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.

October 20th, 2003 / 11:05 a.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

October 20, 2003

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 20th day of October, 2003, at 9:14 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-42, an act respecting the protection of the Antarctic Environment, Chapter 20.

It being 11:06 a.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Public Safety, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I rise with considerable emotion after a comment or intervention like the one by my friend and colleague from Champlain. No bill, no motion, no subject in this House can be debated in this way, when a person has had an experience like that described by my friend and colleague.

Too often here in Ottawa, when we are discussing a bill, even if we want to be close to the public, we sometimes forget the distance that separates us MPs from our fellow citizens. A comment such as the one we have just heard reminds us that all the fine words we pronounce here have repercussions on our communities. The bills on which we vote will one day impact on the people in our communities, in our counties, in our municipalities. If we make poor decisions, they are the ones who will have to bear the brunt of our error, as in the circumstances the hon. member for Champlain has described to us.

We have just had a clear demonstration of that. It is why the Bloc Quebecois is so sensitive to Bill C-17. We have seen concrete examples of why we feel that way, and why we are opposed to the bill. We have wanted to remedy the situation right from the start, in order to make this bill, which started off as Bill C-36, more acceptable.

It is quite ironic that we are dealing with a problem that occurred on September 11, 2001 by discussing it on October 7, 2003. It is as if we were still discussing whether, if those tragic events had occurred here, who would be responsible for cleaning up the mess, the Minister of Industry or the Minister of National Defence.

More than two years after those tragic events, we are trying to remedy the situation through passage of a bill. We are still discussing the advantages of passing a public safety act, which started out as an antiterrorism act.

I will, if I may, give a little historical background on this Bill C-17 we have before us today.

As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-36 was introduced in response to terrorist attacks. Although we supported the idea of an antiterrorism bill—as it was originally called—we believe that this current bill disturbed the desired balance between security and freedom.

The Bloc Quebecois felt that this would not ensure a fair balance between security and freedom. Furthermore, the amendments proposed in committee by the minister are clearly insufficient to restore that balance.

The Bloc Quebecois did not oppose this legislation for the joy of opposing it. We did not block the bill, as we are often accused of doing. On the contrary, we tabled amendments, not to delay it, but to improve it and its implementation.

We had asked, and this is very important, for the bill to include a sunset clause. Something may happen, and perhaps this bill will no longer be needed in the future. There is a start date and an end date. This is not like legislation on the environment or the official languages. The official languages legislation had a sunset clause right from the start, meaning it was adopted one day and the next day it ceased to truly exist. The sun set very fast.

We asked that this bill be reviewed in one year and, second, that there be an end date. And if it needed to be extended, we would have been responsible and extended the bill.

We asked for an automatic review each year and not just every three years, as proposed. The sunset clause and the annual review, instead of every three years, were not significant changes, but rather corrections to bring the bill into line with its stated purpose, which is to protect the public from possible terrorist attacks or from the creation of terrorist groups.

We also found the bill's definition of terrorist acts overly broad.

Moreover, the fact that the attorney general could withhold information by not applying the Access to Information Act was not enough for us.

And there is also the fact that the bill will only be reviewed in three years' time, as I said before, and the fact that the Minister of National Defence would be able to intercept international communications simply by sending a written request to his officials. We also wanted to correct or clarify some other aspects to make the bill more acceptable, as I was saying previously.

Then Bill C-42 was introduced, followed by Bill C-55 and now by Bill C-17. We can see that this bill has evolved. Some of the amendments, some of the Bloc Quebecois' concerns have been heard and we have gained a very significant victory with regard to the controlled access military zones.

The situation was corrected and the designation “controlled access military zones” was taken out of Bill C-42 and of the following bills. If that had not been done, Quebec City for example could have been identified as a controlled access military zone et been subject to the War Measures Act and the Public Safety Act or Antiterrorism Act, and federal laws could have been suspended in these controlled access military zones.

The Bloc Quebecois has made a good presentation with respect to responsibility. Today we can say to everyone that even though we oppose Bill C-17 as it stands, at least we won a victory regarding the controlled access military zones.

But this is a special debate today, discussing a bill like this one that has an impact on people's individual freedom, rights and safety. At the same time, there is time allocation to gag us once again. We could set up a counter and keep track of the number of times they have forced through a time allocation motion.

Today, once again, the government House leader rose in the House to tell us that Bill C-17 is a very important bill. It is a bill on which consultations will be held, but in a very limited time frame. He told the members of Parliament and the message goes out to the population that bulldozer tactics are being used on a bill dealing with every man and woman's individual freedoms. I want to remind the House that it is extremely important and saddening that we are having closure imposed on this bill.

The last aspect of this legislation that particularly concerns us—and we oppose its application—are the powers to be granted to the RCMP. What image is the RCMP projecting today? I should ask, instead, what the Prime Minister and the government are doing to the RCMP's image, by using it for political purposes.

I want to give a few examples. There is Shawinigate, which concerns the golf course and the hotel. Three, four or even five years ago, the RCMP launched an investigation into apparent conflicts of interest. The report on this investigation has disappeared. Groupaction did not make three copies, that is for sure. If they did make three copies, then they lost all three. So, there is still no report, no investigation, and no conclusion to that investigation.

There is also the sponsorship scandal. Paul Coffin was investigated. The report will surely come out. The RCMP may be investigating others, the real big cases like Everest or Groupaction. We do not know and no one will tell us. In addition to this refusal to tell us, the investigation report will never be made public.

I feel it is totally unacceptable for a government to make use of the police for political purposes and thus to tarnish its image, particularly since it wants to give it more powers.

In addition to Shawinigate and the sponsorship scandals, now we have CINAR. They refuse to tell us whether there has been an investigation and whether there was a report. We do not want to know the report's contents, just whether or not it exists. That is all we want to know, and they will not tell us. They are even refusing to tell us whether there was an investigation or not, yet the then deputy prime minister and heritage minister gave us the name and phone number of the lady who was supposedly carrying it out. Today they will not even tell us if there was an investigation.

As for the Radwanski affair, here we have the same thing all over again. Maybe the RCMP will look into it. We will end up with more or less the same result as with the ethics counsellor, which is either nothing at all, or something that is totally useless.

We are therefore opposed to enhanced powers for the RCMP. In principle, we want to improve this bill and to make it acceptable. As it is, however, we will continue our opposition to it.

Public Safety, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm. With words, sentences and substance, he was able to summarize all the issues that are now in Bill C-17, Bill C-55, Bill C-42 and Bill C-36.

However, no matter what number is given to this bill, it still contains flaws. Since the beginning of this debate today, we have talked constantly about the balance that must exist between freedom and security. Paragraph by paragraph, my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm has gone over the issues in this debate and, above all, has pointed out the elements that are contrary to our fundamental values.

My question is quite simple. No matter what number the government is using, whether it is Bill C-42, Bill C-55, Bill C-36 or Bill C-17, why is my colleague still saying that he is against this bill?

Public Safety, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 5 p.m.
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Bloc

Roger Gaudet Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. On September 11, 2001, the United States was the target of deadly attacks. The world reacted quickly with an unprecedented mobilization to fight terrorism.

The Bloc Quebecois was part of that mobilization. That day, on September 11, we spoke out strongly against the attacks and, in the following hours, we offered our cooperation to the federal government with regard to the emergency measures needed to deal with the situation. Later, in a speech made on September 17, 2001, our leader, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, set out the principles that would guide our actions following these tragic events.

The response must reflect and respect our democratic values. In other words, we established the rules that would govern our actions from then on. In fighting terrorism, we must strike the right balance between freedom and security.

Unfortunately, as we will see later on, the federal government has failed. The measures it has proposed do not respect this balance. This is particularly true of bills such as Bill C-17, which we are debating today.

If I may I will proceed in chronological order. The first bill put forward in response to the terrorist attacks was Bill C-36. Although we were at first in favour of the idea of anti-terrorist legislation, we believe that the bill proposed by the federal government did not strike the right balance.

Indeed, the Bloc Quebecois felt that Bill C-36 did not effectively balance freedom with security issues. Moreover, the amendments put forward in committee by the minister turned out to be insufficient to restore this balance.

Terrorists attacks and the terrorist threat have reached an exceptional level and created an exceptional context. Bill C-36 was an exceptional bill in answer to an exceptional situation. Should the terrorist threat subside, several of the measures proposed in Bill C-36 would become unacceptable.

This is why the Bloc Quebecois asked the government to include a sunset clause in the bill so that it is no longer in force after three years, unless the House decides otherwise.

The Bloc Quebecois asked that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human rights automatically review the act every year following a report by an independent commissioner. Those Bloc amendments were turned down.

These are the other elements of Bill C-36 which are problematic for the Bloc Quebecois. The definition of terrorist acts is too broad and could lead to abuse against groups or individuals who have no connection with terrorism, as we saw last week.

The Attorney General and the Minister of Justice could withhold information by not applying the Access to Information Act, and there would be no safeguard. This was the conclusion of the Privacy Commissioner and a judicial review.

The act will only be reviewed in three years, which is much too long. The Minister of National Defence will be able to intercept international communications simply by making a written request to the Centre, without the authorization of a judge.

This bill includes all the provisions found in the bill on the registration of charities, which the Bloc condemned.

The government can list entities as terrorists without the authorization of a judge.

We tried to propose amendments to fix the problem, by adding, among other things, a sunset clause that would have limited the application of the act in time.

However, our amendments were rejected, and we felt that the amendments made by the minister fell far short. Consequently, we voted against the bill.

Later, allegedly as a complement to security enhancing measures, the government introduced Bill C-42, the public safety bill. From the day it was introduced, the Bloc Quebecois expressed its opposition to the bill, judging that some of what was proposed went too far and actually had little to do with terrorism. For instance, the new power conferred upon ministers to make interim orders leaves too much room to arbitrariness. As for the military security zones, they were very poorly defined, and their designation left the door wide open to all sorts of abuse.

This bill was replaced with Bill C-55, and later by Bill C-17. Unfortunately, these two bills do not strike the balance required either.

If we look at the Bloc's position on military interventions as part of the fight against terrorism, we did support the military strikes in Afghanistan. We had asked that these take place under the umbrella of the United Nations, however. As far as the deployment of Canadian troops was concerned, we agreed, provided that it be subject to a debate and a vote in the House of Commons. Finally, we were very critical of the behaviour of the American administration, particularly with respect to the use of cluster bombs and the establishment of military tribunals for terrorists.

After these two bills on terrorism from the federal government, we can only conclude that the government has failed in the fight against terrorism. The measures presented do not strike the right balance between freedom and security. And even worse, the government is trying to use the fight against terrorism to justify exceptional measures, although some of these measures are neither necessary nor justifiable. We need only think of the use that could be made of the information obtained under Bill C-17 with respect to persons named in a warrant. We are opposed to Bill C-17, first, because we believe that basically it is bad law. It is also a sign of the failure of the federal government's strategy in the fight against terrorism.

The bill now before us is a new version of Bill C-55 on public safety, which was itself a new version of Bill C-42.

In speaking to Bill C-55, we concentrated on three major points: the controlled access military zones, or military security zones as they were known in Bill C-42; interim orders; and the exchange of information on airline passengers.

Of these three, the controlled access military zones mentioned in Bills C-42 and C-55 have been completely removed from this bill. This is quite a victory for us.

The bill still contains provisions on interim orders, although the time allowed for tabling an order in Parliament and getting cabinet approval has been shortened considerably. Nonetheless, our primary issue, the lack of a prior check for compliance, remains.

With respect to the exchange of information, the proposed amendments to the previous bills are clearly inadequate. The coverage of the proposed provisions is much broader than the war on terrorism, and the provisions do not strike a fair balance between security and privacy. We voted against this bill at second reading.

In committee, we tried to alleviate the various problems related to this legislation by moving numerous amendments during clause by clause consideration. Nearly all our amendments were defeated. I want to share with the House the general tenor of the amendments we tried to make.

With regard to interim orders, Bill C-17 authorizes various ministers to issue such orders without first ensuring that they comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the enabling legislation. We tried to re-establish this preliminary check, but our amendments were defeated.

In the latest version of the bill, interim orders must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days after they are issued. We find this to be excessive and asked that the time period be shortened to five days.

With regard to the powers of the RCMP and CSIS, this legislation includes provisions that confer sweeping powers on the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with regard to passenger information compiled by the airlines.

In vain, we tried to amend the bill to limit the powers to retain or use information collected as a result. We wanted to prohibit this information from being used to execute a warrant of arrest. We must not forget the War Measures Act in Quebec in 1970.

We also wanted to ensure that the information collected would be destroyed within 24 hours after the plane carrying the passengers on whom information had been collected had landed, except if such information was reasonably necessary for transportation security purposes or an investigation related to national security. In this legislation, the time period within which such information must be destroyed remains seven days. In our view, this is too long.

Finally, we also tried to institute an mechanism to ensure that the Privacy Commissioner would receive a copy of the reasons justifying why some information had been retained; this was also voted down.

We also proposed other amendments. We tried to effect several changes, namely to the parts concerning the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Implementation Act, and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act, either by suggesting amendments or voting against certain clauses. The purpose of these changes was to respond to the concerns of various groups that appeared before the committee. These changes were not made either. That is why the Bloc Quebecois voted against this bill.

Let us now talk about military security zones. The notion of military security zones has completely disappeared from the bill.

The Bloc Quebecois was unanimous on this. Dropping military security zones from the public safety bill is an important victory for us.

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 and will remain extremely vigilant in order to speak out against any potential abuse. We must also ensure that no zone will be created in Quebec without the consent of the Government of Quebec.

The bill still contains provisions allowing various ministers to make interim orders. There are two relatively minor changes that were made; orders must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days and the duration of the order has decreased from 45 to 14 days, that is, the length of time it is in effect without cabinet approval.

There was no prior check on charter compliance or compliance with the enabling legislation carried out by the Clerk of the Privy Council. I have a diagram with me that illustrates how the provisions on interim orders have evolved from Bill C-42 to Bill C-55 and Bill C-17.

Starting with the compliance check, the answer was no for all three bills.

As for the interim orders, under Bill C-42, these expired after 90 days except with approval of the governor in council; with Bill C-55, the time limit was 45 days except with approval of the governor in council. Now, with Bill C-17, it is 14 days, except with approval of the governor in council.

As far as tabling the orders in Parliament is concerned, there was no provision for this in Bill C-42, while in Bill C-55 the tabling had to take place within 15 sitting days after it was issued. In Bill C-17, it is 15 days.

Obviously, we can see that there have been marked improvements between the first version, Bill C-42 and the present one, Bill C-17. The main problem is still with us, however: the lack of a prior check for compliance with the charter and enabling legislation.

As for information sharing, Bill C-17 allows two stakeholders to obtain passenger information directly from airlines or operators of reservation systems: the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Director of CSIS.

This information can be requested if there is an imminent threat to airline security. Only CSIS can also request information for investigations into threats against the security of Canada. Bill C-55 would also have allowed this, in order to “identify a person for whom a warrant ofarrest has been issued”.

As a rule, information provided to the RCMP or CSIS must be destroyedwithin seven days after it is provided orobtained, unless it is reasonably required forthe purposes of transportation security or theinvestigation of threats to the security ofCanada.

On May 6 of this year, the Privacy Commissioner released a letter outlining his concerns with Bill C-55 in connection with the gathering of information by the RCMP or CSIS. His reservations were related to the provisions allowing the RCMP to use personal information on all airline passengers in order to locate persons for whom there was an outstanding warrant for any offence punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for five years or more.

He also expressed reservations about the provisions allowing the RCMP and CSIS to retain the personal information of passengers for such purposes as searching for suspicious travel patterns.

With respect to the first point, several provisions were problematic at the time. Among them, there was the definition of the term warrant and those provisions allowing the RCMP to collect and communicate information about individuals subject to an outstanding warrant. The commissioner suggested that these provisions be withdrawn from the bill.

Our present understanding is that the government tried to tighten up these provisions but was unsuccessful. As a matter of fact, while the RCMP can no longer obtain information for the purpose of finding an individual subject to a warrant, it can still convey to a peace officer information obtained through the provisions in Bill C-17 if it has reason to believe that this information would facilitate the execution of a warrant.

However, in actual fact, the RCMP decides by itself when there is a threat to transportation safety and can thus ask an airline for information on passengers. There is no mechanism controlling the use of this provision. In other words, the RCMP has carte blanche. Giving carte blanche is not always a good thing. Moreover, once it has obtained the information, nothing precludes the RCMP from keeping it, as long as the reasons for doing so are written down.

The government has tightened up the definition of warrant. In the previous version, it could have been an outstanding warrant for any offence punishable under federal law by imprisonment for five years or more.

Now the definition stipulates that there will be a regulation stating exactly what crimes are involved.

As to the second point, the commissioner also 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 would be adequate. The fact that the RCMP and CSIS can keep this information indefinitely is of concern. There must be limits.

But, neither of these changes was made. As a result, on November 1, 2002, the Privacy Commissioner issued a press release regarding Bill C-17, in which he described the changes as being minor. He said:

—with only minimal and unsatisfactory changes in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

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:

—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.

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.

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.

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—

For all these reasons, we oppose this bill. Ever since the original bill was introduced, we have been speaking against a number of provisions which are still included in the bill. Despite all our efforts to improve the provisions that posed a problem, these remain unacceptable to us.

Public Safety, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today on Bill C-17. It is quite a coincidence, since I am currently renewing my home insurance policy and on the issue of liability insurance, my contract stipulates:

Terrorism: an ideologically motivated unlawful act or acts, includingbut not limited to the use of violence or force or threat of violence or force,committed by or on behalf of any group(s), organization(s) or government(s) forthe purpose of influencing any government and/or instilling fear in the public—

It also points out that the policy does not provide coverage for:

—any loss or damage caused directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by terrorism or by any activity or decision of a government agency... to prevent, respond, or terminate terrorism.

So, this is not covered by the insurance policy. Later on, I will link all of this to my speech on the public safety bill now before the House. Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, people were understandably afraid. However, I think that some people want to exaggerate the attacks or the threats of terrorism. The government as well as other groups and businesspeople are using the events of September 11, 2001 to scare people. They want the public to remain nervous and distraught. Legislation like Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act, 2002, can only instill more fear in people. That is not showing them much respect.

As I said earlier, and as everyone knows, the United States was hit by deadly attacks on September 11, 2001. The response came rapidly and there was an unprecedented movement to mobilize in the fight against terrorism.

The Bloc Quebecois joined this immense mobilization. We condemned the attacks and, in the hours that followed, we offered our cooperation to the federal government with respect to emergency measures for dealing with the situation. But at the time, we had asked—and that has remained our position for all the bills that have been presented—that there be a fair balance between freedom and security.

Unfortunately, the federal government has failed, and the measures it has proposed have not maintained this balance. They go even further in my view; they scare people. That is particularly true when it comes to bills such as Bill C-17, which we are debating today.

The first bill presented in response to the terrorist attacks was Bill C-36. We agreed to adopt an antiterrorism bill, but Bill C-36 did not strike the right balance between freedom and security, something we are still looking for.

The terrorist attacks and threats reached an exceptional level and created an exceptional context. This happened in a certain country, at a given time, during a given period. That does not mean there will not be any more, that there will be attacks here in Canada or in Quebec.

Of course, acts of terrorism can happen every day. Nonetheless, there have not been very many here over the past three decades, so why frighten people and hold them hostage?

I repeat, Bill C-36 was an exceptional measure in response to an exceptional situation. That is why the Bloc Quebecois asked the government to include the sunset clause my colleague was talking about earlier, for the legislation to cease to be in effect after three years unless the House decided otherwise.

The Bloc Quebecois asked for an automatic review every year, by the Standing Committee on Justice, or after the tabling of a report by an independent commissioner, to remove the pressure that people feel and perhaps prevent escalation or trade-offs. Unfortunately, these amendments were rejected. There are other problematic elements, but those are the main ones.

Then came Bills C-42 and C-55 and the current version, Bill C-17; the public safety bill that now before the House.

Claiming to be trying to further improve security, the government then introduced Bill C-42 on public safety. From the beginning, the Bloc Quebecois was against this bill, because some of the proposed measures really went too far and the connection with terrorism was rather tenuous. For example, the new power being given to ministers regarding interim orders was way too arbitrary. As for the military security zones, they were ill defined and their implementation left the door wide open to much abuse.

This bill was then replaced by Bill C-55 and later on by the bill before us today. Unfortunately, these two bills did not manage to maintain the necessary balance either.

Considering the two bills that the federal government introduced on terrorism, we have to recognize that the government has failed in its fight against terrorism. The proposed measures fail to maintain a fair balance between freedom and security. And what is worse, the government is trying to justify the extraordinary measures by the fight against terrorism, while some of those measures are neither necessary nor justifiable. We need only think about the use that can be made of the information obtained under Bill C-17, with respect to people for whom a warrant has been issued. If we oppose Bill C-17, it is mainly because we strongly believe that it is a bad bill, but it is also because we recognize that the government's behaviour in the fight against terrorism is a failure.

We voted against this bill at second reading. We will do it again this time, as we still oppose this bill. From the beginning, we have opposed many of the provisions that are still in the bill before us, despite the fact that we tried to move amendments and made many efforts to understand and refine the first bill.

Despite all the efforts that we made to soften the impact of the problematic clauses, these clauses remain unacceptable for the Bloc Quebecois and its members.

Public Safety, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 4:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

Before getting into Bill C-17, I want to commend the excellent work done by our critic, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who has expended considerable talent and unbounded energy to uphold the principles of the Bloc Quebecois. We were in favour of fighting terrorism, but not at the cost of ignoring or shoving under the carpet the rights and freedoms of Quebeckers and Canadians.

It is interesting to note that immediately following September 11, the Bloc Quebecois offered its cooperation. On the principle, the vast majority of Quebeckers agreed that terrorism had to be fought, but not at any cost. Otherwise, the terrorists would have won, since we would ourselves have curtailed the principles and rights and freedoms of our democracy.

That is why, when the initial bill, Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill, was introduced, we stressed that this balance between the fight against terrorism and respect for rights and freedom was lacking. That is why we started by proposing several amendments.

We asked the government to include a sunset clause. We felt that the legislation was too rough, too tough in certain areas. This was understandable, given that the events had just taken place, but we believed that in time, it would be desirable that the legislation be reviewed because many of the provisions would no longer be necessary. We were ignored and we expressed our opposition to the bill.

This is the third version of the second major piece of legislation arising from the events of September 11: Bill C-17. First, there was Bill C-42, and then Bill-55, and now, when it is unclear how much longer the House will be sitting because of the political context, Bill C-17. We have before us a bill which, it must be noted, is an improvement in a number of regards on Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

To us, these are gains which can be described as a partial yet major victory that everyone will be very pleased with. I would be remiss not to mention that one of the main irritants in Bill C-55 was the ability the government was giving itself to designate controlled access military zones. There have been two versions, but initially the government gave itself the power to declare that any zone, anywhere in the country, was a military zone under the complete control of the government, without any protection for rights.

We said that this made no sense whatsoever. Even at the time of the War Measures Act, it was Quebec's attorney general who was supposed to ask that the federal government get involved. It is absolutely unacceptable that the federal government should decide on its own initiative to establish these zones anywhere, without being asked to do so by the attorney general of the province concerned. This could have led to all kinds of abuses.

We said no and we protested strongly. Finally, the government heard us and we now know that orders in council be will made if need be. We will monitor each of these orders, but the general measure is risky and thus put aside. This is for the better.

Another one of the major provisions we strongly opposed was the exchange of information. Part of the exchange of information provided for in the original bill affected travellers. However, it was finally recognized that the need for this came from the demands of the United States concerning aircraft flying over its territory.

With a lot of debating, we finally got—and this too was a given—specific legislation on this issue, with a number of limited powers, although some are still too broad, but at least there are limitations.

Let me say that, if controlled access military zones have totally disappeared from Bill C-17, we find ourselves in the reverse situation on the issue of exchange of information, that is, the transfer of information to the United States, which was limited to some extent, will now be broadened.

Indeed, under Bill C-17, those who travel by plane must provide more information than had been required by the Americans. This information is available to the RCMP and CSIS, and they both reserve the right not to destroy it. We asked for a 24-hour timeframe.

We think that it is utterly unacceptable, since it means that some people will be followed, even though there are no longer on a plane, because we want to know how they get from one airport to another.

Again, this applies only to people travelling by plane. However, I think that we must reaffirm the right of law abiding citizens to leave the country without having their every move scrutinized, as it would be in a police state.

We are also against the interim orders, which will allow ten ministers to make decisions regardless of their compliance with fundamental legislation. They have 15 days to do this. It seems to us that the verification process could be done before that. We proposed flexible solutions for that, but they were rejected. It makes no sense to us.

Our concerns with Bill C-55 and Bill C-42 were heard, and it seems to me that everybody benefited from that. Our requests must also be heard. Unfortunately, we are disappointed that the amendments that we proposed in committee were not accepted. Therefore, we will have to vote against this bill.

We believe that it would have been possible not to sacrifice our rights and freedoms. The Privacy Commissioner, who was criticized in other circumstances, spoke out against this situation.

Since he was so close to the Liberal government, we can use what he said when he expressed serious concerns about the provisions dealing with the sharing of information.

We will vote against this bill. We would have preferred to do otherwise, but it is impossible in the circumstances.

Public Safety, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 4:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too rise to speak to the important matter of Bill C-17.

As you know, I will start by blaming the Liberal government once again for this gag order which limits the time allotted to parliamentarians to discuss such a crucial and important issue.

The legislative agenda has been rather thin lately in this parliament. There have been persistent rumours that the current session could end early due to the upcoming change in leadership on the other side, in other words the current Prime Minister will have to step down in favour of the member for LaSalle—Émard.

It would appear as a result that the government wants to push ahead with several bills and move the agenda faster. After unduly delaying bills and regulations, it now wants to make up for lost time. Attempting to make up for lost time by ramming through a bill as important as Bill C-17 is going a bit too far.

I would like to share an experience I had recently in Taiwan at a world convention in Taipei attended by about 23 countries. The conference was entitled “Democratic Pacific Assembly”. Those 23 countries tackled the fundamental issue of security and freedom of speech.

The motions that were unanimously passed during this important meeting said that the balance between freedom and security had to be maintained and that the unfortunate events of September 2001, that are starting to be distorted, should not serve as an excuse for legislation muzzling hard won freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, Ottawa does not seem to want to respect this fundamental balance between freedom and security. We must say yes to security, but not at the expense of our rights and freedoms.

We have seen what has been happening in the United States over the past two years. Freedom of speech has virtually been eliminated from the airwaves, especially on television; we saw the Bush administration trying to take over the media, use propaganda and justify its behaviour. We are all aware of the situation in which the U.S. administration and its president, Mr. George Bush, now find themselves, especially with their involvement in the war in Iraq. Again, in the United States, freedom of speech has been severely curtailed. Unfortunately the media capitalized on a show. Today, the show is over but the current president and his great thinkers are still trying to justify his actions by using the word terrorism.

With such a formidable neighbour, the Canadian government must be wary of adopting some of the provisions found in Bill C-17. If our neighbours south of the border go too far and get carried away on the issue of terrorism, we are not out of the woods.

As we all know, parliamentarians have been considering this important piece of legislation for two years now. Bills C-36, C-42, C-55 and C-17 were all brought before the House. Unfortunately, whatever the number of the bill is, it still contains the same deficiencies.

Let us review the history of this bill. The first bill introduced in response to the terrorist attacks was Bill C-36. Although we supported at first the need to pass anti-terrorism legislation, we thought that the federal government's proposal did not strike the proper balance.

At the time, the Bloc Quebecois thought that Bill C-36 did not effectively balance freedom with security issues. When Bill C-36 was first introduced, the attacks and the terrorist threat were at an all-time high and had created an exceptional climate. But since then, a lot of water has gone under the bridge.

I remember taking part in the debate on Bill C-36. I warned the government about the three-year limit. Things were changing so fast that we thought we could not pass legislation on such a crucial issue and maintain it for three years without reviewing and adjusting it.

If, at some point, the Canadian government needs certain tools to address a particular situation, we can provide these tools. However, the situation may change, and this is why we would like the legislation to be reviewed and reassessed every twelve months to see if it meets the expectations of the public and our security needs.

Members will recall that the Bloc Quebecois asked for a sunset clause to be added to this bill so that it would cease to be in effect after three years, unless the House decided otherwise. Parliamentarians always have the power to amend an act if the situation warrants. However, we do not know what the future holds for us. We are all trying to stamp out terrorism. We believe that laudable efforts have been made so far, and this is why we think that a piece of legislation as crucial and important as the one before us today must be reviewed periodically.

Regarding this particular piece of legislation, we also asked that it be reviewed automatically each year by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which would be the same thing. Every year, it would be referred to the committee for review. This means that members from all political parties gathered around a table would have a good look at it and would be able to make recommendations in light of the current context. Again, our suggestion was rejected.

Furthermore, it was also said regarding this bill that the Minister of Justice could withhold information normally accessible under the Access to Information Act, without any safeguard provided. This is also very dangerous. The bill will be reviewed only in three years' time. I have talked about this before. The Minister of National Defence will be able to intercept international communications simply by sending a written request to the Centre. He will not even need a judge's authorization.

In this regard, allow me to say that I am very concerned, especially after the events of August 14 and 15 when a power failure hit Ontario and the southeastern United States. We know that the person who was supposed to have all the information and to reassure the public, the Minister of National Defence, made a statement. All he did was further confuse matters. The sources were contradictory. Just imagine if the present Minister of National Defence were to intercept international communications. How could we take him seriously when he interpreted this information and particularly when he explained what was really happening in a given situation?

Continuing with the history of the public security bill, there was first C-42, then Bill C-55 and now Bill C-17. One thing is clear. The weaknesses that were part of the initial bill are still present in Bill C-17 and I will explain why.

Claiming to be trying to further improve security, the government introduced Bill C-42 on public safety.

As soon as the bill was tabled, our party stated its opposition once more, finding that some of the proposed measures went much too far, and that their link to terrorism was rather tenuous. The government must not be given an opportunity to abuse the situation.

The collective memory of Quebeckers has not faded away. We remember very clearly what happened during the October crisis in 1970. We all must remember it, because if we give police and military powers to this government, we know they may be abused. Consequently, when faced with such situations, the collective memory of Quebeckers reminds us of the sad events of October 1970. Today, in 2003, I want to reintroduce them into the debate because one never knows what may happen when a context changes.

In my opinion, that is the reason this bill tends to draw links—often very tenuous ones—with terrorism. I will return to the whole issue of the powers the bill would give to the RCMP and CSIS.

Bill C-55 was then replaced by Bill C-17, which is now before us. Unfortunately, these two bills do not come any closer to achieving the necessary balance. And yet that is the fundamental principle and we mention it constantly in these debates. The position of the Bloc Quebecois is to strike a fair balance between liberty and security at all times, and especially to prevent possible abuses by the Canadian federal government.

We have had some victories along the way during the debates to come up with new legislation. In Bill C-17, we see that the controlled access military zones that were mentioned in Bill C-42 have been withdrawn. That was a considerable victory for the Bloc Quebecois and that is why we keep on hammering away with these fundamental principles.

As I said earlier, it is terrible that the government is using a closure motion once again to prevent us from exercising our rights, presenting our point of view, and trying to eventually convince the Liberal government of the flaws in Bill C-17.

I would also like to address the powers that will be conferred upon the RCMP and CSIS. We are aware of the case of Maher Arar—on which my colleague from Mercier has been asking questions earlier. This Canadian was apprehended by the Americans when in the United States and was subsequently returned to his former country.

Judging from the RCMP's behaviour, if it had more power given to it, this would lead to almost an automatic connection between the RCMP and the Americans. This lays open to question the rights of citizens, of the people of Canada and Quebec.

So those are the powers. The bill includes provisions which confer extended powers on RCMP commissioners as well as the director of CSIS, in connection with the gathering of information on air passengers from the airlines.

The more we travel, the more we will be under surveillance. That is what this means. The more often we take a plane, the more the RCMP will interfere in our business. The more often we visit countries likely to have links with countries that have links to terrorists, the more likely the RCMP is to interfere in our business. It is unacceptable that so much power is being given to the RCMP, particularly when we have seen how it acted in this matter, which is getting so much media coverage and attention in the House.

We tried to amend this bill so as to limit the powers relating to retention and use of the information gathered in this way. We often hear reference to someone “flagged by the RCMP”. What does that mean? It means that the RCMP collects information on such individuals, based on the assumption of a link with terrorism. This information is on file with the RCMP and can be used at any time in order to violate the freedom of members of the public. It is really dangerous to give so much power to the RCMP with Bill C-17.

We also wanted to ensure that the information gathered would be destroyed within 24 hours of landing unless there were any suspicions about the passenger. What point is there in keeping information? But no, the time limit will be seven days. In other words, during those seven days the authorities are in possession of information on an individual which can lead to digging deeper into that person's life, far more than to just find out about his past, his background, when he takes a plane.

The current Bill C-17 includes such abuse, and these are fundamental democratic issues. All the government is doing is imposing Bill C-17 on us. It is forcing the bill on us and gagging us so we keep quiet. If this is democracy, we have a real problem.

I want to say once again that all the members of the Bloc Quebecois oppose this bill. We opposed various provisions in the initial version that are still found in this bill, a few of which I mentioned. Despite all the efforts to mitigate the problematic provisions, we continue to find them unacceptable.

I will repeat once again that it is time for the government to backtrack, and not adopt this bill this afternoon, during the vote to be held shortly. This is a serious situation given the bill's failure to ensure a balance between freedom and security. This is the most important point. If we have to give up rights and freedoms for improved security, why did we fight for them in the first place? In many countries, people are still fighting for freedom of expression.

I am reminded of my trip to Taiwan. In the neighbouring country, the People's Republic of China, there is no such thing as freedom of expression and respect for human rights. Yet we live in an age where information circulates freely. Furthermore, the Americans may promote free speech, but free speech that is controlled and planned by the Cabinet of the United States President, George Bush.

Given all these situations, Bill C-17 must include the desired amendments to maintain a balance between freedom and security so that Quebeckers and Canadians can live freely in the years to come.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 3:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in the debate on third reading of Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act, 2002, sponsored by the Minister of Transport.

I think it is important, while we are in the heart of this debate, to remember the context in which the bill was introduced and the context in which we must determine its relevancy.

Let us remember that on September 11, 2001, as everyone knows, the United States was hit by deadly attacks. The response came rapidly and there was an unprecedented movement to fight terrorism. The Bloc Quebecois was part of this movement. However, we thought about the matter and said that we must ensure that the measures taken reflect the necessary balance. The leader of the Bloc Quebecois and member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie put it very eloquently, and I quote:

The response must reflect and respect our democratic values.

Consequently, we must ensure that we can get at the root of the problem of terrorism, by taking the necessary repressive and security measures, while respecting our democratic values.

One thing is clear, the federal government did not deliver. Members will remember Bill C-36, the first bill the government introduced in response to the terrorist attacks. At first, we all agreed that we should pass anti-terrorism legislation, but the bill did not strike the proper balance. In fact, we believed that Bill C-36 did not effectively balance liberty against greater security.

For instance, we wanted to add a sunset clause to the bill so that the legislation would cease to have effect after three years, unless otherwise stipulated by the House. What that would have meant is that at an exceptionally tragic time in our history, we would have passed an exceptionally crucial piece of legislation that would not apply forever. We asked for a review of the legislation three years after its implementation, in 2004 or 2005, in order to be able to determine that the legislation was no longer relevant and not required in the short term or to allow the House to renew the act if need be.

The Bloc asked for an annual review to be carried out by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, following the tabling of a report by an independent commissioner. Some of the provisions of the bill severely limited individual freedoms. Therefore, we wanted to ensure that the federal government was acting properly.

We did not get satisfaction on that point, but we were at least listened to, and the bill is to be reviewed in three years. There is, however, no sunset clause that will put an end to the bill.

Following the same logic, the federal government reacted to the winds of panic, because adequate and well thought out measures could not be put in place. The federal government really failed in its anti-terrorism measures.

For example, the public security bill, known today as C-17, started life as C-42 and C-55. The first time it was introduced, the Bloc Quebecois spoke out against it, feeling that some of its proposed measures went much too far and that they had only a very tenuous connection with terrorism.

The federal government took advantage of the terrorism crisis to try to solve other problems and to acquire powers it could use in certain situations. The crisis at that time did not justify this.

For example, the new power of ministers to adopt interim orders allowed too much leeway for arbitrary decisions. In Quebec we have already experienced situations in which the Cabinet took steps that left leeway for arbitrary decisions. Our collective consciousness has been marked permanently as a result.

There was the invoking of the War Measures Act in 1970, and the way the federal government interpreted its legislation in such an elastic way at that time. CItizens' right to freedom were limited in an unacceptable way, there were arbitrary arrests, and we most certainly do not want to find that same type of decision included in a bill.

There was one other measure that went much too far. The military security zones were very poorly defined in the bill and their implementation left the door wide open for all manner of abuses. That bill was replaced by Bill C-55, and now by C-17. Neither one nor the other, however, manage to strike the necessary balance.

Let us talk about the Bloc position on military interventions. As far as the war against terrorism is concerned, we supported the strikes against Afghanistan, but called for them to be made under the auspices of the United Nations Organization in order to lend the necessary credibility to them.

As for sending Canadian troops, we supported that, but called for them not to be sent until there was a debate and a vote in the House of Commons, so that elected representatives could make known their positions on such an important decision.

Finally, we are very critical of the behaviour of the American administration, particularly the use of cluster bombs and the creation of military courts to try terrorists.

When we look at the two anti-terrorism bills the federal government put forward, we cannot but see it has failed in the fight against terrorism. The proposed measures do not strike a fair balance between freedom and security and, worse yet, the government is attempting to justify taking exceptional measures against terrorism when some of those measures are neither necessary nor justifiable.

We oppose Bill C-17 mainly because we believe it is fundamentally a bad bill. We give a failing grade to the federal government in its fight against terrorism.

As a matter of fact, this bill is a new version of Bill C-55, which dealt with public security, which was itself a new version of Bill C-42. Originally, our criticism targeted military zones, the interim orders I mentioned early, and the exchange of information from airline companies on passengers.

There again, the federal government was taking on a very broad mandate. In this respect, compared to the previous bills, the proposed amendments fall far short. The scope of the proposed provisions goes way beyond the fight against terrorism. They do not strike the right balance between security and privacy.

That is why we voted against the bill at second reading. In committee, we put forward a number of amendments and attempted to mitigate the problems created by the bill. Virtually every single one of our amendments was turned down.

For example, with regard to interim orders, the bill provides that they may be issued by various ministers without first checking that they are consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its enabling statute.

We attempted to reinstate these initial checks but our amendments were rejected. For our sake and the sake of the balance we have been seeking since the very beginning, it is important that decisions made under interim orders respect the Charter of Rights and that advice be sought to make sure they do. That is not in the bill.

Under the latest version of the bill, interim orders should be tabled in Parliament within the first 15 sitting days after the order is issued. We find this to be excessive and tried to have the timeframe shortened from 15 to 5 days.

With respect to the powers of the RCMP and CSIS, it has become obvious in recent days that the RCMP's management of terrorism is far from transparent. Take for example the Canadian citizen who travelled to the United States and ended up in Syria, on the basis of recommendations from the RCMP according to U.S. government officials. This situation is forcing us to be very critical and to make sure that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

This bill includes provisions that confer sweeping powers on the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with regard to passenger information compiled by the airlines.

We want to make the bill much tighter, to ensure there is a very tight net in place to prevent excesses. There is nothing in this bill in this regard.

We tried in vain to amend the bill to limit the powers to retain or use information collected as a result. We wanted to prohibit the use of this information to execute an arrest warrant.

We also wanted to ensure that the information collected would be destroyed within 24 hours after the aircraft carrying the passengers on whom information had been collected had landed, except if such information was reasonably necessary for transportation security purposes or an investigation related to national security.

In this bill, the timeframe within which such information must be destroyed remains seven days, which we still feel is inappropriate.

We in the Bloc Quebecois also tried to establish a mechanism to ensure that the Privacy Commissioner receives a copy of the reasons for retaining certain information. We wanted to have a watchdog of sorts with respect to privacy, to counterbalance the increased powers of the RCMP. Again, the government refused.

Thus, with respect to Bill C-17 now before us, which was unacceptable at the beginning because it did not strike the right balance, even after examining the amendments we do not find that balance.

For example, we attempted to make a number of changes in the sections concerning the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Implementation Act, and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act, by suggesting amendments or voting against certain clauses. We attempted to make these changes in response to the concerns of various groups who appeared before the committee, but they were voted down.

The House will understand that we are clearly opposed to this bill. Beginning with the first version of this bill, we were opposed to a number of provisions that are still found in this one. Even though the Bloc had some success with respect to the first version, particularly in the delineation of military zones, this bill has not been sufficiently improved that we could vote in favour of it.

I was speaking of the concept of military security zones. It has completely disappeared from the bill. This is a sensible improvement that pleases us; we think it is essential. For example, the provision concerning the establishment of zones by order in council appears much more reasonable than in the previous version. We must ensure that no zones are created in Quebec without the consent of the Government of Quebec.

Remember that the initial bill would have made it possible that, in Quebec City, the Citadel, the Armoury and even the Quebec National Assembly could be included within the military zone. When we look at the past, the October crisis and the legitimacy of the Quebec National Assembly, it was completely unacceptable. We succeeded in getting it removed from the bill, and we are very happy about that. We did our job well, and Quebeckers can be proud of the results we obtained.

As for the interim orders, the bill still contains provisions that would allow various ministers to make such orders. Some minimal changes have been made requiring the tabling in Parliament within 15 days and the reduction from 45 to 14 days of the period during which the order would be in force without cabinet approval. But 14 days can still be a very long time, particularly when decisions are made. It can be realized afterwards that some people have felt for years the consequences of a decision taken further to an error in judgment. The way cabinet works, we certainly have to protect ourselves from this type of decisions.

We have seen it before and we still see it, particularly with national defence. It has been said for years that before going out to buy material, we should first decide what kind of armed forces we want to have, what the mandate would be and what kind of results we are expecting. Without clear policies, if an interim order is made by a minister and errors occur, the period during which the order would be in force without cabinet approval should be much shorter than what is provided for in the act.

What is worse, of course, is the fact that there is no prior assessment to ensure that—

Public Safety Act 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 1:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, under Bill C-55 and Bill C-42, military security zones could be established. Regarding these bills, we felt it was unacceptable that the federal government should be able to create military intervention zones without even consulting, for instance, the Quebec government, should it decide to establish such a zone in Quebec. There was no provision under Bill C-55 or Bill C-42 allowing for such a consultation process.

We succeeded in having these military security zones dropped from Bill C-17. That is a significant improvement. As I said earlier in my speech, in Quebec we could very well have found ourselves next to a military zone. I know that plans were in place for Halifax harbour, that some areas had been previously designated.

As a result of the repeated demands of the Bloc Quebecois and the amendments that were made, we now have a bill that does not mention military security zones.

Public Safety Act 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 1:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part today in the debate on Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act.

Before dealing directly with the topic at hand, I will say that I am always surprised by some of my colleagues' comments. One would be inclined to think that such remarks could only come from my right, but I am always surprised to see that members of a political party that gave us the charter of rights can be so far to the right.

That is what we have been hearing so far. Some members have a wild imagination and assume that acts of terrorism could potentially be committed. Such a line of thought leads inevitably to legislation that tramples on individual freedoms, perhaps creating a system where the rule of law no longer applies, but where a police state will look after the affairs of the state.

Using assumptions that have not been validated and that are quite often unfounded is embarking upon a very slippery slope.

With regard to Bill C-17, one must remember that we have had debates at one time or another, and not necessarily on similar bills. As my colleague across the way said a few minutes ago, there have been many versions of this bill. Whether Bill C-36, Bill C-42 or Bill C-55, which evolved into Bill C-17,the one before us today, there have been many changes, some substantial, others relatively minor.

My colleague across the way said a few minutes ago that he was sorry the bill had not been passed and had not taken effect all at once, the way it was. On the contrary, delaying the bill has made it better, and ensured that it will take into account a context that is not what it was when the events of September 11, 2001 occurred. Some improvements were made; I will list them in a moment.

First, we have to remember that the events of September 11 were major ones. My point is certainly not that we should stop fighting against terrorism. However, we believe that the response and the fight against terrorism must take into account the democratic values that are dear to Quebeckers. We think that the bills passed in the House of Commons should reflect the balance we seek between freedom and security.

This is exactly where the problem lies. Bill C-17 is a direct attack against the most democratic rights of the citizens, their right to a certain amount of freedom. This was said not only by the Privacy Commissioner but also by several organizations.

First, it was clear that we we had to oppose Bill C-36. The Bloc Quebecois asked the government to include a sunset clause so that the act would no longer be operative after three years, except if the House decided otherwise.

Furthermore, the Bloc Quebecois also asked that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights automatically review the act each year, following the tabling of a report by an independent commissioner.

Why did we ask for both an annual review of the act by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and a sunset clause so that the act would no longer be in force after three years? We did not want the principles set out in Bill C-36, and today in Bill C-17, to become permanent changes.

Inasmuch as we feel the bill interferes with individual freedoms, to a certain extent, the question we must ask ourselves is the following: do we want to limit those freedoms permanently?

If that is not what we want, if the answer is no, any member who believes in the rule of law, who believes that this must be reflected in the legislation we pass, will want this legislation to be exceptional and temporary.

The three-year sunset clause, the fact that the law would have expired after three years and be reviewed each year by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, would have highlighted its exceptional—the exception being the events of September 11—and temporary nature, with due consideration of the fact that we want to have a society that respects the democratic values of freedom and justice.

That is what the amendments to Bill C-36, as proposed by the Bloc Quebecois, would have permitted. Unfortunately, they were rejected.

The Bloc also proposed debate on other issues, for instance, the definition of a terrorist act, which is very broad and which could lead to problems for groups or individuals who are not terrorists. They also wanted the Attorney General to be able to withhold information by not applying the Access to Information Act. And, as I mentioned, there would be no further review of the bill for three years.

There was a problem with that. Naturally, the minister proposed some amendments. But in our view these amendments were clearly inadequate. I repeat that there was considerable debate. We presented solutions and constructive proposals related to limiting the scope of the legislation and including a sunset clause. That would have enabled us, perhaps, to have voted in favour of legislation that would have been exceptional, but not permanent, in order to respect the democratic values so cherished by Quebeckers.

And then came Bill C-42, which gave new powers to ministers, such as adopting interim orders. In our opinion, that left much too much room for arbitrary actions. In particular, the military security zones were very poorly defined and their implementation left the door wide open to many abuses.

First, it is important to point out that, the way the bill was drafted, a military security zone could well have been declared on Quebec's territory without even consulting the Government of Quebec. The federal government, using an interim order, could have established a military security zone in Quebec, without even discussing it with the Government of Quebec.

In certain ridings, for instance that of my colleague from Jonquière, we could have ended up with these totally undemocratic zones. It hearkens back in a way to our experiences during the October crisis, when the federal government had no qualms about invoking the War Measures Act. With this provision of Bill C-42, the federal government could have designated certain parts of Quebec as military security zones, without consulting the Government of Quebec.

Thanks to the efforts of the Bloc Quebecois members, we were able to sort this out and avoid a recurrence of such a situation. If we had simply counted on the federal members across the way, I am not sure there would have been much awareness of this concern. So, with Bill C-55, we were able to avoid military interventions and the designation of these zones, in Quebec in particular.

This takes us to Bill C-17. It is important to go over the previous bills in order to grasp the scope of Bill C-17. We moved from C-42 to C-55, and now to C-17 which is, basically, just a new version of C-55, the Public Security Act 2002. I would remind hon. members that our interventions on Bill C-55 addressed three main themes.

The first was the military access zones, which we felt ought not to be created. Naturally, in Bill C-17, the federal government made a commitment and withdrew the provisions on these, and as I have said, that was a victory for the Bloc Quebecois.

The second point we addressed in what was Bill C-55 at the time was the interim orders. This bill still contains provisions on these, although the time frames for tabling in Parliament and approval by Cabinet have been shortened considerably. The main problem remains unchanged, however: the absence of any prior verification for compliance.

I have reviewed the work done by the Bloc Quebecois in connection with Bills C-42 and C-17. At no time has there been any provision for prior verification for compliance. Is it possible for these orders not to be implemented until it has first been verified that they do not violate the Charter of RIghts and Freedoms and its enabling legislation?

Whereas in Quebec we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in Canada we have a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we think that before using these interim orders that we feel are exceptional measures, there should be prior verification for compliance. That is one of our proposals. Prior verification for compliance with the enabling legislation and also with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, should be considered. This would allow us to protect freedoms and the democratic values that drive Quebec. Unfortunately, there is no provision to that effect in Bill C-42, C-55, or C-17.

Finally, one of the important aspects that the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel emphasized in the past concerns the issue of exchanging information on airline passengers. The proposed changes when the bill was previously reported, are largely insufficient. The framework of the proposed provisions goes well beyond the fight against terror and the provisions do not strike a fair balance, as I said earlier, between security and privacy. It is important to note that the bill will give more power than ever to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in terms of gathering information.

On this side of the House, we think it would have been important to amend this bill to limit as much as possible the powers related to keeping and using the information thus gathered. We believe that these powers have to be limited because as long as we live in a democratic society, the rule of law must prevail and we must not lapse into a police state. The more the powers of the RCMP and CSIS are reinforced, the more likely this unacceptable scenario becomes.

Given the numerous comments by the Privacy Commissioner, who was very critical of this bill—and I will end here—it is essential to achieve this balance between security and freedom.

Naturally, we are not against fighting terrorism. However, as the leader of the Bloc Quebecois indicated shortly after September 11, the response must respect the underlying democratic values of Quebeckers. The proposed solution must also reflect the seriousness of these events.

When I listen to a few colleagues on the other side of the House, but also those to my far right, I notice the numerous attempts to use the events of September 11 to establish, in Canada, permanent legislation solely to ensure safety. The resulting mechanisms pose a real threat.

In closing, I want to say that, of course, we oppose Bill C-17, although it is better than the bills previously introduced. If the bill can be improved, we will be happy to support it. However, it is important that Bill C-17 take into consideration our underlying democratic values.

Public Safety Act 2002Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 11:45 a.m.
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Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

My colleague from the Alliance Party seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he said that his party is for Bill C-17 and “we should move on with it” and then he said that this motion, a legitimate motion in the standing orders, should not be used.

There is a time for decision in all parliamentary debate. We believe that the decision is now. In fact he seems to agree with that because we should move on with it.

Let me remind the House that this was a bill that came here originally as Bill C-42. Then Bill C-44 was hived off and then it became Bill C-55 and then Bill C-17. The bill has been before the House for a year in one form or another. It has been debated at second reading nine hours and 35 minutes, three hours and 15 minutes at report stage, three hours and 25 minutes at third reading. All told, there have been 38 hours and 15 minutes of debate. Also the committee studied it from November last year until May 2003.

It seems to me that we have had a lot of debate. I say to my friends in the Alliance that this is not a matter for procedural argument. We are dealing here with a crucial piece of legislation that flowed from the terrible attacks on September 11, 2001. We had Bill C-36 and then we had the bills which I just referred to, ultimately becoming Bill C-17.

It is absolutely crucial in the interest of national security and in dealing with the North American security environment, that this bill be passed. That is why the government House leader correctly in my view has brought forward the motion today.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

September 29th, 2003 / 1 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to digress a little to tell you how happy I was to learn through the media that your son's health was improving every day. I am very happy to hear that and I am sure that you feel greatly relieved.

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to Bill C-17. This bill was introduced in the house a long time ago, in fact just after the September 11 attacks.

I remember that, at that time, the first thing the government did was to ram through Bill S-23, an act to amend the Customs Act and to make related amendments to other acts. Even then, we had questions. The main question was: where does security end and where do privacy and the Charter or Rights and Freedoms begin? This was a great concern, one that we still have today.

Allow me to briefly review what has happened with this bill to date. The first bill introduced was Bill C-42, and everybody was against it. The government had an opportunity to back off a little, to amend it, to rewrite it, to change it and to try to hide things. This is how Bill C-55 came into being. That bill has indeed been changed a little, but not enough to satisfy the opposition, especially not the Bloc Quebecois.

This afternoon, we are finally beginning to consider Bill C-17. Fortunately, because of the Bloc Quebecois, the government has abandoned several points, but not enough yet, unfortunately.

My first concern with this bill is related to the famous military security zones. We have managed to get the government to establish three controlled access zones—as they are now termed—the ports of Halifax, Esquimalt and Nanoose Bay. Unfortunately, we feel this is insufficient, because the bill allows cabinet to establish other zones on security or other grounds. This leaves the door open to the creation of other zones, if the cabinet really wants to do so.

As for the grounds on which the ministers will make that decision, we have absolutely no idea what they are. We were told about it at a briefing by a DND lawyer. That is what he thought. He also referred to “restrictions on civil suits for damages”, as was the case before. But the applicable changes are not in the bill.

The Bloc Quebecois position on the striking of the military security zones is that this is a considerable victory. As for the creation of zones by order in council, this strikes us as far more reasonable than the previous mechanism.

We will, however, monitor these new zones. We do not wish to see any such zone created in the provinces, and particularly not in Quebec—since I represent a Quebec riding—unless the consent of the provincial governments, particularly the Government of Quebec, has been sought and obtained.

My other concern about this new Bill C-17 on air control and security relates to the interim orders. Once again, these strike us as too lengthy, even if the time limit has dropped from the initial 45 days to 14. We still believe they should be far shorter.

Our real problem, though, is with the lack of any preliminary check by the Clerk of the Privy Council regarding compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its enabling legislation. This is a major problem. It means that ministers, or anyone else, can issue interim orders without checking whether the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is being respected.

The other major problem—and I share the concern expressed by the hon. member for Champlain—is the role the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Director of CSIS will play in collecting information on the passengers on such and such a flight from airline companies or any travel agency, that is individuals who book seats or sell tickets, in the name of security.

While I am all for security, I wonder what use will be made of the information collected. The Bloc's position is that it should be destroyed within 48 hours of it having been obtained. Instead, it will be kept for seven days, and the RCMP will be permitted to make arrests with warrants and to disclose the information to others. This is a dog's breakfast. And what I am saying does not come from the Bloc Quebecois; it comes from the Privacy Commissioner.

As my hon. colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier indicated, the commissioner is a senior government official. He is not just anyone. This person is available to the government party as well as to the opposition parties. His role is to ensure that privacy is protected. He is non-partisan; he is neither a sovereignist nor a provincialist nor a federalist. His role is to look after the right to privacy of individuals. He is someone who should be listened to.

On many occasions, he wrote letters and tried to open a dialogue. Unfortunately, as he pointed out, this did not seem to have any effect on the government, since it did not act on anything he said.

On behalf of all the residents of my riding and all the residents of Quebec and the other provinces, I call on the government and on the promoters of Bill C-17 to take into consideration the concerns expressed by former Privacy Commissioner Radwanski. The Privacy Commissioner works for the taxpayers and is there to protect their privacy.

Finally, as you can see, this bill does not have unanimous support, far from it. It is too vague. It is not tough enough and not clear enough about the powers to be granted, in particular to the RCMP and CSIS.

The bill does not control the RCMP and what it will do with the information it gathers. We are told the information will help maintain the safety of Canadians and keep undesirable individuals out of our country. The RCMP and CSIS could then couple their information with the data bank set up and maintained by the Customs and Revenue Agency. This is one more scandal, one more anomaly mentioned by the Privacy Commissioner in many of the documents he wrote on this issue.

To conclude, I would urge the members opposite to talk to the transport minister and try to convince him not to scrap Bill C-17, but to improve it. It is not yet ready to be voted on. It needs to be improved. Special attention should be given to the right of privacy of all Canadians, and especially of Quebecers.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

September 29th, 2003 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to join in today's debate regarding Bill C-17. I want to point out that it basically is a reincarnation in many respects of Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, which brings me to my starting comments.

We all know what has happened since September 11. It changed not only the way we do things in terms of our day to day duties, but it also changed the long term, pragmatic policy decisions that impact not only on our country but on the world. At the time that the tragedy happened, it became clear to our community that we had a number of different deficiencies in terms of the services that were available to the local government. Provincial and federal government services had been cut back year after year. I am join those individuals who are raising the fact that Bill C-17 does not address some of the underfunding that has happened to our core services which has allowed some of the clear problems that we have today and which has opened them up in terms of vulnerabilities.

In our municipality in Windsor, what ended up happening is the local government had to take the lead once again. We have one of the busiest border crossings in the world. Actually 33% of the gross domestic product of Canada crosses at that border crossing to trade with 39 American states with which Canada is the number one trading partner. It was the local people who actually had to take the initiative and were called upon by the federal government to provide assistance.

As one classic example, our waterway along the Detroit River and our Great Lakes at both ends did not have the adequate resources. The municipal police force was called upon to use its boat as part of the actual policing of the area for other problems. That quite frankly is a sad statement because we have a municipal boat that basically is dedicated for policing water safety and has no capability to deal with transit ships that go through the actual system. This is one of the busiest waterways in the world between the pleasure craft and freighters that go through there. We were left with having to come up with some contribution to police the freighters with which there was concern at the time.

Bill C-17 is one of those things that is the thin edge of the wedge. We are looking at the issue of civil liberties and what information is being disclosed and monitored and at the same time shared openly with government bureaucracy in order to to track movements. That becomes problematic.

In my opinion, a good example of the government not acting responsibly is the tiering of our citizens by the United States. These are Canadians who have been here as a citizen for a year, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. They are now required to be fingerprinted and photographed and they have to check in and out of the United States just because of the country they come from. There are more than a dozen countries.

A good example is Lebanese Canadians. They are subjected to this and our government has not done enough to speak out about this. It has not said that our citizens are not a security risk. That is a big issue because it involves our trade. It involves the way that we communicate. It also sends a message about standing up for our own citizens, something that this government has not done. We still have not dealt with it. That has significant implications because if we are talking about Bill C-17 having the actual impact that it is going to and if our country does not stand up for its own citizens, it will not make any difference. That is important to note.

The lack of infrastructure funding is really evident. I can provide a classic example. Between our municipality and Detroit there is a train tunnel. People are using that train tunnel right now at their own risk. Some people are coming from the United States and some are leaving Canada. They are trying to cross the border undetected. They are doing that at a high degree of risk. Often there is not enough room in the train corridor in the tunnel itself and people actually die while attempting to cross the border. What is unacceptable is that the local municipality ends up having to police this area. It is a private asset that has some security measures but not nearly enough. People are actually using this as a route.

Once again, it does not matter what type of policies are put in place. If we do not have the basic services available in order to respond, they are not going to be there. That is a big problem for us.

We believe that Bill C-17 could actually dilute more parts of the government that have not had the adequate resources. It also goes once again to the philosophy on how the government responds. I use the example of the NSEERS program, the entry-exist registration system, and the tiering of Canadian citizenship, but it is also the way the government handles sovereignty issues. Over the summer there were two situations that gave me great concern due to the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Foreign Affairs not responding adequately enough.

In one situation American police officers from Detroit, Michigan were chasing someone through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. They came through the tunnel and past our customs people. They stopped the vehicle, arrested the person and took the person back to the United States. They came over, drew their guns in our plaza, on our soil, took somebody back to their country and did not even notify our local people. We have Canadian citizens there. We have visitors. We have a whole number of different confidence issues. What did the government do about it? Not a single thing.

Imagine if our Canada customs people went into the United States, apprehended someone, brought them back and we did not tell the American authorities, especially right in the middle of their customs and immigration centres. It is deplorable. They were Detroit police officers.

Another Detroit police officer came over to our country last summer. He was hiding a weapon. He was supposed to check in the weapon. He was caught and brought over. As he was trying to hide his weapon, it discharged and he shot himself in the leg. He was seriously hurt. Once again the government did not object. It did not file a protest. There was nothing done. The government allowed this to happen.

What good are some of these security measures if we do not have the proper discourse with different people, including our friends across the way? If we do not have that, we set ourselves up for loss and failure.

Bill C-17 once again calls for a number of different things that have serious civil liberty issues: how much data is kept on a person, how that data is to be used and more important, where it will go. We have raised concerns about that, as has the Privacy Commissioner. He stated:

It is in fact one of the various concerns you have heard and will hear as a committee, probably the easiest to fix, because it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on either transportation security or national security against terrorism, which of course are the objects of this bill.

It also quantifies together a whole group of Canadian citizens who are honourable, who have not had problems with the law, who have paid their taxes and are law-abiding citizens. The real concern about the bill is where that information will go and where it will be used.

I want to end my summary by once again noting that we need to improve our current infrastructure of resources, especially our security measures for our Canada customs people who are at the border, at Windsor and other places, where they rely on local officials. They do not have the RCMP active on site, for which I have been advocating. We need to provide those resources up front.

We will not be able to make ourselves more secure with more bureaucratic structures. We need to make sure those good men and women who are on the front lines have the proper resources and the support of a government that will actually back them up to ensure our safety. We need to do that first and foremost. If that does not happen, then the bill will fail.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:25 a.m.
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The Speaker

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 12, Bill C-42 is deemed read a second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

(Bill read a second time, referred to committee, reported without amendment, concurred in, read a third time and passed)

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:20 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today in support of the bill. If any country in the world should be interested and concerned about the welfare and the conditions in the Antarctic it should be Canada, and we are pleased to support the bill.

It also raises all kinds of questions that go further, questions that could be tied to Kyoto or, as the previous speaker just mentioned, the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization which has so much to do with our fisheries reserves, our resources, the economy and the welfare of the two sides of our country, the Atlantic and the Pacific. In this case we are talking about the Atlantic because it is the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization, but there are parallels here to talk about.

We feel the government has not done nearly enough to protect the fishery and it has not played a leadership role. It has done nothing to think outside the box to address the fisheries concerns, which are really environmental and conservation concerns, such as what we are talking about today with the Antarctic environment.

Canada must and should take a leadership role in these issues. I think the world looks to Canada and they are really surprised that we do not take a leadership role in issues such as this. I urge the government, when it is considering issues in the Antarctic, to also consider issues in the Atlantic and try to think of ways that have not been addressed to deal with the fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean.

Two to three weeks ago, professors from Dalhousie University came out with a startling study that said that 90% of the large fish in the oceans have been scooped up. That is a scary statistic. One just has to look at what has happened over the years because no one has addressed this issue. No one has really stood up to the fishing industry around the world and said that the rules must change. Canada should be the one to do that. Canada should not just be a part of something. It should not go along with NAFO. We should play a leadership role.

The ministers over there should understand that Canada is the one that should play the leadership role but we are not. We are just going along with everybody else. The government should think outside the box and take startling and strong steps to protect our fishery and to change the rules around the world. This study, which said that 90% of the large fish are gone, predicts that the deterioration of the fish stocks will continue dramatically in the future until there are simply no fish.

It is issues like this that we have to be concerned about and that is why we support the proposal of Bill C-42 on the environment in the Antarctic. However there are other issues with which we must deal but the government has being lax on them. We know it and the whole world knows it. The whole world knows that Canada is just going along with everybody else on this when we should be taking strong steps and demonstrating our concerns about the situation in our oceans and protecting and conserving the fish resources.

We are pleased to support Bill C-42 on the environment of the Antarctic but we urge the government to go further on issues. Even on Kyoto, the government brought in Kyoto with no implementation plan. Bill C-42 is part of a plan to have a plan but at least it is a start. We hope the government will move further on this and also on Kyoto.

The member for St. John's West, who is with me here today, has raised the issue time and time again that Canada should play a leadership role in the conservation of the fishery on the Atlantic coast and yet nothing ever changes. Nothing happens. We just go along. It is time Canada stood up, took a stand and fought back.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-42. It is one of those times that we stand up in the House and say that it is about time.

The Madrid protocol, which Canada agreed to in 1991, is basically the reason this bill is before the House. However, as in so many other cases, it has taken us a full decade to bring forward supporting legislation for commitments that we made at the international level. It is all too typical of the government in the way it has avoided its responsibility to the various countries on this planet in terms of meeting our responsibilities. Again I repeat, it is about time.

Having said that, I want to address a couple of points with regard to the Madrid protocol and this legislation. I would indicate that the NDP is prepared in principle to support the bill. It is one that in its overall context and direction we do support.

The bill has encompassed to some degree the protocol but I do have some reservations and I want to mention those. It does address the protocol in the sense that the protocol had various principles that underpinned that agreement at the international level. It was making sure that the Antarctic would never be militarized and that neither nuclear weapons nor reactors would ever be placed there. It has a number of provisions in it which encourage further scientific research in the area to identify the ecosystem in many respects and hopefully ways of being able to identify needs that we and the rest of the planet may be able to maintain.

It was interesting to listen to the Alliance's attack on the government with regard to how Kyoto will be a disaster, according to them. The Antarctic, as is our Arctic, is the first victim of the global warming that we are seeing. I remember about a year ago there was a huge chunk that separated off the ice patch there that was larger than Newfoundland. It has completely broken up and is no longer part of that continent. Therefore, we badly need Kyoto in place as quickly as possible to forestall further damage like that to the Antarctic.

Going back to this bill specifically, the final point I would mention in terms of one of the underlying principles of the Madrid protocol is that all countries that signed on to the protocol would, in effect, abandon sovereignty claims. Not all countries have and so there is still an issue in that regard, but it certainly behooves Canada to take part in this.

Once the bill goes to committee we will have a greater opportunity to explore this but I do want to raise a couple of cautions. There are concerns about whether the bill goes far enough to implement the Madrid protocol and protect the Antarctic. I just want to mention a couple of sections. One is clause 5.

I am not sure how one would ultimately interpret this, but clause 5 of the bill as printed and presented to the House leaves open the possibility of the military having access to the sites. In fact, it specifically says that the bill would not apply to the Canadian military. I do not understand that and we will have to explore that.

The other one is that the prohibition in clause 7 prevents a number of activities but specifically allows commercial fishing. That is a great concern to us in Canada given the devastation that we have seen to some of our fishing stock when it is uncontrolled, as it would be in the sense that there are no controls in this legislation in that regard.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:10 a.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-42, a bill to ratify the Protocol on EnvironmentalProtection to the Antarctic Treaty.

This protocol was signed by Canada in 1991 and one of its purposes was to protect the ecosystems in an extremely fragile area.

Knowing the current state of Antarctica in particular, we know that it is fundamental that there be critical parameters for all activities that might take place in this very fragile area.

This protocol reinforces what the Treaty on Antarctica established in 1961. This protocol also makes it possible to endorse and implement the principles established in 1961, after the signing of the Treaty of Antarctica. These principles include making Antarctica a nature preserve to be protected. A further intent was to make Antarctica an area where no military activities could be carried out.

This is important. Given what we have all experienced in the past few months, it is important to reaffirm, in legislation, Canada's will to make the Antarctic a demilitarized zone.

The third important principle in the Antarctic Treaty of 1961 was to ensure greater cooperation with regard to research, particularly scientific research. The goal was to ensure the uniformity of exchanges and partnerships.

Furthermore, another aspect concerns the suspension of sovereignty and claims to territorial sovereignty in this area of the Antarctic; this applies to a number of territories in the Antarctic. Issues relating to sovereignty and claims to territorial sovereignty are currently on the table, but the 1961 treaty suspends such claims.

One final aspect prohibits nuclear explosions or the disposal of radioactive waste material; Bill C-42 contains provisions on this.

What, then, is the aim of this bill? It seeks to provide a solution to what the member states had agreed to in the Antarctic Treaty of 1961. Canada reiterated its commitment in 1991, by signing the Madrid protocol. We are proud to say today that this protocol has been ratified.

There are provisions in this legislation. What is their purpose? To protect ecosystems in this fragile zone and make it a demilitarized zone, if possible. This would ensure that this zone does not become a disposal site for radioactive and nuclear waste; and would also suspend claims to territorial sovereignty. All this, to ensure that this zone, which is unique in the world, will receive sufficient protection.

In closing, I want to add that my party is very pleased to support Bill C-42, which will provide a sustainable solution for a fragile zone that must be protected as a natural heritage site.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:10 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the former environment minister in the beautiful and bountiful British Columbia, I have long had a deep and abiding concern about the need to protect the pristine and unexploited regions on the planet.

I am here at the request of my hon. colleague, the member for Red Deer, to speak to Bill C-42, an act respecting the protection of the Antarctic environment. This legislation may actually be worthwhile in that it is legislation that may actually do what it says it will do. That is rare: good legislation coming from a Liberal government. I wonder if this was one of the last items on the previous government's agenda.

One would think that by now the Liberals would have passed all the legislation left over from the Mulroney regime and would have come up with some of their own. I know that with their leadership woes going back to 1990 and that leadership race that never stopped running, they have been preoccupied, but surely they could have found time in the last 10 years to come up with something original. If this is it, we should offer them mild congratulations.

Other environmental legislation they have introduced will do nothing but harm. This bill appears to be fairly benign, unlike the species at risk legislation and the Kyoto legislation that will one day prove ruinous to Canada. Having said that and to repeat my earlier statement, we in the Canadian Alliance share the goal of this legislation and wholeheartedly support its premise.

The act would allow Canada to formally ratify the so-called Madrid protocol to make sure the international community uses the Antarctic for peaceful and scientific purposes only. The Antarctic Treaty of 1961 prohibits military activity. It guarantees freedom for and cooperation in scientific research. It agrees to the exchange of information, suspends all territorial claims and prohibits nuclear activities and disposal of radioactive waste.

The act would become part of the Antarctic Treaty system and that is something the Canadian Alliance endorses and supports wholeheartedly. We in the Alliance recognize the importance of an ethical dimension in our foreign policy and will do what is necessary to achieve that after the next election.

I should pause here for the benefit of Liberals to define the word ethical. It means morally correct and honourable. If the Liberals want me to define morally correct and honourable, well I could go on and on but I do not want to get off the topic.

The Canadian Alliance believes that responsible exploration, development, conservation and renewal of our environment is critically important. The act would stop exploitation and ruination of a unique environment before it begins and that is worth supporting.

We have something in common with the bottom of the world sitting where we do at the top of the world. Outside of northern Canada and the Arctic, the Antarctic is one of the few frontiers left on the planet. Our northern lands, starkly beautiful, have been scarred by the carelessness of the Liberals over the years. We do not want the world to do to the Antarctic what the Liberals have allowed to be done to our Arctic.

On behalf of the hon. member for Red Deer and all Canadian Alliance colleagues, I declare our party's support for this legislation that protects the environment. It is unfortunate the Liberals have dragged their feet for so long that it is only now we come to vote on this very important bill.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
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York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-42.

Bill C-42 is enabling legislation that will allow Canada to ratify the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, commonly known as the Madrid protocol.

Since signing the protocol in 1991, Canada has been committed to its ratification. By doing so, Canada will be joining the other 29 nations that have ratified the protocol. It will commit the country to the protection of this unique ecosystem, from which we can learn a great deal about the world's environment.

As a nation active in Antarctica, we must provide clarity on Canada's role in the region to Canadians present there and to the global community. We must establish mechanisms that will prevent or mitigate potential negative environmental impacts of human activity.

The Antarctic was once available to only the most adventurous of explorers and is now visited regularly by tourists and scientists, including Canadians. With continued scientific research, commercial fishing and increased tourism, we must be cognizant of the cumulative impacts of human action.

The challenge that nations operating in the Antarctic face is to manage activities in a way that balances the benefits of access with the need for environmental protection. The Madrid protocol, which came into force in 1998, achieves that balance through three key obligations.

First, it commits parties to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and designates Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

Second, it sets out the principles for environmental protection, requiring an environmental impact assessment of all activities before they are allowed to proceed.

Third, the Madrid protocol bans activities harmful to the Antarctic environment, such as commercial mineral resource activity, damage to historic Antarctic sites and the harmful disturbance of wildlife.

The protocol's approach to environmental protection and conservation is similar to the approach taken by Canada in the areas of environmental assessments, marine pollution countermeasures, as well as our general approach toward national parks and species at risk.

What Bill C-42 does is it provides the legislative basis needed to implement the requirements of the Madrid protocol in Canada. Canadian tour companies and scientists are already voluntarily complying with the protocol using the approval mechanisms established by other nations. Those individuals and groups have consistently called upon Canada to ratify the protocol.

It is time for Canada to take responsibility for the activities of its nationals in the Antarctic.

Bill C-42 is consistent with established Canadian legal policy and practice and is in accordance with international law. It is consistent with the approach taken by other countries that have ratified the protocol.

The history of Antarctica is one of inspiration. It inspired people like Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and the men that joined them, including other Canadians. It inspired ground breaking scientific research. Perhaps most important, it inspired the nations of the world to come together in a spirit of cooperation and multilateralism to declare that there would be a place on earth dedicated to peace and science.

It is now time for Canada to complete the process that began a decade ago and join the world in preserving and protecting the environment that has inspired so many in the past so that it will continue to inspire many more in the future.

We have seen only too well what damage can be caused to fragile frozen tundra if rules and procedures are not put in place and a common understanding is not established.

Antarctica is the last great wilderness on earth. It is not the territory of one nation, but the responsibility of all people in the world.

Canada has a well deserved reputation as a responsible polar nation that protects its environmental heritage. That reputation must be extended to Antarctica as well.

My hope is that passage of the bill through the House will enable Canada to do its fair share to protect this last common wilderness as a legacy for people in the future.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberalfor the Minister of the Environment

moved that Bill C-42, an act respecting the protection of the Antarctic Environment, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all parties in the House and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, immediately after government orders are called on Friday, June 13, the House shall proceed to consider second reading of Bill C-42 and, after no more than one representative of each party has spoken for no more than five minutes each, the bill shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole and reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed, and the House shall then proceed to consider and dispose of Bill C-44 in the same manner as provided for in this order for Bill C-42.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 12th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I usually answer about the legislative program in the House and that is what I will do now.

This afternoon we will continue with the business of supply, with votes scheduled for 8 p.m., pursuant to the arrangement made earlier.

The business that the government will put forward before the House tomorrow, pursuant to another agreement which I will be submitting to the House a little later this afternoon, will be Bill C-42, the Antarctic agreement, Bill C-44, respecting compensation for certain military personnel, and then Bill C-35, the military judges bill. If there is any time left, we will then consider Bill C-34.

The program for next week would be Bill C-7, first nations governance, Bill C-17, public safety, and Bill C-13 respecting reproductive technologies, as well as other legislation which has returned from committee, for instance, legislation such as the sex offender registry and bills like that.

AgricultureOral Question Period

June 12th, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.
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Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member has been so far back behind the curtains over there that he has not seen what this government has done in the last six months, with an outstanding budget and an active legislative agenda, led by the Prime Minister and culminating in the passage of Bill C-42. We are 100% behind the Prime Minister and the legislative program of this party and this government.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

June 9th, 2003 / 2:40 p.m.
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Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, last Friday we introduced Bill C-42 which would allow Canada to ratify the Madrid protocol and join our global partners in protecting this area. I am proud to add that since signing the protocol in 1991, Canada has been meeting and exceeding the obligations under the protocol.

With the cooperation of parties on all sides of the House, it would be very easy for the bill to be passed this week.

Antarctic Environmental Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

June 6th, 2003 / 12:05 p.m.
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Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-42, an act respecting the protection of the Antarctic environment.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 27th, 2003 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to participate in the third reading debate of 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.

Our party will be reluctantly supporting Bill C-17 for two reasons. First, the events of September 11, 2001, have made legislation like Bill C-17 necessary. The United States, western Europe and most, if not all, of our major allies have adopted similar legislation as modern democracies attempt to deal with the terrorist threat from faceless cowards. To the extent that this type of legislation is necessary, I will support it.

Second, even as I support it, I must call on the government to adopt a higher standard both in the quality of legislation that it puts forward and in its willingness to be accountable to Parliament. In fact, it could be said that Bill C-17 and its predecessors are symptoms of what is wrong with the way Liberals govern our country.

If the true measure of a man is what he does rather than what he says, then the measure of a country must be in part its reaction to times of trial and stress. In the United States, 10 days after the September 11 attack, Senator Fritz Hollings was on his feet to introduce America's response, S.1447, a bill to improve aviation security, and for other purposes. With lightning speed, and despite an anthrax scare on Capitol Hill, both the house of congress and the senate quickly passed the legislation and President Bush signed it on November 19, 2001.

Members should think about this. Capitol Hill was under fire from all sides, yet dialogue happened. Politicians of different parties built a consensus on how a superpower would respond to a terrorist threat on its own soil and make its citizens feel safe.

In 1968, in his book Toward a Psychology of Being , Abraham Maslow identified his famous hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem and self actualization. The second of these is safety, otherwise known as security needs, and it is one of the few that the state can provide in a concrete way. United States governments of all political stripes have long understood that their first duty is to protect the safety security of their citizens and so when September 11 happened, Capitol Hill acted with a speed that was nearly dizzying.

A bill was proposed and amended. The house of representatives and the senate concurred and the President signed his approval. The whole process lasted a mere 10 weeks. During that same 10 weeks the Liberal government slept. In fact, it was a full three days after President Bush signed the U.S. law that the Liberal government tabled the first version of the public safety act, then called Bill C-42, on November 22.

Bill C-42 immediately drew fire from all sides. However, rather than seeking to build the kind of consensus that would allow a nation to respond quickly to a new threat, the government hid. The bill never went to any committee and was withdrawn April 24, 2002. Then, five days later, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-42's replacement, Bill C-55.

I have long believed that people in government should learn from their mistakes. One of Bill C-42's problems had been its complexity. It would have amended or introduced legislation affecting 10 federal departments. It was so complex that the portion giving airlines the legal authority to share reservations information with foreign governments had to be hived off into another bill, Bill C-44, so that some of the more useful clauses could get quick passage.

Bill C-55 showed that the Liberal government had learned little. It would have amended or introduced 19 federal statutes affecting some nine federal departments. In fact, Bill C-55 was so complex that a special committee was struck on May 9, 2002, solely for the purpose of studying it. That committee never met. Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, when Parliament prorogued.

Given the speed with which the U.S. passed its legislation and given that most, if not all, of our major allies had similar legislation, one would think that passing Bill C-55 would have been a priority.

Certainly if we listen to the Minister of Transport he will tell us that Bill C-26, the transportation amendment act, is high priority. In fact, it is so high priority that he does not want the transport committee to travel when it studies that bill. The transportation amendment act is high priority, but on September 16, 2002 when Parliament prorogued, the public safety act was not.

Let me refer back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Safety is number two. Transport is not on the list, but transport rather than safety is a higher priority for the government.

The fact that Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, almost a year to the day of the crises that spawned its creation, one gets a clear sense that while America was implementing tough new legislation to make its skies safer, Canada's Liberal government not only did not know what it was doing, but it had no idea of where to start.

In fact, the current legislation, Bill C-17, was not tabled in the House until some six weeks later, on October 31, 2002, fully 13 months after the September 11 attacks, and nearly 11 months after President Bush signed America's aviation and transportation security act into legislation as public law 107-71.

It is now May 27, 2003 and this bill is at third reading. Two things become evident very quickly. The first is that the government is under increasing pressure to be seen to be doing something, or in some case to be acting. The other is that it is terrified of real consultation and only accepts amendments when it has no other choice.

We see an example of the pressure that the government faced in the way it handled the sharing of airline passenger reservations systems information with various government agencies.

We are aware that part 1 of Bill C-17 introduces new clauses into the Aeronautics Act allowing the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the persons they designate, to require certain passenger information from air carriers and operators of aviation reservation systems, to be used and disclosed for transportation security purposes; national security investigations relating to terrorism; situations of immediate threat to the life or safety of a person; the enforcement of arrest warrants for offences punishable by five years or more of imprisonment and that are specified in the regulations; and arrest warrants under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Extradition Act.

The government has argued forcefully for these powers, yet it has dragged its feet in passing Bill C-17. In fact, the government has delayed for so long in passing the bill that some of the information-sharing clauses are now essentially moot.

Those clauses that would allow Canadian carriers to share information with foreign governments were contained in Bill C-44 which was introduced on November 28, 2001 and received royal assent three weeks later on December 18, 2001.

This timing was fortunate because one of the clauses of the U.S. law which was so quickly passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress in the aftermath of September 11 said that airlines would not be able to fly into the United States after January 18 unless they provided passenger reservations information to the U.S. customs service.

In Canada on October 7, 2002 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 the U.S. the government set an arbitrary deadline that this Liberal government had to scramble to meet. At the same time in Canada, a government department, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, essentially gave up on waiting for the government to act and used its existing and residual powers to implement its advance passenger information/passenger name record program three weeks before the government reintroduced Bill C-42 for the second time as Bill C-17.

If the passenger information issue shows the need for the government to act, the inexplosive ammunition component issue shows the need for the government to listen. The words “inexplosive ammunition component” first appeared in part 5 of Bill C-42, the first predecessor of Bill C-17, on November 22, 2001.

Within two months the Library of Parliament prepared a research paper pointing out the potential problems of regulating inexplosive ammunition components. Essentially as witnesses ultimately told the legislative committee on Bill C-17, regulating inexplosive ammunition components was tantamount to criminalizing brass and lead, or regulating little bits of margarine containers, little bits of cotton fabric and fishing sinkers.

Naturally our party hoped when the Liberals brought back Bill C-42 as Bill C-55 on April 29, 2002, that they had read the Library of Parliament report. They had not. On May 9, 2002, roughly a year ago today, the member for Yorkton--Melville told the House that the definition would potentially criminalize tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens who load their own ammunition for their legal pastime sports.

When Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper and was revived in slightly modified form as Bill C-17 on October 31, there were some who hoped that the Liberals had listened. They had not. On Monday, November 18, 2002 the member for Yorkton--Melville spoke to Bill C-17 at second reading and essentially repeated verbatim his May 9, 2002 comments on inexplosive ammunition components.

It might make it easier on the translators or perhaps those who maintain the Hansard if a member repeats a speech, but for me it is a way of underlining the complete lack of attention on the other side of the House to the opposition members and indeed the concerns that average everyday Canadians face from time to time. Even after having given the same speech twice, there was some doubt as to whether the Liberals had received the message about inexplosive ammunition components. The only thing I can confirm is that the term was deleted from Bill C-17 by the legislative committee studying the bill.

To the extent that the term “inexplosive ammunition component” was of considerable concern to many Canadians, the fact that the legislative committee deleted it makes Bill C-17 much more palatable to Canadians. However the fact that such a controversial and frankly unnecessary clause could have been in Bill C-17 and its predecessors from November 22, 2001 until May 7, 2003 shows Canadians a government whose ears and eyes are welded shut.

Another area where the government has shown no willingness to listen or to be accountable is interim orders. A very significant portion of Bill C-17 deals with interim orders. 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. Essentially the thinking behind interim orders is “trust me”, in other words “give me various undefined powers and when there is an emergency trust me to do the right thing”.

First, we cannot forget that the very same government that has taken more than 19 months to react to September 11 is the one now saying “trust me”. Second, we should not overlook the fact that if the government really knew what it was doing, it would define both its responsibilities and its powers in very clear language.

In the United States the U.S. aviation and transportation security act was drafted just in 10 days after September 11. Even then, while a shocked America pondered the unthinkable crisis that had just happened, American legislators knew that “trust me” was not going to cut it with the American public.

The U.S. aviation and transportation security act is specific. It delegates powers 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. Canada in Bill C-17 uses interim orders while the U.S. uses specifics. The interim orders all follow a similar pattern. They allow a minister under certain circumstances to make an order that would normally have to be made by the governor in council. Thus, when the chips are down and cabinet cannot meet, an interim order lets a cabinet minister take actions that would normally need cabinet approval.

In most cases, in Bill C-17 the interim order has to be published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days, has to be approved by cabinet within 14 days, and expires at the end of the year. Similarly an interim order must be tabled in Parliament within 15 sitting days after it has been made.

Before the special legislative committee on Bill C-17, members from the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP all tried to propose constructive amendments to the clauses of Bill C-17 dealing with interim orders. In the case of the 14 Canadian Alliance amendments, each was motivated by the spirit of the Emergencies Act. Its preamble reads in part:

Whereas the safety and security of the individual, the protection of the values of the body politic and the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state are fundamental obligations of government;

And whereas the fulfilment of those obligations in Canada may be seriously threatened by a national emergency and, in order to ensure safety and security during such an emergency, the Governor in Council should be authorized, subject to the supervision of Parliament, to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times--

We therefore thought the standard of parliamentary scrutiny laid down in the Emergencies Act might be applicable to the type of situations in which interim orders might be made under Bill C-17.

Section 61 of the Emergencies Act reads:

(1) Subject to subsection (2), every order or regulation made by the Governor in Council pursuant to this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament within two sitting days after it is made.

(2) Where an order or regulation made pursuant to this Act is exempted from publication in the Canada Gazette by regulations made under the Statutory Instruments Act, the order or regulation, in lieu of being laid before each House of Parliament as required by subsection (1), shall be referred to the Parliamentary Review Committee within two days after it is made or, if the Committee is not then designated or established, within the first two days after it is designated or established.

Each of our 14 amendments was motivated by the same philosophy. If during an emergency the government can subject orders and regulations to parliamentary scrutiny within two sitting days after they are made, there is no reason that a lower standard should apply to Bill C-17.

The Canadian Alliance was not alone in this thinking. Both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois advanced a similar philosophy. It is my hope that the three parties might be able to agree on a common approach so that the higher level of parliamentary scrutiny may be offered to interim orders made by a government that wants us to trust it 18 months after September 11.

However, the Liberal desire to escape parliamentary scrutiny appears intractable. Rather than agree to any new restrictions on interim orders, the only interim orders amendment that the Liberal members proposed at committee was one adding new clause 111.1 to Bill C-17 so that interim orders would be included in the Pest Control Products Act in the event that the act would receive royal assent before Bill C-17.

Other countries use clear language to define its government's responsibilities and its powers. The Liberal government uses interim orders. Previous governments believed that the standards of the Emergencies Act applied when Canada was threatened by a national emergency. The Liberal government believes in a dramatically lower standard of parliamentary accountability.

I conclude that the government's continued use of interim orders instead of defining its roles and responsibilities in a very clear language shows its unwillingness to either propose better legislation or to be more accountable to Parliament. Even if Bill C-17 passes third reading, it is possible that it will not receive royal assent before October. Members should think about this carefully.

September 11 happened and the U.S. had a law signed by the president and in place on November 18, roughly two months later. Canada will not have its law in place until nearly two years have passed, which is simply unacceptable. If it takes a Liberal-dominated Parliament two years to react to a major crisis, that is a very strong argument for a change of government.

It is quite clear that the committee state version of Bill C-17 is a definite improvement over Bill C-42 as first presented 17 months ago. It is also clear that Bill C-17 type legislation is necessary today. We will therefore be supporting the bill while calling upon the government to hold itself to a higher standard, particularly when asked to show leadership in times of crisis.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 13th, 2003 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to participate in the debate on Bill C-17, recognizing, as my colleague from Winnipeg North Centre pointed out, that this is the government's third attempt to push legislation through the House that would pose a profound threat to some of the most basic civil liberties and the privacy of Canadians.

We know that the previous legislation introduced in November 2001 was Bill C-42. That bill was met with a huge amount of opposition, including from New Democrats. The government tried again in the spring of 2002 with Bill C-55.

Each time the government has introduced and reintroduced the legislation, it has taken a little off the edges perhaps, reduced the scope of the legislation and changed the time limit a bit, but it has not recognized the concerns of Canadians that the bill is an assault on some of the most basic and fundamental rights and freedoms and that privacy rights are at the heart of that concern.

I want to pay tribute to my colleague from Churchill, the federal New Democrat transport critic, who has done such an effective job, both in the committee and across the country, in helping to make Canadians more aware of what the dangers are of this bill.

It is not just this legislation. I think we have to look at this legislation in the context of a broader package of bills that the government has brought forward in the aftermath of September 11. Prime among those bills was Bill C-36, the so-called anti-terrorism legislation, which was far in excess of what was needed to respond to the genuine concerns in terms of fighting against terrorism.

Clearly that was a profoundly and fundamentally flawed bill that introduced unprecedented new powers. This bill, Bill C-17, is in much the same light.

The committee that studied Bill C-17 heard extensive evidence from a range of witnesses from across Canada. My colleagues who spoke earlier in the debate highlighted some of the points that were made. I would note for example the very compelling and eloquent evidence of the representatives of the Coalition of Muslim Organizations of Canada who pointed out that they were already concerned that members of their community were being targeted by law enforcement officers and others, and by border control officers both in Canada and in the United States, in the aftermath of September 11.

Certainly I, as a member of Parliament for Burnaby—Douglas, have heard from a number of constituents who were born in the Middle East, perhaps in Syria, in Iraq, in Iran or in other countries, who travelled to Canada, perhaps in some cases as young people, as children, and yet who have been treated in the most degrading and humiliating manner, being subjected to fingerprinting, photographing, treated basically as criminals. These people's only offence was that they happened to have been born in one of those countries.

That kind of racial profiling is totally unacceptable and yet Bill C-17 would open up the possibility for that to be expanded on a wide scale. That has been pointed out, as I said, by the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, both in its evidence to the committee and in the brief it submitted to the committee. Its brief particularly noted that the act would give sweeping discretion and authority to the Minister of Transport and to the heads of CSIS and the RCMP for significant abuses of power.

One of the greatest dangers of the bill is that there is a total lack of any effective parliamentary oversight. If we as parliamentarians were to vote for the legislation, we would be giving carte blanche to the Minister of Transport and to the heads of CSIS and the RCMP to exercise these very sweeping new powers.

The people from the Arab Canadian community, the Muslim community in particular who already have been targeted post-September 11, have rightly raised grave concerns about the impact this sweeping discretion in the bill would have. It would allow law enforcement agencies to basically go on fishing expeditions and violate the privacy of Canadians.

Parliament has agreed to the appointment of a privacy commissioner whose responsibility will be to report back to Parliament when there are attacks on the privacy rights of Canadians.

Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski appeared before the Standing Committee on Transport just a couple of months ago and said that the bill was a very dangerous piece of legislation. He put it in the context of other legislation and other powers that had already been passed. He noted for example the database of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, what he called its big brother passenger database.

George Radwanski talked about the bill now before the House. He said:

Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act, will introduce a requirement that we, in effect, identify ourselves to the police when we travel. What I'm referring to here is the fact that when you board a flight these days, even a domestic flight, you have to show photo ID to the airline to confirm your identity.

The bill would make all passenger information available to CSIS and the RCMP, and it is not just about fighting terrorism. The legislation explicitly makes it clear that it goes far beyond that. It permits the RCMP to basically scan passenger information to seek a whole range of information that has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

What this amounts to in effect, as Radwanski points out, is self-identification to the police by law-abiding Canadian citizens. As he asked, why not when we took train, a bus, rent a car or checked into a hotel? Once this dangerous principle is accepted, the police in effect are being given powers that I believe are both unconstitutional and violate squarely the provisions of the Charter of Rights.

One of the most respected constitutional lawyers in Canada, Clayton Ruby, appeared before the committee studying Bill C-17 and made that very point. He made the point that the bill was totally lacking in any meaningful safeguards. He said:

So you've taken a narrow kernel of constitutionality...and it may or may not be wise...Wisdom is not my concern here, but constitutionality is. The idea that you can take that information and pass it on, without time limits, without restraints, for general law enforcement purposes...

That is not terrorism but general law enforcement purposes. He went on to say:

--is simply unheard of in this country. We have never done it. Perhaps more importantly, free countries just generally do not do it. Democracies generally do not do this.

Yet, the Liberal government, first in Bill C-42, then in Bill C-55 and now in Bill C-17 is insisting that it take on those sweeping and dangerous new powers.

My colleague for Winnipeg North Centre made reference to Ken Rubin and his evidence before the committee. Certainly Ken Rubin is one of the most knowledgeable when it comes to issues of protection of privacy and respect for the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of Canadians.

Another group that has been outspoken and has taken a leadership role on the issue is a group from my own province, the province of British Columbia, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, one of the most active civil liberties groups in Canada.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association as well appeared before the standing committee on Bill C-17. The association said that it was a draconian bill which was an attack on a free and democratic society. It pointed out that the bill went far beyond what was actually required to deal with the actual threat of terrorism. It said that much of what needed to be done did not need new legislation at all. In fact under the existing Emergencies Act, there are ample powers to respond to the kinds of concerns that have been raised.

There is always this tension between, on the one hand, the fundamental rights of Canadians as set out in the Charter of Rights and in a body of law and, on the other hand, this desire in the name of fighting terrorism to give sweeping new powers to the police. We as New Democrats argue that the government has failed terribly to achieve the correct balance.

I also want to note another provision of Bill C-17 and that is with respect to exclusion zones. There would be an order in council that would apply to an unknown area. We do not know exactly what that area would be, around Halifax, Esquimalt and Nanoose Bay. It could be used in other parts of the country as well, and we still do not know exactly what powers will be given with respect to these controlled access military zones of Bill C-55.

When it comes to Nanoose Bay, a growing number of British Columbians are saying that they do not want American nuclear powered submarines or American submarines that possibly carry nuclear weapons, in their waters. Yet the bill gives new powers to the government to provide for exclusion zones in these areas as well.

This legislation, Bill C-17, should be scrapped. The government should go back to the drawing board and recognize that we protect and value civil liberties in this country. We do not attack civil liberties and privacy as Bill C-17 does.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 13th, 2003 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that I have spoken on this bill. Nor is this the first time that the Bloc Quebecois has spoken on this bill.

We have been quite good sports about this bill. We followed it at each stage. We spoke at second reading, we also participated in the special legislative committee that you presided over. Today, it is a pleasure to express our opinion again, because we think that we have much to contribute to this debate.

This bill is the result of other bills. There were several substantial amendments. Initially, it was called Bill C-55. Then it became Bill C-42, and it is now Bill C-17. So, this bill has evolved.

It is clear that the attempts, in the form of Bills C-55, C-42 and now C-17, resulted from the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York. Canada said that it would increase security to a certain extent. Provisions were put forward in the bill and were debated by the various parties in the House, and particularly in committee.

There is one other thing we have often heard in this House, which is that we must not interfere with the liberties of Canadians and Quebeckers so much that the people will say that the terrorists had won. We have agreed to slightly increased security, but we have not agreed to let the RCMP or CSIS intrude on the privacy of ordinary citizens. That is why we have been closely involved in this debate.

There were three main subjects of special concern to us in the bill. There was, for one, the military zones. I remember when the bill was first made public, the Bloc Quebecois strongly opposed the creation of controlled access military zones.

At the time, there was a question of having a controlled access military zone wherever there was some military infrastructure. The example of Quebec City was often used. There are military installations in the Port of Quebec and we did not think there were limits. The military zone could be extended to the entire lower town and Quebec,s parliamentary precinct. Thus, there were major problems.

On this, the Bloc can claim a victory, because we were the first to object to the military zones. In Bill C-17, the entire issue of military zones has been dropped. For us, that is definitely a victory.

Still, that does not mean we are now in favour of Bill C-17. There are other aspects of this bill on which we have expressed our disagreement and on which we have tried to present amendments to the legislative committee which you chaired. Unfortunately, our amendments to the bill were defeated.

There is one point we are particularly interested in, and that is interim orders. An interim order means that any minister of the crown can decide on an action to be taken without informing Parliament. What we are also looking at is the evolution of these interim orders, because they were already mentioned in Bills C-42 and C-55.

We are especially opposed because these orders are not subject to a charter test beforehand. For us, this is very serious. A cabinet minister can issue an interim order and does not have to check whether or not it passes the test of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For us, that is a major problem. We see that the government has tried to make changes in this case, particularly on the duration of the order in council. In Bill C-42, the order ceased to be in effect after 90 days. In Bill C-55, it was down to 45 days. In the version of Bill C-17 now before us, we are at 14 days.

In addition, there is a requirement to table the interim order in Parliament. In Bill C-42, this was not mentioned. In the next two versions of the bill, there is a 15-day deadline. We see there has been some evolution.

The major problem, however, is still compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Normally, when someone turns up with an interim order, Privy Council can say “We will have a look at the interim order and decide whether it passes the charter test”.

The fact that this is not made part of the procedure is a real problem. Any minister of the Crown can announce, tomorrow, next week, once the act is in force, “I am issuing an interim order because I deem the situation to be urgent. As for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that is not a problem, because I do not have to comply with it”.

The minister in question cannot be accused of acting in bad faith. This may be a concern for him, but he is not obliged to comply with Privy Council, and this poses a serious problem for us.

The third aspect that has been problematical for us from the start relates to the whole business of exchanging information on air travellers. We know that even the Privacy Commissioner has had a number of negative comments to make on this aspect of the bill. Once again, in committee we tried to modify the provisions of the bill that we are looking at today, in order to ensure some degree of privacy for Canadians.

I was not particularly satisfied with the responses we got from the RCMP and CSIS on their ability to gather information on me when I was flying and then pass it around as they pleased. There were two things that particularly bothered us. The RCMP could use personal information on all air passengers for the purpose of seeking out individuals who are subject to a warrant for any offence punishable by imprisonment for five years or more.

The government was somewhat sensitive to our position on this. It made one step toward improvement, but to our minds did not go far enough. It wanted to have this information passed on to a law enforcement officer, but this was still a problem for us because it was up to the RCMP to determine whether or not to refer. It is one and the same thing whether the RCMP or a law enforcement officer makes the arrest based on information provided by the RCMP. In our opinion, it comes down to the same thing. As a result, the privacy of airline passengers is being violated, and this is of major concern to us.

As for information sharing, the other aspect that concerned us was the fact that this information was being retained. We were not reassured with respect to the relevance of retaining this information for the length of time laid out in the bill. We tried to speed up the process, to have this information destroyed sooner. Unfortunately, every motion that we moved to do so was defeated in committee.

I would like to quote from parts of the press release issued by the privacy commissioner, Mr. Radwanski. He is very concerned. Not much has changed since his press release. Since I have two minutes left, I will quote him. He believes there is:

—only minimal and unsatisfactory change, in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

The commissioner also said that:

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.

That is what I explained earlier. We agree with the position of the privacy commissioner. He is worried, and I quote him:

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 says that the changes proposed are an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

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.

In conclusion, we are nevertheless proud to have won on the whole issue of military zones, which are almost completely erased from the new bill. Unfortunately, we believe that the government has not done enough on the issue of interim orders issued by ministers and protecting the privacy of all travellers. In fact, changes were made that do not go nearly far enough to protect the privacy of travellers.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 13th, 2003 / 11:45 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to address Motion No. 6 at report stage consideration of 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 also known as the public safety act.

Like its predecessors, Bills C-42 and C-55 of the last session, Bill C-17 is an omnibus bill that amends or introduces nearly two dozen acts within the jurisdiction of nearly a dozen federal departments or agencies.

Motion No. 6 is very interesting. It takes the interim orders philosophy in Bill C-17 and ensures that will be included in the Pest Control Products Act in the event of that act getting royal assent before Bill C-17 does. Let us think about this. The Pest Control Products Act was written without interim orders and now the government is so concerned that it has modified Bill C-17 to apply to a bill to be passed in the future. It is fascinating.

In many cases, in the place of specific provisions designed to reassure the travelling public and the public in general, the bill gives four ministers the authority to issue interim orders. A very significant portion of Bill C-17 deals with interim orders. 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. Essentially, the thinking from the government behind interim orders is “trust me”. In other words, it is saying, “Give me various undefined powers and when there's an emergency, trust me to do the right thing”. That is what the minister will say.

First, we cannot forget that the very same government that has taken over 19 months to react to September 11 is the one now saying “trust me”. Second, we should not overlook the fact that if the government really knew what it was doing, it would have clearly defined both its responsibilities and its powers. In the United States, the U.S. aviation and transportation security act was drafted just 10 days after September 11. However, even then, while a shocked America pondered the unthinkable crisis that had just happened, American legislators knew that “trust me” was not going to cut it with the American public.

The U.S. aviation and transportation security act is specific. It delegates powers 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. It is very specific, not vague like the legislation that we are debating.

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.

In Canada Bill C-17 uses interim orders while the U.S. uses specifics. The interim orders all follow a similar pattern. They allow a minister, under certain circumstances, to make an order that would normally have to be made by the governor in council. Thus, when the chips are down and cabinet cannot meet, an interim order lets a cabinet minister take actions that would normally need cabinet approval.

In most cases in Bill C-17 the interim order must be published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days, must be approved by cabinet within 14 days, and expire at the end of the year. Similarly, an interim order must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days after it has been made.

Members from the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc, and the NDP tried to propose constructive amendments to Bill C-17 regarding interim orders when it was referred to the special legislative committee. In the case of 14 Canadian Alliance amendments put forward by our transportation critic, who has done a very good job, each was motivated by the spirit of the Emergencies Act. Its preamble reads, in part:

WHEREAS the safety and security of the individual, the protection of the values of the body politic and the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state are fundamental obligations of government;

AND WHEREAS the fulfilment of those obligations in Canada may be seriously threatened by a national emergency and, in order to ensure safety and security during such an emergency, the Governor in Council should be authorized, subject to the supervision of Parliament, to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times;

We therefore thought the standard of parliamentary scrutiny, laid down in the Emergencies Act, might be applicable to the type of situations in which interim orders might be made under Bill C-17. Subsection 61(1) of the Emergencies Act reads:

Subject to subsection (2), every order or regulation made by the Governor in Council pursuant to this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament within two sitting days after it is made.

Subsection 61(2) reads:

Where an order or regulation made pursuant to this Act is exempted from publication in the Canada Gazette by regulations made under the Statutory Instruments Act, the order or regulation, in lieu of being laid before each House of Parliament as required by subsection (1), shall be referred to the Parliamentary Review Committee within two days after it is made or, if the Committee is not then designated or established, within the first two days after it is designated or established.

Each of the 14 amendments was motivated by the same philosophy: if during an emergency, the government can subject orders and regulations to parliamentary scrutiny within two sitting days after they are made, there is no reason why a lower standard should apply to Bill C-17. The Canadian Alliance was not alone in this thinking. A similar philosophy was advanced by the NDP and the Bloc.

It is my hope that the three parties might be able to agree on a common approach so that a higher level of parliamentary scrutiny may be offered to interim orders made by a government that wants us to trust it 20 months after September 11. However, the Liberal desire to escape parliamentary scrutiny appears intractable. Rather than agree to any new restrictions on interim orders, the only interim orders amendment that the Liberal members proposed in committee was the addition of clause 111.1 so that the interim orders would be included in the Pest Control Products Act.

In conclusion, the widespread use of interim orders is troubling. The government's reliance on interim orders shows that even 20 months after September 11 the Liberals are still unable to provide Canadians with the legislation to combat terrorism at home and abroad. Delegating broad powers into the hands of single ministers is a dangerous trend. The committee stage version of Bill C-17 is an improvement over Bill C-42 as first presented 17 months ago, but more changes, particularly in the area of increased parliamentary scrutiny, are required.

Canadians were prepared to sacrifice their liberties for the promise of increased scrutiny and security in the aftermath of September 11. That feeling has faded in the intervening year and a half. For this reason, the government would be wise to carefully consider increased parliamentary scrutiny on the same level as the Emergencies Act if it wants opposition parties to support Bill C-17.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, I too am pleased to rise in the House and also share with my colleague from the Bloc, who just took her place, the concern and the fear we have with Bill C-17.

We know Bill C-17 is the son and daughter of Bill C-42 and Bill C-55 respectively. It is a public safety act. Some people would claim it to be a public relations act. We are concerned because the sweeping powers that were in the earlier bill are in this reincarnation, a sense that government, officials and authority can do whatever they want, whenever they choose. The privacy commissioner says that the police have all the powers they require now to arrest and detain people whom they suspect, and therefore this is not necessary.

Some of us lived through the War Measures Act. Some of us were at the Quebec summit in Quebec City in 2001. To me, people who are proposing this bill seem to be saying that security trumps privacy, and we have some grave concerns about that.

The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine commented on public opinion polls which said that Canadians in the aftermath of September 11 were prepared to forsake some of their privacy for additional security. I would say respectfully back to her that for a lot of hard-working Canadians that may in fact be a reality. However it is even more incumbent on those who Canadians elect to places and chambers, like the House of Commons, the legislators and parliamentarians, to ensure that our safety and security laws are there, but that they are there in balance to ensure guaranteed privacy when and where Canadians need it.

On the bill itself, because there are a number of different acts that roll into this legislation, the transport minister's regulations concerning the Aeronautics Act, making powers concerning aviation safety, I concede are better defined than they were in Bill C-42. The lack of specifics in this area was one of the concerns we had about the original bill, specifically our transport critic, the member for Churchill. Therefore we regard this as a mild improvement.

As well, in a feeble attempt to address the concerns of the privacy commissioner, the clause allowing RCMP designated officers to access passenger information to identify those individuals with outstanding arrest warrants has been removed and the bill would now only allow RCMP and CSIS officials to access passenger information for national or transportation security purposes. This too is an improvement. 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 greater.

The privacy commissioner has stated publicly that this change is insufficient to protect the right of Canadians to privacy. In our opinion there are still insufficient safeguards in this current legislation to prevent intrusion, particularly since this information can be shared with American customs officials who currently have a racial profiling policy.

Let me just stop there and, as an aside, tell the House that I recently travelled in company with the secretary treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, who is of Arab descent and who travels quite extensively in his job. According to Hassan Yussuff, when he travels through the United States and looks at the people who are pulled aside at the airports for particular and thorough security checks, it is always people of Muslim and Arab descent.

The House heard from my colleague earlier today, the member for Vancouver East. She outlined the concern expressed by the Muslim organization, COMO, with regard to this.

We not only want to protect and ensure that citizens in Canada and people who are travelling here are protected, we also want to ensure they are not singled out, which seems to be the case in some other countries.

One of our major points of opposition to the bill was the clause concerning the military security zones, and it has been repealed. I congratulate the government. In its place the government will use existing legislation to establish controlled access zones to protect naval vessels at three ports: Halifax on the east coast, and Esquimalt and Nanoose Bay on the west coast. These three locations already have military facilities.

On the interim order powers, it now requires an order to be approved by the governor in council within 14 days, not 90 days. It must also be tabled in Parliament within 15 days regardless of whether Parliament is in session. We do not oppose these changes but they are rather insignificant and, in our opinion, do not address sufficiently the concerns we have about potential abuse in this area.

With regard to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, this act received royal assent after Bill C-42 was tabled. This is updated to reflect that the act was passed. If the government had its act together this section would have appeared in Bill C-42 as a conditional amendment. The fact that it did not, further underlines how the government seems to have been making up its security policy on the fly for many months now.

The Marine Transportation Security Act is another area that was not contained in Bill C-42. It would have empowered the government to contribute funds to port authorities to help pay for new security measures, something that our caucus supports.

The Criminal Code broadens the scope and we will continue to support that clause of the bill. We can also give our support to a couple of other minor clauses.

I would like to go back and conclude with the points that were made by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine about the fact that with the changes the privacy commissioner can now support what is before us. I am troubled that the bill, which would enact measures for implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention, that there were amendments put forward by my colleague, the member for Churchill, that specifically impacted on the privacy commissioner and which were defeated at committee. Because they were defeated at committee they were not allowed to be debated here in the House.

I just want to pick out one of them. Motion No. 1 stated:

The Privacy Commissioner may review all material received in respect of the transactions described in subsection (1) to ensure that section 4.81 has been complied with.

To follow up on the argument that was advanced by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, it would seem to me that if the committee has looked at this and the privacy commissioner has been satisfied, then I fail to understand why a reasonable amendment, such as the one that I have just read into the record that was advanced by the member for Churchill, would have been defeated by the Liberal majority on the committee.

Although there are some improvements in Bill C-17 over its earlier incarnations, this caucus, along with others on the opposition side, cannot support Bill C-17 and we will be voting against it.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 1:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague on the job he has done on Bill C-17, which was not an easy one. This bill concerns our fundamental rights as human beings, as individuals. I want to congratulate him because he has put forward very useful amendments. Unfortunately, the government rejected them all, as is often the case here, in this Parliament.

Allow me to set things in context for the benefit of listeners. It is not the first time that this kind of a bill has been introduced in the House of Commons. The current bill is a new version of Bill C-55 on public safety introduced in 2002, itself a new version of Bill C-42.

Last spring, our remarks on Bill C-55 focussed on three major areas: controlled access military zones, interim orders and information sharing. These are three vital areas.

Regarding the controlled access military zones, we could claim victory, given that these were completely dropped from the bill. The bill does, however, still contain provisions concerning interim orders, although the timeframes for their tabling in Parliament and approval by cabinet have been considerably reduced. And our main concern, namely the lack of advance verification for consistency, remains.

I have here a press release from the information commissioner. I am sure that no one has read all of it. Let me do so, because it is important and it will help members understand why we have such concerns about this bill.

This news release was written November 1, 2002 by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. I quote:

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. This same provision has now been reintroduced, with only minimal and unsatisfactory change, in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

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.

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 “transportation security” and “national security” screening. 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.

The implications of this are 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.

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.

The Commissioner then said:

If the police were able to carry out their regular Criminal Code law enforcement duties without this new power before September 11, they should likewise be able to do so now. The events of September 11 were a great tragedy and a great crime; they should not be manipulated into becoming an opportunity—an opportunity to expand privacy-invasive police powers for purposes that have nothing to do with anti-terrorism.

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.

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 publically 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—

I cannot not name that person, but I am sure you know who it is.

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.

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 a database of individuals wanted on Criminal Code warrants, there can be nothing “incidental” about finding them.

Madam Speaker, here we have the commissioner's fundamental reaction and it is serious; he has gone to the trouble of analyzing this entire issue in depth. Therefore, I am very much afraid of seeing this bill pass. I hope that there is still some chance, as we are now at the report stage, of amending the bill and ensuring that no one's rights will be injured.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 12:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, unlike some previous speakers, it is with a lot a frustration that I rise on Bill C-17.

This is the third time that the government has introduced a public safety bill. We first had Bill C-42, which contained a whole series of safety measures that were clearly excessive in terms of rights and freedoms. Then, marginal corrections were made with Bill C-55. And now, the government has introduced Bill C-17, which is essentially identical to Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

Clearly, the government did not learn from its mistakes. As with Bill C-35—which was passed—as with the airport security tax, the government has adopted or is proposing a whole series of measures, in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which ultimately do not seem to be of any use in the fight against terrorism. I remind the House that Bill C-35, which was passed despite the Bloc Quebecois' opposition, contains all kinds of threats and injuries to rights and freedoms and has not been of any use whatsoever in the fight against terrorism in Canada since it was passed.

I would now like to talk about the air security charge; the government has been unable to demonstrate that this tax contributes in any way to paying for the equipment and technologies necessary to ensure airport security. While the airline industry, both in Canada and in the United States, is going through a catastrophic crisis, an additional tax does not help matters. There was so much government improvisation on this issue that, in the last budget in February, the Finance Minister had to reduce the tax significantly; yet, he kept it, which akes no sense whatsoever.

As I said, the government has been unable to demonstrate that this tax was needed.

On several occasions I have wanted to make this point in the House. Bill C-17 now gives me that opportunity. We have been led to believe, in Canada and in the United States, that a person taking a taxi, a bus or a train is considered as a customer, but the Canadian and U.S. governments consider airport or airline customers as potential criminals or terrorists. No wonder people are staying away from the airlines and airports: they are being treated as potential terrorists and criminals.

Bill C-17 is very much a part of all this. I think this act is of no use whatsoever in the fight against terrorism. Members will recall that this was the purpose. The government should have realized, since the tragic events of September 11, that it should have found another way to fight terrorism. As months passed by, one would have expected the government to understand that such measures dare of no use in the fight against terrorism, and it should have dropped the idea after Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper. Yet, the government introduced a new bill, Bill C-17, which, except for one element as I said, goes along the exact same lines as Bills C-42 and C-55.

This was raised by the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, and I think that it must be stressed. Bill C-17 dropped the excessive idea of controlled access military zones, or military security zones as they were called in Bill C-42. In large part, this is a Bloc Quebecois victory. We will recall that these zones could be of unlimited size, without any control being exercised, that the RCMP could declare them without providing any justification, without having to check with or be accountable to anyone, and that this could be done without the consent of the affected provinces.

Think, for example, of the Quebec City summit. The federal government could have unilaterally decided to declare a controlled access military zone for the whole of Quebec City, the national capital of Quebeckers. The purpose would have been to prevent the potential arrival of terrorists, and particularly to prevent citizens concerned with the current negotiations on the free trade zone of the Americas from coming to express their concern to the leaders and heads of state of the 34 countries that are parties to these negotiations.

As I said, this idea of this kind of controlled access military zone was dropped. Still, the new proposal to establish zones through orders is cause for concern to us. Nowhere does it say that the consent of the affected provinces will be required for these military security zones to be created.

The Bloc Quebecois would have liked for all of this to just disappear, but we will remain extremely vigilant, even though, as I said earlier, the fact that the initial idea of controlled access military zones was dropped must be regarded as a Bloc Quebecois victory.

There were two other elements that worried us and that still worry us: everything related to the interim orders as well as everything related to sharing information on airline passengers, who are now viewed by the Canadian government as potential terrorists, as I was saying earlier, regardless of whom they may be. These are concerns that also have to do with the protection of privacy.

I would like to say more about both of these matters, the interim orders and the exchange of information, particularly between the RCMP and CSIS. I know what I am talking about with regard to CSIS because when I was the president of the Conseil central de Montréal of the CSN, we realized that we had been infiltrated by CSIS. This occurred even though everyone knows that the CSN and all unions in Quebec are institutions that are not only recognized, but extremely democratic and transparent. So, I may have more apprehensions than others when it comes to giving special powers to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

With regard to interim orders, the new bill stipulates—or it will if, unfortunately, it is passed—that, “The Minister may make an interimorder that contains any provision that may becontained in a regulation made under this Actif the Minister believes that immediate actionis required to deal with a significant risk,direct or indirect, to health, safety or theenvironment”.

In subsection 4, we read the following, “An interim order is exempt from the application of sections 3, 5 and 11 of the Statutory Instruments Act and published in the Canada Gazette within twenty-three days after it is made.

So, under the new section 30.1 and subsection 4, proposed interim orders will not be required to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. It is quite significant and worrisome that a minister could decide to issue an interim order without first having to ensure it complies with instruments that are supposed to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Quebeckers.

These provisions are extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, I have just one minute left, and I have addressed only the matter of interim orders. We believe that these interim orders must be required to pass the test of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In conclusion, I want to say that the privacy commissioner is extremely concerned by the possibility that the RCMP and CSIS could exchange information on airline passengers, and we believe that the legislation should be much more restrictive than this.

For all these reasons, I am not only somewhat frustrated, but I will be voting against Bill C-17.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 12:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak to Bill C-17 on public safety. Hon. members will recall that this bill, while containing some changes, has basically already been C-42 and then C-55. Today we are looking at a new version which, as I will explain a little later, has been modified based on Bill C-42.

Initially, I took part in the debate on Bill C-55, particularly in connection with three fundamental aspects of that bill. I spoke about the matter of the controlled access military zone, which the bill stipulated established a security perimeter.

The second aspect I addressed during the debate on C-55 concerned the matter of interim orders, which are still there in Bill C-17, although some changes have been made. These include the time lapse between the making of the interim order and the time it is tabled. Despite the changes in deadlines, I will explain how the essence and the very bases of the verification process for the use of these orders are still flawed. We would have liked to have seen a verification on the use of these orders within a broader framework that would include the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and not just the enabling legislation.

The third aspect I addressed, which has to all intents and purposes undergone no change whatsoever in becoming Bill C-17, is the matter of the exchange of information. In Bill C-17 there is still a significant role played by the RCMP, no longer necessarily in gathering the information, but Bill C-17 still retains the possibility of being able to pass on certain information, to law enforcement officers among others.

We might have expected the government to respect not just what the Bloc Quebecois was calling for, but also the opinion voiced by the Privacy Commissioner.

Therefore, of course, as to the controlled access military zones, we have to admit that the Bloc Quebecois won the battle. Indeed, members will recall that, at the time, we opposed such a zone that would create a perimeter. However, last October 31, the government took this change into account after repeated demands by the Bloc Quebecois, and this provision was deleted from Bill C-17. We essentially wanted to maintain the necessary balance between security and freedom. The controlled access military zone did create a fundamental imbalance, which was not consisten with a democratic society.

There was also another aspect to this issue because the government could certainly have abused its power, the minister having a clearly established discretionary power. We felt that by granting such power to the minister, the government had gone too far.

Finally, with this security perimeter that would have been established—I say “would”, because it is not provided for in Bill C-17— the government had, to all intents and purposes, stripped the population of rights they were entitled to expect to enjoy. Indeed, this controlled access zone denied people living within its boundaries and perimeter some basic democratic rights that Canada has always proudly advocated.

Luckily, we won the battle thanks to the efforts of the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. We clearly stated on October 31 that we had won. However, I will remind the House that we will monitor this issue very closely, because this balance between security and freedom must be maintained.

Another important aspect is the issue of interim orders. Again, we saw that the bill contains provisions to this effect. Of course, in terms of tabling in Parliament, the period between the tabling of the order in Parliament and the moment it comes into force was reduced. We would obviously have liked it to be reduced to five days. The government decided instead to keep a 15 day period, as in Bill C-55. Remember that in Bill C-42, the order took effect immediately upon being tabled in Parliament. So, this is a bit of an improvement over Bill C-55. Of course it is better than C-42, but we would have like the order to come into force within five days of being tabled.

Not only is the time lapse a problem, but it is also important that there be a preliminary check for compliance with the enabling legislation and with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bill C-42 contained nothing to this effect, and nor did Bill C-55. However, we would have liked to see this preliminary check included in Bill C-17. However, there is nothing of the sort. Several motions to that effect were moved, but unfortunately they were all rejected.

The third aspect of the bill I would like to talk about, after the controlled access military zone and after the interim order, is the issue of information exchange.

I know I do not have much time left, but it is important to recall that what the Bloc Quebecois was calling for was that the right to privacy be protected. Incidentally, on November 1, 2002, the Privacy Commissioner gave his interpretation of the bill, with respect to this issue of information sharing. On November 1, 2002, he said:

—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.

He also said:

The implications of this are extraordinarily far-reaching.

There are two aspects to this exchange of information. The first is that even if we are quite satisfied with the fact that the RCMP will no longer be responsible for the collection of data, we are still concerned about the powers the RCMP to pass on information to peace officers, among others.

We must not forget that in a democracy, the right to privacy is a fundamental right. In Canada, it is established that people are not required to identify themselves to the police except if they are arrested or doing something that requires a permit, such as driving a motor vehicle.

I will conclude by saying that, with regard to the three iaspects of Bill C-42, Bill C-55 and Bill C-17, which is before the House today, the Bloc won its case on the issue of controlled access military zones.

On the issue of interim orders, we would have preferred a shorter time lapse between the tabling of these interim orders in the House and their coming into force. We would have preferred that it be shortened from 15 to 5 days. Moreover, we would have preferred that a preliminary check be made under the enabling legislation, and also the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, concerning the exchange of information, we would have preferred that the RCMP not have the power to pass on certin information on people.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 12:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17 today.

As we can see and as listeners will be able to see at report stage, this bill is similar to previous bills, namely Bill C-55 and Bill C-42.

At second reading of this bill, the Bloc Quebecois voted against it. Despite the outstanding work my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel did during of this bill, by pointing out and tackling serious problems, the government has refused to listen and to accept any amendment. Yet amendments could have been a step in the right direction, for the government, but as usual, it ignored the opposition.

I think the government is still doing what it has done since it was elected several years ago. Everything that comes from its side is perfect, while it does not want to listen to anything that opposition parties want to suggest to enhance, clarify and improve their bills in committee. The eight government members always adopt a common stand against the opposition members. Often, despite the fact that several government members do not even know what they will be voting on, they always agree with the government's amendments and are automatically against opposition parties' amendments, even though these amendments would improve the bills.

Let us not forget that, when this government introduces a bill, opposition members do their homework. We consult people and ask them what they think and what they would like to have improved in the bill. We connect with the reality in our communities. But we see that, while we are doing our homework, this government takes the bills that its bureaucrats provide it and endorses them unquestioningly.

This has happened once again with Bill C-17. Moreover, despite all the amendments and motions brought forward by the opposition, this bill goes against the privacy commissioner's proposals. There is a part of this bill that deals with everything that affects privacy.

During the study of the second version of this bill, Bill C-55, the privacy commissioner said that he had major objections. When that bill was withdrawn, we thought that, when it was reintroduced as Bill C-17, the government would take the privacy commissioner's objections into consideration. But the opposition is unable to change the government's position. Even the privacy commissioner, who was appointed to protect Canadians' privacy, is unable to do so.

I would like those listening to know how important it is that this government listen to the Privacy Commissioner. He believes that 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, and this worries him enormously.

Why is he worried? He is worried 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.

Although we in the Bloc Quebecois wish Quebec to become a sovereign nation, at present we are still part of Canada. 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—and invasive it is—of effectively requiring compulsory self-identification to the police.

Finally, there is a very serious problem with Bill C-17. We share the opinion of the privacy commissioner, who says that the proposed amendments are an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. It is serious when a privacy commissioner tells the government that, in Bill C-17, clause 4.82 is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. The government has turned a deaf ear, and I am dumbfounded. The amendments proposed under this new bill present no new solutions to the fundamental issues regarding the principle.

The government is now proposing regulations limiting the Criminal Code offence warrants under which the RCMP will be conducting searches. However, it does nothing to address the fundamental 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.

The privacy commissioner is so discouraged that he is appealing to parliamentarians, because this is insulting to Parliament; he says that 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.

I think that the privacy commissioner's statements reflect the values that the Bloc Quebecois is defending. We agree with his words and utter them in turn, because people's privacy is at stake.

That is why the Bloc Quebecois is asking that the government's proposed amendments on the powers of the RCMP and CSIS to collect information cease to exist, and that this bill be taken back to the drawing board to ensure that privacy is respected.

For now, Canada is not a totalitarian state. We enjoy freedom of expression in this country, where privacy is one of the most important things we have.

I join my hon. colleague for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel in telling the government that the Bloc Quebecois will be voting against this bill. Furthermore, I will go further than my colleague and ask the government to withdraw Bill C-17.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 10:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again we are debating Bill C-17, the half-brother of the short-lived twins, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

Since September 11, 2001, many say that nothing is the same, that the world is changing, as evidenced by the recent events in Iraq. Obviously, although the world often changes for the better, we must recognize that, in this case, it is changing for the worse.

Everybody agrees that logic is essential to the drafting of any bill, and the government must listen to that logic. However, it seems that the government is hard of hearing, and I am very sorry about that.

We are certainly happy that controlled access military zones have been removed from the bill before us, but does this mean that we should stop being vigilant? Absolutely not. We must see that the decisions being made today respect the balance between the three branches in our society, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. In its current form, Bill C-17 poses a threat to the balance between the executive and the legislative branches, since it includes specific provisions allowing ministers and officials to make interim orders.

Interim orders are exempt from the application of section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act. An order is considered to be a statutory instrument; therefore, it should undergo a preliminary check by the Clerk of the Privy Council. His role is precisely to ensure that the proposed regulation does not, and I quote:

—trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and is not, in any case, inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

So we should ask ourselves the following question: if the purpose is not to trespass unduly on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why are we exempting the interim orders from the proper examination that would prove they are in compliance with the charter? By chance, would the government have the secret intention of transgressing the most basic rules of our free and democratic society by infringing on the fundamental rights of those individuals who form that society?

We do not question the importance of preventing all possible terrorist acts, and we do not question the necessity of equipping ourselves with all the tools we need to expose those who would threaten the security of citizens.

But there is one inescapable fact and that is that in order to fight against terrorism, we must fight against its main cause, and that is the extreme poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

If we all agree that it is important to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism, we also agree that we must fight against those who would come to our borders with the intent of committing terrorist acts. Once again, however, this cannot be done at any cost.

One price we must refuse to pay is waiving the right to privacy. In the past, we made choices. We made the choice to live in a constitutional state instead of a police state. We must be careful not to open the door to this style of governance where police are everywhere, always checking what everyone is doing.

Would any of us blindly agree to have personal information relating to us processed and used for purposes other than those related to the fight against terrorism? Should the simple fact of taking a plane warrant the RCMP and CSIS having a record on a person? No. That has been made abundantly clear in the debates on Bill C-55.

It is interesting to know what the Privacy Commissioner thinks of Bill C-17. First, it would appear that his concerns about the defunct Bill C-55 were and are still being completely ignored. The ministers and top government officials have failed, so far, to provide him with an appropriate response. I believe he is still waiting. This is why he is now calling on Parliament to ensure his concerns finally receive the attention they deserve.

I shall quote his words:

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.

What we must guard against is the risk of creating a precedent that would eventually open the door to increased police control over various areas of our daily lives. For example, if we allowed special powers intended primarily to protect national security and to counter terrorism to be made available to the RCMP with respect to air passengers, who is to say that this special situation will not be extended to rail, bus or metro passengers?

If, for example, a suicide bomber were to blow himself up on a crowded train, would we go so far as to flag train travellers and use this same opportunity to look for people with outstanding warrants? There is always a tendency to be overzealous. There is always a point of no return when it comes to overzealousness, a point beyond which we must not go for fear of destroying the fragile balance required to maintain a free and democratic society.

The commissioner also raises another point that we must not lose sight of. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. With Bill C-17, that right to anonymity will be set aside the moment we are unwise enough to set foot aboard a plane. If it were set out in the act that personal information can be used only in the case of persons representing a true threat to national security, we could feel a bit reassured, but that is not the case. Obviously, the right to privacy will be meaningless as soon as Bill C-17 comes into force, if the government maintains its position. We have confidence, Mr. Speaker, that you will not have to reserve passage on a ship in order to visit your girlfriend overseas. It is likely that your name would end up on a file somewhere.

The members of the Bloc Quebecois are here to serve the interests of the public, and so they will fight energetically to see that the right to privacy is respected. We share the Privacy Commissioner's view that there are some major changes needed in Bill C-17. What we have before us today could not be called major changes.

Privacy is one of our basic rights. We are entitled to expect information on us to be used sparingly, at the very least. For the government to confer upon itself the right to collect information on air travellers is one thing, but the right to exchange and distribute that information is quite another.

In fact, Bill C-17 gives the minister the right to disclose the information to the whole world. Not only that, but it allows the minister to disclose and release the information but does not provide a detailed framework for such activities. That is what I call increasing ministerial authority without proper monitoring.

As we have said before, maintaining a balance is crucial to a healthy society and the risks of a faux pas are too high.

With the new powers that the bill would give the minister, he could be authorized to disclose to U.S. authorities information on applications for refugee status made in Canada. Do we have the right to authorize the release of personal information like this? One thing is clear, as soon as information is shared with another party, we lose control of it.

It is naive, idealistic and even rash to believe that we could control a situation when we have not established sufficient limits.

In conclusion, the government cannot always defend the indefensible. The same goes for the protection of privacy.

Let me quote a short sentence from Khalil Gibran, and I dedicate it particularly to my colleagues in the government. This is my gift for today. He said, and I quote:

Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigor than we do our rights.

This sentence is food for thought. I hope that it will lead to conclusions that are worthy of the Canadian society, which is, as everyone knows, the best in the world.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 10:15 a.m.
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Mississauga West Ontario

Liberal

Steve Mahoney LiberalSecretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations)

Mr. Speaker, before I was given the opportunity to work on my current responsibilities for crown corporations, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport and assigned the task of trying to shepherd this bill through committee. I have been away from it for a little while, but I am pleased to have an opportunity to comment on some of the issues that people are concerned about.

Members opposite, particularly the Canadian Alliance, tend to want to hold up the United States as the way to do things. The previous speaker said that President Bush did this and he did that following September 11. One of the things that is interesting about the U.S. system is that when a crisis occurs, the American people, the congress, the senate, and everybody in Washington tends to get behind the president regardless of his political stripe. They tend to rally around the flag.

One of the differences in our situation, for better or for worse, is that no such thing ever happens. In fact, I find that the opposition use every opportunity it can to somehow blame the government for everything from the weather to whatever we can imagine. It is an interesting approach. We give the member what he wants.

He said at the beginning of his remarks that he was pleased that the government had eliminated certain issues. Some witnesses who appeared before the committee, and I was there for many meetings until this recent appointment, expressed their strong concerns about the effect of the inclusion of inexplosive ammunition components in part 7 of the bill. This is an issue that this member, in his zest to fight anything to do with ammunition or gun control, was very adamant about.

It was not the government's intention to burden lawful shooting activities within part 7, and the witnesses from Natural Resources Canada indicated that in their testimony before the committee. The government listened closely to the concerns that were expressed by the stakeholders and decided to introduce motions to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from Bill C-17.

It is like people here cannot take yes for an answer. We listened, we heard, and we removed the references. While the member did say at the beginning of his remarks that he appreciated it, he then went on with other areas that I would suggest are not related to this.

How did the government react? Let me tell members that the current Minister of Transport, who was the minister on September 11, reacted by immediately closing down the skies. There were 5,000 aircraft flying around the skies over North America. Members should remember what happened in Gander. We should give credit to the people of Gander, and rightly so, for opening their hearts and their homes, their churches and their community halls to help these stranded people. However, do we think that all those planes were diverted to Gander miraculously and landed without incident?

We all saw the pictures in the news of the planes on the tarmac, lined up one after another. When they finally had to leave, just the management of the air traffic control aspect of that was incredible. Is there any thought how some 5,000 aircraft, which were diverted and many of which landed in various airports in Canada, including Gander, were managed? Did the pilots just talk it over among themselves and say, “let us go to Gander, I think it is safe there”?

Let us be fair and give credit where credit is due. The government gave the direction. It is not up to the government to actually physically do it. We have professionals in place in NAV Canada and Transport Canada. But it is up to the government, in this case the Minister of Transport, to set the tone, to give the direction, and to give the order.

I recall that this minister was on a cell phone in a car, driving from Montreal back to Ottawa, when this crisis occurred. Within minutes he took action that I would say could have saved lives; we will never know. But the fact that it was handled so professionally and so smoothly, members should at least be fair and say that it was an issue that happened on the watch of the government.

We do not need to stand and crow that we did it all because that is not true. We relied on the professionals in our employ and on the people of Canada to respond in such a positive way. But what do we hear? We hear members in the House saying we need to change the government because it did not act quickly enough. It is just such nonsense.

There may be reasons that members opposite think we need to change the government. There may be reasons why Canadians think we need to change the government. Who knows? They might change the government. That is why we have such a great democratic country because that option is there. However that is the wrong issue. We should be getting behind the government on this critical bill.

There was much debate in committee about whether or not we were going too far. Concerns were expressed by the Privacy Commissioner. The bar associations that were before us were saying that if we found information on a person travelling from Vancouver to Toronto and the indication was that person was a terrorist, their position was that we should not be able to go further in terms of reviewing the passenger list. However, if we did that and discovered that there was someone else onboard that aircraft who had an outstanding warrant for a crime that had been specified in this bill, a crime that would result in a sentence in excess of five years--and in this country that is a crime such as murder, kidnapping and that kind of thing, the most serious of crimes that one can imagine--we would not have the right to arrest that person when he or she got off the aircraft according to the bar associations.

I remember asking the lawyers who were there representing the bar associations to help me understand this. They were suggesting that I tell my constituents that even though, as a result of our work against terrorism and as a result of our work in following up on information provided by CSIS and the RCMP, we discovered a third party on an aircraft with an outstanding warrant for having murdered someone that we had to let them walk off the plane. Their answer was, yes, that is what they were saying, in the aid of privacy rights.

I believe the official opposition was onside with our position in that particular area. But we have members standing in the House objecting to criminals being given the right to vote and all of these issues. Yet, we are supposed to allow people to walk free when we have an outstanding warrant for their arrest for murder or for kidnapping or for some other vile crime. It just makes no sense at all.

This bill has taken time. Let us review the process. The government responded very quickly after we took the initial action on this bill. The initial action was to provide safe haven for tens of thousands of people. We did that, we did it well, and our officials acted responsibly. Our next step was to bring in a bill that would deal with some of the concerns around Bill C-17. Bill C-42 was introduced and there was a big furor over the bill. A lot of concern was expressed about that bill.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to address this bill. Before I get into the main part of my speech I want to congratulate the government and the special legislative committee on Bill C-17 for passing 25 amendments that deleted the expression “inexplosive ammunition component” from part 7 of Bill C-17. We worked very hard in trying to get rid of these particular parts of the bill. It was just absurd that they were being put into legislation. It would have created another mess, probably similar to the firearms fiasco.

In particular I would like to thank the office of the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for working with my office to identify, draft and submit the amendments for consideration by the committee. I must also recognize the member for Churchill, as her office also submitted identical amendments.

The committee owes a debt of gratitude to James M. Hinter, national president, and David A. Tomlinson, legal chairman, of the National Firearms Association, as well as Tony Bernardo, the executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, for appearing before us and encouraging us to stop short of “criminalizing brass and lead”, in Mr. Hinter's words, and, in the words of Tony Bernardo, “regulating little bits of margarine containers, little pieces of cotton fabric and fishing sinkers”.

The committee must also thank those members of Canada's film and television community who wrote to committee members to inform us of the negative impact, especially on the production of action movies, of including the term “inexplosive ammunition component” in part 7 of Bill C-17.

The words “inexplosive ammunition component” first appeared in part V of Bill C-42. That was the first predecessor of Bill C-17 which we are debating today. They appeared on November 22, 2001. That bill was so flawed that the government withdrew it four months later, but in the interim, a Library of Parliament research paper prepared on January 18, 2002, by Gérald Lafrenière, pointed out the potential problems of regulating inexplosive ammunition components. Naturally, when the Liberals brought back Bill C-42 as Bill C-55 on April 29, 2002, I hoped that they had read the Library of Parliament report. They had not and on May 9, 2002, exactly a year ago today, I told the House the following:

The trouble with the [inexplosive ammunition component] sections is that they will most likely hit the wrong target by potentially criminalizing tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens who load their own ammunition for legal pastimes and sports.

Consequently, law-abiding citizens who manufacture their own ammunition would end up being charged with the new offences proposed in the amendments, offences that call for fines up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years in jail.

Offences that are targeting law-abiding Canadians in this act include: acquiring, possessing, selling, offering for sale, transporting or delivering any illicit inexplosive ammunition component and making or manufacturing any explosive from an illicitly trafficked inexplosive ammunition component. The government has not told us how it thinks anyone can make an explosive from an inexplosive ammunition component. The definition in the act states “inexplosive ammunition component” means any cartridge case or bullet, or any projectile that is used in a firearm as defined in section 2 of the criminal code.

Even the government's own definition clearly demonstrates that no one could possibly make an explosive out of inexplosive ammunition components. I would like to propose at the appropriate time that an amendment be made to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from the proposed amendments to the explosives act.

That was exactly a year ago today.

Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, and was brought back in slightly modified form as Bill C-17 on October 21. Again the Liberals missed the opportunity to delete the term “inexplosive ammunition component” from the bill. On Monday, November 18, 2002, I spoke on Bill C-17 at second reading and once again called for removal of all references to “inexplosive ammunition components” from the bill.

I am glad to note that some of the members of other parties were listening. I believe that the hard work of members of the firearms community, the film and television community and various members of the committee, including the members for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam and Churchill, as well as some of the Liberal members, helped to convince a majority of Liberal members of the committee that this particular change was essential to making Bill C-17 more acceptable to Canadians, and I thank them.

It is quite clear that the committee state version of Bill C-17 is a definite improvement over Bill C-42 as first presented 17 months ago, but more changes, particularly in the area of increased parliamentary scrutiny, are required.

If Canadians were prepared to sacrifice their liberties for the promise of increased security in the aftermath of September 11, that feeling has faded in the intervening year and a half. For this reason, the government would be wise to carefully consider increased parliamentary scrutiny on the same level as the Emergencies Act if it wants opposition parties to support Bill C-17.

The report stage of 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, will be the subject of the rest of my speech.

I would like to divide my remarks in the remaining time I have into three general categories: general comments on the bill, continuing concerns about the bill's broad use of interim orders, and our reaction to what the committee did. I have already done the third part.

I would like to trace a little of the history of the bill because those watching and reading the Hansard record will of course probably forget how this all began. There are many parts of it that go to trying to make Canadians feel safe in a post-September 11 world, but that is part of the bill's problem. It was first drafted in reaction to the terrible terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

As I end my remarks today, I would like to make this point. If the true measure of a man is what he does rather than what he says, then the measure of a country must be in part its reaction to times of trial and stress. In the United States 10 days after the September 11 attack, Senator Fritz Hollings was on his feet to introduce America's reaction, S.1447, “a bill to improve aviation security, and for other purposes”. With lightning speed, and despite an anthrax scare on Capitol Hill, both the House of Representatives and the Senate quickly passed the legislation and President Bush signed it on November 19, 2001. That is right: from the time the first airplane hit the first tower to the moment President Bush signed his approval of the new bill, barely 10 weeks passed.

During the same 10 weeks this Liberal government slept. In fact it was a full three days after President Bush signed the U.S. law that this Liberal government tabled the first version of the public safety act, then called Bill C-42, on November 22. That bill lived for five months, never went to any committee and was withdrawn on April 24, 2002.

Five days later, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-42's replacement, Bill C-55. It was so complex that a special committee was struck on May 9 solely for the purpose of studying it, but that committee never met. Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, when Parliament prorogued.

I think we can get the drift. Inaction is what marked this government. In fact, the current legislation, Bill C-17, was not tabled in the House until October 31, 2002, fully 13 months after the September 11 attack and nearly 11 months after President Bush signed America's aviation and transportation security act into legislation as public law 107-71.

It is now May 9, 2003, and this bill is just coming back to us from a special legislative committee. There will be debate and hopefully further amendments, and then votes. Then the bill will presumably be referred to the Senate for deliberation. It is unlikely that Bill C-17 will be ready to receive royal assent before October.

September 11 happened and the U.S. had a law signed by the President and in place on November 18, roughly two months later. Canada will not have its law in place until nearly two years have passed. That is simply unacceptable. If it takes a Liberal dominated Parliament two years to react to a major crisis, that is a strong argument for a change in government.

I want to conclude by making people aware that the government should be judged by what it does, not by what it says, and that this bill is a clear indication of the inaction of the government in the face of a crisis.

TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

November 27th, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, given the importance of this issue, it is disappointing to see the shortness of the statement of the Solicitor General on terrorists, terrorism and innocent civilian victims.

The opportunity given to ministers to make statements in the House is usually a solemn occasion marking a major change in government policy. However, the Solicitor General's statement, far from meeting these criteria, shows the government's flippancy when it comes to fulfilling its responsibilities in the fight against terrorism.

This is not serious. In the fall of 2001, Bill C-36 was rammed through Parliament as if terrorism were a new reality. Then, it took the government almost a whole year to realize that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas are terrorist entities. Yet, for years now, they have been claiming responsibility for suicide attacks. Normally, it should not have taken close to a year to add these organizations to the list.

The addition at this point of these six entities to the very short list of organizations having direct or indirect ties with terrorist activities in Canada or abroad is stunning.

It seems to us that merely mentioning the name Hamas should be enough to trigger thoughts of terrorist activities in the Middle East and all over the world. The same is true of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It would have been interesting to know why the government suddenly woke up today. This would have given some substance to the minister's statement.

Since the government singled out these organizations and put them on its list of terrorist entities, I am surprised that Hezbollah is not mentioned anywhere. We are fully aware that, as charities go, this entity is nothing like the Knights of Columbus.

Generally speaking, we feel that the government, particularly with Bill C-17, formerly known as Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, has not managed to strike a balance between public safety and individual rights and freedoms. The comments made by the Privacy Commissioner are evidence of that.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is pleased that these entities were added to the government's list, but it is disappointed to see the Solicitor General using a piecemeal approach on such an important issue. We would to know when the list will be made longer, to paraphrase the Solicitor General, and we would like to know why it is currently not as complete as it should be.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the NDP caucus I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-17.

We note that Bill C-17 represents just the latest incarnation in a series of bills that have been introduced to try and address the aftermath of 9/11. It is a top of mind issue for every Canadian and for every global citizen as we take necessary steps to add to the security of ordinary Canadians and the sense of security that they should enjoy in a great country like Canada.

Bill C-17, building off of Bill C-42, building off of Bill C-55, building off of Bill C-36 attempts once again to find a reasonable balance between the needed measures that must be taken to give Canadians confidence and those precious personal rights and freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians. We believe that we are still struggling to find that balance and we are not satisfied that we are there yet today. We are still very concerned that Bill C-17 may fall under the quote that was referenced earlier, that those who would trade personal and individual rights and freedoms in exchange for short term and temporary security really deserve neither.

If we are willing to compromise the very personal freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians for an unproven commodity, we are really being asked to buy a pig in a poke because we are not even sure that the measures that are recommended under Bill C-17 in many ways will be satisfactory or will in fact improve the level of comfort that Canadians enjoy while being secure within our own boundaries. We are not sure that balance has been reached.

Bill C-17 will be an omnibus bill once again and will seek to address the issue of the safety of Canadians in a variety of acts. An enormous number of acts are influenced by the bill, for example the Aeronautics Act, the National Defence Act, the interim order of powers, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Criminal Code, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. That will give an idea to those who might be listening at home how broad and sweeping Bill C-17 really is.

We have to question if the bill has really had enough scrutiny, attention and study. Even though we debated at length Bill C-36, Bill C-55 and then Bill C-42, the same issues that we on the opposition benches have raised over and over again either have not been taken seriously or someone has failed to understand the legitimate points that keep being raised over and over by the people on this side at least.

There are people who have gone the whole broad spectrum of criticism, and there are some who fear that we are starting up that slippery slope to a police state. I do not believe that personally. I think that is badly overstating the issue. We do have to caution when we make fundamental changes to the way we have always done things and the way things have always been treated that there are those who in their zeal or just in their willingness to do their jobs well may take advantage of these measures in areas where they were never meant to be used.

I think of the simple right to protest. I come from the labour movement where it is not uncommon for my colleagues and I to find ourselves in a confrontational situation as we take our arguments to some sort of act of civil disobedience, if one will. Now, especially in what are called new military zones, that type of protest could be seriously limited. The new authorities under Bill C-17 could be exercised to stifle that sort of legitimate protest. I raise that as a point that concerns the trade unionists very much, as did Bill C-55, Bill C-42 and all the other bills leading up to this. That is only one point.

I will speak for a moment to an issue raised by one of the members of the Canadian Alliance. The Alliance believes the police or customs authorities should not have additional powers when it comes to seizing the components of explosives. I disagree 100%. I believe our customs and revenue agents should have the right to seize the makings of explosives, just as much as they have the right to seize a bomb.

As a former blaster in underground and open pit mines, I know that fairly innocuous elements can become very dangerous when put together for the purposes of making a bomb. In the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which everyone remembers very well, the actual bomb that went off was made with ordinary Prell fertilizer. Anyone with a farming background will recognize that as a fertilizer farmers use every day. Diammonium phosphate mixed with ordinary diesel fuel blew up the Oklahoma federal building. Perhaps I should not use the brand name Prell but that is the common pellet form of that fertilizer.

Frankly, if I saw a customs officer seizing a shipment of Prell fertilizer, the purposes of which could not be clearly explained, I think those revenue agents would be doing us all a service to at least use added scrutiny when they see that type of material crossing our border. That is one element of Bill C-17 with which I have no objection at all. In fact, I applaud the initiative.

We believe that the broadening of the new military zones goes far beyond what is necessary. We note that the new military zones designated by order in council would include the Esquimalt military base and the area surrounding it, areas around Halifax, et cetera. We recognize that our military bases need to have additional scrutiny because if we are to be targeted in any way, our military zones would have to be viewed. We also think this could cross a line between what is needed and what may be used in another way.

I have seen anti-nuclear protestors outside the Nanoose Bay installations, for instance, on Vancouver Island. They were peaceful protestors who simply disagreed with allowing American nuclear submarines into Canadian waters. Under the new rules, those peaceful protestors could be hauled away, held without charge and have their personal freedom to protest violated under the bill.

The NDP has spoken out loudly against these additional measures, not all the measures but those we deem to be unnecessary and even questionable and of questionable benefit. No one has really been able to demonstrate to us why all these measures are absolutely necessary.

It was perfectly understandable after 9/11 that the government used a fairly scattergun approach. North America and our American colleagues were under attack. For all we know that same level of alert should still be in place today. However we are using a completely scattergun approach and, in our effort to cover the bases necessary, we believe we are going too far in covering things that may not have been necessary and may have been frivolous. A more cynical person would say that we are trying to achieve measures that could not be achieved through the normal course of legislation by giving additional powers to police and to officers, which the country would normally balk at.

The new tax on air transportation is one example where we believe the government took advantage of a desperate situation to initiate a tax grab that never would have been tolerated under normal circumstances. Under the guise of this renewed need to resecure our borders, we believe it snuck this new cash cow under the wire.

Let me just state for the record that the NDP caucus still opposes Bill C-17. We have serious reservations. We question the motivation of the introduction of many of these clauses. We look forward to having the opportunity to address them further.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 1:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, it is appropriate to begin by reminding the House what led to today's debate on Bill C-17. This bill has been before us for a long time. It previously had different titles. It was originally known as Bill C-55, before becoming Bill C-42. It is now before us as Bill C-17. This legislation was changed and improved somewhat to meet the major concerns of the public, the main stakeholders and the opposition in recent years.

The bill was significantly amended as regards designated military zones. We can say—as my colleagues have done, and it is only normal to do so without being too boastful—that it is a victory for the opposition, a victory for individual rights over security. In this regard, the fact that this legislation has been tightened up the way it has is a victory for democracy and for the public.

During the week of recess, we went back to our respective ridings. People often ask us “What exactly is the role of the opposition?” Bill C-17 provides a good example of the role of the opposition. I do not agree with the former Minister of Finance who said that the opposition does not make solid suggestions to the House. An example of a solid suggestion that we made to the government is when we said “Listen, you are probably going a little too far with these designated military zones”. We called the government to order.

This bill, like the young offenders legislation and other bills that I could mention, provides an example of the role of an informed opposition. It provides an example of how it helps correct proposed measures. At no time have Bloc Quebecois members, and members of the other opposition parties, said “We are opposed to the bill, whether it is Bill C-55 or Bill C-42”. However, we said “Even though we agree with the idea of providing greater security for the general public, individual and civil rights must not be violated for the benefit of collective security. Let us be cautious in this regard”. We said it time and again.

People ask “What point is there to a debate, if there is no vote immediately afterward? Are these just empty debates?” We have, however, been heeded by someone somewhere. Between the two sessions there have been some positive changes made which enable us to say that this bill is an improvement. We are therefore encouraged to continue to make improvements. We are all in agreement with the principle of ensuring people's safety. As I have said, however, their rights must not be sacrificed in the process.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore very pleased with the amendment relating to military security zones, namely that they have been done away with. On the other hand, we are still wary. We are saying to the government and the stakeholders “Heed us as you did for the military security zones. We feel some improvements still need to be made if this bill is to be the object of consensus. Consensus is the goal of everyone in this House”.

There are still problems, however, one of them concerning interim orders. Here again we have evidence of how the opposition can bring about constructive improvements to a bill, if only through what is said here in the House. Let us compare the three bills we have had presented to us concerning these interim measures: Bills C-42, C-55 and C-17. Initially, we were vehemently opposed to C-42 and C-55 as far as military zones and interim orders were concerned.

What did Bill C-42 have to say about these interim orders? The interim order was made by a minister, or in certain cases by departmental officials. It ceased to be in effect after 90 days, unless ratified by the governor in council. In other words, these were 90-day interim orders.

We said “This is terrible; it is wrong; it is dangerous. It goes beyond common senses to give so much power with respect to interim orders”. If memory serves, the government members' reaction at that time was to label us irresponsible, to tell us “These responsibilities are justified. We are entitled to have 90-day interim orders”. They listened to us, nevertheless.

When Bill C-55 was introduced, the period was reduced from 90 to 45 days, “unless it is approved by the Governor in Council”. At least, the government listened to us and reduced the period to 45 days. Still, the timeframe was felt to be unreasonable and, as a result, in Bill C-17, it was further reduced to 14 days. It went all the way from 90 days to 14 days.

To those who ask what good the opposition and its speeches are, I say that we have the ability to influence the government and bring it to make changes when it goes too far—in negotiating, one often asks for more just to get what is reasonable—and 14 days is probably more reasonable.

With regard to the introduction in Parliament of a bill like this one and the important role played by parliamentarians, members should know that there were no provisions for the tabling of interim orders in Parliament. At no time could the people's representatives have voted on or examined the orders, had Bill C-42 been passed.

In Bill C-55, the provision read “within 15 days after it has been made”. Under Bill C-55, the timeframe was 15 days from the time an interim order was tabled, and this timeframe has been maintained.

Naturally, we see that substantial improvements have been made from the initial version of the bill. However, the main problem, the lack of a preliminary review period to ensure compliance with the charter and enabling legislation, remains.

While welcoming improvements with respect to the powers of the various ministers and officials in connection with interim orders, there is a more serious problem with the new legislation before us—we are not alone to say so—and it concerns the exchange of information.

In this respect, if time permits, I would like to read two excerpts from the release by the privacy commissioner:

This same provision has now been reintroduced, with only minimal and unsatisfactory change, in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

He is talking about the exchange of information. And he adds:

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.

I would like to point out to the President of the Treasury Board that the Privacy Commissioner does not respect the Official Languages Act, as far as I am concerned, or at least the spirit of the act, because he seems to have problems with our language, unlike the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Auditor General, both of whom respect the act and the spirit of the act. However, I am sure that the President of the Treasury Board was aware of this. Just a quick aside.

The Privacy Commissioner found other problems and when Bill C-42 was introduced, he was quick to voice his concerns about the broad powers that were being given to CSIS and the RCMP to obtain information on matters unrelated to security, terrorism or the protection of citizens. With these new powers, they would be able to arrest other criminals here and there, based on information they received. There was a great deal of talk about this, and “Big Brother” was what we saw.

To conclude, this bill is very interesting. It proves that it is possible to improve upon a bill. It also proves that the opposition, when confronted with a bill as important to public safety as this one is, can make real and specific proposals to improve it, calling on the government and stakeholders, so that everyone can support it.

However, at this time, we in the Bloc Quebecois still cannot support this bill because of the interim orders but, more importantly, because of the sharing of information, which, as the Privacy Commissioner has said, goes beyond the powers of this government.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for informing me, in your great wisdom, of the speaking time I have left. Naturally, I will endeavour to use this time appropriately. When I spoke on Bill C-17, I pointed out that this was an improved version of the bill put before us last spring, the public safety bill, Bill C-55.

At the time that bill was introduced, I rose to express great concern about, among other things, controlled access military zones, now referred to as military security zones, as defined in Bill C-42.

This was a very important point. I should remind hon. members that the concept of controlled access military zones, at the time, made it possible for the government to establish protected military zones, which could cover any area where there are military facilities. This could lead to abuse. At the time, I gave the very specific example of Quebec City as a potential controlled access military zone. It would have been very difficult to do anything in Quebec City if there had been problems of terrorism.

The other point I raised at the time concerned the interim orders. The new bill before us today also contains provisions on interim orders. We were primarily concerned about the deadlines for these orders and the way they could be made, the fact that the decision to make interim orders could be made by an individual, either the minister or an official.

A problem remains concerning interim orders, and I will come back to that. I am talking about the lack of preliminary compliance audits. I will address this issue later, to explain why we oppose the new version of the bill, Bill C-17, before us today and dealing with interim orders.

We also strongly emphasized another point: the exchange of information. In this respect, the amendments proposed to the previous bill fall far short of what is needed. A great deal of information can still be exchanged and, as far as I am concerned, too much control and power is given to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. I will come back to that also. The privacy commissioner commented on this last spring. He is saying pretty much the same thing now, stating that the provisions do not represent the proper balance between safety and security, and privacy.

So, I said in the first part of my remarks, that we would vote against the bill in its present form. We will do so for reasons that are essentially the same as those mentioned last spring, because, in our opinion, the changes made to the bill are clearly insufficient.

More specifically, on the subject of military security zones, a recent news release issued by the Department of Transport indicated the following:

The government concluded that it needed to take a more measured approach and re-engineer these provisions in a way that achieves a better balance between the public interest and the ongoing legitimate security needs of Canadian Forces and visiting forces in Canada. The government recognizes the need to deal with these security concerns as a matter of some urgency. As a result, it has decided to establish, through Order-in-Council, controlled access zones in Halifax, Esquimalt and Nanoose Bay harbours.

The same news release, which was issued when the bill was introduced, also said:

These controlled access zones will be much narrower in scope than the earlier provisions and will apply only to the three naval ports in question, although other such zones could be considered on a case-by-case basis, should the security situation dictate.

This last comment is a source of concern for us.

Of course, we are pleased that, in the new bill, the government did not include the military security zones that were being considered at the time. However, the fact is that these zones can still be established through orders in council.

This measure seems much more reasonable to us than the prior one. However, it still leaves room for abuse and this is one of the reasons we are not supporting this bill.

We must be sure, obviously, that when military zones are established, particularly in Quebec, they be established with the agreement of the Government of Quebec, particularly if the zone in question includes Quebec City, or other military bases located in Quebec.

As for the interim orders, the bill still contains provisions that would allow various ministers, and in at least one case, bureaucrats, to make interim orders and we have concerns regarding this. When it comes to interim orders, they really must be tabled in Parliament so that Parliament is informed of the situation, and aware of what is really happening.

The time period has been shortened, from 45 to 14 days before cabinet approves it, which is still far too long as far as we are concerned. What is more, the major problem regarding interim orders is, as I said earlier, that there is no prior assessment to ensure that they respect the charter and enabling legislation.

As for the sharing of information, as I said, this is a very, very important element, especially for us, because we are used to certain freedoms and we try, as much as possible, to avoid giving the police too many powers. In fact, Bill C-17 allows two different individuals, in addition to the Minister of Transport, or an official designated by the minister, to have direct access to information on passengers from airlines and airline reservation systems operators. These two individuals are the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This information may be requested in the case of an imminent threat to the safety of transportation. In the case of CSIS, this information may also be requested for investigations into threats to Canadian security. Bill C-55 also allowed for the disclosure of information about persons for whom a warrant has been issued.

Usually, the information collected by the RCMP and CSIS must be destroyed within seven days of being received or obtained, unless it is reasonably necessary for transportation safety, or to investigate a threat to Canada's security.

Once again, we are granting what I would call a discretionary power. We are giving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police the authority to retain this information and not destroy it if the commissioner determines that it could be useful.

Personally, I consider that to be a serious threat because we should require that this information, and all the other information, be destroyed within the prescribed time limits, unless, of course, special authorization is granted by the minister or the cabinet.

Last May, the Privacy Commissioner issued a letter in which he expressed his concerns about the provisions of Bill C-55 giving the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to personal information. He said he was troubled about the provisions, and I quote:

a) Empowering the RCMP to obtain and scan passenger lists in search of anyone subject to an outstanding warrant for any offence punishable by imprisonment of five years or more; and

b) Allowing CSIS and the RCMP to retain passenger information in search of suspicious travel patterns.

With respect to paragraph a), several provisions were problematic at the time and still are. Among others, there was the definition of the term warrant and those provisions allowing the RCMP to collect and communicate information about individuals subject to an outstanding warrant. The commissioner suggested that these provisions be withdrawn from the bill.

Basically, the RCMP would compile a file, share the information with other police services or other institutions in order to do checks. To what extent should these files be destroyed or eliminated? That question has been raised.

Currently, from the way we understand Bill C-17, the government has tried to tighten up these provisions, but in the end the door is still ajar and there is still a danger when it comes to files being compiled, information sharing and the disclosure of personal information regarding Canadians and Quebeckers who travel. I think that the door is open far too wide when it comes to the RCMP obtaining personal information.

Even though, under Bill C-17, the RCMP no longer has the power to collect information in order to find a person for whom a warrant has been issued, it still has the power to share information obtained under the provisions of Bill C-17 with a peace officer if it has reason to believe that it could be useful in executing a warrant. This is still what I would describe as a discretionary power, which in my opinion is a very problematic element when it comes to Bill C-17.

In fact, it is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police itself that decides when a situation is a threat to transportation security, which allows it to ask an airline for information concerning passengers. As soon as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has any doubt, it would be allowed, under Bill C-17, to ask the airline for information concerning passengers. This leaves room for abuse.

In the bill, there is no control mechanism concerning this provision. I believe that the government should have included restrictions throughout Bill C-17, that it should not have opened the door so wide with respect to this provision and allowed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to obtain information relating to all airline passengers.

This gives the Royal Canadian Mounted Police carte blanche as it were. Furthermore, once the information is obtained, nothing prevents the RCMP from keeping it, as long as the reasons for doing so are recorded. This means that a file would be created on people who travel within the country or elsewhere. A file would be created on all the people using air transportation and all the information concerning passengers could be obtained through the airlines, which appears extremely dangerous to us and also appears dangerous to the Privacy Commissioner, George Radwanski.

In concluding, I would like to reiterate that we will vote against Bill C-17, for the reasons that I just mentioned, among others.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

As my colleague from Sherbrooke says, there is either too much time or not enough time. In my opinion, there is surely not enough time. I would point out that we are talking about a bill that is an improved version of Bills C-55 and C-42, that is, Bill C-17.

When I spoke before on Bill C-55 as well as on Bill C-42, I asked myself a very basic question: Was Bill C-55 really necessary? Was it not in fact legislation introduced, let us say, at a very critical moment, in a wave of panic, after the events of September 11? And we all thought then, after seeing the legislation, that the government actually already had all the means it required to respond to what happened as a result of the events of September 11.

However, the debate continued. We made representations, particularly as regards controlled access military zones, about which we were very concerned. During oral question period and in our comments, we often mentioned, as an example, that overnight the federal government could unilaterally decree Quebec City a controlled access military zone, since there are military facilities within that city.

Fortunately, the government realized the excessive nature of Bill C-55. The issue of controlled access military zones is completely or almost completely solved, largely because of the work of opposition and Bloc Quebecois members. This proposal was removed from the legislation in the form that it had when Bill C-55 was introduced.

The other issue is that of interim orders. We also fought this proposal when it was made in Bill C-55 and, later on, in Bill C-42. Bill C-17 also includes provisions on interim orders, but the timeframes for their tabling in Parliament and approval by cabinet have been considerably reduced. However, these interim orders and timeframes remain. Our main problem is the lack of prior verification for compliance, as the hon. member for Laval Centre mentioned earlier. There is still no prior verification for compliance in the case of interim orders.

The third problem that we mentioned at the time was the exchange of information. Personally, I am very concerned that the government may again create a file that will include information on a large segment of the public, on travellers, on air passengers. This file will be created. The government says yes, but the information that will be included in this file will have to be destroyed within 48 hours by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. However, a small provision provides that, if necessary, the RCMP will be allowed to keep this information for a longer period.

I am quite concerned about this file that would be set up. We have seen cases in the past where files have been created. Orders were even given for those files to be destroyed. Just think about the Department of Human Resources Development, for example. Later on, we discovered that, unfortunately, the files had not been destroyed, that they still existed and that they contained a great deal of information about people.

At the time, a lot of the information was false. The data were completely wrong because the file had not been properly kept. Somehow, all the information got mixed up. So I am concerned about that. Unfortunately, this kind of file is still mentioned in the bill. The privacy commissioner also shares this concern.

Finally, I would say that, as citizens, we are the ones responsible for protecting our privacy. As citizens, it is our responsibility to tell the government that we will not accept any further interference in our private lives and that we do not want the government to create files. We will not allow the government to once again take our privacy and use it for its own purposes, whether the motive is security or something else.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Laval Centre. I know the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord joins me in expressing our congratulations to her on a well-researched speech full of literary allusions. We know how well read she is.

How does the hon. member explain the repeated refusal of the government to bow to the arguments of the Privacy Commissioner? How does she account for the fact that the proposed changes were much less widespread in the new Bill C-17 than in the bills that she called twins, that is, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55? What would she suggest to improve the bill so that it would be acceptable for all Quebeckers and all Canadians?

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have been debating this bill, the half-brother of the twins, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, for a few hours now.

A few years ago, a Quebec performer that you surely know, Richard Séguin, had his own version of this excellent Bob Dylan song called Times they are a changin' . Indeed, times are changing. And since September 11, 2001, many are saying that nothing is the same any more, that our world is changing. The case of Maher Arar, this Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who was deported from the U.S. to Syria without any justification, is proof that things are no longer the same since September 11.

We could also mention the fact that the people targeted by our American neighbours because of their country of origin can no longer travel without worry. There is no doubt that, while the world is changing, most of the time for the better, in this case it is for the worse.

Not long ago, we had the opportunity to speak to a certain bill on public safety. That was Bill C-42. The criticism was harsh, for a good reason. The government proposed a makeshift solution to a new problem in a changing context. Had it passed this Bill C-42, Parliament would have accepted that the most fundamental of civil rights and liberties be sacrificed on the altar of the constant fight, as we were told, against terrorism. But the cost was much too high and, in the end, reason prevailed and Bill C-42 was returned to where it came from, probably some computer's random access memory. We were naive enough to believe that the government had understood the essence of our criticism. But no.

Instead of showing some understanding of our views, the government used a ploy, but we did not fall for it. The new Bill C-55 was the twin brother of Bill C-42, even though it was born a few weeks later. Absolutely. For the second time, we would debate a bill on public safety. Unfortunately, the minister's imagination quickly revealed its limits. We were not fooled. This is why, for the second time, we opposed the idea of interfering with the rights and freedoms that form the basis of any democratic society that acts in accordance with its principles. Fortunately, when Parliament was prorogued, Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and today we are debating Bill C-17, the half-brother of the other two. How times change. This bill is the offspring of a blended family or, in this case, a family which, actually, is divided into two clans.

Before mentioning the common features of Bill C-42, Bill C-55 and their half-brother, Bill C-17, I want to congratulate all the hon. members who strongly condemned the infamous controlled access military zones included in the previous two bills. Thanks to the work of citizens, civil society groups and people who care about fundamental rights, we managed to convince the government to listen to reason. The government had no choice but to see the obvious. It could no longer defend the indefensible. Logic should also help the government party, if only on certain occasions. This is why we should acknowledge this gesture of openness in the face of criticism. This shows that there is a constructive opposition in this chamber, an opposition that listens to the people.

Should we stop being vigilant now that controlled access military zones are not included in the new Bill C-17? Absolutely not. We must see that the decisions being made today respect the balance between the three branches in our society, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

In its current form, Bill C-17 poses a threat to the balance between the executive and the legislative branches, since it includes specific provisions allowing ministers and officials to make interim orders.

While there are some differences in the monitoring of interim orders as compared with the provisions of the old Bill C-42, the absence of a preliminary check to ensure compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the enabling legislation poses a problem.

We can see clearly, when we read Bill C-17, that interim orders are exempt from the application of section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act. As you know, an order is considered to be a statutory instrument; therefore, it should undergo a preliminary check by the Clerk of the Privy Council. His role is precisely to ensure that the proposed regulations do not, and I quote:

--trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and is not, in any case, inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

So we should ask ourselves the following question: if the purpose is not to trespass unduly on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why are we exempting the interim orders from the proper examination that would prove they are in compliance with the charter? By chance, would the government have the secret intention of transgressing the most basic rules of our free and democratic society by infringing on the fundamental rights of those individuals who form that society?

We do not question the importance of preventing all possible terrorist acts, and we do not question the necessity of equipping ourselves all the tools we need to expose those who would threaten the security of the citizens.

We even tabled, in the fall of 2001, a motion requesting that the government implement all the necessary measures for us to reach our goal of giving 0.7% of our GDP for international aid. The reason was simple and still is: in order to fight against terrorism, we must fight against its main cause, and that is the extreme poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

If we all agree that it is important to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism, we also agree that we must fight against those who would come to our borders with the intent of committing terrorist acts. Once again, however, this cannot be done at any cost.

One price we must refuse to pay is waiving the right to privacy. In the past, we made choices. We made the choice to live in a constitutional state instead of a police state. We must be careful not to open the door to this style of governance where police are everywhere, always checking what everyone is doing. Would any of us blindly agree to have personal information relating to us processed and used for purposes other than those related to the fight against terrorism? Should the simple fact of taking a plane warrant the RCMP and CSIS having a record on a person? No. That has been made abundantly clear in the debates on Bill C-55, both by members of this House and by the privacy commissioner.

It is interesting to know what the privacy commission thinks of Bill C-17. First, it would appear that his concerns about the defunct Bill C-55 were ignored, the ministers and top government officials having failed, so far, to provide him with an appropriate response. This is why he is now calling on Parliament to ensure his concerns finally receive the attention they deserve.

What is so worrisome in terms of privacy in Bill C-17? About clause 4.82 of the bill, which does not place appropriate limits on the powers of the RCMP, the commissioner says, and I quote:

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.

What we must guard against is the risk of creating a precedent that would eventually open the door to increased police control over various areas of our daily lives. For example, if we allowed special powers intended primarily to protect national security and to counter terrorism to be made available to the RCMP with respect to air passengers, who is to say that this special situation will not be extended to rail, bus or metro passengers?

If, for example, a suicide bomber were to blow himself up on a crowded train, would we go so far as to flag train travellers and use this same opportunity to look for people with outstanding warrants? There is always a tendency to be overzealous. There is always a point of no return when it comes to overzealousness, a point beyond which we must not go for fear of destroying the fragile equilibrium required to maintain a free and democratic society.

The commissioner also raises another point that we must not lose sight of. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. With Bill C-17, that right to anonymity will be set aside the moment we are unwise enough to set foot aboard a plane. If it were set out in the act that personal information can be used only in the case of persons representing a true threat to national security, we could feel a bit reassured, but that is not the case. Obviously, the right to privacy will be meaningless as soon as Bill C-17 comes into force if the government maintains its position. We have confidence, Mr. Speaker, that you will not have to reserve passage on a ship in order to visit your girlfriend overseas.

The members of the Bloc Quebecois are here to serve the interests of the public, and so they will fight energetically to see that the right to privacy is respected. We share the privacy commissioner's view that there are some major changes needed in Bill C-17.

Privacy is one of our basic rights. We are entitled to expect information on us to be used sparingly, at the very least. For the government to confer upon itself the right to collect information on air travellers is one thing, but the right to exchange and distribute that information is quite another.

As hon. members may be aware, I have been on the citizenship and immigration committee for close to two years. The recent headlines leave no doubt as to the concerns raised by what our powerful neighbours to the south have been doing. If the government is trying to be subtle, as subtle as an elephant doing a polka on the clerk's table would be, that must not make us let down our guard in the least.

First, we have to realize that the public safety bill, just like several other bills, amends a number of pieces of legislation to keep them in sync with today's reality. Part 5 of Bill C-17 amends the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, as follows:

  1. (1) The Minister, with the approval of theGovernor in Council, may enter into agreementswith any province or group of provincesor with any foreign government orinternational organization, for the purpose offacilitating the formulation, coordination andimplementation—including the collection,use and disclosure of information—of policiesand programs for which the Minister isresponsible.

Similar provisions in part 5 allow the minister to enter into arrangements. But what change does this amendment make, besides the ability to make arrangements? It adds the words “including the collection, use and disclosure of information”.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act would be amended to specifically allow the minister to collect information, to use it without indicating for what purpose it is used, and to disclose it without indicating what information can be released and to whom it can be disclosed.

In fact, Bill C-17 would give the minister the right to disclose the information to the whole world. Not only that, but it would allow the minister to disclose and release the information but does not provide a detailed framework for such activities. That is what I call increasing ministerial authority without proper monitoring.

As we have said before, maintaining a balance is crucial to a healthy society and the risks of a faux pas are too high.

Let us use a concrete example. The current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is about to conclude an agreement with the United States on safe third countries. Even though this agreement worries us on several fronts, because NGO's oppose it strongly and the UNHCR is questioning the content of the agreement, the government seems determined to go ahead with it. The fact that this agreement will be implemented despite the concerns and protests from civil society is not very surprising. We can just imagine what the situation would be like if Bill C-17 were in force.

We already know that U.S. legislation on immigration and refugee protection is more restrictive than in Canada, to wit the recent revelations on how our neighbours to the south treat people born in certain countries.

With the new powers that the bill would give the minister, he could be authorized to disclose to U.S. authorities information on applications for refugee status made in Canada. Do we have the right to authorize the release of personal information like this? What will happen with the information collected by the minister? One thing is clear, as soon as information is shared with another party, we lose control of it.

In addition to not knowing how the minister might use the information, it is impossible to find out what might happen to it once it was disclosed to a third party. Imagine the results. There is no way of finding out how the information might be used, any more than it is possible to find out the facts. How, then, can we control the dissemination of this information? It is naive, idealistic and even rash to believe that we could control a situation when we have not established sufficient limits.

That is not the extent of it, either. People may think that is enough already. Well no, not quite. Part 11 of Bill C-17 contains a few surprises. It contains, once again, changes to immigration. Indeed, it involves an amendment that would allow for the information collected from airlines to be used to implement any accord or agreement between the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and another party. What exactly is going on in the government? Does it feel so generous that is has to share personal information with everyone? Is it planning to set up a one-stop shop to disclose all of the information on new immigrants? Just take a number.

This is not right. We must be consistent with our principles. If we say that we have decided to live under the rule of law, we cannot allow insidious attacks on democracy to weaken what is meant by privacy protection.

Here is one last element, as if that were not enough. A new clause has been added to specify that the provisions for the collection, retention, disposal and disclosure of information, as well as any disclosure of information for the purposes of national security, the defence of Canada or the conduct of international affairs will be provided for through regulations. That is just wonderful. By specifying that regulations concerning these various elements will have to be tabled before each house of Parliament, perhaps the government thought that we would be easily fooled. To pull this off, the government will need to do much better than that.

Let me remind this government that, under the Immigration Act, once proposed regulations are tabled before Parliament, they may be passed without subsequent changes being tabled once again in the House.

To give a good illustration of what this means, it is as though you and I reached a contract that would bind us indefinitely—how horrible—but only I would have the power to change it as I saw fit, without your approval. Would you sign such a contract? Certainly not, and nor would we.

The government cannot always defend the indefensible. The same goes for the protection of privacy. But I am reminded of something that the philosopher Khalil Gibran wrote in Sand and Foam , and I dedicate it particularly to my colleagues in the government. He said, and I quote:

Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigor than we do our rights.

I hope that this will be instructive for our colleagues. It is true that the times are changing. Let us only hope that the party in office will finally understand that it must adapt to change by offering us appropriate solutions instead of constantly offering us the same options, month after month, session after session.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech and also the member for Mercier for her excellent question.

However, I want to speak on behalf of ordinary citizens. As my hon. colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier just pointed out, we started with Bill C-55, which was introduced after September 11--and we know that everything changes when the House prorogues--then we got Bill C-42 and now we have Bill C-17 before the House.

When I read that the RCMP commissioner, among others, will be able to keep the information for seven days before having to destroy it, I realize, based on past experience, that the commissioner and other civil servants are being given discretionary powers. They can keep the information if they see fit to do so.

Based on what happened in the past, I have some serious concerns both as an ordinary citizen and as a Quebecker. My question will deal more with what Bill C-17 means for ordinary citizens.

For instance, in the area of law enforcement, what does it mean, for instance, to be on file? What does it mean to have some of our personal information entered in a new file? In the last few years, governments have used computerized systems to create a number of files. How safe are these systems? One has to wonder.

My question is quite simple. What does it mean for me, as an ordinary citizen, to have yet another piece of information about my private life entered in a computerized system like the one kept by the federal government?

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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”.