An Act respecting the repeal of the Acts enacted by the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 and amending or repealing certain provisions enacted by that Act

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Randall Garrison  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of Sept. 26, 2016
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment repeals the Acts enacted by the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 as well as the amendments made to other Acts by that Act.


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.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 7:50 p.m.
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Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to speak against Bill C-59 at third reading. Unfortunately, it is yet another example of the Liberals breaking an election promise, only this time it is disguised as promise keeping.

In the climate of fear after the attacks on Parliament Hill and in St. Jean in 2014, the Conservative government brought forward Bill C-51. I heard a speech a little earlier from the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, and he remembers things slightly different than I. The difference is that I was in the public safety committee and he, as the minister, was not there. He said that there was a great clamour for new laws to meet this challenge of terrorism. I certainly did not hear that in committee. What I heard repeatedly from law enforcement and security officials coming before us was that they had not been given enough resources to do the basic enforcement work they needed to do to keep Canadians safe from terrorism.

However, when the Conservatives finally managed to pass their Anti-terrorism Act, they somehow managed to infringe our civil liberties without making us any safer.

At that time, the New Democrats remained firm in our conviction that it would be a mistake to sacrifice our freedoms in the name of defending them. Bill C-51 was supported by the Liberals, who hedged their bets with a promise to fix what they called “its problematic elements” later if they were elected. Once they were elected in 2015, that determination to fix Bill C-51 seemed to wane. That is why in September of 2016, I introduced Bill C-303, a private member's bill to repeal Bill C-51 in its entirety.

Some in the House at that time questioned why I introduced a private member's bill since I knew it would not come forward for a vote. In fact, this was an attempt to get the debate started, as the Liberals had already kept the public waiting for a year at that point. The New Democrats were saying, “You promised a bill. Well, here's our bill. It's very simple. Repeal all of C-51.”

Now, after more than two years and extensive consultations, we have this version of Bill C-59 before us, which does not repeal Bill C-51 and fails to fix most of the major problems of Bill C-51, it actually introduces new threats to our privacy and rights.

Let me start with the things that were described, even by the Liberals, as problematic, and remain unfixed in Bill C-59 as it stands before us.

First, there is the definition of “national security” in the Anti-terrorism Act that remains all too broad, despite some improvements in Bill C-59. Bill C-59 does narrow the definition of criminal terrorism speech, which Bill C-51 defined as “knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general”. That is a problematic definition. Bill C-59 changes the Criminal Code wording to “counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. Certainly, that better captures the problem we are trying to get at in the Criminal Code. There is plenty of existing case law around what qualifies as counselling someone to commit an offence. Therefore, that is much better than it was.

Then the government went on to add a clause that purports to protect advocacy and protest from being captured in the Anti-terrorism Act. However, that statement is qualified with an addition that says it will be protected unless the dissent and advocacy are carried out in conjunction with activities that undermine the security of Canada. It completes the circle. It takes us right back to that general definition.

The only broad definition of national security specifically in Bill C-51 included threats to critical infrastructure. Therefore, this still raises the spectre of the current government or any other government using national security powers against protesters against things like the pipeline formerly known as Kinder Morgan.

The second problem Bill C-59 fails to fix is that of the broad data collection information sharing authorized by Bill C-51, and in fact maintained in Bill C-59. This continues to threaten Canadians' basic privacy rights. Information and privacy commissioners continue to point out that the basis of our privacy law is that information can only be used for the purposes for which it is collected. Bill C-51 and Bill C-59 drive a big wedge in that important protection of our privacy rights.

Bill C-51 allowed sharing information between agencies and with foreign governments about national security under this new broad definition which I just talked about. Therefore, it is not just about terrorism and violence, but a much broader range of things the government could collect and share information on. Most critics would say Bill C-59, while it has tweaked these provisions, has not actually fixed them, and changing the terminology from “information sharing” to “information disclosure” is more akin to a sleight of hand than an actual reform of its provisions.

The third problem that remains are those powers that Bill C-51 granted to CSIS to act in secret to counter threats. This new proactive power granted to CSIS by Bill C-51 is especially troubling precisely because CSIS activities are secret and sometimes include the right to break the law. Once again, what we have done is returned to the very origins of CSIS. In other words, when the RCMP was both the investigatory and the enforcement agency, we ran into problems in the area of national security, so CSIS was created. Therefore, what we have done is return right back to that problematic situation of the 1970s, only this time it is CSIS that will be doing the investigating and then actively or proactively countering those threats. We have recreated a problem that CSIS was supposed to solve.

Bill C-59 also maintains the overly narrow list of prohibitions that are placed on those CSIS activities. CSIS can do pretty much anything short of committing bodily harm, murder, or the perversion of the course of democracy or justice. However, it is still problematic that neither justice nor democracy are actually defined in the act. Therefore, this would give CSIS powers that I would argue are fundamentally incompatible with a free and democratic society.

The Liberal change would require that those activities must be consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That sounds good on its face, except that these activities are exempt from scrutiny because they are secret. Who decides whether they might potentially violate the charter of rights? It is not a judge, because this is not oversight. There is no oversight here. This is the government deciding whether it should go to the judge and request oversight. Therefore, if the government does not think it is a violation of the charter of rights, it goes ahead and authorizes the CSIS activities. Again, this is a fundamental problem in a democracy.

The fourth problem is that Bill C-59 still fails to include an absolute prohibition on the use of information derived from torture. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan made some eloquent statements on this with which I agree. What we have is the government saying that now it has included a cabinet directive on torture in Bill C-59, which gives the cabinet directive to force of law. The cabinet directive already has the force of law, so it absolutely changes nothing about this.

However, even worse, there is no absolute prohibition in that cabinet directive on the use of torture-implicated information. Instead, the prohibition says that information from torture can be used in some circumstances, and then it sets a very low threshold for when we can actually use information derived from fundamental rights violations. Not only is this morally repugnant, most likely unconstitutional, but it also gives us information that is notoriously unreliable. People who are being tortured will say precisely what they think the torturer wants them to say to stop the torture.

Finally, Bill C-59 would not do one of the things it could have done, and that is create a review agency for the CBSA. The CBSA remains without an independent review and complaints mechanism. It is one of our only law enforcement or security agencies that has no direct review agency. Yes, the new national security intelligence review agency will have some responsibility over the CBSA, but only in terms of national security questions, not in terms of its basic day-to-day operations.

We have seen quite often that the activities carried out by border agencies have a major impact on fundamental rights of people. We can look at the United States right now and see what its border agency is doing in the separation of parents and children. Therefore, it is a concern that there is no place in Canada, if we have a complaint about what CBSA has done, to file that complaint except in a court of law, which requires information, resources, and all kinds of other things that are unlikely to be available to those people who need to make those complaints.

The Liberals will tell us that there are some areas where they have already acted outside of Bill C-59, and we have just heard the member for Winnipeg North talk about Bill C-22, which established the national security review committee of parliamentarians.

The New Democrats feel that this is a worthwhile first step toward fixing some of the long-standing weaknesses in our national security arrangements, but it is still only a review agency, still only an agency making recommendations. It is not an oversight agency that makes decisions in real time about what can be done and make binding orders about what changes have to be made.

The government rejected New Democrat amendments on the bill, amendments which would have allowed the committee to be more independent from the government. It would have allowed it to be more transparent in its public reporting and would have given it better integration with existing review bodies.

The other area the Liberals claim they have already acted on is the no-fly list. It was interesting that the minister today in his speech, opening the third reading debate, claimed that the government was on its way to fixing the no-fly list, not that it had actually fixed the no-fly list. Canada still lacks an effective redress system for travellers unintentionally flagged on the no-fly list. I have quite often heard members on the government side say that no one is denied boarding as a result of this. I could give them the names of people who have been denied boarding. It has disrupted their business activities. It has disrupted things like family reunions. All too often we end up with kids on the no-fly list. Their names happen to be Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding or whatever presumptions people make and they names happen to be somewhat like someone else already on the list.

The group of no-fly list kids' parents have been demanding that we get some effective measures in place right away to stop the constant harassment they face for no reason at all. The fact that we still have not fixed this problem raises real questions about charter right guarantees of equality, which are supposed to be protected by law in our country.

Not only does Bill C-59 fail to correct the problems in Bill C-51, it goes on to create two new threats to fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians, once again, without any evidence that these measures will make it safer.

Bill C-59 proposes to immediately expand the Communications Security Establishment Canada's mandate beyond just information gathering, and it creates an opportunity for CSE to collect information on Canadians which would normally be prohibited.

Just like we are giving CSIS the ability to not just collect information but to respond to threats, now we are saying that the Communications Security Establishment Canada should not just collect information, but it should be able to conduct what the government calls defensive cyber operations and active cyber operations.

Bill C-59 provides an overly broad list of purposes and targets for these active cyber operations. It says that activities could be carried out to “degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization or terrorist group as they relate to international affairs, defence or security.” Imagine anything that is not covered there. That is about as broad as the provision could be written.

CSE would also be allowed to do “anything that is reasonably necessary to maintain the covert nature of the activity.” Let us think about that when it comes to oversight and review of its activities. In my mind that is an invitation for it to obscure or withhold information from review agencies.

These new CSE powers are being expanded without adequate oversight. Once again, there is no independent oversight, only “after the fact” review. To proceed in this case, it does not require a warrant from a court, but only permission from the Minister of National Defence, if the activities are to be domestic based, or from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, if the activities are to be conducted abroad.

These new, active, proactive measures to combat a whole list and series of threats is one problem. The other is while Bill C-59 says that there is a still a prohibition on the Canadian Security Establishment collecting information on Canadians, we should allow for what it calls “incidental” acquisition of information relating to Canadians or persons in Canada. This means that in situations where the information was not deliberately sought, a person's private data could still be captured by CSE and retained and used. The problem remains that this incidental collecting, which is called research by the government and mass surveillance by its critics, remains very much a part of Bill C-59.

Both of these new powers are a bit disturbing, when the Liberal promise was to fix the problematic provisions in Bill C-51, not add to them. The changes introduced for Bill C-51 in itself are minor. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan talked about the changes not being particularly effective. I have to agree with him. I do not think they were designed to be effective. They are unlikely to head off the constitutional challenges to Bill C-51 already in place by organizations such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Those constitutional challenges will proceed, and I believe that they will succeed.

What works best in terrorism cases? Again, when I was the New Democrats' public safety critic sitting on the public safety committee when Bill C-51 had its hearings, we heard literally dozens and dozens of witnesses who almost all said the same thing: it is old-fashioned police work on the front line that solves or prevents terrorism. For that, we need resources, and we need to focus the resources on enforcement activities at the front end.

What did we see from the Conservatives when they were in power? There were actual cutbacks in the budgets of the RCMP, the CBSA, and CSIS. The whole time they were in power and they were worried about terrorism, they were denying the basic resources that were needed.

What have the Liberals done since they came back to power? They have actually added some resources to all of those agencies, but not for the terrorism investigation and enforcement activities. They have added them for all kinds of other things they are interested in but not the areas that would actually make a difference.

We have heard quite often in this House, and we have heard some of it again in this debate, that what we are talking about is the need to balance or trade off rights against security. New Democrats have argued very consistently, in the previous Parliament and in this Parliament, that there is no need to trade our rights for security. The need to balance is a false need. Why would we give up our rights and argue that in doing so, we are actually protecting them? This is not logical. In fact, it is the responsibility of our government to provide both protection of our fundamental rights and protection against threats.

The Liberals again will tell us that the promise is kept. What I am here to tell members is that I do not see it in this bill. I see a lot of attempts to confuse and hide what they are really doing, which is to hide the fundamental support they still have for what was the essence of Bill C-51. That was to restrict the rights and freedoms of Canadians in the name of national security. The New Democrats reject that false game. Therefore, we will be voting against this bill at third reading.

Public SafetyOral Questions

December 8th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are claiming it is not possible to repeal the Conservative Bill C-51. My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke is proposing just that with his Bill C-303 to fully protect Canadians' rights.

Under the 138-page Liberal Bill C-59, CSIS still has extensive and invasive powers. The privacy of Canadians is still under threat and oversight of government agencies is insufficient.

Will the government divide Bill C-59 into separate bills so they can be properly studied? Canadians' rights are at stake.

November 30th, 2017 / 9:10 a.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, thank you for being here.

I want to point out a couple of things for the record before we get going.

A lot has been made about our ability to study the bill more thoroughly by doing this before second reading, but at the end of the day, we still only get you for one hour on a 138-page bill. Certainly, I want to express some disappointment about that. At the end of the day, beyond the question of scope of amendments, it doesn't necessarily allow us more space to study quite an extensive bill, as you can see from the size of our binders.

The other thing I want to mention in this notion of unscrambling eggs is that certainly I have no doubt of the ability of the justice department to do what my colleague Randall Garrison did in his Bill C-303, which is on the order paper right now and which repeals in its entirety all of the provisions that were brought in by former Bill C-51. I would argue the notion that it is unfeasible is incorrect, because we have been able to develop such a bill.

Those things being said, I do have questions.

The first one I want to get to is the changes to CSE in part 3 of the bill, in proposed subsection 24(1), in paragraphs (a) and (b) specifically, where we talk about “acquiring, using, analysing, retaining or disclosing publicly available information”. That section specifically mentions “Despite subsections 23(1) and (2)”, which are the subsections that are specifically protecting those actions from being done to Canadians and in Canada. Therefore, my understanding is that it obviously means that, for any of this data being acquired in this way, these actions can be done to Canadians and in Canada.

I just want to understand here, because certainly the argument can be made that it's publicly available information and that's too bad for people who maybe don't manage their social media very well. However, a few things are of concern, specifically language like “disclosing...information”, and who that—

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the motion that proposes to send Bill C-59 to committee before second reading, something that has not been done thus far in this Parliament. Debate, of course, is crucial when we are discussing something as significant to Canadians as their safety insofar as national security is concerned, as well as their rights as citizens in this country. I want to use my time to ask my colleagues and Canadians who may be watching, with respect to national security, what kind of country do we want to be? How can we strike the appropriate balance, giving our national security agencies the powers they need to do the job to protect us and at the same time protecting Canadian values? The first question is a little broad for a 10-minute speech, but my answer to the second one is very simple. We have to approach this task with great caution and open debate.

Bill C-51 was brought in by the Harper Conservatives, the former government. It was nothing short of disastrous. Bill C-51 provoked the largest demonstrations in my riding of Victoria in recent history. There were town halls with people spilling out into the streets, and anxiety on behalf of people from all walks of life in our community. The consensus was clear that the legislation was open to abuse and was far too wide. The language was vague and permissive. People were unsure where they stood as Canadians and what their rights would mean under that new legislation. The Liberals did nothing, except to say that they liked part of it, they did not like other parts. They refused to go along with the NDP's request that the bill be repealed in its entirety, and promised to repeal the problematic elements. Therefore, what we have before us is a 138-page statute with nine parts, which is a comprehensive attempt, after two years of consultation, to get it right. The question is on whether they have.

It is our contention that this poorly conceived bill should not be supported in the first place and needs to be repealed. That is not a new position. My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke introduced Bill C-303, which simply asked that Bill C-51 be repealed. That continues to be our view on what should occur in this situation. We think that the bill is not in the interests of Canadians and should be rejected outright.

Since the Liberals voted in favour of Bill C-51, instead of scrapping it and beginning anew, they created Bill C-59, which was supposed to correct the numerous deficiencies of the former legislation. They brought in a green paper and consulted for two years. That green paper was criticized for its lack of neutrality and for favouring the national security side as a preoccupation over civil liberties concerns and the right for peaceful protest, freedom of speech, lawful assembly, and dissent. The Liberals assured Canadians that the most problematic areas would be repealed. I am afraid that the resulting bill has not done that, and several problematic elements remain.

However, there is much in the bill that I wish to say is right. For example, the creation of the super SIRC, the expanded oversight committee, is an excellent step. There are many other things, however, that are deeply problematic, and which, if time permits, I would like to talk about.

There are some elements, in particular involving the Communications Security Establishment, the shadowy agency that Canadians know from U.S. TV to be our counterpart to the National Security Agency in that country, the NSA. There are problems, for example, with its new cyber-ability to modify, disrupt, and delete “anything on or through the global...structure”, which sounds a little Orwellian. It would seem that the mandate blurs the line between intelligence gathering and active cyber-activities, as has been pointed out by Professors Forcese and Roach as well. It is under the national defence department, as it has been for many years, and the bill would deal with national defence matters such as CSE, and other areas as well.

The bill would do nothing to address the ministerial directive on torture. The directive needs to be acknowledged. It is not part of the bill, it is merely a directive. A new directive was introduced only last year, and it failed to forbid the RCMP, CBSA, or CSIS from using information that was largely extracted through overseas torture. The new instruction amounts to only semantic changes and would not do anything to ensure our public safety, because it is notorious that information obtained through torture is unreliable. The government did nothing to address that in a meaningful way in this legislation. It could have, and chose not to. This legislation does not go far enough in addressing the glaring omissions and problems of Bill C-51.

Michael Vonn, who is with the BC Civil Liberties Association, has also spoken about the misguided process of amending this flawed legislation. She said, “The bill does several things to try to reign in the unprecedented surveillance powers created by [the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act]...”. That is one of the parts of this new legislation. She went on to say that as there was “no credible justification for [that act] that was ever made, it would have been much better to repeal it and introduce any clarifying amendments required in the federal Privacy Act.” Again, that was another opportunity lost. Her comments highlight that measures and policies were brought into effect without any demonstrated justification that they were needed to keep Canadians safe.

We are in the strange position of rushing through the appropriate steps of amending practices that may not be necessary in the first place. After Canadians have waited two years for badly needed action on national security, why has the government not used its time appropriately to ensure that we had legislation that, in the words of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “gets it right”. I implore my colleagues in government to think differently than the government before it. If there is truly a commitment for openness, transparency, and accountability, let us debate the bill at second reading and work together to fix the half measures that are in it.

A procedural issue is before us as a result of this unusual move by the government to move the bill to committee before second reading. As I understand it, the motion before us would send the bill to committee before the usual debate at second reading. Therefore, the Standing Orders will not necessarily apply to enable the Speaker to break out the nine parts of this lengthy legislation so we could vote in favour of some and oppose others. Surely, the Liberals are better than this.

Rather than resorting to the Stephen Harper trick of saying we voted against this omnibus legislation to keep Canadians safe, which generally was done in all the other Conservative omnibus bills, why would the government not allow this to be broken out the way that the Speaker has the authority to do? There are some parts of the bill that are worthy of support. However, the Liberals' trick, following in the footsteps of Mr. Harper, would require those of us who are opposed to some of the very contentious issues to vote against it all. That is a trick that is unworthy of the minister and his government. Measures that compromise our charter rights and our privacy rights do our country harm, and those are the reasons we called for the repeal of Bill C-51 more than two years ago.

In speaking about privacy, in the fall of 2016, a Federal Court ruling took CSIS to task for storing sensitive metadata on Canadians who were not suspected of anything. The court found that for 10 years, CSIS had been illegally storing information derived from some of its wiretaps. The data involved metadata such as source information, emails, phone numbers, and the like. This legislation would not change that. It would allow it to continue.

By way of conclusion, we have to ask ourselves whether we want a country where our security services have a lot of information about many citizens, with a view to detecting national security threats, but for which there is no demonstrable harm caused by any of those citizens. The powers with respect to the charter are extremely complicated. I would invite people to look at clause 98 and figure out whether or not the courts would be able to limit our charter rights in a warrant. It is very problematic. We must do it better, and we need to have that opportunity as quickly as possible.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, today, we begin debating Bill C-59. In fact, we are debating a motion to send the bill to committee before second reading. I will come back to that.

Bill C-59 is the result of a process that began more than two years ago, even before the current government was elected. We know that we can trace this bill to Bill C-51, which was introduced by the Conservatives and then passed by the Conservative majority, with the support of the Liberals, of course, including the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Prime Minister.

When I think about the Liberals' approach to national security in the last parliament, an certain expression comes to mind.

They want to have their cake and eat it too.

That is the problem. It is extremely worrying to see that someone can be so cavalier about an issue as fundamental as the rights of Canadians, their freedom, and their right to privacy. This is what was jeopardized, on several fronts, by the system introduced by the previous Bill C-51. Unfortunately, 10 minutes is not enough for me to review all the problematic elements, so I will instead focus on the Liberal government's effort, which is unfortunately a failure.

Of course, there are some elements that we could support in the current bill. The creation of what some are calling this new body of super SIRC is something we could support. The changes that are being brought forward are long overdue for the no-fly list, although much more needs to be done.

I would be remiss to not mention the importance of the fight we have been waging with groups like the no-fly list kids, fighting the false positives, and making sure the proper funding is there for a proper redress system, which is not something specifically addressed in the bill. It is an element that, at the very least, things have started to move, although not quickly enough for the needs of these families who pay the price in dignity and travel logistics every time they attempt to travel.

There are several elements that we are extremely worried about. There is the part about the information sharing system's name change, as the minister even admitted. This change was brought about with the previous Bill C-51. A new name was given and there was a cosmetic change, but the concerns remain the same. That is what we are hearing from groups like the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. This group explained to us that, despite the good intentions, keeping a system that should have never existed in the first place is problematic. This is why the NDP is asking that the provisions brought about by Bill C-51 be outright repealed. That is what my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke proposed with his Bill C-303, which was put on the Order Paper and was introduced. It proposes to eliminate all these problematic elements.

That is why New Democrats have always called for the full repeal of all elements that were brought in by former Bill C-51. These cosmetic changes that are being proposed by the Liberals are not enough. The concerns still exist about sharing information between government departments. The minister can use the word “disclosure” and say it is already existing information, but the fact of the matter is, if we are considering, for example, a Canadian detained abroad and some of the horrific and tragic situations that have led to many of these national inquiries, which have led to some of the recommendations the government is attempting to act on, part of the problem has always been information sharing. For example, we can look at consular services and foreign affairs, that might be obtaining information about a Canadian detained abroad in a country with a horrible human rights record. That information is being shared with CSIS, that then might share it with the Five Eyes allies, like the U.S., that in the past has not been up to snuff on some cases of the way Canadians have been treated in some of these situations, where they have been stuck in countries with horrible human rights records. None of that would actually be fixed by what is being proposed in the bill.

We have other serious concerns about the bill. One has to do with the changes regarding cybersecurity and, in particular, the idea of creating cyber-weapons. Experts and civil society are very concerned, because the Liberals have not properly explained how these weapons will be protected. We are not talking about traditional weapons that can be stockpiled in a particular location to protect a physical place. We are talking about creating situations in which weapons can easily be moved around the digital world. This point was raised and it is worrisome.

I want to get back to the motion before us. The government is acting as though sending the motion to committee before second reading is a good thing. It claims that the process will allow us to have a more in-depth study. On the surface, it is hard to blame them. We would be happy to have an in-depth discussion on this in committee. It is extremely important.

Consider this. This motion would put us in a position, and the Liberals have attempted to find this loophole, where we can no longer fall back on a standing order specifically to prevent this kind of omnibus legislation from being put forward, once again something the government promised not to do. This is omnibus legislation, the creation of something like three new acts, and many acts being substantially changed. The National Defence Act would change. Different elements of acts under the purview of the public safety minister would change. These disparate elements require separate votes.

The fact is that at 150 pages long, with so many elements being tackled, it is of grave concern that we would have to go through it in such an expedited process. It deserves to be properly separated and considered. That is particularly concerning because that is exactly the approach that the government said it would not take. That was part of the problem with Bill C-51. It changed so many elements of how we would deal with national security and protecting Canadians' rights in this country that it became almost impossible for the committee to give it proper study, despite the valiant attempts that were certainly made by the New Democrat opposition and with little help from the Liberals at the time.

I unfortunately have just 10 minutes, so I want to take this opportunity to say that we will be raising a point of order to try to convince the Chair that we must separate the different elements of this bill. We want to show our support for some of these elements, but we want to call the government to order by opposing the elements that were meant to repair the damage caused by the former Bill C-51. These elements make up the bulk of the bill, but they do not repair that damage.

Let me go back to some of the other problematic elements in this bill that were supposed to be fixed from Bill C-51. Let us look at the threat-reduction powers that were given to CSIS. The very existence of CSIS was specifically to separate the powers of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Too many times, history pointed to occasions where the RCMP failed to juggle the dual responsibilities of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Different recommendations led to the creation of CSIS.

The minister is obviously fully aware of this because, as he mentioned in his comments, the CSIS Act was adopted over 30 years ago, with very little overhaul, until Bill C-51 and this legislation being proposed. We have to understand that CSIS does not have threat reduction powers. That responsibility belongs to law enforcement, as well as the information-sharing regime brought in by Bill C-51. Once again, the changes being proposed by New Democrats are certainly an improvement, but when the bar is as low as it was with Bill C-51, it does not go far enough. These are the types of elements of the previous legislation under the previous government that need to be fully repealed. Unfortunately, CSIS was given this responsibility, which is not part of its mandate and should never have been, to begin with. It is exactly the opposite of why CSIS was created.

I see that my time is unfortunately running out. Since we are debating a motion, we have just 10 minutes to debate a 150-page bill. This is obviously one of the reasons why the elements should have been separated.

We are opposed to this motion. The only solution is to repeal all of the elements in the former Bill C-51.

An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of ParliamentariansGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2016 / 4:55 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I would also like to congratulate my friend, colleague, and neighbour from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for a fantastic presentation and all of his work in the previous Parliament as the NDP's public safety critic.

There are three main points I want to outline as part of my speech on Bill C-22. First, I want to outline the fact that I think the overall intention of this bill is crucial to protect the safety and rights of all Canadians. Good oversight not only builds public trust, but it makes our security services much more effective.

I would also like to note that Canadians expect a watchdog with teeth. This committee must have full access to classified information. It must have adequate resources and the independence to go along with it.

My third point is that the government is going to have to work hard to earn Canadians' trust after its support for Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament. This trust starts with a strong committee, but it must be earned by fulfilling the promise to repeal the problematic elements of Bill C-51.

The idea of creating more parliamentary oversight has been around for some time. I want to outline and underline that this is not a uniquely Liberal idea. In fact, it has been around as a recommendation for the past 35 years. Despite that, I am glad to see that the Liberals have come forward with Bill C-22. There have been previous Liberal governments that have altogether ignored this recommendation.

There are certainly some things in this bill that I do want to take a look at. It is important that we use public money responsibly, that we protect sensitive information, but that we also stop abuses of power in their tracks. If we can come together as parliamentarians to build a robust oversight committee, we can bring in the real accountability that Canadians expect.

We can protect Canadians while ensuring that they trust that their rights are not jeopardized by a rampant security state. Indeed, the national security green paper, 2016, by the Government of Canada noted on page 9 that:

...effective accountability mechanisms are key to maintaining the public's trust in these agencies. Accountability mechanisms provide assurance that agencies act responsibly, strictly within the law and with respect for Canadians' rights and freedoms.

We can look at the historical significance of this issue, and compare Bill C-22 with what is going on in other jurisdictions. We know that our allies in France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand all have similar bodies in place. It is about time that Canada stepped up to the plate, because for far too long we have been lacking in this very necessary oversight measure.

The change is very long overdue. We have seen abuses in previous years with the RCMP, going back to the 1970s. Of course, we here in the NDP know all about the RCMP spying that went on with the great Tommy Douglas, because of his link to left-wing causes and groups. This should serve as a reminder to all parliamentarians that the abuses of state can occur and have occurred. That is why oversight is needed. We need to make sure these kinds of things do not happen again in a free, open, and democratic society.

The McDonald commission was a royal commission used to investigate these unlawful activities of the RCMP. Of course it was also implicated in the illegal opening of mail and surveilling of members of other political parties as well, not just Tommy Douglas.

A part of that commission's report recommended the creation of CSIS, a civilian agency without law enforcement powers, but of course that was altered when we saw Bill C-51 come in.

The main recommendation that I wanted to point to today was that oversight committee of parliamentarians. I really think that Canada should be at the cutting edge of dealing with oversight in security apparatus. I am going to support this bill, but I hope that when it reaches committee it will be rigorously compared to models in other jurisdictions. I think there are some much-needed amendments.

For example, in Belgium, they allow their oversight body to seize documents and launch criminal investigations into wrongdoing by security officials. That body has real teeth. Even the United States, our closest ally and neighbour, allows its oversight committees almost real-time access to covert operations. If those parliamentarians in the United States Congress can have the oversight, why can we not as well?

My friend from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke went over in detail of the most egregious examples of what was wrong with Bill C-51, but one of the recommendation in the McDonald Commission was to have a civilian intelligence force without law enforcement capabilities. Those waters were muddied by the Liberals and Conservatives when they allowed CSIS the disruption element. The real confusing part is that the definition of unlawful activities is open to interpretation.

We know our intelligence agencies have been complicit in spying on home based environmental groups, and we have also very concerned with Bill C-51's information sharing regime, which dramatically loosens the strictures on how a government internally shares data. It introduces, as mentioned, the dangerously broad category of activities that undermine the security of Canada, which can include much illegal protest. This will be of very special concern to anyone who has studied the infamous Maher Arar case.

I want to underline this fact. Bill C-22 cannot be treated as window dressing. This will not absolve the Liberals for being in support of Bill C-51, and we can be sure that the NDP will be holding them to account in that regard, very publicly, I might add.

I would like to congratulate my friend from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. Yesterday he introduced Bill C-303, which would repeal Bill C-51. That is a great step. I am glad to see us living up to our election promises for once.

The Liberals can earn the trust of Canadians by voting for that legislation or otherwise living up to their electoral promises.

Going on to the problematic elements of Bill C-22, I would like to quote the national security green paper again when it mentioned that Parliament had several roles in national security matters. It holds ministers to account for the actions of the institutions for which they are responsible.

However, the structure of the bill seems to allow ministers to hold complete sway over the committee. In other words, the committee suddenly becomes accountable to the executive branch, and that is not the function of Parliament.

Allow me this opportunity to walk members through the text of Bill C-22. Under subsection 8(b), it states that if a minister determines that a review is injurious to national security, the minister can withhold information.

Under subsections 14(a) to (g), there are seven points that further limit what information the committee can have access to.

Section 16 states that the minister may refuse to provide information that is special operational information, or again, injurious to national security. Yes, that minister has to provide reasons for the decision, but, again, if we go further down the bill to section 31, it states that the minister's decision in subsection 8(b) and subsection 16.1 is final.

If the committee is somehow dissatisfied with that decision, it can write out a report, which is outlined in section 21. Again, that describes the structure of the report, but section 21 basically gives the Prime Minister, who basically probably gave the minister the authorization to withhold the information in the first place, complete authority to revise that report and redact whatever problematic elements there are, again, on the grounds of national security.

Sections 10 and 11 of the bill outline the security requirements and oaths to secrecy that the members of that committee have to take. They will be completely free and they will suffer the consequences if any information is leaked. I do not see why concerns of national security have to be withheld from a committee whose main purpose is to oversea national security. We are just going around in circles with the bill.

I would like to remind Liberal members of Parliament that there are members in the Conservative caucus who used to serve as cabinet ministers and who had access to some of the most sensitive secrets of Canada. They are still sitting in the House, but they are still bound by their oaths of secrecy. They are able to hold a secret. There is no reason why this committee membership cannot do the same.

As the legislation stands, the government can still hide things from this committee, and that is the problem. There will be absolutely no relevant oversight if the government denies access to files and witnesses. Not only will withholding information make it near impossible for the committee to do an objective job, but it will further deteriorate the trust of Canadians in our police and intelligence services.

The Prime Minister has already appointed a chair of this committee, the member for Ottawa South. Choosing the committee chair back in January despite the bill only being introduced in June is putting the cart before the horse. By appointing the the member for Ottawa South as committee chair with a salary almost equal to the lower levels of the Liberal cabinet, the Prime Minister has, in a sense, made him a mini cabinet minister on the committee, accountable only to the government.

I will just end with—

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Routine Proceedings

September 26th, 2016 / 3:10 p.m.
See context


Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act respecting the repeal of the Acts enacted by the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 and amending or repealing certain provisions enacted by that Act.

Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing a private member's bill that would repeal all aspects of Bill C-51, a bill in force for more than a year now, which still manages to infringe our civil liberties without making us safer.

This private member's bill is about doing away with the overly broad definition of national security contained in Bill C-51 that allows surveillance of those engaged in legitimate defence of their rights, including aboriginal people and environmentalists. It is about restoring the fundamental principles of Canadian privacy law. It is about doing away with the powers Bill C-51 gave to CSIS to act illegally in secret without oversight. It is about eliminating the prohibition on free speech contained in the new broad definition of supporting terrorism in the Criminal Code. It is about restoring the previous standard that required reasonable grounds for police action in national security, instead of the grounds of mere suspicion as contained in Bill C-51.

We are putting forward our proposal today for what to do about the infringement of civil liberties in Bill C-51, and we await the government's putting a specific proposal forward.

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