An Act respecting national security matters

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


Ralph Goodale  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

Part 1 enacts the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act, which establishes the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and sets out its composition, mandate and powers. It repeals the provisions of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act establishing the Security Intelligence Review Committee and amends that Act and other Acts in order to transfer certain powers, duties and functions to the new Agency. It also makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 1.‍1 enacts the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act to authorize the issuance of directions respecting the disclosure of and request for information that would result in a substantial risk of mistreatment of an individual by a foreign entity and the use of information that is likely to have been obtained as the result of mistreatment of an individual by a foreign entity.

Part 2 enacts the Intelligence Commissioner Act, which provides that the duties and functions of the Intelligence Commissioner are to review the conclusions on the basis of which certain authorizations are issued or amended, and determinations are made, under the Communications Security Establishment Act and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and to approve those authorizations, amendments and determinations if those conclusions are reasonable. This Part also abolishes the position of the Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment, provides for that Commissioner to become the Intelligence Commissioner, transfers the employees of the former Commissioner to the office of the new Commissioner and makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 3 enacts the Communications Security Establishment Act, which establishes the Communications Security Establishment and, among other things, sets out the Establishment’s mandate as well as the regime for authorizing its activities. It also amends the National Defence Act and makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to

(a) add a preamble to that Act and provide a mechanism to enhance the accountability of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service;

(b) add new limits on the exercise of the Service’s power to reduce threats to the security of Canada including, in particular, by setting out a list of measures that may be authorized by the Federal Court;

(c) provide a justification, subject to certain limitations, for the commission of acts or omissions that would otherwise constitute offences;

(d) exempt employees of the Service and persons acting under their direction from liability for offences related to acts committed for the sole purpose of establishing or maintaining a covert identity;

(e) create a regime for the Service to collect, retain, query and exploit datasets in the course of performing its duties and functions;

(f) make amendments to the warrant regime that are related to datasets; and

(g) implement measures for the management of datasets.

Part 5 amends the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act to, among other things,

(a) emphasize that the Act addresses only the disclosure of information and not its collection or use;

(b) clarify the definition of “activity that undermines the security of Canada”;

(c) clarify that advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression are not activities that undermine the security of Canada unless they are carried on in conjunction with an activity that undermines the security of Canada;

(d) provide that a disclosure of information is authorized only if the disclosure will contribute to the carrying out by the recipient institution of its national security responsibilities and will not affect any person’s privacy interest more than reasonably necessary;

(e) require that information disclosed be accompanied by information about the accuracy of the disclosed information and the reliability of the manner in which it was obtained; and

(f) require that records be prepared and kept in respect of every disclosure of information and that every year a copy of every record prepared in the preceding year be provided to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.

Part 6 amends the Secure Air Travel Act to authorize the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to collect from air carriers and operators of aviation reservation systems, for the purpose of identifying listed persons, information about any individuals who are on board or expected to be on board an aircraft for any flight prescribed by regulation, and to exempt an air carrier from providing that information, or from the application of any provision of the regulations, in certain circumstances. It amends the Act to authorize that Minister to collect personal information from individuals for the purpose of issuing a unique identifier to them to assist with pre-flight verification of their identity. It also reverses the rule in relation to a deemed decision on an application for administrative recourse. Finally, it amends the Act to provide for certain other measures related to the collection, disclosure and destruction of information.

Part 7 amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) make certain procedural modifications to the terrorist listing regime under section 83.‍05, such as providing for a staggered ministerial review of listed entities and granting the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness the authority to amend the names, including aliases, of listed entities;

(b) change the offence of advocating or promoting terrorism offences in general, in section 83.‍21, to one of counselling the commission of a terrorism offence, and make corresponding changes to the definition of terrorist propaganda;

(c) raise one of the thresholds for imposing a recognizance with conditions under section 83.‍3, and amend when that section is to be reviewed and, unless extended by Parliament, to cease to have effect;

(d) repeal sections 83.‍28 and 83.‍29 relating to an investigative hearing into a terrorism offence and repeal subsections 83.‍31(1) and (1.‍1), which require annual reports on such hearings;

(e) require the Attorney General of Canada to publish a report each year setting out the number of terrorism recognizances entered into under section 810.‍011 in the previous year; and

(f) authorize a court, in proceedings for recognizances under any of sections 83 and 810 to 810.‍2, to make orders for the protection of witnesses.

Part 8 amends the Youth Criminal Justice Act to, among other things, ensure that the protections that are afforded to young persons apply in respect of proceedings in relation to recognizance orders, including those related to terrorism, and give employees of a department or agency of the Government of Canada access to youth records, for the purpose of administering the Canadian Passport Order.

Part 9 requires that a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this enactment take place during the fourth year after section 168 of this enactment comes into force. If that section 168 and section 34 of Bill C-22, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act, come into force within one year of each other, the reviews required by those sections are to take place at the same time and are to be undertaken by the same committee or committees.


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


June 11, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
June 11, 2019 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters (amendment)
June 11, 2019 Passed Motion for closure
June 19, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
June 19, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
June 19, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
June 11, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage and second reading of Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters (report stage amendment)
June 6, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
Nov. 27, 2017 Passed Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters (referral to a committee before second reading)

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the efforts of the minister and his staff in bringing forward what I believe is a substantial piece of legislation. It provides a sense of security for Canadians and at the same time provides rights that can be traced right back to our charter.

In the last federal election, we made some serious commitments to Canadians about making changes to Bill C-51. Bill C-59, in part, deals with Bill C-51. I look at the legislation before us as another way the government has delivered some of the tangible things it said it would.

Could the member comment regarding that aspect of the legislation, which I know is important to all Canadians? As a personal thought, it is nice to see the legislation going through this final process.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:40 p.m.
See context


Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in the last election we were very specific about the things we found inappropriate, deficient or headed in the wrong direction that had been enacted by the previous government. We enumerated those things in our platform document. Bill C-59, together with other pieces of legislation before this Parliament, has dealt very effectively with the agenda of things that needed to be corrected.

For example, we said there needed to be a committee of parliamentarians to deal with national security and intelligence issues. We created that through Bill C-22. We said we needed to protect the right to civil protest and dissent to make sure those civil rights were never impinged upon. That is dealt with in Bill C-59. We said we needed to make clear that threat reduction measures would not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That too is dealt with in Bill C-59.

If we went through each one of the items that were enumerated during the course of the election campaign, we would find that in Bill C-59 and in other pieces of legislation that have already been adopted by the House, commitments made in 2015 have, in fact, been satisfied by legislation.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:40 p.m.
See context


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that I think it is a shame that the government is limiting debate on such essential issues as privacy and the fundamental rights of Canadian citizens.

For years, people like Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, have been expressing serious concern about the fact that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service collects personal information about people who have done absolutely nothing simply because it wants to conduct analyses.

In 2015, I do not think that the Liberal Party was as explicit as that. Bill C-59 states that “activity that undermines the security of Canada” could include significant or widespread interference with essential infrastructure. That is exactly the same language the Stephen Harper government used.

Could this include demonstrations against pipelines, for instance?

Can the government confirm that it indeed believes that major demonstrations against the construction of pipelines constitute activities that undermine the security of Canada?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:40 p.m.
See context


Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is clear in the amendments included in Bill C-59 that the right to civil protest, the right to demonstrate and the right to express one's point of view within the normal laws and procedures of Canada are all clearly protected. That was an issue under Bill C-51, and we have corrected that by virtue of this legislation.

I point out as well that both the government and parliamentary committees have consulted about this legislation with the Privacy Commissioner, and the Privacy Commissioner's advice has been taken very seriously in the crafting of this legislation. As I say, the debate has been an extensive one. Every dimension of this new law has been thoroughly ventilated through one House of Parliament or the other.

I point out that the debate has gone on for so long that certain previous provisions of national security law have expired while waiting for the new law to come into effect, so it is time to vote and to take a decision.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
See context


Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Bill C-59 leaves Canada with a larger, weaker national security and intelligence apparatus and is more focused on internal processes than external results. It is unfortunate, but the reality is that Bill C-59 focuses on policing the actions of national security intelligence agencies instead of criminals and extremists and what they do and plan to do to Canadians.

There are four oversight bodies that intelligence individuals need to be subject to, but it makes no sense to me to shift the security operations that protect Canadians to administration and paperwork. This bill would do just that. It would take $100 million from operations and put it into administration. That is $100 million focused on things other than defending national security.

I am wondering if the minister could comment on the reason for moving $100 million to administration.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
See context


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I do not feel, as leader of the Green Party, that I had adequate opportunity to debate what has happened with Bill C-59, particularly since it went to the Senate.

However, I want to say on the record that although it is not the perfect bill one would have wished for to completely remove the damage of Bill C-51 from the previous Parliament, I am very grateful for the progress made in this bill. What I referred to at the time as the “thought chill sections” of the language were removed. One example was the use of the words “terrorism in general” throughout Bill C-51.

The bill was tabled January 30, 2015, which was a Friday. I read it over the weekend, came back to Parliament on Monday and asked a question in question period about whether we were going to stop this bill that so heavily intruded on civil liberties.

Bill C-59 is an improvement, but I do not think I have had enough time to debate it. I wish the hon. minister could give us more time. I want to see it pass in this Parliament, but I wish there was a way to allow time for proper debate.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:50 p.m.
See context


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister and the House that, when Bill C-51 was introduced in the previous Parliament, the Liberals who were in opposition at the time voted in favour of Bill C-51, regardless of all the freedom of expression and privacy issues it might cause, not to mention other measures that endangered Canadians more than they protected them. In contrast, the official opposition New Democrats voted against Bill C-51.

Bill C-59 makes some improvements, but as civil liberties groups have said repeatedly, it fails to resolve a number of major problems related to use of data and privacy protection.

I would like to know why the government was in such a hurry to move forward without properly addressing the major issues with Bill C-51 that are still present in Bill C-59.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 6:55 p.m.
See context


Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I simply make the point that we began work on the legislation from the very first hours when the government was in office in 2015. We started with the learned judgments of Justices Iacobucci, O'Connor and Major. We started with reports that had been filed previously by Parliament, both the House of Commons and the Senate. We listened very carefully to the review reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

We conducted extensive public consultations, which involved 75,000 submissions online from ordinary Canadians. We had public meetings, town hall meetings and expert panels. Never before has there ever been an opportunity for Canadians to have input and for parliamentarians to debate the subject matter around Bill C-59. There has been the largest opportunity to do that in Canadian history.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 7 p.m.
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Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister spoke early on about two academics who supported the bill. I want to remind him of what retired Canadian Forces Lieutenant-General Michael Day said. He said he had zero confidence in Canada's ability to combat emerging threats with Bill C-59.

We know that the charter is mentioned 26 times in the legislation, but the minister should know that every bill has to meet the scrutiny of the charter. Privacy appears 88 times in the bill. We do not know why the government is so concerned about trying to police the agencies that protect Canadians rather than going after those who would appear to do us harm.

The last point I want to make is this. The bill is called undemocratic and one of the reasons for that is the rarity that the Henry VIII clause was kept in it, which means there is the ability of the Prime Minister and cabinet to unilaterally change legislation without coming through Parliament. I am curious whether the minister would care to comment on that manoeuvre in the bill.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 7:45 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to give a little ad at the beginning of my speech. Tomorrow is an important day. June 12 is Philippines Independence Day. I want to invite all members from all sides of the House to come out after their caucus meetings and walk across the street from West Block to SJAM to participate in the Filipino heritage event.

I want to add my thoughts in regard to Bill C-59 and I will approach it in two ways. First I will speak to the process that has brought us to the bill before us today and then I will provide thoughts in regard to some of the content of the bill itself.

To say that the issue of security and freedom is a new debate in the House of Commons would be a bit of a stretch. I can recall the debates surrounding Bill C-51 several years ago when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. He brought in that piece of legislation. At the time, the Liberal Party, as the third party, actually supported that legislation.

However, we qualified that support in a very clear way. We indicated throughout the debate that there were some fundamental flaws in Bill C-51, and that if we were to ultimately win in the election of 2015, we intended to bring forward some changes that would rectify some of those fundamental flaws.

I can recall the hours of debate that took place inside the chamber by members of all political parties. I can remember some of the discussions flowing out of the committees at the time. There was a great deal of debate and a great deal of controversy with the legislation. Even while campaigning during the last federal election, it was a topical issue for many people. It dealt with issues of an individual's rights versus having that sense of security. I always made reference to the fact that Liberals understand how important individual rights are. That is one of the reasons I often highlight that we are the party that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If we take a look at the original Bill C-51, even though the principles were very admirable and we supported it and voted for it, even though at the time we received some criticism, we made it very clear that we would make changes.

This is the second piece of legislation that has attempted to make good on commitments we made to Canadians in the last election. I really enjoy is being able to stand up in this place and provide comment, especially on legislation that fulfills election commitments, starting with our very first bill, Bill C-2. That is a bill I am very proud of, and I know my caucus colleagues are very proud of that bill. It concerns the tax break for Canada's middle class. There is the bill we are debating today, Bill C-59, the second part of a commitment we made to Canadians in the last federal election, which talks about the issue of public safety and privacy rights. Yet again, we have before us another piece of legislation that ultimately fulfills another commitment we made to Canadians in the last federal election.

I mentioned that I wanted to talk a bit about the process. In bringing forward Bill C-59, I do not think we could come up with a better example of a minister who has really understood the importance of the issue, or who has gone far beyond what any other minister in the Stephen Harper era ever did, in terms of consultation.

Even before the bill was introduced, we received input from thousands of Canadians, whether in person or through the Internet. We also received input from members of Parliament, particularly from many of my Liberal caucus colleagues. We were afforded the opportunity to share with the minister and the caucus some of the issues and concerns that came out of the last election. A great deal of consultation was done. The minister on several occasions indicated that the comprehensive dialogue that took place allowed for a substantial piece of legislation at the first reading stage.

Shortly after that, the bill was sent to committee prior to second reading, which allowed for a more thorough discussion on a wider scope of issues. The bill was debated at report stage and then at third reading. It was sent to the Senate, which has sent back amendments, which is where we are today. That process indicates that we have a government, as the Prime Minister has often indicated, that thinks the roles of our standing committees and the Senate can improve legislation. We have seen many changes throughout this process. This bill is a stronger and healthier piece of legislation than it originally was at its first reading stage.

I wanted to give that bit of background and then do a comparison regarding why the government had to move closure just an hour ago. I want to make it very clear to those individuals who might be following the debate, whether it is on Bill C-59 or other pieces of legislation.

We have an official opposition party that is determined to work with the NDP, and I often refer to it as the unholy alliance of the Conservatives and the New Democrats. They work together to try to prevent any legislation from passing. They will do whatever they can to prevent legislation from passing. It does not take much to do that. At the end of the day, a few members can cause a great deal of issues to prevent legislation from passing. There is no sense of responsibility coming from the opposition side in regard to working hard for Canadians and recognizing the valuable pieces of legislation that would be for the betterment of our society. In fact, those parties will put up speaker after speaker even on non-controversial legislation, because they have no real interest in passing legislation. If it were up to the Conservative opposition, we would still be debating Bill C-2. The opposition members have many different tools, and they have no qualms about using them. Then—

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 8 p.m.
See context


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is obvious that we have hit a nerve on the other side.

Let me focus on Bill C-59, which is a very important piece of legislation. If there were a part that I would highlight, it would be the national security intelligence review agency, an agency that would be more holistic in its approach. As opposed to having a review agency for the RCMP and a review agency for CSIS, we will have one review agency that ultimately has the responsibility for all of those security organizations, thereby ensuring we do not have independent silos all over the place.

This is really good stuff. I would encourage the members opposite to vote in favour of this legislation. Let us pass some legislation today.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness


That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, the House:

agrees with amendments 3 and 4 made by the Senate;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 1 made by the Senate because the intent of the legislation is to ensure ministerial responsibility and accountability, and the legislation provides that the Intelligence Commissioner must review whether or not the conclusions of the Minister of National Defence, when issuing a foreign intelligence authorization, are reasonable; additionally, subsection 20(1) already requires the Commissioner to provide the Minister with reasons for authorizing or rejecting a foreign intelligence authorization request;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 2 made by the Senate because it would limit the scope of subsection 83.221(1) and would create inconsistencies with the general counselling provisions contained in section 22 and paragraphs 464(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code.

Madam Speaker, as many external experts have said, Bill C-59, which is before the House once again, is of extraordinary importance to Canada and the security and intelligence agencies that work every day to keep Canadians safe.

During the 2015 election, we promised to correct certain problematic elements in the previous government's national security legislation, Bill C-51. In making that promise, we pledged that a government must be able to protect individual rights while at the same time keeping Canadians safe. This is not about striking a balance whereby rights and safety are traded off one against the other; this is about achieving and protecting both simultaneously.

Work on this legislation began very shortly after our government was first sworn into office in late 2015. The time and effort it has taken to get Bill C-59 to the point it is at today have ensured that this is the right bill at the right time for Canada.

We began by examining landmark court rulings, such as those issued by Justices Iacobucci, O'Connor and Major, as well as past reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the Senate and the House of Commons. We sought to implement their advice and their rulings.

We then looked at the legal authorities and powers our security and intelligence agencies have from a modern technological standpoint.

The Communications Security Establishment has been part of the Department of National Defence since the end of World War II, with its authorities embedded in the National Defence Act. In 2011, the CSE became a stand-alone agency. However, to this day, it still does not have its own enabling legislation with clear, delineated powers and authorities that reflect the necessary capabilities of signals intelligence in the modern era. Bill C-59 would fix that.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was written in 1984, following the Macdonald Commission report. It has been largely left in its original form since that time. To put that in perspective, in 1984, the Mac computer was first introduced to the public. If one had a PC instead of a Mac, one ran it on DOS, because Bill Gates had not released the first version of Windows yet, back in 1984. If one wanted to be one of the first people to buy a cellphone, one had to pay, in today's dollars, about $10,000, back in 1984. If one wanted to go online, one used a dial-up modem to access a bulletin board system, or BBS, because the Internet, with browsers, was still a decade away.

As Federal Court Justice Noël wrote in 2016, “the CSIS Act is showing its age”. Suffice to say, as we looked at the enabling legislation for our security and intelligence agencies, we realized that they needed a lot of updating just to catch up to technology.

In September 2016, having done our basic research and homework, we launched a national security green paper outlining the challenges and the opportunities, and we asked Canadians to share their views. As it turned out, we heard back from them in spades. Over 75,000 submissions were received, and all of them are now summarized in an open and transparent manner on the Public Safety Canada website. During that process, we held town halls and public consultations from coast to coast. The public safety committee of the House of Commons also undertook a study and submitted its recommendations to the government.

Then, on June 20, 2017, after analyzing and synthesizing all of that input, Bill C-59 was tabled in Parliament.

We put it in the public domain before the House rose for the summer so that MPs and the public could truly digest the bill's contents before debate began in Parliament later that fall.

Once the House resumed that fall, the bill was referred to the public safety committee before second reading, allowing it to have more scope for possible amendments. The committee made numerous changes, improving the legislation, including a new requirement for public ministerial directives on receiving or sharing information that may have been tainted by torture. The House passed Bill C-59 on June 19, 2018, and sent it to the Senate, where it received even greater scrutiny and several more amendments.

Among them, the Senate has amended the legislation to require parliamentary review of the legislation three years after royal assent rather than five years, as originally proposed. The original intent of the review after five years was to take into account that some of the provisions of Bill C-59 may come into force quite a bit down the road, and those parts may not have had the time to mature enough for a fulsome review after just three years. However, as I said at the outset, this is a vitally important piece of legislation, and the majority of it will be fully in force in the near term, so a review after three years, as proposed by the Senate, is just fine with me. Plus, a review this quickly would ensure that any changes that may be required as a result of the review could happen sooner.

The Senate also improved part 1.1 of the legislation, the new avoiding complicity in mistreatment by foreign entities act. While the bill lists five specific agencies involved in national security and intelligence operations that would have to comply with the provisions of the new act, the Senate added a schedule so that in future, new departments or agencies might be added by Governor in Council. This could include existing departments with a new national security component or future agencies that might be created.

I would also note that the Senate made eight observations about Bill C-59, which we will, of course, very carefully examine. I especially like the idea of the Senate undertaking a study it is proposing on converting intelligence to evidence in a court of law. This is a point that has bedevilled policy-makers for years, as well as Crown prosecutors and security and intelligence operators, and it is a topic that could benefit from detailed Senate examination.

The Senate also amended part 2 of the bill, which creates the new position and office of the intelligence commissioner. I thank the Senate for their consideration of this part, but will be asking my colleagues here in the House to respectfully decline this amendment.

The intelligence commissioner, under the new legislation, would have a vital role to play in determining whether the standard of reasonableness had been met in a foreign intelligence authorization. However, it would not be the role of the intelligence commissioner to determine how that standard should be met. There may be various methods to meet the standard, and the choice of which method is to be used would be at the discretion of the minister. There should be no confusion about ultimate accountability. It is important to ensure that the authority and accountability for a foreign intelligence operation would rest squarely with the Minister of National Defence.

My staff consulted very carefully on this point with the current Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, which will ultimately become the office of the new intelligence commissioner under Bill C-59, about this particular amendment. The office of the current commissioner indicated a very strong preference for the existing language in clause 20 of the future intelligence commissioner act.

The future clause 20 was amended by the House public safety committee to require the commissioner to provide reasons as to why he or she had approved any proposed authorization scheme or rejected it. That is the right step to take. The Minister of National Defence will consider those reasons when crafting any new authorization application. This approach allows the new commissioner to express his or her views very clearly, while the Minister of National Defence will retain the proper authority and accountability.

If, in the future, there were to be a situation where an authorization is ever challenged in court, it would be the Minister of National Defence, not the intelligence commissioner, who would be accountable to the court. The minister's argument in court should not be that the authorization scheme was explicitly what the intelligence commissioner told him to authorize in order for the CSE to undertake an important activity. In other words, the burden of responsibility should not be shifted to the intelligence commissioner; it must remain with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence needs to account for that.

With respect to the Criminal Code amendment that has been proposed by the Senate, I very much appreciate what the senators have attempted to do here. I understand very clearly the point they are trying to make, and we have heard the same point from a number of other stakeholders that have come forward with similar questions and concerns.

However, I make this point. The courts have set an extremely high bar for convicting individuals of counselling offences, which is why the language in the Criminal Code needs to be clear and consistent. It must be just as clear for section 83, terrorism offences, as it is for section 22 and section 464, which cover the counselling of other Criminal Code offences. This will help public prosecutors when they make a decision as to whether there is a reasonable chance of conviction in order to proceed to trial.

Unfortunately, the changes made by the previous government's Bill C-51, back in 2015, had made the terrorist counselling provisions so obscure that they were never actually used. When Bill C-59 was tabled, the intent was to model the section 83, terrorism counselling offences, on the other Criminal Code counselling offences, which have been well used, successfully and are very familiar to police, prosecutors and judges alike.

The courts have already ruled that the terrorism counselling provisions in the Criminal Code, which refer to counselling “another person”, do not require the accused to have counselled a specific individual or even someone he or she knows. In practice, this broad principle will apply in section 83 as well.

If Parliament were to make the wording changes on counselling being suggested by the Senate, that could have unintended consequences for the rest of the Criminal Code's counselling provisions, such as counselling to commit a hate crime. A loophole could inadvertently be created, which I am sure some very assiduous defence attorney would attempt to exploit for a client facing a charge under section 464, for example.

Further, the use of the term “terrorist activity” in the amendment, rather than saying “terrorist offence” actually narrows the scope of what will be illegal under the terrorism counselling provisions. Terrorist activity is defined in the interpretation section of part II.1 of the Criminal Code, and that definition does not include all terrorism offences.

As an example, leaving Canada to join a terrorist group is an offence under the Criminal Code, but it is not contained within the definition of terrorist activity. As a result of the proposed amendment, it would be legal to counsel someone to travel to Syria to join Daesh. I am sure that is not what is intended by the proposed amendment, but that would be the actual consequence, and it is a consequence we need to avoid.

As I mentioned, I appreciate the spirit of the amendment and I have heard other representations to the same effect. However, what prosecutors have clearly told me is that if our goal is to have the terrorism counselling provisions used as frequently and effectively as possible, the best way to achieve that is to mirror the language used in the other counselling provisions in the Criminal Code where the notion of counselling “another person” already includes the counselling of an unknown individual.

I would like to remind all my colleagues of what Parliament is being asked to approve under Bill C-59 generally. We are looking to establish a single national security review body with a government-wide mandate to follow leads from one agency to another, such as from CSIS to the RCMP or elsewhere. This has long been recommended by experts, academics and parliamentary committees. Sometimes it is referred to as the super SIRC, and Bill C-59 does it.

We are creating a new act to govern the Communication Security Establishment, which includes a new regime for authorizing its activities for the first time ever. We are creating a closed list of threat reduction activities that CSIS may undertake so the service has clear direction from Parliament and knows what it can do, what it cannot do, and where the fences are. We are creating a justification regime for CSIS that will provide the lawful authorities it needs to perform the activities required to investigate threats and to keep Canadians safe. The same concept with respect to police officers has existed in the Criminal Code for many years.

We are also creating a dataset regime for the service that will allow it to collect, retain and query datasets subject to stringent safeguards. We are fixing the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, ensuring that it does not diminish lawful advocacy, protest and dissent. It will also have greatly improved safeguards to ensure federal departments share national security information only when it is necessary to do so, following appropriate procedures and keeping proper records.

Then there is the no-fly list, and I know we have all been lobbied on this one. Bill C-59 would enable the creation of a recourse mechanism for people whose names coincidentally match or closely resemble names that are listed in Canada's passenger protect program. This is the infamous problem of false positives, sometimes affecting small children.

I want to thank the members of the group known as the “no-fly kids”, whose tenacious efforts have kept this issue in the forefront for many parliamentarians, and Bill C-59 is part of the solution.

I can assure my colleagues that officials at Public Safety have compressed the timelines as much as humanly and physically possible. The required Treasury Board submissions and other orders in council required after royal assent of Bill C-59 will be moving as quickly as possible to get that recourse system up and running to deal with that issue for the no-fly kids.

That summary does not quite encapsulate everything that is in Bill C-59. However, as my colleagues can see, it is very comprehensive legislation that would strengthen and modernize our national security apparatus and architecture.

I want to thank all of the public servants across multiple departments who have worked on this and have appeared before many committees to provide technical answers to parliamentarians. I want to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who participated in our green paper consultation process and the many individuals who continue to provide advice as Bill C-59 moves through the parliamentary process.

Most of all, I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues who have given this bill the thorough scrutiny that it most certainly deserves, including Senator Gold and his colleagues in the other place who have sent us the report we are dealing with at this moment and to which we are responding.

With this comprehensive legislation, we are in fact achieving our original goal and obligation to keep Canadians safe and secure, while simultaneously safeguarding their rights and freedoms and the precious democratic qualities and values that make Canada, Canada.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:25 a.m.
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Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his explanation.

However, I am still skeptical about part 7. I listened carefully when the minister explained the part about the commission of a terrorism offence. In the broader conversation, people are comparing Bill C-59 to Bill C-51.

Bill C-59 is 260 pages long. Many parts of it are very administrative and relate to structural changes. I will talk about that later.

Everyone agrees that the government's approach here is wrong. National security experts say so. Conservatives sent the same message with our amendments. Even the Senate's amendment confirmed that the government's approach is wrong. Despite all that, the minister insists that he has the right solution.

Is the government butting heads with everyone just because it wants to keep its election promise to change Bill C-51 at any cost?

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:25 a.m.
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Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, the purposes of Bill C-59 are threefold.

First, it would address the deficiencies that existed in previous legislation, including not only Bill C-51 but other pieces of legislation as well. There were errors or omissions that needed to be fixed, and Bill C-59 would do that.

Second, Bill C-59 introduces a broad range of new accountability mechanisms through the new national security and intelligence review agency, the creation of the new intelligence commissioner and a number of other procedures in Bill C-59 to improve transparency and accountability throughout our national security architecture.

Third, the legislation seeks to clarify and confirm legal and constitutional authorities so our security and intelligence agencies, whether that is CSIS, or the CSE, or the RCMP, or the CBSA or any others in the Government of Canada that deal with national security and intelligence issues, know explicitly where they stand, what their authorities are, where the fences are and what they can and cannot do.

This legislation works very hard to accomplish all three of those objectives.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:30 a.m.
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Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, on the first point, about the review period, it is critically important that the principle is being embedded in the legislation. The entire national security and intelligence architecture of the Government of Canada, from end to end, needs to be revisited again at some period after the passage of this legislation. This is groundbreaking legislation that accomplishes more change within the security and intelligence system than perhaps ever before in our history, and it is important that the set of decisions we are making in Bill C-59 be revisited periodically in the future to make sure that we continue to get it right.

The original proposal the government had made was to do this after five years. There was a discussion in the committee about maybe moving it up to three years, which is a compressed but doable time frame. However, the government maintained the view that five years would be a good frame within which to accomplish that review. The Senate came back to the same point that had been raised by the hon. gentleman, saying that three is a better figure. I am prepared to—