An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Sponsor

Status

In committee (Senate), as of May 10, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to amend, remove or repeal passages and provisions that have been ruled unconstitutional or that raise risks with regard to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as passages and provisions that are obsolete, redundant or that no longer have a place in criminal law. It also modifies certain provisions of the Code relating to sexual assault in order to clarify their application and to provide a procedure applicable to the admissibility and use of a complainant’s record when in the possession of the accused.

This enactment also amends the Department of Justice Act to require that the Minister of Justice cause to be tabled, for every government Bill introduced in either House of Parliament, a statement of the Bill’s potential effects on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to rise and speak to an important bill and issues related to public safety and security in general.

I would like to begin my remarks with a positive word of thanks for those men and women who are charged with keeping our communities safe, certainly the front-line police officers and first responders, but a lot of the people in the intelligence networks from CSIS, to CSE, to think tanks that analyze these things, to engaged citizens who are constantly advocating on issues related to public safety and security. These are probably some of the most important debates we have in this chamber because we are charged with making sure we have a safe community and finding the right balance between the remarkable freedoms we enjoy in a democracy like ours and the responsibility to ensure that there is safety for Canadians. We thank those who are charged with doing that both in uniform and behind the scenes and sometimes under the cloak of secrecy. All Canadians respect that work.

I am going to talk about Bill C-59 from a few vantage points, some of the things that I thought were positive, but I am also going to express three areas of very serious concern I have with this legislation. In many ways, Bill C-59 is a huge step back. It is taking away tools that were responsibly provided to law enforcement agencies to be used in accordance with court supervision. In a lot of the rhetoric we hear on this, that part has been forgotten.

I am going to review some of it from my legal analysis of it, but I want to start by reminding the House, particularly because my friend from Winnipeg, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is here, that here we are debating yet another omnibus bill from the Liberal Party, something that was anathema to my friend when he was in opposition. Omnibus bills of this nature that cobbled together a range of things were an assault on democracy, in his words then, but here we are in late night sittings with time already allocated debating yet another Liberal omnibus bill. The irony in all of this is certainly not lost on me or many Canadians who used to see how the Liberals would howl with outrage whenever this happened.

Bill C-59 came out of some positive intentions. My friend from Victoria, the NDP's lead on the parliamentary security oversight committee of parliamentarians is here. I want to thank him for the work that we did together recommending some changes to the minister ahead of what became Bill C-59. The NDP member and I as the public safety critic for the Conservative Party sent two letters to the minister providing some general advice and an indication of our willingness to work with the government on establishing the committee of parliamentarians for security and intelligence oversight.

My friend from Victoria ably serves on that committee now and as a lawyer who has previously practised in the area of national security and finding the right balance between liberty and security, he is a perfect member for that committee as are my friends from the caucus serving alongside the Liberal members. That is very important work done by that committee and I wish them well in their work. We indicated pre Bill C-59 that we would be supportive of that effort.

In those letters we also indicated the need for a super-SIRC type of agency to help oversee some of the supervision of agencies like CSIS and CSE. We were advocating for an approach like that alongside a number of academics, such as Professor Forcese and others. We were happy to see an approach brought in that area as well.

It is important to show that on certain issues of national safety and security where we can drive consensus, we can say we will work with the government, because some of these issues should be beyond partisanship. I want to thank my NDP colleague for working alongside me on that. It took us some time to get the minister to even respond, so despite the sunny ways rhetoric, often we felt that some of our suggestions were falling on deaf ears.

I am going to commit the rest of my speech tonight to the three areas that I believe are risks for Canadians to consider with Bill C-59. I am going to use some real-world examples in the exploration of this, because we are not talking in abstract terms. There are real cases and real impacts on families that we should consider in our debate.

The first area I want to raise in reference to the fact that when Bill C-59 was introduced, it was one day after a Canadian was convicted in a Quebec court in a case involving travelling abroad from Canada to join and work with a terrorist organization. Mr. Ismael Habib was sentenced the day before the government tabled this omnibus security legislation, and I think there is a certain irony in that. In his judgment, Justice Délisle said, “Did Ismael Habib intend to participate in or knowingly contribute to a terrorist activity? The entirety of the evidence demonstrates the answer is yes.” There is such an irony in the fact that the day before this debate there was a conviction for someone who was leaving Canada to train and participate with a terrorist organization.

Only a short time before Mr. Habib left Canada to do this, the previous government criminalized that activity. Why? Really, there was no need to have in the Criminal Code a charge for leaving Canada to train or participate in a terrorist organization, but this was a reaction to a troubling and growing trend involving radicalized people and the ability for people to go and engage in conflicts far from home. Mr. Habib's case was the first of its kind, and the charge he was convicted of by a Quebec court was for an offence that just a few years before did not exist. This is why Parliament must be seized with real and tangible threats to public safety and security. Unfortunately, a lot of the elements of Bill C-59 are going to make it hard for law enforcement to do that, to catch the next Mr. Habib before he leaves, while he is gone, or before he returns and brings that risk back home.

The first area that I have serious concerns with in the bill relates to preventative arrest. This was a controversial but necessary part of Bill C-51 from the last Parliament. Essentially it moved a legal threshold from making it “necessary” to prevent a criminal activity or a terrorist act instead of “likely” to prevent. By changing the threshold to “necessary”, as we see in this bill, the government would make it much harder for law enforcement agencies to move in on suspects that they know present a risk yet do not feel they have enough proof to show that it is necessary to prevent an attack. I think most Canadians would think that the standard should be “likely”, which is on balance of probabilities. If we are to err on the reality of a threat that there is violence to be perpetrated or potential violence by someone, then err on the side of protection. We still have to have the evidentiary burden, but it is not too hard.

It is interesting who supported the preventative arrest portions of Bill C-51 in the last Parliament. The Prime Minister did as the MP for Papineau. I loved Bill C-51 in so many ways, because it showed the hypocrisy of the Liberal Party at its best. The Liberals were constantly critical of Bill C-51, but they voted for it. Now they are in a position that they actually have to change elements of it, and they are changing some elements that the Prime Minister praised when he was in opposition, and they had this muddled position. My friends in the NDP have referred to this muddled position before, because now they think their Liberal friends are abandoning the previous ground they stood on.

What did the Prime Minister, then the leader of the third party and MP for Papineau, say about preventative arrest in the House of Commons on February 18, 2015? He said:

I believe that Bill C-51, the government's anti-terrorism act, takes some proper steps in that direction. We welcome the measures in Bill C-51 that build on the powers of preventative arrest, make better use of no-fly lists, and allow for more coordinated information sharing by government departments and agencies.

What is ironic is that he is undoing all of those elements in Bill C-59, from information sharing to changing the standard for preventative arrest to a threshold that is unreasonably too high, in fact recklessly too high, and law enforcement agencies have told the minister and the Prime Minister this.

The Prime Minister, when he was MP for Papineau, thought these important powers were necessary but now he does not. Perhaps society is safer today. I would suggest we are not. We just have to be vigilant, vigilant but balanced. That is probably why in opposition he supported these measures and now is rolling them back.

Nothing illustrates the case and the need for this more than the case of Patrice Vincent. He was a Canadian Armed Forces soldier who was killed because of the uniform he wore. He was killed by a radicalized young man named Martin Couture-Rouleau. That radicalized young man was known to law enforcement before he took the life of one of our armed forces members. Law enforcement officers were not sure whether they could move in a preventative arrest public safety manner.

The stark and moving testimony from Patrice's sister, Louise Vincent, at committee in talking about Bill C-51 should be reflected upon by members of the Liberal Party listening to this debate, because many of them were not here in the last Parliament. These are real families impacted by public safety and security. Louise Vincent said this:

According to Bill C-51, focus should be shifted from “will commit” to “could commit”, and I think that's very important. That's why the RCMP could not obtain a warrant from the attorney general, despite all the information it had gathered and all the testimony from Martin Couture-Rouleau's family. The RCMP did its job and built a case, but unfortunately, the burden of proof was not met. That's unacceptable.

It is unacceptable. What is unacceptable is the Liberals are raising the bar even higher with respect to preventative arrest. It is like the government does not trust our law enforcement agencies. This cannot be preventative arrest on a whim. There has to be an evidentiary basis for the very significant use of this tool, but that evidentiary basis should not be so high that it does not use the tool, because we have seen what can happen.

This is not an isolated case. I can recite other names, such as Aaron Driver. Those in southwestern Ontario will remember that thanks to the United States, this gentleman was caught by police on his way to commit a terror attack in southwestern Ontario. He was already under one of the old peace bonds. This similar power could be used against someone like Alexandre Bissonnette before his horrendous attack on the mosque in Quebec City. This tool could be used in the most recent case of Alek Minassian, the horrific van attack in Toronto.

Preventative arrest is a tool that should be used but with an evidentiary burden, but if the burden is too high necessary to prevent an attack, that is reckless and it shows the Prime Minister should review his notes from his time in opposition when he supported these powers. I suggest he did not have notes then and probably does not have notes now.

The second issue I would like to speak about is the deletion of charges and the replacing with a blanket offence called counselling commission of a terrorism offence.

What would that change from BillC-51? It would remove charges that could be laid for someone who was advocating or promoting a terrorism attack or activity. Promotion and advocation are the tools of radicalization. If we are not allowing charges to be laid against someone who radicalized Mr. Couture-Rouleau, do we have to only catch someone who counsels him to go out and run down Patrice Vincent? Should we be charging the people who radicalized him, who promoted ISIS or a radical terrorist ideology, and then advocated for violence? That should be the case. That actually conforms with our legal test for hate speech, when individuals are advocating or promoting and indirectly radicalizing.

Therefore, the government members talk about the government's counter-radicalization strategy, and there is no strategy. They have tried to claim the Montreal centre, which was set up independently of the government, as its own. The government would not tour parliamentarians through it when I was public safety critic, but it tours visiting guests from the UN and other places. That was an initiative started in Montreal. It has nothing to do with the Liberals' strategy. I have seen nothing out of the government on counter-radicalization, and I would like to.

The same should be said with respect to peace bonds, another tool that law enforcement agencies need. These have been asked for by law enforcement officials that we trust with their mandate. They are peace officers, yet the government is showing it does not trust them because it is taking away tools. The peace bond standard is now in a similar fashion to the preventative arrest standard. Agencies have to prove that it is necessary to prevent violent activity or terrorism, as opposed to the Bill C-51 standard of “likely to prevent”. A protection order, better known as “a peace bond”, is a tool, like preventative arrest, that can set some constraints or limitations on the freedom of a Canadian because that person has demonstrated that he or she is a potential threat. To say the individuals have to be a certain threat, which a “necessary” standard promotes, is reckless and misguided.

I wish the MP for Papineau would remember what he said a few years ago about the reduction of the high burden on law enforcement in preventative arrest situations. Sadly, there are going to be more Aaron Drivers out there. I always use the case of Aaron Driver, because sometimes members of specific groups, some Muslim Canadians, have been unfairly targeted in discussions about radicalization. This is a threat that exists and not just in one community. Aaron Driver's father was in the Canadian Armed Forces, a career member of the military. Their son was radicalized by people who advocated and promoted radical ideology and violence. With this bill, we would remove the ability to charge those people who helped to radicalize Aaron Driver. However, this is a risk that exists.

Let us not overstate the risk. There is not a bogeyman around every corner, but as parliamentarians we need to be serious when we try to balance properly the freedom and liberties we all enjoy, and that people fought and died for, with the responsibility upon us as parliamentarians to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to do the job. They do not want a situation where they are catching Aaron Driver in a car that is about to drive away. We have to find the right balance. The movement of standards to “necessary” to prevent the commission of a terrorism offence shows that the Liberals do not trust our law enforcement officers with the ability to collect evidence and lay charges, or provide a peace bond, when they think someone is “likely” to be a threat to public safety and security.

I started by saying that there were elements I was happy to see in Bill C-59, but I truly hope Canadians see that certain measures in this would take away tools that law enforcement agencies have responsibly asked for, and this would not make our communities any safer.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more arrogant than justifying a position by saying, “Don't worry, elect us, and we'll fix it”, because at the end of the day, taking a principled stand is not about what one will be able to do after one hopes to be elected. It is about standing up in the face of the very problems that are before us. That is what the then leader of the official opposition, the member for Outremont, did.

The fact is this. The Liberals have constantly, over the last number of years that I have been a parliamentarian, used the word “balance”, despite all the experts saying that it is not about balance, because balance means we are taking away from one side or the other: public safety and protecting rights and freedoms. I stood in the House and said that balance means that we are taking away from one or the other. What did I hear the minister say? He said those exact words today. The Liberals certainly like the NDP approach. I wish we would see it more in this legislation.

Let me get to the substance of my colleague's question. What is still on the books from Bill C-51 in this legislation? There is rampant information sharing between agencies that threatens Canadians' rights and freedoms, threat-reduction powers for CSIS that go against the very reason CSIS was created in the first place, and separating intelligence gathering and law enforcement.

Not only that, the Liberals have added new breaches of Canadians' privacy and rights and freedoms by expanding CSE's powers without sufficient accountability, despite our being happy with new accountability. There are poor definitions of “publicly available information” and offensive cyber-operations. What do these things mean? There are a lot of unanswered questions. They were unanswered at committee. They remain unanswered.

Unfortunately, the government is plowing ahead, despite the fact that these serious concerns have been raised by numerous people, such as the folks I mentioned who helped us craft the amendments we proposed that seemingly were not good enough for the Liberals.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their speeches. Here we are again, debating Bill C-59 at third reading, and I would like to start by talking about the process of debate surrounding a bill, which started not with this government, but rather during the last Parliament with the former Bill C-51.

Contrary to what we have been hearing from the other side today and at other times as well, the NDP and the Green Party were the only ones that opposed Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament. I have heard many people talk about how they were aware that Canadians had concerns about their security, about how a balanced approach was vital, and about how they understood the bill was flawed. They took it for granted that they would come to power and then fix the many, many, many flaws in the bill. Some of those flaws are so dangerous that they threaten the rights, freedoms, and privacy of Canadians. Of course, I am talking about the Liberal Party, which supported Bill C-51 even as it criticized it. I remember that when it was before committee, the member for Malpeque, who is still an MP, spend his time criticizing it and talking about its flaws. Then the Liberal Party supported it anyway.

That is problematic because now the government is trying to use the bill to position itself as the champion of nuanced perspectives. The government keeps trying to say that there are two objectives, namely to protect Canadians and to protect Canadians' rights. I myself remember a rather different situation, which developed in the wake of the 2014 attack on Parliament. The Conservative government tried to leverage people's fear following that terrible event to make unnecessary legislative changes. I will comment further on what was really necessary to protect Canadians.

A legislative change was therefore proposed to increase the powers given to national security agencies, but nothing was done to enhance the oversight system, which already falls short of where it needs to be to ensure that their work is done in full compliance with our laws and in line with Canadians' expectations regarding their rights and freedoms. Surveys showed that Canadians obviously welcomed those measures because, after all, we were in a situation where ISIS was on the rise, and we had the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which is not far from my region. We also had the attack right here in Parliament. They took advantage of people's fear, so there was some support for the measures presented in the bill.

To the NDP, our reflection in caucus made it very clear that we needed to stand up. We are elected to this place not only to represent our constituents, but also to be leaders on extremely difficult issues and to make the right decision, the decision that will ensure that we protect the rights of Canadians, even when that does not appear to be a popular decision.

Despite the fact that it seemed to be an unpopular decision, and despite the fact that the Liberals, seeing the polls, came out saying “We are just going to go with the wind and try and denounce the measures in the bill so that we can simultaneously protect ourselves from Conservative attacks and also try and outflank the NDP on the progressive principled stand of protecting Canadians' rights and freedoms,” what happened? The polls changed. As the official opposition, we fought that fight here in Parliament. Unlike the Liberals, we stood up to Stephen Harper's draconian Bill C-51. We saw Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the measures that were in Bill C-51.

What happened after the election? We saw the Liberals try to square the circle they had created for themselves by denouncing and supporting legislation all at the same time. They said not to worry, because they were going to do what they do best, which is to consult. They consulted on election promises and things that were already debated in the previous Parliament.

The minister brought forward his green paper. The green paper was criticized, correctly and rightfully so, for going too far in one direction, for posing the question of how we could give more flexibility to law enforcement, how we could give them more tools to do their jobs, which is a complete misunderstanding of the concerns that Canadians had with Bill C-51 to begin with. It goes back to the earlier point I made. Instead of actually giving law enforcement the resources to create their tools, having a robust anti-radicalization strategy, and making sure that we do not see vulnerable young people falling through the cracks and being recruited by terrorist organizations like ISIS or the alt right that we see in these white supremacist groups, what happened?

We embarked on this consultation that was already going in one direction, and nearly two years after the Liberals coming into power, we finally see legislation tabled. The minister, in his speech earlier today, defended tabling that legislation in the dying days of a spring sitting of Parliament before the House rises for the summer by saying that we would have time to consider and contemplate the legislation over the summer. He neglected to mention that the very same powers that stood on shaky constitutional ground that were accorded to agencies like CSIS by the Conservatives' Bill C-51 remain on the books, and as Michel Coulombe, the then director of CSIS, now retired, said repeatedly in committee, they are powers that were being used at that time.

It is all well and good to consult. Certainly, no one is opposed to the principles behind consultation, but when the consultation is about promises that were made to the Canadian people to fix legislation that undermined their rights while the very powers that undermined their rights are still on the books and being used, then one has to recognize the urgency to act.

The story continues because after this consultation the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security conducted a consultation. We made recommendations and the NDP prepared an excellent supplementary report, which supports the committee's unanimous recommendations, but also includes our own, in support of the bill introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, which is on the Order Paper. He was the public safety critic before me and he led the charge, along with the member for Outremont, who was then the leader of the official opposition, against Bill C-51. The bill introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke entirely repeals all of the legislation in Bill C-51.

Interestingly, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness defended the fact that he did not repeal it all by stating that several MPs, including the member for Spadina—Fort York, said that the reason not to do so was that it would be a highly complex legislative endeavour. My colleague introduced a bill that is on the Order Paper and that does exactly that. With due respect to my colleague, it cannot be all that complex if we were able to draft a bill that achieved those exact objectives.

Bill C-59 was sent to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security before second reading, on the pretext that this would make it possible to adopt a wider range of amendments, give the opposition more opportunities to be heard, and allow for a robust study. What was the end result? A total of 55 amendments were adopted, and we are proud of that. However, of those 55 amendments, two come from the NDP, and one of those relates to the preamble to one part of the bill. While I have no desire to impugn the Liberals' motives, the second amendment was adopted only once the wording met their approval. None of the Conservatives' amendments were adopted. Ultimately, it is not the end of the world, because we disagree on several points, but I hear all this talk about collaboration, yet none of the Green Party's amendments were adopted. This goes to show that the process was rigged and that the government had already decided on its approach.

The government is going to brag about the new part 1.1 of the legislation that has been adopted. Contrary to what the minister said when answering my question earlier today in debate, that would not create any new legal obligation in terms of how the system currently works. The ministerial directives that are adopted to prohibit—despite loopholes, it is important to note—the use of information obtained under torture will remain just that, ministerial directives. The legal obligation that the minister or the Governor in Council “may” recommend the issuing of directives to deputy heads of departments is just not good enough. If it were, the Liberals would have had no problem voting for amendments that I read into record at committee. Time does not permit me to reread the amendments into the record, but I read them into the record in my question for the minister. The amendments would have explicitly and categorically prohibited acquiring, using, or, in way, shape, or form, interacting with information, from a public safety perspective, that may have been obtained under the use of torture. That is in keeping with our obligations under international law conventions that Canada has signed on to.

On a recorded vote, on every single one of those amendments, every member of the committee, Liberal and Conservative alike, voted against them. I invite Canadians to look at that record, and I invite Canadians to listen to what the minister said in response to me. When public safety may be at risk, there is no bigger admission that they are open to using information obtained under the use of torture than saying that they want to keep the flexibility when Canadians are at risk. Let Canadians be assured that it has been proven time and again that information obtained under the use of torture is of the most unreliable sort. It not only does nothing to protect Canadians and ensure public safety, but most of the time it does the opposite, by leading law enforcement on wild goose chases with erroneous information that could put their lives at risk, and Canadian lives at risk, not to mention the abhorrent and flagrant breach of human rights here and elsewhere through having those types of provisions. Therefore, I will let the Liberals explain why they voted against those amendments to explicitly prohibit torture, and why they feel that standing on ministerial directives and words like “may”, that are anything but binding, is good enough.

The Minister of Public Safety loves to boast that he has the support of various experts, and I have the utmost respect for those experts. I took the process in committee very seriously. I tried to unpack the extremely complex elements of the bill.

My Conservative colleague mentioned the Chair's decision to apply Standing Order 69.1. In my opinion, separating the votes on the different elements of the bill amounts to an acknowledgement that it is indeed an omnibus bill. A former director of CSIS, who served as a national security advisor to Prime Minister Harper and the current Prime Minister, said that the bill was beginning to rival the Income Tax Act in terms of complexity. Furthermore, several witnesses were forced to limit their testimony to just one part of the bill. In addition, elements were added concerning the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, and those elements fall within the scope of national defence, yet they were never mentioned during the consultations held by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security or by the Minister of Public Safety.

Before anyone jumps on me, I want to say that we realize the CSE's statutory mandate needs to be updated. We recognize that cybersecurity threats exist. However, when a government rams something through, as the government is doing with Bill C-59, we end up with flawed definitions, in particular with respect to the information available to the public, and with vague allocation of powers. Furthermore, the government is already announcing the position of a director of a new centre that is being created, under which everything will be consolidated, even though the act that is set out in the budget and, according to the minister, should be introduced this fall, has not yet been introduced.

This bill has many parts. The committee heard from some impressive experts, including professors Carvin, Forcese, and Wark, authors of some very important and interesting briefs, all of which are well thought out and attempt to break down all of the complicated aspects of the bill, including the ones I just mentioned. In their columns in The Globe and Mail, they say that some parts of the bill are positive and others require a more in-depth study. One of these parts has to do with information sharing.

Information sharing was one of the most problematic aspects of Bill C-51.

Information sharing is recognized by the experts whom the minister touts as those supporting his legislation, by civil liberties associations and others, as one of the most egregious elements of what was Bill C-51, and that is changed only in a cosmetic way in this legislation.

We changed “sharing” to “disclosure”, and what does that mean? When there are consequential amendments to changing “disclosure” everywhere else in all of these acts, it does not change anything. All experts recognize that. The problematic information-sharing regime that was brought in, which is a threat to Canadians' rights and freedoms, still exists.

If we want to talk about what happened to Maher Arar, the Liberals voted down one of my amendments to include Global Affairs as one of the governmental departments that Canadians could make a complaint about to the new review agency. Yet, when it comes to consular services, when it comes to human rights breaches happening to Canadians abroad, Global Affairs and consular services have a role to play, especially when we see stories in the news of CSIS undermining efforts of consular affairs to get Canadians out of countries with horrible human rights records and back here.

This has all fallen on deaf ears. The information-sharing regime remains in place. The new powers given to CSE, in clause 24, talk about how CSE has the ability to collect. Notwithstanding the prohibition on it being able to collect information on Canadians, it can, for the sake of research and other things, and all kinds of ill-defined terms, collect information on the information infrastructure related to Canadians.

Incidentally, as a matter of fact, it voted down my amendments to have a catch-and-release provision in place for information acquired incidentally on Canadians. What does that do? When we read clause 24 of part 3 of the bill related to CSE, it says that it is for the purposes of “disclosing”. Not only are they now exempt from the explicit prohibition that they normally have in their mandate, they can also disclose.

What have the Liberals done to the information-sharing regime brought in by the Conservatives under Bill C-51? It is called “disclosure” now. Members can do the math. We are perpetuating this regime that exists.

I know my time is very limited, so I want to address the issue of threat disruption by CSIS. As I said in my questions to my Conservative colleague, the very reason CSIS exists is that disruption is a police duty. As a result, leaving the power to disrupt threats granted in former Bill C-51 in the hands of CSIS still goes against the mandate of CSIS and its very purpose, even if the current government is making small improvements to the constitutionality of those powers. That is unacceptable.

I am not alone in saying this. As I said in my questions to my Conservative colleagues, I am talking about the excellent interview with former RCMP commissioner Paulson. He was interviewed by Professors Carvin and Forcese on their podcast. That interview raised concerns about that power.

In closing, I would like to talk about solutions. After all, I did begin my remarks by saying that we do not want to increase the legislative powers, which we believe are already sufficient. I am talking here about Bill C-51, which was introduced in the previous Parliament. We need to look at resources for police officers, which were cut by the previous government. The Conservatives eliminated the police recruitment fund, which allowed municipalities and provinces to recruit police officers and improve police services in their jurisdictions. I am thinking in particular of the Montreal police, or SPVM, and the Eclipse squad, which dealt with street gangs. It was a good thing the Government of Quebec was there to fill the gap left by the elimination of the funding that made it possible for the squad to exist. The current government is making some efforts in the fight against radicalization, but it needs to do more. The Conservatives are dumping on and ridiculing those efforts. The radicalization that we are seeing on social media and elsewhere targets vulnerable young people. Ridiculing and minimizing the government's efforts undermines the public safety objectives that we need to achieve.

We cannot support a bill that so deeply undermines the protection of Canadians' rights and privacy. Despite what they claim across the way, this bill does nothing to protect the safety of Canadians, which, let us be clear, is an objective all parliamentarians want to achieve. However, achieving that objective must not be done to the detriment of rights and freedoms, as was the case under the previous government and as is currently still the case with this bill.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 7:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my speech this evening by talking about public safety and national security matters.

Whenever I stand up in this place, on whatever we are talking about, I always like to think about whether this is the job of the federal government. Typically, in broad sweeps, I can rarely get past the end of one hand when it comes to things the federal government should be dealing with. I usually think of things like border security, the justice system, and the military as things that definitely the federal government should be taking care of.

The issue we are dealing with tonight is one of those issues the federal government definitely needs to take care of. It is definitely something that is timely. Folks from where I come from, in Peace River—Westlock, in northern Alberta, often mention this to me when I am driving around meeting with folks. They are concerned about national security. They are concerned about terrorism issues. It is one of the top 10 things people talk to me about. Therefore, I think this is a timely debate.

I would hearken back to some of the speeches we heard earlier this evening. September 11 was a significant turning point in western civilization. I think every one of us in this place remembers that day. I remember listening to the news on 630 CHED in Alberta. My alarm clock had gone off, and I was listening to the news, when the normal broadcast was interrupted to tell us that the twin towers had been run into by an airplane. I remember that day well, as I am sure everyone in this place does. Since that day, the entire western world has had to look at how we defend our national security. Before that point, we were looking at our national security from the perspective of nation states. However, this brought a whole new protocol. We needed new laws. Frankly, I think we are still learning all of that.

I do not think the Liberals have necessarily taken serious consideration of public safety and national security in this bill. They basically looked at what we did when we were in government. They thought that the Conservatives were aggressive on this and took the bull by the horns, and they would just turn it back a notch. It does not seem to me that they are giving it adequate weight by saying that they just have to change a bunch of things in Bill C-51. The Liberals heard over and over again that Bill C-51 was bad, and they would just turn it back. That does not seem to me to be grappling with the issues we need to deal with.

Public safety and national security is hard work. We need to create a culture in Canada so that people feel safe. That is what I hear over and over again in my riding. They do not feel that the government is creating a culture in Canada where people feel safe. For example, advocating or promoting terrorism is something that has been touched on in this debate. We need to talk about that in terms of what it means when it comes to Bill C-75, which is another bill that will be debated tonight. I believe that in that particular bill, advocating or promoting terrorism, even if one is found guilty of it, would be downgraded as well.

When we look at the bill before us, I am disappointed that the Liberals have not grabbed the bull by the horns. Bill C-51 came out a number of years back, and the landscape has changed since then. I was looking forward to having a robust debate on this issue. I know that it was something in the LIberal campaign and something I was challenged on over and over again. I knew that after the election, Bill C-51 would be up for debate, and I was looking forward to having that debate on some substantive changes that could improve it.

I think we got it right with Bill C-51, but every piece of legislation is open to improvement and I was happy to come here to debate this. I do not think Bill C-59 improves on Bill C-51 at all. In fact, all it seems to do is to just turn everything back a few notches, which does not seem to make an effect. It is the exact same philosophy that we are seeing with Bill C-75. The Liberals say we have backlogs in the justice system, rather than their addressing some of the underlying causes and doing the hard work of digging into it. They say, turn the dial back a little, lower the thresholds, push people out of the system more easily rather than dealing with the actual justice system.

When I do surveys in my riding, people do not think the Liberals are taking our national security seriously. People do not think they are securing our borders properly. All of this plays into the world view of the Liberals.

Whenever I am discussing national security or justice issues, I say that people have the ability to do evil. That is a fact of life and we need to have a justice system that recognizes that. Most people lock their doors at night. Why? Because people are capable of evil. That is the truth. It would be great if we all could leave our doors open and nothing ever went missing. It would be great if we could all give up our firearms and everyone would be safe, but that is not the reality. That is the underlying philosophy that is lacking on the Liberal side. They are not convinced that people are capable of evil and they think that the justice system is being mean to people and that if we just hug the thug, so to speak, everything would be better.

There is a philosophy in this bill that if we just turn down the justice element, if we trusted people a little more, this country would be a safer place. That is definitely not the case. We need to ensure that our police officers and our intelligence community have the resources and tools they need to ensure that Canada is a safe place.

My riding is a long way from the border, and I cannot say that the border crossing issue has directly affected my riding, but it is amazing how many times people in my riding have asked, when is the government is going to do something about the border crossings? Why are the Liberals jeopardizing our public safety? We are seeing that here, as well with the terrorism issue.

One of the things people in my riding are concerned about is the growing threat of terrorism in the world. In this regard, in the bill we see that for advocating and promoting terrorism, the threshold is being lowered, and that in Bill C-75 the sentencing is being lowered. It is being taken from an indictable offence to a summary offence. The Liberals need to do the hard work that it takes to make sure that we have a national security regime that people in Canada trust. That is an important point that I wanted to make here tonight. Whatever the Liberals are doing, people need to have trust in that system that their safety is being upheld, that Canada will remain the safe place it has been in years past, and that people can sleep safely in their beds.

With that, I look forward to any questions that people may have.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say that I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-59 this evening. However, I have to admit that what I am really feeling is more a sense of disappointment.

That is because, first of all, there is very little difference between the previous Conservative government's Bill C-51 and the Liberal government's Bill C-59. They certainly have a lot in common. Not only do they look disturbingly alike, but they were also handled much the same way.

Those who were here in the previous Parliament will remember that Bill C-51 was kind of rushed through, the better to capitalize on Canadians' strong emotional response to an increasing number of terrorist attacks, which continue to this day. There was hardly what could be considered a full debate.

As I recall, when discussions were in their infancy, the NDP was the only party resolutely opposed to Bill C-51. The government was trying to sell the idea that we had to compromise between keeping Canadians safe, which is every government's top priority, and protecting the Charter rights and freedoms we are all entitled to.

From the outset, the NDP said we should not be seeking a compromise. Rather, we should bring about an evolution with respect to these two fundamental aspects of Canadian rights that belong to every individual.

I feel like the government is taking a similar approach with Bill C-59 now. When we are debating a bill as important as this one, there should be no reason for a time allocation motion that limits MPs' right to speak.

The 338 members of the House represent 35 million Canadians. Each one of those MPs has something to say about this. They are all concerned about the prospect of terrorist attacks here and elsewhere, in people's workplaces, or while they are on vacation. This issue is on the minds of all Canadians, and the best and only way for them to be heard by the government is here in the House. Even so, the government is limiting the time for debate.

Members will also recall that when the NDP took a firm stand against Bill C-51, the Liberals, who were in opposition at the time, pulled a rabbit out of their hat by essentially saying that they would vote in favour of Bill C-51 in order to replace it when they formed the government. If they want to replace a bill, they should vote against it. I may have been inexperienced at that time. The Conservatives' position was clear, the NDP's position was clear, and the Liberals' position was clear.

Over time, and in light of what the Liberal government has done in the past, I can clearly see that they tend to do things a certain way. For example, during the election campaign, this same government sincerely promised to reform our electoral system. As the months passed, this changed to a minor revision of certain election rules, but the overhaul of the electoral system was forgotten.

These same Liberals promised to cut taxes for the middle class. I admit that we may not have been in agreement on what the middle class is, because where I come from, the median salary is about $32,000 a year. To access the tax cuts, the threshold is at least $45,000 a year. Those who really benefit are people like me, who have a salary that is more than decent. How have middle-class taxes been cut? I am still struggling to understand that. These same Liberals promised to axe the EI reform that the Conservatives put in place to give people some time to recover when tragedy strikes.

At the moment, the figures are the same as during the Conservative era. Roughly six out of 10 Canadians who pay into EI do not qualify for benefits when times get tough. I could keep listing examples in almost every field. It is clear that this is a Liberal way to approach the big issues.

We could talk about greenhouse gas reduction, for example. “Canada is back” was the message trumpeted at the Paris conference. I thought that meant Canada was back on the world stage, but I later realized it meant Canada is at the back of the pack and staying there. That is the Liberal approach.

To sum up the issue at hand, Bill C-59 still has many flaws. I will give you some examples. The Liberals are using this bill to establish a legal framework that would allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, to store sensitive metadata on completely innocent Canadians. This is a practice that has already been rejected by the Federal Court. To back up my statements, and to show that this is not just my personal opinion, but based on testimony from people far better informed than me, allow me to quote Daniel Therrien. For those who have not heard of him, he is the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. He testified before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on November 22, 2016, and said:

Think of the recent judgment by the Federal Court that found that CSIS had unlawfully retained the metadata of a large number of law-abiding individuals who are not threats to national security because CSIS felt it needed to keep that information for analytical purposes.

These are not theoretical risks. These are real things, real concerns. Do we want a country where the security service has a lot of information about most citizens with a view to detecting national security threats? Is that the country we want to live in?

We have seen real cases in which CSIS had in its bank of information the information about many people who did not represent a threat. Is that the country we want?

We can already see that things have gotten out of hand, and there is a question that has people increasingly worried, as it pertains not only to the issue being debated this evening, but also to all this personal data that is being asked of us and that we often send against our will on the Internet. The question is: how will we protect this personal information? Because if it is truly personal, that means that it belongs to someone, and that someone is the only person that can consent to its use.

That is not the only problem. I see that I am running out of time, so instead of naming the problems, I will summarize the proposals presented by the NDP. The first was to completely repeal Bill C-51 and replace the current ministerial directive on the matter of torture to ensure that Canada stands for an absolute prohibition on torture. Absolute means that we will not allow through the back door what we would not allow to enter through the front door.

Based on what I have heard in the House today, all the parties agree and everyone is against torture. However, some parties seem to be saying that they might use the information obtained through torture by other countries if that information seemed pertinent. History has made it abundantly clear that not only is torture inhumane, but in most cases, the information turns out to be false, precisely because it was obtained by torture. I imagine that I would be willing to say just about anything if I were being tortured.

In closing, between Bill C-59 and Bill C-51, we still have a long way to go. Under time allocation, I simply cannot vote in favour of this bill.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-59, which relates to issues of national security and how we deal with people suspected of terrorist acts.

This issue is quite different from those usually addressed. Usually, I have to talk about public finance. It is quite easy to say that the Liberals are wrong because they have a deficit and that we are right because we oppose deficits, which is very clear. In that case, this is very touchy. We are talking about so many great issues, and this issue should be addressed without partisanship. For sure, it is not easy.

That is why this really should be a non-partisan issue. This will not be easy, because obviously people are sharply divided on how this information should be dealt with in order to stop terrorism and how terrorists should be dealt with.

Bill C-59 is the current government's response to Bill C-51, which our government had passed. I remind the House that the Liberals, who formed the second opposition party at the time, supported Bill C-51, but said that they would change it right away once in power. It was supposedly so urgent, and yet they have been in power for two and a half years now, and it has taken the Liberals this long to bring forward their response to the Conservative Bill C-51 in the House of Commons.

As I was saying earlier, some questions are easier to answer, because they are based not on partisanship, but on your point of view. For example, when it comes to public finances, you can be for or against the deficit. However, no one is arguing against the need to crack down on terrorism. The distinctions are in the nuances.

That is why the opposition parties proposed dozens of amendments to the bill; sadly, however, with the exception of four technical amendments proposed by the NDP, the Liberals systematically rejected all amendments proposed by the Conservative Party and the Green Party, and Lord knows that there is an entire world between the Conservative Party and the Green Party.

This bill is meant to help us tackle the terrorist threat, whether real or potential. In the old days, in World War II, the enemy was easily identified. Speaking of which, yesterday was the 74th anniversary of the Normandy landing, a major turning point in the liberation of the world from Nazi oppression. It was easy to identify the enemy back then. Their flag, leader, uniform and weapons were clearly identifiable. We knew where they were.

The problem with terrorism is that the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. They have no flag. They have a leader, but they may have another one by tomorrow morning. The enemy can be right here or on the other side of the world. Terrorism is an entirely new way of waging war, which calls for an entirely new way of defending ourselves. That is why, in our opinion, we need to share information. All police forces and all intelligence agencies working in this country and around the world must be able to share information in order to prevent tragedies like the one we witnessed on September 11, 2001.

In our opinion, the bill does not go far enough in terms of information sharing, which is necessary if we are to win the fight against terrorism. We believe that the Communications Security Establishment, the RCMP, CSIS and all of the other agencies that fight terrorism every day should join forces. They should share an information pipeline rather than work in silos.

In our opinion, if the bill is passed as it is now, the relevant information that could be used to flush out potential terrorists will not be shared as it should be. We are therefore asking the government to be more flexible in this respect. Unfortunately, the amendments proposed by our shadow cabinet minister, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, were rejected.

We are very concerned about another point as well: the charges against suspected terrorists. We believe that the language of the bill will make it more difficult to charge and flush out terrorists. This is a delicate subject, and every word is important.

We believe that the most significant and most contentious change the bill makes to the Criminal Code amends the offence set out in section 83.221, “Advocating or promoting commission of terrorism offences”. This is of special interest to us because this offence was created by Bill C-51, which we introduced. Bill C-59 requires a much more stringent test by changing the wording to, “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. The same applies to the definition of terrorist propaganda in subsection 83.222(8), which, in our opinion, will greatly restrict law enforcement agencies' ability to use the tool for dismantling terrorist propaganda with judicial authorization as set out in Bill C-51. Why? Because as it is written, when you talk about counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence, it leaves room for interpretation.

What is the difference between a person and a group of people; between a person and a gathering; between a person and an entity; or between a person and an illicit and illegal group? In our opinion, this is a loophole in the bill. It would have been better to leave it as written in the Conservative Bill C-51. The government decided not to. In our opinion, it made a mistake.

Generally speaking, should we be surprised at the government’s attitude toward the fight against terrorism? The following example is unfortunate, but true. We know that 60 Canadians left Canada to join ISIS. Then, they realized that the war was lost because the free and democratic nations of the world decided to join forces and fight back. Now, with ISIS beginning to crumble, these 60 Canadians, cowards at heart, realize that they are going to lose and decide to return to Canada. In our opinion, these people are criminals. They left our country to fight Canadian soldiers defending freedom and democracy and return to Canada as if nothing had happened. No.

Worse still, the Liberal government’s attitude toward these Canadian criminals is to offer them poetry lessons. That is a pretty mediocre approach to criminals who left Canada with the mandate to kill Canadian soldiers. We believe that we should throw the book at these people. They need to be dealt with accordingly, and certainly not welcomed home with poetry lessons, as the government proposes.

Time is running out, but I would like to take this opportunity, since we are discussing security, to extend the warmest thanks to all the employees at the RCMP, CSIS, the CSE and other law enforcement agencies such as the Sûreté du Québec in Quebec and municipal police forces. Let us pay tribute to all these people who get up every morning to keep Canadians safe. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 4,000 or more police officers from across Canada who are working hard in the Charlevoix and Quebec City regions to ensure the safety of the G7 summit, these people who place their life on the line so that we can live in a free and democratic society where we feel safe. I would like to thank these women and men from coast to coast to coast that make it possible for us to be free and, most importantly, to feel safe.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her thoughtful question. It is an important one.

Canadians very much value their privacy, and today's use of metadata represents a significant risk to privacy in Canada. I want to assure my colleague that I strongly support efforts to ensure that data, including metadata, that is not critical to protect the national security of our country should be kept private. There are significant challenges to doing that today, especially with the use of social media. It is something that all governments have to take seriously.

That said, at the end of the day, when a bill like Bill C-51 is brought forward—a bill that undermines our national security by making it more difficult for government departments and government agencies to speak to each other to ensure that they have the critical information required to protect Canadians—we have a problem. That is why I am critical of Bill C-59.

Bill C-51 established a very good environment within which our security agencies could do the job Canadians have asked them to do. Again I note that the Liberals who are being critical of that bill today actually voted in favour of it back then.

Bill C-59—Time Allocation MotionNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 8:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had an interaction on social media last week with one of my constituents who was very impatient about the fact that Bill C-51 was still in place. The constituent remarked, “You said you were going to change things. We elected you to change things. You have not changed things. Why are you not changing things?”

The public is very anxious to see this move forward, as the previous government was politicizing security.

Could the minister comment on how, once the bill is enacted, there would be a new open, and third party review of security matters, depoliticizing the process of security?

Bill C-59—Time Allocation MotionNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister's depiction was rather disingenuous about what is happening here in the House today, and I take exception to it. The people in my riding of Windsor—Tecumseh followed the issue of Bill C-51 in earnest, and all of these comments and consultations the minister is bragging about now were actually presented to all of us in this place in earnest.

Those comments were meant to foster meaningful debate in the House. No one sent comments to the minister, and I guarantee that, thinking for one minute that it would mean that he was going to cut off debate in this place on a bill like Bill C-59. We have been following this issue for a long time. The minister tabled this last year, in the dying days of our spring session. We then heard nothing, and today he is going to pull the rug out and brag about consultations. It is very disingenuous.

June 5th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

With respect to Bill C-39, as you say, it has now been put into Bill C-75, as has another very important piece of the legislation around victim fine surcharge and human trafficking.

In terms of time with regard to the passage or proceeding in the House, I'm not sure that's a question I can specifically answer. As to why we have put these bills into Bill C-75, it's to ensure that the important provisions that are contained within these proposed pieces of legislation are moved through. It makes sense to me, in terms of a thematic approach, to put these bills into Bill C-75, because they are all looking to amend the Criminal Code.

I hear the member in talking about the McCann family and the tragedy faced by the McCann family. We wanted to ensure, in then Bill C-39 and in Bill C-51 , that we do renovate the Criminal Code and that we do get rid of the unconstitutional provisions. I would look to the member, as well as to everybody on this honourable committee, to have vigorous debate and discussion about all of the provisions and proposals that are contained within Bill C-75. This committee and the legal and constitutional affairs committee of the Senate have been very diligent, and necessarily so, in terms of seeking that I and our government address delays in the criminal justice system. Bill C-75 does do that, as well as address the necessary changes we have proposed in terms of the victim fine surcharge to address indigent offenders, as well as get rid of the constitutional provisions beyond section 230, which the member talked about.

JusticeStatements By Members

May 29th, 2018 / 2:15 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives in Canada believe that the number one priority of any government should be the safety of Canadians. The criminal justice system must strengthen these provisions, not weaken them.

In 2017, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-51. Ostensibly, it was intended to eliminate unnecessary and unconstitutional clauses in the Criminal Code, but buried in it were a number of additional Criminal Code provisions the Liberals decided to remove, including long-standing protections for clergy and places of worship. There was no logical reason why these were included, particularly at a time when incidents of religious intolerance are increasing. The government only backed down and removed these proposals after Canadians spoke up and said this was completely unacceptable.

However, they are back. Bill C-75 would reduce penalties for a whole range of serious crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization and political corruption, but it also would reduce sentences for obstruction and violence toward clergy.

Why is it that the Liberal government always puts terrorists and criminals ahead of victims?

Report stageNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I attended many a rally concerning opposition to Bill C-51. Those constituents and people across my city are not any more convinced that they are not still concerned. The only time I received more concerns was over the fact that the government refuses to deal with the arms trade.

It is my understanding that the government is still refusing to absolutely prohibit the use of information attained through torture, not just prohibit the country from using torture to get information but in any way prohibit its use. The reason I raise this is that both Liberal and Conservative governments have been involved in rendition and in colluding to get that information.

If there is one thing we hear a lot of Canadians speak out about, it is that they are opposed to providing reparations when the government violates international law. We have Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. Is the government not concerned that the amount we have to pay out in reparations is simply going to mount if we do not finally and absolutely prohibit, in any circumstance, the use of information gained through torture?

Motions in AmendmentNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

moved:

Mlotion No. 1

That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting the short title.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-59, in Clause 49.1, be amended:

(a) by replacing lines 13 to 15 on page 43 with the following:

“3 (1) The Governor in Council must issue written directions to all deputy heads prohibiting”

(b) by deleting line 25 on page 43 to line 2 on page 44.

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the third motion, which pertained to one of my amendments, was not selected by the Chair, but I will still come back to the important points about it in a few moments. Just because it was not selected does not mean we cannot talk about it.

We are near the end of what has been a very long road with this government on an issue that dates back to even before the Liberals took office. Obviously, we must recognize that Bill C-59 is the result of the Liberals' approach. On one hand, during the last Parliament they supported Stephen Harper's draconian bill, Bill C-51, and on the other, they claimed that there were a lot of problems with the bill. The Liberals told people not to worry, however, because when they took office they would fix all of those problems. That was problematic for obvious reasons. If the bill was so flawed, posed so many problems with regard to national security matters, and violated Canadians' rights and freedoms, the Liberals should not have voted to pass it, and yet that is exactly what was happening with Bill C-51.

Let us fast forward a little. After the Liberals were elected, they waited two years to introduce the legislation. They said that they had to hold public consultations. I will come back to that.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, used the power to disrupt threats bestowed upon it by Bill C-51. CSIS confirmed that in committee.

While we waited those two years for the government to consult, even though the election promise had been to consult on a specific piece of legislation, this was open consultation, or so it would seem. However the problem was, and many experts decried this, the fact that the government's green paper seemed to indicate, through some of the notions that were put forward, that some of these aspects were already a foregone conclusion. There was a definite bent more toward the side of intelligence gathering and law enforcement, and certainly a lack of substantive points being made in favour of the other side of that, which was protecting Canadians' rights and privacy.

Too often the Liberals, in the committee in particular, like to put the word “balance” forward. As we heard from representatives of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, when they presented at committee, balance implies that something is being taken away from one side or the other to achieve said balance. For us, the question of rights and liberties, and certainly the protection of Canadians' privacy, is not something that can almost be a victim of that type of compromise required to achieve said balance.

The other aspect that was not included in the public consultations, but that eventually became a central topic in our committee study, is the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE.

CSE, as members will know, is under the purview of the Minister of National Defence and its mandate is given to it by the National Defence Act. However, despite promises to no longer come forward with omnibus legislation, the Liberals have taken something that is the purview of the Minister of National Defence, something that the national defence committee has the institutional memory to study, all due respect to me and my colleagues on the public safety committee, and put it into this legislation.

That ended up taking up inordinate amounts, and rightly so, of time at the committee. These new powers being given to CSC and the huge change being made to CSC's mandate took up a lot of space and led to the most questions, not just from members but also from some of the experts who were there. Quite frankly, as far as we are concerned, many of those questions still remain without answers.

For example, there is the issue of CSE's cyber defence capabilities, as well as its offensive and active capabilities. The experts asked many questions on that subject. I introduced an amendment in committee to eliminate these powers, but it was not intended to compromise the safety of Canadians or our cybersecurity. We still kept CSE's defensive powers and capabilities in place. However, we had the right to ask questions, as I did with the senior CSE officials, though I did not get satisfactory answers, especially about what all this means for our country's military future.

CSE is governed by the National Defence Act, but it is a civilian agency, not a military one. However, Bill C-59, and now the federal budget and the legislation that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness says will be tabled this fall, is opening the door to capability sharing between CSE and Canadian Forces to improve our cyber capabilities in a military context or even in war zones.

I posed questions to the chief of the CSC and other officials who were present throughout different stages of the study. I said that there was some debate in the context of international law as to what sovereignty meant in this digital age. An act of war is when one infringes on someone's sovereignty, but is a server part of one's sovereignty? What is the role that data is playing in this? Certainly, colleagues who work on the trade file had similar concerns that they raised.

I asked these questions in the context of information-sharing capabilities with Canadian forces. All I was able to get as an answer was that this stuff was already being done and it was better that it be codified in the law with all the protections, oversight, and review. Pardon me for being glib, but that all comes with that. However, it is not enough. If a foreign state actor, as the bill describes, engages in some kind of activity, we are talking about the Minister of National Defence having the capability to interfere with intellectual property and to be engaged in an active way.

In this era, when the federal budget is talking about more and more capability sharing between police and intelligence services, which let us not forget is what CSC is, ultimately, as it is not any kind of offensive entity but rather deals with foreign intelligence, and then to involve the Canadian Armed Forces, we are going down a slippery slope. This is not an issue I raise. It was one that witnesses raised time and again throughout this study.

Part of the reason why I tabled amendments, which were unfortunately voted down by the Liberals at committee, was to remove these elements, not because we disagreed, although they certainly are concerning, but because they required proper study. They should not have been part of omnibus legislation. They had nothing to do with the previous Bill C-51. Nor were they part of the public consultations that both the minister did and the committee did.

That is important. I know the answer I will get is that all the issues relate to national security. That is not enough. We need to be able to examine these issues more thoroughly, and that is certainly not the feeling we got.

Lets continue to look at part three of the bill that has to do with CSE. One of my amendments was unfortunately deemed inadmissible by the Chair, because it was too similar to another amendment I had proposed and that my colleague, the leader of the Green Party, had also proposed. The motion was almost word for word what the experts had suggested. It had to do with publicly available information. We will come back to this concept.

The concept, as it currently exists, is important because it gives CSIS and CSE the power to collect publicly available information. With respect to CSE, we were told over and over again that its mandate does not concern Canadians, since the legislation explicitly prohibits it from targeting Canadians. We must be careful, though, and we have to read part three of the bill, subclause 23 and 24, and the next few subclauses.

Subclause 23 indicates that, despite the ban on targeting Canadians, the centre can collect publicly available information for study and research purposes. In short, it lists a number of things to advance its mandate. Even collecting information inadvertently is allowed. This is very problematic.

We tried to do a few things to fix that. The first was to change the definition of “publicly available information”. That is because when I asked representatives of the CSC if the information that Cambridge Analytica legally but immorally stole from Canadians and others throughout the world through Facebook would be part of publicly available information under the definition provided in this legislation, I got a one-word answer, which is rare in these parts. It was “yes”.

What does my amendment propose to do? The Liberals said not to worry, that they would deal with it. They put in the words “a reasonable expectation of privacy”. That is good. That was part of my amendment as well, as was it part of the amendment brought by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. However, there is a whole slew of information missing from that. Allow me to read it to the House, since unfortunately it was deemed inadmissible and voted down by Liberals at committee.

It states that it would also include, along with information where Canadians have a reasonable expectation of privacy, “information that is published or broadcast only to a selected audience or information that is subscribed to or purchased illegally”, in other words, the prohibition on information purchased illegally. That is the problem with these amendments sometimes when one is reading them without the rest of the text that follows. Why is that important? It is important because despite the assurances that we got, there are a lot of questions about this. These are questions and concerns that some of the foremost experts in the field all have as well.

I also proposed an amendment for a catch-and-release principle, for information acquired incidentally on Canadians by the CSC. If it truly does not need the information captured incidentally, I understand it. That happens sometimes when one is going to study the information infrastructure in Canada. Therefore, we had a reasonable compromise, which was that if it happens, the centre has a responsibility to get rid of it. That was another amendment that was voted down by the Liberals on the committee.

I could speak at length about the CSE aspects, but I have only 20 minutes for my speech. It just goes to show how complex and worrisome the new concepts are and how we are far from having enough time to address them today. I would even say that we had very little time in committee as well. I have been in Parliament for seven years, and for the first time since becoming an MP, even though I can be quite verbose, my mic was constantly cut off and not through any fault of the chair, but because we simply did not have enough time to get into the details. I am not blaming the committee chair, who does excellent work on this study. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time for this conversation.

I want to come back to something more specific that affects more than just CSIS. I am talking about one of my amendments that were deemed admissible. Amendments that go beyond the scope of a bill can be proposed when that bill is referred to committee before second reading, as this one was, and the Liberals took advantage of that.

The Liberals used that opportunity to essentially present a new bill into the legislation dealing with the question of information obtained under use of torture, which bafflingly the Conservatives voted against. However, we do not have time to get into that today.

I voted in favour of it, for two reasons, but it does not go far enough, and we are going to get to that. The first reason is because the fact that it was even on the table was an acknowledgement that the status quo is not good enough, that the ministerial directives right now are not good enough, and that having these concepts more explicitly enshrined in law is always a good thing. Even though some of these symbolic statements in legislation sometimes seem to be only that, symbolic, they guide the decisions made and the advice given when these agencies seek legal opinions and so forth. On that front, it is a good thing. The other reason I supported it was because it is better than nothing. However, the language that remains is that the Governor in Council “may” issue directives to deputy heads. At the end of the day, we remain in the same situation we were in before. These were all recorded votes, so Canadians can check them.

Let me say for the record that I offered more explicit amendments to nearly every section of the bill that dealt with one of these agencies, putting in an explicit prohibition on using information that may have been obtained under the use of torture. Every single Liberal and Conservative on the committee voted against them. That is absolutely shameful.

Here is the motion that is before us today: that “The Governor in Council must issue written directions to all deputy heads..”. At the very least, even though we are still dealing with ministerial directives, that obliges the government of the day to issue the directions, even though we already know that the directives themselves have loopholes. Even if the current directives, I will acknowledge, are stronger than the ones in the previous government, there are still holes in them, and those holes need to be addressed.

It is sad to see that my amendments, which would have at least done something to prohibit the use of that type of information, were defeated through the committee process.

Speaking of my amendments, I want to mention one thing I forgot at the beginning of my speech, since I think the Canadians watching us will find it interesting. The government said that it was open to suggestions from the opposition. I suggested 120 amendments, and just four of them were accepted by the Liberals Three were accepted on the condition that I use the Liberals' wording, and the other was accepted because it was just a preamble. Not a single one of the Conservatives' 25 or 29 amendments was accepted. Not a single one of the Green Party's 55 amendments was accepted either.

The Liberals proposed amendments. Anyone can look at them, they are public. The Liberals put forward one amendment and decided to withdraw the others because they had an inferior one to replace them. I therefore proposed the Liberals' amendments myself, and they voted against their own amendments. That speaks volumes about the process.

I have just three minutes left, and I have only spoken about one part of the bill. I just spent 20 minutes giving a speech on the flaws of a single part of a bill that has 10 parts. That tells you everything you need to know about the flaws in this bill, not to mention the fact that CSIS retains its power to disrupt and to detain without any right to counsel, as was the case with the former Bill C-51.

Without mentioning that apart from changing the word “sharing” to “disclosure”, even though the word “disclosure” was there, what was qualified by groups like the B.C. Liberties Association, among others, as a cosmetic change at best to the information sharing regime remains in place. It was one of the biggest criticisms we had, and a reason for voting against Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament.

We will get to that through a future point of order, but hopefully we can vote on different elements of the bill. There are two parts that are good, review and oversight. Despite the fact that we tried to make changes to the review body to make it more accountable to Parliament and less to the executive, it was rejected. With the real-time oversight of the intelligence commissioner, we tried to make that a full-time position. I was not able to propose those changes, as they would require royal prerogative, which I, as an opposition member, do not have. Perhaps I can enter a final plea, although at report stage it is probably too late for that.

It is all too clear that, on the one hand, the Liberals did not want the Conservatives to criticize them for standing up for the rights and freedoms of Canadians and, on the other hand, they wanted to try to protect their progressive image in light of our legitimate criticisms that they have failed in their duty to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. Despite all the time we were able to dedicate to the study, despite the public consultations, questions from experts, criticisms from members, and a grandiose announcement that the Liberals were going to do things differently in committee, still, all of our amendments were rejected. The same system will remain in place and not enough improvements are being made in terms of what the Conservatives proposed.

In conclusion, it is true that we are entering a brave new world. We certainly know that in this digital age. I acknowledge that the threats are evolving and we need to address them. There is no doubt about that. However, one thing is for sure: right now, the ability of these agencies to act is outpacing the protections that Canadians have for their rights and freedoms, and their privacy.

That, for me and my party, is completely unacceptable, because at the end of the day, if we truly want to defeat these threats and what they stand for, if we truly want to stand on the other side of that terror and on the right side of history, it means standing up for Canadians' rights and freedoms. This bill just would not do that, and we will continue to oppose it. It is absolutely unfortunate, because we heard that better is always possible, but it does not seem to be with this legislation.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would love to debate the other bill. However, at the same time, the member for Calgary Nose Hill has moved a motion, and that is her right. If the member thinks she does not have the right to do that, then we have a serious problem here.

The Liberals waited until we were close to the election to table bills for election reform. They waited two years to table their Bill C-51 reforms. At the end of the day, they control the agenda of the House. If they want to whine and complain about it and not contribute, that is their problem.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague always shows how things should be done in the House by just simply standing and providing very cogent presentations on very complex matters. I give him a thousand accolades for that.

I am little troubled about what our colleague across the way has suggested, that instead of talking about this matter of ensuring services are delivered to support constituents, it would be more important to talk about a policy reform. In my constituency office, time after time people tell me that they would like me to reform the policy on immigration, employment insurance, and the way assistance is provided to constituents. They are also concerned about what was Bill C-51, and hopefully it will be improved, although we will not hold our breath.

Could the member speak to that again? We need to remember that we have two roles as elected members, and certainly working on providing better services to our constituents is an equally important one.