Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act

An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Steven Blaney  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to give greater protection to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s human sources. Also, so as to enable the Service to more effectively investigate threats to the security of Canada, the enactment clarifies the scope of the Service’s mandate and confirms the jurisdiction of the Federal Court to issue warrants that have effect outside Canada. In addition, it makes a consequential amendment to the Access to Information Act.

The enactment also amends the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to allow for the coming into force of provisions relating to the revocation of Canadian citizenship on a different day than the day on which certain other provisions of that Act come into force.

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.

Votes

Feb. 2, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Jan. 28, 2015 Passed That Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Jan. 28, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Nov. 18, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I disagree. There is oversight through the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Of course, CSIS is an important element in the security of Canada. Keeping us safe, looking forward, looking within the bounds of this nation and outside of it, and scanning for the threats that have very recently affected us all in Canada.

Our having civilian oversight to look into CSIS, monitor its activities, and make sure it complies with Canadian law is strong and robust, and will remain in place.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would disagree with the member's last statement that it is strong and robust, thereby implying that there is no room for improvement.

We need to recognize that there are foreign intelligence agencies. I am sure the member is familiar with the Five Eyes, which includes Australia, New Zealand, the U.S and the U.K., all partners of sorts with Canada dealing with intelligence. We will vote later on today to ensure that there is parliamentary oversight of the agencies.

Would the member not agree that if our partners in the Five Eyes recognize the value of parliamentary oversight, it would be a mistake for the House of Commons not to support private member's bill, Bill C-622, which the Liberal defence critic brought forward, as an opportunity to give strength to the oversight system that we have in Canada today?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my friend is right about one thing. There is room for improvement, and that is why we are having this debate. We are looking to improve the ability of our security agencies to protect us, to give them the necessary tools to robustly defend us, to look ahead, to ensure they detect the threats facing Canada and eliminate them before they come to our soil. After the events of the last few weeks, I have absolutely identified areas that we have to work on. That is why I gave my speech today and why others will also rise to speak to this.

In terms of the robustness of our ability to oversee and manage our security agencies, I agree that we have to work very closely with our allies, which we already do. CSIS and others extend outward. They work with our allies and others to share information and make sure that as an allied group we are protected and have mutual support in the defence of terrorism and criminality that threaten Canada.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to speak to Bill C-44, the protection of Canada from terrorists act.

The bill seeks to clarify elements of CSIS' mandate that address serious operational gaps at CSIS bases, including protecting the identities of CSIS's human sources and employees.

The bill would also confirm that CSIS can operate abroad to investigate the threats that have become all too common of late on the nightly news, threats such as the Islamic State, which has demonstrated particular brutality and is drawing individuals from all over the world to join its cause.

As we have now unfortunately seen over these past few weeks, events abroad can inspire radicalization at home with terrible consequences. The RCMP has been quite clear that both of the terrorists who committed these attacks against members of the Canadian Armed Forces had radical ideological motives inspired by extremist views.

The bill is important to ensuring CSIS remains able to investigate such threats to Canada's national security. Whether those threats be radicalized individuals at home, those seeking to travel abroad and cause harm to others, or Canadians abroad committing acts of terrorism, the Canadian public expects and rightly demands that CSIS have the legal authorities to take all necessary steps to investigate threats to the security of Canada and ensure our safety and security.

That said, Canadians also rightly expect that our security agencies be subject to proper review and accountability to ensure they operate within the law. Some members of the House have noted such concerns, and I would like to address these matters directly.

Just over 30 years ago the House passed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. CSIS was created on the basis of recommendations made by the McDonald commission, itself an independent commission of inquiry.

The McDonald commission spanned four years, from 1977 to 1981 and carefully examined complaints against the RCMP security service at the time. Notably for our discussion here today, its primary recommendation was to create a civilian security intelligence agency separate from law enforcement. This key recommendation is what led to the creation of CSIS.

At the time, the establishment of CSIS had bipartisan support. It is important that the legislation also created a sophisticated and extensive system of accountability and review. That review system is built on the function and role of the Security Intelligence Review Committee or SIRC, judicial authorization, and accountability to the minister and Parliament.

Canadians should be aware that historically SIRC's membership has consisted of individuals from diverse political backgrounds and walks of life. Such a varied membership helps to ensure the trust of all Canadians. It is also important to note that SIRC is one of the most robust review bodies in the western world.

SIRC's mandate is threefold. First, SIRC's review function allows it to make observations and provide recommendations in regard to CSIS' activities, operations and tradecraft. Such review helps ensure that CSIS' operations are effective, safe and legal.

Second, SIRC's complaints function mandates it to investigate formal complaints from members of the public in regard to specific activities of CSIS. Commonly, such complaints are in regard to the denial of a government security clearance by their deputy head, but SIRC can certainly examine any complaint regarding an activity of CSIS.

Third, SIRC is also charged with certifying that CSIS' investigative activities, as described in the director's annual report to the minister, are consistent with the CSIS Act and ministerial direction, and demonstrate a reasonable and necessary use of the service's powers. In that regard, in its most recent report, SIRC found that the operational activities of the service complied with the act and ministerial direction, and were reasonable and necessary in the execution of its mandate.

Canadians should be aware that SIRC's mandate knows no geographic boundary. In that regard, SIRC can and does review CSIS' foreign operations and stations abroad.

As CSIS has increasingly expanded its operations abroad in response to growing threats, particularly after 9/11, SIRC, too, has expanded its own review of those operations. SIRC's expansive mandate means that it provides a robust system of checks and balances on the powers and activities of the service. Canadians can be assured that SIRC continues to carefully review both CSIS' domestic and international activities.

In its 30 years of existence, CSIS has adopted or addressed the majority of SIRC's recommendations, and the director of CSIS has stated forthrightly and publicly that it is a better organization because of SIRC's recommendations. It should also be noted that CSIS' activities can be and regularly are reviewed by the Privacy Commissioner who can issue public recommendations. Members should also be aware that certain CSIS investigative activities require judicial authorization.

CSIS' warrant powers are managed through a rigorous and comprehensive regime and require the prior approval of the Minister of Public Safety. The Federal Court has complete discretion whether to approve, deny or renew warrant applications from CSIS. Markedly the bill would clarify that the Federal Court can also issue warrants for certain intrusive investigative activities by the service abroad, and in consideration only of relevant Canadian law.

Members should also know that such a rigorous warrant regime for international intelligence operations is unprecedented among our closest allies and provides a level of assurance both for the legality and appropriateness of CSIS activities abroad. Further still, the service reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety who is accountable to Parliament for the activities of CSIS and tables an annual public report on CSIS' activities.

CSIS appears regularly before parliamentary committees to address concerns of members and senators. In fact, as recently as October 8, the CSIS director and RCMP commissioner appeared at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to provide members with a frank, open and candid discussion of the terrorist threat. I am quite sure that CSIS officials will appear at the public safety and national security committee to address any concerns and answer any questions on the bill before us today.

Simply put, CSIS' review and warrant regimes are robust and extensive. Canadians and members of the House can be assured that CSIS is acting well within its mandate to investigate threats to the security of Canada.

To me, this is all very impressive. It is reflective of our shared Canadian values of respect for individual rights and the rule of law. However, still the Liberals continue to bring forward proposals that would create duplicate oversight mechanisms. It seems that many, especially the members for Vancouver Quadra and Malpeque, seem focused on well-meaning proposals that have the unintended consequence of causing our national security agencies to go head to head with the terrorist threat with one hand tied behind their backs.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all members of the House to stop under-reacting to the terrorist threat and to support this important legislation.

Lastly, we all like our privacy and security, but we live in a different world today. I know that there is an expectation among most Canadians that the government has to take action. Some of the things that happened here in the last two weeks in this place and this city has made that reality very apparent to all of us. The Government of Canada will and has to respond to that threat.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that the NDP agrees that this bill should be sent to committee for further study so that we can hear from the experts on this matter.

However, we do have some serious concerns about this Conservative bill, which enormously expands the powers of CSIS. It allows for espionage in other countries, outside Canada's borders. Following the Maher Arar case in 2006, a commission of inquiry made several recommendations for improving civilian oversight of CSIS. There is nothing in the bill about increasing civilian oversight. Justice O'Connor made several recommendations, but this government ignored all of them. Then the Conservative government eliminated the position of inspector general of CSIS. There are still two vacant positions on the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and there are huge gaps when it comes to civilian oversight of CSIS.

Does the member think this bill could be amended to address this?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was not aware that there were two vacancies on SIRC right now. However, as in any other committee or kind of structure like this in government, from time to time there are vacancies. I would like to think, and I am quite sure I will be right in saying this, that there is probably a process going through right now to replace those people.

As for the member's comments about oversight, to me it is obvious that is part of this bill.

On her comments with respect to overseas, I am not sure by her comments whether she is opposed or for CSIS expanding outside of Canada to watch people. The reality is, and it is well known, that some Canadians are in other countries and if they are in the process of trying to plan a terrorist attack or some kind of event, it is the responsibility of CSIS, in conjunction with other policing organizations around the world, to know what they are doing and to do what it can to stop them, such as taking away their passport.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague and I are on much the same wavelength in terms of the bill. Requiring CSIS to obtain warrants is certainly a good thing.

It should be noted that yesterday the Federal Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service hid the fact that it was relying on foreign intelligence agencies to spy on Canadians abroad. That basically backs up the Federal Court decision by Justice Mosley, which is one of the reasons why this bill has come forward.

However, my question for the member really relates to the previous discussion between the two MPs, and that is the need for oversight. SIRC is after the fact oversight. Although there may be two members missing, I will submit that the Security Intelligence Review Committee does great work, but it is after the fact. All of the five eyes partners have parliamentary oversight.

My colleague from Vancouver Quadra has a bill before Parliament to be voted on I believe tonight. There is another private member's bill as well. We really need parliamentary oversight for all of our security agencies to protect the minister and Canadians, and I hope the member would support that.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I knew if I stayed around here long enough, my colleague from Malpeque and I would find something that we both agree on.

With respect to parliamentary oversight, as I said during my speech, there is a lot of oversight right through to the minister. Do we really want something where we have 308 members of Parliament making a decision on every little thing? The member has been around this place long enough, in his profession outside of here and in some of the posts that he has held, to know that it cannot work quite as simply as he is trying say it would. I agree with him with respect to the philosophy of oversight, but there is a lot of it now.

This is a very good bill. Since he agrees with me, I will certainly be happy when he stands to support it.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Gatineau concerning Bill C-44. Although their experience was very different than ours here in the House, the people of Gatineau were affected by the events of October. Many people will never be the same because of what happened. I am convinced that the Remembrance Day ceremonies, which will begin this weekend and culminate on November 11 in the national ceremony here in Ottawa, will take on quite a new, although similar, significance. In fact, what we celebrate every year is the fact that we must not forget. Perhaps this year more people will remember.

I know that I will be very happy to be with the people of Gatineau at the two cenotaphs in my riding. First, I will lay a wreath at the Legion on Baie Street. Then I will go to the cenotaph at the Norris Branch Legion. I try to alternate every year. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo will certainly be in our thoughts.

That said, we have to keep things in perspective. The comments I sometimes hear from the Conservative benches are disconcerting, including the comments by the member for Etobicoke Centre.

He accused the opposition of being guilty of under-reacting to threats against the country and its citizens.

I take offence at that type of comment. It certainly does not encourage thoughtful debate in view of what is happening right now. What is more, it sheds a negative light on the picture that the Conservatives are trying to paint of Bill C-44.

As an aside, I am convinced that quite the opposite was true when the mass killing occurred at École Polytechnique. At the time, the government's response was to create a firearms registry. As I recall, the Conservatives were accusing the government in power of overreacting. Sometimes one has to be consistent in life to keep things logical.

The best tribute we can pay to Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent, if we want to honour their memory, is to continue to uphold the values that they staunchly defended by fulfilling their duties every day. That is what Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent would ask of this noble institution, which is supposed to represent our democracy. They would ask us to protect the security of Canadians, something they did valiantly and courageously. As I was saying, I will be pleased to honour them during my visits to the cenotaphs and the Greater Gatineau Elementary School, when the young children hold a Remembrance Day ceremony. They are going to talk about Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent. However, these individuals would also want us to remember the values that Canada has always stood for, the values of democracy and the protection of freedoms. We send our soldiers around the world to defend these principles. That has always been my understanding.

It is misleading to claim that Bill C-44 is a solution to a problem that could have caused the absolutely tragic events that took place in October. To expect people to believe that is to take them for fools and to try to take advantage of a situation, which I think is despicable and certainly flies in the face of our role here as legislators, which is to introduce sensible legislation that is in line with our Constitution, our charters, our rights and our values.

We lack confidence in this government because we often get information bit by bit.

The Conservatives give roundabout answers to specific questions. Then they accuse us of not supporting the solutions they are trying to shove down our throats.

Bill C-44 was already on the radar. The bill is exactly the same as it was when it was to be introduced on that day we all remember, Wednesday, October 22, the day of the tragic events that led to the death of Corporal Cirillo. The introduction was pushed back, in light of the circumstances, and the bill was introduced a short time later.

I think the comments by the member for Malpeque bear repeating:

The Tories lost the July court ruling on CSIS spying overseas.

Bill C-44 is nothing but a response to the July rulings by the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, by Justices Mainville, Dawson and Blais. Sometimes I lose a little confidence in this government, and that is the understatement of the year. We learned yesterday that this ruling had been made and had been partially redacted. That is understandable, since a government cannot disclose everything when it comes to national security.

I try to be familiar with court rulings, in light of my amazing and fascinating role as justice critic for the official opposition. However, I learned about this ruling from the papers. This is what Tonda MacCharles, a journalist with the Ottawa bureau of the Toronto Star, had to say:

The Conservative government revealed that it lost an important Federal Court of Appeal ruling that found CSIS hid the extent of its overseas spying activities from a judge.

A redacted version of the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, dated July 7, 2014, was posted on the court’s website Tuesday with no notice to the media — a highly unusual move.

It upheld an earlier Federal Court ruling by Justice Richard Mosley that rebuked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the federal government for hiding the fact that CSIS had turned to CSE, Canada’s electronic spy agency, and its allied partners in the “Five Eyes” international spying network to carry out intrusive surveillance abroad on two Canadians.

The ruling gives strong backing to CSIS’s power to operate abroad.

In light of the threats, we can understand that some powers are necessary.

But Justices Eleanor Dawson, Robert Mainville and Pierre Blais, the recently retired chief justice, declared that a judge’s decision to issue a warrant is “not the simple ‘box-ticking’ exercise the attorney general suggests.” And they said CSIS had to level with the courts.

“The duty of candour and utmost good faith required that CSIS disclose to the Federal Court the scope of its anticipated investigation, and in particular that CSIS considered itself authorized by...the CSIS Act to seek foreign agency assistance without a warrant. CSIS failed to make such disclosure.”

However, the appeal ruling disagreed with the lower court, and found that a Federal Court judge does have jurisdiction to issue a warrant that would authorize intrusive surveillance by CSIS overseas.

I will spare the House the rest, but that gives members an idea of the implications of Bill C-44.

Our colleagues in the House, especially the Conservatives, say that we must provide a proper response to what happened in October. They would have Canadians believe that this bill is part of that response. However, it is part of something even bigger than the tragic events of October that resulted in two deaths.

I do not believe that we are under-reacting to the threats to our country and our fellow Canadians when we clearly and explicitly say that we will support Bill C-44 in order to send it to committee to be studied. Canadians are asking not just the official opposition, but also the government, to take action in that regard.

Sometimes, good suggestions are made, and witnesses will be heard.

Just recently, at a conference on the O'Connor commission, there were speakers who know a lot more about espionage and international terrorism than I do, such as the Information Commissioner of Canada, the Privacy Commissioner and former justice O'Connor. Those are some high-powered speakers. Former justices Dennis O'Connor, John Major and Frank Iacobucci spoke at the October 29 conference, “Arar +10: National Security and Human Rights a Decade Later”.

I did say “and human rights” because for the Conservatives it is often a question of one or the other. They believe that human rights must be curtailed in order to protect security. Both can be maintained in a reasonable world, and that often happens with oversight mechanisms. In the House we often hear that organizations are given extensive powers to protect us.

Yesterday, on the local news, the reporter was asking, in a very straightforward manner, if the government should increase security in its buildings. That is like asking if the sky is blue. Of course everyone will answer yes.

The discussion really starts to get interesting when we start looking at the details. How do we make the buildings more secure? Everyone has an opinion on that. However, one fact remains: we have a starting point and the government wants to give certain powers to an organization

Sometimes, I feel as though the government is not taking the most logical action. I like logic, I like to be able to understand and I like to visualize what is happening. Like everyone, I want to feel safe. I do not want to walk down the street, afraid of my own shadow. That has never been the case in Canada, and I do not want that to change.

However, I am not naive. I know that there are people with bad intentions. I do not want to get into a discussion about their reasons because it will only be divisive. Instead, we need to find good solutions.

I am concerned when I hear people from CSIS tell us that they do not have the resources to use their powers while, at the same time, the government is getting ready to grant them more powers. I do not think anyone can get angry with me for saying that I am concerned when our major security institutions, such as the RCMP and CSIS, tell us that they need more resources.

Make no mistake. These agencies had their budgets cut and were asked to reduce their complement of police officers. It is not easy to deal with the Internet threat. Everyone has to adapt to these changes. At the same time, if we want to give these agencies powers, we also have to give them the means to exert those powers.

This bill is very technical in that it will make it possible for some people's identities to remain hidden, and likely with good reason. We therefore have to ensure that we have the means of overseeing these agencies since we are giving them a practically limitless mandate to protect our security.

No one wants to see what happened to Maher Arar happen again. Ten years later, we have to pay out tens of millions of dollars because of an illegal arrest and the government has had to apologize. We all want to avoid that.

At the same time, we want to ensure that Canadians here and abroad are safe. Let us do things right. That is the completely rational and logical message that the official opposition is sending to the government regarding Bill C-44.

I do not want to blow things out of proportion or ascribe motives to anyone, but it makes my blood boil when I hear people say that we under-react to threats against the country and its citizens. It hits close to home for me because we want everyone to be safe. That is part of the mandate of everyone here.

We do not want people to have to relive events like what happened here in October when they hear explosions, as we did three or four times this morning during our caucus meeting. We want to do things right.

All the experts agree: a committee is needed. I think this committee should be as independent as possible. I listened to the member who spoke before me, and he did not know that there are still two vacant positions. I would say there is even a third: there is an interim chair, a former Reform Party colleague, Deborah Grey. I am sure she is very nice, but does she have much experience in this area? Two of the five seats on that committee are vacant. As an oversight committee, it has an extremely important role to play, and yet no one seems to take it very seriously.

We are being accused of all kinds of things, blamed for every evil under the sun, as though we could not care less about what happens in terms of security. It is as though only the government cares about this, cares about our soldiers and remembers the sacrifices our veterans made on our behalf. I would be inclined to say that our veterans deserve more. It is all well and good to send them off somewhere, but how they are welcomed home at the end of their mission is also very important, I think. However, I digress.

That being said, I think this bill deserves serious consideration. Many provisions of the bill seem quite all right, such as providing the courts with certain mechanisms. We shall see. I have already talked to a number of legal experts about this, because it is not my area of expertise. Three people I consulted had different opinions or differences in opinion on certain interpretations and certain clauses. I would say to my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, who will have the extremely important task of studying Bill C-44, to pay close attention and be as open-minded as they can. They should not do as the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons sometimes does and say that they have to pass the bill quickly.

When we consider the circumstances in which Bill C-44 must have been drafted during the summer, following the unfavourable rulings on the government's position on this issue, it is easy to see that we have to spend more than just a few hours reviewing this bill in committee. I hope that my official opposition colleagues who sit on that committee will be able to make their voices heard calmly and make the other members realize that we are all in the same boat. We all live under the same flag, a flag that is dear to all our hearts, perhaps now more than ever. That is what should unite us and make that sense of camaraderie that we felt on October 23 last. I am not saying that we should all be singing Kumbaya. I know that we may not always agree, but we have to at least study the bill with respect, because the issue is extremely important.

In conclusion, I do not think that Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent would want us to be creating a police state. That is not at all what these individuals—now national heroes—were protecting. With all due respect for their memory, that is what I will keep in mind when I lay my wreath at the cenotaph and visit with young people at the Greater Gatineau school for their annual ceremony. I hope that my colleagues will examine Bill C-44 not with a tough-guy attitude, but with respect for the security, rights and freedoms of Canadians.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague alluded in her speech to her desire for simple answers to direct questions, so I wonder if she would just humour me and live by her principle.

Does she believe that the horrific events of late October were terrorist attacks? If not, could she share with the House what she knows that would contradict the President of France, the Secretary of State of the United States, and more specifically, the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the hon. member that he must not have listened to my speech, because those types of questions only serve to divide. What I am definitely 100% sure of is that those were criminal actions.

How would we define it? The only point I made was that I cannot say, on this day, in this House, seriously, that I do not believe 100% that it could be a terrorist attack. I do not know. As I have been saying through my speech: share the information. It is nice for people to be on their high horses when they have the video, when they have been privy to things that we do not know. On October 22, the thing I thought was worst for me was not knowing what was happening. To get information from U.S. news, not from my government, not from anyone here, was unacceptable.

I think what it shows is that there are some people who are very severely disturbed, to say the least, and that criminal action, be it an act of terrorism, an act of craziness, or an act of whatever, remains a criminal act. It remains murder. It has to be treated as such if it is based on evidence, and I think there is still some review.

Good for those who feel at ease with some definition. As a lawyer, I am a bit inclined to wait for all the facts before I can express a definite answer.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, further to the member for Gatineau's comments about not having full information, I want to point out that the Information Commissioner, Mme. Legault, pointed to “'information asymmetry' when it comes to national security measures—the government has all the relevant information, and Canadians are asked to approve of new measures without that information”.

She is concerned about that, because it is not just about protecting fundamental security rights. There are also other fundamental rights, and we need to have the appropriate information to make the appropriate judgement call.

The commissioner also called for “a complete review into the oversight of national security bodies”. I know that has been mentioned by a number of speakers.

One of the reasons for the Liberal Party's support of a parliamentary oversight committee, aside from our Five Eyes partners all having such a thing, is that it can be more effective, in terms of security, than a patchwork of oversight for individual security and intelligence agencies and nothing to integrate them.

I would like to ask the member for Gatineau, especially given the tragic events of October 22, whether that oversight that could look at the gaps between different security agencies, whether it is the RCMP, parliamentary security, CSIS, or CSEC, could strengthen our security as well as strengthen privacy.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.

I am very proud to say that the NDP is moving a motion on this topic. I think that this is the real problem now. Information comes in bits and pieces. We get information from one place, and the other place does not know what is going on. The government has all that information and will not give an answer. I can understand that if an answer discloses confidential information, that can make things dangerous around the world. However, I cannot believe that is the case for all the information.

How do the various agencies provide security on Parliament Hill to protect tourists, Canadians who come to visit their Parliament, members of Parliament, parliamentarians, employees of the various services on Parliament Hill and the adjacent buildings? What is preventing people from sitting down to explain—perhaps even confidentially—how we can improve our methods and procedures in order to fully guarantee that Canadians are safe?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Gatineau for her excellent speech.

In the aftermath of the events of September 11 in the United States—which was a tragic event similar to the one here in Canada on October 22, in that it created an atmosphere of fear and terror—the U.S. government's approach was designed to limit personal freedoms in order to increase the powers of security agencies.

Unfortunately, I am now seeing the same tendency with the Canadian government, which is using the events of October 22 to mimic what was done in the United States. The difference is that on October 22, the criminal in question had serious mental health problems. They are two completely different situations.

Could my colleague comment on the fact that the Canadian government is adding to the atmosphere of terror so that it can turn around and say that we need to protect ourselves from these terrorists?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
See context

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

I always try to avoid imputing motives to others. The only thing I constantly take exception to—and I always will by rising in the House—is how the government gratuitously tells us that we are under-reacting to the threat to our country and Canadians. I take pride in reacting logically, intelligently and with compassion and understanding to the events we all went through a couple of weeks ago.

Just because we are asking questions does not mean that we are friends with terrorists or that we are too soft. Of course, the initial reaction is to oversimplify things. We see that everywhere. Even though politicians may not be asking the question, the media, with the kinds of questions they ask every day on the radio or television, often end up oversimplifying things. When we do that with such complex issues, we are at risk of making mistakes.

That is why I often say that we need to take a deep breath, step back a little and listen to the experts, including representatives of the organizations responsible for keeping us safe, so that we can make the best possible decisions and avoid racial profiling and abuses. That is what is most important, because no one in this House wants to see other human tragedies caused by attempts to create some kind of mass hysteria with overblown rhetoric. We need to take our role as legislators seriously.

I know this is my last speech on this topic at this stage, but I truly hope that the committee will have ample opportunity to study this—not taking forever, but taking the time needed to talk to the real experts in the field—and report back to us here in the House so that we can make an informed decision at third reading.