that restricts Canadians and the other that allows more freedoms for foreigners.

I proposed a simple amendment in committee and in here. It was turned down in committee and for some reason it was turned down in the House as being an allowable amendment. The amendment would have required the minister to report to parliament once or twice a year on those foreigners who had claimed immunity from civil or criminal actions in Canada.

What a simple and sensible request. If people claim immunity to get out of obeying our laws, all we ask is that this be reported every year. I do not understand why it has been turned down. The minister effectively acknowledged that it was necessary when he said that he would personally commit to report regularly on his website.

The report would include who used immunity or the number of immunity claims made in a period of time. The minister acknowledged the need was there, but he did not allow it into the legislation. Why? The only thing I can think of is he and his department want the flexibility to back out of this commitment. Probably when we will really want it, the commitment will be taken away because it is not in legislation. It is a commitment by the minister, not by the government. It is not a commitment to parliament, it is just an agreement.

If he agrees that it is necessary enough for him to say that he will produce this report, why is it not necessary enough to put the amendment in the bill that would require the government to report every year, or twice a year, listing those who claimed immunity under these laws? It makes no sense that the minister would say on one hand that it was necessary but on the other hand not allow it to be put into legislation.

This minister will not be the minister forever. He will probably be in another position in two or three years' time. He may not be in government; he may be in the opposition. There will be another party over there with another foreign affairs minister who has no obligation to produce this list. This is an obligation by this minister and it ends when the minister ends his term as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is wrong.

It is disrespectful to say to Canadians that we will restrict their rights but we will give an unnamed, unidentified wide group of foreign visitors to Canada total immunity from our civil and criminal laws. If this amendment had been in place and there had been a report on diplomats who had claimed immunity, the Russian diplomat who was involved in the terrible crash that killed Catherine MacLean would have been in the public record for repeat offences. Chances are that Catherine MacLean would be alive today had this diplomat been publicly named as a repeat offender, which I understand he is.

That is why I am saying the amendment is so important. Although I respect the wisdom of the Chair, I am disappointed that the amendment was not allowed in the House. It was allowed in committee but it was defeated by the Liberals even though many of them supported the amendment in principle.

The amendment I proposed is only asking for transparency. It is asking for common sense. We must know the people who are claiming immunity from both our civil and criminal laws. That is not a lot to ask. The amendment should be considered. Even at this late date the government should reconsider it and put the restriction or the condition back in the bill.

It says that the government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs would report to parliament once a year and list the people, not the diplomats, who are claiming diplomatic immunity from our civil and criminal laws. If some individuals came to Canada for one of these meetings, not some officials but some assistants, and they did damage to property, there would be no action or ability to take action against them for compensation or restitution or anything else. There would be no restitution or justice if they harmed a family because they could claim diplomatic immunity.

The bill has been expanded dramatically to cover people and organizations that are not even named. We do not know who they are or who they will be. That would be decided upon application and we would never know in the House who those people are.

Currently they are people and organizations under the Vienna convention but we even go beyond the Vienna convention. The bill goes into unchartered waters and we do not even know what organizations they will be. This is a very serious subject because it deals with potential criminals that now do not have to obey our laws. It is amazing that we are passing a law which says the laws do not have to be honoured. It does not make sense and it has expanded dramatically now to cover people we do not even know.

I do not know where we can go with this. We are opposition members that know it is wrong. The Liberals know a lot of this is wrong and they have even turned down simple amendments. However we will continue to speak against it. We will continue to try to get the government to make changes that are appropriate. Even at this late date we will continue to press the government and do everything we can to demand that it respect the rights of Canadians.

It is amazing that people in Canada say we are prepared to give up some of our civil liberties in the interest of the anti-terrorism effort. We are prepared to make allowances we have never had to make before. Canadians are prepared to do that. We are demanding a lot of Canadians and we are not asking anything of these foreign visitors. Do we not at least owe Canadians the right to know the names of other people who come to Canada who are allowed to circumvent and not obey our laws?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I too have joined my hon. colleague in working as a member of the committee to hear witnesses and attempt to clarify the intent of the government in bringing forward the bill at this time.

While the amendment that has been brought forward deals strictly with one aspect of the bill, it is important that the clause be referenced within the larger context of the bill. It is clear by the name of the bill that it deals with foreign missions and international organizations. It would require us to extend to international organizations and meetings of international bodies and heads of state the same protections through the Vienna convention on diplomatic immunities that are enjoyed by our permanent foreign embassies in Canada.

The reason for doing that is clear. It is to provide reciprocity with what is given and made available when these meetings occur in other countries.

There were technicalities that had to be addressed. We were looking to provide this kind of protection and safety for organizations and meetings which are non-treaty based. In the past those that were treaty based such as the United Nations already enjoyed the privileges and perquisites of diplomatic immunity. When we did this by bringing the act forward it was necessary to look at what else occurs when we hold such international gatherings in Canada.

At the outset we incorporated the need to extend diplomatic immunities to the people attending, both for their protection and for consistency with other countries. At the same time we cannot keep our heads in the sand. We are cognizant of what has occurred in the past in Seattle, in Geneva and recently on a smaller scale in Canada. We must provide clear safety. Safety falls within other dimensions and triggers the need for police activity and preparedness. That is why section 5 of the act would be amended by clause 10 of Bill C-35.

In the past the power necessary for the RCMP to take the lead and work in conjunction with provincial and municipal police forces has existed in common law. By bringing that power within the ambit of Bill C-35 we would put it into statutory format. We would make clear in statute what previously existed in common law.

In preparing for meetings of international organizations such as the G-8 there would then be no confusion, as might have existed in the past, on the part of any of the police forces that work in conjunction to prepare, make plans and take the necessary precautions. The clarity is now there. It is within a bill that deals with all these dimensions.

In many ways the bill would clean up what might have been confusing in the past. Some members of the committee wondered why we were dealing with diplomatic immunities and statutory laws concerning police powers within a foreign affairs bill. It is because the whole thing is seen as a composite.

We listened to witnesses who had reservations. I have rarely been on a committee where there was 100% unanimity from all the witnesses. As my hon. colleague across the way pointed out, the committee passed a resolution this morning to express its concerns to the government. I felt as did most members of the committee that it gave a balanced reply. Our bill will now move forward.

A lot of hard work went into the bill, not just by witnesses but by all of the members around the table. There was good questioning, good thought and good preparation. It is always a pleasure to see members of parliament take the task of a standing committee very seriously. I thank all of my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-35 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Mr. Speaker, clause 5 of Bill C-35 before us is inappropriate.

Let us talk so that people can understand us. Bill C-35 is aimed at modernizing the legislation on foreign missions in Canada and the organization of international meetings. The Bloc Quebecois voted for it at second reading.

In this bill that amends an act that is already substantial, the government is introducing three sub-clauses that, totally out of the blue, will give the RCMP with no constraint, specifics or other directions whatsoever, powers that have all been opposed by all the witnesses. In fact, witnesses all said this was not a simple matter of codifying the common law, as the department and the minister claimed, but of increasing the powers given to the RCMP.

We are convinced these sub-clauses have no place in the bill. It is not that we are against the establishment of safety perimeters, but to say, as the bill does, that the RCMP may establish them as it sees fit makes no sense.

What we see here is that the rights and freedoms of citizens are affected and there are no controls such as those that were set in other countries. Either this clause on perimeters should, for example, be a temporary provision, or else the government should include very strict controls regarding how these perimeters should be defined.

What about the rights of citizens? The situation was so uncomfortable in committee that even government members proposed a resolution, and it was adopted with an amendment with which we did not agree. But it is a resolution that says in a different manner—it is not yet before us, but it will be—what witnesses said and what we are saying.

I feel all the more comfortable defending our amendment to delete clause 5 of the bill since many, if not all government members on the committee would have agreed to have these provisions go elsewhere, for example in the RCMP act or, after a review, to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, where some limits could have been established.

Clause 5 of Bill C-35 must absolutely be deleted, because it institutionalizes security perimeters in the legislation, without setting any controls for the RCMP in that regard. It is so imprecise that it could lead to abuse and go against fundamental liberties.

What about the rights of people whose homes are located inside the perimeter? The bill is silent on this issue. What about the obligation to identify oneself when a perimeter is established? The bill is also silent on this. These are just two examples, but there are many other situations.

Such provisions generate concerns. These concerns are magnified by the existence of Bill C-36, since we do not know what it will look like in the end, but we do know that it gives increased powers to police forces, for a time which, even though limited, is still significant. In other countries where the establishment of perimeters is provided in the legislation, controls or restrictions have been included, but there are no such controls in Bill C-35.

None of the witnesses who appeared before the committee supported this clause. It seems obvious to us that it should be deleted from Bill C-35. This does not mean that the RCMP will not be able to secure a perimeter, but it will have to do so using the powers it already has. It will have to take into consideration the fact that the Hughes Report into the APEC notes, for example, that protesters have the right to be heard by the people who are inside the perimeter and to whom they have come to deliver a message.

For all these reasons, we consider it fundamental and essential that these provisions be removed, particularly so because we do not feel that this reassures the international community at all; it only increases the concern for security matters during international meetings.

I should point out that the Bloc Quebecois supported this bill at second reading because we felt that the Foreign Missions Act should be modernized. However, clause 5 has nothing at all to do with the modernization process. Quite the opposite, it adds a certain inaccuracy to the bill and modifies an act that is essential to reassure Canadians and to make sure that Canada and Montreal play the role they should be playing on the international scene.

We agree that the existing legislation should be modernized, because it is outdated, but it is imperative that clause 5 be deleted. At one time, we thought it would be, because it is useless.

I asked the foreign affairs minister whether this clause was needed for public order and security purposes when we host the next G-8 meeting, and he answered no. So why the rush? Why are we amending three subsections that will become four, and why do we have four subsections on the RCMP in a 120 page legislation? It is absurd.

The upcoming resolution will confirm that members of the committee are uneasy about this, and I appreciate it, because they have been more or less coerced into passing this bill. I hope it will never be voted into law; although we had indications otherwise I hope the bill will be passed without clause 5.

Witnesses who appeared before us have emphasized not only the human rights issue, but also enforcement problems for the police.

In Quebec, we have the French civil law, but the common law prevailing in the rest of Canada is special in that it is defined by all the judicial precedents.

Witnesses have told us repeatedly that, to carry out their functions, police officers do not have the opportunity to know exactly the rights they have or do not have. Therefore, the bill makes their task more difficult instead of clarifying for them the way they should provide security.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There are two motions in amendment on the notice paper relating to the report stage of Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

Motion No. 1 could have been proposed in committee. Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 76.1,(5) it has not been selected.

Motion No. 2 will be debated and voted on separately.

I shall now propose Motion No. 2 to the House.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActAdjournment Proceedings

November 19th, 2001 / 7:10 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I rise today to follow up on my question of June 7 directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in which I asked if the Government of Canada was going to ask Moscow to pay for the police investigation resulting from the accident by a Russian diplomat Mr. Knyazev. The minister did not answer my question. He said that the government would make every effort to resolve the issue, but we still do not know whether Canada did ask Russia to pay for this investigation.

Canada paid to bring the Russian police to Canada to do the investigation and that should have been the responsibility of Moscow.

We have learned that charges have been laid, although the defendant has pleaded not guilty. We also have word that the Russians came back again for a further investigation.

Did Canada ask the Russians to pay the first bill? Did Canada pay for the Russians to come back a second time to talk to the relatives of the victims? It is appropriate to ask these questions today because earlier we talked about Bill C-35 which would expand immunity to include foreign diplomats and foreign representatives from other countries who were never subject to immunity before.

Has Moscow paid the Canadian government for the first trip, as I asked back in June? Has the government asked Moscow to pay for the second trip to complete the police investigation?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

November 19th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is probably a hard concept for a minister of the government to understand but perhaps someday the Liberals will not be over there. Perhaps another party will be over there and it will have no obligation to follow this rule.

It is ironic that at a time when Canadians are being asked to surrender certain rights under Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-35 is expanding immunity to foreigners.

Will the minister put into legislation a requirement to report to the House on who claims civil immunity and criminal immunity under this new legislation?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

November 19th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, under Bill C-35 the Minister of Foreign Affairs is expanding immunity beyond traditional diplomats to a whole new additional category of foreigners.

Although the minister has agreed that he will report on a quarterly basis those who claim immunity under this new bill, there is no requirement in legislation at all for subsequent ministers.

Will the minister amend Bill C-35 to require an annual report to the House stating who claimed immunity under this new expanded criteria?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 9th, 2001 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, October 23, your committee has considered Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, and has agreed to report it with two amendments.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

November 8th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with Bill C-10, the marine parks bill.

Tomorrow we will consider Bill S-31, respecting a number of tax treaties.

As indicated by the deputy House leader for the opposition, next week is a week in our constituencies. When we return we will consider: report stages and third reading of Bill C-38, respecting Air Canada; second reading of Bill C-41, respecting the Canadian Commercial Corporation; report stages and third reading of Bill C-27, the nuclear waste legislation; Bill C-35, respecting foreign missions; and second reading of Bill S-33, respecting carriage by air. During that week the government may introduce another bill dealing with public safety and we would begin debate on that matter as soon as possible.

Finally, I intend to consult colleagues later this afternoon, given the uncertainty in the airline industry, to see whether there would be a favourable disposition, notwithstanding the tabling of the report on Bill C-38 today, to see if the House would agree with dealing with third reading tomorrow. I intend to consult later this day on this matter.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActStatements By Members

November 5th, 2001 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, 10 months ago an Ottawa woman, Catherine McLean, was killed by a Russian diplomat who was driving drunk. At that time the Minister of Foreign Affairs deplored the fact that the drunken diplomat was able to claim immunity from Canadian law.

Now under Bill C-35 the same minister proposes to expand the number of foreign representatives who are above Canadian law. This contrasts to Bill C-36 which asks Canadians to surrender their civil liberties in the name of security.

It is not true that expanding diplomatic immunity is necessary to catch up to the international community. Most countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom are very careful about not extending diplomatic immunity too far, no further than is required under international law.

There is no excuse for putting anyone above the law while asking Canadians to surrender their civil liberties. Bill C-35 should be withdrawn.

Independence of the RCMPPrivate Members’ Business

November 5th, 2001 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to participate in the debate on private member's Motion No. 391. I thank and commend the hon. member for bringing this motion to the House. To date the government has escaped criticism or questioning regarding the report released by Judge Ted Hughes.

Conveniently for the Liberal government, parliament was recessed when the findings and recommendations were released following the public hearings regarding complaints against the RCMP. Since the House resumed sitting on September 17, we have been preoccupied, and rightfully so, with the horrific events of September 11.

The unprecedented attack on America, and terrorism in general, has caught the attention of this country and the world. Canadians are anxious about the safety and security of our country and its people. They are concerned about the well-being of our friends and neighbours to the south as well. Therefore, all our efforts in the last two months have been focused on appeasing these concerns.

Despite this preoccupation, it is important that we address the issues raised by the Hughes report and discuss his many recommendations. Again, I commend the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert, Quebec for providing this opportunity. It was a pleasure for me to second this motion.

If enacted, the motion before us today would have the government set out in writing the nature and the scope of the independence of the RCMP in its relation with the federal government, as recommended by Judge Hughes.

In his report Hughes concluded that the federal role at APEC was improper and that the RCMP succumbing to government influence was not appropriate. Therefore, Hughes recommended that the federal government bring in legislation to spell out the RCMP's independence from government interference.

In section 10 of his report, Hughes said that currently the nature and extent of police independence is not clearly defined in Canadian law. Furthermore, he stated “there is no consensus, either in academic writing or in judicial decisions, as to what is the proper relationship between the federal government and the RCMP although it is generally agreed that the RCMP does enjoy a measure of independence”.

In fact, Hughes believes that the RCMP Act suggests that the force is not entirely independent of the government by stipulating that the commissioner of the RCMP is appointed by cabinet and controls the force under the direction of the solicitor general. Indeed, the commissioner of the RCMP is a deputy minister in this cabinet serving under the solicitor general.

After reviewing the English approach and the supreme court decision in R. v Campbell, Hughes stated “it is clearly unacceptable for the federal government to have the authority to direct the RCMP's law enforcement activities, telling it who to investigate, arrest and prosecute or other purposes. At the same time, it is equally unacceptable for the RCMP to be completely independent and unaccountable, to become a law unto themselves”.

Based on this conclusion, Hughes recommended, under recommendation 31.3.1 of his report, that the RCMP request a statutory codification of the nature and extent of police independence from government with respect to two areas: first, existing common law principles regarding law enforcement; and, second, the provision of and responsibility for delivery of security services at public order events.

Responding to the Hughes report, RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli dismissed this key recommendation saying that there was no need in his opinion for statutory recognition of police independence. To date the government has not embraced the recommendations, although it has accepted and is attempting to enact the second part of the Hughes report under Bill C-35.

Canadians must have confidence that the RCMP can do its job. That includes doing its job in respect to investigating the government in suspected cases of wrongdoing without the fear of there being reprisals or interference.

Canadians must also be confident that the commissioner of the RCMP, although a high ranking public servant, is not and does not simply become a puppet of the current government supporting its policies and programs even when it may be detrimental to our national police force and to the very frontline police officers.

A couple of weeks ago Commissioner Zaccardelli appeared before the justice committee as a witness in regard to Bill C-36. During his testimony and subsequent questioning Mr. Zaccardelli said:

Obviously, we are very pleased with the resources we have been given by the government. This is not just with respect to the terrorist activities--

The commissioner went on to say:

Could I use more? Yes, I could. The government, as I said, has been very responsive to our needs as we deal with this.

In direct contradiction to Commissioner Zaccardelli, the Canadian Police Association which represents 30,000 officers across Canada including some RCMP officers told the justice committee that the $9 million recently given to the RCMP as part of the government's anti-terrorism initiative was not enough to meet the exceptional demands placed on the Mounties since the September 11 attack.

The $9 million would only allow the RCMP to hire 72 new recruits as 2,000 officers are pulled off priority organized crime cases and frontline community policing duties.

While the commissioner said the RCMP could always use more staff, Michael Niebudek, Canadian Police Association vice-president, told us there clearly is a staffing shortage. He says there are insufficient resources for the RCMP to work on both terrorism and organized crime investigations and that the RCMP has shelved important organized crime work across Canada. Mr. Niebudek said:

Under this flavour of the month approach, enforcement resources are allocated based on shifting political priorities. We have been robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the shell game has to stop.

While the commissioner praised the government and said it had been responsive to RCMP needs, Mr. Niebudek said the government must move swiftly to repair gaping holes in Canada's security and enforcement capabilities.

In response to Mr. Niebudek's comments the solicitor general denied the RCMP was unable to do its job properly because it lacked money and staff. According to an article in last week’s National Post the solicitor general said:

What I've received from the RCMP Commissioner is that they are certainly able to fulfill their mandate.

While the top police bureaucrat and his boss say one thing, our frontline officers are saying something quite different. Clearly Mr. Zaccardelli is supporting or siding with the federal government when he should be supporting his frontline officers and defending the safety and security of our country's citizens.

It was only this spring that we brought witnesses to the justice committee in regard to a bill dealing with organized crime. We understood the severity of organized crime in Canada. We should not be shelving or putting on a back burner investigations that may lead to the apprehension of organized criminals, drug traffickers and other like-minded criminals.

We have a war on terrorism, unquestionably. However we have a war on organized crime as well. This war is a concern and it is bringing down our society as we see it. For the commissioner of the RCMP to be taking people off the organized crime file is irresponsible.

The commissioner of the RCMP should be fighting for the necessary resources so the RCMP can effectively meet the demands being placed on it because of the September 11 attack. For Mr. Zaccardelli to be doing otherwise and accepting the pittance provided to the force by the federal government demonstrates that he is a puppet of the solicitor general. This must be changed.

RCMP independence from the government must be statutorily codified as recommended by Judge Hughes. I therefore support private member's Motion No. 391.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActOral Question Period

November 2nd, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the bill is not focusing on what the member would have us believe. Again I think if he could grasp what we are and are not doing in Bill C-35, it would help him both in asking his questions and writing his newspaper articles.

For many years there has been a format in place where all diplomats and consuls assigned to Canada are vetted by immigration authorities before their accreditation is approved. Nothing has changed with Bill C-35.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActOral Question Period

November 2nd, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, this goes way beyond the Vienna Convention. Under Bill C-35 any delegate to an international conference can be automatically allowed into Canada without the approval of Immigration Canada, even if that person has a criminal record or direct ties to terrorist groups. The immigration minister will no longer be relevant to the process.

Many members of the House have questioned the minister's relevance in the war against terrorism and this bill makes the immigration minister irrelevant by statute. Can the minister explain how her absence from the process makes Canada a safer place?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActOral Question Period

November 2nd, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the bill to which the hon. member refers, Bill C-35, does not affect the immunities of diplomats and consuls accredited to embassies and consulates. The focus is about people attending international conferences or international organizations that are not created by treaty. This bill is to ensure that those people have the same immunities. It does not enhance their immunities.

I think what might help the member is if I could provide him with a Cole's notes version of the Vienna Convention. Perhaps then he would grasp better what this bill is and is not about.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActOral Question Period

November 2nd, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, while the government's anti-terrorism legislation restricts the freedoms of Canadians in the name of security, the bill next to it, Bill C-35, proposes to place foreign delegates to international conferences above Canadian law by giving them diplomatic immunity. The government already grants full diplomatic immunity to low-ranking foreign support staff who are not entitled to such immunity under international law.

At a time when Canadians are being asked to sacrifice their civil liberties, why is the government placing even more foreign visitors above the law?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

November 1st, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House leader of the official opposition for the question. This afternoon we will continue the prebudget debate that we commenced this morning.

Tomorrow we will deal with the miscellaneous statute law amendment bill introduced earlier today. I understand there is some agreement pursuant to the usual process of passing the bill at all stages. We will then consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-33, the Nunavut bill.

I wish to advise the House that there will be a royal assent later this afternoon on Bill C-11.

Next week we will debate Bill C-39, the Yukon bill. That will be followed by report stage and third reading of Bill C-10, the marine parks bill. When this is completed we will turn to Bill S-31, respecting a number of international tax treaties. If and when Bill C-35 is reported from committee we will turn to its report stage and third reading.

I would like to report to the House that if we have time next week I will be prepared to entertain a second day of prebudget debate or consultation.

I understand that some members will be producing a motion to defer a debate until next week. I am awaiting that process.

I also wish to inform the House that there is ongoing consultation among House leaders, although not quite complete, about having a take note debate next week, possibly on the issue of the World Trade Organization and international trade generally. Those consultations are not yet complete.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2001 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the previous question at the second reading stage of Bill C-35.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 22nd, 2001 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will, upon conclusion of my remarks, attempt to address some of the concerns that have been raised.

But I will not discuss the price of eggs in China.

I think basically that is the kind of thing that has been brought into the House today. I am disappointed when I hear speakers complain as they do about their perception of parliament not being relevant and then go on to list anything but what we are discussing today, which is Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

I would assure the House that as a Liberal member I am quite able to discuss and put forward my frustrations, such as they may be, and have never had need for the opposition parties to convey my frustrations. I have always been able to do that.

To move to the topic at hand, which is Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, I am pleased to perhaps bring a focus to the discussion today that not only are we amending an act but we are doing it at a time and within the ambience of the very tragic events in the United States, which reminded us that threats to public safety are of a global concern, that no system is infallible and that no country is immune.

Our commitment is to protect persons who attend international meetings in Canada. That is our focus and it is very clear. It is incumbent upon us, when we host any kind of meetings of organizations, to have the legislative power and authority to ensure the safety of everyone involved. As was mentioned, Canada is obligated to do so under various international conventions. The amendments that we brought forward clarify our ability to fulfill that obligation.

In June 2002, Canada will be hosting the G-8 summit in Kananaskis, Alberta. This will be the first meeting of world leaders since the horrendous acts of September 11. In preparing for this event, we will need to take all necessary steps to protect our international visitors and to ensure the meeting can take place safely.

These amendments provide clear statutory authority to support security measures and to ensure public safety and the safety of foreign delegations at international meetings hosted in Canada such as the G-8 summit.

The amendments also help us to respond with greater certainty to continuing and growing threats and to public safety in a world that has so remarkably and fundamentally changed since September 11.

Does the statutory authority to provide security mean that the police will have broader powers? Absolutely not.

I want to just digress from the notes that I had planned. I think there is a failure on the part of some members to understand that the federal government, in this situation, is attempting to umbrella two systems. One is the common law which we develop according to precedent. The law is growing and very much, as Thomas Aquinas said, a living thing.

At the same time, the province of Quebec has the code civile, the Napoleonic code. Instead of developing in a similar way as the common law, the Napoleonic code has all of what one wants contained in a statute written down and codified. It is incumbent on the federal government then to create legislation that recognizes and allows both systems to function within our ambit.

What I think is causing some concern here with regard to police powers is that all the authority has been very much in place within the ambit of common law. What these amendments attempt to do is clarify and codify in a manner that allows for no confusion. What is happening is that the confusion is occurring on the other side of the House.

The police have always had the authority to take whatever necessary and reasonable security measures were required to protect internationally protected persons and to preserve the peace in order for the important business of these international events to proceed. These amendments would simply clarify in statute police powers that are already in place.

This is also in line with legislation adopted by other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand which have gone ahead and clarified police powers in similar circumstances, just as we are going to contend with within these amendments. This is the prudent thing to do given the changing nature of international meetings and evolving challenges to global security.

In traditional diplomatic situations in the past, frequently the dialogue and negotiations occurred on a bilateral basis. Therefore, the immunities and all of what was set up within the Vienna convention were aimed to apply to what was the traditional method of conducting diplomacy, which was in a bilateral setting.

However, today, as we have evolved more and more, a great deal of our negotiations and our protocols are an end result of multilateral negotiations and rather than just occasional multilateral negotiations, they occur within the ambit of permanent international organizations that continue on a weekly-monthly basis, many of which have headquarters in Montreal and in other parts of Canada.

Specifically, the amendments would clarify three things:

First, the RCMP's role for assuming primary responsibility to ensure security for the proper functioning of an international conference attended by internationally protected persons.

Second, the RCMP's authority to take security measures, such as controlling, limiting or prohibiting access to an area in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances.

Third, they clarify the fact that these statutory police powers do not affect the powers that the RCMP and other provincial and municipal police forces otherwise have under common law.

I would like to highlight to the House the tremendous co-operation that now takes place between the RCMP and its provincial and municipal counterparts to ensure the safe and secure running of these events.

The security for the summit of the Americas in Quebec City, for example, was the largest operation of its kind in recent Canadian history. It involved a partnership of over 3,600 RCMP members, 2,700 members of the Sûreté du Québec and 500 members of the Quebec City and Ste-Foy municipal police forces.

I wish to assure the House and Canadians that the RCMP will continue to work with its many international, federal, provincial and municipal partners to provide the most appropriate and effective security arrangements for all federally hosted international meetings much as it did in Quebec City.

The threat that faces us in the aftermath of September 11 will not be easily removed. Our actions will be ruled by resolve. If laws need to be improved they will be. If security has to be increased it will be. However our actions will continue to be driven by the need to safeguard the values that we cherish, the values of hope, freedom and tolerance to the world.

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everyone has the fundamental freedoms of, among others, assembly, expression and association.

These amendments balance the government's need to ensure public safety and the need to protect an individual's right to demonstrate, as has been mentioned, openly, publicly but in a safe setting. They are in no way intended to hinder peaceful protest. Any security measures taken by the police will still need to satisfy charter requirements: that they are necessary, reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

The amendments will help us to respond with greater certainty to a changed world. They will ensure public safety and the safety of our visitors at international meetings hosted by Canada. They will build on the success of partnership that police forces across jurisdictions have demonstrated at past international events. They will also protect the cherished values and freedoms that define what is meant by being a Canadian.

I certainly hope that some of the confusion that has been exhibited in speeches here and at the first reading have been addressed by my remarks. If not, I would be pleased to answer any questions that my colleagues may wish to ask.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 22nd, 2001 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been here for quite some time and I thought we were looking at Bill C-35. Just in the summary of the bill it says it has to do with foreign missions and international organizations that allow Canada to comply with its existing commitments under international treaties and respond to recent developments in international law. Where is the relevance of the last 10 minutes?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 22nd, 2001 / 3:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate my friend, the member for Cumberland--Colchester, on his efforts in bringing together the Israelis and the Palestinians. As he probably knows, he has taken on a Herculean task. Nevertheless, every effort helps and at some point will be able to break the camel's back or one more straw will destroy the enmity between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

It is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-35. I want to continue down the same path that my friend from Crowfoot started down. Not long ago he gave an excellent speech in this place about some of the concerns that we have about the separation between the people who enforce the law, the RCMP, and the government.

When there is a real embarrassment facing the government, if it had the opportunity, the temptation would be to use the RCMP or any police force to try and cover up that embarrassment. I will not suggest that this government is prepared to do that, but there have been concerns in the past and we all know that. I am speaking of the APEC affair or the airbus affair of which my friend spoke. There was enough evidence in the APEC affair to warrant our concern about that possibility. In the airbus affair, we saw evidence that the government did what it could to pursue a former prime minister to the point where it cost Canadian taxpayers $3.4 million.

In Canada we have taken our freedoms for granted. For a long time we have lived in relative peace. We have never really been in a situation, not since Confederation, where our personal liberties have been seriously threatened. There have been times when there have been bumps along the road and at various points Canada has entered into great conflicts. Canadians have always valued their freedom, but unless they are threatened, after a period of time people tend to take their freedom for granted.

One of the greatest innovations of modern times is the idea of limited government. It is important to remember that for a long time in history the normal course of events was for the monarchy, or the government or the church to have all the power while individuals had none. Over the last 800 or 900 years we have seen that change. We have seen more and more rights accumulate to individuals. We should value those rights.

As somebody once said that government is not reasoned. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master. I believe that is right. That is founded on what we know from history. Governments at various times have intervened in the ability of individuals to pursue their lives as they wished.

Any time a piece of legislation comes along that suggests that more power should accumulate to the government, in this case via the RCMP, we should be concerned. We should watch and make sure that we are not giving away freedoms frivolously or without going trough them to ensure that there is not some other way that we can deal with this. I submit that there is a different way that we can deal with this.

One of the things that legislators in general would be happy to see would be a government that recognized there was concern about its connection to the RCMP and security forces and that it would take some steps to ensure that there was, on the one hand, oversight, but on the other hand, eliminate some of the possible ways that, in this case, the Prime Minister's Office could interfere via security forces to try to cover up some kind of an embarrassment. There are ways to do that.

One way would be to involve this place, through our committees, to ensure that there would be some kind of an oversight capacity. Some people have suggested that we could set up our own committee to specifically deal with those types of things.

Perhaps it would be a subcommittee of the justice committee. It is a good idea to have some committee empowered to ensure that our security forces are not politically interfered with in some way. That is a critical point because at this point we almost leave it solely to the discretion of the ministers in charge as to whether or not they can get involved in some way. We really count on their good will.

I am not suggesting that every day it be challenged in some way, but there are times when governments could be tempted to intervene and in so doing start to limit the freedoms of individuals. At a time of crisis we need to be aware particularly of that possibility.

One possible option would be to set up a subcommittee or committee to have oversight to ensure that if some of these issues arise we have a way to look at them and deal with them.

I heard it said in this place by the justice minister today that there were concerns at this time about whether or not the government would interfere in the rights of individuals, or something like that. There have been many times when the government has interfered with the rights of individuals in Canada. I could point to Bill C-68 and suggest that the government absolutely and completely interfered with the rights of individuals when it brought in that legislation. It completely interferes with our right to private property.

Preceding Bill C-68, and I believe as a part of it, the government through order in council confiscated people's legally obtained firearms without compensation. That is completely contrary to the idea of property rights and the basic freedoms we have established over a long period of time.

Many people believe our basic freedoms were only defined in 1981 with the charter of rights. That is completely wrong. We had hundreds of years of common law tradition before then which really laid down the ground rules for our basic freedoms. Mr. Diefenbaker brought in a bill of rights which put those rights down on paper. I argue that the government violated those rights when it brought in Bill C-68 and started to confiscate firearms.

I argue that when it comes to endangered species legislation the government is on the cusp of interfering with our most basic property rights, again because it is not prepared to offer full compensation for land that is taken out of production in the hope it can somehow protect an endangered species. We have no problem with endangered species legislation, but we believe the government should ensure that the basic rights of people are protected.

There is no more fundamental right than property rights. Some people may question that, but I argue that every right is a property right. My friend from Hamilton nods his head, but every right is a property right. In fact there is only one right and it is the property right: the right to the security of ourselves, the right to control our actions, the right to acquire things. There is but one right and that is a property right in oneself.

When abolitionists were trying to get rid of slavery they used to call it man stealing because people were stealing someone else's person. I argue there is but one right and every other right flows from it: the right to property. The first right we have is the security of our own person. The right to freedom of speech flows from that. The right to freedom of association and the right to keep what we have produced with our hands and our minds all flow from the same source: the right to private property in ourselves.

When we set down laws at a time when we are concerned about having security of our person breached by forces outside our borders, we have to be careful that we do not at the same time breach them by empowering our government to do too much. That is my primary concern with Bill C-35 and actually with Bill C-36 as well, while we are talking about bills presently before the government.

There are other examples of how government has breached our rights even since I have been a member of parliament.

One thing that was most frustrating to me as an MP, as someone who comes from the west, was when the government lost a court case over the Canadian Wheat Board and moved very quickly to plug a loophole through order in council which effectively ensured that the government could stop farmers from the great crime of selling the wheat they had produced on their own land, selling it in that case to someone in the United States.

Even in Canada farmers are not allowed to sell their own wheat. It all has to pass through the Canadian Wheat Board, which is completely contrary to the--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 22nd, 2001 / 3:25 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to talk to Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. My distinguished colleague, the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, has covered much of the law enforcement aspects of the bill and the member for Saanich--Gulf Islands has addressed the international trade issues on behalf of the opposition coalition. I will, relatively briefly, bring up a few issues that are of concern to me.

First, some people refer to this as a housekeeping bill. I have a hard time accepting it as a housekeeping bill. This would affect a lot of different aspects of the way we do things, who does what, who is allowed to do what, the actions of the RCMP and so on. Although it would really correct or update our domestic laws to meet our international commitments, it does define a new or a more explicit role for the RCMP and in that way I find that it is a little more than just housekeeping.

Although I understand the philosophy and the purpose of the bill, I think it would create a double standard. It is a slippery slope that the government is getting on, it seems to me, where it would be establishing two sets of rules. It is saying that Canadians would be subject to the law of the land but foreigners often would not. It would expand that level of immunity and quite dramatically extend who would qualify for the immunity.

Under the bill, new organizations and new groups that are not clearly defined would qualify for immunity from certain aspects of our laws. In the other bill we have before us, the terrorism bill, Bill C-36, I notice a line which states that foreigners might not necessarily have to follow the rules of the firearms control act. I find this a little strange because Canadians obviously have to abide by these laws. It seems like the government is going from one bill to another and establishing a dangerous precedent, so we would have one set of rules for Canadians and another set for many foreigners. This would go far beyond what we have done before in allowing different groups and organizations to be recognized for these benefits.

Another concern is that the government had an opportunity here to address the issue of foreign diplomats who commit crimes or offences while under the influence. We are all very much aware of the awful tragedy that happened in Ottawa when a Russian diplomat ran over two pedestrians, killing one and severely injuring the other. Nothing has happened about that. There has been no accountability. This person had a long record of alcohol offences. Nothing was done to prevent the accident and nothing has been done to hold this person accountable. He was whisked away to Russia very quickly. When our government demanded an investigation and accountability, the Russians said if we wanted that we would have to pay them to send their investigators from Russia to Canada to investigate it. I did not see a lot of commitment on behalf of that foreign government to address this concern that outraged many Canadians.

It will be a long time before we have another opportunity to address these issues. The bill could have done that but it definitely does not. It does not address any of those issues that raised a lot of concerns. It just seems so unfair. People were outraged about the accident. Again, the bill, which reorganizes the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, could have dealt with that but did not.

Certainly Canada has to encourage organizations to come to Canada to have their meetings, like the G-8, APEC and so on, and perhaps some of the immunity aspects have to be extended to them. Previously these immunities have been extended only to organizations and nations with which we have treaties, not just organizations that are non-structured or mobile and move around. This makes me wonder what other organizations would qualify for this immunity from taxes and our laws and who could actually commit crimes and not be held accountable. It is just a little scary.

I agree that we have to be in a position to attract these organizations. We are a well respected country and an appealing country for these types of meetings, being relatively safe and secure. We have to be able to provide the amenities and competitive immunities.

However, it seems to me that the bill goes a little too far and is not defined enough on who could qualify for these issues. For instance, it is not clear about interparliamentary meetings and things like that. Under the bill would all these members be immune from criminal prosecution or taxation et cetera?

Another aspect of the bill would change the process for allowing someone with a criminal record to come to Canada. Currently the minister has to provide a minister's permit to allow a person who has a criminal record to come to Canada. The outstanding example of this is Nelson Mandela. Not one of us in the House, I think, would ever question Nelson Mandela's right and privilege to come to Canada, speak with us and meet with us in parliament, but he has a criminal record and he required a minister's permit to allow him to come here. That would no longer be necessary because the permit would be issued under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and would no longer require the minister's permit.

Another part of the bill that was dealt with by the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough was the RCMP aspect. It is a very important aspect because it very clearly defines who would be responsible when international guests are here. Many people in Canada were outraged about the violence and protests during recent meetings in Vancouver and Quebec. There always was confusion about the chain of command, about who ordered the police to do what and when, whether it was political, RCMP, local or provincial police or what. The bill would correct that.

It would remove that question and would allow a lot of us to have a little more peace of mind when we are inviting meetings to Canada. I hope it would help us and help them if there would be just one police department involved with the protests. We hope they would better understand the rights of protestors to protest and demonstrate. They do have a right to protest and demonstrate, but with the confusion over who was in control of the meetings and who was responsible for policing and law enforcement, I think things happened at the meetings that should never have happened. I believe having one group in charge would be a positive move. The huge report on APEC pointed out the need for clear parameters in order for the RCMP to be able to police these meetings without having to answer to political bosses, provincial police forces and so on.

It would be a very positive step and I hope the RCMP will take advantage of the opportunity to better understand how people can be allowed to protest and demonstrate legitimately without encouraging violence or demonstrations that turn into anything other than demonstrations.

The legislation appears to cover three general types of international organizations. There are international organizations originating by treaty, for instance, NATO and the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal. They are currently covered under the immunity, which would be extended to a second category, the new international organizations with headquarters in Canada, like the IOC, the environmental secretariat and different NAFTA bodies, which are growing steadily.

The third one is stand alone organizations that move from country to country, like APEC and the G-8. I am not satisfied nor am I comfortable with how that is defined and what groups could be included. Could groups involved with the chambers of commerce and things like that come under that umbrella of immunity? We are anxious to get the bill to committee to analyze it and see if there are extended immunity rights that were never meant to be part of the bill.

There is no question that our country should be in a position to play host to these organizations. I think Canada is an attractive destination for them. Recently we moved the meeting of finance ministers to Canada because it could not be held in India. That is just an indication of what we have to offer.

To wind up, I am concerned about the double standards between Canadians and non-Canadians. The bill would extend immunity and taxation exemptions to a number of groups. It seems to ring a bell to me with extending the immunity or exemption from the firearms control act to non-Canadians whereas Canadians have to follow those rules. We need more clarification.

On the upside, the bill ensures that Canadian diplomats receive the same privileges and immunities that their representatives in Canada receive when our diplomats are in foreign countries. It has an enforcement clause and that is a good aspect in it.

We support both the purpose and philosophy but we hope there will be amendments that deal with some of the concerns which I and my colleagues have raised throughout this debate.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 22nd, 2001 / 3:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again to speak to Bill C-35. As was mentioned the debate on this bill began last Thursday. When I approached the table today I was told that I had 14 minutes left unless I was speaking French and then I would have 15 minutes. I will attempt to do this in English and I should be done in 14 minutes.

The bill does a number of things. One of the main thrusts of the bill is the implementation of part of the Hughes report. This summer we went through the Hughes report that dealt with the APEC inquiry. It made many recommendations.

One of the recommendations dealt with the RCMP. It recommended the requested statutory codification of the nature and extent of police independence from government with respect to two different areas: first, the existing common law practices regarding law enforcement and, second, the provision and responsibility for delivery of security services at public order events. Bill C-35 intends to implement the last part of the Hughes report but not the former part.

RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli dismissed the key recommendations saying that there was no need in his opinion for statutory recognition of police independence.

Canadians must have confidence that the RCMP can do its job. That includes investigating the government in suspected cases of wrongdoing without fear of interference or reprisal. APEC is not an isolated incident. There are other examples, such as the airbus affair, that suggest the government may have improperly interfered with or instructed the RCMP.

A number of books chronicle the politicization of the RCMP, such as Paul Palango's Above the Law , and Stevie Cameron's On the Take .

In January 1997 the federal government reached a $2 million out of court settlement with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in what we call the airbus affair. It has been almost five years and Canadians have never learned the truth as to who was ultimately responsible for this libel suit. No one was ever held accountable for the Liberal government's suspect political intervention into a criminal investigation of national and international importance.

For those who may not remember, I will refresh their memory. In 1995 a letter of request was sent to Swiss authorities signed by justice department lawyer Kimberly Prost on behalf of the justice minister. Contained within this letter was a false accusation. It stated:

This investigation is of serious concern to the Government of Canada as it involves criminal activity on the part of the former Prime Minister.

On November 4, 1995, Roger Tasse, Mulroney's lawyer, contacted the justice minister via telephone to apprise him that they were in receipt of the letter written to the Swiss authorities. According to news reports Tasse pleaded with the minister to water down the language and send a new document to Switzerland. The minister refused. Furthermore in a letter dated November 8, 1995, to the justice minister Mulroney's lawyer stated:

In light of the most important, unjustified and highly damaging statements contained in the request made to the Swiss authorities, we urge you to personally review the matter and to direct your department to withdraw the request already made and to present, if that is the wish of the RCMP, a new request that is more respectful of basic rules of fairness and decency.

The justice minister again refused to withdraw the letter. That resulted in a $50 million lawsuit by Brian Mulroney. Even the former RCMP commissioner was concerned that the lawsuit would jeopardize the criminal investigation. He stated:

I have been very concerned about the potential impact on the criminal investigation of a long and very public civil process.

The minister again refused to withdraw the letter. A civil suit proceeded and at the very last moment the justice minister made an out of court settlement with an apology. This cost Canadian taxpayers $3.4 million. However the letter containing the false accusation was not withdrawn. The court decision indicated that the request letter was invalid as it had followed an improper process. Rather than withdraw the letter the former justice minister appealed the decision.

I know this case may be old news but to date Canadians have never been given answers. This matter has not been resolved. Nor has anyone been held responsible except for RCMP Staff Sergeant Fraser Fiegenwald. We have been left with the impression that Staff Sergeant Fiegenwald who allegedly leaked this information to author Stevie Cameron was responsible for the entire airbus scandal including the $3.4 million that this fiasco cost Canadians.

The facts as far as I understand them do not support this perception. However the government did nothing to dispel it, especially after Fiegenwald was conveniently allowed to retire from the force just before a code of conduct proceeding.

A cloud hangs over the RCMP as a result of airbus and all the many unanswered questions. It is negatively affecting its reputation. A cloud also hangs over the Prime Minister, the former justice minister and the former solicitor general as their involvement in this matter still remains suspect. Although it is not too late to lift this cloud by allowing the truth to be known, I am sure the government will never allow an investigation into this affair.

In 1997 a motion was brought before the standing committee on justice and legal affairs. The motion originated with my party and had the support of the Bloc, the NDP and the Tory members of that committee. It called for an examination of the facts pertaining to airbus. Not surprisingly the motion was shot down by Liberal members of that committee, particularly the member for Scarborough--Rouge River who believed that if the committee--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2001 / 5:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise and participate in the debate on Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. Our day is running down and we have about five minutes for debate and a 20 minute speech.

As a new member of parliament I am faced with a dilemma. Do I continue with the speech and take up the rest of the time another day? There are some points I want to cover in my speech and from which concerns arise.

The provisions in the bill come forward and are recommended by the Hughes report that we saw come forward this summer. In particular, Bill C-35 adds a clause codifying the RCMP's 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 the act.

In fulfilling that responsibility the RCMP may take appropriate measures, and we have talked about them already today, including controlling, limiting or prohibiting access to any area to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances.

I would suggest, although in this isolated case the government has taken Judge Hughes' recommendation to heart as many of my colleagues have already stated, this is not the appropriate place to legislate these new statutory powers and responsibilities The more preferable place to have put these powers would have been in the RCMP act.

Following public hearings regarding complaints against the RCMP, Hughes concluded that the federal government's role at APEC was improper. If we went through the thick report given by Mr. Hughes, within the first 10 to 15 pages we would realize that the government acted improperly and that some of the measures used by the RCMP, succumbing to government influence, were not appropriate.

Therefore, Hughes recommended that the federal government bring in legislation to spell out the RCMP's independence from government interference. In section 10 of the report. Hughes said that the current nature and extent of police independence was not clearly defined in Canadian law. Furthermore, there was no consensus, either in academic writing or in judicial decisions, as to what was the proper relationship between the federal government and the RCMP, although it was generally agreed that the RCMP enjoyed a measure of independence.

In fact, Hughes believed that the RCMP act suggested that the force was not entirely independent of the government by stipulating that the commissioner of the RCMP was appointed by cabinet and controlled the force under the direction of the solicitor general.

This has been a great concern to members on this side of the House. I know on many occasions the members for Medicine Hat and Cypress Hills--Grasslands have vented their frustration that the commissioner of the RCMP would sit in cabinet as a deputy minister in the solicitor general's department. To have independence and not to politicize the position or the organization, the commissioner is appointed by cabinet as a deputy minister.

After reviewing the English approach in the supreme court decision in R v Campbell, Hughes concluded that it was clearly unacceptable for the federal government to have the authority to direct the RCMP law enforcement activities, telling it who to investigate, who to arrest and prosecute or other purposes. At the same time, it was equally unacceptable for the RCMP to be completely independent and unaccountable to become a law unto itself.

So we have that balancing act. We want on the one hand independence and on the other hand we need accountability in the RCMP.

Based on this conclusion, Hughes recommended under subsection 31 of his report, that the RCMP request statutory codification of the nature and extent of police independence from government with respect to: first, existing common law practices regarding law enforcement; and second, the provision of and responsibility for delivery of security services at public order events.

That part two is what part of this bill enacts. It enacts the part of the Hughes commission report that would suggest that it was imperative to put in place the position and the responsibilities of security services at public order events where people from other countries would be attending.

Bill C-35 embraces only the second part of this recommendation. The government has yet to fulfill the first part of that recommendation. Unfortunately, I do not believe the Liberal government has the courage to ever come forward with that first part that would bring more accountability, more independence and reduce the politicization of the RCMP. We wait for that. I look forward to the rest of my time at a later date.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2001 / 4:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin my speech by making a little parenthetical comment to the member for Lanark--Carleton who began the debate this afternoon when we resumed second reading on Bill C-35. He made a comment on the fact that his speech had been interrupted for some two weeks and that he had some time to think about it.

I want to give him a little bit of a commiserating thought which is that to my recollection my record on having a speech interrupted basically in mid-sentence is about a year. There was a time in one of the previous parliaments where I gave a speech and then the debate on that item was dropped. It was not called again by the government for just a couple of days short of a year, at which point I was able to resume my speech. My problem was somewhat different from his in that he had some time to reflect on what he wanted to say. I had enough time to have forgotten what I wanted to say.

We are talking today about Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. This again comes down to a fundamental principle and that is the principle of law and order and who it applies to. Basically the bill provides for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to provide exemptions from Canada's laws to certain individuals, organizations and people who are part of these organizations, primarily diplomatic missions and this type of thing.

I have a bit of a problem with this whole general concept. I know that it is part of the convention and that there is a lot of agreement among countries. Generally the rule is that we will exempt members of another country from any of the obligations under our government if that country does the same for our diplomats and our people when they travel to that country. That is sort of the basic principle. It is a pretty sound principle, if it could be applied.

However there are some rules and laws on which I do not think we ought to bend, yet we do quite easily. I would be much happier to specify explicitly to diplomats that some of the laws in this country are not to be compromised by them, by their staff, by their families or by whomever instead of saying that they are exempt from all these laws. There should be no exemptions. Of course this was already mentioned when we talked about our rules against driving while intoxicated. That is one of the most blatant examples and it is very fresh in the minds of many of us here who have spent some time in Ottawa.

I believe that we should say to people coming to this country that we will not exempt them from a particular law and if they do not agree they should send people here who will. In other words, we do not want people who will break laws and endanger the lives and attack the security of Canadian citizens. We have to be very sure that we protect Canadians. That is a substantial missing link here.

When we exempt a person from a law, even a simple parking law, what we are basically saying is that everyone else must pay the penalty for that exemption. That is a principle which I think is contrary to the fundamental democratic principle of equality of people within our society.

I have another little parenthetical statement I want to make here because I think it is rather funny. When I first arrived in Ottawa some eight years ago, and I believe next week is the eighth anniversary of that election, one of the things that shocked me in terms of the culture shift from the cities and towns in the west which I had grown up in and lived in was a considerable disregard for the law in Ottawa. That shocked me, because I thought that Ottawa was the lawmaking capital of the country and in this very city citizens did not pay any regard to the foremost fundamental laws governing traffic. That was what got me.

I think I am still the only one in Ottawa who, even when I walk from my office to the hotel at midnight, still stops and waits at a wait light. I have not seen anyone doing it. I have even had people look at me like they think I am crazy. They ask me why I am not walking, why I am standing there. I have had cabs stop. The drivers think I want a ride. All I am doing is simply obeying a law. The law says we should wait to go until the light gives us permission. Very frankly, there is quite clearly a lack of enforcement of that law which means that people do not obey it.

When I drive in Ottawa I can assure members that I am much more anxious about the safety of pedestrians than I am back home, because back home I am assured that they will stay on the sidewalk and will not break the laws, whereas here I have the opposite assurance. I know that if there is a person on the sidewalk he can and likely will, on a whim, leave the sidewalk and walk in front of me, maybe pausing just short of making contact with the vehicle. That unfortunately does not make for a very good, safe society.

Earlier this week when taking my 10 minute walk from the hotel to the office in the morning, I decided to count infractions. How many infractions do you think I saw, Madam Speaker, just traffic infractions such as vehicles making u-turns in the middle of the street, vehicles making illegal turns, pedestrians jay-walking and pedestrians walking against the light? In 10 minutes in my little walk from the Travelodge hotel to my House of Commons office I counted 61 violations. Clearly the law is not being enforced so therefore it is just blatantly being broken.

That is a civic matter and has nothing to do specifically with the House of Commons, but the reason I mention it is that when we have people living in Canada who for one reason or another are exempt from certain laws, it sends a totally wrong message. As I said before, we need to be very sure when we exempt individuals from obeying these laws that we have a very good reason to do so and that the reason is consistent with our objectives.

When I think of some of these laws that could be exempted I think of the GST. If we decide that we will exempt foreigners who are in our country as part of a diplomatic or other mission from paying the GST, I suppose we could. I know that it is done, because our diplomats are exempted from the tax rates when they go to other countries. There is a reciprocal agreement.

Just collecting a tax or not collecting a tax is not necessarily an affront or a threat to our safety, but there are other laws which I believe we should very vigorously enforce and I think that this actually is the root of the bill. It is one of the reasons that the Liberals over there refuse to get into the debate. All throughout the afternoon only one Liberal stood up once for two minutes to ask a question. That was the hon. member for Malpeque. I congratulate him for actually being awake and listening and participating.

However, the fact that the Liberals are not putting up speakers to defend the bill is a tacit admission that it is indefensible. Therefore they will just push it through with their majority and will not need to try to persuade anyone to vote for it because their members will vote for it on command and they cannot defend it to the others anyway.

I believe the reason they are doing this is primarily the APEC situation in which they brought in some individuals, and I will not mention them by name, and it was quite clear that those individuals were not willing to obey the security and other laws of our country and they were exempted. There was then of course a considerable fear.

I believe one of the reasons the protesters in Vancouver were pushed back from the motorcade was for their own safety. Some members of the motorcade from foreign countries could have taken action against the protesters had they perceived that something was going awry, which would have been very unfortunate.

Their job was to protect their man. That is legitimate but there is a better way. We should inform delegates invited to Canada on such a mission that it would be better for them to comply with our rules and to allow us to provide the security. Then everything would be done in an orderly fashion.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about the right of demonstrations. It has become almost a cliché in Canada and to some extent in the United States. Some very great good has come from the freedom of expression and from the freedom of demonstration.

I refer particularly of our friends in the United States. I wonder how many more years of inequality between whites and blacks in the U.S. there would have been were it not for Martin Luther King and some of the demonstrations in which he participated. However I remind the House that those demonstrations were always done peacefully.

Mahatma Gandhi was another person who engaged in peaceful demonstrations. It is called passive resistance. When people are willing to stand and object because something is wrong and are willing to be sent to jail because they feel the other side is wrong, it sends a very powerful message. If it is done often enough the message gets through. However if we say to the protesters that they have the right to engage in any activity they want, we are inviting an increasing degree of anarchy into our society.

We had protesters put pies into the faces of ministers and even our Prime Minister. The Prime Minister would not necessarily have been my first choice. However, having earned that position and having been elected by the people, we have in our society an obligation to respect that position.

When we are telling people it is okay to protest and to take a lemon or meringue pie and shove it into the Prime Minister's face, I say that is a case of great indignity and should not be tolerated. We have come to a point where we no longer have discernment on what behaviour should or should not be tolerated. There are some things we should not tolerate.

I would like to give another little sidebar if I may. One of the great surprises in my life as a member of parliament is the abuse one gets as an MP simply based upon a perceived association from other people who think we are not honourable.

An event happened to me that was both funny and sad. I was visiting a business person who was showing me around his shop. I had not entered there in my capacity as an MP. He knew I was an MP and we were having a fairly reasonable conversation. During the course of the conversation suddenly and without warning he kicked me quite hard. I can still remember the pain because he got me in a place where it hurts. He said that he felt better and that he always wanted to do that to a politician.

We both had a little laugh and I passed it off, but inside I was very hurt because he did a very undignified thing to me. He thought it was funny, so what could I do?

If the circumstances were different I could have charged him with assault. That would have been the appropriate thing to do, but I did not and I would not. We sort of take these things, but we need to make sure that when people are protesting they treat other people with dignity.

The kind of protests we have had in the country in the last number of years have increasingly shown a total lack of respect and dignity for the participants. I am referring to meetings of the G-8, IMF, World Bank and APEC.

Are they not honourable and reasonable people who are leaders in their countries? They come together to debate and to solve problems. Why should we allow other people to put their lives at risk? We should have reasonable limitations on freedom of demonstrations that protect the rights and dignity of other people as is required in the convention. Canada has agreed to the clauses that protect the dignity of the person.

I have another little sidebar. While in Ottawa during the last eight years I had opportunity to meet a number of foreign dignitaries, ambassadors and representatives from other countries. One of the greatest venues for this is sponsored by a Canadian organization called the Christian Embassy.

Gerry Sherman often gets members of parliament, senators and foreign diplomats together so that we can learn about their countries and they can learn about ours. He has taken some of them on guided tours across the country. It is a great thing he does. In this case we have people treated with the dignity they deserve and in 99.9% of cases the kind they have earned. I would like to see that continued and encouraged.

I want to say one more thing about international meetings. If we do not act properly we will probably no longer have these meetings. I say to protestors that they have the right in a democracy to get involved in the debate. They should forward their debaters to the House of Commons by getting somebody elected who would represent their points of view. They can also be in other venues, but let us get into debate.

Just as I do not have the right to breach the two sword lengths between this side and the government side, neither does the protester have the right to breach the security of anybody else who wants to get into debate. They have the right to be in the debate. They do not have the right to violence or the threat of violence.

Unless this is checked the time would come when the G-8, G-20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund would only be able to meet somewhere on an undisclosed island where they would arrive without formal notice. Once they were there all other aircraft would be kept 50 miles away. That would be the only way they would have an opportunity to sit and debate the issues in peace, freedom and security. I believe that island should be Canada, but it cannot be if we do not have a balance of discipline with respect to protesters.

This is not a party position. I am one person who says that I accept the rules of ordered debate and of an ordered civilized society. I expect others to do so as well.

Bill C-35 does not come anywhere near setting out new powers for the RCMP to deal with this kind of thing. It is a backward step in my view as it does not enhance the ability of Canada to be an honourable, dignified and secure host of these international conferences and other functions.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2001 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to contribute my thoughts to the discussion on Bill C-35. I would like to pay special tribute to my colleague from Verchères--Les-Patriotes as well as to my colleague who spoke previously. Their comments were very insightful and added greatly to the debate.

It would be appropriate to go back a bit and talk about the aspect that is at the centre of the bill, the rules around diplomatic immunity. To do that we need to revisit why those rules exist in the first place.

Rules regulating the various aspects of diplomatic relations constitute one of the earliest expressions of international law. Whenever in history there has been a group of independent nations co-existing, special customs were developed on how ambassadors and other special representatives of those nations were to be treated, on special privileges and immunities related to diplomatic personnel of various kinds.They grew partly in consequence of sovereign immunity and the independence and equality of states and partly as an essential requirement of an international system.

States must negotiate and consult with one another and with international organizations. To do so, they need diplomatic staff. In most cases those diplomatic staff are comprised of citizens of their own countries who travel abroad to do that work, although in our own foreign affairs department a decreasing number of people working in our foreign embassies are Canadians. More and more we employ people who are nationals in the areas where our embassies are located. That is another topic for another day, but certainly a topic of concern to the members on this side of the House in the Canadian Alliance.

In short, the rules of diplomatic law lay down the receiving state's obligations regarding the facilities, the privileges, the immunities to be accorded to diplomatic missions, and on the other they foresee their possible abuse by members. They specify the means at the disposal of the receiving state to counter any such abuse. Our concern is that the balance between these two things has shifted perhaps too much against the whole state. In other words, there is not the opportunity for recourse that might be necessary in the event of a criminal act by a member of a foreign mission on Canadian soil.

It is disappointing to me, as it should be to any thoughtful member of the House, that the government has not seen fit to have the minister present the arguments as to the merits of the bill and that it has not seen fit to advance speakers to discuss the bill. That clearly is a distraction and evidence of a lack of enthusiasm for the bill. Perhaps not, but there is a presence of a desire to move the bill forward quickly in the absence of constructive debate. I invite the members on the other side of the House to contribute their thoughts and comments to the discussion as it is important.

American humorist Will Rogers defined diplomacy as the art of saying nice doggy while looking for a big stick. What we are concerned about is that the big sticks in diplomacy seem to be held by the people who come to Canada rather than by Canadians themselves.

We understand the traditional history of diplomatic immunity is of long-standing, I am told right back to the treaty of Westphalia, and that it has been enhanced and elaborated upon by the Vienna conventions and so on. We understand the need for diplomatic immunity in its basic sense. We know that in ancient times people who had the responsibility of being foreign ambassadors were sometimes treated badly by the other nations to whom they had to carry messages. Sometimes they were beheaded. I understand other elements of torture were applied to them. They were put in dungeons. They were punished for doing the work of trying to be intermediaries between two states.

Civilized states advanced and decided to move forward. They brought forward better ways of dealing with one another by giving immunity to those who had the courage to become members of the diplomatic corps. This of course was progress.

The essential secondary aspect of that immunity was that the receiving countries agreed they would not discriminate against the representatives from other countries regardless of their conduct in the past and that that was irrelevant.

What they may have done in a war a few years before was totally irrelevant. The lives they may have taken, even from the very country to which they were now an ambassador, were of no consequence whatsoever. The fact was they were free and clear. They were above the law. They were not just above the law in the sense that previous actions, whether criminal or not, were to be forgotten, but they were also above the law in the land to which they went. Of course that meant that they did not have to abide by the laws of the country to which they went.

Fortunately there have been relatively few instances, at least in modern times, where foreign diplomats or council staffs have betrayed the trust or dignity of their office by breaking the laws of the land in which they were stationed. Nonetheless, that reality, which is something I will address a little later in my comments, is unfortunately a reality we saw in Canada as recently as a few months ago: a reality that impacts on the lives of real people in a real way: a reality that human beings are not perfect; and a reality that when people are given positions that puts them above the law, for some reason or another they seem to think they are above the law and can behave in any way they might desire. That is not a good thing.

The history of immunity means trade-offs. We could say those trade-offs in our history were a good thing. They were progressive steps for medieval times when ambassadors were beheaded if the news was not good. That is a progressive step. Perhaps what we are debating now in the context of this bill is not whether diplomatic immunity itself is a good or necessary thing, but rather a question of degree. That is what we should be debating.

Is it right that we should expand upon the definitions of those people allowed to be above the law? Is that something that we should consider doing? Should we place a broader number of people in the country above Canadian law? Is that something we should do? I do not know. I do not think so.

I know that theoretical cases are sometimes used to illustrate points and I will provide one. Let us suppose that Afghanistan is defeated, the Taliban is deposed and a new administration comes in that is comprised of a coalition of a variety of forces representative of the people of Afghanistan. Let us suppose that we are able to bring democracy to Afghanistan and there is a freely held, open election where the most popular people would be elected to a new Afghanistan parliament.

Then let us suppose that Osama bin Laden runs and wins because he is a pretty popular man in some parts of Afghanistan. Let us suppose he goes into a house like this and serves there for years representing the people of Afghanistan. As is the case here of course, after a few years he would be appointed a diplomat, just as happens with Liberals on the opposite side. They advance to the diplomatic corps. Our diplomatic corps around the world is populated with former Liberal politicians.

Let us suppose that after a few years the government of Afghanistan decides that Osama bin Laden, on the right side of the power-brokers of the day, should be appointed a diplomat and is appointed to Canada. I hope everyone is getting my point.

The fact is when someone is put above the law there are consequences to doing that. The consequences for two women in Ottawa last year are real and permanent. There are consequences for not standing up for Canadian values. Canadians value the rule of law and people who abide by the laws that are made. We are proud of our system of laws.

In fact it stands in very stark contrast to the way in which we dealt with the issue of terrorism for too long. We have become known as a soft touch for terrorists around the world. We have become known as a safe haven. Every time a question is raised, the immigration minister does the same thing. She does this now and has done it for some months from what I understand.

For example, a question might be asked about why 50 people came here last weekend from Pakistan or Afghanistan without security clearance and then disappeared into the land, but the immigration department did not know where they were or what their security records were.

When someone asks a question, we immediately hear the response from the immigration minister that we are labelling everyone outside of Canada who is a refugee. We are asking questions about a process that Canadians are concerned about.

This country has a reputation among the peacekeeping law enforcement officials and investigative and intelligence personnel around the world as a soft touch for terrorists. It has a reputation in many countries as a place where one can go and immediately have charter rights and freedoms: the right to accommodation; the right to free medical care; the right to food; and welfare benefits. Immediately, we provide those benefits, and many of us in the House are proud of that. The reality is we do not want to provide those benefits to terrorists. That would be self-evident.

The question is: How do we deal with this system properly and carefully? On the one hand, the Liberals have said since September 11 that they want to deal with the problem. I accept that. September 11 changed our way of thinking. It changed many of us, perhaps forever, and some of that is not entirely bad. If it has brought about an awareness of the need for greater security and if it brings about a need for a greater understanding of the challenges we have to face to stand up for Canadian values in the world, then perhaps that is a benefit that has come from a tragedy.

However, the reality is that the Liberals, prior to that time, and perhaps again, have been torpid in their response the initiatives that we have advanced. Torpid means: slow moving, sluggish, inactive, inert, lethargic, lazy, listless, spiritless, indolent, languid, languorous, apathetic, lackadaisical, passive, slow-thinking, dull, half asleep, drowsy, somnolent and dormant. That is the response we have had from the Liberal government for several years in advancing security related suggestions, clear-headed forward thinking suggestions, which only now, in consequence of a crisis, it appears to be embracing. Better late than never.

This bill sends the wrong message. The bill sends the message that we will be tough on terrorists but we will be tough in terms of standing up for our values; we will be very permissive in extending the right to certain groups of people within our country, a growing number by this legislation, to be above the law. That sends the message that we have a flexible morality and we do not.

We have not got the military we used to have, but we are trying. I am proud, and we are all proud, of the Canadian people who are contributing to our military presence in this struggle against terrorism worldwide. However that should not deter us in doing everything we can on a diplomatic front.

The government says it is tough on terrorism. It has made that statement numerous times. However, when it had the opportunity to stand up and prove that, it failed. I speak now about the opportunity to oppose the selection of Syria to the United Nations security council.

The Prime Minister said in a press conference just last week “Together with our allies, we will defy and defeat the threat that terrorism poses to all civilized nations”.

In the House last week, the defence minister said “There is no doubt that those who perpetrate this terrorism need to be found out and brought to justice, as well as those who harbour them”.

Those are good words. Those are words I hope that all members could support. Unfortunately, when we had the opportunity to stand up and say no to Syria for the United Nations Security Council just last week, we did not.

Why should we have said no to Syria? Let us talk about that.

Syria, as a nation, has violated the United Nations Security Council economic sanctions against Iraq. It has pumped 100,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day through its pipeline to the Mediterranean coast, which shows its contempt for the United Nations Security Council on which it now has a seat, thanks to Canadian representation.

Syria is an occupying power in Lebanon. It maintains 25,000 troops and intelligence agents in Lebanon. It uses Lebanese banks for its slush funds. It has turned the Biqa Valley into one of the world's greatest drug routes.

This contravenes UN resolution 425 which calls for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon.

The following terrorist organizations are known to be based in Syria according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, England and the United States state department: Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic jihad, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the list goes on and on.

Syria has been on the United States state department's list of states sponsoring terrorism since that list was first created in 1979. Hamas operates a political office in Damascus. It is openly operated.

The leader of the Islamic jihad which carries out suicide bombings in Israel lives in Damascus. The group has its headquarters there. Syria allows Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic jihad to operate freely from areas of Lebanon under Syrian control. Syria allows Iran to supply Hezbollah through the Damascus airport.

One would hope that if we were going to stand for Canadian values and do the things the minister of defence said we would do, which is to stand against those who harbour and support terrorism, we would at least have had the spine to say no to Syria for the United Nations Security Council. It was our opportunity and a glorious one to show that we would stand for Canadian values, not just in words but in actual deeds, and say no when it was right to say no.

I understand the need for us to have relations with various countries that we may not agree with some of the time or a lot of the time but I also understand that a good relationship is based on openness, truth and honesty. When has the government demonstrated to us that it has told the government of Syria that it is not acceptable to harbour terrorist organizations? It has not. That is not how a strong and good relationship is created. That is not how to stand for Canadian values in the world.

Yesterday, sadly, the tourism minister of Israel was assassinated by an organization named the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine which operates out of Syria. A week and a half ago we could have as a nation said no. We could have said that Canadians would not support this kind of thing but we did not. Yesterday another widow was the result of the action of a terrorist.

I am not blaming the members of the government for the actions of terrorists because that would be wrong and I will not do that. What I am saying is that we have to stand up for the values that we maintain we have. If we fail to do so then they are not truly our values. We have an opportunity and an obligation to do that.

In case the members opposite believe or disbelieve that there are no real consequences, they should consider the events of yesterday. A diminished Canadian voice has been the result of our failure to stand for our values. There are consequences to us domestically when we extend rights. I give the example of rights to diplomats, diplomatic immunity.

Last year Russian diplomat Andrei Knyasev, who had multiple previous drunk driving incidents, ran over and killed a woman and seriously injured her friend in Ottawa while under the influence of duty free alcohol to which he was entitled as a diplomat. He is beyond prosecution.

In 1997 a Kuwaiti embassy employee in Ottawa, Osama Al-Ayoub, was charged with two counts of reselling duty free liquor to which he was entitled as an embassy employee. He left the country without being prosecuted.

In 1996 Olexander Yushko, a Ukrainian consular employee in Toronto, claimed immunity after trying to lure two girls aged 12 and 14 into his car while holding an anaesthetic soaked handkerchief. He was also charged with two counts of drunk driving, possessing stolen licence plates and attempting to bribe a police officer. There was no prosecution there either.

In 1991 two unnamed Kenyan diplomats claimed immunity after being questioned in Ottawa for allegedly assaulting four teenage girls at knifepoint in two separate incidents in a vacant apartment they had broken into. They simply left the country without prosecution.

In the words of Catherine Doré, the woman injured in the unfortunate event of last year, the survivor of the Knyasev incident, she said:

Diplomatic immunity should not be an excuse for violating those rules which protect Canadian citizens. There are changes that need to be made—changes so that people like that don't get away without being punished.

The bill does nothing to address the weaknesses I have pointed out today. I encourage the government to make changes or withdraw the bill entirely.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Jonquière for her question, because it gives me an opportunity to elaborate and clarify this aspect of the bill.

By itself, within the context of Bill C-35, this aspect of the bill would already raise some concern. We could certainly be concerned to see the RCMP being granted, through this bill, the power to organize by itself all the security aspects of international activities or conferences held in Canadian territory.

We have seen it in the past. We only have to think of the APEC Conference in British Columbia, when the RCMP, and indirectly the federal government, were asked to plan the security of this conference. Is seems--and it has not been denied yet--that there would have been a close relationship between the two as far as the conference security, the so-called security, was concerned. We are therefore justified in being concerned about the new provision in Bill C-35.

But when this provision contained in Bill C-35 is combined with all the provisions in Bill C-36 on combating against terrorism, then we become really concerned, as I indicated earlier in my speech.

We will recall that one of our colleagues from the Liberal Party suggested that the provisions of Bill C-36 might be interpreted in such a way that protesters at the last Summit of the Americas in Quebec City could have been considered as terrorists.

With the Royal Canadian Mounted Police solely responsible for security in such a context, it would be all the more reason to be concerned. If the past tells us what the future will be, the government will have to bring clarifications on this disturbing provision in Bill C-35 as well as on the other provision contained in Bill C-36.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2001 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, sometimes speech is silver, sometimes silence is golden.

It is unfortunate that our colleague from Lanark—Carleton decided to use the time he had left, although that is his right, to complete his presentation. It is not that we do not recognize his erudition and his eloquence, but it had, I believe, been agreed among our various colleagues to allow the member for Cumberland—Colchester, who unfortunately had a plane to catch, to speak for a few minutes to this bill. He really wanted to and will not be able to, unfortunately, under the circumstances.

I know this is not common practice in this House, but I would like to mention, for the constituents of my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester and the people of Nova Scotia, that he wanted to speak in this House on the bill, but circumstances prevented him from doing so.

I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-35, in part because I have fond memories of my stint on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade as the former Bloc Quebecois critic in the matter. I refer to the act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

I would right off like to congratulate our colleague from Mercier on an excellent job in this matter.

This bill sets out the privileges and immunities enjoyed by diplomats and international organizations in Canada. It sets out Canada's obligations under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations that took effect in 1963.

I would first say a word on diplomatic immunity. It has, let us not fool ourselves, had bad press. We recall the death of Ottawa lawyer Catherine MacLean and the injuries suffered by her friend Catherine Doré. They were struck in March by a Russian diplomat posted to Ottawa, Andrei Knyazev, while he was unfortunately intoxicated. Mr. Knyazev escaped prosecution because of his diplomatic immunity. Russia, in a gesture I cannot support, refused to waive the immunity.

Members will recall that the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced at the time that he would do something so that foreign diplomats arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol would never drive again in Canada. I am surprised that the bill before us makes no mention of this. We will certainly have an opportunity to question the minister on the matter in committee.

People have trouble understanding that some people are above the law simply because they have diplomatic status. If a poll were taken today, I would not be surprised if a majority of the population said they were against diplomatic immunity. It is for this reason, curiously, that I come to its defence today.

Diplomatic immunity is essential for the success of international relations. In many countries of the world, arbitrary decisions take the place of the law. In some areas, there is no freedom of religion. In others, criticizing the government is a crime. If the diplomats we post to these countries were not protected by diplomatic immunity, they could be imprisoned at a moment's notice, or even executed for the slightest criticism or indiscretion.

In such conditions, without diplomatic immunity it would be difficult for the Government of Canada, and even for the House of Commons, to take action vis-à-vis these countries without endangering the lives and the safety of the Canadian diplomats posted there. It would be difficult to intervene at the UN General Assembly. Without diplomatic immunity, our diplomats would have trouble coming to the assistance of Canadians in troubled regions around the world. In short, it would be difficult for diplomats to play their role fully. And the role that diplomats play abroad is an important one.

One has only to read the Vienna Convention to realize this. Diplomats are responsible for representing their government, defending it, negotiating on its behalf, promoting economic, cultural, political and scientific relations and finally, protecting its nationals. Without diplomatic immunity, these functions could be interrupted as soon as there was unrest in the country to which they were posted. And it is at these precise times that diplomats’ functions are most essential.

Diplomatic relations between states or sovereigns have always existed. What is more recent are the diplomatic duties performed within international organizations. These functions really took off with the creation of the United Nations, after World War II. But it is not just the UN. Progress in the transportation and communication sectors have helped the development of international organizations. Some, but not all of them are created by treaty.

In addition to these international organizations, we also have major international meetings and summits that are not always under the aegis of organizations, but nevertheless play an important role in international relations.

The current Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act is ill-suited to this new situation, hence Bill C-35, whose principle is supported by the Bloc Quebecois.

Still, several provisions of the bill raise questions and even serious concerns. We will see in committee how these concerns can be lessened. It is too early to say whether we will support the bill at third reading.

The definition of international organizations found in the existing act is very restrictive. In order to be considered as such, international organizations must be established by treaty. However, a number of organizations, including the OECD and the G-8, are not established by treaty.

The definition of diplomatic mission is also very restrictive. Indeed, the existing act only recognizes embassies or consulates accredited to Canada. Diplomatic missions accredited to international organizations are not recognized. There is a need to adjust the legislation to the current reality, where international institutions play a major role.

Quebec's international reputation, and particularly that of Montreal, is well known. This is especially true in cultural and educational areas, in the environmental sector, and in the aviation industry, where Montreal is known worldwide through ICAO, among others, the International Civil Aviation Organization.

There are already 70 international organizations in Montreal, including 40 that are recognized through agreements with the Quebec government. Seven of these organizations are made up of states and would be covered by Bill C-35. Under Bill C-35, diplomatic missions accredited to these organizations will enjoy the same privileges and immunities as diplomatic and consular missions accredited to the government.

The presence of these international bodies in Montreal has a direct economic impact in excess of $185 million, as well as over 3,300 jobs. On top of that, there are the international meetings attracted by their presence in Montreal. This is another aspect of Bill C-35 which will help Montreal develop its international role. Major international meetings participated in by other countries, might enjoy privileges, taxation ones in particular, under this bill.

Nevertheless, the Bloc Quebecois is extremely perplexed by certain clauses in this bill, as I have already said.

First, the definition of international organizations. In the present act, an international organization is defined as any intergovernmental organization of which two or more states are members, while Bill C-35 adds “whether or not established by treaty”, which is a good thing. However, the French expression “regroupant” (bringing together) has now been changed to “formée de” (made up of) several states. Why?

Does this mean that an international organization of which several states are members, but also federated states or provinces, would no longer be recognized? I am thinking here, of course, of the Francophonie, and also of other organizations in which Quebec will be sure to participate, because they deal essentially with matters over which Ottawa really does not have much, if any, jurisdiction, such as culture, education or health.

The bill has as little to say about interparliamentary associations. These, as we know, are becoming increasingly important. Some even have a permanent secretariat here. I am thinking in particular of COPA, the Parliamentary Association of the Americas, one which is very familiar to you, moreover, Mr. Speaker, and is headquartered in Quebec City.

These parliamentary associations may have foreigners on their staff. They are not comprised of states, but rather of parliaments. The bill does not mention this, and thus affords them no particular tax status. Here we have an excellent opportunity to proclaim the importance of the international role of parliamentarians. It would be a pity to miss it. We are entitled to question such matters, and will do so in committee.

Second, clause 4 of Bill C-35 has an impact on the recognition of delegations of what the bill calls, and I quote, “an office of a political subdivision of a foreign state”. This in fact refers to federated states, or provinces.

I will take the trouble to cite the legislation, because the issue is subtle, but very important. Section 6 of the existing legislation provides that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs may decide jointly, and I quote:

—for the purpose of according... treatment that is comparable to

(a) extend any of the duty and tax relief privileges provided for in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that have been granted to that office of the political subdivision of the foreign state, and to any person connected therewith;

In addition, the act provides that the minister may also grant to the offices and archives of these political subdivisions any of the immunities accorded to consular premises and archives by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Bill C-35 limits this. The duty and tax relief privileges are still there, but the immunity of premises has disappeared? Why?

And even with respect to tax privileges, the act provides that the minister may grant them only if he is of the opinion that, and I quote:

—the office of the political subdivision of the foreign state performs, in Canada, duties that are substantially the same as the duties performed in Canada by a consular post as defined in... the Vienna Convention—

This is a condition that is not in the existing legislation.

Federal states, particularly in countries consisting of more than one people, are playing an increasingly large role in international fora. The example of Belgium comes to mind, but there are others. Not all countries are like Canada, which uses every means possible to prevent the people of Quebec from bypassing Ottawa's filter and communicating with the other nations of the world.

Decisions taken in international forums now affect all areas, including some that do not come under federal jurisdiction. The role of federal states in these international forums will only grow.

Why then does Bill C-35 limit privileges, when the times we now live in would seem to require that they be broadened instead?

The Vienna Convention is based on the rule of reciprocity of treatment. If Canada reduces the privileges accorded delegations of foreign federal states represented here, the odds are that foreign governments will be tempted to want to reduce the privileges accorded Quebec delegations abroad accordingly. I have trouble understanding this restrictive clause, slipped into a bill the purpose of which is to be more open.

Quebec has 31 foreign offices: six general delegations, one delegation, seven offices and 17 sub-delegations on every continent.

These Quebec representatives abroad deal with co-operation, immigration and economic development. They play an essential role.

In passing, I would like to highlight one of Mission Quebec's successful economic missions last year, in which they came back with a one billion dollar Spanish investment, in the riding of my colleague from Mercier, to be specific.

Such success would have been more difficult without the presence of Quebec representatives abroad. We must not make things harder for them. Indeed, we must assist them. And one would think that this is the role of the federal government, as long as Quebec is a part of confederation.

Yet we know how much the federal government likes throwing wrenches in the works of Quebec when it comes to their international presence. We know how hard they work at erasing Quebec's presence in the international arena.

Much has been said about the federal government's little book for diplomats posted abroad on how to deal with separatist officials. We recall as well that one African country, Mali, was threatened with having all of its development aid cut if it invited Quebec to participate in a meeting of the Francophonie in the 1960s.

France had to intervene to solve the conflict, which in the end enabled Quebec, the only francophone state in North America, to become a member of the Francophonie. Such events make us suspicious. The government should reassure about clause 4 of Bill C-35.

My third concern, and I will end on this, regards the powers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This aspect of the bill already concerned me. Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism act that was just introduced, increases my concerns.

Bill C-35 adds another section to the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. It basically adds a new element that did not exist in the current legislation, that of security at intergovernmental conferences.

Indeed, the bill specifies that the RCMP, or the mounted police, as the Prime Minister calls it and as we used to call it 50 years ago, is responsible for the security of intergovernmental conferences.

One wonders what this clause has to do with the immunities and privileges granted to diplomatic missions and international organizations. This clause has nothing to do with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that the bill on foreign missions and international organizations will implement. Moreover, subsection 3 of this clause reads, and I quote:

—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.

If this clause does not have any effect on existing laws, then why include it? I do not understand. Let us keep reading. The same clause provides that:

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.

In the past, that responsibility was jointly assumed by the RCMP and the provinces, as we saw during the last summit of the Americas held in Quebec City in April, when RCMP and QPP officers fully co-operated together. The presence of the QPP was indispensable and beneficial in maintaining order.

We can all think of this somewhat ridiculous situation where unilingual anglophone RCMP officers would ask in English unilingual francophone protesters to disperse.

In order to be effective, security measures must be applied jointly.

But let us continue reading clause 10. subsection 2 specifies that 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.

This clause institutionalizes the security perimeter. It legitimizes any measure that the RCMP may want to take to ensure the security of international meetings. It gets the parliament's approval regarding measures that may be taken without parliament being involved, even indirectly.

It is not normal to close off cities, barricade neighbourhoods and fence off downtown areas so that heads of state can meet. I understand that it is necessary sometimes, but it is not normal. In fact, it is indicative of some discomfiture in the operation of international organizations, a lack of democracy and transparency and a lack of sensitivity to people's needs. This can only give rise to frustrations and then demonstrations.

This therefore is an abnormal situation that can be only temporary. These measures are exceptional and must be treated as such. There is no reason to institutionalize them, especially in legislation that will be permanent, since its function is to ensure the permanence of international relations. This is an important distinction.

As my time is running out, I will conclude. It is clear that this clause is drafted to measure for the G-8 meeting in Alberta next July. It is clear that it is intended to apply parliament's stamp to the security measures the police are preparing to take, which will be, as we may expect, extraordinary. We must avoid doing so. At the very least, we must avoid doing it in the context of legislation on diplomatic relations.

It is, however, all the more distressing, when we consider the context of the G-8 meeting. The anti-terrorism bill will have been passed by that time.

I point out that the definition of terrorism in the bill is so vague that a Liberal member went so far as to say that, under Bill C-36, the demonstrators at the Quebec summit could have been considered terrorists. We must bear this in mind when we consider Bill C-35. We must be extra cautious.

Freedom of expression, of association and peaceful demonstration are fundamental rights. They are in large measure what distinguishes democratic countries from totalitarian ones.

The Bloc Quebecois will have many questions for the minister about the appropriateness of putting this clause on the security of intergovernmental conferences in Bill C-35.

As can be seen, the Bloc Quebecois is raising numerous questions and concerns. Those questions will have to be answered and our concerns will have to addressed during consideration of the bill.

Nonetheless, we acknowledge the need to modernize the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. Diplomacy is no longer practiced the way it was 30 years ago nor is it in the same forums.

Consequently, despite all the reservations that I mentioned, the Bloc Quebecois will support the principle of the bill.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

October 18th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, let me start by thanking House leaders of all parties for their co-operation in these particularly tumultuous times. I think indeed the nation is well served by their co-operation.

This afternoon we will continue with the consideration of Bill C-15A, respecting child pornography and other amendments to the criminal code. I understand that consideration of that is nearing its end.

After that I will call the resumption of consideration of Bill C-35, respecting foreign missions. Should that consideration terminate before the end of the day, I do not propose to call other bills today.

On Friday we will deal with report stage and third reading of Bill S-23, the Customs Act amendments.

On Monday we will debate Bill C-37, the Alberta-Saskatchewan land claims bill, as well as any other legislation that may not have been completed under consideration over the next couple of days.

Next Tuesday shall be an allotted day. I believe it is in the name of the Canadian Alliance again.

On Wednesday we will consider Bill C-32 concerning Costa Rican trade.

I was asked a question regarding the preparation of the second omnibus bill further to the first one that is presently, as of an hour or two ago, before committee. I do not have a timeline on that yet.

As well, I am not aware whether the next bill would be a compendium of bills such as the first one was or perhaps only one or two in a separate manner. However I will try to obtain as much information as possible for the House leaders meeting next Tuesday so that I can make that information available through the House leaders to all colleagues.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2001 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this very important bill which affects Canadians across the country.

I want to echo the comments made by the member from the NDP that this bill was expected to be merely a housekeeping bill, a bill which did not have much significance, a few amendments here and a few amendments there.

The fact is that buried within this so-called innocuous bill are many profound changes that can have a huge impact on the country, on the powers of the RCMP and on the ability of Canada to not allow certain types of individuals, terrorists and criminals, into Canada. It behooves the Canadian public to know what is in the bill. My colleagues will try to do that over the coming weeks, but we are certainly will not give it the free passage which the government wants.

The government brought this bill forward four days ago. It gave the bill to us two and a half days ago and did not even allow the Library of Parliament to give us an analysis of it. That is not appropriate. That does not provide for adequate scrutiny of the bill.

The bill would allow a number of things, including allowing the foreign affairs minister to order the detention by officers under the Customs Act of goods imported by a diplomatic mission or consulate post of a foreign state. This is very important. We know internationally that certain consulates and embassies use their consulate bags to import and move contraband around. It is known internationally that the contraband can involve diamonds, drugs and weapons. It can also involve the illegal trafficking of endangered species, which is worth billions of dollars. This illegal trafficking is responsible for the decimation of thousands of species around the world, many of which have become extinct.

The bill also deals with a clause involving the RCMP's primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conferences that may occur. Clearly we do not have a problem with that.

I want to bring forward an issue that the NDP have been harping on for a long time, which I find quite offensive. NDP members keep on criticizing the RCMP about its actions at international meetings. It is true that there has to be some analysis, as the Hughes report mentioned, about certain activities. However, for heaven's sake, when individuals who protest are willing to advocate violence, or assault the police, or teardown banners or throw molotov cocktails at the police, the police have a responsibility to protect those who are behind them as well as protect themselves. It is totally irresponsible for certain parties and certain groups to expect members of the RCMP to stand back while certain individuals impart violence against others. It is the responsibility of the RCMP to protect individuals who come to Canada and to protect those who protest peacefully.

We do need to investigate those incidents in which peaceful protesters were somehow hurt. We should also investigate the incidents where banners were put up, but were then torn down and where people were apprehended and taken into custody or thrown in jail before anything actually happened. That violates our basic tenets of freedom of speech which cannot be allowed.

However we cannot keep on using the RCMP as a punching bag for certain political interests that may exist, particularly those who violently oppose anti-globalization efforts.

The bill also lists treaties, conventions and agreements that entitle foreign representatives to immunities and privileges. It was brought forward at some of the meetings here that some foreign leaders, who are thugs, or criminals, or who have grossly abused citizens in their countries, are allowed to come to Canada to attend international meetings.

There certainly is an argument to say that if we do not sit down at the table and discuss matters that may be very difficult and painful, then a resolution cannot be found. Some people we talk to are individuals who, by most definitions, would be considered murderous or thugs at the very least.

We can use a tool to work toward peace. Perhaps the quid pro quo for international despots to arrive at a table and be welcomed as a member of the international community would be that they show good will within their own countries and stop abusing and violating the basic rights of their people.

The international community could apply pressure on groups and leaders in countries from Sierra Leone to Liberia, Angola, the Congo, Sudan and others by using the lever that they genuinely put forth an effort to deal with the significant human rights crises and wars in their country or they would not be allowed to attend international meetings in Canada or abroad. This lever ought to be used.

The problem we have with international treaties is that while they have nice words, they are toothless. We have to put some teeth in international treaties like the Geneva convention, or the rights of the child or the convention on nuclear weapons.

From the United Nations, to the IMF, to the World Bank, many agreements are made, they sound nice on paper and in a perfect world they would make a lot of sense. However many of these treaties are violated, yet there are no penalties, no implications nor ramifications for those who choose to violate them.

I bring attention to an issue that the government has been involved with for a long time and that is the issue of the wars in West Africa. In Liberia, Charles Taylor the president, has for a long time played friend and supporter of a man by the name of Foday Sankoh, the head of the RUF a group of rebels who are committing atrocities in Sierra Leone. They go into villages and chop off the arms or legs of children, women and men, not with the intent to kill them but to terrorize them.

The international community has until very recently turned a blind eye. Only recently have we applied the tools and levers against Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh to do something. The implications of failure, in this case, is that tens of thousands of innocent people have had one or more limbs amputated with hatchets and have been left to die. That is beyond comprehension.

This conflict is flowing into Guinea as we speak. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands more refugees and the destruction of entire sectors of this area.

Why I bring this up in relation to the bill is that Canada can indeed take a leadership role by applying pressures, using levers, and putting teeth in the international agreements which exist today. The argument to support it is not merely the obvious humanitarian argument that it is wrong to mutilate innocent civilians, or commit gang rape, or murder innocent civilians on the street or purge the economic resources of a country without sharing it with the civilians.

Perhaps the self-centred argument that should be put forth to the international community is that if it does not deal with these despots now then we will pay the price later on.

The costs of post-conflict reconstruction are massive. Whether we talk about the former Yugoslavia, West Africa, the Congo or Rwanda, the costs are in the billions of dollars. When the precursors to conflict were staring us in the face, as they have been for years, perhaps we should have got involved. The argument could be that if we had spent a bit of money, if we had put forward a bit of effort and if we had spent a bit of time and attention to deal with these precursors to conflict, economically we would not have had to deal with the disasters that followed.

We cannot talk about the penalty we pay in human terms. That far greater penalty is borne by the civilians in the some 50 countries around the world where bloody conflicts are occurring today and to which we in the international community have by and large turned a blind eye. We need to get involved. We need to apply levers internationally. There is an opportunity to do so in the international agreements referred to in the bill, in treaties and in the meetings we sometimes host.

Next year we will be hosting the G-8 summit. It is rumoured that the summit in part will deal with Africa. I hope it will also deal with the issue of terrorism. There is a grand opportunity for us as a nation to put some constructive solutions on the table. There is an alignment of the stars. Recently, led by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, a millennium plan for Africa has been put forth. It deals with such issues as economic development, conflict prevention, resource management, political changes, democracy and human rights. Rather than looking at the past, it deals with some pragmatic solutions that can be done now and in the future.

There is an opportunity for Canada to link up with the some 15 leadership countries on that secretariat dealing with the millennium project and merge the G-8 summit leaders with the millennium project in Africa so that there is some commonality in the actions they pursue. Next year in Kananaskis, there is a great opportunity for Canada to take a leadership role with the G-8 nations. Those constructive solutions could be put forward with the blessing and the co-operation of the members supporting the millennium project in Africa, most notably the South Africans. There would be an enormous possibility for pursuing peace and security.

The bill also deals with protecting individuals who have committed crimes in Canada, such as the tragic murder of a woman by a drunk driver, a Russian employee at the embassy. Canada has faced problems in dealing with that because of today's laws.

Motion No. 373, placed on the notice paper on June 5, deals with just that. It reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade should: (a) release the names of all foreign nationals and diplomats employed in Canada in the service of their country who are charged with an indictable offence under the Criminal Code; and (b) urge the sending states of said diplomats either to recall their respective foreign officers, allow them to proceed through the Canadian judicial system, or allow their diplomats to be subject to expulsion from Canada as provided by the Vienna Convention of 1961.

The motion would enable Canada to deal with individuals who have indeed committed crimes here in Canada, rather than allowing them to flee to their countries of origin.

There is another thing that may be of help to foreign service officers here and indeed to our foreign services officers abroad. Once they come to Canada, their families cannot work. It is a problem. Similarly, the families of our foreign service officers cannot work when they go abroad. It would be useful to have provisions in the bill that would allow the family members of individuals who are employed by foreign embassies in Canada to work in our country. The quid pro quo would be that the family members of our foreign service personnel working in our embassies abroad could work in those countries. That would be beneficial to them and would provide a great deal of security for the individuals and their families.

The bill also deals with a number of immigration issues. My staff in Victoria and the staff of every member in the House have been plagued by problems with respect to the immigration department. The bill could have dealt with that.

For example, the visa officer is in Gambia for the hearing process once every six months. The office in Gambia deals with a lot of refugees from the bloody conflicts in Sierra Leone , Liberia, Guinea and others. If that foreign service officer comes down with the flu, that officer may not get there for a year. People who apply for refugee status in Gambia can only get hearings every six months and sometimes it takes a year. Bear in mind that this is only one step in the emigration process.

That office in particular needs to be looked at. There are other problems. People who go to that office say that the individuals who work there do not really care. When informed that gangs of people were shooting refugees in Sierra Leone on sight, they said there was no danger. Imagine. The international community knows that people have been shot, murdered and chopped up in Sierra Leone, yet our office in Gambia said that there was no danger. When a boatload of refugees was sent back from Sierra Leone, the office in Gambia denied that it ever happened. Either that department is overwhelmed or some significant structural problems exist there.

There are serious concerns in the embassies in India and the Philippines. I do not know if those concerns have been substantiated but the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration needs to look at this issue. Visas are potentially being sold and there are suggestions that people are being bribed.

Not Canadians, but nationals working in our embassies in the Philippines and India allegedly have been selling visas and access to the immigration system in Canada. That is not appropriate. We have repeatedly brought this to the attention of the minister yet we have had no significant response from her to date. Given the number of people who are coming through India and the Philippines it would certainly behoove her to investigate what is going on at those two embassies.

The filing fees and landing right fees are prohibitive for a number of individuals. There has also been little flexibility on the part of the departments there and pettiness has been shown in terms of the documentation required.

We are very disappointed that the government has not taken the bull by the horns. It has not demonstrated to the House the importance of the bill and the critical issues contained within it. We feel the bill is quite sneaky.

The bill should have dealt with reforms to the IMF, the World Bank and the United Nations. There were opportunities in the bill to deal with some conditionality arrangements. They ought to be made but they do not exist.

Conditionality is critically important within the context of how we disburse our taxpayers' funds through these organizations. The World Bank is primarily tasked with aid and development. The International Monetary Fund deals with the security of international markets. The United Nations deals with a whole collection of issues.

The bill could have made suggestions on how our members internationally could reform these systems. It could have enabled the UN, World Bank and the IMF to communicate with each other more effectively. Canadians and the international community would be absolutely appalled to learn that those organizations rarely speak to each other. That they rarely speak to each other now is actually headway because they hardly spoke to each other before. That is bizarre given that all three organizations are supposed to be working in concert on a number of critical international security issues.

There are a number of opportunities in the bill. The Canadian Alliance will try to improve the bill by offering constructive suggestions and solutions to deal with the issues within it. I therefore move: That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substitute the following therefor: “Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, be not now read a second time but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade”.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic caucus to debate the important legislation before the House. The legislation was tabled only a couple of days ago so there has been limited opportunity to study it. My comments are made in that light.

We have been told by the government that the bill contains technical changes to the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and is in effect a housekeeping bill. I urge parliamentarians to give careful scrutiny to the changes proposed in the legislation because the implications of a number of them are serious indeed.

I will not speak to all aspects of the legislation because we are debating the principle of the bill at second reading. However the member for Surrey Central raised a number of concerns that we share.

The proposed amendment to the definition of international organization would be an important change. It would give privileges and immunities to international government organizations such as APEC, the G-8 and others, even if they are not treaty bodies. We would want to study the amendment carefully in committee in terms of its implications.

I will talk about the bill's proposed amendments to the Immigration Act. At present government representatives who wish to enter Canada and who have criminal records are required to obtain a minister's permit. This provision of the Immigration Act applies whether they are world leaders or members of delegations to international conferences.

Frankly in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary it is the way the law should remain. It is unacceptable to suggest that an individual who is a government representative, part of a delegation to an international conference, or for that matter a world leader, should not be required to obey the law and submit to the same requirements with respect to ministers' permits as anyone else.

During this debate a number of my colleagues have referred to the former Russian diplomat charged with the serious offence of drunk driving, an offence that gave rise to the tragic death of a Canadian.

If that individual were part of a delegation to an international conference it would surely not be unreasonable for Canadians to have the opportunity to say no. If he were convicted of the offence he should not be entitled to enter Canada as a member of a delegation. At the very least he should be required to obtain a minister's permit to do so. In other words, it is not acceptable that ministerial permit provisions be invoked only in cases of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

There are other provisions in the legislation on which I will not comment but which I hope we will have an opportunity to discuss in committee. I am concerned about the apparent absence of consultation with provincial, territorial and municipal governments about this important legislation.

The federal government has indicated in background documents that it understands and accepts the urgency of working in partnership with provinces and municipalities to provide the most appropriate and effective security arrangements for all federally hosted international meetings.

If that is the case why did it not bring forward the bill following consultations with provincial, territorial or local jurisdictions? In the committee that studies the bill we will want to ensure these levels of government have been fully consulted and that we have heard from them before the bill passes.

In my remaining few minutes I will focus on the provisions of clause 5. This is the new clause that gives what is called statutory authority to provide protection or police powers.

The government's briefing notes say the amendment was developed in response to security issues raised by the summit of the Americas. The Department of Justice and the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada arrived at the view that the existing common law authority of the government to provide security and protection for these events should be given a statutory basis.

However clause 5 of the bill raises grave questions about the extent to which we are prepared to not only codify existing police powers in law but significantly enhance them. Many Canadians, including myself and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus, are concerned about the growing criminalization of dissent in Canada. We have seen an alarming trend toward giving more powers to the police. Bill C-35 is part of that trend.

Recently the House adopted legislation to give police and law enforcement agencies sweeping powers to break the law in the pursuit of their goals. We in the NDP opposed that legislation. We oppose the bill now before the House because it provides no clear statement as to why it is necessary to amend the law.

The government has put Bill C-35 before the House before presenting us with its package of so-called anti-terrorism legislation. I understand that it will be tabled before the House when we return in about 10 days. We will need to scrutinize it carefully because it is precisely at times like this that our most fundamental civil liberties and human rights are most vulnerable.

We all recall the invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970. While it may have been popular with the public it was recognized in retrospect to have been a significant overreaction. I am proud that it was my colleagues in the New Democratic caucus of the day, led by David Lewis, who stood and said no, that it violated the most basic and fundamental rights of Canadians. We will need to be vigilant regarding the legislative package that will be tabled in the House when we return.

Bill C-35 would give new powers to the RCMP. Clause 5 states:

(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--

(2) For the purpose of carrying out its responsibility...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.

That is a sweeping and dangerous extension of the powers of the RCMP. In light of the recent abuse of those powers in the context of the APEC summit we should not be prepared to grant new powers lightly to the RCMP. The report of Justice Hughes raised serious questions about the extent to which it might be necessary to codify in statutory terms the relationship between political authority and the RCMP. Bill C-35 would do nothing of the kind.

Perhaps the most serious illustration of the abuse of RCMP powers was the recent summit of the Americas. We are told the amendment before the House is a response to security issues raised by the summit. Rather than responding with a statutory extension of the powers of the RCMP we should be asking tough questions about the abuse of police power and criminalization of dissent we witnessed at the Quebec City summit of the Americas.

We in the NDP and others have joined in calling for an independent public inquiry into those abuses. Over 6,000 tear gas canisters and over 900 rubber bullets were fired.

Many of the victims were people who were engaged in peaceful, non-violent, legal protest against the assault on democracy, the environment and human rights that was taking place inside the RCMP's wall of shame.

Why on earth would the government now bring forward legislation extending new powers to the RCMP when Canadians are asking very serious questions about the abuse of the powers it currently has.

Take the case of Éric Laferrière, for example, who was hit with a rubber bullet, a rubber bullet fired at his throat. He was taking part in a peaceful protest, but was shot and hit by a bullet fired by the RCMP. He will never be able to speak again. Obviously, he will be suing the RCMP.

I have to wonder how is it that this government is prepared to grant more powers to the RCMP, when there are so many questions regarding the abuse of power during the summit of the Americas in Quebec City, last April.

We oppose this legislation and we certainly will ask tough questions when it comes to hearings on the bill. It is essential that the committees study very carefully the provisions of this legislation and call extensive witnesses from civil liberties associations.

Representatives of the Quebec Civil Liberties Union published a report which seriously criticized the conduct and actions of the RCMP, especially its use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

We will want to hear from them and others. Before we are prepared to accept these changes in legislation, we want to be convinced that it does not represent a very dangerous and unacceptable extension of the powers of the police.

Criminalization of dissent in this country is a serious concern and this legislation may very well contribute to that alarming tendency. For that reason, I rise on behalf of my colleagues in opposition to the bill which is now before the House.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2001 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-35 on behalf of all residents of Saanich--Gulf Islands and as the international trade critic for the coalition in the House of Commons.

My hon. colleague is accurate that this is a lot of housekeeping, but a few important issues should be brought to the floor of the House of Commons. One of the primary points the bill deals with is extending the definition of who should be granted diplomatic immunity.

Under existing legislation the definition covers international organizations of formalized institutions which are based in treaty. It does not cover organizations such as the G-8, the OSCE and APEC. When we host these very important international meetings there is discussion on whether the legislation is there to grant immunity.

It is important to emphasize that in no way would the legislation override the crimes against humanity and war crimes act which would supercede this legislation. Anyone who has committed a crime under the crimes against humanity and war crimes act would in no way shape or form be given any kind of immunity under any circumstances.

We were given short notice of the bill. From what we have been informed it is basically a housekeeping bill. I do have concerns whether we would be going too far in granting additional immunities. Are they absolutely necessary?

Members will recall when an Ottawa woman was killed by an impaired driver who was a Russian diplomat? There was huge public outcry that the driver should be brought to Canadian justice. Having said that, the democratic representative caucus will be supporting the bill.

Another issue the bill deals with is the primary role of the RCMP. It is to be responsible for security of international meetings such as APEC and the G-8 summit. That is a positive step.

Following the APEC meetings in Vancouver the Hughes report recommended that the role of the RCMP be formalized. It would be appropriate for the government to put more substance in the bill rather than just broadly describe that the RCMP is the primary organization responsible for international meetings.

Some parameters need to be set around security so that we can remove the political interference which was very apparent in Vancouver. Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on subsequent inquiries that the government was compelled to call. That type of detail is not present here.

What are the parameters of the RCMP when it is entirely responsible for the security of international meetings? That should be laid out so there is no necessity to have any discussions of a political nature between the commissioner of the RCMP and anyone else at a senior level such as the Prime Minister's Office or senior levels of government.

We feel those concerns should have been included in the bill. We want to ensure that the police do not overstep their bounds or violate the Canadian charter of rights. I am not suggesting the police would do that, but we do not see that information in the bill.

Bill C-35 is primarily a housekeeping bill. It would extend diplomatic immunity to people attending a conference in Canada such as the G-8 summit or APEC. I will be recommending that the members of the conservative coalition support this housekeeping bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2001 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Surrey Central I am pleased to lead the debate on Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

My colleagues in the Canadian Alliance and I resent the sneaky way in which the bill was introduced. The first debate is taking place four days after the bill was tabled in the House and three days after opposition MPs had a first glance at it. We are debating the bill on a Friday when most MPs are on their way to their constituencies for a one week break.

The government is trying to slip some major changes through parliament by hiding them in an innocuous looking act surrounded by mundane housekeeping provisions. There has been no advance notice from the government side, no media coverage and no press release from the department. There was no legislative summary or explanation of any kind provided and the Library of Parliament was not instructed to prepare such documents.

There was no meat on the bones in the briefing of the opposition by the department on Wednesday. There was very little in terms of information regarding the legislation. We did not have time to consult and debate it in our caucus. The opposition was not given enough time to adequately prepare, research and develop an indepth analysis. Perhaps this was intentional, and I am tempted to oppose it on that basis alone.

The bill amends the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act to modernize the privileges and immunities regime. This would allow Canada to comply with its existing commitment under international treaties and to respond to recent developments in international law. It corrects the deficiencies in the existing definition of an international organization. It attempts, perhaps as a marketing tool, to encourage international organizations to come to Canada. It empowers the RCMP with the primary responsibility of ensuring the security and proper functioning of intergovernmental conferences.

This authority supports the security measures taken by the Canadian police in fulfilling Canada's obligations to protect persons who have privileges and immunities under the act. It attempts to give security and protection a statutory basis. Security at international conferences will be quite significant, especially in light of the recent terrorist attacks and the upcoming G-8 summit in Canada. Despite all of these significant issues the bill is labelled as housekeeping in nature.

The bill proposes roughly 10 amendments in five broad categories. The first category of amendments modernize the legislation to comply with Canada's existing commitments under international treaties and to respond to important new developments in international law.

For example, international chemical weapons inspectors that conduct inspections under the chemical weapons convention would enjoy immunity at par with that of foreign diplomats. It would enable the inspectors to import specialized technical equipment without paying customs duty.

The second category of amendments correct deficiencies in the existing definition of an international organization. Traditional definitions cover only international organizations of a formal institutionalized nature based on treaty such as the United Nations.

Unstructured intergovernmental organizations such as the G-8, OSCE and APEC are not covered by that definition. This is a concern because non-treaty based organizations are less accountable to Canadians since they are established by an order from cabinet rather than by a treaty which is then subject to review in parliament.

The Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act went into effect in 1991. If this is a housekeeping change, albeit an important one, why did it take the weak Liberal government over eight years to correct these deficiencies? It has been sitting on these improper definitions for eight years.

This shows the government's general attitude of neglect. The government has neglected so many important issues facing Canada such as the budget, national security and safety, health care issues, defence and agriculture, it is always taken by surprise by situations such as this one.

The third category of amendments gives statutory authority to support security measures for Canadian police to provide security and protection to persons who attend high level meetings held in Canada such as APEC, the summit of the Americas or the G-8.

The government says that the legislation clarifies the role of the police, but in the same breath the amendments authorize the RCMP to take appropriate measures that are justified, reasonable and proportionate under the circumstances. The government uses words like reasonable, appropriate, proportionate and so on.

Lawyers make millions of dollars from vague words like reasonable, appropriate and proportionate. The Hughes report on APEC cost over $5 million. Bill C-35 would multiply that by many times. It might also curtail freedom of expression, the right to peaceful protest and assembly.

Does it mean that pepper spray, stun guns or even bullets would be appropriate and reasonable? I wonder if this is an escape valve for the Prime Minister to avoid political controversy such as the one over pepper spraying at the APEC summit in Vancouver in 1998.

The reason the Prime Minister and his government do not want to clarify the powers of the RCMP and write them in common law is that it potentially leaves room for political interference. They prefer to keep the directions vague so that they can exert political influence whenever they need to do so.

How could the police possibly satisfy the charter requirements? If the bill were passed it would be an invitation for endless charter challenges because the terms are vague. The words appropriate and reasonable cannot be defined clearly. It would provide wide umbrella coverage for the RCMP to take any action against people who are protesting peacefully. This cannot be justified.

This is a matter for debate and will probably lead to many court cases. I do not understand what the difference would be then between the approaches taken in a repressive regime that we condemn and in a free and democratic Canadian society.

Bill C-35 leaves no question of who is in charge of the situation since it is the primary responsibility of the RCMP to ensure security for the proper functioning of an international event.

The department's shallow briefing notes state that these amendments have no impact on the powers of provincial and municipal police forces. Some members on the other side say that these amendments may not give the police any new powers. Why are these amendments there in the first place? Is it a sugar coated but bitter medicine?

The common law authorities of police forces have been clarified in legislation in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Why do we not do that in Canada? Our criminal code says that police officers are responsible only to the law itself.

These amendments may affect any number of outstanding court cases to date of protesters arrested at the summit of the Americas in Quebec City or during APEC in Vancouver, British Columbia. That has to be seen.

In principle there are few problems with clarifying the role of who is in charge of security at these important meetings. My concern is that Canada's police, especially the RCMP, is already stretched to the limit.

The Canadian Police Association recently accused the government of playing shell games with the security of Canadians. It said in a press release that when it comes to security at our borders and airports Canadians should not be lulled into a false sense of security. It explained that the RCMP had to borrow from Peter to pay Paul. It means that the RCMP has been moving officers to priority areas in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

If the RCMP has to reallocate officers from one assignment to the other then we have to study the impact of adding to those demands and responsibilities without adding further resources. Could this mean that when the G-8 comes to Kananaskis next year RCMP officers will be pulled away from their duties providing security to our citizens and communities and leave them without protection?

The fourth category of amendments seek to clarify provisions granting immunities from immigration restrictions to alien registration and overriding the Immigration Act provisions that prohibit the entry to Canada of inadmissible persons but not overriding the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

According to the amendment, when an order is passed under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act the requirement to grant a minister's permit under the Immigration Act would be removed. The minister's permit would be granted by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration because it is related to immigration matters, but under this amendment that would be overruled.

What would happen if a leader or a representative of a country happened to be a criminal or terrorist? The amendment overriding the Immigration Act would allow for that criminal to have easier access to Canada because he or she would be given access by the foreign minister or immigration minister who may not have all the checks and balances in place.

Where would one draw the line on the nature and magnitude of criminality? What kind of minor criminal act would be exempt? What is the definition of a minor criminal act? We do not know. September 11 brought security concerns to the forefront of everyone's consciousness.

Bill C-35 would allow the foreign affairs minister to supercede the authority of the immigration minister by allowing him to sign an order for a foreign visitor to be admitted into the country who would otherwise not be allowed to come to Canada.

I hope the Minister of Foreign Affairs does not want the House to rubber stamp this power grab.

If we take a less neutral example, not a Nelson Mandela, but a leader known to have committed human rights abuses or supported terrorism, the government would have the authority to admit him or her on political grounds, if they thought it furthered Canadian interests. What a ridiculous idea.

This gives more power to the government than with which most Canadians would be comfortable. Also, this power grab by the Minister of Foreign Affairs creates a situation where a serious criminal would be treated better and differently than an ordinary person with a minor criminal record.

The bill would create a double standard. For instance, a person with a criminal record, even a minor criminal record, would not be allowed to enter Canada under special privileges. Whereas a spouse of a Canadian with a minor criminal charge would not be. That person would be allowed to enter Canada, despite the person's criminal record, but an ordinary person with a minor criminal record would not.

I do not say that criminals should be admitted to Canada, but for the sake of this example it might be a case which would cause a Canadian family to split. It could also cause a marriage to break down because that individual, who may have committed a minor criminal offence, would not be able to rejoin his or her family in Canada. Allowing the government to use vague words like national interest is not good enough.

It is already clear that the act centralizes a lot of power in DFAIT. Is it the bureaucrats, or the Prime Minister or the cabinet who will decide? We do not know that because the bill does not tell us. The amendment is vague and leaves wide latitude that can be abused or even accidentally or unintentionally erred.

We know that at the francophonie games a record number of sports persons applied for refugee status. Imagine if the participants had come under permits from the foreign affairs minister, superseding the immigration minister. Where are the checks and balances? Who will find out what their backgrounds are? It brings the immunity of delegates to international conferences and international organizations into question.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Canadian authorities do not have the right to arrest, detain or question diplomatic personnel. Canadian authorities cannot search or enter their premises. Also, the convention obliges Canadian authorities to protect diplomatic premises. This also includes the premises of not only the diplomatic missions, but also the premises of international organizations. This means that a terrorist or a potential criminal entering Canada under the guise of diplomacy would not only be immune from prosecution in Canada, but our authorities would also be responsible for his or her safety. This is giving the red carpet treatment for potential terrorists, spies from other countries, criminals or even brutal dictators.

The bill would do two things to supposedly improve the immunity of foreign officials in Canada. First, it would expand the number and type of people who would enjoy immunity. Second, it would deepen the level of immunity they would enjoy.

How about extradition if someone under diplomatic privilege is charged in another country? Could that person be immune and not extradited to that country? We do not know that. The bill does not touch on that part at all.

The fifth category of amendments are called housekeeping amendments. There are many amendments, but one that got my attention. It is disgusting that it has been included in a supposed housekeeping section. It clarifies the governing statute for diplomatic missions to import liquor into Canada.

Canadians still remember the immunity given to the Russian diplomat who killed a Canadian citizen last year while driving drunk. This was in spite of a number of previous drunk driving allegations in Canada for that individual. I wonder if that Russian diplomat was ever charged for his crime anywhere, in Canada or in Russia. We do not know that.

The question about this amendment is not duty free status. I do not have a problem with that. The question is about the drunk driving aspect. The bill does not mention any measures about diplomats under immunity driving drunk or being involved in a fatal accident while driving drunk. Not only that, according to the bill this murderer could be allowed back into Canada as part of a Russian delegation to a conference. While he is on Canadian soil, he could kill someone else and his immunity would protect him again. That is pathetic.

The government now wants to expand the number of people enjoying these privileges. This is a serious concern. Our briefing by the department said that this section was to clarify the confusion over federal and provincial jurisdiction in the area of liquor imports and diplomatic rights because the liquor imports were a provincial jurisdiction. This means the potential for harm is greater than before the bill was introduced. It highlights the insensitivity of the government.

The lack of proper checks and balances is already a problem with the general concept of immunity and the bill would only make the matter worse. Maybe that is why the government is keeping the bill so quiet on a Friday, when no one is participating in the debate.

Some other serious concerns I have with the bill are covered under three categories. The bill does not deal with so many other important issues, for example, the corruption at foreign missions. The bill is in respect to the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. When we talk about foreign missions, we must talk about how our foreign missions operate. The corruption at foreign missions is a serious issue in the wake of security concerns. Our security begins at our foreign missions abroad. They screen people before they even enter Canada. They are our first line of defence.

Some strange things have been going on in Canada's diplomatic missions overseas. Let me first point out that most of our diplomats and foreign services civil servant employees are very honest, hard-working and dignified individuals. I commend them for the jobs they do in representing Canada abroad. However, I will mention that there are a few bad apples as well.

I will give some examples. In Damascus a Syrian national skimmed close to half a million dollars in visa processing fees and tampered with the immigration computer for years. The RCMP managed to recover about a quarter of a million dollars from that individual in 1999.

In the New Delhi and Islamabad High Commission offices, corruption has been reported frequently. Based on the information given to me by my constituents, I reported this to the immigration minister and the RCMP.

After the investigation they fired some locally hired employees based on the information I provided them. The question is who was minding the queue.

It has been reported that an office boy at the Canadian high commission in New Delhi, who was supposed to mail out Canadian visas after they were issued, did not mail them. He sat on those passports, hiding them in his drawer, yet wrote down that he mailed them. Every passport had an address so he sent his agents to the holders of these passports and extorted bribes from them before releasing their passport. That individual is gone.

In Beijing an internal report for CIC warned of organized crime groups providing fake documents to people interested in obtaining student visas as a back door entrance to this country. According to the facts, at least two-thirds of the more than 5,000 visa applications processed in Beijing in 1999 were linked to organized crime.

In Los Angeles three Americans from the Canadian consulate were fired in 1997 after they were connected to theft and the illegal issuing of visas.

According to reports, an RCMP spokesman said the mounties had investigated 38 cases of fraud and theft in about 20 Canadian diplomatic missions in 1998 alone. The extent of corruption and abuse is giving Canada a black eye.

In Hong Kong the RCMP quietly investigated the alleged infiltration of the computer assisted immigration processing system, we call CAIPS, by local staff at the mission who were said to be linked to triads. Remember these foreign missions are our frontline of defence. An estimated 788 computer files containing sensitive background information on criminals and businessmen wanting to emigrate to Canada were allegedly deleted from the computers. In addition, the RCMP probed the alleged disappearance of more than 2,000 blank visa forms from the embassy. We do not know who got the visas issued on those 2,000 blank forms or whose files were among the 788 computer files deleted.

The RCMP confirmed investigations of a large immigration consultancy firm believed to have used a secret diplomatic contact and possibly a political contact as well. There is evidence the RCMP knew that the suspect in the case of the missing Hong Kong files on gangsters was living British Columbia. Some RCMP officers were puzzled as to why there had been no follow-up on that information. According to a newspaper report that suspected individual is living in British Columbia in a beautiful mansion.

Our foreign missions are our firstline of defence for Canada, but I do not see anything in the bill that would protect and restore the integrity of our foreign missions. Despite an abundance of leads, the discovery of fake Citizenship and Immigration Canada stamps in the office of a locally engaged staff member, there have been allegations of political pressure to cover up the investigations.

A number of RCMP officers were assigned to the case and then abruptly transferred just as they made significant finds, according to a former senior employee of the department.

Canadian diplomatic staff in Hong Kong were reported to have been treated to nights at the horses races, parties and an abundance of gifts. The RCMP investigated a night at the races involving red envelopes stuffed with dollars. The investigation showed that what they were doing was carrying on with corrupt officials at the horse races and giving them huge sums of money. They showed that they won the money at the horse races and black money was turned into white money which they could then bring into Canada and do whatever they wanted with it.

In some cases the whistleblowers were harassed, punished and even dismissed from their jobs. Despite all that, no independent public inquiry into these cases was held. It is pathetic. We need a public inquiry into what went on or may still be going on in some of our diplomatic missions abroad. We need to fix the system. We need to restore the integrity. We ought to make it fair but there is no political will by the government to do that. There is no political will on the government benches to restore integrity in Canada's foreign missions. They are the defence line for us when people want to enter Canada.

The waste and mismanagement in our foreign missions are big embarrassments which have not been addressed in the bill. A civil servant blew the whistle on the spending of millions of taxpayers' dollars to keep Canada's diplomats in the lap of luxury. After senior foreign affairs officials violated treasury board guidelines, that official blew the whistle and we know what happens to the whistleblowers in this country. We do not have any whistleblower legislation. I have a private member's bill on whistleblowing but I do not know when I will have a chance to debate it in the House.

According to that employee, expensive sites have been purchased for offices or residences but they are left unoccupied for many years. If the official does not like the property, he or she is allowed to rent another expensive apartment to live in and the initial investment is wasted.

One site was purchased in Turkey in 1958 and it is still unoccupied. Why did we invest in buying that property in 1958 when we are not using it? It is the taxpayers' money. The litany of waste and negligence has been reported. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been blown on staff housing from Tokyo to Turkey to Mexico. I am not talking about the utilization of the money; I am talking about the waste, the real waste, the real mismanagement.

The civil servants who blew the whistle have been suspended. They have been harassed and their careers have been paralyzed. Has there been a public inquiry? No, there has been none whatsoever. Is there a political will to fix these problems? No, we do not see that. Is there anything in the bill to address these issues dealing with foreign missions? No, there is nothing about these issues mentioned in the bill. This is an area of concern.

Another important issue that the bill ignores is Canada's membership in international organizations. I remind members that the title of the bill is “Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act” but there is no mention of Canada's membership in international organizations in the bill.

Canada belongs to many international organizations. Perhaps we are the world's greatest joiners. Some organizations shut down in the 1970s and those organizations are still on Canada's membership list. We should join international organizations if we intend to do a good job, otherwise we should not join them. We should not join them just for the sake of joining.

What are the criteria for joining the international organizations? We cannot find them anywhere in the bill. It does not address that issue at all.

We know for sure that the costs Canadian taxpayers a lot. Canada's total expenditure on international organizations is difficult to assess. A few years ago we wanted to do some research but we could not get that information. Even the Library of Parliament could not get enough information. It is difficult to assess.

One CBC study estimates that Canada spent as much as $1 billion annually on the United Nations and its related agencies. In 1999-2000 assessed grants and contributions to international organizations were said by DFAIT to total about $275 million.

Canada has a tendency to view multilateralism as an all embracing panacea. Its reflex reaction to international problems has often been to support and even aggressively promote the proliferation of international organizations.

One example is the Arctic Council, founded in 1996. Touted as a forum for Arctic issues and sustainable development among circumpolar states, its precise purpose and utility still remain unclear. Moreover, United States enthusiasm for the council is limited. As a result, the council cannot deal with military security matters. It is open to question whether Canada's membership in such organizations bears tangible relation to our national interests. This concern is not new.

In 1928 the then opposition leader, R. B. Bennett, noted that the Mackenzie King government's enthusiasm for signing international agreements did not clearly advance Canada's interests. He questioned the increasing evidence as the days went by of a desire on our part to find a place in the sun by signing conventions and treaties, thus suggesting that we had become a very important people. Importance in the world is not measured in any such manner. In other words, joining a proliferation of organizations does not by itself promote Canada's influence and credibility. Bennett added that that is not a test of our greatness.

Under the current Liberal administration, Canada signed the Kyoto, Beijing and Rio conventions without any intentions whatsoever of implementing them.

Ottawa seems to be proud of its record of paying our dues and frequently criticizing our major ally, the United States of America, for deliberately falling into arrears. Whatever Canada's record is on paying fees, no international organization that receives tax dollars should be immune from audits by the Canadian government. If we pay the dues, we should have the right to audit.

For example in 1995 UNICEF disclosed that $10 million went missing from its Kenyan operation due to fraud and mismanagement by its employees. Some $10 million from UNICEF was missing. In 1998 an independent audit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees highlighted serious failings in the agency's financial management procedures, dubious accounting practices and possibly fraud at a cost of millions. That is what the situation is with some of the organizations.

These reviews show that we must examine the effectiveness and utility of an international organization to Canada before we join it. After such a review has taken place, parliament should decide what course of action is necessary, whether we should continue our membership, withhold the fee to induce reform in that organization, or withdraw fully from the organization.

I recommend that: Canada engage in international organizations which clearly promote conditions for expanding Canadian political and economic interests; the role of parliament be strengthened to provide genuine oversight over the activities of international organizations and the extent to which they serve Canada's national interests; Canada participate in audits and reviews in the international organizations with a view to remaining in those that advance national interests and consider withholding resources to induce reform.

In conclusion, this is a sneaky bill which does not deal with those important issues. It hides the important issues and disguises them as housekeeping changes. I mentioned that waste, mismanagement, corruption and membership of international organizations are serious concerns with respect to the bill.

Since it has been indicated that my time has expired, I will end my speech here but I have more to say.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2001 / 10 a.m.
See context

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberalfor the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

October 4th, 2001 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to inform the House of the business statement. As announced and unanimously adopted by the House, we will now proceed with the emergency debate under Standing Order 52 concerning softwood lumber.

Tomorrow we will consider Bill C-35, the foreign missions bill. Should that legislation be completed tomorrow I do not propose to call any other legislation or government bill.

Next week the House does not sit.

On Monday, October 15, we shall have an allotted day. I have consulted with opposition House leaders about a bill we propose to introduce that day and debate on the following day. The bill will introduce measures to implement the United Nations conventions; amend the criminal code, the Official Secrets Act and the Canada Evidence Act; and propose other measures to improve security and protect Canadians. We hope to commence consideration of the bill on Tuesday, October 16.

I take this opportunity to inform the House that we are making arrangements to give the relevant critics an advance briefing of the contents of the bill on the morning of October 16 prior to its introduction. I intend to discuss this with House leaders at the earliest opportunity. I will arrange to do so early on the morning in question so critics can have an advance copy of the bill. Obviously we intend to make quantities of the bill available on introduction.

We intend to seek the consent of the House to have introduction of government bills at 11 o'clock that morning rather than 3 p.m. We want to give hon. members additional time to familiarize themselves with the bill because by exception we would be dealing with it on the floor of the House the next day.

Hon. members have been very co-operative in this regard. I take this opportunity to thank all House leaders for the co-operation they have demonstrated in the face of these important events. I thank them for their co-operation in advancing other legislation and the consideration they have thus far given my suggestions in that regard.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActRoutine Proceedings

October 1st, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Shipping Act, 2001Government Orders

May 10th, 2001 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-14 on behalf of my party. Bill C-14 is an act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other Acts.

For the benefit of those Canadians watching television, I will summarize the purpose of the bill.

This quote is taken directly from the bill. It states:

This enactment overhauls and replaces the Canada Shipping Act, other than the portions that concern liability, with modernized legislation that will promote the safety and economic performance of the commercial marine industry as well as ensure the safety of those who use pleasure craft. Key changes to the existing legislation include improvements to provisions to protect and support efficient crews, ensure passenger and vessel safety and protect the environment. A new administrative penalties scheme provides an alternative means for dealing with certain contraventions.

The enactment clarifies the marine responsibilities between the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The enactment organizes the contents, updates the terminology and streamlines substantive requirements to make the law much clearer and easier to understand.

The enactment amends the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 to inject greater competition within shipping conferences, to streamline the administration of the Act and to ensure that Canadian legislation covering international liner shipping conferences remains in harmony with that of Canada's major trading partners.

On this side of the House, we feel that these are all good and supportable directions for the legislation to take. As the quote outlines, Bill C-14 is a significant piece of legislation. I am told the departmental officials have worked on this for some time in an attempt to perfect it.

As the members in the House know the bill was originally introduced in the House as Bill C-35, which died on the order paper in the 36th parliament when the election was called. Bill C-35 did not go so far as to include the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act amendments. It only dealt with the regulatory changes affecting the industry.

This bill contains some 334 clauses and is just under 200 pages long. I reiterate that obviously the department officials have worked on this for some time. We would have appreciated more time to go through it in a little more detail and perhaps absorb it a little better, however we were not allowed that time.

Bill C-14 was introduced at first reading on March 1. It went to second reading the following week and was sent to committee shortly thereafter. As I said earlier, it was a very speedy process and I would have to wonder why.

The committee stage for this bill was a journey in itself. We heard the departmental officials give testimony and briefings regarding the bill and heard from witnesses in the industry as well. Some members may also have been visited by lobbyists from the shipping conferences exemption side of the bill urging support for the bill without amendment.

All of this happened in short order and the bill moved along the process quite smoothly until it came to the clause by clause examination. The opposition, and even some Liberal members of the committee, were not too impressed at the lack of organization by the department when presenting amendments.

We entertained 27 separate amendments at committee. This may not seem excessive but when they are dumped on your lap at the beginning of a meeting it certainly is a handful. We certainly did not appreciate such short notice nor did we appreciate not having the opportunity to review these amendments beforehand.

As many members know, clause by clause can be a rather tedious venture at the best of times, but with many last minute amendments of a detailed nature to a bill which deals mainly with regulations, it makes the process all the more taxing.

Up until that time, we thought highly of the officials for undertaking such a monumental task as to redraft such a large and detailed act. However being so disorganized as to drop those changes in the committee's lap at the last minute suggested either that the bill was possibly not ready for the floor of the House when it was first introduced or the drafters of the bill did not take the time to check their work.

Either way, as the government official put it, 27 minor amendments were put to committee and frustrated the entire process. The amendments were so poorly written that the parliamentary secretary had to verbally amend an amendment on the fly.

This is not acceptable. For members of parliament to truly have input in the process of making laws in the country, we need to ensure that the process is properly seen to.

We are now at third reading where amendments can be made to the bill at hand. We see today that there are no further amendments of the bill. At least right now it appears that way. However I would not be surprised, if the process allowed for it, if we were presented with last minute amendments.

I know the Speaker made a recent ruling preventing frivolous amendments, but I say to the hon. members in this Chamber today, does that mean that committee now becomes a mockery? I hope not.

This may be a phenomenon that only occurs with the transport department. I do not know. However I do know that I did not care for it and I do not think other members of the committee cared for it either.

With regard to the bill, at present the official opposition supports the bill in its current form. As I said earlier, we did have some concerns about the speed of the process, but overall the general direction of the bill is positive and it needed to be done.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me the leeway to express my frustrations with the process. I would urge the members opposite, and should departmental officials be watching today, that to have good law making in Canada we have to get down to the business of drafting both in committee and in the House and at report stage, to ensure that such abuses of the process which occurred in this committee no longer happen.

In closing, overall we support the general direction and the long overdue overhaul of the legislation. We have some real concerns over the need to fast track this lengthy bill and would have preferred more time to analyze it in detail.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001Government Orders

March 12th, 2001 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise this afternoon to address Bill C-14, an act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other acts on behalf of the official opposition.

It is indeed an honour to be standing before the House today giving my maiden speech. Before I express my opinion on Bill C-14, please allow me a moment to say a few words about my riding of Skeena, my constituents and the people who have helped to get me elected.

Let me say thanks to my wife Ann, who is in the gallery today to support me. Without her love and understanding I would not be here today. I want to thank our children, Bart, Joann, Lynne, Joy and Gail and their families also.

My sincere thanks go out to the residents of Skeena in northwestern British Columbia, the beautiful and vast area encompassing almost 250,000 square kilometres stretching from Bella Bella to Atlin, the Queen Charlotte Islands to Telkwa, bordered by Alaska and the Yukon in the northern half. Skeena is also the largest riding in British Columbia and one of the largest in Canada.

I am indeed proud and honoured that the constituents of Skeena chose me to be their representative in parliament. I pledge to do my very best to represent them and their interests in Ottawa.

With regard to Bill C-14, the government's summary of the bill states:

This enactment overhauls and replaces the Canada Shipping Act, other than the portions that concern liability, with modernized legislation that will promote the safety and economic performance of the commercial marine industry as well as ensure the safety of those who use pleasure craft. Key changes to the existing legislation include improvements to provisions to protect and support efficient crews, ensure passenger and vessel safety and protect the environment. A new administrative penalties scheme provides an alternative means for dealing with certain contraventions.

The enactment clarifies the marine responsibilities between the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The enactment organizes the contents, updates the terminology and streamlines substantive requirements to make the law much clearer and easier to understand.

The enactment amends the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 to inject greater competition within shipping conferences, to streamline the administration of the Act and to ensure that Canadian legislation covering international liner shipping conferences remains in harmony with that of Canada's major trading partners.

I wonder if it would be possible for the government to be any more vague when contemplating the title of such an important piece of legislation. Who thought of the title, an act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other acts?

Bill C-14 is significant in that it represents a complete overhaul of the updating of Bill C-35, which was first introduced in the 36th parliament and died on the order paper when the election was called. Bill C-35 was rightly entitled the Canada Shipping Act, a bill that has served as a cornerstone for shipping activity in Canadian waters.

The Canada Shipping Act has been in dire need of review for many years. I commend the government for undertaking such a monumental task. Bill C-14 contains some 334 articles and is just under 200 pages in length.

I imagine the introduction of this bill must have been a gratifying moment for its authors. I can appreciate their enthusiasm for getting the bill through the House and to committee, with the hope of finally seeing the bill passed into law. This is evident in that the bill was only introduced on March 1, one day prior to the House rising for the break week and here we are our first day back and Bill C-14 is already at second reading. Enthusiasm I can appreciate. Attempting to railroad the parliamentary process I do not.

The speed with which the government has moved from first to second reading suggests to me one of two things. Either the government does not have complete faith in the legislation that it has introduced and is concerned about it getting a proper review, or the government is so devoid of new legislation that this is the only activity on the horizon so it had better run with it.

I realize the government opposite has become so used to rushing bills through the House that it has become second nature to it, but I fail to see the national crisis that will be averted by the lightning speed passage of this particular bill.

Being a maritime nation, I am confident that there are numerous stakeholders that have been waiting patiently for the introduction and passage of this bill. I say that they have been waiting patiently because they already know what the bill contains as a result of an uncharacteristic move by the Department of Transport.

As a result of the bill's complex nature and the apparent inability of Transport Canada officials to adequately prepare new legislation, the bill was released in draft form to a limited group of stakeholders for review and input, and before the final version was prepared for introduction in the House. I support and appreciate the need for public consultation when it comes to revising and updating our nation's legislation but, as a member of parliament, I take exception when the government deliberately circumvents the parliamentary process by handing out copies of the bill prior to members of parliament even being made aware of its existence.

I am concerned that this has set an extremely dangerous precedent. The continued disregard for parliamentary procedure and attempts to reduce the power of the elected members of the House should not be tolerated.

In yet another fine display of parliamentary disregard, the government has chosen to incorporate changes to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 or SCEA into a bill that when introduced last session only dealt with shipping regulations. By only the broadest stretch of the imagination do these two bills have anything in common. It is very convenient for the government however to attach such a contentious amendment to the SCEA bill to Bill C-14, since Bill C-14 is a bill that shipping interests have been calling for.

SCEA is contentious in that it allows ocean shipping lines to collude and form cartels that determine the scheduling and pricing for freight movements into and out of Canadian ports. By its provisions, the shipping lines are exempt from the provisions of the Competition Act, a move that was originally intended to ensure that Canada was well serviced by the shipping lines.

Some groups have come forward and questioned the necessity for the continuation of SCEA. I am confident we will be hearing from those groups as the debate on the bill progresses.

Despite the concerns I have raised regarding the manner in which the bill has been introduced, we will be supporting the referral of the bill to committee where I am confident it will undergo a very detailed paragraph by paragraph review to ensure that the members of the House are satisfied with its contents.

With regard to shipping, I would like to make some comments relating to my riding of Skeena. Skeena has a long history of shipping, principally the ports of Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Stewart. However, I will begin by painting a picture of my riding for the benefit of those members who have not had the pleasure to visit this vast and beautiful area of Canada.

The riding of Skeena is a wonderful area in which to live, rich with fish and wildlife, rich in potential for new mineral resource extraction and new opportunity in value added forestry operations and oil and gas development. One of the best kept Canadian trade secrets is a transportation corridor through northwestern B.C. en route to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the eastern U.S.A. This port-road-rail link, which is underused and is frankly not well known, has the potential to provide tremendous opportunity to large areas of Canada.

The potential is there for shipping much more grain and coal through the Ridley Island terminals of Prince Rupert, as these facilities are vastly underutilized, as is the bulk loading facility at the port of Stewart, Canada's most northerly ice free port. Kitimat also has major dock and shipping facilities.

Transportation is critical to the social and economic fabric of the country, whether it be a seaport, an airport, a rail line or a highway. Transportation infrastructure is an economic engine that not only sustains growth but actually generates economic prosperity.

My riding of Skeena is also home to many aboriginal communities which face intense challenge, as do most other small resource based communities such as Stewart, my home for many years. Although Skeena riding offers a great lifestyle, the economy of today is creating hardship for families. For many it is a difficult place in which to earn a living.

The results from the recent election show very clearly that the west and the north feel alienated and are not satisfied with the treatment being received. Tough love does not cut it. We must be recognized as a contributor to Canada's growth and economy, which we truly are and can be in the future.

An issue of major concern to all northerners, and I suspect most non-urban dwellers right across Canada, is the badly flawed Bill C-68. Hunting is a way of life for most of rural Canada's population. Putting people who have been around firearms all their lives, responsible people, in the position of being criminals is neither acceptable nor right. Changes to this legislation are needed if Canadians are to respect and abide by this law.

My riding of Skeena, in northwestern British Columbia, is currently in the throes of a horrendous economic downturn due in part to circumstances beyond anyone's control. However, the recognition of the difficulties and possible steps toward some solution is a federal government necessity and responsibility.

In today's world market economy, recognition of the impact of pulp and paper prices, lumber prices, gas, oil and metal prices on resource based economies is essential. There are opportunities that must be recognized by government and the federal government should not ignore them.

For instance, in co-operation with the province of B.C., the current moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration in B.C. must be lifted. The potential oil reserves of that area alone are 10 times Hibernia, at 9.8 billion barrels. Gas reserves could exceed 25.9 trillion cubic feet. There is added potential in both the Bowser and the Nechako basins. These options must be pursued and the moratorium on exploration status quo position taken by the government is not acceptable. Development on the east coast was acceptable, why not on the west.

Steps must be taken to revive the mining industry in B.C. The temporary exploration investment tax credit in October's teeny budget provides some incentive for B.C. mining interests to invest in the ailing mineral exploration sector. However aboriginal land claims and permitting processes such as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Department of Fisheries and Oceans concerns have huge ramifications for the mining industry. The government has a role in dealing with such issues. Cutting red tape and turn around time lines for permit approval would assist greatly.

The uncertainty of security of mineral tenure because of the land claims issue creates a major detriment to investment in the mining industry. Investor perceptions are that elected governments, both federal and provincial, have lost control over allocation and management of resources. The implied concept of aboriginal veto power over development must be rejected. Let us keep mining in Canada, not chase it away.

The March 31, 2001 expiry of the Canada-United States softwood lumber agreement requires a strong position from the government. The recent formation of the Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance is a significant move in dealing with a united approach to Canada's position on free trade in softwood lumber with the U.S.A.

B.C. accounts for over 50% of Canada's softwood lumber exports to the U.S. to a value of over $5 billion annually. Some of the producers in my area had no U.S. quota due to Asia being their principal market. That Asian market has collapsed, creating layoffs and shutdowns. In the current agreement, access to a U.S. market is based on historic shipping levels: no history, no quota.

It must be recognized that policy changes are necessary to reach free trade in softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada. I ask that the government work with the Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance to achieve that goal.

Last year, on the north coast of B.C., the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans weak stock management strategies of upper Skeena coho, which represent only one-quarter of 1% of the total Skeena River fishery, shut down a $30 million sockeye fishery, a tremendous blow to the economy of Prince Rupert and area.

DFO and the minister must be more cognizant of local situations and of the difficulties being caused by allowing the Alaska coho catch to affect access to Skeena River sockeye runs. An agreement needs to be reached on a mutually acceptable reduction of interceptions, that is, a reduction of Canadian interception of Pacific northwest salmon stocks in return for reduced interception of Canadian stocks in Alaska. Life is not easy on the north coast these days and a more realistic implementation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty would allow our people the opportunity to earn a decent living.

Areas of western Canada have been sadly ignored by the government, especially the northwest. Airports in Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert are concerned over the proposed reintroduction of an increased level of emergency response services, whereas levels were reduced only a few years ago. This highlights the concern that the federal government did not bargain in good faith when downloading airports. Safety is paramount, but a realistic approach to the operation of these smaller, low traffic operations is needed to keep them economically viable.

The airport at Terrace has been for some time attempting to have an instrument landing system installed. Such a system would allow 75% of the flights missed due to bad weather conditions to actually be completed. The failure numbers exceed over 200 on an annual basis, at huge cost to the carrier and excessive inconvenience to the travelling public. For example, on my last trip home, last week, after the long journey from Ottawa the flight I was on from Vancouver to Terrace could not land. After actually seeing the runway at Terrace we flew the 500 miles back to Vancouver to stay overnight. Thankfully I was able to get home the next morning but, as I explained, I actually had to fly 1,500 miles to make a 500 mile flight. It was very frustrating for me and for the many other passengers and business people trying to make their way to northwestern B.C.

On another topic, the number of business closures in northwestern B.C. is another indicator of just how troubled the economy is. Over 50 businesses have closed in the city of Prince Rupert in the last few years. Regional rental vacancy rates range from 20% to 75%. The cost to our employment insurance and other social benefits is staggering, and a serious review of programs and policies is badly needed in order to determine a better way to meet the economic development needs and potential of our northern communities.

Having spent most of my life in the north, I am fully aware of the boom and bust cycles that have been so prevalent. Lately we have seen much more of the latter, creating devastation in the communities of the north. Recognition of the west, and especially the northwest, must be a priority for parliament. We want to be a part of Canada and recognized and rewarded as such, not through handouts but through good sound decisions based on common sense and sound economic principles.

The wealth of Canada has traditionally been generated in the north. Government imposed restraints to developing opportunities and creating economic well-being must end.

In closing I will get back to the legislation at hand, Bill C-14, an act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987, and other acts. I will quickly summarize my comments on the bill. I recognize that the Canada Shipping Act was in desperate need of updating and that stakeholders as well as industry have been calling for such amendments. However, I do not see the need to rush the legislation through parliament. It is a large and detailed piece of legislation needing much review and analysis, both in committee and in the House.

I would expect that government backbench members would also want sufficient time to review the bill's contents and consult industry for its opinions. One sitting day between first and second readings is absolutely insufficient time for review and analysis of such an intricate piece of legislation.

In that regard, I lodge this complaint and send the following message to the government: when it rushes legislation through the House, as it has begun to do with Bill C-14, it sends the wrong message to Canadians and to industry, a message of arrogance and complete disregard for democratic parliamentary procedure. It also makes one wonder what the government has to hide and, frankly, what is wrong with the legislation that the government needs to rush it through without proper analysis and debate. As well, to tack on amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act in this bill is completely irresponsible, since the government well knows its amendments spark much debate and controversy.

The official opposition looks forward to reviewing every detail of this bill in committee. The government can certainly count on that.