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 4th, 2014 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, why is the bill necessary? Because we live in a state of law. We have rights and we believe the fundamental rights of Canadians are sacred. We are tabling the bill to clarify the law so CSIS can fully operate and protect Canadians under Canadian law. There is no liberty without security.

While I am on my feet, let me tell the House what the budget increase for the RCMP, our national law enforcement agency, has been since the last Liberal government. In the 2005-06 budget, it was $2.1 billion. We are now up to $2.8 billion. That is more than $700 million. It is a little more than the indexation rate. Why the increase? Because we are ready to provide the tools and resources necessary to keep Canadians safe.

The question in front of my hon. colleague today is whether those members are ready to provide the tools to our law enforcement agency and our national security agencies to keep Canadians safe.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:05 a.m.
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Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in the context of the provisions of the proposed bill, would the hon. minister comment on the views expressed by Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario information and privacy commissioner. She stated that we may have to rethink the balance between human rights and civil liberties, including privacy and the intrusion on these rights in the name of public safety. Further, she said that the balance between security and privacy had never been static, shifting in favour of security whenever we were faced with significant threats to public safety.

I suppose we could all bring ourselves to understand more fully the predicament that we are in. The bill attempts to address these issues. However, I would also ask the minister if he could comment further on the comments of the privacy commissioner when she said, “I recognize that there may be a legitimate need for increased surveillance and greater investigative powers to address new threats to public safety”. Could the minister speak to that issue in the context of the proposed bill?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, is doing a remarkable job of protecting our veterans and providing them with the tools and support they need after they have served our country. They deserve all our gratitude for that.

As we know, the member has also accomplished a remarkable career in law enforcement. He was at the forefront of those important questions. That is why we are tabling the bill, which has embedded in it consideration of all those basic civil rights. That is why the bill has what we call an amicus curiae, which means “a friend of the court”. This friend of the court would be able, in some cases, to declare that a human source would not be information from which the identity of a human source could be inferred. Therefore, it would be able to remove the protection in some cases, especially when it would be essential to establish the accused's innocence that could be disclosed in the proceedings.

The bill would ensure that a tribunal would be monitoring the process, but also clarifying it. We are responding to an invitation from the court to make its job simpler because the law would be clear. This clarity would increase safety for Canadians.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:05 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, as this may be my last opportunity to speak to the House before Remembrance Day, I really look forward to these Remembrance Day services. I know all members of Parliament are. We expect to be joined by record crowds of Canadians this year.

Unfortunately, this year, we have two new names to add to the Canadian heroes who have given their life in service to Canada. They are Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Once again, I would like to express my sympathies to their families. I know Canada will do them proud this Remembrance Day by showing how much we respect the sacrifices their families have made.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-44, an act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other acts. In the aftermath of the two attacks at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa just two weeks ago, concern about national security is certainly front and centre in the public mind and, indeed, in all of our minds. There is no doubt that concern already existed about the spread of extremist views and the radicalization of Canadians, whether on the basis of ideological or religious grounds.

As New Democrats, we have taken a strong stand, but we must not rush to judgment on any of the recent events until the full story is known. We have also argued that we cannot let fear warp who we are as a nation and distort our values. We should beware of falling into the trap of looking for solutions in some kind of trade-off, giving up some of our freedom for greater security. Instead, the New Democrats know that it is the responsibility of the government to protect both our civil liberties and public safety. There is no contradiction between the two. We believe Canadians expect the government to do no less.

We know that Bill C-44 was in preparation months before the events of October 22. In fact, if we look at its content, it is easy to see that there is no apparent connection with the events in Ottawa or St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, judging on the information we have before us so far.

In fact, Bill C-44 seems to be a legislative response to difficulties created for CSIS as a result of two court decisions. One is from the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007, called Regina v. Hape, and the other is from the Federal Court in the following year, known as Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (Re), 2008.

In short, what seems to have happened is that these two decisions made it difficult for CSIS to co-operate and share information with allied spy services, the so-called “five eyes group”, made up of the United States, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada. At the heart of these two cases was the question of whether CSIS could use warrants obtained in Canada to conduct surveillance abroad, using methods that would have required the authorization of a judge if they were to take place in Canada.

By providing a clear framework for overseas surveillance work and express authority for the courts to issue warrants authorizing these activities in Bill C-44, the government is arguing that CSIS would be better able to protect national security. Indeed, this may be the case. We are certainly prepared to look carefully at this measure in committee.

This is what lies at the heart of Bill C-44, and it may indeed be the case that CSIS needs these new expanded or clarified powers, however we wish to describe them. The New Democrats are therefore prepared to support this legislation to go to committee, recognizing their potential importance for national security.

However, details matter very much in bills like this, so we will be asking tough questions about what the government proposes to accomplish in this bill and about whether and how this expansion of CSIS' powers will actually help keep Canadians safe.

Again, as we have said, just as it is important to protect public safety and national security, it is also necessary to protect civil liberties. What we see missing in this bill are any improved accountability measures to accompany the proposed expansion of the powers of CSIS. I will return to this question of accountability in just a moment.

Let me stop here to consider what else is in Bill C-44, in addition to clarifying the international mandate of CSIS and its ability to carry out surveillance abroad.

The third element in Bill C-44 is the provision of a blanket protection on the identity of the human sources of CSIS. Again, we will have some serious questions to ask in committee about this provision. Right now, judges can grant protection for the identity of CSIS sources on a case by case basis. The onus is on the government to show why this protection is actually needed. Bill C-44 would reverse that onus. The presumption would be that the identity of CSIS sources would always be protected.

Even the bill itself acknowledges that this could be a problem when it comes to using CSIS information as the basis for criminal charges. Our criminal justice system, quite rightly, does not look favourably on anonymous testimony or evidence whose validity cannot be challenged in court.

Bill C-44 would create an exception for criminal law, allowing the disclosure if the defence could establish that doing so would be necessary to establish the innocence of the accused. This would add a large potential complication to any such criminal cases, as it would require a separate process to be carried out in Federal Court. On this side of the House, we remain concerned that this provision may perversely make it more difficult to secure criminal convictions of those who threaten national security.

There is in the bill, however, no such exemption to the blanket provision for protection of identity of CSIS sources for immigration and refugee cases. In fact, Bill C-44 makes reference to the use of special advocates in cases where the identity of CSIS sources seems likely to affect the outcome of the case.

The fourth provision of Bill C-44 has nothing at all to do with CSIS and which we could say, in a way, makes Bill C-44 a mini omnibus bill. This is the provision that would advance the coming into force date for the provisions in the Citizenship Act, passed last year, that allow the revocation of Canadian citizenship for dual citizens convicted of terrorism or other serious offences. This is something the New Democrats opposed at the time, and continue to oppose, as creating two different classes of Canadian citizen.

When we look at the provisions of Bill C-44 in the current context, there are some other questions we need to ask ourselves, which may not fall neatly into the confines of a debate on legislation alone. We must ask ourselves if legislation is always the answer to every problem or, as the government sometimes seems to believe, the only answer to every problem.

We must ask ourselves if there are other things we can do when it comes to the question of how we respond to the use of violence at home by Canadians. Perhaps most important among these questions is how we respond to homegrown radicalization of youth, whether it is a young Canadian who murders three Mounties in New Brunswick or another who seeks to go abroad to join an armed religious or ideological movement. A lot of good work has been done on this question at the community level, and we need to reach out to those communities concerned and work with them on prevention and early intervention strategies.

Another serious question we must ask ourselves about national security is whether the the federal government assigned sufficient resources to the task of protecting national security. Testimony at the Senate Standing Committee on National Defence on two successive October Mondays cast doubt on whether the government had done this.

On October 20, the deputy director of Operations of CSIS told the Senate that CSIS was forced to prioritize its resources when it came to monitoring radicals returned from abroad or prevented from going abroad. The deputy director said that CSIS did not have the resources to monitor all 80 or 90 names on that shifting list and that this must be seen as a public safety concern.

Just a week later, RCMP Commissioner Paulson told the same Senate committee that in the wake of the October attacks, he was forced to expand the 170 personnel assigned to the integrated national security enforcement team, the front-line teams on national security, by seconding 300 personnel from organized crime and financial crime units, reassigning them to national security. This means weakening one important area of crime fighting in order to strengthen the fight against threats to national security, and is surely an indication of inadequate resources for the RCMP at this time.

Is this a choice the government really should be asking the Commissioner of the RCMP to make, protecting national security or continuing to fight organized crime? The record of the Conservatives on this issue is clear, despite the attempts of the minister again this morning to make historical references to funding going back, sometimes it seems, to the beginning of time.

In 2012, on page 277 of the economic action plan, the Conservatives clearly laid out their intention to cut $688 million from the public safety budget over the three fiscal years ending this year, 2014-15, and they have done this. We have seen cuts beginning in 2012 now amounting to $24.5 million annually for CSIS, something like a 5% cut in 2012. Never mind what the level was in 2006 or 2007, it is a cut from 2012.

There were $143 million cut from the Canadian Border Services Agency, a cut of nearly 10%, including cutting more than 100 intelligence staff from the CBSA, those who are charged with finding out who is trying to violate our borders and might potentially be a threat to national security. It includes a cut of $195 million from 2012 to the budget of the RCMP.

It also appears, from the tabling of the 2014 Public Accounts, that each of these agencies has also been subject to the same pressures from the Conservatives to underspend even those reduced budgets in the quest for an ever larger surplus on paper.

I want to return now to the question of the importance of oversight for our national security agencies.

We all in this House know good models for accountability when we see them, and we have many good examples, like the independent officers of Parliament who have special expertise and report directly to Parliament and not just the minister of the day. These are officers of Parliament like the Auditor General or the Privacy Commissioner, whose reports can be debated in Parliament, shining light on what the government has or has not done, and holding the government to account.

It is strange to think that the CBSA has no such oversight body. This is despite four specific recommendations for the establishment of an oversight body that I can think of: from the 2003 recommendation of the Auditor General to the 2006 O'Connor commission report, to the 2008 Canadian Council of Refugees recommendation, to the most recent 2014 calls for better accountability by both the Canadian Council of Refugees and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association in the wake of the death in custody in Vancouver of Lucia Vega Jimenez.

Now the government will be quick to respond that CSIS already has sufficient oversight in the form of the 30-year-old Security Intelligence Review Committee, but keep in mind that this is the same government that significantly reduced accountability in CSIS by eliminating the position of inspector general, the CSIS internal watch dog who reported directly to the minister each year on CSIS' record of complying with the law. Instead, this important function was transferred to SIRC, a part-time body of non-specialists, and that responsibility was transferred short of roughly $1 million of resources, which the Conservatives promptly booked as “savings”.

SIRC already has very important responsibilities, including investigating public complaints about the way CSIS deals with things like security clearances, their approval or revocation, which affects people's employment; dealing with public complaints about CSIS' exchange of information with foreign governments, and we know we have had problems where that exchange of information has led to mistreatment of Canadians abroad; and CSIS' functions in providing information in immigration and refugee cases.

The responsibility of the inspector general was added to the work SIRC was already doing, again, without the transfer of the full resources, and again, under the responsibility of a part-time, non-specialist committee.

In addition to the structural weaknesses of SIRC—as I mentioned, a part-time body of non-specialists—there are concerns about whether the Conservatives have taken SIRC seriously. It currently has only a temporary chair, and two of the five positions on the committee have been vacant for months. What was previously a serious consultation process, involving the opposition in appointments to SIRC, seems to have deteriorated to the point where we found SIRC was chaired by a patronage appointee, Arthur Porter, a former fundraiser for the Conservatives who is now facing fraud charges from a Panama prison.

Even with its current limitations, SIRC itself has tried to draw Parliament's attention and the attention of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to the question of CSIS' accountability. In its recently tabled 2012-13 annual report, SIRC points to serious problems with CSIS in terms of accountability. SIRC reported serious delays in receiving information from CSIS, which impeded its investigations. SIRC even noted that CSIS had been less than forthright in its responses to questions from the accountability body.

The most serious concern raised in the 2012-13 annual report has to do with arming CSIS personnel in high-risk and dangerous operating environments abroad.

We know that CSIS did first have armed agents abroad in Afghanistan. From 2002 to 2007, they were trained by Canadian Forces, and special forces close protection units provided protection to CSIS agents in the most dangerous operations. As well, DFAIT provided diplomatic accreditation to protect those armed CSIS agents against local accountability

After 2007, CSIS launched its own firearms program with its own policies, training, and armed operational support teams. SIRC, in 2010, expressed concern about the expansion of the use of armed CSIS agents beyond Afghanistan and said that this should be done: “...only after...consultation with, and approval of, the Minister of Public Safety”.

SIRC raised significant concerns about the liability of CSIS staff who might be armed abroad under the criminal and civil law of a foreign jurisdiction. It also raised concerns about how a CSIS staff member, if found negligent in the use of firearms, could be dealt with under our domestic legal regime. Of course, it raised concerns about the possibilities of violations of international law and the sovereignty and laws of foreign governments.

I am not arguing that perhaps CSIS agents do not sometimes need to be armed, but what SIRC asked for was that a written justification be supplied to the minister explaining the legal authority permitting CSIS staff outside Afghanistan to be armed. In 2012-13, SIRC found it unacceptable that there was no record of any meetings or discussions between the CSIS director and the minister on this topic.

As Bill C-44 attempts to clarify CSIS' authority to operate abroad, the question of CSIS officers carrying weapons abroad becomes a critical policy question as well as a critical accountability question.

The SIRC report clearly states that CSIS needs to:

...provide a full explanation of how the arming of some of its employees is consistent with CSIS’s policy framework, which is rooted in the premise that activities are lawful and authorized, necessary and proportionate, and represent an effective and efficient use of public resources.

This demonstrates the point I am trying to make about the clear necessity of strengthening accountability along with any expansion of CSIS powers.

Bill C-44 presents the House of Commons with its first test of whether any new legislation on national security in the current climate will conform to Canadian values. This would require that the legislation aim to protect both public safety and civil liberties at the same time. The question should not be whether there will be some new balance where we give up some portion of our liberties for security, which unfortunately seems to be the position of both the Conservatives and the Liberals on this important question. Instead, Canadians expect us to take on the tougher task of protecting both freedom and security in a climate where extremists of all kinds are attacking the essence of our free and open society.

Equally unfortunate is the tendency to act as if legislation is the government's only tool. As the old saying goes, “If you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail”. The New Democrats will continue to urge the Conservative government to take a broader view. We will urge the government to examine whether the tools it already has are being used effectively. We will urge the government to skip its clever rhetoric about a mythical 30% increase in public safety budgets and ask serious questions about the impacts of three consecutive years of cuts on national security. We will ask the government to engage in a dialogue with Canadians from all communities on how else, other than legislation, we can respond to these new national security threats.

Above all, we are asking the government to consider what we can do together as a nation to respond to the need to protect both public safety and civil liberties.

I look forward to the debate we will have when we get to committee, but as I said, we have many serious questions to ask the government and we hope we will be given time to bring forward the expert witnesses we need at committee to have a full debate, as these are important questions to national security in Canada.

We have seen an unfortunate tendency in the public safety committee to limit the number of witnesses who appear, to limit the debate, and to limit the discussion of any necessary amendments. We will be asking tough questions about accountability because, as has been the theme of my remarks today, we believe that if there is a need for an expansion of powers for agencies like CSIS, then we must ensure that we have adequate accountability measures in place to protect civil liberties.

As I see my time is drawing to a close, I want to thank the minister for providing a briefing on this legislation for the opposition. It was quite a useful briefing, although I have to say it seems it is the first time we received such a briefing. I hope it indicates a new spirit of co-operation on any legislation coming forward in the future, because we have to make sure we get this right. Things that affect national security and civil liberties go to the very heart of who we are as Canadians.

Once again, New Democrats ask the government to consider very seriously not asking Canadians to give up some civil liberties for security, but consider how we can protect both civil liberties and public safety and keep this the nation that we all treasure so much.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague across the way, and I believe that the minister has reached that balance of protecting the security of Canadians but also the civil liberties that Canada is well known for.

Members of our law enforcement agencies put their lives on the line in order to thoroughly investigate threats to our national security. Presently, CSIS agents travelling to work abroad have to travel under their given names. They are provided little protection of their identities, a risk that puts them and their families in danger. This bill would provide protections for CSIS employees to protect their identities when working abroad.

Would the member and the NDP support such common-sense measures? He spoke about using a broader tool on this specific part of Bill C-44. Would he support that?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated very clearly, New Democrats are going to support this bill going to committee so we can ask very serious questions about these things.

On the question of protecting the identities of CSIS sources, many people have said there may be an unintended consequence. CSIS sources and CSIS identities get wrapped up together and we have to make sure that when CSIS comes up with information that shows that someone has been a threat to national security, we are able to take legal action against those people. If we end up expanding these protections too broadly so that it interferes with prosecution, then in essence, we have defeated the purpose.

New Democrats want to look very carefully at those questions about the expansion of protection of sources and the identities of CSIS employees, to make sure they do not have unintended consequences for being able to enforce important law for national security.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working with my colleague from the NDP on this particular committee.

He kind of hinted that the government seems to think that legislation in and of itself is always the ultimate answer. As I look at this bill, I see that there are really not a lot of additional authorizations in it. Even CSIS itself would admit that the bill would authorize it to do what it already does. Also, there is the protection of sources, which is new.

In his remarks, the member talked a bit about the Canada Border Services Agency and the cutbacks to the RCMP, CSIS, and CBSA. From my perspective, the whole of the department of public safety and national security can do a lot beyond this legislation. I think the member alluded to that. I wonder what the member is suggesting beyond the legislation that should be done on the part of the government to deal with both terrorism from abroad and homegrown terrorism here.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too enjoy working with the member for Malpeque on the public safety committee.

The question New Democrats are asking is the broad, general question about whether there are things that already exist in terms of the government's powers, things it already could be doing and should be doing beyond simply asking for new legislation each time we confront one of these problems. One of the most important of those, of course, is consulting with communities about the creation of homegrown radicals in Canada, whatever their motivation.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had two serious cases, Abdullah Almalki and Maher Arar. Justice Iacobucci and Justice O'Connor made significant recommendations around the protection of Canadians' rights vis-à-vis CSIS and the RCMP. We do not see those recommendations in the bill. In committee, were there discussions around that and did New Democrats push to have that included in this legislation?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have not been to committee yet to have these discussions. New Democrats are being optimistic that we will have full discussions at that level, but it is very clear that, since 2003, there have been repeated recommendations that we need to strengthen the accountability measures that go along with the powers to enforce legislation to guarantee national security. We are arguing on this side that those two things go hand in hand. They are not a contradiction. We have to have better accountability.

When we look at the SIRC report for 2012-13 on CSIS, we see it has some shocking material in it. When the accountability group says the minister was not consulted on a major change in policy, and there is no record of any meeting or memo that establishes any legal authority for what CSIS is doing, then we have a serious problem.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
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Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has my full confidence, and I am pleased to hear that the New Democrats support this measure.

However, are they prepared to move this bill quickly to committee, where parliamentarians are better prepared to delve deeper into this debate?

I would point out that nearly $190 million was given to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, in addition to the $700 million. Unfortunately, we did not get the support of the two political parties in either of these cases.

Are they prepared to move this to committee quickly?

My second question is this. In the bill, clause 7, on proposed subsection 18.1(4), clearly introduces the concept of the right to a fair trial that is protected in all cases. Does the member find some comfort, as he has expressed concerns about civil rights, that this is in the bill? What does he find in this provision that would protect and bring the balance he has suggested?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. minister's question contains about seven questions, and I am not sure I have time to answer all of them.

When it comes to his reference to us not supporting the budget, this is one case when it is the opposite of the Conservative rhetoric. We did not support the Conservative budget that cut funding for the RCMP, CSIS, and the CBSA. The minister makes reference to this mythical golden time before he began his cuts in 2012, and we are very clearly on record as not supporting that budget. The Conservatives like to use our opposition to the action plans in one way. I will use it the other way today.

On the question of how quickly we will get to committee, the government has a habit of using time allocation. I hope we do not see it do that on this bill. It is important that members of the House of Commons, who represent all kinds of different ridings and different people, the full diversity of Canada, get a chance to participate in this debate, if they wish to, and raise the issues that are important to them so that when we go to committee, we know what is on the minds of Canadians, as presented to the House by their representatives.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I represent the riding of Alfred-Pellan, which is named after a gifted painter who lived in Laval for a time. I am honoured to represent a riding with his name.

I would like to thank my colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for his comments today on Bill C-44, which is important under the circumstances. This is not a response to the unfortunate events of October 20 and 22, but it is still a first step in enhancing public safety.

As my colleague mentioned, it is very important to define the line between public safety and civil liberties. This has been much discussed here in the House.

I would like my other colleagues in the House to understand how things work on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, where we do not always have the opportunity to have in-depth discussions because the government often imposes time limits on us.

Would my colleague give us an idea of the atmosphere that currently exists in the committee and that we hope will not prevail as we examine Bill C-44?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Alfred-Pellan for her remarks and for the work she does as the NDP deputy public safety critic. She is a vigilant and hard-working member of our committee and of the NDP team.

She makes an important point. Right now, in the public safety committee, we are dealing with Bill C-2, the safe injection sites bill, which of course really belongs in the health committee, but it is in our committee. We were presented with a very tight timeframe, including a limit, which the Conservatives passed in committee, of five minutes for the discussion of each clause. One of those clauses we are dealing with puts 27 different conditions on the opening of a safe injection site, and we are supposed to have five minutes of debate on that clause.

When it comes to getting this bill to committee, I am urging the government that we not be presented with such narrow and unreasonable time limits so that we can have a full discussion of what is a very important bill.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2014 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-44, an act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other acts. It is a bill the government really had to introduce following two adverse court rulings on the activities of CSIS.

In beginning, I want to just spin off a little of that last question and answer. I would speak directly to the minister. I would hope, in this instance, given the concern about the balance between national security and civil liberties, that the minister would push the committee to allow a full list of witnesses, not the kind of stacked list we get sometimes from the Conservatives, and a full hearing, an in-depth hearing, so the committee can do its proper job and come back with the best legislation possible. I support the point raised a moment ago by my colleagues.

There are some serious questions related to the provisions in Bill C-44 that need to be raised when the bill is before committee, and we intend to raise those questions and those concerns at that time.

The Liberal Party will be supporting this bill going to committee. However, I hope that the committee is really allowed to do its job and get in the proper expert witnesses and have the proper balance so that we can come back with the best legislation possible.

We have to look not just at this bill but at CSIS and its connections to the RCMP, CSEC, Canada Border Services Agency, and our allies we work with abroad.

There are three points I would like to raise specifically on this issue and this bill. One is tools. The minister is suggesting that this bill provides more tools, but there are really not many.

The second area is resources, the financial, human, and technological resources, for CSIS to do its job.

The third area is oversight and the need for proper oversight, and not of just CSIS. We have after-the-fact oversight, but there really needs to be parliamentary oversight of all our national security agencies. I will talk about that in a moment.

Before looking at the specific provisions in Bill C-44, it is necessary to place on the record our concern about the government's response to the terrorist threat to Canada and from within Canada. I would begin by asking the government a direct question. Why is it that the legislation currently in place, the provisions in the Criminal Code, some of which were put forward by the government in the Combating Terrorism Act, have not been utilized?

On October 27, in the House, the Minister of Public Safety admitted that the response of his office and his government to the threat represented by homegrown terrorists was not quite what it should be. According to the minister at that time, it is “time we stop under-reacting to the great threats against us.”

Yet the government still fails to act. I submit that it possesses the necessary tools to react. In fact, under section 83.181 of the Criminal Code, there is all kinds of authority for anyone who “leaves or attempts to leave Canada” for the purpose of participating in any activity of a terrorist group outside Canada.

There are four different sections there. The penalties are maximum terms in prison of 10 to 14 years, depending on the severity of the act.

The Minister of Justice stated publicly last week that the laws currently in place to combat a terrorist threat are “robust measures” that provide the police with the tools necessary to take action in response to a terrorist threat. The minister specifically referred to sections 83.3 and 810 of the Criminal Code, either of which would enable authorities to detain individuals under the provisions of a peace bond and could impose specific recognizance on individuals. In other words, action to limit certain individuals from taking action could be imposed. I ask the minister why those provisions have not been utilized.

The Minister of Public Safety has to this day failed to clarify a statement made before the public safety committee on October 8 with respect to the 80 individuals who returned to Canada after travelling abroad to take part in terrorist-related activities. He stated:

Let me be clear that these individuals posing a threat to our security at home have violated Canadian law....These dangerous individuals, some skilled and desiring to commit terrorist activity, pose a serious threat to law-abiding Canadians.

The minister also reconfirmed the following at committee:

...leaving or attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activities is now a criminal offence.

The minister is quite correct on those points. There is authority under the Criminal Code to act. I have to again ask the question: Why has the government not acted with those authorities that are already there? Those authorities would not be changed in this particular legislation, other than confirming in law what CSIS already does.

I ask why section 83.181, which states that “Everyone who leaves or attempts to leave Canada” for terrorist acts abroad, is not being applied. It certainly was not in the case of the individual involved in the murder of the Canadian Forces member in Quebec earlier this month. According to public information, that individual had his passport revoked on the grounds of attempting to travel to Syria or Iraq to join known listed terrorist entities.

According to testimony by the Commissioner of the RCMP to the Senate national security committee on October 27, this individual was known to authorities to have intended to use his passport to leave Canada for Syria or Iraq to participate in “jihad”, yet the commissioner confirmed that the evidence the authorities had of this intent, while enough to have his passport revoked, was not enough to lay a charge. I ask the minister, and maybe he can answer this at committee, whether this bill will correct that shortcoming. I personally do not see it in the legislation, but I would ask the minister and his staff to come prepared to answer that question. Would this legislation correct that shortcoming the RCMP Commissioner seems to have outlined? We really do not know as yet, because the minister has not been specific on that point.

A great deal has been said by members of the government with respect to the provisions of the Combating Terrorism Act, which came into force in 2013. According to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, one individual has been charged under the provisions of the Combating Terrorism Act. The minister confirmed, as well, when he testified before the public safety committee on October 8, that only a single individual has been charged under the Combating Terrorism Act.

However, what neither the minister nor the parliamentary secretary bothered to tell Canadians was that the single individual charged had left Canada six months prior to the charges being laid, and that individual's whereabouts are still unknown.

Could one of the reasons these provisions in the Criminal Code have not been acted upon be the limited resources available to our security and intelligence services? That was mentioned in a previous speech. What good are legal sanctions if our security agencies cannot utilize them? If the reason is that the current government has been starving those agencies' critical resources, who is responsible for the security failure?

I would submit that in many things that the current government has been doing in the last two years, it has been blindly focused. Good government requires it to provide services, security, and financial resources, and yes, it has to establish priorities. However, part of the problem with the current government is it is blindly focused on getting as huge a surplus as possible so it can throw out election goodies. Is part of the cost of doing that starving CSIS and the RCMP of the funds necessary to do their job? I really do not know, but it looks that way. Good government cannot be blindly focused just on achieving a surplus to provide goodies at the next election; it has to be focused on the needs and the services of Canadians. I see that as a problem.

There is another issue beyond this bill that the government must respond to, something that does not require legislation but requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness simply to do the job assigned to him. The most recent annual report of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee, the only oversight body for CSIS, raised a number of troubling concerns. The Commissioner of the RCMP told the Senate national security committee on October 27 that there were now 93 individuals identified as high-risk travellers. The director of CSIS informed the public safety committee on October 8 that there were 80 individuals who have returned to Canada after having engaged in terrorist activities abroad, and CSIS knows where they are.

The problem there is that in terms of the RCMP doing its job, Commissioner Paulson said before a committee:

...we are reallocating the necessary funds and personnel from other priority areas to combat this threat. In recent months, and over the past week, over 300 additional resources were transferred in to enhance the capacity of INSET [Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams] from other federal policing priority areas such as organized crime and financial crime.

That tells me that the RCMP is indeed short of resources.

The deputy director of CSIS told the same committee on October 20:

...we work within the budget that is assigned to us. We do have to prioritize.

I would be foolhardy to say we have all the bases covered. We do what we can with the budget we have, sir.

There are clearly some concerns over financing.

There is another problem that the minister can deal with as well, and that is the operational mandate within CSIS. The most recent SIRC report, entitled “Lifting the Shroud of Secrecy: Thirty Years of Security Intelligence Accountability”, the annual report for 2013-14, said the following on page 16:

With surveillance teams spread across Canada all sharing identical job functions, SIRC expected to see solid communication among surveillance practitioners. Instead, SIRC found that, for the most part, regional surveillance teams operate in total isolation from one another and communicate only sporadically with their HQ counterparts.

That is worrisome, because if CSIS is not communicating properly within regions and between regions and headquarters, there is a serious problem. That is something that the minister can deal with.

The other point in the report that I just mentioned—and I am pretty sure that the minister knows this—is that at page 19, SIRC also found that with respect to the activities of CSIS:

...the Minister of Public Safety is not always systematically advised of such activities, nor is he informed of them in a consistent manner.

Those are two areas the minister can deal with without needing a bill. The minister just needs to ensure that the job is getting done within his own department.

The government has placed within Bill C-44 the enactment provisions of Bill C-24, which the minister talked about earlier. Bill C-24 would revoke the citizenship of dual nationals. We are concerned about that. The minister said in his remarks that it is included so as to enact that section faster. In an earlier question for the minister I said, and I will say again, that it is not enough to have something in legislation; it has to stand up to the courts. Some of us are concerned that this section just may not do that.

If the government, RCMP, CSIS, and other authorities are spending a lot of time on that particular area of taking away dual citizens' citizenship, it needs to be time well spent. I asked the minister to provide legal opinion to the committee to show that it is, in fact, charter-proof.

In an earlier question to the minister, I also raised the point that there is fairly strong wording in this particular bill. Subclause 8(2) reads:

Without regard to any other law, including that of any foreign state, a judge may, in a warrant...authorize activities outside Canada to enable the Service to investigate a threat to the security of Canada.

This would basically allow for a warrant to be issued to allow agents to break the law in a foreign country. We have checked the wording extensively, and similar wording is not found in the relevant legislation of our Five Eyes counterparts. I ask the minister why we need that specific wording when other countries do not, and I hope he could report the answer to committee,

An important part of the legislation deals with protecting our sources and informants abroad. At committee we would want to have more specific information on that aspect and know how it would be accomplished. I look forward to the government providing that information to the committee.

I will move on to the last point that I would like to make. I said first of all that I would deal with tools, resources, and oversight. One of the major shortcomings of this bill is the fact that the government did not bring accompanying legislation to provide proper parliamentary oversight to all of our national security agencies in Canada, as is done by all of our Five Eyes counterparts.

My colleague, the member for Vancouver Quadra, has a private member's bill, Bill C-622, as one option that the government could consider. I have a private member's bill, Bill C-551, which could be considered.

To find the balance between national security, civil liberties, and individual rights and freedoms in Canada, the government should be bringing in accompanying legislation that provides that parliamentary oversight. On the one hand, it would ensure that the agencies are doing their jobs, and on the other, it would ensure they are not going too far and violating the civil liberties of Canadians.