Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate. As we continue to read Bill C-371, I would like to say that I support the purpose of the bill and the ideas that inspired it.
Curbing or preventing the flow of money that supports terrorism is one of the government's key concerns. Bill C-371 seeks to prevent the flow into Canada of foreign funds donated by sources who have been associated with radicalization. During our last debate, several hon. members pointed out that there was some overlap in the bill that conflicts with mechanisms that are already in place in Canada.
The bill also has significant flaws that would be hard to overcome. For example, under Bill C-371 some charitable organizations might be unduly penalized. This would prevent religious, cultural, or educational institutions in Canada from accepting money or goods from sources affiliated with the countries on the list, including senior officials, family members, or partners. Accepting donations from these individuals would become a crime.
The problem is that there would be no list of individuals barred from donating. Charities would have to do thorough background checks on everyone who offers them a cheque, and could face criminal penalties if they fail to do so. The due diligence required would be excessively complex and would require investigative capacity well beyond that available to most charities. Furthermore, the government would probably not be able to enforce the prohibitions in the bill because they are too vague and general. For example, people associated with the countries on the list would not be on the list.
Moreover, the bill is incompatible with government policies on radicalization that leads to violence. The fact is that existing laws and initiatives already fulfill the stated purpose of this bill. I would like to point out that the government is already taking concrete, effective measures to fight terrorism and radicalization leading to violence in Canada. Canada has a robust set of tools to protect Canadians and registered charities from the risk of terrorism and its deplorable acts. One of those tools is the terrorist listing regime in the Criminal Code.
As soon as an entity is added to that list, banks and financial institutions can freeze its assets. In fact, being added to the list can also lead to the criminalization of all support activities to help stop potential sympathizers in Canada from providing any financial assistance to terrorist groups. The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act resulted in the creation of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, which oversees the financial system and gathers information to support investigations into terrorist financing.
FINTRAC is also supposed to hand over to the Canada Revenue Agency any financial information it has regarding charitable organizations suspected of being linked to terrorist financing. In addition, the State Immunity Act includes a list of foreign countries that support terrorism. The act makes is possible for victims of terrorism to seek justice from the countries on the list.
Bill C-371 states that anti-terrorism efforts should include charities. Once again, we already have effective mechanisms to do so. The Canada Revenue Agency already monitors registered charities to ensure that they remain focused on their stated charitable goals. Under the current rules, any charity using its resources to support terrorist activities, radicalization to violence, or incitement to hatred would be denied registered charity status or could have this status revoked.
The government also has measures in place to denounce and combat religious persecution, torture, and other human rights violations.
For example, some provisions of the new Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act make it possible to freeze the assets of those responsible for serious human rights violations.
There are apparently several measures already in place that can achieve the objectives of Bill C-371 without making legitimate charitable organizations liable to penalties. Consequently, despite the bill's good intentions, I cannot support it because of the overlaps and shortcomings in the bill.
Of course we all want to fight terrorism and extremism. That is why, for example, the government established the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to fight the radicalization of young Canadians. In budget 2016, the government allocated funding of $35 million over five years for the work of the Canadian centre. The centre provides national leadership to support local efforts. It makes all the difference.
Communities across the country receive assistance through effective, innovative programs to combat radicalization leading to violence. This assistance often brings together law enforcement authorities, communities, and service providers. Furthermore, our security and intelligence agencies also have access to a series of prevention measures to help them monitor and intercept threats, maintain a no-fly list, refuse or revoke a passport, maintain public order, and lay criminal charges if there is sufficient evidence.
The government also introduced Bill C-59, which will increase accountability and effectiveness in Canada's national security framework. This bill was introduced in response to Canada's largest-ever national security consultation.
I know that all hon. members are united in the resolve to combat extremism, prevent terrorist violence, and bring perpetrators of such acts to justice. Unfortunately, Bill C-371 will not be an effective tool to help us achieve this common goal. I am sorry that I cannot support it, but I look forward to working with the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka and all hon. members to ensure that Canadians are as safe as possible and can live free from all forms of extremism and violence.