Antarctic Environmental Protection Act

An Act respecting the protection of the Antarctic Environment

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

Sponsor

David Anderson  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

November 5th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by thanking the member for Mercier for her kind words. These kinds of comments are all the more flattering coming from her.

In response to her question, I would say that it is troubling to see that the government is not willing to listen to what an officer of the House, who is independent from the government and reports to Parliament, has to say. Based on his experience, his knowledge and his position as privacy commissioner, when he gives an opinion, he should, without having the last word, be heeded, and heeded well.

It is troubling to know or to learn that the government is totally insensitive to the comments made by the privacy commissioner. It is troubling to see that a government, which is responsible for protecting the rights and freedoms of the people it represents as is the case in any free and democratic society, pays so little attention to the rights and freedoms of Quebeckers and Canadians and ignores the importance of privacy for any individual.

Sometimes it is tempting for a parliamentarian in this House to become cynical, to give up and to say that, in any event, the power is concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister and he makes all the decisions. If he does not want to change the bill, he will not. But sometimes, there is a ray of hope, whether it be the vote that was held earlier this afternoon, which has somewhat loosened the Prime Minister's grip on Parliament, or the fact that the Bloc Quebecois and its allies have managed to get the government to reconsider with, among other things, certain amendments to the previous incarnations of this bill, namely Bill C-55 and Bill C-42.

In conclusion, as a member of the Bloc Quebecois who believes strongly in the rights and freedoms of the people—and this is the basis of our political commitment—I will say that we will do everything possible to get through to the government. We will keep putting pressure on the government to persuade it to back off and to accept the privacy commissioner's arguments, which have also been taken up by the Bloc Quebecois and by many stakeholders across Canada.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in this debate on Bill C-17, commonly known in the short form as the public safety act, 2002.

I am particularly pleased to address my colleagues and to express my opinion on this bill, because this is a controversial piece of legislation that highlights the lack of vision and leadership of this government in the control of national security, and rightly so. This is in fact the government's third attempt at passing this centrepiece of its rather mixed antiterrorism strategy and response to the terrible events of September 11, 2001, more than one year ago.

The fact of the matter is that a number of political observers have drawn attention to this state of affairs, as have those who oppose the legislative provisions put forward by the government.

The Bloc Quebecois is also against Bill C-17, because it contains provisions that are not well defined and gives intelligence services and the federal police powers that are particularly vague. I will have the opportunity to get into this in greater detail later.

I will divide my remarks into five sections: first, military security zones; second, interim orders; third, information sharing; fourth, amendments to the Immigration Act; and fifth, amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Let us address the issue of military security zones. The fact that this issue was taken out of the public safety legislation represents for the Bloc Quebecois and individual liberty advocates a very significant victory over a government that was pretty panicked, as we know, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, not by the fear of terrorist attacks on Canada, but rather by American pressure because of the lack of efforts made in previous years in terms of national security.

The Bloc Quebecois said repeatedly that provisions relating to the controlled access military zones posed a very serious threat to the balance that must always exist between security and liberty. My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, whose work on this issue I commend, eloquently pointed this out.

These provisions offer the potential for abuse on the part of the government by granting a dangerous discretionary power to the Minister of National Defence. They also had the effect of depriving the citizens who might happen to be within these so-called security perimeters of their most fundamental democratic rights.

As for the declaration of special zones, this measure strikes us as far more reasonable than before. We will, however, be keeping a close eye on developments, will remain extremely vigilant and will be quick to speak out loud and clear if we see anything that seems to be headed toward potential abuse.

It is essential, however, and I stress this point, for no military security zone to be created in Quebec without prior consultation with the Government of Quebec and its approval. Too many bad memories are conjured up by the prospect of abuse by federal bodies within Quebec, in the name of national security. I shall say no more, but I am sure everyone knows what I am referring to.

In its present form, Bill C-17 still maintains the considerable irritants associated with the interim orders.

This third remake of the bill still contains provisions that allow ministers to issue interim orders. Worse still, in at least one case, this extraordinary and very great power is being delegated to departmental officials. Nothing could be more of an irritant.

There are, however, some amendments that represent a step in the right direction. Two relatively minor changes from what was in the previous versions have been made by the government in response to opposition pressures, from the Bloc Quebecois in particular.

The interim order must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days of its being issued. As well, the duration of the order is decreased from 45 to 14 days, that is the length of time it is in effect without cabinet approval.

It goes without saying as well that even the most serious of emergencies cannot justify the route the government wants to take for dealing with major crises. Bill C-17 still contains a provision for the Clerk of the Privy Council not to have to weigh the compatibility of the government's action and the scope of the interim measure against the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the enabling legislation.

Coming as it does from the government that introduced the charter, this is a rather dramatic paradox, particularly considering the historic role of the Prime Minister of the day.

Of course, and thanks to the pressure exerted by the Bloc Quebecois, notable improvements were found between the first versions of Bill C-42, Bill C-55 and the current version. Unfortunately, what is known as the charter test remains a significant problem and this is all the more regrettable.

We cannot discuss the sensitive issue of public safety and, by extension, national security, without taking a direct look at the purpose and the scope of the powers given to intelligence agencies.

In this regard, the current wording of Bill C-17 allows two individuals, namely the commissioner of the RCMP and the director of CSIS, in addition to the Minister of Transport or a designated agent, to directly obtain from airline companies and operators of seat reservation systems, information on passengers.

This information may be requested if there is an imminent threat to transportation safety or security. As regards the scope of the bill for CSIS, such information may also be requested for investigations relating to threats to Canada's security.

Generally speaking, the information gathered by the RCMP and CSIS is destroyed within seven daysof being obtained or received, unless this information is reasonably necessary to maintain transportation safety, or to investigate a threat to Canada's security.

As members know, on May 6, the privacy commissioner released a document in which he expressed his concerns about Bill C-55 regarding the gathering of information by the RCMP and CSIS.

He had reservations about two provisions that allowed: (a) the RCMP to use personal information on all airline passengers to locate individuals wanted under a warrant for any offence punishable by imprisonment of five years or more; and (b) the RCMP and CSIS to keep personal information on passengers for purposes such as the examination of suspicious travelling habits.

As regards the first point, a number of provisions posed a problem, including the definition of the mandate, the provision allowing the RCMP to gather information to locate individuals subject to an outstanding warrant, and the provision allowing it to disclose this information. The commmissioner suggested that these provisions be eliminated from the bill.

In fact, under the current version, even though the RCMP can no longer collect this type of information, it still has the power to disclose the information obtained through the provisions of the bill to a peace officer, if it has reason to believe it could be of use in the execution of a warrant.

However, it is up to the RCMP to decide at what point a situation may threaten transportation safety, which enables it to access passenger information from an airline. There is no mechanism to control this. It amounts to a blank cheque for the RCMP.

What is more, once the information has been obtained, there is nothing to prevent the RCMP from keeping the information indefinitely if it is reasonably required.

The government tightened the definition of the warrant. In previous versions of this bill, it could be a warrant issued by the government for any offence punishable by imprisonment of five years or more. Now, the definition makes it clear that a regulation will specify to which crimes the provision will apply.

As for the second point, the commissioner expressed serious reservations regarding how long the information could be retained:

The seven day period during which the RCMP and CSIS may keep the information is excessive; 48 hours is adequate.

The fact that the RCMP and CSIS can keep this information indefinitely is of concern. There must be limits.

This is what the privacy commissioner said. However, neither of the two proposed amendments were included.

As a result, on November 1, 2002, the privacy commissioner said that Bill C-17 was a bill that was not satisfactory and that only contained minor changes.

Also, according to the commissioner:

The provision in question, section 4.82 of both bills, would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information held by airlines about all Canadian air travellers on domestic as well as international flights.

He added that:

—my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

Finally, he said that the proposed changes were and still are an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. The changes made to the bill do not address the fundamental issues of principle that are at stake.

The government now proposes to have regulations limiting the Criminal Code offence warrants for which the RCMP will be searching.

But this does nothing to address the fundamental point of principle that the police have no business using this extraordinary access to personal information to search for people wanted on warrants for any offences unrelated to terrorism.

As well, in the new bill the government has removed the “identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued” as a “purpose” for accessing passenger information under the legislation. But this is meaningless, indeed disingenuous--since the RCMP would remain empowered to match this information against a database of persons wanted on warrants and to use such matches to bring about arrests.

It insults the intelligence of Canadians to suggest, as the government does in its press release accompanying the bill, that the RCMP may incidentally come upon individuals wanted on Criminal Code warrants.

If the police are to match names of passengers against the database of individuals wanted on Criminal Code warrants, there can be nothing incidental about finding them.

Finally, as parliamentarians, we are directly being called upon by the privacy commissioner, and I quote:

Since the original Bill C-55 was introduced, I have used every means at my disposal to make the crucially important privacy issues that are at stake known and understood by all the ministers and top government officials who are involved in this matter. I regret that I have not, to date, been successful in obtaining an appropriate response from them, though I will certainly continue my efforts. It is now up to Parliament to explain to these people that privacy is a fundamental human right of Canadians that must be respected, rather than treated with the apparent indifference that the government is showing.

It goes without saying that the Bloc Quebecois is in total agreement with the privacy commissioner's criticism and that we support him in this regard.

The amendments presented by the government concerning the power of the RCMP and CSIS to gather information on airline passengers are still far too broad. Even if the proposed amendments appear to deal with the bill's obvious flaws, the shortcomings pointed out by the privacy commissioner remain as they were.

In fact, we must keep in mind that the new data bank the RCMP and CSIS will be able to create will be in addition to the new one created by Customs and Revenue, to which both the privacy commissioner and the Bloc Quebecois have objections. More than ever, as my colleagues have already said, it is important to stress that it is true that “big brother is watching you”.

Part 5 of Bill C-17 specifically amends the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act. Two sections are added, setting out the possibility for the Minister of Immigration to enter into agreements or arrangements with a province, a group of provinces, foreign governments or international organizations.

The purpose of these would be facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation—including the gathering, use and disclosure of information—of policies and programs for which the minister is responsible.

The proposed amendments do not hold water and seem quite weak to us. Indeed, the bill does not specify anywhere the goals or the scope of the agreements, except for the fact that they would be used to disclose information.

Since we are examining the framework of a bill dealing with the fight against terrorism and national security, and the information in question would be obtained through exceptional means, perhaps it would be appropriate to specify the nature of this information and the reasons for disclosing it.

With this change, the body of the bill would seem less problematic to us. But there is also another reality, just as difficult to control, associated with the very broad regulatory power.

Bill C-17 also contains major changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. About this part of the bill, we have some particular concerns that deserve to be considered more thoroughly.

Thus, is the objective of the proposed amendments to the bill not precisely to allow the sharing of information that we are condemning in the case of the RCMP and CSIS?

Consequently, for all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois opposes Bill C-17 in its present form. While it contains some improvements over the previous bills, whether Bill C-55 or Bill C-42, it is obviously incomplete and flawed. It is for the reasons that I just explained that we oppose Bill C-17.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill C-17, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety.

This proposed public safety act, 2002, replaces Bill C-55, which was introduced on April 29, 2002, but died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in September. The proposed act retains key principles of Bill C-55. As previously set out in Bill C-55, the proposed amendments would give ministers the authority to issue an interim order if immediate action is deemed necessary to deal with a serious threat or a significant risk, direct or indirect, to health, safety, security or the environment.

The following acts are involved in this new Bill C-17: the Aeronautics Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Department of Health Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Hazardous Products Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Pest Control Products Act, the Quarantine Act, the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, the Canada Shipping Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

The NDP has several concerns about this new public safety bill. Just from my reading of the number of acts involved, we can see the beginning of our concerns: This is a very large piece of legislation. Bill C-17 proposes to amend 26 different acts. Even though it has been introduced by the Minister of Transport, only 5 of the 26 acts that would be amended come from the Department of Transport. The bill will likely be referred to the transport committee, which will have to examine amendments not only to transportation acts but to other legislation such as the Food and Drugs Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

I am not suggesting that my colleagues who sit on the transportation committee could not examine these acts, but why should they? The point of having different standing committees on different topics is to allow proper parliamentary scrutiny of bills. The health committee should be dealing with the acts related to health. The citizenship and immigration committee should be dealing with the amendments related to its area. With the bill the way it is right now, the transport committee must do the work of 11 different committees. That is an awful lot to ask of the good people who sit on the transport committee.

Obviously what the government is trying to do is ram the bill through as quickly as possible so that no one notices all the errors in it. This is not the first time the government has presented a large omnibus bill with so many changes that the government itself cannot keep track of them. The bill makes a mockery of parliamentary democracy. Instead of presenting the bill as 10 or even 5 different bills that would be debated in the House and referred to the proper committees, the government has decided to put a bunch of different amendments into one sweeping bill.

Why has the government decided to introduce the bill as one piece of legislation? The bill deals with public safety and anti-terrorism. Perhaps the idea was to pass it as quickly as possible to show that the government is doing something about terrorist attacks, but without thinking it through thoroughly. It has been over a year since the devastating attack of September 11 in New York and this bill has been introduced three times now. Speed is obviously not of the essence so why does the government not take its time and reintroduce a series of carefully thought out bills?

I want to look at the changes to the Aeronautics Act within the proposed new public safety act. In Bill C-17, the transport minister's regulation making powers concerning aviation safety are better defined than they were in the former bill, Bill C-42. This is one of the things the government is trying to accomplish. The lack of specifics in this area was one of the concerns of the New Democratic Party with Bill C-42, so this is an improvement, but I am afraid it is not particularly successful.

In Bill C-17 there is a feeble attempt to address the concerns of the privacy commissioner. The clause allowing RCMP-designated officers to access passenger information to identify individuals with outstanding arrest warrants has been removed. The bill now allows RCMP and CSIS officials to access passenger information only for national or transportation security purposes. However, they may still use this information to pursue individuals with outstanding arrest warrants if the crimes they are wanted for carry a potential sentence of five years or more. The privacy commissioner has stated publicly that this change is not enough to protect Canadians' right to privacy. There are still insufficient safeguards to prevent intrusion, particularly since the information could be shared with U.S. customs officials, who currently have a racial profiling policy.

The NDP also remains concerned about the government's haphazard and ill-conceived airport security tax. No one knows how it came up with the magic number of $12 per one way airplane ticket or how this enhances overall security. What we do know is that it has added as much as 20% to the cost of airplane tickets, which has made it difficult for Canadians to travel across the country. While we are addressing this topic of public safety as it relates to transportation, I would like to remind the House that the federal government's $24 per round trip security tax is really imposing what is similar to the GST on airline travellers. This security tax is expected to raise $2.2 billion over the next five years. The cost of airport security will be only $1.5 billion.

The government's security tax will have a devastating effect on our national economy, the economies of communities dependent on a vibrant air industry, the tourism industry and an already fragile airline industry, especially Canada's smaller airlines trying to compete against larger ones such as Air Canada. My party, led by the efforts of my colleagues, the member for Churchill and the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, launched a national campaign against the punitive tax. We in the NDP say that it is wrong to selectively target a particular group of Canadians to pay a disproportionate amount of the share for security when all Canadians have a basic right to personal security, and it is wrong to ask one industry and the communities that will suffer from its negative impact to bear the brunt of that tax. The tax basically has done little to fight terrorism but a lot to fight tourism. We can all agree that in a country the size of Canada airline travel is most desirable. However, when the cost of air travel is increased by approximately 4% to 5% by imposing a government security tax it will do much to deter Canadians from choosing air travel in their own country. The airport security tax provisions within Bill C-17 are ill-conceived and need more work, not entrenchment in the bill.

Another criticism that the NDP has of the bill is that it still allows unprecedented powers within the cabinet. For example, the Minister of Transport would have wide-ranging powers to make regulations and orders concerning aircraft and airport security. The Minister of the Environment would have broader power for environmental emergencies. The Minister of Health would have an ill-defined power in case of emergencies as well. Our question within the New Democratic Party is this: Why not simply pass a bill that suspends democracy in case of emergencies? That is pretty much what the bill seems to be doing. The bill is really a power grab by the federal Liberal government. It is an infringement upon the civil liberties of the Canadian people.

We have to be very careful as to what powers we give ministers of the crown and what powers they can exercise without coming to Parliament for a democratic vote of the Parliament of Canada. I do not think I need to remind the House of how past Canadian governments have acted in emergencies such as the FLQ crisis or even the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II, all because of so-called emergencies. Of course there are emergencies. There are times that we need to act quickly for public safety, but there is a fine line between acting for public safety and simply infringing on civil rights.

In times of crisis, the worst tendencies come out and almost inevitably target groups of innocent people. Right now at the U.S. border, Canadian citizens that come from targeted countries are being harassed, forced to submit to uncalled for fingerprinting, photographing and interrogation.

These are the sorts of policies that come from an unthinking government, a government that has knee-jerk reactions to crises. We cannot allow that to happen here. We must ensure that we continue to pass careful and thoughtful legislation.

I would like to close by urging the House to vote against Bill C-17 and to force the government to reintroduce smaller pieces of legislation so that we can properly discuss and debate some of the important security issues in this country.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I begin my remarks by reminding the House of the situation in the days following September 11. I remember the Prime Minister saying that, in order to defeat terrorism, it was especially important not to restrict our rights and freedoms as Canadians and Quebeckers, otherwise it would be a great victory for terrorism.

That is what the Prime Minister said, and all cabinet ministers and Liberal members sang the same tune, often I admit with the support of the opposition, which called for prudence.

This all took place before the visit of Tom Ridge, the new U.S. homeland security advisor, and that of U.S. attorney general, John Ashcroft.

I can see these two prominent and very influential American figures arriving. I remember the meetings they had with the ministers primarily concerned, who asked them “What are you planning to do? You are our neighbours”. I even remember going on television, on CPAC, at the time and announcing that Canadian sovereignty was likely to come under attack in the near future.

There was soon nothing left of Prime Minister's fine words, and we were presented with a series of bills that restrict our freedoms.

I also remind the House that a few months later, the government tabled its budget, in which we could see a very significant increase in the amounts earmarked for security. The RCMP was more or less given carte blanche in the budget. I remember also a very modest increase in the defence budget, while $7.7 billion was allocated to various agencies and police forces responsible for the safety of Canadians.

A lot has happened since, yet the Canadian government's direction has remained unchanged. What matters to the government right now is to reassure the Americans. I must also admit that, on the basis of the latest media accounts, I find that the Canadian government is far from successful. I would say that we have a very poor reputation right now in the U.S., where they have gone overboard obviously in restricting freedoms and would want us to be more like them and go even further.

This bill already goes too far in the eyes of some parties here in the House. The bill has evolved: first there was Bill C-42, then Bill C-55, and now we are studying Bill C-17. Some interesting things have happened. This is an omnibus bill that deals with various other Canadian laws, laws that we have to amend. I would like to focus on three aspects, particularly the scope of the bill with respect to national defence, immigration and privacy.

With respect to national defence, personally, I think that the fact that the controlled access military zones were removed is a great victory for the Bloc Quebecois. To the best of my knowledge, we were the first to argue against this, to say that it made no sense that in a given city, any city, Quebec City for example, with the naval reserve at the port, or the Saint-Jean military base, in my riding, a zone could be extended wherever the government wanted and for however long it wanted, based on “reasonable grounds”, to use the wording of the bill at the time. The freedom of those inside such a zone would be severely restricted.

People could even be stopped within the zone without knowing it, because the minister could take several weeks before designating the zone. It could be designated within cabinet by the minister, and then, the population could be informed by public notice two weeks later. In the meantime, people could be arrested for doing things they are not allowed to do under the legislation.

The Bloc Quebecois made an impressive offensive against this aspect of the bill from the start, and we know the rest. Parliament prorogued and then we had a new Speech from the Throne.

The bill, which died on the Order Paper, has now been dusted off, with a few changes, admittedly. The government dropped the controlled access military zones, even though it has kept the right to designate certain zones by order in council. According to information that I have, the ports of Halifax, Esquimault Harbour and Nanoose Bay are now controlled access military zones.

At the time, the government's argument was--I remember quite well--“We cannot allow a repeat of what happened to the USS Cole in Yemen”.

Members will recall that 17 American sailors were killed in a terrorist attack against that ship. That argument has been used often. This is the reason why the government chose to maintain, by order in council, controlled access military zones in these three ports. Now I really would like to know-- and we will get to the bottom of this--whether the federal government really consulted with the provinces concerned. I do not know where Nanoose Bay is, but I know where Esquimalt is, it is in British Columbia, and Halifax I know where it is too.

The Bloc hopes that before making an order in council, the government will consult the province in question. Anyway, it may not have done so with the other provinces, but I can tell you that in Quebec this issue of the army is very sensitive. People in Quebec remember what happened in their province. They remember the 1970 crisis when the army took over the streets in Montreal, Quebec City and every big town. They still remember it.

The military issue is a very sensitive one in Quebec, especially when it comes to designating such zones. We are warning the government. If it ever decides to do such a thing in Quebec, at the very least the Government of Quebec would have to be informed and agree to it.

Now, some things are still there. Granted, the controlled access military zones are gone. However, on the military side, there are things in the bill that are very interesting, including the fact that from now on reserve officers will be able to leave their job without worrying about it while on a mission on behalf of the armed forces. They will be able to return to their old job afterwards, which is not the case currently. It is interesting that this provision has remained in the legislation.

However, there are other things with which the Bloc Quebecois cannot agree, including the infamous interim orders. Any minister, or even a civil servant, may decide to make an interim order, very quickly by order in council, without advising the public. The only thing that has changed is the duration of the interim order.

In the first bill, it was 90 days. In the second, it was 45. Now, we are down to 14 days. I raised questions previously when other members spoke on this. It seems to me that, as far as the interim orders are concerned, some of these surely will violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, certain aspects of the bill before us at this time, might—and I am convinced of this—end up before the Canadian courts, even the Quebec courts. In my opinion, certain provisions violate the charter. Quite obviously, interim orders made in secret are questionable, particularly when they have the impact of restricting citizens' rights and freedoms.

We also see that there are some changes in the bill as far as immigration is concerned. We want to be tolerant because we do understand that some international cooperation is necessary when combating terrorism. Immigration is important, we know. Moreover, it is one of the areas in which Canada's sovereignty is at risk, as I have said.

Not only did Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft practically write the government's budget, they are also pressuring it on immigration. The proof: there are problems now. We have recently learned that Canadian citizens who were born elsewhere, Syria, Afghanistan and so on, are having problems now with border checks. They are flagged, photographed and fingerprinted. It is all very fine for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to boast of having met with the ambassador, but from what we hear, nothing has changed at the border. The red tape has not lessened. I read this morning again about Canadians of Afghan or Syrian origin who have decided “we are no longer going to the States because we know we will be hassled by the U.S. customs people”.

So there are some basic problems. As far as immigration is concerned, we are certainly obliged to adjust our legislation . If we want to take part in an international effort against terrorism, we can allow a degree of leeway to the minister when it comes to entering into agreements with the provinces and perhaps also with international groups. We have no problem with that.

The reason I think the Bloc Quebecois will object to this legislation, if it is not amended, is the whole issue of information exchange.

In this bill, as was the case in the last federal budget, the government gives carte blanche to the RCMP and CSIS. If one looks at the past, and more specifically at the work of the McDonald commission and the Keable commission, which were set up by the Quebec government, one can definitely wonder about the appropriateness of giving such broad powers to the RCMP and to CSIS, particularly in Quebec. At the time, we learned some incredible things about the behaviour of the RCMP and CSIS regarding various key events in Quebec's history.

Needless to say this is also a very sensitive issue. As soon as people hear about the RCMP and CSIS, they know that certain things are going on in there, things that are not publicly known, things that no one knows anything about. This explains why people are very reluctant to give up part of their freedom for the benefit of agencies such as the RCMP and CSIS.

Even the privacy commissioner said that the government was giving carte blanche to the RCMP. I cannot mention all the things which, in our opinion, are controversial in the bill, as regards this aspect. The fact that the RCMP commissioner or the director of CSIS—probably also through delegation—can inquire about the list of passengers and ask for many details on all the passengers may be used against us. There is something that made me smile: a profile could be established in the case of an individual who makes a habit of travelling to suspicious places.

For example, as a Bloc Quebecois member, if I were to travel to Cuba in the next five years, I could be suspected of being involved in activities dangerous to Canada's security. And this is where everything goes haywire in the respect of the rights and freedoms of Quebeckers and Canadians. From the moment that, under the cover of anti-terrorism measures, the government begins to play big brother in Canada's airline industry, there is a great danger.

In fact, the privacy commissioner said that this is adding insult to injury. Moreover, when the RCMP and CSIS collect data, this information is usually kept for seven days before being disposed of.

However there is no time period in this legislation. It will be possible to follow anyone, and the airlines will not be able to refuse to comply. They will have to obey the law, and if they are asked to provide information on any individual, they will have to do so. And that is where the hidden and obscure powers of the RCMP and CSIS come into play.

With the history surrounding this type of agencies, we, especially Quebeckers, have every reason to wonder about the motives. We also have every reason to wonder about the political police aspect. We just learned about Cabinet documents in the Trudeau era where the government was giving orders to the RCMP to crush any kind of sovereignist movement in Quebec. There is almost no control over these agencies.

Of course, mechanisms are put in place to try to see, from time to time, what these agencies are doing and whether their activities are consistent with Canadian laws. But it never goes very far, and what characterizes these agencies is their freedom to do practically everything they want. Obviously, if they break the law and are called to appear before a committee, they will certainly not admit to violating this act or any other.

So the whole issue of collecting and sharing information is of great concern to us. Of course, as I was saying earlier, we have succeeded in getting rid of the controlled access military zones, but we want the government to go further.

A legislative committee will look into this issue. I hope we can come up with amendments to make some kind of progress, to ensure that the pendulum once again swings toward civil liberties and to avoid what the Prime Minister, along with all the government ministers, talked about earlier, which is that the terrorists' greatest victory would be to completely restrict our rights and freedoms.

Unfortunately, with the bill as it stands now, we are making progress on some issues, but we still have a lot of work to do to swing the pendulum back toward our rights and freedoms.

I think that my colleagues would agree that the Bloc Quebecois is probably the party most likely to ensure progress on these issues. We defend our rights and freedoms very fiercely. The government cannot pass such a bill and expect that everything will be fine in Canada and in Quebec.

I have let the House know how sensitive Quebeckers are on issues concerning the military, the RCMP and CSIS. They defend their rights and freedoms very fiercely. I hope the government will change its mind and remedy the situation by introducing a bill that will not restrict the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Quebeckers. I am ready to take questions on this issue.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois in the debate on Bill C-17, formerly Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

I am pleased because, as parliamentarians and representatives of those who paid us the honour of electing us, we have a duty always to cast light on the bills tabled in this House. There is a whole history behind this bill we are addressing today, Bill C-17. It began, of course, the day following the events of September 11. The first bill, Bill C-42, was introduced on November 22, 2001, and the second, Bill C-55, in June 2002.

This is, of course, the fourth time, since there was an attempt to introduce a Bill C-16, but that one did not get to the House for a very simple reason. Government boondoggle. An information meeting was organized but the bill ended up being introduced before the meeting, so the leader of the government in the House withdrew the bill. Today, here we are discussing Bill C-17.

For your benefit, Mr. Speaker, and that of those listening to us, the men and women of Quebec and of Canada, we need to review the background a bit. When the famous briefing session took place—and not for the first time, but the third, for three bills means three briefing sessions—I asked the same question of the government representatives.

When such a session is held, since this bill comprises more than 100 pages, 102 in fact, and involves 22 pieces of enabling legislation, amending them and impacting on ten or so departments, there is always a multitude of departmental officials who come and explain to us the reason behind the bill. These include, of course, people from the Department of Transport, since this bill comes under the auspices of the Minister of Transport and then, of course, there were some from DND, who were there to defend the indefensible. There were people from the various other departments as well.

During this briefing, I asked the same question the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport had been asked in the House during debate on the last two bills, which is, “What could you not do on September 11 that Bill C-17 would allow you to do?” That question was so appropriate that both Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, as well as two other previous bills, died on the Order Paper. Bill C-17 is being debated today.

Of course, each time another bill is reintroduced, major changes are included, because the opposition has made major gains. I was listening earlier the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport explaining, in his non-partisan way, as he says, how a large part of the two bills, dealing with controlled access military zones, had been dropped from the bill.

This is very much a gain as far as the Bloc Quebecois is concerned. This must be stated emphatically. And why is this so? Because the controlled access military zones constituted interference with provincial powers, an encroachment on Quebec territory. Even in the time of Robert Bourassa and of the War Measures Act, during the October crisis, it was at the request of the Province of Quebec that the War Measures Act was applied to Quebec.

We have always argued that controlled access military zones in Quebec should be designated only with the consent of the provincial government. Their designation should be requested by the Province of Quebec. We have always stood for that. But the government would never accept. In Bills C-42 and C-55, things were quite simple, because only the defence minister could designate military zones in Quebec to protect all sorts of things.

Our position has always been the same, as a result of the FTAA summit in Quebec City. With this bill, the federal government could have designated a controlled access military zone for this summit. It could then have controlled all points of entry and everybody. The bill was also outrageous in that it provided for no compensation for problems resulting from this designation. This whole section on controlled access military zones has been withdrawn.

Bill C-17 does not mention controlled access military zones. The government's spokesperson, the parliamentary secretary, has mentioned three zones. But that is not provided for in the bill. The government has issued a special order to protect certain ports, maritime equipment and military assets in ports in the maritime provinces. None of these zones are in Quebec.

Members may rest assured that we will be the great champions of the interests of Quebecers. We will never accept the federal government encroaching on our territory without the consent of the provincial government. No matter the political allegiances of those who are control of the destiny of the province of Quebec, it is not normal that the federal government should be able to move onto our lands, or control part of our territory without the consent of the province. We will never accept this. I say once again that the Bloc Quebecois will defend on all fronts the interests of Quebecers and of decision makers of the province of Quebec.

You have understood that all these controlled access military areas have been withdrawn. Bill C-17 is a product of Bill C-42 and Bill C-55. We cannot answer the question, “With this bill, what could you have done before September 11 that you could not do?”

This means that this bill is what is called an omnibus bill in which the wish lists of several departments were found. In the name of the all-important public safety and with the events of September 11, several departments managed to convince their spineless minister that they had been seeking certain powers for several decades. Some public servants would like to see their minister get the authority to introduce several measures without going through this House, without going through Parliament or the other House, without the government's authorization. We must be careful with this.

The men and women of Quebec and Canada who are listening must understand that we must be very vigilant when legislation establishing national security measures like the ones contained in this 102-page bill amending 22 acts and one convention is introduced.

We are told that it is a matter of national urgency, but this is not a national emergency bill. Witness the fact that this is the third version since the events of September 11. This is the reality. This is not a national emergency bill. Separate bills were introduced to deal with urgent matters. I am thinking in particular of the one passed so that Canadian aircraft could fly over American territory, because the Americans required certain personal information. We passed completely separate legislation whereby airlines must provide certain information to the Americans when they fly to American destinations. On that, an agreement was reached very quickly, and the Bloc Quebecois was in favour of the bill.

The bill before us has been cleaned up, and we are basically left with the wish list of officials. When it comes to the wishes of the organization known as the federal government, we must be very vigilant.

Often, the government resorts to omnibus bills to get us to pass very significant amendments by hiding them among numerous others changes in a bill like this 102-page one.

The second element found in the previous bills, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, had to do with the proposed amendments concerning personal information. To ensure our personal safety, there is information we must provide to this public organization, the government, through its departments and officials, but there are things in our lives that we need not disclose, that are our own business. This what makes us a free and democratic society. Again, this is being done in spite of the very serious reservations expressed by the privacy commissioner.

The privacy commissioner manages an office. I have with me the last press release issued by the commissioner. It is the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. As we know, this body was created so that Quebecers and Canadians would be assured that the government would not, by gathering information, invade their privacy.

In Bill C-42, the initial legislation introduced in November, this information or this request was not as important. The government improved the bill, which was reintroduced in June 2002. It went further to try to compel us to provide information and, in Bill C-55, got CSIS and the RCMP involved. The government used the bill that was passed to please the Americans, who wanted information on travellers, and to say, “Now that we are providing certain information to the Americans, perhaps we ought to make use of it, perhaps the RCMP and CSIS ought to make use of it”.

However, let us not forget that, in all the bills that were introduced, the lists of information to be provided to the Department of Transport, which in turn it can transmit to the RCMP or to CSIS, contain 18 elements more than what the Americans were demanding. Once again, public servants, the government bureaucracy under Liberal control, decided that if checks were required, they might as well ask everything they could, because they would never get a second chance to do so.

Once the new data bank is set up by CSIS and the RCMP, the information provided by airline companies on travellers will allow these organizations to track all Canadian airline passengers.

Also, if people like to travel, they, unfortunately, might be considered a flight risk. Their names will obviously be entered into the permanent database so we can keep track of them. People have to realize that the information required is quite detailed.

Let me go over some of the information required, which is different from what the Americans asked. Travellers will be asked to indicate their birthdate, the travel agency they dealt with, their phone number, how they paid for the plane ticket, if someone else paid for the ticket--just imagine no longer being able to give gifts to our children--if parts of the planned itinerary will be covered by another undetermined mean of transportation.

They want to track people's whereabouts. If they like to travel, they will be considered a risk. They want to know where you are going and keep tabs on everyone. That is a fact. The information will be kept for seven days or more if people are considered a risk. It is quite serious. For seven days, the RCMP or CSIS can track anyone. Who can be considered a risk?

Let us say that someone boards a plane with a member of organized crime. Because the person is travelling alone or may seem to be the friend of someone who is under surveillance, the person will be considered a risk just because on the plane you boarded there happens to be a member of organized crime whose name appears in a database. People may also be considered a risk because they travel a lot. They may be involved in some criminal activities.

The way the legislation is drafted makes so little sense that, as I said earlier, the privacy commissioner saw fit to issue a press release as early as May 15, 2002. I will read from it because I think it is important that citizens who are listening to us understand what I am talking about. The privacy commissioner is in charge of an office created by Parliament to protect the rights of private citizens. It is as simple as that. It has a nice name. It is the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. We have a privacy commissioner. This commissioner, George Radwanski, issued a statement on May 15, 2002, and another one on November 1, 2002. I will quote from what he said on May 15.

Today, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport and member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord told us that there are big changes. As far as privacy is concerned, I will explain what the privacy commissioner thinks of these big changes made by the Liberal government since last June when Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper.

At the time, in May 2002, the previous bill had been introduced and it died in June on the Order Paper. Two weeks after it was introduced, the privacy commissioner issued a statement from which I will quote the following:

Let me begin by reiterating, as I have consistently stated since September 11, that I have no intention as Privacy Commissioner of seeking to stand in the way of necessary and justifiable measures to enhance security against terrorism, even if they entail some encroachment on privacy rights. But I have equally made clear--and I wish to repeat on this occasion--that I consider it my duty, as the Officer of Parliament mandated to oversee and defend the privacy rights of Canadians, to object vigorously to any proposed privacy intrusion that cannot be clearly justified.

He goes on:

As I detailed in my statement of May 1st, I am specifically concerned about two sets of provisions in section 4.82: those that permit the RCMP to use the personal information of all air travellers for the purpose of seeking out individuals who are subject to a warrant for any offence punishable by imprisonment for five years or more; and those that permit the RCMP and CSIS to retain the personal information of passengers for such purposes as searching for suspicious travel patterns.

And therefore he suggests the following amendments:

I accordingly recommend the following specific amendments:

4.82(1): Delete the definition of “warrant”.

4.82(4): Delete “or the identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued”.

4.82(11): Delete entirely this sub-section, which states: “A person designated under sub-section (2) may disclose information referred to in sub-section (7) to any peace officer if the designated person has reason to believe that the information would assist in the execution of a warrant.”

He adds, regarding section 4.82(14):

My first concern is that sub-section (14) would permit the personal information of all airline passengers to be kept by the RCMP and CSIS for up to 7 days before being destroyed unless it is of further interest to the state. This appears to be an inordinately long time for the RCMP and CSIS to keep the personal information of great numbers of law-abiding citizens.

He mentions in section 4.82(14):

4.82(14): Delete “7 days” and replace with “48 hours”—

He further adds:

I am even more concerned about the latter part of sub-section (14) which empowers the RCMP or CSIS to keep the personal information of any passenger indefinitely if it is “reasonably required for the purposes of transportation security or the investigation of threats to the security of Canada—

It can therefore be seen that the privacy commissioner expressed serious reservations on May 15 2002. He referred to the consequences of the scope of section 4.82 and various paragraphs referred to. He said:

In Canada, police forces cannot normally compel businesses to provide personal information about citizens unless they obtain a warrant.

Section 4.82 would empower the RCMP, and CSIS, to obtain the personal information of all air travellers without a warrant.

He then added that the bill, when it comes to the RCMP:

—overlooks the fact that giving the police access to this information in the first place can only be justified as an exceptional measure to combat terrorism.

Nowhere in the legislation does it mention that this information must only be used, or that surveillance must only be carried out to fight terrorism.

This was removed, this word was not added, nor was it put back in the new bill. In practical terms, this means that what the RCMP and CSIS want to control, what the Liberal Party wants to control, are people's movements. Regular travellers will now be listed in an electronic database that will allow them to follow travellers and, as I said earlier, even access their itinerary.

In May 2002, he added:

If we accept the principle that air travellers within Canada can in effect be forced by law to identify themselves to police for scrutiny against lists of wanted suspects, then there is nothing to prevent the same logic from being applied in future to other modes of transportation.

It is important to note that only airlines and airline passengers are included in these measures. People who use other means of transportation, whether it be the car, bus, train or boat, are not subject to these requirements laid out in Bill C-17.

On May 15, 2002, the commissioner proposed further changes, which I will not read. As members can see, Bill C-17 does not address the privacy commissioner's concerns. If anyone is listening to us, I will mention that on November 1, 2002, the day after the bill was introduced in the House, the privacy commissioner issued a press release. I will read what he had to say:

Since last May, I have expressed extremely grave concerns about one provision of what was then Bill C-55, the federal government's Public Safety Act. The same provision has now been reintroduced, with only minimal and unsatisfactory changes in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

I am not the one who said this. Neither is it the Bloc Quebecois, which is a staunch advocate of Quebecers' interests. It is the privacy commissioner. He said that the changes made to Bill C-17 as compared to Bill C-55 were “minimal and unsatisfactory”.

He added:

The provision in question, section 4.82 of both bills, would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information held by airlines about all Canadian air travellers on domestic as well as international flights.

This is serious. What the privacy commissioner said is what I have been saying over and over again this morning; it is what the Bloc Quebecois maintained with regard to Bill C-55, namely that it would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to personal information regarding all Canadians.

In this letter dated November 1, the privacy commissioner also said:

I have raised no objection to the primary purpose of this provision, which is to enable the RCMP and CSIS to use this passenger information for anti-terrorist screening.

What he is saying is that he does not object to the war on terrorism and to anti-terrorist measures that have to do with transportation security and national security.

He goes on to say:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

Therefore, it is clear that this bill wants to go after all the other persons who have been sentenced for criminal activities which are in no way related to terrorism.

The news release also says:

The implications of this are extraordinarily far-reaching.

The privacy commissioner says, in the same sentence, that the implications would be “extraordinarily far-reaching”.

In Canada, it is well established that we are not required to identify ourselves to police unless we are being arrested or we are carrying out a licensed activity such as driving. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. Since we are required to identify ourselves to airlines as a condition of air travel and since section 4.82 would give the RCMP unrestricted access to the passenger information obtained by airlines, this would set the extraordinarily privacy-invasive precedent of effectively requiring compulsory self-identification to the police.

That is the harsh reality. The requirements in Bill C-17 would force those who travel by air to provide personal information and identify themselves. This means far more than just indicating one's address and destination. It is an obligation to provide the police with one's credit card number, one's itinerary and everything else that could be relevant.

The press release goes on:

I am prepared, with some reluctance, to accept this as an exceptional measure that can be justified, in the wake of September 11, for the limited and specific purposes of aviation security and national security against terrorism. But I can find no reason why the use of this de facto self-identification to the police should be extended to searching for individuals who are of interest to the state because they are the subject of warrants for Criminal Code offences unrelated to terrorism. That has the same effect as requiring us to notify the police every time we travel, so that they can check whether we are wanted for something.

Right now, this only applies to air travel, but nothing would prevent the Liberal government, which has already started to encroach on our privacy, from requiring everyone who travels, whether it is by car, by train or by boat, to identify themselves.

All of this would be carried out by the RCMP and CSIS. So, we are setting up a database on air passengers that could also be applied to all those who travel by car, by boat and by train, which includes everyone.

In a huge country like Quebec, people cannot get everywhere they want to by foot because of the distances involved. It is the same in Canada. Eventually, all Canadians will have to identify themselves, and this goes against our freedom and our democratic principles.

Resuming the quotation from the privacy commissioner:

If we accept the principle that air travellers within Canada can in effect be forced by law to identify themselves to police for scrutiny against lists of wanted suspects, then there is nothing to prevent the same logic from being applied in future to other modes of transportation. Particularly since this provision might well discourage wanted individuals from travelling by air, why not extend the same scrutiny to train travellers, bus passengers or anyone renting a car? Indeed, the precedent set by this provision could ultimately open the door to practices similar to those that exist in societies where police routinely board trains, establish roadblocks or stop people on the street to check identification papers in search of anyone of interest to the state.

We would end up with a police state, something we have never known in Canada. The quote continues:

The place to draw the line in protecting the fundamental human right of privacy is at the very outset, at the first unjustifiable intrusion. In this instance, that means amending the bill to remove all reference to warrants and thus limit the police to matching passenger information against anti-terrorism and national security databases.

The concerns that I have raised in this matter since last spring have been publicly endorsed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario; by members of every party in the House of Commons, notably including a member of the government’s own Liberal caucus who is an internationally recognized expert on human rights, Irwin Cotler; and by editorials in newspapers including the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Province, the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal.

These concerns have now been ignored by the Government.

The changes that have been made in this provision in the new bill do nothing to address the fundamental issues of principle that are at stake.

I am still quoting the privacy commissioner in his November 1, 2002 letter:

The Government now proposes to have regulations limiting the Criminal Code offence warrants for which the RCMP will be searching. But this does nothing to address the fundamental point of principle that the police have no business using this extraordinary access to personal information to search for people wanted on warrants for any offences unrelated to terrorism.

Why is that? Quite simple. The police already have their ways of collecting information and of contacting criminals. What we want is antiterrorism legislation, not legislation that would allow for the verification of the identity of Canadians and Quebecers to subsequently use this information and enter it into a database, thereby making our country into a veritable police state, which has never been the case before in Quebec and in Canada.

Clearly the privacy commissioner is against this bill. In closing, I will quote the final paragraph of his letter.

Since the original Bill C-55 was introduced, I have used every means at my disposal to make the crucially important privacy issues that are at stake known and understood by all the Ministers and top Government officials who are involved in this matter. I regret that I have not, to date, been successful in obtaining an appropriate response from them—.

Here is what he is saying, and this is the beauty of it. When this little committee briefing referred to by Liberal members or representatives of the Liberal government took place, I questioned the representative of the Department of Transport who presented this bill. He explained to us that this complicated bill does not contain any changes regarding personal information, which we in the Bloc Quebecois had noticed almost right away. He answered candidly that they had indeed discussed this with the privacy commissioner.

What the commissioner is telling us is that he had discussions with them but they did not listen. That is the Liberal government.

A more democratic process to elect the chairs and vice-chairs of committees is being called for. We will be voting on a motion this afternoon. A few weeks ago, in a speech delivered in Toronto, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard said there would be more transparency in government and a new procedure for appointing or electing representatives sitting on committees across the country.

The privacy commissioner is a representative appointed by the Liberal government. The Liberals are not listening to the person they appointed. Imagine what it would be like if the appointment was made by Parliament. They would listen even less. That is the reality. This is a government that is letting its officials run the show and—

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address Bill C-17, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, otherwise known as the public safety act.

In baseball there is a rule “Three strikes and you're out”. This is the third time since September 11, 2001 that the government has essentially introduced the same bill. In each case the bill's short title has been the public safety act and each bill has tried to implement the biological and toxin weapons convention. When one realizes that the convention, which the bill proposes to implement, was signed by Canada on September 18, 1972, four years before I was born, during Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's first term, and only now is being implemented over 30 years later during the current Prime Minister's third term, one gets a true sense of the glacial pace that the government takes when it comes to public security. Even the process that led to Bill C-17 speaks to the incompetence and bumbling.

On September 11 a terrorist plot of unprecedented proportions shook the western world to the core. In the United States, 10 days later, South Carolina Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings was on his feet to introduce America's response, S.1447, a bill to improve aviation security and for other purposes. With lightening speed and despite an anthrax scare on Capitol Hill, both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate quickly passed the legislation and President Bush signed it into law on November 19, 2001. I ask hon. members to think of that. From the time the first airplane hit the first tower to the moment President Bush signed and adopted the legislation, just 10 weeks had passed.

During that same 10 weeks, the Liberal government slept. In fact, it was a full three days after President Bush had signed the U.S. law before the Liberal government even tabled the first version of the public safety act, called Bill C-42, on November 22. Since then the Canadian process has been a case study in how not to inspire public confidence in a government's ability to fight terrorism.

Just two days after Bill C-42 was introduced, it was pulled back and a clause dealing with giving airline passenger information to the United States government was hived off into a separate bill, Bill C-44. Apparently the Canadian airline industry was aware of the fact that a clause in the U.S. law just signed by President Bush required airlines flying to the United States to give passenger lists to the U.S. government starting on January 18, 2002.

It is interesting that the U.S. government sat the day after the September 11 attacks happened. The U.S. Congress was reconvened. The U.S. Senate was reconvened. President Bush got to work. They introduced legislation and they passed it inside of 10 weeks. This government took longer to introduce a bill than it took them to go through the entire process. On January 18, 2002, the reason the House had not been reconvened was that it was dismissed by the Liberals for a Christmas vacation when the U.S. Congress was at work the entire time.

Those same airlines were also presumably aware of the super slow motion pace of addressing national security that the Liberals had shown. They were wise.

Bill C-44 received royal assent on December 18, 2001 and Bill C-42 was withdrawn by the Liberal government roughly four months later on April 24, 2002. Five days after that, the Liberals introduced Bill C-42's replacement, Bill C-55.

Right there one has to wonder about the competence of the Liberal government. The normal process when a bill has flaws is to make amendments, and for this government, that should be a relatively easy process. Any one of the 150 backbenchers is usually more than willing to sponsor an amendment, either in the House or at the appropriate committee, and should those voting machines show an unprecedented degree of backbone, the Liberal dominated Senate can be counted on to propose a government backed amendment as part of its sober second thought.

For the government to withdraw a bill only to reintroduce essentially the exact same bill with a different number shows that even within the depths of the Liberal government, there are people who have said that this legislation is beyond redemption.

In any event, Bill C-55 contained many of the flaws of its predecessor. It affected nearly two dozen different statutes in nearly a dozen ministries. It was a real hodgepodge of missed opportunities and power grabs by various cabinet ministers. It was so complex and affected so many different aspects of government that it was quickly agreed to send the bill, not to the transport committee as originally planned, but to a special legislative committee which was struck on May 9 solely for the purpose of studying Bill C-55. That committee, of which I agreed to be a member, never met. The bill died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002 when Parliament was prorogued.

Canadians need to understand this. Twice the Liberal government dropped the ball on major legislation dealing with public safety. First it tabled Bill C-42 which was so filled with flaws that it had to be withdrawn. Then it tabled a replacement bill only to let it die on the Order Paper so that the Liberals could present a new throne speech and lay out a legacy for a nine year Prime Minister for whom the words “What, me worry?” no longer suffice.

I have news for my Liberal friends opposite. For many Canadians, a strong response to a terrorist threat could be, and I think should be, the government's legacy; certainly the Prime Minister's legacy. In the United States President George W. Bush's place in history will largely be shaped by how he responds to the events of September 11; just as FDR's legacy was more a response and more a fact of Pearl Harbor and his reaction to Pearl Harbor than his domestic great society plans as a response to the great depression.

The current Prime Minister could have done the same. It seems that our Prime Minister is perhaps so concerned about leaving a legacy on domestic policy that he is forgetting to do the simple things, like keeping the country safe which would in fact give him a legacy which he so desperately seeks.

Beyond the legacy factor, there is a simple fact of political science that is a truism which has to be considered in public life. Abraham Maslow, a famous public theorist and a political scientist, had a theory, Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which said definitively that the primary role of the state ahead of all else, ahead of balancing budgets, ahead of creating infrastructure and ahead of setting up a court system, was to secure citizens. Public safety is the number one responsibility of the state.

This government seems to have not learned that basic concept of public philosophy which goes beyond Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It goes back to The Origin of Species , the famous book outlining the concept of evolution, where the first responsibility and the first instinct for people is to make themselves safe from threats.

If we look at the legislation that the government has tabled, the $24 air tax, nickel and dime legislation, nonsensical legislation that really does not go anywhere, it has put all this stuff in place, yet Liberal backbenchers put in laws and private members' bills that have now passed to create a Canadian horse. This sort of legislation has come ahead of the natural and normal instinct of human behaviour, which was first outlined in the famous book, The Origin of Species and then synthesized by Abraham Maslow and his theory of the hierarchy of needs. The government does not seem to understand the simple needs of citizens to feel safe from those who are threatening them.

The third attempt at the public safety act, Bill C-17, which we are debating today, still was not ready when we came back. The throne speech for the 2nd session of the 37th Parliament was delivered by the Governor General on September 30. The speech contained the vague promise that “the government will continue to work with its allies to ensure the safety and security of Canadians”. In fact the proposed legislation, Bill C-17, was not tabled in the House until October 31, fully 13 months after the September 11 attacks and nearly 11 months after President Bush had signed America's aviation and transportation security act into legislation as public law 107-71.

Therefore the following question poses itself. Was the 11 month wait worth it, or to put it another way, did the Liberals learn anything in the 13 months between September 11, 2001 and October 31, 2002 which led this government to table a better bill? The answer at best is maybe.

When one reads the U.S. legislation, one is immediately struck by the stunning contrast between U.S. and Canadian legislation drafted as a response to September 11. Both statutes deal with giving passenger manifests to various government authorities. The Canadian proposed legislation, Bill C-17, introduces a new section 4.81 of the Aeronautics Act. The proposed section reads:

4.81(1) The Minister, or any officer of the Department of Transport authorized by the Minister for the purposes of this section, may, for the purposes of transportation security, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide the Minister or officer, as the case may be, within the time and in the manner specified by the Minister or officer, with information set out in the schedule

(a) that is in the air carrier's or operator's control concerning the persons on board or expected to be on board an aircraft for any flight specified by the Minister or officer if the Minister or officer is of the opinion that there is an immediate threat to that flight; or

(b) that is in the air carrier's or operator's control, or that comes into their control within 30 days after the requirement is imposed on them, concerning any particular person specified by the Minister or officer

(2) Information provided under subsection (1) may be disclosed by persons in the Department of Transport to other persons in that department only for the purposes of transportation security.

As members can see the proposed section is vague. The minister may or may not require the information; the carrier has up to 30 days to provide the information. Further, the privacy commissioner has raised concerns that, by virtue of another section of Bill C-17, some of the passenger information could be used by either CSIS or the RCMP for purposes other than national security.

I am on the record as strongly supporting anything that will allow intelligence agencies to identify the presence of terrorists in our skies. I strongly supported requiring Canada's airlines to provide passport related information to the U.S. customs service as required by U.S. law. Therefore, the Canadian Alliance voted to fast track Bill C-44 in the last session. I am also on the record as being in favour of having the government conduct similar terrorist identification activities here as I strongly believe that an independent nation should be able to defend itself.

At the same time I have read the U.S. legislation and I believe that it ensures that the U.S. customs office has both the information and the tools to identify terrorism. As well local FBI are not using airline files to look for common criminals. The U.S. system has checks and balances and it is my intention to call Mr. George Radwanski, Canada's privacy commissioner, to appear as a witness when Bill C-17 goes to committee so that we can more carefully examine whether the Canadian law has similar checks and balances to its U.S. counterpart.

Let us look at the clauses in the U.S. aviation and transportation security act that deal with passenger lists. Section 115 of America's aviation and transportation security act states:

(1) Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, each air carrier and foreign air carrier operating a passenger flight in foreign air transportation to the United States shall provide to the Commissioner of Customs by electronic transmission a passenger and crew manifest containing the information specified in paragraph (2). Carriers may use the advanced passenger information system established under section 431 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1431) to provide the information required by the preceding sentence.

(2) INFORMATION--A passenger and crew manifest for a flight required under paragraph (1) shall contain the following information:

(A) The full name of each passenger and crew member.

(B) The date of birth and citizenship of each passenger and crew member.

(C) The sex of each passenger and crew member.

(D) The passport number and country of issuance of each passenger and crew member if required for travel.

(E) The United States visa number or resident alien card number of each passenger and crew member, as applicable.

(F) Such other information as the Under Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner of Customs, determines is reasonably necessary to ensure aviation safety.

(3) PASSENGER NAME RECORDS--The carriers shall make passenger name record information available to the Customs Service upon request.

(4) TRANSMISSION OF MANIFEST--Subject to paragraph (5), a passenger and crew manifest required for a flight under paragraph (1) shall be transmitted to the Customs Service in advance of the aircraft landing in the United States in such manner, time and form as the Customs Service prescribes.

(5) TRANSMISSION OF MANIFESTS TO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES--Upon request, information provided to the Under Secretary or the Customs Service under this subsection may be shared with other Federal agencies for the purpose of protecting national security.

The clauses in the U.S. legislation are clear and well written. They lay out the responsibilities. They differentiate between two types of data. APIS, advanced passenger information system information, provides date of birth, citizenship, passport number, gender and is only collected for flights that cross international borders. PNR or passenger name record is the information that the airline collects when the reservation is made.

The U.S. law requires airlines to send APIS information to the U.S. customs service before the plane lands. This lets U.S. authorities know who is coming into the U.S. before they arrive in the United States. The U.S. law requires airlines to provide information from their reservation systems only when requested. Further, the customs service may only have to share the information with other agencies for the purpose of protecting national security.

The U.S. legislation is crystal clear. We know exactly what kind of information the airlines must provide, to whom, by what deadline and for what purpose. The U.S. legislation was drafted in 10 days. Bill C-17, which is what we are debating today, is the third attempt in 13 months to deal with similar issues, and the sections dealing with passenger manifests are the legislative definition of grey fog. In fact even whether the new subsections 4.81 to 4.83 of the Aeronautics Act are truly necessary is debatable.

First, there is the question as to whether Canada has the facilities to process the information, the same sort of information that the Americans have been collecting since they passed their legislation. For example, information which is sent to the U.S. customs service is processed in Newington, Maryland where it is input into the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, CAPPS, to create a passenger profile. Canada has no system comparable to plug the information into.

Second, on October 7 the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency implemented its advance passenger information-passenger name record program that authorized airlines and passenger reservation systems to share information with various government agencies. In various statements the CCRA has justified the advanced passenger information-passenger name record program saying that it is fully authorized by the recent amendments to the Customs Act, Bill S-23, and by saying that the use of API-PNR data is now covered under section 107 of the Customs Act.

If in fact the CCRA already has these powers, the new sections 4.81 to 4.83 will require careful scrutiny to ensure that we are not only considering international flights, that the data is being used only for the purposes of national security and that we have facilities to actually process the information. We must ensure that this is not just some show; that we are collecting the information to say that we are collecting information so that we can say that we have a parallel system to the United States, but the information just goes into a vacuum and we do not have a computer with the appropriate software with the appropriate mechanisms, to make any of this worthwhile.

I hope these issues can be considered when the bill does go to committee.

A very significant portion of Bill C-17 deals with interim orders. It was the most controversial section of Bill C-55, interim orders in a reduced format, as was mentioned by my colleague from Chicoutimi, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. They have been changed but they are still there.

A very detailed legislative summary prepared by the Library of Parliament for Bill C-55 on May 21, 2002, nearly a month after the second reading of the bill began, contained four pages of analysis on interim orders.

There is no similar analysis of Bill C-17 and the briefing that was promised last week so that all members of Parliament could have comparable data on which to have a functional debate on this bill never materialized.

Nonetheless, based on comparisons between Bill C-55 of the last session and Bill C-17 in this session, it is possible to make the following conclusions.

Ten parts of the bill amend various statutes to provide a new or expanded power permitting the responsible minister to make interim orders in situations where immediate action is required.

The interim order provisions follow a similar pattern: The minister may make an interim order on a matter that would otherwise be required to be made, in a regulation or otherwise, by the governor in council or cabinet.

An interim order may be made if the minister believes that immediate action is required to deal with a significant risk, direct or indirect, to human life, health, safety, security, or the environment, depending on the statute.

An interim order must be published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days.

An interim order ceases to have effect after 14 days unless it has been, variously, confirmed by the governor in council, repealed or has lapsed, or been replaced by an identical regulation; even if approved by the governor in council, the maximum time an interim order may remain in effect is one calendar year.

A copy of each interim order must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days after it has been made. This has been reduced, as the minister said, from the previous bill.

A person who contravenes an interim order that has not yet been published in the Canada Gazette cannot be convicted of an offence unless the person has been notified of the order, or unless reasonable steps have been taken to inform those likely to be affected by it.

Interim orders are exempt from certain requirements of the Statutory Instruments Act, among the most important of which is the requirement for lawyers in the regulations section of the Legislative Services Branch of the Department of Justice to examine proposed regulations to see if they are authorized by statute, are not an unusual or unexpected use of statutory authority, do not trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and are not inconsistent with either the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

I want to acknowledge that in terms of interim orders the government's position has evolved considerably since Bill C-42 was first introduced nearly a year ago. The length of time required for the minister to seek cabinet approval of an interim order has dropped from 90 days to 14 days.

It must be noted that in Bill C-55, the government first said that cabinet ministers, on a variety issues, in a variety of portfolios and in a variety of ways, could invoke interim orders to have 90 days, What that means is that usually when legislation is passed, every single piece of legislation has at the end of it that the governor in council, cabinet, has the capacity to invoke whatever regulations are necessary so that the full cut and thrust of that given piece of legislation can come to its full fruition and meaning for Canadians, as has been prescribed.

Interim orders basically gives an individual cabinet minister the capacity, through an interim order, to invoke whatever regulatory measures he or she prescribes to address either the legislation or an unseen aspect of national security, or so on, as the area may be seen fit, but 90 days is what was first proposed.

In essence we are giving cabinet ministers unilateral power to invoke regulations that in many places could be seen as taking away some people's civil rights, invoking on their freedoms and invoking on natural law. We have written it into constitutional law but there is also natural law. There are lot of the concerns. However 90 days is an extraordinarily long time.

Today a majority vote of the quorum of cabinet, which I believe is five people, is required to get a regulation passed outside of an interim order. If this cabinet cannot get five people together inside of 90 days it is a pretty pathetic standard. Given video conferencing, teleconferencing, proxy ballots and the way that cabinet meetings can be put together, to say that a cabinet minister has the capacity to invoke an interim order within 90 days without having a majority of quorum of cabinet together to decide these things is a very dangerous precedent.

Ninety days is an extraordinarily long time. It has been reduced to 14 days, but my concern is that in the foreseeable future, should something like 90 days be put in place, or even the 14 days as is recommended by Bill C-17, we could have an extraordinarily arrogant cabinet minister--and I do not mean any particular cabinet minister--who believes that he or she knows all the solutions to a given problem and through interim orders would have the unilateral power to invoke regulations against Canadian citizens. That could be an extraordinarily dangerous power in the hands of an individual cabinet minister.

Conversely, what is of equal danger is a cabinet minister who is new to his or her portfolio, we have a terrorist attack like September 11 or a biological attack of some sort and that cabinet minister is not fully versed in what he or she is doing, and we have people in the bureaucracy and within the system underneath that minister who push that minister in a direction where he or she is not fully comfortable being for or against. The capacity of ministers to make mistakes, either out of arrogance or incompetence, through interim orders is an extraordinarily dangerous thing.

What I fear could happen is that an individual minister could make mistakes through one of those two mechanisms and then, therefore, the government could say that the minister was acting out of interim orders. What the government is doing is isolating the political responsibility and the political fallout of a dumb or dangerous decision to one cabinet minister and dumping that one cabinet minister without the full government having to take full responsibility for actions taken by the full government. That is the danger of interim orders.

On top of that, some of the concerns that have been raised by some of my colleagues in all parties, including the government side, is just the general nature of representative democracy and the ability of citizens to know the laws that are being imposed on them and the capacity for cabinet ministers to invoke regulations and changes in statutes in an ad hoc way that could impugn their civil liberties.

I also think the government has taken significant steps forward. As I said, reducing the time from 90 days to 14 days is a step in the right direction. Moving up the time of the publication of the Canada Gazette is a step in the right direction. The official opposition applauds the government for listening but we still want to have a thorough conversation on the committee side with the minister responsible for this and with all minister who will have these new interim order powers in their possession. Even if the government is not open to amendment on this side, it has gone from 90 to 14 days, and if it took another redraft of it of course it would get a swift kick in the shins from everyone in the country including us in the official opposition for having to take a fourth run at a piece of legislation.

However it is important for all cabinet ministers who will be handed these new interim order powers to understand the dynamic I described, of the dangers of having rogue cabinet ministers, and/or incapable cabinet ministers, not necessarily this cabinet but future cabinets as we go forward.

It is also probably fair to suggest that the interim orders can be summarized in just two words, “trust me”.

By contrast, the U.S. aviation and transportation security act is specific. It delegates power but it also assigns responsibilities. It contains deadlines. It specifies the amount of money that may be spent on particular initiatives. It sets management objectives and requires regular evaluations as well as audits. There is a clear understanding of who does what, why, when and with what authority. Checks and balances are present. The U.S. aviation and transportation security act is a planned strategic response by a superpower to a defined threat. The U.S. bill was drafted in the 10 days following September 11 and already in that short time the American legislators knew that “trust me” would not cut it with the American public.

It is now almost 14 months after September 11. I am not opposed to interim orders where they are necessary to deal with previously unforeseen threats. At the same time, if cabinet members want more power they should also accept more defined responsibility and we should know how much a particular initiative costs, as well as have the ability to be able to audit organizations such as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. We should also have an annual budget so that Canadians know whether we are getting value for money. Frankly it is past time that we as a country evolve past the “trust me” ethic of the Liberal government.

One of the paragraphs that was deleted in the evolution from Bill C-42 to the current Bill C-17 was a clause which would have introduced a new section 4.75 to the Aeronautics Act giving the Minister of Transport the ability to:

--apportion the costs of any security measure between the persons to whom it is directed, or by whom it is carried out, and any person or persons who, in the opinion of the Minister, would reasonably be expected to benefit from the security measure. As part of the apportionment of the costs, the Minister may specify to whom the costs are payable.

I believe that section reflects the unanimous philosophy of the Standing Committee on Transport, which was expressed in our December 7, 2001 report, “Building a Transportation Security Culture: Aviation as the Starting Point”, as follows:

All stakeholders--including airports, air carriers, airline passengers and/or residents of Canada--contribute to the cost of improved aviation security.

Given that this clause was originally in Bill C-42 and expressed the government's philosophy then and continues to reflect the philosophy of the Standing Committee on Transport, I will be proposing an amendment to re-include this paragraph when Bill C-17 goes to committee.

This is a very important. Bill C-42 came in and there was a specific provision in it respecting the Standing Committee on Transport. We will have a big vote today at 3 o'clock that respects the independence of committees to elect their own chairs by secret ballot. It is an important step in the right direction. The Alliance has been on record advocating this for over a decade. It is about time that it comes to fruition.

Another way the government could respect committees is not just by allowing them to elect their own masters and to elect the people who will be presiding over their bi-weekly committee meetings, but also respecting decisions by the committees themselves.

The transport committee was reconvened after the September 11 attacks and told to go across the country, down to Washington, D.C. and to New York City, visit with lots of people, spend thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars and bring in the experts and anyone else we wanted to talk to. We were to find out what was wrong with airport and aviation security, to find out how to pay for it and to give some recommendations on what should be done.

The transport committee agreed to do that. We travelled to Washington, D.C. and spent thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars, not only in the cost of bringing in witnesses and meeting rooms and everything else but also in the cost of MPs' salaries. Members of Parliament earn $135,000 a year. We focused on this project for well over two months trying to find out new and better ways for improving aviation security. That time and money could have been spent doing other things but we did not. We focused on security because it was the dominant responsibility after the September 11 attacks.

We tabled a report and the report was unanimously supported. I do not think a single party offered a single dissenting opinion on the report that was tabled. In that report every member of the committee said that improved aviation costs should be spread out and that not one faction of the air industry should have to pay for all improvements in aviation security. We said that the cost should be spread out among the airlines, air carriers, passengers, the general public and general revenues so that the terrorists do not totally warp, distort and retard the economy of an aviation industry for the sake of increased security. That was supported by every political party at the committee, the Alliance, the Bloc, the Tories, the NDP and the Liberals. Every Liberal on the committee supported that sentiment, including the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, who is sitting opposite.

The government is finally saying that it will respect committees and respect that we should be able to elect our chairs by secret ballot, which is good, but an even greater measure of respect would be for the government to say to the adult legislators who are on committees, “When you do quality work, when you spend all this time and money and you arrive at a unanimous view on a complicated and difficult section of public policy, airport and aviation security, which rarely ever happens, a unanimous opinion, we will listen to you. We will implement some of what you guys had in mind”.

I believe there were 13 recommendations in that report and every one of them were thrown into the wind and dismissed by the Minister of Transport. It is pathetic. Now the government says “Here is 10¢. We will let you elect your committee chairs and now that shows that we respect committees”.

How about taking some of our ideas? We are legislators. We are of equal value in the legislative process as any of the other members of the House and our views need to be listened to, particularly when they are arrived at through a long and difficult process. We arrived at a unanimous opinion among political parties with different regional perspectives, with different ideological perspectives and different policy pushes. The government should listen to our views.

I conclude my speech by calling on the government to divide Bill C-17, to split it up so that the appropriate standing committees may give the bill proper examination.

Therefore I would like to move that the motion be amended by replacing all the words after the word “that” with the following: “This House declines to give second reading to Bill C-17, an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, since the bill reflects several principles unrelated to transport and government operations, rendering it impractical for the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations to properly consider it”.