Anti-terrorism Act, 2015

An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

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


Steven Blaney  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

Part 1 enacts the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which authorizes Government of Canada institutions to disclose information to Government of Canada institutions that have jurisdiction or responsibilities in respect of activities that undermine the security of Canada. It also makes related amendments to other Acts.
Part 2 enacts the Secure Air Travel Act in order to provide a new legislative framework for identifying and responding to persons who may engage in an act that poses a threat to transportation security or who may travel by air for the purpose of committing a terrorism offence. That Act authorizes the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to establish a list of such persons and to direct air carriers to take a specific action to prevent the commission of such acts. In addition, that Act establishes powers and prohibitions governing the collection, use and disclosure of information in support of its administration and enforcement. That Act includes an administrative recourse process for listed persons who have been denied transportation in accordance with a direction from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and provides appeal procedures for persons affected by any decision or action taken under that Act. That Act also specifies punishment for contraventions of listed provisions and authorizes the Minister of Transport to conduct inspections and issue compliance orders. Finally, this Part makes consequential amendments to the Aeronautics Act and the Canada Evidence Act.
Part 3 amends the Criminal Code to, with respect to recognizances to keep the peace relating to a terrorist activity or a terrorism offence, extend their duration, provide for new thresholds, authorize a judge to impose sureties and require a judge to consider whether it is desirable to include in a recognizance conditions regarding passports and specified geographic areas. With respect to all recognizances to keep the peace, the amendments also allow hearings to be conducted by video conference and orders to be transferred to a judge in a territorial division other than the one in which the order was made and increase the maximum sentences for breach of those recognizances.
It further amends the Criminal Code to provide for an offence of knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general. It also provides a judge with the power to order the seizure of terrorist propaganda or, if the propaganda is in electronic form, to order the deletion of the propaganda from a computer system.
Finally, it amends the Criminal Code to provide for the increased protection of witnesses, in particular of persons who play a role in respect of proceedings involving security information or criminal intelligence information, and makes consequential amendments to other Acts.
Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to permit the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to take, within and outside Canada, measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada, including measures that are authorized by the Federal Court. It authorizes the Federal Court to make an assistance order to give effect to a warrant issued under that Act. It also creates new reporting requirements for the Service and requires the Security Intelligence Review Committee to review the Service’s performance in taking measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada.
Part 5 amends Divisions 8 and 9 of Part 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to, among other things,
(a) define obligations related to the provision of information in proceedings under that Division 9;
(b) authorize the judge, on the request of the Minister, to exempt the Minister from providing the special advocate with certain relevant information that has not been filed with the Federal Court, if the judge is satisfied that the information does not enable the person named in a certificate to be reasonably informed of the case made by the Minister, and authorize the judge to ask the special advocate to make submissions with respect to the exemption; and
(c) allow the Minister to appeal, or to apply for judicial review of, any decision requiring the disclosure of information or other evidence if, in the Minister’s opinion, the disclosure would be injurious to national security or endanger the safety of any person.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


May 6, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
May 6, 2015 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, because it: ( a) threatens our way of life by asking Canadians to choose between their security and their freedoms; ( b) provides the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with a sweeping new mandate without equally increasing oversight, despite concerns raised by almost every witness who testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, as well as concerns raised by former Liberal prime ministers, ministers of justice and solicitors general; ( c) does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as providing support to communities that are struggling to counter radicalization; ( d) was not adequately studied by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which did not allow the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to appear as a witness, or schedule enough meetings to hear from many other Canadians who requested to appear; ( e) was not fully debated in the House of Commons, where discussion was curtailed by time allocation; ( f) was condemned by legal experts, civil liberties advocates, privacy commissioners, First Nations leadership and business leaders, for the threats it poses to our rights and freedoms, and our economy; and ( g) does not include a single amendment proposed by members of the Official Opposition or the Liberal Party, despite the widespread concern about the bill and the dozens of amendments proposed by witnesses.”.
May 4, 2015 Passed That Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
May 4, 2015 Failed
April 30, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to 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.
Feb. 23, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Feb. 23, 2015 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, because it: ( a) threatens our way of life by asking Canadians to choose between their security and their freedoms; ( b) was not developed in consultation with other parties, all of whom recognize the real threat of terrorism and support effective, concrete measures to keep Canadians safe; ( c) irresponsibly provides CSIS with a sweeping new mandate without equally increasing oversight; ( d) contains definitions that are broad, vague and threaten to lump legitimate dissent together with terrorism; and ( e) does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as working with communities on measures to counter radicalization of youth.”.
Feb. 19, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than two further sitting days 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 second 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.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:25 p.m.
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Lévis—Bellechasse Québec


Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

moved that Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to deliver on our government's firm commitment to fight and protect Canadians from jihadist terrorists who would destroy the very principles that make Canada, our country, a nation of freedom and democracy that is the envy of the world.

The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada and our allies. As we have seen, terrorists are targeting Canadians simply because they despise our society and the values it represents. Let us not forget the October 20 attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and the attack that happened right here in our national capital. Those incidents are etched in our hearts and in our memory and show us how serious these issues are for us as a country.

These attacks, like the recent attacks against our allies in Sydney, Australia, Paris, France, and Copenhagen, Denmark, speak to the violence that can be committed by determined terrorists. These events reinforced our government's determination to take action. Our Prime Minister said that we would not react excessively, but we would not remain passive in the face of the evolving terrorist threat.

That is why I have the honour to introduce, with my honourable colleague the Minister of Justice, this important bill on behalf of our Conservative government. People worked tirelessly on this bill. They spared no effort to create a balanced bill. It is a bill that ensures that Canadians can count on the government to protect them from the threat of terrorism.

Like many people here in the House, I vividly remember the events at the end of October. I remember I was sitting in the caucus room when we heard gunfire and the terrorist being killed just steps away. Frantic moments followed, but we regrouped and have since reacted moderately. In the days that followed, I attended the funeral of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. I still remember what his sister said at the funeral. She asked us to make sure that her brother did not die in vain, that he did not fall at the hands of a terrorist in vain.

There is no higher calling of any government than to keep its citizens safe. That is a responsibility that our Conservative government takes very seriously. That is why we have taken, and are taking today, strong action on this file. We have always said that the threat is real and that we must remain vigilant. We must also adjust to that evolving threat. That is why we are tabling this bill.

Indeed, our Conservative government passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which listed Syria and Iran as state sponsors of terror. More than a year ago, we passed the Combating Terrorism Act, which made it illegal to travel abroad to engage in terrorism or receive training to engage in barbaric and horrific acts here at home.

We took measures to strip the citizenship and passports of terrorists, despite the lack of support from the opposition. A few weeks ago, we passed the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act in this House. This important legislation gives CSIS the tools it needs to investigate serious threats to Canada and confirms that it has the mandate to operate here and abroad, and to exchange information with our allies and partners.

We have also listed numerous entities as terrorist organizations, effectively cutting off the lifeblood of their resources.

Unfortunately, when it comes time to vote on these measures, Conservative members often stand alone while others play politics.

Our government has been very clear on the need to introduce new measures to guarantee our safety and ensure that our security and intelligence agencies have the tools they need to do their job.

The legislation before us today is an important step toward improving the means our intelligence gathering services and police forces have for effectively fighting the terrorist threat.

The anti-terrorism act, 2015 will give our national security agencies 21st century tools to combat jihadist terrorists, wherever they may be. There are five key elements to this important bill.

Although they are complementary in many respects, these measures will allow us to share the federal community's latest knowledge, expertise and work and to use them in a way that will enhance Canada's security.

The first element we must consider is very simple. When we take the time to explain this to people, they ask us why we did not do this sooner. I am talking about sharing information amongst the various federal agencies.

Canadians legitimately expect that if one branch of government is aware of a threat to their security that this information would be shared with other branches of government to protect Canadians. This is not the case and we need to fix this with this bill.

In many cases, barriers to effective information sharing are rampant across government, slowing the speed of this exchange to a crawl or acting as a total barrier. These barriers exist in the form of often well-intentioned legislation; however, in the national security context, they manifest themselves into unacceptable silos that put Canadians at risk.

Consider this example. A passport officer contacts an applicant's reference person as part of a routine check. Without being asked, the reference person expresses some concerns about the applicant's intentions abroad. The reference fears the applicant could go to Iraq to fight alongside ISIL, because he supports its goals. At this time, the passport officer can open an investigation in order to determine if the passport application should be denied for national security reasons. As we have seen, passports can be revoked or not issued for reasons of national security. However, that officer will have a hard time sharing information proactively for further investigation of that threat. This could push the individual to commit a terrorist act in Canada. Indeed, if we prevent him from travelling outside Canada, he becomes a threat here, since he did not get his passport. This increases the threat of a terrorist attack here on Canadian soil.

This situation is unacceptable. That is what we are trying to correct with the first of the five measures set out in this bill, in order to improve the means we have to reduce the terrorist threat here in this country. Under the anti-terrorism act, 2015, passport officers would be able to proactively share information with a national security agency in order to combat this possible terrorist threat.

These obvious changes, through the creation of the security of Canada information sharing act, are common sense solutions to real problems, and it is our duty to make it come through.

Contrary to dire suggestions by some members of the opposition, who should certainly read the bill before fearmongering, there are robust safeguards in place to protect the liberties of Canadians, such as review by the Privacy Commissioner, the Auditor General and various other oversight bodies. I will add at this point in time that we have consulted the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in the drafting of this bill.

However, I fundamentally reject the argument that protecting our security threatens our freedom. Indeed, there is no liberty without security.

Canadians I have spoken with about this legislation understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand. The fact of the matter is that our police and national security agencies are working to protect our rights and freedoms, and it is jihadi terrorists who endanger our security and would take away our freedoms.

The second element of this legislation that I would like to share with members is the secure air travel act, which finds its origin in the Air India inquiry action plan. We call it a passenger protect program, or the no-fly list. It currently relies on authorities found in the Aeronautics Act, but has never been given its own legal footing.

The air transportation system is still a target for terrorists. That is why this list was established after the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. However, we must also take additional measures to address the growing number of people who fly with the intent of committing terrorist acts abroad. Even though they are not an immediate threat to the plane on which they are travelling, they could represent a direct threat to the country of destination or to Canadian allies abroad.

Canada cannot allow people to commit terrorist acts here or abroad. That is why we must improve the program's mandate in order to include those who travel to take part in a terrorist activity.

The government will thus have another tool to prevent travel for terrorist purposes, including in cases where it is impossible to go ahead with an arrest or legal action at this time. This second element of the bill will also allow the government to use gradual or proportional security measures, such as denying boarding or an additional physical search at the airport, as additional means of managing the risk posed by people who travel on aircraft to take part in terrorist activities.

This enhanced mandate would ensure that our skies are safe and secure, both from those who cause a risk to aviation security, which is actually the case, and from those seeking to travel to seek martyrdom or carry out other twisted ideological violence. That is why, as in the first part, which includes information sharing among federal agencies, we also need to protect our skies from terrorists.

I would now like to talk about the third element of this anti-terrorist bill, which is a proposed change in the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, an agency created 30 years ago to which no major changes have been made since then.

Unlike the security intelligence agencies of our closest allies, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service can only collect intelligence in order to help identify threats against security. However, it cannot take direct measures to protect Canadians and Canada's interests.

What does it mean in practice? I think this issue was raised during question period, so I hope my colleagues are listening carefully. Let us say that CSIS becomes aware of an individual in the process of becoming radicalized. Perhaps the person is acquiring jihadist propaganda or viewing radical material posted on YouTube and, in fact, individuals within the person's own close circle have advised CSIS that they are concerned the person may travel for terrorist purposes.

Currently, CSIS can investigate, but it cannot do anything to stop the individual from travelling. The furthest CSIS can go now is to advise the RCMP that it believes the individual is about to commit an offence, and then the RCMP would launch an investigation. Therefore, we are far from action.

Under the anti-terrorism act, 2015, CSIS could engage a trusted friend or relative to speak with the individual to advise them against travelling for terrorist purposes. Further, CSIS could meet with the individual to advise them that it knows what he or she is planning to do and what the consequences of taking further action would be.

These needless roadblocks have the potential to cost human lives. As I just explained, we have seen all our western allies providing their intelligence services with these kinds of tools.

With this strengthened mandate, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service could use a variety of techniques to counter threats in order to thwart plans or even alter behaviour.

For example, CSIS could talk to the family of a potential terrorist about his travel plans. This is a legal activity in which CSIS cannot currently participate because it does not fall within the service's intelligence gathering mandate.

Let me be very clear. As is currently the case with intelligence gathering, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would have to seek a warrant from the court to make use of any more intrusive techniques.

What is more, as with all CSIS activities, activities to disrupt a threat would be subject to a rigorous external review by the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

Under its new mandate, CSIS would be required to conduct an annual review of at least one aspect of its performance and summarize its findings in its annual report, which is tabled here in Parliament. CSIS would also be required to present statistics on its use of warrants to disrupt threats.

I realize that many of the Liberal and NDP members have expressed concerns about the level of oversight of our national security agencies. On this side of the House, we believe in and are proud of our Canadian model. We have third-party, non-partisan, independent, and expert oversight that is bringing continuity to the monitoring of the intelligence community. We believe that it is much better than importing a made-in-America political intervention in the process.

I would reiterate the important point that often seems to be forgotten around this place, that it is the jihadis who represent a threat, not our own police officers and those protecting us.

I am glad that my colleague, the hon. Minister of Justice, will speak on the bill, because there are two very important measures in it. I see that my time is running out, so let me briefly mention those two measures.

The fourth element of the bill is an amendment to the Criminal Code to allow our police forces, in co-operation with the Attorney General of Canada and with a warrant from a judge, to intervene when an individual poses a threat.

The fifth element—and my colleague and those who speak after me can elaborate on this—deals with how we will increase our prevention efforts. We can do this by eliminating the sources of terrorist propaganda, or in other words, by putting an end to activity on websites that could constitute terrorist propaganda and criminalizing those who may be encouraging terrorist acts.

We have a robust bill here with five common-sense measures. Who could oppose the federal agencies sharing information among themselves to better protect Canadians with full respect for our charter and Constitution?

I was proud to work on that bill. Unfortunately, as we might expect, we have heard the opposition members engaging in a kind of rhetoric this afternoon, but I am certainly open and hope that we will have an open and fair debate and sound questions on this important bill for the safety of Canadians.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
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Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his remarks, in which he again made reference to a full debate. Earlier in his speech he talked about giving some answers to items from question period. I will go back to the question I asked him in question period, to which he responded by saying that he was looking forward to starting the debate this afternoon.

Will the minister promise us that we will have a full debate on this bill, and that when we get it to committee, we will listen to experts who have concerns about the effectiveness and the constitutionality of this bill? Will he listen to Canadians who want to come to committee and testify on this bill, and have a complete and full debate on the bill? Will he make that commitment now, here in the House?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
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Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I expected to hear a question on the bill itself, and not on the process.

The member knows full well that the committee is totally independent of me and that the committee will decide by itself how to proceed. Why do we not have a debate in the House about the merits of this bill?

The opposition members seem to laugh at this bill. This is an important bill for Canadians, and we should devote our time to seeing how we can make it even better. I think Canadians are expecting us to do a thorough review of this bill and to get it through. The threat is real. We saw it in Copenhagen just this weekend. There are no jokes to be made about the terrorist threat and what is happening here and around the world.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the minister said that the bill is well balanced. We certainly question that.

Moreover, the minister stated that SIRC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, provides third-party oversight. Sadly, at the beginning of this debate, the minister has already misinformed the House. Let me quote from SIRC's annual report:

An oversight body looks on a continual basis at what is taking place inside an intelligence service and has the mandate to evaluate and guide current actions in “real time.” SIRC is a review body, so unlike an oversight agency....

SIRC claims that it is not an oversight agency. Why is the minister continuing to claim that it is? His seconder to this bill, the current Minister of Justice, was part of a report in 2004 that called for proper oversight, similar to what our Five Eyes have. He, at the time, refuted that SIRC is a proper oversight agency. Why did the minister leave oversight out of this bill?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Justice reminds me that this very member was occupying that very function not so long ago, and was working with SIRC and expressing his confidence in this great Canadian model.

SIRC is a body that is an extension of Parliament. I encourage the member to read the report a bit further, and he will see that SIRC is an extension of Parliament. It is acting on behalf of us all, but it is non-partisan. It is not a political intervention. It has continuity, expertise, and knowledge. As members may be aware, we just appointed a very respected Canadian, the dean of a law faculty, to it. Mr. Holloway is joining as an honourable member of SIRC and will assist it in its very important duty of keeping an eye on our intelligence community.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Scarborough Centre Ontario


Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, at the start his speech, the minister talked about information sharing and mentioned that Canadians would expect that if one branch came across information pertinent to national security threats against Canadians, it could give that information to another branch. Canadians sitting at home might be saying to themselves, “I thought that was already being done”.

Certainly, terrorist threats and how they have evolved have changed over the years. They certainly are not the same as they were 30 years ago when the CSIS Act was first enacted. Certainly, they are not the same as they were 10 years ago.

However, when we talk about information sharing, I wonder if you could elaborate a bit more on who actually controls that information. I know some members of the opposition parties are assuming that there is going to be some sort of big database and that people could just freely access that information. That would not be the case. Could you please clarify that for the opposition parties?

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February 18th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I am presuming that the parliamentary secretary is not asking me to clarify this. I would like her to direct her comments to the Chair rather than directly to the minister.

The hon. minister.

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February 18th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for her question and her excellent work. As she comes from a large urban community, certainly one of the largest in our country, she knows how important it is to put in place measures that will keep Canadians safe.

Regarding the question on information sharing, this is enabling legislation that would empower every agency to share information related to national security and direct it to the authorities when they are concerned about national security. I gave the example of an individual who could represent a threat and that this information could be conveyed to the authorities.

We want to prevent Canadians from travelling abroad to commit terrorist attacks, but we also want to make sure that if a part of the Canadian government is aware that an individual could represent a threat and if that individual is prevented from travelling, we are not generating a home grown terrorist who could carry out an attack here on our soil. This is why the bill is so important. It addresses some of the questions that arose from the terrorist attacks that took place on October 20 and 22, especially on October 20 when we knew that the individual was prevented from travelling.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone in the House would agree that terrorism is a real threat. We can also all agree that governments around the world should consider public safety an important issue.

However, Canadians do not have to choose between public safety and their rights. They go hand in hand. It makes me sad to see the Minister of Public Safety giving Canadians a false choice.

Today I would like to ask the Minister of Public Safety why there is not more civilian oversight of CSIS in this bill. Why is the government not directly addressing radicalization by working with communities on the ground? Why is the government working in a vacuum?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my hon. colleague that we brought in legislation to combat terrorism, as well as a strategy that has been around for several years now, through which we invest in prevention and research.

Unfortunately, we did not have the support of the New Democrats for the first pillar of our anti-terrorism strategy, which is prevention. This afternoon I showed that the bill before us contains elements that will improve and reduce the risk of radicalization, in particular by giving intelligence officers the ability to reduce the threat as soon as they are in contact with an individual who could fall prey to radicalization and also by shutting down websites that could be spreading terrorist propaganda.

The New Democrats have an opportunity to take action by supporting the bill before them this afternoon.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will come back to my question on oversight. I know that the minister and his parliamentary secretary try to make the point that they want a non-partisan committee. As the current Minister of Justice knows, the other oversight committees among our Five Eyes partners are from all parties. Their interest is national security and they do it in a non-partisan way.

I will quote from the SIRC report:

To establish and maintain the confidence of both chambers of Parliament and the trust of Canadians, Parliament’s role in this area must be, and be seen to be, independent of the Executive (Cabinet).

Why, in heaven's name, would the minister not allow Parliament to do its job and provide proper oversight to all the security agencies, including CSIS and the others? Why is the signature of the Minister of Justice not worth much?

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February 18th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me remind my hon. colleague that SIRC is a very good oversight mechanism. I am little surprised to hear the member asking that question this afternoon. When he was minister, he was fully happy with the expertise provided by SIRC.

However, I am satisfied. I met with the current chair, the members of the board, and the executive director. I read their report. They are somewhat critical of part of the work that has been done by CSIS, and it is expected that CSIS will respond appropriately to those issues. I would like to remind my hon. colleague of one thing that is more important, that they are acting on our behalf. This is a Canadian model that has expertise and, frankly, we can be proud of the work they are doing on our behalf.

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February 18th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
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Outremont Québec


Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition to indicate that the New Democratic Party of Canada will oppose Bill C-51.

I do so with a deep sense of responsibility, because, as members know, over the last several months, horrific terrorist attacks have shocked the world. However, at the same time, mourning those events has brought people together and strengthened our resolve to defend our way of life against cowardly attackers who seek to intimidate us and erode our freedoms.

Canadians came together in grief and defiance the day after the Parliament Hill shooting, pledging that violence would not, even for a day, halt the work of our democracy. That day we were united. We were resolved to keep this land strong and free, to protect our freedoms, to stand by our principles.

The day after the Parliament Hill shooting, it was important to affirm our duty to stand on guard for Canada, loudly and clearly. Let us be clear: terrorism is a very real threat both at home and abroad. The events of September 11, 2001, changed the face of the world and forced countries to tighten surveillance and take threats seriously. The Canadian government has invested considerable resources over the last two decades and has taken forceful measures to strengthen its laws against terrorism.

Over the same years, many bills have come before the House. Every time, the New Democratic Party has provided a thoughtful and balanced analysis. We have supported some of these bills and opposed others, as we will oppose Bill C-51.

We do the same when there are difficult international issues to deal with. We remember when this House was asked to vote on a mission to bomb Libya in the days of Moammar Gadhafi, and the NDP voted in favour of that mission because there was a mandate from the United Nations. When the mission evolved into an American one aimed at regime change, we withdrew our support. That is what it means to have principles and be consistent.

Some legislation that was created post-2001 is working well. Moreover, that is at the heart of some of our criticism of the government. It is as if these laws that are working well did not even exist. Members will remember that in June 2006, some 400 police officers were involved in the arrest of 18 people in Toronto who were planning attacks on public places such as the Peace Tower here in Ottawa and the CN Tower in Toronto. In 2013, so recently it is still in the news, the RCMP thwarted a planned attack on a VIA Rail train. Just since the beginning of 2015, police officers have laid charges against six individuals here in the Ottawa area for participating in and facilitating the activity of a terrorist group. There are laws in place already. The current system has proved its worth. It produces results. It works well.

The NDP believes that the laws that exist today enable police and intelligence officers to do their work properly. Providing new legislative tools is not the only solution. First and foremost, we must ensure that our officers have the financial resources they need in order to better enforce the law.

In addition, some of the laws enacted to combat terrorism are never used by the police. Nonetheless, the NDP has always stood up in the House to ask questions about each new bill, at each reading, and about the measures proposed by the government, because the NDP believes that security and freedom are fundamental values that must be preserved at all costs.

We also believe that they go hand in hand and that countries where the people have the most freedom are the safest countries. I believe, fundamentally, that the first duty of every government is to ensure that its citizens are safe. That includes the duty to ensure the safety of the food supply. Let us remember that for ideological reasons, we no longer have government inspectors in meat processing plants. We have a system of self-regulation where the company says whether it is doing a good job. That is not unrelated to the fact that a few years ago, under this government, dozens of Canadians died during the listeriosis crisis. Protecting the public is a duty, and the Conservatives failed in that task. They even made tasteless and inappropriate jokes at the expense of the people who died. Even worse, the person who made those inappropriate jokes is still the Minister of Agriculture. That is shameful.

The government has a duty to ensure that hazardous materials are transported safely. We have all seen the result. Once again, this government’s ideological vision means allowing the railway companies to self-regulate, to check off a box and tell the government whether they are doing a good job. We will never forget that one of the few railway companies to have special permission from the Conservative government allowing it to have only one engineer on board was the railway company whose train exploded in Lac-Mégantic. That too is about protecting the public. We are talking about 50 deaths.

The public must be protected in all realms of life. When a legislative framework is put in place, the appropriate financial resources to enable the police and intelligence services to preserve the public peace and protect the public must also be allocated. In fact, what happened in the meat processing plants was the result of a system of self-regulation and the elimination of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. What happened with the railway companies is the same thing: a system of self-regulation where the government no longer plays the role that it is its job to play.

We can make a very long list of things that the government gave up on or did not have the courage to move forward with. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights unanimously voted in favour of legislation to crack down on impaired driving. Nothing was done. We never heard about it again. The Conservatives love to chat with groups of mothers who lost their children or loved ones to impaired driving, but in all their years in power, they have never done anything to address this important issue. Compelling evidence shows that these changes alone would have saved hundreds of lives. This too is a way of protecting the public.

There is no question that terrorism is a real threat, both here at home and abroad. Taking effective action to protect public safety must be the top priority for any government, but we as parliamentarians also have an obligation to protect Canadians' way of life by standing up for our freedoms and our values.

Parliamentarians must come together to address this threat with responsible, effective measures that are targeted on the threat, rather than playing political games as we saw today.

At a time when we need a responsible and serious approach to this threat, an approach that protects Canadians' values and freedoms, we saw the Prime Minister playing games and putting the freedoms of Canadians at risk. Canadians saw it today. We asked him five times to provide one single example, and he was incapable of doing it. Why? It is because this is a political play more than anything else.

The Conservatives have even admitted it. They see the recent events, as one of their officials put it, as a “strategic opportunity” for them, so Canadians are right to suspect that the Prime Minister's new anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-51, goes too far.

The NDP team analyzed, examined and reviewed this bill from every angle. We consulted our civil society partners to see if the Conservatives' new approach would be effective in protecting Canadians and their civil liberties. We also asked for clarification from the Prime Minister and his ministers responsible for this portfolio, but to no avail. As we have seen, they are unable to answer us. That proves that the Conservatives are playing political games.

Unlike the Liberals, who supported this bill without even reading it and abdicated all power to negotiate amendments, the NDP took the time to read, think about and analyze this long and complex piece of legislation. The NDP will not support the Conservatives' Bill C-51 in its present form because it has too many flaws and will undermine the rights of Canadians.

After studying this complex piece of legislation, after consulting with experts, after talking with Canadians, and after lengthy democratic discussions in our own caucus, the NDP has come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister's approach is one we cannot and shall not support.

Bill C-51 is sweeping, dangerously vague, and ineffective. It does not do things that are proven to work, and it puts politics ahead of protecting Canadians.

Why do I say that? Well, instead of introducing this legislation right here in Parliament, as he should have, the Prime Minister chose to do it in an election-like campaign-style event. That is called tipping one's hand. He even went so far as to make remarks that singled out Canada's Muslim community. That is not leadership that unites Canadians, and he should be ashamed of himself.

Canadians are being told by the Prime Minister that they need to choose between their security and their rights, that safety and freedom are somehow, in the Conservatives' minds, mutually exclusive. It is the classic Conservative political approach, which is not based on good policy but entirely on what Conservatives see as good partisan politics: to drive wedges, to put one region against another and one community against another, and to create false choices.

The Prime Minister should know that it is not either the environment or the economy. It is both. It is not either free trade or human rights. It is both. It is not either public safety or freedom. It is both.

The Conservatives are once again offering us a false choice. We should not have to choose between our freedom and our safety. It is our duty to protect both for everyone at all times, at every opportunity and in every way.

We can and we must have both at the same time. We are convinced that we can have them both.

The Prime Minister could have decided to put forward concrete measures to make Canadians safer and protect our freedoms. Instead, the Conservatives have once again put politics over principle and have introduced a bill that is so broad it would allow CSIS to investigate anyone who opposes the government's economic, social, or environmental policies. Bill C-51 proposes to give CSIS a sweeping new mandate to disrupt the activities of people or groups it does not like or that it believes pose any kind of threat under any of those chapters.

What has happened to the rule of law in our country? We have been asking the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to explain what that means. He has been entirely incapable. Neither he nor his officials nor the Prime Minister, for that matter, have been willing or able to describe what activities this new mandate would cover. Anyone who was here today during question period saw what happened: a Prime Minister wholly incapable of providing a single example of what this bill was supposed to correct as mischief. That is because it is a political ploy.

However, according to the brilliant and oh so talented Minister of Public Safety, we must not get caught up in definitions.

As we just heard from his empty speech, however, he has no problem at all getting caught up in the platitudes and talking points written out for him by the Prime Minister's Office, which are completely meaningless.

The rule of law is the very essence of a state of law. It is the very wording of the law; it is the construction of the law; it is what is written in the law. That is why he is incapable of talking about it, because he does not understand what he just wrote in his own bill.

For absolute clarity and so that everyone has the same understanding and the same interpretation of the bill, let us be clear. If the Conservatives had wanted to do things right, they would have begun in Parliament and announced that experts would be given the time to clarify the bill and study it together.

Instead, we were treated to an election campaign-style announcement hundreds of kilometres away from Parliament, and that revealed their deepest thoughts. This is all a political game to them.

Those experts who are starting to write about this, those highly respected individuals, are warning that the broad measures in Bill C-51 could lump legal dissent together with terrorism and lump strikers together with violent anarchists. Bill C-51 proposes to make it an offence to advocate or promote terrorism “in general”. Can the minister even explain what the words “in general” are doing in a legal text?

Canada already has strong laws that make it an offence to incite a terrorist act. That is why the Conservatives cannot give a single example of what is taken care of by this new bill that is not already taken care of by existing legislation.

Those same experts, and we are seeing more and more of their papers appear, are saying that the language in this new provision is so vague and so open-ended that it could vastly expand the kind of statements that could get a Canadian arrested. Anyone who is genuinely inciting violence against others of course should be stopped. However, we need measures that keep Canadians safe without eroding our fundamental freedoms.

This government should be known as the “government of fear”.

When a government plays with people's fear and takes advantage of Canadians' sensitivity and raw emotions following a tragedy, there is a high risk of abuse.

Like many Quebeckers, I remember the improper arrest and detention of hundreds of innocent people when Trudeau's Liberal Party passed the War Measures Act during the October crisis. At the time, the NDP shrugged off criticism, had the courage of its convictions and stood firm against this attack on the rights and freedoms of all Canadians. It was difficult at the time, but history has proven us right, and we are proud of that.

All parliamentarians are responsible for ensuring that such abuses of power are never repeated. Never again. Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them, and that is what we are seeing with these people.

Today the Conservatives want to give significant new powers to CSIS without addressing serious deficiencies in oversight. We know that there are currently serious deficiencies in the oversight of CSIS. The last report of the under-resourced Security Intelligence Review Committee found that CSIS is “seriously” misleading the committee in one investigation after another, and it faced “difficulties”, which is their term, and “significant delays” in getting information about the spy agency's activities. In other words, they are hiding the information from the people who are supposed to be guaranteeing oversight, because the oversight is deficient, ineffective, and weak. That is the reality. That is before the enhanced responsibilities. It is already problematic.

We are concerned that the Conservatives want to give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more powers without improving the inadequate oversight mechanisms currently in place, mechanisms that resulted in the Conservative government putting Arthur Porter in charge of that oversight. They seem to think that Arthur Porter is a model of ethical conduct.

To us, this is quite straightforward. If the government wants to give CSIS more powers, then it absolutely must increase oversight. That is crucial.

By the way, this is on top of the Conservative decision in 2012 to simply eliminate the position of CSIS inspector general. That, of course, further weakened the reviews, but that is exactly what the Conservatives wanted.

In view of these shortcomings, it is simply irresponsible to give the agency such broad new powers without providing additional oversight and without in any way attempting to prove what such new powers are supposed to do that are not already in the law. The bill also comes on the heels of cuts to our security agencies, cuts that sideline other public safety priorities, and the Prime Minister has yet to offer a plan to support Canadian communities that are combatting radicalization on the ground.

No stranger to the threat of terrorism, the United States of America, under President Obama, has taken a proactive approach to combatting radicalization. The White House has spearheaded work with at-risk communities to make them more resilient against the lure of radicalization. The U.S. government works to support community and faith leaders by connecting them with counter-radicalization experts, providing information on how to recognize the warning signs of radicalization and training in the kinds of tactics that are proven to actually work to diffuse radicalization.

Absolutely none of this is being done in Canada by the Conservatives. In fact, the Conservatives have chosen a very different approach. For example, the RCMP plan to work with communities to counter violent extremism has sat on the drawing board for years. Why? It is because it does not suit the Conservatives' purpose.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has cut the budgets of both the RCMP and CSIS, and top officials have testified that they do not have the resources to monitor terrorism suspects and keep fully funding other areas of their policing. Why? It is because they prefer talking about it to doing anything about it.

Instead of doing the things that are proven to work, this bill sees the Conservatives once again putting wedge politics ahead of protecting Canadians.

Bill C-51 is silent on one element that we feel is essential to attacking terrorism at its root: Canada needs a strategy against radicalization right here at home. We want more measures to help communities. That is what communities are asking for. They want to be able to carry out major educational campaigns.

How we tackle the threats posed by radicalization, terrorism, and attacks by disturbed lone wolves merits a real debate, but by seeking to divide and score points, the Conservatives have succeeded in intimidating the Liberals into giving them a blank cheque to pass any laws, even before they are tabled and even when they go too far. They say that they are going to write a little something on the memo line, but it is still going to be a blank cheque.

The truth is that if we cannot protect our freedoms, we are sacrificing our freedoms. Freedom and public safety have to go hand in hand. We will hold true to our principles and oppose this overreaching legislation. Our rights and freedoms define our Canadian way of life, and as long as I am here, no one is going to undermine who we are and what we stand for as Canadians.

In the coming days, coming weeks, and coming months, we will urge the government to resist its normal urge to try to railroad legislation through. It has broken all records for using the guillotine to pass things more quickly. It has used time allocation and closure more than any other government in the history of Canada.

There are few things that we have ever looked at in this House that are more important than what we are looking at right now. It deserves serious analysis. It deserves the time to hear the experts who have a lot to bring to this debate. We will be proposing amendments, and we hope that the government will listen to our proposals and their merit and to the experts who come to the committee.

We hope that the government will invite not only experts to committee. We hope that it will invite community leaders as well. These are people we should also be listening to. These are people on the front lines who often have to deal with young people who are facing the siren song of radicalization. We should be listening to them, and we should be putting in place the types of solutions they will be talking to us about.

We also urge the Liberals to reconsider their position to support this bill unconditionally. We hope that we all, as parliamentarians, will take this bill seriously. Here, I want to salute the leader of the Green Party, who has also raised serious concerns about Bill C-51. We hope that Conservative MPs will be willing to consider practical amendments to strengthen oversight and to protect Canadians' freedoms.

Free societies are safe societies. Canadians can count on New Democrats to take a principled stand against this and any Conservative law that undermines the freedoms and values that define our Canadian way of life.

The day after the shooting here in Ottawa, I asked the Prime Minister if he would be able to resist his strong tendency to always attack anyone who speaks out against him and his positions.

I asked him if he understood, if he was able to broaden his perspective enough to realize that even though we do not agree on the approach, all parliamentarians want the same thing: to protect Canadians. Again today, the words that were used demonstrated that he is not able to broaden his perspective.

I know that all parliamentarians and all Canadians want to live in safety and peace. We all want to eradicate terrorism. In this sometimes emotional debate, no one should be playing political games, and the NDP therefore wants to do everything it can to get the government to improve its bill.

It is our duty as legislators to implement intelligent and effective policies to protect Canadians. We cannot make any compromises when it comes to safety and freedom. We need to protect both of these things at the same time and at all times.

In closing, I would simply like to say that if we give in to fear, the terrorists are the ones who win.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Lévis—Bellechasse Québec


Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that in his speech, the Leader of the Opposition failed to mention that with the expansion of the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the powers of the review committee would also automatically be expanded.

I expected a little more from the Leader of the Opposition. I expected more than rhetoric and lame historical references. Impaired driving and food inspection aside, I was expecting a debate on the substance of the bill. He asked whether this bill contains any practical measures.

Let us look at the first measure, which is very simple. It involves sharing information among federal agencies. How can the Leader of the Opposition be opposed to sharing information in order to protect Canadians? Take for example the fact that sometimes passports are revoked, but that information is not necessarily shared with our security agencies. That is a threat to Canadian security.

Is the member interested in supporting the first measure in this bill? If not, why is he opposed to it?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 4:30 p.m.
See context


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the minister's comments one by one. What he said about expanding oversight powers is totally and irrefutably false. There is nothing, nada, zilch in this bill that expands oversight over the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in any way. That is totally and absolutely false. This is conclusive evidence of our second point, which is that the minister may have read his bill, but he does not really understand it.

I personally had the opportunity this afternoon to ask the Prime Minister five times—and countless times in the case of other members—to provide a single example of an action deemed a crime under this bill that is not already a crime under existing legislation. The red herrings, the attempts to distract us, like a magician putting on a show, keep bringing us back to square one: no one is capable of showing that this bill prohibits an activity that is not already prohibited in Canada, which is proof positive that this is nothing but a political game to the Conservatives.